Fantasia International Film Festival 2015

Fantasia 2015 Review: Therapy for a Vampire

Karl Fischer as Dr. Sigmund Freud, Tobias Moretti as Count Geza von Kozsnom in the Austrian film Therapy For a Vampire.

Karl Fischer as Dr. Sigmund Freud, Tobias Moretti as Count Geza von Kozsnom in the Austrian film Therapy For a Vampire.

Therapy for a Vampire is a little confection from Austria, something to while away 87 minutes early on Friday afternoon.

The conceit is that a vampire consults Sigmund Freud in his Vienna office, in 1932. In the evening, of course. Count Geza von Kozsnom says that his life has lost its bite, that he has seen it all, that his blood runs cold, that he is tired of this endless night. Naturally, the good doctor assumes that his new patient is using the language of metaphor. Ha!

The Count no longer loves his wife, Elsa, and he’s had it with her constant questioning: “How do I look?” It’s that old problem with the mirrors, you know.

In a parallel situation, sort of, are Lucy and Viktor. Their relationship is rocky. He’s a painter who lives in the requisite garret and Lucy is his model and girlfriend. He never paints her as she really is, a bruntte with a bun, he paints a fantasy blonde, instead. Lucy is very hurt and insulted by this. (She doesn’t visit Freud, though.)

One day, who knows why, Lucy arrives at Viktor’s place in a bright orange dress, with her hair curled and dyed blonde. All the neighbourhood men are sending her chocolates and flowers and Viktor doesn’t like that one bit. Lucy’s new look reminds the Count of his long-lost true love, Nadila, who promised him that she’d be reincarnated some day.

The Count sends Elsa to Viktor to get her portrait painted; when it’s finished, she will know what she looks like; in the meantime, he will be freeto spend time with Lucy, telling her about her past life.

Viktor is quite happy to meet the mysterious Countess, and seems willing to forget about Lucy, but changing partners is not going to be as simple as all that.

Therapy for a Vampire, Horror/Comedy, Austria, (2014) 87 min., DCP, German, with English subtitles
Director: David Rühm
Screenplay: David Rühm
Cast: Tobias Moretti, Jeanette Hain, 
Cornelia Ivancan, Dominic Oley
Company: Picture Tree International

Therapy for a Vampire
Friday, July 17, 2015, 12:45 p.m.
J.A. de Sève Theatre, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 14-Aug. 4, 2015. Read more about the festival at fantasiafestival.com

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Fantasia 2015 Day One: Full house, whoops, hollers and cheers!

Photo opportunity! From left, Fantasia Market & Industry Director Lindsay Peters,  Fantasia Marketing Director Marc Lamothe, SODEC President Monique Simard, Fantasia Festival President  Pierre Corbeil, Fantastique Week-End du Cinema QuŽebeŽcoise Director Isabelle Gauvreau pose for a picture before the sold-out screening of Miss Hokusai, on the first day of the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, on Tuesday July 14, 2015.  Photo by Liz Ferguson

Photo opportunity! From left, Fantasia Market & Industry Director Lindsay Peters, Fantasia Marketing Director Marc Lamothe, SODEC President Monique Simard, Fantasia Festival President Pierre Corbeil, Fantastique Week-End du Cinema QuŽebeŽcoise Director Isabelle Gauvreau pose for a picture before the sold-out screening of Miss Hokusai, on the first day of the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, on Tuesday July 14, 2015. Photo by Liz Ferguson

The first day of the Fantasia International Film Festival got off to a roaring start on Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Every word from the stage in H-110 of the Hall Building was greeted with cheers, applause, whoops of joy, or some combination of all three.

People listened patiently when Marc Lamothe recited a long list of government and private-industry sponsors. Of course they did, because those sponsors allowed a small festival to become the big deal that it is today. Yay, for the sponsors!

All four films shown on Tuesday were sold out: Miss Hokusai, Ant-Man 3D, Therapy for a Vampire and Tangerine.

Miss Hokusai will be shown again at Fantasia on Saturday, July 25, at noon, in the Hall Theatre. Therapy For A Vampire will be shown again on Friday, July 17 at 12:45 p.m. at the J.A. De Sève Theatre. (Maybe nine-to-fivers could ask the boss for a long lunch hour? The film is only 87 minutes long.)

Ant-Man goes into general release in Montreal on Friday, July 17.

