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.

 

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FNC 2019: A White, White Day (Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur, 2019)

A White, White Day (2019)

A White White Day

Director (and writer): Hlynur Palmason

Cast: Ingvar Sigurdsson, Ida Mekkin Hlynsdottir, Hilmir Snaer Guonason

In a remote Icelandic town, an off duty police chief begins to suspect a local man to have had an affair with his wife, who has recently died in a car accident. Gradually his obsession for finding out the truth accumulates and inevitably begins to endanger himself and his loved ones. A story of grief, revenge and unconditional love. – Letterboxd

Unlike a lot of the films at Festival du Nouveau Cinema (that I’ve seen this year), A White White Day is not about a relationship but rather a person’s journey. Its fairly existentialist and also very arthouse. It also is quite slow-paced as the story slowly revealed of those tidbits that pieced the story together to come together in the second half. This movie is focused on a lot of time pieces which is quite obvious just from how the movie starts off showing a car passing through different surveillance cameras on the secluded highway of remote Iceland and ends up in a car accident. Its filled with fog regularly (as we soon learn). And then it jumps forward to a still shot of a house and snapping away like a time piece as different elements change and shift in and out and the seasons also slightly change as well. Everything is in the detail and the director’s respect for the audience’s ability to connect the dots is where most audience will appreciate it the most. At some points, these little time-shift still shots aren’t quite for everyone (just like watching someone eat pie for 10 minutes in A Ghost Story doesn’t work for everyone either). Consistency is quite important and A White White Day commits with these transitional shots to show time and possibly different emotions during driving with these styles of shot a few times during the film.

The entire remote Iceland setting is fantastic for this story. The middle of nowhere fits well with a man who loses his wife and thinks about her and the mixed feelings that he has about the situation that soon reveals as an obsession for the truth behind his wife and whether she had an affair and who it was with. This leads to the high point of the film as he loses it and makes for a fantastic way to end the film. Don’t get me wrong though, A White, White Day has some really great moments especially the one where he tells a scary bedtime story to his sick granddaughter.

As much as all the technical is worth a note here, the true star here would go to the main male character Ingimundur played by Ingvar Sigurdsson, as this is his journey of finding out the truth. Everything is in the details just like how it frames its shots to his facial expressions and how he acts with his eyes (which is always a sign of a great actor especially for a quiet and subtle role).

A White, White Day is not a film that is to my cup of tea whether in pacing or just snapshots of the same thing over and over again (which was where I knew this wasn’t going to be for me). However, there will no doubt be an audience that can appreciate it because there are a lot of standout elements and some great moments here and the second half of the film really does boost the movie to fantastic heights.  If existentialist and arthouse drama is your cup of tea, this one does have a lot to offer.

A White, White Day has one more screening during Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 18th at Cineplex Odeon Quartier – Salle 17. You can find more info HERE.

FNC 2019: Adoration (2019)

Adoration (2019)

Adoration

Director (and co-writer): Fabrice du Welz

Cast: Thomas Gioria, Fantine Harduin, Benoit Poelvoorde, Emmanuelle Beart, Beatrice Dalle, Laurent Lucas

Paul is a 12 year old boy who lives with his mother, a nurse working at a mental institution in the middle of a forest. While visiting his mother at the clinic, Paul crosses paths with Gloria, a schizophrenic teenager, and falls in love with her to the point that he decides to help her escape at all costs after she commits a crime. The pair embarks on a trip across the Ardennes woods which will reveal the extent of Gloria’s dangerous madness and Paul’s devotion to her. – Letterboxd

Some people say that our first loves are the deepest and most memorable. It certainly would apply to Adoration who sees a 12 year old boy, Paul’s fascination and infatuation with the latest resident, Gloria at the psychiatric clinic where his mother works. This story is mostly through the eyes of the main character Paul, played by young actor Thomas Gioria. Independent stories usually like to use the view of one character and it works very well as it keeps the story fairly straightforward while leaving it space for the unknown to happen. The audience learns with the leading character and is able to connect with their situation. In this case, Adoration does a rather good job.

