Film Review: MIDNIGHT WALK (Australia) Thriller

Played at the November 2016 Best of Under 5 Minute FEEDBACK Film Festival.

MIDNIGHT WALK, 4min., Australia, Thriller
Directed by Mathilde Nocquet

Midnight, hidden by sunglasses and a badass vinyl disguise, a mysterious brunette is looking for her victim. Plunged into darkness, a car park is the stage of her next murder.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

A highly stylized, hyper-glam look at fashion at any cost, MIDNIGHT WALK is genre-splicing experiments in theatrics. Part comedy, part thriller, part How-To video, our hero, the gorgeous, fashion savvy Midnight, armored in outfit that could be found on any high-end sensationalized fashion-art show prowls and underground garage, following an unsuspecting victim.

 

Despite large look-at-me visuals, this film has a simple and unstated backdrop, no doubt to accentuate the dramatic and fantastical heroine.

 

MIDNIGHT WALK has some exceptional scenographic and visual design. It’s genre is completely unto itself, being an exceptionally unique piece with a utterly intoxicating and original voice, it straddles several cinematic areas.

 

The twist at the end- the goal our murderous fashionesta has for stalking her victim is worth every minute of this bright escape-ist cinematic romp.

 

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Film Review: NO WOMAN (Afghanistan) Experimental/Drama

Played at the November 2016 Best of Short Documentary FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERNO WOMAN, 3min., Afghanistan, Experimental/Drama
Directed by Yama Rauf

There is a world beyond our world, when it comes to a decision, there is always a big NO to WOMEN. in this case majority suffers from it but only few women take the risk and fights for it.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

Simple, short and thought provoking, NO WOMAN comes to us from Afghanistan, as a dramatic and experimental piece with no easy answers. A study in the power of symbology, NO WOMAN shows a small girl walking forward in the desert as a masked gunman stands near. A shot is fired and the mask is pulled away but what lies beneath it, and to some extent the fate of the girl are unknown and left up to interpretation.

 

Beyond its thought-provoking imagery and genre-defying, NO WOMAN has the unique power of being able to represent many things to many different people. It is equally valid to interpret this film as a story of a Afghan girl made victim by a masked adult, as it is to interpret as a philosophical stance of women’s’ rights’ on a global level. The final image shows our heroine walking onward away from the masked obstacle- whether it is her in real life, a dream, or as a spirit, we do not ever explicitly know.

 

In a time where human rights’ and world issues are ever on our doorstep, where global and political are thrust into public focus, NO WOMAN stands as a subtle but powerful visual story. It could be about generations clashing, differences in religion, cultures or politics colliding, hopefulness and fear standing at odds, or gender issues in a powerful face-off. All are equally possible, and all equally effective- take a look to decide for yourself.

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Film Review: A COUPLE (France) Relationship

Played at the November 2016 Best of Under 5 minute FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERA COUPLE, 4min., France, Relationship
Directed by David Steiner

Three minutes in the life of a couple.

Project Title (Original Language):UN COUPLE

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

A disagreement is very a common thing in a relationship- the factors around it are often layered in subtext and personal context, but nevertheless, most of us have been there. Enter A Couple, a short hailing from France, which unwraps the complexity of a couple’s’ disagreement with delicacy and honesty.

 

The dialogue is spectacularly honest and real; the acting excellent. A convincing and upfront look into one moment of the tens of thousands that make up a romantic relationship. Stylishly shot in black and white and boasting an ending open to discussion, the beauty of this film is how incredibly believable it is. One might think the actresses in the film are a couple in real life- a testament to the astute attention paid to all aspects of the characters’ relationship.

 

A film that invites us to take a deeper look at ourselves and our assumptions about romantic relationships, A Couple, is a film not to miss.

 

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Film Review: TIME (Hong Kong) Documentary

Played at the November 2016 Best of Short Documentary FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERTIME, 3min., Hong Kong, Docuementary
Directed by Tak Chun Patrick Cheung

In 1951 the Hong Kong clock tower was built in the district of Tsim Sha Tsui. After all this time overlooking the Victoria Harbour for 100 years, no one has realised until now that a mysterious power from the clock will change the course of time.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

Time is a three-minute visual masterpiece, a stunning flurry of life, light and impeccable sound that follows one full day and night in the busy metropolis of Hong Kong. Following the image of the Iconic Hong Kong Clock Tower, TIME takes us through the cities, the roads, the boardwalks, the citysquares, the ferries wheels and the billboards of a city that never slows down.

