This image basically sums up the entire film. 2 hours of mad motion presenting the collision of a circus, a rock opera and a pirate movie. Just add the sound of smoking hot engines roaring inside your brain and you are almost there. Actually the sound design of MAD MAX FURY ROAD almost trumps the visual design. Besides the obvious "VROOM-VROOOM" of all the cars we get the quiet "tick-tick-tick" sound I immediately recognize as my own humble Mazda engine as it settles once I shut it down. It's a subtle detail that you would normally find in a smaller scale Roman Polanski movie but it's here as part of the huge mad mural painted across your Multiplex screens by George Miller.
Before we get to the hype about what a masterpiece this movie is-we need to take a rare moment of silence to give the proper respect to Dr. Miller. Yes, Australian auteur George Miller is also an MD and you can see this side of himself in his surprisingly good Disease of the week styled film, LORENZO'S OIL. But we all know Miller best of all for basically inventing a genre out of thin air. Whatever you think of MAD MAX and its follow up films, it's clear that Miller's conception of an anarchic post apocalypse based on fuel shortages and roving tribal gangs has had a huge influence on contemporary action cinema. Like George Romero with the zombie film before him, Miller is the direct foundation of an entire subgenre. For many born years after the release of MAD MAX in 1979, this concept probably feels like something that has always existed, burned into their collective cultural memories along with the idea that a shark in the ocean comes with its own two note musical theme.
Part of what makes Miller's trilogy (Now a quadrology?) unique is that each film in the series basically stands on its own. The first movie is an exploitation film. A bastard stepchild of the biker flick and the western-It's a simple revenge movie packed with as much action and destruction as possible. The second is a mythic western that presents Max as a MAN WITH NO NAME type of reluctant hero-almost supernatural in his ability to give and take violence. If MAD MAX presented its hero as a rogue cop in a relatively realistic manner then THE ROAD WARRIOR is MAX printed as legend. It even frames the story as being told by the Feral Kid (Emil Minty) years later as an older man. The third film has Tina Turner in it and quite possibly the basis for the UFC. It feels less like George Miller than Ken Russell. Now this one has Bane playing Max so it's not really Max anymore. Max was barely a one line description in a screenplay. Which is why he was never really the kind of character who stood separate from the incredibly charismatic actor who played him, MAD MEL. Gibson could make the most of his six or seven lines of dialogue by widening those eyes, or throwing someone a scowl. He looked pretty insane at times but was underplaying incredibly when compared to the circus swirling around him.
Obviously casting Mel Gibson in this movie wasn't going to happen. Beyond the age problem (which could've worked to the film's advantage actually) there is the little problem that people have judged and sentenced Gibson to exile from movie stardom due to some unfortunate personal issues. So now we have Tom Hardy-a fine actor but in this particular case a kind of black hole for charisma. He spends the first third of the film with some metal mask on (which makes you wonder what it is about Hardy that makes filmmakers want to place metal devices over his head) and then just kind of sleepwalks through the role with line readings at the level of a whisper. It doesn't really matter anyway since Max is really the supporting character here. Charlize Theron's Furiosa is the lead character without a doubt and she is excellent in the role. The problem is with the role itself which is really beyond underwritten, it's abstract. Basically everything in this film is abstract from a narrative cinema 2015 point of view. It would fit perfectly into a new release of 1924 perhaps. Right from the opening scene you quickly realize that Miller isn't going to stop to explain anything. It's up to you to work out the various good guys and bad guys and to ponder if you wish the thematic idea of a lost matriarchy rising up against a dying patriarchy. It does and does not really matter because what we really have is a visual spectacle on the level of classic Fritz Lang. You are plunged into an EXTREME world. Full of sound and fury. Entering FURY ROAD is like walking into the eye of a hurricane while trying to juggle babies and chainsaws. None of us mere mortals would survive in this world past the opening credits.
