Well, it’s been a couple of months since Fantastic Fest ended, but I notice that I never closed out my film reviews for the festival. So here it is: the final day of Fantastic Fest 2012!
It’s amazing that Combat Girls got made at all. Set and filmed in modern Germany, the story centers around two young women: one who is already hardcore white supremacist, and one who stumbles into white supremacy while seeking community and friends. The resulting film is an intimate, gruelling, and extremely sensitive look at the inner workings of people who fall into such groups. The characters are by no means forgiven for their prejudices or crimes, but the film gives the people tremendous dimension, which is perhaps key to understanding how stuff like this happens in the first place. It reminds me a bit of American History X, except starring German women.
This was one of the best things I saw at the entire festival. The plot is simple: the film follows a game of war, played in a neighborhood woods amongst a group of preteen kids. But the film leaps beyond this simple premise, simply by occasionally leaping into the kids’ heads, where they actually see their wooden-stick guns as AK-47s. The film quickly turns into an allegory for all rules of engagement, including the humane treatment of prisoners, use of strategy vs. brute force, the use of diplomacy, etc. It sounds heavy, and it kind of is, but the film keeps moving and never lingers too long on one concept. It also features a great cast of child actors. Great stuff.
Man, I could not keep my brain on this film. It may not be the film’s fault, as I was exhausted at this point and I may or may not have nodded off. I don’t remember. I don’t remember nodding off, and I don’t really remember the film. I do recall that it had a lot to do with time travel via video games, and it had some neat visuals. But I honestly can’t tell you more than that. Click that link to the Fantastic Fest review above; it will probably serve you better than I can.
Finally! I’d wanted to see The Entity for literally decades, and I finally had my chance at Fantastic Fest. It’s a 1982 horror film (supposedly based on a “true story”) where Barbara Hershey is an average single mother who suddenly becomes plagued by an invisible rape-demon. The interesting thing about the film is that, for most of the running time, it is readable from both the standpoint of a believer and the standpoint of a skeptic. Ron Silver plays a doctor who is pretty convinced that Hershey’s character is suffering from mental illness instead of demons, and that character spends a lot of screen time making very good points about how mental illness should be treated and not stigmatized. Ultimately, the film, because it’s a horror film, launches into paranormal territory, but I think it’s still an interesting movie to watch as a skeptic.
THE CLOSING PARTY
At the end of every Fantastic Fest, there is a closing night party of epic proportions. This time, the closing party was themed around the Red Dawn remake, so the FF folks turned an American Legion building in downtown Austin into a North Korean concentration camp (!). Seriously. There was barbed wire and lookout towers and a North Korean flag flying from the building.
In keeping with the concentration camp theme, you could get your head shaved (for free) and/or get a tattoo (for free).
Read that again, and let me again stress that I am so not kidding. There were real tattoo artists working for hours, embedding Fantastic Fest tattoos into the skin of anyone who wanted one.
I did not get a tattoo, but only because I thought it would be weird to have a Fantastic Fest tattoo before I got a CONvergence tattoo. I did, however, let them shave my head.
On a different note, Future Folk were part of the live entertainment at the party, to the delight of pretty much everyone. I got a Hondorian helmet and wound up having my photo taken with the band.
After that, and after a few beers, I wound up meeting the Twisted Twins, aka two Canadian film directors named Jen and Sylvian Soska. Indeed, they are twins, and they directed American Mary, which also screened at Fantastic Fest but I didn’t get to see. The Soskas are charming, though, and they completely went gaga over the fact that I shaved my head at the party. They were taking cell phone shots of my head and everything. It was pretty grand.
Really, everything was really grand. It was a really grand Fantastic Fest.