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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Detroit Rock City (1999)

Adam Rifkins’ “Detroit Rock City” is the movie in the vein of “Rock n Roll High School” that seeks to unabashedly pay tribute to the magic of KISS and how they inspire four guys to travel across the country and break the law for them. Because they’re so fucking awesome, you see. Hawk (Edward Furlong), Lex (Giuseppe Andrews), Trip (James DeBello), and “Jam” (Sam Huntington) are four of the most hardcore KISS fans alive and are preparing to travel to Detroit to see the band in concert. Sadly, Jam’s Conservative Christian mother discovers the tickets he and his friends bought, and burn them. Anxious to find more tickets, the foursome win a call in contest but are so excited they hang up on the DJ before they can give them their names, disqualifying them.

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Ocean Waves (2016)

Another very rare Studio Ghibli film is finally coming to the states as director Tomomi Mochizuki’s “Ocean Waves” is opening for audiences anxious to visit the lesser known entries in the Ghibli catalogue. “Ocean Waves” is described as one of the very few movies not made by Isao Takahata or Hayao Miyazaki and has rarely ever been seen outside of Japanese television. Adapted from a novel of the same name by Saeko Himuro, “Ocean Waves” is a short (At barely eighty minutes) but very well realized teen drama about two teenage boys hopelessly enamored by a gorgeous young girl named Rikako, who is often given to flights of fancy and adventurousness that allow the two friends Taku and Yutaka a chance to break free from the monotony of their busy school lives.

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Max Steel (2016)

I wish Mattel would stop forcing Max Steel on the unsuspecting American public. After many years, the company insists on introducing this action figure line in its new forms, and it’s exhausting to say the least. Back in 2000, Mattel re-introduced Max Steel in a very entertaining CGI cartoon with the main character as a cybernetic spy–because CGI and spies were big in the early aughts. When trends shifted, Mattel re-re-introduced the character in 2013 in to a younger character and in the mold of a pseudo-Iron Man since Iron Man has changed how movie studios approach science fiction now. After that failed, Mattel has given us Max Steel once again, and turned him in to a cybernetic superhero with an enigmatic past. This Max Steel is an amalgam of Guyver, Iron Man, and Star Kid, and is an infinitely grating, and ugly kids film.

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Little Miss Perfect (2016)

littlemissperfectAs changes happen around her, an overambitious teen turns to weight control in order to feel more in charge of her life and herself. Written and directed by Marlee Roberts, Little Miss Perfect is an intimate look at an exemplary student’s descent into anorexia as a way to feel in control of her life while also being a cautionary t tale about the dangers of leaving teenagers unsupervised and about the influence online strangers can have on one person.  The film’s story gathers the perfect confluence of reasons for this to happen: Disappearance of her mother, absent father, peer pressure, starting to date, internet influences, popularity of “thinspo”, etc.

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Other Shorts from Brooklyn Horror Film Festival [Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2016]

other-shorts-pigskinGwilliam (USA) (2015)
This flat out gross short follows a recently released criminal looking to get off.  From there it goes in an unexpected direction.  Written by Victoria S. Cook, Brian Lonano, and Kevin Lonano and directed by Brian Lonano, this short is odd and aims to either gross out or make the viewer uncomfortable or possibly both.  This is the kind of short that you just can’t look away from, you want to but you also want to see how far it will go.

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Best Fake Friends (2016)

bestfakefriendsAfter moving to the Portland area for her husband’s work, Joy finds herself looking for new friends in the local mom crowd.  Having found her way to a big party, she meets a few of the “cool” moms who will first support her and then test her limits. Written by Sarah Hehman and Christi Sperry and directed by Paul Kampf build an adult version of the teenage-clique film which works.  The characters they build feel like grown-up versions of people most of us encountered in high school: the good girls that are slightly bookworm-y, the rich girls from silver-spoon backgrounds, the cool and dangerous girls, etc.

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Little Sister (2016) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2016]

littlesisterColleen is a former Goth kid who has found her calling and is working towards becoming a nun.  After her brother comes back from war heavily damaged psychologically and physically, their mom pleads with Colleen to come for a visit.  A simple few days at home turn into a rediscovery of self, of her relationship with her family, and of her passion for her calling.

Written by Zach Clark from a story by Clark and Melodie Sisk, Little Sister is directed by Zach Clark who builds a family drama showing the real sides of people who start off by avoiding each other, then become closer through reminiscing and through getting to know each other again.  The characters they build here do feel like a family that lost touch and is learning to know each other anew.  The way this is written and done feels organic and natural.  This family is not perfect and neither are their relationships but the care and love they have for each other transcends their issues and differences.  The characters created are human, none perfect, none all bad, they are just trying to navigate life as best they can.

This Lunsford family is comprised of: Joani, Bill, Jacob, and Colleen who the story follows.  Ally Sheedy is Joani, Peter Hedges is Bill, Keith Poulson is Jacob, and Addison Timlin is the lead of colleen.  Ally Sheedy shows the viewers why they fell in love with her in the 80s by giving a touching performance of a stressed out mom who did all she could to give her two kids a great life.  She embodies the mom full of worries who doesn’t know how to handle her adult children.  Addison Timlin as Colleen shows growth for her character throughout the film, starting off as a timid young nun-to-be and ending as a confident woman sure of her path as a nun.

As the brother Jacob, Keith Poulson shows as much as he can under his full head prosthetic. Much of his performance rests on his voice and body language, which he uses very well. The prosthetics for Jacob’s burnt at war head and face was made by Brian Spears and Pete Gerner and is fairly well done but not great unfortunately.  For most of the film, it’s applied well, but in a few scenes, the application is not full and the second “skin” can be seen moving separately and un-sticking from the actor’s face, something that is annoying but not film breaking.

The cinematography by Daryl Pittman makes the family house look cozy, warm even.  The way interactions are framed helps focus the attention on what is important.  The music by Fritz Myers paired with the song choices underscore the action and add to Colleen’s personality.  They add to the emotions and make the film a complete experience.

Little Sister starts on a Marilyn Manson quote and ends on a much different note, following the evolution of Colleen’s life and her emotional growth.  This film is a wonderful study of family dynamics and personal growth.

Fantasia International Film Festival ran from July 14th until August 3rd, 2016 and will be back in the summer of 2017.