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Gasparilla Film Festival


BLACHEFAN
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A description of the shorts:

Speed Dating DIR: Cindy Krapfel 11 MIN.

Brooke is tired of her mother begging her to change her single ways. What's a girl to do except drag her best friend, Traci, to a local speed dating event. As they go through the countless bachelors, they realize what a circus the dating world has become! From the creators of "Migraine Hell."

Attack of the Incredi-Ball! DIR: Andy Touchton 19 MIN.

An oblivious buyer struggles to survive after purchasing a product that quickly makes his life a living nightmare. It's called "The Incredi-Ball" and can hit any target the thrower desires. But when the ball malfunctions, it targets only the man himself and hunts him down in his own home.

Rated DIR: John Fortson 18 MIN.

Maggie, a wife and mother, must find the courage to own up to her behavior when she wakes to find every adult has received a YELP-like rating floating above their head. While most everyone has a shining 4 or 5 star rating, she's only got 2.5.

Tulips DIR: Whitney Hamilton 14 MIN.

Tulips is a contemporary comedy about two women in their mid-forties that are battling perimenopause. Pamela becomes unglued when she discovers that gravity has affected her vagina, while her best friend Kimberly suffers unknowingly from a drop of estrogen, which causes emotional outrage and extreme hot flashes.

Thursday Night Downtown DIR: Gregory Mohn 16 MIN.

One night can change everything. An overachiever who thinks she is in control of everything in her life discovers that she is not even close.

The 10 Contestants You're Bound To Meet On The Season Premiere Of The Bachelor DIR. Bobby Marinelli 12 MIN.

A ridiculously hilarious parody of The Bachelor and the wacky contestants you normally meet on the famous show.

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My take on the shorts:

Speed Dating: The short was okay, it was just slow in the first half of the short and the humor fell flat when it came time to introduce the different bachelors for Brooke to analyze.

Attack of the Incredi-Ball!: Shot on a no-budget scale, it is hilariously over-the-top with its no-stop action and absurd premise that felt more like a short that was uploaded for the internet.

Rated: An interesting and compelling short that is a direct satire on how people are critical of one's character and judgement. Taking the approach of how people are viewed on social media and pushing it out into the real world. It felt more dramatic than comical when I watched it in the theater along with the other theatergoers.

Tulips: I was not aware of what the short was about at first, I felt compelled at first by the women in the short and their issues on screen. The use of public domain music and original music in the background to illustrate the point at home makes it worth watching.

Thursday Night Downtown: A film that has all the right ingredients, but it just did not blend well together. It is a comedy that I have seen before in other stories that focus on a duo's night on the town. The sound felt a little bit out of place, the acting by the two performers in the film did not feel believable at first, and the humor went from perfect to flat.

The 10 Contestants You're Bound To Meet On The Season Premiere Of The Bachelor: A parody short that goes over the different stereotypes that will only be found on the bachelor. I think my favorite contestant in the short has to go to the Cougar. She is hysterical, and believable that a woman who is in her mid-forties/fifties would actually go out with a bachelor who is in his twenties. The short also makes fun of the documentary style trademarks of the show. Off the wall interviews, shaky camera movement, staged fights and arguments between the contestants, musical cues, zoom-ins/outs, etc.

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A Light Beneath Their Feet|DIR: Valerie Weiss|USA|90 MIN.|DRAMA

An honest and poignant coming of age story about a high school senior struggling with the decision whether to remain the stable rock for her bipolar mother to go to her dream college across the country.

Review:

After watching the film through its entirety, It is a profound film along with the performances of the leading actors: Taryn Manning and Madison Davenport. I find that the story makes me feel sympathetic to the main character (the high school senior), and her mother, the one issue I have with the film is the sound and camera movement that make it hard for me to concentrate on the story of the film. The psychiatrist played by Kurt Fuller did a phenomenal job in his performance, I was just not a huge fan of the actress who played his daughter in the film who is huge into goth and torturing Beth's (Taryn Manning) mother (Madison Davenport). Overall, I felt that this film was an interesting if not honest drama.

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Bear With Us|DIR: Will Stribling|USA|94 MIN.|Comedy

A modern farce about a guy who attempts to propose to his girlfriend in the most romantic way possible, but his plan falls apart when a ravenous bear stumbles on their charming cabin in the woods.

