Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"The Sierra" Review

A sexy game of hide and seek through the mountain snow takes a dangerous turn when a gang of mounted white men rides through Indian Territory. Now one man is out for revenge against those who took his beloved.

Throughout “The Sierra,” everyone is hunted. The man hunts the woman. The white men hunt each other. The Indian hunts them all. In this deadly game, two natural enemies end up unwittingly on the same side. But in the untamed wilds of the West, the enemy of an enemy may not stay a friend even long enough to let the gun smoke settle.

Powerfully photographed and with a dead-on soundtrack, “The Sierra” is both tender and action packed. The use of the native language of the characters lent a special touch of realism to the film. There was a strong sense of vision to the piece, thanks to director Alano Massi, which comes across beautifully. In the end we see that two men from very different backgrounds can become united by the life and death struggles common to us all. Kalani Queypo gives a vulnerable performance. "The Sierra" is one short film that's not to be missed.

Layabouts, "Corrupted Scene Behind the Stage" Review

Spanish rock band, Layabouts, serves up a raw track with top 40-style in this music video for their song, “Corrupted Scene Behind the Stage.” With creepy use of colors and imagery, this video’s sense of duality is as driving as the beat.

The duality of an individual is a frequent theme in rock music. Here, director Ivan Mena Tinoco focuses on the interplay between the refined and the raw, presenting those two sides of each band member as existing simultaneously yet independently of each other. Water is the common thread throughout the video, appearing either explicitly or implicitly whenever these two sides of the self appear together. Its presence almost seems to suggest that there is something elemental yet fluid to what connects these two halves of the whole, something necessary yet illusive.

Though a Spanish band, the Layabouts, "Corrupted Scene Behind the Stage," has a very American vibe. With a strong musical and visual presence, this music video piques one's interest not only in the music of the Layabouts band, but also in the other work of director Ivan Mena Tinoco.

"Man's Best Friend" Review

Some guys spend too much time with their friends. Some guys spend way too much time with their friends. And when your man’s best friend lives with you, what’s a girl to do?

James’s relationship with the family dog, Zero (Sawyer), has gotten much too close since the dog saved him from a near explosion. It’s driving Diane (Pia Miranda) crazy. She and James (Brett Williams) are trying to have a baby, but all their romantic moments seem to be interrupted by their fluffy roommate. Even an amorous dinner loses its intimacy when there’s 50lbs. of hair and drool sitting next to you at the dinner table. Diane’s had enough. It’s her or the dog. But will Diane’s feelings about Zero change after a series of unforeseeable events that transform their lives forever?

Director Luke Eve delivers a good quality, loony comedy short about the true nature of friendship. “Man’s Best Friend” teaches that the ones we love are never really gone. Williams and Miranda have sterling chemistry as they depict the ups and downs of a believable long-term relationship. This Australian short comedy has a punch line that needs to be seen to be believed!

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Porn Guide" Review

The perfect mockumentary is all about the perfect imitation. Mockumentaries are, after all, imitations of documentaries. The more closely a mock resembles the thing it’s mocking, the more effective the mock arguably is. The trick is finding the humor inherent in the form (original) so as to exaggerate it in the shadow (mock). If this is the case, then “Porn Guide” is a brilliant mock.

Drawing out the inherent ridiculousness of 1970s film making, “Porn Guide” takes viewers on an abbreviated tutorial on making your very own porno film. Fashion, graphics, color, and shot angles are all near perfect imitations of their form, the 70s doc. Even the terrible acting was dead on. Louisa Lanewood as Pauline Flowers was a hoot. Mickey Diamond (Nicholas Brendon) was leachy in all the right places, especially as he plays the bongos. Who told him men could wear those shorts?

Those looking for a little cheap titillation won’t be disappointed either. The title of this film writes a check that writer/director Dick Thompson wasn’t afraid to cash. This film is a ‘porn guide’ giving tips and tricks all along the way that would be helpful if it weren’t impossible to take them seriously. And, as a famous porn producer once said, one can’t make a film about porn without some nudity. It just won’t be realistic. Porn guide delivers plenty, but with lighthearted flair. Sexy and silly, “Porn Guide” is, quite simply, really well done.

