Skip to content

Where can you follow The Focused Filmographer?

Twitter: @FilmsWith_T

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheFocusedFilmographer

Email: Subscribe by entering your email in the subscribe box in the righthand margin of the page. >

Never miss a post! Stay in the know!

#WSIFF 2014: Selection Reviews, pt 4.

September 7, 2014

 

wsiff2014

The White Sands International Film Festival continues, and, let me tell you, if you are not attending some of the showings you are truly missing out! With a full schedule “packed with some of the most engaging, amazing and intriguing features, short films and documentaries anywhere” here is the fourth installment of reviews to help attendees plan the most advantageous viewing schedule. For full playlist schedule and trailers for the film submissions, click HERE.

As a reminder: All films for the White Sands International Film Festival here are rated on a simple 5-star rating.

Each star is given based on the following:

  1. Original story/Presentation
  2. Acting/Authentic Characters
  3. Cinematography/Audio/Special Effects
  4. Look & Feel/Storytelling
  5. Entertainment/Unpredictability

Disclaimer- reviews are solely and independently my own opinion and do not reflect the opinions of the WSIFF board, judges, participants and viewers (or anyone else for that matter). Click >>>HERE<<< for all the additional reviews/coverage of this year’s festival.

—–

WSIFF Reviews: Part 4


LIES I TOLD MY LITTLE SISTER

Category: Feature. (IMDB page)lies

Beginning with a narrative told through the lens of a young woman recounting times with her sisters, this drama dives right in to the story and sets the tone and expectations of a film thought to be about lies yet full of life truths. After the death of her older sister, Cory reluctantly ends up on a family getaway and, as the single daughter in the family, is “forced” to participate in the family togetherness. Doing so means taking time with one another, catching up on memories, revisiting unhealed wounds and seeking closure through family, friends, fights and fears.

This film contains real-life characters and plays out much like a full-length production film. A believable bond of sisters, mix of characters, relevant family and personal issues and hints of friendship and romance make the movie real and reminiscent of films such as August: Osage County. The tagline for the film: “A family trip. Packing all the childhood baggage.” is pertinent and perfect in explaining what to expect.

The pacing in the film makes it a longer trip than preferred, but its characters (some of them in and out) and camerawork and promised sense of closure unpack the baggage and keep it real. The truth about the lies…a heavy film sprinkled lightly with comedy that carries a ton of life and familial truths through looks at the past and present in hopes to help prepare for better futures. Not the most comfortable to watch at all times, but such is life.

My score:star3.5

—–

DOWNTON BY LAMPLIGHT

Category: Short/Documentary. (IMDB page)

Synopsis:

Discover San Francisco’s Gilbert & Sullivan jewel in this amusing short about Lamplighters Music Theatre and their annual satirical send up, this year of Downton Abbey. Join host and stage director Phil Lowery and the rest of the assorted nuts of the Lamplighter Family as they prepare, practice and perform their way to a $48,000 payoff.. -IMDB.com

This docu-style short provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the satirical productions of the Gilbert & Sullivan theatrical teams. Musical comedies and stage plays are an art form that takes a lot of preparation, dedication and…vocalization. The team of the Lamplighters Music Theatre keep the Gilbert & Sullivan tradition going and each year parody a show or subject of recent popularity and pertinence. Their latest selection for satire on stage: Downton Abbey.

While this short documentary leaves the wonder of the show mainly to the imagination (go see the show instead), it does give a nice insight into the work that makes it all possible. From coming up with the music, to writing the lyrics to the countless hours of practicing the songs at tempos similar to Audubon speed limits, the production preparation is truly impressive. Enjoy this theatrical tour and see the passion and the heart and soul poured into the production both on and off stage.

My score:star3

—–

MOSES ON THE MESA

Category: Short. (IMDB page)moses

Winner of the White Sands International Film Festival’s newest award, the “Best New Mexico-Made Film” Award, Moses on the Mesa is based on a true story and follows a young Jewish immigrant who arrives in New Mexico in search of a new life after fleeing impending war in Germany in the late 1860s. Unfamiliar with the ways of the West, this “Jewish Cowboy” adapts to his new trade and life, settles into it and succeeds.

One of the things most notable of this short is the gorgeous location and the way in which the filmmaker not only highlights the characters, but also the beauty of New Mexico. The blending of cultures and cares of the time give credence to the story shared and explain the history of the story of Don Solomono, “a Jewish immigrant who became governor of a Native American tribe during the days of the Wild West.”

This film tells the story of an unknown and unsung hero of history and brings it to light. It is a representation of one of the most important reasons for the existence of storytelling through the medium of the camera lens. Inspiring the desire to learn more of the people, the place and the product of their efforts, Moses on the Mesa is aptly titled, gorgeously filmed/presented, appropriately cast and costumed and deservedly hopeful of becoming a full-length feature.

