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Fantastic Fest 2019 Announces the Third and Final Wave of Programming

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Fantastic Fest

Fantastic Fest 2019 is just around the corner and a week before the doors open, the festival has revealed its third and final wave of programming.

Wave three brings a ton of exciting new titles including I Lost My Body, the award-winning film from director Jérémy Clapin, Jessica Hausner’s English-language debut Little Joe and Sea Fever which is being compared to such films as Alien to The Thing to last year’s Annihilation. In addition, they’ve added the World Premiere of Random Acts of Violence, We Summon the Darkness and the North American Premiere of Keep me Company.

The festival will also be honoring the career of Japanese maestro Takashi Miike with a lifetime achievement award and a special screening of The Happiness of the Katakuris. Check out the press release and full lineup below. You can find wave one here and wave two here.

Fantastic Fest runs September 19-26. Be sure to check back as we will be covering the event once again this year.

AUSTIN, TX — September 11, 2019 — Netflix brings the US Premiere of the much-lauded I LOST MY BODY to Fantastic Fest after an award winning debut at Cannes Critics Week. From director Jérémy Clapin, this singular tale of a severed hand trying to reunite with its owner is told in a striking hand-drawn animation style and won the Cristal award at the prestigious Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

“This has been a phenomenal year in terms of filmmaking, and we are proud to be hosting so many of the year’s best filmmakers in Austin,” says Evrim Ersoy, Fantastic Fest Creative Director. “Whether first-timers or alumni, we hope to share their work with our unique audience and to help elevate their voices within the festival world and with audiences at large.”

The festival will be honoring the career of Japanese maestro Takashi Miike with a lifetime achievement award and a special screening of THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS. With over 100 films under his belt, Takashi Miike’s work has been regularly featured as part of the festival.

This year, Fantastic Fest alumni are bringing exceptional new projects to the festival. ALLÉLUIA filmmaker Fabrice du Welz returns to Austin with the North American Premiere of ADORATION, telling a story of young love gone wrong. Drafthouse Films alum Katrin Gebbe follows up her striking debut feature NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN with PELICAN BLOOD, where a mother realizes something may be very wrong with her adopted daughter. Finally, shorts filmmaker Ryan Spindell makes the jump to features with the World Premiere of his fast-paced anthology, THE MORTUARY COLLECTION.

One of the thrills of Fantastic Fest is the opportunity to see the beginning of a filmmaker’s career, and this year’s fest will feature a trio of stunning directorial debuts. In SAINT MAUD, a live-in nurse is determined to save the soul of her dying patient at any given cost. In HOMEWRECKER, polite friendship forces a young woman into a battle to the death with the growing insanity of her newly-made friend. Finally, in AMIGO, lifelong friends find their relationship turning toxic following a tragic and crippling accident.

The sea is the inspiration for a trio of films that inspire very different emotions. In SWEETHEART, a shipwrecked young woman discovers she might not be as alone as she thought. In SEA FEVER, the crew of a small shipping boat discovers their craft infected by an unknown organism. Lastly, in RIDE YOUR WAVE, a surf-obsessed young woman discovers that death might not be the final stop in her burgeoning romance with a handsome firefighter.

Fantastic Fest is known for its dedication to the horror genre, and this year’s lineup is especially strong with an array of fantastic premieres. In the World Premiere of RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE, a comic book artist finds himself the inspiration for the grisly work of a serial killer. In the World Premiere of WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS, an after-party becomes deadly grounds for survival for a group of heavy metal fans. And in the North American Premiere of KEEP ME COMPANY, a romantic weekend getaway turns sinister with unusual occurrences at a rented house.

Cinephiles with a taste for the unusual will be delighted with a trio of titles that bend styles and genres to create something wholly unique. In LITTLE JOE, a scientific discovery threatens the entire future of mankind. WYRM concerns an alternative future where a shy, dinosaur-obsessed high-schooler struggles with a unique and unusual school requirement. And finally in NIGHT DRIVE a driver finds his boring evening becoming anything but when he picks up a young woman through a ride-share app in a glorious comedy of errors.

Alongside the usual vibrant and exciting shorts programming, Fantastic Fest 2019 brings a special focus to up-and-coming genre filmmakers from Mexico in a shorts block supported by Austin’s Consulate of Mexico titled MÉXICO FANTÁSTICO. The program opens with the disquieting thriller 9:40 starring Kristyan Ferrer (SIN NOMBRE), and proceeds with a selection of fantastic shorts that run the gamut in both genre and style, including the eerie folk-horror of THE WANDERING WITCH and disturbing sci-fi drama of THE ORIGINAL by Fantastic Fest alums Sofia Carrillo and Michelle Garza Cervera respectively.

