Fantasia Film Festival Week 3: The Final Lap

During the final week of the Fantasia Film Festival, I fortunately got the last two days of the festival off to get in some final film viewings. I also managed to make time to get to a screening of Everything, Everywhere, All at Once and Nope (IMAX); two films that I highly recommend checking out in theaters for the best experience. As Tuesday and Wednesday were my final two days to make the most of my film viewing, I had to create a master schedule of all the films I wanted to see. 

The first film that I started with on Tuesday was a screening of Dario Argento’s Dark Glasses. As much as I thought that this was my first introduction to Argento as a director, I was reminded through my movie log site Letterboxed that I had stayed up late one night to catch the original Suspiria on “Turner Classic Movies.”  Dark Glasses is about a serial killer that preys on sex workers. Diana (Stacy Martin) gets caught as one of the victims that leads her into a car crash and leaves her blind. She befriends and becomes a motherly figure to the boy in the other car that survives the crash, and she must also adapt to her new life as a person who is blind, making the audience sympathize with Diana. If that was not enough, the killer won’t stop hunting her. Even if this is not my first time viewing a Dario Argento film he cements himself as one of the true masters of blood and gore. As well as a human horror element Argento implements some natural horror elements to Dark Glasses. As well Arnaud Rebotini provides a pulse driven synth score to the film. Reading some reviews, maybe not the best Argento film, however given his age, his work is a testament to one of those old school directors still working in the business. 

My next viewing was one of the final films I got to see in the “Documentaries From The Edge” category. The Pez Outlaw from directors Bryan and Amy Strokel tell this larger than life story of Steve Glew, a small town farmer/factory worker from Michigan, who always wanted to escape the realities of his mundane existence. One of the ways he found a way out was through collecting cereal boxes and the prizes that came with them, which you could mail in. He found out that there was a profit to be made from these toys. It would be at a convention where he would find his true calling as a collector for PEZ candy and dispensers. He invested so much of his time and money that he would travel to Europe to the PEZ factories to get his hands on the rare PEZ dispensers that were not available in America and would resell them for a lot of money to other collectors. Over the course of time his profits would amount to millions. However the American side of PEZ did not like this and the Pezident tried to stop Steve at all costs. Even after the failed venture with Europe, Steve started designing his own Pez collection and having exclusive rights to the collection, upsetting the Pezident even more. This would lead the Pezident to exact his ultimate revenge on Steve by taking him out of business for good by reproducing and underselling Steve’s creations. Under this larger than life story is Steve Glew and a story on humanity and on how one man used his escapism collecting to provide for his family as a true family man as well to escape his depressions. Further, it’s telling that Steve Glew is more associated with Pez rather than the Pezident, his rival. 

Last film on Tuesday was a Canadian, queer-feminist revenge drama, Compulsus from director Tara Throne. The film follows Wally (Lesley Smith), a spoken-word poet whose friends keep on telling her about the bad dates they have been on and other women having bad experiences with the men of the neighborhood. After a run in with one of the men in question Wally extracts her own form of revenge by beating him up and feeling a profound sense of justice. She then takes it among herself to dish out revenge on the men of the neighborhood as the self-appointed vigilante. Things become more complicated when she starts dating Lou (Kathleen Dorian), a stenographer for the courthouse and they develop a system of vengeance. Director Tara Throne has a swift and brutal response to the MeToo movement of taking your own power and action that some may not agree with, however there has been a festering or a harboring of anger that gets unleashed with this film that doesn't let up. 

My two final films of the festival on Wednesday did not resonate with me that much. Piggy from director Carlota Pereda is about an overweight teen girl, Sara, who is bullied by a group of other teens, as a serial killer is out on the loose when Sara crosses his path. I found that the film was exploitative towards Sara which I did not like, however the short feature before the film Swept Under from director Ethan Soo, has to be my favourite short feature at this year’s festival. My final film Seire from director Park Kang was a Korean drama set alongside a horror folklore about someone who is dead that is sending out evil spirits to her former lover, wife and child. 

In my final thoughts on this year’s festival here are some of my favourite standouts for me of this year’s festival. When it comes to documentaries both the larger than life folk hero stories of ordinary men leading extraordinary lives in Life On The Farm and The Pez Outlaw were great topics that are individually larger-than-life stories. For best feature at this year's festival, the one film that still stands out to me is Employee of the Month from the first week of the festival for its blend of comedy but knowing when to have a profound discussion around women in the workplace in a MeToo age. As for a short feature Where The Witch Lives, Swept Under and Homewreckers have to be some of my favourite shorts before the lead pictures. As always a huge thank you to the Fantasia Film Festival team for inviting CJLO 1690 AM back this year for the Hall Theater DJ’s and online magazine coverage. I hope to see some of the films that played at this year’s festival be picked up by distributors in the coming months to have a wider release. 

As always, bon cinéma! 

Remi co-host's At The Movies, which can be heard every Tuesday morning from 8:00 - 9:00AM. Tune in for discussions about movies, soundtracks, and iconic film scores. At The Movies also covers film festivals that are located in Montreal.