Film Review: ALTERNATIVE MATH (USA, Comedy)

Perhaps one of the smartest and most compelling shorts around, ALTERNATIVE MATH, a nine minute American piece directed by David Maddox, is a deeply layered and remarkably sophisticated pieces of intelligent comedy.

Our heroine is a veteran grade school teacher trying to explain to her student that 2+2=4. The child however, believes the answer is 22. So do his parents. How dare this teacher censor their child and restrict his learning. What kind of professional does this? The child’s parents are out for blood and soon our heroine is trapped in a vicious media onslaught and a school board demanding her resignation.

What makes this film so special is that it functions on so many layers. It works comically due to it’s wonderfully executed reducto-absurdum, but just a little bit deeper we find an allegory for our modern world carrying a concerning warning. What happens when beliefs are taken too such a degree that basic knowledge is questioned? What happens to a population when the right to free speech becomes more important than the recognition of fact? There is a frightening undertone in ALTERNATIVE MATH that speaks to a greater and more terrible world lurking in a reality not too far away from our own.

Of course, this allegory is one that comes gift-wrapped clearly and politely in the bow comedy for an audience can unwrap it with glee, not fear. Perhaps this is one of the best reasons to see ALTERNATIVE MATH, a film with heart, humanity and humor, as well as deeper philosophical undertones. A family film to be enjoyed by teacher and student alike.

PLAYED at the January 2018 Comedy/Drama Festival. 

Review by Kierston Drier

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

ALTERNATIVE MATH, 9min, USA, Comedy
Directed by David MaddoxA well meaning math teacher finds herself trumped by a post-fact America.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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MOVIE REVIEW: MAGIC RADIO (Family/Comedy)

Played at the August 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival to rave reviews.

by Kierston Drier

Bright, colorful and full of youthful wish fulfillment, Magic Radio is a true delight. Directed by Meng Yu, this nine minute short film captures the tale of a lovesick high school student who discovers a radio that can transport him ten seconds back in time- giving him the ability to replay immediate events with a different outcome. Charmingly honest and authentic with its comedy, Magic Radio boasts a lot of heart. From first frame to last we root for our Hero, even as he blunders through his mistakes over and over (and over and over) again.

 

There is a nod to films like Groundhog Day or Naked where the comedy comes from the repetition of events, but there is also an element of control, where our Hero is able to relive his moments at his own command. Pride comes before the fall, however, and he often gets himself in trouble by being able to change the future. While the comedy is fast, witty and endearing, it also has no lack of emotional depth. When he tries to use his radio to test the waters with his dream girl, it doesn’t go as planned.

 

Magic Radio is skillfully cast and the performances are solid and moving, even if the plot requires a suspension of disbelief. What is particularly notable about the work is the instantaneous attraction to our hero, who plays the loveable and awkward every-man that anyone teenager can resonate with.

 

Magic Radio is a quirky loveable comedy that anyone will enjoy, with a great message at the end. You don’t need a time-traveling radio when you listen to your heart.

MAGIC RADIO, 9min, USA, Family/Comedy 
Directed by Meng YuA magic radio gives a high school student ability to experience the future within 10 seconds, however nothing can change his life but himself.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Under 5min. Film: THE FINAL FAIRYTALE, 1min, UK, Family

Played at the Under 5 Minute June 2017 Film Festival

THE FINAL FAIRYTALE, 1min, UK, Family
Directed by Ken WilliamsA woman looks back at a fading memory of her father and of fairytales .

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Review by Kierston Drier

A four minute American film about the pain of growing up. A father reads his bedtime story to his daughter, when his daughter tells him that she thinks she might be too old for bedtime stories.

It is an utterly simple film. But emotionally, it is fathoms deep. Most impressively, the acting of the cast. The character of the father is only given one small moment to react to his daughter’s request- and so many emotions are transmitted. The efficiency of this emotional punch is breathtaking. A moment of independence for a child, and a moment of heartbreak for her father.

Remarkably effective and incredibly poignant, THE FINAL FAIRYTALE is touching and worthwhile piece indeed.

Film Review: EAT ME! (Bulgaria)

Played at the May 2017 EUROPEAN Short Film Festival

Eatmeposter jan 2017small

Glittering socialite Laura starts slipping from the daily reality of a weight obsessed rich man’s mistress. While on a fancy dinner with her gluttonous lover she enters a strange world where food dances and sings. The whirlwind of dance blows the air out of Laura’s head and she becomes a different type of girl…

How people treat each other is mirrored in the way we treat our environment and our food. That’s why “Eat me” focuses on our attitude to food, its dubious contents and food waste through the prism of a skewed relationship.

Review by Kierston Drier

A twenty minute dive into food and psychology, EAT ME, is an adventurous musical romp telling the tale of a beautiful young woman having dinner with her very hungry partner. She fights the internal battle between craving and self control, as she stares down at various lavish plates sent to their table. Seemingly driven crazy by hungry, she slips slowly into hallucinations- her food literally sprouting legs and dancing in front of her, singing and tempting her to eat them.

She tries desperately to escape her phantom food, but to little avail. They torment her with jazz hands, seamless choreography and painfully catchy tunes. In a desperate attempt to flee her visions, she ends up making a scene, and is escorted outside. She is left in a dumpster, where all unwanted things go. Among piles of forgotten food, she can finally be alone with her thoughts, and give in.