 

Compellingly shot, flawlessly composed and brilliantly dynamic in every angle and dimension, TIME will leave you undeniably spellbound. The music entices you, the visual unity is engaging and the spectacle engulfs you in another world.

 

What is perhaps most compelling about TIME, from a cinematic and philosophical point of view, is how much modern Hong Kong mirrors any other high-profile metropolis. New York, Bejing, Paris, San Francisco, Toronto, Rome- could equally rival the brilliant days and vibrant nightlife. In this way TIME does something magical- it shows you a different world that is remarkably relatable. It takes you to another place, and still manages to make you think of home. A gripping, visually engaging, brilliant piece of cinema that takes us around the world and back again while never having to leave our seat.

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Film Review: HOCKEY NIGHT (Canada 1984)

hockey_night.jpgDirector: Paul Shapiro
Writers: Jack Blum, Paul Shapiro
Stars: Megan Follows, Rick Moranis, Gail Youngs

Review by Gilbert Seah

 
While watching HOCKEY NIGHT, which has a limited release during the Christmas week at the Roncesvalles Cinema in Toronto, I was amazed at how accurate the film captured the 80’s look from clothes, to look to atmosphere to everything.

Upon researching the film, I soon realized that HOCKEY NIGHT is a 1984 TV film. Silly me! It has been given a full 4K restoration and a special engagement run.

The film is a small budget film with mainly newcomers except for a few heavyweights like Rick Moranis (SCTV) in a serious role and Maury Chaykin (WHALE MUSIC) who lend their acting talents. The film also made Megan Follows a household name. It is a proud Canadian film, not afraid of being Canadian with familiar street and town names like Queen Street, Oshawa, North Bay thrown into the dialogue. After all, hockey is Canada’s national sport. Though a teen movie, there are no teens cussing. This is a good-hearted family film that the whole family can enjoy – particularly at Christmas.

The film begins with two stories, one centred around hockey hopeful Spear Kozak (Yannick Bisson) and the other around Cathy Yarrow (Megan Follows), newcomer to his small town, Parry Sound. For the unaware, Parry Sound is located 160 km (99 mi) south of Sudbury and 225 km (140 mi) north of Toronto. It is the seat of Parry Sound District, a popular cottage country region for Southern Ontario residents. It is also the birthplace of hockey legend, Bobby Orr, who is given a small homage in the film. It does not take a genius to guess that Spear and Cathy will form a young romantic couple. Cathy is bored to death in the town and according to her, ”fun hasn’t been invented yet in the town. ” And where there is no girl’s hockey team? Cathy was champ in her team in the Toronto. The answer now is simple: strap on her goalie pads and try out for the boy’s all-star team.

Local broadcaster Bum Johnston (Maury Chaykin) does not think a girl’s place is in a hockey arena. Chaykin injects a few quite funny moments as the prejudiced announcer at the games, giving his 2 cent worthless input. Lumber magnate Bill Moss (Henry Ramer), the team’s sponsor removes Cathy from the team with disastrous results. But Cathy stands firm between the pipes, helping the team win games while winning herself loyal allies in star player Spear and coach Willie Liepert (Moranis).

Hockey Night is a story of adolescent relationships, the struggles of small-town politics and of triumph over the expectations and pressures of the adult world. It is not a big action film with action or special effects, which is the reason this is a TV movie. The hockey matches on the ice are well shot. And like the two young hockey players. the film has its charm. This charm creates a winning film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLts9uo3Vto
 

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Film Review: RESET (Reléve) (France 2015)

reset.jpgDirected by Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai

Star: Benjamin Millepied

Review by Gilbert Seah

As interesting as RESET is a film about ballet, a non dance audience would likely take a while to get accustomed to the subject of this documentary.

RESET is a film on ballet – as seen through the eyes of the Paris National Opera’s new director Benjamin Millepeid. Millespied is the choreographer of the Oscar winning opera BLACK SWAN that starred his wife, Natalie Portman. Millepied was a famed choreographer and former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, both of which won him the prestigious Paris Opera position.

The film tracks the opening (premiere) night counting down the 39 days till day 1 of rehearsals. Millepied prepares to unveil his first ballet on the 25th of September 2015. From the very first rehearsal up until opening night, directors Demaizière and Teurlai immersed themselves in the world of the Paris Opera, right at the heart of its artistic creation – a musical score, penned by his friend Niko Muhly, inspired Millepied’s creative process. The camera follows Millepied as he imagines and arranges his choreographies in front of the studio mirror.

