Editor’s Notes: The following capsule reviews are part of our coverage of the 2014 Fantastic Fest. For more information on the festival visit fantasticfest.com and follow Fantastic Fest on Twitter at @fantasticfest.
My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Dir. Liv Corfixen
It would be easy to assume that one’s enjoyment of My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn is dependent on how much they loved Only God Forgives, but those less fond of Refn’s previous effort would be doing themselves a disserve by missing out on Liv Corfixen’s fantastic film. Filming every facet of her husband’s involvement in the film from its early days in filming to its premiere at Cannes, Corfixen provides us with not only a look into the mind of the man behind the camera but the life he lives off the seen as well. My Life is an unflicnhing look at a director’s emotional struggles, the effect such an endeavor has on his home life, and is ultimately a beautiful examination of the life of artist that will linger with you long after the credits roll. It’s not easy making movies, but My Life Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn will reassure aspiring filmmakers that the struggle is worth it.
Dir. David Gregory
Troubled production stories are always fascinating, and David Gregory’s Lost Soul might just be the best behind-the-scenes documentary since Hearts of Darkness. Chronicling a story that only gets more ridiculous as it progresses, Lost Soul introduces to the incredibly well-spoken Richard Stanley, who was fired and replaced a mere four days into his job as director. From stories of Stanley sneaking back onto set after being banned to side-splitting tales about Marlon Brando’s antics on set, this is a documnetary that keeps getting better and getter. Jampacked with shocking and hilarious interviews, Lost Soul is a must-see for any admirer of cinema.
Dir. Joe Lynch
Joe Lynch introduced his film Everly by describing it as a blend of Lars von Trier and John McTiernan. What followed was a high-octane adrenaline rush set almost entirely within the confines of the one apartment room that features Salma Hayek trying to fend off assassins and protect her estranged young daughter for 92 minutes. For a movie set on Christmas, there is some pretty dark stuff in this one. The film opens with the sounds of gang rape and introduces our protagonist by showing her contemplating suicide. For the amount of heavy stuff present in Lynch’s film, he handles his material incredibly well, managing to tell us his story without getting too explicit. Salma Hayek makes for a great action heroine, though her character arc never comes close to being as involving as John McClane’s. Regardless, the film’s closing scene so perfectly blends the tracking shot in Taxi Driver with Silent Night that it’s hard to imagine genre lovers not watching this once the holiday season rolls around.
Dir. Esil Vogt
On its surface, Esil Vogt’s Blind is an intimate character study of a woman who having lost her sight is only left with her imagination to keep her invested in a world on which she is slowly losing her grip. However, boiling just underneath the surface is a film that examines creativity and all the things that come with it. Vogt, who previously wrote the script for the magnificent Oslo, August 31, makes his directorial debut here and does not disappoint at all. Bursting with brilliant techincal work, featuring incredible performances from all involved and constantly keeping its audience guessing, Blind is a one-of-a-kind film that instantly takes its place with the year’s best.