Movie Review: THE DRUNK: GETTING HOME, 6min, UK, Comedy (2016)

Directed by Gabriel Foster Prior

Embark on a hilarious journey of a drunk trying to break into his own house. A slapstick comedy written by and starring Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Seann Walsh

Seen at the July 2016 COMEDY FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Movie Review by Kierston Drier

Take your best friends’ worst drunk story, then double it. We are on the path to The Drunk, written by Seann Walsh directed by Gabriel Foster Prior, a story about getting a little too intoxicated for your own good.

At first you think the story might be an animation as it opens with a charming animated title sequence, but not to be fooled- it is a full live action comedy. Like many under 5 minute short comedy films, it is one long set up. But it certainly doesn’t lack comedy along the way to the punchline. From losing your money in the cab to not finding any food in your fridge, The Drunk takes you step by step through the antics one might get into and the thoughts that flicker through one’s’ mind when they’ve had a few too many.

They say the the true things are the funniest, and The Drunk certainly follows that philosophy as our leading man trips, staggers and crawls his way home, only to be met with the unpleasant realization that he is in the wrong house.

Full of physical comedy, well suited sound and music design and comically developed characters, The Drunk is a great comedy-centric short with lots of offer, if you want to sit back and enjoy someone else’s crazy night- with none of the sober sitting.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film:


Movie Review: DREAMS OR DEMONS, 3min, Denmark, Drama/Life (2016)

  MOVIE POSTERDREAMS OR DEMONS, 3min, Denmark, Drama/Life
Directed by Lisa Svelmoe

A woman liberates herself from her strive for the perfect body.

Seen at the July 2016 Under 5min. FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Movie Review by Kierston Drier

Written by Lisa Svelmoe and starring Karoline Bruun-Sorensen, Dreams or Demons is a cinematic piece that highlights our pursuit of the beautiful. A jogger (Bruun-Sorensen) is the relatable character for the audience, running on a treadmill alone to shed, what we must assume, is unwanted pounds. Beside the images of her running, are images of a beautiful lingerie wearing model (Ekatrina Krarup Andersen) as well as unclothed mannequins. As the running intensifies, it is further intercut with our leading ladies’ naked body, with the tell tale blue-marker lines of impending plastic surgery. The mannequins appear as well, but begin to be distorted, with only partial body parts being seen. Finally, a close up of our hero’s head appears wrapped in bandages and silent scream cuts the frantic flurry of images to a halt.

The audience has no dialogue to use as a frame of reference to understand the mind of the hero, but the final images produce closure. In the second last image, our hero is running, naked all for running shoes. She is not on a treadmill but outside on a street at night. Unlike the early images, here she is smiling.

What really must be noted here is the editing. Without the specific choices the editor made, the mind of the character may not have been as clear as it was. Editing it often an overlooked part of the Cinema process. The editing in this piece gave Dreams or Demons a distinct level of clarity.

This piece is clear in it’s goal- what can be altered on the surface is never worth running after. But brings you joy is worth running for. In this way Dream or Demons has an important message to send. To aspire to an unrealistic goal is unfair to yourself- but own your body and it’s appearance is something to be proud of.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film:

Movie Review: SILENCE, 5min, UK, Romance (2016)

Directed by Elena Brodach

The story of love that everyone dreams.

Seen at the July 2016 Under 5min. FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Movie Review by Kierston Drier

Music may well be the language of love. Perhaps that is the thesis of the charming, poignant piece short Silence by director Elena Brodach. Shot in one frame, with no cuts, no dialogue and only two characters, Brodach proves that less really is more. The emotional mastery of the piece is that it is able to produce such strong feelings with seemingly such little effort.

For a film with little in the way of story set-up, the story is very clear. An elderly couple sit in a completely empty theater, watching some sort of performance the viewer cannot see. They can however hear the beautiful orchestra music playing, interrupted only by the occasional squeal of one of the couple’s’ hearing aids going out. After a few moments of uncomfortable adjusting, the two simply lean their heads together and hear the music equally well out of a shared aid. Together, the music swells.

A film that encapsulates one beautiful moment shared between two people who love each other. The wonderment in this short film is that it strips away the youth from beauty. So often our society shows love in the hands of the young, the innocent, the beautiful. Yet Silence reminds us that love is not often falling to our knees in front of the object of our affection, grand romantic gestures or bouquets of flowers. Love is a series of simple gestures that translate to “you matter, I care, these moments are shared.” And Silence pays tribute to love after 30, after 40, after 80.

