Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Room 236 (Unlawful Justice)

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Room 236 (Unlawful Justice) Directed By Wilfredo Torres & Armin Alic

Plot : When a cop who’s willing to sink to the criminals’ level in order to take them on crosses path with a rogue mob boss his misdeeds eventually come home to roost. He breaks the law to, in his mind, bring some semblance of order to a chaotic world.

Thoughts From The Popcorn Gallery:

If that plot sounds familiar it should it resembles the plot of any 80’s movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell or Jean-Claude Van Damme or more recently the TV show (The Shield). It’s been a while since I’ve seen an indie film that left left me wanting to see what they could have done with a real budget and a tighter story. Now I sat down with the filmmakers before the premiere and spoke to them about this project. This journey has been a long one for them as this film has been in production for 3 years. What started out as a concept trailer turned into a full blown feature; one that had no script nor structure and one that they basically learned as they went. Now, I’m one to say “ARE YOU CRAZY” this will be a disaster but, as it turns out it wasn’t a disaster. Is the film perfect? No not by any means, however, there is enough there that left me saying these guys pulled it off. Now the version I saw in the premiere was 3:30 hours, way too long for an action film which should be a quick 1:30 or so, but the filmmakers assured me this version was only for all those who helped out, so they could see themselves on screen. As much as I think that was nice of them, it’s never good business to show a film to investor nor media thats not 100% the version your gonna release. Mainly because once you recut the film and add the proper music and reshoot certain scenes, you will end up with a different film.

Now lets start with the review, the film opens up with our hero cop, played by Wilfredo Torres, driving like a mad man with his partner in tow, played by Luis Antonio, racing to a 911 call and the scene plays out really well and funny to boot. I give a lot of props to the co-director and editor of the film, Armin Alic, for his nice work here and throughout the film, he shows promise, and also to Wilfredo for taking on both Acting and Directing a tough job to do. After this scene, which is intercut with the mayor talking to the head of the police dept. about needing to clean up this town, we are introduced to the bad guy mob boss, played by Russell Clifford. Now he and his gang of thugs apparently are into everything from robbery to drugs, however, his motivation to do what he does throughout the film is never truly explained. Anyways, The Boss, as he is called, sends his thugs to rob a bar in which they do while our hero cop just happens to be there when the robbery goes down. Now the thugs are under orders not to kill anyone, but of course they do and things go down hill from there. Now this scene is an example when they were winging it with no script as the tension isn’t really there, and the chaos on the screen looks more like no one knows what to do. It does have a cool violent kill scene with a character I thought they shouldn’t have killed, played by Sher Shearey. I could have seen her more in the film as the troublemaker who causes chaos and danger for our lead character. There are a few other characters that I liked though out the film, the two main thugs, played by Kory Kay and Kerly Meus, plus a kick ass fight between Quan Ngo and Anthony Giovanni Ellias that got the audience going. In fact there are a lot of good little scenes throughout the film that get laughs and applauses from the audience. Actor Wade Williams pops in the middle of the film and gets a few laughs from the audience, but his strong performance can’t help the fact that his character feels like an afterthought. There is a real good bad guy that pops up in the middle of the film that kills a cop and then does a massacre that leaves the film open for a sequel, I only wished he was introduced better and used as a true antagonist. Unfortunately, the lack of a script and story structure hurt this film.

Technically the audio and sound effects needs work as I couldn’t hear the dialogue a few times and the sound effects were to loud, The acting was a hit and miss. But if they fix all their mistakes you got yourself one pretty good film as your first film.

Over all the filmmakers get a A for the effort but a C- for the film. Now if its recut and fixed, it could be a B-. Congratulation Guys Great Job!