What is interesting about this piece- besides the obvious humor of singing and dancing foodstuffs, is the careful detail in the visuals. Our leading lady is a stunningly flawless beauty, and the plates put before her are equally gorgeous. Yet the film is shot primarily in black and white, with a few choice scenes and items being colored. Seeing the film in black and white acts as a constant distinction between the audience’s’ reality and the story. Until, that is, our heroine lies in a pile of trash. In this scene, the piece is colored naturally- as though her illusions are shattered, and reality has seeped in.

It can be interpreted in any number of ways and that is part of its’ mystique. EAT ME is delightfully fresh, something you want to look for in your films, and well as your food.

Film Review: STATE OF EMERGENCY MOTHERFUCKER

Played at the May 2017 EUROPEAN Short Film Festival

1 yassine fadel

This is the story of two young guys without any trouble who just want to « screw »
without being disturbed.« State of Emergency motherfucker» is a surrealistic comedy
that depicts a society where police violence and invasion of privacy are daily routine, normal, tedious. The victims themselves are used to it. Even the police is used to it! Every day, they get back at it. Samy and Mehdi aren’t even paying attention to it anymore… the viewer neither. The real question of the movie is to finally discover if Samy did get some on the night of Valentine’s…

Review by Kierston Drier

Whether it is the eye-catching title or the vibrant opening scene that sucks you into this 5 minutes Political Satire from Belgium, once you’re in this film- you are really in it. Why? Because it simply doesn’t give you the opportunity to let go. With rapid dialogue, seamless transitions and flawless editing, this piece boasts dialogue gymnastics on top of its’ stellar performances. These factors alone are enough to impress any film critic, but STATE OF EMERGENCY MOTHERF***ER, is also making a political statement, while being hilariously funny.

How do they manage it all? It’s hard to say- because the piece is so fast, so witty, so active and so engaging, that it’s over before you’ve even had time to take in the sheer amount of work that must go into to a film.

Our piece begins with two young guys having the classic “guy-talk” about their nightly conquests, when they are carded, arrested and dragged down to a police station to be beaten and harassed. The humor comes from their casual acceptance of their circumstances, their lack of concern with the outcome, and their ability to continue their conversation without missing a beat. It is hard to say what is funnier- the actual humorous dialogue, or the context of it being said while the speakers are actively being cuffed and beaten.

What is brilliant about STATE OF EMERGENCY MOTHERF***ER is that under the comedy, is a deeply meaningful political statement about social profiling and the relationships specific communities have with government and police forces. It is hyperbolic because it must be. The controversial nature of the message behind the film means that it must be over the top and humorous- as Oscar Wilde said, “If you want to tell someone the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:


state_of_emergency_motherfucker_5.jpg

Film Review: BEING SEEN, Documentary

Played at the March 2017 DOCUMENTARY Festival

BEING SEEN, 15min, USA
Directed by Paul Zehrer

A combination of funny, acerbic, and heart-wrenching, these people’s candid and articulate self-awareness quickly shatter preconceptions of the disabled.

Review by Kierston Drier:

An American film from director Paul Zehrer, BEING SEEN follows the spirited occupants of an adult group home for the developmentally challenged.

At times gut wrenching painful, and other times embarrassingly honest and frequently disarmingly funny, this film does something magical: it opens your eyes.

Candid and articulate, our subjects recount their understanding and acceptance of who they are, while others describe the loneliness that plagues them since losing loved ones.

There are couples, like Jared and his girlfriend, who decide to get married although they know the difficulties that come with that decision, since they both wheelchair bound. And there are Randall and Katie, a steady couple whose banter will strike many as hilariously familiar.

Self aware, self accepting, beautifully shot and well composed, this is a film that is worth seeing. Above all else, Being Seen will show you that all people are more alike than they are different.

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO:

Film Review: RIVER & OAK, Documentary

Played at the March 2017 DOCUMENTARY Festival

  MOVIE POSTERRIVER & OAK, 13min, Canada
Directed by James Malekzadeh

As Toronto’s Regent Park Housing project is demolished and rebuilt for the second time in its history, two women reflect on the complicated past of their neighbourhood. Through archival footage, the past is brought to the present and the audience is left to decide whether the current revitalization is the best solution for the residents of this often overlooked community.

Review by Kierston Drier:

This Canadian gem, directed by James Malekzadeh, speaks closely to anyone who has ever been affected by urban sprawl. River and Oak follows the lives of a handful of honest, hard working humans who lived and loved Regent Park before the area’s housing project was demolished to make way for upscale (and highly priced) replacement housing.

The interwoven stories of two women show their connection to the place and the people, now pushed out of their historical homes.

Gentrification is a hot topic anywhere that housing is at a premium. While it may boost economy and local real estate, the human displacement is another issue. A population linked to the city by employment, family or any other necessity must remain in the area but where do they go?

River and Oak can not give us an answer to that question. All it can give us is a human look at real people who remind us that your postal code does not reflect the content of your character.

Passionate, strong and hitting-close-to-home, River and Oak reminds us what it means to be neighbours and what forgetting that can cost.

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO: