Film Review: TROUBLE IN THE GARDEN (Canada 2018)

Trouble in the Garden Poster
Trailer

Bailed out and taken in by a brother she hasn’t seen in years, an Indigenous protester and her adoptive family reckon with betrayal – of love, land, and blood.

Director:

Roz Owen

Writer:

Roz Owen

The film is appropriately entitled TROUBLE IN THE GARDEN as retesting activist Raven also known as Pippa McTavish (Cara Gee) is camped on in a tent in the garden of her surety who bailed her out and who is under house arrest in his home.  Raven is trouble personified.

The film opens with Pippa arrested and jailed form protesting land development on disputed Indigenous land.  Arrested – McTavish.  A white man, Colin (Jon For) bails her out and she has to stay house arrest with his family.  The following scene has Colin putting up a real estate sign, as he sells houses under the name McTavish.  It is then revealed that Pippa is the adopted daughter and Colin the son of a white family.  Pippa was disowned by the father for the reason disclosed later in the film.

The script by Owen is a bit too over-the-top in its good intentions.  It is written for plenty of dramatic theatrics which means that there are too many incidents that are too coincidental to be believable.  Example of cliched dialogue: “They are white but they are fucked.  But they are the only family that I got.”

Another of the film’s problems is its feminism and radicalism.  Sure, the land of the Indigenous people have been stolen, but the white man is considered evil with no redemption whatsoever.  The script squeezes in a lot of key issues.  Among these include the fact that: the natives were never allowed and the government considered it a crime for them to hire lawyers till the 60’s to fight to gain back their stolen land – a point that would anger many Canadians besides the natives. One can imagine the anger of the Indigenous people over the stolen land – an issue that can never be resolved.  As the saying goes, why bring it to the courts?  Can one expect justice in stolen land?  

The script makes a twist to have the brother’s wife side with Raven. When Colin’s wife finds out about her husband Colin’s unfaithfulness to his sister, she storms out of the house and family. One would think her loyalty more to her family, especially when she is expecting a second child than side with Pippa who the audience learns has also upset Colin and the wife’s wedding reception.

Actors Gee and For are good and more worthy than the material they are given.  They commit to their confrontation scenes with conviction and bring enough drama to the film,.

Owen is a British born filmmaker now residing in Toronto.  She must have taken up the cause of the Indigenous people while maintaining her strong female saint in her filmmaking.  

The film boasts: Betrayal and reckoning – the issues that Raven will have to come to grips with, not to mention trying to reconcile with her brother and her well-intentioned adoptive parent.  These are too ambitious and too many issues that are never satisfactorily resolved in the 70 minute movie.

Trailer: https://www.landmarkcinemas.com/movie-trailers/trouble-in-the-garden-official-trailer/

Film Review: ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (USA 2019) ***

Alita: Battle Angel Poster
Trailer

A deactivated female cyborg is revived, but cannot remember anything of her past life and goes on a quest to find out who she is.

Director:

Robert Rodriguez

Writers:

James Cameron (screenplay by), Laeta Kalogridis (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »

Not really looking forward to this Hollywood extravaganza, ALITA:BATTLE ANGEL turns out not too bad, aided by its awesome looking futuristic setting of a junkyard metropolis after a devastated War.  The city looks like an overcrowded India with Zalem another city hanging over it.  

