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“Trailer Time Thursday!” 10.30.14

October 30, 2014

Today is THURSDAY!!! And you know what that means!! :) It is officially time for another fun-filled edition of “Trailer Time Thursday!”

Here is your weekly fix of “Triple-T” (aka: “Trailer Time Thursday!”)!!

In case this is your first visit to “Triple-T,” here’s what it’s all about:

Seeing as how everyone loves movie previews, “Trailer Time Thursday!” was created to bring all of the trending trailers that you may have missed in theaters, or just need to see, all in one convenient place! It makes Thursdays so great! Get ready! Your Preview Pandemonium awaits!

Check them out and ENJOY!!! :)

Trailers of the Week: (all synopses are directly from IMDB.com)

1. Tomorrowland.tomorrowland

  • Starring: Britt Robertson, Judy Greer, George Clooney, Hugh Laurie and more.
  • Releasing: May 22, 2015.
  • Director: Brad Bird
  • Synopsis: “Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.”

Thoughts: This one grabs me from the beginning and I can’t wait to see what the adventure has in store! Brad Bird directing as well makes me want to be in tomorrow’s tomorrow already!

2. Ex Machinaexmachina

  • Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander and more.
  • Releasing: April 10, 2015
  • Director: Alex Garland
  • Synopsis: “A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.”

Thoughts: Things may not always be as they appear and this scifi thriller has tons of intrigue paired with philosophy and a great cast. It looks amazing. Kind of an “Oblivion” feel to it, only better. I want more!

3. Serena.serena_ver3 (1)

  • Starring:  Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans, Toby Jones and more.
  • Releasing: February 26, 2015
  • Director: Susanne Bier
  • Synopsis: “In Depression-era North Carolina, the future of George Pemberton’s timber empire becomes complicated when it is learned that his wife, Serena, cannot bear children.”

Thoughts: (That’s one of the lamer synopses written by IMDB…) This drama has not been too well received by critics and I am curious what audiences will think. Perhaps it is miscast as something about the leads just doesn’t fit even though they both have undeniable chemistry with one another. Not much makes me the least bit interested in it. How about you?

4. Cometcomet

  • Starring: Emmy Rossum, Justin Long, Eric Winter and more.
  • Releasing: December 5, 2014
  • Director: Sam Esmail
  • Synopsis: “Set in a parallel universe, Comet bounces back and forth over the course of an unlikely but perfectly paired couple’s six-year relationship.”

Thoughts: I like unique, indie, strikingly different films like this. Remember Ruby Sparks or [500] Days of Summer or Garden State? This one has a similar vibe and looks pretty solid to me for its genre. I’ll give it a shot. For more on Comet, read my friend Ruth’s review of it from seeing it at the Twin Cities Film Festival over at Flixchatter.net.

5. Dying of the Lightdyingofthelight

  • Starring: Nicolas Cage, Anton Yelchin, Alexander Karim and more.
  • Releasing: December 5, 2014
  • Director: Paul Schrader
  • Synopsis: “Veteran CIA agent Evan Lake has been ordered to retire. But when his protégé uncovers evidence that Lake’s nemesis, the terrorist Banir, has resurfaced, Lake goes rogue, embarking on a perilous, intercontinental mission to eliminate his sworn enemy.”

Thoughts: Cringeworthy? Perhaps. Cage-worthy? Definitely.

6. The Better Angels.better angels

  • Starring: Jason Clarke, Diane Kruger, Brit Marling and more.
  • Releasing: 2014
  • Director: A. J. Edwards
  • Synopsis: “The story of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood in the harsh wilderness of Indiana and the hardships that shaped him, the tragedy that marked him for ever and the two women who guided him to immortality.”

Thoughts: Produced by Terrence Malick, this looks to be a story of Abraham Lincoln unlike any other ever told. The history-lover in me is very curious about what writer/director A.J. Edwards has in store here, plus I like the work of actor Jason Clarke (Lawless). Anyone else interested? I just hope it’s not as slow as Malick’s Tree of Life.

