Film Review: FAREWELL (Switzerland)

Played at the May 2017 EUROPEAN Short Film Festival


What happens if you want to say goodbye to a loved one but this suddenly no longer find ? The short film “Farewell” tells how want to accompany a group of friends with different characters their deceased friend and brother on a last trip and so much goes wrong.

In bizarre and comical way this short satire will pull you in its spell – and what, if such a thing happened once to me?

Review by Kierston Drier

When we love something, we let it go. Right? It is certainly something we have all been taught. But when you have your buddy’s urn with his ashes in it, you might want to keep it where you know you can find it- just in case. But for five friends charged with the task of caring for their dead friend’s ashes, things don’t go so smoothly.

Enter FAREWELL, a comedy with a curious mixture of strange happenings and humor styles. The dialogue is punchy, the action is raucous and outlandish and the tone is similar to Analyze That with it’s back to back escalation of unbelievable stakes.

Our heroes lose their friend while out to dinner before delivering him to have his ashes scattered. Where they find him? Well they need to backtrack through their steps, stopping at the restaurant, tracking down the waitresses, going through the kitchen and…well things only get more complicated from there.

Boasting some hilarious twists and turns and some great recurring humor, every character in the piece is bright, sharp and full of life. A great piece about learning not to take life too seriously.

Film Review: SEEDS (UK)

Played at the May 2017 EUROPEAN Short Film Festival

A young female astronaut trains for the first expedition to Mars.


Review by Kierston Drier

A gorgeous and deeply layered piece of cinema, SEEDS does what all science-fiction genre piece hope to do: dissect a part of our modern world by throwing it through the lense of the future. A young female astronaut must decide to leave her brother (the only family she has) to go into isolation training for a settlement to be built on Mars. She will likely never return. There is an echo of other well loved science fiction pieces like “The Martian”, or even “Stranded” in this piece, although in SEEDS, our heroine is only prepping for her journey. But this film, like others before it, puts human relationships under a microscope through the examination of isolation and space. Bravo to SEEDS for being able to do this in a short film format.

Our heroine has not yet left Earth, but she is already worlds apart from her brother. Emotionally, they must make peace with one another before she leaves. But what he views as abandonment, she views as her ultimate sacrifice to her home- rising a colony on another planet may pave the way to ensure human survival for generations to come.

Science fiction is a genre used to soften the blow of asking really hard questions. SEEDS fits perfectly within its’ medium: It asks us to look at human relationships and the difficult feelings of isolation, separation and loss. It is palatable for us, because it is accompanied by the fantastical, beautiful, adventurous notion of crossing the boundaries of our own world. It asks us a big question: Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Would your love for your family keep you from being part of the journey that could save the world? Our Heroine has asked herself this. To find her answer, you’ll have to watch SEEDS.


Film Review: EAT ME! (Bulgaria)

Played at the May 2017 EUROPEAN Short Film Festival

Eatmeposter jan 2017small

Glittering socialite Laura starts slipping from the daily reality of a weight obsessed rich man’s mistress. While on a fancy dinner with her gluttonous lover she enters a strange world where food dances and sings. The whirlwind of dance blows the air out of Laura’s head and she becomes a different type of girl…

How people treat each other is mirrored in the way we treat our environment and our food. That’s why “Eat me” focuses on our attitude to food, its dubious contents and food waste through the prism of a skewed relationship.

Review by Kierston Drier

A twenty minute dive into food and psychology, EAT ME, is an adventurous musical romp telling the tale of a beautiful young woman having dinner with her very hungry partner. She fights the internal battle between craving and self control, as she stares down at various lavish plates sent to their table. Seemingly driven crazy by hungry, she slips slowly into hallucinations- her food literally sprouting legs and dancing in front of her, singing and tempting her to eat them.

She tries desperately to escape her phantom food, but to little avail. They torment her with jazz hands, seamless choreography and painfully catchy tunes. In a desperate attempt to flee her visions, she ends up making a scene, and is escorted outside. She is left in a dumpster, where all unwanted things go. Among piles of forgotten food, she can finally be alone with her thoughts, and give in.

What is interesting about this piece- besides the obvious humor of singing and dancing foodstuffs, is the careful detail in the visuals. Our leading lady is a stunningly flawless beauty, and the plates put before her are equally gorgeous. Yet the film is shot primarily in black and white, with a few choice scenes and items being colored. Seeing the film in black and white acts as a constant distinction between the audience’s’ reality and the story. Until, that is, our heroine lies in a pile of trash. In this scene, the piece is colored naturally- as though her illusions are shattered, and reality has seeped in.