"The Shoes Maketh the Man" Review

The world has it in for Alesandro’s shoes. At least that’s how it seems. He’s on his way to an extremely important business meeting, but every time he turns around something threatens the safety of his expensive, immaculate footwear. He wants to make the perfect impression for a rich potential client. His suit is perfect, his hair is perfect, his briefcase perfect, but his shoes. His shoes! At this rate, Alesandro will be lucky if he makes it to the meeting with any shoes at all!

This comedic short from writer/director Tarek Sursock is a series of misadventures with a moral: One minute you’re on top, the next you’re not. In the end, what’s on the inside is always more important than what’s on the outside. Pasquale Cassalia play a wonderfully arrogant young businessman. You can’t help but sympathize with his string of bad luck, but who doesn’t like to see the cock of the walk get his feathers ruffled now and then?

"April" Review

Films about the joys and challenges of raising zombie children are rare, but have been on the rise in recent years. Few, however, capture the struggles of the child with as much poignancy as comedy mock short “April.”

Found wandering the woods by a young couple, April (Kallie Kerns) was immediately adopted. It was their goal to assimilate her into society by home-schooling her until they felt she was ready to attend a public high school. The other students, however, were not so ready to have a deceased classmate. There was the smell, for one thing, her difficult movements and her highly unusual diet. She struggles with all the typical issues that can make zombie kids magnets for ridicule.

But April won’t be deterred. She is determined to do well in high school, to fit in. But when one practical joke goes too far, there are doubts about whether or not April will ever be able to live in a world so unfeeling toward the “pulse impaired.” The comedy film “April” wonderfully captures the profound sense of isolation of someone trying to fit in who is fundamentally different.

What is this allure the undead have for the living? We want to love them, care for them, be scared by them. Perhaps it’s our own desire to have what they have, to never die. Perhaps we relate to them, feeling out if place in the world of the living. Whatever the reason, writer/director Mike Piccirillo understands our fascination and our need. He has a good sense of comedy as well as a deep understanding of what it is to be lonely. Kallie Kerns captures April’s range of emotion beautifully, letting the soul shine through her monstrous exterior. A deft and detail oriented performance... for a zombie.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Beast of Bottomless Lake Review

From the first bubbly graphics to the last burst of flame, The Beast of Bottomless Lake is one mockumentary that’s well worth the time.

Professor Paul Moran’s search for the Ogopogo lake monster is pointless. His dean knows it. That’s why she’s denying him tenure just as soon as he gets back from his stupid monster hunting trip with his mish-mash of colleagues. From the British weirdo who talks to his equipment to the hippie professor who encourages species conservation with “extreme prejudice,” there’s not a normal in the bunch.

The expedition gets off to a great start, until they try to leave the parking lot. Then things get rolling… until Dean Baxter cancels their hotel reservation and the entire team is forced to bunk down with Paul’s parents. Paul (David Nykl) starts reverting to a childlike state, which doesn’t help matters. But then things really start going well, until their first monster sighting turns out to be a log and the police confiscate their van and all their equipment.

Basically, nothing’s going well for Paul and his team. But after a while, one has to wonder, is all this mayhem just because Paul’s an idiot? Or is something else going on? Something sinister?

Good plots are all about tension, and co-writer/director Craig March makes sure “The Beast of Bottomless Lake” is full of it. From the tension between the characters to the endless questions, the audience wants to know what will happen next: Will Paul find the monster? What could possibly go wrong now? Will Paul’s poor dad ever get to help? Good acting, great script, and fresh camera work that keeps the story moving.

"Obama Nation" Review

Duh, duhh, ma na bah obahh, oo baamaa…. Obama (shaking head). Sorry about that. The hot chick from music video “Obama Nation” temporarily paralyzed my vocal chords. Something on my chin? No, that’s not drool. Just give me a sec…. (napkin wipe).

There! Now I’m ready to write a review of “Obama Nation,” an indie music video with a controversial message. (Maybe I just did.) How can you say anything bad about a film with a hot chick in a U.S.S.R. costume marching back and forth across the screen? I’m still having trouble seeing straight. It almost made me want to say, “Give Communism a chance!”

