DVD Short Movie Review: Diarchia (Diarchy) (2010)

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The European Film Academy (EFA) and the Locarno International Film Festival nominated the Locarno Short Film Nominee, Diarchia (Diarchy) (2010) by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino for the European Film Awards in 2010.

Giano (Riccardo Scamarcio) and Luc (Louis Garrel) are traveling through the woods when a storm breaks out, which forces them to take shelter in Luc’s villa. Gradually and insidiously, a competition emerges between them, with terrible consequences.

Made in Italy, the film’s EFA 2010 nomination was selected by the festival’s international jury, comprising directors Eric Khoo (Singapore), Lionel Baier (Switzerland) and Josh Safdie (USA), actress Golshifteh Farahani (Iran) and actor Melvil Poupaud (France).

The short film initiative is organized by the European Film Academy in co-operation with 15 film festivals throughout Europe. At each of these festivals, an independent jury presents one of the European short films in competition with a nomination in the short film category of the European Film Awards.

When the annual cycle is completed, the nominees will be presented to the over 2,800 members of the European Film Academy and it is they who will choose the overall winner: the European Film Academy Short Film 2013 which will be presented at the 26th European Film Awards Ceremony on 7 December in Berlin.

Watch the trailer for Diarchia here.

20 mins. In Italian.

Dream Seekers Productions Movie Review: Little Reaper (2013)

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Dream Seekers Productions’ latest short film, Little Reaper (2013), is a quirky comedy/horror about how even the Grim Reaper cannot control his teenage daughter. Instead of being interested in the family business, Little Reaper (Athena Baumeister) spends her time chatting with friends, text messaging about boys, and doing all normal things you’d expect of a teenage girl. Her father, the Grim Reaper (John Paul Ouvrier), has had enough of her passive ways and has decided to watch soap operas for a day while leaving his duties to the Little Reaper. Papa Reaper gives her careful instructions and a pager that warms her when someone has kicked the bucket.

Naturally, Little Reaper begins to slack at her work and instead of taking people’s souls to the after-life, she engages in pubescent chit-chat with her gal-pals. Deciding to focus her attentions on boys and finding new, cooler friends, it all seems innocent enough. However, there are dire consequences when there is no one to take people’s souls to the beyond. To say that the Grim Reaper is going to have a mess to clean up, is an understatement.

The short film was written and directed by Peter Dukes, who is building a nice repertoire under his belt. The Little Reaper is another installment that introduces new and engaging characters to his long list of unique horror characters. If you have a couple of hours, I recommend sitting down and watching each of Dream Seekers’ short films. You won’t be disappointed.

11 mins.

Dream Seekers Productions Movie Reviews: The Scarecrow & the Princess, The Beast, A Goblin’s Tale

obj106geo132shd8pg1p29-300x219We keep our promises here at Picturenose – following on from our feature on Dream Seekers Productions, we felt that it was only right for our latest recruit, Tom Donley, to let you know his thoughts on a selection of the company’s short movies. So, enjoy, and links are provided to each film – don’t say we don’t look after you.

The Scarecrow & the Princess (2009)

A Hallowe’en rebuttal to ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas or How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), The Scarecrow & the Princess is a visual poem describing a scarecrow’s attempt at establishing a relationship with children as they trick-or-treat every year.  The scarecrow appears to be nothing more than an inanimate hanging object in the yard as it realizes it only has one day a year to complete its task of finding a friend.  As another Halloween is winding down, the scarecrow briefly befriends a small girl dressed as a princess (Cameron Protzman).  During this short period of friendship, outside forces interrupt the two’s moment of companionship.  The princess is upset and leaves the scarecrow.  At which point, the film becomes a little more devious.

Written, directed, and produced by Peter Dukes of Dream Seekers Productions, this live action short story does a great job at showing the different emotions and shadows on the face of the scarecrow.  It gave the scarecrow personality and furthered the dramatic ending.  This was a great little short film that should be watched every year as you wait between doorbells from trick-or-treaters.

8 mins.

The Beast (2012)

‘I smell your fear.’

So says the werewolf-afflicted son (Alexander Le Bas) as the tension is built and clues are presented that this scenario will not end well.  The short film begins as a father (Bill Oberst, Jr.), his son (Le Bas), and friend Douglas (Peter Le Bas) all stand in a field debating their next action.  The son stands with visible scarring on his body while Douglas fidgets with noticeable nervousness.  The father has a cautious, yet passive attitude for his son’s current condition.  Without giving away any details, I’ll state that the dialogue is to the point, allowing the tension to build, leading the father to make the ultimate decision involving his son.

This short film was again written, directed, and produced by Dukes, and he has provided an interesting twist in the horror film genre.  Again, I won’t give away any details, but we’ve seen the same underlying theme in recent zombie movies and TV shows, pertaining to the possessed human condition. Overall, it was quite an enjoyable short film that any horror film lover would appreciate.

