What’s Up 2019: Week 42

Tranquil Dreams (1)

Another week as passed. Festival du Nouveau Cinema is now behind us and having a sudden drop of a little remote coverage for Toronto After Dark (which is ongoing currently) for short films, we’re still in a heavy watching action. Of course, Toronto After Dark also is mostly horror films so that fits with the Halloween marathon. A lot of other stuff was going on at the same time so lets see what happened!

READING

Hope

  • Hope by Terry Tyler (Review)

Currently reading: Murder of Montague Falls

Slowly getting back into the reading vibe! There’s a few blog tours coming up and other reading commitments. I was pretty close to deadline for Hope but it all worked out and actually was a really nice thrilling read. Right now, I’m in the first of 3 novellas in the Murder of Montague Falls novel. So far, its pretty neat and very matching to the Halloween horror sort of vibe so thats coming up as well.

PLAYING

cube escape: Harvey's Box

  • Cube Escape: Seasons
  • Cube Escape: The Lake
  • Cube Escape: Arles
  • Cube Escape: Harvey’s Box

I’ve been revisiting the Cube Escape series in an attempt to review them. The best way I’ve figured out is to just go at it through the Mobile Games Round-ups which keeps them fairly contained, almost capsule reviews, style and still share some of them in case some of you haven’t checked it out and are looking for something fun. At the same time, I also wanted to play their latest one which I happened to have backed on Kickstarter and never got around to playing so I wanted to replay it from the beginning to piece together the story again. Four games in so far (Cube Escape series) but there’s still a good deal of not only Cube Escape but also the full games on Steam.

WATCHING

Mickey and the Bear

Festival du Nouveau Cinema 2019 Films:

  • Sole (2019, Review)
  • J’ai Perdu Mon Corps (2019, Review)
  • Mickey and the Bear (2019, Review)
  • A White, White Day (2019, Review)
  • Dirty God (2019)

Toronto After Dark Short Films:

  • Turbo Killer (2016 short, Review)
  • Far Horizon (2019, Review)
  • Flip (2019, Review)
  • We Three Queens (2019 short, Review)
  • Eyes Open (2019 short, Review)
  • Make Me A Sandwich (2019 short, Review)
  • International Shorts After Dark: Maggie May, Puzzle, Eject, La Noria, Your Last Day On Earth, Place

Crazy long list this time! Its why I decided to separate them by full features and short films and which festival they belong to. In terms of Festival du Nouveau Cinema, the story that touched me the most is Mickey and the Bear! Hands down, the one that hit me the hardest and it being a directorial debut really shows the power of new eyes in cinema coming up on the scene to look out for. At the same time, J’ai Perdu Mon Corps and Sole are two that I liked a lot also. The former will be landing on Netflix as an Original film so that’s pretty exciting (especially if you like French animation).

As for short films, my fave probably would go to We Three Queens for the holiday horror element that hasn’t been looked at before (at least I haven’t seen it), Turbo Killer for its exciting visually stunning, fantastic music video style creative sci-fi story and well as for horror drama-ish with tons of creativity, La Noria takes that one without any doubt.

BINGING

dream space 2

  • Well-Intended Love (2019)
  • Dream Space 2 (2019)

Currently binging: Soft Memory, When I Grow Up, Relation Ship, Creepshow

Feeling quite nice nowadays as the whole TV binging thing has been much more toned down at a normal level. I wrapped up Well-Intended Love, which I felt was a few episodes too long and really did lack a lot of the whole chemistry and whatnot that I would have liked. I didn’t really hate it but just slightly indifferent about it, I guess. We’ll see where Season 2 goes, I suppose as that’s in filming now. However, my choice goes to Dream Space 2 which definitely had its up and downs. Its not quite as entertaining as the other shows of the same style (or even its first season) but I had some participants that I was really liking a lot so hoping that their whole leaving the show together will result in some happy ending in the future.