Of course that’s not the intend of the film’s creator, writer/director John T. Williams. His satirical approach to a propaganda film left no doubt about what side of the fence he’s on… Well, maybe. The film was so extreme and ridiculous, he could perhaps be satirizing satire itself. If he is, that man is way too deep for me!

Here’s the long and the short of it: “Obama Nation” was well done, fun and funny. A definite blow for freedom no matter what you believe, especially if you believe in the freedom of hot girls to wear whatever they want. “Down with oppression! Up with mini-skirts!” Kitten Marie Clayman, my hat (and coat and shoes) are off to you!

This film might be ridiculous, but there’s a message: What’s truly ridiculous is being called un-American just for saying what you believe. In a beautiful and distant future, all political discourse will be exactly like “Obama Nation.”

"A Track Shun" Review

"A Track Shun," sounds like "attrac-tion." The opening scene of this comedic short is a guy jogging on a track in the park, so one might assume the film will follow two people who fall in love on a jogging track. Well, that's almost right, as in they almost fall in love. They even almost get to know each other. This messed up jog is no walk in the park!

Writer/Driector Brian Maillard delivers an over the top funny film that pokes fun at all the reasons we fall in love, all the myths and superstitions we believe about finding that special person, all the while ignoring reason and common sense. "A Track Shun" examines how people will set aside their better judgment to stay together, but yet let the stupidest stuff pull them apart. As actors, Brian Maillard and Brantley Aufill start silly, keep it unexpected and finish strong. This film is simple, unexpected, and really funny. A great watch.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Commercial Free TV" Review

So, you've got a script to sell. You need a pitch, something to quickly orient people to your plot, theme, and genre. Try comparing your script to known films, like this: "My movie will be like Star Wars crossed with Weekend at Bernie's," or "Think Fight Club meets Lord of the Rings." See? Simple.

In the comedy short, "Commercial Free TV," writer/director Barrett Windish presents four commercial parodies, all of which so closely resemble the commercials they mock, the audience can practically write Windish's pitches for him. One smacks of a Dr. Scholls Gel Insoles ad, but it's twisted and so very wrong. Another, also the product of a deviant mind, is the sort of daytime commercial one would expect to be shilling a new toy or cleaning gadget, but it... doesn't.

With local access style and SNL humor, all "Commercial Free TV" commercials run the gambit from just gross to outright vulgar and offensive. All told, however, "Commercial Free TV" is funny, strongly recommended for those who enjoy South Park, Reno 911, and any sketch comedy that goes just a little too far. Good quality, good script, good acting. Ronald Clarkson and Barrett Windish give expert performances as the commercial announcers, and Carol Brotman has a couple of wacky appearances.

Fun. But not for the whole family.

"Project Life" Review

"Project Life" is a short comedic mock with a simple goal, to unify the world's religions... by destroying them all at once.

Here's a little of the doctrine from this new, one-true religion: Life is a movie, which we've all suspected for quite some time. What we could have never guessed, however, is exactly who is behind the scenes. God is there; that's an easy one. He is, of course, the top man at Universe Studios. Jesus works there too. So does Buddha, John Smith, Satan, L. Ron Hubbard, Abraham, Kali, "Moe," and the Geico Caveman. All just crew members on the movie set. They're trying to make a good movie on this sound stage of the cosmos. And they're failing.

For those who feel confused sometimes, "Project Life" answers the big questions, like "Why are the world's religions so fractured?" "Why is God so conspicuously absent?" and "How did the world go so freaking wrong anyway?" Co-writer/Director Jason Paul answers all these questions and more in a neat fifteen minutes. Though this short is filled with hilarious religious irreverence, it is ultimately Hollywood, not religion, that gets the most char from this fun-filled roast.

"The Fast Foodie" Review

"The Fast Foodie," a dramatic mockumentary short, opens like a true crime news report, but the whole time Jerry Duppa (Hannes Phinney), a fast food blogger, talks about drive thru chow with the attention to detail of a Michelin chef.

Though at first his love of fast food and dedication to his blog are apparent (almost admirable in a to-each-his-own kind of way), a sense of loneliness wafts into the film like a toxic mist. But the loneliness of one man in his car going from drive thru to drive thru is nothing to the lurking danger when the audience finds out that Jerry has health problems. His doctor-ordered switch to diet soda and no fries doesn't stick for long. As Jerry says, "I gotta be me."

