The Great Fantastic Fest '11 Open Preview

Festivals Editor; Los Angeles, California (@RylandAldrich)
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The Great Fantastic Fest '11 Open Preview

If you thought our recent TIFF Coverage was extensive, oh boy do we have a treat in store for you. The world famous Fantastic Fest kicks off its lucky seventh edition in Austin this Thursday and ScreenAnarchy will be there with a cadre of writers to review just about every frame of wonderful cinema unspooling at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

We like to start off an exciting festival like this with a preview of some of the high profile films on display - but with a festival as freaking awesome as Fantastic Fest, it seems like just about every movie is worth a mention. So we are going to try to do things a bit differently in this preview and we need YOUR HELP to make it work. We want to know what movies you are A) Most Excited to See as well as B) Most Excited for Others to See. See that comments box down there at the bottom? Sign in and tell us what's got you excited! The full lineup is available here.

Ryland's Top 5 Anticipated Films

5. Sleepless Night - This high octane adventure through a French nightclub by Frederic Jardin had the midnight crowd at the Ryerson pumped up last week at TIFF.

4. Take Shelter - I've been looking forward to an opportunity to see Michael Shannon shine in Jeff Nichols's psychological drama since I missed it at Sundance.

3. Snowtown - This dark Australian crime thriller by Justin Kurzel got great marks when it premiered at Cannes Critics Week earlier this summer.

2. Smuggler - Anything new from the fantastically talented Katsuhito Ishii (Shark Skin Man & Peach Hip Girl, The Taste of Tea) has got me really excited.

1. Melancholia - Will the latest film from Lars von Trier live up to the controversy created by his press conference antics? Probably not. But with a cast including Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alex Skarsgaard and Jack Bauer, it will at least be a joy to find out.

Ryland's Top 5 Recommendations

5. Versus - Ryuhei Kitamura's 2000 classic is probably the best zombie kitana slash fest out there. This is a real treat to get to see it on the big screen.

4. Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope - I was a big fan of Spurlock's latest doc at TIFF. He quite noticeably takes a back seat to his particularly interesting subjects and what emerge are some very entertaining stories.

3. You're Next - Oh boy, Adam Wingard's home invasion standoff thriller is such a crowd pleaser I might have to go see this for a second time in as many weeks.

2. The Innkeepers - Ti West's haunted house thriller perfectly embodies the term "spine tingler." I couldn't keep the grin off my face as I felt the chills dancing up my back.

1. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within - Jose Padilha's Brazilian actioner has a bit more political intrigue than the first - but the filmmaking is pure class. This one kept me riveted from the very first frame.

Peter Martin's Picks
(Listed alphabetically by title)

1. A Boy and His Samurai
2. The Devil's Business
3. Extraterrestrial
4. Penumbra
5. Sleep Tight
6. The Squad

In my experience, there are always surprises, the films you barely heard about before the festival that become absolute favorites. In that category I place Sean Hogan's Lie Still, Nacho Vigalando's Timecrimes, and Yoshihiro Nakamura's Fish Story, and so their newest films are must-sees.

Adrián García Bogliano's Cold Sweat debuted at SXSW as part of the SXFantastic sider, so his latest must be considered essential as well, while Jaume Balagueró co-directed the [REC] films and Jaime Osorio Marquez has materialized out of the thin air of Colombia to startle with the teaser for his debut.

I can testify personally about four out of the six listed above, and confirm that they justified my anticipation, though they're all different than I expected. And I can't wait to be surprised by more films that may not even be on my radar yet.

James Marsh's Recommendations:

RABIES - Quite possibly Israel's first horror movie, Keshales' and Papushado's genre bending comedy horror is a revelation and possibly my favorite film of the year.

THE YELLOW SEA - Na Hong Jin takes the success of his excellent debut THE CHASER and cranks it up to 11 with this fantastic action-packed and socially aware thriller.

BULL HEAD - Michael Roskam's stunning debut transplants the gangster thriller to the cattle farms of Belgium, while focusing in on a single deeply-troubled individual.

LET THE BULLETS FLY - China's most successful domestic film of all-time is a delightful and whip-smart caper starring three of the biggest stars in the business: Chow Yun Fat, Ge You and writer/director Jiang Wen.

INVASION OF ALIEN BIKINI - Shot on a microbudget of less than $5000, this is a shocking, amusing and hugely commendable achievement. It also has an alien hottie in her underwear.

James Marsh's Most Looking Forward to:

PENUMBRA - because Bogliano's COLD SWEAT was huge fun.

CLOWN - because it's full of naked Danes.

HOW TO STEAL TWO MILLION - because African crime Cinema is where it's at right now.

CARRE BLANC - because everybody loves a new dystopic vision of the future.

BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW - this one, just call it a hunch.

J Hurtado's Recommendations:

1. & 2. Zombie & The House by the Cemetery - I'd hate to leave the repertory screenings off of this list. These two Fulcis are classics of gut-munching, eye-gouging, science-experiment-gone-horribly-awry terror, and both are sporting brand new 2k restorations!

3. New Kids Turbo - Never has stupid been so much fun. These maniacally anti-social Dutch jerk-offs don't give a shit. Idiots plus explosions, it's like Idiocracy come to life.

4. Clown - These Danes may not be as dumb as the New Kids, but they will put up a mighty challenge for funniest assholes in a Fantastic Fest 2011 film. Crude and unapologetic, Clown is hilariously over the top without crossing the line into unbelievability.

5. Karate Robo Zaborgar - I'm not the biggest fan of Sushi Typhoon, but I have to admit, this one is probably their best so far. The film is full of genuine comedy, and surprisingly devoid of the typical blood and guts, but it works!

J Hurtado's Most Anticipated

1. Smuggler - I have literally no idea what this movie is about, but Katsuhito Ishii has yet to put a foot wrong in my book. Stoked!

2. Juan of the Dead - I don't know, I've just never seen a Cuban zombie film.

3. You're Next - The home invasion horror is in need of a good boot to the ass, or maybe just a crossbow bolt. Advance word from TIFF is that this is a winner, I believe it!

4. Melancholia - Lars von Trier is never boring, let's hope his film isn't. A family drama set during the end of the world has potential.

5. Milocrorze: A Love Story - I don't know what the fuck this is about, but it looks intense. Count me in!

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