It’s that wonderful time of year again, folks, when film fans from all walks of life flock to Concordia University’s hallowed halls on the promise of some of the best, weirdest, most outside-the-box cinema that the world has to offer. The Fantasia Film Fest is kicking off its latest installment in just a week and a half, and we couldn’t be more excited. To help us vent that excitement (if only so we can get some sleep), we’re devoting as much space as we can to a look ahead at some of the Fantasia movies we’re most looking forward to from the 2017 installment, so join us as we go through some of our most anticipated entries in the fest’s lineup.
6) Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unreakable
It wouldn’t be Fantasia without at least one film by ludicrously prolific Japanese auteur Takashi Miike, and this year is no exception. For those familiar with Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, the generation-spanning manga-turned-anime, it seems like a perfect fit for Miike: off the wall, colorful, violent and intensely Japanese, in the absolute best way possible. Miike’s film adapts the fourth section of the manga, which follows the adventures of Josuke Higashitaka, a seemingly normal highschooler who follows in the footsteps of his ancestors by thwarting evil with hot-blooded enthusiasm. Miike’s films tend to be high in artifice; vibrant, colorful and slavish in their recreations of the aesthetics of anime, games and manga. Their particular brand of high-energy style is always a hit with Fantasia audiences, and this should be no different.
7) The Final Master
Xu Haofeng has been a director to watch ever since his 2011 debut The Sword Identity breathed exciting new life into the modern martial arts movie scene. Haofeng continued his ascent in 2012 with Judge Archer, another stunning new entry into the canon that made up for its incredibly labyrinthine plot with some of the most stunning fight scenes in recent memory, beautifully understated and hard-hitting counterpoints to the operatic fight scenes of his contemporaries. Haofeng is currently hard at work on his latest film, The Hidden Sword. But while we patiently wait for that to hit screens, we have his 2015 effort The Final Master to enjoy. There’s nothing more exciting than watching a director with clear vision and talent hone their skills from one film to another, and there isn’t a kung-fu movie fan alive who isn’t excitedly watching this new legend of kung-fu cinema continue his rise to greatness.
8) King Cohen
If you’re a fan of 1980s B-movies, Larry Cohen should be a name you’re familiar with. If you aren’t, here’s a crash course: Cohen is one of the more beloved of the B-movie auteurs, having delivered classics like the It’s Alive series, The Stuff and Q: The Winged Serpent. In addition to the world premiere of King Cohen, a new documentary chronicling Cohen’s twenty-year career as a writer/director, Cohen will be on hand to accept a lifetime achievement award from Fantasia. There will also be screenings of 35mm prints of a selection of Cohen favorites, including They Live, Q and God Told Me To.
9) Napping Princess
What’s Fantasia without anime? Hopefully the day when we have to find out never comes. In the mean time, Fantasia 2017 has a host of anime delights on offering, among them Napping Princess from director Kenji Kamiyama. You may recognize Kamiyama’s name for his work on the sublimely beautiful Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series and movie, or 2012’s 009 RE: Cyborg. And if you think Kamiyama is leaving his playground of personal drama and friendly robots behind, you’re dead wrong. Kamiyama’s latest, Napping Princess takes place just before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and follows a young girl named Kokone and Hearts, her transforming robot motorcycle that looks suspiciously like Baymax from Big Hero 6,almost as though they had the same designer (hint: they did). It’s hard to know what to expect from this one, as it looks to be liberally mixing genres in a big way, but whatever it turns out to be, it looks like a fun ride.
10) The Night is Short, Walk on Girl
There will always be room for anime films and series that push the envelop in terms of detail, taking full advantage of High Definition to lovingly detail their worlds. But there’s also room for anime that goes the other route, presenting stylized visuals that pop off the screen with character and offbeat charm. In case you were worried this is the route less traveled in modern anime, might we present The Night is Short, Walk on Girl? Coming to you from Masaaki Yuasa, the mad genius behind Mind Game and Tatami Galaxy, this film seems like your basic high school romance drama, but with Yuasa at the helm nothing is ever what it seems. Anime fans can look forward to a lot of insanely glorious visuals, but shouldn’t be surprised if the madcap pace and off-the-wall humor also come with some unexpected depth.