Review: The Laughing Mask (2014)

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The Laughing Mask (Written & Directed by Michael Aguiar)

Plot : A grisly murder perpetrated by a deranged killer, Jake Johnson’s wife and daughter were murdered by a Psychotic vigilante only known as The Laughing Mask. As the police look for clues and the body count begins to rise, Johnson will play a dangerous game in order to avenge his family’ death… (from IMDB)

Thoughts From The Popcorn Gallery:

The film poster has a great image with a guy in a very cool mask harking back to the 80’s with films like Friday The 13th, My Bloody Valentine, and Halloween. So going in to this film I had some expectation that this was going to be a cool throw back to those days. The picture starts with a girl tied to a chair with the killer and his ghostly laugh. The killer looks through his vast array of weapons choosing one, and as the girl cries out, he kills her. So far a good start but sadly the film will only have a few good parts throughout its short run time. Let’s start with the script, which was a rehash of every other horror/revenge type film you’ve seen before. There are two plot lines moving at the same time between the cops looking for a drug dealer/pimp and the killer who is killing off all the bad guys, sound familiar? The dialogue was awful throughout the film and characters said things and did things that were just Laughable. The film tries to have a surprise twist ending of who the killer and drug dealer are, but honestly it was easy to figure out 10mins into the film. The music did not help at all as it did not have the creepiness nor suspense that would have taken the scenes to another level (Think how Halloween or Friday The 13th would have sounded like with no creepy suspenseful score.) music is 50% of your film. The editing had its issues but I have a feeling it was the lack of good direction during production. The camera work was okay, but there was nothing special about it as the camera was used in its basic level. There were no creepy lighting, no creepy angles, no real attempt at a visual style. As I understand it was shot in 4k on a Red but honestly it looked more like a regular DSLR camera. The film missed out on having any tension, suspense and cool kills and horror moments, well except for the Jack In The Box scene. The audio was almost completely ADR which leaves me to wonder what happened to the NAT sounds in the recordings. It is a tough thing to do ADR, and if you don’t do it right your film comes off as a badly dubbed Chinese film. There are several good programs out there that could have fixed the NAT sound if they had issues with it. The acting was a hit and miss throughout the film, but it might go back to the weak script as some of the actors, specifically the two leads had some good moments. Now there are some parts in the film that I liked, like the strip club scene where the killer faces off with a bouncer and pulls an Indiana Jones then calls over for a drink and pays for it and another scene that also got some good laughs was as the killer goes to kill the final victim with a gardening shears. But in the end the filmmaker missed out on making a really cool horror mask into the next villain icon. Instead we are left with as a cheep knockoff of The Punisher and Dexter..

Over all the filmmakers get an A for the effort but an F for the film.


Review: The Film Slam (Dec 2014)

The Film Slam kicks off its 10th year with 8 new shorts. As alway host Tim Anderson selected an interesting collection of shorts from a masked killer, 2 music videos, 2 Documentaries and a mockumentary to an experimental and drama film. Let’s begin..

Thoughts From The Popcorn Gallery:

The 1st film “Sonadora” Directed by Lauren Kesler

A documentary about a young woman Andrea Haro from rural Pintag, Ecuador, who dreams to better herself, learn English, and graduate from the University. Almost completely in Spanish with subtitles I found myself a little lost at the message the documentary was trying to convey. My Spanish is pretty good, but I have a feeling it was the way the filmmaker approached the doc by introducing the person in charge of the Manna Project International and their goals about education in the region of Ecuador. We are then introduced to Andrea and her family and by the end of the 6 plus mins doc we are left with the hope that Andrea will achieve her dream. (Not a bad doc, short and sweet, albeit a little confusing at first)

The 2nd Film “Medium Justice” Directed by Reggie Peters & Masood Ahmed

A film about a masked killer seeking out justice. At first glance this film has some good cinematography and good performance, however that doesn’t make it a good film. What hurts this film is the story or the lack there of, it doesn’t really know what it wants to be, it seems like 2 films in one. First it looks like a Punisher style film. Then suddenly it’s a Halloween rip off with the Mr Sandman playing as the soundtrack, which totally shut me off. I wanted to like it and parts of it I did; the filming, acting and cinematography. However, the filmmakers need to decide whether they want this to be a horror film or a Punisher comic book type film.  Oh, and the title “Medium Justice” has to go. Also I can tell by the visual style of the film the filmmakers like John Carpenter 80’s style filmmaking so they got to be careful here because there is a fine line between paying homage and coping.

