What’s Up 2019: Week 48

Welcome! Its the next weekly recap of What’s Up. Week 48 lands is in the first day of December already. Its hard to imagine how quick 2019 has gone by. This week was a lot of wrap-up: festivals and podcast prep material. Things need to head into Christmas and winter holidays mode soon.

READING

love potions and other calamities

Currently reading: Love Potions and Other Calamities

Reading in a low right now as festival and the wrap-up consumed most of my time but we will be getting on track next week with more reading time.

PLAYING

Afterparty

  • Afterparty

Currently playing: Rusty Lake Roots

Im anticipation of the upcoming recording for Game Warp, my main focus has been on completing Afterparty. For gamers who have played Oxenfree before, you also know that one playthrough is never enough because they have such a cause and effect choice based storyline that from my research, at least 3 endings to this. So second playthrough is happening for sure, somewhat debating to stream it although I haven’t streamed in a long time (always depends on time).

WATCHING

Freaks

  • Freaks (2019, Review)
  • Lady Bird

Its been a good batch of viewings this week. Its nice to get to the end of the year and have a string of good films. Usually, I just make really bad choices. Freaks was an early screener in anticipation of its digital and bluray/DVD release and a very good scifi film of sorts. On the other hand, Lady Bird is more my type of movie as a dramedy with Soairse Ronan (one of my fave actresses) and the coming of age of her character heading to college on the road of love and friendships.

Blood in the Snow Festival

Z

BLood in the Snow Festival ended in the middle of the week, just when I had a writers block so everything got pushed back for a week in order to wrap everything up. I luckily did go back to watch the last feature film, Z because it ended winning the festival awards for Best Director and Best Feature and I can somewhat agree with it.

BINGING

Nailed It! Holiday

  • When I Grow Up (Season 1, 2019)
  • Lipstick Prince (Season 2, 2019)
  • Nailed it! Holiday (Season 2, 2019)
  • Sugar Rush Christmas (Season 1, 2019)

Currently binging: Who’s the Murderer 5, The Brightest Star in the Sky, Put Your Head on my Shoulder, Viva La Romance (S1, 2, 3)

As I dive into a lot of rewatches because of its landing on Netflix or some other Youtube channel, the variety/reality shows that I’ve been watching all gradually wrapped up its season. Lipstick Prince Season 2 was a short 4 episodes long, which is barely half a season but it seems like they will have a next season from how they ended this season. At the same time, When I Grow Up, which I’ve enjoyed a lot with some famous fathers and their kids going on trips to reconnect and discover different cities and cultures in China with some pretty subpar living conditions to much better ones by the end.

HOWEVER, as touching and funny as those previous ones are, Nailed It! Holiday is always the one that captures me especially this year was very much some great amateur bakers that they chose. Some truly hilarious moments. Just slightly more than Sugar Rush Christmas, even though the latter is more in the whole traditional Christmas festivity. Either way, some fun baking shows both amateur and more professional baking competition Netflix shows that fits well with the season. I’ll have the TV binge for those up soon for the December month line-up!

That’s it for this What’s Up!
Next week’s recap will be more festive, I promise!

What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

What’s Up 2019: Week 47

Tranquil Dreams (49)

Wow! Time is flying! Especially with festival coverage hanging in the air! Another week is done and we’re only 5 weeks away until the year ends. Its crazy to think about that!

This past week has been very heavy on WATCHING and trying to catch up on some gaming, although a lot of straying off path. Let’s check it out!

READING

love potions and other calamities

Currently reading: Love, Potions & Other Calamities

Zero progress in reading this past week! I did try to but it has been a lot of the other things taking over the usual reading time I would have.

PLAYING

Rusty Lake Hotel

  • Cube Escape: Paradox (Review)
  • Rusty Lake Hotel

Currently playing: Afterparty, Rusty Lake Roots

Gaming has been moving forward a little more. I really wanted to wrap up the Cube Escape: Paradox completely before continuing anything else. And I got that done and even managed to take a breather from writing to start and finish Rusty Lake Hotel. It was a playthrough but still so much fun to play. Its a lot more grounded in the puzzles than Cube Escape: Paradox and that is why I prefer it over to Cube Escape: Paradox. With that said, the Rusty Lake world is a fun place to dive into with all its twists and oddities.

WATCHING

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

  • Paradox: A Rusty Lake Film (short, 2018)
  • Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)

Not a whole lot of normal viewing as expected. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is a continuation for recording for Movies and Tea. We still have a few episodes until we get there so I’m not going to say much about it but I definitely appreciate it a lot more this time than the last time I saw it back in the theatres in 2000 when I was much younger.