Silence is colorfully shot, the sound is gorgeously designed and the moment is simple and sweet. It may not win and Oscar, but it can win your heart.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film:

Short Film Movie Review: GREECE (Canada, 16min. Drama)

  MOVIE POSTERGREECE, 16min, Canada, Drama
Directed by Sarah Deakins

On a rainy afternoon in a British nursing home, a woman struggles to make a last connection with her seemingly catatonic mother.

“A tribute to the complicated relationships between parents and children with moving dialogue and expressions…A deeply personal journey with beautiful cinematography.”
– Best Shorts Competition

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of GREECE from the FEEDBACK Film Festival:

Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco:

This film hits near and dear to my heart. With many family members who have suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia, I am all too familiar with the struggles and frustrations the disease can cause on victims, family members, and caretakers alike. Sarah Deakins has done a fantastic job in portraying these struggles through an incredibly simple, yet equally powerful screenplay.

I suppose my personal experience with this illness creates an obvious bias towards this film, but it wasn’t so much the subject matter that drew me to this film so much as the way the subject matter was treated. I felt that Deakins did an exceptional job in portraying a very realistic, emotional scenario without dipping too far into cliché. It was all very believable, very clear, and very close to the reality of what families can experience when a loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

The performances contributed greatly to sharp sense of realness of the short. This is particularly surprising for a film supported almost entirely by a monologue from one of the characters. Deakin’s superimpositions of the fantasy images that are going through each of the character’s heads only magnify the already brilliant cinematography of Greece, luring you in further.

Greece is not an excessively dramatic film, though it speaks of quite a terrible tragedy. It doesn’t take you on a crazy emotional journey, but it still tugs, ever so gently, at your heart. It’s a warm cup of tea on a quiet, melancholy, cold day. It might make you tear up a bit, it might make you appreciate your parents or your grandparents more, it might bore you or not affect you at all. Still it’s worth a watch, a thoughtful, reflective watch, when you’re in the mood for some more serious pondering. If nothing else I hope it reminds you to enjoy your life and appreciate it for all it is and for all you can do within it, because one day you might not be able to anymore.

Movie Review: FAMILY ON BOARD (Award Winning Short Film) 2015

Family on Board played to rave reviews at the November 2015 FEEDBACK Film Festival. 

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video from the Festival:

Poetry by George Pogatsia

On his way to report to prison, Mike Petito reflects on his life and anticipates what lies ahead … that’s when catastrophe strikes.

Review of the Short Film by Amanda Lomonaco:

Family on Board encompasses so many different elements and genres that it seems almost impossible to put it all into a few reductive paragraphs. In fact I find it difficult to even fit it into one single genre. Despite all this confusion, or perhaps exactly because of it, most of the audience seemed to really enjoy it. Considering the ominous title and the manner in which the film ends I have a feeling that the mish-mash of genres was very much intentional to make the twist ending even sharper.

People’s reactions to this film seem to be largely dependent on how they interpreted the ending. Like many of the films shown at WILDSound, Family on Board ends quite ambiguously, leaving viewers to imagine for themselves how they believe the story ended. This became all the more evident during the  feedback session, where several audience members voiced a plethora of opinions about the end, that I would have never even considered.

Many people also seemed a bit taken aback by how the film begins. Some were put off by the intense violence depicted, others seemed to find the beginning weak, and the performance of the thieves to be unconvincing. I have the feeling this beginning also weighed heavily on how people imagined the films’ ending. With a film that has so many turns and shifts it’s hard to say which points actually influenced the audience’s reaction the most.

Although George Pogatsia goes through a lot of effort to convince us that the main character is a positive member of the community with nothing but good intentions, at times his benevolence seems a little forced or exaggerated. Despite the crime he committed and his ownership of a gun, the main character seems like the kindest and most caring person in the world, going out of his way to help every stranger that crosses his path. The need for this juxtaposition is understandable in order to attract audience sympathy, but it perhaps could have been carried out a little more subtly and had the same, if not a greater, impact. Nevertheless, the familiar famous faces scattered throughout the main character’s “benevolent” sequence do help distract from this exaggeration, if only a little.

Family on Board is definitely a film for lovers of crime dramas and unsolved mysteries. Certainly Tony Sirico’s presence is bound to bring a smile to many a lover of The Sopranos or Goodfellas. There’s a lot to absorb in this film, and it will take you through a bit of a roller-coaster, but who doesn’t love a good old fashioned roller-coaster ride?

