Film Review: THE NEON STRUGGLE, 38min, USA, Documentary

Played at the April 2017 LA FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Directed by Bert Simonis

A family fights to keep their neon sign business alive as the light of the industry fades away. The process of creating these delicate signs is beautifully photographed to capture the intricacy of this populist American art form. Interviews with neon historians and experts are interspersed with vintage neon signs from across the United States.

Review by Kierston Drier:

The Neon Struggle, directed by Bert Simonis, is a story that will take you back in time. It follows one family and their small business passing down the true art and craftsmanship of building and creating Neon Lights.

There was a glorious time when Neon was new, fun, flashy and authentic. It took nearly a decade to learn the trade of sculpting, crafting, installing and repairing it A viewer may remember the day when Neon Lights were the only lights to catch your attention. But Vegas, once the Neon Capital of the world, would one day switch to LED.

And though this is a dying art, this family, with unapologetic charm, and passion, takes us through the work they do, the journey they have made through decades of lighting up the night with electric ions and phosphorescent hues.

Cinematically, this is nothing short of a colorful, and it is a piece brimming with authenticity. It is like stepping into an episode of Pawn Stars, with the cheerful characters and the educational, yet conversational atmosphere that the family creates while recounting the truly fascinating history of Neon. We wouldn’t immediately think that Neon went out of fashion for political reasons- that it was the victim of Marketing tactics hailing it as “colorful clutter” instead of the message board of the masses. That LED hit the stage in a time of Public Relations and Marketing, a platform that mom-and-pop neon shops never had been made to work within.

A fascinating look at sliver of history- a history that is as rich and bright as the lights themselves.

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Played at the April 2017 LA FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Directed by Christian J. Harris

An intimate short story about Alzheimers and it’s effect on it’s victims and caregivers. Get an inside look of what it’s like to live with this disease through the eyes of a couple who just won’t give in.

Review by Kierston Drier:

In this heart wrenching testament to love conquering all things, The Long Goodbye is The Notebook, come to life. Directed by Christian J. Harris follows a husband-wife couple, married over fifty years. The wife is slowly dying from Alzheimer’s. The husband refuses to put her in a facility.

This is a love story. A real, honest and touchingly human look at vulnerability of love. A film with no easy ending, it reminds us that love is not about the end- but the journey. It is an open love letter to all who take the leap the love demands us to take. A cinematic look at one man reaching into a void to hold on to his best friend, this is a not a film to miss.

Watch it, for the dive into a human heart. Watch it for a true story of love conquering all. Watch it to hear his wife turn to him and say “You are my best friend.” A film written, directed and starred from the bottom of many hearts, The Long Goodbye is a beautiful film.

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Film Review: GEORGE, 7min, USA, Documentary

Played at the April 2017 LA FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERGEORGE, 7min, USA, Documentary
Directed by Mary Gerretsen

A short profile documentary about a man’s life and journey through love, loss and illness.

Review by Kierston Drier:

Directed by Mary Gerresten, George is nothing short of delightful. It is the story of the complex tapestry of one man’s life through love, loss and grief. George, our hero, is young at heart, vibrant, poetic, witty and utterly charming. A familiar character to anyone who has ever had a favorite uncle or grandfather.

Without spoiling the emotional rollercoaster, for a film under eight minutes long it is hard not to cry when it ends. Not because George’s life is unbearably tragic- but because in the short time the film takes, you fall in love with man. You fall for his spirit, his highs and his lows. You fall, hook, line and sinker, for his heartfelt connection with his wife. You slide head over heels for the clear love and devotion he has for his family. And you are sad when the credits roll. Because you already miss him.

What sparkles about this film, is it’s amazing ability to straddle comedy, tragedy and poignancy without feeling condensed or rushed. The piece flows naturally, and absorbs the viewer so thoroughly, that the film feels shorter than it is.

A beautiful piece of cinematic storytelling, watch George. It will remind you to never take life too seriously and that aging is a privilege denied to many.

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Film Review: UNCLE ALBERT, 11min, USA, Dark Comedy

Played at the April 2017 LA FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Directed by Summer Blake

A dark comedy about the nuances of emotional response; Karen’s left emotionless following the death of her distant Uncle, Albert, she’ll stop at nothing to prove to fellow guests that she can indeed feel “sad.”

