Fantastic Fest - Day 1

Not sure I'll be able to hold this schedule. But intending to post some capsule sized notes on what I've seen after each film's screening at Fantastic Fest. Being outside of Austin I'm unable to speak to the highest profile film of day 1 - Machete Kills but I have seen three of the things that did screen. With thoughts on Coherence coming soon (the part I've seen so far has me super intrigued). Without further adieu - let's head off to the races ...

On the Job (Philippines) - This extremely engaging and cynical film throws you immediately into the purposefully confusing story with two assassins about to go to work. The men are on the job and in prison at the same time. An evilly brilliant plan if you think I about it. The "powers that be" are pulling everyone's strings in a way that's as insidious and corrupt as can be. The "based on a true events" opening cards make it all the more real. Over the length of the film the story follows this pair of assassins (one older, one younger) and a pair of what appear to be the only two clean cops in the city (again, one older and one wizened). Part actioner, part melodrama it's a pretty darn good ride. With at least one super stand out set piece involving a bit of cleanup at the local hospital. One of my faves of what I've seen so far from Fantastic Fest.

The Dirties (Canada) - demonstrates that talent and a clever idea is way more important than technical equipment in producing an engaging picture. Shot on what looks like simple consumer grade video the film follows a pair of best friends as they create films for their school project. They choose to film what they know - an action comedy about school bullies - a group they collectively refer to as "The Dirties." It's a revenge comedy - but things go a shade darker when one of the pair suggests a new twist on the production. While the other is enjoying some new found popularity with the girl of his dreams it becomes less and less clear that his buddy is truly kidding about his new high concept approach to their creation. Loved the first 2/3rds of the film, respected what they were going for in the last third. The Dirties is definitely worth your time. But not as sure I'd recommend skipping your dream film (or date) for it.

Northwest (Denmark) - Solid Danish crime thriller which is different enough to recommend it. I don't think it'll be the film you're talking about in a year's time. But it's compelling for the performances. Not the adrenaline fueled rush that some pictures under the thriller category provide. But if realistic, gritty and criminal coming of age is more your thing then you will not be disappointed with Northwest.

Why Don't You Play in Hell (Japan) - you can checkout my longer review coming shortly. But WDYPIH has literally everything one might look for in a film - blood, violence, feuding Yakuza, child actors in jingly toothpaste commercials, comedy and meet-cute romance. Plus it's a film about the love of film. Actually that last part often portends a problem. But in this case the whole crazy mashup works. It's not a 10/10 affair - but very much worth checking out.

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