Movie Review: TWISTED (Award Winning Short Film) 2015

TWISTER was awarded best cinematography at the November 2015 FEEDBACK Film Festival

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video from the Festival:

  MOVIE POSTERTWISTED, 14min, Australia, Drama/Thriller
Directed by James Hartley and James Shepherd

After a night with the girl of his dreams, Michael has a story to tell. And a favour to ask…

Review of the Short Film by Amanda Lomonaco:

Wow! Is any Australian film at the WILDSound Festival ever going to be bad? I never thought I would have a bias for flicks from the land down under, but I may have to reasses. I promise my preference for these films is in no way intentional. I’ll do my best to keep this one as balanced as possible.

To begin with, the title itself is the perfect definition of the film. The story is, in fact, incredibly twisted. From the very start you can feel something is a little bit off about the film. The shaky camera angle, the slightly unkempt boy in a school uniform coaxing you to do something you clearly don’t want to do. In fact, the very position of the camera is offputting; throughout the film the main character, Michael, addresses the camera directly as his school mate. This allows Jame Shepherd & James Hartley, the directors of Twisted to throw audience members directly into the world of the film, and creates a sense of complicity with Michael’s acts.

Despite all my bias and admiration, Twisted is obviously far from perfect. Since the film is carried almost entirely by the monologue and perspective of a single character, there are some inevitable points of monotony, which I’m not sure whether to blame on the writing, or on the acting. Neither element was poor, which is why it’s so difficult to pinpoint where exactly the film goes wrong at the few moment where it does.

One particular moment that pulled me out of the story abruptly was  when the film’s title was inserted into Michael’s monologue. I’ve never been a fan of playing with film titles inside the actual story, precisely because it removes me from the story world. In this instance the disruption is even more jarring as Michael’s repeated enunciation of the word “Twisted” gradually appears more forced and unnatural. This might have been more appropriately treated with some more complimentary camera movement, perhaps, but as it stands on its own I can’t say I appreciated it.

Regardless of this one instance, I loved this film, even with all its flaws. Some of my reason for this bias towards the Aussies may just be their propensity towards making slightly disturbing and… well… twisted films, which I have already been vocal about preferring. With that said, it would probably be advisable to stay away from this film if horror and suspense aren’t really your genre of choice. For all the rest of you, add this to your bucket list, for sure.

Movie Review of the short poetry film “Hammer”

“Hammer” played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival, part of its October 2015 best of horror/thriller short films from around the word event. 

First off, watch the Poetry Film NOW:

Read Movie Review of HAMMER by Amanda Lomonaco:

While Hammer lacked a lot of the excitement and action that went along with the other films of the night, I still can’t deny how interesting the concept was. Like all experimental films, there will probably be a strong love/hate split between anyone who see sthis film, but I’ve always been a big proponent of experimental filmmaking.

Pushing the boundaries of any medium is incredibly important to highlighting and understanding its limitations, as well as helping us understand our own psyche. That might seem like a bit of a snobbish reason to justify experimental films, which can be pretty snobbish themselves sometimes, but its something many people don’t consider. Our reactions to new things can teach us a lot about ourselves, and about those around us, so it can be fun sometimes to give these films a try.

The poem that is narrated in Hammer is beautiful and original on its own; taking the perspective of a murder weapon as the narrator. The pictures that acompany the narration, superimposed, blurry, and dark, help emphasize the eeriness of the words. The closeups, forced perspective, and lack of clarity of the images also highlight the narrator’s perspective as an object, rather than a living thing. The merger between both mediums enhances both mediums equally, and puts you in an interesting space, both as an audience member, and as a listener, or reader.

Here is where I admit my massive bias; I am a Halloween freak. I love horror films, gore, SPFX make-up, dressing up, getting scared, gorging on candy, all of it. Naturally, I would always be more inclined to like this kind of film, regardless of the subject matter. Of course not ALL horror films pass the test, but the uniqueness of this one stood out to me. I wouldn’t recommend this film to everyone, but if you’re a fan of the gothic, Poe, melancholic style of horror, you’ll definitely appreciate this one.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of HAMMER:

Movie Review of the short film “Redemption”

“Redemption” is a thriller/prison drama that played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival, part of it’s best of horror/thriller short films event in October 2015. 

REDEMPTION, Australia, 7min, Thriller/Prison
Directed by Tom Vogel

A man in jail finds God and asks his son for forgiveness but is karma about to catch up with him before he can seek redemption.

Read the movie review of REDEMPTION by Amanda Lomonaco

One more point scored by the Aussies for proving that simple stage design, just a few characters, and not much equipment can still make for a good horror film. What’s more – they didn’t even pull out the fake blood! You could argue that the very fact that the cheapness of the production was noticeable makes it a bad film, but I guarantee you many a Blair Witch fan would disagree.

