Fantastic Fest Day 3

When it comes to Fantastic Fest, you’ve got to fit in as much awesomeas you possibly can. Besides the 20 some odd movies that are playing, Fantastic Arcade is still going strong and there’s the Debates, dance parties and happy hours. So how does one fit it all in? Well you can’t – and it seems that the Fantastic Fest team has a hard time keeping up as well when things get into full swing.  This year the Debates were between Tim League and James Quinn McDonagh (star of the documentary KNUCKLE, I don’t actually know if they are fighting over something), Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan (is this like the distasteful/irony midget boxing before the real show?), Andy Howell and NASA Hunter Hater (neeeeerrrds), and finally Nathan Zellner and David Zallner (robots, yes or no?). However, due to the ticketing snag it was overbooked. Fantastic Fest compensated patrons by offering two additional midnight movies but after watching a boxing documentary I want to see some boxing!

Even though some of us did not get to see the fight I hear it was fun for the whole gang. Besides not being able to get in to the fights we did have a pretty packed day, including some quality time at the Fantastic Fest arcade. Here’s the rundown of the movies and games of Day 3.

Extraterrestrial (2011)
Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo

This cute and interesting indie sci-fi movie from Spain has most of the festival talking. While it’s billed as a comedy, and has comedic moments, this felt much more to me like a light hearted thriller. Julio wakes up in a strange apartment it find Julia a girl he met up with at the club. Things are a little too quite on this Sunday afternoon and everyone knows when the cable and the phones are out its either zombies or aliens. This time it’s aliens, although they don’t really make an appearance in the film. Vigalondo uses the setting of an alien invasion to bring conflict between Julio, Julia, Carlos (Julia long time live in boyfriend) and Angel (the creepy next door neighbor who obviously wants into Julia’s pants). Even though the relationship between Julio and Julia is not the most moral, as an audience I couldn’t help but root for Julio the entire time. He’s a lovable character who is a straight short for about 85% of the movie. You might be able to see this one at a small indie theater like Violet Crown sometime but at the very least you should look for it on DVD.

KNUCKLE (2010)
Directed by: Ian Palmer

This movie took ten years to make and I don’t mean years of raising funds and then research and the casting. I mean that Ian Palmer followed around three clans of Irish Travelers (sorta like gypsies) who had been feuding for at least the last 60 years. Any number of things sends these families into hating each other, from the home made videos taunting each other, bar brawls and sometimes even drunken manslaughter. Some might think these are just the stereotypical “fightin’ Irish” that have to have their feuds out with bare knuckled fights, but there is a voice of reason in this chaos, James Quinn McDonagh. The Quinn McDonagh’s have been fighting with mainly the Joyce’s for years and it doubled in violence since 1992 when James’ brother Paddy got into a brawl with a Joyce and accidently killed him. Since then James has been the family fighter, demolishing anyone who challenged him to a match. But besides being a hulking fighter James seems to have a heart of gold who just wants to see the bickering and fighting stop between families. The documentary tries and uncover why these families are fighting and sometimes is only met with the answer of, it’s what we’ve always done, its tradition. But there are some like James who is out spoken about moving on, trying to live a normal life without these brutal matches. Even if you’re not a fan of boxing I would try and see this film, a great commentary about war between families and trying to break from the past.


Fantastic Fest Arcade Highlights:

As I mentioned before the arcade was free this year. And while the front of the Highball is crowded with mainstream PS3 games, tucked in the back ballroom are the indie games. Sometimes I felt like I would feel the sweat that was poured over these games, here are a few that we really enjoyed being able to play.

Robin Arnott

Arnott likes to promote this game as an art experiment that he’s almost perfected. The physical design of the game could use some more polishing but the concept is very solid. You wear a mask and headphones that black out everything but the audio of this game. You’re mission is to hunt down a sea monster that is threatening the outpost. You have to control your breathing (read as: not breathe at all) so that you can hear the monster otherwise your suit produces bubbles. This is a fun game, that felt more fun than scary and I appreciated that.

Radical Fishing

This is a fun little fish and shoot game much like Toss the Turtle where there isn’t a large amount of skill but you do get to shoot a lot of things. This would do very well as a flash game on one of the larger web game sites.

They Bleed Pixels
Spooky Squid Games Inc.

This fast-paced platformer has a lot of people talking at the arcade. It’ movement controls are fast and fun to run around the gothic setting where you’re out to kill as much as possible. It’s coming out to Xbox Live soonish and it’s a great little game to pick up.

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