My score:star4.5

—–

NO LOVE LOST

Category: Short. (IMDB page)NO LOVE LOST

 

Synopsis: A Jewish boy nurturing a secret romance with a Muslim girl, despite the realities of their backgrounds, is unaware he is being stalked. While the young lovers struggle to be open about their relationship, the stalker’s obsession reveals a thought provoking turn culminating in the trio coming face to face. Written by Bassi Brothers -IMDB

Unpredictable and powerful to the end, I had no idea what to expect by the conclusion of this film. Interesting, engrossing, challenging and unique in many ways, No Love Lost presents an age-old story of forbidden love and adds a few timeless twists and powerful messages to it. Touching on subjects such as prejudice, stereotypes, hate, religion and such like in a manner such as this that comes off as neither offensive nor inappropriate can be challenging to say the least. No Love Lost accomplishes that and manages to bring a case for change through its suspenseful deliverance of the story.

Centered on the characters, rarely is dialogue used in this film and yet so much is said. The emotion and engaging performances on-screen do nothing but keep audiences engaged and invested in not only the characters but also the underlying purposeful message of love for one another. The film itself is beautiful with all parts adding to it and not distracting from the intended purpose. The cast, the camera work, the musical score, the silent acting, the visuals, the directing…all combine to complete the craftmanship that is No Love Lost insomuch so that even the unexplained goes without needing to be explained…much like love itself.

My score:star5

—–

BUFFALO

Category: Short. (IMDB page)buffalo

Synopsis-

  • In 1877 New Mexico, Sergeant Harrison Young, a black soldier, and Officer John Wilson, a white soldier serving under the Tenth Cavalry, escort three hunters around Apache territory. Tensions rise amongst the group as the hunters discriminate against Young. As they continue their mission, Wilson reveals that his mother has fallen ill and that he needs to return home. Young shares an experience about his own mother, who passed away when he was young. Young and Wilson begin to put aside their differences. However, once the hunters come across a trio of buffalo-hunting Apaches, Young may have to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save the group and get Wilson home.

    - Written by Julian Alexander

I am most excited to share this film with you because it comes from Las Cruces, NM written and directed by a friend and fellow film lover, Julian Alexander. This project, a passion of his that served as his senior thesis out of the Creative Media Institute here at New Mexico State University, is one that I have been most anxious to watch having been given the privilege to read and discuss the screenplay with Julian a year ago. Its debut public screening occurred on Saturday afternoon at the White Sands International Film Festival to a sold out audience, and I made sure not to miss it.

Buffalo

At the far right, Writer/Director Julian Alexander accompanied with members of the cast and crew.

Tales of the Buffalo soldiers are few and far between on the movie screen. Buffalo, starring Craig Tate (12 Years a Slave, Lee Daniels’ The Butler) is one of the few that now exists and brings with it the desire to see more. An impressive effort from undergraduate students that brought this tale, based on stories told, to life from the script to the screen. From locations that, in and of themselves, become characters on their own, to authentic costume design that transports viewers directly into 1877 New Mexico, to the use of striking and memorable flashbacks to develop the story and its characters, to the underlying significant tale of a great white buffalo, Buffalo is far beyond what one would expect from a senior thesis project.

Actor Craig Tate (left) with Director Julian Alexander (right) while filming BUFFALO.

Actor Craig Tate (left) with Director Julian Alexander (right) while filming BUFFALO.

The story, told primarily through the lens of the main character, is aided along by time-appropriate wardrobe, conversations, sentiment and concerns of all parties involved. Each individual character’s driving motivations are made clearer as the story progresses and the conflicts (internal and external) rise as the plot develops. When a film’s parts are played in such a fashion that each character is believable it makes that film all the more stronger and acceptable. Buffalo is one such film and I hope to see it made into a full-length feature in the near future.

Themes of trust, fear, racism, brotherhood, survival, courage and respect intertwine throughout the tale and keep the story on track on its trail to the end. While a few elements may end up unexplained or capable of being strengthened, the overall story and its purpose hit its mark. Director Julian Alexander shows through his work with Buffalo that he is a passionate and talented writer/director to keep an eye out for in the future. Congratulations on a great project success.

(Side Note: Yes, I do know Julian, however, he did not ask me to review his film nor did he pay me to say anything about it. Actually, at the time of this posting and prior to, he has no idea I am even reviewing his film.)

My score:star4

—–

The White Sands International Film Festival offers some fantastic viewing experiences this year. Stay tuned for even more reviews and spotlights. The festival continues through September 7th.

Remember: For my full coverage and listing of all films reviewed, movie spotlights, photos, interviews and more, be sure to click (and visit often) the tab at the top of the screen entitled “2014 White Sands International Film Festival Coverage” for quick links to every post about WSIFF (or click HERE). You can also visit WSIFF.COM and click the link referring you to the “Official Blogger for 2014 WSIFF.”

Thanks for reading! Happy watching.

-Terrence Faulkner, a.k.a. “TheFocusedFilmographer”

#WSIFF 2014: Selection Reviews, pt 3.

