Thursday, February 1, 2018

Movie Review: Paura Tutto (2014)

Paura Tutto (2014) - USA - Horror Comedy - Not Rated
Independent Short Subject - Mordacious Films - 11 minutes
Directed by Mykee Morettini
Written by Peter Dorman and Mykee Morettini
Starring Mykee Morettini, Kelli Alden, Peter Dorman, Matt Kormanik, Mia Morettini, Rae Erin Walsh, Jagar Davis

A different animal for sure (the film) Morettini succeeds in bringing our worst nightmare to life... resurrecting the 80s.

It's 1985 as a high school outcast teams up with a psychic with no name (I believe there was a song about her) to track down a physical manifestation of fear that is killing off the senior class in alphabetical order.

Paura Tutto is its own original animal. It tells a story, but not in the usual fashion. Parodying Italian horror movies of the 80s, complete with made-up screen credits to fit the theme, it proceeds as an extended trailer, as though for some lost film of the time, yet tells its story via the parts and narration of the trailer ..err, film ...err, trailer ...err, something.

True to its roots Paura Tutto is presented complete with film grain and deterioration. Washed out frames abound, as does out of sync dialogue. And bad fashion trends? Oh yeah, it's got it too. If you were to view it without any knowledge this is a contemporary parody you would probably think this was the genuine article from the 1980s.

Through its stylizing it is not the most coherent presentation of a story, humorously that is very much inline with the very films it mocks. From an opening scene that sounds like it fell out of Doctor Butcher M.D. to headbands, boomboxes, and gaudy gore effects, the 80s are alive and well... but not for long. ;)

Being its own unique animal it's not easy to rate a film like this. Certainly there's no contextualization for comparison. The only way really to rate it is in looking at what it aims to accomplish and how well it did at that. Paura Tutto does have the advantage, in the way Morettini has done this, of anything that could be perceived as a failure or weakness on the part of the film could just as much be intentional as it certainly would fit with its subject matter. Complete it is, even though it its presented as a promotional piece for a film. Any lows it falls to are also its high points. In that respect it accomplishes apparently what it set out to do... confuse the hell out of a movie reviewer trying to rate it. So I'll give it an extra notch for that.

My Rating: 4 Fingers

Watch Paura Tutto on YouTube

Find Mykee Morettini on Facebook and Twitter

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Movie Review: Dance Baby Dance (2018)

Dance Baby Dance (2018) - USA - Dance Drama Comedy - Not Rated (Family)
Written and Directed by Stephen Kogon
Starring Stephen Kogon, Beverley Mitchell, Hayley Shukiar, Carlos Alazraqui, Lisa Brenner, Clare Grant, Isaiah Lucas, Jim O'Heir, Jim Nowakowski, Paula Bellamy

A simple story with an energetic spirit makes this a fun, uplifting movie that will put some feel good in your step.

Years ago Jimmy Percer had a dream of being in the spotlight as a dancer. Of dancing before an audience. And Jimmy was good, but knee injuries got in the way of his dreams. Now in his 30s, considered too old to be competitive, he's going to give it one more shot. With his skill and enthusiasm, something's gotta give... so long as it's not his knee or mounting family problems.

The opening to Dance Baby Dance ideally illustrates the energy and enthusiasm ahead in this film. With the focus only on the character of Jimmy (Stephen Kogon) breaking into a tap dance routine on the hardwood floored dance studio to upbeat, pumping music, one can see the skill which lies ahead and feel the tempo that's going to set its pace.

Up front, this is no gritty street drama with gut wrenching melodramatics. On the flipside of that it is innocent and even sappy in its characters and storyline; these aren't hardened characters like you'd even see on a TV show but more like an afterschool special. This does not take away from it as its charm is in focusing more on the upbeat aspect of fulfilling ones dream even when life sometimes tries to get in the way.

There are occasional weaknesses in this. Early on the camerawork doesn't quite frame the dancers as well as it could. Nobody is out of frame, but often they aren't fully in frame either. This disappears in short order. The lighting and lens flare of the dance competition itself is probably its biggest weakness. The part the film has been building to is an at times, frequently as a matter of fact, murky affair. Even with the lens flare the energy of the dance competition is not diminished.

The strengths of the film lie in its likeable characters and of course the dancing. The storyline is not complex, in other words it's predictable, but it succeeds in knowing where it's going and not taking unnecessary detours, but rather throw an occasional challenge at the characters while maintaining its energy.

Stephen Kogon plays his role as Jimmy as a positive spirit with a smile a minute attitude. Hayley Shukiar is wonderful as Jimmy's sarcastic niece and combatant in personality. Carlos Alazraqui brings a lot of experience (over 300 credits on IMDb) to the role of anti-social Hector, and has fun with it. Jim O'Heir is a wonderful addition to the cast and a very recognizable character actor many may remember from his role as Jerry Gergich on Parks and Recreation. And Beverley Mitchell as Jimmy's wife Tess brings a balance that not only keeps Jimmy from being a bit much at times but keeps the film grounded.

You know where this film is going and even though the plot throws a few roadbumps in the way for the sake of story it doesn't get in the way of keeping up the energy. At keeping the story moving I would give it a 3, but with its contagious enthusiasm and uplifting spirit I'll take that up  another full notch because I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

My Rating: 4 Fingers

Watch it on Amazon Video (free with Prime)

Check them out on TwitterFacebook or their Website

Monday, January 22, 2018

Starting A New Movie Review Blog and You're Invited

I have been lax on getting reviews published this month due in part to other projects I'm working on, and now I've apparently lost my mind in wanting to start another movie review blog?

Well I'll have you know I lost my mind long before this. Uhm, wait, that didn't sound right.

In all actuality I had started a blog to use as the grassroots indie film blog I've written about on this here blog. It's primary purpose was to help indie filmmakers reach out to reviewers by providing a directory of reviewers as well a screeners newsletter to be emailed to reviewers. Well a filmmaker and myself joined forces to combine our ideas into a single blog, and I had already come to the conclusion that the one Blogger blog I had set up was not going to be able to do what I wanted to do.

While we have been occupied with getting the joint venture blog up and running, I have an unused blog sitting there. Being I've already set it up as an indie film blog, why not turn it into a review blog and let others post their reviews there?

I think it is most ideal for those reviewers who use social media to post their reviews, whether because you don't want to bother with your own blog or because you've never used a blog before and the prospect seems daunting. Of course any reviewer is welcome to join the new blog. I'll update everyone with the blog address in about 2-3 weeks.

I'm rather informal in how I run things and especially don't like asking anyone to go out on a limb, jump through hoops or pick your comparison.

The new blog will not have a standardized ratings system. That means bring your own ratings system you've been using and are most comfortable using, or none at all if you don't use a ratings system. Though I did think of standardizing a ratings system, how someone reviews films in a personal choice and trying to make someone change the way they review I feel will cramp their style.

Obviously this may cause a little confusion on the part of a reader. I have set up a review ratings page where I will list every reviewer's ratings system, if they have one. I think most reviewers give an idea anyway what their rating means.

You're not on your own. If you are experiencing any difficulty in formatting your post, getting images in your posts, or especially getting them where you want them, ask me and I'll help.

You post for a while and decide you want to do this on your own blog? Super! If you need any help getting your own blog up and running I'll be happy to lend a hand, and I'll even link to you and post about it on my social media to help get you some traffic.

You haven't reviewed indie films before? Well, they're movies; I'm sure you've heard of those. I've seen films from 2 minutes long to... infinity and beyond! Well, long movies. With budgets from $100 to several hundred thousand. Most of the films that will apply to the goals of this blog will have been made under $100,000 as a budget. This is the grassroots level of independent films. Compared to Hollywood films this is not even the cost of a day's work, but you'll be amazed at what talent and determination can accomplish.

Don't know where to find them? That's why I'm here. Bring your own indie films to review or I'll be happy to put you in touch with filmmakers and provide screeners (a 'for review' copy of the film) for you to review.

If this interests you, contact me on my Twitter or Facebook page or you can email me.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Interview with Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter Star Tracey Birdsall

Born in Van Nuys, CA and raised in Burbank, CA the blond, beautiful and voluptuous Tracey Birdsall might in the traditional Hollywood world of typecasting be dismissed as a California girl, but Tracey is not your typical California girl and is shattering barriers of presumption proving there really is no such thing.

Now into her 50s she has not lost one ounce of luster and is pulling off roles once traditionally the domain of male actors while being able to compete with 20 something actresses.

