PLEASE PUNISH ME, is a super cute comedy about a guy getting his ass whipped. Yeah, I realize that the words “ass whipped” and “cute” aren’t typically used together but really, trust me on this one, guys. It’s the story of a businessman who is so overly blessed, that he seeks to be “punished” for his curse. Thus entering the “Punish Me Palace” in the above photo. Cute S&M, who knew?
PLEASE PUNISH ME is just under 15 minutes but it gets its job done well. The characters were more well-rounded than some I’ve seen in recent “features”, and while the film doesn’t necessarily take us anywhere new or special, that’s totally fine because you’ll be enjoying the ride nonetheless. The businessman is a fabulous character – love the actor (David Sackal, I believe) – who is just so miserably unhappy because of his neverending happiness. It’s a fun concept to play around with, for sure. Then there were the secondary characters of the “Punish Me Palace’s” receptionist and (I guess) head dominatrix (?), who were both equally funny and stole their scenes. You’ve also got some REALLY nice camera work going on here. I absolutely LOVED the closing shot of the businessman’s dominatrix laying her mask down on the bed. It doesn’t sound like much, I realize, but it was beautiful. And you can never go wrong with whippings. Just sayin’. ;)
Kudos to writer, Tom Paolino, and director, Chris Esper, on an incredibly well-made (and funny) short. Keep up the awesome work guys!
I *poofed* again. This time with good reason though. My best friend of the past 25 years got married this past Saturday and so this past week was crazy busy. I wish I could post a photo of her because she was absolutely gorgeous but suffice it to say, despite the fact that I loathe weddings with a fiery passion, it was a beautiful one and incredibly happy-making. :)
I just have a couple of more work things to catch up on and I’ll be good to go on jumping back into the Portland Film Fest films and my usual indies (and I’ve even watched a few things like THE BABADOOK here recently!). AND I’ll start making my rounds again (seriously guys, how do you manage to blog and read all those blogs and do everything else?? How did I used to do this? It’s insanity!). ;) I am also determined to fit in watching MAD MAX: FURY ROAD this week b/c dammit, I’m the only one who hasn’t seen it!!! Grrr-bunnies…
I’m hoping to fit in at least 3 films this week (*fingers crossed*) b/c I have a VERY important FROZEN themed birthday party to attend for my niece this weekend, so I will once again be busy.
Till then, though I’m sure you’ve already seen it, since I think this is totes amazeballs, I leave you with this brilliant editing job. Enjoy and happy Labor Day, guys! :)
*This one’s a little long but bear with me guy’s ’cause this festival is totally worth it!*
Okay, if any of y’all are near the Portland area September 1-7, I am going to have to HIGHLY recommend that you hit up the Portland Film Fest. How can this little ole Southern Belle recommend something so far off? Cause I’ve seen the line up and guys, it looks AWESOME. In fact, I’ll be covering festival films right here in the coming days!
It’s not JUST the films though – there’s so much more. There are special tributes to visionaries in certain fields:
1) Will Vinton – Will is receiving a lifetime achievement aware for his innovative contributions to the history of animation. He’s a world renowned Claymation® pioneer and Academy Award winner – you might recognize the name from his legendary stop-motion classic, THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN (which will be having it’s 30th anniversary screening at the festival along with his Academy Award winning short, CLOSED MONDAYS). I have to admit I’m not totally familiar with the guy but we all know I love my stop-motion animation (mostly in the form of Jan Svankmajer but whatevs) so this sounds pretty cool to me.
2) Wendy Froud – An American doll-artist, creature sculptor, and puppet-maker, Wendy Froud is a profound contributor to the history of pop culture and cinema. She is best known for being a member of the fabrication team of the iconic character Yoda for the 1980 film “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” and also fabricated timeless creatures for the Jim Henson films “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth”. In appreciation of her work, LucasFilms will generously share unique behind the scenes archival images from her Star Wars work, and Wendy will be honored with a lifetime achievement award. GUYS, she helped build Yoda!!! And she worked on LABYRINTH!!! I die. Seriously. I want to go to here SO much.
