Fantasia 2012: Mike Ryan’s Most Anticipated Films

For those that are confused (which would obviously include me) the column that has the url: http://www.soundonsight.org/fantasia-2012-mike-ryans-five-most-anticipated-films/ is actually my column on the five films that I am most upset to be MISSING.

This is my column on five seven films that I am most looking forward to:

1) Takashi Miike (For Love’s Sake and Ace Attorney)

For Love’s Sake (2012) Written by Takayuki Takuma, Ikki Kajiwara, Takumi Nagayasu, Directed by Takashi Miike

You really only need three words to sell For Love’s Sake: Takashi. Miike. Musical.

But here are a few more words…

Takashi Miike is beloved by the Fantasia crowd for pushing the boundaries of genre filmmaking in films like Audition, Visitor Q and Ichi the Killer, but I tend to prefer Miike when he is working in a specific sub-genre where he is forced to subvert the conventions at play in more subtle ways, whether that is in a kids film like Ninja Kids!!! or a Frank Capra movie like Shangri-La or a gangster film like Fudoh: The Next Generation.

For Love’s Sake is actually Miike’s 2nd musical. His first, The Happiness of the Katakuris, was an unlikely adaptation of the non-musical Korean black comedy The Quiet Family – about a family trying desperately to keep quiet the fact that their inn is a destination spot for would-be suicides.

This film looks more like Grease attached to a particularly bloody teenage gangster epic. The Fantasia programmers are excited enough to make it this year’s Official Opening Film.

But as excited as I am to see a new Miike musical, I am even more excited to see the other Miike film bowing at this year’s Fantasia…

Ace Attorney (2012) Written by Takeshi Iida and Sachiko Oguchi, Directed by Takashi Miike

It’s a live action adaptation of Phoenix Wright! The greatest lawyer in video game history! (Admittedly, not a crowded field.)

The thing that excites me about adapting Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the game to a film, other than the fact that hiring Miike to do it dramatically increases your chances of ending up with a good movie based on a video game (certainly much better than letting Uwe Boll do it) and other than the fact that legal procedural is an entirely new sub-genre for Miike to play around with…

Where was I? Oh right, the thing that really excites me is that we have had lawyers as heroes in the courtroom (Perry Mason, Matlock, The Verdict), we have even had lawyers as action heroes – mainly in John Grisham films (The Firm, The Client), but we have never had a film with a lawyer being an action hero inside the courtroom.

I am (like many others) giddy with excitement.

*****

2) Jennifer Lynch (Despite the Gods and Chained)

Despite the Gods (2012) Directed by Penny Vozniak

It’s a miracle that any feature film gets made when you get down to it, between the problems with budgets, the clashing egos and the small army that you need to get anything done. Sometimes the dividing line between greatness and disaster can be as thin as the edge of a sharp knife.

This documentary presents the story of the train-wreck that was Jennifer Lynch’s third film, Hisss, a USA/India co-production that tried to fuse the sensibilities of Bollywood with American Indy films only to careen out-of-control off a cliff while on fire.

The director of the documentary Penny Vozniak and her subject Jennifer Lynch will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions afterwards. This cautionary tale should be a must-see for every would-be filmmaker in Montreal.

And then the next night, we will be getting…

Chained (2012) Written by Jennifer Lynch and Damian O’Donnell, Directed by Jennifer Lynch

The World Premiere of Jennifer Lynch’s fourth film, presumably filmed under happier circumstances than Hisss. Even if Lynch and her co-writer weren’t going to be in Montreal to present their film, even if it wasn’t a perfect bookend for Despite the Gods, I would still be excited about Chained because of Vincent D’Onofrio, one of our finest actors, so rarely given the chance to take center stage in a film.

In this case D’Onofrio plays a serial killer who kidnaps a boy and raises him to take up the “family business”. Looks twisted and demented.

My only disappointment is that I wish Fantasia had decided to show all of Jennifer Lynch’s films. Let’s dig into Boxing Helena, Surveillance and Hisss with the director there to explain, defend and debate her films!

*****

3) Jeeja Yanin (The Kick)

The Kick (2011) Written by Panna Rittikrai, Directed by Prachya Pinkaew

I am on record as being totally 100% in the bag for Jeeja Yanin. She is an astonishing physical talent.

The Kick has other interesting features beyond my current favourite martial arts actress/obsession. The plot pits Muay Thai vs. Tae Kwon Do aka Thailand vs. Korea and that is a styles clash that I am excited to see on screen.

As I have said before, “There will come a time and soon, when Jeeja Yanin is given a script worthy of her amazing talents. Until that time, we can enjoy the immense guilty pleasure of watching her in action.”

I don’t know if The Kick falls into the category of guilty pleasure or greatness, but I am eager to find out.

*****

4) Michael Mother-F***ing Biehn (The Victim)

The Victim (2012) Written by Michael Biehn and Reed Lackey, Directed by Michael Biehn

Michael Biehn is coming to Montreal to present a grindhouse film he directed himself! After Terminator and Aliens 2, I never really understood why Michael Biehn didn’t become the action star that he seemed destined to become, but his performance in those two films bought him a lifetime of slack from me.

As it turns out the plot of The Victim looks more than interesting. (Biehn is a back-woods hermit who gets dragged into a conflict between a pretty woman and a pair of corrupt, violent cops.)

*****

5) The Buzz (Resolution)

Resolution (2012) Written by Justin Benson, Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead

Fantasia is programmed by an extraordinarily strong team. Part of its strength is that different cinematic tastes can co-exist under one banner. I think that it is safe to say that not every film that Fantasia programs is loved by all of its programmers. In fact, the majority of the films that play every year are probably loved by some programmers more than others.

But every year, there is one film that seems to unite the programmers and the Fantasia audience. It’s early, but it looks like this year that film is going to be Resolution.

I say this because at least four Fantasia staff, each with widely differing tastes, have gone out of their way to praise Resolution either in public or to me personally.

The film is about a unrepentant drug addict and his friend who find themselves trapped in bizarre backwoods paranoia when they start receiving strange videos of each other. It seems to riff off the destructiveness of addiction, the complete loss of privacy of the YouTube universe and the adaptability of ghosts.

*****

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By Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan is the Festival Director for the YoungCuts Film Festival (www.YoungCuts.com) Every year, we present our Top 100 Great Short Films by the World's Best Young Filmmakers 25 and under. We are now accepting submissions for the 2013 Festival. On his blog (www.Llakor.blogspot.com) he very sporadically writes about YoungCuts, films, comics and his odd involvement in professional wrestling.

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