As for currently binging, I let the husband choose the next show to binge together and he went for Creepshow on Shudder. We’re three episodes in, which is 6 stories and I have to say that while its relatively fun to watch, its a lot of hit and miss but I think it all dials down to what type of horror you enjoy more of.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
Its been a crazy busy week with one more of the same to go as well as wrapping up the final few bits of Halloween month!
What have you been reading/watching/binging/playing?

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After Hours: The Shallows

Season 3 main season has wrapped up and we’re in our After Hours segment. The first to kick off as always is our seasonal Shark Week pick. This time, we’re taking a look at The Shallows! Head over to Movies and Tea to listen to our discussion of the film. While you are there, let us know your thoughts on this film as well as what other shark films you love.

Movies and Tea

Shark Week #3 is finally here and this time it’s the turn of “The Shallows”

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra who despite giving us films such as Orphan and Non-stop is also the director responsible for the likes of “Goal 2: Living the Dream” and “The House of Wax” remake which so memorably was sold on the prospect of seeing Paris Hilton die.

So with the prospect of a bikini bottom clad Blake Lively cashing in the pretty girl dollars alongside a rather large shark as selling the movie you might expect the same sort of throw away summer fodder with all the dramatic depth of an Emma Watson performance…..I mean it couldn’t possibly be good….could it?

Further Viewing

The Reef
Backcountry
127 hours
Buried
Rogue

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
Sia – Bird Set Free

Listen to the Show

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Blog Tour: His to Defend (Spotlight)

Tour Banner (10)

HIS TO DEFEND
BY: RHENNA MORGAN

HIS TO DEFEND

Publication Date: October 14, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 384 pages

Book one of NOLA Knights, the heart-stoppingly sexy spin-off series by Men of Haven author Rhenna Morgan

His world. His rules. Her love.

Though his methods may be rough, when it comes to protecting what’s his, Russian vor Sergei Petrovyh’s heart is always in the right place. That’s never been more true than when the gorgeous Evette Labadie asks him for a job. He knows enough to keep his hands off someone as beloved by the locals as Evie, but there’s something about her that calls to him—no matter how badly he burns to make her his.

Don’t think Evie hasn’t noticed the powerful Russian mafia boss who makes her favorite diner a regular stop. How can she not? He’s as hot as his reputation is dangerous. But everyone in her struggling New Orleans neighborhood knows he’s the man to turn to. And right now she needs money to get her son out of trouble.

Her other needs—needs she knows damn well Sergei can more than satisfy—will have to wait.

Evie soon finds herself playing Cinderella to a man who, despite what people believe, is definitely more prince than villain. She can’t help falling deeper in love with each passing day. But when a turf war between Sergei and a rival brings violence to her doorstep, Evie must come to grips with loving a man who will do anything to defend her…or walk away from her best chance at a happily-ever-after of her very own.

ADD TO GOODREADS

EXCERPT

Evette pinched the business-size check from her former employer a little tighter and glared at the cleaning company’s logo in the top corner. On any other Friday, the money would have meant inching closer to some semblance of security for her and her son, Emerson. A step toward unraveling the mess she’d created for her life. Today, the unexpected termination that had come with her weekly pay felt more like a sucker punch to the gut. Yet another obstacle to overcome after too many damned years running the gauntlet and never even glimpsing the finish line.

Maybe she could get a job cleaning at one of the hotels. God knew the French Quarter was packed with them, and she was pretty sure she could count on regular shift work, like the office cleaning crew she’d been on. Though, how she was going to land one by Monday when it was already close to 4:30 on a Friday afternoon was beyond her. And landing something quick was the only way this latest setback wouldn’t force her into dipping into Emerson’s school fund. Plus, there was the hurdle of what would happen if they called her old company for references and found out she’d been fired for a security breach.

Not. Good.

