The Axe Murders of Villisca (2017)

Two teenagers involved in ghost hunting plan to go to the Villisca house where, in 1912, a family was murdered by an axe wielding maniac.  When a charming female outcast joins them, the three of them decide to go into the house after hours and do their own tour and investigation where they discover something worse than the usual for this kind of house. Written and directed by Tony E. Valenzuela based on a story by Kevin Abrams and Owens Egerton. The story is based on a true case from 1912 which is still unsolved.  To bring it to modern day settings, they use the story as a starting point for teenage ghost hunters to go investigate.

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Go North (2017)

A potentially apocalyptic even wiped out all adults from the country, leaving kids to take care of younger kids.  In this situation, some became leaders, some teachers, while others thrived in chaos.  As things are looking bleaker and bleaker, Josh decides to do something and heads North with a friend.  Soon, some of those in charge go after them.  Through this, all will discover more about the world and themselves. Directed by Matt Ogens who co-wrote with Kyle Lierman, the film takes the post-apocalyptic approach that is being seen more and more again and removes all adults from the picture, leaving it to a Lord of the Flies situation with kids being left to their own devices and some knowing better how to keep going while others look for escape.

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Emilie Black’s Top 10 Favorite Feature Films of 2016

This year brought a lot of film festival coverage opportunities for me which means I was able to attend and/or cover twelve film festivals/events.  That being said, these paired with a ton of good independent titles meant I had very little time for wider theater releases.  This not mean the latter were not good, it only means that I saw a grand total of three major releases (Deadpool, Rogue One, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) on the big screen.

First, here are my special mentions: L’Elan, Deadpool, Saving Mr. Wu, The Laundryman, Realive, Bed of the Dead, Let Her Out, Alena, Corp Etranger (Foreign Body), They Call Me Jeeg Robot, Karate Kill, The Eyes of My Mother, Rogue One, The Witch, Southbound, Antibirth, The Love Witch.

With no further ado, here is my top ten favorite movies from 2016:

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Emilie Black’s Top 10 Favorite Short Films of 2016

So many, many short films are made each year, yet a lot of film fans overlook them, thus making themselves a disservice.  2016 saw a fantastically good crop of shorts from a variety of countries, showcasing the talents of filmmakers worth watching.  In 2016, I saw over 175 short films through film festivals, Vimeo, YouTube, etc.  Choosing a top 10 was tough this year and kept changing from day to day.  Out of those ever changing titles, here are the 10 Best short films, or my 10 favorites at the moment, and a bunch more worth checking out.

Special mentions (aka I wish it were a top 25):  Innsmouth, Postpartum, Stained, Injustice for All, Japanese Legends: Slit, Watchbear, The Puppet Man, Kaddish!, Little Boy Blue, Deathly, Overtime, Hoshino, The Tunnel, Bionic Girl, and Disco Inferno.

On to the Top 10…

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Gerry (2011)

Gerry Boulet is credited as being Quebec’s first rocker.  Of course he was not the only one at the time per se as the province saw that rise of Plume Latraverse, Michel Pagliaro, Robert Charlebois, etc.  Gerry Boulet and his cohorts made an impact on French-Canadian culture and music.  Boulet and his band Offenbach were a radio staple and strong concert presence in the 1970s and 1980s.  Boulet died of cancer in 1990 at what could be considered the peak of his solo career.  The film titled simple Gerry covers his life from childhood, through important events that shaped him, then through his career with Offenbach (2 different member line-ups) and his solo career.  The film portrays him in a way that seems genuine, with his good moments, his bad ones, and his problems.

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Chasse-Galerie La Légende (2016)

La Chasse-Galerie, or the Flying Canoe (aka The Bewitched Canoe) is a well-known legend from Québec about a group of travelers making a deal with the devil to get home.  In this cinematic version of it set in 1863, a group of men travelling home are slowed down by a snow storm.  After they request help, the devil gives them a flying canoe to take them home but with some conditions that come with harsh punishment if not followed.  After one of them cheats the devil, vengeance is taken on his descendant 25 years later.

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Entertainment That Puts Me in the Holiday Spirit

What puts you in the Holiday Spirit?  What puts me in the Holiday Spirit?  Honestly, as I grew up in and near Montreal, Quebec, Canada, some of my traditions are a tad different from those I live surrounded by now in Southern California.  Growing up, every Holiday Season, some movies and TV shows were broadcast in Quebec for all of us to watch as an odd little community spread out over a huge, snowy territory.

Nowadays, these movies and TV shows help me get in the mood for the Holidays and as I am having a hard time getting in the Spirit this year, I figured I’d watch a bunch of them and share them with you all.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Warning: Spoilery and long review by a self-admitted Star Wars fan (with Stormtrooper tattoo to prove it).

A small group of rebels sets off to go retrieve the plans to the Death Star after receiving a communication that seems to indicate that they will be the downfall of the Empire in this sequel/prequel/side story to the Star Wars prequels/original trilogy.  Touted as the first standalone Star Wars, Rogue One is heavily entrenched in the Star Wars lore and fills in gaps and what could have been considered plot holes in the past.  The story here is easily to follow for people who may have never seen a Star Wars film, but it feels like a story built for the fans of the franchise.  The story feels like a Star Wars one and the characters feel like they belong in the universe with many cameos and full presences by some very familiar faces and names.  This leads the story to feel familiar and yet the changes, the connections that could have been or the additions or who knows make it feel like something is missing to the story.  Rogue One is a hard one for this review to fully embrace while wanting to, which is an odd place to find one’s fan brain in.

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