[FANTASTIC FEST ’16] Day 2 Dispatch: Shorts, Movie Posters & The Fantastic Debates


My second day here started easily enough, pretty much rolling out of bed, grabbing a shower and then heading to The Highball around 10 for coffee and a breakfast taco. I banged out the previous days roundup although its quickly becoming apparent that writing real estate is hard to come by so these dispatches might not be as frequent as I hoped. But we’re one way or the other it’ll get done because if today was any indication the people gotta know. So lets jump right into it.



These were definitely a palate cleanser to start the day. I generally didn’t know what I was getting into and apparently the Shorts with legs programming seems to be made up of the weirder more avante gard shorts in the programming schedule. Pretty much across the board they weren’t really my thing, which I don’t say to say they were bad but I’m a simple man of simple tastes and three minutes of some dude screeching in a six minute short isn’t really why I watch movies. Still interesting across the board with my personal favorites being James Siewerts THE PAST INSIDE THE PRESENT, Seth Smiths I AM COMING TO PARIS TO KILL YOU, Kate Taeschels LEMONADE, and Amanda Kramers BARK.



The last ten years have seen the rise of the cottage industry that is custom illustrated movie posters, and the acquiring of said movie posters is something even the most casual cinephile has taken part in. With 24 x 36 director Kevin Burke has created a documentary that chronicles the rise of the particular art that was professional poster making, to their decline, to their unexpected resurgence and the unintended headaches their return created. The flick barely rises above the level of fluff but its informative and generally a good flick to ease into my day. Managing to interview more than a few of the original poster masters from the art forms height in the seventies and eighties, with nice bits of technical details about the physical process of silk-screening and printing. The main focus on the doc however really focuses on the last ten years and on Mondo and the several other smaller poster studios that have sprung up over the years and the collectors market that’s sprung up in their wake. Offering a technicolor smorgasbord of every cool poster you’ve ever seen pass through your favorite poster blog there’s more than enough eye candy and cool interviews from the latest crop of artists that vary in interest but help bolster the films narrative. This will probably make a good Sunday morning viewing on netflix or wherever else it ends up but it doesn’t give a ton of incentive to be sought out any harder than that.



I really dug director Andre Overdals previous film TROLLHUNTER, so I was really interested in seeing him make his English language debut with a film that was seemingly as small as that one was huge. Effectively a three hander between Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox and a good looking corpse, THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE follows what starts as a routine autopsy by a small town mortician and his son of a newly discovered body but the deeper the investigation goes the stranger they’re discoveries until they realize that they might be dealing with something far stranger than a dead body. Overdal is confident in his direction and the story manages to have a solid surprise every two to three minutes which is sold through the solid chemistry between Hirsch and Cox. Utilizing elements of crime procedurals and haunted house stories the film is never lacking for a solid twist and although the deeper in it gets the more Overdal falls on more traditional jump scare but there’s still enough ingenuity and new twists on a classic horror archetype (which I wont reveal here) that makes me hope folks will discover this knowing as little as possible for maximum enjoyment.



Director Jee-Woon Kim has proven himself to be one of the definitive genre artists in film creating near or complete off the wall masterpieces in horror (A TALE OF TWO SISTERS), western (THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD), Serial Killer Drama (I SAW THE DEVIL), and most important of all the Arnold Schwazenegger movie (THE LAST STAND) so when I saw that he had a new flick rooted in the spy genre I was all about it. Starring the great Kang-Ho Song (MEMORIES OF MURDER) as a Korean-born police officer working for occupying Japanese forces of the 1920’s we’re thrust head first into a world of double and triple crosses as he’s assigned to dismantle the growing resistance that he was once apart of. I’ll be the first to admit my knowledge of Korean history is horrendously limited but I do know that the Japanese occupation was a pretty dark time in the country’s history and Kim doesn’t pull any punches. Although his trademark balls to the wall style is still on full display he’s also being careful to remain respectful of the real damage done at the time so while there are several thrilling sequences of gunfights and foot chases he grounds it with real hard hitting drama. Thematically rich and exquisitely acted Kim’s crafted a film that has more than a passing resemblance to Jean-Pierre Melvilles ARMY OF SHADOWS that asks the question of whether or not a traitor can ever go home again. Highly recommended for fans of period piece spy dramas or just great cinema in particular.



I closed the night out by busting out of THE AGE OF SHADOWS to meet up with my two housemates to hustle over to the South Austin gym to experience the sweaty mayhem that are the Fantastic Debates. Packed to the walls with bloodthirsty nerds the topics on display were divisive and endlessly entertaining. Starting with whether or not ROCKY 4 is the greatest boxing movie of all time between Greg MacLennan fighting Michael Wilchester, I ultimately sided with Wilchester pro argument if only for the fact that Ivan Drago himself DOLPH LUNDGREN showed up to give his support. The second event was on whether or not Zack Snyder was the most unjustly maligned filmmaker of the 21st century between Josh Lobo and Jarrod Murray but was somewhat hampered by a fire alarm going off due to the smoke machines which made a lot of people file out, which sucks for them but they’re all weaklings and the gym became a bit cooler as a side effect so good riddance. Third match was between Sourcefed nerds Bree Essrig an Whitney Moore on whether Superhero movies are killing the film industry which was definitely the most well argued with both sides making great points but the fight portion seemed pretty one sided with Moore just hammering away with her superior reach. Finally we came to Josh Ethier and Jeremy Gardner debating with whether or not TREMORS is the best monster movie since TREMORS. Obviously I sided with Gardner because I love TREMORS like its my own child but also because Ethiers main argument focused on propping up THE DESCENT which, although a great movie, Gardner rightfully attested that THE DESCENT wasn’t a monster movie. And then they punched each other in the face ultimately resulting in a tie to be resolved next year. So there’s always that.

And that rounded out day two I as soon as my head hit my pillow I was out like a light. Sturday would prove even more daunting with a jam packed day of teen detectives crazy indy sci-fi, metaphysical meditations, DOLPH FUCKING LUNDGREN, and more even more punches to the head!

Patrick Smith
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