...to review this piece are those that will convince you to seek it out and watch it, and truthfully you can only supply those yourself. I hope you do; you won't regret it/ This is a lovely piece of film-making, open to multiple interpretations and experiences. Well worth its seven minutes of your time.
...of genre homage, "Miss Barton's Famous Cakes" demonstrates that Philadelphia has a lot more going for it than one might cinematically expect. Tight script, evocative cinematography, impeccable casting and direction, pitch-perfect score, immaculate production design from costuming right down to the droll newspaper clippings--all combine in a luxurious concoction that's difficult to enjoy just once. Currently available on YouTube and likely other platforms, this is a delightful taste of unknown talents that will undoubtedly become better known as time goes by and word spreads.
....for the coulda, shoulda, woulda hit of the twenty-teens, "Adult Wednesday" showcases writer/actor Melissa Hunter's clever take on the central character's progression through adulthood, while offering up subtle jabs at life in contemporary America with a wit matching that of the character's original creator. It's a shame this series was squelched by copyright issues, but the material remains easily accessible online. Don't miss it!
...by the zombie crowd, with mere double-digit votes on this site, and minimal attention on YouTube and other platforms, or am I missing something? I was unaware of it until it popped up on my feed one evening. It's as tasty a giblet as any zombie fan might ask, and a worthy addition to any discerning collector's library. Tight little story, excellent acting and direction, superb camera-wrangling, not a false note to be had. A morsel not to be missed; go watch it now!
...than it's apparently gotten here, or on YouTube for that matter. "Ødeland" is one of those tasty little surprises you run across online now and again, and wonder why it's languishing in relative obscurity. A student film, humble budget, pretty much unknowns across the board, and yet transcending its limitations with a simple, thoughtful script, and direction that allows the actors to shine. Said script sports a flaw or two, but they're minor and can be rationalized without too much difficulty. Highly recommended.
Bradbury would not be happy with this film.
Bradbury appreciators are not and never will be happy with this film.
Where is Mildred? Where is Faber? Where is the Hound?
Who tore the beating heart out of a fine parable and crushed it?
What possessed them?
When did they sell their souls to the devil?
How did they manage to get Bradbury's or his estate's blessing for this cartoon?
Why, oh, why was that blessing given?
This film embodies everything Bradbury warned us about.
...straight from the E.C. Comics playbook, "Luna" sports its expertise on all fronts. Solid acting and directing, art direction, score, camera-wrangling, the whole nine yards. Most of all, the bedrock of a good film: the script. Let's hope this Perez guy keeps at it. Caught this one via Screamfest, easily available on YouTube.
...from a very talented auteur, slam-bang collaborators, and a fine actor in the lead, "Waltzing Tilda" might easily be developed into a feature film. The production value and professionalism is remarkable for what I gather is a student film. Whoever these folks are, they're likely to have long and successful careers if they stick with it. Stop reading this and get over to YouTube to enjoy a tight, well-made short that's worth time spent with it.
A fairly straightforward presentation of the "positive atheist" position...
...primarily through the lens of the long-running webcast, "The Atheist Experience," out of Austin, Texas, a somewhat delicious irony given the prevalence of fundamentalist Christianity in that state, this German documentary has obviously failed to make much of a dent in the American psyche, let alone the limited worldview of IMDbers. Color me not surprised.
The argumentation of Matt Dillahunty, the well-known atheist activist serves as the core focus of the film, although various other local Austin personalities feature as well, as well as intermittent snippets of Christian believers doing their thing in counterpoint.
Absolutely worth a watch for anyone interested in the subject, be they atheist or theist. The film is quite obviously weighted toward the atheist perspective, but that should come as no shock. Christians have never been able to adequately defend their beliefs via logic or the scientific method, and there is little reason to think they ever will, short of the miraculous return of Jesus Christ and the resultant humbling of millions of suddenly disproved non-Christians.
...adept, that is, on all counts. Production value, script, direction, camerawork, lighting, etc., and two fine actors all meld into one unified teaser short. It's a shame it doesn't appear to have generated a series or a film. Adam "FTL" Stern deserves a crack at a feature, that's certain. Recommended.
...and you won't be disappointed. If you're looking for too much realism or an airtight plot, you look in vain. Despite characters that are mostly paper thin, the actors rise above with enough authority to satisfy all but the most jaded audiences. As well, the production design, cinematography, and so forth stretch its relatively low budget to maximum effect. No, this isn't on a level with Michael Haneke's unsettling "Funny Games" or its American remake; think of it more as a John Hughesian teen comedy that takes a dark turn into violent absurdity. It truly is a comic book potboiler in the vein of "Tales From the Crypt," crude tongue wedged in its cheek, nonsensical plot devices on full display. I understand fully why so many wags here hated it, but despite its flaws, I had fun with its earnest attempt to offer up its twisted take on teen angst. The three Aussie leads will all be actors to keep an eye on in the future, that much is certain.