Most of the shots in this film were quite tight, and close-up.The wider two shots were mostly in dark spaces, where little to no background could be seen. This really drew a lot of focus on the acting, which definitely lived up to expectations. It’s a gamble to bank so much of your film on the actors themselves, but I would say Tom Vogel made some good casting calls in this case.

Vogel could have done just a tad better in the make-up department, though. Giving his main, most vicious character, what looked very obviously like a stamp-on temporary tattoo on the neck distracted a little from that character’s brutality. Everything else about the film compensates for this minor mishap, however. Particularly when that same character proceeds to kill someone in an incredibly aggressive and violent manner.

Once again the implication of violence proves more effective than the use of violence itself. It might have begun a little slowly, but Redemption‘s pace picked up quickly enough to not leave you bored or confused for too long. The finale was definitely a very satisfying climax for those of us who love vengeful justice (whether we admit to it or not). I would call this one a good film for cathartic viewing.

Movie Review of the short film “Blood Tower Enigma”

“Blood Tower Enigma” played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2015, part of its best of horror/thriller short film lineup.

BELL TOWER ENIGMA, 10min, UK, Horror/Mystery
Directed by Daniel Reimer

The every-day routine of a Sexton is suddenly interrupted, when a mysterious phone ringing not only draws him deeper into the church, but also into hidden memories of his mind. As he follows the calling of his conscience he unveils his past and discovers the path of redemption that he ultimately must go in order to escape his torturing nightmares.

BELL TOWER ENIGMA Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco

I have to be honest, my first reaction to this one was a big fat NO. It was odd, disjointed, and a little too artsy for my taste. But weirdly, as I recollect it, I find myself smiling at some of the imagery depicted by Reimer (no, not THAT Reimer, I mean the director).

Something about the architecture of old gothic style churches makes them the perfect setting for any thriller. Being equal parts beautiful and ominous, they lure us in and but somehow still keep us on our toes and make the hairs at the back of our neck stand on end. I like to think that it was this very knowledge that led Daniel Reimer to chose a church as his prime location for this film.

By blurring the lines of continuity, and using a blend of surreal images, Bell Tower Engima comes across as more of a distrubing nightmare than a realistic story, perfect for any horror film lover. When the cinema lights come back on you’re not quite sure what it is you’ve just experienced, but there are certainly a couple of prickles on your skin, much like waking up from a scary dream. Perhaps Nightmare on Elm Street could have learned a thing or two from this short.

I can’t declare that Bell Tower Enigma is amazing, or that I even managed to grasp its full meaning, but there is something to be said about a film that unexpectedly causes you to smile as you recall it. Those of you who enjoy a gentle feeling of disturbance to go along with your films should certainly give it a try. On the other hand I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for those of you who need blood and guts in your horror films.


Short Film Movie Review: REINVENTING THE REEL

by Amanda Lomonaco

Review of the short film
Played at the September 2015 WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Reinventing the Reel covers some very interesting and topical subject matter, relating to the portrayal of homosexuality in film and television. With so many global progressive moves towards the legalization of gay marriage, and global acceptance of homosexuality, it’s easy to see the importance of this film in today’s world. You would think that with such an interesting and important subject matter the filmmaker would be able to do so much more with it, but I found this film fell short in a few different ways.

While Reinventing the Reel goes a long way towards describing all the different ways in which homosexuality is wrongly portrayed in film, it fails to provide a solution to how it could be better portrayed. For the most part the film seems to simply support the idea of more homosexual main characters, and more homosexual filmmakers in general. While there is nothing wrong with this concept, it’s a little incomplete as a solution, because it doesn’t analyze the numerous positive and normative ways that homosexuals could be portrayed in film.

Moreover, although this film is largely about the film industry, the filmmaker limits his audience by focusing too much on film industry creators. It gives a brief statistical analysis of the popularity of some kickstarter campaigns that focused on the transgendered, and homosexual community, but there is little communication with the every day spectator. As important as it is for Hollywood and bigger commercial studios to make more homonormative films, it’s equally as important for audience members to accept this emergence.

The documentary genre is always a difficult one to tackle, and there is always a lot more that could be done and said to raise awareness to different issues. Reinventing the Reel manages to provide high quality intrviews, with very prominent and important industry members to convey an important message. I may have focused a little harshly on the flaws of the film, but I still believe it’s an important one to watch. For many of us, the media is our window into different cultures, worlds, and ways of thinking, and if we never allow the “different” to actually appear in that window, we’re just lying to ourselves about what “normal” really is.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of REINVENTING THE REEL:

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