THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS (Ireland/Canada 2017)

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

The Man Who Invented Christmas Poster
Trailer

The journey that led to Charles Dickens’ creation of “A Christmas Carol,” a timeless tale that would redefine the holiday.

Director:

Bharat Nalluri

Writers:

Susan Coyne (screenplay), Les Standiford (book)

 

The last Christmas Ireland and Canada collaborated on a film that had a setting in NYC was the film BROOKLYN that was an immense success, critically, commercially and financially.  THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS appears on paper as another perfect adaptation, that begins in NYC at Yuletide.  This is the story of how Charles Dickens came to write about A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the arguably most popular of all his novels  – yes the one where Ebenezer Scrooge turned over a new leaf after meeting the ghosts of Christmas, past present and future.

The film opens in 1943 in NYC, right after Dickens (played cheerfully by DOWNTON ABBEY’s Dan Stevens) achieved fame an success from his latest book “Oliver Twist”.  He is the toast of the town.  An appearance at a theatre shows him over celebrated amidst dancing fanfare and fireworks that shock him, literally to the ground.

The idea of making a film about the writing process of A CHRISTMAS CAROL instead of another remake make seems more logical given the uncountable number of film or TV films made already.  Unfortunately, THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS based on the reported well-researched book of the same name by Les Standiford  on the inspirations behind Charles Dickens’ beloved ‘A Christmas Carol,’ is a travesty.

For one, though the biopic reveals lesser-known details of the author’s life, these details are not so favourable, thus changing the beloved view the public has on the man – not a good idea at Christmas, the time of good cheer.  Dickens is portrayed as a man who loves fame, who is often out of touch with his family and book ideas.  He thinks he can come up with a hit at any time and the fact that he has had several flops after “Oliver Twist” never bothers him.  He does not have any financial sense.  But worse of all, director Nalluri makes the fatal mistake to reveal that Dickens steals ideas and names, and does not possess original ideas for his stories.

To make matters worse, Christmas is depicted here as dying commercially.  It is deemed to be an excuse for workers to take a day off.  Dickens is shown the awkwardness of a tall Christmas tree, and told that the Germans use it.

The film does look good with sufficiently  cheery Christmas period atmosphere with horse drawn carriages and some snow.  

The films highlights Oscar Winner Christopher Plummer in the role of Scrooge.  Plummer only briefly appears and does the customary performance that is nothing special.

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS offers nothing more than the disgusting artificial cheer of the season.  Everyone is supposed to be in good spirits with all the problems of the world hidden away.  A predictable story, bland direction and unconvincing acting among other things result in this very bland and boring Christmas film.

There is only one word to describe THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS.  In the words of Ebenezer Scrooge: “Humbug!”

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxcnYR3mcPU

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

Advertisements

THE BREADWINNER (USA 2017) ***1/2

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

The Breadwinner Poster
Trailer

A headstrong young girl in Afghanistan disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family.

Director:

Nora Twomey

 

As cute as the animation of THE BREADWINNER is, the film’s charm lies more in the delicious tale set in a foreign county where surprises can occur around every corner.  Surprises can be good or bad, but the good ones are elating.

THE BREADWINNER is animated feature created from an innovative mix of 2-D animation with acrylic and digitally painted environments, as well as digital paper cut–out segments.  It is Nora Twomey’s first solo directorial debut after making two other animated features SONG OF THE SEA (2014) and THE STORY OF KELLS (2009).  The story is a current one centred on woman’s rights in a male dominated country.  Angelina Jolie, known for her humanitarian efforts executively produced this film.

Based on Deborah Ellis’ award-winning novel, the story centres on an 11-year-old Afghan girl Parvana, born into an ever-changing world of conflict and oppression in Kabul, who finds strength in the love of her family and the power of storytelling.  Kabul is Taliban controlled and Parvana sees her father suddenly whisked to prison for no reason.  Her family – mother, older sister and baby brother are unable to fend for themselves.  Parvana dresses up as a boy in order to go around town to buy food and to work as the family breadwinner.

It’s just the way it is.  That is the reason things are the way they are in Afghanistan.  Those are the words uttered to her when she is told that she is unable to visit her father in prison.

Still, if there is a will there is a way, especially if money involved.

“Don’t do anything that stupid.” “I will find him.  Nothing you can do will stop me.”  That is her determination to see her imprisoned father. Her spirit is enough to inspire as the film does occasionally. 

As in most animation, magic plays a big part in the film’s enchantment.  In THE BREADWINNER, the magic comes from the story she tells her little brother.  The story is so original and magical that it almost eclipses the main one at hand.  The story involves a village that had the village’s seeds for the next year stolen by the jaguars of the evil Elephant King.  The boy’s quest is to get the seeds back and thus save the worried villagers from starvation.  To overcome the elephant king, the boy has to find things, that shine and ensnare.  It is a good story which intercuts to the main one at the climax of Twomey’s film.  One wonders though as this is a strong female movie, the reason the hero in the story of the Elephant King was not a female in the first place.  The score by Jeff Danna and Mychael Danna features traditional musicians and young voices partly recorded in Kabul.

THE BREADWINNER is a story of oppression that stresses the message that one can accomplish wonders from pure determination.  It is also one that best be told animated as the story might have turned out too harsh as a full live action film.  The animation is beautifully done as the film’s story is one that matters that needs be told.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQBQw-Bh1pg

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

THE DISASTER ARTIST (USA 2017)

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

The Disaster Artist Poster
Trailer

When Greg Sestero, an aspiring film actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true.

