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!
*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.”
Citizen ‘Caine comes to us courtesy of John Ervin, who also brought us The Tiki War (which you might remember me reviewing in Rogue Cinema a couple of issues back). While I enjoyed The Tiki War, unfortunately I did not enjoy Citizen ‘Caine. The film didn’t serve so much as a look at the grittier side of life as it did to a somewhat boring slice of life. While I don’t think the point of the film was to be grittily morose, one would think that diving into an exploration of the adult film industry and cocaine addiction would be dirtier and more interesting. Mostly though, I just kept wondering what point the film was trying to make exactly and that’s usually not a good sign…
Synopsis: Lou Phillips, a cocaine-addicted insurance salesman from Minnesota, confronts the seedy underbelly of Hollywood in search of his missing teenaged daughter. During his search he interrupts a shoot at LA’s Deep Horizons Studios, which specializes in home-maintenance videos that also serve as adult-entertainment films. In the process of confronting director Sir John Blunstone, his crew, and his biggest star Martha Sunset, Lou also confronts his addiction to cocaine.
See, that sounds kinda neat, right? And I liked Scott Carson as “Lou” A LOT…except for when he was in Hollywood. Those scenes he wasn’t as good in but it had more to do with the dialogue than him. Because there was simply too much extraneous dialogue floating about here. I’m guessing 7-10 minutes could’ve been cut from this 30 minute film and it would have still worked (possibly even better?). Simply removing the word “Ratan” from appearing so many times would have been an improvement.
What the film DID have going for it were the rare jokes sprinkled throughout. I did find the mixture of sex and appliances strangely amusing, as well as the several references to Nicolas Cage being the BEST ACTOR EVER. But as a whole? The acting made me wince…the dialogue went on and on…and the film just left me empty. It was a nice effort but one that didn’t really pay off. (And let’s face it, if you’re making a movie about people having sex with blenders, it should be fabulous, even if it’s just so BAD that it’s hilarious. But this was just BAD).
Capital I, by director Amartya Bhattacharyya, is an intriguing mix of philosophy, psychology, physics, sexuality, reality, imagination…this film is an abstract work of art. Amartya is a 27 year old Indian filmmaker and this was a debut film shot on a shoestring budget – I gotta say I’m wicked impressed. Capital I involved a lot of artistic shots and a lot of beauty; a lot of creation. Pulling that off on their budget, I find amazing.
Synopsis – ‘Capital I’ is a surreal fiction film dealing with an artist’s works where the artist himself doesn’t exist in reality. It is also an existential psychodrama revolving around said mysterious and unknown artist and depicts the transformation of mind of a young girl whereby she finds herself trapped in between realistic relationships and attractions and a strange relationship with her hallucinatory lesbian partner.’ If you’re like me, you just read that and went “What the hell?” But if you go and watch Capital I and come back and read this, it will not only make sense; it will make so much sense that you’ll see metaphorical layers.
Because that’s what watching this film is – seeing the metaphorical layers of life peeled back one by one. It’s having everything in life being simultaneously set right while being crushingly wrong. I don’t know whether to reference Alanis Morisette’s ouevre here or The Matrix…Piyali is a young grad student of psychology who becomes obsessed with a local happening wherein a house was found locked from within but with the occupant having vanished. All that was left behind were some drawings and poetry style scribblings. She and an old friend, who is also a physics professor, team up to solve the mystery but as they go deeper, Piyali discovers more about existence and reality than planned. Oh, and she’s the one with the hallucinatory lesbian lover (as one has).
Capital I is one of those films where every sentence spoken has meaning but since there’s so much dialogue and so much to catch, only a couple of things will be lines that you, yourself, hold onto. One of mine was when it was mentioned that “the air here is pure.”…”it’s because it’s not weighted down by dreams and memories.” (Insert heart emoticon because I swooned). It’s not just the words you’ll fall in love with though (side note: the dialogue switches between English and Odia, sometimes in the same sentence. I’m not sure if there was a deeper meaning to that as well?), but the cinematography and the scenery. There are close-ups of some amazing small creatures…blurred ambiances when it comes to sensitive material…symbolism galore…amazing use of color…Ugh, have I gushed enough yet??
Seriously, this is a Must Watch, particularly if surrealism is your thing. I think this may be my first Indian film (Bollywood has never quite appealed)(also look at that – first Turkish film AND first Indian film posted about this week!) but if this is what’s coming out of India right now, I am SO there. Check out the Capital I website and go follow them on Facebook (then share their Facebook page with your friends and make yourself look uber cool and all sexy intelli!) You won’t be sorry!
*FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION*
From writer/directors Jeremy Scoggins and Matthew Hibbs and Executive Producer P.J. Starks (Volumes of Blood) comes the next generation of super heroes.
