Movie Review: SHOOT GRANNY (Short Film) 2015

SHOOT GRANNY played to rave reviews at the November 2015 FEEDBACK Film Festival

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video from the Festival:

  MOVIE POSTERSHOOT GRANNY, 5min, Spain, Comedy/Musical
Directed by Olivier Kowalczyk

Shoot Granny or when an ordinary tea time between three friends turns into an improvised Gymkhana. On a music of Todd Terje.

Review of the Short Film by Amanda Lomonaco:

Shoot Granny garnered a really good laugh from the audience, with great reason. It’s common to hear complaints about loud, partying teenagers, but what happens when those loud partiers are actually your grandparents?

The director Olivier Kowalczyck says he was inspired by his work as a doctor; disappointed by how they seemed to perscribe anti-depressants to help seniors sleep rather than provide them with any real psychological support. He claims to have felt like more of a drug dealer than a doctor, and this thought led him to create the storyline for Shoot Granny.

Thankfully Kowalczyck has managed to turn this upsetting subject matter into quite a hilarious repartie. With the background knowledge of this film in mind it might be easy to reprimand Kowalczyck for his comedic approach, but in actual fact what he has done by injecting comedy into this topic is open it up to a much wider public that might otherwise want to ignore the issue. Kowalczyck also manages to add a stronger element of agency to the elderly, allowing us to relate to them as people who like to enjoy themselves, just as we all do, rather than as victims with no control over their ailments.

Some members of the audience seemed a little put off by the loud music, or by the fact that the film didn’t carry subtitles, but Shoot Granny could very well be played on mute and still get its message across. Someone once told me that a film is only truly good if it is able to be played in black and white, and silently while still achieving the same level of emotional impact. Despite the fact that its bright, psychodelic patterns and blaring music adds greatly to the story, I still believe this film would achieve the same purpose without these elements. I think anyone would benefit from watching Shoot Granny, who knows, it might help you approach and understand again, or your elderly loved ones, with just a little more affection and care.

Movie Review: FAMILY ON BOARD (Award Winning Short Film) 2015

Family on Board played to rave reviews at the November 2015 FEEDBACK Film Festival. 

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video from the Festival:

  MOVIE POSTERFAMILY ON BOARD, 15min, USA, Drama
Poetry by George Pogatsia

On his way to report to prison, Mike Petito reflects on his life and anticipates what lies ahead … that’s when catastrophe strikes.

Review of the Short Film by Amanda Lomonaco:

Family on Board encompasses so many different elements and genres that it seems almost impossible to put it all into a few reductive paragraphs. In fact I find it difficult to even fit it into one single genre. Despite all this confusion, or perhaps exactly because of it, most of the audience seemed to really enjoy it. Considering the ominous title and the manner in which the film ends I have a feeling that the mish-mash of genres was very much intentional to make the twist ending even sharper.

People’s reactions to this film seem to be largely dependent on how they interpreted the ending. Like many of the films shown at WILDSound, Family on Board ends quite ambiguously, leaving viewers to imagine for themselves how they believe the story ended. This became all the more evident during the  feedback session, where several audience members voiced a plethora of opinions about the end, that I would have never even considered.

Many people also seemed a bit taken aback by how the film begins. Some were put off by the intense violence depicted, others seemed to find the beginning weak, and the performance of the thieves to be unconvincing. I have the feeling this beginning also weighed heavily on how people imagined the films’ ending. With a film that has so many turns and shifts it’s hard to say which points actually influenced the audience’s reaction the most.

Although George Pogatsia goes through a lot of effort to convince us that the main character is a positive member of the community with nothing but good intentions, at times his benevolence seems a little forced or exaggerated. Despite the crime he committed and his ownership of a gun, the main character seems like the kindest and most caring person in the world, going out of his way to help every stranger that crosses his path. The need for this juxtaposition is understandable in order to attract audience sympathy, but it perhaps could have been carried out a little more subtly and had the same, if not a greater, impact. Nevertheless, the familiar famous faces scattered throughout the main character’s “benevolent” sequence do help distract from this exaggeration, if only a little.