Blood in the Snow Festival

Majic

  • Funny Frights (Shorts Program, Review)
  • She Never Died (2019, Review)
  • Dead Dicks (2019, Review)
  • Sky So Blue (short 2019, Review)
  • One in Two Place (short 2019, Review)
  • Songs My Mother Taught Me (short 2019, Review)
  • Break In Break Out (short 2019, Review)
  • The Nights Before Christmas (2019)
  • Emerging Screams (Shorts Program, Review)
  • Majic (2019, Review)
  • Hunter’s Moon (2019)
  • Giltrude’s Dwelling (short 2019, Review)
  • EXT (short 2019, Review)
  • The Remnant (short 2019, Review)

Blood in the Snow Festival started a bit iffy for myself but its been a very strong last few movies so far. I wrapped up the week watching two very solid films: Majic and Hunter’s Moon. Both are unique in their own regards. The first with a great script and you can read the review now, so I won’t go too much into it. The second is a unique premise and how it was executed and also had a nice level of fun. I’m a bit behind on the reviews for the Festival but it’ll be done very soon.

BINGING

我们恋爱吧

  • Relation Ship (Season 1, 2019)

Currently binging: When I Grow Up, Viva La Romance (Season 2), Lipstick Prince (Season 2), Chase Me, Nailed It! Holiday (Season 2), Who’s the Murderer (Season 5)

I’ve started a lot of things that are ongoing or just finished but as the festival is taking up a lot of time, I just haven’t had as much time to catch up. Relation Ship actually wrapped up its first season of the reality show. While I have a few critics on the structure of it all and the feasibility, they did manage to give it a pretty fun time while feeling rather genuine. I’m ready to put together a huge post on this type of shows for fun. Its been in the planning for a while but decided for this to finish before discussing it.

That’s it for what’s up with me!
What have you been reading/playing/watching/binging?

BITS 2019 Shorts: Sky So Blue/One in Two People/Songs My Mother Taught Me/Break In Break Out

BITS 2019 banner

As we continue the Blood in the Snow Festival coverage, these are the next batch of films that were paired with full feature films screened. This time, we’re taking up four films: Sky So Blue, One in Two People, Songs My Mother Taught Me, Break In Break Out. Four very impressive horror shorts!

Sky So Blue (2019)

Sky So Blue

Director: Tyler Williams

Cast: Jeff Sinasac, Daniel Park

After being attacked and imprisoned in his own home, a man stands accused of creating a strange piece of music that may or may not have the power to kill anyone who hears it. – IMDB

Sky So Blue is a 15 minute short that is a psychologically unsettling and suspenseful interaction between two people: a man being accused of creating a deadly music piece that has gone viral and since then killed a lot of people and the other a man who has lost his family because of it. The interaction leads to a whole did he or did he not do it. Is the accusation right? Is the other one just acting innocent? The questions constantly rise as the man asks him questions to get the reason of why and how he created this music. Its a little bit of a cat and mouse sort of conversation with not a whole lot of resolution but as revenge seems to get stronger between them, its a rather “shocking” sort of ending that still manages to keep it slightly ambiguous. Those types of endings are the best as they can spark up some nice afterthought and reflection.

*Sky So Blue screened at the Blood in the Snow Festival with Dead Dicks on November 23 at 7pm*

One in Two People (2019)

One in Two People

Director: Ali Mashayekhi

Cast: Ashley Leggat, Katie Boland, Karissa Strain, Jade Hassouné, Katie Strain, Adam Tsekhman, Matt Murray

Emily is surrounded by her friends as she reveals her dark secret. – IMDB

One in Two People is a 7 minute short that plays with the unseen and the unknown. This one is executed really well as it leaves a lot of suspense and guesswork that only be deciphered through the conversation between the friends and their different position in Emily’s life and how they view her. It all becomes a question off deciphering both the character of Emily and whether she is to be believed. Of course, being a short film, it wouldn’t possibly be nothing but rather how this something will be presented. One in Two People uses the reactions of entering into this locked and the aftermath that builds up the unsettling horror feeling and giving this well-executed finale that honestly was rather creepy. As an addition, Jade Hassouné who played Meliorn in Shadowhunters plays the boyfriend of Emily in this short which was pretty great.

