TV SPEC – RICK AND MORTY TV Show by Matthew Feldman

WILDsound Writing and Film Festival Review

Written by Matthew Feldman

NARRATOR – Michelle Alexander
MORTY – Noah Casey
RICK – Brian Carleton
BETH – Dana Thody
JESUS CHRIST – Chris Reid Geisler
SUMMER – Angela Cavallin
FLUXO – Ucal Shillingford


Genre: Comedy, Animation, Adventure

Rick and Beth go on an interstellar vacation. Back on earth, Morty recieves unexpected help on his history project while Summer finds a new love interest.

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Beth is approached for her expertise in horse surgery to save a dying alien species from extinction and manages to convince Rick to tag along for a crazy adventure. Meanwhile at home, Morty seeks help from a notable icon to help with history homework to discover he isn’t exactly who he thought he was.

2. How does this episode fit into the context of the…

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the_other_half_movie_posterDirector: Joey Klein
Writer: Joey Klein
Stars: Tatiana Maslany, Tom Cullen, Diana Bentley

Review by Gilbert Saeh

THE OTHER HALF is a Canadian romance drama between one grief-stricken man and a bipolar woman suffering from Rapid Cycling Bipolar 1 Disorder.

Chosen to open the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival in Toronto this year, which serves as a warning that the film is not an easy watch, the film shows no attempt at easing the audience towards its subject. The result is therefore, yes – a film that is not an easy watch.

The film features two prominent TV actors, Tom Cullen (2016 SAG winner/ensemble cast – TV’s Downton Abbey) and Tatiana Maslany (2016 Emmy winner/lead actress – TV’s Orphan Black). The two actors also serve as executive producers which implies the film being a love project for the two. The film’s simple story follows the couple, Nickie (Cullen) and Emily (Maslany) from the time they first meet (it is love at first sight), to their brief separation to the romance at the end where something happens (not revealed as would be a spoiler). They meet at the same time as another couple (Mark Rendall and Deragh Campbell), who interesting enough, face problems as well but for other reasons. The romance is not helped by Emily’s parents (Henry Czerny and Suzanne Clement). They believe the couple should separate and perhaps try again once Emily is normal. Clement is the actress featured in many of Xavier Dolan’s mentally disordered dramas (LAURENCE ANYWAYS, I KILLED MY MOTHER, MOMMY).

The film’s message is simple enough. Love conquers all. But as it is a fiction film, anything goes.

In a way too, THE OTHER HALF is a personal film with the director’s friends and family helping out. Klein’s father, a doctor with a background in English literature, advised on the script. Klein’s sister, a psychiatrist, helped prep Maslany before the shoot. His brother did Emily’s paintings.

The film, shot in Toronto, feels like Toronto from the familiar streets and the signature streetcars that often come into the frame.

For a film featuring mental disorder, the film contains many disturbing club scenes, shot in dim lighting with strobe lights, lasers and annoying sounds and music.

For a couple with disorders (Nickie also loves to fight), it is surprising that the couple never gets into any heated fights – only into minor arguments that are easily resolved. The one scene in which Emily freaks out at home and has to be handcuffed by a cop is the most effective one showing realistically, the mental anguish. Other than that, the film falls into the same story line about troubled couples – the parents refuse to help, the couple struggles on their own, and final survives.

THE OTHER HALF is an ok film with performances and everything passable in all departments. Yet, there is nothing that will draw a crowd to see the film. Who really wants to watch a film of a a troubled couple with mental disorders? The film also provides no insight about the disorder or how a couple can manage through the difficulties.



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Film Review: JACKIE (USA/Chile/France 2016)

jackie_movie_posterDirector: Pablo Larraín
Writer: Noah Oppenheim
Stars: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig

Review by Gilbert Seah

Chilean director Pablo Larrain has made a name for himself with critical hit films like NO and TONY MANERO. But he is an odd choice for the English speaking film biography of the true American icon JACKIE, based on the life of Jackie Kennedy just after her husband, John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

The story follows the events immediately following the assassination. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Natalie Portman) is being interviewed by a reporter, Theodore H. White (Billy Crudup) for Life Magazine. The film plunges the audience into the devastation using a series of finely crafted flashbacks that cover the fateful day in Dallas, Jackie’s return to the White House, arrangements for the President’s funeral, and her time spent accompanying her husband’s coffin to Arlington Cemetery.

