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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Three Time Moving: The Kiss Through Time" An Epic Name, But The Story Falls Short

"THREE TIMES MOVING: THE KISS THROUGH TIME" (2014)
Genre: Romance
Length- 8:11
Company: Lee Neville Entertainment
Website:  Official

Adam (Lee Neville) is torn between two women.  On the one hand, there's Julie (Jane Hogan), the woman he really loves -- but he's trapped in a sorta, kinda friend zone with her.  On the other hand, there's Anna (assistant director Danielle Little), the latest in a string of women with whom he can happily satisfy his libido. 

What to do, friends?  What to do!

CLARITY OF VISION

"Three Times Moving: The Kiss Through Time" is the first in a trilogy of short films concerning Adam's troubled love triangle.  Written, produced, directed and starring Lee Neville, it's very much a no budget, one man show.  Presumably there is a larger story arc stretched out over the three short films, with maybe some kind of emotional payoff at the end, but this first episode is weighed down with enough problems that I was not compelled to watch the second or third entries.

The film on a physical level is put together competently enough, but the writing is bogged down with major issues.  What exactly is going on between Adam and Julie in the very beginning?  It feels like a "breakup" kind of scene, but the two aren't actually in a relationship together . . . or are they? 

They've been friends for a long time, and later on Julie remarks that when Adam can take a romantic relationship more seriously, he should get in touch with her. 

So . . . she's kind of cool with him having at it with other women while they've been friends, if he'll just stop as of now and declare himself monogamous?  This isn't entirely believable since they were a little more than just friends, I think?

There aren't any visuals that step up to the plate to help tell the story, so we're relying utterly on dialogue and the way these characters talk to each other.  Unfortunately, we don't have a reason to like anyone, or failing that, even be interested enough in one or more characters to want to see what happens.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 1 / 5.  The message of the film is not clear and the characters' reactions do not seem plausible to me.  There is no cohesive plot, just a general suggestion of true love.  Also, the title is far too long and implies some kind of epic production, and this is a small, intimate short film.
Directing: 3 / 5.  The locations were extremely cramped for the most part which limited his visual options, but Neville's directing does OK.
Editing: 3 / 5.  Nothing stood out as good or bad, so that's decent.
Sound/Music: 2 / 5.  Not bad, courtesy of composer Matthew Tabor.
Acting:  2 / 5.  Hogan feels forced for three quarters of the film.  Neville does the best he can with the dialogue in the script.  Little has nothing to do for the movie except for make out with Neville, but they do a pretty convincing job.

Final Grade: 2.2 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Three Times Moving: The Kiss Through Time" and the subsequent episodes!  When you're done with those, follow Lee Neville on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Language of the Sick" Short Film Thematic But Not Visual

"LANGUAGE OF THE SICK" (2014)
Genre: Drama
Length- 19:56
Company: Get Coned Productions
Website:  Official Facebook

Charlie Fincher (Mitchell Herrin) is a disturbed young man who hides behind a camera and defines his very existence by his ability to capture the world around him on film.  His latest project is a mysterious documentary in which he interviews young women and harasses them until they give up their secrets.

He might have underestimated Rebecca Marie Stylings (Kelsey McCarter), his latest subject . . . and the results of his questioning just might surprise him.

A CAMERA COMMENTARY

"Language of the Sick" is a short film from Get Coned Productions out of Florida.  Herrin also wrote the screenplay, and his lines are excessively long and wordy and delivered as though he is the bad guy of a film: he tries to be sinister, but the reality is that no one talks like this guy, no one acts like this guy.  As a result, Fincher is a caricature at best, completely phony at worst.

It features one location, and a nondescript one at that, which makes for a claustrophobic film.  Unfortunately, the visuals are exceedingly dry and there's not much to keep the eye moving.

McCarter does the best she can with her role, and after a bumpy beginning she settles into her role and has a few credible, emotional moments. 

"Language of the Sick" is intended as a metafictional commentary on filmmakers and the seemingly odd desire to want to dedicate their lives to recording lies -- or is it truth?  Clearly, Fincher is a little fuzzy on the difference. 

But film is ultimately a visual medium, and there's not much on hand to entertain. 

OVERALL SCORES:


Writing: 2.5 / 5.  I respect the themes that Herrin incorporates into the script, but ultimately bad dialogue sinks the ship.
Directing: 2 / 5.  Christopher Durand handled directorial duties, and does a serviceable job of presenting what does happen, but that doesn't change the fact that not only is nothing happening onscreen for the bulk of the picture, but on top of that visually there is nothing  going on, either. 
Editing: 3 / 5.  It worked.
Sound/Music: 2.5 / 5.  The dialogue was mostly audible, but there was a definite difference in noise from shot to shot and when Herrin speaks from behind the camera he is very muffled.
Acting: 2 / 5.  McCarter closes the film well but even her performance is rocky to start with, and Herrin is too forced and whispery for his lines to have much of an impact.

Final Grade 2.4 / 5

Don't forget to check out "Language of the Sick" on YouTube or, if you can, get out and see it at a festival screening near you.  When you get done, follow Get Coned Productions on Facebook!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Maloney Pictures and Tom Doherty Excite and Provoke With Affecting Award Winner "The White Room"

"THE WHITE ROOM" (2013)
Genre: Drama / Fantasy
Length- 10:22
Company: Maloney Pictures
Website:  Official Facebook

A Man in White (Tyler Klunick) awakens in a small, white room.  He checks the door.  It's locked.

Why is he here, and for how long?

It might not sound like much, but in writer/director Tom Doherty's capable hands, it's all you need in Maloney Pictures' microbudget short, "The White Room".

