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By Mark Bell | July 16, 2011

I’m one of those people who thinks that, if you’re going to attend a film festival, you better be away from your hotel room seeing as many films or festival events as you can. Otherwise, why go? I can stay in bed or hide in front of a computer at home. Seeing a bunch of films back-to-back-to-back is not uncommon at a festival (I expect it), so the second night of Fantasia Fest felt more like the festival was getting underway than night one. Having said that, I know that no matter how jam-packed I make my screening schedule, I will not see everything I want to see while here at Fantasia.

This leads to a concept I call “squirreling,” which is basically when you commit to an idea, such as crossing a road, and then while halfway across the road you stop and start hopping back and forth in different directions; not moving forward, still in the road. Sometimes you get hit by a car, sometimes you make it across (or go back). Either way, it’s a silly, inefficient display with unpredictable results. When it comes to film festivals, squirreling happens when I set a screening schedule for myself, start watching films, and then begin changing the schedule… then changing it back… then changing it again… then ??? Eventually I’ll end up somewhere, but maybe not where I was originally headed.

Yesterday I squirreled with my schedule a lot. I originally planned on seeing Milocrorze: A Love Story, Attack the Block and Deadball. As I stood in line for Milocrorze, I decided to see Bullhead instead of Attack the Block, since I had seen Attack the Block at SXSW. While in line for Bullhead, I began mentally debating seeing Chop, which was playing for its second and final time (I think) last night, or seeing Deadball, which is playing today. I decided to go with Chop. In other (shorter) words, my screening schedule, due to a ton of squirreling, turned out to be Milocrorze, Bullhead and Chop.

Of the three films, Milocrorze: A Love Story was by far my favorite of the day. A f****d-up film telling three tales of love, Milocrorze hits on so many genres, ideas and visual styles that I think I spent the first 45-50 minutes of the film with a stupid-looking smile on my face. I know this because I remember thinking, “my face is starting to hurt from all this smiling.” If you can see it, anywhere, see Milocrorze.

Bullhead is less cut-and-dry an experience. I liked the film, but I’m still thinking about it. One of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t tragedy-style films. Moody, intelligent and requiring far more justice than anything I’m going to put down right now. Need to think on it some more.

The final film of the evening, Chop, was underwhelming. It’s a spoof of sorts on the revenge/torture porn genre, and the acting is played over-the-top (yet nowhere near Cary Elwes performance in Saw), but it just didn’t seem to fly all that great with me. I think the film is a great idea for a tightly-packed short, but it just gets repetitive as a feature and the resolution was so predictable that, when it happened, it didn’t have the impact it could’ve had (overhead more than a couple audience members lamenting this while walking out of the theater). On top of that, for as many of the violent things that happen in the flick, it could’ve gone even further. Spoof, satire, it could’ve really gone for it… but it didn’t. I thought the movie was funny, and by no means was it a horrible experience to sit through, it just didn’t deliver as much as perhaps it could’ve.

Today is looking like a squirreling day as well, as I want to catch Deadball or The Reef, El Sol or The Theatre Bizarre and Knifepoint or Yakuza Weapon. The only certain choice is Ninja Kids!!! At least the main theaters at Fantasia Fest are across the street from one another; I’m allowed to be indecisive up until I actually head in. Here we go again…

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