Family on Board is definitely a film for lovers of crime dramas and unsolved mysteries. Certainly Tony Sirico’s presence is bound to bring a smile to many a lover of The Sopranos or Goodfellas. There’s a lot to absorb in this film, and it will take you through a bit of a roller-coaster, but who doesn’t love a good old fashioned roller-coaster ride?

Movie Review: EXIT RIGHT (Award Winning Short Film) 2015

EXIT RIGHT was awarded best film at the November 2015 FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video from the Festival:

  MOVIE POSTEREXIT RIGHT, 5min, Germany, Drama
Directed by Bernhard Wenger & Rupert Holler

Look away or intervene? When a black man is victim of unfounded, racial abuse in a packed bus, there is only one passenger who won’t ignore the situation like everyone else.

Review of the Short Film by Amanda Lomonaco:

In Exit Right Bernhard Wenger & Rupert Holler take a light hearted approach to an unfortunately all too common situation. With the current discussion about Syrian refugees, as well as the Paris bombings, this film is incredibly relevant to the issues we face today, and yet still manages to permeate through time with it’s gentle, comedic approach to the topic. It’s comforting to see that even tragic and disturbing issues can be given a lighter tone.

Those of us who use public transport frequently are well accustomed to witnessing awkward, messy, and at times even violent situations while riding the bus, or sitting in the subway car. On these occasions most of us will look away and pretend we don’t hear or see anything, however every once in a while a brave samaritan will stand up and do something about it. Wenger and Holler decided precisely to portray one such situation in their short film, and with it demonstrate that standing up to bullies doesn’t always need to result in aggression, or negativity.

It’s a lesson that we all learned in school, but often needs to be repeated throughout our lives. Many different cultures have similar stories that you may have heard before in different manners, but no matter how many times it is told or portrayed, the result is always heartwarming. By bringing this anecdotal tale to life within modern day Europe, Wenger and Holler also emphasize how this lesson persists through time periods, cultures, and locations.

Exit Right is definitely a great film to watch when you feel like you’re starting to lose your faith in humanity a little, but it’s also a fun short to enjoy on any day of the week. The directors did miss a slight opportunity for a fun extended ending that could have shown what happens to the man after he has been kicked off the bus, but that itself did not leave the film lacking in anything. This one is worth a few repeated watches, whenever you feel like you need a reminder that standing up to bullies and racists is always the right thing to do, so long as you don’t stoop to their level and respond with equal aggression.

 

 

Movie Review of the short poetry film “Hammer”

“Hammer” played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival, part of its October 2015 best of horror/thriller short films from around the word event. 

First off, watch the Poetry Film NOW:

Read Movie Review of HAMMER by Amanda Lomonaco:

While Hammer lacked a lot of the excitement and action that went along with the other films of the night, I still can’t deny how interesting the concept was. Like all experimental films, there will probably be a strong love/hate split between anyone who see sthis film, but I’ve always been a big proponent of experimental filmmaking.

Pushing the boundaries of any medium is incredibly important to highlighting and understanding its limitations, as well as helping us understand our own psyche. That might seem like a bit of a snobbish reason to justify experimental films, which can be pretty snobbish themselves sometimes, but its something many people don’t consider. Our reactions to new things can teach us a lot about ourselves, and about those around us, so it can be fun sometimes to give these films a try.

The poem that is narrated in Hammer is beautiful and original on its own; taking the perspective of a murder weapon as the narrator. The pictures that acompany the narration, superimposed, blurry, and dark, help emphasize the eeriness of the words. The closeups, forced perspective, and lack of clarity of the images also highlight the narrator’s perspective as an object, rather than a living thing. The merger between both mediums enhances both mediums equally, and puts you in an interesting space, both as an audience member, and as a listener, or reader.

Here is where I admit my massive bias; I am a Halloween freak. I love horror films, gore, SPFX make-up, dressing up, getting scared, gorging on candy, all of it. Naturally, I would always be more inclined to like this kind of film, regardless of the subject matter. Of course not ALL horror films pass the test, but the uniqueness of this one stood out to me. I wouldn’t recommend this film to everyone, but if you’re a fan of the gothic, Poe, melancholic style of horror, you’ll definitely appreciate this one.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of HAMMER:

Movie Review of the short film “Redemption”

“Redemption” is a thriller/prison drama that played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival, part of it’s best of horror/thriller short films event in October 2015. 

