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.

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Film Review: I AM DYSLEXIC (Norway) Animation/Music Video

Played at the December 2016 Best of Family/Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

I AM DYSLEXIC, 6min. UK, Animation/Music Video

The animated short film I AM DYSLEXIC expresses what it feels like to have a learning difference in our current school system. Those with learning differences should be proud of who they are and should never be made to feel alone.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

A masterful piece of short cinema is a rare gem. To be truly spectacular a short must do three things exceptionally well: It must tell a compelling and engaging story, it must establish, build and deliver an emotional goal (Comedic or Dramatic) and it must be visually breathtaking. Enter I AM DYSLEXIC, directed by Mads Johan Ogaard and Katie Wyman. Majestic in its visual metaphors and brave in it’s delivery, I AM DYSLEXIC is a powerful cinematic short that provides all three of these elements. The story is remarkably simple- following the metaphorical journey of two school age children desperately trying to learn literacy through the conventional education model. Instead of following their actual progress, we see them climbing an unfathomable high mountain of books, scattered pages, text and block letters. A vibrant and powerful metaphor, strengthen in part by its simplicity. To anyone who has ever struggled with conventional education, the metaphor is disarmingly accurate. Perhaps this is what elevates the film- the abstract approach to explaining what learning can be like, for those of us who learn differently.

 

Our heroes’ deal with road block after road block, and stumble constantly. There is no easy path, and no well marked trail for their journey. And although there is no dialogue at all, there is a dramatic original musical score “I’m Not Stupid” which aids in epic atmospheric elements to this piece.

 

I AM DYSLEXIC is an emotional powerhouse of a film. Stunningly effective in its representation and utterly unique and transformative in its symbology, this is a film everyone should see. It reminds all the viewers that  unconventional learning is not a crime, and that, pun intended, there are many paths up the same mountain. Despite the difficulty, they all will lead to the top. This reviewer, (a dyslexic, as it happens) gives this film a 10.

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Film Review: GRANDMA: A TRUE STORY (UK) Animation/Family

Played at the December 2016 Best of Family/Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERGRANDMA: A TRUE STORY, 5min, UK, Animation/Family
Directed by Viviane Peo’h

A grandmother and a granddaughter love and understand each other truly, without the need for speaking. One day, the grandmother has a stroke and is transported urgently to hospital. There is no hope. As the night gets deeper a miracle is on the way. A true and compassionate story.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

Touching and lovingly put together, GRANDMA is one of those stories that will pull on the heartstrings of anyone who has bridged the gap between generations with friendship. This story recounts in heartfelt detail, the relationship our narrator forms as a young girl with her grandmother, before she has a fall in her home and is in danger of passing away in the hospital. Within the same timespan, our narrator, is also put in the hospital after a car accident, where she silently begs God to keep her grandmother alive. The good she has done in the world surely outweighs’ the narrator’s own, and that certainly earns her more time on this planet.

 

It is hard to say what is more touching, the narrative tribute our narrator crafts for her grandmother, or the painstaking time spent on the stop-motion claymation used to animate the tale. Stop-motion is an incredibly time consuming process which requires an enormous amount of attention to details. GRANDMA shows all the signs of an unmistakable labour of love.

 

GRANDMA is one of those shorts that is so clearly built on a foundation on authenticity and love that it is hard to dislike. The style of the piece may be raw, or arguably not as polished looking as a digital counterpart, but there is no lack of story here, and certainly no lack of feeling. A touching piece, indeed.

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Film Review: AFRO CRAB (Taiwan) Animation/Comedy

Played at the December 2016 Best of Family/Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERAFRO CRAB, 4min, Taiwan, Animation/Comedy
Directed by Chen Liang Yu

A-SIE,the crab, was watching TV with his friend, the fish. Suddenly, Cook came and took the fish.To save his friend, A-SIE left his comfort zone and fight with Cook!

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

Directed by Light Fish Chen, is a film that ties in action, zany larger-than-life characters and comedy together through the adventures of- you guessed it, a Crab with an unusual haircut. All seems well for our hero as he sit sits on the couch with his unmoving and blank-staring Fish companion. However when his friend is seized by a villainous and dastardly chef bent on making a fish-soup, Afro crab must spring into action. What results, is a colourfully bright and high-impact combination of epic fighting between our Hero and the evil Chef.

 

This film packs a colourful and imaginative punch. A special nods must be given to the various ways AFRO CRAB calls back to other well-established children’s animation. Despite the difference in animation style, AFRO CRAB’s character design is slightly reminiscent of SpongeBob Squarepants, and the Ninja-esque fight between our Hero and the evil chef play off many popular anime for children, such as Dragon Ball Z and Kung Fu Panda. Also worth mentioning is the specific type of musical choice for the fight sequences- a distinctive heavy metal piece that re enforces the epic nature of the battle.
In the end, our afro crab is reunited with his fishy friend, but he might have to make do with a slightly altered version. AFRO CRAB is a fun, action packed way to spend a few minutes with anyone you would like to escape with. Enjoy the show!

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Film Review: PHANTOM CITY (Canada) Animation/Crime

Played at the December 2016 Best of Family/Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

PHANTOM CITY, 6min, Canada, Animation/Crime

Directed by Patrick Jenkins

A woman with a mysterious suitcase and a man in pursuit… just one of the tales in the Phantom City. A magic realist detective story.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

If film Noir and silent animation had a baby, it would be Phantom City, written and directed by Patrick Jenkins. The plot is simple, a woman enters a movie theatre to watch a mysterious spy versus spy style cat-and-mouse story, only for it to end in a supernatural twist that comes vibrantly to life. A simple, yet utterly engaging story line. What makes Phantom City sparkle, is how much it uses artistry in its work. It uses color sparingly, so as to add emphasis, it uses texture within its black and white frames. It makes dynamic use of sound, while minimal use of of dialogue. Artistically speaking, it is a film of depth, richness and visual complexity.

 

The story-within-a-story aspect is equally compelling with a nod to the classic Pulp Fiction. The supernatural twist at the end leaves the viewer with questions they long to have answered. But why should we watch Phantom City? See it because it effectively straddles multiple types of artistic mediums. See it because it is a compelling and visually entertaining piece. See it for its’ Noir-esque overtones and its’ rich animation. See it, if for nothing else, because it is a joy to watch.

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Film Review: WHAT’S WEARING MUMMY (UK) Family/Comedy

Played at the December 2016 Best of Family/Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERWHAT’S WEARING MUMMY, 15min, UK, Family/Comedy
Directed by Oliver McMillan

What’s Wearing Mummy? tells the story of two little sisters, Sofia and Matti, who believe their mother has been taking over by aliens due to her suspicious behaviour, and will do anything in their power to get mummy back.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

Whats Wearing Mummy,  directed by Oliver McMillian, is a step back into a time when our lives were alight with the wonder and magic of youth. Enter the imaginative world of two young sisters, Mattie and Sofia, their sense of adventure being nurtured by their stay-at-home-dad. This film, which has a well balanced mixture of comedy and suspense, takes the audience through a supernatural mystery as seen through the eyes of childhood.

 

After witnessing the disgruntled scene of their mother coming home late from work to find them not ready for bed, and their father feeding their appetite for spooky science fiction, Sofia and Mattie agree that something must be up with mom. They sneak through the bathroom, where they discover strange things- like their mothers recently discarded face mask- and jump to the conclusion that she is definitely being possessed by some sort of evil alien.

 

They attempt to catch their mother off guard and get the alien out of her, scenes that are often cushioned in the background by their perpetually high-stress mother taking out her frustration on her husband. When Sofia and Mattie enlist their father to help them catch their mother and get the alien out of her, he agrees to help, with surprising results.

 

This is one of those magical films that comes together through the strong moral core- that compassion and thoughtfulness can diffuse anger, and that childhood is not something that can only be enjoyed while a person is young. Whats Wearing Mummy invites and reminds us to enjoy childhood all over again, as both a viewer and a participant, whether through a movie or by actually interacting in the lives of young people.

 

A charming family story with a happy ending, this delightful film has a nice twist. Our heros, Sofia and Mattie aren’t totally wrong that something is up with their mom. Her recent behaviour might actually be related to a new development in all their lives. But what is it you ask? This reviewer can’t possibly spoil the surprise. You’ll have to watch and see.

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Film Review: THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT (USA) Animation/Comedy

Played at the December 2016 Best of Family/Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERTHE GRAVEYARD SHIFT, 2min, USA, Animation/Comedy
Directed by Lara Arikan

It’s long past midnight when the tired and jumpy waitress decides to go and investigate the ominous noise she hears right outside the roadside coffee shop she’s working at.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

Coming to us from Laura Arikan, Graveyard shift is a quick comic splash of fun, sprinkled with some horror. Sweet and largely silent, Graveyard Shift is a great example of the trite cinematic rule of “Show, don’t tell!”. A young girl, bored and alone at the night shift at her truckstop cafe is terrified to find her small coffee shop filled with Zombies. But no, they don’t want her brains. They want coffee.

 

It is not totally clear if coffee magically cures the zombie truckers, or if it is a metaphor for the long and solitary transport job putting its’ patrons into sluggish grey stupors, but it is likely the latter. No worries though, because this quick two minute animation delivers enjoyment whichever way you interpret it! A delightful cinematic romp into imagination, now comes with a caffeinated kick.

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