*sighs* So yeah, not just amazeballs films but ya know, STAR WARS awesomeness too. BUT it is a film fest and the films ARE important and SO many of them look SO good, it was hard to pick out which ones I wanted to see. Here’s some samples from the lineup that I’m excited about!
1) Aimy in a Cage/ U.S. A creative teenage girl is placed into a mind-altering procedure to civilize her, while news of a virus epidemic spreads throughout the world. (Um, YES. Apparently they made a movie about my hometown… ;) )
2) Touched with Fire/ U.S. Two manic depressives meet in a psychiatric hospital and begin a romance that brings out all of the beauty and horror of their condition. (Cannot WAIT to see this. Also Katie Holmes, y’all. Katie Holmes. I don’t care what anyone says, girl is talented, and I for one would really love to see her come back from that whole Cruise debacle.)
3) Audition/ U.S. A romance is portrayed by one hundred actors who compete for two lead roles and a chance to perform the final terrifying scene. (As if I WOULDN’T watch this one…)
4) Kings of Kallstadt/ Germany, U.S. A humorous documentary about German small village life and its famous American relatives: Donald Trump and Heinz Ketchup. (Okay, not entirely sure about this one but c’mon…you’ve gotta be a little curious… ;) )
5) Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around The World/ U.S. The Make-A-Wish Foundation and the city of San Francisco join forces to grant a five-year-old boy’s wish to become Batman for a day, drawing worldwide attention. (Remember Batkid??)
6) Dude Bro Party Massacre III/ U.S. A hysterical and bloody twist on 80’s slasher flicks, in which a dorky loner must infiltrate a party-centric fraternity to solve the murder of his twin brother. (Um, do you SEE that title? BEST title in the history of titles EVER. TOTES.)
AND…there are a TON more (80 feature films and 134 short films to be exact). But that’s not all! (I know right? You’d need, like, an extra 5 hours a day to fit everything in!) There’s also 75 Master Classes going on (if I was there it would seriously be a dilemma between going to the classes or going to see films, I kid you not, because the classes look really awesome!) so my peeps in the industry, I suggest you get y’alls selves over there. At the least, go take a class for me and then come back and report on it? Please and thank you? :)
AND…oh I’ve been saving the best for last…AND on Labor Day…a special all day and night event will set a Guinness Book of World Records for “most extras in a short film”. Director George Cameron Romero, son of iconic horror director George A. Romero, will direct. Award-winning makeup artists will oversee effects for an anticipated cast of thousands. Event will also include a nighttime surprise zombie film screening. You read that correctly, friends, there is indeed a ZOMBIE DAY!!! With a Romero, nonetheless! *squee* STAR WARS and zombies all in the same festival? Be still my heart…*sighs*
Okay, I’ll wrap this up now with a little “About” portion on the Portland Film Festival and links for the schedule and tix, but in all seriousness – somebody go take pictures of stuff for me!!! ;) If you do go, have an absolute blast and please do come back to this post and tell us all about it because we’d love to hear. And for those not in the area, never fear, you’ll be catching part of the lineup right here at CinemaSchminema. It’s gonna be fun, guys. Mwah!
“Established in 2013, The Portland Film Festival is Oregon’s largest film festival, and was named “one of the coolest film festivals in the world,” by MovieMaker Magazine in 2014. It is a non-profit, year round organization dedicated to nurturing filmmakers and audiences, and to celebrating the power of a good story. The festival focuses on the people, ideas, technology, skills and artistry behind filmmaking and provides both entertaining and educational opportunities for the public.
Screenings take place across the city at seven venues, including some of the oldest historic theaters in Oregon, and includes outdoor screenings as well – offering its filmmakers some of the largest audiences available on the West Coast.