REDEMPTION, Australia, 7min, Thriller/Prison
Directed by Tom Vogel

A man in jail finds God and asks his son for forgiveness but is karma about to catch up with him before he can seek redemption.

Read the movie review of REDEMPTION by Amanda Lomonaco

One more point scored by the Aussies for proving that simple stage design, just a few characters, and not much equipment can still make for a good horror film. What’s more – they didn’t even pull out the fake blood! You could argue that the very fact that the cheapness of the production was noticeable makes it a bad film, but I guarantee you many a Blair Witch fan would disagree.

Most of the shots in this film were quite tight, and close-up.The wider two shots were mostly in dark spaces, where little to no background could be seen. This really drew a lot of focus on the acting, which definitely lived up to expectations. It’s a gamble to bank so much of your film on the actors themselves, but I would say Tom Vogel made some good casting calls in this case.

Vogel could have done just a tad better in the make-up department, though. Giving his main, most vicious character, what looked very obviously like a stamp-on temporary tattoo on the neck distracted a little from that character’s brutality. Everything else about the film compensates for this minor mishap, however. Particularly when that same character proceeds to kill someone in an incredibly aggressive and violent manner.

Once again the implication of violence proves more effective than the use of violence itself. It might have begun a little slowly, but Redemption‘s pace picked up quickly enough to not leave you bored or confused for too long. The finale was definitely a very satisfying climax for those of us who love vengeful justice (whether we admit to it or not). I would call this one a good film for cathartic viewing.

Movie Review of the short film “The Blood Of Love”

“The Blood of Love” is a multiple award winning horror/romance short film. It won BEST FILM at the WILDsound October FEEDBACK Film Festival, part of their best of Horror Short Film event. 

THE BLOOD OF LOVE, 19min, USA, Horror/Thriller
Directed by Jeff Meyers

Unwilling to accept the death of her husband, a young widow, acquires a machine that can bring him back to her. But the machine exacts a terrible price: she must provide the blood it needs to revive her beloved. And it starts demanding more and more blood for less and less time.

Read movie review of THE BLOOD OF LOVE by Amanda Lomonaco

There are so many ways in which I loved this film, I’m afraid I won’t even be able to fit it in this review, or that I’ll even be able to describe them properly. So many elements of this film were equal parts clever, funny, creepy, & ironic. What’s best, Jeff Meyers seems to have found the all too elusive balance between telling too much or too little.

You can’t say much about The Blood of Love without revealing the whole plot line. It’s a pretty unique story in itself, but I can start by saying the best part is the end. Not the “official” end, but the end after the credits, when you think the story has finished, and then Meyers steps in with one final jab to wrap the story up a little better. In fact, both endings are funny, and I would have felt satisfied regardless of which one I had viewed, which is a rarity in and of itself.

The one pitfall of the film that I would have to point out is the lack of chemistry between the two characters. While their acting was great, and the scripting was all very natural, everytime I saw things get a little more sexually charged between them I wanted to cringe just a little. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t awful, I might just be nitpicky with this one, but I definitely got the sense that, despite their talent, those two people did NOT want to be kissing each other.

Somehow none of that ruined the film for me. I’m not sure if I should thank the editor for minimizing the instances of intimacy between the two main characters, or if that was simply a directorial choice from the get-go. Nevertheless I never felt at any point like the story was lacking. It was always fun, it was always entertaining, it kept me wanting to see more, and yet when it was over, I was sufficiently satisfied. I always say a good short film leaves you wanting more, but this is one of the few cases where I will say, at 20 minutes, The Blood of Love was about the perfect length.

Don’t expect too much from this one if you’re all about guts and glory, but if you’re a fan of clever plotlines with a healthy dose of irony, give this one a go. Even if you don’t enjoy your average, everyday horror film, I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of this one. Meyers definitely seems to have found a little bit of something to please all audiences.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of THE BLOOD OF LOVE:

Movie Review of the short film “Blood Tower Enigma”

“Blood Tower Enigma” played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2015, part of its best of horror/thriller short film lineup.

