Sunday, April 7

2019 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Saturday, April 6th

2019 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Saturday, April 6th

Coda’s ongoing coverage of the 2019 Phoenix Film Festival & International Horror Sci-Fi Film Festival. I'll be using these posts to recap the films I've experienced as part of these festivals.

ALL CREATURES HERE BELOW – Directed by Collin Schiffli

The first two-thirds of this story felt a bit aimless and meandering. You know that you're heading into a third act reveal that explains Ruby's unwitting kidnapping and the couple's dark past. Unfortunately, I had trouble staying interested in their current struggles without knowing what was in their past. And by the time of the reveal, I had somewhat checked out. 

But then the reveal did happen... And everything that this movie was became instantly so much darker than what I was expecting. I'm not saying that it instantly made this a great film, but I still think it demands to be seen. Your patience will be rewarded. 

VOLITION – Directed by Tony Dean Smith

I may watch a bit too much sci-fi because I figured out most of this film's plot way too early. And I don't think that is the film's fault. I'm just a bit more keyed in than most to certain tells that these types of stories always seem to require. So, I try not to judge too harshly just because of my own genre saturation. 

Kudos to this screenplay for never feeling the need to dumb down the complexities of multiple interweaving timelines. A lot of these films tend to have glaring plot holes. This one may have some small inconsistencies. But it did a good job of filling it in with complexities and intricacies. There have been a lot of similar stories told recently in cinema so it's hard to say that this one has what it will take to cut through the noise. But there were definitely things here to appreciate.

MIDNIGHT TRAVELER – Directed by Hassan Fazili

The history of Middle Eastern cinema is fraught with violence. Theocratic governments and regimes would much rather hide their truths from the rest of the world and many of them go to great lengths to silence any opposition. This is the story of a filmmaker, forced to flee his home in Afghanistan, after the Taliban issues his death warrant. About four years in the making, he documents his travels throughout the world, seeking only the safety of his family.

This was a phenomenal film. Shot of three mobile phones, he sheds light on the modern day immigrant experience. Facing the exploitation of smugglers, the bureaucracy of asylum and the spurn of Europe's latest surge of nationalism. When the late Roger Ebert said: "Movies are the most powerful empathy machine in all the arts..." This is what he meant. 

NIGHTMARE CINEMA – Directed by Alejandro Brugués, Ryûhei Kitamura, David Slade, Joe Dante & Mick Garris

Most anthologies suffer from an unevenness. This one is no different. Garris directed the Mickey Rourke framing device as well as the final segment. I thought his was unfortunately the weakest of the bunch and it was very disappointing that the film had to end on that note. The other segments were varying levels of fun or interesting but I specifically responded to David Slade's black & white short. It was the most disturbing and the one that I want to revisit.

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