Previous and current festival partners include the City of Portland, Portland Parks & Recreation, Women in Film, Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA), Willamette Writers, SAG Aftra (Actor’s Guild/Union), Oregon Governor’s Office of Film (Oregon Film), I.A.T.S.E. (Film Union), Directed by Women, Digital Media Communications Department at Clackamas Community College and others.
Although the festival began in 2013, its history goes back to 2009, when the Portland Film Club was founded as a film club to bring film lovers together to view and discuss films. The club now boasts over 2300 members and is one of the largest movie clubs on the west coast. It screens typically one movie a week including new and independent features.”
*Sorry guys, I’m trying, I promise!! I’ll be ’round to visit soon!*
You guys remember how much I love well made short films that truly hit their mark, right? (I’m only mentioning it every single time I watch a short so how could you forget? Ha!) Here we have MESSIAH, which tells the story of Courtney, who comes home on a seemingly normal day. Upon returning, she has a mysterious visitor peddling a religious organization. Courtney’s day turns on end when she involuntarily finds herself in the middle of a dark and sinister secret. Sounds kinda cool, huh? Yeah…no…
MESSIAH, unfortunately, is not one of those shorts I adore so much. Coming in at just under 10 minutes, nothing happens till halfway through (an attempt to set the atmosphere, I’m sure, but one shouldn’t need 3-5 minutes to do so). The last half moves quickly but makes no damn sense. Okay, girl being stalked by weird, random religious people makes sense because horror (no actual reason needed there). But the girl’s boyfriend is introduced and THAT’S what doesn’t make sense. He’s apparently off in Spain or something gallivanting about and just after Courtney has let mystery religious visitor into her home, he FaceTimes her or whatever. Flash to him tied up in a chair with someone holding his phone in front of him, forcing him to stick to a script – someone with a religious tattoo. Oh no! They got him too! But wait! He’s being brave and telling Courtney to run and get out of the house in the hopes of saving her. Yay! And then comes the end, when BF here – who’s still on the phone and still tied to a chair – apologizes to Courtney for what’s happening. WAIT? WHAT? HE’S part of this? Did he set this up? But if he set this up, then why the hell is he freaking tied to a chair and being forced to talk to her while some scary person stands over him? Why did he tell her to run and then go “oops, sorry, Courts”. WTF? What is he apologizing for and why does this short play it like he’s part of this whole religious kidnapping scheme when nothing else in the entire thing goes along with that? Ugh. Bored now. This seems more like a trailer than anything else and if this was the aforementioned secret then, well, I’m just disappointed.
Another thing is the “messiah” of the title. Titles don’t necessarily have to fit in with the theme of the movie but with the religious overtures here, it seems at first glance as though MESSIAH would be a good name – except who/what/when/where is this messiah? Is Courtney the messiah? Is her BF the messiah? Do they need Courtney to bring forth a messiah? Or maybe an Antichrist figure? Just why the hell do they need Courtney?? Is mysterious visitor the messiah since she’s going around kidnapping people and somehow this is going to save this religious organization? SO MANY QUESTIONS!! This is the type of film where I don’t actually consider it to be leaving an open ending so much as leaving it up to the watcher to tell themselves the ENTIRE story after having been given what amounts to a one sentence summation. Plots can leave questions and be open-ended and all of that and I’ll love them. But just do…THIS…and it comes across as lazy.
Things I DID enjoy: 1) the music was fun. Totes melodramatic in that over the top, cheesy kind of way but it fit and THAT set the atmosphere. 2) Rachel Langdon as the “Mysterious Visitor” – she creeped me the hell out so props to her! 3) the dog – yay puppies!…Yes, I do realize this is a short list.
MESSIAH very much comes off as a beginner’s first film (and according to the website it is kind of that as it’s director/producer Mark Grabianowski’s first step into the horror genre, and writer Justin McCoy’s writing debut). Go back and add to the story and make it, well, a STORY and I think this could be something worth watching, I do. Until then though, this girl at least doesn’t understand what the goal of this was meant to be. However, if YOU’D like to check out MESSIAH for yourself or learn more about it, visit them on Facebook or the MESSIAH website!