BELL TOWER ENIGMA, 10min, UK, Horror/Mystery
Directed by Daniel Reimer

The every-day routine of a Sexton is suddenly interrupted, when a mysterious phone ringing not only draws him deeper into the church, but also into hidden memories of his mind. As he follows the calling of his conscience he unveils his past and discovers the path of redemption that he ultimately must go in order to escape his torturing nightmares.

BELL TOWER ENIGMA Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco

I have to be honest, my first reaction to this one was a big fat NO. It was odd, disjointed, and a little too artsy for my taste. But weirdly, as I recollect it, I find myself smiling at some of the imagery depicted by Reimer (no, not THAT Reimer, I mean the director).

Something about the architecture of old gothic style churches makes them the perfect setting for any thriller. Being equal parts beautiful and ominous, they lure us in and but somehow still keep us on our toes and make the hairs at the back of our neck stand on end. I like to think that it was this very knowledge that led Daniel Reimer to chose a church as his prime location for this film.

By blurring the lines of continuity, and using a blend of surreal images, Bell Tower Engima comes across as more of a distrubing nightmare than a realistic story, perfect for any horror film lover. When the cinema lights come back on you’re not quite sure what it is you’ve just experienced, but there are certainly a couple of prickles on your skin, much like waking up from a scary dream. Perhaps Nightmare on Elm Street could have learned a thing or two from this short.

I can’t declare that Bell Tower Enigma is amazing, or that I even managed to grasp its full meaning, but there is something to be said about a film that unexpectedly causes you to smile as you recall it. Those of you who enjoy a gentle feeling of disturbance to go along with your films should certainly give it a try. On the other hand I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for those of you who need blood and guts in your horror films.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK for BLOOD TOWER ENIGMA:

Movie Review of the short film “The Little Missus”

“The Little Missus” played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2015, part of their best of Horror/Thriller short films from around the world. Ironically this is the funniest movie that has ever played at this festival. 

3min, Canada, Comedy/Horror
Directed by Adam Beal

A devoted housewife discovers that her slob of a husband has been cheating on her. She takes her revenge by feeding him dozens of tiny metal items — paperclips, ball bearings, thumbtacks — and pulling them out with a powerful electromagnet.

The Little Missus Review by Amanda Lomonaco

Some people might find it strange to mix horror and comedy, but I have always loved it. Yes, I am one of those people who laughs during horror films. I thought Hostel and the entire Chuckie series were hilarious, and while Little Missus is no where near as gory as those flicks, it still finds the perfect balance between comedy and disturbance.

This is definitely one case where I can say my bias did not get in the way, as the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it about just as much as I did. With absolutely no dialogue, some peppy, upbeat music, a colourfully bright set and quick cuts, director Adam Beal was able to turn an otherwise distressing turn of events, into something pleasantly comical.

Perhaps what’s most interesting about this film is Beal’s use of magical realism. Though generally associated with Latin culture, and cartoons, Beal somehow managed to transfer this fictional genre into horror, and use it to emphasize the comedic elements of this gory tale. It’s not every day we’d be willing to accept that a man would eat an entire disgusting meal filled with bolts, and metal objects, without noticing a thing, or that his wife would have an industrial sized magnet laying around. The way the film is set up, and edited, however, lets us suspend our disbelief and remain content in the world of the film.

I could find nothing wrong with this film. The acting was excellent, the casting was brilliant, the cinematography, editing, art design, even the length. I loved it. And I loved it even more because it was a Canadian film. This is one I definitely advise you not to take my word for on, though. Go see it for yourself, biases aside, I’m certain you’ll enjoy yourself.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of THE LITTLE MISSUS:

Movie Review of the Short Film “A Peaceful Man”

“A Peaceful Man” played at the best of Thriller/Horror short film festival in October 2015, as part of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Monthly Film Festival. It was the winner of Best Cinematography in a short film.  