7. In the Heart of the Sea.heart

  • Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Charlotte Riley, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson and more.
  • Releasing: March 13, 2015
  • Director: Ron Howard
  • Synopsis: “Based on the 1820 event, a whaling ship is preyed upon by a sperm whale, stranding its crew at sea for 90 days, thousands of miles from home.”

Thoughts: Reminds me a bit of other open ocean adventures like Master and Commander and Life of Pi. Telling the story that inspired the literary classic Moby Dick, this film with a great cast and one of my favorite directors looks quite epic and visually captivating. I’m ready!

8. Foxcatcher.foxcatcher2

  • Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and more.
  • Releasing: November  2014.
  • Director:  Bennett Miller
  • Synopsis: “Based on the true story of Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestler whose relationship with sponsor John du Pont and brother Dave Schultz would lead to unlikely circumstances.”

Thoughts: I’ve waited a looongg time to see this since first learning about the project and now the time is almost here. Carell, in a role unlike any other he has done, looks to have a promising award season alongside Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. Remember the first intriguing trailer that just leaves you more curious? (here). I am ready to see this!

Spotlight Video of the Week:

Trailer for Iranian film: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Nighta-girl-walks-home-alone-poster-2_article1
Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh and more.

Synopsis: “In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.”

Thoughts on this Iranian film? I suspect we might see this “first Iranian Vampire Western” receive note during the upcoming award season in foreign film categories.

…and…just in case you missed it (or want to see it again), here is the extended trailer for AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.avengers_age_of_ultron_ver10

Well, that’s it for this round of ‘Triple-T’!

My favorite trailers from today:

  • Ex Machina
  • Comet
  • Tomorrowland

Which ones are your favorites??

—————————————–This Week

This Weekend’s Theatrical Releases:

Are you ready for the weekend in theaters? Here’s what releases this weekend, October 31, 2014:

  • Wide Release: Nightcrawler, Before I Go To Sleep, Saw (re-release)
  • Limited Release: Horns, The ABCs of Death 2, Goodbye to Language 3D and more.

Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

**Keep missing articles when they post here? Keep missing movie news, trailers and posters?**

**Don’t miss any anymore! Be sure to follow on Facebook and Twitter for continuous movie coverage!**

-T, The Focused Filmographer

Many Mini Movie Review Round Up

October 4, 2014

It’s about time that I caught up everyone  on my most recent film views. Below are several mini-reviews for some of the films I have seen and delayed on reviewing.

1. If I Stayif i stay

  • Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley and more.
  • Synopsis: “Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined.”

Trailer:

Review: This book-turned-movie about a young girl after a tragic car accident leaves her orphaned and in a coma takes audiences along with her on her out-of-body experience and trip down memory lane as she must choose to fight for life and stay among the living. Expecting this to be a more linear film than it was, the amount of time spent in flashbacks as opposed to the out of body experience made it a much more different film with more tear/heart jerking moments than perhaps desired. I was impressed by the cast (especially the parents and how “real” they were) but ultimately had hoped for a different style in which the story was told. Less “Ghost” and more “The Fault In Our Stars” with a spin of “Save the Last Dance” with too much kissing, plenty of nice music (hooray for cello playing!) and predictable emotional drama overload. Beautiful with a hint of boring.

Score: 3 out of 5

———-

2. The Equalizerequalizer

  • Starring: Denzel Washington, Melissa Leo, Chloë Grace Moretz and more.
  • Synopsis: “In The Equalizer, Denzel Washington plays McCall, a man who believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when McCall meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by – he has to help her. Armed with hidden skills that allow him to serve vengeance against anyone who would brutalize the helpless, McCall comes out of his self-imposed retirement and finds his desire for justice reawakened. If someone has a problem, if the odds are stacked against them, if they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer.”

