fantasy

All posts tagged fantasy

Prepare Yourself for the Brutal We Are The Flesh: A Shudder Exclusive

Published April 21, 2017 by rmpixie

 

We Are The Flesh (2016, 1 hr, 19 mins)

 

Extreme cinema has its purpose, usually to tell a story in the most shocking manner in order to get a visceral response as we watch. While some directors use it for pure shock value, others use it as a rejection of the formulaic films cranked out of the incessant Hollywood machine, and some feel that extreme representation of brutality, sexuality and gore is the only way they can express themselves and their subject matter artistically.  In We Are The Flesh (Tenemos la carne), a film that played many festivals including Cannes in 2016 and is now a Shudder Exclusive, Mexican director Emiliano Rocha Minter gives us all of the above and more in order to tell a meandering story about death, rebirth and god complexes.

Lucio (Diego Gamaliel) and Fauna (Maria Evoli) stumble upon an abandoned building and its sole inhabitant, an elf-like man named Marciano (Noé Hernández). He is strange and extremely volatile, spouting cryptic words about his way of life. Fauna bargains for her and her brother to stay with him in exchange for any sort of arrangement since they seek refuge from a harsh environment on the outside. That arrangement turns out to be labour in order to create a womb-like labyrinth of a cave with bits of wood, cardboard, broken furniture and endless rolls of tape. As he gets to know his two young captives locked in the building with him, he is taken with Fauna and takes to bullying her brother. In a series of extremely strange and increasingly cruel events, he forces them do his darkly incestuous bidding, and once they cross the line, they enter an infernal world of raw emotion and mysticism.

We Are The Flesh wins hands down for the title of extreme cinema. Viewers beware as this film is chockfull of writhing nudity, incest, rape, cannibalism, orgies, and even a dash of menstrual blood; letting it all hang out to tell a strange story with creationist undertones in an absurdist and grotesque manner. Adam and Eve, the devil, a God/Jesus/resurrection theme, and Mexico’s nationalistic unrest are explored but goes off the rails just as you think you can make sense of the startling action. Hernández gave a truly arresting performance as the demonic Marciano and Evoli reached deep for her portrayal of Fauna.  From his interviews, Minter sounded very supportive of his cast, but I’m not sure how he got these performances out of his actors.  If the process was anything like Isabelle Adjani’s motivation in Possession, I hope they had a therapist on set.

Only in his mid-twenties, Minter, lauded and backed by Oscar-winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, has been compared to French director Gaspar Noé. While films like Noé’s Love also used extreme sexuality to tell a story, once you get past the sex, it reveals itself to be a sensitive film about a vulnerable young man searching for lost love. I actually found We Are The Flesh had more in common with Michael Rowe’s 2010 film Leap Year (Año bisiesto). This too was filled with stark and graphic sex, but like Minter Rowe uses sex, sadism and isolation as a way to convey a connection, in this instance humanity and heartache as a lonely young woman finds solace in a sadistic relationship. Leap Year is also similar to We Are The Flesh in that there is a brother and sister relationship and an overbearing older male that dictates to, or has the potential to lord over, a young woman, but that’s where the similarities end.

Where Rowe creates a quiet intensity, Minter juxtaposes poetic dialogue with brutally animalistic actions that come at you full force. The characters are unfettered and wild; giving into impulse after impulse in a womb-like setting, punctuated with a barrage of sound. Actions like breathing, stirring, and sporadic and aggressive drumming pulls the viewer’s focus, making each scene that much more uncomfortable as you wince from both the visual and aural assault. There were also nods to Samuel Beckett along with colourful psychedelic and supernatural elements. Those connections still didn’t make it more accessible to me, perhaps only helping in categorizing familiar scenes.

I appreciate some extreme cinema for what it attempts to overcome in this age of banal cookie cutter genre films (as long as living creatures-human and animal- remain unharmed in real life) but ultimately I can’t say I liked We Are The Flesh. Perhaps I’m not intellectual enough to grasp the abundance of allegorical notions presented here, but there are some things that become too much of a stretch for me to consider them above their shock value.

