Who Likes Short Shorts? A Short review of Shorts 3 at the Atlantic Film Festival 2012

17 09 2012

ImageThis review blog used to be a big hobby of mine. But life caught up with me and now I keep it just in case there’s something I feel like I need to share with the world. Something that more people should be aware of. So I’ve decided to dust off the old Rankatron for one night only to review the works of some filmmakers who’d normally go unheralded in the world.

I’m talking about movie shorts. This review is specifically about the eight shorts I saw tonight as part of “Shorts 3” at the Atlantic Film Festival 2012.

I bring to you eight short reviews for eight larger than life shorts that you should go out of your way to track down. They will not be ranked from best to worst. Rather they’re listed in order of appearance. All of these movies have their distinct charm and voice. (PS…click on their names for links to their websites)

  1. My Baklava
     This short features an adorable little girl who objects to her parents order of homework before dessert rule in song. A great and funny short piece to kick off the night.
  2. Life and Freaky Time of Uncle Luke (<—Video Preview Here!)
     After this short was over, I felt like I just experienced as close to LSD as I ever will. From the mind of 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell, comes a warped story unlike anything you’d seen short of Mr. Show’s “Altered State of Drugachussetts” sketch. It’s a fun ride where you’re wondering where the whole thing is going until the very end. All music is from the discography of 2 Live Crew. It was actually a little nostalgic hearing them again. I grew up listening to this back in the day.
  3. BELIEVEtheDANCE (Trailer)
     I haven’t laughed so hard at a short since the first time I saw Picnicface’s The Button at last year’s AFF Shorts show. The main character reminds me so much of Zoolander that I was expecting him to do the dance version of Blue Steel. You MUST track this video down. Do it now. And BELIEVEtheDANCE trailer!
  4. Edmund Was a Donkey (<—TRAILER!)
     The National Film Board of Canada still can deliver the goods. This heartfelt and amazing story was the gem of “Shorts 3” for me. This animated short features our main character, Edmund, who discovers one day that he’s happier as a donkey instead of a regular person. And really, why wouldn’t you be? Gratuitous cartoon nudity that only the NFB can tastefully get away with are featured at points. Fair warning if you plan on having kids watch. But great characters.
  5. The Kook  (<—-Trailer)
     Where “Edmund Was a Donkey” was a gem, The Kook is the star of this night. Both are interchangeable as my favourite for different reasons. The Kook reminded me of a great episode of the Twilight Zone or the X-Files. Aliens, a Jonestown cult, and a quirky innocent woman who accidentally uncovers a conspiracy. It asks the question “What happens when a kook becomes a kook in her own cult?” You’ll find out.
  6. Aaron Burr Part 2
     One part historical drama, one part long lost Tarantino movie. Aaron Burr Part 2 takes the historical event of pistol duel between Burr and Alexander Hamilton and gives it a modern twist. It’s a fascinating take of the event. I’m curious to find out how much of it is true and how much was dramatized. (I’m guessing the part with the texting wasn’t accurate.)
  7. Sea Meadow
     I was expecting at least one of these I wouldn’t fully get. I mean I sort of understood that the woman was reliving her live at a seaside home after her death…but there’s a lot of weird shit in this one. Pardon my French. So I’ll say that it was interesting and maybe worth a second watch for me to figure out what I just saw.
  8. Thumb Snatchers From the Moon Cocoon
     This animated short centres around an indestructible cowboy defending the world from an alien invasion of Thumb Snatchers. This cowboy is so tough that he makes John Wayne look like Pee-Wee Herman. All I can say is that if the world was in jeopardy from alien invasion, I’d want Batman, Superman, the good Terminator and this cowboy on my side. Oh yeah…and he does remind you to never mess with Texas.

 





Oscars 2012!!!!!

28 01 2012

You're NOT going to believe where I've been the past year!