...for its thin plot, "NSFW" remains a tidy little E.C. Comics flavored morality play that pits a vigilante journalist against prey that turns out to be of a different sort than expected. Although auteur Cosmo Wallace hasn't apparently made much headway with this well-crafted calling card, DP Paul O'Callagan continues to stay busy cranking out shorts, and if his work on "NSFW" is any indication, he'll have a long and successful career. Wallace handles his two talented leads, Karl "Game of Thrones" Davies and Danny "Alien³" Webb with a precise surety that makes me wonder why he hasn't done anything since. Time will tell, I suppose. Meanwhile, major props to all involved, and a tip of the hat to Screamfest for making this one available on YouTube; it's a good watch.
...after Harlan Ellison was born, simple as that, and the world will be a lesser place once he is gone. Fortunately, though, his writing will survive, and that's good enough for me. In my pantheon of cultural heroes, he remains at or near the top, depending on my situation at the time; he has spoken to me and for me throughout my lifetime of reading more than any other author, almost as though he were a second father, or perhaps an older brother to be worshiped from afar. I will weep at his passing.
No one who is at all literate can remain unaware of Ellison's work, and very likely unaware of his reputation. Mercurial, iconoclastic, savage, unrelenting; a thesaurus can barely contain all the descriptives that apply to Ellison and his voluminous output.
My sole encounter with him occurred decades ago, when I was lucky enough to attend one of his speaking gigs at a nearby college. I brought several spoken word LPs he had recorded, prizes of my collection, in hopes of an autograph or two, and when I made it to the front of the line and was face to face with the man himself, all I could think to say beyond the obvious sycophantic pleasantries was that I had read everything he'd ever written. He looked at me askance, and said something along the lines of, "Really?" and then signed my LPs. I fled, chastened, grateful that I had been spared further ignominy. My love for the man and his work now knows no bounds.
"Dreams with Sharp Teeth" is a must-see for all Ellison devotees, and neophytes as well.
I have no idea what possessed two beloved actresses...
...to do this mundane short, but it helped it earn a few more stars from me. Mr. Coven is undoubtedly a fine storyboard artist, if his CV is any indication, but I'm sorry to say that his writing is straight out of E.C. Comics retread hell. As soon as Ms. Landau's provocative self starts telling her story, you know exactly where things are heading. If this had been tightened up to half its length, it likely would have been much better. I still wish I could have been Richard Irving, though.
Way too tedious and continental arty for my taste...
...even the sight of Kristin "Twilight" Stewart in a faux-bondage corset (with and without brassiere) is not enough to motivate me to ever watch this Parisian travelo---sorry, I mean ghas---er, I mean ghostly (yeah, that's it, ghostly) soporific---I mean mystery, yeah, mystery---again. Others have summarized the plot, others have critiqued Ms. Stewart's acting, others have delineated the nods to media distancing, moped riding, and cigarettes. I'm just stepping in here to let you know that you really needn't waste your time, unless it's for that brief peep at Stewart in her scanties and that kinky black corset. Horror movie? Spare me. The only horror is that large amounts of resources and human capital went into this technically accomplished yet horrendously un-involving character study. Ms. Stewart's studious performance simply can't recommend a dreary, unsympathetic character to my attention. She and writer/director Olivier "Clean" Assayas should have called it a day with "Clouds of Sils Maria." At least then they had Juliette Binoche in the mix.
...for another feature from auteurs Holland and Mitton, the guys who brought us YellowBrickRoad. They've upped their game for this paranormal quest tale, despite it still being another low budget affair. An effective Annette "Smallville" O'Toole lends name recognition, but protagonist Clark "YellowBrickRoad" Freeman carries his weight with assurance, along with the likes of John "Smallville" Glover, Giovanna "On the Road" Zacarías, and the rest of a solid ensemble. The writing is trim and tight, the story well thought out, the score appropriate. Indies of this sort usually fall apart at some point, but this one doesn't. Definitely one of the better sleepers I've found at the library in recent memory. No ground-breaker, but still solid genre entertainment.
...a haunting we will go, hi, ho, the derry-oh, a haunting we will go! Gotta give high marks to young talent for some very nice work retelling a well-loved story line with admirable economy and style. Check it out.
...centered on the age-old warning about being careful what you wish for, "Zelos" remains a potent calling card for a hopefully rising young female director and a slew of other young talents as well. Squeezing every penny out of a slim budget, this short piece explores a number of downsides to having a doppelganger at your bidding. The film's ending leaves things unresolved, as if promising a full-length feature in the offing, but even without, it's a nice piece of work. Absolutely worth a watch, it's easily available on a variety of platforms, including YouTube.
...or you're gonna not understand it." So sayeth co-star Jason "Game of Thrones" Momoa in the making-of feature appended to this dire sophomore effort from auteur Ana Lily "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" Amirpour. Count me in the latter camp. Replete with vapid, slumming appearances by the likes of Keanu "John Wick" Reeves, Giovanni "Saving Private Ryan" Ribisi, and Jim "The Mask" Carrey, this "A Boy and His Dog" wannabe fails to engage on almost any level. Ms. Amirpour obviously had a very personal apocalyptic fairy tale to disgorge from her inner self, but it simply doesn't connect to the wider zietgeist of human behavior. Doesn't help that her lead, Suki "Insurgent" Waterhouse, who for some odd reason appears to be a high-demand talent judging from the slew of films she's done recently that are all due out this year, nonetheless appears to have the acting chops (pardon the pun) of a mannequin. Meanwhile, Amirpour's meandering, sketchy script doesn't help. Insomniac viewing only, and I'd be willing to bet that very few people can get through "The Bad Batch" without hitting fast-forward more than once. It gets its points from me strictly for some nice DP work from Lyle "The Woman in Black" Vincent.