The commuter bus swung onto Tulane headed toward Mid-City, and Evie’s spirits sunk a little lower. If someone had told her when she was growing up that she’d be a single mom living in one of New Orleans’s rougher parts of town at twenty-eight years old, she’d have laughed in their face. She was going to be a fashion retail buyer—or at least have some kind of career in fashion. She was going to travel the world. See things. Know people. Adventure her way through life and suck it dry.

Then her mom had died, and she’d gone off the rails.

She sighed and slunk a little farther down onto the hard plastic bench, the run-down stores, bars and restaurants along the roadside passing in a blur while the vibrations from the bus’s engine rattled clear to her bones.

Get knocked down seven times, stand up eight.

If she had a dollar for all the times her momma had said it and all the times Evie had echoed it in the last eight years, she’d be driving a Porsche toward the Garden District right now instead of a barely livable apartment.

But her momma had made it.

Mostly.

Raised Evette through her tumultuous preteen years after her daddy’s death and made it look easy. It hadn’t been until a year after Emerson had been born and Evie had found the courage to read some of her mother’s journals that she’d realized just how much of a challenge her mother had really faced. How much she’d given up and how alone she’d felt through every second.

Evie understood it now. Knew to her very marrow the sacrifices that had been made on her behalf.

And she’d thrown it all away nursing her grief.

Resolve and a whole lot of stubbornness revved her energy and forced her taller in her seat. Pity was what had gotten her into this mess to begin with, and she’d be damned if she went that route again.

Labadie women didn’t quit. Didn’t give up. They faced whatever they needed to face, and they smiled doing it. Eventually, she was going to find a way to give her and Emerson the world. She just might have to scrimp a little longer and get more creative to make it happen.

Where to buy His to Defend

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Google Play
Kobo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

rhenna Morgan

A native Oklahoman, Rhenna Morgan is a certified romance junkie. Whether it’s contemporary, paranormal, or fantasy you’re after, Rhenna’s stories pack romantic escape full of new, exciting worlds, and strong, intuitive men who fight to keep the women they want. For advance release news and exclusive content, sign up for her newsletter at http://RhennaMorgan.com. You’ll also find all of her social links there, along with her smoking hot inspiration boards.

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

October 14th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Reviews and Promos by Nyx (Spotlight) https://nyxblogs.wordpress.com/
Vivianna MacKade (Guest Post) https://viviana-mackade.blog/
Didi Oviatt (Review) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
Romance Book Binge (Review) https://romancebookbinge.com/

October 15th

I’m All About Books (Spotlight) https://imallaboutbooks.com/
Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

October 16th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
Cup of Books (Review) https://cupofbooksblog.wordpress.com/
Jane Hunt Writer (Review) https://www.jolliffe01.com/blog

October 17th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
The Bookish Mrs. Harding (Review) http://thebookishmrsharding.home.blog

October 18th

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com
The Cozy Pages (Review) http://thecozypages.wordpress.com/

…..

October 21st

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com
I Love Books and Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com
Literary Dust (Review) https://literarydust.wordpress.com/
The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

October 22nd

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com
Tranquil Dreams (Spotlight) https://klling.wordpress.com/
Inked and Blonde (Review) https://inkedandblonde.blogspot.com/

October 23rd

Wrong Side of Forty (Review) https://wrongsideoffortyuk.wordpress.com/
Tsarina Press (Review) https://www.tsarinapress.com

October 24th

Past Midnight (Review) http://pastmidnight.home.blog

October 25th

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
Book Dragon Girl (Review) https://bookdragongirl.com
Crossroads Reviews (Spotlight) http://www.crossroadreviews.com

Blog Tour Organized by:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

FNC 2019: J’ai Perdu Mon Corps (I Lost My Body, 2019)

J’ai Perdu Mon Corps (I Lost My Body, 2019)

