Haskell (2017) [HollyShorts 2017]

Three moments from the life of a man who can manipulate time and how his ability is affecting him.

Written and directed by James Allen Smith, Haskell is a small part, or three small parts, of what feels like a much bigger story.  The story deals with time and how it affects people, especially the man who can manipulate it and those around him.  The story is one that is multi-layered and deals with plenty to become a full length feature easily.  The way it’s written does make it feel like it’s a part of something much bigger and perhaps a proof of concept for a feature film.  However, it does still work as a short where not everything is explained and the film works with some mysteries not explained.

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Death Note (2017)

I’ve been a casual fan and observer of “Death Note” since the mid-aughts and have always been fascinated with its premise and the moral dilemmas it props up for the audience and its characters. It’s almost like “The Box” but with a hit of adrenaline and more complex ideas and philosophies. Director Adam Wingard adapts “Death Note” for a new audience, taking the material from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, and adding his own quirks, ideas, and dashes of dark comedy. What we get is a stark, entertaining horror movie that is very much a “Death Note” tale, but one that works in its own rhythm for a broader audience, without alienating the core fan base.

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No Roads In (2017) [Oceanside International Film Festival 2017]

No Roads In is a music documentary but also one about how music can transform lives.

Written by Christopher Leeson and directed by Josh Wong, this documentary follows a band as they record an album in an abandoned home in the Canadian Prairies.  One of them finds this place while driving and brings the rest back to record a more natural, organic album in terms of sound and how it comes to be.  The film follows these men and looks into their lives through interviews and music.  The men shown include Adam Naughler, Jon May, Blake Reid, Aaron Young, and Jason Valleau who all work on the album together and have their lives and hopes discussed by themselves and others.

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30 Minutes with Laura (2017) [Oceanside International Film Festival 2017]

A man meets with a woman in a restaurant where they get to know each other.  As they talk, not everything is as it seems.

Written and directed (and edited) by Juanjo Haro, this short film takes a simple premise and spins it on its head.  It builds what looks like a meeting between two lonely people in a restaurant through their conversation into something quite different.  About halfway through the film, something happens that greatly affects the plot.  As this is an important factor into this film, it shall remain a secret here.  The film takes this and works with it, explaining itself in images, something that may not have been needed, but works well nonetheless.

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The Bootleg Files: A Free Ride

BOOTLEG FILES 602: “A Free Ride” (the oldest surviving extant pornographic film made in the United States).

LAST SEEN: It can be found on Wikipedia.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: It was included in at least once porn anthology and a documentary on erotic cinema.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The difficulties in releasing this type of film back in the day.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Eh, you can watch it online for free.

One of the most historically significant films in the development of the American cinema is also one of the most mysterious and obscure. And if you never heard of the silent short film called “A Free Ride,” do not consider yourself ignorant – this is not the kind of film that you will see in a college film appreciation class or in a TCM showcase.

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Fantasia International Film Festival 2017 Wrap-Up [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

This year was a huge year for myself in terms of coverage I was able to do at Fantasia. Having moved back to Montreal (albeit temporarily), I was able to see a huge number of films at the fest, which led to an average of 2 films per day most days with just a few days off to recharge. 2 films per day may not seem like a lot, but when you factor in the reviews being written to publish as soon as possible and networking every night after the fest, the best festival of the year for this reviewer becomes the most exhausting. Your schedule shifts to live between 12noon and 4am most days, waking up then writing reviews, sending reviews, going to the fest in the afternoon or at night, then to the official pub to meet with filmmakers, reviewers, staff, and fans, then bed at 4am-ish most days, the schedule takes a toll. Kudos to the staff of the fest who are up all day working, then all evening and part of the night before doing it all over again the next day, this for 21 days. I know I could never do that for that long. Even with a few full days off to handle life and try to survive, it was an exhausting yet exhilarating experience to be able to be there from the programme launch the week before the fest to post fest goodness with friends.

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The Monster Project (2017)

A group of filmmakers decide to do a reality tv/found footage project about real monsters.

Written by Victor Mathieu, Shariya Lynn, and Corbin Billings, the film is directed by Victor Mathieu who takes a found footage approach to things, having the show within the movie and the action of the people behind the scenes all being in found footage style, for better or worse. The story here is one found footage fans are familiar with. A team goes into a building with the hopes of filming real monsters and interviewing them. In what looks like something very inspired by ghost hunters tv shows, the crew shoots themselves doing this in night vision on very shaky cam. The monsters here may or may not be real, something the film hopes to blur with its approach and how the characters are brought on.

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