The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival’s second day was unusually specific in its program, devoting itself to short films that explored “innocence being encroached upon by outside forces” and a pair of horror-thriller features set around the sex industry. It was an impressive night of screenings, but also one that certainly made demands of its audience.
The “Paradise Lost” block of shorts was long on atmosphere and scares but slim on explication. Most films chose to grab their shocks and get out rather than flesh out their worlds. Faye Jackson’s The Old Woman Who Hid Her Fear Under the Stairs (2018) recalled Bobby Miller’s The Master Cleanse (part of SFFF’s program from 2016 and now titled simply The Cleanse). The short considers the situation of its title character who extracts her sense of anxiety of herself, hides it in a tin, and faces down some dark, ominous threat that stalks her outside her home. Jackson’s film is wonderfully constructed, full of humour and dreadful tension, and its quality therefore demands more of itself, needing to unpack its conflict and its resolution before letting its credits roll. And the same could be said of other shorts in the block. Milk (Santiago Menghini, 2018) is a chilling tale of a boy trapped between two unsettling maternal figures and choses aesthetics over explanation. Wild (Morgana McKenzie, 2018) is a pastoral fantasy about a girl’s encounter with a magical, deadly, and ultimately unresolved female figure in her uncle’s cornfield. Saturn Through the Telescope (Dídac Gimeno, 2018) follows a boy’s efforts to watch a scary movie at home and is a slickly made and energetic short, while Make a Stand (Camille Aigloz, Lucy Vallin, Michiru Baudet, Simon Anding Malandin, Diane Tran Duc, and Margo Roguelaure, 2017) is a gorgeously animated film set in pre-Columbian Mexico and that seems to tease a supernatural spectacle that never arrives. Uncertainty is a great tool of the macabre, but its best used as a lacuna where meaningful questions spring forth. These shorts are uniformly affective and expertly fashioned, sure to be enjoyed by viewers. My only wish is that these films more fully met their narrative challenges as well as the aesthetic ones.
The Buried Alive Film Festival’s program for Saturday, November 17, is STACKED with three new feature films, one rep-pick, two supporting features, the Eyeslicer short film program, nine more short films in the “It’s Never Too Early to Start Digging Graves” block, and one burlesque show compliments of Blast Off Burlesque. Now that’s a full day of entertainment!
Overwhelmed with a bounty of goodness, MMC!‘s previews can only be more important, pointing the path from mere goodness and toward greatness. Here, dear readers, are five MMC!-approved reasons (that are actually nine reasons) to BAFF this Saturday:
Sure, MMC! made the Buried Alive Film Festival’s first day of full programming sound great, but BAFF really comes into its own on Friday, November 16th. There, BAFF offers three feature-length movies, one live score, one supporting short, and a full program of 10 short films entitled “Bury Me With My Favorite Films.” There’s plenty to see and enjoy at the 7 Stages Theatre this Friday. Those on the fence about attending or those looking for a preview of what to watch thankfully have MMC! to point the way.
Here, dear reader, are MMC!‘s five favourite reasons to BAFF this Friday!
Designed for the film lover in mind, SHOUT SELECT shines a light on films that deserve a spot on your shelf. From acknowledged classics to cult favorites to unheralded gems, SHOUT SELECT celebrates the best in filmmaking, giving these movies the love and attention they deserve.
YOU’RE LYLE FROM DALLAS, RIGHT?
Dead tired and flat broke after driving 1,200 miles, Michael Williams (Nicolas Cage) walks into a local tavern in the dusty town of Red Rock, Wyoming, and is immediately offered a job. There’s only one problem: the bar owner (J. T. Walsh) thinks Michael is a hitman and the “job” is murdering his wife (Lara Flynn Boyle). And just as Michael decides to take the money and skip town without killing anyone, the real hitman (Dennis Hopper) arrives ready to do the job right. Recalling Blood Simple and other classic thrillers of the ’80s and ’90s, Red Rock West is a stylish and cutthroat neonoir full of jealousy, murder, greed, and corruption and where your best friend is a loaded gun.
- NEW HD Film Transfer
- Audio Commentary With Director And Co-Writer John Dahl
- In Conversation: Nicolas Cage And John Dahl
- Lyle From Dallas: Remembering Dennis Hopper
- In Conversation: Dwight Yoakam On The Soundtrack
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Image Gallery
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Tigers Are Not Afraid.
Issa López’s festival-favourite is a darkly magical tale set in the real world tragedy of Mexico’s violent drug war, where thousands of murdered and missing people result in countless orphaned children forced onto the streets to fend for themselves. When her mother disappears, a young girl named Estrella uses one of three wishes granted to her to ask for her mother back and finds herself haunted by a vengeful ghost. Estrella takes up with a quartet of street kids led by Shine but the boys have their own problems, pursued by a vicious gang intent on reclaiming a lost iPhone. Blending artfully immediate handheld cinematography and convincing fantastical digital effects, López creates a realist fairy tale that stands as a prescient statement on Mexico’s deadly drug cartels and a hauntingly magical fairy tale.
- 2K digital transfer, approved by director Issa López, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- New interview with López, acting coach Fátima Toledo, and filmmaker Guillermo del Toro
- Tan Callando, López’s 1994 student film made at Mexico’s National University, with introduction by the director
- New English subtitle translation
- PLUS: An essay by novelist Stephen King
SHE CAN’T SPEAK. SHE CAN’T SCREAM. SHE CAN’T BEG FOR MERCY.
Working on a low-budget horror film in Russia, Billy Hughes (Marina Zudina), a mute American makeup artist, witnesses a brutal murder on a movie-set, however her claims are doubted by her friends and by Moscow police. Still, the killers know the truth and the instructions received from their underworld boss is clear: no witnesses. So begins a night of terror for Billy as she struggles to save her own life and trust a KGB agent (Oleg Yankovskiy) who claims to be her saviour.
Anthony Waller’s Mute Witness is an expertly made thriller comparable to the classic suspense of Alfred Hitchcock and Wait Until Dark and the contemporary shocks of Brian de Palma and Silence of the Lambs. Watch it and be left speechless.
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 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Surround Options
- Audio commentary with writer-director Anthony Waller
- Speaking Up, new interview with actress Marina Zudina
- Bearing Witness, new interviews with actors Fay Ripley and Evan Richards
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Steven Jay Schneider