The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival’s final day was even more massive than expected. With a packed program and an extra short film (moved from the previous day due to a technical issue), there was little downtime between screenings and the Festival’s final midnight show started late and wrapped well past 2:30 a.m. Those that saw the marathon day of screenings to its bleary end enjoyed without question the SFFF’s best block of films (plus some welcome giveaways for lucky attendees).
There’s a running joke in Bill Watterson’s Dave Made a Maze (2017), a film about a man who builds a massive cardboard maze (bigger inside than out) and then gets trapped within it. As Dave’s friend Gordon (Adam Busch) repeatedly points out, the maze is full of traps, making it, in fact, a labyrinth. Day 3 of the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival offered a disparate collection of films – a comedy recounting a slacker’s epic quest in a DIY fortress; a trippy, coming-of-age, prom night parable; a genre-mixing, science fiction blockbuster; and a dreamy descent into a housewife’s trauma and a cult’s terrifying prophecy. Each offers its own twists and turns, finding new dangers as they progress through corrugated caverns, genre conventions, and layered realities. In fact, they’re all labyrinths in their own ways.
BEWARE OF THE DOG THAT THINKS
The inner thoughts of a brooding canine named Baxter reveal the animal’s unhappy search for an ideal master. Dissatisfaction with his elderly and afraid owners lead to the dog plotting their demise and it is not long before the ingenious Baxter finds the perfect guardian – a lonely, introverted boy with a macabre interest in Hitler’s personal life and a strategy to turn the pet into a thoroughbred killing machine.
Both chillingly satirical and bitingly terrifying, Baxter is an under-appreciated art-horror masterpiece that resembles American Psycho starring a sociopathic dog and set in a French suburb.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- Brand-new 2K restoration from the original camera negative, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original French mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
- New English subtitles
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Brand-new appreciation by John Waters
- New interview with director Jérôme Boivin
- New interviews with actors Evelyne Didi, Catherine Ferran, and Sabrina Leurquin
- Theatrical trailer
- FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring writing on the film by Bruce Cherry
I’ve been catching up on short films lately and filling out my “Top Films of 2017” list. One favourite has been Makoto Nagahisa’s And So We Put Goldfish in the Pool (2017), the Short Film Grand Prize Jury Winner at Sundance earlier this year. The short follows Mayu (Reina Kikuchi), Tamiko (Rina Matsuyama), Ryoko (Marin Nishimoto), and Akane (Nina Yukawa), a quartet of rebellious sixteen year-olds unfulfilled in their hometown of Saitama and who release 400 goldfish in their high school swimming pool. Nagahisa aimed to emphasize “speed, dialogue, and sound” in Soushite watashitachi wa pûru ni kingyo o and the short draws quick comparisons to Edgar Wright for its exuberant style. For those won over Nagahisa energetic portrait of teenage apathy and cynicism, we encourage you to explore his previous works in music video and commercial film profiled on his website.
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Our Little Sister.
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Our Little Sister (Umimachi Diary) is a scenic and gently sensitive domestic drama that confirms its maker’s reputation as a great director in the tradition of Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse. Adapted from a popular Japanese comic book, the film concerns three twentysomething sisters – Sachi, Yoshino, and Chika – who live together in an old, large house in the seaside city of Kamakura. When their long absent father dies, they travel to a small countryside town for his funeral and meet their shy, teenage half-sister for the first time. Bonding quickly with the orphaned Suzu, they invite her to live with them and the four sisters commence a new life of tentatively joyful discovery. With documentary precision and picturesque elegance, Our Little Sister is a touching survey of love, generosity, and the weight of family histories.
- New high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Hirokazu Kore-eda and cinematographer Mikiya Takimoto, with DTS-HD Master audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- Documentaries on the making of Our Little Sister including revisiting locations with the cast and cooking dishes featured in the film
- Interview with Kore-eda for French television
- Footage and interviews from the red carpet at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival
- 2015 Cannes Film Festival press conference
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: An essay by Japanese film scholar Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Aniki-Bóbó.
Set in the director’s hometown of Porto, Portugal, Aniki-Bóbó features a romantic rivalry amongst a group of young, school-age children. Eduardinho, an unofficial leader and bully to a band of his classmates, has affection for Teresinha, a pretty girl who begins noticing the interest of a shy boy named Carlitos. When Carlitos steals a doll for Teresinha and is accused of pushing Eduardinho off an embankment and toward an oncoming train, the youngster must negotiate feelings of guilt, betrayal, and persecution. Manoel de Oliviera’s first feature film was a commercial failure on its initial release, but has become regarded as a classic work in Portuguese cinema, a forerunner to Italian neorealism, and an inspiration to generations of Portuguese filmmakers.
- Restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- A new piece about Manoel de Oliveira’s first career in cinema with scholar Randal Johnson
- A pair of city symphonies by de Oliveira on Porto – Labor on the Douro River (1931) and The Artist and the City (1956)
- Excerpt from Sergio Andrade’s documentary Manoel de Oliveira: His Case, featuring interviews with de Oliveira and actors Fernanda Matos and Horácio Silva
- Manoel de Oliveira and the Age of Cinema, a short documentary made for Portuguese television on the filmmaker
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Dennis Lim and a reprint of Aniki-Bóbó‘s source story, José Rodrigues de Freitas’ Millionaire Children