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SNOW WHITE Podcast – Films that changed Cinema

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Watch Highlights & Videos from the May 2017 EUROPEAN FILM FESTIVAL

AUDIENCE FESTIVAL AWARDS

Best Film: CARGO

Best Performances: STATE OF EMERGENCY

Best Cinematography: SEEDS

Best Music: The music from EAT ME!

WATCH Videos from each short that played at the festival:

STATE OF EMERGENCY MOTHERF***ER!, 5min, Belgium, Political/Satire
WATCH Audience FEEDBACK
festival posterEAT ME!, 20min, Bulgaria, Drama/Musical
WATCH Audience FEEDBACK
festival posterFAREWELL, 15min, Switzerland, Comedy
WATCH Audience FEEDBACK
festival posterSEEDS, 12min, UK, Thriller/Sci-Fi
WATCH Audience FEEDBACK
festival posterfestival posterTHE ARK, 2min, France, Animation/Experimental
WATCH Audience FEEDBACK
festival posterCARGO, 25min, Netherlands, Documentary/Romance
WATCH Audience FEEDBACK

The EUROPEAN MAY 2017 FEEDBACK Film Festival gave our audiences simply the best of short movies from Europe.

The theme of the festival was “FOOD”.

Every film showcased has a key scene where food was involved.

This was our first official lineup of strickly films from Europe. It was an excellent curated showcase of movies in different genres and budgets from six different countries in Europe.

Long ago in late 2016 we decided to do a double festival night in May where we had a lineup of the best of European shorts one night, and a lineup of the best of Canadian shorts (both held in Toronto) on the other night. We assumed that the Canadian shorts night would sell out quickly and then we would have to work on the other night to make sure it was a full crowd.

Well the opposite happened. People eagerly RSVP’d their seats to the European Festival right away and we sold out completely (including the standby tickets) three days before the festival. While we really had a hard time getting people to come to the Canadian festival despite it being filled with local films and filmmakers.

Why is this the case? I really have no idea. I can only come to my own conclusions on the matter. My biggest assumption is that European shorts have a great reputation. They always do well at the biggest festivals and always pick up the Oscars for Best Shorts (live action, documentary, animation) every year. It is true that many countries in Europe do have a lot of grants and government incentives happening for short filmmakers, whereas in Canada that is nonexistent.

Plus, there many great film schools in Europe and the United States, which really “school” those new filmmakers into greatness. Whereas, I have to admit this, many Canadian film schools are not so good as they only teach wannabe filmmakers and not the other necessary film crew specialties like Cinematography, Editing, and Production Design.

So people in Toronto wanted to attend the European shorts twice as much as they wanted to attend shorts being showcased from their own country.

See you at the festivals.

– Matthew Toffolo

Read Reviews from the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Festival in September 2016

Best of Reviews of Kierston Drier: https://festivalreviews.org/tag/kierston-drier/

Movie Review: DARKNESS FALLS (2016)

Melissa suffers from amnesia. When she slowly regains her memory, the world isn’t what it supposed to be. Darkness Falls is the winner of best Sci-Fi Picture award at OutlantaCon Short Film Festival 2016 and nominated for best Sci-Fi picture at SCI-ON! Film Festival 2016. Darkness Falls is also the winner of Best Cinematography at Roswell Film Festival 2016.

Movie Review: 20:15 (2016)

20:15 is a drama-mystery, sci-fi thriller in which we follow the lives of a mysterious man and a loving couple. Their lives will forever be changed once their two worlds collide.

Movie Review: THE LAST JOURNEY OF THE ENIGMATIC PAUL WR (2016)

The red moon threatens our existence on earth. Our only hope is the enigmatic Paul WR, the most talented astronaut of its generation. But few hours before the start of the great mission, Paul disappears.

Movie Review: UNCANNY VALLEY (2016)

In the slums of the future, VR junkies satisfy their violent impulses in online entertainment. An expert player discovers that the line between games and reality is starting to fade away.

