Short Film: Morning After (2017)

Morning After (2017)

Morning After

Director: Patricia Chica

Cast: Thomas Vallieres, Kristian Hodko, Jordana Lajoie, Joey Scarpellino, Zoe De Grand Maison

Michael is faced with a dilemma, when a night of drinking with friends, turns into a sensual exploration of sexual identity. – IMDB

Morning After is the prequel for a full length feature film that is currently in the works. In the fifteen minutes runtime of Morning After, there is so much to love. The shots are framed well and being from the beautiful city of Montreal, it makes for a great setting for the story it wants to tell as well. As for the story, Morning After aims to tell one that evolves into a sexual fluidity and have the freedom from having labels. Its quite an accomplishment to achieve that simply from a short film but this short film does it very well especially when centering around a friendly gathering that takes a turn for a much more sensual and eye-opening experience.

Morning After

I love watching films that explore these open-minded relationships. There is something about watching someone grow from learning/embrace their nature and their sexuality that is very intriguing. The best example is Spanish romance drama, The Sex of the Angels (review here) which takes a similar approach to the characters embracing or accepting a functional relationship with more than two people. We watch films to not only entertain but broaden our views of the world around us and films that break away from the norm offer unique feelings and angles to the traditional romance.

With that said, Morning After is a short film that carries its message very well. Other than some awkward monologues, the film itself shows off a liberating feeling. Perhaps a little simple in the sense of just friends talking and then it starts raining and they all dance in the rain but standing in the rain is a cooling experience and one that works well when people enjoy nature. An example from Morning After of how it does a truly liberating feeling. Its a journey for the main character here in this short film to acknowledge this new view and mindset. It will be interesting to see what the full feature will offer and the story they choose to tell.

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Daguerrotype (2016)

Daguerrotype (2016)

Daguerrotype

(original title: Le secret de la chambre noire)

Director (and screenplay): Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Constance Rousseau, Olivier Gourmet

When an assistant to a daguerreotypy photographer falls in love with the latter’s daughter the relationship mirrors the art form as love and pain combine. – IMDB

Even though I have only seen Pulse from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, its safe to say that he is a director who takes his time to build atmosphere. Daguerrotype takes on quite the same style as Pulse to be honest which is a good thing. For his first film outside of Japan, Daguerrotype is safe as it plays with a ghost story, slow pacing and builds on the atmosphere to create an uneasiness in this fantasy drama with horror elements. As an indie film, it does a lot of things right especially using a classic photography theme as its main focus. Some cultures believe that photography snaps away your soul and it uses this point as a centre of making his subject immortal, (at least that is what I make of it). Perhaps that is where the inspiration comes from. Classic photography and building the big contraption is definitely the eerier parts of Daguerrotype and adds this older style and mystery.

daguerrotype
The outstanding elements of Daguerrotype is its atmosphere and the setting. It uses a dark and gloomy setting. This matches well with its characters which seem torn in their will to each break free in their own way. The camera does a great job at panning out and zooming in whenever necessary to capture and reveal what it wants to show. There was especially one part where it follows a character that is particularly immersive. It uses lighting very well to create the uneasy moments. The soundtrack is used appropriately  with a beautiful orchestral piece in various parts however still uses a mix of subtle and abrupt sounds to immerse its viewers during quieter scenes. While it may seem a little cliche and overdone, Daguerrotype uses the classic creaky doors opening slowly to create uneasy moments.

daguerrotype
Daguerrotype also has a pretty decent cast. Tahar Rahim plays Jean, the young man here who gets the job as a photographer assistant because of his inexperience and a general interest for photography. He is the main character and the script writes him quite in depth as we see many personality qualities of his. The story only does have about six roles aside from the small cameos roles with three being the leads. Playing opposite Jean is his photography obsessed boss, Stephane who has an unusual love for Daguerrotype photography which requires its models to stand for a long time motionless and uses a contraption to aid them. Stephane is played by Olivier Gourmet and he does a great job at capturing the grumpy perfection seeking artist with his own secrets. Stephane’s only perfect subject is his daughter Marie, played by Constance Rouseeau, who is a shy and quiet girl with a love for botany and struggles between going to pursue her dreams or staying to accompany her father and being his model.