September 6, 2014

 

wsiff2014

The White Sands International Film Festival continues, and, let me tell you, if you are not attending some of the showings you are truly missing out! With a full schedule “packed with some of the most engaging, amazing and intriguing features, short films and documentaries anywhere” here is the third installment of reviews to help attendees plan the most advantageous viewing schedule. For full playlist schedule and trailers for the film submissions, click HERE.

As a reminder: All films for the White Sands International Film Festival here are rated on a simple 5-star rating.

Each star is given based on the following:

  1. Original story/Presentation
  2. Acting/Authentic Characters
  3. Cinematography/Audio/Special Effects
  4. Look & Feel/Storytelling
  5. Entertainment/Unpredictability

Disclaimer- reviews are solely and independently my own opinion and do not reflect the opinions of the WSIFF board, judges, participants and viewers (or anyone else for that matter). Click >>>HERE<<< for all the additional reviews/coverage of this year’s festival.

—–

WSIFF Reviews: Part 3


BUTTERFLY FLUTTERING

Category: Short. (IMDB page)butterflyfluttering

This film is a beautiful journey of a young woman and her effort to find love and life and feel them both. The cinematography used is striking and the progression of the story may remind some of the shooting style of directors Terrence Malick and Lars von Trier. Butterfly Fluttering uses the narration of the main character along with black and white (and then color) cinematography to create a minimalistic viewing experience that focuses on the characters story. It is a smart choice in the way the story is told. Carried by “The Girl” played by Vera Sapozhnikova who says not a single word onscreen but enables audiences to empathize and relate through her actions, passion and expressions.

Perhaps a bit predictable once the story gets going in following a “modern girl” recount her tales of love in seeking it out, it is the beautiful journey and the way it is told that is most memorable. Her quest for love, feeling and life is, at the end, warming, which science tells us that it must be warm for a butterfly truly to fly.

My score:star3.5

—–

ONE ARMED MAN

Category: Short. (IMDB pageonearmed

“Best Director” Winner at The White Sands International Film Festival, One-Armed Man is a time-period tale with the following synopsis:

A wealthy cotton gin executive is confronted by a disgruntled former employee demanding the return of an arm lost in the gin’s machinery, in Oscar-winning writer Horton Foote’s chilling drama, One Armed Man. -IMDB.com

This “chilling drama” is expertly crafted and created. From a cast that fits the parts most impressively to a world created that transports the viewers directly into the time period to great camera work/cinematography to little character quips that are natural and believable, One-Armed Man invites you along for a simple story that quickly escalates to a suspenseful work that keeps viewers wanting.

So much works in this story that begins with one tone and ends with quite another. The characters -completely different each in their own way- and their interactions with one another keep the story moving through their consistency and conversation. The lighting and camera angles place viewers in the room allowing for attention to detail and sharing in the emotions. The stories present come together to build the characters and lead to the finale. The finale has such an unsettling conclusion that leave you both curious and moved. Tim Guinee (director) and his choice of cast, crew and cinematography makes this a top-notch tale that made me want this to be a much longer film just to enjoy it more. Well done.

(Interesting bit of trivia about this film. This it Tim Guinee’s directorial debut. He has acted in numerous films including Iron Man 2 and in television series such as Homeland. This film was also executively produced by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.)

My score:star5

—–

AVIVA’S WINTERaviva

Category: Short. (IMDB page)

Synopsis: A recurring peek into the world of thought-process schizophrenia, Aviva struggles to maintain control of her fragmented self in what is perhaps the most difficult week of her life. -IMDB

The beauty of the story may be lost on some viewers as it can confound as much as the disability it seeks to bring awareness to. The winter in this film serving possibly as a metaphor for the cold reception she gets from most everyone she is around. The coldness of loneliness, uncertainty and dependency is a harsh winter to be certain. While the acting may not always be convincing, and though the storyline may be a bit confusing, the issues caused by schizophrenia are covered and campaigned for through this unique look through the eyes of one who suffers with it every day.

My score:star2.5

—–

BOX OF SOUND

Category: Short/Documentary. (IMDB page)box of sound

Feeling somewhat like an afterschool special on PBS, this short documentary focuses on two lovers of sound and music and their experiments and discoveries of unique sound. I imagine perhaps Hans Zimmer being much like this in his earlier years as the two audiophiles in this documentary experiment with different methods for music much like Zimmer (Zimmer ran razorblades across violin strings for a particular eerie sound in The Dark Knight). Being given a tour of the auditory genius and exploration of these two gentlemen as they develop means to create sounds both electronic and eclectic stimulates not only the ears but the brain and the eyes and is a unique look at an even more unique use of regular everyday devices to create sound. Perhaps not something everyone will like to watch, but you will listen…

A pleasing visual tribute of an auditory treat.

My score:star4

—–

Kosmikophobia

Category: Short. (IMDB page)kosmi

Synopsis-Henry gets an unexpected late night visit from his father, Ulysses; an archaeologist, who has some very troubling news for him and his family which may be life-altering for them all. -IMDB

A fun story but one that does little to present anything new or develop the characters or the film as a whole. While predictable, the story had promise from the beginning with its uncommon title, but its editing, acting and effects all hinder the story itself from taking center stage and make the potential scifi thriller more of an art house horror. The suspense may remind some of the once-popular kids’ show Goosebumps and, perhaps with a bit more editing of the audio, acting and effects, it could be featured as such, but the project, at its current state, does not reach the potential it has.