Finally, live podcast recordings are back on The Highball stage at Fantastic Fest this year, with the return of Leonard Maltin’s Maltin on Movies, Doug Benson’s Doug Loves Movies, and April Wolfe’s Switchblade Sisters. This year brings new additions that include Horror Queers, The Horror and 5BY5 At The Movies.

Fantastic Fest 2019 – FINAL WAVE FILM LINEUP BELOW:

Adoration
France, Belgium, 2019North American Premiere, 98 minDirector – Fabrice du Welz

Paul lives with his mother on the grounds of a mental institution and has little contact with the outside world. When Gloria’s admitted, he’s immediately fascinated by her and events take an unexpected turn.

Amigo
Spain, 2019
World Premiere, 83 min
Director – Óscar Martín

After a serious car accident (for which he’s responsible), David decides to care for his best friend Javi at a remote house. It doesn’t take long until the animosity insidiously builds between them.

The Deeper You Dig
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 95 min
Directors – Toby Poser & John Adams (Co-director: Zelda Adams)

The creation of a family production team in upstate New York, this unsettling supernatural tale explores the aftermath of a roadside accident, bringing together a mother, her daughter, and a stranger in increasingly surreal circumstances.

HomeWrecker
Canada, 2019
International Premiere, 86 min
Director – Zach Gayne

Societal expectations create a pressure cooker in HOMEWRECKER, a darkly hilarious satire that plays like the best bonkers thriller Lifetime wishes they made.

I Lost My Body
France, 2019
US Premiere, 82 min
Director – Jérémy Clapin

A severed hand escapes from a laboratory and sets off on a series of adventures across Paris, determined to find its owner.

Jallikattu
India, 2019
US Premiere, 91 min|
Director – Lijo Jose Pellissery

The line between man and beast dissolves when a buffalo escapes slaughter in a sleepy South Indian village, leaving a trail of chaos and explosive machismo in its wake. It’s a landlocked JAWS, a bestial 2001, and a contemporary MAD MAX: FURY ROAD all rolled into one.

Keep Me Company
Portugal, 2019
North American Premiere, 82 min
Director – Gonçalo Almeida

Two lovers meet in a secluded country home to try to heal their relationship without distraction, but the property’s pool has other mysterious intentions.

Little Joe
Austria, United Kingdom, Germany, 2019
Sneak Preview, 105 min
Director – Jessica Hausner

A genetically modified scarlet flower has mood-enhancing antidepressant effects on its owners, which become increasingly alarming as its influence spreads in this body snatchers for the drugged-out millennium.

The Mortuary Collection
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 108 min
Director – Ryan Spindell

A young girl enters a secret room in a mortuary and learns the backstory of the mortician’s favorite deaths in this twisted anthology by Fantastic Fest alum Ryan Spindell.

Night Drive
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 82 min
Directors – Meghan Leon & Bradford Baruh

When Russell picks up an enigmatic young woman through a ride-share app, his boring evening perks up. But all bets are off after they hit a guy with the car in this charming comedy of errors.

The Other Lamb
Ireland, Belgium, USA, 2019
US Premiere, 97 min
Director – Malgorzata Szumowska

Selah lives with her mothers and sisters in a mysterious cult led by Shepherd. When she begins to question his teachings, it threatens to destroy the very nature of their existence.

Pelican Blood
Germany, Bulgaria, 2019
US Premiere, 121 min
Director – Katrin Gebbe

German acting treasure Nina Hoss headlines Katrin Gebbe’s (NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN) sophomore feature about a single mother who adopts — and won’t give up on — a troubled little girl with a horrific past.

Random Acts of Violence
Canada, 2019
World Premiere, 80 min
Director – Jay Baruchel

A comic book writer visits the town where a serial killer previously wreaked havoc, only to encounter a new series of murders that strangely mirror the deaths he created in his comics.

Ride Your Wave
Japan, 2019
US Premiere, 96 min
Director – Masaaki Yuasa

Surf-loving college student Hinako crosses paths with Minato, a handsome firefighter, but a tragedy will change all they know to be true.