Miller hasn't lost any of his skills to storyboard and execute dazzling action sequences--the tanker assault in THE ROAD WARRIOR being one of the most breathtaking pieces of cinema ever made-but somehow this time it feels less. The addition of CGI continues to be a buzzkill for action films. Who cares how awesome a stunt appears to be or a how huge an explosion is when it's just some guy in an air conditioned office creating it on a computer? One of the benefits of limitations is that it inspires creativity. Filmmakers today have to find the restraint in themselves not to use all of the power of the computer. These images are probably what Miller always had in mind but couldn't quite achieve in the previous films. They are certainly dazzling. But dazzling to the mind rather than the gut. The gut can separate the cool stunt from the CG fireball added to make it supercool. That said, you are not going to find a better action film this summer coming from anywhere. This is the action film as auteur film. It's mad and delirious and high on its own supply and Miller knows just how to frame and cut these scenes so you can just follow it. I just wished I got to know Furiosa a little better. Or any of the characters or if the film had three big action set pieces instead of three hundred. I know it's an odd request to ask for LESS in this time of MORE. I am sure most people will love the overkill. But honestly it just wore me down. By the end I wanted it to be over and I didn't care who lived or died to make that happen.
The Insidious: Chapter 3 press tour rolled through Philly last weekend, scaring thrill seekers with its 4DX mobile haunted house. 4DX, short for 4-Dimension Experience, combines classic haunted house jump scares with a state-of-the-art virtual reality experience. When you first enter the trailer you have to adjust your eyes to the enclosed set that has been created for you. As you make your solo journey through the halls you are greeted by surprise skeletons and other jump scares. Finally, you reach your assigned room where a doting attendant assists your transfer into a spirit realm called “The Further.”
Using the Oculus Rift headset and surround-sound headphones, 4DX transports you into the story ofInsidious as a spirit that has left its body. Initially, you find yourself sitting in a pleasant suburban living room. When you look up, down, left, or right the Oculus recognizes so your view changes to what you turn to look at. Loud slams turn your attention to a far window to your right where a figure shrouded behind white curtains attempts to break in. A voice speaks in front of you and you turn to see Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), the medium from Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2 explains to you that you are astral projecting. Cool, right? Nope, terrifying because she goes on to explain that the dead are coming for your soul because they want to live again.
Simply, the experience was amazing. After Elise plants you firmly in the situation as a helpless victim you are set loose on a roller coaster of fright. The virtual reality is so intense and immersive that at times you are paralyzed in your seat, fighting to resist the urge to remove the headset to end the fear. It was such a wonderful terror that I found myself wishing it wouldn't end. Certainly, theInsidious: Chapter 3 4DX haunted house showcased the franchise's mastery of horror is back to steal your breath.
--Mark Heaton, Reel East Film Society
We are busy gearing up for the second annual 2015 Reel East Film Festival. The festival will once again take place at the historic Ritz Theatre in Oaklyn, NJ from Friday August 21st to Sunday August 23rd.
So today we are opening our In Competition Call for Submissions. The REFF is seeking exciting and unique visions from around the world to present to a fresh regional audience and this year we are not only looking for short films but feature length films as well.
All will compete for several top prizes including a new category for films made locally.
Short Films must be less than 40 minutes to qualify
Feature Films must be more than 60 minutes to qualify
Student films from colleges and Universities worldwide are also invited to submit.
The Deadline for all submissions is July 17th, 2015.
For more information and to submit your films go to our page at FILMFREEWAY.COM
Filmmaker Pascal Chind took home two prizes at the first Reel East Film Festival last August for his amazing short film Extreme Pinocchio. Click on the following link to read Pascal's interview at Film International...
The big winner of the first annual REEL EAST FILM FESTIVAL was Pascal Chind's mind warping, hilarious and disturbing short film EXTREME PINOCCHIO
. The Reel East Film Festival is very proud to award the film with its top prize, the Edison. The film is also the recipient of the Audience Prize which was voted by the audience by ballot along with a special citation to actor, Christophe Fluder
for his pitch perfect performance in the lead role.
There will be more information about the prize winners soon but for now we wanted to make the announcement public as soon as we could...so here are our prizes and the winners...