It is at once heroic and pathetic how, for better or worse, Jerry embraces his chosen diet. He is a trash food connoisseur, a true believer. This hands-off examination of the modern diet and medical consequences lets the lifestyle speak for itself. Far from riveting, there are no dramatic consequences, just creeping bad health and the deteriorating life quality of living in and out of drive thrus, one's only interaction a brief exchange of money for food.

Co-writer/director Mathew Bardocz paints an unnervingly accurate picture of a culture of isolation and instant gratification, a grim culture in which egocentric motivation and too-little-too-late action could slowly kill us all. Worst of all, watching this film exposes audiences to the very real danger that upon leaving they will crave zucchini fries.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Hands Solo" Review

Ever hear that old saying, 'you lose one sense and the others grow stronger?' Well, apparently that’s what happened to porn star, Hands Solo (Matt Kirby). Born deaf, he spent his whole life communicating through the use of sign language. What he lost in hearing however, he made up in wicked cool finger dexterity. His ability to bring orgasms at the rate of thousands per minute has made him a big star in porn.

There is one thing those incredible fingers can’t do, however, and that’s bring back the love of his life. With great power comes great orgasmablility, and when Hands loses control of himself on set it has tragic consequences. In the wake of the accident, Hands is left wondering who he can trust.

This UK short from director William Mager has all the ingredients for a successful mock, good overall quality, a fun cast, ridiculous script. Some sweet graphics and scientific mumbo jumbo round out the documentary feel every mock strives for. Nicola Stapleton was particularly fun to watch in her vivacious portrayal of a good-natured porn star. Perhaps the only piece of real criticism for this film is in the writing. With all the other pieces in place, the jokes could have hit harder and from more unusual directions. The set up was very deliberate, and more of a spontaneous feel would have better kept the audience on its toes. At the end of the day, “Hands Solo” is a textbook mock short that never lets its guard down. It stays strong right to the end.

"Special Needs" Review

Some people aren’t like you and me. Some people have “Special Needs.” But being different is hard, so people often try to cover up ways they’re ‘different’ from others. Maybe you have a secret you don’t want to share. Maybe someone you know has “Special Needs” - your friend, your cousin, your mother or father, even your husband or wife! The shock could be terrible.

That’s exactly what happens to one couple in comedic short, “Special Needs” when an innocent night watching movies at home gets personal. They discover things they never knew about each other, about their ‘needs,’ and they have to cope with realizing that perhaps they didn’t know each other as well as they thought they did.

The results are freaking hilarious. Co-writers Emily Wilson and Brad Morris, who also portray the married couple in the film, navigate the twists and turns of their screwed up script beautifully, delivering laugh out loud moments that at the same time make you feel ashamed of yourself. Props also to director Scott Smith for bringing it all together.

So, what would happen if you discovered someone you loved had “Special Needs?” The shock could be terrible. Or maybe you’ll find out you’re not as alone as you think you are…

…on second thought, maybe it’ll just be creepy.

Edimmu Review

Eva (Eva Schran) is hosting a travel documentary about Jordan, a country of relative calm and safety in the very center of the war-torn Middle East. She swims, dances, and gets pampered at spas that rival those in the west, exploring castles and caves, walking through thousands of years of history. The minute the cameras shut off, however, Eva is haunted.

The perky, carefree travel host unravels and very soon whether the camera is on or off makes no difference anymore.
Is Jordan's dark history catching up to her, thousands of souls of the violently dead passing on their torment? Or is there just something very wrong with Eva?

Edimmu is a deadly serious foray into a world no foreigner can or should truely understand, one of hateful desert spirits. The imagery of the dirt, mud and sand, of Eva always looking under her bed, conjure images of something buried, dead or lost, that refuses to stay gone. Schizophrenic and disturbing, Edimmu is a brilliantly acted and superbly real masterpiece of foreign suspense/horror.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Silverlake Video the movie Review

Ben is one sentimental shmuck with a rapidly mounting list of problems. He’s the owner of a small video store, and today is his last day in business. At midnight tonight, Ben will be evicted. He works in a colorful neighborhood populated by wacky idiots and troublemakers who make Ben’s life impossible, but he loves each and every one of them. Though he knows he’s a dinosaur in a dying industry, he can’t imagine life without his customers. Overzealous cops, wannabe actors, and basket cases a plenty are all brushstrokes on the vast canvas of Silverlake Video.