My score:star.5

—–

The White Sands International Film Festival offers some fantastic viewing experiences this year. Stay tuned for even more reviews and spotlights. The festival continues through September 7th.

Remember: For my full coverage and listing of all films reviewed, movie spotlights, photos, interviews and more, be sure to click (and visit often) the tab at the top of the screen entitled “2014 White Sands International Film Festival Coverage” for quick links to every post about WSIFF (or click HERE). You can also visit WSIFF.COM and click the link referring you to the “Official Blogger for 2014 WSIFF.”

Thanks for reading! Happy watching.

-Terrence Faulkner, a.k.a. “TheFocusedFilmographer”

#WSIFF 2014: Selection Reviews, pt 2.

September 5, 2014

 

wsiff2014

The White Sands International Film Festival continues, and, let me tell you, if you are not attending some of the showings you are truly missing out! With a full schedule “packed with some of the most engaging, amazing and intriguing features, short films and documentaries anywhere” here is the second installment of reviews to help attendees plan the most advantageous viewing schedule. For full playlist schedule and trailers for the film submissions, click HERE.

As a reminder: All films for the White Sands International Film Festival here are rated on a simple 5-star rating.

Each star is given based on the following:

  1. Original story/Presentation
  2. Acting/Authentic Characters
  3. Cinematography/Audio/Special Effects
  4. Look & Feel/Storytelling
  5. Entertainment/Unpredictability

Disclaimer- reviews are solely and independently my own opinion and do not reflect the opinions of the WSIFF board, judges, participants and viewers (or anyone else for that matter).

—–

WSIFF Reviews: Part 2


THE ODD WAY HOME

Category: Feature. (IMDB page)odd-way

The opening film on the premiere night of the film festival was this beautiful film from director Rajeev Nirmalakhandan (who graduated for a local highschool here in Las Cruces, NM and is an instructor at NMSU’s Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts). 

…At first I thought The Odd Way Home to be an odd film to head up the festival…I am so glad, now, that it did.

If this film is any indication of future work from Rajeev Nirmalakhandan (which I believe it to be), then, Raj, please hurry and make more films!

The Odd Way Home, currently with a score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, is, at its core, a story of truth, acceptance, companionship and determination that is a treat to the heart, mind and emotions. Here is the synopsis from the IMDB page:

The oddest couple takes an unforgettable journey through the American Southwest, finding happiness in the unlikeliest of places and seeing in each other what no one else has seen before. Maya is a product of childhood abuse who escapes her shattered life in Los Angeles and meets Duncan, a hermit from a tiny town. He is socially awkward and a slave to pattern and routine, but a master of map-making and directions. Their journey teaches Maya to care for someone else and takes Duncan into a new world. Their road trip is filled with unexpected surprises and hard realities that redefine the notion of family.

This film’s lead characters and its story are the strongest points of the film as they complement one another. Chris Marquette and Rumer Willis are the oddest couple on their way home together who find an all new definition of the word “home” by the end. oddwayhome

[I must take a moment here to compliment the writing of the character of Duncan and the work of Chris Marquette who plays him -an autistic man- with the utmost respect and pinpoint representation. Raj's passion for autism and his care to show that the condition does not make someone unworthy or undesirable comes through strongly in the film and is a message that can be applied to all walks of life, disabilities, creeds and colors.]

The chemistry and dialogue between the characters ties audiences into their world and Raj’s writing skillfully does something I enjoy, and that is when something is mentioned early on in a film and then referenced later one tying everything together. The two main characters show both strength and dependency that, perhaps, they were not aware of in themselves prior to meeting one another and then learned to embrace. Even with a few characters with unclear purpose or motives, The Odd Way Home‘s amazing leads, gorgeous cinematography, real dialogue, touching drama and some of the most delightful comedy mixed in make it a gem. Hollywood can afford to go back to making movies like this. (*wink wink, Hollywood*)

The Odd Way Home brings the right amount of heavy moments and then lifts the spirits directly after through the characters and their interactions with one another. I was delighted as I watched and realized many times that a smile was on my face. You will laugh, you will smile, you may shed a tear…it’s okay. Come along for the ride and let your heart enjoy The Odd Way Home.

Take a road trip through the beautiful landscapes of New Mexico with Maya and Duncan. Experience their world for 87 minutes. I guarantee you, it will be a road traveled that will refresh and uplift your spirit. It is available to stream now on most OnDemand services.

My score:star4.5

—–

DOLLAR NIGHT

Category: Short. (IMDB pagedollarnight

There aren’t many words to describe how one might feel after watching this beautiful tribute to film, classics and the preservation/promotion of them both. In Dollar Night an 80-year old employee of a classic movie theater tries to spark up some love for his passion of film in an effort to keep the establishment from closing.