Horror maven Wes Craven died today, age 76, from his battle with brain cancer. Normally I don’t post things like this but I think we all know how influential NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET has been in my life (I’ve only mentioned it a time or two…). It’s my favorite horror series; I own 2 documentaries about it (if there are more, PLEASE let me know because I need them!); have a sweet NOES shirt that I was gifted a couple of years ago; used to fall asleep to the theme song that I would play on repeat on my phone (what? It was soothing!) and had my proudest “parent” moment ever just the other day when my ex-bf’s kid sent me a story to read that he’d written for Creepypasta that had a Krueger homage in it. *wipes away happy tears* I am proud of the horror education I instilled in my kiddo.
The first SCREAM also made an impact on me as I was 16 when it came out (yes, I’m old, I know) and it was one of my first horror movies. It was so irreverent, so scary (at the time) and so fun. It made me realize movies didn’t have to come in a pre-packaged form and be like all the rest. Important knowledge for a girl who was nothing like anyone else in her small Southern town or her family.
And Mr. Craven knew that change was good such as when he wrote and directed this bit from one of my favorite films, PARIS JE T’AIME:
So goodbye, Wes Craven, and THANK YOU for all the nightmares.
It’s Devil Week over at the IPCs because everyone needs more devil in their lives, right? Starting yesterday, there’ll be five days worth of movies with the word devil in the title that may or may not have to do with the devil at all! (Or in this case, not necessarily in the title but ya know…E said it was totes cool!) And so I present our He Said/She Said of I’M NOT JESUS MOMMY:
I’ve never been a real big fan of “The Omen” style Antichrist movies, probably because I was bred into a religious environment growing up, and, as a Sagittarius, I can’t really take it when people tell me what to do and how to think and what’s trendy and what to watch and what to do and everything else. The “Sag” is a free spirit who makes his (her) own decisions by trying it out himself (herself) before making the decision of like or dislike or hang on to or get rid of. So, here we have an Apocalypse movie, via “The Rapture” that’s really (thankfully) not too preachy but, honestly, suffers from WAY too much slowness, boredom and, I do hate it, but not too much budget. With “Amber Lake“, those folks showed us how to make a really GOOD movie with no money. Here, the acting is pretty bad from everyone, but it’s not like I just hired my neighbor from across the street to do the co-star role for 200 bucks, I think it’s just a lack of experience. I am always appreciative that a movie gets made (who knows if I’ll ever even finish my screenplay and try), much less gets picked up and distributed, but this was just kind of too slow. I mean, I think they really tried, but, for real, I played 20 rounds of Words With Friends during the loooooong musical interludes because I was not interested, I thought about how I might review this because I think they had a good idea which could have been much better with some more funding, I thought about how (in no way ever) I could give some money for a better remake and, for those of you who look at this, I thought about how I had the shot in my back today and I could finally sit comfortably, and I thought about how I have to go to work tomorrow. Anyway, this is boring and slow and has several record-playing pauses that dim any excitement that might be brewing, BUT – it’s a good story, if you don’t mind a Christian style End-of-Days Rapture thing.
So – a very large chested woman named Bridget McGrath plays a very successful fertility doctor named Kimberly Gabriel who can’t have kids of her own. She is opted in to a U.S. Army experiment where an actor named Charles Hubbell (Dr. Gibson) has finally figured out how to clone a human embryo. Despite her initial reservations, she decides to go along with the experiments on illegal Mexican aliens as hosts and goes ahead and self-inseminates herself with one of the clone-embryos. Sure enough, it takes (but none of the others do) and eventually she Cesarean-style has a baby she names David (complete with an upside down cross indention on his baby-head). Shortly after that, we cut to seven years later, the Earth is in famine, war and death (Revelations), everyone seems to have “the mark of the beast”, the U.S. is in some sort of Ice Age and (I think) the Mexican government is controlling everything from food to water and bread and there is no gas or electricity. Kim and her son David are living alone in a cold, cold apartment and he Doctor (Hubbell) has gone bat-shit religious, preaching (and praying) constantly to his live-in sister and her daughter.