The bottomline is that Daguerrotype does many things right however it is for the most patient of viewers. At over two hours run time, the story moves very slowly and sometimes might feel like the plot is lost in the little details and sidetracks making it feel fragmented and doesn’t come together however, it is also these fragments that may give this story something to think about after its finished. For horror fans, this might not fit the bill as it doesn’t have a lot of scares but more uneasy atmospheres and is more of a fantasy drama. However, Kurosawa’s skills of atmosphere, setting and tone along with the decent cast here that carries their role well are all good reasons to give Daguerrotype a watch.

Opening on VOD Nationwide on Tuesday, November 7 on all major platforms including iTunes, Sony, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.

Double Feature: Embers (2015) & Free Birds (2013)

Next up in the double feature quite a mix. First is a 2015 independent drama called Embers, which I’ve heard nothing about before but post-apocalyptic sort of stories appeal to me so I wanted to check it out out of curiosity. Second is probably one I should’ve watched in October for Canadian Thanksgiving however, what the heck, right? We have 2013 animated film, Free Birds.

Let’s go!

Embers (2015)

Embers

Director and co-writer: Claire Carré

Cast: Jason Ritter, Iva Gocheva, Greta Fernandez, Tucker Smallwood, Karl Glusman, Silvan Friedman

After a global neurological epidemic, those who remain search for meaning and connection in a world without memory. – IMDB

Its hard to pinpoint where Embers falls. In one sense, it talks about a world that actually would be pretty scary and it looks at both spectrums of living in a post-apocalyptic world where you create new memories every single day or even more frequent than that and really not knowing anything. Isn’t that what some of us would hope for? Complete bliss from all knowledge? You wouldn’t remember your problems a few hours later but then you also wouldn’t have that long lasting human relationship because you wouldn’t even be able to build or think about those fleeting moments, let alone remember them. Is it emptiness or bliss in that case? However, on the other side of the spectrum is the quarantined who do remember but they don’t have the freedom to live outside the routine. They have memories but they are merely surviving and not really living.

Embers

 

Embers takes on various perspectives from its scattered characters in this area. There’s a young child wandering aimlessly, a teacher who is researching something endlessly, these two meet and they form a bond as one of the endearing moments is him teaching the child how to ride a bike. There is a couple who is together but then their lack of retaining memories separates them. There is an angry rebellious young guy who runs around wreaking havoc to be caught up in something more but not retaining that memory helps him to not even know what happened just moments or hours ago.

With that said, Embers has some decent performances and some nice moments and the shots and setting are filmed very nicely, however, the story itself is disjointed. Is it to match the world that they have created or maybe the story just skims the surface too much to have a resounding feeling? There is some thought-provoking depth that you can see but it never feels enough to feel immersed into the movie.

Free Birds (2013)

Free Birds

Director: Jimmy Hayward

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Dan Fogler, Amy Poehler, George Takei, Keith David

Two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history – and get turkey off the holiday menu for good. – IMDB

Free Birds is the perfect example of how some movies just don’t work and have no humor because its not my thing. However, according to the 17% Rotten Tomatoes score, I’m actually not the only one. First off, the voice acting here is fine as expected with Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson and Amy Poehler at the helms. Its really the content of what this is and the jokes and dialogue that doesn’t work for me. In many levels, it was just really dumb. I have a peculiar humor so sometimes things like this just aren’t my cup of tea. I turned on Free Birds has background while I was working on something and its all so weird and feels rather unoriginal.

 

Turkeys going back in time to stop turkeys from turning into a tradition for Thanksgiving dinner seems a little odd. There might be some chuckles here and there but for the most part, I spent a lot of time just hoping it would end because it felt really boring and uninspired. I’m going to keep this short. It didn’t grab my attention all that much and the premise isn’t all that interesting to me. Its rare I feel so indifferent about animated films. I guess it was bound to happen eventually, right?

Have you seen Embers and/or Free Birds?
What are you thoughts?

Fantasia Festival is Here!

Fantasia International Film Festival is in town (aka Montreal)!

Fantasia Festival started today in the evening, opening with Korean film, The Villainess. It runs for the next three weeks! It runs from July 13 to August 2.