The film is a slow count of what happens. It is the coping of a violent death of a loved one. The film is very American despite being directed by a non-American. The sequences complete a moving portrait of a grieving woman — a widow and mother struggling with overwhelming tragedy and attention. Yet the core of the film is formed by quiet, profoundly intimate moments: Jackie’s conversations with her children, her brother-in-law Robert Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard, also at the Festival in The Magnificent Seven), one of her aides (Greta Gerwig), journalist White (Billy Crudup), and a Catholic priest (John Hurt). Larrain loves the close-ups of Jackie. The scenes between Jackie and the priest are done in a flashback within a flashback.

Portman does a fine job as Jackie Kennedy. She often looks aloof though she says that she is not and concerned about the children and the funeral procession. I don’t recall how the real Jackie spoke, but Portman always speaks with her mouth wide open, which I gather is the way the real Kennedy spoke.

For a non-American, the tasks offered to the former First Lady of restoring the artefacts of the White House may seem trivial. Jackie often moves around the different rooms drowning vodka or popping one of her colourful pills, always with a cigarette in one hand. She might not seem convincing when she says she cares so much for the children, but that is the way she was in real life during those times. Non-Americans might either find everything totally boring for incidents portrayed that do not concern them or be totally in awe of anyone being so involved in Americana.

One of the tasks Jackie was in charge of was looking after the White House. In the film’s best segment, an inspired one no doubt, Jackie is seen moving about the house, cigarette in one hand, popping pols, pouring drinks or arranging letters to the tune and lyrics of the song CAMELOT. Camelot, the perfect place to be is Jackie’s White House.

JACKIE emerges as a rare film about America as seen through the eyes of a foreigner. It is a queer piece which alternates between looking really artificial and surreal, but that might be Larrain’s intention.



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sadies_last_day_on_earth_movie_poster.jpgDirector: Michael Seater
Writer: Michael Seater
Stars: Helene Joy, Munro Chambers, Ricardo Hoyos

Review by Gilbert Seah

SADIE’S LAST DAYS ON EARTH is advertised as a teen comedy – a genre of film many moviegoers tend to avoid. To be fair to this genre of films, there have been many classics like FERRY BUELLER’S DAY OFF, SIXTEEN CANDLES or even exceptionally funny ones like LICENCE TO DRIVE and WEIRD SCIENCE. The key to teen comedies is to have a very identifiable teen like a loser trying to break out of his or her mould in a very identifiable situation that every adult has been in.

In SADIE’S LAST DAYS ON EARTH, modern teenage anxiety and the universal desire for acceptance from others and ourselves are explored through the protagonist Sadie. The teen in this story appears to be driving herself into a secluded mould of loneliness.

Sixteen-year-old Sadie Mitchell (Morgan Taylor Campbell, SPOOKSVILLE, THE KILLING) is convinced the world is about end. The script does not go into detail where she gets her source or the reason she is so convinced. This is obviously a big flaw as the whole film’s credibility hinges on this fact. Undeterred by the naysayers, Sadie has two weeks to ready herself for the coming apocalypse. The film goes with the titles counting down the last days of earth – as if it was going to happen. Sadie has a list of things she needs to master (a sort of bucket list); survivalist cuisine, knitting, but there are other things…personal things; go to a high school party, kiss a boy, and most importantly, get her best friend Brennan (Clark Backo, SHOOT THE MESSENGER) back. These are silly items, unfortunately only important to Sadie, and not to the audience or anyone else in the film for that matter. Within the first few minutes of the film, the audience is quickly detached from the heroine as well as the film. Armed with survival supplies, blueprints and escape routes, Sadie finds an unlikely ally in Jack (Ricardo Hoyos, DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION) who shows her that her last days on Earth might not be so bad after all.

Just one day before Sadie’s predicted last day, the town suffers a minor earthquake. Suddenly, the entire town believes Sadie’s prediction of Earth’s Last Days. There is of course, such a thing as a minor earthquake happening, so it is ridiculous to see the entire town turning into Chicken Littles.

The film’s corny message is that one should live life fully – as if the end of the world is near. Sadie also suffers from insecurity. Too many of the film’s character have to remind her that she is smart, funny and bold – which in my opinion, she is not.

Enough is enough. The film is so unwatchable and the characters so annoying (example: Sadie’s mother with an Australian accent; Sadie’s dj classmate with a fake British accent), that one soon begins counting down the minutes this film will end.