I’ll stop here, because this is a decent (but very slow) movie and I shouldn’t spoil it, but this could be much better. Let’s ax the record playing, the CGI cold breath, the way, WAY too many close-up shots, the irritating preaching by Hubbell, the clothes-with-no-bodies-Rapture business and make this into something exciting that’s not “Vanishing on 7th Street“. To me it’s “to each their own” and I have long read into the dogma of Christianity (and many other religions) and I get it, but how about someone funds something that is actually scary about the Apocalypse, which is a fearful thought, whichever “ism” you believe in. It’s been a LONGtime since I saw it with my friend Dave M, but I think my favorite of these types of things is “The Prophecy” with none other than my main man, Christopher Walken.
No, no you are NOT Jesus because I’m fairly certain Jesus would’ve had the common courtesy to put a comma in that freaking title. Seriously. That’s the first thing that’s wrong with I’m Not Jesus Mommy but never fear, that’s not the only thing that’s wrong here, trust me. There’s lots more to come!
The story starts out with a woman. She’s a cancer survivor but unfortunately the cancer left her unable to conceive. She has a husband who seems pretty sweet and loving – I mean they spend the first 20 minutes of the movie dancing around the kitchen and drinking wine and snuggling. In between the lovey-dovey, there are shots of the woman (Kimberly, btw) being interviewed because she is also a fertility doctor (irony!), then going to a top super secret meeting with military personnel, then getting all furious because at this top super secret meeting she learns that these people are cloning, then after that she decides to take a job with them. Hey, minds can be changed in the blink of an eye.
Roger is the lead doctor of this top super secret cloning project which seems to mostly consist of catching illegal immigrants and offering them the chance to become a permanent resident if they agree to be implanted and carry a baby to term. The embryos that aren’t implanted are destroyed which agonizes Kimberly. So what does she do? She grabs the first one she sees and impregnates herself, of course! No learning anything about the embryo or where it came from or any characteristics of it, nope, just point and shoot with the turkey baster. She’s totes excited about this and runs home to tell her husband who becomes furious. Why? Because she didn’t ask him and this wasn’t just her decision. This was an odd turn of events to me because it’s made pretty apparent before hand that Kimberly really really wants a baby and if you didn’t want a baby, Mr. Husband, pretty sure you should’ve said something like, AGES ago. *shakes head, rolls eyes* Mr. Husband runs off in a rage and immediately gets into a car wreck where his car is flipped over. Then another car comes along a minute later and smashes into him. Oh well.
Baby is born (which is pretty epic because all the other embryos implanted were still-born), baby is baptized. And suddenly, it’s 7 years later and the world has gone crazy. Mexico has closed off its borders and built a wall to discourage US and Canadian citizens from crossing into their land. People are being fed government rations and starving. There’s barely any electricity or heat and all that’s on the telly are the government rules (curfews, punishment for not obeying the rules). Life pretty much sucks.
Now, remember Roger, the cloning guru? Well, he’s gone extremely religious. He’s somewhere between fanatic and extremist. I mean, he’s smothering people in the name of love and all that (just a note – one of the people he smothers is an adorable little child so if that sort of thing bothers you, for sure never watch this one). And baby? Well, his name’s David and he has an imaginary friend named Kuddles and his mommy is dying and he wants to go to Mexico. There’s a lot of “yada, yada, government is bad, yada, yada, mommy is dying, yada, yada” exposition and then suddenly we’re at the end of this thing without anything really having happened. I will tell you this much about the end. The whole “I’m not Jesus” thing comes about from David having been cloned from blood found on the Shroud of Turin. Yep, he’s supposed to be a Jesus clone.
So what are my issues here? How about a handy little list?