The youngest of three sisters Tracey was studied in dancing and singing, taking part in musical theater in her formative years. It wasn't long until commercial work came her way as a teenager being seen in such product commercials as Sunkist, and in television in the soap opera Loving and the dramatic series Hearts Are Wild. But her shining moment is now as she breaks through age and gender barriers in film as a pioneer for others to follow.

Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter is a perfect example of breaking barriers. A role which would have traditionally been a man's role with a beautiful woman as eye candy hanging on his arm instead now has the beautiful woman for sure, but she happens to be the tough as nails leading character as well.

In this interview Tracey talks acting, her role in Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter and what's on the horizon for her.

Why acting? What is it about this game that fuels you?

People fascinate me. The joy of creating a character and bringing it to life right down to the minute mannerisms excites me. I love the process of creation, development, birth (as in birth of a character), and living that life and experiencing it. It’s not only a skill, but also a passion. It drives me, inspires me to do more and be more, at the same time as it puts me in a position of transparency – but as another human – complete with strengths and vulnerabilities of varying degrees. It’s really quite a fascinating experience, so I choose to go through the hundreds of hours of preparation to do all over again… like a child in an amusement park – enthused with the possibilities and also the unknown.

Is there anyone in particular whose career you've either idolised or even unconsciously tried to mimic?

To mimic? No. That would take the fun out of doing the work. Other actors whose performances involve living the life of the character to the extreme inspire me. Getting a new script delivered to me that seems impossible to my brain at first, also excites and inspires me. I love most performances of Daniel Day Lewis, Meryl Streep, and recently that of Leonardo DiCaprio. I don’t idolize anyone; moreover, I compete with myself to always work harder than anyone I know. I do think it’s possible that those whose performances I appreciate do the same.

Do you consider yourself a 'type' of actor?

I have a branding duality – but much of that has been attained by successfully going off-type. I was always the girl-next-door (now the girl-next-door grown up), with an edge of badass – which comes from both my tomboyish ways and my action roles in sci-fi. My edgy-sassiness in comedy is a far cry from my sci-fi persona, but I revel in the joys of both extremes. My type stretches again as my character goes to a dramatically darker place in the up-coming sci-fi time travel thriller The Time War, which will baffle people in comparison with my more sexy intelligent grown up girl-next-door character in the up-coming comedy Who’s Jenna…? I revel in challenges from type, and get the opportunities to stretch. 

What sorts of roles do you find you're usually brought in for?

I’ve been working for about five years straight so I haven’t had a chance to “go in” for anything actually. I usually get sent scripts to see if I would be interested in doing them. I’ve been brought in for the whole gamut throughout my life, with a pretty fair distribution between comedy and drama in both auditions and bookings. Ironically enough, the one “type” I never got booked for (and rarely brought in for) was that of the “mom.” Although I am a mom in real life, that was never my “type” which was confusing to me for many years. I have been the spunky step-mom and the trophy wife who couldn’t contain herself, but just being a mom was never my type in the eyes of casting.  We have to see ourselves how others might see us, and expand upon that with opportunities… to help them see which ways we can stretch… always one of my favorite things! Let me do something I haven’t done before and I’m very happy.

What's been your favorite role to play so far and why?

Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter was my favorite “released” role to date, as it utilized so many of my strengths and expanded upon them (and I loved the action) – along with my vulnerabilities which also stretched to all new levels in living her life. Unreleased would be the upcoming The Time War, as it was an almost impossible role given time travel and living the lives of various versions of myself throughout time… an absolute monumental task that took 220 days of shooting over three years. Such an amazing experience…

Has that been the movie that's also opened doors for you?

Every film and opportunity opens multitudes of doors and opportunities. It’s always that way. Rogue Warrior definitely expanded upon my branding, which has led to The Time War  which will also expand upon it. When you work with every cell of your being with skill and more time commitment than was ever required of you to bring characters to life, doors do open; it’s just a fact of life.

As the year ends and a new year begins, what do you hope for for 2018?

I just want to work and live the lives of characters that I create. That said, I would love to parlay what I do back into the realm of television, as it seems to be the way of the future.

Tracey's film Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter is available in select stores and online! You can always find it at: 

Find out more about Tracey by checking out her:

Website - IMDb - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram

Thank you, Tracey!