September 6, 2019 by  

Cinematic Spillover: Short Reviews of Tigers Are Not Afraid and The Fanatic


Cinematic Spillover: Short Reviews of Tigers Are Not Afraid and The Fanatic

The Fanatic

If you thought actor John Travolta was disturbingly bad in the 2000 sci-fi bomb Battlefield Earth, brace yourself for something just as awful – but with far fewer cheesy special effects. In The Fanatic, Travolta stars as Moose, an autistic man living in Los Angeles who spends his time tracking down celebrities to collect their autographs. His paparazzo friend Leah (Ana Golja) refers to it as his “freaky little hobby.” But when Moose meets his favorite action star Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa) and is rejected, he develops an unhealthy obsession with the man and drives himself into full-blown stalker mode. Directed and co-written by Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst (The Longshots), who actually drops a Limp Bizkit reference in the movie (seriously, he does), The Fanatic should be an embarrassment for everyone involved. Not only does Travolta deliver one of the most cringe-worthy performances in recent memory, his interpretation of an individual on the autism spectrum is stereotypical garbage and downright offensive. Even without Travolta’s laughable role, Durst and first-time co-writer Dave Bekerman pen a script that is more tasteless than the plaid shorts and Hawaiian shirt combo Moose wears throughout most of the movie. Every character is exaggerated to a level of annoyance that might be considered as cruel and unusual punishment. The absurd friendship between Moose and Leah amounts to a series of phony signs of affection – just enough to gaslight viewers into thinking that maybe Travolta’s character is simply misunderstood. Someone should start polishing up those Razzies for the Worst Film, Director, Screenplay and Actor of 2019. Grade: F

Tigers Are Not Afraid

Mexican writer/director Issa Lopez’s dramatic fantasy Tigers Are Not Afraid begins with some startling statistics. Since the beginning of the drug war in 2006, 160,000 people have been killed and 53,000 people have disappeared in Mexico. “There are no numbers for the children the dead and the missing have left behind.” We meet some of these orphans – Estrella (Paola Lara), Shine (Juan Ramón López), Tucsi (Hanssel Casillas), Pop (Rodrigo Cortes), and Morro (Nery Arredondo) – Lopez’s version of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys in her creative, heartbreaking and violent fairy tale. Unlike most fairy tales, however, there are no happy endings in Tigers. Kids in Mexico see dead bodies in the street every day and have become desensitized to the bloodshed. During a gun battle outside of her school, a teacher gives Estrella three pieces of chalk while they both lie face down on the floor and tells her that she now has three wishes. Her first wish is that her mother, who was kidnapped by a local cartel, returns to her. When Shine steals one of the cartel member’s cell phones containing incriminating evidence of the crimes they’ve committed, the ragtag group of kids become the target of the narcos who won’t stop until they’ve silenced everyone. Filled with beautiful magic realism throughout the film, Lopez’s Tigers is a powerful piece of cinematic art that will move audiences and allow them to see the hellish conditions presented through the eyes of the children who are suffering. Like Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth, Tigers’ mix of horror and childlike imagination is something that you won’t soon forget. Grade: A-





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