This wild, entertaining comedy feature delivers rapid fire jokes with finely tuned comedic timing. Ben (Sean King) is a lovable lead, emotionally available and terribly unlucky. His endless patience for the people around him, even in his own desperate circumstances, really makes him the kind of guy you want to see get a good break. He’s pretty much this film’s only straight man. Writer/director Matteo Ribaudo seems to have a knack for capturing every actor at his most ridiculous.

With a clever balance of the raunchy and schmaltzy, “Silverlake Video the movie” is like a whore with a heart of gold. She might not be pretty, or clean, but in the end you know you’ll end up rooting for her. And there’s a moral to this story! Did not see that one coming…

“Waiting for Goldblum” Review

When actor Jeff Goldblum is late to teach a senior workshop at the acting academy he co-founded, the local media picks up the story, reporting it as an altercation with a potential hostage/murder situation. On the streets outside the acting academy, the press interviews academy students and passers-by about what has happened to Jeff Goldblum. The press plants and insinuates more than it is actually able to confirm, and in the end manages to whip the growing crowd into a sobbing frenzy.

Inside the academy, a tragic accident involving one of the acting students causes his scene partner to crack under the intense strain of interpreting an entirely new scenario: reality. ’Working with’ such potent material quickly drives the young actor into a crazed euphoria, which only fuels the confusion, both inside and outside the academy. Wild rumors build on top of wilder accusations until the fury outside matches the madness within.

“Waiting for Goldblum,” comedy short from writer/director Holly Gagnier, shows two groups of people, both claiming to want the truth. However, as one group is getting more and more wrapped up in sensationalized accounts and fantasy, the other is trying desperately to break the spell of make believe and bring their ordeal back down to Earth. Some funny lines and a cast of petty, self absorbed characters makes “Waiting for Goldblum” a disturbing and thought provoking watch for anyone, God help them, who’s ever spent time around actors.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

“Jackpot: The Price of Wealth” Review

Winning the lottery can have a huge effect on a young man, but what will that be? The crew of TV’s “Jackpot” wants to know. So they’re following around Jeff (Dillon Oleata), recent multimillion-dollar winner, and his three best friends as they live their lives post-lottery. At first Willy (Edward Walton), Quinten (Alex Liddy), and Angelo (Kylen Deporter) see the upside to their friend’s good fortune. He can pay when they all go out, make up for his mistakes, and reward them for doing what he wants. Things sour when Jeff and the others learn that money can’t buy everything.

This comedy short delivers in one big way. It’s actually funny. From director Dillon Oleata, “Jackpot: The Price of Wealth” never takes itself too seriously. These low-budget filmmakers work within their limitations and as a result the film does too. The actors were fresh. The boys’ naiveté in the face their friend’s increasingly sadistic demands is reminiscent at times of “Jackass,” making one wonder if the film’s title might not be an allusion.

Over all this short was cute and well done. There was one scene, however, that did more harm to the film than good, the computer-breaking scene. Here’s why: Since this scene supposedly took place after Jeff won the lottery, seeing him walk into an common, everyday house broke the illusion, an illusion that took several minutes of screen time to recover. In an eleven-minute film, and so close to the beginning, this was one stumble the film can’t afford to make.

Instead perhaps prepare the audience. Since the presence of the camera crew is acknowledged in the film, Jeff could preface the scene for the audience. As he’s walking up his friend’s lawn, he could say something like, “This is my friend __’s house. He’s not rich, so it’s kind of shitty, but we’re meeting the guys here.” He could then pause at the door to put on his stupid had, really draw attention to his 80’s chic ensemble. The bottom line is that this film is much better done, over all, than the start of the computer-breaking scene lets on. Having a second for Jeff to set audience expectations about the setting and work his charm on the audience could fix all that, raising the overall film quality by a solid half star.