One viewer’s interpretation of art is another viewer’s headache. Are Lucio and Fauna a new hope in a barren land? Is Marciano their god or a demon? Does an abducted soldier represent a violently dying motherland or an attempt to rid the country of political overseers? Is this an ultimately extreme art film instead of a horror?  Who’s to say, but those questions and more will come to mind as you watch Emiliano Rocha Minter’s chaotic, poetic and ultimately confusing first feature film We Are The Flesh. After this experience, he’s certainly on my radar, and I’m curious to see what he does next. Make up your own mind and see it exclusively on Shudder Canada.

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Pixie Dust Project Gets a Reboot for the Web: An Update

Published May 1, 2015 by rmpixie

PillJarPosterPortrait (1)

 

It has been an interesting journey for Damon Colquhoun and his Pixie Dust project.

Not so long ago, I interviewed him as he started an indiegogo campaign to raise funds for a fantasy film about a young girl, her mentally ill mother and a family secret.  While he didn’t make his goal, he did get accepted for a grant fellowship from NBPC 360, a funding initiative by the National Black Programming Consortium media arts organization that is committed to “educating, enlightening, empowering and engaging the American public.”  The Harlem based non-profit strives to “support diverse voices by developing, producing and distributing innovative media about the Black experience and by investing in visionary content makers.”  Since 1979, they have provided content for outlets like PBS and PBS.org among others, and invaluable mentoring for up and coming Black filmmakers.

With this opportunity presented, Colquhoun rewrote Pixie Dust as a 10-part web series including sample footage, and his treatment was the only entry with a script.  The project was almost cut due to its fantasy based subject matter since the committee focuses mainly on non-fiction.  Fortunately some well-known producers, namely Ron Simons who was behind Blue Caprice as well as Deniese Davis who produced the Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, fought to keep Pixie Dust in the running.  After passing the muster at “Pitch Black”, the final pitch session where a group of seasoned producers and executives make their final choices, and with the help of cinematographer Arthur Jafa and director Terence Nance as mentors, Colquhoun will get between 50 and 100K for his project.  He is well on his way to a promising breakthrough for programming as the industry becomes more accepting of interesting and unique content for a growing niche market.

Damon Colquhoun pitching his ideas to top industry execs.

Damon Colquhoun pitching Pixie Dust to public television industry execs on April 23rd, 2015. Photo by Lindsey Seide (NBPC)

I am excited that a great organization has recognized the need for science fiction/fantasy in their roster, as many Black and other visible minority viewers crave content including people of colour in a genre that has been lacking in visible minority representation.  Congratulations to Damon as he embarks on his new route with Pixie Dust and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final series.  Stay tuned for more info!

Pixie Dust interview with writer/director Damon Colquhoun

Check out the NBPC site for more information on the organization and one of their series based on stories from the African Diaspora called AfroPop.tv.

 

Face Off Season 8 Episode 14: The Fantastic Finale!

Published April 15, 2015 by rmpixie

The Season 8 finale was a fantastic one!  Right after the final three artists were chosen, McKenzie revealed the first surprise for the “most difficult finale yet”.  They would need help, and it came from the eliminated artists from this season!  After Darla, Logan and Emily picked their teams, they came back to the lab, complete with a red carpet, the following day.  McKenzie had monitors numbered 1 through 3, and a board covered with words.  The artists were puzzled, but were really jazzed when they heard what the finale challenge would involve:  create a team of 4 characters to star in a new film franchise, pick the genre of that film from the numbered monitors, and they would also have one minute to grab words that described that genre from the large board.  The team would then have five minutes to create a title for their film using those words.  There was also another surprise-their reveal stage would be at the Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park where a live audience would vote on their favourite team of characters on their own incredibly themed set!