Movie Review: RED ROVER (2016)

Two teenagers from a remote religious community travel to town in search of shelter after being told by their Evangelical parents that an asteroid will soon destroy the earth.

Movie Review: A SHADOW OF DARA (2016)

A leader of a rebellion risks everything to find a powerful commander of an alien world who’s been captured by enemies and put into a fabricated reality for the extraction of valuable information.

TV CONTESTSUBMIT your TV PILOT or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
FILM CONTESTSUBMIT your SHORT Film
Get it showcased at the FEEDBACK Festival
writing CONTEST1st CHAPTER or FULL NOVEL CONTEST
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SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

 

Read Best of TIFF Movie Reviews: September 15th

Best of Toronto International Film Festival Reviews: https://festivalreviews.org/category/tiff-2016-movie-reviews/

TIFF 2016 Movie Review: WULU (France/Senegal 2016) ***

Malian director Daouda Coulibaly’s debut is a no-nonsense tense crime drama/political thriller that traces the rise and fall of a low-level transit worker turned drug trafficker.

TIFF 2016 Movie Review: LA LA LAND (USA 2016) ****

LA LA LAND marks the return of the Hollywood musical but done here with a fresh take. The film tells of the conflict between following ones dreams against sacrificing them up for love.

TIFF 2016 Movie Review: DEEPWATER HORIZON (USA 2016)

Based on the true-life worst U.S. oil disaster in history, DEEPWATER HORIZON is nothing more than a super expensive a re-enactment of the disaster using special effects with a cliched story line framed by testimonies of the survivors at a hearing.

TIFF 2016 Movie Review: (re) ASSIGNMENT (USA/Canada/France 2016) ***

From Walter Hill, the director of classics like 48 HOURS, THE LONG RIDERS and THE WARRIORS, (re) ASSIGNMENT is a revenge action thriller with a difference. Michelle Rodriguez plays a lowlife killer put through full male-to-female gender reassignment surgery by a score-settling surgeon (Sigourney Weaver).

TIFF 2016 Movie Review: RAW (France/Belgium 2016) ***

As a first time director of a horror feature, Julia Ducournau gets her facts straight. At the introduction of RAW at TIFF Midnight Madness, she told a full house that when she asked a fellow filmmaker about Toronto audiences, she had been told which she did repeat, to huge cheers, that Toronto has the best audience in the world.

 

 

Deadline September 15th

TV CONTESTSUBMIT your TV PILOT or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
FILM CONTESTSUBMIT your SHORT Film
Get it showcased at the FEEDBACK Festival
writing CONTEST1st CHAPTER or FULL NOVEL CONTEST
Get full feedback! Winners get their novel made into a video!
SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Deadline September 20th

short script CONTESTSHORT SCRIPT CONTEST
Submit your short film screenplay!
ACTORFREE TWITTER SHORT STORY CONTESTSubmit 140 character story. Get made into movie.

Deadline September 25th

writing CONTESTSHORT STORY CONTEST
Get full feedback! Winners get their short story made into a video!
ACTORVIDEO PITCH FESTIVALSubmit your own video pitch today.

Movie Review: MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969)

Posted review in tribute to Dustin Hoffman’s birthday today (August 8th).

MIDNIGHT COWBOY, 1969
Movie Reviews

Directed by John Schlesinger

Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, Ruth White, Jennifer Salt


Review by Robert Seoane


A naive young man from Texas named Joe Buck packs up and leaves for New York City to find fame and fortune as a hustler. Upon arrival, he begins a slow, downward spiral into the lowest depths of the city , struggling to survive in what becomes a desperate existence mired in hunger and humiliation. His life takes a slight turn upwards when he accepts Ratso Rizzo’s invitation to share a condemned building as living quarters. Ratso is a slimy con-artist who’s already conned Buck in a previous meeting, and is making a last ditch effort to reach out to another human being for the sake of simple companionship.

