Sundance revved up with the premiere of Freaky Tales tonight, a debut met with rousing applause, including at the film’s last title card that read, “In loving memory of Angus Cloud.”
The Euphoria actor died last year of a drug overdose at 25. His role is small in Freaky Tales, but Cloud “gave such a great performance, and was just there to have so much fun with,” said Jay Ellis, one of the film’s stars. “Rest in peace to Angus.”
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The anthology set in 1987 Oakland was written and directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, and also stars Pedro Pascal, Ben Mendelsohn Normani, Dominique Thorne and Ji-Young Yoo.
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“This is sort of like my 12-year old fantasy of a movie,” said an exuberant Fleck. “You know, some movies you want to make to work with an actor some movies you want to make because of the subject matter, you really have to tell a story — maybe want to travel to a place and shoot. This one I just needed to see. I knew that no one else was going to make this movie, so I just had to. I wish I was out there with you seeing it for the first time.”
The premiere was a homecoming for the pair, who debuted their short Gowanus, Brooklyn at Sundance in 2004. They followed with Half Nelson in 2006, which brought Ryan Gosling an Oscar nomination, Mississippi Grind in 2016 and Captain Marvel in 2019.
Freaky Tales is a fast-paced pastiche of pulp, pop, rap, comic books, supernatural anthology horror, and kung fu told in four overlapping chapters where underdogs turn warriors in a city full of corruption, racism, misogyny, murder, and Nazis. There’s also animation, and a bloody denouement involving Ellis, a samurai sword and some smooth moves. “I’ve never taken martial arts in my life,” he said.
“The night he’s referencing was a crazy f-cking night. Because we were doing simultaneous things, and in between setups we’re killing all the Nazis, and we were shooting the thing downstairs. And that was freaky,” said Pascal, praising the directors for “getting it done, and getting to the finish line.”
“I’ve never seen it get done like that. It was all happening at once and in and it was unbelievable.”
Fleck and the audience batted around what might be “the number one underdog story” — a question posed in the movie. It’s Breaking Away, he said.
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