Reel East Film Festival Awards (for Short Films)
Audience Award - Voted on by festival audience, the Audience Award posses the critical validation of the viewing public. The Audience Award is often a filmmaker's most coveted prize at festivals.AUDIENCE AWARD: Extreme Pinocchio (Dir: Pascal Chind)
Best of Festival Prizes (3)
1. Edison Prize - The festival's top prize. The invention of cinema was a global effort. On American shores, particularly in the Garden State, no name is more synonymous with film's birth than Thomas Alva Edison. With the critical assistance of early film pioneers and technicians like William Dickson, Edison presented the world with the kinetoscope and the Black Maria Studio. And soon the world was captured by the magic of motion pictures.EDISON PRIZE: Extreme Pinocchio (Dir: Pascal Chind)
2. Porter Prize - An employee of Edison's, Edwin S. Porter directed over 250 films throughout his career as a writer, director, cinematographer, and producer. Porter was an innovative and inventive filmmaker. His most well-known film, The Great Train Robbery (1903), is a critical American film that pioneered new techniques in production and editing that we still see in today's movies.PORTER PRIZE: BROKEN (Dir: Bryan Locantore, Barrett O'Neal, Gang Yi)3. Goodwin Prize - Hannibal Goodwin is a largely forgotten but crucial name in American film history. In a modest house in Newark, NJ, Reverend Goodwin invented transparent flexible celluloid film for roller cameras. Goodwin's patent application was submitted in 1887, two years before George Eastman's celluloid film patent, but remained unissued as it underwent several amendments. Goodwin died in 1900, but in 1913 he was posthumously vindicated when it was ruled that Goodwin’s patent had been infringed upon by Eastman.
GOODWIN PRIZE: The Story of M (Dir:Anna Arlanova)
Achievement in Student Filmmaking Prizes (2)
1. Audacity Prize - Awarded to the student film that demonstrates a unique vision and a willingness to take risks in order to further film as an art form.AUDACITY PRIZE: TOUGH CASE (Dir: Stefan Perez)
2. Jury Prize - Awarded to the student film that demonstrates extraordinary achievement in film.JURY PRIZE: Spirit of Negation (Dir: Alexander Kuribayashi)
We don't really like showing off here but these award trophies just showed up at our offices and we are really proud of how amazing they look. We could've went with a paper certificate of achievement and coupon to Olive Garden but wouldn't you rather have one of these sitting on your shelf? We just had to share them with you.
Reel East Film Festival Awards (for Short Films)
Audience Award - Voted on by festival audience, the Audience Award posses the critical validation of the viewing public. The Audience Award is often a filmmaker's most coveted prize at festivals.
Best of Festival Prizes (3)
1. Edison Prize - The festival's top prize. The invention of cinema was a global effort. On American shores, particularly in the Garden State, no name is more synonymous with film's birth than Thomas Alva Edison. With the critical assistance of early film pioneers and technicians like William Dickson, Edison presented the world with the kinetoscope and the Black Maria Studio. And soon the world was captured by the magic of motion pictures.
2. Porter Prize - An employee of Edison's, Edwin S. Porter directed over 250 films throughout his career as a writer, director, cinematographer, and producer. Porter was an innovative and inventive filmmaker. His most well-known film, The Great Train Robbery (1903), is a critical American film that pioneered new techniques in production and editing that we still see in today's movies.
3. Goodwin Prize - Hannibal Goodwin is a largely forgotten but crucial name in American film history. In a modest house in Newark, NJ, Reverend Goodwin invented transparent flexible celluloid film for roller cameras. Goodwin's patent application was submitted in 1887, two years before George Eastman's celluloid film patent, but remained unissued as it underwent several amendments. Goodwin died in 1900, but in 1913 he was posthumously vindicated when it was ruled that Goodwin’s patent had been infringed upon by Eastman.
Achievement in Student Filmmaking Prizes (2)
1. Audacity Prize - Awarded to the student film that demonstrates a unique vision and a willingness to take risks in order to further film as an art form.