From the same director and writers of PEOPLE HOLD ON, SADIE’S LAST DAYS ON EARTH will likely be as forgettable as their first movie, which thankfully (about group of friends gathering together before a wedding ), I did not see.


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Film Review: SUGAR MOUNTAIN (USA 2016)

sugar_mountain_movie_posterDirector: Richard Gray
Writers: Abe Pogos, Abe Pogos (story
Stars: Jason Momoa, Cary Elwes, Anna Hutchison

Review by Gilbert Seah

 SUGAR MOUNTAIN is the location in Alaska where two brothers device a scam in order to get the money to pay off debts and have a new go on life.

Deep in debt to a local thug (upcoming actor Jason Momoa soon to be seen on AQUAMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE), Miles (Drew Roy) persuades his girlfriend Lauren (Haley Webb) and brother Liam (Shane Coffey) to help fake a disappearance in the Alaskan wilderness around the town of SUGAR MOUNTAIN. The plan is to sell the story. But unknown to Liam, who is the main subject of the film, Miles has also other secrets that get in the way. Worst still, Liam is in love with Lauren. While the town works together to find Miles, the local chief of police, Jim Huxley (Cary Elwes) begins to suspect foul play. As he closes in on the truth, Liam struggles to conceal the hoax, and in the process exposes a secret that rocks him and Lauren to the core. Now the two are struggling to stay one step ahead of a sadistic thug and the tenacious cops before Miles is gone for good.

Performances are believable by the relatively unknown young cast. It is good to see Cary Elwes (THE PRINCESS BRIDE) nine in the role of the cop father after a long absence in films.

Being shot in Alaska, the film is expectedly gorgeous to look at. From the first scene of Miles lost in the mountains of snow to the boat (the Viking) cruising down Alaskan waters to the mountain sides where the search for Miles is carried out, cinematographer John Garrett never fails to astound. Garrett won the 2015 Emerging Cinematographer Award recipient (American Society of Cinematographers). There is also a remarkable shot scene where the couple find themselves close up to an angry bear.

The script by Abe Pogos based on a story by Pogos and Catherine Hill is interesting enough with sufficient plot twists towards the end. But the film would have world better if it was darker and more violent. One expects these elements in a film advertised a a dark thriller. But most important is the happy ending that is credible enough. The film works best when the audience is not sure what is happening on screen is part of the plan or going on for real.

SUGAR MOUNTAIN is a tough sell being a small budget movie released in the month of December in stiff competition with the big league films like ROGUE ONE, FANTASTIC BEASTS, DR. STRANGE, MOANA as well as smaller budget critical acclaimed hits like MOONLIGHT. To be fair, SUGAR MOUNTAIN is not a bad film, but it is not that remarkable a film either. But it is an earnest film, with a lot of effort put in and is a welcome change in a month where thrillers are noticeably absent.


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Died Today (December 6th) – John Payne (1912–1989)

WILDsound Writing and Film Festival Review

johnpayne.jpgJohn Payne (1912–1989)

Born: May 28, 1912 in Roanoke, Virginia, USA
Died: December 6, 1989 (age 77) in Malibu, California, USA

Married to: Alexandra Crowell Curtis (27 September 1953 – 6 December 1989) (his death)
Gloria DeHaven (28 December 1944 – 21 September 1951) (divorced) (2 children)
Anne Shirley (22 August 1937 – 1 March 1943) (divorced) (1 child)

Back in 1937 while I was under contract to Paramount, I sang on a five-minute radio program with another contract player from Paramount. A girl who’s done rather well since — Betty Grable. Betty and I didn’t do so well then, though. We couldn’t find a sponsor and finally gave up the program. I sang low tenor — or, should I say, high baritone.

Miracle on 34th Street
dir. Scott Derrickson
Natalie Wood
dir. Phil Karlson
John Payne
Coleen Gray

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Died Today (December 6th) – Don Ameche (1908–1993)

WILDsound Writing and Film Festival Review

donameche.jpgDon Ameche (1908–1993)

Born: May 31, 1908 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA
Died: December 6, 1993 (age 85) in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

Married to:
Honore Prendergast (6 December 1932 – 1986) (her death) (6 children)

[on Darryl F. Zanuck] Zanuck never did anything but be nice to me. Oh yeah, maybe he chased Alice Faye around, but a lot of people chased Alice Faye around.



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