The lost art of film projection is on center stage here as the filmmaker gives plenty of time and tribute to the pastime that has entertained generations. The short beautifully gives a gorgeous tribute to film and how it can still be relevant in the lives of many today. Oh how I wish that more theaters would still show classics on the big screen. Passing the appreciation of classics to a new generation and teaching that movies are more than special effects, computer graphics, superheroes and explosions.

I digress, however, the film’s cinematography, acting (the characters are beyond perfectly cast), musical accompaniment and its use of pieces of the past to relay its message is flawless. This is one of THE best shorts I have seen (I actually watched it three times prior to writing my review). Movie-lovers, cinephiles and enthusiasts will find so much to love about Dollar Night as it touches the heart and makes us believe in movie magic that can make old things new and inspire life into a theater, a disheartened employee and a new generation.

My score:star5

—–

FRANKY AND THE ANTFRANKY

Category: Short. (IMDB page)

Betrayal and revenge. Two common themes in stories told down through the ages. Although, sometimes, vengeance isn’t enough. Franky and the Ant features a man betrayed and his route down the road of revenge. As he traverses down the troublesome road, he decides that the baggage he’s carried must be buried. This short’s camerawork and choice of actors is appreciated, however, at least for me, much of the story (and its title) were lost the first two times I viewed it. It is a film that is understood more when attention to detail is made as sometimes the audio inconsistently lowers and raises making the dialogue, at times, hard to understand. Franky and The Ant work together on this mission to complete the task when more revelations are made while the unequal, yet possibly deserved, vengeance is served.

My score:star3.5

—–

ZOMBIE DREAM

Category: Feature. (IMDB page)ZD-Ghoul

A horror/B-movie with political and satirical undertones, Zombie Dream plays out like a dream and is an experience both disjointed and disturbing, fragmented and freakish. A stage used to combine freedoms fought for by the founders of America with movie-making, this flick definitely finds its audience in fans of B-type movies but will hold little interest for others. The actors in the dream follow in the footsteps of the founding fathers and revolt against a zombie invasion to take back their freedom to live and express themselves. (A social metaphor with zombies representing the oppression of freedoms and civil rights and filmmakers as the revolutionaries and patriots of freedom…as they make a film called LIBERTY.)

It is full of over the top acting, bad makeup effects and audio and inexplicable editing with intermittent scenes and clips to move the narrative along. Unfortunately the narrative barely moves and instead the film is reduced to a near 2-hour back and forth montage of screaming zombies, political propaganda, zombie killing, squirrels with hats on and a few clips of Stan Lee. It’s all on purpose which works for this type of film, but the ultimate purpose and plot are..well…misunderstood at best. It’s a bold endeavor and at times plays like a film project for school as opposed to a full feature. It’s a zombie dream but for some it may be a nightmare of walking dead.

My score:star.5

—–

MOLLY

Category: Short. (IMDB page)TFF Molly

After a break-up, a man’s best friend arrives to get him out of his funk and back to the “field” doing all he can to lift his spirits. The two make a plan for the biggest meltdown every, complete with a foam party…and behold…plans may still end up being derailed.

I thought of the phrase…well, to put it mildly…”Brothers before Others” as I watched this black and white semi-awkward comedy play out. It’s simple, it’s direct, it’s fun and the end is left to interpretation. Plenty of enjoyable scenes that, by themselves are somewhat pointless, but are craftily pieced together in the film to build the overall feel of the characters. It’s a solid short that made me laugh and wait in anticipation for the decisions that became inevitable.

A fun piece that I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did by the time the credits rolled. Catch this if you can.

My score:star3.5

—–

UNDERCOVER

Category: Short. (IMDB page)undercover

Undercover is a short, staged mainly in a bar with a rookie cop participating in an undercover sting as a hitman for hire. Coached by detectives listening in who doubt his ability to catch “the mark,” this undercover cop may not have the wool pulled over his eyes so easily. Good casting for each part empowers the story to unfold and the rookie’s “training day” is one his fellow detectives will never forget. One of the things I enjoyed about this film most of all was its setting adding to the look of the film. The camera work in the smoky, dim-lit bar room really added to the immersive feel of the film and made it all the more enjoyable. Dark deeds done in dark rooms will soon be brought to light and…uncovered.

My score:star3

—–

I M POSSIBLE

Category: Short (IMDB page)I M POSSIBLE POSTER

A short animation that hits the heart and inspires and excites much in the fashion of the Pixar shorts that audiences have grown to love, but with a far more pertinent story and purpose. After watching the trailer, I remember saying to myself: “I want to see that!” After watching the film, I said to myself: “I want to see that AGAIN!”

With great purpose, this film teaches not only through its title but through its story that nothing is impossible and that if one doesn’t give up, even the goal that seems the most unattainable can be reached. Taught through the lens of great animation, use of sports and appropriate accompanying music, this short packs a punch and I can’t watch it enough. The ability for the filmmaker here to portray the message in such a short amount of time (the entire runtime including credits is 4 mins and 30 secs) is not only impressive but also inspiring and exciting. It will make you want to stand in the bleachers and cheer!