Trailer:

Review: Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Brooklyn’s Finest, Shooter) The Equalizer, based on the tv series of the same name, brings Denzel back after the recent duds of Safe House, 2 Guns and Unstoppable. Reminiscent of another Denzel favorite Man on Fire, The Equalizer is more than just a film following a single man pent on righting wrongs and conducting Punisher-style vengeance. One of its greatest strengths is utilizing the main character and his relationships with the many supporting characters in the film. Fuqua skillfully uses all the characters to blend the story. Some may balk at the continued use of Russians as the villains or the little amount of time that Chloë Grace Moretz is actually in the film, but all the elements of The Equalizer worked for me and gave me almost all of what I wanting from the film. A definite must-see, especially for Denzel fans.

Score: 4 out of 5

———-

3. Gone Girlgone_girl

  • Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and more.
  • Synopsis: “On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne reports that his wife, Amy, has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?”

Trailer:

Review: Directed by David Fincher, this is one of the more anticipated films of the year and starts off the “Oscar-bait” movie season with an impressive cast and equally impressive performances (most notably Rosamund Pike’s). This mystery told on the screen is both engrossing and unrelenting as it unravels. Twists and turns and timely reveals make for a great presentation of this best-seller novel on-screen. A bit longer than necessary I felt the pacing, for me at least, worked well much like a book that builds up towards its reveals and climax. Fincher somewhat seemed unsure of where to end it as it could’ve ended several times before it did and the final ending, while plausible, is anti-climatic at best. Fans of the book and fans of Fincher will find much to enjoy in this latest starring Affleck and more.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

———-

4. Annabelleannabelle

  • Starring: Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard and more.
  • Synopsis: “John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia – a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now… Annabelle.”

Trailer:

Review: I thoroughly enjoyed The Conjuring and toted it in my review as possibly the best horror movie of the past decade. So, when this prequel was announced focusing on the creepy doll that was featured in The Conjuring, my eyebrow raised in speculation. Now, after having seen it, my eyebrow is raised in disgust and disappointment. Annabelle is what you’d expect: a cheap knockoff that seeks to earn praise and profit while riding on the coattails of a well-crafted predecessor and on the dependency of moviegoers hoping for scary movie thrills in the month of October. Full of every single creepy cliche that, in turn, is not scary (including shock-and-scare moments, completely predictable plot points and characters, unoriginal copycat use of vices such as empty creaking rocking chairs in motion, baby mobiles, doors slamming and more) Annabelle brings nothing new to the genre/franchise and bores with its unoriginality, predictability and static acting. Just like the characters in the film, the filmmakers should have just left “well-enough” alone!

Score: 1 out of 5

———-

5. A Walk Among the Tombstones

  • Starring: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley and more.
  • Synopsis: “Matt Scudder is a former cop now a private eye. He is asked by a drug dealer to find the men who kidnapped his wife. It seems like they killed her even after he paid them. Scudder refuses. But the man later goes to see him and tells him how his wife was killed. Scudder takes the job. He does some research and thinks the men he is looking for have done this more than once. And that everyone they grabbed is connected to a drug dealer. He was about to give up when they grab another girl and Scudder tries make sure she’s returned alive.”

Trailer:

Review: Not your average light-hearted Sunday afternoon viewing. A Walk Among the Tombstones is a dark watch that can only be described as Super Intense and Intensely Suspenseful. Think Prisoners meets Silence of the Lambs meets Taken meets Se7en and you’ve pretty much nailed it. Not particularly Neeson’s best but it does keep the attention. Placed in the 90’s, the film has the feel of the decade along with the cinematography to boot. The story is not new but director Scott Frank (The Lookout) pushes the limits a few times in making audiences feel that uneasy need to squirm in their seats as the creep level increases along with the spine-tingling feeling of the actual plausibility of the events as they transpire. Not terrible, not great…but also not a walk I’m wanting to take again anytime soon.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

———-

6. The Maze Runnermaze_runner_ver7

  • Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter and more.
  • Synopsis: “Thomas wakes up in an elevator, remembering nothing but his own name. He emerges into a world of about 60 teen boys who have learned to survive in a completely enclosed environment, subsisting on their own agriculture and supplies. A new boy arrives every 30 days. The original group has been in “The Glade” for two years, trying to find a way to escape through the Maze that surrounds their living space. They have begun to give up hope. Then a comatose girl arrives with a strange note, and their world begins to change. There are some great, fast-paced action scenes, particularly those involving the nightmarish Grievers who plague the boys.”