The film is based on a manga graphic series which usually spells trouble in the narrative department.  But the script is written by no less than AVATAR helmer James Cameron with Laeta Kalogridis blending in some action and romance to bring in females into the target audience in what is essentially a male movie despite its female protagonist.                                                                                                                                                        The film’s setting is the year 2562 after a huge war referred to as ‘the fall’ has destroyed Earth.  All the inhabitants of the planet has settled into Iron City.  At the film’s start,  Cyborg scientist Dr. Dyson Ido (Oscar Winner Christoph Waltz) discovers a disembodied female cyborg with a fully intact human brain.  Ido rebuilds the cyborg and names her Alita (Rosa Salazar) complete with doll face looking a bit like Cameron’s AVATAR creatures).                                                                                                                                  As the film progresses, Alita and the audience learn more of what’s happened to Earth.  Warrior hunters are brought in.  Ido is revealed to be one of them.  Alita falls in love with a human named Hugo.  Hugo has the dream of entering the sky city of Zalem, that stands like a kind of Utopian heaven.  There is also a violent game of motorball (reminiscent of ROLLERBALL) that Alita has some talent for.  Alita also discovers her past and her exceptional fighting capabilities..The story’s villains are Vector and Nova played by Mahershala Ali and Edward Norton respectively, each taking their role tongue-in-cheek as if not to laugh uncontrollably. Christoph Watlz gets a break from playing a baddie, which one would think must’ve pleased him.  At theToronto International Film Festival press conference for DOWNSIZING,  Waltz was questioned by a journalist if he faced a problem with all those baddie roles.  Waltz was visibly upset and replied maybe that was the journalist’s problem.  Waltz plays the role of an eccentric father this time around.  Jennifer Connolly plays his sympathetic ex, Shiren.                         The story is nothing special, understandable since it is based on a manga graphic novel.  What makes up for it is the well orchestrated fight scenes and the motor ball sports matches even though it looks as if they were taken right out of ROLLERBALL.                                                                                                                         The climax includes a segment where Alita and Hugo are on a gigantic tube that connects Iron City to the high city Zalem.  Hugo climbs the tune up to Zalem.  It is a spectacular sight (looking more spectacular if viewed in 3-D IMAX, high I was fortunate enough to see the film in).  One really ridiculous looking scene has Alita holding Hugo’s hand as he hangs for dear life after falling.  Trouble is that only his torso is left, as he was repaired as a cyborg.  Seeing Alita trying to save a torso looks really funny though that cliff having suspenseful scene was taken quite seriously by the audience at the screening I attended.                                                                 ALITA ends up not the best of Rodriguez and Cameron’s efforts but still an entertaining one for all the corny manga story is worth.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7pYhpJaJW8

Next Wave Film Festival Review: BLUE MY MIND (Switzerland 2017) ***

Blue My Mind Poster
Trailer

15-year-old Mia is facing an overwhelming transformation which calls her entire existence into question. Her body is changing radically, and despite desperate attempts to halt the process, … See full summary »

Director:

Lisa Brühlmann

This Swiss production, shot in Swiss German follows the difficulties of a young Mina (Luna Wedler) as she goes through puberty.  At the same time, a strange transformation is occurring as she has appetite and swallows the goldfish in her fish tank.  In the surreal tale, she attends a new school where she turns from being bullied to being belonged.  Her group of school friends now accept her and she turns out to be worst then them in terms of partying and having sex with the boys.  “Do you sleep with anyone, you slut!” says one of the boys to Mia.  

Her clueless parents are of no help either.  One wishers there are more scenes with Mia’s parents as they are unintentionally funny and interesting.  Actress Wedler is marvellous as Mia, creating a character that one can feel sympathetic for, despite her rebellious nature.  

One wonders the reason director Lisa Brühlmann inserted the surrealism in the film as the film could have done just as effective without it.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLv8B7Sd8u4

Film Review: THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART (USA/Denmark/Australia 2019) ****

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Poster
Trailer

It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: Lego Duplo invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild.

Director:

Mike Mitchell

Writers:

Phil Lord (screenplay by), Christopher Miller (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »

THE LEGO MOVIE 2’s  story in the human world starts after the events of the first film made in 2014, just as Finn’s toddler sister Bianca starts to play with Duplo blocks and tries to take over Bricksburg.  Bianca has grown up.  In the intervening years, Bianca has taken more of the Lego sets into her own room to incorporate into her own creations causing Finn  to get angry with her when he discovers this.   Meanwhile in the Lego story, the Duplo invaders have turned Bricksburg into a post-apocalyptic wasteland named Apocalypseburg, and continue to invade periodically.  On one occasion, Master Builder Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) attempts to broker peace between the citizens and the aliens with a Lego heart, to no avail.  The ordeal has made most of Apocalypseburg’s citizens hardened, but Emmet remains upbeat, wanting to move into a dream home with Lucy (Elizabeth Banks).   However, Emmet is troubled by dreams of a pending “Our-mom-ageddon”.

The film pays nods to a dozen films including the MAD MAX films, JURASSIC PARK, STAR WARS, INDIANA JONES, BACK TO THE FUTURE and of course all the films the other Lego characters come from like Batman (Will Arnett), Superman (Channing Tatum), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), Aquaman (Jason Mom) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) among others.  These are the super heroes from the Warner Bros films.

The animation is impressive.  The Lego character also include fabrics and paper, exploring multiple animation styles for each playlet, thus expanding the target audience for girls as well as boys.

Mike Mitchell takes over the director reins from Lord and Miller who directed the original and Chris McKay initially signed to direct the sequel.  Mitchell does an awesome job.  Chris Miller and Phil Lord who stay around this film to write the screenplay.  The story is inventive and clever incorporating tow different worlds and in the concept of good and evil.

