Meet the Patels - Review

PG  |  88 min  |  Documentary, Comedy, Romance
Review - Matt Mungle

**In select theaters September 18th*

SynopsisMEET THE PATELS is a laugh-out-loud real life romantic comedy about Ravi Patel, an almost-30-year-old Indian-American who enters a love triangle between the woman of his dreams - and his parents.

ReviewMost successful documentaries are based on an environmental crisis, a hard to believe news story, or a look into the history and background of a cultural icon. For most of us the thought of following our family around with a camera would be far from entertaining or relevant. But for actor Ravi Patel his family is big screen gold. 

The film is primarily about Ravi and his dating situation. His parents are pressuring him to get married and have many grandchildren. Like many Indian couples they were married at a young age in a matchmaker setting. The American ritual of dating for years and dating many people is a foreign concept. So when Ravi turns his social life over to his parent's traditional methods he learns a lot about his own heritage and about himself as well. And all of this is caught on camera by his sister Geeta Patel us all to enjoy.

There is always a heartwarming, endearing, and bonding feeling about the Indian culture and it's people. That is one element that makes this documentary so fun to watch. Even in their bickering there is a since of love and loyalty. Plus here we get a first hand glance at the family dynamic of the Patel clan. The history of matchmaking, the inner workings of the social networking, and the infamous Biodata form that is essential in all Indian prearranged marriages. E-harmony has nothing on these Patels.

Ravi is a genuine guy and you instantly like him. He is funny and entertaining but at the same time sincere in his desire to make his parents happy. So much so that he is willing to put aside his American mindset and give them full control.

The scene stealers of this Docu-comedy though are his parents. Champa and Vasant are so excited about taking their sons dating issues under their wing. They can't understand why he is reluctant since their culture is rich in successful marriages. They are convinced they will find him the perfect woman in no time. All he has to do is trust the system. Ravi's father Vasant is a warm and delightful man whom the camera loves. His onscreen presence is bright and charming. 

MEET THE PATELS is rated PG for thematic elements, brief suggestive images and incidental smoking. Granted it is safe for most age groups but would be quite boring for those under 17. The themes and dialogues are hilarious if you understand the dynamic of the story. I give it 3.75 out of 5 speed dates. As far as documentaries go it is light, informative, and very fun to watch. 


The Second Mother - Review

R  |  112 min  |  Drama
Language: Portuguese with English Subtitles
Review - Matt Mungle

**The Angelika Dallas and select theaters September 11th*

SynopsisWhen the estranged daughter of a hard-working live-in housekeeper suddenly appears, the unspoken class barriers that exist within the home are thrown into disarray.

ReviewAnna Muylaert writers and directs an amazingly beautiful and poignant film. THE SECOND MOTHER is a portrait of hard work and sacrifice that never feels heavy or remorseful. It somehow emits joy in the light of circumstance. 

Val (Regina Casé) has worked for Barbara (Karine Teles) and Carlos (Lourenço Mutarelli) for years. Like many servants she practically raised their son Fabinho (Michel Joelsas). Val understands her role and embraces it with a steadfast diligence and a huge, loving heart. She is fine with her situation and you understand quickly that she respects and values the rules that govern her position. When her daughter Jéssica (Camila Márdila), who she hasn't seen in over a decade, shows up to enroll in the local university her modern way of thinking clashes with Val's.

This film sounds like the typical upstairs/downstairs plot that we see in movies about maids and the homes they serve. What makes this one stand out is not only the character of Val but the point of it being a Brazilian resident working for a Brazilian family. Had it been set in LA and centered around a white American family it would have lost much of its rich culture and deep emotion. This grounds the dynamic and makes it unique for American audiences. 

Barbara and Carlos have a different view of Jéssica and the cast system as a whole. Barbara likes the division and even though Carlos is willing to be waited on hand and foot he seems to have a softer appreciation for the human inside the uniform. Val dotes on them so much that you wonder how they could ever live without her. Especially Fabinho. 

Most have never heard the name Regina Casé but after this you will never forget her. Winner of the Moliére Award as best theater actress at the age of 23, Regina carries a history of success throughout Brazil, in the theater, cinema and TV. She uses her warmth and subtle humor to create a character who is nurturing, strong, and determined. You will instantly love her and feel a tiny bit of jealousy that she isn't there to hug and pamper you. 

As the story unfolds you eventually see why Val has made the decisions that kept her and her daughter apart. Now that she has the chance to rekindle the relationship she is delighted. But the lines that are clear to her make no sense to her modern daughter. She is a nervous wreck watching her daughter break the rules that her profession understand. But she does it in a way that is often humorous and realistic. Casé truly does make the role look effortless and unrehearsed. 

