Fantastic Fest 2018: 3 to See on the Lighter Side, Featuring Nicolas Cage, Talking Animals and French Criminals

Fantastic Fest 2018: 3 to See on the Lighter Side, Featuring Nicolas Cage, Talking Animals and French Criminals

Oct 01, 2018

Nicolas Cage

The annual Fantastic Fest is known for showcasing strange and often disturbing films. See, for example, our recent coverage of the deeply unsettling Suspiria

Yet the festival's focus on wild, crazy and freaky movies also embraces titles on the lighter, more fantastical side of the genre spectrum. Here are three examples of somewhat "lighter" movies that recently screened at the festival in Austin, Texas. 
 

Between Worlds

What makes it special? In recent years, Nicolas Cage (top) has been on a very weird and wild roll, giving unexpectedly memorable appearances in a series of genre flicks. (See, for example, the pitch-black, vengeance-filled and very violent Mandy.) Yet that doesn't mean he's insincere about any of his performances, including this thriller, written and directed by Maria Pulera.

Cage plays Joe, a truck driver in Alabama who is still grieving the tragic loss of his wife and young daughter. He meets Julie (Franka Potente), who has a gift that allows her to connect with lost souls, including her own teenage daughter Billie (Penelope Mitchell). In the process of bringing Billie back to the living, unfortunately, things get tangled and soon Joe finds himself under the spell of his dead wife Mary, who has taken control of Bilie's soul.

Just wait -- it gets even wilder! The tone occasionally wanders, but Cage is compelling as usual, Potente is very good, and Mitchell gives a boldly unhinged performance. It's all great, mesmerizing fun to watch unfold.

When can we see it? Saban Films acquired distribution rights in May 2018. The company is "planning a day-and-date theatrical/VOD release," per Variety. We're eagerly awaiting word on when everyone can see it.
 

Laika

What makes it special? Talking animals feature prominently in this crazy, funny, sci-fi musical. It is inspired by the true story of Laika, a real-life dog that was captured off the streets of Moscow and catapulted into space on board a Russian capsule, eventually dying a horrible death when the capsule's systems malfunctioned.

Happily, the stop-motion animated feature from the Czech Republic, directed by Aurel Klimt, imagines a far different fate for our heroine, who proves to be far too clever to be foiled by humans. Instead, she saves herself and her fellow animals by trekking to a distant planet via a black hole. So, it could almost be retitled Isle of Dogs in Space. It's wild, freaky and probably best for children aged 10 and over -- and all adults who love a good story!

When can we see it? Released in its native Czech Republic some time ago, the film is still awaiting a distribution deal in the U.S. That's a shame, since it deserves to be more widely seen.
 

The World Is Yours

What makes it special? The teaser above gives a deceptively dreamy impression of a wild and funny French crime comedy. Karim Leklou stars as a small-time drug dealer who wants to retire and settle down in peace with his girlfriend. To accomplish his goals, however, he must accept the infamous 'one last job,' which, naturally, doesn't go at all like he hoped, forcing him to call upon his mother (Isabelle Adjani) to save his bacon.

The film is freshly imaginative in its plotting and characterizations, bolstered by its crisp pace, colorful costuming and stylish production design. Romain Gavras, known for the powerful drama Our Day Will Come, directs with delightful glee. Bonus: filmmaker John Landis appears in a 'blink and you'll miss it' moment as a non-speaking extra, for some reason.

When can we see it? The film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year; we're still waiting to hear which distributor might pick up this crowd-pleasing title for the U.S.

 

Other notable, lighter titles to check out: An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn (Aubrey Plaza in a comedy from the director of The Greasy Strangler), Keep an Eye Out (an off-kilter comedy from the director of Rubber and Wrong), I Used to Be Normal (a terrific documentary on 4 fangirls and their devotion to boy bands, from One Direction to The Beatles) and Life After Flash (a very entertaining documentary on and about 1980's Flash Gordon, focusing on star Sam J. Jones and his fascinating life story).

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