Film Review: SNOOT IN THE CITY, Australia, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERSNOOT IN THE CITY, 1min, Australia, Animation
Directed by Stephanie Davidson

On the rooftops above a cold, ironclad city, Snoot lives in a nice, warm home. When an intruder invades, his territorial instincts kick in and it’s up to him to protect his home, even if it means going face to face with a giant house-crushing robot.

Review by Kierston Drier:

This one minute comic animation from Australia, directed by Stephanie Davidson, is a simple film that delivers the whole package- a good story, a charming character, a great twist- in less than 60 seconds.

Snoot, our adorable mouse-y creature, just wants a quiet night roasting their bone at home next to their warm furnace. Snoot won’t get it though. A huge monster is on the horizon and headed right towards are quite hero. But Snoot will not have their evening ruined, and fast thinking is required.

What is great about this film, is that the story is well developed, despite the tiny time allotment. Snoot is able to use what they glean in the first few seconds of the movie to great effect later. By utilizing a faulty heating system and their own sheer grit, Snoot can defend their home and their evening from a hideous invader.

Bravo to Stephanie Davidson and her team. They clearly know that most important part of any film is the story! And to deliver one so clear and comical in a compact 60 seconds is a talented feat. Great job team, Snoot in the City is worth a watch, maybe two!

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO. Moderated b Matthew Toffolo:

Film Review: WALL, Taiwan, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERWALL, 5min, Taiwan, Animation
Directed by Chia-Yin Chou

Their are evolutionary stories happened on ordinary street. The sight from the bottom can only see a huge foot wearing somethings nice , stepping on the poor for fun , giving leftover for handouts occasionally.

Review by Kierston Drier:

Quick, symbolic and filled with stunning visual metaphor, Wall is a piece about social power and economy, although at first glance it gives the cheery tone of a Pixar short. Rats and mice litter the inner city streets-scurrying about as best as a bottom feeder can and praying to the Big cheese above them for the crumbs that filter down.

And against the colorful crowd of feet walking past and a sweeping orchestra of music, one Rat attempts to climb the steep steps to a better future. But is whatever lives above him willing to open its’ doors?

Wall is a funny little film. It’s metaphors are not immediately obvious. Unless you are critically looking at it, this film appears to be a simply physical-schtick comic piece, full of patchwork scurrying mice, a slick fast thinking Rat and a ominous and unknowable villain towering above them.

But if you give it thought, it becomes a deeply layered piece about our society, economy and our difficulty in climbing the corporate ladder, when even its bottom rungs are high above you.

Watch Wall if you want a short, subtle comic piece that is a metaphor to the human rat race. Watch Wall if you want a relaxing visually pleasing comedy. Or watch it simply because it’s good.

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO. Moderated b Matthew Toffolo:

Film Review: MY LIFE I DON’T WANT, Myanmar, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERMY LIFE I DON’T WANT, 12min, Myanmar, Animation
Directed by Nyan Kyal Say

A short animated film about the life of a Myanmar girl inspired by a true story.

Review by Kierston Drier:

With bright simple visuals and powerful symbology, this dramatic and powerful Myanmar animation coming to us from director Nyan Kyal Say is the story of one sunny optimistic young girl put through the hardest sides of life simply because she is born female.

Victim of a systemic gender bias family and society, our heroine is a unrelenting easy to love, even when she walks alone down a road that will lead her to endless heartache.

What makes this piece so admirable is it’s ability to draw on hope- our character is broken again and again by life’s cruel circumstances. She is shuffled from family to family, from one abusive situation to the next, from one misfortune to another- all while appearing to never give up. Until, of course, all seems dark…

But what happens to our heroine is just one story in a sea of heartache. For the issues of gender injustice in our world are plentiful, and the fight for equality rages on.What choice does our heroine have?

Where does she go when all is lost? To know, you must watch the beautiful, simple, powerful and bright film that is My Life I Don’t Want.

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO. Moderated b Matthew Toffolo:

Film Review: HANGING, USA, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERHANGING, 6min, USA, Animation
Directed by Nick LeDonne

An abstracted animated documentary based off of Nick LeDonne’s personal struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts after a near attempted hanging in November 2014. His feelings of depression are personified through a dark luring fog and a loving mother desperately trying to keep her son alive.

Review by Kierston Drier:

Hanging a USA animation directed by Nick LeDonne, is a deeply emotional, deeply powerful piece that takes a raw and honest look at the seriousness of the depression in the mind of a misunderstood boy longing for comfort.

Told through a voiceless abstract lense, our character battles the onslaught of words and labels- symbologies for the troubling thoughts that plague his mind- and must choose between the relief of death or the trauma of continuing to live. The personification of a mind of suffering may be a difficult viewing experience for some- but for many it will be an eye opening and important film.

There are very few films that so clearly capture the sense of entrapment and suffocation of mental illness. The visual style personifies the depth of despair- something that is perhaps difficult to understand if never experienced first hand.

While Hanging has a darkness to it, it also has unspeakable bravery- a clear and heart wrenching look at the battle one men wages between his inner demons and the sanity of his mind and soul. A difficult film to distill, because it is such a powerful film to witness.

 

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO. Moderated b Matthew Toffolo:

Film Review: KAROUMA, United Arab Emirates, Animation

  MOVIE POSTERKAROUMA, 12min, United Arab Emirates, Animation
Directed by Boubaker Boukhari

Karouma is a Unique gift striving to break through and to leave his parent’s nest to live pursue his dreams and live his life in its full potential.

Review by Kierston Drier:

This UAE animation is the story of a strong bright child born without arms. Despite the limitations of their lives, our hero Karouma refuse to lose his sunny disposition and bright optimism.

Perhaps most surprising in this film is that the dialogue is nonsense words- the inflection of speak is certainly there, but what is actually being said is unknown. This creates a beautiful sense of anomie within films’ universe and the child’s world.

Through the eyes of childhood, Karouma is sheltered from the gazes and whispers of the world around him. What matters is not the dialogue, but the actions.

Although fairly sheltered, Karouma is able to break free and see the world, only to discover it a difficult place to be when you are different. But Karouma’s uncrushable spirit allows him to rise above his differences- literally.

Whether symbolic and based on true events, Karouma is a tale of triumph over adversity. Karouma reminds us we are as free and boundless as our imaginations.

 

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO. Moderated by Matthew Toffolo:

Film Review: BABY AND GRANNY, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERBABY AND GRANNY, 2min. USA, Animation/Comedy
Directed by Zheng Kang

A 2D animated action-comedy about a baby and granny who share a common bond (Baby’s Mother is Granny’s Daughter) but who fight like crazy when left alone. The visuals are highly-influenced by the work of 60’s Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein

Review by Kierston Drier:

 
Short, punchy and full of action Baby Vs Granny will turn classic familial love of a grandmother and a grandchild on it’s head. This two minute UAE animation directed by Boubaker Boukhari boasted bright colors, lighting fast reflexes and two family members ready to square off when no one else can see them.

This piece totally delivers where color and character are concerned. Stylishly animated mostly in black and white with special attention paid to coloring the main characters, it is a lightening fast and never skips a beat.

It speeds through it’s short time with whirl-wind intensity, feeling like it is only a few seconds long, rather than a few minutes.

A comedy which needs little to know dialogue and is outstandingly visual, BABY AND GRANDMA is an awesome film to watch!

 

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO. Moderated by Matthew Toffolo:

Film Review: NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER (USA/Israel 2016)

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

norman.jpgDirector: Joseph Cedar
Writer: Joseph Cedar
Stars: Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen

Review by Gilbert Seah

Not to be confused with the other film NORMAN made in 2010, this new NORMAN comes with a long subtext in the title that essentially tells everyone what the film is about.
Written and directed by Joseph Cedar, NORMAN (film’s original title was OPPENHEIMER STRATEGIES) tells the moderate rise and tragic fall of the said man. The film is well shot and directed as a combination of set pieces are performed almost meticulously by veteran actor Richard Gere. At the age of 67, Gere could be almost be doing old fart movies like GOING IN STYLE. (Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin share the average age of 80), Here in NORMAN, Gere is in top form, articulating his character who still has the ability to charm and ‘cheat’ investors of their hard earned savings.

Cedar’s film begins with two dramatic set pieces that show Norman hard at work. In the first, he is unsuccessful while he succeeds in the second. In the first segment, he stalks a high-profile businessman interrupting his private life, while he is jogging in the morning to pitch his deal. In the second, he successfully courts a young politician, Nicha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) after paying for his shoes at a shoe store. (French actor Isaac Bankole is immediately recognizable as the shoe salesman who flatters Eshel.) Three years pass and Eshel becomes Prime Minister of Israel. Eshel’s name is used to no end by Norman in all his present and future schemes.

At the film’s start in one of Eshel’s speech, he says: “I do not look at the way things are and ask: Why? I look at the way things should be and ask, why not?” The same idea can be used to critique NORMAN. The film is fine but the question that should be asked is what the film should have been with the question why not.

For one, nothing is mentioned of Norman’s background. Norman is shown the way he is – no girlfriend, minimal family and a loner at heart and in life. It is hard to identify with a person like Norman and especially as he is a trickster at heart. Norman has few redeeming qualities. There is no suspense in the way he could have got caught which could have added some needed suspense into an otherwise monotonous film.

Gere is good and the film contains an impressive cast of actors that include French Bankole and Charlotte Gainsbourg and others like Hank Azaria (always appearing in con films), Michael Sheen, Dan Stevens and Steve Buschemi. One could say that Gere is too good looking an actor to play a shady character like Norman. But one could argue too that as Gere said, when he was here for the film at TIFF that it shows that there is a Norman in each one of us.

The film is shot partly in Hebrew and English in New York City where the story is set. NORMAN is not bad but could be better. And why not?

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXFCrl37HzU
 

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