1. The acting is bad. Kimberly is completely monotone. “My baby!” carries as much weight here as “I took out the garbage.” It’s entirely distracting.
2. This movie has no idea what it wants to be about. It starts off being about the dangers of cloning, then suddenly it turns into a statement about immigration, THEN it goes all religious and finally at the very end, it’s about cloning again. Now if they had picked just one of these (hell, even two) it would’ve made for a much more linear narrative but instead we get a jumble that doesn’t know what it wants to be preaching about.
3. The description I read about the movie before I watched states that “odd things happen when David is around”. NOTHING odd happens when David is around except that he’s a weird kid that wants to bring his mom back to life when she dies. And there’s one instance where Kuddles seems to “come to life”, so to speak.
4. We see people getting killed and then a minute later, all that’s left of them is their clothing. So we seem to have the Rapture going on but why do they need to die first for this to happen? Admittedly, I haven’t gone to church in awhile but my understanding is that you can just be raptured without being killed first.
5. Why did the world suddenly go all Big Brother crazy? There is NO indication of this happening prior to the title card “7 Years Later”. Did cloning make this happen, is that what we’re supposed to surmise? This plot point seemed to come totally out of left field.
So much wrong when this could’ve been so much of a right. *sighs*
Ugh, anthologies are like SO over, you guys. Totes. And yet, people keep doing them. “The Perfect House” came out this past July as a release from Wild Eye Releasing and once again reminds us of how badly we need some original horror stories on the scene. And it isn’t just the anthology framework here that’s overdone, it’s ALL of it. It’s an entire film of “Yes, yes, we KNOW, we KNOW,” with perhaps a spot of “Oh, hey. That was sort of nice.”.
Here’s how it goes down:
Enter a young family (parents and 3 kids) going to dinner at their neighbor’s house. Things are going well (kinda sorta – the in your face foreshadowing has already told us shit’s about to go down) till a weedwhacker (I think) is brought up. Chaos ensues for a brief moment. End Scene.
Enter a young couple who are house shopping. They stop at a house that they are so super uber excited about and meet with the oddly super sexual realtor (whom the wife does NOT bitch slap for some reason) who shows them around the house (thankfully without having sex with either or both of them) while telling them that the basement is usually a deal breaker. But why?? End scene.
Enter another family in said basement on a dark and stormy night…No really, it is. Big storm so they’re all sleeping in the basement because it’s all dark and scary. We’ve got a brother and sister who look to be between 13 and 15 years. We’ve got a dad who is REALLY into protecting the daughter for some reason. And then we’ve got mom, who is a scary psycho bitch. Needless to say, the sleepover doesn’t end well. The problem is, I think there was supposed to be some sort of twist or something but it was so dark I don’t know what happened (not to mention 3 different versions of the same story were told – NOT helping). This one could’ve been okay with a clearer ending and some more light in the basement.
After a totally not seamless transition (I spent a good two minutes trying to figure out if the girl in this story was the same as the girl in the first story despite our having gone back to the couple/realtor scene b/c they looked so similar), enter another teenage girl and a psychopathic guy, say in his early 20s? in the deal breaking basement. This time the girl is in a cage (kinky) and is being forced to watch as dude allegedly kills a person a week. Just fyi, he’s had her for FIVE years. A person a week for five years? How many people is that exactly? 260? Have the police not noticed the 260 people that are missing from this town (is there even a town left at this point)? Or are they seriously just so incompetent that they can’t find a serial killer who’s been in the same house for 5 freaking years with a girl in a cage? SERIOUSLY?? Logic, thou art a fool. *eye roll* And then after that, it’s just torture porn for a thousand years or so. I thought the torture porn trend had finally died out but it seems I was wrong. *sighs* On the plus side, the effects are really good so if you’re a gorehound, you will most definitely be pleased.