THE LEGO MOVIE worked, so there is no need to change the successful formula.  The format of the first film is kept similar including an ending involving human beings coming into the picture with the LEGO characters transforming into inanimate toys.  Will Farrell is again present (though is voice is only heard, shouting words like: “Where are my pants, honey?”)

Is the sequel just as awesome as the first?  It is awesome and just as inventive and hilarious.  The climax where Maya Rudolph appears as the mother is simply non-stop laugh-out loud laughter.  The original famous song “Everything is awesome” is replaced by a sister song “Everything’s Not Awesome” with news owns like “Catchy Song” written by Jon Lajoie who did the songs for the first movie.  The “Catchy Song” has the phrase ‘this song is gonna get stuck inside your head’ and indeed it does  Great songs and soundtrack!

THE LEGO MOVIE 2 is an animated film that should please both kids and adults.  It is tamed down several notches making it more coherent that the terrible LEGO NINJA movie.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU2qVosryck

February 2019 Filmmaker Interviews

Read interviews with top new filmmakers from around the world.

Interviews conducted by Matthew Toffolo

Interview with Filmmaker Gabriel Galand (HORLA)
Interview with Filmmaker Gabriel Galand (HORLA)

Interview with Filmmaker Danja Politis (ANIMUS PER MACHINA)
Interview with Filmmaker Danja Politis (ANIMUS PER MACHINA)

Interview with Filmmaker Andy Brewster (A PIACERE)
Interview with Filmmaker Andy Brewster (A PIACERE)

Interview with Filmmaker Kayden Phoenix (PENANCE)
Interview with Filmmaker Kayden Phoenix (PENANCE)

Interview with Filmmaker Raghuvir Joshi (YAMAN)
Interview with Filmmaker Raghuvir Joshi (YAMAN)

Interview with Filmmaker Aimiende Negbenebor Sela (UTOPIA)
Interview with Filmmaker Aimiende Negbenebor Sela (UTOPIA)

Interview with Filmmaker Deborah Craig (A GREAT RIDE)
Interview with Filmmaker Deborah Craig (A GREAT RIDE)

Interview with Filmmaker Damien Starr (I’LL BE FINE)
Interview with Filmmaker Damien Starr (I’LL BE FINE)

Interview with Filmmaker Premila Puri (ITSY)
Interview with Filmmaker Premila Puri (ITSY)

Interview with Filmmaker Alessandro Schuster (THE BOY WITH THE TEDDY)
Interview with Filmmaker Alessandro Schuster (THE BOY WITH THE TEDDY)

February 2019 Screenwriter Interviews

Read interviews with top screenwriters from around the world.

Interviews conducted by Matthew Toffolo

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Gracious Vallarious (VIN AND JILL)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Gracious Vallarious (VIN AND JILL)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Farook Qais (THE PORTAL)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Farook Qais (THE PORTAL)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Robert Tartell (Hard-Hearted Hannah & Funny Boneyard)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Robert Tartell (Hard-Hearted Hannah & Funny Boneyard)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Gregory N. Ranky (GECKO ON-SIGHT)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Gregory N. Ranky (GECKO ON-SIGHT)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Maurizio Caduto (LIKE A BLOODY MONKEY)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Maurizio Caduto (LIKE A BLOODY MONKEY)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Anoop Judge (THE RUMMY CLUB)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Anoop Judge (THE RUMMY CLUB)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter David Hearne (STARFARERS)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter David Hearne (STARFARERS)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Anna Milun Walsh (GIRLS TV Show)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Anna Milun Walsh (GIRLS TV Show)

Interview with Screenwriter Tali Zingman (HEADSTRONG)
Interview with Screenwriter Tali Zingman (HEADSTRONG)

Interview with Screenwriter Marilyn Lee (WOMEN OF STEEL)
Interview with Screenwriter Marilyn Lee (WOMEN OF STEEL)

Interview with Screenwriter Eileen Wilson (GINGER SNAP)
Interview with Screenwriter Eileen Wilson (GINGER SNAP)

Interview with Screenwriter Rodrigo Juatco (ROAR)
Interview with Screenwriter Rodrigo Juatco (ROAR)

February 2019 Film Festival Interviews

Best of the new festival interviews for Feb. 2019. And what they link about FilmFreeway:

Interview with Operations Manager Auregan (Paris Art and Movie Awards PAMA)
https://festivalreviews.org/2019/02/08/interview-with-operations-manager-auregan-paris-art-and-movie-awards-pama/

Amazing : Off to the biggest start we had since the creation of the festival. It’s like people were somehow expecting us to accept entries and… Here we are !