Interestingly, Oberst, Jr., in the role of the father, has probably enjoyed more screen-time than most actors in Hollywood.  He was used in the Facebook App, Take This Lollipop, being featured as a demented serial killer that tracks and stalks his next victim based on your Facebook account.  You sign up for the App and Facebook posts a video of a creepy Oberst, Jr. pursuing you as his next victim.  In, The Beast, Oberst, Jr. proves he has a real screen presence and is capable of capturing his audience’s attention. Again, this is a great live-action short.

12 mins.

A Goblin’s Tale (2011)

A Goblin’s Tale feels aesthetically like a throwback to the horror films you grew up with as a child.  The premise begins with a young woman emerging herself into a fantasy book she has retained from her childhood. The young woman, Carol Anne (Tiffany Giardina), begins reading a story including a rat yielding a sword, talking frogs, and goblins.  Not too far into the story, Carol Anne falls asleep. As Carol Anne is startled by a strange voice, she awakes to find a character, Vlix (Laura Kearsey) from her book now in the same room as herself.  Their interaction begins innocently and playfully.  However, as the story continues, their interaction becomes further mature and much more dark.  Once the conversation begins to scare Carol Anne, she wants to stop the story and awake from this nightmare.  However, Vlix has it’s own story to tell.  The ending will not be ruined, as it is superbly concluded.

To put this story into further perspective, it’s like listening to a song that has a cheerful, simple melody, but when you listen to the lyrics you realize it’s much darker intent.  In A Goblin’s Tale, other fairy tales are referenced by Vlix and used to further the undertones of the story.

Dukes again does a great job with pacing throughout the film, using shadows and sound to great effect.  Most people will be distracted by the Goblin’s makeup.  However, it is no more distracting than, say, David Bowie’s leotard-wrapped package in Labyrinth (1986).  My favorite live-action short film by Dream Seekers Productions thus far.

12 mins.

Cinema Feature: Dream Seekers Productions

obj106geo132shd8pg1p29Short and very sweet

I have said it before, and I will say it again – it really is a lot of fun putting Picturenose together with Col. One thing that makes it all the more enjoyable is the input that we are increasingly receiving from our readers, so many thanks again to all of you who read our posts, leave comments, and make suggestions as to the direction we should take – and one such recent suggestion came from Peter Dukes, the man with the plan behind Dream Seekers Productions, which he formed with Aubrey Dukes and which, in their website’s own words  “aspires to return audiences to the roots of the film-going experience. To remind them how inspiring, thought-provoking and wonderful cinema can be”.

The team is the talent behind a number of very intriguing short movies (many of them in the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres), a selection of which is provided below, along with Peter’s own commentary, and which are just the kind of projects that we at Picturenose are only too happy to promote and support. Before I hand you over to Peter, take the time to check out his and Aubrey’s complete back-catalogue here and here, and why not check out their Facebook page as well, and their Twitter page, while you’re at it? And Picturenose will be providing reviews of a selection of the Duke’s films in the very near future, so keep it here. Over to you, Peter.

The Beast, starring Bill Oberst, Jr
This is the story of a father’s struggle to cope with his son’s affliction (the curse of the werewolf).  It was shot in one night for 700 bones, but we made it work.  It’s my ode to the classic horror films of yesteryear, and it recently won Best Horror Film at this year’s All Things Hollywood Film Festival.

A Goblin’s Tale, starring Radio Disney star Tiffany Giardina
This is the story of a goblin who comes to life from the pages of a storybook, forever changing the life of a young girl (the owner of the book).  This was my ode to the darker fantasy films of the 1980s.

The New World
A silent fantasy film about a fairy who yearns to leave her world behind in favour of ours, but what must she give up to do so?  I’m not a big-deal festival guy, but I did submit this to the Burbank International Film Festival in 2011 and it won best Sci-Fi film.

The story of a scientist held captive by a crazed soldier intent on teaching him one can’t outrun the sins of one’s past.  This was my version of the zombie film.

They Watch
The story of an ailing man who’s visited by an old acquaintance, stirring up long-buried secrets from the past.  Inspired, in part, by the old Twilight Zone series.

The Scarecrow & The Princess
This is a light-hearted horror film (OK for kids, for sure) about a scarecrow that has one night (Hallowe’en) to learn the meaning of friendship before being put back in his box for another year.

The Last Goodbye
The story of an elderly man who, with the help of a mysterious stranger, must learn to let go of all he holds dear in life, including his beloved wife.

Alone is the story of a young woman taking a pleasure drive through the mountains who comes upon an abandoned vehicle, the consequences of which will forever change her life.