Trailer:

Review: The latest of the Young Adult genre proves to be one of the best! We’ve had previous self-proclaimed “Twilight-killers” that have flopped such as I Am Number Four, Beautiful Creatures, The Host, Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The Giver and, dare I add, Divergent, but The Maze Runner succeeds where so many have failed. Bringing together elements of Ender’s Game, The Hunger Games and its own twists, The Maze Runner blends action, mystery, adventure and characters into this best-seller turned movie and it is a wild ride indeed. Questions lead to answers that lead to more questions in this maze of movie that will have you running to see the release date of the expected sequel once the credits roll. I appreciated the fact that the film did not force any unnecessary romance or political overtone or overpowering unlikely outcomes and just told its story in a way that is both entertaining and nail-biting. Tons of close-calls and expected character types, but to see this film is the right call. Run to The Maze Runner and enjoy, but be warned, when the ending comes…you will be left wanting more for good reason!

Score: 4 out of 5

———-

(Remember, to read this review of mine and over 300 more, check out THE ARCHIVE of movies I have reviewed anytime. Know before you go…or rent…or buy!)

———-

Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

-T, The Focused Filmographer

“Trailer Time Thursday!” 9.18.14

September 18, 2014

Today is THURSDAY!!! And you know what that means!! :) It is officially time for another fun-filled edition of “Trailer Time Thursday!”

Here is your weekly fix of “Triple-T” (aka: “Trailer Time Thursday!”)!!

In case this is your first visit to “Triple-T,” here’s what it’s all about:

Seeing as how everyone loves movie previews, “Trailer Time Thursday!” was created to bring all of the trending trailers that you may have missed in theaters, or just need to see, all in one convenient place! It makes Thursdays so great! Get ready! Your Preview Pandemonium awaits!

Check them out and ENJOY!!! :)

Trailers of the Week: (all synopses are directly from IMDB.com)

1. The Judge.judge_ver2

  • Starring: Robert Downey, Jr; Robert Duvall; Vera Farmiga; Billy Bob Thornton and more.
  • Releasing: October 10, 2014.
  • Director: David Dobkin
  • Synopsis: “Big city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family.”

Thoughts: This latest trailer brings out more of the drama, Downey and Duvall and while that is great, I couldn’t help but be even happier that D’Onofrio is in the film (He’s one of my faves). This has the feel of a melodrama and legal drama and a great cast to boot, including those mentioned and Leighton Meester and Dax Shepherd. The jury’s still out on this one. I think it will be good but will it be great enough to bail the 2014 movie box office performance?

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt1.hunger_games_mockingjay__part_one_ver24

  • Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks and more.
  • Releasing: November 21, 2014
  • Director: Francis Lawrence
  • Synopsis: “Katniss Everdeen is in District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.”

Thoughts: This trailer gives a little bit more of what type of feel and fight to expecting in this anticipated first part of the final act of the Hunger Games. Katniss keeps us in suspense and the stakes could never be higher. I can’t wait. The Mockingjay whistle is stuck in my head.

3. John Wick.wick

  • Starring:  Keanu Reeves, Adrianne Palicki, Alfie Allen, Kevin Nash, Ian McShane and more.
  • Releasing: October 24, 2014
  • Director: Chad Stahelski
  • Synopsis: “A former hit man is pursued by an old friend who was contracted to kill him.”

Thoughts: This film is the directorial debut of Stahelski but he is no film novice. Stahelski was the stunt coordinator/director for films such as 300, The Matrix, The Hunger Games, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Constantine, Spider-Man 2, Tron: Legacy and more. The more this trailer played, the more I couldn’t believe they kept adding to the cast! Some really excellent choices in here for a film such as this that places Keanu Reeves as “the one guy” who has an ability greater than most and fights against all to right some wrongs. While it sounds like almost every other Keanu movie, this one looks action-packed and has my attention. (Side note, will Theon Greyjoy get what is coming to him here too?)

