Our journalist David A. Harris continues his cinematographic journey at the 2017 Fantasia International Film Festival. Here are his latest reviews for the movies he saw recently.
- Fantasia Day #7
« I am confused and annoyed. » This line uttered in Sequence Break epitomizes the exact emotions I felt watching this movie. The director introduced this film with the string of words « trippy-retro-horror-love story ». That’s a lot to take in, and it sounds like it has the potential for something pretty unique, and visual stimulating. Instead, I got a bland mess of subpar visuals. The awkward dialogue was no better than the cheaply made PSA videos you were forced to watch in school.
But, to give the actors credit, it really wasn’t their fault. They had to work with a sloppy script, nonsensical plot points, and lines that make most soap operas look like they were written by the Cohen brothers. The plot, if I can call it that, is as follows: Oz is a social outcast weirdo, who doesn’t own a phone, and looks like he barely showers. He works at a place that … does something with arcade machines. He meets Tess, an unremarkable manic pixie dream girl, with no real personality besides being bubbly. With no real chemistry, they form a relationship, because the script demands it. One day, Oz gets a package containing a piece of an arcade game, he plugs it in, plays the game and then trippy stuff happens, mostly in the form of nightmares. These acid-trip dream sequences are supposed to have an effect on him, because we are told they do. His debilitating condition puts a strain on his relationship with Tess, because they exclaim it. Then some weirder stuff happens. What’s the point of it all? Who knows? Who cares? Ultimately it doesn’t matter.
This is a poorly executed movie. Every Final Destination movie is about how sadistic directors can be with over-the-top kills. The Transformers movies are simply loud explosive series of sunsets and product placements. These movies know what they are, they are not trying to convey a moral, or stimulate the soul. They don’t use symbols, cryptic messages, and allegory as tools to make you question a character’s moral quandary. These types of movies exist to entertain, which is a great thing. Sometimes that’s all we really want. Sequence Break tries to be deep and weird, but ends up being utterly boring and nonsensical. The only thing it stimulated was the part of the brain that wishes things to be over. Don’t watch it, not even as a joke.
- Fantasia Day #8
Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Cold Hell is a surprisingly refreshing revenge movie. A Turkish-born taxi driver, Özge, witnesses a murder, and finds herself on the run as she uses everything in her power to protect herself from the serial killer. By no means is she helpless: she’s trained in Thai boxing, and is able to think on her feet when danger is at her heels. Action movies about vengeful women are not anything new. The big difference between Özge and other female leads, is that our hero happens to be Muslim.
Too many times on TV and in movies do we see the cookie-cutter representations of Muslims: submissive women, callous terrorists, or religious fanatics. This movie was able to create well-developed characters that were three dimensional. Özge is a Muslim, but that’s not the only thing, or even the most important thing about her character. She is fed up with the constant obstacles of sexists and xenophobes that hinder her simple need to survive.
Cold Hell is a non-stop adrenaline rush. We get treated to close-quarter combat, car chases, and no-holds-barred bare knuckled beat downs, resulting in cheers from the audience every time Özge gets the upper hand. I think if we get more movies like this, then we can start to shatter the negative stereotypes we are so used to seeing in the entertainment industry. One line in particular resonated with the audience: « He’s not a Muslim, he’s a maniac ». There are times when you need to hammer the message in, and this was that time. This is wonderful action movie, with an awesome protagonist, who just won’t back down.
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