Friday, July 15, 2016

Fantasia 2016.01 (14 July 2016): Five and Outlaws and Angels

Ah, Montreal! How I love coming here for your long, varied, entirely delightful festival every summer, even if it does involve a seven-plus-hour ride on the bus after a night when I punted preparing at a reasonable hour to see Zardoz at the Brattle and wound up with about three hours of sleep. Not the best way to do it, but I got here, into my rented apartment, and tagged with a media pass and program and ready to go.

I even had time to plot all this out:

Fantasia 2016 Plans!

Of course, you'll notice, I've deviated from it already; a little look at the fine print on my badge alerted me that it wasn't good for the official opening night film, King Dave, but would get me into Five. Of course, that movie had no subtitles listed, so I was prepared to bolt and see about getting something else done, even grabbing the seat where I could do that easiest. It had English, though, and it was good. King Dave, which was advertised as having subtitles, did not, so I guess I got lucky.

After that, I stuck around de Seve for Outlaws and Angels, which had been the plan. I liked that one a lot, and am now really surprised to see both that it is getting a tiny theatrical release in the USA today and a DVD release next month, although why you wouldn't put a movie that looks this great on Blu-ray as well puzzles me.

Speaking of releases, both Five and King Dave got releases in Montreal today, so I guess I could catch it sometime this week when I've got some free hours, but if it's not subbed at Fantasia, it probably won't be in random Montreal cineplexes.

But, hey, one day down. Today's plan (as you can see above): A Conspiracy of Faith, Heart Attack, and then running through the underground tunnel and hoping that Rupture starts late because those last two overlap by five minutes. Three and Antibirth are recommended.


* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 14 July 2016 in the J.A. de Sève Theatre (Fantasia 2016, DCP)

I'm not sure who first described sitcoms like Friends as belonging to a comedy subgenre along the lines of "young people living in downtown apartments they can't possibly afford", but the description is often apt even after making allowances for what can practically be shot. Few examples of the genre ever actually own up to that description like Five does, though, and even if it's not really a satire or parody of that kind of comedy, I wouldn't be surprised if that was where filmmaker Igor Gotesman started, with the pretty funny sequence of events on-screen following naturally even as they get out of control.

The apartment is a sweet five-bedroom in the heart of Paris, one room for each of five friends: Timothée (François Civil), a marijuana enthusiast currently on his fourth freshman year, none of them for subjects related to his natural talent in the kitchen; Nestor (Idrissa Hanrot), a grad student easily distracted by any pretty girl that comes along; Samuel (Pierre Niney), who tells his rich father that he is in medical school while really pursuing his dream of acting; Julia (Margot Bancilhon), our level-headed but sarcastic narrator; and Vadim (Igor Gotesman), her hypochondriac best friend since they were four. While the others can only afford about 500 euros per month, Sam is happy to pay the balance, but just as the others are moving in, his father finds out his son is not a doctor and cuts him off. And rather than letting the others know, he gets a new job as a restaurant's parking valet, with a sideline in weed. Of course, that is not the most stable business model. In the meantime, Tim is developing a crush on Julia, but it turns out that she and Vadim have been together for a year, and they're actually a bit worried about how to keep it secret now that they'll all be living together.

Though set up as an ensemble picture, it's Samuel's adventures in trying not to let his friends down - including acting-class mentor Madame Simone (Michèle Moretti) and potential girlfriend Maia (Lucie Boujenah) - that keeps everything moving, so it's kind of important that Pierre Niney rise to the occasion in that part, and that he does is a big part of why the movie works. Sam is introduced as kind of privileged and silly, and Niney plays him as having the sort of innocence that comes of not having heard the word "no" a lot, but he's also clearly afraid of it, so even though he's effervescent and optimistic throughout, there's something very relatable about how he deals with problems that will initially leave everybody fairly comfortable even if they're not solved. It doesn't hurt that writer/director/co-star Igor Gotesman makes sure to write Samuel as far from stupid, but actually kind of ingenious, and Niney is able to sell a lot of funny moments with that off-kilter intelligence.

Full review on EFC.

Outlaws and Angels

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 14 July 2016 in the J.A. de Sève Theatre (Fantasia 2016, DCP)

JT Mollner's Outlaws and Angels is a blood-soaked Western that may be a little too much for some, and even those who are fond of such things may think it's a bit much, albeit for different reasons. Even if the often-ugly story gives one reservations, it's still worth checking out, especially if you're lucky enough to see it on the big screen: It's gorgeous to look at, and has a great Eastwood performance to boot (although not the guy who leaps immediately to mind when one says "western").

It doesn't quite open with a bank robbery in 1887 Cuchillo, New Mexico - no, it introduces us to a couple of innocent bystanders first, then sets a band of killers on the lam. One's shot off his horse before he even gets his mask off, and what Henry (Chad Michael Murray), Joe (Keith Loneker), Samuel (Marty Lindsey), and Charie (Nathan Russell) don't realize is that one of the customers they killed was a cop, so you best believe that the sherrif is making sure that bounty hunter and expert tracker Josiah (Luke Wilson) is on their trail. That trail is destined to intersect with the Tildon clan - preacher father George (Ben Browder), even more pious Ada (Teri Polo), and daughters Charlotte (Madisen Beaty) and Florence (Francesca Eastwood), which seems like it could be a tense place even befoe a group of murderous bank robbers shows up.

It's probably a sign of the times that there's actually a Kodak company logo among the studios and production companies (including, believe it or not, Orion Pictures) indicating that it was shot on 35mm film, as this is now something that can't exactly be assumed. It is, however, an effort and expense that a viewer should be grateful Mollner and cinematographer Matthew Irving took; the picture is gorgeous, whether it be the New Mexico scenery or the copious amounts of bright red blood that gets spilled. More than that, a large portion of the film takes place over a sleepless night when the light is mostly supplied by fires and candles, a distinctive and evocative environment that digital photography seldom captures just right.

Full review on EFC.

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