*One in Two People screens at Blood in the Snow Festival with The Nights Before Christmas on November 23rd at 9:30pm*

Song My Mother Taught Me (2018)

Song My Mother Taught Me

Director (and co-writer): Doug Cook

Cast: Julian Robino, Ace Hicks, Brock Morgan, Jane Moffat, Farid Yazdani, Allison Dawn Doiron, Blake Johnson

After Bobby and Lydia lose their mother to cancer, life becomes a difficult feat, especially for Bobby. In an attempt to cheer up her brother, Lydia throws a Halloween party with a close group of friends. It is on this night that they will discover what they mean to each other and learn an important lesson…the dead should always be left alone. – IMDB 

In some ways, Songs My Mother Taught Me starts in a rather generic rundown especially with the recent overuse of Ouija as a central focus however, this short film takes it for a refreshing new twist as this Ouija channels something very different from the moment that the literal countdown starts. From the first moment of how they present what this group channels that causes from a lot of craziness that ensues. It builds up the tension very well and adds in a different element of surprise of what is actually going on, leaving a bit of mystery of the whole situation. Its a fun, tense and quick-paced spiral of events executed with a lot of heart to give this premise a refreshing take.

* Songs My Mother Taught Me is screening with Majic on November 24th at 4:30pm at the Blood in the Snow Festival.*

Break In Break Out (2019)

Break In Break Out

Director (and writer): Michael Driscoll

Cast: Athena Karkanis, Nick Smyth, James Rejent, Robert Morse, Tara Yelland

Break In Break Out is a 7 minute short about a routine burglary goes terribly wrong. This short is probably the one which is the most daring in its execution as it keeps it silent with no dialogue. Its hyper focused on the actions and the sound effects around the scene to build up the interest. Its a awesome and unique way to present this story as within the few minutes that it is presented, it adds in two surprising twists, flips the typical story that you’d expect around and then adds in so much style to its execution. Its a lot of awesomeness to this one that gives it a wow actor. Its one that shouldn’t be missed!

*Break In Break Out is screening with Hunter’s Moon on November 24 at 9:30pm in the Blood in the Snow Festival.*

BITS 2019: She Never Died (2019)

BITS 2019 banner

She Never Died (2019)

She Never Died

Director: Audrey Cummings

Cast: Olunike Adeliyi, Peter MacNeill, Kiana Madeira, Michelle Nolden, Noah Dalton Danby, Edsson Morales, Katie Messina, Murray Furrow

When a girl goes missing, a woman with a mysterious past tracks down the people responsible. – IMDB

Set in the same universe of 2015’s Canadian horror drama/comedy/thriller He Never Died, She Never Died is not a direct sequel but rather focuses on another character – a strong female character called  Lacey, played by Olunike Adeliyi. Lacey is  an immortal who lives in tedium of existence and hunts down the villainous bad guys in the society to keep her compulsions in check. In one of her huntings (or feedings..whichever you want to call it), she gets discovered by a detective Godfrey (Peter MacNeill) who is following the same man as she uses for her huntings called Terrence (Noah Dalton Danby), who is suspicious of human trafficking. Together they join together to pursue him and ends up diving deeper into their operations.

What contributes a lot to She Never Died is having this mysterious creature and having something more unique in the form of something like a vampire in its immortality but having reactions almost like a werewolf but also these marks on her back. Watching the character of Lacey on screen, with her sparse words and her badass appearance and attitude, there’s a righteousness that fills the air. In fact, the three main characters here: Lacey, Godfrey and even the girl that joins their little team, Suzie (Kiana Madeira) all have their not so glorious decisions but still has this good in them that helps them stick together with each other despite the fact they are actually all very much strangers to each other. These characters and the cast that brings them all to life, add so much to how it becomes incredibly enjoyable aside from the nice grasp of atmosphere and tone from director Audrey Cummings.

Some of the elements are a bit questionable. You could call the mystery of Lacey a lack of depth as her character does have very vague expressions but at the same time, its not exactly a very deep film. There are no questions on how the story will turn out especially with the bad guy, Terrence that dabbles in the dark web who is a rather cookie-cutter sort of villain that feels like he has an unsettling nature but is the brawn of the operation while the hint of incestuous relationship with his sister (Michelle Nolden) who is a much more mysterious as character has not a lot of appearance to add intrigue. There’s a lot going on and its ending definitely hints at a huge possibility that this world still has space to build upon and even a possible sequel.