I saw Miss Hokusai and Ant-Man 3D, and while they are quite different, I found both quite entertaining.

http://fantasiafestival.com/2015/en

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 14-Aug. 4, 2015. Most screenings take place in two theatres at Concordia University, near the Guy metro. Read more about the festival at fantasiafestival.com

Fantasia 2015: Buy your tickets ASAP – procrastination could lead to tears

Tickets to the Quebec film Turbo Kid were all snapped up minutes after the box office opened at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Munro Chambers, left, plays the Kid, and Laurence Leboeuf plays Apple.

Tickets to the Quebec film Turbo Kid were all snapped up minutes after the box office opened at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Munro Chambers, left, plays the Kid, and Laurence Leboeuf plays Apple.

When it comes to buying tickets for the Fantasia International Film Festival, sooner is much better than later. You might be lucky enough to buy a ticket a few minutes before a film starts, but don’t count on it. Fantasia veterans know this, which is why there is always a very long line outside Concordia University’s Hall Building the first day that tickets go on sale.

Reports on Facebook say that a few hardy souls arrived at 5 a.m. on Saturday, July 11, though the box office would not be opening until 1 p.m.

Tickets for the Japanese film Attack on Titan were in high demand as well. Haruma Miura, above, plays Eren.

Tickets for the Japanese film Attack on Titan were in high demand as well. Haruma Miura, above, plays Eren.

Once ticket sales began, two films sold out within minutes, and by the end of the day, six films were sold out.
The two super popular selections were Attack On Titan (Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015 at 21:30) a Japanese film based on a manga and an anime TV series, and Turbo Kid (Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 19:00), a Quebec film that’s been winning praise and prizes at film festivals in the U.S., U.K., Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. It will be heading to South Korea and New Zealand soon. An extra screening of Turbo Kid has been added, at 23: 55 on Friday, July 31.

John DeFore of the Hollywood Reporter calls Turbo Kid: “An endearingly sincere romp through ’80s popcorn-flick tropes” and “a pitch-perfect pastiche that never mocks its inspirations.”

Jordan Crucchiola of Wired writes: “Nothing we saw at Sundance was as much fun as Turbo Kid and the enthusiasm of the filmmakers poured through every frame, infectious enough to turn a room full of indie film fans into kids again.”
Ard Vijn of TwitchFilm says: “its creators and co-directors François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell have infused the film with a mix of homage, parody and kick-assery that is very infectious. . .In every single part of filmmaking, Turbo Kid manages to rise above its expected level of quality.”

The other sold out films (in alphabetical order) are: Cooties (Friday, July 17, 22:00) a U.S. horror-comedy in which elementary school children turn into flesh-hungry little monsters. From the people who brought us Glee and the Saw movies. Very interesting combination, there!

Cop Car (Tuesday, July 28, 19:15) Two young boys steal a car belonging to an evil sheriff, who’s played by Kevin Bacon. Bacon will be here to present the films and answer questions.

Synchronicity (Wednesday, July 22, 19:15) a U.S. time travel film.

A scene from the Austrian film Therapy for a Vampire (Der Vampir auf der Couch) which will be shown twice at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Are those carpets gorgeous, or what?

A scene from the Austrian film Therapy for a Vampire (Der Vampir auf der Couch) which will be shown twice at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Are those carpets gorgeous, or what?

Therapy For A Vampire (Tuesday, July 14, 19:00) an Austrian comedy which sees a vampire consult pioneering psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. (As I write this, there are still tickets available for a 12:45 p.m. screening on Friday, July 17, 2015.)
The Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 14-Aug. 4, 2015. Read more about the festival at fantasiafestival.com

Fantasia 2015 Review: The Arti: The Adventure Begins

The Arti-C, centre, a wood-and-metal mechanical man, is the title character of The Arti: The Adventure Begins, an animated film from Taiwan that's being shown at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival. On the left is Mo, on the right is his sister Tong. The Arti-C was invented by their late father.

The Arti-C, centre, a wood-and-metal mechanical man, is the title character of The Arti: The Adventure Begins, an animated film from Taiwan that’s being shown at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival. On the left is Mo, on the right is his sister Tong. The Arti-C was invented by their late father.

Martial-arts fighters with lightning moves, the clang of swords, the whoosh of garments, special effects and. . . puppets?

Does that ring a bell? Fantasia International Film Festival veterans might remember a wonderful gem from Taiwan called The Legend of the Sacred Stone. For me, it was one of the most impressive films at Fantasia in 2000. Well, the organization behind that film, the Huang family’s Pili Puppetry, is back at Fantasia with The Arti: The Adventure Begins. (奇人密碼-古羅布之謎)

The Arti of the title is actually Arti-C, a wood and metal mechanical man with movable eyebrows and Astroboy ankles. He is like a sibling and a servant for brother-sister orphans Zhang Mo and Zhang Tong, and he’s controlled by a sort of wearable console on Mo’s arm.