Saint Maude
United Kingdom, 2019
US Premiere, 83 min
Director – Rose Glass

While caring for an attractive woman dying of cancer, devoutly religious nurse Maud develops an all-encompassing case of holy possession mixed with real-life obsession.

Sea Fever
Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, 2019
US Premiere, 91 min
Director – Neasa Hardiman

The crew aboard a West of Ireland fishing trawler marooned at sea fall victim to a gradually spreading parasite in their water supply.

Sweetheart
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 82 min
Director – J.D. Dillard

After a storm at sea leaves her stranded on a deserted island, Jenn gathers all her strength to find ways to survive. But when night falls, Jenn discovers that the island isn’t as deserted as she might have thought… or hoped.

We Summon the Darkness
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Marc Meyers

When Val, Beverly, and Alexis meet a group of fun-loving dudes in the parking lot of a heavy metal concert, they all decide to have an after-party, but it isn’t long before the group finds themselves fighting for their lives.

WYRM
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 106 min
Director – Christopher Winterbauer

In a strangely futuristic yet analog alternate universe, a lonely, dinosaur-obsessed youth struggles to complete a unique school requirement or risk being held back and enduring a lifetime of embarrassment.

Humans by birth. Gamers by choice. Goomba Stomp is a Canadian web publication that has been independently owned and operated since its inception in 2016.

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Let’s Discuss the Revamped Sonic the Hedgehog Design

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The internet has breathed a collective sigh of relief following the release of a new trailer for the upcoming Sonic The Hedgehog movie. Some leaks a few weeks back that turned out to be correct showed the design that we see but the trailer shows a lot more of the new redesign of the world renowned video game character. The movie has been the subject of much attention-mostly negative- after the initial trailer was released six months ago. The first trailer (which initially announced a release date of November 2019) was incredibly poorly received due to the odd design choice for the titular character. With small eyes, a tiny snout and human teeth, the original design was weirdly realistic and resembled an odd humanoid rather than the blue cartoon hedgehog that we all know and love.

The first design for Sonic looked a bit like a child in a Sonic the Hedgehog suit. Creepy to say the least.

The new trailer shows off a brand new look for Sonic which is far more in sync with what we already know for the character. He is definitely an animated character, with the exaggerated features that he has always had in every other iteration. The movie itself still looks cheesy as hell but it looks like a tolerable, even kind of enjoyable sort of cheesy.  The controversy surrounding the terribly received first Sonic design has been so prolific that some even argued that the whole thing has been a marketing ploy and that the character was never meant to look as bad as he originally did. Whatever the case may be in terms of what went down behind the scenes of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, it is clear that even if the film is terrible it will attract a substantial audience of people just curious as to how the whole thing is going to turn out. As a fan of Sonic since the 90’s when I was little, I’m probably going to be one of those people.

Sonic is now appropriately cute, fluffy and more in line with his usual style.

I’m still kind of hoping it can break the curse of the video game movie-like Detective Pikachu did- but alongside the aforementioned cheesiness, it looks like a pretty generic movie aimed at kids rather than diehard fans of the Sonic franchise. Flop or not, at least Sonic is looking far more adorable and less like he might murder you in your sleep. It also shows how the filmmakers were willing to listen to their audience and implement changes following feedback. Incredibly vocal feedback at that.

The comparison between the two designs shows just how much the animators have worked to create a brand new Sonic. Their hard work has certainly paid off.

Sonic the Hedgehog is due for theatrical release on February 14th, 2020.

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Anamanaguchi – [USA] (Album Review)

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Few acts boast such renown amongst uber-nerdy video game enthusiasts as Anamanaguchi. Unveiling their debut EP ‘Power Supply’ in 2009, the Chiptune pioneers have pushed their unique brand of 8-bit powered Rock and Pop across various releases, including 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game soundtrack, and 2013’s Kickstarter funded 22 track LP ‘Endless Fantasy’. And with ‘Endless Fantasy’ being their last LP (excluding their stuffed to the brim ‘Capsule Silence XXIV’ compilations), to say fans have anticipated ‘[USA]’ is an almighty understatement.

Six years is a while, so has Anamanaguchi’s latest batch of tracks been worth the wait? Seasoned fans Harry and Kyle are on the scene to offer their takes, from how ‘[USA]’ stacks up against the band’s other offerings, to its effectiveness as an artistic whole.