Review:

It is a rip roaring comedy that would make your sides split! I was actually surprised that Christy Carlson Romano (star of Even Stevens and Kim Possible from Disney) is able to play in a straightforward comedy film through the display of her comedy skills. Shot in black and white and filmed in the Pennsylvania forest along with a cabin, it is a unique and original take on the cabin in the woods story in the tradition of another comedy set in the woods "The Great Outdoors" starring John Candy and Dan Aykroyd.

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Ma Ma|DIR: Julio Medem|111 MIN.|Spain|Drama

Penélope Cruz delivers an extraordinarily emotional performance in MA MA, the newest film from acclaimed director Julio Medem (SEX AND LUCÍA). MA MA follows Magda (Cruz) as she experiences tragedies and miracles alike. Just as she is diagnosed with breast cancer, she meets Arturo, a devoted husband and father in the midst of unspeakable loss. Their chance encounter leads both down a path of strength, grace, love, and rebirth.

Review:

I felt compelled and taken by Cruz's performance as a woman diagnosed with breast cancer and the fact that she has gone through a divorce with her ex-husband while also getting to see her son through the selected days on their schedule. The direction and the cinematography is beautiful from the landscape of the beach in ?Madrid? to the doctor's waiting room where she receives news about her diagnosis.

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The Debt|DIR: Barney Elliott|99 MIN.|PERU/USA|DRAMA/THRILLER

Set against the backdrop of an international finance deal in New York and Peru, The Debt is an intense political drama which explores how far people will go to get what they want.

Review:

It is an amazing political thriller that should be discussed more often in mainstream cinema. A rare case of showing the actual Peru on screen. Not just the famous location of Machu Picchu, but also the city of Lima, Iquitos, and Cusco. The director's decision to use real people in the location where the film was made is a remarkable choice on the director's part. The local actors did an amazing job in their performances through their believability and sympathy makes this an interesting film that no other American filmgoer has ever seen before. The story also caught my eye since I was not aware of a funneling deal between the United States and the government of Peru that was started in the 1970s decade. Stephen Dorff is excellent in the lead as the main character involved in the deal-making process. And David Strathairn is great in his performance for only a brief amount of sequences in the film.

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  • 2 months later...

Precious Cargo|DIR: Max Adams|90 MIN.|USA|ACTION

After a botched heist, Eddie (Bruce Willis), a murderous crime boss, hunts down the seductive thief Karen (Claire Forlani) who failed him. In order to win back Eddie's trust, Karen recruits her ex-lover and premier thief Jack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) to steal a cargo of rare precious gems. But when the job goes down, allegiances are betrayed and lines are crossed as Jack, Karen, and Eddie face off in a fateful shutdown.

Review:

An action-packed and extremely noisy picture that will literally blow your ears off. After watching the film from beginning to end, the usual plot devices are commonplace in this low-budget action film. The only big name in the film Bruce Willis does his usual one-dimensional character quips and characteristics that make his performance feel entirely forgettable. The action is clichéd and repetitive with character spouting off one-liners and not enough originality. The effects in this film are both practical and obviously computer generated. The performances are stale and flat. The characters are uninteresting and Daniel Bernhardt, a Belgian martial arts actor with zero acting skills is performing the usual one-dimensional henchman with no character depth whatsoever. The plot feels truncated and all too familiar. My one complaint about this film is that the volume was so loud that my ears almost popped out of my head when I was at the theater for the first screening.

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Films 101

A description of the shorts:

Her Unlikely Kin DIR: Kenneth J. Raimondi 15 MIN.

Sarah Rassi needs a bone marrow transplant and her only match is troubled war veteran Peyton Sinclair. Her Unlikely Kin tells the story of two strangers, who by rare genetic chance, can offer each other new life.

Dixie DIR: Armaan Uplekar 14 MIN.

Rhett and Deacon, two white teenagers growing up in rural Florida, commit a brutal hate crime. In the aftermath, Rhett finds himself having to reconcile his guilt, his beliefs and his relationship and Deacon pushes him towards further violence.

Compassionate Release DIR: Kate Li 11 MIN.

A long-ago crime to which she never admitted comes back to haunt Laura when her daughter is killed in a tragic accident.

Dead Roses DIR: John Fuentes 12 MIN.

When an elite Russian assassin's personal and professional life clash and an assignment go terribly wrong, Karina wants to escape the family business. The only way out is to betray her vicious uncle Niko, the Head of the Syndicate and lethal cousin, Yana, making her target #1.

Drone DIR: Justin S. Lee 14 MIN.

A rookie Air Force drone pilot finds himself increasingly attached to a target he watches from halfway around the world.

Queens DIR: Lucas Omar 4 MIN.