So last year I’ve posted I was trying to knock through the top movies of all time. What I didn’t realize is that in doing so, I got sucked into this vortex of movie lore that was full of Hollywood trailer voice-overs and plot holes.

I tried to escape the vortex but the next thing I know I’m on the island above with no means of communication except this one device called the Crystal-phone. I tried tinkering with it but all I could get out of it was “You vook MAH-VELOUS!”

Then all of a sudden…a few weeks ago, the phone rang. The person on the other line simply said “He’s back.” I instantly know who He was…and I knew I had to get back.

Thankfully, I had a Star Trek site-to-site transport and with some 1970’s special effects, I’m back for “one-night-only” (stretching over several postings over a few weeks) Rankatron for the Oscars 2012.

So allow me to dust off the ol’ Rankatron and list of the Best Picture Nominees for 2012.

1. The Artist

This already seems to be the darling of Hollywood. A silent movie with wit, charm, dancing, and heart… so I’ve heard (or should it be “so I’ve seen”).

2. The Descendants

I’ll be honest that I never even heard of this movie before the Golden Globes. But I’ve got an excuse: I was on a deserted island the past 12 months.

3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

A few years ago I read this book. It was amazing. This movie has a lot to live up to. You better deliver, Hollywood! Tom Hanks is in it. So that’s a good start.

4. The Help

So between many of my female friends telling to either read the book or watch the movie, I will do one of these. But I may need “help” getting through it. HAHA. (For what it’s worth, the trailer looks good.)

5. Hugo

I’ll confirm I saw this over Christmas holidays. I won’t confirm what I thought of it until I write up the official review. In the meantime, watch this awesome trailer about an entertaining Scorsese movie with a kid, an automaton and Sasha Baron Cohen!

6. Midnight in Paris

This may be the hardest one for me to get through. What I know: it’s a Woody Allen movie. I’ve yet to find one of them entertaining. Maybe just not my taste. But maybe this one will be. I like Owen Wilson.

7. Moneyball

I’ve been wanting to watch this movie since last summer. It’s a sports movie about the circa 2002 Oakland A’s starring Brad Pitt. It’s a great story no matter if you like baseball or not. Let’s see how well the movie does with translating this true story.

8. The Tree of Life

Everything I’ve heard about this movie is that it’s unconventional, breath taking, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen…in a good way.  Also, this is the second Best Picture movie featuring Brad Pitt. Good year!

9. War Horse

No Oscar season would be complete without a Spielberg biopic. This one following a horse during a time of war. I would expect aliens at the end.





30 Songs in 30 Days Challenge Recap

30 03 2011

Just because I don’t want this to be buried in Facebook. Here’s my 30 Songs in 30 Days Challenge Recap…plus Extras…and an appearance by Charlie Sheen. If I made a mix tape (or if you had access to any of my old skool AdaMixes), it would probably sound a lot like what you’re about to hear below.

As usual, all rights to the songs belong to their respective blah-de-blah-blah. I’m just a fan looking to share my love of music to the few who care to enjoy.

Day Zero – A video by request because of my impersonation of this scene from Wayne’s World. Somehow the German dubbing makes it funnier.

day 01 – your favorite song – Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf

day 02 – your least favorite song – My Humps – Black Eyed Peas

day 03 – a song that makes you happy – Island in the Sun – Weezer

day 04 – a song that makes you sad – Hurt – Johnny Cash

day 05 – a song that reminds you of someone – Peaches – Presidents of the USA. Reminds me of the first time I met a really good friend.

day 06 – a song that reminds you of somewhere – Ride Wit Me – Nelly. This will always be connected to Toronto for me.

day 07 – a song that reminds you of a certain event – Mo Money Mo Problems – Mase and Puff Daddy.  The first time at a club in downtown Halifax where a friend of mine danced with a jeep door on the dance floor. Yes…a jeep door.

day 08 – a song that you know all the words to – Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice. I should be proud…but I feel dirty.

