At The Movies Goes Fantasia: Week Two

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... 

I feel that time has been fast-tracked now that we are at week two coverage, or the final lap of the Fantasia International Film Festival. This is when I tend to find my groove and make an attempt to catch the movies that I may have wanted to see before the festival ends, even though we may see them later in theatres or on demand, since it always speaks volumes whenever one says they discovered that film or director at the Fantasia International Film Festival. I continued my way through the documentary section and got a chance to catch films that I was hearing good buzz about.

Class Action Park (Dir. Seth Porges and Chris Charles Scott) is a look at the water amusement park, Action Park, from the point of view of visitors and those who worked at the amusement park. From the attendees’ standpoint, it was the most unsafe water park with the widest of attractions that caused mayhem and pain upon those who decided to participate. As for those who worked at the park, it was described as a free-for-all ran by teenagers who, just like the park, did not have a set of rules in place. Well, that’s the youth culture of the 80’s and 90’s for you, compared to today’s cotton-coated world of safety. The scars and wounds one received from the park were mementos that you had visited the place. The documentary also dedicates time to the mastermind behind the park’s conception and amusements, Gene Mulvihill, as well some serious time spent with a family that lost their son due to an accident at the park. The film offers an interesting look at how culture and society have changed over the years in this documentary currently streaming on HBO Max and Canadian counterpart Crave.

Clapboard Jungle (Dir. Justin McConnell) is a movie about movie-making, but more specifically the ins and outs on finding the backing for your film and then selling it - one of the hardest processes aside from movie-making. We follow McConnell’s personal journey that is a film school of sorts, but rather the one he wishes he always had because he learns valuable lessons about the industry, but more specifically how to gain financing to complete your projects. The answer: a never-ending cycle of shooting film with the hopes that it gets picked up and peaks the interest of producers, so much that they would invest in your work on other projects. As well, some well known and independent directors give interviews and advice about the movie making process and how to market your film to the distributors or how to gain financing for future projects. This is more than just the standard film school approach, as McConnell takes the issue of financing the movie and seeking distribution as a self-guided approach for filmmakers, or the cinephiles that enjoy the films they see on screen.

12 Hour Shift (Dir. Brea Grant) is a dark comedy and cautionary tale about the cataclysms of fate and addiction. Nurse Mandy (Angela Bettis) is starting her 12 hour shift at a hospital. On the outside she is warm and friendly, however, she is an addict and is involved with illegal activities including harvesting organs for the black market to make money to feed her addiction. Chance encounters with the people who enter the emergency room, people turning up dead and feeding her addiction, while keeping cool calm and collective are all part of Mandy’s 12 hour shift. This cautionary tale from Grant is unlike other classic thrillers, where we already know who’s done the murder  but can we continue watching in the hopes that these characters get redeemed for the acts that they commit, which are sometimes seen as unredemable.

Dinner in America (Dir. Adam Rehmeier) was the final film I was able to catch up with. A romantic comedy of sorts with a punk rock edginess gave this film its genre-defining sound. Patty (Emily Skeggs) is seen as the outsider loner who works at a pet store and is constantly bullied for being different, as well she is obsessed with a punk rock band and its lead singer, Simon. Him, on the other hand, is to the point - a self-righteous arrogant jerk who sets fires and plays in a punk band. When a chance encounter between Patty and Simon takes place they bond over their love for the genre of music, but also find their own voices as they grapple with maturing in the real world while dealing with their romantic interest for one-another. Rehmeier’s Dinner in America is a politically incorrect comedy with all the rage of a punk that matches Simon’s self righteous arrogance in this coming of age romantic comedy about finding one’s voice.

Even though this was a shortened Fantasia festival without an in-person audience, I feel that the festival always has a great lineup, and 2020 was no different. Whether I’m looking for my selective genre of horror, action, comedy or even an entertaining documentary, Fantasia has it all and will always be the genre-defining film festival that we come to love no matter what the forces of nature throw at us. This proves that no matter what comes next, Fantasia will always be there in the summer: a solid remedy for beating the heat and catching a movie.

And here are Danny’s thoughts on week two…

Within the second week of Fantasia I’ve once again had the joy and privilege of watching several more films through cyberspace. The films which stuck out to me the most this week were The Columnist, Yankee, and Paper Tigers. The underlying theme which these films have in common is revenge, which has allowed me to process my thoughts on revenge films and the genre itself.

The Columnist is a horror film whose main character is a journalist named Femkie Boot. Regardless of the fact that her boyfriend Steven tells her not to check Twitter to see what people are saying about her, she does it anyway. When she checks Twitter she often sees that people tweet horrible things in regards to her work and her as a person. This upsets her to a point where eventually she seeks revenge on those people by tracking them down and murdering them. Just like other mass murderers in the past, she leaves a specific mark on all of her victims. This is a film I would recommend to everyone because I feel that the lessons to be learned within it are that cyberbullying is a serious issue which is not taken seriously enough - and for all those who aspire to be journalists, you must possess thick skin and be able to take criticism, no matter how bad it is.

Yankee is a drama film whose main character Skylar flees from the United States in order to escape from her physically abusive father. She goes to live with her drug-dealing cousin Kev in Drummondville, Quebec. Kev gets Skylar into illegal fighting in order for her to pay her debts to him. Kev also asks one of his clients to teach her how to fight. Throughout the film Kev is also at times physically abusive towards Skylar, but at the same time Skylar’s fighting skills increase. Skylar’s hostile relationship with her cousin leads her to develop a taste for violence and revenge. This is a film that I would recommend to everyone because the important lesson to be learned is that if someone gets bullied often enough, it can lead them to become violent and vengeful.

Paper Tigers is an action-comedy film whose main characters are Danny, Hing, and Jim. These three individuals were trained in Kung fu by their master, Sifu Cheung, and became his disciples. Sadly, they went their separate ways and did not see each other for decades. However, Sifu Cheung’s murder reunited them a while later. Once reunited, they looked into avenging Sifu Cheung’s death by taking revenge on his killer. Finding the killer involved a series of investigations where they found that they had no choice but to retrace their Kung Fu routes. It is a film that I would recommend to everyone because I feel that it is a good action film which involves seeking justice.

Despite the Covid-19 crisis and all of the issues that surround it, I feel grateful that Fantasia has managed to once again provide me with the opportunity to watch, review. and critique its films. I enjoyed watching all of these films in the comfort of my own home and enjoyed the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival altogether. With revenge being the underlying theme of the films I’ve reviewed for week two, what I have to say about it is that I am not for it. I do confess that I like to see revenge within the action film genre, because it can be entertaining, however, I don’t like people seeking revenge in real life. When someone has wronged you, the best thing to do is let karma work its course. Fighting should be used strictly for self defense, and seeking justice ideally should not involve violent acts. In a perfect world violence and acts of revenge would only be seen on the movie screen.


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.