Saturday, March 19, 2011

Egofest 2011: Part 1

If you missed the Friday night opening of Egofest, here is the rundown of the movies.

The Saving (MJ Slide & Rebecca Davis)

What happens when the dead influence the living in order to save lives?  In a film that touches on teen suicide, MJ Slide does a decent job conveying her message.  The one thing that could have made this film better would have been a longer runtime, as it covers such a deep topic.  Definately a filmmaker to keep an eye on.

Rating: 6/10

Archer (Erik Mauck)

When an elderly man has trouble moving on, he finds a friend in an unlikely place.  An all-around heart-warming and cute story, Archer is well shot and concise.  I kind of wish there was less reading from To Kill A Mockingbird and more character development, but perhaps that is part of the allure of the film.

Rating: 8/10

Clown Dad (Michael Lee Nirenberg)

A high school girl struggles with the fact that her dad is a clown, 24/7.  The first two minutes of this film were hilarious, and I was looking forward to more, as the concept is very interesting and original.  However, the film proceeded to drag on for 26 more minutes.  It opened with a quasi-musical style that was really well done, however that was not what followed with the remainder of the movie.

Rating: 3/10

Rediscover (D.A. Young)

In a dinner date, two people rediscover love.  The audio on this film was a bit wacky, and for film buffs, it was fairly predictable.  Some rough cuts and mediocre acting did nothing to improve the overall experience.  There was almost too much information given away in the first 45 seconds of the film, perhaps if it were more mysterious in the beginning, the 'twist' would have a bigger impact.

Rating: 2/10

Missing Elisabeth (Phil Seneker)

When a young boy loses his sister, the line between reality and imagination is blurred.  This film had absolutely fantastic cinematography.  Every shot looked amazing.  The story left a  little to be desired, but all in all a solid film.

Rating: 6/10

Cerise (John T. Trigonis)

When it comes to spelling bees, nobody seems to care about second place.  This film examines the life of a second-place spelling bee participant.  Great direction, well thought out script and a nice, tight film.  The highlight is probably the Wii boxing match, but every scene is enjoyable.

Rating: 9/10

SHC (Robb Thompson)

A skeptical artist and a super accurate psychic meet; sparks fly.  This may be the best short I've ever seen.  Everything is polished, even with the gritty feel, it's a polished grit.  The writing is superb.  The acting is spot-on.  And the editing is sublime.  This is the must-watch short of 2011.

Rating: 10/10

Way To Go, Christine! (Mark Thimijan)

When taking breaks at work conflict with the boss, only one can win.  This short is very real.  If you've had a stickler for a boss, you can relate to Christine.  This is one of those shorts where the story carries everything.  There was something weird about the aspect ratio/lens, but the story was so good that the rest didn't matter.

Rating: 8/10

Light (Lee Bishop)

Not really sure what to say about this film.  It was interesting because I wondered how high somebody would have to be to film the sun through their bedroom window.  It may be similar to how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop; the world may never know.

Rating: 1/10

Friday Night (Stephen Gurewitz)

At the tail end of an awkward date, a woman tries to escape her date's desperate, and drunken, advances.  This story was really well thought out.  I loved the awkwardness and the ending.  The sound and the camerawork wasn't quite as good as it could have been, but regardless an enjoyable film.

Rating: 7/10

A Musing (David Spies & Phil Seneker)

A struggling writer finds his muse in an unexpected location.  Witty, concise, terrific acting and expert cinematography make up A Musing.  A very engaging experience.  Make sure to check out this one!

Rating: 9/10

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Unknown (2011, Jaume Collet-Serra, PG-13)

Juame Collet-Serra (House of Wax, 2005) takes the helm of this action mystery dealing with mistaken identity. Collet-Serra shows growth from his directorial debut, as this is only his fourth feature-length project. Unknown is infinitely better than House of Wax, but it fails to be anything more than your stereotypical action flick.

Dr. Martin Harris, played by Liam Neeson (After.Life), is on a business trip in Germany when a taxi accident puts him in a coma. When he regains consciousness he discovers that another Dr. Martin Harris has replaced him and nobody, not even his wife, realizes the switch. With no identification and only the help of a young woman, Dr. Harris must prove his identity.

Rounding out the cast are Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds), January Jones (Mad Men), and Aidan Quinn (Jonah Hex). Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger are the shining lights in an otherwise bleak and uninteresting acting landscape. January Jones did not turn in a motivated performance. Her character was incredibly flat and wooden. If Jaume Collet-Serra wanted somebody who was able to match January Jones’ performance, they made the right choice with Aidan Quinn. Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot to say as far as the acting goes.

Unknown is a straight-out-of-the-box action film in every regard. Is it entertaining? Yes. Is it something worth going to the theater for? No. Everything from the direction to the acting and music are done in the cliché action-movie style. Juame Collet-Serra definitely does not try to reinvent anything here. Unknown falls into the category between mildly entertaining and mundane. If you’re looking for something to pass the time you could certainly do worse than Unknown, but if you’re looking for an action film to blow your mind you may want to look elsewhere.

Rating: 5/10