Film Review: FAKE BLOOD (Canada 2017)

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Fake Blood Poster
Rob Grant and Mike Kovac receive a disturbing fan video inspired by their previous horror movie Mon Ami, motivating them to investigate the responsibility of filmmakers in portraying …See full summary »

Director:

Rob Grant

Writers:

Rob GrantMike Kovac 

 

If a filmmaker made a few films no one really wanted to see then made a documentary about those films no one wanted to see?  This is exactly the case of Rob Grant’s FAKE BLOOD.  After making the little seen low budget horror flicks, YESTERDAY and MON AMI, writer/director Rob Grant and his actor buddy, Mike Kovac receive a disturbing fan video inspired by their previous horror movie Mon Ami, motivating them to make a documentary investigating the responsibility of filmmakers in portraying violence in movies.  In their so-called pursuit of the truth they are unwittingly introduced to the real world of violent criminals and their victims.

The question is whether the duo provides any insight on the portrayal of violence in movies.  The answer is a clear no.  This can be observed by the unchallenging and made-up-interview-questions-as-they-go-along during the interviews.  Grant and Kovac spend half the time explaining the pathetic reason for making the doc to the interviewees who end up in all cases milking the duo for some money to speak on camera.  

The question on the filmmakers responsibility on violence is already answered by Grant early into the movie.  His answer is that the filmmakers job is to entertain.  No one really bothers, or cares, whether the violence or a killing is accurate.  In many cases, they go an extreme lengths to seek out individuals who have seen violence or real fights.  I do not see the difficulty here, as I have seen real fights and violence (though not a killing) first hand.  And the interviewed do not provide any fresh information either.

A point to note is that the film makes no disclaimer that it is bot based on any true or real characters.  This, implies of course, that what is seen on the screen is real, but there is no real proof, just supposition.  There is no film governing board that checks this.

Another glaring problem of FAKE BLOOD is whether what is documented is true or false.  The killer interviewed on film is played by an actor and what he says could have been real or made up, no one knows.  The film plays with a bit of comedy, but the apparent seriousness of the matter excludes it from being classified a mockumentary, which means that the film could be entire fiction, but just made documentary style for it to classify a documentary.  An example is the 2005 British film BROTHERS OF THE HEAD by directors Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe that plays like a real serious documentary only that the Siamese twins never existed in real life.

But ultimately, what transpired on screen in uninteresting and boring.  Grant tackles a minor subject that really dos not impact anybody.  Does anyone really imitate the violence on screen?  Even if they do, it is hard to prove (interviewing a few killers will never prove anything conclusive) and violence in real life will always be there, regardless.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTit5tJ5XYM

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Film Review: SEBASTIAN (Canada 2017)

Sebastian Poster
Starring James Fanizza, Alex House and Katya from RuPaul’s Drag Race (Brian McCook). Alex and Sebastian meet one fateful evening and it’s love at first sight.

SEBASTIAN is the new gay romance film written and directed by James Fanizza, an expansion of his short film in 2014 which he wrote but did not direct.  The film had its premiere at last year’s INSIDE OUT LGBT Film Festival and finally gets a commercial release.  The film is not to be confused with Derek Jarman’s 1976 SEBASTIANE or the Dirk Bogarde 1968 film romance SEBASTIAN.

When the film begins, Alex (James Fanizza) is introduced to his boyfriend, Nelson’s (Guifré Bantjes-Rafols) cousin, SEBASTIAN (Alex House) from Buenos Aires, Argentina.   From the way Alex and Sebastian eye each other, one knows it is just a matter of time when they get into bed together.  Which they do.

The question is then: “Is it ok for one to sleep with ones boyfriend’s cousin?”  Or rather: “Is it ok to sleep with your cousin’s boyfriend?”  Either way, it does not look like a good idea.  Especially in the Latino culture, as Sebastian says at one point in the film only to be corrected by Alex:  “…. or in any other culture.”  So, Fanizza puts in the excuse that the relationship between Alex and Nelson is not going on too well.

Fanizza’s gay romance goes through all the motions of a gay romantic comedy.  Do not expect any new revelations or insight.  The two leads are attractive hunky and the sex scenes are executed tastefully with no nastiness.