day 09 – a song that you can dance to – Thriller – Michael Jackson

day 10 – a song that makes you fall asleep – Midnight in a Perfect World – DJ Shadow. This song is just SO chill.

day 11 – a song from your favorite band – Even Better Than The Real Thing – U2

Day 11 B – Just a funny song – WINNING – Auto Tune The News

day 12 – a song from a band you hate – Miracles – Insane Klown Posse

day 12 B – Spooftastic! – SNL Digial Short – Magical Mysteries

day 13 – a song that is a guilty pleasure – What’s My Name – Rihanna ft. Drake

day 14 – a song that no one would expect you to love – Single Ladies – Beyonce

day 15 – a song that describes you – Bohemian Rhapsody – THe Muppets

day 16 – a song that you used to love but now hate – Hey Ya – OutKast

day 17 – a song that you hear often on the radio – Born This Way – Lady Gaga

day 18 – a song that you wish you heard on the radio –  In the Na – The Hidden Cameras. Go search these guys out.

day 19 – a song from your favorite album – Paranoid Android – Radiohead

day 19 B – Just because it’s so brilliant! – This too shall pass -OK Go

day 20 – a song that you listen to when you’re angry – Butterfly with Bulletwings – Smashing Pumpkins

day 20 B – St Patty’s Tribute – Danny Boy – The Muppets

day 21 – a song that you listen to when you’re happy – Shiny Happy People – REM

day 22 – a song that you listen to when you’re sad – November Rain – Guns N Roses

day 23 – a song that doesn’t fit anywhere else on the list but I love – Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve

DAY 23 B – Listenin’ to stuff – Let’s Twist Again – Jive Bunny and the MasterMixers

day 24 – a song that you want to play at your funeral – Always look on the bright side of life – Monty Python

DAY 24 B – SUPRISE! – Zombie Delight – Buck 65

day 25 – a song that makes you laugh – I’m on a boat – Lonely Island

day 25 – Another funny song because someone else took it their list – Business Time – Flight of the Conchords.

day 26 – a song that you can play on an instrument – Seven Nation Army – White Stripes

Day 26 B – I KNOW HOW TO PLAY THIS TOO – Plateau – Nirvana

day 27 – a song that you wish you could play – Wonderwall – Oasis

day 28 – a song that makes you feel guilty (but since no song makes me feel guilty…here’s another) – Puttin’ on the Ritz – Taco

Day 28 B – 80’s EXTRA – One Night in Bancock – Murray Head

day 29 – a song from your childhood – Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.

day 30 – your favorite song at this time last year – Michael Buble – Haven’t Met You Yet





The Rankatron On The Junos!

27 03 2011

KEEP CLICKING REFRESH ON THIS PAGE TO SEE THE LATEST UPDATES

In about 5 minutes (excluding interruptions to retrieve PB cookies baking in the oven), I will be doing a live blog of the Junos hosted by Drake featuring the lovefest of Justin Beiber.

I expect that the animal on the back of our nickle will change from the Beaver to the Beiber by the end of tonight.

Just sayin’!

Enjoy the show!

9:07PM I think the world is going to explode in a bad way with Beiber/Drake singing Sarah McLaughlin. Funny intro though.

9:10PM The Juno for best homemade PB cookies goes to me. I didn’t even know I was nominated. At least, I can focus on the show now. So what did I miss?

9:13PM Drake is now kicking out some Informer. I’ll inform them it’s probably not the best idea. We tried to bury to forget that. Your setting us back YEARS!

9:16PM Arcade Fire won Group of the Year! Woo Hoo! I’m predicting a Canadian Sweep! On an unrelated note, I didn’t know that Deadmou5e was Canadian.

9:23pm Hope Sarah McLachlan kicks out a version of Drake and Rihanna’s “What’s My Name” to counter the Drake & Beiber intro. Even though she calls Van-city her home…Halifax will claim her.

9:25pm Fan Choice Award: Beiber feiber wins!