2. Jury Prize - Awarded to the student film that demonstrates extraordinary achievement in film.
There are some books that you first read when you are young but return to over and over later in life. For me, Stephen King's first short story collection, 1978's Night Shift is one of them. Collecting King's early work as a writer, the book contains some of his most famous short fiction including today's Dollar Baby story, Gray Matter.
First published in the October 1973 issue of Cavalier magazine, Gray Matter is a kind of distant relative to "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" segment of the King-George A. Romero collaboration CREEPSHOW. It's the story of a young man who claims his alcoholic father is transforming into some kind of monster after drinking beer from a can with some strange gray mold on it. This is King in his horror fan mode. With a knod to Joseph Payne Levering's famous short story, Slime as well as 50s monster movies like The Blob and The Fly, King fuses the old fashioned tale with his own brand of small town horror story. With King's quirky local characters lending believability to the far out story, Gray Matter emerges as something much more ambiguous and disturbing.
Filmmaker James Burgess Cox has done something unique with his adaptation of the story, Grey Matter and it goes beyond just the spelling of the title. His version smartly shifts the point of view entirely to the young man, Isaac, and focuses on the boy's troubled home life and his attempts to be understood by the authority figures at his school. It's a bold change that takes the subtext of the original story and presents it much more directly and dramatically. The film is extraordinarily well directed with performances that convince you that these characters live lives outside the frame of the film. Even though it's a short film, Cox's Grey Matter has the dramatic weight of a feature film.
GREY MATTER was produced at Chapman University's Dodge College of Film & Media Arts with the help of film students from USC, UCLA, and AFI. The film was also shot on location in Long Beach and Orange, CA.
Jury Prize at United Film Festival - London
Outstanding Performance at Big Bear Horror Film Festival
Best Student Film at Vail Film Festival
Best Horror Short at Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival
Best Student Film at Charlotte Horror Fest
This afternoon we look at the third of our Stephen King Dollar Baby selections: BEACHWORLD
. One of King's most underrated stories, it was originally published in Weird Tales in 1984, and collected in his 1985 collection Skeleton Crew. Which is where I first read it back in high school. Beachworld
is set in the distant future. Federation ship ASN-29 crashes on an unknown planet with only two members of the crew surviving - Shapiro and Rand.
The planet is uninhabited-at least by physical entities. Desert stretches out in all directions. No food and no watter. Despair and insanity creep up on them, sand devours everything and very soon they discover that they are not alone on the planet.
As novelist James Smythe has written, "More than anything, this is a story about isolation, about being stranded, with nowhere to go."
Maria Ivanova's animated adaptation of the story is nothing less than
hypnotic. Her use of striking black and white imagery along with a powerful ambient soundtrack evoke the early films of David Lynch, as well as Walerian Borowczyk's classic short film, DOM.
Particularly in terms of the spellbinding rhythm which she generates through the collision and at times opposition of image and sound and one other, very specific thing-there is no dialogue
. The film starts and you are plunged into a world which is immersive and genuinely uncanny.
For more about BEACHWORLD you can visit Maria Ivanova's website
and for another review of this film as well as many other Dollar Babies, you can visit Tony Northrup's website, Through the Black Hole
Hmm...who might this be? A work in progress at the "offices" of the Reel East Film Festival.
Today's peek at the REEL EAST FILM FESTIVAL'S Stephen King DOLLAR BABY selections has to be one of the most intense adaptations of the writer's work ever produced. From Director Billy Hanson, this film is an adaptation of King's Survivor Type which was first published in the 1982 horror anthology Terrors, and collected in King's 1985 collection Skeleton Crew. Of Survivor Type, King says: "As far as short stories are concerned, I like the grisly ones the best. However the story Survivor Type goes a little bit too far, even for me."
Though based on King's story, Hanson's film gets under your skin in a way that can only work in the cinema. It's raw and intimate and just ...CLOSE...it invades your personal space. Just when you think the camera is going to cut away from the horror, it does NOT. It just lingers on it. The performance by Gideon Emery is riveting and it has to be since it's a one man show. Emery displays a physical and emotional range that presents a man who starts off as tragically human but ends up primal and absurd.