TW: Talk of Suicide
I love this film. I love everything about it. It’s an absolutely brilliant story about suicide (although as stated above definite trigger warnings if you’re currently depressed or feeling suicidal). Not everyone’s been there but a lot of us have – that point where you just want to give up on everything. It’s a scary point. But then, if you’re lucky, you’re able to pull yourself out of that deep, dark hole with the help of friends, family, therapy, meds, and mostly yourself. What happens when you can’t leave that place? What’s it like to have an addiction to suicide & death?
“Suicidal ideation: unusual preoccupation with suicide.” In Here Lies Joe, we meet two individuals at a Suicide Anonymous group – a group for individuals dealing with suicidal ideation. Joe is the new guy while Z is the manic-pixie dream girl of the group. Z writes her suicide notes in iambic pentameter instead of trying to NOT want to die; Joe just seems out of place and unsure of why he’s there or anywhere. The two seem to sense kindred souls in one another and Z manages to finagle a ride from the meeting with Joe. Instead of taking him to her home, she takes him to the cemetery instead, where they spend the afternoon. And later that night they spend hours on the phone together, bonding, each lost in their own way. What will morning bring?
As someone who has a mental illness of which suicidal ideation is a key symptom, this film really touched a chord. It was incredibly honest and open. The characters were real and tangible, relatable. Z says she wants to kill herself because she’s “an ugly thing in a beautiful world”, a statement which is so honest and heartrendingly easy to understand. This film is utterly beautiful. And while it is a film with dark elements and themes, they explore them with humor and pathos to arrive at the film’s ultimate message: hope.
While Dean Temple as “Joe” gives a wonderful and sturdy performance, it’s Andi Morrow as “Z” who steals the show (and your breath) away. Her performance is raw and something magical to behold.
I can’t recommend Here Lies Joe highly enough. Visit the film’s website to find out where you can catch it. And remember that there’s ALWAYS hope.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
After last week’s spot of “teamwork”, can the boys handle a bit of creativity?
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!
*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!
(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!
Now THIS was a short film I liked. Intriguing, compelling, mysterious with just an edge of chilling, “The Girl in the Woods” hit all my sweet spots. I’m fairly certain this was my first Turkish film experience and it definitely made a good impression. I’m interested to see more of what Turkey and writer/director, Tofiq Rzayev, have to offer.
The story is simple (and yet complex – multi-layered if you will). Ceren’s fiance is missing after a huge fight. They’ve been having some issues for awhile with him not wanting to settle on a wedding date but him just vanishing takes the cake. Except…did he vanish of his own free will? The only clue Ceren and their good friend, Mert, have to go on is a text that Mert received reading “Find me”. Hmmm…my, but that’s rather cryptic, eh? So what gives? Mert heads out to see if he can find Mr. Fiance but after several days all he’s managed to find is a mystery girl in the woods. He grows rather fond of talking and hanging out with her (cause ya know, you can always trust those mystery forest girls!…), which is cool because Girl in the Woods (no name cause that’s how she rolls) is kind of lonely and she’s had some major heartbreak and wants to be alone. But not alone (see?? What did I say about trusting those girls in the woods?? That is NOT normal behaviour!). However, what happens next causes a downward spiral that changes all of their lives in different ways.
First off, I liked the characters. They were well fleshed out for such a short film and believable. Ceren was ready to equally kill AND hug to death her fiance when he came back and the way she said that was so real. I found myself just as engaged with the actors (Deniz Aslim – Mert; Gizem Aybike Shahin – Ceren; Mehmet Samer – Cem; and Cevahir Cashgir as The Girl in the Woods). The story started as a “slice of life” mini-mystery but quickly became a beautiful and insightful look at mankind’s push and pull towards one another, so absolutely no complaints there. And Azerbaijan, the location where this was filmed, is absolutely lovely.
Really, the only complaint I had was that in some places the picture was a little fuzzy, if you know what I mean. Not so that you couldn’t see what was going on but just not very sharp in the way that home videos look fuzzy compared to movies in the cinema. Not a huge thing, just noticeable.
This is on my “Highly Recommended” list. There’s nothing better than a great short and nothing beats a fabulous foreign film (well, to me anyway!) so combining the two equals pure magic. Want to see why I think YOU should see it? You can get more reviews and info on IMDB. Hurry, go! There’s probably some mysterious girl waiting for you…
The new issue of Rogue just hit the web and it is hotter than ever! Why is that exactly? Because we’ve added video interviews!! And one of them is with Brian Metcalf (Director of “Fading of the Cries”) and Thomas Ian Nichols (“American Pie”) and it’s pretty kickawesome. I mean, they all are but still. And my reviews for this month are below if you wanna check them out. 🙂
There’s a severe lack of snark in this review because honestly the first word that comes to mind after watching the short film, “Crestfallen”, written and produced by Russ Penning and directed by Jeremiah Kipp, is exquisite. From the main character played by Deneen Melody to the cinematography, “Crestfallen” has a radiance to it all while remaining unsettling.
The film is silent, coupled only with a haunting score by Harry “Friday the 13th” Manfredini. The story follows a young woman (Melody) as she attempts to take her life. Told mainly via flashback, we see the devastation wrought upon her as she catches her husband with another woman and sees her daughter taken away from her. There are several disturbing yet beautiful images throughout and since it’s silent, one is able to form their own opinion about what exactly has transpired.
Melody is achingly vulnerable and the first slice of her wrist is reminiscent of Juliet (“Oh happy dagger, this is thy sheath.”) while the lighting and mood is reminiscent of “The Virgin Suicides”. Melody does a tremendous job of handling a heavy story with only one bit of minor overacting that had me yell “No!” at the movie. It only lasts for a millisecond though so I was relieved.
I can’t help but to want to watch more from director, Jeremiah Kipp, and lucky for me I have two more shorts to follow up with!