This act of creating finally unfolds within one of the most beautiful locations in the world: the Palais Garnier. Except for the limitation of time to get everything in place, the film has little drama or suspense. Everything appears to be working very well, except for Millepied who always appears to be un-trackable. But what the film lacks in drama, it provides more in terms of splendour of ballet. Even for ballet non-aficionados, RESET should still fascinate and inspire.

Millepied chooses the actual shots of the Millepied’s premiere (called Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward) as the climax of the film. A wise decision as the sequence shows the performance of the dancers performing at their best after weeks of hard training. Millepied is shown to be extremely happy and proud of what he sees on stage. Not so wise, however, is the directors’ decision to juxtapose the actual performances of a few of the dancers with their rehearsals. This do not show much and serves as a distraction tot he continuity of their actual dance.

RESET also reveals Millepied’s character and how he has influenced the Paris Ballet. He wanted changes to old school ballet, even casting for the first time a mixed race dancer as lead dancer. RESET also shows that besides having to choreograph, Millepied had to overlook almost very aspect of the show from costumes, lighting, sets, hair and publicity.

The film ends with the titles informing the audience, during the closing credits, that Millepied resigned 4 months after the premiere of his show. No reason is given, but one can only guess the reason from the film – likely that his quest for changes in ballet was not acceptable to his employers.

RESET has a limited run in Toronto from now through January 6 at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, as well it opening in Vancouver at Vancity Theatre, starting Sunday January 1 and screens through Sunday January 15.

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

 

 

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Film Review: Ghostland: The View of the Ju’Hoansi (2016)

ghostland.jpgDirector: Simon Stadler
Writers: Catenia Lermer, Simon Stadler

Review by Gilbert Seah

Most filmgoers should remember a small little South African comedy that made it really big in 1980 called THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY written and directed by Jamie Uys. Financed only from local sources, it is the most commercially successful release in the history of South Africa’s film industry. Now after more than 35 years, comes a similar film, a documentary called GHOSTLAND about the same Ju/‘Hoansi bushmen who are “living well off the land” in the Kalahari Desert.

In THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY, a glass Coca-Cola bottle is thrown out of an airplane and falls to Earth unbroken. Initially, Xi’s people suppose this strange artifact is another “present” from the gods and find many uses for it. But in the documentary GHOSTLAND, director Simon Standler takes a more serious (though still humorous) look at the tribe. He shows that life in the vast Kalahari desert has drastically changed for one of the most ancient cultures on our planet. He takes a selected few of the Ju/’Hoansi people, travelling with members of this culture as they become tourists in the “modern” world around them, first in Namibia, and then in Germany and Italy.

When the film begins, titles inform the audience that Government regulations have banned hunting and thus forced the Ju/’Hoansi to abandon nomadism and live in a fixed location, making them dependent on “gifts” from the government and adventurous tourists. They used to kill and eat animals like giraffes and deer that wander into their village. Stadler shows the customs and culture of the tribe before taking them on a tour outside their closed village. So, they venture into the “modern” world, first at home in Namibia, and then -through an invitation to speak at a school – in Europe.

The Ju/’Hoansi are filmed in huge shopping malls in Germany or in trains or elevators for the first time. (Fortunately, they are given modern clothes to wear, or there will lots of screaming German women.) Stadler records their reactions, often of great awe, in their language, with English subtitles. But they still long for their home, as they were born and have grown accustomed to living in the bush.

There is nothing really wrong in filming their amusing reactions to modernization and city living, but it is another thing to have an entire documentary on the subject. It is just as interesting to watch the Germans fascinated by the rituals of the Ju/’Hoansi. But one can tell that each side is being over polite not to offend anyone.

The film offers no real new lessons in life that one has not seen in one form or another. So watching the Ju/’Hoansi’s reactions soon becomes repetitious with the display of modernization already too familiar to most audiences who live in large metropolitan cities.

The film did win the 2016 SXSW SXGlobal Audience Award, and has frequently been referred to as a real-life version of The Gods Must Be Crazy. The film opens theatrically in Toronto for a one-week run on Christmas Day 2016 at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. The film might prove an unconventional yet still heartwarming holiday option.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/188730709

 

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