While having never seen He Never Died, She Never Died is a decent film. Packed with some dark humor, some action, a good bit of gore and the whole question of what Lacey actually is (which does have a huge hint at the ending). Its a huge mystery and yet, surprisingly no one questions her being but accepts her differences and how her abilities adds to the situation. There’s an obvious lack of depth in the film for its myriad of characters and yet the film itself has a decent pacing to keep it interesting with the action and the flow.

*She Never Died is screening at Blood in the Snow Festival on November 22nd at 9:30pm*

What’s Up: Week 46 Blood in the Snow Festival is right around the corner…

Tranquil Dreams (48)

A week of vacation is upon us and the recap of it actually is surprisingly not quite a lot, especially since we just had a stay-cation so still around our home quite a bit. However, a lot of it was in the relaxing state so all doing things that I wanted to do while catching on a few little errands and eating good food and you know, the having fun not in the house variety. I’ll share those adventures at the end of the month in the November Adventures post. For now, lets look at the week!

READING

Proximity

  • Proximity by Jem Tugwell

Currently reading: Love, Potions & Other Calamities

And we are done with Proximity! Its a pretty clever little mystery and suspense thriller which plays on a future that could happen if technology were to control our lives or due to the overdependence of it in the future. A premise that definitely applies very well to questioning certain elements of a technology-filled world and how it applies to the investigation. I’ll talk more about it in the upcoming review. As for now, I just started reading Love, Potions & Other Calamities. Its too early to say anything yet but I have great hope that it will be great as this author Charlie Laidlaw has released some solid novels.

PLAYING

Afterparty

Currently playing: Afterparty & Cube Escape: Paradox

An hour down and a bunch more to go for Afterparty but its a start. Afterparty is a game that I’ve been anticipating since its announcement so I’m working hard to get some hours into it. Only thing hindering it is that whole Cube Escape: Paradox that I started but never got around to finishing it as its very difficult. I’m going to wrap that up before continuing on with Afterparty.

WATCHING

As the final festival of 2019 is among us, yet again the watching section will be split between two sections. The normal viewings and the festival viewing. The festival hasn’t actually started BUT remote coverage means some reviews can start going up as it approaches so if you are in the Toronto area, you can always go and catch it during this festival run.

Murder on Orient Express

  • Creepshow 2 (1987) Friday Film Club
  • Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
  • The Ice Storm (1997)

If only I had a 2007 then I’d have watched films ending with 7s over 3 decades. It wasn’t intended until I noticed the pattern here. Either way, Creepshow 2 was my pick for the Friday Film Club and I’ve shared the link up there. However, the movie that caught my attention the most was Murder on Orient Express which finally landed on Netflix so I jumped right on it during vacation week to catch up and it did not disappoint. As for The Ice Storm, its part of the Movies and Tea new season which is starting up soon with Ang Lee’s filmography.

Blood in the Snow Festival 2019 (Remote coverage)

Puppet Killer

  • Puppet Killer (2019)
  • Liaison (short 2019) Review
  • Housekreeping (short 2019) Review
  • Happy Face (2018)
  • Copenhagen Road (short 2019) Review

I’m slowly getting into the Blood in the Snow Festival screeners day by day and working out a nice schedule to get the writing done. Its been a lot of procrastinating and pondering. Hopefully by the time this gets out, the review for Puppet Killer will be listed as done above. I spent a few days thinking about it and putting together the review and its really growing on me.

BINGING

Wait My Youth

  • Wait, My Youth (2019)
  • Nailed It! France (Season 1, 2019)

Currently binging: Lipstick Prince (Season 2), Relation Ship, Green Eggs and Ham, Chase Me, Who’s the Murderer (Season 5), Viva La Romance (Season 3)

Go ahead! Tell me to pick my favorites this week! Not an easy task. Everything I watched was really awesome. Wait My Youth was the TV series that I chose as the series to watch during my week off and it was a ton of fun. I’m a huge fan of the male lead, a young actor with a lot of potential. Nailed It! France was hilarious to watch as well. The husband and I has pretty much pinpointed that understanding the language does help in the enjoyment of these things but this host also seems more in line with our type of humor than the other foreign version we saw, I think it was Nailed It! Mexico (review). I’ll probably do a TV binge on Nailed It! France soon!