Darla picked Rob, Stephanie, Daniel and Anthony to be on her team and chose monitor #1 that revealed the fantasy genre.  They came up with “The Spirits of Eden”.  The characters were elementals that worked to keep evil out of the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve were banished.  Air, or wind, was represented by a faun who also personified a woodwind instrument.  Water was a merman water spirit, Fire would be a beautiful woman with flames around her face, and Earth would be a worm wrapped around a tree.  Coach Laura was not too confident about the worm character.  She thought it wouldn’t be attractive, so she helped Darla hash out a better concept for Earth.  The final design was an Earth goddess with a tree trunk dress and mushrooms incorporated into her body.  Mr. Westmore told her to keep the face soft for the water spirit, bring the mushrooms into the face of the earth spirit, and add some red to the fire spirit’s flames.  Darla was worried about her flame sculpt, but figured it out.  The end result gave me chills!!  I loved her elemental spirits.  The colours were beautiful, and my favourite character was the faun.  She was just beautiful and the chest piece was to die for with all the detail.  Neville thought she nailed the genre with the earth spirit showing a high-resolution detail.  Glenn loved the air element because the horns and chest piece was sculpted to be a wind instrument, and Ve loved the blending of the facial prosthetic pieces.

The Spirits of Eden characters on Team Darla

The Spirits of Eden characters on Team Darla (pictures from Syfy)

 

Logan’s team included Ben, Greg, Julian and Alan.  He got the sci-fi genre from monitor #3 and their movie title was “The Fortress”.  His characters were inspired by Dr. Moreau, creating intelligent lab animal experiments that fought against lab testing.  He created a lizard commanding solider, an armadillo weapons expert, a mechanic skunk and a hammerhead shark assassin.  Coach Rayce liked his concept and wanted him to make sure his team members were on the same page to make all the characters cohesive.  Mr. Westmore advised them on the anatomy of each character, and the only issue Logan had was keeping Greg on track with the fabrication.  He didn’t want to lose time with unnecessary work, telling Greg there was “no time for hot gun, only enough time for tape”.  His characters looked great!  Ve loved the skunk’s subtle paint job and the colours; Glenn loved the shark’s face and biomechanical elements with each character; and Neville thought actors would be inspired to play the characters Logan and his team created.

Team Logan's characters from The Fortress

Team Logan’s characters from The Fortress (pictures from Syfy)

 

Emily chose Jamie, Kelly, Regina and Adam to be on her team.  Monitor #2 revealed the post-apocalyptic genre and the name of the film was “Paradise Reckoning”.  Her concept was a Wizard of Oz journey with mutants, and they are brought together when they find a human baby.  Her characters consisted of  a man who was in a car accident and was now covered in broken glass; a man who was in an explosion and made of wood; a former bomb squad member who was now made of metal, and a female assassin fused with leather.  Mr. Westmore told her to pay attention to her paint job for the wood character and for Adam to add some burn elements to the metal character.  Emily created glass out of a silicone material and made sure it stuck even though it took up a lot of her time.  She was in a bit of a frenzy, but took charge when she needed to.  In the end she didn’t get everything painted as she wanted, but her final looks were really cohesive.  The audience made the Wizard of Oz connection, and the judges loved it.  Ve liked the assassin’s  leather bodice and paint jobs; Neville thought it was ambitious and very creative; and Glenn thought it was an intelligent concept and loved the windshield chest piece she took so much time to perfect.

Team Emily's Paradise Reckoning characters (pictures from Syfy)

Team Emily’s Paradise Reckoning characters
(pictures from Syfy)

 

The audience at Universal had a blast looking at each set of characters, and voted on their favourite.  The judges agreed with their choice, because Darla was the winner of Season 8!  I was ecstatic!  I knew she had the talent, she just had to find it in herself to be confident and do what she does best, which is beautiful, complete makeups!  She wins a V.I.P. trip to one of Kroylan’s 85 international locations, a 2015 Fiat, and $100,000 in cash.  Coach Laura was also a winner, making her a two time champ of the show, which is a Face Off first!  Congrats to Darla, Laura, and all the finalists because they were phenomenal!  See you in July for the next season!

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