At the Movies Goes Fantasia: Week One

Note: This article was written in tandem by At the Movies co-hosts Remi Caron and Danny Aubry. Remi's section follows, with Danny's starting halfway through...

The Fantasia International Film Festival kicked off their programming last Thursday, August 20th. The first week had so much content to cover and I tried my best to make time for everything, albeit with a tight schedule.

It was a Fantasia first for me as I finally got to experience a DJ XL5 Zappin’ Party with a screening of DJ XL5 Nine Lives Zappin Party. As a first time experience I enjoyed it. However, these experiences are best enjoyed alongside the Fantasia audience (the film festival went online this year). DJ XL5’s Zappin' parties have been a Fantasia staple and are a collection of short videos that are shown in context or out of context, as the viewer dertermines. Think of it as channel surfing on television past midnight whether mindless or not. These shorts are not for everyone, but still have something that the regular Fantasia audience will enjoy. Those involved in this zappin' collage of shorts were iRony - taking on a commentary about our plugged-in society, an edited video titled Evil James Bond Vs World War Z, and the Quebec short paying homage to It with Clown: L’attaque des Clowns. However, since this is a cat-centric themed Zappin' party there is no excuse to stay for the catshorts, including Simon’s Cat.

The documentary that I feel is an urgent call for 2020 is Feels Good Man (Dir. Arthur Jones), which chronicles cartoonist Matt Furie and his character from the Boy’s Club comic, Pepe the Frog. Pepe took on a life of his own when the character would become a meme followed by a symbol of hate idolized by the Alt-Right movement. Jones follows Furie’s journey to claim his character back as well as showcase that Pepe can be a symbol of peace and love, rather living in the face of hate.

Tiny Time: King For A Day (Dir. Johan von Sydow) is an autobiographical documentary on American singer and entertainer Tiny Tim, who from birth to stardom was a singer/entertainer that was misunderstood but beloved by those who understood him. Even though there was success in his life, Tiny Tim was always dealing with personal demons, which can be seen through his diary entries. We also see the later portion of his career as he dealt with a tumultuous love life and staying relevant despite the fact that he thought negatively of himself and his moral dilemmas that plagued him. The film takes a personal approach to the most popular and enigmatic figures of popular music with diary entries voiced over by Weird Al Yankovic - in the same way that Yankovic is a character in himself like Tim, who sometimes has found it hard for people to understand his music.

Sanzaru (Dir. Xia Mangus) is a slow-paced thriller that thrives on attention to detail. Evelyn, a young Filipina nurse, is tasked with taking care of the family matriarch, while at the same time taking in her nephew. When things start going strange, taking care of the family matriarch becomes more of a challenge as mysterious voices start being heard in their home, meaning they aren’t alone. Mangus is a director to be on the lookout for future projects for his bold ambitious work in the genre of horror and thriller, with a distinct eye for visuals and attention to detail that are incredibly important within this genre.

My final film of the week was You Cannot Kill David Arquette (Dir. David Darg and Price James). As a Hollywood star in the 90’s, David Arquette is sometimes referred to as one of the worst things that happened to professional wrestling, winning the World Championship Wrestling belt. This is stated because of the fact that Arquette was known as the Hollywood actor that took away the belt from a legitimate pro wrestler that had been training all his life for the title. He was seen as the outsider by that point and was shunned by some of the wrestling community. However, this did not stop Arquette from having passion for the sport, which is the main focus of this documentary - part of which shows him training and entering the ring again. There was still the Hollywood outsider mentality to Arquette coming back, however, for him it was never about the title - it was all about gaining respect, which is seen throughout this film alongside the pain that is inflicted in this lifestyle. It is a raw in-your-face unapologetic look at the life of a Hollywood actor that has faced rejection and personal problems, but has found respect amongst one of his deepest passions, wrestling.

And here are Danny's thoughts on week one...

As we continue to do our best to stay inside as much as possible due to COVID-19, I’ve been finding ways to separate my world from the world outside of me. My participation in the Fantasia Film Festival by watching its films through my laptop has made it even easier for me to separate those worlds. Although I have had the pleasure of watching several films within the first week of the festival, the films I’d like to review for my first week at Fantasia are Fried Barry, Cosmic Candy and The Block Island Sound. What interests me the most about these three films is the underlying theme they have in common: outer space.

Fried Barry focuses on a low life drug addict named Barry who is a lousy husband and a deadbeat dad. He finds himself abducted by aliens after another one of his heroine binges. During his abduction, an alien entity takes over his mind. The alien entity leads him to become even more of a drifter, which therefore takes him on a series of misadventures where crazy things occur. I personally liked the film because I have an appreciation for sci-fi and the supernatural, athough I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, as it is very graphic and requires a strong stomach.

Cosmic Candy focuses on an eccentric grocery store clerk named Anna who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). She is both addicted to her medication and something called “Cosmic Candy.” Anna’s world takes an upside-down turn when her nine year old neighbor Persia’s father goes missing. Anna then takes on a mother role for Persia and quickly realizes all of the hardships that come with being a parent. Anna’s addiction to Cosmic Candy leads her to fantasize about a big pink bubble picking her up and taking her to outer space. This is a film that I would recommend to everyone because I feel that Anna is a very relatable character. We’ve all felt the need to escape this world at some point in our lives, and we also find that even once you have reached adulthood, you still have some growing up to do.

The Block Island Sound focuses on a character named Harry who is socially difficult and not easy to get along with. When strange things occur within his town, he refuses to believe his friend Dale when he suggests that it’s all happening due to something supernatural. He chooses not to believe Dale until strange things start happening to him. We see Harry’s behavior change when he starts expressing zombie-like tendencies. Harry’s sister Audrey explains to her daughter what being a marine biologist entails, that alone hints at the idea of how certain species seek to study less intelligent species. This is a film which I would recommend to everyone because I feel that the story is very well written and it is currently my favorite film of the festival.

My first week of Fantasia allowed me to escape from this world through its films. Next week I shall review films with a different theme in common.


Remi and Danny host At the Movies which features everything new and noteworthy in the world of cinema. The show goes live every Tuesday at 8:00AM.

Stay tuned for more Fantasia coverage starting next week as we talk about our second week of films we watched at the festival. Be sure not to miss At The Movies Extra on September 8th at 9:00 AM for our Fantasia wrap-up party, the first episode where our co-hosts as well as other members of CJLO reunite - so don’t miss it!

CJLO is a proud sponsor of the Fantasia International Film Festival.