"Billy Baxter and The Mystery of Dr. Amazo" Review

The term MTV generation has come to imply quick cuts and flashy shots meant to appeal to today’s attention-bereft media consumers, people typically seen as over-connected adrenaline junkies. They crave thrill after thrill, so we’re told, in order to sustain their spongy minds, which due to modern living now more closely resemble black holes than gray matter. A lot goes in and nothing comes out, or so the people who make our movies seem to believe of us.

But that is simply not the case, as writer/director Patrick Flaherty proves. No matter the generation people are people, and there is always a place in our hearts for a really good story, as in the film “Billy Baxter and The Mystery of Dr. Amazo.”

Set in the times before honesty in advertising was under governmental regulation, back when a quarter and stamp could get you x-ray glasses, this film asks a simple question: What if the glasses worked? What if every wild promise in the comic book ads was true? Welcome to the world of Billy Baxter!

Few films now a days really spend time developing setting, acquainting the audience with the film’s unique world, but that is not so in the world of Dr. Amazo. Set around the 1950’s, a time when science seemed able to dissolve any boundary, we meet an intrepid young boy with a garage full of send away science toys. All by himself in his garage one rainy night, we get to know Billy Baxter (Jackie Olson), and watch as he discovers all the wonders of Dr. Amazo’s products for kids. Tension builds simply in this piece as one invention at a time, the audience beings to get the sneaking feeling that with so much power in the hands of one little boy, something is bound to go terribly wrong.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"The Gospel According to Matthew" Review

Out of a hunter orange car covered in question marks steps a man in a white suit, also covered in question marks. Mysterious? Not at all. You already know this guy. It’s Matthew Lesko, the man we’ve all seen on TV selling books about government grants. Ever wonder about the man behind the question marks? Most of us probably haven’t, but “The Gospel According to Matthew” is a fascinating case study in entrepreneurial innovation.

It’s a simple equation: We pay taxes. The government uses that money for things we all need and want, like roads and important social programs. No one agrees with every way government money is spent, but Matthew Lesko shows us that there is probably at least one program out there we will like, programs that encourage American citizens to make their lives better, more productive.

Matthew Lesko has made this knowledge mainstream, but not without difficulty. Of the over 100 books he’s written, only 10 have been great sellers. People often judge him for his flamboyant clothing. He’s even been called an f***ing communist bastard (to his face… by strangers… on the street). But nothing can dampen his enthusiasm for one thing, the power of dreams.

This short film a study in business, in social psychology, and in uncompromising individualism. With a collection of lovely interviews, old photos, TV spots, and a behind the scenes footage, director Sofian Khan paints a portrait of a very unique, very American dreamer.

"UnderCover" Review

Nada Assad wants to be an effective detective, but the dudes on the police force don’t understand what’s it’s like for her working with them. No, not because she’s a woman in a man’s world. She’s a Muslim in a world where people work on Fridays, don’t pray at work, eat pork, and don’t wear clothes that could get caught in heavy machinery. A world that’s not always sensitive to her beliefs and, in fact, barely understands them.

When Nada (Aline Elasmar) and her bungling partner (Mark Odlum) get assigned to the case of the missing pig, she gets the chance to prove she doesn’t have to compromise what she believes to be a good cop. Her religion even turns out to be an asset, the key to helping her solve the case. Maybe she’ll finally make detective!

“UnderCover” is a ridiculous and heart-felt film. The quality of the shots is warm, the soundtrack quirky, and the cast well chosen. Director Iman K. Zawahry delicately blends the sacred with the irreverent so that the film’s message of tolerance is never preachy. A family friendly tale about accepting people for who they are on the inside rather than what they wear on the outside.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"William Carlos Williams: Poet and Gyno" Review

In 1950, poet William Carlos Williams gave a reading at UCLA. 60 years later, Director Adrian Garcia adapted a chunk of that reading into a one-minute animated short about gynecology. Charming drawings and spot on comedic timing highlight the hidden poetry, so to speak, of this ill-fated audio clip.

This seems to be an interesting case of found film, almost akin to the poetic concept of found poetry, and hearkens back to the Saturday Night Live, TV Funhouse: Fun with Real Audio. Though the topic is a bit blue, this short is not. There is an odd dignity to the plot, an older doctor teaching a younger one about the practice of feminine medicine in the voice of William Carlos Williams.