Keep moving forward, keep pressing on, keep believing in yourself. Let “I M Possible” be your creed. Don’t let there be a possibility of you missing this short.

My score:star5

—–

BROOKLYN UNEMPLOYED

Category: Feature. (IMDB page) brooklyn

When an aspiring comic writer and artist finds himself both unemployed and uninspired, doubt and discouragement keep him down and cause him to seek purpose. Living in the urban jungle of Brooklyn, he struggles to keep his relationship, his motivation and his self-worth maintained and aimlessly grasps at passing opportunities to end up empty-handed. Falling back on the supportive friendships and memories he once had, will he begin to pick himself up and find the courage he needs to move forward?

This feature utilizes everyday concerns and passions that are relevant to anyone and thus finds its audience. Through believable characters, their interactions with one another and such, Brooklyn Unemployed keeps viewers in tune with the events on-screen and even allows you, if you stop and listen closely, to know or maybe even possibly hear what is going through their heads during those moments of pensive pondering. The acting tremendously contributes to that as the lead is cast perfectly for such a role.

A story of hope and a story of restoration, it is told well and yet somehow felt lacking to an extent. I can’t put my finger on it, but a part of me had wanted a bit more by the end. This is not a bad thing, just an aspect of note that it left me wanting something else for the character I had invested in by the end of the film, but it’s look toward the future after stepping back and re-evaluating life, gives audiences the same hope as the character and thus, we experience the same with him.

My score:star3.5

—–

DOGONAUTS: ENEMY LINE

Category: Short. (IMDB page)dogonauts

One of the funnest shorts of the festival. It takes patience to produce a 16 minute stop-motion short that will remind viewers of a Saturday morning mini-cartoon. It also takes talent to create characters that portray emotions through the crafted facial expressions and garner support and empathy from the viewers. Dogonauts: Enemy Line accomplishes those feats and is a fun short that features two marooned enemies who face a dilemma of property damage and territorial control. The audio work partnered with the stop-motion animation and the absence of dialogue allows the visuals the strength to tell the story that is easily enjoyed by all and can only be described as top-notch. I was not expecting to like Dogonauts from the beginning but I quickly was taken by the wonderful warriors and it won me over! A refreshingly new (and yet old) treat you must not miss.

My score:star4

—–

 

 

The White Sands International Film Festival offers some fantastic viewing experiences this year. Stay tuned for even more reviews and spotlights. The festival continues through September 7th.

Remember: For my full coverage and listing of all films reviewed, movie spotlights, photos, interviews and more, be sure to click (and visit often) the tab at the top of the screen entitled “2014 White Sands International Film Festival Coverage” for quick links to every post about WSIFF (or click HERE). You can also visit WSIFF.COM and click the link referring you to the “Official Blogger for 2014 WSIFF.”

Thanks for reading! Happy watching.

-Terrence Faulkner, a.k.a. “TheFocusedFilmographer”

#WSIFF 2014: Selection Reviews, pt 1.

September 3, 2014

 

wsiff2014

The White Sands International Film Festival begins showing selections today, September 3, 2014. With a full schedule “packed with some of the most engaging, amazing and intriguing features, short films and documentaries anywhere” here is the first installment of reviews to help attendees plan the most advantageous viewing schedule. For full playlist schedule and trailers for the film submissions, click HERE.

As a reminder: All films for the White Sands International Film Festival here are rated on a simple 5-star rating.

Each star is given based on the following:

  1. Original story/Presentation
  2. Acting/Authentic Characters
  3. Cinematography/Audio/Special Effects
  4. Look & Feel/Storytelling
  5. Entertainment/Unpredictability

Disclaimer- reviews are solely and independently my own opinion and do not reflect the opinions of the WSIFF board, judges, participants and viewers (or anyone else for that matter).

—–

WSIFF Reviews: Part 1


GASP

Category: Feature. (IMDB page)gasp poster

A beautifully shot full length feature about a group of acquaintances who include a couple of strangers in on a night of traditions both old and new on a secluded island in a house full of intrigue and inquiry. While the warmth of the cinematography and the uniqueness of the characters are both inviting, the overall story and purpose tend to get a little lost amid the pensiveness and plot twists of the film. Discovery of self and others and escapism that perhaps truly is not are all themes in this film of surprises, seductions and subtle secrets. A story that builds to much but doesn’t quite reach its potential as the overall “special purpose” and plans get lost amid the philosophical conversations, musical interludes and inconsistent pacing.

Were it not for the energy of the actors and characters, along with the camera work and locations, this film would be much harder to watch and appreciate.

