The 2020, online-only edition of Fantasia Festival is less than a week away, and this year’s lineup is filled with intriguing genre films from around the world. Over the next few weeks, CineFiles will be bringing you coverage of the event, with both feature and roundup reviews from the fest.
Today, we look at three on-demand titles that are coming down the pike: Sleep, Yummy, and The Columnist.
The 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival announced its third wave of titles today. The festival, which focuses on genre filmmaking and is normally held in Montreal, will take place entirely online between August 20 and September 2. Although it will be accessible only to Canadian audiences, the festival often runs quality genre films that may be good to keep on your radar for their future VOD releases.
Now that the full festival lineup has been announced, let’s take a look at a handful of titles.
In Amy Seimetz’s moody genre piece She Dies Tomorrow—her first feature as a director since 2012’s Sun Don’t Shine—death is coming for people. Not necessarily in a Final Destination determinism sort of way, but in an existentialist death-comes-for-us-all sort of way. Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) is seen wallowing in the wake of what appears to be a volatile breakup with a lover. She has fallen off the wagon, cracking open a bottle of wine as she curls up on the floor in despair.
When her friend Jane (Jane Adams) comes to check on her, it becomes clear that there is more to this depressive episode than merely a breakup. Amy insists that she will die tomorrow, that she knows she will die tomorrow.
In The Rental, two couples (Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Sheila Vand, and Jeremy Allen White) rent an idyllic vacation home on the ocean. Staying nearby is the brother of the homeowner (Toby Huss), who reveals himself early on to be slightly creepy and potentially racist. He leaves them be for the weekend, but the four lodgers cannot help but think he is up to something. Then things, as they often do in movies of this sort, quickly start going awry for the four vacationers.
The Old Guard begins in a relatively familiar place. An elite, covert mercenary group gets hired by an independent party to complete a run-of-the-mill job, only to find that they’ve been set up. It is the standard fare for the genre. To be fair, of course, the opening shot of the film is the leader of this crew, known as Andy (Charlize Theron), apparently lying dead on the ground, her body littered with bullet holes, so it isn’t all generically familiar.
Atom Egoyan’s latest, Guest of Honour, is a terse drama arranged to be a puzzle film. I say “arranged” because Egoyan structures the narrative with flashbacks framed from different characters’ perspectives as they tell their version of a story, a family history that unfolds on-screen like puzzle pieces presenting themselves and forming the perimeter of a picture.
In Mr. Jones, the eponymous Gareth Jones (James Norton) is a Welsh freelance journalist who travels to the Soviet Union in 1933 to interview Joseph Stalin. But the film begins outside of this man’s story, instead landscaping a pastoral farm—animals milling about, fields of grain waving with the wind. Jones, in his journalistic pursuit, stumbles upon a nefarious truth behind Stalin’s Five Year Plan—the Holodomor, in which Ukraine’s grain was exported in vast quantities that caused mass, genocidal starvation in the region.
Director Agnieszka Holland directs some great sequences in Mr. Jones—this opening sequence; a woozy, heroin-fueled party; a quiet, haunting interlude on a train. Still, stretches of the film are rather staid. The first act relies on undercurrents of tension stemming from Continue reading Mr. Jones (2020) Movie Review→
Scott Carlin (Pete Davidson) is a 24-year-old resident of Staten Island who lives at home with his mother (Marisa Tomei); is still not over his deceased father; suffers from ADD, depression, and Crohns disease; spends his days smoking weed, although it no longer gets him high; and finds it difficult to come to terms with his mother’s new boyfriend (Bill Burr), while also being emotionally incapable of holding a meaningful romantic relationship of his own. His highest aspiration in life is to open a tattoo parlor/restaurant.
[Update, 6.12.20: A day after this piece posted, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Wonder Woman 1984 had moved its release date to October 2, and that Tenet had pushed back two weeks to a July 31 release date. This alters some of the context of this article—namely, that now (at least for the time being) Disney’s Mulan has the earliest release date of any major studio release, not Tenet. But these changes also reflect the main argument raised in this article: It is becoming increasingly uncertain whether any major release will see substantial theatrical exhibition for the remainder of 2020]
Marvel’s Black Widow was scheduled to release on May 1.
That was over a month ago. Now in mid-June, we have watched many high profile film releases slip away like sand between fingers. The decision in March to hold off on the release of the new James Bond film, No Time to Die, was the first domino to fall. Since then, theaters have shuttered, and although cities across the United States have begun to re-open, most theaters’ doors remain closed.