Berkreviews and the Bloody Awesome Movie Podcast will be covering the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival. The festival will be in Montreal, Quebec from July 14th through August 3rd. In this article, I will be highlighting a few films that caught my interest in hopes to help you, the reader, figure out how to navigate the festival.
Film 1: Employee of the Month
Employee of the Month is director Véronique Jadin’s dark comedy about the workplace. I am a big fan of dark comedy and horror comedies, so this immediately piqued my interest. Inès (Jasmina Douieb) has dedicated so much to her job at EcoCleanPro Cleaning Supplies and is becoming fed up with the blatant sexism she experiences as the sole female employee at this branch. It seems all that work may finally benefit her after the regional manager’s visit reveals abysmal numbers in gender pay equity at EcoCleanPro. Inès wants her dedication to pay off with a raise. Of course, things don’t always go the way they should. Inès feels the scrutiny of Melody (Laetitia Mampaka), the new intern, and decides she isn’t just going to let this go. When her history with Patrick (Peter Van den Begin) rears its ugly head and leads to an accident, all hell breaks loose – and the two women must combine troubleshooting skills for possibly the biggest mess of their lives.
It’s a premise that has a wealth of opportunities for tackling real-world issues. There have been some great workplace comedies that I love, like Office Space, and some lackluster horror workplace ones, like Belko Experiment and Mayhem. Nonetheless, even the lackluster ones have had moments of sheer entertainment – and that’s what I’m hoping for from Employee of the Month. If I laugh a few times and it features a few cool set pieces, then I’ll be satisfied.
Film 2: What To Do With the Dead Kaiju?
Sometimes, reading a title is all it takes to make me want to see a movie. That’s the case with director Satoshi Miki’s film What To Do With the Dead Kaiju? It’s a title that seems to reveal the premise of the film and also a question I’ve pondered after every Godzilla film I’ve ever seen. Imagine having lived through a monstrous event and the battle is over.
In this specific case, “it has been ten days since the cataclysmic defeat of the gigantic monster that had wreaked havoc in Tokyo. The public alarms have ceased, and the conscripted army is demobilizing. The mysterious force that slew the beast – where no human military technology could – remains an enigma…but right now, the main task is to pick up the pieces of the aftermath. There’s one piece, though, that presents a challenge—the enormous, rapidly decomposing carcass of the creature. Officer Arata of the Japan Special Force is assigned to the clean-up task force, an assignment made all the more complicated by political opportunism and romantic entanglements.
I’m excited to see how this plays out. It has tons of potential to be satirical and comment on the genre, while also telling a story that is often overlooked. Someone’s job would have to be dealing with the cleanup and all too rarely do these unsung heroes get their day in the spotlight. I’m not familiar with Miki’s other work, but the buzz about this film seems positive.
Film 3: The Roundup
The Roundup’s banner image sold me immediately, as I’m always looking for a good action movie. While I haven’t seen THE OUTLAWS – which is a 2017 Fantasia classic – this film is completely separate from it, apparently. I really enjoyed Ma Dong-seok in Train to Busan and Eternals, so he only adds to my anticipation of this film.
Legendary officer Ma Seok-do, the man who violently grinds up criminals first and worries about procedures too late for his superiors’ liking, is about to export his indelicate techniques to Vietnam. Indeed, many expatriate thugs are defrauding Korean tourists and investors. One of the main suspects has contacted them to turn himself in for immediate repatriation. Ma and Captain Jong, who is supposedly an interpreter (hiding the fact that he is about as bilingual as kimchi), meet the accused in Ho Chi Minh City and discover that a deranged gangster is using cruel and gruesome methods to terrorize even his fellow thugs. The unstoppable lawman Ma sets out to pursue this mysterious psychopath, despite the reluctance of his superior and the interdictions of the local authorities. To say that subtlety is not his strength would be an understatement – so hang on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
Film 4: Legendary In Action!
Like the last film, a movie that appears to be action-packed and features martial arts grabs my attention pretty quickly. Legendary In Action! seems to be exactly that. According to the official site, “Shaw Brothers legend and real-life kung-fu champion Chen Kuan-Tai (IRON MONKEY, EXECUTIONERS FROM SHAOLIN) shines in a rare role that celebrates action stars of the golden era of the ’70s and ’80s, making it fun, tragic, but full of heart.” Reading this only cemented my interest in the film. It may be obvious at this point, but I’m a sucker for movies that are commenting on the genre that they are embracing. The meta elements of the filmmaking process are another thing that often works for me, so seeing that it is about a character named Dragon – who was once a big star filming a reboot called SEVEN STAR SWORD – garnered my interest even further. This film sounds like it could be a lot of fun, and I’m definitely looking forward to checking it out.
Film 5: Bodies Bodies Bodies
Bodies Bodies Bodies has been on my radar for a few months now. In an isolated family mansion, a group of rich 20-somethings decides to play Bodies Bodies Bodies, a game where one of them is secretly a “killer” while the rest try to “escape”. Things take a turn for the worst when real bodies start turning up, setting off a paranoid and dangerous chain of events. This is another entry that seems to be self-aware, and commenting on the genre that it is also embracing. I have hopes that this film will be quite a bit of fun.
I had a lot of fun covering the Fantasia International Film Festival two years ago, and am excited to see what the festival has to offer this year. In fact, 2020 wouldn’t have been nearly as good a year of cinema if not for this festival. If you’re able to attend, I’d say adding these five films to your watchlist seems like a sensible idea. Of course, I’ve only scratched the surface of all the films at the festival, so visiting the website and seeing what catches your attention should be your next step if you plan on attending the festival. Check back to see my reviews of the films I watch!