Luckily, I’ll be covering it this year, like past years! This year, I did think ahead and tried to get myself media accreditation and it happened! That is awesome and I’m really excited. I’ve generally gotten my calendar set on what movies to fit in and I’m being a little pickier with times and what movies I see. The first review goes up tomorrow afternoon as I ponder over a documentary and how to word it properly in a review, as you all know that I don’t review documentaries a lot.

No double features on this one. Fantasia Festival will be getting all full reviews and I’ll hop back to double features after the festival is over.

With that said, I’ll try to keep variety here, however, excuse me if the festival gets on and I don’t have as much time or energy to think in advance for it. Between balancing actual work, Fantasia Festival and Game Warp, its going to be a intense scheduling and efficiency practice on my part. And no, this festival has jumped back to its roots a little more and dives into a lot of foreign films as well as straying a little more away from horror this year. Its a nice change although I do potentially have some in my schedule. I won’t bore you with the technicalities of having the press pass, because honestly, I’m feeling incredibly grateful to even have it so I’ll be working extra hard.

With that said, every year I talk about hte movies that I’ll be going to see. I feel like I can’t promise anything this year as it can change anytime so instead, I’ll talk about the movies I plan on seeing and the movies that are in my maybes and has me intrigued:

  • Abu: Father (2017)
  • Tilt (2017)
  • A Ghost Story (2017)
  • Vampire Clean-Up Department (2017)
  • Savage Dog (2017)
  • Replace (2017)
  • Radius (2017)
  • Origami (2017)
  • Most Beautiful Island (2017)
  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable (2017)
  • Friendly Beast (2016)
  • Better Watch Out (2016)
  • Overdrive (2017)
  • Fashionista (2016)
  • Bushwick (2017)

Movies I considered but can’t seem to fit into the schedule (or trying to):

  • Shockwave (2017)
  • Mohawk (2017)
  • Senior Class (2016)
  • Bad Genius (2017)
  • Rage (2016)
  • 68 Kill (2017)
  • Napping Princess
  • Bitch (2017)
  • Boyka: Undisputed (2016)
  • Dead Shack (2017)

Looking at the listings, there are over 200 films, both shorts and full lengths and an awesome lists of guests that will be hosting their films from directors to writers to cast members and even crew members. Looking at the calendar and blog archives, I’ve been covering Fantasia unofficially for the last 3 years (maybe 4 but first year, I only saw 2 movies), and the Festival has grown so much over these years and the movie choices have been incredible. Its always a positive experience going and if you are in Montreal, I urge you to go check it out!

If you do, give me a shout! Maybe we can hang out and talk movies! It’ll be fun…if time matches up, of course 🙂

Have you heard or seen any of these movies?
The full list of films can be found HERE
What movies peaked your interest?

Game Warp: Top 10 Independent Games Showcased at E3 2017!

As some of you know, I’m in love with independent games. In fact, I’m pretty much really supportive of the independent scene regardless of movies or authors. There’s so much hidden talent there and what someone can create out of passion and creativity (just like us bloggers here) are great. We should help each other out and hope that we all get that big break. One really great thing right now is to see that although still very tough, the indie scene can all have their chances and E3 2017 showed off a good amount of smaller games.

Over at Game Warp, we sifted through the trailers and these are our Top 10 Independent Games from E3 2017.

If you missed out on our Top 10 Mainstream Games, you can check it out HERE!

Thanks for watching! Hope you enjoyed!
Remember to subscribe to our Youtube channel so you don’t miss our upcoming episodes!

What games made your indie games list this year?

Double Feature: The Fitzroy (2017) & Suicide Squad (2016)

The new structure for here onwards will be double features, my lovelies. If you want great full-length movie reviews, I can refer you to a ton of bloggers. At least it will be spoiler-free guaranteed as always. There may be some exceptions but for now, this will be the format for the most part.

This week’s double feature starts with one of the first projects that I backed on Kickstarter that finally made its premiere and as I am not in the UK, I received a 48 hours access to watch it digitally. Next up, we jump into a more action and comic variety of villains turned heroes in a way with Suicide Squad.

