Category Archives: American Indie
What’s this? The webseries I co-wrote is FINALLY here? It premiered TODAY?? Indeed it is and indeed it did!
COUNSELING tells the tale of Matt and Tom, who seek the assistance of counselor, Dr. Robbins, in order to become more upstanding members of society. Does it go well? Does it go poorly? Do they become the most upstanding of upstandingest people ever? Well…as I say in my interview:
I really wanted to write two really awful people and make people really like them.
Take that as you will. 😉
So head on over and check out my interview, then watch the premiere episode of COUNSELING below! (RATED R for language and crass humor – aka E., I think you will like)
Remember Volumes of Blood? Remember how much I loved it? Well, P.j. and the gang are back for Round 2 and if you’re so willing, they’d love your help. They have an Indiegogo campaign up right now full of fun perks so if you have a couple of extra dollars and love indie horror, head on over and give ’em a hand!
Tag Line: It finds the bug in you…
Guys. *pssst* Hey, guys! I have a secret. Know what it is? That this movie is f*cking awesome! (What? If you didn’t know, then it counts as a secret…) This is, hands down, one of my new favorite movies. Not gonna lie – I wasn’t a fan of the ending but it doesn’t detract THAT much from the “WHAAA-?” factor going on here.
So ya know how we live in the age of “Big Brother” (hello, 1984!)? Drones, people listening in on phone calls, Facebook messenger needing access to our birth certificate to work kinda stuff? That’s what this is about. Except what if “Big Brother” isn’t a person (or group of people) but rather…dun, dun, dun…a NIGHTMARE CODE???
“Nightmare Code” is a psychological sci-fi thriller about computerized behavior recognition, behavior modification and 24/7 surveillance.Our main guy, Brett, is this wicked hacker who’s also a whistleblower, who’s in a heck of a lot of trouble, who gets recruited to work on this super secret project that needs to be finished STAT. It’s called ROPER and it’s an all-seeing behavior recognition program (think Minority Report – the TV show at least, I haven’t seen that movie) intended to predict future behavior. Brett got recruited super fast for this project. Why? Oh, just because the last lead programmer went on a murder/suicide spree. Yeah, no big. Cotton was his name and he was apparently a genius – a MAD genius, mwhahaha. Now Brett’s holed up in this office building (seriously, he can’t leave for some reason, not even to get lunch apparently? Weird…TOTES) with a super small team of 4 other people trying to race against time to get this baby done. His only contact with the outside world is via video chats with his wife & daughter and his programming counterpart in India. Fun job, eh? One small, itsy bitsy problem though…the code he’s working on? It’s kind of alive. Yeah.
That’s right, the big bad of our thriller is computer code! You’re sitting there going, that doesn’t sound scary or thrilling at ALL. NO. You just watch the movie because ROPER is freaking terrifying. It’s like “Robopacolypse” terrifying. The entire movie is told from the viewpoint of the CODE. Yep, it’s the first movie told from the view of artificial intelligence. This ended up being a small problem for me at times, actually, because this involved a lot of security camera footage being shown on 4 split screens at a time. There was way too much going on for me to concentrate when different things were happening on those screens so I don’t know if I missed anything important. Otherwise, it’s wicked cool watching our protagonist, Brett (Andrew J. West), slowly lose his mind while unwittingly (at first) battling this entity.
As I said before, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. It was entirely too expected; it was exactly what you knew was going to happen. I spent the last half of the film praying it WOULDN’T happen but to no avail. It doesn’t take away from the overall kickaewsomeness of “Nightmare Code” but a less archetypal ending would’ve set this film so much further apart from other sci-fi thrillers than it already is.
Guys, this is some good, clean fun right here (and by “good, clean” I obviously mean blood + sexy naked time), and y’all need to get your asses in gear and go watch “Nightmare Code” NOW. Remember, I’ll know if you don’t, because someone’s always watching… 😉
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! Hope it was super fabulous and delicious! As always, THANKSKILLING is an absolute *MUST* to follow up all that food, family, fun & dysfunction so ENJOY!
Stand Up Guy is a short crime thriller featuring a mafia-like organization (or “Family”, as they’re referred to). With only a handful of characters, the film keeps things nice, neat and concise, which works well in it’s favor, and the script is fairly tight. Things flow quickly with the end being reached before you know it, which is a shame in my opinion, as I could definitely watch more of this world and these characters.
Stand Up Guy starts with a federal agent coming to speak with the head of a Family at his “recording studio” about ratting out other people, then turns to a man freshly out of prison who seems to have a need for revenge with said Family head. The rest of the film is mostly dedicated to Roman (just out of prison guy) and Angelo’s (Family head guy) confrontation, with a small interlude that was there to…I’m actually not entirely sure why it was there. To show us how Angelo operates his business? There were definitely a couple of places where it felt like scenes could have been cut without affecting the Roman/Angelo storyline but doing so would have also left the film incredibly shortened – so I guess those scenes were there as filler. The only other scene like this was the scene with the agent at the beginning. Not having that scene wouldn’t have changed the main plot at all, in my opinion. These scenes neither detracted nor distracted; they just weren’t particularly necessary. I would have enjoyed seeing more about Roman (because he was obviously totes cray!) and finding out who Sarge (Serge??) was. For such a small film, I though both the acting and cinematography were top notch so kudos to the team for that.
Overall, it was highly enjoyable and I was a little sad to see it end. Go become a part of the Family and watch it, so you don’t end up swimming with the fishes (or something like that…)!
Ahhh, now THIS was a film I enjoyed! Total Performance was the total package, y’all. It had the right amount of comedy and drama; the acting was fab and I REALLY dug some of the camerawork, yo. So what’s it about? Well, that’s part of what makes it so fun…
The film is about Cori, an actress, but her main gig is a little bit different. She works for a company that employs actors to play opposite real people who want to rehearse a difficult conversation. A breakup, a firing, or even an embarrassing confession: the company that she works for provides a living, breathing ‘sparring dummy’ for their clients. Essentially, she gets paid to go around fighting with people. It’s awesome. There are some obvious pitfalls, of course, like with ANY job, but for reals, how easy is this gig?? We see Cori on a few jobs…we see her on a date…we see her on an actual audition…we see hope in the comedic yet oddly touching and sad ending. The film is under 20 minutes but as time flew by, it felt as if it was only 5 minutes.
I found Tory Berner (Cori) utterly fantastic. Her face is SO expressive and she has this almost wide-eyed naivete about her that’s completely charming. I would watch her in just about anything. My favorite shots were done during the date scene. They weren’t anything fancy but something in them resonated. In fact, I think you’ll find that the whole film resonates as it’s so easily relatable to all.
That said, you should head over to Facebook and give ’em some love, and to find out where you too can watch this stellar TOTAL PERFORMANCE!
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!
*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!
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*