REVIEW:

Based on a book written by James Leo Herlihy, MIDNIGHT COWBOY is probably one of the most courageous films ever to have been made. Its look at the seedy underbelly of New York City life focused on themes and issues that, back in 1969, were considered so taboo that the film earned an X rating, a first for a major Hollywood studio theatrical release. MIDNIGHT COWBOY was shocking in its honesty and frankness through its depiction of its characters’ harrowing experiences. Back in 1969, it took courage to make such a daring and candid motion picture, specifically because everyone was unsure of what public reaction would be upon its release. Ultimately, although not a major box-ofice success, it was critically acclaimed and won a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar.

Director John Schlesinger follows a naÔve, sexually ambiguous young man named Joe Buck (played impeccably by Jon Voight in his first major role) as he hops onto a Greyhound bus in Texas headed for New York City. On the bus, Schlesinger subtly introduces us to Joe through flashbacks of his past and his forced conversations with his fellow passengers, who seem to become more distant and unfriendly as the bus approaches its destination. These flashbacks continue throughout the film, giving us split-second glimpses into his traumatic childhood and subliminally offering us a better understanding into Buck’s psyche. MIDNIGHT COWBOY’s quick editing style pre-dated MTV by a dozen years and, through cross-cutting, makes implications of rape and abuse in his not too distant past. Little details of his life are hinted at in these flashbacks without explanation, left for the audience to interpret its dizzying juxtaposition of images.

His chance encounter with a slimy con artist named Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman in a heartbreaking performance) is his ironic salvation from loneliness. Together, they bond out of desperation, and stay close to each other simply because they have no one else. Their uneasy union in time turns into a poignant friendship and that, in essence, is the true heart of the film.

MIDNIGHT COWBOY is groundbreaking on many other levels. Although the use of song to narrate portions of a film had been done before, Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talking” perfectly echoed Joe Buck’s despair. Ironically enough, the producers were waiting for Bob Dylan to compose a song for the movie. That song was “Lay Lady Lay”, and was finished too late for inclusion in the film. No matter. Although “Lay, Lady Lay” is indeed a rock classic, “Everybody’s Talking” worked better in the film, specifically because of its bouncy melody served as a direct contrast with its sad lyrics.

Jon Voight almost didn’t get the part that made his career. Originally, the producers had decided on Michael Sarrazin, but when they called the actor’s agent to offer him the role, Sarrazin’s agent wanted to re-negotiate the actor’s fee despite the fact that it had been already agreed upon. It made the producers so angry that they literally hung up on him and subsequently offered the part of Joe Buck to Voight.

Dustin Hoffman’s decision to play Ratso Rizzo was both risky and brilliant. He had already achieved superstardom with THE GRADUATE just the year before, so for his second film, Hoffman purposely went in a completely different direction. He decided not play it safe and played a character totally unlike his last. Risky at first in the sense that the audience might reject such a different character, it ultimately cemented his reputation early on as one of the most brilliant and versatile actors in Hollywood. Hoffman’s Ratso Rizzo is a down on his luck slimeball. He’s the kind that, if you would see him on the street you’d probably cross to the other side just to avoid him. But Hoffman manages to find Ratso’s humanity, inspiring compassion in us as we witness this poor, wretched character slowly disintegrating in front of both our and Joe Buck’s eyes. Hoffman didn’t win an Oscar for his performance (although both he and Voight were nominated), but Ratso Rizzo is arguably one of the most memorable, tragic characters in film history.

The ending of the film is purposefully similar to the beginning, but Joe Buck is now a changed individual, brought on by the hard experiences he’s suffered and the sins he’s been forced to commit. There’s a glimpse of redemption, yet the film remains heartbreaking, leaving us with a feeling of lost friendship between two lost souls that would have otherwise never met.

Schlesinger had tremendous trouble making the film. His seasoned Hollywood film crew, not used to modern movie themes, were convinced that they were making a “dirty” movie and subsequently made work very difficult for him. His triumph in completing the movie his way was a gift to cinema. MIDNIGHT COWBOY is a milestone in film. Hundreds of movies have followed over the decades that have mimicked its style and content, and many of those films have been successful and well-regarded, yet nothing has ever come close to its power and performance.