THE SECOND MOTHER is rated R for some language and brief drug use. I am sort of surprised at the rating. Other than a brief scene in which Jéssica uses the F word in an argument with her mom there is very little in the way of overtly adult content. I give it 4.5 out of 5 entrance exams. Rich characters, cultural relevance, and superb acting make this a must see for lovers of international films. 


THE VISIT - Review

PG-13  |  94 min  |  Comedy, Horror
Review - Matt Mungle

**In theaters September 11th*

SynopsisA single mother finds that things in her family's life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents.

Review: There is always a concern when watching an M. Night Shyamalan (Writer/Director) film. You are not sure if you will get a fantastic story like LADY IN THE WATER, a mind bending, mold breaker like THE SIXTH SENSE, or a bait and switch flop like, well, all his others. THE VISIT offers up the promise of creepy thrills and audiences deserve the payoff for a change. Not another unfulfilled concept. 

15 year old Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her slightly younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are sent to spend a week with the Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop-Pop (Peter McRobbie) they have never met. Their mom (Kathryn Hahn) left home at a young age in the midst of turmoil and the family has been estranged ever since. Now seems like the perfect time to get acquainted and make some family memories. While Mom heads off on a much needed vacation of her own the kids settle in for a week with the grandparents. But it is quickly obvious that things are not so home sweet home. Becca and Tyler discover that Nana and Pop Pop are more than a little quirky; maybe even psychotic. 

The first fifteen minutes or so you start to feel as if you are about to be duped again by the allure of a scary thriller. There are more laughs and odd ball moments than spine tingling thrills. But once the first night of the visit arrives the creepiness ensues. From then on there is a decent balance of horror and comedy with an abundance of good old fashion eerie. Shyamalan seems determined to give former fans of his movies what they always wanted. Never one for shock value he even adds in some gross and visually assaulting imagery. Granted it often feels like Nickelodeon on LSD with most of the scenes revolving around the teens. But kudos to him for at least going for broke. 

DeJonge and Oxenbould carry most of the straight laced dialogue and are believable siblings. Becca is the very serious, grew up to fast, thinker while Tyler is the comedian of the family. He has audiences cracking up a lot in this one. mainly thanks to his delivery and embracing of the character. Shyamalan wrote an odd ball script and his characters never shy from it. 

But this is about the creep factor which falls squarely on the shoulders of Dunagan. And boy does she deliver! It is a toss up to whether she is more nerve rattling as the soft spoken, cookie baking Nana or the other Nana that comes out at night. Both are equally able to cause you to sleep with one eye open. She throws herself into this role and leaves it all on the set. McRobbie is her faithful co-star and takes a back seat only in how he delivers his brand of odd. 

This isn't a perfect film and it would be easy to dissect this apart. Many of us long for a stong showing from Shyamalan and might go easy on this one; liking it more than it deserves. But the bottom line is that there are plenty of jumps, gasps, and thrills in this one to give it a pass. And more than anything it doesn't lure you in and fail to deliver anything. In the end you might walk away wondering if you were given a 90 minute commercial about the importance of forgiveness. 

THE VISIT is rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material including terror, violence and some nudity, and for brief language. There is a lot in this film that younger viewers shouldn't see. The language, visuals, nudity, and over all creep factor makes it more for those 16 and up. Die hard horror fans will think it mild while those who jump at shadows will get some good squeals. I give it 3 out of 5 Yahtzee Masters. I finally walked away from an M. Night film not feeling completely cheated. 



The world premiere of CAMINO along with Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson's ANOMALISA, SON OF SAUL, TALE OF TALES complement the return of The Meltdown with Jonah & Kumail and the fan-favorite Fantastic Debates for another all-out assault on Austin!

Austin, TX - Wednesday, September 9, 2015 Fantastic Fest announces its final wave of highly anticipated features and epic events for the annual celebration of all things genre. With  signature smackdown Fantastic Debates and Comedy Central's The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, this year's Fantastic Fest promises more thrills than ever before as it rages through Austin from September 24 - October 1st.

Joining Fantastic Fest for the first time, Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson will be in attendance to share their wildly inventive world of stop motion animation ANOMALISA, Cannes Grand Prix winner SON OF SAUL is screening in glorious 35mm, the stunning adult fairytale from GOMORRAH director Matteo Garrone TALE OF TALES will unfurl, Jerusalem Film Festival's top prize winner TIKKUN, and we welcome the World Premiere of the action-thriller CAMINO with Zoe Bell and Fantastic Fest veteran / mayor Nacho Vigalondo as a religious psychopath -- a prospect that should fill any Fantastic Fest-er with anticipatory glee. 