...that would likely have worked better as an extended short, this tyro effort by a bunch of people you've never heard of probably played a lot better in the writer/director's head than it does in the finished product. At times deadly dull, and other times messily incomprehensible, "Shortwave" has something to do with communicating with aliens who seemingly turn out to be violently disinterested in being bothered. The leading lady is attractive, one must grant, but eye-candy can't carry an ill-told story, especially when it's all tease and no delivery. The opening scene is cleverly executed, but once it's over, the film slowly sinks into the mire of its own artsy pretensions of mystery, all of which remain virtually inexplicable. Things occur that go nowhere. Hints are dropped and never picked up again. It all ends in a spate of death, furiously signifying nothing. I gave it an extra point or two for some nice DP work, but really, it's not worth the effort to seek it out or the time to watch it.
...this techno-misfire will be remembered primarily for being Bill "You have to ask?" Paxton's last film, as well as the penultimate film of Glenne "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" Headly. Beyond that, it's a disappointingly rendered tale about the dangers of total social connection, or "transparency" as the script likes to put it. It raises far more questions than it's capable of answering with any authority (e.g. how did so many people fall into the Circle's tech-web so quickly, and without any significant resistance?), instead settling for a jumbled pastiche of philosophical points about ubiquitous surveillance and loss of privacy, none of which it explores to any genuinely human depth. It's an idea movie without any dramatic drive; its protagonist is little more than a hapless leaf on a windy day. Emma "You have to ask again?" Watson is a lovely young actor, and occasionally quite good, but she's thoroughly miscast here. Talents like Paxton, Headly, Tom "Don't ask" Hanks, and Patton "C'mon!" Oswalt are equally wasted or misused. Worth a watch, though, if only to prompt discussion and dissection of its weaknesses.
Niche Americana documentary of the highest order...
....that not only illuminates the realities of "underground" music in one of its many iterations, but as well explores the psyche of the young, white Southern male. Via interviews and performance clips, this evenhanded doc---criminally ignored by IMDbers worldwide---can only boast minimal name recognition via Phil "Pantera" Anselmo's presence and a handful of semi-recognizable band names, and was put together by film world unknowns who seem to have left the business altogether, yet casts a surprisingly discerning eye on the culture it examines. If you hate the music, you'll find it a tough go, but lurking beneath the wall of noise lurks a resonant chord of the beating heart of America. Recommended, and don't skip the credit sequence. Easily available on YouTube.
...and then to the scrap heap, this adolescent faux-homage to grindhouse film-making offers nothing in the way of style or substance. The girl is reasonably attractive, though not much of an actor, and yes she gets naked (in thoroughly nonsensical fashion), but the presentation is so purposefully coy that she may as well have stayed in bra and panties, had she worn any in the first place; this vastly overlong gore effects showcase relies on splatter rather than titillation to clumsily earn attention. "Naked Zombie Girl" fails on virtually every level of worthwhile cinema. No script or even story to speak of, nor direction, learners-permit cinematography, poor sound and generally poor lighting---all probable attempts at the aforementioned grindhouse presentation---make "Naked Zombie Girl" a tedious watch for all but the most forgiving of zombie fans. Strictly in-one-eye-and-out-the-other viewing. Caught it no-thanks to Screamfest on YouTube, and grimly regret being suckered by the come-on title. You'll need to endure "Zombie Strippers" again to cleanse your exploitation palate. Not recommended.
...that would get an approving nod from Rod Serling, "Monsters" is readily available online via YouTube and probably elsewhere. A solid cast led by up-and-comer Caitlin "Martyrs" Carmichael, and featuring Christopher "Jericho" Wiehl, Joey "The Long Road Home" Luthman, and too little of Ione "River's Edge" Skye, is ably put through their paces by writer/director/producer Steve Desmond, who really ought to get a shot at the brass ring of making a feature film. Only time, and a dose of luck, will tell on that, of course. Meanwhile, hie thee to YouTube and enjoy; I caught it on the Screamfest channel.
...this tasty little short has little to do with promiscuity in anything more than tangential respect. It's a salty little riff on "Little Red Ridinghood" that showcases a good amount of young talent. If there's any justice in the world, and I realize that much of that is as serendipitous as the resolution of this tight little nugget, then folks like director Chloe Okuno and lead actor Molly McIntyre have fulfilling careers ahead of them. Enlisting the services of Sally "Anna" Kirkland certainly didn't hurt, but it's the youngsters that carry this gem. Easily available on YouTube and probably elsewhere, "Slut" is very much worth a watch.