My score:star2.5

—–

5 WAYS 2 DIE

Category: Short. (IMDB page5 ways 2 die

Quirky. Comical. Suicidal. Homicidal. Dark. Delightful. In an pleasing and enjoyable way, death takes center stage in this short with twists and turns around devious and dark corners as we follow a man whose actions and attitude emote tendencies of suicide. But is all as it appears to be? Through nary a word, the main character aimlessly trudges through his medial tasks while the threat (or invitation) of death lurks around every bend. This short very quickly draws you in with clever hints as to what is happening without spelling it out for you, allowing for the mystery and intrigue to build throughout. Admittedly, I was very surprised by the finale and the filmmakers very graciously “fill in the blanks” as the credits prepare to roll. 5 Ways 2 Die had me dying from laughter and surprise and this impressive short is worth two watches. Well constructed, well executed, well thought out and told, 5 Ways 2 Die is a living testament of what quick storytelling should be like. Ingenious! Don’t die without having seen this one!

My score:star5

—–

THE FANTASY

Category: Short. (IMDB page)thefantasy

Ah, what fun occurs when circumstance and coincidence yield comedy and calamity! The Fantasy is a short that brings out the comedy of a situation in which a husband goes to certain lengths in order to fulfill the fantasies of his wife…recently whispered into his ear. Audiences follow the husband during his day of completing tasks to bring the fantasy of his wife to life. The events that ensue create much more laughter and delight than I had anticipated prior to watching. Told in black and white and with no audible dialogue, the facial expressions and the reactions truly allow this film to come to life and makes the fantasy all the more real. Definitely a fun watch.

My score:star4

—–

DANDELION DREAMS

Category: Short. (IMDB page)dandelion

A short that challenges viewers to be true to yourself regardless of society and what is considered “the norm.” This short, longer than most, is filmed with quality and takes time to develop its message and characters in a way to bring about the morale of “unconditional social acceptance.” While the dialogue and acting at times come off a bit clunky, the overall delivery of this self-discovery is beautiful and pertinent in any day and age. Relatable to audiences of all walks of life, Dandelion Dreams encourages viewers to dare to dream and dare to discover what is important in one’s life.

My score:star3

—–

EXTENDING THE PLAY

Category: Other/Documentary. (IMDB page)extending the play

When this film ended, I was surprised by how much I was actually keyed in to the story and the people featured. Most sports “documentaries” end up being “the same” and bring nothing new to the table. Beginning this one, I felt that I would be subjected to the same experience. But something happened as I kept watching…I cared about the story and needed to know what happened next, becoming an involuntary but willing observant cheerleader of the two athletes featured in this biopic of sorts that plays out more like a television special for ESPN.

Synopsis from writer/director John Dahlgren

Synopsis from writer/director John Dahlgren

So many role models in the world are not given the due recognition they deserve. That being the case, I considered it a delight and an honor to have watched this special about two athletes who loved their sport, let it grow them as individuals and a couple and use it to help others. I knew nothing about Kasey and Bracey Ulin prior to watching this film and now I want to know more about their lives (not only their careers). This film, not about basketball as a whole, focuses on their story of triumph, redemption, fame, abasement and perseverance and faith. It is an inspiring film for everyone regardless of your interest in sports or basketball. When all hope may be lost, their story inspires others to “extend the play” and keep pressing toward the goal because it can be accomplished.

I do not want to write much more and over-hype it or spoil any of the story, but let me tell you, this film stayed with me in my heart and mind and I appreciated the filmmaker’s choice in subject, writing, filming and storytelling. It is fulfilling discoveries like these that make film festivals a special treat.

My score:star4.5

—–

BLIND

Category: Short. (IMDB page) blind

Sentiment alone does not always make for the best story. This short with a dual-sided meaning gives feet the phrase “blind leading the blind.” Playing out much like the images one conjures in their mind’s eye as a story of a past event is being retold from the mouth of the one who experienced it, this “based on a true story” film is not much of a story to tell, but tries to take a possibly every day event and make it into more. Challenging audiences thus to not be blind to the beauty of normal every day circumstances…however, the film could have benefited from a different way to share that message. It lacks any real empathy or passion for the characters overall. (The only real passion to come from any of the characters is while the credits roll and the main character is humming after reaching his epiphany and having his eyes opened.)

Sight is not always needed to truly see. In this instance, however, I had hoped there would be more to see to help further the film’s story and purpose.

My score:star

—–

The White Sands International Film Festival looks to offer some fantastic viewing experiences this year. Stay tuned for even more reviews and spotlights. Showtimes begin TODAY, September 3rd through September 7th.

Remember: For my full coverage and listing of all films reviewed, movie spotlights, photos, interviews and more, be sure to click (and visit often) the tab at the top of the screen entitled “2014 White Sands International Film Festival Coverage” for quick links to every post about WSIFF (or click HERE). You can also visit WSIFF.COM and click the link referring you to the “Official Blogger for 2014 WSIFF.”

Thanks for reading! Happy watching.

-Terrence Faulkner, a.k.a. “TheFocusedFilmographer”

#WSIFF: Trailer Spotlights

September 2, 2014

The White Sands International Film Festival is here.

