Fantastic Fest 08 - Jasper Sharp, Sean Donnelly, Rian Johnson, Devin Faraci, Jay Slater

Above: Jasper Sharp, author of Behind the Pink Curtain; the Alamo Drafthouse; Sean Donnelly (blue shirt), director of doc I Think We're Alone Now; Rian Johnson (glasses), director of The Brothers Bloom; Devin Faraci (glasses and beard), writer, CHUD.com, in the midst of debate; Jay Slater, English writer, ready to resolve a debate by boxing.

What qualifies a mainstream comedy like The Brothers Bloom to screen at Fantastic Fest, a festival reknowned for its horror, science fiction, fantasy, and other hard-core genre entries? One answer might be: 'Because co-founder Harry Knowles said so,' but even Knowles wondered if the film belonged in the program. The better answer might be: 'Why the heck not?' The best film festivals in the world are programmed by knowledgeable people who are passionate about presenting films they love to audiences who are eager to discover great new work.

In his introduction to the film, which was presented as the first "secret screening" of the festival (titles not revealed in advance; the shows always sell out anyway) on Tuesday evening, Knowles expressed his conviction that writer/director Rian Johnson "creates his own worlds." Certainly there are fairy-tale aspects to Johnson's featherweight con man tale, but I doubt anyone present really cared if the film "belonged" at the festival or not. The steady stream of visual gags drew near constant laughter, though I agree with James Rocchi that the film drags too long and, for me, edged too far into sentimental obscurity. The Brothers Bloom opens wide in January.

My screening day began with horror thriller Donkey Punch, a conventional yet refreshingly hard-edged dive into depravity that could be summed up as "threesomes never end well for anybody," a modern updating of the 80s slasher film notion that sexually active teens must pay for their sins by dying in repulsive ways. It's due for limited release in January.

categories Cinematical