The story of two hikers lost in the wild who must come to terms with their grim situation.  It’s a film that asks, what would you do if asked to stare into the very face of death?

DVD Movie Review: Le ballon rouge (The Red Balloon) (1956)

img_current_613_fg1The balloon goes up

‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’ L.P. Hartley’s observation is one of the most over- and ill-used in literature. Your reviewer hopes this critique of Albert Lamorisse’s 1956 fantasy featurette will be an exception.

The little Parisian boy (Pascal Lamorisse, the director’s son) and his gambol through a postwar monochrome Paris of bomb sites, poverty and austerity in pursuit of a toy red balloon with apparently a whimsical mind of its own, is one of the defining images of cinema; certainly of French and European cinema. It is perhaps the first great picture about childhood; perhaps the finest kids’ movie ever made; selling the pitch these days is almost beyond conception; even in the 1960s in a cinematically-creative country like France it must have been a trial; yet the result, which won Lamorisse a Palme d’Or for best short at Cannes in 1956 is a tour-de-force of atmosphere and innocence, an essay of just what the medium of cinema is capable; how many readers of this site, one wonders, fell in love with the movies thanks to The Red Balloon?

The DVD cover of this masterpiece shows the boy wagging an admonitory finger at his colourful, capricious ami. This embodies the (very childlike) anthropomorphism at the movie’s centre; we know balloons do not have feelings or memories, but we do. It is to Lamorisse that this anthropomorphism never spills over into schmaltz or sentiment; no mean feat.

The boy is not exactly raggedy, but neither is he rich; doubtless a child of inky fingers, a cartoon urchin of many grazes and clipped ears, he kicks balls against walls, dodges flics, scampers among derelict masonry (all that’s missing is a fat cleric or orotund nun or bushy-bearded grandee taking a prtfall; But it is neither he nor the balloon that lives longest in the memory; it is Paris, and the boundless freedoms that the balloon’s careering flight leads him through and/or toward, forever just out of reach and refusing to be tethered; not for nothing does Lamorisse make the balloon’s redness particularly vivid and the streets particularly grimy.

The street furniture looks eerily authentic because it’s real; only the splendid old open-platform, olive-green-and-cream Renault bus which boy and balloon catch is a restored museum-piece.

These are touches, along with many others, which gives the film a true soul of Francophile nostalgia in a way that, say, Amélie – inhabiting the same pre-Pompidou Paris – signally lacks. The charm is enhanced for us, at a distance, that this is a France we know little of; not the France of cars like the DS, of fast electric trains and the most modern of manners, but something altogether older, more…well, childlike. Both movies try and capture that Parisianiana that is as evanescent as the smell of the métro, but only Lamorisse truly succeeds. The French, of course, are past masters at this, as Proust and his madeleines attest. There are corny moments (given the above details, how could there not be?) such as when the red balloon is halted mid-flight by a peacock-blue balloon, held by, yes, a little girl, towards whom the boy turns and smiles bashfully.

Yes, of course it’s permissible; it will nonetheless confirm the prejudices of many about this film. Nonetheless, all movie buffs, no matter their degree of cynicism, should see The Red Balloon at least once, just to remind them what’s possible for a man with a movie camera. Enjoy it here.

35 mins. In French.

Short Movie Review & News: Talleres Clandestinos (2010)

A stitch up

The European Film Academy (EFA) and the Curtas Vila do Conde International Short Film Festival nominated Talleres Clandestinos (2010), by Catalina Molina, as the Vila do Conde Short Film Nominee in 2010.

The film, which highlights the intolerable conditions in which many still work in textile sweatshops, is an Austrian/Argentinian production and tells the story of Juana (Vanessa Salgueiro), a young Bolivian woman, who goes to Argentina to work as a seamstress. But Juana quickly realises that she is being exploited in order to produce textiles for a luxury brand. Her employer’s demands become ever more absurd, and working conditions become unbearable. When her son becomes ill, Juana starts making plans to return home, but her employer has other plans…

At the time of the film’s release, it came to light that one Juliana Awada, who had a friendly relationship with Buenos Aires’ Mayor Mauricio Macri, was alleged to be the owner of several textile sweatshops.

Local paper La Alameda stated that the sewatshops were “little better than slave labour” and that they violated immigration laws. In fact, the story dates back to October 2006, when La Alameda testified to the Federal Court and the Labour Ministry about their findings concerning undocumented immigrants being brutally exploited, badly paid and even trafficked for labour exploitation.

The conditions portrayed in Molina’s film appear to have more than a little basis in truth, with undercover videos of conditions in a workshop in Valentin Virasoro revealing no ventilation and unbearable heat, with the ambient temperature reaching as high as 60 degrees celsius, no room made available in which workers can eat, and only one working toilet/washroom facility.

An eye-opener.

40 mins. In Spanish.