Category Archives: Film Festivals
Ahh, September is such a crazy month! Pretty much EVERYONE I know has a birthday this month (including my beautiful and amazing niece, who turned 7!), so things get busy. And TODAY is actually MY b-day, so I’m here to ask any & all my lovely buds in the Portland area for a birthday gift (that honestly is more a gift to YOU!).
Remember the kickawesome, amazeballs, “OMG WTF?”, swoon-worthy, “everything is magical” movie NEIL STRYKER & THE TYRANT OF TIME from the Portland Film Fest? The one I fell in love with (and the one where I fell in love with Darrel Freeway ;))? WELL, guess what? Turns out, there is ONE MORE showing TOMORROW, Friday, September 23rd of NEIL STRYKER, in Portland, at Clinton Street Theater, at 8PM, with the Oregon Independent Film Festival! (That was A LOT of commas…) So if you love me – if you love movies – if you love yourself – you’ll get thee to the Clinton Street Theater tomorrow at 8PM, if you’re within, say…a 60 mile radius? 🙂 You WON’T regret it. (C’mon, I would never steer you guys wrong. Right, E?? ;)) Get your tickets HERE, then get your asses in those seats, and prepare to *giggle* said asses off.
And thank you in advance for making me a very, very happy birthday girl. 🙂 (If you do go watch, come back and share your review because I really wanna *squee* with people over this one!)
You guys rock. ❤
mid·dle·man: /ˈmidlˌman/ – a person who arranges business or political deals between other people.
Also known as the go-between, or the manipulator, or the “wait, what did I just really agree to, asshole??” guy. And in Lenny Freeman’s case, it refers to a hitchhiker named Hitch (yes, I know), who may or may not have roped him into a deal with the devil himself. Oops.
Lenny Freeman’s dream of being a famous comedian is about to become a nightmare. Not only is he stuck in a dead end accounting job, Lenny has a bigger problem — Lenny is not funny. When his mother suddenly dies, he quits his job and heads to Vegas in search of fame. But along the way, a mysterious hitchhiker lures him into a desert-town killing spree with a dark and twisted result – as the bodies pile up, Lenny actually becomes funnier and funnier.
Another Portland Film Fest selection, MIDDLE MAN definitely shows us that the devil is in the details (sometimes literally) and you should, perhaps, be careful what you wish for. Personally, I don’t know what the big deal is to Lenny – couple of dead people vs. guaranteed stardom…?? (Kidding, kidding! #totes) And to think it all starts with one jerkface heckler (don’t be jerkfaces, people. It leads nowhere good!). And everyone, just don’t pick up hitchhikers, especially ones named Hitch, because C’MON! And if a person you just met starts trying to convince you that they can absolutely be your manager and help make you famous, etc. etc., just NO. And for fucks’ sake, if you wake up after a night of drinking with a new friend and there’s a dead person in front of you that you don’t remember killing but your new friends says, yep, you must’ve – RUN. AWAY.
I guess it’s not entirely Lenny’s fault. He was stuck living somewhere in the 50s and didn’t seem entirely aware of the dangers of now. (And by that I mean, kind of how my parents like to pretend that we all live in an episode of THE ANDY GRIFFITH show). No, Lenny seemed to be a very kind, but VERY oblivious to anything not related to him, sorta guy. Hence why his stand-up act wasn’t very good. He grew up listening to comedians from the Ed Asner/Milton Berle era(s) and never moved past their comedy into his own style (a style which should’ve apparently included a lot of misogynistic sex “jokes” according to his competition at the club). BUT when people started dying, Lenny kept getting funnier and funnier.(Maybe he got their funny as it left their bodies?)
I liked the style of this film – where it was set in contemporary times but with Lenny’s car, attitude and certain styles of clothing, etc. seemed to be a throw-back to the 50s. The nostalgia was definitely strong with this one! And the desert landscapes were absolutely GORGEOUS. (Desert = scary because desert has sunshine, but desert is also so so pretty.)
Jim O’Heir could NOT have been anymore perfect as “Lenny”. Oblivious, slightly charming, freaked the fuck out, happy, panicked, slightly crazy…his portrayal of Lenny’s rise to “stardom” and subsequent downfall before the fact was A+. Andrew J. West as “Hitch” was an endearing ball of sunshine…no, wait. I meant to say, one crazy motherfucker. We, the audience, know something’s off with him early on, but he manages to keep his homicidal tendencies on the down low from Lenny for at least…I dunno, like 15 hours? West plays “Hitch” as constantly on edge, walking a fine line between “will I fuck you up?” and “oops, that was totes an accident! Kinda…”, a line that another actor well might have stepped over early on in the film. West kept it all tightly reined in till needed though and was magnificent. He was definitely my favorite thing about MIDDLE MAN.
