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SF IndieFest 2015: Jakob Lass’ “Love Steaks”

love-steaksLove Steaks tells the story of two young resort employees; Clemens, the newest employee who works in the spa section of the resort (and who strongly resembles Joaquin Phoenix, both in terms of his looks and his solid acting chops), and Lara, an alcoholic line cook who wastes little time in exploring and befriending the rookie. Read More…

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SF IndieFest 2015: Britni West’s “Tired Moonlight”

TM STILL PAUL ICE CREAMAs is evident with this 76 minute love poem to “the treasure state”, writer, director, editor, and producer (busy girl) Britni West has a great fondness for Montana. With simple plotting, a minimal amount of dialogue, and lots of distinguishable unique visuals, Tired Moonlight is a most intriguing fly-on-the-wall look at modern day middle America. Read More…

Coming to IndieFest 2014: “Teenage”, “The Wait” and “Drift”

Teenage

teenage_2two-stars1Using only archival footage, narration, and a few scattered quotes, director Matt Wolf‘s adaptation of famed journalist Jon Savage‘s book, Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture could have benefitted from clueing the viewer in on its objective from the beginning, or at the very least adding to its singular title a few extra words so as not to mislead someone (me) into thinking this would be about teens in general, not just those of a specific region and time.

Though the last two minutes of this film would have you believing otherwise, this is no more than a simple reflective look at England’s, the United States’ and Germany’s teens from the early 20th Century to the end of WWII – not a grandiose encompassing mission statement on teens the world over. Sure, there are moments of fascination to be had, which gives the film its charm, but no matter how many times the differences and similarities of these three cultures throughout this specific timeline are revealed, in the end I was left with more of an underwhelming feeling rather than that of its no doubt desired intention to wow. Read More…

IndieFest 2014: Opening Night Film – Ari Folman’s “The Congress”

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five-starsLofty. Ambitious. Harrowing. Ari Folman‘s follow-up to his groundbreaking documentary Waltz with Bashir embodies these three adjectives in ways few others can.

To even hint at what lies in store for you, narratively speaking, would do a disservice to the entire experience of watching Robin Wright play a bizarro version of herself. Even if I were to describe this film as The Matrix meets Who Framed Roger Rabbit meets Synecdoche, New York meets Pink Floyd’s The Wall I still wouldn’t have even come close to giving anything away. You can watch the trailer (after the jump) and think you’ll know what you’re in for, but trust me, you don’t.

Here’s what I will say, science fiction as equally visually astounding as they are cerebral don’t come around all that often, so when they do one shouldn’t walk, but rather run to the theatre as soon as humanly possible, unless of course you have a predisposed hatred for all things animated, regardless of how fitting its context within the film’s reality may be.

Showtimes and trailer after jump

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Coming Soon to IndieFest 2014: “How to be a Man”, “Aldo” and “Objects Attack!”

How to be a Man

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three-stars15BROMANCE ALERT! BROMANCE ALERT! This is a film that drowns you in full-on unrestrained masculinity at its stupidest. It’s also a film that will not be enjoyed by those unwilling to wade through the many vulgar bro-ish monologues of a self destructive comedian.

I don’t have to be slapped in the face a hundred times in order to gain a further appreciation for how much I hate being slapped in the face even once, nor do I have to sit through an entire film of fart jokes and locker room humor in order to have the irony of How to be a Man be lost on me. But I’m glad I did. And while I didn’t find every joke funny – unless I’m watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail or O Brother, Where Art Thou?, I hardly ever do – there were still more than enough to have me laughing more than I would most any other comedy.

If you find jokes about breast cancer, rape, hard drugs, and mom fucking offensive, even for irony’s sake, stay away from this film. Everyone else, enjoy. Read More…

Coming Soon to IndieFest 2014: “Asphalt Watches”, “I Hate Myself :)” & “GriGris””

I Hate Myself 🙂

I hate myselftwo-stars1Interested in watching a narcissistic filmmaker with serious low self-esteem issues document a yearlong relationship with her self-hating, dangerously insensitive and equally confused boyfriend? What if I told you there’s an uncomfortable explicit sex scene in where the daughter involved is pleading for her parents to watch? Oooooh, sounds provocative and daring, no?

Look, there’s a fine line between bravery and stupidity, and your pleasure or displeasure for this film will most likely depend on which side of the fence you feel this film falls on. I think my star rating is a clear indicator as to where I stand.

I have to admit, ‘provocative and daring’ are two thematic elements that are usually right up my alley, which is why I admire several works of known boundary pushing provocateurs such as Lars von Trier (Antichrist), Gaspar Noé (Irreversible), Larry Clark (Ken Park), Harmony Korine (Gummo) and Pier Paolo Pasolini  (Salò). As far as I’m concerned, that’s good company to be in, yet director and co-star Joanna Arnow is not quite there yet – even if she has little qualms about baring it all, both figuratively and literally, for the world to see. Read More…

SF IndieFest 2012: “Clown (Klovn)”, “Juko’s Time Machine” and “No Look Pass” – Reviews and Trailers

Clown (Klovn)

Belguim’s movie version of the country’s popular episodic show of the same name has little to offer other than its resemblance of an extended road trip version of Curb Your Enthusiasm, only this seems to be directed by an 11-year-old boy fixated on shocking potty humor and wanting to replicate the closing photo montage of The Hangover.

The movie is scene after scene of two unlikable lead characters displaying lewd punchlines.  Having unlikable characters isn’t always a turnoff, in fact, there are a lot of films that focus on the antagonist that I love, but these characters in particular, Frank and Casper, were too uninterestingly juvenile for me to ever be invested in.

Those able to block out all the Curb Your Enthusiasm similarities and are looking to see something featuring a lot of child molestation humor might have a good time with this movie.  What else can I say – it wasn’t for me.  The only reason I’m giving this film two stars instead of one is because I now know what a shnozzle is and are looking forward to giving my fellow Filmbalayans one the next time I see them. Read More…

SF IndieFest 2012: “Exley”, “Kill List”, and “Silver Tongues” Reviews and Trailers

Before I start, I just want to say that I love Indie Fest. No matter what movie you watch, good or bad, you are going to see something you have never seen before. To me, that’s the most important thing a film festival can bring to the table.

Exley

The main premise of the film is a man, Exley, trying to make a quick $1000 to catch a cross country flight and visit his dying mother.  He travels through a surreal and shady world of criminals, weirdos, and scum who are all more unusual than the last.  The one thing they all have in common is that they are so annoying they transcended the world of the film to actually annoy me, the viewer.  Any time my thought process when referring to an annoying movie character goes from “that would be so annoying” to “that is so annoying” to me the movie has made a critical error.  I suppose an experimental film could use this technique to make a point, and Exley does have a certain experimental tinge to it, but any movie that has a clear narrative should not have characters that require multiple alcohol beverages in order to tolerate.  It’s also hard to get sucked into a movie that’s so visually unpleasant that it makes you want to break the DVD into splinters and then use them to gauge your eyes out.  This is an all to common and unfortunate side effect of micro-budget filmmaking that I just can’t overlook.  Add to this mix that I didn’t care what happened to the main character one way or another, and you get a film less appetizing than a lukewarm Hot Pocket.  Exley has an interesting plot but comes up short on the execution and presentation. Read More…

SF IndieFest 2012: “Girl Walk/All Day”, “Girlfriend” and “Heaven and Earth and Joe Davis” Reviews and Trailers

Girl Walk All Day

Indiefest’s closing night film is a 71 minute dance video set to the  sounds of that mighty maestro of mash-up music, Girl Talk.  Mash-up music, for those who don’t already know, is another level of audio sampling in where the artist manipulates already existing music to form a new song entirely.  Usually rap lyrics are involved, but not always.  Think of it as an audio collage.

This particular collage, impressively shot on digital, features a talented group of dancers traversing across the city, transforming Manhattan into their own stage.  Hair salons, malls, ferry boats, museums, Yankee Stadium, bridges, bodegas, statues, subways, graveyards, parks, and much more are all turned into a dance playground.

So, what does one get out of seeing an hour-long improvisational mashed-up music video?  How about a sense of overwhelming joy and assurance in all that is good with humanity.  Yeah, I took it there.  Loved this movie so much I even found myself smiling and bobbing my head along to the featured Beatles songs.  For me, that’s a big deal, because I’m not a big fan of The Beatles.  Actually, I’m barely a little fan of them.  Come to think of it, I don’t like them at all, yet, I enjoyed them in the context of this movie – go figure. Read More…

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