Monday, April 8

2019 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Sunday, April 7th

2019 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Sunday, April 7th

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.

WORLDS OF URSULA K. LE GUIN – Directed by Arwen Curry

"Every story must make its own rules.... and obey them." - Ursula K. Le Guin

To be honest, I'm not really all that well read when it comes to sci-fi/fantasy literature. If it's not Asimov, Bradbury or Wells, I'm probably not familiar with it. So I was eager to see this film for some additional reference points and to potentially add some new things to my reading list. Before I sat down to write this, I added her The Dispossessed to my Amazon wish list.... (not that I'll ever find time to read it.) 

For the most part, this works as a pretty straight forward bio-doc about a very influential genre writer. We here from an eclectic collection of names like Niel Gaiman and Michael Chabon singing her praises and describing her works while animated depictions fill the screen. If you are already a fan of her work, you will likely get a lot out of this film.

I was a bit more interested in the story of how a female writer challenged the gatekeeperism of her industry and came out victorious. This story is told throughout the folds of the film as well, but it never seems to have been the intended thesis. 

OFF THE RAILS – Directed by Damian Fitzsimmons

It took the invention of the microwave oven for me to figure out what year this story was supposed to be set in... I don't know if that says more about today's retro-fashion culture or this film. The story also perks up considerably around the microwave scene as well. 

The is a very 'bro-centric' coming of age comedy about three friends in their early twenties learning to become adults and finding that it will take them on different paths. The three performances are well done and there is a lot of organic chemistry between the male leads. There are some funny and even touching moments but unfortunately, I found most of the humor to be quite juvenile at at times chauvinistic. And I didn't get the impression that the film was any more self-aware than its characters. 

I TRAPPED THE DEVIL – Directed by Josh Lobo

First of all, AJ Bowen is one of our most underrated actors. He has around 38 credits since Ti West's THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL ('09) and his range is always impressive. I'll always be looking forward to seeing one of his films.

Speaking of the THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, this film's first half gave me the same impression. It's a creepy slow-burn that takes place in a single setting (a large house) that hides a mystery behind a closed door. This is where most of the similarities end however. Where West's methodical pacing crescendoes into extreme terror in its second and third acts, this film unfortunately leaves underwhelms. 

I do think however, that on some levels, this works very well as a metaphor for pent up aggression and its violent consequences. But this is nothing new, especially in horror.

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