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Fantasia '12 Reviews: 'We Are Legion,' 'Alter Egos' & 'Nameless Gangster'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 31, 2012 11:02 AM
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"We Are Legion: The Story Of Hacktavists" (dir. Brian Knappenberger, 2011) One of the greatest changes to activism in recent memory is the power of social media and the internet to mobilize, disseminate and even enact protest actions on a massive scale, all with the click of a mouse. As we have seen in events from the Arab Spring, Twitter and Facebook played huge roles for the citizens of those countries to both communicate with the outside world and organize their efforts. And while that might be the most high-profile example of the power of the online world to make massive change, moving much more below the radar are the loose knit, leaderless group of activists explored in "We Are Legion: The Story Of Hacktavists," a compelling, if wholly one-sided look at the rise of internet protest.

Fantasia '12 Review: 'Toad Road' A Captivating Micro-Budget Horror Film

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • July 27, 2012 11:03 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Screwing with genre in a similar way that micro-budget relative Aaron Katz does, Jason Banker's "Toad Road" is an off-putting horror tale that abstains from the easy routes its kin generally take. We're first introduced to James (James Davidson) as he awakens in a niveous woodland, isolated and curiously disheveled. It's a crafty opening, establishing a certain uneasiness with an enduring take shot from afar. He manages to hail down a ride, but despite the stranger's prodding at why the man was out in the middle of nowhere alone, the protagonist keeps a lid on it.

Review: Too Meta 'Human Centipede Part 2' Almost Reaches The All-Time Gross-Out Pantheon

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 24, 2011 1:35 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Is Tom Six a filmmaker? Is Tom Six a storyteller? No, at this point, you’ll have to conclude he is neither of these things. What he is represents something maybe more honest, more pure: he’s a provocateur. In making “The Human Centipede: First Sequence,” Six took a memorably deranged subject of medical dubiousness and turned it into a taut, often surprisingly funny shock fest, notable for its actual restraint considering the risible content. Lambasted for being a one-joke (one-gag?) premise, Six took advantage of a memorably deranged turn by Dieter Laser to produce a sterile, cold minor classic within the horror genre.

Fantasia '11 Review: 'Kidnapped' Starts Smart, But Ends As A Sleazy & Cheap Exploitation Flick

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 3, 2011 10:02 AM
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The single setting thriller is a tough trick to overcome as a director, as it constrains nearly every aspect of a production making it all the more difficult to elevate the film from its static surroundings. Last year saw a spate of single-setting flicks hit theaters, and while Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" and J Blakeson's underrated "The Disappearance Of Alice Creed" showed what inventive filmmaking and a smart screenplay can do in opening up the narrative in compelling ways, the Ryan Reynolds-led "Buried" was an example of what happens with a director can't get past the basic conceit of the picture. Which brings us to "Kidnapped," the first film in eight years from director Miguel Ángel Vivas and one that came to Montreal riding some decent buzz including Best Horror and Director prizes at last year's Fantastic Fest. We don't get the hype.

Fantasia '11 Review: 'Bangkok Knockout' Delivers Awesome Action In An Otherwise Incompetent Film

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 2, 2011 1:57 AM
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In many ways "Bangkok Knockout" is the perfect film for Fantasia (or any other similarly themed genre fest), but let's be clear: the latest from "Ong Bak 2" and "Ong Bak 3" director Panna Rittikrai is terrible in almost every conceivable technical, narrative and aesthetic category. It's atrociously acted, with a derivative, absurd story shot with no real skill except in making sure that when two characters are speaking to each other, they are both in the frame. However, when it's time for the fights -- which are frequent, exciting and amazingly staged, Rittikrai is firmly in his element and the audience is in his hand. "Bangkok Knockout" is precisely the kind of film that needs to be watched with a vocal, appreciative Fantasia crowd cheering along with every astounding punch, flip and kick, if only to share the joy of the sequences and have somebody to ride out the tedium of everything else in between.

Fantasia '11 Review: 'Blackthorn' Catches Up With A Retirement Ready Butch Cassidy

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 1, 2011 4:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
For the most part -- aside from a few forgettable/unknown titles -- no one has really taken on the legend of Butch Cassidy since Robert Redford and Paul Newman went out guns blazing in George Roy Hill's 1969 instant classic. Though "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid" lives on as a cinematic touchstone and cultural reference point, the legend has largely been kept off the big screens as the boots of Redford and Newman are large to fill indeed. So you have admire the stones of writer Miguel Barros, director Mateo Gil and actor Sam Shepard for breaking the forty year taboo and making what is essentially a sequel (though more like a continuation) to the story of the classic outlaws -- but with a twist. Well, everyone knows Butch and Sundance died in a shootout with Bolivian officials, but what this movie presupposes is...maybe they didn't?

Fantasia '11 Review: 'Retreat' Piles On The Twists, But Doesn't Deliver The Thrills

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 19, 2011 2:05 AM
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Writer/director Carl Tibbetts certainly didn't spare himself any narrative hurdles for his debut feature "Retreat." In fact, one could argue that it's nothing but narrative hurdles. The single setting film tosses together a psychological thriller, marital discord, sexual tension, an airborne virus and someone who may just be totally insane into a hearty stew that is unfortunately still somewhat flavorless. Curiously both overstuffed yet still empty, "Retreat" tries to be too many things at once and ultimately winds up having very little to show for the effort.

Fantasia '11 Review: 'Attack The Block' Is The Real Deal Bruv, Believe

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 18, 2011 2:41 AM
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We're just over seven months into 2011, and we've already seen a staggering number of alien-oriented films, and for the most part, they haven't been friendly. In "Battle: Los Angeles" a ragged military crew squared off against the space invaders, while in the upcoming "Cowboys & Aliens" Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford will use old-timey western know-how to fight off the creatures from beyond. But there is another interesting trend developing even among this this little niche of films: kids are frequently the ones being called upon to save the day. In J.J. Abrams' "Super 8" best friends and junior high classmates outwit their parents and the military to save their town and the Earth, and later this year, "The Darkest Hour" will find Emile Hirsch and Olivia Thirlby helping a group of youths against another batch of extraterrestrials. But between those two films will be the hotly buzzed "Attack The Block," a film that shares with "Super 8" a plot about some very young kids who find some very vicious creatures in their midst, but in all other respects is completely, refreshingly and excitingly different.

Fantasia '11 Review: 'The King Of Devil's Island' A Chilly & Compelling Nordic Drama

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 15, 2011 3:31 AM
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Stop if you've heard this before: an overbearing headmaster gets his comeuppance from his students after he pushes them too far, causing a violent uprising and revolt to take place. In literature and in films, variations on this theme have cropped up time and again usually with the same types of characters and signifiers, with the story and pacing playing out to the beat of a very familiar drum. And while on paper, Marius Holst's "The King Of Devil's Island" may seem like a trip down an already well-worn path, the film is a refreshing surprise that offers up a character-driven take on the genre that throws familiar notions of how this kind of story should play right out the window.

Cillian Murphy Thriller ‘Retreat’ Will Make World Premiere At The Fantasia Film Festival

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • June 27, 2011 8:14 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Kevin Smith's 'Red State' Will Open The Festival Before Its August Theatrical ReleaseWell, it's the middle of summer right now in Montreal which means the terraces are filled with folks making the most of the warm weather for their cinq a sept and festival season is in full swing, and one of the biggest to the city every year is the Fantasia Film Festival. Organizers have released the first batch of movie announcements and once again, genre fans will be very excited. But the most curious piece of news is a little bit buried.

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