Movie Review: KING KONG (1933)

Posted review in tribute to the anniversary of Fay Wray’s death today (August 8th)

KING KONG 1933,    MOVIE POSTERKING KONG 1933
Movie Reviews

Director: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
Starring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher, Sam Hardy, Noble Johnson, Steve Clemente, James Flavin
Review by Kevin Johnson


An eccentric director, a beautiful actress, and a hearty ship of brave crew members find and capture a huge beast on a mysterious island, who escapes and runs amuck in New York.

REVIEW:

Given the opportunity here to write my first review, I pondered for quite a while on the direction I wanted to start. A good friend of mine had always prodded me to discuss my favorite monster movies; embarrassingly, I have yet to see any. So why not begin this venture by viewing the classic monster-horror films of days past? Sure, the special effects back in the years not dated 2000 and before may be obviously superficial, but one can’t fault that beyond the anachronistic movie magic of the time.

One can’t help but begin with the American staple monster film King Kong. The classic “man vs. beast” story has been retold, re-visioned, and re-watched in so many variations that even children only familiar with “Donkey Kong” can divulge the plotline. The most notable version, Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake, pushes the boundaries of special effects and computerized graphics (and arguably, the audiences patience) in a three-hour epic. In similar fashion, 1933’s King Kong did the same for 1933 sensibilities; redefining how visually effective films could be. Also, saving RKO Pictures from bankruptcy ain’t half bad, either.

1933 was a tough time to produce a high-budget film like this; a massive depression sweeping the nation doesn’t guarantee a strong box office performance; and while entertainment does tend to flourish in recessions, there’s a line that even the most fervent escapists won’t cross when deciding between “movies” and “eating.” It was a risk to be sure; and yet, producers Cooper, Schoedsack, and David O. Selznick decided to put a huge stake into the film anyway. It was a successful gamble; it garnered 90,000 its opening weekend, the biggest opening ever at the time.

The violence was not to be ignored back then, however; re-releases of the film were forced to cut such scenes, as well as the scantily visions of a number of Fay Wray’s scenes; for example, a curious Kong undresses her while curiously scanning her body. I supposed in 1933, this whipped the male audience into a frenzy; but by 1934, the Hayes Code was in full force, and editors were obliged to turn that kind of thing down. I have to agree here, if only because the scene struck me odd; why wouldn’t Kong strip only some of the clothes and not all of them? He’s a giant beast; why would he care? T’was better cutting the scene entirely.Watching King Kong now, I can’t help but be hugely impressed by not only the use of animatronics, stop-motion animation, and clever projection/camera tricks (all credited to special effect wizard Willis O’Brien and cinematographers Edward Linden, J.O. Taylor, and Vernon Walker), but violent and risqué imagery throughout. From the shoot-out with the stegosaurus and the brutal eating of a shipmate by the undersea creature, to the two violent Kong battles with various dinosaurs, even I cringed and viscerally reacted when the T-Rex muzzle was snapped apart, or a lengthy dino-creature is slammed down hard against the ground, like a whip.

Still, I loved this film. It’s exciting and logically sound; even the director, who in the remake is obsessed to the point of crazy, is a lot more subdued and sane here. He still sports his illusions of grandeur, but his risks are taken only at the logical points. In other words, he runs and fights when he has to, and gets greedy only when they crew is in a relatively safe position. The acting is the perfect over-dramatic style that the 1930s and 1940s were known for, and, let’s be honest here; Wray’s scream is just as iconic as Leigh’s scream in Psycho.

King Kong is a thrill a minute; from the introduction of the Kong tribe to the chaotic chase in New York, King Kong keeps its exhilarating pace throughout. A powerful polemic on the depiction of “civilization” and the tendency to view nature and other cultures with a incredulous, haughty eye, Kong seeks to humble us, making it crystal clear of the human’s place against the overwhelming odds of what nature can throw at us. An excellent film that still holds up today.

Today’s Twitter Posts: Friday February 26 2016

Best of Twitter Today: Film Notes. New Poetry. Screenplays and Films.