Presented by Starz's ASH VS EVIL DEAD, the FF tradition FANTASTIC DEBATES returns, featuring four rock-'em-sock-'em matches between visiting filmmakers, actors, and journalists. Each debate begins with two rounds of verbal conflict before the stage is transformed into a battleground for full-tilt boxing! Past debaters have included Keanu Reeves, Elijah Wood, Michelle Rodriguez, Uwe Boll, Ti West, and dozens of others ferocious fighters from across the globe!

Other hotly-anticipated events see Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani make their triumphant return to Fantastic Fest for another night of stand up as they host a live version of Comedy Central's The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail. A double helping of Doug Benson serves up a very special Movie Interruption featuring the animal apocalypse extravaganza ROAR and a live recording of his Doug Loves Movies podcast while legendary turntablist, artist and music producer Kid Koala finally joins the Fantastic fray. After nearly two decades of crafting some of the most singularly eclectic turntable creations of all time, Kid Koala will perform live at the Fantastic Fest party as the composer of this year's genre-bending official selection ZOOM.

"I love the diversity and breadth of programming that the team delivered this year," said Tim League, Fantastic Fest and Alamo Drafthouse Founder. "In particular I'd like to highlight ANOMALISA, TIKKUN and SON OF SAUL.  These utterly-unique, auteur-driven, genre-defying masterpieces are exactly the type of groundbreaking cinema I want to share with the discerning Fantastic Fest audience."

With FF's ever-present keen eye on international cinema, Asia is well represented with a diverse array of titles including Hou Hsiao-hsien's breathtaking Taiwanese martial arts ballet THE ASSASSIN, Japanese wonder-animator Mamoru Hosoda's THE BOY AND THE BEAST, and two seminal repertory titles from Hong Kong's legendary Shaw Brothers Studio. Getting the royal treatment are two wuxia masterpieces, Cheng Pei Pei's COME DRINK WITH ME and Gordon Liu's EIGHT DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER. The Shaw Brothers Studio screenings are presented by El Rey Network and both titles are being screened in 35mm with COME DRINK WITH ME coming directly from the Shaw Brothers' archive in China.

Fantastic Fest welcomes back celebrated genre writer Kier-La Janisse to close out the festival's rep slate with a rare 35mm screening of satanic shocker EVILSPEAK. In support of her new book Satanic Panic: Pop Cultural Paranoia in the 1980's, Janisse will present some of the most notorious news segments of hellish hysteria prior to the screening.

See below for the full lineup of newly announced film titles for Fantastic Fest 2015.

United States, 2015
Regional Premiere, 90 min
Directors - Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson
Charlie Kaufman's newest story, a revolutionary and emotional stop-motion animation, follows an unhappy customer service guru looking for an escape from the monotony of his life.

Taiwan, 2015
US Premiere, 104 min
Director - Hou Hsiao-hsien
After failing to dispatch a corrupt government official, an assassin is disciplined by her master with a mission to murder her cousin (and former betrothed) in order to steal her heart against sentimentality.  An immaculate and arresting romantic wu-xia from Taiwan's chief art-house auteur Hou Hsiao-Hsien.

Japan, 2015
US Premiere, 119 min
Director - Mamoru Hosoda
In the latest breathtaking animation by Fantastic Fest veteran Mamoru Hosoda (SUMMER WARS, THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME), nine-year-old Ren becomes the apprentice to beast warrior Kumatetsu and finds himself on the adventure of a lifetime in the beast world Jutengal.

United States, 2015
World Premiere, 104 min
Director - Josh C. Waller
A photojournalist gets more than she bargained for when she snaps a photo of a shadowy religious figure in the jungles of Colombia, triggering a flight - and fight - for her life.

Hong Kong, 1966
Repertory Screening, 95 min
Director - King Hu
One of the foundational classics on which all martial arts cinema is built, COME DRINK WITH ME stars the incomparably talented Chang Pei-Pei as an avenging warrior, Golden Swallow, on a mission to save the local governor's son from the Jade-Faced Tiger's gang.

Norway, 2015
World Premiere, 92 min
Director - Oystein Karlsen
A misanthropic relationship counselor, his (mostly) reformed hippy girlfriend, and his sex addict best friend drive this hugely popular Norwegian TV comedy from the creators of previous fest hit FUCK UP.

