Friday, January 25, 2019

Movie Review: Trouble (2013)

Trouble (2013) - USA - Comedy - NR (PG)
Independent Short Subject - 12 mins
Wesleyan University Senior Thesis Film
Written and Directed by Daniel 'Danny' Witkin
Starring Bennett Kirschner, Max Carpenter, Timothy J. Cox, Chelsea Marino, Khaching Tölölyan, Peter Rutland, Daniel 'Danny' Witkin, Piers Gelly, Adam Johnson, Aaron Khandros, Peter Myers, Henry Molofsky, Adam Rotstein, Benjamin Soloway

*This review is dedicated to the memory of Karen Kelly.. wherever and whoever you are. Otis sends his love.

The feel of an 80s teen comedy with a wicked and fresh sense of humor.

At St. Sebastian's Quiet School for Disreputable Youth they teach teenage boys about character. Once there, you will not leave until you are an adult. Isaac has different plans.

Filmmaking has many venues. Chief among those is not Hollywood as far less than 1% of films made every year come out of or are even associated with Hollywood. Even national cinemas like Bollywood don't make up a majority of films made every year. It is the independent filmmakers at the grassroots level making films at their own expense making the majority of films, and of course among those are film school and college students making films for their classes, or in this case as a college thesis.

There is an 80s teen comedy feel to Trouble. But that's where it parts ways and goes off into its own direction being set in a school for wayward teenage boys. If discipline and abasement were not enough in the daily curriculum, bullying by one's fellow students is served up for lunch and dinner. Not an enviable situation for anyone and one which sets up a plot for our protagonist Isaac to get out of.

A different story combined with a shrewd character in Isaac make for a fun and funny experience. Dark it is in places, but certainly not uncomfortable as Danny Witkin handles black comedy with deftness and his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

Bennett Kirschner and Max Carpenter deliver in their performances. I don't know their backgrounds and experience, but they certainly handled their roles in Trouble well, being awkward in uncomfortable situations when need be and on key when need be. They deliver and make this film a treat.

Timothy J. Cox is expectedly on top of things.. err.. no, really.. no pun intended. His haughty carriage and disavowing expression sets the atmosphere for the other actors in which to work. He's not just a character but a necessary ingredient in the backdrop of the film and paints it splendidly.

There is a continuity error that stands out to me, but I shall not mention it because if you don't catch it.. who cares? It's just a note to the director that it is noticeable.

Trouble is a film that brings back the fun of a teen comedy and twists it into its own character (okay.. pun intended that time).

My Rating: 4 Fingers

Get into Trouble on Vimeo.. err.. I mean watch the film.

Check out Timothy J. Cox on his WebsiteFacebook or Twitter page.

Check out Danny Witkin on his Facebook or Twitter page.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Continuance Pictures Wants to Make Your Horror Movie

Continuance Pictures, producers of the upcoming horror film ISOLATION, have announced a new film initiative - that could help budding filmmakers get their film off the ground! 

The 'CONTINUE' initiative has been inspired and encouraged by horror maestro Jason Blum. Continuance's Tristan Barr and David Gim were speaking to Blum (“Halloween”, “The Purge”) at the recent Busan Film Market where he inspired the prolific producing unit to get a film fund going.

“Jason gave us incredible advice on shooting with low budgets and testing contents with short films”, says Barr, co-founder of the company.

The chat led to a new film initiative, in which budding filmmakers will have the chance to produce their own short with feature film or TV series potential. At the same time, the company has also announced a new horror movie, which Barr will helm.

Through their new initiative, Continuance Pictures will foster the untapped creativity of new writers, directors and producers by assisting them in the development and production of a film through a short film initiative.

“The initiative is a pragmatic approach to filmmaking in the digital age”, says Barr, whose film ‘’Watch the Sunset’’ was one of the most celebrated Australian films of 2017. ‘’The initiative will connect emerging talent to the film industry and other creatives through investment and opportunity.’’

Continuance Pictures is a global company, with connections in Asia and Australia - they are a partner of former CAA and Sierra Infinity fixture Ina Petersen, who last year launched Inner Voice Artists, a Los Angeles-based international management and production company, and are currently working with Korean partners on “Isolation”, a horror story which Barr will also write and direct.

“Isolation” tells of the lone survivor of a plane crash who encounter a demon being while lost in the wilderness.

Continuance Pictures launches the “Continue” short film initiative this month, offering emerging talent the opportunity to prove themselves on the world stage. With an aim to inspire innovation and harness the potential of the current media landscape, the new studio will foster a creative culture in which bold choices are rewarded.

“As a filmmaker, there is nothing worse than receiving a “rejection letter” and not understanding why. Through this process the team at Continuance Pictures we are attempting to provide feedback to applicants to build working relationships and ongoing opportunities for the future.”

The short film initiative assists in the creation of acclaimed short films and their submission to film festivals around the world. These short films can then be used as a proof of concept, convincing larger studios and investors of the potential of related feature-length films, television series and franchises.

Adds Barr, “As I have learnt with Watch the Sunset, momentum is such an integral part of the process of surviving in this business. We will be capitalizing on festival screenings with meetings in the marketplace with the already developed feature script of the project.”

‘’Watch the Sunset’’ was an 83 minute, one-shot, low-budget feature film that Barr wrote and directed and was highly-regarded at festivals and was named one of the top 5 films of the year by local critics. Barr says “Creating low budget short films empowers creatives by giving them creative control and the chance to prove themselves on the world stage.”