Zhang Mo wears the controls for wood-and-metal mechanical man The Arti-C on his left arm.

Zhang Mo wears the controls for wood-and-metal mechanical man The Arti-C on his left arm.

The film is set in ancient China and contains many familiar themes, in addition to the orphan one. For example: being outcasts/misunderstood while carrying on a father’s work, a desire to restore the family honour and that father’s reputation, going on an adventure to unfamiliar and dangerous lands. The younger sister, Tong, is the “feisty female character” who is quite handy with weapons herself. Mo looks a bit like a manga character, with his hair falling fashionably in his face.

The Arti-C runs on a mysterious power called The Origin, which seems to be petering out. So Mo, Tong and the Arti-C go searching for The Origin’s source. While they are still at the local market, which seems like quite a multinational sort of place, a red-haired woman named Kameedia just blatantly invites herself along on their adventure.

Mechanical musicians in The Arti: The Adventure Begins, an animated film from Taiwan thats on the program of the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival.

Mechanical musicians in The Arti: The Adventure Begins, an animated film from Taiwan thats on the program of the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival.

In the course of that adventure, they will cross a desert, ride giants camels and insects, get caught in a sandstorm, visit the luxurious palace of the King of Loulan, enter the Arti-C in a martial-arts tournament against many impressive foes, and meet several scary creatures, human and otherwise.

There’s an environmental message, and a “why can’t we all get along” one, too. Before I read any background material about the film, I could tell that Avatar was one of its inspirations.

Stick around when the credits start to roll and you’ll see the creation of the puppets, the sets (some with green-screen backdrops), scenes being shot, and some of the many, many people involved in making the film. The Arti: The Adventure Begins seems to indicate the possibilities of sequels if this first film is popular enough.

The elaborate details of The Arti: The Adventure Begins are quite amazing. Here is a close-up look at a sword.

The elaborate details of The Arti: The Adventure Begins are quite amazing. Here is a close-up look at a sword.

BTW and FYI: I was curious about the history of mechanical men. While researching that, I came across an interesting article on a Stanford University web site. The title is Man-machine and Artificial Intelligence and it’s written by Bruce Mazlish. It’s adapted from Mazlish’s own book, The Fourth Discontinuity: The Co-evolution of Humans and Machines, Yale University Press, 1993.

Here’s a paragraph from that article: “The wealth of mechanical toys cited in ancient China is awesome. In addition to the flying machine mentioned earlier, mechanized doves and angels, fish, and dragons abounded; automated cup-bearers and wine-pourers were prominent; and hydraulically-moved boats, carrying figures of singing girls, animals, and men in motion are said to have amused the emperors. Of particular interest are the chariots that moved of themselves-auto-mobiles-attributed by legend to the scientist Mo Ti in the fourth century BC. Were they actually wheelbarrows, or “pedicarts”? A mechanical man of jade is reported, as well as all kinds of wooden dolls, gold Buddhist statues, and puppet orchestras.”

Is the Mo Ti mentioned here the same Mo of the film? Maybe not, but maybe the name was inspired by him?

The Arti: The Adventure Begins, will be shown once, on Sunday, July 19, 2015, at 13:00 (1 p.m.) in the Hall Theatre, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., in downtown Montreal. The monsters aren’t so scary that you couldn’t take your children!

The Arti: The Adventure Begins
Sci-Fi / Fantasy/ Animation, Taiwan, 2015,102 min, DCP, Mandarin, with English subtitles
Director: Huang Wen Chang
Screenplay: Huang Liang Hsun
Voice cast: Huang Wen Tze, Ricky Hsiao, A-Lin
Company: Golden Network

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 14-Aug. 4, 2015. Read more about the festival at fantasiafestival.com/2015/

2015 Fantasia Film Festival Review: Hong Kong film Robbery

Derek Tsang, left, and J. Arie  in a scene from the Hong Kong film Robbery. They play convenience-store employees whose lives are in danger when they are help hostage in the store. Robbery will be shown at the 2015 edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.

Derek Tsang, left, and J. Arie in a scene from the Hong Kong film Robbery. They play convenience-store employees whose lives are in danger when they are help hostage in the store. Robbery will be shown at the 2015 edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.

The Hong Kong film Robbery will make you think more than twice about a late-night visits to the dep (or convenience store, for you non-Montrealers).

