Film Review: FOUR DAY WEEKEND, 20min, USA, Romance/Drama

Played at the February 2017 ROMANCE Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERFOUR DAY WEEKEND, 20min, USA, Romance/Drama
Directed by Nicole Jones

A middle-aged couple, married for twenty-three years, takes a four-day break from each other and the aftermath leaves their relationship shaken and tested but not broken.

Review by Kierston Drier

 Rich and deeply compelling, Four Day Weekend an American film from director Nicole Jones, is one woman’s recount of her journey through her 23 year marriage to her husband, through the lense of a four day weekend where they both have permission to seek extra-marital dalliances.

She, having been sexually adventurous in her youth, proposes the nourishes the idea in an attempt to give her husband a chance to explore his adventurous side. He, on the other hand, grapples with his feelings about this newly offered freedom.

This is a film that hits that magical sweet spot in the short film world- hitting every note perfectly. Emotionally compelling, heartbreaking honest, charmingly funny, expertly acted and brilliant composed, this piece still manages to be greater than the sum of its’ parts. Perhaps this is because, not only is it a well made film, but it tackles a unique subject matter with both sensitivity and sincerity.

Many love stories, address young love, or old and enduring love. Four Day Weekend tackles love right in the middle- a mature and well developed marriage of equals facing all the nerve-wracking insecurity that comes with trying anything new for the first time. Yet, despite the subject matter of infidelity, this is a piece that really does centre around love. The love of these two people in their marriage is unmistakingly clear. The lengths they are willing to go to make each other happy is a true testament to that.

A strong and powerfully made film, Four Day Weekend will engage you mentally, emotionally and philosophically, while still reminding you that love will always know no bounds. Bravo Nicole Jones, Bravo.

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Film Review: CHARITY CASE, 3min, UK, Romance/Comedy

Played at the February 2017 ROMANCE Film Festival

CHARITY CASE, 3min, UK, Romance/Comedy
Directed by Sam Tibi

A young man’s attempt to show a beautiful girl his charitable nature backfires…

Review by Kierston Drier

 This delightfully fresh and comic look at chivalry gone awry, Charity Case comes to us from the UK by director Sam Tibi. In this simple, short and hilarious tale, our male hero tries to impress a beautiful woman at a cafe by tipping the barista. His plan backfires when, trying and failing to get her attention, he gives too much in the jar and runs short for his coffee. While the barista’s back is turned, our hero attempts to get his coins back- an ill fated idea indeed.

A short, humorous film that makes us question- is generosity still generosity if the gesture is done for self-gain? Is there such a thing as true altruism? It should be noted how expertly this film is able to get it’s emotional point across. In under three minutes, and with only one set, three characters and minimal dialogue, we know exactly who everyone is, and exactly what their motives are.

A simple and inviting slice of life with a keen moral- that honesty really is the best policy when it comes to meeting the girl of your dreams, or tipping the barista.

 

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Film Review: INDIGO, 19min, Sweden, Romance/Drama

Played at the February 2017 ROMANCE Film Festival

INDIGO, 19min, Sweden, Romance/Drama
Directed by Paul Jerndal

Two young, lost souls in New York City share a common struggle – they are stuck in lives they do not feel they belong. She is an adored actress and he, a bike messenger. On the outside they seem like each others opposite, but on the inside they are the same- dehumanized by an internal loneliness that alienates them from feeling alive.

Review by Kierston Drier

What does it mean to have it all? Wealth, fame, beauty? Friends that love and support you? INDIGO discusses this concept with beautiful and evocative images and exceptional visual composure. Coming to us out of Sweden from director Paul Jerndal, this is a film that examines one day in the lives of two lost souls in the big city of New York. One is a beautiful and famous actress, the other is struggling bike courier. She is lavished with superficial compliments throughout her day working as a model and meeting with friends. He is scolded and shunned and generally mistreated all day.

Both have friends that go out of their way to meet with them and encourage them. Yet both seem utterly isolated- lonely in a crowded city. Both revert into their own minds once in privacy and both break down completely when faced with the prospect of meeting their friends for a night of drinking and dancing. When the two find each other on the dance floor at a club, their worlds meet and both are able to break out of their shell.

Subtle, thick with nuance and emotionally rich, this piece has stunning visuals and a staggering attention is cinematic detail. Gorgeous cinematography and the gripping complexities of the characters make this film worth more than one viewing. Not only is it visually dazzling, but it provides no easy answers. Our characters talk little of their feelings, we never hear their own thoughts or desires. We learn about them largely through the voices of their friends. Both are clearly loved and cared about, yet when we see them privately each one seems noticeably unhappy. Whether they are grappling with their mental health, their places in the world, the futility of their lives- it is unclear. What is obvious though, is that our characters are missing something. And it turns out to be each other.

INDIGO is a thing of beauty, it is a film that asks you to make up the backstory of the heroes, and focuses its’ attention on the moments they inhabit in the film. It is a film that sparkles with visual pleasure and reverberates with the messages “I was lost until I found you.” Check it out.