J'ai Perdu Mon corps

Director (and co-screenplay): Jeremy Clapin

Voice Cast: Hakim Faris, Victoire Du Bois, Patrick D’Assumcao

A story of Naoufel, a young man who is in love with Gabrielle. In another part of town, a severed hand escapes from a dissection lab, determined to find its body again. – IMDB

French animated features always seem to have a darkness to its overall premise. In this case, this upcoming Netflix France Original film (according to this poster is set to release in the end of November) follows two sides of a story. The first is the story of Nafouel, a pizza delivery boy having a bad day that ends up having a random conversation with a girl through a building intercom during a rain storm outside and is intrigued by this stranger and finds a way to approach her while on the other side, it follows a severed hand trying to go through the city to reunite with the body it belongs to. Its easy to see that these two stories are linked together and who this severed hand belongs to and yet, alternating between the two and having it converge at the end gives this film so much charm. Perhaps of the timeline jumping back and forth between the two that the story sometimes does have moments of disjointedness.

Somehow French animated films have such good grasp hitting those bizarre themes and finding just the right balance of humor to make it work. J’ai Perdu Mon Corps is a fine example of this. While Naoufel’s side of the story feels a bit awkward and maybe a tad sketchy if you think about the almost stalker-ish way he chooses to approach this girl. At the same time, he is somewhat of a rather unpleasant character or simply flawed and fairly shallow which is where this film falls short slightly. It all depends on how his character is viewed although there are some believable moments of clumsiness and his trying to work hard to get her attention and some missteps that he does which makes some funny moments. As I always like to mention, flawed characters to begin with makes for the better development characters as they have so much more room to grow and that definitely applies in this story.

Where it does shine right from the beginning is starting with how the severed hand is introduced and the moments of how it goes from location to location. There’s a lot of dark humor to be had, especially as it meets all kinds of things and dangers along the way and is essentially defenceless. Some come out with mostly unexpected outcomes and that just makes each step of its way back to the body that it belongs to even more rewarding in the end.

Overall, J’ai Perdu Mon Corps is exactly as its title hints at. The winning factor here is how it uses the whole concept of a severed hand and can create a rather charming and humorous story out of it. It fits into the whole charm of French animation that is a tad odd but still works out overall to have those dramatic moments as well. As a feature-length directorial debut for Jeremy Clapin, its definitely one that lands very well and has a unique premise.

J’ai Perdu Mon Corps will be hitting theatres for a limited release in US (November 15) and UK (November 22) and also hitting Netflix (for most countries) on November 29th (all based on research on the Internet, so please check or correct me in the comments if you have other more accurate info).

TADFF 2019 Shorts: Turbo Killer/Far Horizon/Flip

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

The next batch of three shorts is here! These were screened with a shorter length feature called Blood Machines, which happens to be a sequel to the first of these three shorts reviewed here. The others suitably work with this post-apocalyptic sort of concept with quite a bit of imagination and creativity behind each of these premises.

Turbo Killer (2016)

Director (and writer): Seth Ickerman

Cast: Joelle Berckmans, Guillaume Faure, Marc-Antoine Frederic, Noémie Stevens

 Set up like a music video with a great soundtrack, Turbo Killer is a visual feast. The color palette pops. The story is abstract but still somewhat easy to understand about a post-apocalyptic world where a man accidentally transports a woman and then another masked man comes to save her. Its a fun little (almost) 5 minutes short that truly shows something that can be expanded on.

Far Horizon (2019)

Far Horizon

Director: Sara Martins

Set in 2025, Far Horizon is episode one of what I’d expect would be a series with fairly short episodes. Episode 1 is called survivor. While the context isn’t quite there, the synopsis of this is pretty much that a group of soldiers search the desolate land and end up going to look through, what they believe, is an abandoned field hospital for a supply run and ends up finding the first survivor in three years.

The tone here is done well. The suspense is also quite good. The cast also works as well as the characters definitely seem to have something more to learn about. The whole episode/short builds in tension as the suspense and darkness of each scene hides a lot of whats around them, limiting the vision and giving the final discovery such a nice element of surprise. Its rather impressive and if this is an actual series, it’d be nice to see where it heads for story-wise.