Director:

James Franco

Writers:

Scott Neustadter (screenplay by), Michael H. Weber (screenplay by) |2 more credits »

 

James Franco has had dozens of credits as both director and actor.  His directorial debuts have never been too stellar unlike his acting (debuts).  He has proven his acting mettle in both comedy (THIS IS THE END, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS) and drama (SPRING BREAKERS).  In his latest outing, he does both directing and acting in a comedic/dramatic portrayal of Hollywood filmmaker Tommy Wiseau.  The odd film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival Midnight Madness section to a full house, the reason being that Franco and his gang showed up during the screening.

James Franco and friends appear in this uneven tribute to eccentric filmmaker Tommy Wiseau (played by James) and his friend, actor Greg Sestero (played by brother Dave), whose notoriously awful film The Room has become one of the most beloved cult classics of all time.  (I have never heard of it though.)  Since its release in 2003, The Room has captivated cult audiences on the midnight movie circuit with its discombobulated plot, discordant performances, and inexplicable dialogue.  Drawing on the memoir of the same name, Franco chronicles the making of The Room as recalled by Greg.  The incredulous script supervisor is played by friend Seth Roger.  Other celebrity friends of the Franco’s like Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Zac Ephron also appear.  Franco’s portrayal of Wiseau is over-the-top, which is likely the character of the man himself.  Franco as Wiseau goes about the majority of the film speaking with an accent, shouting and speaking in broken English sentences. 

Films about directors of Hollywood bombs have been done before, most notable being Tim Burton’s ED WOOD.  But Franco’s DISASTER ARTIST bears more similarity to the 1970’s British/Italian comedy starring Peter Sellers as a mastermind Italian crook in Vittorio De Sica’s AFTER THE FOX.  In both movies, there are separate scenes of the film shot, that bear no sense, but when put together during a screening at the end of the film, bring on major laughs.  This is how best to describe Franco’s THE DISASTER ARTIST.  It is a shallow biography of Tommy Wiseau providing no new insight of the man, but it does provide some solid laughs.  The best scene is clearly the one where Wiseau does multiple takes on a segment, never getting it right until finally after uttering the line, “Oh, hi  Mike” generate spontaneous applause from the director and those watching on set (and loud laughs from the audience).

The Franco/ Rogen/Goldberg troupe has an uncanny sense of humour, and the humour and timing works magnificently at times.  The film ends with a split screen of the shots of the actual ROOM side-by-side of this movie.  

A so-so movie but one can always forgive a mediocre movie if it delivers a few good laugh-out loud laughs!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qab3TMg42k

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

COCO (USA 2017) ***** TOP 10

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

Coco Poster
Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to work out the mystery.

Directors:

Lee UnkrichAdrian Molina (co-director)

Writers:

Lee Unkrich (original story by), Jason Katz (original story by) | 4 more credits »

 

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

Film Review: THE DARKNESS KEEPER, (Spain, Thriller/Suspense)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

 

A suspense thriller with a more family-friendly theme, THE DARKNESS KEEPER is a brilliant tale of a young girl who manages to trap the spirit of Darkness that haunts and frightens her. After the disappearance of her father, our young heroine is determined to keep the Darkness she traps from coming for anyone else she loves, like her mother. But her capture of the Darkness brings even more darkness to find her.

 

Wonderfully cast and performed and hosting wonderful special effects, what makes THE DARKNESS KEEPER really stand out is the depth of its many layers. It is at once, a family piece, a suspense thriller and the charming story of a child’s’ coming of age and coming to terms with the complex world around her. Shockingly bright and beautifully composed, THE DARKNESS KEEPER is a complex, delicate portrayal of childhood, fear, and acceptance that the world is never divided so clearly into black and white. A suspense thriller story with the twist of a surprisingly happy ending. A piece to please the heart.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

Film Review: STUDDED NIGHTMARE, (Canada, Horror)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

 

A true horror film which delivers in every classic sense, STUDDED NIGHTMARE recounts the tale of a couple who rehome a chair that belonged to a man who used it to hang himself. The chair seems innocent enough, but when used by the new owners it plagues them with horrific images and terrifying thoughts. Despite their attempts to get rid of their new item, it mysterious draws them back to it. But with each use of the chair, their visions get more extreme and their behaviors more deadly.

 

Terrifying and dramatic, this is a true horror- it delivers on shock, suspense and gore. Sharp, intense and undeniably creepy, it’s a stomach-churning story to thrill any horror-loving fan.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

Film Review: MY BODY, (Germany, Horror)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

 

MY BODY is a six-minute short coming out of Germany. Uncanny in an almost unknowable way, this is a film that chronicles the breakdown of one mans’ mind as he deals with a body in his living room. It’s up to the audience to decide if the bizarre visions and terrifying world of our hero is his strange reality or the disintegration of his own mind. Haunted by shadows and spiders that weave their way through his home, our hero must make a twisted peace with his circumstances, including coming to terms with the body in a bag in his home.

 

The peace is simply shot, although it boasts excellent performances and editing. it is nevertheless a chilling and skin-crawling film to watch, as it slowly dissects one man’s struggle with reality. A chilling, thrilling short indeed.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video: