Movie Review: THE SOUNDS OF STREET VENDORS (2016)

  MOVIE POSTERTHE SOUNDS OF STREET VENDORS, 8min., USA/Cuba, Documentary
Directed by Michael Brims

A portrait of the music and the sounds of street vendors in Havana.

Shown at the September 2016 DOCUMENTARY FEEDBACK Film Festival

Movie Review by Kierston Drier

The Sounds of Street Vendors is a soundscape portrait of Havana’s bustling daily marketplace. As colorful as it is musical, this piece, directed by Kyle Chen is especially interesting given the recent changes to the political and economic scene in Cuba. This film stands as a testament to Cuba’s economic essence: entrepreneurs sell their wares- flowers, peanuts, fabrics kitchen supplies- or their services, like knife sharpening, all in order to make a living. This cinematic piece is as engaging to the ear as it is to the eye, every vendor seems to be singing to attract their business. As though each vendor where birds, chirping to attract their mates.

To the arm chair sociologist or the culturally curious, this piece is a cultural rosetta stone- likening itself to market places everywhere. To a cinema-buff however, it may be frustrating, as the film is more an exploration of a city’s streets and sounds, than it is a dedication to a specific plot or storyline. The film is framed nicely with the larger-than-life vaudevillian style peanut vendor, whose sultry and enticing voice both opens and closes the piece. Beyond that, however, there is not much in the sense of story development. Instead a story that develops following central cast, crew or plot you are brought along as through a journey of discovery, as thought you were a tourist in the street yourself. The characters we see are each individual vendor, and while their moments in the film may be short, they are colorful and clear. Each vendor with their own song, their own items or services and their own clear selling tactics.

Fun, light, bright and whimsical musical The Sounds of Street Vendors is a rich documentary, that shows the audience another type of world. Like many other excellent documentaries, you are not told what to think, but if you leave this film craving peanuts, the vendors of this marketplace have worked their magic on you.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film:

Advertisements

Movie Review: WAR OF SPACE (2016)

  MOVIE POSTERWAR OF SPACE, 5min., USA/Kenya, Documentary
Directed by Matt Mays

As human and elephant populations increase across the Serengeti ecosystem, the Maasai Mara region of Kenya is struggling with room for both to exist peacefully. Conflict is daily and sometimes deadly. A group of dedicated rangers is working to find a way to end the war of space.

Shown at the September 2016 DOCUMENTARY FEEDBACK Film Festival

Movie Review by Kierston Drier

A stunningly beautiful short, War on Space, by Matt Mays, tells the story of on-going conflict between the human and elephant populations of the Maasai Mara region of Kenya. Poignant musical composure and spectular footage of the Kenyan Landscape are not the only strengths of this piece; this film is an investigation of human ingenuity and hope.

Human-elephant relations have been a long troubling issue in the Maasai Mara region- with human growth crowding out the roaming lands for herding elephants. Elephants attacks have claimed human lives and the ever shrinking room for elephant movement have lead to attacks on elephants as well. Yet War on Space investigates the solutions to these problems with human advancements in technology. In an effort to find harmony with humans and wildlife, new legions of troops now assist in peacefully navigating elephants away from human habitats via GPS devices and drone usage, sparing countless elephants lives. To help instruct the future generations, local schools teach the importance of protecting the elephant population.

This film shows a beautiful type of hope. A future where humans live in peace with the world we are a part of. It shows the transformative power of education and technology. It brings light to an issue many North American audiences have never known about. It is gorgeously produced and exceptionally well executed as a piece of cinema. Most importantly for our cinema lovers- it it successful in it’s attempts to create a visually beautiful spectacle while also weaving a compelling and meaningful message. A wonderful documentary about humans and our impact on this amazing, awe-inspiring world.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film:

Film Review: SAINT AMOUR (France 2016) ***1/2

saint_amour_poster.jpgSAINT AMOUR (France 2016) ***1/2
Directed by by Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern

Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Benoît Poelvoorde, Vincent Lacoste

Review by Gilbert Seah

When father and son order a bottle of SAINT AMOUR in a restaurant, the film starts to bubble as the pair take off on an educational wine tour around the wine regions of France. Surprisingly, the education comes in a different form, as the two discover more about life, women and their relationship towards each other, rather than in the wines they savour.

A refreshing French dead-pan comedy, SAINT AMOUR is a road trip movie in which three very different characters embark on a road trip wine tour.

There is the father, Jean (his name perhaps taken from his other farming movie JEAN DE FLORETTE), his son Bruno (Benoît Poelvoorde) who he wants to take over the farm and the reluctant young and handsome 24-year old Parisien cab driver, Mike (Vincent Lacoste), who they hire to drive around France. The best scene has the three of them in the cab as if posing for a photo, goofing around and nudging each other way from the cab mirror.

All during the trip, the three try to conquer the opposite sex. But each has a problem. Firstly, Bruno is an ugly, middle-aged, unmarried farmer who immediately comes across as an uncultured hick. Jean, is old and portly but worst still, has not gotten over the recent death of his beloved wife. He still calls her just to hear her voice on the answering service. (But the voicemail finally gets full.) Mike is young and corky but a past illness of Phimosis has left the tip of his manhood black. He has an inferiority complex so bad that he food the other two to think that he is married with children. But his is a French film in fairly tale mode, so the trio naturally get to prove their manhood each in their own way, by having sex with a red-headed type Lady Godiva who first appears to them on horseback.

The comedy woks primarily for the actors. Both Depardeieu and Poelvoorde are not afraid to reveal their weaknesses. Depardieu is simply splendid as the overgrown old bear snoring in his sleep and grimacing in disgust when he cannot connect with his son. It is an experienced nuanced performance, the best that any actor can deliver in a comedy. Poelvoorde is perfect as the hick, constantly pasting back his hair like a child that does not know how to control his bad habits. Vincent, in real life is 23 and is a hapless charmer. The connection among the three are as ridiculous as one can imagine. But the film charms and entertains, the best thing next to a good French wine.

The film’s additional bonus is the wide range of characters the trio meet during their journey. One is a hotelier who offers them their room in his house while his entire family sleeps snug in one tiny room in order to make space for their guests. Another is a sincere patriot girl, fearful that France will go broke, who is willing to work for free so as to help France decrease her National Debt.

Fall in love with SANT AMOUR!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6UZq-G2qPQ

 

 

SUBMIT your TV PILOT or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
FILM CONTESTSUBMIT your SHORT Film
Get it showcased at the FEEDBACK Festival
writing CONTEST1st CHAPTER or FULL NOVEL CONTEST
Get full feedback! Winners get their novel made into a video!
SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Film Review: MOONLIGHT (USA 2016) ***

moonlight_poster.jpg


MOONLIGHT (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Barry Jenkins

Starring: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan’Sandy’ Sanderson

Review by Gilbert Seah

MOONLIGHT is one of the most talked about African American films screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. It has garnered rave reviews based on its raw content and originality. And indeed, this film deserves all accolades.

MOONLIGHT is Barry Jenkins’ second feature after MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY.

It is s very strange feature, low-budget, very originally told (in three parts; each part titled by each of the three names the protagonist is given) of the life of Little or Chiron or Black from childhood to adulthood. His real name is Chiron, but is called Little in school due to his small stature. Little is ‘adopted’ by a local thug and his girlfriend when he is not living with his drug addicted mother.

Bullied and beaten up frequently because of his small stature and curly hair (he looks very much like a girl), Little cannot take it anymore and is arrested after he finally breaks a chair over his bully right in the middle of a class. The scene deserves quiet cheers.

Little grows up, surprisingly into a big muscled guy and meets back with his school buddy who gave him the nickname of Black. He obviously had the thug of his childhood as his mentor. Kevin and Black have a gay sex encounter which Black can never forget.

Jenkins’ film feels like it is all over the place though it is obvious he is leading his audience somewhere. One good thing about Jenkins film is that you never know where he is leading the audience. Though slow moving at times, Jenkins film is never boring and a compelling watch for start to end when the audience finally figures out the purpose of MOONLIGHT.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fYFIj16YC0

Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
FILM CONTESTSUBMIT your SHORT Film
Get it showcased at the FEEDBACK Festival
writing CONTEST1st CHAPTER or FULL NOVEL CONTEST
Get full feedback! Winners get their novel made into a video!
SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Movie Review: SVENGALI (UK 2015)

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

svengali_posterSVENGALI (UK 2013) **1/2
Directed by John Hardwick

Review by Gilbert Seah

The story of this straight to Video on demand British film is as simple the mind of the lead character who nicknames himself Dixie (Jonny Owen). Dixie leaves his small Welsh mining town for the big city of London. He intends to become the manager of what he thinks is the best band in the world. This he thinks after watching them on Youtube. He brings along to London his long-suffering girlfriend, Shell (Vicky McClure). Things are not that straightforward in the big city but Dixie and Shell manage somehow.

As the ads ask, can Dixie manage a relationship, a band and his life? That is what director Hardwick (mostly British TV stuff) intends his audience to find out.

Hardwick’s film has several charms. For one, the lead character, though annoying that he may be at times, wearing the same old disgusting vintage parka and carrying around a Tesco plastic bag, is a loveable lug who always means well. His favourite words are: “I am sorry” uttered with his Welsh accent. It is hard not to feel for a small town boy (big though he may be) moving to London in search of his big dream.

Newcomer Jonny Owen isn’t half bad as Dixie. He basically plays himself, a music enthusiast, star and producer of his own internet-based sketches of the same title in real life, which he has expanded for the big screen. But running at 90 minutes, the task becomes massive and different from the execution of short skits on the net. The little jokes and humour fail to sustain, and the one idea film soon runs out of steam. The story is also too predictable but there are a few prize characters such as the fat pop drinking Russian landlady. The camera is fond of showing her ass.

It would be an additional bonus if the band did put out some good songs on film. As it is, the band members are all shown as a lot of arguing misfits.

The word Svengali, the film title, refers to a person who manipulates or exerts excessive force over another. It also refers to a character in the George Du Maurier’s 1895 novel made into a film several times called Svengali who hypnotizes and brings to fame a young singer. It is not clear which of the three director Hardwick or writer Owen has fashioned his title from. Dixie manipulates his girlfriend and the band to stardom, though not with excessive force.

The film contains cameos from several TV personalities that North Americans will not be familiar with. Martin Freeman from the three Lord of the Rings HOBBIT films is perhaps the only one recognizable.

It is difficult to envisage huge North American audiences getting too excited about this small British export. Unless one is ex-British staying in North America, in the music business industry, in a struggling band or have Welsh roots, SVENGALI will have little appeal. This film therefore goes straight to VOD (video on demand) skipping the theatres on January the 10th. Myself, I visited Wales 2 years back, which is the main reason this little film attracted me to review.

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

Movie Review: THE FORBIDDEN ROOM (Canada 2015)

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

the_forbidden_room_posterTHE FORBIDDEN ROOM (Canada 2015) ****
Directed by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson

Review by Gilbert Seah

Another weird and wonderful film by Guy Maddin with co-creator Evan Johnson – and one of Maddin’s best and most structured, which is not saying much.  And the film is in colour instead of black and white.

The film begins, humorously with a man in a bathrobe (Louis Negin) giving lessons on how to draw a bath.  This vignette is linked to another concerning a submarine crew in dire distress.  The captain is missing and the air supply is running out.  They chew on flapjacks to utilize the oxygen bubbles in the batter.  Does not make sense?  It does not matter.  All this is part of the weird pleasure that is abundant in a Maddin film.  A woodsman (Roy Dupuis) suddenly appears and the crew figure if there is a way in the sub, there must be a way out.  It turns out the woodsman is one of many out to rescue a damsel in distress from a pack of forest bandits.  And so it goes on.  

The way in which one scene leads to the next is impossibly funny.  A bust of the God Janus leads to possession of the carrier transforming him into Lug Lug.  To get rid of the bust, he finds a night auction to sell it to.  But he ends up bidding with his double but finally winning the bid and buying the bust back.  He turns into Lug Lug again to kill his double.  This is one example.  But it is the most hilarious segment.  And beware – the ASWANG!  – a black rotten black cone shaped rotting banana aka the jungle vampire.  (The aswang actually is the devil in the banana tree in Philippines folklore.)

Shot in Paris, which is the reason the film contains a more than impressive cast of French and Quebecois actors including Roy Dupuis, Udo Kier, Mathieu Amalric, Geraldine Chaplin, Charlotte Rampling, Maria de Medeiros, Jacques Nolot and a few other surprises.  Shot in various old gothic styles of films of old, Maddin’s film is terribly funny, nostalgic and the perfect vehicle to watch while under the influence.  A real treat that might be too weird for everyone’s taste!

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: CAROL (USA 2015) Top 10 *****

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

carol_posterCAROL (USA 2015) Top 10 *****
Directed by Todd Haynes

Review by Gilbert Seah

CAROL, first screened at Cannes to rave reviews and winner of the TFCA Award for Best Film, is the slow moving pensive subtle new film by helmer Todd Haynes that tells the sad tale of the love affair between two women, a rich wife, Carol Aird (Oscar Winner Cate Blanchett) and a store clerk, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara). The film is based on the ahead-of-its-time 1952 novel called “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith.

Therese wants out of her hum drum life. Her job as a store clerk is leading nowhere just like her relationship with her overeager boyfriend, Richard (Jake Lacy). Her dreams include a career in photography and a more comfortable richer lifestyle with Carol who she meets at her store. Carol is facing problems of her own. Her separated husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler) is denying her daughter’s visitation rights. Harge is using her past lesbian affairs to deem her an unsuitable mother. This is the obstacle. Carol has to choose between her love for Therese and her daughter.

Haynes’ film moves extremely slowly. Not much is conveyed, for example in the first 15 minutes of the film, as the setting and introduction of the characters slowly come into focus. Even the ending is slow as the audience wonders what the final outcome of the relationship will be. But it is still a rewarding drama, all things considered. The set design, wardrobe, props and costumes are almost too perfect – like the departmental store Therese works at and the clothed and jewellery worn by Carol. The look of the film is similar to Haynes’ FAR FROM HEAVEN where the family lives in a gorgeous neighbourhood with perfectly manicured lawns.

Blanchett delivers another Oscar winning performance, the best sequence occurring during the lawyer and husband’s meeting when she is forced to have a final say. Her character is a very intelligent one – one who knows the stakes at hand, the risks involved with her relationship and what she has to do in order to survive. This contrasts with Therese’s character. Therese does to know exactly what she wants regarding her heterosexual relationship, her career and her current romance. It is Therese’s naiveté contrasted against Carol’s planned actions.

For a film about a lesbian relationship, sex scenes are necessary. It is quite uncomfortable to watch Mara and Blanchett having a go at it, in the nude, in bed. After all, this is the actress that played Queen Elizabeth, and winning an Oscar in the process. The sex scenes are long and could be shortened without much damage to the story.

2015 has seen two high calibre lesbian films, CAROL and FREEHELD, both with superb performances, yet both are highly different films with different themes. CAROL is dead serious, but not without humour, and more of the subtle variety.

CAROL is Todd Haynes (FAR FROM HEAVEN, SAFE, VELVET GOLDMINE), still in top form in terms of uncomfortable drama. Just as Ang Lee’s BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN broke taboos with male stars in a male homosexual drama, Hayne’s CAROL will do the same with the female gender. It is great to see two stars give their all for the craft of cinema.

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