Background With Anamanaguchi

I first heard Anamanaguchi around 2010. At the time I was neck deep in my Slipknot phase (a phase I’ve yet to grow out of judging by how much I replayed ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ this year), so their goofy electronic schtick didn’t tick my boxes. But as time passed I developed a stronger fondness of them, so much so that I enthusiastically backed their 2013 LP ‘Endless Fantasy’ on Kickstarter. Now I’ve seen them live twice, followed their progress over the years, and can proudly proclaim my superfan status. – Harry

The late 2000s saw a shift in pop culture: suddenly, geek chic was all the rage. G4 was at the height of its popularity, pixel art infested countless pieces of media, and video games were undeniably cool. Few other pieces of media encapsulate this cultural zeitgeist more than Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. Based on the popular comic by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the Scott Pilgrim game featured Anamanaguchi’s crunchy pixelated Rock sound, which melded perfectly with the colorful 16-bit beat-em’-up gameplay. Older Anamanaguchi albums are more than just music: they’re a trip back in time to a brighter, more innocent era of pop culture and gaming. – Kyle

Introducing [USA]

I was excited for ‘[USA]’, but that’s stating the obvious based on my prior words. The LP kicks off with its titular track, introducing affairs with an amalgamation of predictably glitchy bleeps ‘n’ bloops. It’s straight up Anamanaguchi, their Chiptune flair intact. This is good, as Anamanaguchi sans Chiptune is like spaghetti sans sauce (still awesome, but lacking a key ingredient). “USA” is chanted as instrumentation morphs stylistically, crescendoing in dynamics and tempo, and setting the stage for the lead single.

“Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” is an LP highlight. Stepping out the gate with Vocaloid-y singing, an aesthetic of grandiose gorgeousness is speedily cemented. This later juxtaposes with the rapid-fire rhythms of Luke’s drumming and manic synthesizer arpeggios that run around like an 8-bit-ified (Sega Master System) Sonic the Hedgehog. This mental meld of melody, Drum and bass, and all manner of other musical magic finally sinks into a sea of atmospheric spookiness, concluding in an out of left field (yet utterly engaging) way. “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” avoids predictability through each and every beat of its journey, but nails catchy accessibility to a tee. A masterclass in creative songwriting, it sets ‘[USA]’s’ bar sky high. – Harry

The weeks to ‘[USA]’ releasing were positive ones, marked by enticing singles like “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” and “Air On Line”. Anamanaguchi’s distinct Rock-flavored Chiptune style had undergone a stylistic shift in the band’s 2013 release ‘Endless Fantasy’, where the band shed off some of its punk flair in favor of dreamier synth tones. In the six years between LP releases, Anamanaguchi experimented with singles and EPs featuring sonic palettes characteristic of modern J-Pop (“Pop It”, “Miku”). While the band stretched its legs with poppier beats, it did mark a further departure from the traditional Rock-oriented sound that had defined much of their earlier work.

‘[USA]’ in many respects displays a return to Anamanaguchi’s roots. Tracks like “On My Own (feat. HANA)” and “Air On Line” boast driving guitar riffs, thumping drums, and fluidly complex intricacies. Yet, it’s more than clear that Anamanaguchi has evolved beyond their geeky beginnings to cultivate an airy soundscape of bright pastel colors and crystal clear tones. It doesn’t always hit the mark, but the highs that ‘[USA]’ can reach prove that the guys have still got it. – Kyle

Negative Bits

Unfortunately, said sky high bar is scarcely met again throughout the rest of ‘[USA]’. Plenty of tracks, like “The C R T Woods” and “Overwriting Incorporate”, are serviceable, but fall short of the laser focused compositional direction and melodic magnificence that Anamanaguchi are so super slick at. ‘[USA]’ suffers from banality, with tracks like “Tear” and “We Die” meandering noisily without focus, and big chunks (particularly the interlude-like tracks “Speak To You [Memory Messengers]” and “Apophenia Light [Name Eaters]”) feeling akin to ‘Capsule Silence XXIV’ cuts (i.e. decent demos, but not kickass LP standouts). – Harry

Much like Harry, I found a large chunk of the album rather dull to get through. Admittedly, Anamanaguchi has an undeniable talent for their synth instrumentation. However, what pushes their work beyond generic electronic music is their ability to anchor that instrumentation to a melodic through line built on catchy hooks and unexpected turns. “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” is one of the few tracks that manages to pull off this floaty, ethereal sound because it moves forward with purpose and constantly engages your curiosity. The same can’t be said for several of the other synth-heavy tracks, too lost in their own sound to offer anything truly engaging. – Kyle