Unfortunately, overall, despite it’s dark comedic overtones and West’s fabulous performance, I wasn’t a huge fan of MIDDLE MAN. While I understood the point of all the death, I also got bored watching essentially the exact same thing happen 3 or 4 times. The ending – the very last scene – was so fucking kickass that I’m still thinking about it, but otherwise, I found the film kind of “meh”. It was in no way bad and was actually quite well done, so I think it was just the length and repetition that soured me on it. Still, I definitely think it’s worth watching, especially if dark comedy is your thing, so check out the trailer and then tell me your thoughts!
What madcap, steampunk, nonsensical adventure was this?? NEIL STRYKER & THE TYRANT OF TIME is like DOCTOR WHO on crack (and we all know that DOCTOR WHO is already on something, so hot damn!) and the result is absolutely GLORIOUS. Like, hi, move over Indiana Jones, a new action hero has stolen my heart – and he’s ridiculously emotionless, gravelly voiced and entirely capable of handling himself around robots (because YES, THERE ARE ROBOTS IN THIS MOVIE!!!). (And yes, I WILL apparently be using my caps lock key a lot.)
So Neil Stryker is a dude, on suspension from his job as…okay, I never really understood exactly what he did but kind of like the military + secret government operation + spies thing? Unfortunately for the world, Neil’s ex-mentor, the MAD scientist – complete with white lab coat, crazy sticky-uppy hair and crazy goggle glasses – has finally set in motion his dastardly plan to go back in time through the time portal he created to…steal a bunch of toys on Christmas Eve and have THE SEX (as E. would say) with Mrs. Claus! NOOOOO!!! Along the way, the mad scientist also kidnaps Neil’s son, so there’s that. Also the mad scientist is MAAADDDDD, which just leads to all sorts of shenanigans and tom-foolery. Oh, and he has a sidekick (of course) named Darrel who’s robotically challenged, musically inclined, and sneaky planning his own…uh, sneaky plan. 😉 Darrel is actually my favorite character of the whole piece (sorry, Neil! I love you but I love Darrel more because he sings!), which makes sense, because his vibe is the epitome of “bad boy”, which media and society has conditioned women to view as totally normal and moreso, absolutely romantic (“omg, he got so mad he punched a wall? That’s soooo romantic – look how passionate he is about you! *sighs*” *rolls eyes so hard they fall out of head*). Anyway, despite his bad boy vibe, Darrel is more cartoon villain than romantic villain (think Dr. Horrible), so whatever, I dig him.
In fact, the whole movie is a cartoon come to life, with over-the-top…well, EVERYTHING. It’s a complete and total farce, and it’s AMAZING. Guys, there’s cars that fly! Robots! Goblins!! (I honestly have no idea WHY there were goblins, got totally lost there, but dudes – goblins!!- and they were adorable and evil and so cute, and then there was the Russian guy and the vodka…like The Fireys in LABYRINTH! Kinda…). There’s time travel! Souvenirs! Explosions! HEADS exploding! This movie has it ALL. It’s an 80s throwback that hits its mark perfectly.
In fact, those super kickawesome, evil, adorable goblins? Looked like they were right out of the Henson labs. They were brilliant. This film was shot entirely in Oregon and parts of Washington over the course of 9 years, and every single set, effect, every puppet was created by a Portland artist. Now THAT is what I like to see in homegrown cinema. Especially when the result is something as laugh out loud funny and enjoyable as this.
The sets were kick ass. The small amount of CGI was almost perfect (the explosions were a little off and fake looking, but they also might have been that way on purpose to fit the 80s theme, I’m not sure). The costumes were fabulous. The actors – ugh, I don’t think there was anyone in this films that I DIDN’T like and that rarely happens. Nic Costa (Darrel) captures the “sidekick craving more” trope perfectly. Rob Taylor as Neil Stryker is hilariously apathetic as the hero (anti-hero?) of the piece. And Rob Taylor as the Mad Scientist is ridiculously funny at being woefully inept. Oh yes, you did read that correctly – Neil and MS were played by the same guy – and I had NO freaking clue till the end of the movie when the credits came around! Not one inkling. Holy fuck, I loved this movie.
Currently playing at the Portland Film Fest, NEIL STRYKER & THE TYRANT OF TIME is a side-splittingly funny piece of comedy that had me alternately shaking my head at the melodrama, then giggling uncontrollably. With a bit of everything, it’s a madcap adventure of the very best kind – and there damn well better be a sequel in the making. I’m willing to follow Neil Stryker through the universe and time, so c’mon guys, let’s get to more adventuring!
Oh yeah, and watch the trailer below to get a taste of the wacky wildness that is Neil Stryker!
Shady’s back – tell a friend! *dance break* Oops, sorry, got a little excited there for a minute…Anyway, I’m back (for today at least. and later this week. then hopefully forever and ever and ever like that creepy clowndoll you can’t get rid of but being ill makes life rarely go as planned, so we’ll see. right? 😉 ) WHY am I here? To let y’all know that the Portland Film Fest is back!!