9:33pm Arcade Fire for song writer of the year? They’re a group not a single writer. I call shinanigans. And why wasn’t Beiber in that?

9:35pm I remember the innocent days when Headley used to be a lil’ headley on Canadian Idol a few years ago. I’m glad he’s done good.

9:48pm Shania Twain. You’ve been in my Hall of Fame for years! Congrats!

9:55pm Shania Twain: “I love our bush.” Might be quote of the night. Vish from CBC Radio 3 is have a field day with in on his Twitter. UPDATE: Found a youtube clip for it…

10:01 Awesome Toronto tribute and it’s place in music. It’s a great city. I’ve lived there for a bit. It gets a hard wrap from the rest of Canada but it truly is a city that can rival any other in the world.

10:14 The musical tribute after the montage featured Sarah Harmer, The Sadies and City and Colour singing old Canadian tunes was awesome. If someone posts it to youtube or anywhere, I’ll place it here.

10:18 Meaghan Smith wins Best New Artist of the Year. Dunno anything about her…how ’bout you Google?

10:27 Not much to report so far except maybe that Vish Kanna of CBC Radio 3 just asked Shania Twain about the “I love  our bush” comment in the media room. The crowd carried him on his shoulders around the room afterwards. I might’ve made that last part up.

10:33 Single of the Year: K’naan for “Wavin’ Flag”

10:40 Old Money 4 Life! Drake hip hops it up with some ol’ folk. I’m uncool for using the phrase “hip hop’s it up”.

10:45 Yoko Ono reminds us that she was naked in a hotel room in Montreal for peace a long time ago…with some other dude.

10:54 Pop Album of the Year: Beiberiffic! That’s two! Begs the question: why didn’t make it to Toronto for the show? He got no love at the Grammys but showed up live. Here he wins and mails in a vid?

11:01 Neil Young is getting the Humanitarian Award. His body of work is deserving of that alone. And a note to any movie producers out there, PLEASE get Jeff Bridges play Neil Young in his movie.

Why Neil Young’s great…

11:15 It’s Arcade Fire tearing up the stage with Rococo. Wanna another vid?

11:22 Neil Young wins Artist of the Year over Beibs, Sarah Mclaghlan, Johnny Ried and Drake. He asks “What year is this?” It’s your year, sir.

11:30 I’ve never heard of Chromeo before tonight but they win me over with the 80’s throwback vibe.

11:35 Album of the year: Arcade Fire! In honour of their multiple wins, I’m going to go burn an old Donkey Kong machine.

That’s all folks. Drake didn’t wow but didn’t suck either. He kept it even keel.

Goodnight all! And sweet dreams under the Harvest Moon.





The Rankatron Ranks The Oscars

27 02 2011

Bow ties make anything look better.

 

It’s officially here!

Oscars Eve!

Did I finish ALL of the 10 movies? Technically, yes. Is there an actual review for all of them? No. There’s one glaring exception: Inception.

Let’s be honest with Inception. This was the Matrix for a new generation. A movie that holds up better in theatres with massive screens the size of Jupiter’s Moon, Io, and digital sound systems that you make Stevie Wonder sit up and say “what was that?” than on the small screen. I still intend on doing a review of Inception but I’ve reserved the right to mull it over and watch it a second time. Hence the delay in the review. But I will give you the Inception review next week. It really doesn’t matter…it’s not going to win tomorrow night. Sorry DiCaprio.

So how does this work? Now that I’ve taken an equivalent of nearly 2 days of my life to watch these…excluding the time it took to write the review, find cool pics and vids, and draw some admittedly silly cartoons (to me)…I’m going to do something that the Oscars can’t do. Keep it short and to the point.

I will now rank the Ten movies in order of pure AWESOME-TUDE! These will not necessarily be what the Academy picks tomorrow night…but these will be in gauged based on the most entertainment value, story depth and universality of the subject (y’know…so everyone can watch).