Australia, 4min, Action/Thriller
Directed by Harrison Norris

Beaten within an inch of his life, a peaceful man has a gruesome epiphany through violence.

Learn more about this short film HERE

A Peaceful Man Review by Amanda Lomonaco

All of us are capable of violence and cruelty under extreme circumstances. At least that’s what Harrison Norris, director of A Peaceful Man, wants to convince us of in his gory short film. His bloody, cringe-worthy, gory close-ups might distract you from that message a little though, or at least it will distract you from the voice-over narrative.

I’m not saying this movie is bad, in fact this was one of my favourite films of the night. What I really mean, is that the cinematography in this film was so brilliant that it almost overshadowed everything else about it. I would venture a guess that the cringes and gasps coming from the rest of the audience indicated they may have agreed with me. Even the special effects didn’t even have to be that great to appreciate this flick, although they were certainly impressive. The very thought of the level of violence being implied in the film was enough to make people curl up in their chairs and look away.

That, to me, is effective filmmaking. Making your audience feel something and react to the very idea of what is being depicted on screen. Even though I’ll admit to only paying attention to half of the spoken narrative in the film, I feel that Norris reserved the most important bits of monologue to the least impactful visual moments. I was able to still understand the gist of everything the narrator was saying while still being able to enjoy the bloody wonder that was being paraded in front of me.

I think Norris makes some really good points in his film. The level of gore and violence simply emphasized how far all of us can be pushed, or in fact need to be pushed, in order to reciprocate with the same level of anger. When it comes to survival, we are all animals, we all have to follow our instincts, and we will all defend ourselves, even if that self-defense involves something we would never imagine ourselves doing. That’s where Norris’ images almost don’t need a narrative. If you simply consider the film’s title, and then focus on the images and how they make you feel, you’ll probably catch on pretty quickly.

By now you’ll have realized that you should not watch this movie if you have a sensitive stomach. On the other hand, if you’re a crazy lover of guts and gore like me, this film should be mandatory viewing. Norris’ cinematographer deserves an award, and  would happily volunteer to make one for him.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of A PEACEFUL MAN:

Short Film Movie Review: REINVENTING THE REEL

REINVENTING THE REEL
by Amanda Lomonaco

Review of the short film
Played at the September 2015 WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival.
http://www.wildsoundfestival.com/september_2015_film_festival.html

reinventing_the_reel_1
Reinventing the Reel covers some very interesting and topical subject matter, relating to the portrayal of homosexuality in film and television. With so many global progressive moves towards the legalization of gay marriage, and global acceptance of homosexuality, it’s easy to see the importance of this film in today’s world. You would think that with such an interesting and important subject matter the filmmaker would be able to do so much more with it, but I found this film fell short in a few different ways.

reinventing_the_reel_2
While Reinventing the Reel goes a long way towards describing all the different ways in which homosexuality is wrongly portrayed in film, it fails to provide a solution to how it could be better portrayed. For the most part the film seems to simply support the idea of more homosexual main characters, and more homosexual filmmakers in general. While there is nothing wrong with this concept, it’s a little incomplete as a solution, because it doesn’t analyze the numerous positive and normative ways that homosexuals could be portrayed in film.

reinventing_the_reel_4
Moreover, although this film is largely about the film industry, the filmmaker limits his audience by focusing too much on film industry creators. It gives a brief statistical analysis of the popularity of some kickstarter campaigns that focused on the transgendered, and homosexual community, but there is little communication with the every day spectator. As important as it is for Hollywood and bigger commercial studios to make more homonormative films, it’s equally as important for audience members to accept this emergence.

The documentary genre is always a difficult one to tackle, and there is always a lot more that could be done and said to raise awareness to different issues. Reinventing the Reel manages to provide high quality intrviews, with very prominent and important industry members to convey an important message. I may have focused a little harshly on the flaws of the film, but I still believe it’s an important one to watch. For many of us, the media is our window into different cultures, worlds, and ways of thinking, and if we never allow the “different” to actually appear in that window, we’re just lying to ourselves about what “normal” really is.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of REINVENTING THE REEL:

Deadline TODAY to Submit your Short Film, Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

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