It can be interpreted in any number of ways and that is part of its’ mystique. EAT ME is delightfully fresh, something you want to look for in your films, and well as your food.


Played at the May 2017 EUROPEAN Short Film Festival

1 yassine fadel

This is the story of two young guys without any trouble who just want to « screw »
without being disturbed.« State of Emergency motherfucker» is a surrealistic comedy
that depicts a society where police violence and invasion of privacy are daily routine, normal, tedious. The victims themselves are used to it. Even the police is used to it! Every day, they get back at it. Samy and Mehdi aren’t even paying attention to it anymore… the viewer neither. The real question of the movie is to finally discover if Samy did get some on the night of Valentine’s…

Review by Kierston Drier

Whether it is the eye-catching title or the vibrant opening scene that sucks you into this 5 minutes Political Satire from Belgium, once you’re in this film- you are really in it. Why? Because it simply doesn’t give you the opportunity to let go. With rapid dialogue, seamless transitions and flawless editing, this piece boasts dialogue gymnastics on top of its’ stellar performances. These factors alone are enough to impress any film critic, but STATE OF EMERGENCY MOTHERF***ER, is also making a political statement, while being hilariously funny.

How do they manage it all? It’s hard to say- because the piece is so fast, so witty, so active and so engaging, that it’s over before you’ve even had time to take in the sheer amount of work that must go into to a film.

Our piece begins with two young guys having the classic “guy-talk” about their nightly conquests, when they are carded, arrested and dragged down to a police station to be beaten and harassed. The humor comes from their casual acceptance of their circumstances, their lack of concern with the outcome, and their ability to continue their conversation without missing a beat. It is hard to say what is funnier- the actual humorous dialogue, or the context of it being said while the speakers are actively being cuffed and beaten.

What is brilliant about STATE OF EMERGENCY MOTHERF***ER is that under the comedy, is a deeply meaningful political statement about social profiling and the relationships specific communities have with government and police forces. It is hyperbolic because it must be. The controversial nature of the message behind the film means that it must be over the top and humorous- as Oscar Wilde said, “If you want to tell someone the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”

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Film Review: WAR MACHINE (USA 2017) ***

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war_machine.jpgAn absurdist war story for our times, writer-director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) recreates a U.S. General’s roller-coaster rise and fall as part reality, part savage parody.

Director: David Michôd
Writers: Michael Hastings (book), David Michôd (screenplay)
Stars: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hayes, John Magaro

Review by Gilbert Seah

A Netflix original movie opening only on Netflix and proudly not in theatres May 26th, WAR MACHINE opens as arrogantly as its voiceover, as its content and as its platform. It is a film directed and written by David Michôd inspired by the nonfiction book The Operators by Michael Hastings. It fictionalizes the events in the book based on the firing of United States Army General Stanley McChrystal.

The voiceover praises America, that seeks peace, that needs to find peace and win wars. If the war like the one in Afghanistan in 1993 cannot be won, then they sack the guy in charge and hire a new guy. Thus the film’s protagonist, first introduced as Glen (Brad Pitt) with the WAR MACHINE is described and said to be called THE LION KING by his men, and shown walking confidently at an airport lounge before deployment telling his men: “Let’s do it!” The beginning sequence primes the audience for an exciting 2 hours to follow, where hopefully they see a quirky film, different from the ones screened theatrically. It also warns the audience to be careful of the accuracy projected on screen. After all, how can Glen’s men call him The Lion King in 1993 when that film was released only in 1994. Glen eats one meal a day, sleeps only 4 hours and runs 7 miles every morning. Glen loves his men and his men love him back.

It’s Brad Pitt’s movie. Pitt is in almost very scene. He has a constant sarcastic growl painted on his face throughout the film. Pitt shows he is star material and he definitely commands screen presence. His gruff voice sounds like George C. Scott’s in PATTON. He hams up every scene and is as funny as his funniest role – the fitness instructor in BURN AFTER READING. Tilda Swinton who seems to be appearing in every Korean or Netflix movie is immediately recognizable in a cameo as a German reporter who questions Glen. Topher Grace has the supporting role of Glen’s loyal public relations supporter while Ben Kingsley plays the Afghanistan President. Meg Tilly has the odd role of Glen’s long-suffering wife. She provides the film’s most sentimental moment when she confesses her true feelings to her husband at their 30th Anniversary dinner.

As a satire, WAR MACHINE is funnier than it should be, where it should be more biting. Many critics have agreed on this point that the film is thus a bit below average.