Remember AIMY IN A CAGE from last year? The mind-blowingly, amazingly, freakishly, insanely beautiful love child of John Waters and Marc Caro/Jean-Pierre Jeunet (that is currently on Amazon Prime – hint, hint, nudge, nudge)? It was one of the AMAZING pieces from last year’s festival and this year’s line-up promises to be just as interesting! I’ll be covering the festival and reviewing films from it for the next couple of weeks, and there’s just so much diversity going on here – there are films on pinball wizards; accountants dying to be stand-up comedians; Ovarian Psycos; pot growers; guys with allergies to the sun; haunted Mediterranean islands; politically-conscious indie musicals (YES!!!); family dramas; goat farming; gang life vs. street fashion; superstar role models; and MORE…*deep breath* Whew, that’s a lot of film! Obviously, I can’t get to them all, but I’ll be getting to as many films as I can. If you’re IN Portland, however, I HIGHLY suggest you go watch these beauts for yourself!
The fourth annual Portland Film Festival will take place August 29 – September 5, 2016, at Portland’s iconic Laurelhurst Theater, and will include over 20 educational panels & forums, 12 archival presentations, and many parties, events, and industry networking opportunities throughout the week. Established in 2013, the Portland Film Festival is one of Oregon’s largest film festivals, and was named “one of the coolest film festivals in the world,” by MovieMaker Magazine. This year, the festival has programmed a near equal balance of films from men and women, furthering the festival’s commitment to supporting diverse voices and visions.
“This year’s screenings, panels, and programs are an exciting cross-section of icons of classic cinema, engaging new filmmakers, and the best of modern indie film. We’re truly proud to bring this year’s eclectic program to local audiences. We’re also thrilled that, for the first time, all of our films will screen at Portland’s historic Laurelhurst Theatre. This year’s festival will be a not-to- be-missed event,” said Josh Leake, Portland Film Festival Founder and Executive Director.
The festival will present two opening and closing night films (a documentary and a narrative film on each night) and feature films in the following sections: Narrative Competition Feature, Documentary Competition Feature, Narrative Spotlight, Stranger Than Fiction, Tribute: Visionaries, and Milestones. New this year, the festival has created a section to screen classic films from the 70’s and 80’s, and will also be honoring two iconic writers, Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke) and William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run).
Visit their site for full deets and list of films!
WOW. Yeah. Okay. So. Um…AIMY IN A CAGE is basically the love child of John Waters and Marc Caro/Jean-Pierre Jeunet (DELICATESSEN, THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN). That is the best way I know to describe this film. As the credits rolled, I just sat there, staring into space, asking myself, “What the f*ck did I just watch?” – but asking myself in the best way possible. Because this movie is mind-blowingly, amazingly, freakishly, insanely beautiful. In a really, really, really twisted way (and is there any better way?).
Summary – “A creative teenage girl is placed into a mind-altering procedure to civilise her, while news of a virus epidemic spreads throughout the world.” We might be in the future; we might be in the past – who the hell knows? Wherever we are, we have Aimy – a whimsical wisp of a girl who doesn’t exactly fit in with her family. Or society. Or anywhere. She likes to dance and they like money. She likes art and they like boring conversation. Honestly, it’s a bit more f*cked up than that but I just do NOT know how to describe it…Aimy is that one rare soul who isn’t a carbon copy of the materialistic, dull as dishwater, ORDINARY people around her. However, Aimy also isn’t necessarily likable. Not hateable but not entirely likable. But then NO ONE in this film is necessarily likable so perhaps that’s the one way Aimy IS similar to her surroundings?
Anyway, apparently there are (or were?) a few other people like Aimy (or EVERYONE used to be like Aimy) because there’s a procedure you can have done so that you too can be a mindless, materialistic robot! Yay! Aimy is forced into this procedure, which looks a little like this:
Aimy is all kinds of hardcore though so the procedure doesn’t exactly take the first time and is done again – this time with some…modifications in the form of psychological torture. Oh, and while this is all going on, there’s a virus making it’s way through the country that nobody seems particularly worried about (until they ARE worried about it). If this all sounds confusing, well, that’s because it is. But when you actually SEE it, it will all make sense. Plus you’ll get the many layers of the film (obvis it’s not REALLY about some chick in a head cage).
The only thing that bothered me about this film was all the SCREAMING. Holy wow, no one in this film can communicate in any other way except screaming. And it didn’t bother me in the way you might think – it bothered me because with the force/intensity/volume these actors were screaming, I just kept wondering how many times they lost their voices and had to halt filming. Did they have an every other day schedule? Realistically, how long can one scream like that without going hoarse? Do you see what I mean? I kept wandering away from the movie to wonder about the consequences of long-term screaming, lol. So be forewarned – do NOT have your volume turned up for this one or your eardrums will be BLOWN.
So yeah. Kinda (totally) dug this film. Wickedly brilliant, beautiful in a most f*cked up way and right up there with some of my favorite filmmakers (mentioned wayyyy up there in the first paragraph), AIMY IN A CAGE is a wild ride you should DEFINITELY take.
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.”