Review by Kierston Drier:

Directed by Summer Black, Uncle Albert is an open letter of support to anyone who had to go the funeral of a relative they barely knew and didn’t care about. In Karen’s case, it’s uncle Albert who was probably the creepy uncle that gave weird hugs and asked you to pull his finger way too many times.

The main issue for Karen is that she can’t seem to fake it. Try as she might she can’t feign sympathy for this poor dead jerk. Following her on this comic trail of family obligation are the larger-than-life family members that attend every funeral; the distraught relative who does nothing but cry, the overly dramatic jackass who is deeply affected by this passing and having an existential crisis about it.

The flirt who might get to take someone home. And all through this, Karen has to find a way to fake it till she makes it- at least until she can get home and call it cocktail hour.

Funny, because in one way or another it is all too familiar, Uncle Albert takes the comic notes you can find in a funeral and puts them under a microscope. And it does a really good job at it.

So buckle up, grab some popcorn, and get ready to laugh yourself to death- it’s a pretty good way to go.

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Film Review: THE WHITE ROSE, 5min, USA, Thriller/Film Noir

Played at the April 2017 LA FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERTHE WHITE ROSE, 5min, USA, Thriller/Film Noir
Directed by Rebecca Scott

A lone gunman, interrogates his prisoner, to find the truth.

Review by Kierston Drier:

White Rose, directed by Rebecca Scott, is a powerful, symbolic and dramatic remodeling of a classic Noir piece. The interrogation, the cool agent out to track down the criminal, the quick, rapid fire dialogue pushing the criminal into the corner where he must confess- all here, all sharp and pulsating with tension.

There is a masked prisoner, and one armed interrogator filled with revenge, and victim dear to them both. Cinematically this is a piece filled with vivid images, bright contrasts and wicked symbolic representations. A thoughtful and well composed pieced with a killer twist.

If you like sharp, quick, dramatic crimes, this is a film that will have you biting your nails. And when the mask comes off our criminal, prepare your jaw to drop.

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Film Review: CONFESSION, USA, Horror/Thriller

Played at the April 2017 LA FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERCONFESSION, 5min, USA, Horror/Thriller
Directed by Sofia Vyshnevetska

The loving father, after kidnapping and cruelly killed his little daughter by pedophile, turns into a proficient butcher. Desire of revenge will be confessed in another way of expiation…

Review by Kierston Drier:

Revenge, is a complicated emotion. It burrows inside us and simmers slowly. Enter Confessions, directed by Sofia Vyshnevestka, a subtle, striking, beautifully short and terrifying film. Subtle, because you don’t immediately know what the motives of the two men in the room are- but they are there, and one is passing a wad of money over to the other.

And after a quick breakdown to what is and is not allowed, the first man is brought down the dirty hall to a dirty bedroom and let inside. On the bed, appears to be a young girl.

Feeling sick? If you are anything like this reviewer, you might be. But the twist will push you to your breaking point.

A gut wrenching tale with many moral layers, I’m Not Him is a fascinating story of love, loss, desire, damnation and the ultimate revenge. It’s a dark tale with a gut wrenching twist not to be missed, this piece also boasts beautiful colors and excellent shooting. Check out Confession but be warned- it is not for the faint of heart.

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Film Review: DIRTY POOL, Canada, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERDIRTY POOL, 1min, Canada, Animation
Directed by Brent Forrest

This film is a quick ode to the pool hall where we drunken animators used to spend our evenings.

Review by Kierston Drier:

Full of round, polished, pleasing visuals, this is a story about Balls! Ehhem, pool balls. Pool balls and etiquette. Coming to us from Canada and directed by Brent Forrest, DIRTY POOL is a two minute glance at what can go wrong when you try to play pool with your buddy at the bar.

The story is cute, clear and comical- our heroes go out to play some pool and it all goes frighteningly wrong. But where DIRTY POOL makes it mark is in its visuals. Shiny, bright, visually engaging and with a strong attention to detail, this is a film that will make you want to stop blinking.

If you have ever taken a childlike delight in staring at a old time gumball machine full to bursting with glistening multi colored gumballs, then you have the visual equivalent of watching this film.

Tantalizingly rich, this is a film you can simply watch and enjoy. No need to dissect any deeper philosophical meaning- just watch a great film with great picture, about some hapless dudes making enemies on the wrong side of a pool table.

Sit back and enjoy Dirty Pool, it’s a delight to see.

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO. Moderated by Matthew Toffolo: