A Boy and His Beast (Un Garcon et Sa bête) (2017) [Oceanside International Film Festival 2017]

A young aristocratic boy adopts a dog on his birthday.  As he teaches his dog tricks and learns to love his pet, something happens and he meets a surprise in the family’s yard.

Written by Crystal Perea and directed by Calley MacDonald, this short stop-motion animation film is adorably cute and funny.  The story shows a lot of heart and love in a family that is rather strict and not accepting of new things.  The boy at the center of it all is the black sheep of his family and is shown as a sweet, loving boy.  The way the story is built, the surprise near the end is not evident or easily guessed.  While there is indeed more to this story than first meets the eye, it all makes sense in a way.  This story is loving and filled with just the right amount of humor to make it a comedy but without going overboard silly.  The film has very little dialog, almost none really, and it shares its story and emotions through well done animation and through its music.

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The Emoji Movie (2017)

What I’m sure was going to set the platform for a Sony movie/ad universe following up with a The “Tic Tac Toe Movie,” The “Peek a Boo Movie,” and “The Jingle car keys in front our Faces Movie,” “The Emoji Movie” (aka “The Sony Press Kit”) is the height of laziness to the point where the script was probably written on a napkin at a some overpriced coffee shop in Beverly Hills. “The Emoji Movie” is not just bad, but it’s offensively boring, and tedious. It’s “Doogal” bad. It’s “A Shark Tale” bad. There are just so many bafflingly stupid and moronic moments in “The Emoji Movie,” that I can’t believe any actual writer put all of this down on page with sincerity or the goal of turning any of this in to a pop culture craze.

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The Shorts of Fantasia International Film Festival 2017 – Part 3 [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

Each year Fantasia showcases a ton, almost a literal ton, of shorts films.  Reviewing them can be a bit demanding, so it has been decided to review them in groupings.  The following shorts were attached to feature films that played the fest and were viewed on the big screen.

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Teen Wolf Too (1987): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

There’s a considerable drop off in quality with “Teen Wolf Too” with what is essentially the same movie with a premise that was cut and pasted. Michael J. Fox opted out of this follow up, setting the stage for the film debut of Jason Bateman, who took the first and last sequel of this oddly popular series. I remember watching this movie as a kid quite often, since the channel I always watched never had the original. Years later, “Teen Wolf Too” isn’t a very good movie, and as a follow up should be watched by fans that are either Jason Bateman fanatics, or absolutely have to watch every sequel of a movie series. Hey, it’s not as bad as any of “The Howling” sequels. That’s about as big an endorsement I’m wiling to give it.

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Vampire Cleanup Department (Gao geung jing dou fu) (2017) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

The Vampire Cleanup Department is a task force that deals with Goeng Si, Chinese vampires, while being disguised as a regular trash and cleanup department.  Not long after Tim Cheung joins his uncle on the force, he meets with a sweet vampire named Summer who changes how he wants to do things.

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Teen Wolf (1985): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

Before it became a homoerotic horror series on MTV, “Teen Wolf” was the epitome of eighties cheese that mixed a teen coming of age comedy with horror tropes. The idea of being a werewolf is of course a metaphor for puberty, as Michael J. Fox takes a baffling but oddly fun turn in his career after the success of “Back to the Future.” The 1985 “Teen Wolf” hasn’t aged very well, but it’s still a fun novelty of the decade where almost nothing was off limits it meant possibly drawing a laugh. Surely, the idea of a werewolf becoming a star basketball player is absurd, but not offensive as a comedy based around a corpse, or a college student wearing black face. But I digress.

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Footnotes (Sur quel pied danser) (2016)

A young woman begins working in an old school shoe factory as it is under closure threat from the company trying to save a buck and move the production to a less expensive country.  Through the fight to save the factory and the jobs, she and her co-workers learn a lot about themselves, each other, and life in general.

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Prey (Prooi) (2016) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

As a lion wreaks havoc on the city of Amsterdam, a zoo veterinarian gets involved in its chase along with her boyfriend and ex.

Written and directed by Dick Maas, Prey is a horror comedy film with its comedy very dark and its horror a bit light.  The film takes the wild animal on the loose premise and moves it to the city of Amsterdam where the idea of a killer lion on the loose is particularly ludicrous.  The way the film develops this and adds hunters, both experienced and not so much, who once paired with the local police becomes a bit of a mess in terms of lion-chasing but a fun watch in terms of horror-comedy.  The film shows an ability to pit characters against each other in a way that is entertaining while they all face the lion threat.  The comedy is often situational and takes advantage of the characters’ flaws in a way that works well here.  The direction is rather on point for the comedy and fairly good on the horror.  However, as a horror film, it has just about no scare factor.

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