I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Cole Clay // Critic
Day 5 of Fantastic Fest was supposed to be one of the quieter days around the Alamo Drafthouse. There weren’t many exciting films to see other than re-runs of FORCE MAJUER and THE BABADOOK, which have become fan favorites at the festival. This was also the day that the canine body count boiled over to at least four films – CUB, THE BABADOOK, EVERLY and JOHN WICK to name a few.
The largest attraction of the day was the fact that legendary film critic Leonard Maltin has been hanging around in the lobby shaking hands and taking pictures in preparation for the conversation chronicling his career as a film historian. He divulged personal details about his undying love for classic comedy such as THE LITTLE RASCALS and LAUREL & HARDY. We also found out that he is a film professor at University of Southern California and that he isn’t amused by Adult Swim. This hour-long keynote covered the a lot of ground in the limited time and was a fascinating perspective into the mind of the renowned critic. In case you were wondering, we indeed found Fantastic Fest jury member Edgar Wright enjoying a pint of lager with our man Leonard Maltin.
Now onto today’s film itinerary. Aside from seeing FORCE MAJUERE on Friday, this was hands-down the strongest day for foreign films. The day started off with the Norwegian film titled BLIND, which drew a decent crowed due to the buzz it garnered around the festival grounds. It’s hard to put into words exactly what was going on in BLIND, but it was quality nonetheless.
In BLIND, director Eskil Vogt (OSLO, AUGUST 31st) tells the story of Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), who recently has lost her sight and in a constant fear of losing control of her life. She secludes herself to the confines of her apartment with her husband Morten (Henrik Rafaelsen).
Vogt inflicts a stark visual presence into the film with images of her repressed fantasies and fear which soon take over her life. Some of the subtext may have been lost in translation, but the film still manages to be captivating.
From Belgium comes CUB (internationally known as WELP), a fairy-tale like film about a boy scout troop led into the woods, which may or may not have a haunting presence lurking beyond the trees. This film has a striking resemblance to the MOONRISE KINGDOM, with small wisecracks, serious drama and the leading characters have several parallels. Jonas Govaerts has a style that resembles early-ish Guillermo del Toro. All these comparisons aside CUB manages to be a stand alone film and the result is greater than the sum of its parts.
A film that completely faded into the background was the Irish-horror film FROM THE DARK (rating: ☆½). It spun its wheel and was just a bit of a slog to get through. There was massive potential for this creature-feature, but director Conor McMahon was more interested having his female lead light candles and drive tractors than giving her a personality.
Other notable films from yesterday that we didn’t get around to seeing were I AM A KNIFE WITH LEGS, OVER YOUR DEAD BODY, and a rerun of atrocity that was THE HIVE.
All ticket and screening information can be found at fantasticfest.com.