For a war film, there are hardly any battle scenes except for the one at the end. The film also lacks a climax, expected in most films.

WAR MACHINE is a worthwhile watch if one has Netflix. It is at least a new and an original film compared to all the other films (mostly more than a year old and already seen by most subscribers) available. The film is currently playing on Netflix since Friday May 26th.Trailer: 


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LGBT Inside Out Festival: MY WONDERFUL WEST BERLIN (Germany 2017) ***

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mywonderful.jpgToday’s hip image of Berlin is based on the city’s vibrant and subversive subcultures, which originally emerged within the grey walls surrounding West Berlin. The queer scene played a major role in creating that subculture, with its sexual diversity and its wild and unconstrained party culture, ranging from the notorious clubs to CSD.

Director: Jochen Hick
Writer: Jochen Hick
Stars: Mabel Aschenneller, Wolfgang Cihlarz, Rolf Eden

Review by Gilbert Seah
MY WONDERFUL WEST BERLIN charts the gay activities between the end of WWII and the fall of the Berlin Wall, looking from the point of view of West Berlin, which was a melting pot of political activists, partygoers, hedonists, club owners, musicians and fashion designers.

These are the stories of their lives, existing in gay communes and surviving the AIDS crisis. This trip down memory lane is not all nostalgic and joy. West Berlin is shown for all the ugliness and its gay history from the fights of the gay movements, the raids and arrests in gay establishments, the abolishment of paragraph 175, to the destruction of lives though A.I.D.S..

Shot mostly in back and white with extensive use of archive footage and home mvies, the audience is offered a ‘treat’ that still keels a relative light mood over the events. Celebrities that have visited West Berlin include Iggy Pop and David Bowie, stressed for heir use of drugs. Many older residents reminisce of the past from the youth to the present.

There is nothing really new revealed in this documentary, but it is still an informative and entertaining watch.


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Film Review: An American Dream: The Education of William Bowman (2016)

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anamericandream.jpgA cheerfully gullible college graduate embarks on a journey into adulthood that whisks him into the insanity of 21st century America, where he is beset by a parade of gun-crazed zealots.

Director: Ken Finkleman
Writer: Ken Finkleman
Stars: Diana Bentley, Shiloh Blondel, Jan Caruana

Review by Gilbert Seah

With its American theme and setting, this Canadian film #ANAMERICANDREAM
that was first screened earlier this year at the Canadian Film Festival is quite the gem of a movie. It is original, hilarious, current, absurd, Kafkai-ish but mostly frighteningly entertaining.

The unlikely hero of the film is William Bowman (Jake Crocker) a 17-year old footballer, who when knocked unconscious during a game, is sent to the future, one that is as weird if not similar to the Australian film BLISS where the protagonist, who when suffering a heart attack witnesses odd things going on around him.

The education of William Bowman as the film calls it, takes Bowman through several amusing set pieces on life. The first has him doing internship for the Payne Financial Company where he learns that lying is more acceptable company culture than telling the truth. The second has him working for a born-again Tally Pepper who sets him up as a travelling salesman. The third has him running from the police and government. But there is no escape, as they can see everything he sees, due to a transplant of a camera in his eye.
Writer/director Finkelman takes the audience on a journey through America from Bowman’s point-of-view while satirizing everything from TV, corporate culture, school, the future, the second amendment to the country’s beliefs of the future.

Despite the film jumping from one set-up to another, Finkelman transits from one segment to another smoothly and hilariously. Bowman enters his office, the Payne building one morning to suddenly realize that every employee he sees is Asian. When he sees another Asian at his desk, he is informed that his company has been taken over and that he is out of a job. This takes him to the next segment.

Newcomer Jake Crocker is excellent in the role of a confused man tying to make sense of the craziness. Crocker is sufficiently good-looking that the audience can believe that most women will want to have sex with him. Or most men would want to punch him in the face. Both happens. The film includes some quite steamy sex scenes, showed in blurring images, but still sexually arousing.

The film goes into futuristic sci-fi mode at the end, when Bowman is being chased after becoming the most hunted man in the country. This segment gives Bowman the chance to meet a wide range of Americans from sexy teen babes to an old codger who ends up shot after helping him.

Finkelman’s film is full of surprises with a new one coming round every corner. The dialogue is also razor-sharp in observation and wit.
#ANAMERICAN DREAM is that rare Canadian film that is set in the United States not to be more commercial but because the story is set there. The film is also one of the sharpest Canadian films I have seen this year.


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