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Film Review: 2017 Oscar Nominated Animation Shorts

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

Just in time for the Academy Awards ceremonies at the end of February, there will be screenings of 3 programs of short featurettes – short features, animated shorts and short documentaries.  These run from February the 10th  and make a welcome change from feature films.  These are the budding filmmakers who might make it big one day in Hollywood.

The total running time of this animated shorts program is 86 minutes.  The program runs for Feb 10th to the 16th at different times each day at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

For complete showtimes, click on the link below:

http://www.tiff.net/events/oscar-shorts-animation

Capsule Reviews of each animated short areme0w! outlined below:-

BLIND VAYSHA (Canada 2016) ***

Directed by Theodore Ushsev

Canada’s National Film Board’s (NFB) BLIND VAYSHA has the strangest animation of all the nominees.  Done like eerie paintings, the tale centres on poor BLIND VAYSHA who was born with a green and a brown eye.  The left eye sees the past, the right the future, so she is blind for not being able to see the present.  It is an eerie story, with appropriate weird animation and colours.  It is based on a short story so I would think the animation likely flowed the illustrations of the story.

BORROWED TIME (USA 2015) ***

Directed by Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadji

A sheriff returns to the cliff, the scene of a past accident where he reminisces a past tragedy which is shown in flashback.  This animated short stands out for its attention to details (the finger movements, the puffed up flesh brow the eyes) and the music by Gustave Sabtiallaly.  The short is also exciting enough with the sheriff trying to save, one assumes is his father.

PEARL (USA 2016) ***

Directed by Patric Osborne

A feel good musical with catchy country and western songs sees a girl (the PEARL of the title is not her name but the name of the car she and her father call home) chasing her dream to make it big in the music world.  Lyrics like ‘unbroken love carried inside’ and ‘no wrong way home’  make the songs memorable.  This she does with her band as they drive off in the sunset.  It takes a bit to figure out what it happening on screen – which tends to be a bit confusing.  Still, this is an entertaining short, memorable for its music and lightness.

PIPER (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Alan Barillaro

PIPER is the new animated short form Pixar Studios.  As expected, this short is the best in terms of animated quality, and one wonders if the Academy will give a chacne fto the other nominees.  This is a funny cute tale of a sandpiper nestling, who be ventures out from her nest, edged on by her mother, to look for food like cockles.  But the nestling is scared of the incoming wave, the first of which ruffles all her baby furry feathers.  It is cutesy fun, typical of Disney with a few laugh out laughs.

PEAR BRANDY AND CIGARETTES (UK/Canada 2016) ****
Directed by Robert Valley

Told in voiceover in the first person, the narrator has been commissioned by his friend’s father to 1) to get his son, Techno Stypes to stop drinking and have a liver transplant and 2) bring from China to Vancouver.  It is no easy task as Techno has no qualms in changing his ways.  As the story implies, this is one animate short that is full of swering, full-busted women and swearing.  The drawings are done like the Dick tardy style comic strip with lanky figures often in dark background.  Director Valley does not compromise his characters by making them likeable.  An original piece and the longest running nominated short at 36 minutes.  A sad and beautiful piece, this one gets my vote for Best Animated Short.  The credits give thanks to Techno’s parents – so this might be a true story of friendship.   This short will be played last in the program, so that children can be ushered out of the auditorium owing to the short’s content.

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Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Film Review: OSCAR NOMINATED SHORTS – LIVE ACTION

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

OSCAR NOMINATED SHORTS – LIVE ACTION

Just in time for the Academy Awards ceremonies at the end of February, there will be screenings of 2 programs of short featurettes – live action and animated shorts.  These run from February the 10th  and make a welcome change from feature films.  These are the budding filmmakers who might make it big one day in Hollywood.

The total running time of this animated shorts program is 130 minutes.  The program runs for Feb 10th to the 16th at different times each day at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.  The Live Action program is the most international of all the programs.

For complete showtimes, click on the link below:

http://www.tiff.net/events/oscar-shorts-animation

Capsule Reviews of each live action short are outlined below:-

ENNEMIS INTERIEURS (France 2015) **

Directed by Selim Aazzazi

An interview at a local police station turns into an inquisition during which a French-Algerian born man sees himself accused of protecting the identities of possible terrorists.  This close-up of France’s troubled history with its former colonies has one man controlling the fate of another with the stroke of a pen during a turbulent period in the 1990s.  The film is basically  two handler with the two men arguing with each other.  The film is clearly biased towards the Algerian, even though the narrative does not stay in one direction.

LA FEMME ET LE TGV (Switzerland 2016) ****

Directed by Timo von Gunten

This French short from Switzerland tells the tale of elderly woman, Elise Lafontaine and the Le Grand Trains Vitesse (GTV), the high speed train.  Her daily routine is to wave the Swiss glad every morning and evening the train passes her house by the tracks.  She leads a humdrum life cycling to work in her barry store in the town of Monbijou.  Things take a turn when she starts exchanging notes with the driver daily.  I want to live life again, she tells her son who thinks she should be in a home.  This is a very charming and beautiful film based on true events about hope and living.  Elise is wonderfully portrayed by veteran French actress Jane Birkin.  

