Sundance is really a friend to horror and genre films no longer. You get the feeling looking at the schedule the last couple of years that there seems to be a preference for GREASY STRANGLER outlandishness and cinematic pranks, as opposed to breathtaking “scare the crap out of you” cinema. Who is the genre lover in the programming staff? Something tells me they wouldn’t admit to it if there was one.
FILMS GONE WILD: The Harvey Weinstein Revelations Need To Be the Tipping Point – It’s Up to Men Everywhere (Not Just in Film) to Finally Raise the Bar
And that’s the balance I think men need to strike, even when it (as it so often does) go against every instinct to “fix things” and “problem solve.” We need to be ready to stand up and speak out when a loved one, or a friend like Rose or my other film fest friend, or in fact, a complete stranger needs us to do so. But we also, need to never assume we’ve got all of this gamed out, that we’ve got it down, we know the score.
FILMS GONE WILD: If you are a guy debating the Tim League Alamo Drafthouse problem, try starting by listening to what the women are saying first
I was wrong and I was wrong because it is so very easy to be wrong as a male in this arena. It is so incredibly easy to think of me first. It is beyond easy to not consider everything that vitally needs to be considered simply because I have a penis. It is a painful admission to make even as I seek to correct it and do better.
FILM FESTIVAL NEWS: EARTHxFilm 2018 Announces an Online Student Film Competition & STRIKE OUT STRAWS Campaign
EarthxFilm presented by EarthX (formerly Earth Day Texas) today announced the details for their 2018 Online Short Film Competition for students, ages 12 to 21, offering a total of $12,000 in prize money for the winning filmmakers. Also announced was a year-round effort to STRIKE OUT STRAWS starting with EarthxFilm’s own event (April 13-22) and continuing with an educational awareness campaign through local area schools and businesses. The goal is to replace, remove, and/or prevent the use of at least one million single use plastic straws in North Texas in 2018.
FILM FESTIVAL NEWS: The 2018 San Luis Obispo Film Festival Announces Film Slate with Bollywood, surfing movies, the Beat Generation, Wine, Food, and more!
The San Luis Obispo Film Festival (March 13-18) has announced its full slate of films with a jam-packed schedule of events of film, wine, and food, including a Bollywood themed Opening Night Gala featuring Shubhashish Bhutiani’s HOTEL SALVATION, and SLO’s signature ode to surfing with their annual “Surf Nite” blow out and a “Movies by the Bay” surfing movie double feature. Special Presentations include screenings highlighting The Beat Generation, “Movies for Wine Lovers,” a Central Coast Filmmakers Showcase, and movie classics, in addition to an impressive lineup of narrative and documentary films in competition. The line-up includes 139 films (20 narrative features, 34 documentary features, and 85 short films) representing 19 countries.
FESTIVAL NEWS: The 2018 Dallas Comedy Festival Announces Headliners and a Preview of this year’s Fest
The Dallas Comedy House today announced that critically acclaimed New York comedienne Sasheer Zamata and the award-winning Improv/Sketch group 3Peat, out of Chicago, will be the headliners for the 2018 Dallas Comedy Festival (March 27-31).
SUNDANCE 2018 REVIEWS: Tolga Karaçelik’s BUTTERFLIES is an exceedingly black comedy masterfully disguised as just a kind-of black comedy
Anyone looking for a nice, neat, family comedy experience with a few difficulties, a la Ron Howard or perhaps Billy Wilder, need not apply to the ticket booth. Neither is the morose punishment junkie seeking a Tolstoy experience via an Ingmar Bergman lens. What unfolds instead is a high-wire act that maintains all the high stakes of a misstep’s fall yet remains superficially entertaining.
SLAMDANCE 2018 REVIEWS: Christina Kallas’s THE RAINBOW EXPERIMENT is an edgy, and dizzying exploration of the aftermath of a tragic high school accident
Much of the editing is edgy and dizzying, recalling scenes from other films depicting a plane crash. Which really is the point. The social unraveling which occurs throughout the progression of the story is really a slow-motion calamity which sends each of the characters hurling in different directions, as if none of the passengers on a distressed jet were wearing their seatbelts.
TALLGRASS FF 2017 REVIEWS: Bill Watterson’s DAVE MADE A MAZE is a hilariously creative and visual masterpiece
As fun as the entire cast and script are, the real cinema magic here are the visuals. The maze comes to life through a combination of live action puppetry, forced perspective, optical illusions, stop motion animation, and even a zoetrope.