Flip (2019)

Flip

Director: Jessica Grace Smith

Kept in a post-apocalyptic future trapped in a bunk, mother Flip and daughter Plug need to find a way to escape their prison. Flip tries to protect Plug as much as possible and kept her away from Helmet, a growling aggressive beast (of sorts) that goes to visit them and abuse her. However, when things go wrong one day, Plug finds the courage to protect her mother and fight back.

Whether its the design of the mother and daughter or the world or even the villainous Helmet, Flip is a very well-executed short. Running at 13 minutes, this one has more depth than the typical short and actually manages to show off a lot of the elements of their entrapment as well as their dangerous situation and the creeping fear of the inevitable if they do stay there. The action sequence and the stakes in the story make Flip a really good short (and even one that could merit a full length project to see what this world has to offer more especially for this mother and daughter duo).

That’s it for these three shorts!
If anything, these short films show that there’s still a lot more to explore in the whole post-apocalypse idea or a dystopian future.

 

 

FNC 2019: Sole (2019)

Sole (2019)

Sole

Director: Carlo Sironi

Cast: Sandra Drzymalska, Claudio Segaluscio, Bruno Buzzi, Barbara Ronchi, Marco Felli

Two very different teens involved in a surrogate motherhood scheme learn how to live. – Letterboxd

Teen pregnancy and being arranged to a fake as a couple brings Lena and Ermanno, two previously teen strangers together, as they get through the remaining 3 weeks of Lena’s pregnancy under his care at his home so that she can then pass it over through foster case (or adoption) to Ermanno’s uncle Fabio and his wife.

Nothing gives characters coming of age like a tough situation. Two inadvertently different teens at the beginning get brought together as Lena enters into Ermanno’s seemingly pointless life that involves doing petty thefts and gambling away his money at slot machines and never doing more because he doesn’t feel that he is good at anything. While he doesn’t care initially about Lena, her personality and her situation also brings him a new direction as she works hard towards the next step in her future, never quite letting her pregnancy and the life after being a concern. However, things change when Lena gives birth too early to pass over the baby to the adoptive parents and has to take care of her baby until she is ready to eat independently. Its this transition that proves to create the bond that will put into question whether not only Lena, but also Ermanno, can go through with the initial plan.

In many ways, its more of Ermanno’s coming of age as he finds his value and the things and people that he wants to live for and starts taking a step forward and not hoping but taking actual actions. While Ermanno’s character does really say a lot and is mostly trudging around from one place to the next, it fits surprisingly well. Claudio Segluscio‘s first acting role as this character that has a lot of development because of meeting Lena definitely works better than it would seem. Sandra Drzymalska plays Lena and has a lot more acting experience and you can tell from her character that also doesn’t say much but observes a lot of her surroundings. From her little reactions and how she expresses herself through her looks and exchanges with Ermanno, there is a good connection between them. Lena is a tough character and Drzymalska delivers it very well especially as she  has to make a tough decision. 

While Sole isn’t a script that brings a lot of surprises or is very different from what you’d expect from teen pregnancy or two teens set into a situation as strangers for money essentially in the beginning, its how these characters grow as well as how some of these shots are framed, which are done so beautifully to capture the mood of the situation. The end game is rather predictable as well but because the connection with the characters are done so well that it actually is quite an emotional one as well.

All in all, Sole was a touching little experience. Its a slow-burn and rather quiet in the as a whole but the characters feel genuine especially for the age they are portraying. There’s a lot of care taken in building the right feeling here and for myself, it lands really well. Sometimes, its those subtle moments and the gradual development that ends up being much more profound than having constant big gestures. Its not easy to do and yet director Carlo Sironi does it so well here.