One can tell that the original short film has been padded to make a feature length film.  There is dialogue taking time where the two discuss their favourite food or favourite colour.  Their family background is also brought in, with Sebastian haven gay coming-out problems with his mother in Argentina.  The aunt he is staying with is accepting and pleasant enough.  Other time-wasters: Sebastian buys Alex a record.  No time to hear it that night?  Hear it the night after.  The two attend a show put on my a friend of Alex.

It turns out the padded show is quite so entertaining.   The drag show is performed by a campy Xenia (Katya Zamolodchikova).  The dance beats at the club are catchy and other drag performers (from RuPaul’s Drag Race) are also a pleasure to watch.  Queer culture has seldom been represented to be so much fun!  Katya steals every scene he/she is in whether in drag or in man’s attire.  Fanizza also gives Xenia the best lines: “Alex has a problem.  He is a pussy.” 

Fanizza is a graduate from York University, Toronto and an actor. He is immediately recognizable from a commercial (I cannot remember which one) which is currently playing on TV.  Alex House looks like a young Roy Depuis and is good enough in his undemanding role.

SEBASTIAN is an ok gay movie that is entertaining enough.  Just sit back and relax to the light gay romantic comedy.  It would be interesting to see the short version of SEBASTIAN as well.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQqJVy-Urmg

Film Review: EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY (Austria, Drama/Family)

A strong and daring film by directed Patrick Vollrath, EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY is the story of a divorced father who takes his daughter Lea away for the weekend. Except he’s not just taking her away for the weekend.

What seems like a normal day of toy shopping, lunch and the fair, turns more sinister as the father rushes Lea to an emergency passport office and then sells his car. Told through the child’s point of view, it’s not totally clear what is going on, until the two reach the airport and book an international flight.

Our young heroine isn’t sure what to do, but tries her best to tell her father she doesn’t want to go anywhere but home, but this father is determined.

What is exceptional about this film is the slow build of fear and danger that simmers itself into a rolling boil. The slow burn of this piece will have you on the edge of your seat, especially when the flight is delayed and our pair are sent to a hotel.

 

EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY is tense and compelling. But it is also heartbreaking. It is the story of a tormented father desperate not to be torn apart from his child, and his selfish and terrifying decisions to try to keep her in his life.

A powerful and dramatic story with exceptional performances and brilliant execution, EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY is a film not to miss.

PLAYED at the January 2018 Comedy/Drama Festival. 

Review by Kierston Drier

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EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY, 30min., Austria, Drama/Thriller
Directed by Patrick VollrathA divorced father picks up his eight-year-old daughter Lea. It seems pretty much like every second weekend, but after a while Lea can’t help feeling that something isn’t right. So begins a fateful journey.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: EGGS AND SOLDIERS (USA, Drama/Family)

Directed by Imelda O’Reilly, this twenty-minute American film follows the story of a single Irish father and his two children on Christmas. Having smuggled his younger son, Marco away from his mother on Christmas Eve to spare him from that abusive home, he goes out drinking and leaves his elder son, teenage Ned, in charge of babysitting. Treeless and foodless on Christmas, Ned tries to watch his little brother and calm his own personal love life at the same time.

When Ned leaves to get groceries to cook dinner for Marco, he finds his dad drinking in a bar and confronts him and things get ugly. When the father finally returns home drunk and kicks Ned out, Ned decides to make sure Marco’s Christmas won’t be ruined.

 

This is a difficult and complex story of family. It paints complex characters with flaws and compassion. Marco and Ned’s father is abusive and alcoholic, but also attempted to save them both from more abusive home-lives than the one he provides. Marco and Ned, it seems, are simply swapped from one bad situation to another. Yet in the middle of this dark and dangerous world the two brothers manage to create a happy holiday together. EGGS AND SOLDIERS is a story that reminds us that happiness is not a privilege reserved only for the wealthy and affluent. Joy, love and goodwill towards your fellow human are things that transcend race, bloodline, economy. “Family” is something found in every home where love lives.

PLAYED at the January 2018 Comedy/Drama Festival. 

Review by Kierston Drier

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EGGS AND SOLDIERS, 20min., USA, Drama/Family
Directed by Imelda O’ReillyA single Irish Dad forgets the tree on christmas eve. Ned the older son’s humanity is challenged when he risks everything to give his younger brother Marco a real Irish Christmas.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: EDEN HOSTEL (Spain, Comedy)

This fourteen minute comedy hailing from Spain by director Gonzaga manso, tells the story of a slightly tacky Virgin Mary wall hanging that hangs above a bed in a Spanish Hostel. Sweet, innocent and non-judgemental, our figurine recounts the most important moments of her time there. Such as watching a suicidal man and a prostitute with bad timing, fall in love. With gentle nudges that may be God, fate or fantasy, our heroine sees the world with simplicity and love, kindness and, above all else, compassion for those who sleep below her.