Lets get started! 🙂

The Fitzroy (2017)

the fitzroy

Director (and writer): Andrew Harmer

Cast: Cerith Flinn, Jan Anderson, Kenneth Collard, David Schaal, David Gant, Stuart McGugan

The Fitzroy is a live action black comedy set in an alternative post-apocalyptic 1950s. The world is covered in poisonous gas, and the last place for a traditional seaside holiday is The Fitzroy hotel, an abandoned submarine just off the coast of England. The film centers on Bernard, the hotel’s bellboy, cook, maintenance man and general dogsbody, as he faces a constant battle to keep the decaying hotel airtight and afloat. But when he falls in love with a murderous guest, he is thrown into a mad day of lies, backstabbing and chaos. As Bernard struggles to hide her murders from the other guests and suspicious authorities, his world literally begins to sink around him. – IMDB

One promise that I make is when this comes out officially and I actually receive my copy of it that I’ll write up a full review on this. The Fitzroy arrived on a pretty busy weekend and we managed to squeeze out some time late at night to watch it. The Fitzroy is a compelling movie to watch. Its a tad predictable but the characters are so fleshed out along with a well-written and entertaining script that it has a lot of laughs and fun characters to watch come alive on screen. There is no doubt that The Fitzroy is indie though. There is a lot of charm to the movie along with creativity for the world they have set. Plus, it really is almost all set in one enclosed area with a few exceptions. The danger is also in its environment. The movie is extremely quirky and I mean it in the best way.

Kickstarter projects are always a toss of luck and I don’t remember when this project launched why I backed it and I am sure over the years, my taste on movies have shifted however, I had a great time watching this one.

Suicide Squad (2016)

suicide squad

Director (and writer): David Ayer

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingue, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jared Leto, Scott Eastwood

A secret government agency recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated super-villains to form a defensive task force. Their first mission: save the world from the apocalypse. – IMDB

Once again, in case you are new here, I need to start with the fact that I have not read any comics so if this is based on any source material of that variety, for myself, this is a standalone. Also do know that I have not caught up with Man of Steel or Batman vs. Superman so while I feel like the mention some of those events, I don’t know if there is a link however, Suicide Squad feels and is standalone for myself.

The best way to describe Suicide Squad is with the word fun. There is a lot of fun. Humor and a ragtag team of villains and fighting and the likes. With the cast they got, its pretty entertaining. However, my husband described it the best the end as he called it very comic-like in the way its made. It isn’t criticism since many movies do a great job using that approach. It is why it keeps it rather light. Suicide Squad also works as an intro to these characters in case we don’t know them: their stories and what motivates them to stay alive. It works because for myself, it didn’t feel like we were invading someone’s story.

Perhaps the best part of Suicide Squad is its cast. Will Smith is fantastic as Deadshot, Margot Robbie was incredibly entertaining as Harley Quinn: other familiar villains like Killer Croc has a role. I love Viola Davis a ton so her role here fit so well with her. I think if I was to rant a little would be the underuse of The Joker because it was played up so much in the publicity about how he did a fantastic job when he was there for like 5 minutes (or what felt like that). At least not enough for me to think that he did a particularly good or bad job. There’s so much here that is much more than that and that has to go to finally not focusing around The Joker which is something that us over at Game Warp have appreciated in some of the Batman games because its gives space for other villains to grow as well.

Suicide Squad still has a rather predictable flow of events however, the script gives these characters a little more than fluff and while it is very comic-like, it is really just an entertaining time.

Have you seen Suicide Squad or heard of The Fitzroy?

Netflix A-Z: Night Owls (2015)

Sorry for the later post than usual. Who knew a random day off from work would make things be more behind than I’d expect!

We are resuming our sprint to finish up Netflix A-Z before 2017 and we are at the letter N with the indie comedy drama called Night Owls. I’ve always been a sucker for movies that focus around two people in a specific length of time. When done right, it becomes somewhat of a nice and profound character study. I haven’t heard of Night Owls until it landed on Netflix so let’s jump right in!

