Monday, February 26, 2007

Everybody's Different

FILM: Everybody's Different

PROS: Sincere with very intimate photography.
CONS: Repetitive and ultimately unrevealing portrait of a person.

RATING: 3 / 5
This film exudes sincerity but does nothing to reveal a bigger story that must or should exist. There is no personal story that is unworthy of being told but featured films and featured documentaries are about subjects that are or are claimed to be bigger than life itself - otherwise a film is just a home movie that is only relevant to a very small crowd and does not need to be "featured." But that's not the main criticism here. This film does a great job grabbing one's attention by strumming an emotional chord with it's intimate look and feel and sound but that's a parlor trick by today's standards. It's what you do with that attention that defines a film - offer something that defies expectations. We live in an information age where defining "autism" is as easy as clicking a mouse. But the words of a definition, the pictures of an autistic kid, or even video demonstrating the effects of autism do nothing more other than offer a cold definition unless meaningful context is built around it all.

13 ½

FILM: 13 ½
DIRECTOR: boodani

PROS: Cute premise that works well as a short film.
CONS: Inconsistent lighting, some edits disrupted the flow of the film.

RATING: 3 / 5
Unfortunately the first half of the movie is a little too dark and some of the shot selections didn't edit well, making the film feel clunky at times. Try matching actions from shot to shot and cut on that action to mask the edit. I liked this film overall in it's subtle metaphor between vision and imagination - I understood where it was going without it being too obvious. But the ending was predictable and would have benefited from one extra twist. I can use this film as an example of a character driving the action as opposed to the action driving the character. In my last film review I called the characters weak because they were simply victims of circumstance. In this film the character is subjected to an unusual circumstance but he then makes a decision and decides to toss his glasses. He decides to take his fate into his own hands and then must answer to the consequences of his actions. That makes for a more interesting view than just some BLEEP having a bad day.

Off The Chain

FILM: Off The Chain
DIRECTOR: JustinReade

PROS: Some comical moments and visuals.
CONS: Flat cinematography and editing, pointless story and weak characters.

RATING: 2.5 / 5

A director needs to recognize competent production value when it comes to their film. This a film that looses its edge because of flat lighting and composition - it's cinematographic flaws rob it's intended humor and makes it seem uninteresting and uninspired despite of it's donkeys and dikes. And once again, the characters are just falling leaves that simply drift with the winds of coincidence. All the character are simple victims of circumstances that befall them and do nothing to drive the story. This makes it boring because it doesn't offer the characters or even the viewer a challenge.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


FILM: Apparition
DIRECTOR: polarisbanks

PROS: Effective build of suspense through performances, lighting, and editing.
CONS: No true connection between the apparition and the end.

RATING: 4 / 5

A good film that effectively uses a barrage of techniques to build a suspenseful interest in what will happen around every corner. The ending satisfies only because it contradicts the expectation it builds but it doesn't satisfy any intellectual understanding of why the story takes place (why the apparition appears in the way it does). But when a film entertains it can get away with murder, so to speak, and that's what this film does: dazzle you so that you feel instead of think. Now am I saying that a good film shouldn't make you think? Absolutely not. A good film is one that moves you in someway, shape, or form. Ambivalence toward a film is the true sign of failure.

Oz Again?

FILM: Oz Again?
DIRECTOR: patchman22

PROS: Interesting take on Oz - a chance to restructure a well known story.
CONS: Dry humored interviews that seem to lead nowhere or make no point.

RATING: 2 / 5

With the novel and play "Wicked" as popular as it is today, a mockumentary like this would just be overshadowed and/or highly criticized for its lack of invention. The humor is just too dry and there is nothing compelling about the stories being told (although the two old ladies offer bits of impromptu fun). But all they do is gossip about the OZ characters and offer no real insight - mockumentaries and especially documentaries rely on establishing credibility to sell theirs point and there's nothing in this film to convince me of this alternate OZ reality. The clips that cut in just repeat to fill space and the over-all quality of the film looks as if it were shot on VHS - flat and without personality. Film Review

FILM: Isolation
DIRECTOR: kirkeby

PROS: Production value can be seen in the sets and wardrobe.
CONS: The film doesn't quite live up to its ambition, acting is stilted.

RATING: 2.5 / 5

I appreciate the effort and the ambition that went into this film but it doesn't quite make the grade. It takes itself too seriously by preaching its story philosophically - taking on an almost cliche tone. The beginning and ending narrations are completely unnecessary and beg the question of why the narration is in Chinese and not the rest of the film. Let the dialog and imagery tell the story, not a post production after thought. The cinematography started out interesting but over the course of the film, the repetitiveness revealed a lack of refinement (shaky camera moves and harsh shadowing). The dialog and delivery was very stilted. The seemingly intricate detail of the film looks and feels great but small details like putting a chicken egg in a tree nest (a smaller quail egg might have been more appropriate) just topples the entire reality of the film. I feel like I'm sounding harsh but it's only because I think something better can come of this. Film Review

FILM: 4 Shadows Cast From Confusion: Re-Cut & Re-Scored
DIRECTOR: jasonad003

PROS: Energetic pacing, variety of production locations, inventive
CONS: Disjointed story, meaningless/shock-value ending.

RATING: 3.5 / 5

This is another one of those films that I would consider less of a
drama and more of an experimental / art piece because it focuses less
on a coherent story and more on an idea and/or message through it's
sound and imagery. The pacing of the editing and the creative ways the
film transitions from one scene to the next keeps the viewing
experience alive and pumping all the way to its end. But the end
cheats the viewer from all that it strives to be because it occurs
completely out of the context of the rest of the film. Granted the
meat of the film is very loosely held together by some sense of story
but the film relies too heavily on the all too familiar "split
personality" theme and doesn't make an original statement about it.
All said and done the film is entertaining to watch but plateaus on
its ability to connect emotionally and intellectually.