Thomas Gioria does a fairly good job at bringing Paul to life the most subtle and quiet way. Paul is a shy boy who lives secluded from everyone and keeps to himself mostly so when a beautiful teenager Gloria (Fantine Harduin) literally bumps into him, its no surprise that he will be fascinated at not only someone around his age but also the questions of why she keeps trying to run away from the clinic which in his mind should be for her own good. However, Gloria is a convincing girl whether its because Paul chooses to believe her situation or maybe his attraction to her makes him feel the need to protect her but he follows through after she makes a huge “mistake” to run away. Its the journey to Gloria’s grandfather’s home and the time spent with these two characters and their increasingly toxic relationship. To be honest, Paul’s character is rather dialed down that while the movie is mostly seen through his point of view, its Gloria’s slow reveal of her psychological problems that become the shocking elements and simply how much she is able to keep Paul in her control while also having him also be somewhat of her anchor because of their reliance on each other.

Toxic relationships between these two teenagers are the heart of the film. Against some impressive musical pairing as well being able to start off the story in a fairly light-heart escape and the innocence of the characters (especially Paul) gives them room to grow on this journey of running away. The story ends rather abruptly but at the same time, leaves the audience room to ponder on  this relationship and where it can take them especially as they are just teenagers and dealing with some rather extreme situations especially as Gloria seemingly does fluctuate between the good and bad days simply with triggers. The ending is a bit of the headscratcher but its easy to see how its deliberately meant to be that way because it doesn’t quite matter where these two go but rather what Paul chooses despite now understanding the situation that he’s in.

Adoration is a teenage runaway story essentially. Is it completely expected what they go through? Probably not. Is it hard to imagine that Gloria was “lying” to Paul about her situation? She technically wasn’t because in her mind, this is all real. Despite its predictable elements, the setting on the forest and wilderness and having the different strangers that they meet on the path as well as the way Gloria’s character peels away in all its layers of mental illness is done with a lot of detail and care. For a young actress like Fantine Harduin, it is one outstanding performance that is well worth a watch.

Adoration has one more screening during Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 20th at 4pm at Cineplex Odeon Quartier – Salle 10. You can find more info HERE.

FNC 2019: Little Joe (2019)

LITTLE JOE (2019)

Little Joe 2019

Director (and co-writer): Jessica Hausner

Cast: Emily Beecham, Ben Whishaw, Kerry Fox, Kit Connor, Phénix Brossard, David Wilmot

Alice, a single mother, is a dedicated senior plant breeder at a corporation engaged in developing new species. Against company policy, she takes one home as a gift for her teenage son, Joe. – IMDB

It’s never a good idea to play God and mess with the biology of any living organism as we’ve seen time and time again in movies of all genres. Little Joe plays as a science fiction fantasy drama with horror elements. It probably would most be related to films like Invasions of the Body Snatchers and yet, Little Joe, this new species of red flower that is both sterile and produces a fragrance that generates happiness looks a little like Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’s Truffula trees (in a smaller flower version).

Little Joe is a slow-burn fantasy drama. Running at 105 minutes, the execution of pacing in this film could definitely have been polished further. A lot of the scenes do manage to leave enough space for the viewer’s imagination to wonder which way it could go as well as what the flowers named Little Joe’s real effect is. The mystery element is present giving it some fairly thrilling moments.

Little Joe is a reflection of how nature’s biology, no matter how it is changed, will always find a way to survive. Just like animals in the wild who adapt and change to protect themselves, Little Joe’s also manage to do the same. When discovering the “motives” of Little Joe (it does sound silly to think a plant has motives), its what gives the layers of the film. However, there is too much in the middle part of being stuck in the cycle of the after-effect of Little Joe and not so much progressing the story further, which makes it drag out a little too much before the finale. Its the technical elements here that works well like the design of Little Joe, the color palette, as well as how some of the scenes are done which gives it so much style.