Czech Republic, 2015
North American Premiere, 75 min
Director - Veronika Lisková
Veronika's Lisková's brave documentary from the Czech Republic takes a very open, unflinching and non-emotional view of the most despised, misunderstood and taboo trait: pedophilia.

United States, 2015
U.S. Premiere, 90 min
Director - Sean Byrne
A struggling painter, his wife and his young daughter move into their dream house in rural Austin, Texas, but soon find themselves targeted by both satanic forces and the house's previous occupants.

Japan/ USA, 2015
US Premiere, 89 min
Director - Heath Cozens
A look inside one of the world's oddest wrestling leagues, where disabled fighters take on able-bodied opponents in brutal and bloody fights for their own dignity and self-respect. From where else but Japan?

Hong Kong, 1984
Repertory Screening, 98 min
Director - Chia-Liang Liu
The great martial arts choreographer Lau Kar-Leung directs this dark tale of betrayal, vengeance and honor, starring Gordon Liu and Alexander Fu Sheng (in his final screen role) as the sole surviving sons of a powerful family massacred in an act of brutal treachery.

United States, 2015
World Premiere, 74 min
Director - Owen Egerton
When he blacks out after receiving a strange Christmas gift from his girlfriend, Quinn (Noah Segan) wakes the next morning to find his whole world crumbling around him.

The Netherlands, 2015
World Premiere, 110 min
Director - Max Porcelijn
A struggling writer turns to his accountant for help and instead discovers a trio of corpses and a bag of money. Could this be help of a different sort, or just a whole new world of trouble?

SATANIC PANIC Book Launch + Screening of EVILSPEAK (in 35mm!)
United States, 1981
Special Screening, 97 min
Director - Eric Weston
The hysteria known as the "Satanic Panic" made its way through every pop-culture pathway in the '80s. Relive the era with the launch of SATANIC PANIC: POP CULTURAL PARANOIA IN THE 1980s and a rare 35mm screening of occult fave EVILSPEAK.

The Netherlands/Belgium, 2015
US Premiere, 96 min
Director - Alex van Warmerdam
A contract killer's birthday plans are disrupted when he's sent to dispatch a drunken writer in this delightfully dark comedy from Dutch auteur Alex van Warmerdam (BORGMAN).

Hungary, 2015
Texas Premiere, 107 min
Director - László Nemes
Saul Ausländer is a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners isolated from the camp and forced to assist the Nazis in the machinery of large-scale extermination. While working in one of the crematoriums, Saul discovers the dead body of a boy he takes for his son. As the Sonderkommando plans a rebellion, Saul decides to carry out an impossible task: save the child's body from the flames, find a rabbi to recite the mourner's Kaddish and offer the boy a proper burial.

United States, 2015
U.S. Premiere, 87 min
Directors - Radio Silence, Roxanne Benjamin, Patrick Horvath and David Bruckner
Somewhere on a stretch of desert highway, five groups of travelers will find themselves confronting an ever-changing feeling of dread through five interlocking, horrific stories.

France, 2015
U.S. Premiere, 125 min
Director - Matteo Garrone
Monsters, magic and mayhem abound in the incredible stories of three royal families from nearby kingdoms in this ambitious fairy tale epic from acclaimed Italian auteur Matteo Garrone (GOMORRAH, REALITY).

Israel, 2015
Texas Premiere, 120 min
Director - Avishai Sivan
God's plan for a Yeshiva student is disrupted when CPR saves his life. He is reborn into a surreal, sexual and disturbing new existence that tests his faith and his father's mercy.

South Korea, 2015
North American Premiere, 131 min
Director - Kyu-dong MIN
Considered the worst tyrant in the long and rather oppressive history of Korea, King Yeonsan enslaved a thousand women to serve his carnal desires.  This bawdy, unexpurgated and almost surely exaggerated tale of his sexual exploits is the heir apparent to the notorious 1980s era Hong Kong CAT III classics.

Norway, 2015
U.S. Premiere, 105 min
Director - Roar Uthaug
A Norwegian geologist and his family fight for their lives after the Akneset mountain pass crumbles into the fjord below, creating a huge tsunami that threatens to wipe out their town.

Canada/ Brazil, 2015
US Premiere, 96 min
Director - Pedro Morelli
Three very different people - an aspiring comic book artist with body image issues, an action director trying to make a more meaningful film, and a model struggling with her first novel - find their stories intersect in earth-shaking ways.

For the latest developments, visit the Fantastic Fest official site www.fantasticfest.com and follow us on FacebookTwitter.