Robbery is a very black comedy, that’s to say, many parts are hilarious, but several people do end up dead. I was expecting the laughs, but not the deaths. Surprise!

In an early scene, Robbery’s main character, Lau Kin Ping, (played by Derek Tsang, 曾國祥) seems like a slacker, and a stoned one at that, but you can’t blame him much; he’s just one more poor guy in the cutthroat world of Hong Kong. After watching Bruce Lee’s advice to “Be like water, my friend,” Lau remarks that he’s 32, the same age the martial-arts actor was when he died, and adds: “I’m just a joke.”

Late one aimless night, Ping impulsively applies for a job in a 24-hour convenience store; he’s hired right away. The store is called Exceed. You know, as in “excessive.” This name is no accident, my friends.

The storeowner is played by Lam Suet (林雪). Anyone who’s seen more than a handful of HK films will probably know his face. He usually plays gangsters, and he often plays them for director Johnnie To. As the boss he’s quite cranky and insists that his employees push sell that night’s special, a $5 package of Pop Rocks. (Don’t freak out, one Hong Kong dollar is only worth 82 Canadian cents. Pretty good deal, actually!)

Ping’s co-worker, Mabel, is played by pop singer J. Arie. Ping is embarrassed because she’s better than he is at scanning etc., and she’s kind of smug about it, too, despite this, they soon establish a rapport.

Ping barely has time to settle in before his first customer arrives. One thing leads to another, very smoothly too, and before you know it, there are three unstable, unpredictable criminals, with assorted weapons, in the store. They are NOT working together, either. Far from it. Ping, Mabel, their boss and one unlucky customer are trapped in the store with these dangerous loons. Hmmmm, I wonder if they use the expression “Murphys’s Law: in Hong Kong?

Every time a new customer walks in, crooks and hostages try to act perfectly, excruciatingly, normal until that customer buys something and leaves. Lots of laughs and tension in those episodes. The film could have ended after the arrival of several police officers – but then it would have been a short, not a feature.

Derek Tsang, left,  as a newly hired convenience-store clerk and Lam Suet as his cranky boss in a scene from the Hong Kong film Robbery. Robbery will be shown at the 2015 edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.

Derek Tsang, left, as a newly hired convenience-store clerk and Lam Suet as his cranky boss in a scene from the Hong Kong film Robbery. Robbery will be shown at the 2015 edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.

There’s lots to like in Robbery – writer/director Fire Lee (aka LEE Ka Wing, or Ka Wing LEE) has fun with film clichés like macho posturing, super-observant people: training montages; walking in slow-motion, defusing a bomb, while seconds tick by on a conveniently large display; people pretending to be someone they’re not, and/or being perceived as someone they’re not; the old Mexican standoff (people standing in a circle pointing guns at each other), etc. Several flashbacks put a whole new light on the characters. And then there are the platitudes like this one: “Pain is good. . . pain is a feeling, it lets humans know they are alive.” Not to mention: “But you have ME!”

Quibbles: One female star has to wear a skimpy outfit in her scenes at the store, and perform an amateur strip tease, along with other humiliations. In regard to the outfit, writer/director Fire Lee might claim that he was showing: 1) how people judge a book by its cover; 2) the person who forced her to do these things is a very evil dude; 3) that he was mocking a cliché. Maybe, but to me this is just pandering to a segment of the male audience. Before anyone asks if sex is bad while deaths are OK, I’d say that the film could have been quite funny without either.

Somewhat random info and thoughts connected to Robbery: Fire Lee wrote the script for revenge flick Sasori, which was shown at Fantasia in 2008.
Actor/director Derek Tsang is the son of actor Eric Tsang. Derek Tsang is 35 now, and might have been 34 when Robbery was made, though he looks much younger. Derek Tsang went to the University of Toronto; he used to live in Vancouver.

J. Arie’s real name is Rachel Lui. She’s an accomplished piano player who also has a degree in law (to make her traditional parents happy.)
The berets that the Hong Kong police wear look quite dashing. Are their shirts really so form-fitting?

Robbery will be shown at the Fantasia International Film Festival, which runs from July 14 until Aug. 4, 2015.

Read more about it on Robbery’s page at the Fantasia web site.

Robbery: Written and directed by Fire Lee ( Ka Wing Lee)
Starring: Derek Tsang, J.Arie, Lam Suet, Feng Tsui Fan, Philip Keung, Anita Chui, Eric Kwok, Aaron Chow, Edward Ma
In Cantonese with English subtitles
90 minutes long

Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 18:45, and Tuesday, July 28, 2015, at 15:10, in the J.A. de Sève Theatre, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.