Before I get right into it, let me just say that for the first time in YEARS, every single movie on this list is truth-to-power-above fun to watch…but in different and unique ways. I remember one glaring Best Picture movie years ago that was so boring to watch, I had to split it between three viewings to get through it. I won’t share with you the title just to protect the anonymity of those talented individual involved but I will say that it rhymes with “There Will Be Blood”.

The Rankatron Oscars List (2011 Edition): – And it’s in reverse, MOFOS!!!! Just to mess ya up!

(Clicky on the titles to read the original review.)

10.  127 Hours

9. Winter’s Bone

8. Inception

7. The Kids Are Alright

6. The Social Network

5. Black Swan

4. The Fighter

3. Toy Story 3

2. True Grit

And the number one movie this year….drumroll please!!!!…what? No? What are you talking about it’s a boring choice? But what if it’s right? No. It is right! Get the drumroll! No…you’re right. Check that.

Cue Oscar winner Jamie Foxx featuring living legend Justin Timberlake with “Winner”. (And sorry…there’s no official vid.)

The Winner is….

1. The King’s Speech

If you’ve never scene it thinking that it would be just another stuffy royalty movie like The Queen, put that back in your “Stereotype Stereo” and give it a try. This movie is smart, entertaining, funny in the most unexpected way, and littered with brilliant performances that should earn Colin Firth a Best Actor win.

So am I done for this year with the Oscars?

Is Bob Saget as squeaky clean as his Danny Tanner character?

NO!

Tomorrow, I’ll be embarking on the most ambitious sacrifice anyone can do for the Oscars: sit through an ENTIRE broadcast beginning to end.

I will be…for the first time ever…using The Rankatron Twitter feed.

Click here to join and follow.

It shall begin 9pm AST (8pm EST) Sunday February 27, 2011. Together we can count how many drug references and hand references James Franco makes…and how many times Anne Hathaway looks hot.

Or not.

After I’m done, I’ll post the entire transcript on this website for you to enjoy…kinda.

So for now, I bid you all adieu and goodnight.





OscaRank: “Winter’s Bone”, Thugs and Harmony

25 02 2011

This one hits close to home.

Winter’s Bone opens up a world that some may feel is fictitious but I can confirm first hand that places like this still do exist in this futuristic year of 2011.  Not the story itself…that would be messed up. But I can relate to the living conditions and the cliquish quality of rural backwoods communities. I knew areas like this where I grew up.

This mystery drama covers about a one week period in the life of 17 year old Ree Dolly (the engaging Jennifer Lawrence) as she tries to track down her deadbeat daddy who’s wanted by the police and who put their house up for collateral against a bond. If her father doesn’t show up for court in a week’s time, her and her family will be left homeless. Ree is on her own raising her younger brother and sister while caring for her invalid mother so she has no one to turn to except dig into the dank and murky underbelly of this poor rural Ozarks community. She herself is at a crossroads of sorts between potential death and certain homelessness.

The pace is slow and deliberate and perfect for a movie of this nature. The silent looks between characters speak more about how this part of the world lives than the dialogue itself. The people in the community is about as friendly as a cold glass of water in the face. Everyone is slightly off in one way or another. Riddled with drugs, crime and corruption. A place where the community protects secrets from the outside world and anyone wanting to uncover those hidden horrors. And this fear of discovery knits together the people in a strange harmonious tapestry.

Jennifer Lawrence (also starring in the upcoming X-Men: First Class) carries Winter’s Bone with youthful power and fragility. At any moment, you fear for her character’s life as she enters deeper and deeper into the hive to find her father. Ree knows that she could possibly die if she asks the wrong person the wrong questions but she needs to ask them or the alternative would mean doom for her family.

Other notable is John Hawkes as Ree’s uncle, Teardrop. He is her reluctant protector against the thugs trying to stop Ree at every turn. Hawkes shines as the second best portrayal of a drug addict this year (the first is Christian Bale in The Fighter.)