After spending a romantic night in a hotel, Sadie Goodwyn, the Southern Belle Prom Queen, wakes up to find her jock boyfriend Tommy Little wearing her prom dress.

Hush DIR: Whitney Clinkscales 14 MIN.

When a young ballerina performs as little red riding hood, the line between art and life blurs, and a real monster looms. As opening night approaches, she finds herself wanting to confide in a fellow dancer, but also afraid of the consequences.

You Are Always On Time DIR: Yiding Ma 7 MIN.

It has always bothered Rebecca that her husband John was late for her 18th birthday picnic. When she finds herself back in time on her 60th birthday, she tries to intervene to make the picnic perfect. Instead, she learns a valuable lesson about where the problem really started.

Graveyard Girl DIR: Chloe Lind 8 MIN.

Margaret, a lonely, ghost-story writer living in a graveyard for inspiration, meets a punk ghost named Grace. The two teach each other to accept life and afterlife.

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My take on the shorts:

Her Unlikely Kin: At first, I thought it was going to be a story set in a middle-eastern country. But, as I watched the film, it starts in the middle of the story and it was told through flashback. The relationship between Sarah and Peyton at times feels heartwarming and nurturing between a war veteran and a young girl. It is a truly remarkable story.

Dixie: A shockingly provocative film, discussing the most complex topic in the country, racism. It is difficult to hate these characters, since they are obviously white supremacists basking on white nationalism, but underneath the exterior, they are human and have faults of their own. The character of Rhett, is extremely complex and three-dimensional, you hate what he stands for, but he sheds some human emotion and vulnerability on the screen.

Compassionate Release: It is a unique character driven-short film that has been occupying Laura throughout, guilt. It is an interesting film, but it might need a little bit more character development for Laura.

Dead Roses: After watching this film, it felt flawed technical-wise. While the film is trying to capture the political espionage thrillers from Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy, the character of Katrina and the actress portraying her felt flat. Her accent comes off as artificial and unauthentic. The effects in the film are computer generated and the audio portion of the film is off on the right portion of the film as it is running.

Drone: Felt extremely well-made and professional looking from the perspective of a rookie Air Force drone pilot and the office of where he works. I was curious as to how the filmmaker was able to film a middle-eastern village from the perspective of the drone and what the pilot was looking at.

Queens: An interesting comedic touch with LGBTQ themes to reflect on transvestism, cross-dressing, and gender relationships. A humorous film that is delightful.

Hush: I felt interested in this short film at first, with reality overlapping fantasy. From the ballet stage to the cold frosty forest as she is being followed. It has a gothic ethereal atmosphere almost taken from the pages of Val Lewton and his rule of not showing the unknown.

You Are Always On Time: An interesting science fiction/fantasy short film about an older woman who can turn back time to fix her mistakes in the past. Smart and intelligent. One of the rare short films featuring an elder character as the main protagonist that I have seen.

Graveyard Girl: Fun, quirky and extremely short. I was expecting more out of this short. Instead, it was limited to a ghost-story writer and a punk ghost having a brief conversation after she was following it.

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One More Time|DIR: Robert Edwards|95 MIN.|USA|COMEDY, DRAMA, MUSIC|

When an aspiring rocker (Amber Heard) moves back in with her father (Christopher Walken), an aging star charting a comeback, tensions rise, but their lives begin to change forever.

Review:

This comedy film featuring Amber Heard and Christopher Walken is interesting since they are the only two talents throughout the film whose performances stand out. Part of the usual showbiz type family movie, where the relationship between the daughter and the father are in the forefront, it felt repetitive and somewhat common. Walken as the aging singer desperate for a comeback has a few qups of his own in the picture as well as being an irresponsible grandfather to his grandson when he hands him a handful of magazines featuring nudies. He is also a terrific singer which he shows off in the film for the nightclub performances from beginning to end.

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Everybody Wants Some|DIR: Richard Linklater|116 MIN.|USA|COMEDY

A "spiritual sequel" to Dazed and Confused set in the world of 1980 college life, Everybody Wants Some is a comedy that follows a group of friends as they navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood. Get ready for the best weekend ever.

Review:

As I watched this film from beginning to end, it was nothing but gratuitous sex, drink and drugs all throughout the film. In the tradition of films from Porky's, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Animal House, and other teen sex comedies of the decade, the raw perverted sexual nature and drug-inducement nature of the film felt very boring. Utilizing cliches and one-dimensional stereotypes found in these films made it uninspiring, unoriginal and just an excuse to show off 1980s nostalgia with no character depth and analysis.

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