This fly-on-the-wall style narrative opens up many options for a story set in a hostel and we are delighted with colourful characters, thoughtful moments and snapshots of people in their lives. Much like the Heroine wall-hanging, we only ever see snippets of the lives of the hostel guests- and never the endings. Yet, using this narrative we are able to draw together meaning from each vignette- and the natural sweetness of our hero makes her capable of seeing the best in everyone.

What we get from watching EDEN HOSTEL is the knowledge that, deep down, we are all the same. Our characters might be different, but we all go through similar plot points. If we remember how similar we all really are, perhaps our endings, our beginnings, and our middles, will be more filled with love and happiness.

PLAYED at the January 2018 Comedy/Drama Festival. 

Review by Kierston Drier

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EDEN HOSTEL, 14min., Spain, Comedy/Drama
Directed by Gonzaga MansoThe Eden Hostel is a humble and dirty place run by an elderly couple. Hanging from the wall of one of its rooms there?s a statue of the Virgin Mary who narrates, from her peculiar point of view, the stories of the various guests who stayed there through the years. One of those stories, the one of Yolanda and Felix, will make a huge impact on her.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: ALTERNATIVE MATH (USA, Comedy)

Perhaps one of the smartest and most compelling shorts around, ALTERNATIVE MATH, a nine minute American piece directed by David Maddox, is a deeply layered and remarkably sophisticated pieces of intelligent comedy.

Our heroine is a veteran grade school teacher trying to explain to her student that 2+2=4. The child however, believes the answer is 22. So do his parents. How dare this teacher censor their child and restrict his learning. What kind of professional does this? The child’s parents are out for blood and soon our heroine is trapped in a vicious media onslaught and a school board demanding her resignation.

What makes this film so special is that it functions on so many layers. It works comically due to it’s wonderfully executed reducto-absurdum, but just a little bit deeper we find an allegory for our modern world carrying a concerning warning. What happens when beliefs are taken too such a degree that basic knowledge is questioned? What happens to a population when the right to free speech becomes more important than the recognition of fact? There is a frightening undertone in ALTERNATIVE MATH that speaks to a greater and more terrible world lurking in a reality not too far away from our own.

Of course, this allegory is one that comes gift-wrapped clearly and politely in the bow comedy for an audience can unwrap it with glee, not fear. Perhaps this is one of the best reasons to see ALTERNATIVE MATH, a film with heart, humanity and humor, as well as deeper philosophical undertones. A family film to be enjoyed by teacher and student alike.

PLAYED at the January 2018 Comedy/Drama Festival. 

Review by Kierston Drier

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

ALTERNATIVE MATH, 9min, USA, Comedy
Directed by David MaddoxA well meaning math teacher finds herself trumped by a post-fact America.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: JAKE & JULIA (USA, Comedy)

JAKE & JULIA is a film for any kinky couple who decides to jump into the deep end of the sexual adventure pool without their floaty wings. During a one-night hotel stay, Jake and girlfriend Julia decide to throw caution to the wind and try to pick up a third for a sexy night of fun.

Problems arise almost instantly when the couple realizes they don’t really know how to get a third person, and decide to go the old-fashion way and pick someone up at the bar by the hotel.

What follows is a larger-than-life comedy about two quirky and authentically hilarious people, just trying to get laid and failing miserably. Until they wind up succeeding, that is. But sometimes getting exactly what you wish for isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The power behind JAKE & JULIA as a film, is a combination in strength of the writing (which is rapid-fire wit and charm) and the strength of the preformanances. Jake and Julia are independently quirky, lovable, awkward and each equally comically robust. The audience can instantly feel how the two of them are together, and they banter and charm gives the illusion of best friends who fell into becoming lovers.

And addictively funny film you can’t stop watching, JAKE & JULIA is sure to please.

PLAYED at the January 2018 Comedy/Drama Festival. 

Review by Kierston Drier

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

JAKE & JULIA, 12min, USA, Comedy/Relationship
Directed by CJ ColandoDuring a one-night hotel stay, a young couple decide to pursue a spontaneous erotic fantasy.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!