As the official blogger for WSIFF, it has been my pleasure to preview several films. With so many films still left to be seen and reviewed by myself (I will be posting numerous reviews over the next few days), I wanted to at least post some of the trailers for films that will be showcased at the festival. Below you will find several trailers (some do contain language not intended for children, FYI) that may also help you choose your cinematic path of festival film viewing over the next few days. Be sure to click HERE for links of all my coverage (or click the tab above that says “2014 White Sands International Film Festival Coverage.”wsiffmain

Enjoy and see you there!

What A Gun 

100 Man Fight 

Brooklyn Unemployed 

The Odd Way Home 

Lies I Told My Sister 

The Mary Contest 

Refuge: Caring for Survivors of Torture 

Box of Sound 

Extending the Play 

Coney Island: Dreams for Sale 

Cough 

Gift of Gab 

Blind 

I M Possible 

Green Acres 

Five Ways to Die 

Butterfly Fluttering

Posthumous

Dogonauts: Enemy Line

Want to see a particular one seen here? Tell me which one(s) in the comment section. Some of them I have previewed and really enjoyed. (Reviews begin tomorrow.) For the full schedule to know when any and all films are playing at WSIFF, click HERE.

Thanks for reading! Happy watching.

-Terrence Faulkner, a.k.a. “TheFocusedFilmographer”

***Remember: For my full coverage and listing of all films reviewed, movie spotlights, photos, interviews and more, be sure to click (and visit often) the tab at the top of the screen entitled “2014 White Sands International Film Festival Coverage” for quick links to every post about WSIFF. OR, you can visit WSIFF.COM.

#WSIFF: The Week of the White Sands International Film Festival begins NOW!

September 1, 2014

The White Sands International Film Festival is HERE!

Beginning on September 3rd until September 7th, numerous film makers and lovers plan to join together in support of independent film and the “Love of the Lens” as I like to call it.lights

My site, thefocusedfilmographer.com, is the one place, of several, where you are able to follow the coverage, read reviews, see photos and, essentially, “attend” the festival to a degree. (BTW, if you happen to be in Las Cruces, NM during this time, just go get a ticket already and actually join us. I’ll save you a seat next to me if I can!)

Last year was a ton of fun (see all the coverage HERE) I am excited to share more of the fun and amazing efforts of the selections that will be presented during this growing film festival.camera

Over the next few days, you will see several posts containing reviews and special segments of the White Sands International Film Festival (mainly reviews). Be sure to stay tuned and to be following on Facebook (HERE) and Twitter (HERE).

action

Remember, be sure to click the 2014 WSIFF coverage link at the top of the page for direct links to all of the posts, reviews and interviews as this week will be tons of fun at the White Sands International Film Festival. See you there…and here!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

***For tickets, information, schedule of events and more, be sure to visit the main site for WSIFF at www.wsiff.com.***wsiff2014

 

Thank you to all the filmmakers for sharing your work and passion with us and thank you to the board of the White Sands International Film Festival.

And a special Thank You to my friend and supporter Tracy Patrick.

Thanks for reading! Happy watching.

-Terrence Faulkner, a.k.a. “TheFocusedFilmographer”

“It’s Time to Vote Tuesday” 174!

August 26, 2014

Today is Tuesday! And you know what that means! It is time for TIME TO VOTE TUESDAY!

For most people Tuesday is just the day after Monday, but for you it means that “Time to Vote Tuesday” is here!!

“Time to Vote Tuesday” is the session of fun weekly polls which spark thought, debate, and intrigue! Each poll closes in a week with results posted on the following ‘TVT’!

The last TVT poll has now closed (see it HERE). Entitled “Best of the Blockbusters” it asked voters to pick the top three summer blockbusters of all time! The votes are in (27 total) and the winner is:The-Dark-Knight-Wallpaper-the-dark-knight-30530515-1280-800

Thanks to all who voted!

—————–

This week’s edition of ‘TVT’ focuses on another fun (or sore) movie subject: SEQUELS. Entitled “Saddest Sequels” today’s poll asks you to choose the top 4 most disappointing sequels of the year so far. With the summer now over with this upcoming weekend, it seems the perfect time to ask.Best-Movie-Sequels

Sequels are a never-ending thing in Hollywood. (Let’s be thankful we haven’t gotten “Land Before Time 134″ or “American Pie Spinoff 19.”) While some are great and even better than their predecessor, some you wish never existed. Today’s main poll asks you to consider the latter in a slightly different way.Sequels-and-remakes-2014-list-of-upcoming-movies

I want you to think about 2014’s sequels and the ones that disappointed you the most in comparison to your expectations. This means that even the possibly preferred sequels Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: Days of Future Past or Captain America: The Winter Soldier may even get a vote from a few people who expected it to be even better for this reason or that. A vote for a sequel is not necessarily saying it was bad, just saying it was one of the most disappointing.ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES

With that understanding—

Today I ask you

In addition, here is a bonus poll for you:

—————–

Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

-T, The Focused Filmographer

***Don’t forget: For regular updates on movie news, rumors, pictures, posters, and more, FOLLOW ME on Twitter and Facebook.

———-

%d bloggers like this: