Browsing: Fantastic Fest 2013

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Zack Parker’s Proxy opens with a brutal beating, depicts a bloody shooting at its midway point, and culminates in another merciless killing. Nestled between these three chilling acts of violence is an equally chilling tale of loneliness, grief, and mental instability. Working from a script penned by both himself and Kevin Donner, Parker seamlessly follows the lives of four different people and depicts the process of their lives intersecting with a skill on level with Soderbergh’s Traffic, Haggis’s Crash, and even Iñárritu’s Babel – admittedly on a smaller scale, but just as concise.

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Friendship is the heart and soul of the fake documentary film shot in the spirit of found footage from Clif Prowse and Derek Lee. The two grew up together and made home movies that made their way into the opening of their film. Clif runs a travel blog, “Ends of the Earth.” Derek agrees to join Clif on a one-year journey across the globe while documenting everything for the travel blog. The major concern leading into the trip is a brain condition that threatens Derek’s life.

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Imagine the last twenty minutes of The Man Who Knew Too Much, but instead of just Hitchcock behind the camera you also had the likes of Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Roman Polanski and Steven Spielberg joining him. This is the closest I can come to describing the cinematic ecstasy that is Eugenio Mira’s Grand Piano. On the surface, Grand Piano is an awesome idea executed to near perfection, but moments into the opening of this movie it becomes clear that this is an exquisitely crafted love letter to moviemaking and the minds behind our favorite movies. If you love movies even in the slightest, Grand Piano is required viewing.

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To get you into the mood for Keanu Reeves’ new film, Man of Tai Chi we thought it was time to share with you the Fantastic Debates that took place at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. The Fantastic Debates pits two men in a boxing ring. The two men debate a topic then fight after the debate. A winner is chosen through audience applause. This year’s Fantastic Debates took place at John’s Gym. The main event featured Tim League (co-founder of Fantastic Fest) vs. Keanu Reeves and actor and martial arts guru Tiger Chen (the eponymous Man of Tai Chi in Reeves’s film). The topic: Tai Chi is a martial art relegated to elderly Chinese women and is inferior in every way to Tae Kwon Do.

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The premise for Man of Tai Chi is an ambitious sell. Old ladies in public parks stereotypically perform Tai Chi. The art form is controlled, promotes balance and a soft style. Keanu Reeves makes his directorial debut with Man of Tai Chi, placing Tiger Chen in his first leading role. Yuen Woo-Ping (Action Director/Tiger’s real life master) rounds out the trio, essentially turning this into a Matrix trilogy reunion.

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Escape from Tomorrow has been the talk of the town since Sundance Film Festival. A team of guerilla filmmakers took on the task of shooting an entire film in Disney parks without Disney’s consent or knowledge. This is a risky move because if they were caught, Disney would have shut them down and they would have an incomplete movie. The result is a creepy voyeuristic journey that also dabbles in sci-fi. Escape from Tomorrow is an experimental film with fantastic results. As of this writing the film sees a limited theatrical release as well as a VOD release. During Fantastic Fest we had the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with Randy Moore (Director/Screenwriter) and Lucas Lee Graham (Cinematographer). The stars aligned for these two as their movie magic worked wonders and their chemistry is magnetic. We talked about the inspiration behind the film, the methods they used to shoot the film as well as how they overcame the fear of being shut down during the production of the film.

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Escape from Tomorrow is the brainchild of first time filmmaker Randy Moore. The film cannot be reviewed without first talking about the production. The entire film was shot in Disney parks without Disney’s knowledge or consent. It’s unreal that this film even exists. This film should not have even been attempted. When Escape from Tomorrow premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, festival attendees wondered if the screening would actually happen. Disney had the power to stop the screening and stop this film from being seen by anyone. Here we are just a few weeks away from Escape from Tomorrow’s limited theatrical and VOD release. So far the release is a go.

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Robert Rodriguez is a filmmaker who loves everything cinema has to offer. With his latest film Rodriguez pays homage to various genres that inspired him along the way. The first Machete film suffered because it was handcuffed to a fake trailer created for the Rodriguez/Tarantino Grindhouse double feature, Planet Terror/Deathproof. The film also suffered due to the painful presence of Jessica Alba. Machete Kills starts off with a clean slate and a brief role for Jessica Alba.

Fantastic Fest 2013 The Unknown Known (dir. Errol Morris)

The Unknown Known is the latest from renowned documentary filmmaker, Errol Morris. Morris’ film is centered on Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense. Morris delivers a well-informed, well-researched documentary that is a fascinating watch. It’s a pure joy to witness Morris go head to head with Rumsfeld. There are moments where the audience will shake their heads in disbelief as Rumsfeld discusses events that took place through his entire political career. Rumsfeld is cold, calculated and eerily smiles off tragic events. Rumsfeld is the master of avoiding the truth and diverting Morris. It’s in these moments where it’s fun to see Rumsfeld restrain and Morris pushes even harder. Morris succeeds in delivering a film where the story is turned inside out. The Unknown Known moves along seamlessly.

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