Interview with Festival Director Brent Kado (Chicago Independent Film +TV Festival)
https://festivalreviews.org/2019/02/08/interview-with-festival-director-brent-kado-chicago-independent-film-tv-festival/

Good overall. The main issues with them is, again, this gluttony of festivals and awards “contests” and needing to do better weeding out the scams and misleading events.

Interview with the Festival team of FILMSAAZ
https://festivalreviews.org/2019/02/08/interview-with-the-festival-team-of-filmsaaz/

A great service. Have done wonders for us.

Interview with Festival Director Anastasia Cazabon (GRRL HAUS CINEMA)

https://festivalreviews.org/2019/01/18/interview-with-festival-director-anastasia-cazabon-grrl-haus-cinema/

The FilmFreeway process as been great. It’s a really great platform to view films and super user friendly.

Interview with Jury member – Auregan (Paris Art and Movie Awards PAMA)

The Paris Art & Movie Awards (PAMA) is the leading film festival in Paris for independent filmmakers.

The line up included through the years: Sharon Stone, Kirsten Dunst, Sam Rockwell, Robin Wright, Vladimir Cosma, Laetitia Casta, Kristanna Loken, Mark Dacascos, Caterina Murino, Andrew J. West, Hugo Becker, Jansen Panettiere, Tetsuo Nagata, Leslie Bibb, Melanie et Alain Doutey, Macarena Gomez, French prime Minister Edith Cresson, French Minister Frederic Lefebvre, Emma Bell…

Contact

Matthew Toffolo: How did you get involved with the festival?

Auregan: I’ve been a voting Jury member since 2015. It is always fun and exciting to be part of this adventure, because it’s international: you get to discover talents, artists, music and movies from everywhere in the world!

2) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The festival is accepting films, scores, soundtrack songs, and art pieces with more than 20 categories in official competition. That includes documentary, feature and short films, experimental, music video, web series…

As a jury member, I focus on quality, and originality. Being a Judge or Jury member on a regular basis with various competitions, I really appreciate when I hear / watch something that stands out, or when it create emotion. I particularly love the animated films and score categories.

3) Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

I believe a festival should come in support of the artists, and the PAMA does exactly that, that’s why I come back. The PAMA is the biggest film festival in Paris, for independent filmmakers. The team does give a fair shake to every artist and every submitter is truly considered. Last year, a very young female composer, Jeanne-Peri, won best score; even if she was up against Vladimir Cosma, who is very well know and established and has a lifetime career in scoring! It is a competition indeed, but the festival’s mission and the event itself really pushes the artists under the spotlight, offering a fun and really useful experience to keep going with their careers.

5) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Back to the Future, and quite a lot of the Walt Disney classics. Also I’m always looking for new series to catch up on.

6) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A beautiful story will beat every little flaws because it will transport you else where, like a catchy melody.

7) How is the film scene in your city?

I spend most of my time in Los Angeles… It’s safe to say the movie scene is quite strong here…

8) What are the qualities a programmer needs to select the best films for a festival?

At the PAMA, they have the clear objective to showcase the most female filmmakers as possible. They also invite stars and international figures to be judges, and that brings various perspectives on the table. The selection is somehow a reflection of the times: you have to be connected to the outside world, and at the same time look for the tiny details and human qualities into every movie.

9. How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Amazing : Off to the biggest start we had since the creation of the festival. It’s like people were somehow expecting us to accept entries and… Here we are !

Contact

—-
AUREGAN’s BIO
Auregan is a singer-songwriter and performer.

She penned more than 250 songs, and performed 300 headlining shows during her last tour, including stadiums, legendary venues across Europe, and Cathedrals.

She sold 1.5M units of her latest albums and singles.

She performed in numerous festivals in the rock, folk, Celtic and pop genres; recorded songs in Paris, London and Los Angeles.

Her three published albums are “Mon Tricorne Noir”, “Rock Movie” and “Tortuga“.

Her duet song with Billy Ray Cyrus, “Shelter In The Storm”, is included in critically acclaimed multi-award winning movie Man Of The Past‘s soundtrack. Auregan co-wrote the song with Billy Ray Cyrus.

In her latest song “Broken Doll”, Auregan opens about choosing a path, accepting who you are, and following a higher purpose despite a strong suffering. The track was produced by Diego Alfonsi.

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Interview with Festival Director Brent Kado (Chicago Independent Film +TV Festival)

The Chicago Independent Film and TV Festival supports international and national filmmakers and showcase strong independent work in the city of Chicago.