SILENT NIGHTS (Denmark 2016) ***
Directed by Aske Bang

What is remarkable about this 30 minute short is the amount of material in the story that should easily fill a full-length feature.  The story follows Inger, a Danish single woman who volunteers at a homeless shelter.  She meets, pities and falls in love with an illegal immigrant from Ghana, Kwame who hides the fact that he has a family back home.  Ing has a mother who is old and eventually passes away.  SILENT NIGHTS is set during Christmas and shows how human decency prevails.  A touching and moving short, well acted and directed.

SING (Hungary 2015) ****
Directed by Kristof Deak

SING is my pick for the Best Live Action Short.  The entire project is a metaphor for the prejudice present in the modern adult world.  And the children in this choir show the audience how to deal with the problem.  Zsofi is struggling to fit in at her new school and singing in the school’s famous choir is her only consolation.    However the choir director may not be the inspirational teacher everyone thinks she is.  Zsofi is told her singing is not good enough.  She is told to mime during the performances.  Zsofi and her new friend Liza work to uncover the cruel truth and set things right.  Brilliant and wonderfully executed!

TIMECODE (Spain 2016) ***
Directed by Juanjo Gimemez Pena

This Cannes short Palme d;Or Winner tells the story of two parking security guards Diego and Luna.  Diego works the night while Luna the day shift.  They communicate through the video surveillance recordings at the timecode each of them leaves at the end of their shifts.  Irrelevant, comical and utterly charming, this is also Spanish dance at it most original.  Do not try to logically analyze the narrative, the trick is to just enjoy the its flow.

___________________

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Film Review: 2BR02B: TO BE OR NAUGHT TO BE (2017)

Played at the January 2017 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTER2BR02B: TO BE OR NAUGHT TO BE, 18min, Canada, Sci-Fi/Fan Fiction
Directed by Marco Checa Garcia

Based on the short story “2 B R 0 2 B” by Kurt Vonnegut. Set in a dystopian future where population is strictly controlled, a Father waits for his children to be born. In a deserted hospital waiting room, one man must ask himself exactly what he is willing to do, to give his children a chance at life, any life at all.

Review by Kierston Drier

 A short story by Kurt Vonnegut turned short film by director Marco Checa Garcia, 2BRO2B: To Be Or Naught To Be is a beautifully balanced, heart wrenching and well composed piece of cinema. To open, anyone who has read the original by Vonnegut will be delighted by the amount of literary detail that the filmmaker attempts to keep in the cinematic adaptation.
Set in the dystopian future, where death is rare and birth strictly controlled with rigid population regulations, a young man must choose which one of his three new triplets will live just after their birth. To add extra tension, the birth of this new child will be accompanied by the requirement to take his own grandfather to an early grave. Distraught and emotionally unwell, our hero must dissect the cause of this turmoil by unraveling its’ necessity with one of his society’s founders. This seemingly perfect world so strictly controlled is thrown into chaos when our hero attempts to kill the antagonist- making one more space available for another one his children to be able to live. With elements similar to Children of Men, and The Giver, this is film that does not allow you to watch it passively. It demands to be engaged with.

2BRO2B: To Be Or Naught To Be is one of those rare gems of short cinema that will set your philosophical mind in motion, make you question the nature of choice, freedom and safety, spellbind you with its’ cinematic beauty, all while bringing you to your emotional knees. There is true craftsmanship in this piece. There is a level of polish and richness that any lover of science fiction and literature will appreciate and admire. Bravo Marco Checa Garcia, Bravo.

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Film Review: ARKHAM’S JOURNAL (2017)

Played at the January 2017 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERARKHAM’S JOURNAL, 7min, Canada, Fan Fiction/Mystery
Directed by Matthew P.H Rea

Based on “Batman” DC Comics. Filmed in and around Toronto, this short proof-of-concept film provides a small insight into the untold stories of Gotham’s darkest hour. With the timeline loosely based around the batman comic, “Knightfall”, Arkham’s Journal is told through the words of Dr. Arkham’s Journal, detailing the lives of all the Arkham Asylum patients.

Review by Kierston Drier

Director Matthew P.H Rea uses ARKHAM’S JOURNAL to explore the the question “where does evil come from?” in the DC Batman Comics. Told through doctors’ notes, this piece walks through the lives and backgrounds of those residing in the Arkham Asylum.

This vibrant short doesn’t give us the whole story, and this may be one of its’ stronger points. Instead of spelling out the complete and total backstory of each villain, it shows just enough to spike our emotional centres- our fear, our intrigue, our disgust and our sympathy.

Evocative and beautiful, with strong gothic visuals and the dramatic density that rings true to the series tone and makes the franchise proud, ARKHAM’S JOURNAL brings us right to the brink of wanting to know what comes next. A strong, engaging and visually riveting piece, that stands alone while still fitting within a rich and elaborate world.
 
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