Back with the sexy realtor/married couple, the wife part of said couple is getting totally wigged out by the basement. Bad feels and all, ya know? Her hubby still says everything is fine but you know what? He’s apparently cut his finger on something pretty badly (from the amount of blood gushing out) and yet he still has a goofy grin on his face because of the realtor, so what does he know?
ANNNNNDDDDD we’re back with our original family, who went to have a friendly dinner with the not at ALL crazy neighbor man, who didn’t at ALL flip out about a weedwhacker and then handcuff them all up to indulge in some more torture porn that’s a cross between “Saw” and “Would You Rather?”. Ye gods, when will the torture porn/”I’m Jigsaw’s prodigy” end??? But once again, it’s got some good gore (although *spoiler* if you have issues with young kids dying, you might want to skip this one).
Also on the plus is Felissa Rose as the mother of the “Let’s go to dinner and get murdered!” family (you might better know her as “Angela” from the amazing “Sleepaway Camp”). Most of the acting is well done – the young couple and realtor were a little under par while Girl in a Cage was pretty kickawesome. Props to the makeup team and FX – they went above and beyond. This film suffered the fate of many a horror flick in that parts of it were much too dim to see anything. That was mostly in the basement scene and then part of the family at dinner scenes were hard to see as well.
To sum up, “The Perfect House” isn’t the worst thing you could watch by far, it’s just tired, another “wash, rinse and repeat” horror film. But if you’re into anthologies or the torture porn genre, then by all means check it out because you might like it. Just hop online and hang a left at their website!
(Ugh, finally this week is over!! And so I present a review…)
Jaschar L Marktanner’s AUFDRUCK/LABEL (hailing from Germany) is a nifty little 4 minute film about two young women in their twenties who sit in a café and sip coffee out of way too small cups while smoking an unhealthy amount of cigarettes and talking about everything under the sun and beyond, like aliens. Pretty simple, yeah? And seriously it IS an unhealthy amount of cigarettes (says the former smoker). ;) It’s also so much more than that though.
These two are very “Ugh, life. Whatever.” women who have an absolutely fabulously random conversation about some “son of a bitch” (and the waiter, who is also a “son of a bitch”, and aliens, also “sons of a bitches”, and well, I think you get the picture) and who are just so immensely dismal and Debbie Downers (especially the one in the hat) that you don’t know whether to feel bad for them or just laugh. Which, honestly, isn’t even the point in the first place. As you’ve likely already figured out from the title, this is a film about labels given to us by other people and labels we give other people (“bastard” was also highly utilized here – interesting that the two main labels both dealt with aspects of one’s birth).
This girl was my fave. She’s the one that brought up aliens and showed much more contempt for everything in life than the other girl, which I enjoyed. This was Mary Krasnoperova’s first film role and I gotta give her props for making me laugh!
Ms. Anti-Blossom here was good too, just more decisive about her utter lack of interest in life, rather than full of contempt. More “yes, he IS a son of a bitch and the world does suck and blah, blah. Also, blast those aliens!” This was Kira Mathis’ first leading role so kudos to her too.
Overall, it’s a rather enjoyable (and odd – which only elevates it in my book) film about the asinine way the world works with it’s many familial, societal (and more) categories & labels dumped upon us. (Really when you actually think about it, all those little boxes we’re put into are similar to the structural architecture of Dante’s INFERNO, you know?…Yeah, I think too much sometimes…). Being chock full of cursing also gave it a plus in my book. ;) And the gorgeous aesthetics wrapped everything up neatly.
AUFDRUCK/LABEL is making the festival rounds right now but should it come out online anytime soon, give it a quick watch! For now, check out the IMDB!
“Set in a troubled town in the center of England, life is tough for Toby, a local fighter down on his luck. His mother is an invalid; the town hates him and a particularly nasty businessman has plans for him that will tear his life apart. One day, after losing a crucial fight, a stranger only known as ‘The Collector’ arrives to take him away and drop him in the middle of an unforgiving landscape, where he will either sink or swim. Toby realizes that he has died and landed in a cruel holding pattern between heaven and hell, where he must find his own way, or be forever stuck going in circles.”
