Thursday, June 2

7 Word Reviews of IMAF2011 Videos Seen

So, for a while now, I've been thinking about writing up some 7-word reviews (that's kind of become my thing - 7 word reviews. Well, one of my things) of the videos I saw at this year's Island Media Arts Festival.  Wanted to do it right after the screenings, to keep it fresh.  Then I didn't do it.  Then I thought "well, the time has passed" and decided not to do it.  Then I thought "what the hell, just do it" and then I did it.  That's a lot of "thens".

Overall, I enjoyed the two nights of screeenings I saw.  Generally speaking, it's obvious that a lot of people have some pretty stout talents when it comes to shooting videos, and making them look really nice.  I did find myself wishing, though, that there were more people who were more interested in telling stories than they were in making videos look nice.

Anyway, here are some 7 word reviews.  With only 7 words, you might have to read between the lines quite a bit, and likely my meaning at times will be confusing as I attempt to have some specific word imply a whole paragraph of opinion.


And Yet I Blame Hollywood – Dave Stewart : A series of five two-minute movie reviews, in animated form.

 My 7 Word Review:  Sharply written. Distinct animation and characters. Succeeds.  (disclosure: I did some voice-work for some of these episodes)


Bunny Bop; Episode One – Cheryl Wagner : Episode One of a 15 episode web series for kids. It features young kids in bunny suits at play in a wondrous garden setting.

 My 7 Word Review: Cute, bright, short. Kids should love this.


Pabst Blue Ribbon – Jeremy Larter : A nod to David Lynch and Dennis Hopper.

 My 7 Word Review:  Didn't get any Lynch or Hopper vibe.


The New Neighbours – Susan Rodgers : When new neighbours move in to the apartment across the hall, they start making some strange sounds in the morning.

 My 7 Word Review: Disliked this. Too slow. Too long. Unfunny.


Billy Pelican; Reality TV – Neil Wiley/Richard DesRoches : A short film done in “vlog” form.

 My 7 Word Review: Dated.  Mercer rant ripoff. Well performed, though.


Mr. Happy – Pamela Lovelace : A man with particular tastes gets more than he bargained for at this particular coffee shop.

 My 7 Word Review: Liked at beginning. Bored by the end.


20 Steps Toronto – Jeremy Larter : 20 shots around Nathan Phillips Square in 20 step increments.

 My 7 Word Review: Rather aimless and random. Looked nice though.


Colour Code – Errol Richardson : The band Colour Code rehearses to syncopated lights.

 My 7 Word Review: Nice, but ran out of steam, visually.

A Time to Drum; Chapter Two – Susan Rodgers : Chapter two in a web series about dreams set against the backdrop of pipe band drumming. It is a passion project by a Mom whose son Christopher lives for music.

 My 7 Word Review: Long and self-absorbed. Desperately needs editor. 

Three Amigos Buy a Door – John Christenson : Three friends, member of the NB film co-op are tasked to improve the security of the co-op office by acquiring a new door. However, long-time friends or not, they soon find that they don’t quite work in sync.

 My 7 Word Review: Amateurish, uninspired. Humour misses. Made by technicians? 

Food Country; Brookfield Gardens – Adam Perry : One episode of the Food Country series featuring Chef Michael Smith as he tours PEI, talking to the people who produce the food we eat. And then making marvellous dishes.

 My 7 Word Review: Visually beautiful. Charming, warm, educational. Well done.

Now and Then – Millefiore Clarkes : One episode of the ten part series produced by ‘this town is small’ featuring PEI musicians in locations of significance around Charlottetown.

 My 7 Word Review: Simple, well executed. Don't remember song, though.

How to Be Alone – Andrea Dorfman/Tanya Davis : A quiet film that explores the delight one can find in being alone.

 (this video had technical difficulties so we didn't see it at the festival.  However, I had watched it on the internet, so this is a review of that experience)  My 7 Word Review: Turned it off halfway through.  Too precious.

December in Toronto – Millefiore Clarkes : A sense-weaving journey to Toronto through the single gaze of the traveller.

 My 7 Word Review: Visually rich. Bit chaotic and random. Liked.

Hat – Adam Perry : A farmer goes to his barn for some entertainment. Music video for Racoon Bandit’s song “Hat”.