The Trio: Knightmare, Dreamcatcher, and Anarchy-X, three ordinary people, called upon to be the vigilante heroes of a city wrought with dark secrets. Plagued with their own personal demons, they bring it upon themselves to become the saviors in a thankless city. Under the watchful eye of their mentor Chronos, who harbors a past of darkness himself, the Trio wages a war on the villains of the city. The sadistic drug lord Animus holds grip on the underworld, while Persephone Masters, a crafty and powerful politician, sits on high in the city and hires the cold and calculating assassin, Strife, to eliminate anyone who stands in her way. The villains play River City like their own personal chess game with the veiled and mysterious Cryofire corporate power quietly plotting all the moves. With the Trio holding on to what justice there is left in the city, they are faced with unexpected challenges both within themselves and throughout the streets as they set about hunting down the men and women who have corrupted their city.
In a city where crime seeps from its pores, the victims must become the answer to their own prayers.
Production Company: Hive Mind Studios
Starring: Jeremy Scoggins, Louisa Torres, Derreck Fraser, Markus Porter, Kevin Arnold, Jeremiah Hinson, Jaron Scoggins.
You too can help stop evil by contributing to the cause!
It’s that time of month! (Ew no, not THAT time of month…) I only had 3 films this month for Rogue but they were quite possibly the widest range of films I’ve ever had to review at one time – witch hunts to aliens to Lifetime on crack…it was an interesting (and sometimes confusing) time. Stop by and check it all out!
I recently got the opportunity to chat with director/writer Daniel Benedict whose latest film, Bunni, premieres today. The premiere is being hosted by Verite Cinema and owner Pj Starks has this to say, “I’m stoked that Verite Cinema will be hosting the premiere of Daniels film. Since 2007 my goal was to showcase local talent and ultimately use my connections to help aspiring filmmakers reach the next level. By setting up the premiere of BUNNI, this definitely falls into line with what I want to accomplish. It should be a fun event and I look forward to seeing Daniel get his film out there. It’s a big and exciting step. I’m glad I can be apart of that journey.” Learn more about Daniel, his love of horror and all about Bunni below! Also be sure to visit the Red Serial Films website to watch the Bunni trailer (I’m super excited to see this one!!).
ML: Bunni is your latest film. You’ve been making films (8 shorts and 3 features to be exact) since 1994 and all in the genre of horror. What draws you to horror?
DB: I’ve always been obsessed with monsters, villains, and scary things of all kinds. The only books I used to check out of my elementary school’s library were ones on ghosts or the Universal movie monsters, etc. As I got older and was able to see R rated films, an entire new world opened up for me. A wonderful world of masked murderers and dream stalkers. So in 1994, a friend and I decided to get together and make our own Friday the 13th sequel. We had just seen Jason Goes to Hell at the drive-in the previous summer and thought we could continue the story. So I convinced my parents and grandparents to play the victims , which resulted in the most valuable (to me) VHS tape of all-time.
ML: Bunni was produced by Red Serial Films – is this your company or did they simply call you in to direct this? If it is your company, can you tell us a little about Red Serial Films?
DB: Red Serial Films was started by myself and long-time friend Steven Boling who served as producer for Bunni. He and I had been involved in making films since the late 90’s. So when the time came to start production on Bunni, we decided we needed to take the next step, gather together some highly creative talent, and create a brand striving to produce quality entertainment.
ML: So you also wrote Bunni?
DB: I started writing the script in the fall of 2010. I bounced it around among Steve, our script supervisors, and special effects team for about a year. This enabled us to flesh out the plot and characters more, work out the kinks, fill in the holes, and gave us a really cohesive story.
ML: Bunni, from the trailer, looks to be a slasher film. What’s the synopsis?
DB: Bunni takes a classic slasher stance. Basically four people are walking home from a Halloween party and make the terrible mistake of breaking into an abandoned building where a killer waits to bludgeon them. Two of the group discover what appears to be living quarters and a disturbing home video that reveals a horrific truth.
We’re by no means redefining the horror genre; our goal was to create an entertaining movie with originality at the same time paying homage to slasher films of the past. And I think we’ve accomplished that.
ML: Can you tell us a little about the cast of Bunni and what they’ve done before this?
DB: Mercedez Varble portrays Paige- the film’s protagonist. Mercedez is involved with the Theater Workshop of Owensboro and most recently starred in their production of Little Shop of Horrors. Paige’s boyfriend, Chris, is played by Kent Blue who is a regular cast member on the October Road Youtube channel.
ML: Is directing and filmmaking your full time gig or do you have a “day job”?
DB: I currently produce tv commercials as a living, so I’m constantly writing/directing. I hope to be able to continue to do feature films and take it as far as I can.
ML: Do you have any advice for future directors and filmmakers?
DB: I would tell anyone interested in doing films to just make one regardless of your resource limitations. Use whatever equipment you have, collaborate with anyone willing to help you, and create something that you love. Everyone has to start somewhere. It doesn’t matter if you have a Red Epic or a Sony Handycam, or whether you use Final Cut Pro or edit with 2 VCR’s, a cassette player, and Mario Paint (which is what I started with.)
Also, be willing to compromise, selflessly help others as much as you can, and please don’t get an ego. That’s so annoying. 😉