Directed by John Wheeler and starring Aaron Long, Simon Sokowlowski, Laura Marklew, Sarah Jane Whittaker and MacKenzie Arnold Williams, The Last Road is an unfortunately messy film that has a solid premise but poor execution. It’s wonderful that the scenery is dark and moody and gorgeous to look at, because trying to follow the story line proves difficult at times. The movie seems to be trying its damnedest to be abstract but it never quite succeeds. Instead we get a loose plot line of a man-child stuck in a type of purgatory, walking aimlessly and suffering different encounters that are supposed to have deeper meanings than what they appear as. Some of these meetings do just that while others…not so much…And after Toby’s first 30 or so minutes in this purgatory, one’s patience starts to wear thin as the journey grows ever the more tedious.
Then there’s the matter of the acting. It’s interesting – the women all did a fine job. They weren’t outstanding but neither were they terrible. They did what they were supposed to and played their parts well. It was only some of the men actors that I took issue with – for example, there was a character that was a former military officer of some kind who died of a dug overdose who seemed to have trouble expressing emotion. And then there was Toby (Aaron Long) himself. When he was playing just straight forward, little to no emotion, a chill kind of boxer/fighter/wrestling guy, he did a not bad job. But in any scene where emotion was required (particularly a negative emotion like anger or sadness) the poor guy couldn’t emote to save his life. It almost seemed as if it was just that melodrama wasn’t his thing so, “okay but whatever”. Regardless of motive or inspiration behind it, it was distracting. His death scene was one of the more horrible I’ve witnessed (just as an fyi, I feel bad saying that because I myself SUCK at death scenes. I am SO bad, lol) but at the same time, it wasn’t him alone. It was the entire scene. Every person in the frame was doing poorly and the way the shots were handled could have been better (too much cutting to the guy sitting in the corner of the ring, too much on the face of Toby and it was just TOO long). *sighs* Look, nobody here was Paris Hilton, okay? People just seemed to have trouble expressing passionate emotions is all.
Moving on…Fight choreography. This one was interesting. The fights in the ring – the wrestling – I thought were rather well done. I used to be a huge wrestling fan and not just of pro but I’d sometimes help a friend run sound for local amateur matches too. I was REALLY into it. So I was impressed with what happened inside the ring. But outside? I…I just…I have no idea what happened there…Fights were slow and sloppy and the moves were so very obvious. I absolutely understand the importance of safety first but comparing the fights inside the ring to outside is like comparing apples to oranges – entirely different creatures. I’m quite curious as to why that was.
Independent films are always fun beasts. Often they’re lo-budget and people are working 8 different jobs and it’s a helluva lot of fun. So sometimes things can get overlooked. It happens. But the continuity here in this film was horrible enough that SOMEBODY should have noticed. Having a cigarette be different lengths in a scene is one thing. Having someone lose his teeth, then turn around immediately after and still have them is something altogether different. I saw makeup errors, errors on marks and the such. Some of it is unavoidable if you’re working with a lo-budget true. But others, like the teeth thing, can easily be avoided. (And I realize there’s a chance the teeth thing might have been on purpose but it still doesn’t make sense if something from earlier is taken into account so…). If you can’t figure out how to make it work, don’t do it. You’ll be better off for it.
“Okay”, you’re saying to yourself, “she obviously hated The Last Road.” Well, no. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t entirely like it but neither did I hate it. There was some cool stuff thrown in there too. There’s a part where, after Toby’s death, he goes back home to see his mum. Except he can’t actually SEE her. He can, however, see the sheets of the bed bunched up around her (she’s an invalid) and see her shadow. Then there’s Toby’s dog, Prince. Prince is Toby’s absolute best mate. He’d do anything for that dog and the relationship there is touching to watch. As I said previously, the wrestling bits were fun to watch and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous to behold. And the concept behind the piece is a good one, a fascinating one – it just needs some work…