We can learn a little something from this film. Sometimes it’s less about what’s being said and more about saying it with authority. That is what can truly set the tone for a situation.

"Heels to the Pavement" Review

It can be tempting, when you have a really great idea, to try to make it into a feature film. You’ll tack on extra characters and subplots and digressions until your idea is stretched so thin it’s not really a good idea any more. What a shame. “Heels to the Pavement” does not make that mistake. This mockumentary takes a good idea, quirky power walkers, and develops it into an entertaining short film.

Nerdy Peter wants to be a power walker. Hard-driving Deb is a power walker. Howard is a legendary power walker. People tell him all the time, he is definitely a legend in his own eyes. They’re all competing in the town power walk in the spring, but it’ll take a lot of training to be the champion. When Howard decides to take Peter under his wing, teach him the ways of the champion, it’s hard to tell who’s getting the better deal, terrified Peter or loud mouth Howard. All the while Deb, icy and focused, strives to take them both down. When the day of the walk comes, however, something unexpected happens.

Director Zachary Mattson catches moments of organic interaction between the characters to make the most of his script. Every scene is cute and adds something substantial to the story. Even Deb’s foray to The Big City for training doesn’t seem like a huge rabbit trail. It was quick, visual, and cracked a few good jokes. What could have been a time waster was actually fun. “Heels to the Pavement” is a textbook comedic mock with a lot to offer.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Mondo Penguin" Review

There is a certain confidence about a film that gets in and out quickly. It conveys to the audience that a film has done its job and doesn't have to stick around to belabor the point or make up for flaws the filmmakers can only recognize as a vague paranoia lurking just below the film's surface.

"Mondo Penguin" comes in strong with attention grabbing penguins. It cites the recent popularity of the birds in film, then seeks to draw our attention to the deeper, more prevalent presence of penguins throughout the history of film, including many indie flicks of today. It seems that penguins have for some time been insightful, disturbed filmmakers who's stark vision was shaped by a world where one's cradle is a frozen wasteland.

Humorous and satirical, Vincent Gargiulo's "Monto Penguin" pokes fun at activists and filmmakers alike. Like any good mock, Gargiulo takes just enough from reality so as to get a person thinking, "Hey, that almost makes sense... Wait, no it doesn't. Penguins don't have thumbs." But in this very short short, a riveting narrator and an immaculate cornucopia of B-roll footage smack of professionalism and, dare I say, realism.

My only suggestion is this: It is hard to be interviewed. Let me rephrase. It's hard for good actors to be interviewed. There's something about sitting still and talking like a normal person that seems to confound actors that are otherwise very effective. Most of them invariably try too hard, as do the actors in "Mondo Penguin," though not to the point of great detriment.

Intricately done and surprising, this film is worth seeing, and, at less than five minutes in length, very well worth the time.

"With Anchovies, Without Mamma" Review

In the beginning, I didn't know if I was supposed to laugh at this film or if I was about to witness the disturbing coming apart of a human mind. "With Anchovies, Without Mamma" is a dark mockumentary short that boasts high quality and strong actors from start to finish. Clever use of B-roll and expert shot composition create a deeply sensory film experience. The well defined identity in the composition of the shots creates a strong sense of atmosphere.

The delivery boy, played by Adam Scarimbolo, gives a real and vulnerable performance. Joli Tribuzio, who portrayed counter girl, Danni Danunzio, was fresh faced and sweet. Much luck to her in her career, as I'd like to see her talent again. At times these seemingly simple pizzeria workers waxed a little more philosophical than one would expect, but the sincerity of their portrayals made it believable.

To say that a story unravels is a cliche, but one that definitely applies to "With Anchovies, Without Mamma." This story existed, it seems, before the film was made. The film simply picked the story apart, revealing it piece by piece, until the whole fabric of the story was revealed. Not many films can achieve this level of expertise in creating and maintaining the sense of an alternative reality.

Many indie filmmakers are hobbyists or, much worse, fans playing at film. Writer/director, Thomas Justino, on the other hand, is a filmma
ker. Every piece of B-roll had an artistic tone. "With Anchovies, Without Mamma," is weird; it's well done, poetic, tragic.