Winter’s Bone at it’s core is a disturbing look at the threatening nature of small town gossip and the kinds of difficult choices that can be left on the plate of a 17 year old when she’s the sole breadwinner. And even though the resolution becomes apparent about half way, the result is no less effective and appropriate. You won’t find many surprises along the way…just troubling images along the route that needs to be taken to get there.

A solid movie from beginning to end. However, I can’t help but think this could be as polarizing as Fargo and No Country For Old Men in it’s taste to people. You’ll either love it or hate it. But I hope you love it. Top 5 movie of the year? No. Top 10? Absolutely.

8 severed hands out of 10

Bones throughout history





OscaRank: The Kids are Alright…but the movie is better.

23 02 2011

Everything's alright with wine

This movie wouldn’t have been made 25 years ago. It probably wouldn’t even had been made ten years ago.

The themes behind it can be found in countless movies throughout history…but the backdrop used here wouldn’t have been allowed to show itself so honestly in the era of “political correctness” of 2000-2001.

The Kids are Alright is a flick about surviving the dynamics within an unconventional family unit. More and more of these unconventional families are becoming the norm where it may come to the point where those currently deemed as conventional become unconventional.

But I take to task the stigma that follows the terms “conventional” and “unconventional”. Definition-wise: they are accurate. But realistically, one isn’t better than the other. Each can be as equally as supportive as the other in genuine and strong ways.

My point? The Kids are Alright is all about this.

A lesbian couple raises two children who were inseminated by the same sperm donor…the kids decide to track down their biological dad…and light-hearted hilarity ensues.

This is an ensemble piece where each are necessary to make this movie work.

The driving characters are the two kids, the eldest sister, Joni (Mia Wasikowsa of Alice in Wonderland fame) and her brother, Laser (Josh Hutcherson a part of the Red Dawn remake…OH YEAH!) who go in search for their biological father. Not really because they need a father in their lives but more out of idle teenage curiosity. Both are extremely level headed children who were raised with solid morals with no real need of anything more than their Momses provided to them. Considering the pitfalls of society, they could’ve ended up much worse:

Mark Ruffalo as Paul stands out particularly as the twenty-first century hippy throwback biological dad. He’s one of those characters who are so laid back…so ready to roll with the punches…that it may leave some envious and even frustrated that nothing bothers him. He is so aloof that his ease of life can sometimes appear disconnected yet he is engaged fully at every moment. His reaction to meeting his kids? “Cool. Let’s see where this goes.” (My paraphrase. Not his.) Ruffalo deserves his Oscar nod here and is one of the strongest contenders for Best Actor.

Annette Benning takes up her role as Nic, who reminded me so much of the her role as mom from American Beauty that I can’t ignore it. So much so that I would bet if you could trace a lifeline from the American Beauty mom to this one, it could be a logical progression after…well, the end of American Beauty…I refuse to spoil it if you’ve never seen it. So what I mean is that with all the commitment that Benning played the other mom, she throws into this character as well. As a reminder, here’s a little snippet from that classic American Beauty.

Both Nic and her character in American Beauty are both control freaks who are replacing what they’re missing with unwarranted aggression. Benning was robbed from being Best Actress during that season of the Oscars sadly I believe she will be again this year.

Following the same theme of American Beauty, Julianne Moore plays Benning’s partner, Jules,  raising their kids together but Jules is a lost soul. She’s satisfied with who she’s ended up with but, like a wisp of cloud on a sea breeze, she wants to find her path in life. Her path leads her to Paul through her two children and she finds a momentary reprieve and appreciation in his arms.

Despite all of these serious undertones and themes, this is a gratifyingly light and funny movie.

I’d even wager that even though most people may not have experienced a same-sex marriage or don’t know their biological father, they will find this movie speaks to them on at least one level. These themes are universal and true.

And above all conventional…even in the most unconventional sense.

9.0 Hairs in the Shower Drain out of 10

Frozen sperm donation gone horribly wrong...in carbonite!