4. The Liberatorliberator

  • Starring: Édgar Ramírez, Erich Wildpret, María Valverde and more.
  • Releasing: 2014
  • Director: Alberto Alvero
  • Synopsis: “Simon Bolivar fought over 100 battles against the Spanish Empire in South America. He rode over 70,000 miles on horseback. His military campaigns covered twice the territory of Alexander the Great. His army never conquered — it liberated.”

Thoughts: A biopic that is getting some attention from critics. It looks interesting and I like the fact that the actors aren’t widely known. Some will shy away from it due to the subtitles but I like a good story like this- one of a fight for freedom-  especially when it’s a true story.

5. Men, Women & Childrenmen

  • Starring: Ansel Elgort, Adam Sandler, Judy Greer, Jennifer Garner, Dean Norris and more.
  • Releasing: October 17, 2014
  • Director: Jason Reitman
  • Synopsis: “A look at the sexual frustrations that young teenagers and adults face in today’s world.”

Thoughts: This extended trailer for this upcoming Jason Reitman film gives more insight and leaves more questions. I am reminded of the movie Crash. I am intrigued because I want to know what is going on, but I don’t know yet if I want to see it. Perhaps not “theater-worthy” but worth watching.

6. Playing It Cool.playing_it_cool

  • Starring: Chris Evans, Michelle Monaghan, Aubrey Plaza, Anthony Mackie, Topher Grace and more.
  • Releasing: 2014
  • Director: Justin Reardon
  • Synopsis: “Unrequited love motivates a guy to write about his experiences.”

Thoughts: Captain America and the Falcon reunite in this romcom that has such a fun assembled cast. We also have Dr. Reed Richards, Venom, The Godfather (Old School) and a few other great cast members, this is a romcom that makes fun of romcoms in the trailer but looks to be a decent one. I’ll give it a shot! Thoughts?

7. FURY—featurette.fury_ver6

  • Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal and more.
  • Releasing: October 17, 2014
  • Director: David Ayer
  • Synopsis: “April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.”

Thoughts: I love behind-the-scenes insight for movies and this one is way cool. You’d probably not known about those facts about the Tiger unless you had scene this featurette. Makes it even more exciting to watch. I am really looking forward to Fury.

8. Effie Gray.effie_gray

  • Starring: Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi, Robbie Coltrane and more.
  • Releasing: November  2014.
  • Director:  Richard Laxton
  • Synopsis: “A look at the mysterious relationship between Victorian art critic John Ruskin and his teenage bride Effie Gray.”

Thoughts: Dakota Fanning takes a turn at a Victorian era film role. At first I thought it was Amanda Seyfried. I just can’t buy it. Although I do like the look of it. Time-period pieces are great in their authentic feel, but the story has to be interesting too. I’m just not interested in this one. Are you?

Spotlight Video of the Week:

New Trailer for Serenaserena_ver3
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans, Toby Jones and more, Serena is bringing the Depression-era to theaters in February.

Synopsis: In Depression-era North Carolina, the future of George Pemberton’s timber empire becomes complicated when it is learned that his wife, Serena, cannot bear children.Here’s a full-length trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal’s upcoming crime drama that also stars Rene Russo and Bill Paxton. Synopsis: “A young man stumbles upon the underground world of L.A. freelance crime journalism.”

Releasing February 26, 2015. What do you think?

Well, that’s it for this round of ‘Triple-T’!

My favorite trailers from today:

  • John Wick
  • The Hunger Games; Mockingjay, Pt 1.
  • Fury

Which ones are your favorites??

—————————————–This Week

This Weekend’s Theatrical Releases:

Are you ready for the weekend in theaters? Here’s what releases this weekend, September 19, 2014:

  • Wide Release: The Maze Runner,  This is Where I Leave You, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Tusk, The Guest
  • Limited Release: The Zero Theorem, Tracks, 20,000 Days on Earth and more.

Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

-T, The Focused Filmographer

#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

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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”

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