All too often annoying things like money and time and distance get in the way of going to film festivals. Fantastic Fest is looking to change that, though. The main festival happened earlier this year, but this weekend, and this weekend only, the Alamo Drafthouse is getting experimental by taking its festival on tour. It's breaking down some of those annoying barriers in an effort to give a wider swath of the country a chance to see some of the coolest indie and international movies of the year.
Unfortunately it's logistically impossible to bring the entire, 60-plus films that played the festival on tour, but we can promise you that the eight films that are making the rounds are well worth your time. But, if the demands of the real world mean you can't actually see them all, we would particularly like to twist your arm toward Cheap Thrills, Big Bad Wolves, Why Don't You Play in Hell and Grand Piano. All four are, well, fantastic films, and we promise you won't see anything else like them on the big screen this year.
Here's everything that's playing:
Director: Alex Van Warmerdam
2013, The Netherlands, 113 min
Something wicked this way comes in the form of the polite and the normal as a drifter and his followers invade the home of a bourgeois family. Borgman is the official Netherlands entry for the Academy Award Best Foreign Language Film. Jessica Kiang of Indiewire describes Borgman as “[c]austic, surreal, creepy, and blackly funny.”
Director: E.L Katz
2013, USA, 85 min
A recently fired father (Pat Healy) facing eviction is paid to take on an escalating series of insane challenges from a rich couple (David Koechner and Sara Paxton) with a twisted sense of humor. “[Cheap Thrills] is many things: original, satirical, violent, funny….Consider yourself warned,” said Complex.com’s Matt Barone. “Genre flicks this unique, daring, and perversely thoughtful don't come around very often.”
Confession of Murder
Director: Jeong Byeong Gil
2012, South Korea, 119 min
After the statute of limitations expires on a series of high-profile murders, a man writes a book claiming to be the killer, setting off a firestorm of media attention as the families of the dead and the cop in charge of the case hunt for justice. Film School Rejects says the film "melds intense drama, exhilarating action, and honest heart into one hell of a ride."
Big Bad Wolves
Directors: Navot Papushado and Aahron Keshales
2013, Israel, 110 min
The directing team behind the 2010 cult smash Rabies return to the screen their unique blend or horror, suspense and droll comedy. Iconic director Quentin Tarantino recently called Big Bad Wolves “the best film of the year.”
Director: Ari Folman
2013, Israel, 123 min
Robin Wright (playing a version of herself) receives the last offer she’ll ever get from a Hollywood studio in Ari Folman’s adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s classic sci-fi novel, and his follow-up to the animated Waltz with Bashir. It also stars John Hamm and Harvey Keitel. Empire Online’s Damon Wise describes The Congress as an “extraordinary and very touching film that exists somewhere in the twilight zone between the existential brainteasers of Charlie Kaufman and the psychedelic wonders of Hayao Miyazaki.
Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
Directors: Stephen Chow and Chi-Kin Kwok
2013, China, 110 min
The undisputed Chinese master of comedy, Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle) returns with an action-packed love story about competing demon hunters vying for the same conquests. Badass Digest says the film is “a monster-iffic blast. Outstandingly entertaining -- you will laugh your ass off.”
Why Don't You Play in Hell
Director: Sion Sono
2013, Japan, 126 min
Things get insanely bloody when an aspiring film troupe collides with a yakuza boss who wants to make a movie with his daughter. Fantastic Fest veteran Sion Sono’s (Love Exposure, Cold Fish) latest has been called “a madcap salute to cinema and yakuzas” by Debra Young of the Hollywood Reporter.
Director: Eugenio Mira
2013, Spain, 90 min
In this Fantastic Fest 2013 Audience Award winner, a renowned concert pianist (Elijah Wood) returns to the stage for one final performance, only to become the target of a sadistic cat-and-mouse game with a faceless sniper (John Cusack). IGN calls Grand Piano “Hugely entertaining—an acting and directing tour de force that holds the viewer in its vice-like grip from start to finish.”
So how do you see any of the above? Well, you need to be within driving distance of an Alamo Drafthouse. All eight films will be playing in Austin, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, New York, San Antonio and Virginia. For precise showtimes and locations, check out the Fantastic Fest 2013 Tour website.
If you can make it to any of the shows, we highly implore you to do so. Not only will you be treated to a great movie that you probably won't have the opportunity to see on the big screen ever again, but you're also voting with your dollars. If fans prove that there is indeed an audience for these kind of weird and risky films (at least by mainstream standards), then maybe, just maybe, events like this will be more common in the years to come.
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