Even my currently binging stuff, which is more currently playing, except for Green Eggs and Ham, has been pretty entertaining. All the variety shows and reality shows and whatnot have just been a blast to watch. I sometimes play the episode in the background when I’m writing to watch again. Its rare that I do that usually. Unfortunately a lot of them don’t have subtitles. But then, I’m translating the 90% of Chase Me, which is a celebrity Ultimate Beastmaster tag concept game on Zhejiang TV (on Youtube), for my husband as he also finds it very amusing to watch. Not to mention Season 5 of Who’s The Murderer is set on a cruise ship so its awesome plus it has Boran Jing (who I like a lot) as one of the participants. Viva La Romance Season 3 also started (and I just realized that I never finished Season 2..oops) and it has Miriam Yeung and I never knew a lot about her after she got married so its a fun little wife’s trip. So far, its been pretty cool. Lots of a great shows!

That’s it for this What’s Up!
Week 46 already of 2019! Its crazy!
But then, we have started setting up for Christmas..so I guess its not that crazy, right?

What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

Blood in the Snow Festival: The Whistler (Short, 2018)

The Whistler (2018)

The Whistler

Director (and writer): Jennifer Nicole Stang

Cast: Karis Cameron, Baya Ipatowicz, Nelson Leis, Alison Wandzura, John Emmet Tracy

Lindsey is forced to babysit her sister, Becky, one night, when, after innocently falling asleep, wakes up to find her sister gone. Someone has taken Becky and could be after her as well. – Blood in the Snow Festival

The Whistler is a short film that definitely feels very polished from the acting to the setting to the screenplay itself. While it only runs 11 minutes, the short film takes on quite a few memorable bits. One of the fun parts is its playful mentions of various iconic horror movies, for example a clever mention of Crystal Lake. The other one is having The Whistler start as a fairy tale or lore of sorts and build it from there, making us wonder on not only whether it is real or not but also how it ends.

As the movie brings in those elements of the fairy tale becoming a reality, the pieces fall into place and it all comes down to Lindsey who witnesses it all. The atmosphere and the music and sound effects here play a big part in making it all bring in a lot of the sinister feeling. Adding in some of the effects like how the eyes change and whatnot in the film that work just well enough for its purpose. At the same time, there keeps a creepy feeling that keeps us on the edge. At the same time, the cast of young actresses here do a great job in each of their roles.

There is still a sense of The Whistler being an indie film. However, whether we are talking about the acting and the cast or the story and the execution and all the effects, there is a lot to love here. It builds a nice atmosphere and its a fun little movie to watch. There is a nice twist of whether this is a fairy tale or the reality and the ending also brings in a bit of a question which can be interpreted from what was talked about previously in the film. Some of the bits here are slightly predictable but the sum of its parts definitely makes this one a short that I’d recommend.

The Whistler was a part of the Bloody Bits Showcase Part 2 at the Blood in the Snow Festival 2018.

BITS 2018: Fugue (2018)

Fugue (2018)

Fugue

Director (and writer): Tomas Street

Cast: Jack Foley, Laura Tremblay, Mike Donis, Kristen Da Silva, Michael Lipka, Evan Siemann

Amnesiac Malcolm struggles to put the pieces of his life back together and begins questioning those closest to him in this puzzle of memory and identity. – IMDB

Fugue might be one of the hardest ones to write about because of how easy it is to jump into spoiler territory. It also kight be the hardest to search up because to my surprise, there are a lot of movies released as Fugue this year. Not sure how the other ones are but this Fugue is one of the highlights of BITS 2018. There is a great level of craftmanship and execution and pacing that plays so well together along with a small enough cast for us to care and feel involved with. There are so many questions right from the start. At the same time, the timeline is a little scrambled but never confusing to follow and is all in the attentiveness of the details. It is those clues here and the questions there that build up this mystery and have all kinds of thrills.

Malcolm (Jack Foley) is an intriguing character and it has to do with a contrast that is presented to us in the first and second acts which is where the questions come up. Then the character remains a mystery because of all the questions surrounding him. Jack Foley was a supporting character in Lifechanger (review) at Fantasia Festival and delivered a great role but there is no denying that he has a lot more to offer especially after seeing Fugue. Malcolm is a role with a very big contrast in just the first two acts and he is able to handle it convincingly. The cast here is small but they all grasp their role really well. Its hard to dive into each character without spoiling the movie.

Fugue benefits from a lot other than its characters and its puzzling mystery plot. It uses an isolated one location setting. Its smart because it gives it a much more narrow scope. It never needs to share unnecessary information of its characters, keeping them simple but never feeling like they lack depth either. Its a true challenge that not a lot of films are able to achieve and this one does a great job at executing it. I highly recommend this one.