Sole has one more screening during Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 20 at 8:55pm at Cineplex Odeon Quartier – Salle 14. You can find more info HERE.

TADFF 2019 Shorts #1: We Three Queens/Eyes Open/Make Me A Sandwich

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Much to our surprise, we are going to be covering Toronto After Dark Film Festival remotely for its short films selections. The festival itself runs from October 17 to 25th this year at the Scotiabank Theatre. If you happen to be in Toronto, do head over to check out this festival with its great line-up of feature films. You can find all the info HERE.

Over the next few days throughout the duration of TADFF, I will be looking at these in various categories and pre-feature shorts will be batched in 3 (or 4) films. Most of these will be paired with their screening times. These three to kick-off the first batch of pre-feature shorts are paired with screenings from October 17th and 18th.

We Three Queens (2018)

We Three Queens

Director: Chris Agoston

Cast: Erin Margurite Carter, Soma Chhaya, Emma Hunter, Rachel Wilson

*Screens with Extra Ordinary at TADFF 2019*

Beard (Erin Margurite Carter), Charlotte (Soma Chhaya) and Janet (Emma Hunter) are an all-star carolling group called We Three Queens. As they go to pick up their vests from their seamstress, they end up waking up kidnapped in her basement. With Christmas just around the corner, they need to find a way to convince Shelly (Rachel Wilson) to release them before midnight so that they can finish their carolling.

Christmas horror is always a welcome idea. Carolling has probably (at least to my knowledge) never been used in the context of a horror film. In a premise like this one, carolling definitely seems like quite the competitive world although who doesn’t want to be a part of something important or get noticed by the people that they enjoy watching, right? Running at almost 9 minutes, We Three Queens is a fun little Christmas horror short that adds a little comedy to the situation. Its not hard to see where the story goes as there is some foreshadowing but the actresses here are also quite entertaining to watch especially with their dialogue. Something about having a lot of red on screen not only makes it have the feeling of holiday but also have this more troubling situation at hand that we never know how Shelly would react to their responses to her requests.

Straight-forward and fairly unique in its premise of carollers being the central focus, We Three Queens is a fun Christmas horror short to check out.

Eyes Open (2019)

Eyes Open

Director (and writer): Jawed J.S.

Cast: Angela Bell

*Screens with Witches in the Woods*

Eyes Open is a 2019 horror short about a girl who goes for a walk in the woods to soon find out that she is haunted by an unseen presence both physically and psychologically.

Horror set in the woods has become increasingly used. Its a great choice for a setting because of its emptiness and isolation. With Eyes Open, its (almost) 6 minutes is a huge difference from where it starts to where it ends. The horror actually builds in its moments. While there were some oddities to this one, it still works overall especially as the unseen presence that haunts the single character in Eyes Open shows what it is doing: attacking when she closes her eyes. There are some odd low-budget effects but still, for its progression of horror, it does a pretty decent job at making it intriguing.

Make Me A Sandwich (2019)

Make Me A Sandwich

Director: Denman Hatch

Cast: Anne Shepherd, Peter Hodgins

*Screens with James vs. His Future Self*

Make Me  A Sandwich is a 2019 horror short (and its very short) about a wife who is constantly being asked by her husband to make him a sandwich.

Nothing is quite defining of a short film than one that runs for 3 minutes and keeps things as simple as a wife constantly being asked to make her husband a sandwich. And yet, those 3 minutes say a lot with just the wife’s reaction to each aggressive demand. Anne Shepherd as the wife does a great job at using those little facial expressions to show her lack of patience each time and how she retaliates. At the same time, what seems simple and straight forward as this story has a very startling twist at the end. Deranged might be the way to say that twist ending and actually makes you think a little more about the whole situation here and what we just watched. Its rather unsettling to watch and yet its hard to not laugh at a little of the dark humor here (perhaps its dark humor..I’m not sure anymore). If satisfying unsettling is a term that works, then this might apply to Make Me  A Sandwich.