Night Owls (2015)

Night Owls

Director (and co-writer): Charles Hood

Cast: Adam Pally, Rosa Salazar, Rob Huebel, Tony Hale, Peter Krause

After workaholic Kevin has a drunken one night stand with the beautiful train-wreck Madeline, he’s horrified to discover that she’s actually his boss’ jilted ex-mistress. When she takes a bottle of sleeping pills, Kevin is forced to keep her awake… – IMDB

Night Owls is a quiet little indie film about two people pulled together “accidentally” however they are forced to spend the rest of the night. As I mentioned before, there is so much appeal for me when its a focus on two people and usually two people who are put together unwillingly because it has a certain level of character development. The charm in Night Owls is one that I didn’t quite figure out how I felt until around the mid-point because of the characters which I will talk about in the next part. However, I do want to point out that while Night Owls doesn’t particularly have an idea that breaks any particular barriers and the ending is rather predictable, it does have some great character development, dialogue and interaction and gradual build of chemistry between our two characters, Kevin and Madeline.

Night Owls

Opposites attract. Its one of the best formulas in romantic films. It creates friction and conflict, debate and challenge to each of the characters. That is exactly what Kevin, played by Adam Pally and Madeline, played by Rosa Salazar does. Aside from having a refreshing script with some great dialogue, the interaction, connection and chemistry between them and the great performances they deliver is what drives Night Owls home. Adam Pally plays Kevin who is a guy with a dream. He is working towards his ultimate dream to be a coach as he is mentored by one of his idols. He is rather weak-minded and easily manipulated and pretty naive as well. There’s a protective barrier around him that he sets up and a side of him isn’t really the appealing guy that most women would be attracted to and it is further implied by Madeline’s character when she sleeps with him to get to his boss/mentor/idol who is her ex-lover, Will (Kevin’s boss).

In fact, this is where Madeline’s character contrasts. In many ways, Madeline’s much more exposed life to facing the real world makes her see the true nature of who she is with. However, it also leads her to making bad choices and not always picking the best options but also not quite having the self-esteem or courage to follow her dreams and see who she is and in Will, she gets that but she also sees Will’s flaws and these are all the things that is the dirty laundry no one gets to see and as the night goes on, she reveals them to Kevin one thing at a time.

The beginning of Night Owls and the reason why I couldn’t quite decide early on whether I enjoyed this one or not was because it took a while to actually connect with Kevin and/or Madeline and really feel for them. At the start, it was a lot of fuzzy and stupid moments and its a lot of bickering and yelling and angry talk. However, when things cool down a little and they actually sit down or move around the house, picking up pieces of Will and they both share tangents or connected memories, we learn more about these characters at just how they analyze the situation and it makes us wonder two things: whether Kevin will face that his idol maybe isn’t as perfect as he seems and that his goals may be actually not too realistic and not quite as he planned and intended; and whether Madeline still loves Will and why she did if she sees all these flaws. Two pertinent questions but ones that we wonder especially as we see that as Madeline sobers a little from her suicide attempt, their conversations become more and more profound and it turns into a  intriguing look into who these two are and the potential they have to be together and actually be good for each other and possibly what they both need. That is the magic of Kevin and Madeline and the power of great performances matched up with a well thought out script that can turn two people who we probably can’t root for into people that we’d choose to root for.

Night Owls

 While Night Owls is 90% around Kevin and Madeline, there are a few characters that pop up. One more familiar to me Tony Hale who I recently saw (but haven’t reviewed yet) in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. He also has these funny moments in the most serious way and that works for me. Tony Hale plays the secret doctor that gets sent to try to save Madeline from her suicide attempt. The second role is one that we see mostly through a phone conversation until the end from Rob Huebel who plays Peter, somewhat of the guy who keeps up the image for Will and tries to get rid of Madeline from what could potentially be damaging. Peter is the person that we soon learn is pretty manipulative and in fact, has his way most of the time and weaves up the lies to make Kevin follow through the plans further emphasizing how the whole situation was based on a lot of lies to anyone outside of what was happening. Last person who only showed up near the end is Will Campbell played by Peter Krause. In a very short cameo, we can almost see through his character as we’ve already learned so much about him and pieced it together through Kevin and Madeline’s conversation throughout the entire night.

Overall, Night Owls is a well-executed indie film with a pretty charming script and even better performances to deliver it and make it all believable. While I don’t think that the story itself is incredibly based on anything very unique, even the ending itself is rather expected, the journey of watching the development of the characters Kevin and Madeline was a trip that was well worth the time.