10 (Okay…15 in this case) MOST RECENT FILMS WATCHED: Wrapping up 2017 with past film fest viewings and Christmas films (which will be a surprise to no one)
As I was looking at my 2017 list of films, I realize that I had not included the films I saw at the Tallgrass Film Festival, nor did I include the films I saw at the Lone Star Film Festival. I’m actually a little surprised this hadn’t happened before as the year had some jam-packed film fest travel periods with a lot going on. So, here are the films as well as the holiday viewing choices that wrapped up the year….
Colossal came out in early 2017, when America had elected Russia had installed a male chauvinist pig as president, one who bragged of his sexual predation prowess, but had not yet reckoned with the full impact of the “woke” reaction to come down the pike. The film quickly came and went in the theaters, and even dedicated sci-fi/monster fans let it slip by, unaware of the larger impact the film was to impart.
VOD REVIEWS: Cullen Hoback’s WHAT LIES UPSTREAM will make you question every bottle of water you take a drink from. Mmmmm, refreshing!
In terms of film style, What Lies Upstream is almost sneaky. Hoback has a knack for ingratiating himself with people and gaining trust. It doesn’t matter that he’s a California liberal. He masterfully parlays his few childhood memories from visiting relatives in West Virginia into full acceptance by the vocally anti-regulation, anti-Obama residents who are struggling to get answers from the water authority, health officials and even Senator Joe Manchin.
VOD REVIEWS: Paul Taylor’s DRIFTWOOD is a dialogue-free mediation on the cycle of control and abuse for both the oppressor and the oppressed
Funny moments show up unexpectedly at times, and are built up slowly at others. Just when things start to get too heavy and dark, a spark of child-like spontaneity evokes the kind of laughter that helps illuminate a pathway into liberation.
VOD REVIEWS: Dorie Barton’s GIRL FLU. is a gem of a young girl’s coming-of-age story centered around the crisis of her first period and a mom that needs more adult guidance than she does
Given the subject matter this could have been trite and tacky fodder for an afternoon special but Barton keeps it low key and very real. The solid friends who help us navigate our world, the humor among friends and sarcastic families, people who get so wrapped up in what could-have-been that they don’t see what’s right in front of them; she never takes the easy way out nor the over the top reaction.
TEN BURNING QUESTIONS: Cullen Hoback’s WHAT LIES UPSTREAM offers a primer on documentary investigation and inspiration for activation
Dr. Gupta has a massive transformation over the course of the film, and we watch him wrestle with his ideals while trying to climb the political ladder. I certainly don’t see him as a villain. Rather, Gupta’s evolution into a hamstrung health official is a damning indictment of the entire system.
TEN BURNING QUESTIONS: Our interview with first-time director Cati Gonzalez opens a window in to the madness and method behind the jazz-improvisation of EKAJ
When I picked Mecca, I had already written about a guy with AIDS. It was rough for me because [actor Badd Idea] has AIDS. Every scene, I would pass it by him before [filming]. I’d ask, “Are you OK saying that?” Even though he was outspoken about [his disease]. So, it was rough. Jake grew up while we were making the movie. If I could do it again, I know [now] how I would do it [differently]. But I like challenges. I’m very extreme [when it comes to] challenges.
Perhaps the best breakout comedy movie from the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival is a Capra-esque gem called Nobody’s Watching. It’s a smartly-executed work which captures powerful and authentic emotions, whose laughs are not throwaway and cheap, but based in real sadness and approached with great reverence.
SHORTS AND TO THE POINT: Travis Bible’s time travel short, EXIT STRATEGY won $50,000 at the Louisiana Film Prize. And there are multiple good reasons for that.
Bible scores with EXIT STRATEGY by remembering two very key requirements that make that film or a film like GROUNDHOG DAY a classic and so many other films a nice try at best: He gives us characters to care about and one character in particular who grows during the course of his impossible journey.
A loving ode to the late 60s/early 70s as well as a delicately drawn coming-of-age memoir about a young woman’s upbringing by a “wild” single mother, Suzanne Racz’s short film WILLOW demonstrates the first-time filmmaker’s sense of style behind the camera as well as her depth as a storyteller.
SHORTS AND TO THE POINT: Maja Aro’s HOODS hits the bullseye as the complete package in a cleverly conceived and created short film…that could be expanded into something more
It actually started as a very different script inspired by a video game. I wanted to write something with a badass female lead, then she evolved into this motorbike riding little red riding hood. I love the esthetic of dieselpunk, so the world was heavily influenced by that. It all kind of evolved from there. The world is big, and even though the short is just a little slice of an introduction to it, I didn’t want to feel half assed just because it was a short.