There are only a few central characters which keeps the story tightknit and easy to follow. The main character is Alice, played by Emily Beecham who does a pretty decent job as she discovers that her experiment has a more serious effect than she anticipated. Her performance is one of the better elements of Little Joe as a while. Playing opposite her is Ben Whishaw as her colleague Chris who has romantic feelings for her. Ben Whishaw has the look to him that just shows off something strange is going on so it makes his character give away a little too much at times. At the same time, the other element of the story is who Little Joe is named after which is her son Joe, played by Kit Connor. Much like a lot of the very obvious character personality shifts throughout the film, its anything but subtle, which is odd. 

All of those little issues with characters and performances and pacing can probably be overlooked however, Little Joe also likes to use the overbearing sound effects to create the jumpscare element or create an uneasiness. Subtle films (like this one or The VVitch or Vivarium) would benefit from letting those unsettling feelings come from the power of quiet scenes rather than bombarding the audience’s eardrums with an array of sounds which after a few times feels more annoying than unsettling.

Its a pity that Little Joe is somewhat of a disappointment as it had a lot of very nice technical elements and a premise that had a lot of potential to be good. However, the repetitive pacing and the over-deliberate need to make the characters act strange as well as the overpowering soundtrack wears it down. As good as the cinematography is and how the colors of both the species and the lighting here works, it feels a bit like style over substance. Of course, if you are fans of films I mentioned above, then this film might be for you.

Little Joe has one more screening at Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 20th at 5:15pm at Cinema du Parc. You can find more info HERE.

My Weekly Adventures: Fantasia Festival Begins!!!

Welcome to the next Adventures post! The last two weeks has been hectic to say the least. Oh boy, its hard to imagine we’re only a few days into the big festival here so its going to be quite a while before things get back to normal. Right now is still the transition phase or something in my mind. Either way, there’s some little updates and some changes in projects to talk about here.

Canada Day Tarts

I debated on putting up the recipe by memory but there’s no way that I can replicate this since I did it by trial and error and just my instincts with one taste in the middle to adjust. The ingredients I used here were the basic except I did add a drizzle of honey on the top before popping it in the oven on each tart. I think it helped balance the tartness a little. Overall success 🙂

Montreal Comiccon 2019

Montreal Comiccon 2019

Montreal Comiccon has come and gone. It was a hectic weekend and one that felt like I finally found my rhythm and everything was done efficiently. Things became more flexible to work with and it just felt more prepared in general. You can check out all the posts below:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Gaming Recap
Shopping Haul

Fantasia Film Festival 2019

After a bit of a media pass delay, since it wasn’t ready on Day 1, I ended up skipping my first movie and started the festival on Day 2. However, things did have a nice turn in the end so the movies so far watched are the following:

Little Monsters
Vivarium
Extreme Job
The Wonderland
Paradise Hills
1BR (Press screening…review up after world premiere)

I’ve never had the chance to make it to any press screenings in the past few years covering the festival so it was super awesome to do it, even if it was an early start to a Sunday morning but then I also got to check out the screening room and catch up on movies I didn’t get to see in their showings. Its definitely convenient especially since it opens up options to add some more movies to the already too long list.

Game Warp – Changes

Lots of changes these days. After some That Moment In change, Game Warp is only running on WordPress now. We have also decided to go to an audio format on Anchor. You can find us HERE.

We uploaded the last episode to go up for E3 Conference Recap. More episodes to come as we work out our schedule. Youtube will now be more of a supporting platform when gameplay is something we want to do or whatnot. While it won’t be as plentiful especially due to the festival season, I do still want to do some videos when I have time.

Gardening Update

After this picture, I’ve been working on getting rid of some of the grass and weeds growing around the plants. However, the vegetable garden is doing pretty well.

As is the flower garden, which was taken last week so the campanulas are now in bloom and things are really filling in the spaces, making it look full.

Cute Kitty Pic

cat

Thats it for this Adventures recap!
Are there any cool festivals going on near where you are?

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.