Continuance Pictures plans to support local and international creators through their short film production initiative. The purpose of the ‘Continue’ Short Film Initiative is to create acclaimed short films that can be used as a proof of concept for feature-length productions and franchises.

The initiative allows larger studios to grasp the potential of a project and the creators. Writers, directors and producers can submit their projects via the Continuance Pictures website.

“Continuance Pictures are strong supporters of diversity in the media, and this is reflected in our selection process,” explains Gim. Each submission is reviewed and judged based on a range of criteria, including diversity, creativity, originality, and budget considerations.

Continuance Pictures are looking to offer qualified, high-concept proposals up to $10,000 to spend on the production’s budget. Writers, directors and producers who have bold and innovative ideas are invited to submit their scripts to the Continue Short Film Initiative via the Continuance Pictures website before 5 pm AEDT on the 1st of February 2019.

Go to their website here to submit.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Movie Review: Doll It Up (2018)

Doll It Up (2018) - USA - Comedy - NR (PG13)
Independent Short Subject - 8 mins
Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts
Directed & Written by Yalan Hu
Starring Timothy J. Cox, Devin Craig, Wayne DeBary, Jeff Mandel, Natalie Doll, Dorri Doll

A rollicking comedy with a truly 'inflated' sense of humor helmed by the wonderful comedic talent of Timothy J. Cox.

Gunther has a problem.. he's a man. To complicate this problem, his wife is a doll, literally. When his interest for a new doll gets a rise out of him (shaddup) can he just cast aside his old doll?

Timothy J. Cox is no stranger to the indie film scene. He's been in about every film ever made (that might be just a wee bit of an embellishment on my part). From his masterful performance in Matthew Mahler's To Be Alone, and with no dialogue mind you, to performances in Here Lies Joe (not me), Dark Romance and an appearance on the TV show Bull his capabilities as a serious actor are well accomplished.

On the flipside, he is just as talented when it comes to doing comedy and it's always a pleasure to see him doing comedy. Especially so when he has the opportunity to chew the scenery, and in Doll It Up he has scenery for breakfast. I had to do screencaps on my second viewing because I was laughing too hard to concentrate on anything else.

Doll It Up is Yalan Hu's directorial debut; according to IMDb (please correct me if I'm wrong). She has a strong sense of composition, putting the scene elements right where she wants them and keeping the viewer attuned. Her story structure is good in this as, without an introduction to this strange allegory, we get it. And of course her sense of humor is overboard.

Doll It Up certainly has a point. But its one weakness is the comedy overshadows that point. I give Hu extra credit for the final scene in which she creatively re-emphasizes the point. I find myself at 3 Fingers plus on a rating, but I'm going to give it a little nudge for Hu providing me with enough ammo to pick on Tim on social media for a good month at least. ;)

My Rating: 4 Fingers; that's 8/10 for you IMDb weirdos.

You can find Yalan Hu on Facebook.

Timothy J. Cox has his website and you can find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Movie Review: The 6th Friend (2016)

The 6th Friend (2016) - USA - Horror Thriller - NR (R-LV)
Directed by Letia Miller
Written by Jamie Bernadette
Screenplay by Jamie Bernadette and Letia Clouston
Starring Jamie Bernadette, Chantelle Albers, Dominique Swain, Monique Rosario, Tania Nolan, Jessica Morris, David Villada, Tina Cole, Matt Clouston, Benjamin Adamson

Perhaps the most successful marriage of a psychological thriller and slasher flick with more than a few tricks up its sleeve to boot.

Six women get together for what promises to be a vexatious gathering at an isolated cabin in the woods as they not only carry with them the memory of a tragic night 5 years past, but that very memory may have a score to settle.

Psychological thrillers and slasher flicks many times have intersecting elements. Successfully marrying these two sub-genres would seem to be a given, and yet when attempts have been made the end result is more decidedly one or the other. The 6th Friend breaks that mold.

The standard mold of a slasher flick is the flashback to a previous incident and then bring that fully into the present so at the outset we understand the threat. The 6th Friend takes a different trek by building the past concurrent with the present, not only keeping the viewer guessing as to the exact nature of what had happened but upping the tension by keeping a certain element of the unknown always present as the story unfolds.

Nothing is delivered up front in the story but rather uses the characters and their interactions with each other to evolve it. This has the benefit of making the characters feel real and developing a harmony within the story.

A fluid screenplay moves things along at a natural pace. At the outset it is a slow burn to build the story, then fuel is thrown on the fire as the story takes off on its own. Dynamic direction keeps things moving where even in moments when things are perceivably slow it does not allow the viewer to linger idly.

Playing to the tension is a feeling of not knowing what is and what is not real. As a bonus an element of media consciousness plays out in the story, and how you want to interpret that is up to you.

I do feel that this film will strike a chord better with women than with men. Without divulging anything, certain elements men are just not going to get in general. It's difficult to feel terror when what causes that terror does not specifically apply to you.

In the end result The 6th Friend is ultimately a successful horror thriller; keeping the viewer guessing while scaring them at the same time, with a little something extra that may leave them wondering just how real is real.

My Rating: 4 Fingers; that's an 8/10 for IMDbers.

Find out more about The 6th Friend on the film's Facebook and Twitter pages.