Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Goodnight Burbank" Review

As a voracious comedy junkie, I am always on the look out for something to make me laugh. “Goodnight Burbank” had me right out of the gate. This fast paced, sitcom length, web series was recently picked up by HDNet, and no wonder. Every episode gets screwier and screwier (What kind of person thinks eating a flock of wedding swans is recycling?).

“Goodnight Burbank” follows unlucky news anchor Gordon Winston-Smythe (Hayden Black) and his quirky co-workers as he tries desperately to get out of the crappy green screen garage where small-time local news show, “Goodnight Burbank” is filmed. Gordon just wants to be a serious newsman, but his every attempt to be taken seriously is thwarted by falling stage hands, a demon child, and a PETA terrorist.

All that is behind good old Gordon now! The latest episode of “Goodnight Burbank” finds our hero on the verge of seeing his dream come true. He is about to get the coveted anchor position on the hot new show, “Burbank Confidential!” All he has to do is keep it together in front of his new boss for one last “Goodnight Burbank” broadcast. But does anything ever go that easily for Gordon Winston-Smythe? His zealotous co-anchor, Whitney Applebee (Laura Silverman), has finally gone completely around the bend (a lot more than usual this time), sexual harassment is afoot, and the set is overrun with grieving Eastern Europeans.

This fast-paced new comedy just keeps getting funnier, like rewind that scene and watch it over and over funnier. Dominic Monaghan, Miracle Laurie, Camden Toy, and America Young round out this hilarious and well-balanced comedic team. “Goodnight Burbank” a serious must-see for anyone who knows how to laugh.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Gitchy" Review

David is losing his mind. At least that’s what his psychiatrist, his sister, and pretty much everyone else thinks. Wouldn’t you have to question your sanity too if you were plagued by visions of the clown who killed your parents? But David (Michael J. Brown) is sure he’s right. He’s obsessed with Gitchy, who he believes murdered his mom and dad. His sister, Kimberly (Stefanny Ceno), is determined to help her brother through his odd grieving process while still managing her own loss. If Gitchy gets his way, however, they won’t be grieving for long. Very soon they’ll be laughing themselves to death!

As the plot unfolds, David’s need to repeatedly draw pictures of Gitchy the clown not only gives the story focus but also allows the directors, Thomas Norman and Lenny Riviera, to highlight some really cool artwork. The various devices and methods of Gitchy’s serial ticklings were… creative? Creepy, that’s the word. Daring fetish overtones (feet, feather dusters, tickling in general) made Gitchy even more bizarre. “He loves to touch?” Yeck!

When evaluating a film on its own merits, one must ask if the film did what it came to do. How well did it achieve its own objective? In the case of “Gitchy,” a comoridy (or is it homidor?), the film did achieve the ridiculous through an excess of terror (excess being the essence of comedy). The problem, however, is that no matter how thoroughly a turtle beds a duck, when the baby’s born one must wonder if the union was a good idea. Unfortunately in this case, straddling the line between slapstick comedy and psychological horror never let the film fully cross over to one side or the other. To laugh? To scream? It was hard to say. To be disturbed? Absolutely.

The humor of clowns is a double-edged sword. On one hand the unpredictability of a clown or jester is the root of their humor. They can’t be truly funny unless they are truly unpredictable, but that element of the unknown frightens us. Victor Hugo wrote that it is human nature to cling to the known, sometimes until death, rather than face what we do not understand. Perhaps that’s why evil clowns have found such a home in our psyche.

It is easy to believe that Gitchy, and his creepy messenger, really are evil. They are unpredictable, capable of anything. Both characters inspired revulsion whenever they appeared on screen, making even the experience of watching the film at times unnerving, even uncomfortable. For a campy, creepy film that boarders on the sexually deviant, "Gitchy" is the perfect guilty pleasure.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Beyond the Music" Review

When making an indie film, it's important to know the size of one's idea. In this 'bigger is better' culture, it can be hard to convince passionate filmmakers that less is more. Often they take an idea and stretch it thin, until it becomes too big for its britches. "Beyond the Music," is a cute one-liner about a narcoleptic rock band stretched too far. The few funny scenes of the film, mostly physical humor, were so separated by filler that one joke was forgotten before the next came along.

In addition, the overall quality of the film was too low for a convincing Behind the Music parody. Luck for filmmakers, primo quality is not required for a mockumentary. In that way, it's a very forgiving genre. The film's quality, however, must match whatever it's mocking. "Beyond the Music" would have been much better served as a commercial for "The Narcoleptics'" TV special rather than as the TV special itself. Condensing the best moments would give "Beyond the Music" a punch it currently lacks.

"Tracy" Review

Legend + Joke, does not automatically equal a good mockumentary. Writer/director Dan Scanlon gets that. His formula, Legend + Jokes + Murder, does indeed equal one mockalicious indie film. Tracy follows Dan Sullian (Dan Scanlon), a documentary filmmaker who tells a whole convention of people that he knows who killed children's TV host, Tracy. The problem is... he doesn't really have a clue who did it. And he is perhaps the worst amateur detective ever. But even though the deck's a little stacked against him, Dan sets out to solve this ten year old murder... He has one month to do it.

As indie films about cultural icons go, Tracy does us a favor in that it doesn't spend the entire film talking about the supreme genius of some lamebrain. There are character arcs, silly though they may be. Relationships develop. Things happen. The cast and crew never went on autopilot with this film, which can be easily done with a topic is so supremely silly. Every scene moves at a decent pace with very little lag. It's a weird movie (no joke), but where story is concerned first time filmmakers could definitely take a page from the "Tracy" playbook.