It has become somewhat comical that I insist on continuing to review these films (the festival ended in September), but still I carry on. In case it's not obvious, I'll be using these posts to wax cinematic about the movies I saw at this year's Fantastic Fest and provide a brief description of each film to give my reviews some context. I plan to write-up the films in the order I watched them and in full disclosure I stole all of the synopses from a number of websites that are not Posterocalypse. By the year 2012 I just might have made it through all eight days. Day four. Go!
SNOWMAN'S LAND (2010)
REVIEW: I almost missed this screening because I woke up late, but I'm SO glad I didn't. The reason I'm so happy about this? Well, Snowman's Land turned out to be one of my favorite films of the festival. The comedy in this thing is at times so subtle and stone-faced that you'll later be thinking to yourself: wait, was that meant to be funny? And if you're a fan of the Coen brothers' existential farces, then Snowman's Land is going to be right up your avenue. Finally, before I finish this mini review I've got to mention one more thing: the music. Holy shit, the music! There's been a lot of great soundtracks this year, but the best in my opinion, has to be Snowman's Land. If you can find the soundtrack or can point me toward the movie's songs, please send me a message or leave a comment. And if you ever get the chance to see this film, do it!
STATUS: Unfortunately, this German masterpiece doesn't look like it'll be coming stateside any time soon. I've even tried less than legal methods and have had no luck in acquiring this movie for future viewing pleasure. I might have to eventually just go the import route and buy myself a region free Blu-ray player. Fingers crossed some American company finds this diamond in the rough and brings it across the pond.
RATING: 5 out of 5
THE SKIN I LIVE IN (2011)
REVIEW: This was by far the better of the two secret screenings. I don't want to ruin anything for those who haven't seen the film yet, so I'll keep my review fairly vague, but I would definitely recommend checking this film out. I chose not to see The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) during the first night, because it looked and sounded awful. By "awful" I don't mean "woah, that's some really gross stuff brah," my use of the word "awful" is more inline with descriptors like "hackneyed" and "shitty." The reason I bring up The Human Centipede is because, even without having seen it, I can unequivocally tell you that The Skin I Live In is by far the more disturbing and enjoyable film. It's also a return to form for Pedro Almodóvar, who has imbued Skin with both a classically beautiful composition (the film looks stunning), as well as batshit insane characters and a leaves-you-reeling storyline. It's a win-win in my book. Watch this movie ASAP!
STATUS: The Skin I Live In was purchased by Sony Picture Classics and is currently in theaters. DVDs and Blu-rays will be coming out at some point in 2012.
RATING: 5 out of 5
CARRÉ BLANC (2011)
REVIEW: This was an absolutely beautiful film. Imagine a world where the national pastime is croquet and a vast faceless totalitarian regime has so brainwashed its citizens that dying during a job interview is expected and seen as completely acceptable. Jean-Baptiste Léonetti's bleak film presents a man and wife attempting to break free of their oppressive surroundings and find the humanity that was beat out of them when they were kids. Mix one part A Clockwork Orange, one part 1984, and one part Brazil, then blend into a fine Orwellian purée and drink. Goes down smooth, doesn't it? Carré Blanc is a wonderful movie, that's gorgeously shot and carries with it some big ideas about love and independence, though at times can test your patience.
STATUS: Carré Blanc has been playing at film festivals around the world. As far as I know, this film has yet to receive distribution in the US.
RATING: 4.5 out of 5
REVIEW: I enjoyed Penumbra, but it's also a film that I feel had a lot of weaknesses. I appreciate what the Bogliano brothers attempted to do, and to a large degree it worked, but ultimately the movie fell flat for much of its second half. They successfully created an uber tense film where every stare and pregnant pause took on multiple meanings and implied grave threats, but when it came down to it, I just didn't care what was going to happen to our protagonist, who, by the way, will forever in my mind be the Argentinian Sarah Michelle Gellar. The film also features a really interesting bit of supernatural backstory that's teased throughout Penumbra's run time, but in my opinion, the story would have been much more interesting if they would have dug deeper into the mythology the film sets up. While I wouldn't recommend rushing to see this film if and when it comes to theaters, I would recommend a rental, because despite the problems I had with Penumbra, it's still very impressive given what had to be a fairly small budget.
STATUS: IFC Midnight has grabbed the rights to Penumbra for US distribution. I don't believe any release details have been officially announced yet.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5
PICK(S) OF THE DAY: Snowman's Land, The Skin I Live In