Positive Bits

Nevertheless, there are flashes of brilliance here. “Sunset By Plane (feat. Caroline Lufkin)” is Anamanaguchi firing on all cylinders, delivering energetic poppy bombast in spades. Porter Robinson’s co production is evident in “Air On Line”, resulting in a smooth stomper of happy hooks. “B S X (feat. Hatsune Miku)” incorporates choppily glitched-out singing from the iconic Vocaloid, serving as a pseudo-sequel to the 2016 single “Miku”. “On My Own (feat. HANA)” sees Anamanaguchi’s Chiptune/Pop/Rock melting pot bubbling away again. And speaking of Chiptune, it’s wonderful to hear mountains of 8-bit eccentricity throughout ‘[USA]’, proving even as their sound matures, Anamanaguchi still celebrate where they came from with beaming pixelated smiles. – Harry

As a whole, ‘[USA]’ still deserves a place worthy of praise in Anamanaguchi’s discography. Porter Robinson only collaborated with the band for “Air On Line”, but his style bleeds wonderfully into tracks like “Up to You (feat. meesh)” and “Sunset By Plane (feat. Caroline Lufkin)”. The kawaii-infused J-Pop rhythms and hooks are infectiously catchy, but don’t let that fool you: Anamanaguchi haven’t lost their edge. “B S X (feat. Hatsune Miku)” and “On My Own (feat. HANA)” show that the band can reach back into their deep musical pockets and bring out their signature hard Chiptune Rock to surprise you with something intimately familiar. – Kyle

Final Thoughts

In typical Anamanaguchi fashion, ‘[USA]’ is ambitious from start to finish. ‘Endless Fantasy’ is bloated, but stylistically spot on, whereas ‘[USA]’ trims the fat, but gets a little lost in its journey. Glistening gold sits alongside stale pies, and that description is a fitting metaphor for elements of ‘[USA]’: it’s odd, and doesn’t make much sense (and perhaps that in itself is a metaphor for the real life USA?).

Still, when Anamanaguchi’s latest is good, it’s really good, and there’s bundles of genius in the 8-bit boys yet!

Check out, stream, buy or consume ‘[USA]’ in your preferred capacity by clicking HERE!

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Star Wars Fan Films Embrace the Essence of A Galaxy Far, Far Away

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There is no doubt that dedicated fans are capable of creating brilliant, fan-made content, but the Star Wars fan base has a habit of going above and beyond in making incredible works of art that often surpass official entries in the franchise. Two relatively recent short fan films — one released last week, the other released in March of this year — are great examples of this.

The first is a 1970s/80s-style cartoon from YouTuber Wilkins Animation called Dark Empire Episode One: The Destiny of a Jedi. This animated short is incredibly reminiscent of classic cartoons — so much so that it is difficult not to feel a pang of nostalgia upon watching it. The style gives off a He-Man vibe due to the quirky animation, stellar voice work, and vibrant colour scheme. The story is set after The Return of The Jedi as Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO embark on a mission to save Luke and Lando, who are stranded on war-torn Coruscant. I won’t spoil anything in case you want to check it out for yourself, but the story is engaging, and I couldn’t help but feel that I wanted to see more when it came to an end.

Have a watch below if you want to see more, and to check out Wilkins Animation’s Patreon to support their work, click here.

The second fan made film is a slightly older (from March 2019) one called Battle of the Dreadnoughts, by YouTuber EckhartsLadder. The film is significantly shorter than the 12-minute Dark Empire cartoon, clocking in at about three and a half minutes. It depicts a space battle between the New Republic’s Viscount Class Star Defender and the Empire’s most dangerous of all its weapons, the Eclipse Super Star Destroyer. Battle of the Dreadnoughts may be short, but it is astounding in quality. Upon my first viewing, I was certain I had accidentally clicked on a scene from the movies rather than a fan-made project. The accuracy, attention to detail, and sheer scale blew my mind and — as with the Dark Empire animation — left me wanting more from the content creators involved.

Check out EckhartsLadder’s Patreon here and their Twitch account here.

There is no doubting the talent of the Star Wars fan base, but these two films in particular are incredible works of art both in their own right and as Star Wars fan projects.

For more Star Wars, have a read of our Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer breakdown.

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