 My 7 Word Review: Like everything about this: idea, song, execution.

Trans-Anne – Jason Rogerson : Anne and Diana tear down the highway in a ’75 Trans-Am in this Thelma and Louise inspired re-telling of the LM Montgomery classic.

 My 7 Word Review: Some funny bits, but too unwieldy, story-wise.  (disclosure: I play the title character)


IMAF Gala: Ten of PEI’s Best Shorts

Lucky 7 – Jason Rogerson : A comedy that follows the insanity that ensues after an office lotto pool hits the jackpot. Lucky 7 was the winner of the first PEI CBC 321 Award in 2010.


My 7 Word Review: Good performances, but story ends three-quarters through.  (disclosure: I act in this)


Rituals of December – Jeremy Larter : A moment of poetry with poet John MacKenzie.


My 7 Word Review: Liked performance, but video uninspired. Hide paper.


Reforestation – Laura Stewart : A man, fed up with everyday life ventures into the forest to find something new.


My 7 Word Review: Me likey.  More like this please. Kudos.


The Invasion of the Horrible Alien Brain Monsters from Outer Space in 3D – Fox Henderson : A hommage to the films of Ed Wood. The Brain Queen comes to earth to find a place to breed her horrible alien brain monsters. It is up to Dr. Jack Hammer to stop her.


My 7 Word Review: Half liked, half disliked. Not funny enough.


None 2 Some – Dennis Trainor : A brother and sister duo loose their mother and come up with a unique way to try to find her.


My 7 Word Review: Liked its low-budgetness. Strong characters, well performed.


The Islanders – Brian Pollard : This documentary is a nostalgic look at life on PEI in the 19th and early 20th centuries – a time when inhabitants referred to the Island at their “country” despite its diminutive size.


My 7 Word Review:  Too many pictures.  Wanted to see interviewees..


Anna di Timpiani Verde – Rob MacDonald : What if Anne of Green Gables was a 1970′s Italian Art Film? That’s the premise behind Anna di Timpani Verde, a reimagining of the iconic characters from the novel.


My 7 Word Review: I have a large fondness for this.  (disclosure: I wrote and directed this)


Harbour Town – Adam Perry : One episode of the ten part series produced by ‘this town is small’ featuring PEI musicians in locations of significance around Charlottetown.


My 7 Word Review: Starkness works. Well executed.  Hide that cord?


Automocar – Gavin Keen : The Danks take a trip to the carnival.


My 7 Word Review: Good looking music video. Enjoyed watching this.


The Bath – JoDee Samuelson : The story of a elderly woman, as she finds reprieve from daily life in the simple act of taking of a bath.

 (picture isn't linking) 

My 7 Word Review: Haven't tired of seeing this yet. Great!


Vast – Harmony Wagner : A young boy wakes up to discover he is the last person on Earth and he has to find out why.

 My 7 Word Review: Liked it, but found it too antiseptic.  (also, and more than 7 words, I was bugged that the description of the video turned out to be a lie.  SPOILER:  boy isn't the last person on Earth and it's not really about him having to find out why.  A minor thing, but it bugged me.)





Matt Bowness said...

I like this Rob. I think the film community needs more honest reviews. It's tough to improve without honest feedback. If I could paint in broad stokes for a moment, I feel like a lot of the time the writing is an after-thought on many local productions.

Jasarsenault said...

I agree with a lot of this but a few of these videos were merely technical exercises/camera/sound tests, nothing more (I was involved with one). I think the comments made are entirely fair considering these videos were part of the festival program, though I'm not sure why the programmers felt these pieces should be included and presented as though they were films; they were not. Perhaps we need both film commentary and festival criticism to keep things improving? Either way, I like this thread/idea a lot!!

Rob MacD said...

Jason, I understand, and agree with, your comment that some of them were merely exercises, and also with your wondering whether, as such, some should have been included. My guess is that the programmers want to have a full-blown multi-day festival but PEI doesn't really have the content/talent base to justify a full-blown multi-day festival.
I think the next step PEIsland film-makers need is to be subjected to constructive commentary and criticism. I don't think it's enough, now, to be lauded simply for having something finished. I think content/talent needs to be addressed more.