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The Playlist

Fantastic Fest Line-Up Adds ‘Nightcrawler, ‘Blind,’ Sion Sono's 'Tokyo Tribe,' Keanu Reeves-Starring ‘John Wick’ & More

  • By Edward Davis
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  • August 27, 2014 3:36 PM
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  • 0 Comments
John Wick
Yes, there are three major film festivals in September — Venice, Toronto and Telluride — but there’s also a pretty cool one out of Austin that’s a bit more off the beaten path, focused on horror and genre fare, and a little less heavy on Oscar-centric titles. Fantastic Fest 2014 takes place September 18-25, and the organizers have announced their second wave of programming.

Fantastic Fest's 2014 Line-Up Includes Kevin Smith's 'Tusk,' 'The Babadook,' 'ABCs of Death 2' & More

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 5, 2014 12:28 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Tusk
Fall festival season is fast approaching, with the Venice Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival and the New York Film Festival each unveiling glimpses of their lineups over the last few weeks. But let's not forget their deviant little Texan cousin, Fantastic Fest. The genre-led festival in Austin, which like the more established events is essentially spring break for movie buffs but with karaoke and queso instead of sex and drugs, is heading into its tenth year and just announced the first additions to its 2014 line-up.

Fantastic Fest Review: ‘Grand Piano’ Starring Elijah Wood Is Like The Best Brian De Palma Movie He Never Made

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • September 25, 2013 2:26 PM
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  • 6 Comments
‘Grand Piano'
A welcome reminder that high-concept thrillers needn’t rely on stupid coincidences and even stupider characters in order to succeed, “Grand Piano” turns the unlikeliest of scenarios into a riveting battle of wills. The story of a concert pianist whose comeback performance gets hijacked by a sniper with a secret agenda, director Eugenio Mira’s latest film breathlessly combines artistic anxiety and personal desperation, providing its character with a journey as intense emotionally as it is physically. In fact, probably the best Brian De Palma movie he never made, “Grand Piano” expands the boundaries of single-location, real-time mysteries like “Phone Booth” and “Panic Room” with a brilliantly simple concept and nimble, elegant style.

Fantastic Fest Review: Jonathan Levine's Belated Horror ‘All The Boys Love Mandy Lane’ Starring Amber Heard

  • By Edward Davis
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  • September 24, 2013 4:04 PM
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  • 1 Comment
​Horror movie fans have it rougher than most. Their breed is one of the most loyal of audiences, and yet what they are often served is predictable, by-the-numbers tripe. Smart, well-crafted horror movies are usually in short supply (yes, there are small exceptions) and instead the industry has been overrun by lowest common denominator, found-footage frighteners made at bargain basement prices because the yield ratio is so high. Savvy producers/studios take advantage by realizing most cheaply made horror gross well regardless of the quality or investment, so what’s the incentive to produce an expensive or well-made product? It's a vicious cycle and cynical industry that often green lights any half baked project simply because it’s a ROI no-brainer that works, especially when calculably programmed during traditionally slow weekends.

Fantastic Fest Review: 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place' An Emotionally Resonant Crime Thriller

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • September 24, 2013 9:59 AM
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  • 3 Comments
In movies, small towns are too often populated with inbred, murderous hillbillies, but there’s nevertheless a wealth of interesting, seldom-explored and considerably more believable stories to tell about them. “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” offers audiences little that they haven’t seen in one form or another – small town kids, dreams of escape and the interference of local criminals – but in the hands of screenwriter Dutch Southern and directors Simon and Zeke Hawkins, its familiar components come together in a unique way. A crime thriller rich with emotional resonance, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” offers the kind of clean, elegant storytelling whose emotional impact eclipses the cosmetic horrors of its counterparts while announcing the arrival of considerable new filmmaking talents.

Fantastic Fest Review: The Kids Are Alright In Dan Bradley's Sturdy Remake of 'Red Dawn'

  • By William Goss
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  • September 27, 2012 9:00 PM
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  • 5 Comments
After North Korean forces set foot on American soil in a clandestine invasion, one character utters that “this was bound to happen sooner or later.” He may just as well be referring to the fact that yet another beloved ‘80s title has been tapped for a remake by Hollywood; this time around, it’s “Red Dawn,” John Milius’ moderately beloved 1984 paean to small-town might and Soviet panic. Dan Bradley’s version won’t sway anyone who already construes the mere prospect of an update as something resembling sacrilege, and it’s unlikely to leave as potent an impact on its current generation, but it stands well enough on its own as an efficient, exciting tale of teenage insurgency.

Fantastic Fest Review: 'Wake In Fright' Is A Genuine Lost Ozploitation Classic

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • September 26, 2012 12:23 PM
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  • 0 Comments
As the terrifically fun and informative documentary "Not Quite Hollywood" notes, at around the same time that austere, gauzy Australian films were bewitching American art house crowds (dubbed the Australian New Wave by people who dub those sorts of things), another, equally powerful surge of Australian movies were capturing the hearts and minds of stateside grindhouse audiences. Colorfully characterized as "Ozploitation" films, these pictures were down and dirty and unlike anything anyone had seen. In the same year that Nicolas Roeg's poetic outback tale "Walkabout" debuted (a cornerstone of the Australian New Wave), so too did Ted Kotcheff's "Wake In Fright," a much more bruising portrait of the Australian wilderness. While "Walkabout" was instantly considered a classic, "Wake In Fright" has largely languished as an unseen Ozploitation oddity. Until now. It's been cleaned up and is ready for canonization.

Fantastic Fest Review: Tim Burton's 'Frankenweenie' Is A Rousing Return To Form

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • September 20, 2012 8:45 PM
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  • 6 Comments
For the last decade or so, visionary filmmaker Tim Burton, once known for original concoctions like "Edward Scissorhands," has gotten very good at taking studio assignments for pre-existing properties that seem to roughly fit within his wheelhouse ("Planet of the Apes," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Alice in Wonderland") and applying just enough of his unique sensibilities, to make these properties seem fresh and easily marketable. It says something, then, that Burton's best, most enjoyable, and most emotionally resonate film in years is actually an adaptation of one of his very first projects: "Frankenweenie," originally a live action short he made while working as an animator for Disney, reanimated now as a brilliant black-and-white 3D stop-motion monster.

'Red Dawn' To Premiere & Close Fantastic Fest, Plus Three New Images Of The Cast

  • By Edward Davis
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  • September 5, 2012 1:22 PM
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  • 2 Comments
"Red Dawn," the 1984 John Milius film, is a '80s cold-war classic. Not because it's amazing (it's a fun teen actioner), but because of the nostalgia factor involved. And hell, arriving in the heart of the tense Regan/Gorbachev years, it spoke to a lot of us growing up in the era of potential nuclear-war anxiety.

Will Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master' Premiere At Fantastic Fest?

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 23, 2012 11:41 AM
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  • 2 Comments
In case you missed it, this weekend we dove deep into the breathtaking full trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," investigating the spot from all angles in what is easily one of our most anticipated films of the year. Now the question is: where will it premiere? While the Venice Film Festival has seemingly been the leading contender thus far, some recent activity in Austin suggets that Anderson may choose to return to a festival that has already served him well.

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