Apparently I'm not alone, either.  The short film has won awards at the 2014 Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts, the Prairie State International Film Festival, and the Illinois International Film Festival, not to mention even MORE honors too numerous to list here.

Not bad, right?

A LOT WITH A LITTLE

"The White Room"' is taken from a script written by Tony Dal Pra and director/editor Tom Doherty, and the story these men tell is a pared down, intimate story with a surprisingly gorgeous do-it-yourself aesthetic. 

The story takes us from the stark "reality" of the titular White Room to an isolated corn field.  Thanks to some top notch work from Director of Photography Jaysom Phommavongsa and some exquisite color grading in the editing room, this change of scenery not only opens up the story but adds an almost fantastical tinge to a very bittersweet scene between the Man in White and his daughter.

The acting is efficient all around, with smartly understated performances by Klunick, Laura Chernicky and Dave Juehring (who starred in last year's "The Witchfinder" -- reviewed here).  Particularly impressive is that even the young children on hand (Jordyn Paige Bolber and Katie Mahl) are credible in their roles.  That's no small feat for any film.

TWISTING, TURNING . . .

I have to be careful because I don't want to give anything away, but there's a "twist" in this film.  Fortunately, Doherty and crew are smart enough to play with their audience's expectations, and as a result, "The White Room" puts a new and affecting spin on an old story.

Maybe it's just my own life experiences factoring in, but I had to wipe away a few tears by the conclusion of this film.  "The White Room" made me feel something genuine -- and isn't that the true measure of a piece of art?

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3 / 5.  The twist was smartly executed and I liked the metaphorical use of the White Room.  The last sequence felt too cliche for me and the payoff wasn't quite enough considering how emotional the rest of the film felt.
Directing: 4 / 5.  With help from Assistant Director Eric Smigiel and Phommavongsa, Doherty made sure that every visual packed a whollop when and where it needed to. 
Editing: 4 / 5.  Doherty put this movie together like a puzzle and each shot interlocks neatly with the next.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  Sound designer Ray McCall does his job well and the soundtrack, supplied by Phommavongsa and Daniel Schultz hits the spot with moody keys and strings.
Acting: 4 / 5.  Every actor and actress in this film played their roles well and never once did anyone take me out of the movie with a bad line or awkward delivery.  There are a lot of big budget films that I cannot say the same about.

Final Grade: 3.8 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "The White Room" as it plays festivals around the country and follow the creators on Facebook!



Saturday, August 2, 2014

Go For Broke Pictures Presents Creepy Pasta's "The Rake" in Frightening Short

"THE RAKE" (2014)
Genre:  Horror
Length-  3:56
Company:  Go For Broke Pictures
Website:  Official

Emily (Cynthia Vodovoz) raises her son Kaidan (Treyson Wallin) with her husband Andrew (Michael Evans).  Between parenthood and doing chores, she gets pretty tuckered out at night. 

On this night, she kisses Kaidan good night, cleans up the kitchen, and then retires to bed.  She finds she can't sleep tonight -- there's an insistent, strange noise in her room.

And then there's the dark figure at the foot of her bed to worry about . . .

ADAPTED FOR THE SCREEN


Go For Broke Pictures (check out our review of their last short film, "Bagged") returns with "The Rake", a short horror film adapted from the outrageously popular short story that originated on the now legendary website of dark and scary things, Creepy Pasta.

The first minute and a half of the film is pure setup, establishing the three characters and a hint of their dynamics together.  But when Emily settles into bed for the night, then it's ON, because director Shun Otsubo brings the scares and then some, because when The Rake appears, all bets are off.

It is beyond me how a low budget film such as this one could have such an unbelievably good looking monster.  Go For Broke can thank Al Heck of Renderready LLC for that -- he turns in some incredible visual effects, bringing to life a beast straight out of a nightmare.  (SPOILER ALERT: the link I just gave you will reveal things to you that you might only want to see AFTER you've watched the film.)

If the monster had looked bad, the film wouldn't work, pure and simple.  But the monster DOES work, it works like crazy.

Emily snatches up young Kaidan and is locked in a desperate bid for survival against an unstoppable creature hungry for blood -- or death. 

Once again, the Go For Broke boys have hit the ball out of the park.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3 / 5.  Serviceable script from Sean C. Simon, but the brevity of the film eliminates any ability to deliver a real plot.  It's basically a survival horror film anyway so it really doesn't detract from the film.
Directing: 3.5/ 5.  The first half of the film is mundane and I think it's meant to be that way.  Once The Rake shows up though, Otsubo servces up some imaginative shots tailor made to give you nightmares, and I for one appreciated that.
Editing: 4 / 5.  Logan Stewart, Sam Zapiain and Otsubo took on editing duties, and the film runs along at a good click.  The end credits are really effective as well -- lots of creepy old photos set to the music.  Honestly, this short film feels like the first few minutes of a feature length horror film.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  The original score by Travis S. Lohmann is rock solid, particularly in the aforementioned end credits.
Acting: 3.5 / 5.  Everyone does their job well here, with Vodovoz as the big standout.  Evans doesn't have much to do except for walk up stairs and look tired and amorous, which he does well.  Wallin is extremely young and extremely quiet for the most part, which was unrealistic -- I'd have thought he'd be screaming.  His deadpan final line hit the jackpot though.  It set the finale up perfectly.

Final Grade: 3.6 / 5.

DO NOT miss "The Rake" -- it's available to watch on YouTube by clicking here.  When you're done pooping yourself, visit Go For Broke Pictures' official website and follow them on Facebook!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!