CIFF fills the overdue need for a quality international independent film festival in Chicago. Ran by filmmakers with a recognized and notable track record, CIFF not only brings quality projects to Chicago but partners with reputable, knowledgeable local film and arts groups. We will use an inside-out approach to championing local creators. After having worked in both Chicago and Los Angeles for nine years we understand the realities of film and video in Chicago and the bulk of the opportunities outside of the region. We see the need to educate and champion local production opportunities but also the actuality of the current industry.

Contact

 
Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Brent Kado: We are connecting them with strong opportunities to success both in Chicago and in LA. We’re happy to be working in both cities and love connecting the two filmmaking communities together.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

We are doing many co-events with our sister festival Chicago Comedy Film Festival. Between the two festivals we will have over 300 filmmakers, actors, agents and producers in attendance. So it is a great way to network. Obviously you’ll see amazing premieres of films and enjoy talking with those involved in each project.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Chicago premiere and not online or distributed.

4) Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Not really. There is a gluttony of film festivals right now. So many little towns have them, 100s in LA, so I feel you can get in somewhere. But the really difference maker is getting into the top tier fests.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We are filmmakers who understand the festival circuit. We’ve had our own successes (and failures). Our team understands the work and love for independent filmmaking. We’ve also seen a lag in good advise, education and credibility in Chicago’s scene and really try hard to inform and promote our filmmakers to the larger industry in Chicago and LA.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Good overall. The main issues with them is, again, this gluttony of festivals and awards “contests” and needing to do better weeding out the scams and misleading events.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

With Chicago Comedy Film Festival we’ve seen growth happen in areas I never would have thought. Things happened organically and I expect the same for CIFF. I hope we grow as needed and continue to work with Chicago Comedy Film Festival on creating content and having educational initiatives that make a difference.

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Besides my own, Friday and Gimme Shelter

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Belief.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Chicago is a great place to create. Cheap, lots of resources and supportive. It’s also a great city to consume art, including film.

 

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Interview with the Festival team of FILMSAAZ

Filmsaaz is an annual celebrated international Film Festival organised by the University Film Club of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). The festival is one of the largest multi-disciplinary art and cultural festivals in India dedicated to the exhibition of short film, documentaries, music, art and cultural advocacy programs. This 4 days festival hosts the screening of upto 50 differently categorised movies and on the eve of 4th day holds an award fiesta. Thus asserting a down shift in the isolophiliac nature of today’s mind, by uniting them to crave for such hearty gathering.

A legacy of 11 long years, and enormous heart warming memories to cherish with, Filmsaaz has witnessed the presence eminent Indian Cenematic intelligentsia. The 12th edition is all set to deliver, an awe inspiring selection of movies from across the globe. For the past 11 years, Filmsaaz has been one of the ideal events in Aligarh achieving new milestone with every passing year.

Contact

 
Matthew Toffolo: How did you get involved with the festival?

FILMSAAZ: For the aspiring filmmakers, who submit their work at our festival. We specially screen their work at our Kennedy Auditorium, built in our University. With a seating of over 12,000, the work of these Filmmakers is spread all over the city. Moreover, at the last day of our event. We hold a special felicitation ceremony for the films that has been adjudged as the winner in different categories. In the felicitation, the filmmakers are awarded an exclusive FILMSAAZ trophy along with a certificate specially given by our chief guest which is usually a renowned personality from Bollywood.

2) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

FILMSAAZ has always been a festival of movie and drama. Filmy vibes can be felt throughout the 4-day event. From film screenings to photo booths. From musical evenings to eye-catchy decorations. These is nothing that won’t make you stay for a while longer.

3) Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

No, we never think that. All the deserving movies gets a fair chance in competing in the competition. That’s the only reason we’re now getting some good and meaningful movies at international level

4) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

In the next 5 years, we definitely see our event as one the prominent Film Festivals around the world. Like the number of International stuff we’re getting. We’ll soon might have more number of International movies competing at our festival than the national ones.

5) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

6) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great script and team makes a great movie.

7) How is the film scene in your city?

We didn’t had much support for filmmaking in our city. But for the past 4-5 years, alot number of great and enthusiastic filmmakers are coming up with some great content.

8) What are the qualities a programmer needs to select the best films for a festival?

Well, since we all know. Nothing in this world comes easily. We’ve been on a rollercoaster ride everytime. Sometimes, we do get a lot of movie and sometimes, we don’t. But thanks to filmfreeway for making us a lot easier to reach some great filmmakers around the globe. Now, we just need to register our festival and all the other work is done by them.

9) How has your FilmFreeway experience been so far?

A great service. Have done wonders for us.

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