The 3rd Film “Lesson Learned” Directed by Charles Frisby

Lesson Learned is a music video which is actually a lot of fun as it is set in the late 80’s about a guy who got dumped. The music from artist Louie St. Claire is actually pretty catchy and his personality comes across the screen, as you can see he had a lot of fun doing this video. Charles added some cheesy yet fun looking CG with some great edits to complete this video. Fun Fact: Charles Frisby’s film “Broken Triangle” aired on ICS season 3 Ep 3.

The 4th Film “SP#13” Directed by Carl Knickerbocker

Carl Knickerbocker films are alway experimental, strange and short. Not much else to say.

The 5th Film “Life Between Us” Directed by Jones Levenon

The film is about an elderly woman who confronts a young intruder, whom then, in turn, helps her answer some of life’s greatest questions. This film was shot really well with only some minor flaws, but the story was the real issue and it could have been edited down a little shorter. The young man is not really likable in the film because the story sets him up as some sort of a stalker/bad boyfriend. The filmmaker tries within the story to make him charming by having him appear nude at the elderly woman’s house for a cheap laugh. She then calmly asks him to leave, but honestly the real reaction would have been screams and police sirens. The actress playing the elderly women does a good job, but there are parts that she does come across as dry. The movie tries to make itself as a thinking film, but in the end it left me not really caring about the characters even at the final frame. There are some really neat ideas in the film (Life & Death, What is the meaning of life & What happens at the end) but the script really needed a few more re-writes and tweaks to have made it what it really wanted to be.

The 6th Film “The Ring” Directed by Christopher Gotera

A Documentary about a young boxer who is on the rise. However after we learn he had a major injury, the documentary ends without us really seeing or hearing about his victories or defeats. The doc is well done with the footage they had, but unless we will see a part 2 we will never really learn anything more about this young boxer.

The 7th Film “Words” Directed by Dale Metz

Dale started his career as a photographer and he is slowly becoming one hell of a DP. This music video is another great example of his visual work. The song is okay, not as catchy as the first music video in this review but thats besides the point. There are a few little flaws such as with the editing, for example when the singer began to sing, it took a few seconds to really figure out who were the actors and who was the singer. The editing of the story here is a little hit and miss, but the visuals and Dale’s eye really take center stage. Fun Fact: Dales Metz first film “See” was shown on ICS season 3 Ep 1.

The 8th and Final Film “Dirty Justice” Directed be TL Westgate

What  can we say about TL Westgate… He loves the 48 hour film challenge, and his films never fail to impress. His strong suit is comedy and he has another winner on his hands with this film. This mockumentary is a look at a new fake film called Dirty Justice, as told through the eyes of a fake TV news outlet “Excess Hollywood”. What ensues is a belly full of laughs as TL pokes fun at every stereotype in Hollywood, from a fake British actor to a coked out Latin drug dealer who manages to play the same roles over and over. There is nothing negative to say about this short, except to say: TL it’s time for you to take that comedic mind and do a feature. The ICS team helped out in the production and in acting so I am a little biased about this film.

Over all great job to all the filmmakers and a great kick off to the Film Slams 10th year….


Review: Nova Road (2014) Short Film

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Nova Road (Written by Michelle Brown) (Directed by Ashton Bracciodieta)

Plot : This rural country road is known for more tragedies due to drag racing than anywhere else in the country. Local urban legends tell us it’s something else. What really happens on Nova Road? Based on a true story. (from IMDB)

Thoughts From The Popcorn Gallery:

Being invited to a new film with a first time director, unknown actors and a new writer is always a hit or miss. Mix that with almost an entire cast of kids and you got a recipe for disaster, that is unless you hit the casting lotto and your director hits one out of the park. Getting to the premiere you had a great atmosphere with parents and kids excited to see the film they all worked hard on. So the film opens up with a young girl being discovered alone at the side of the road, by her appearance she looks as if she was in an accident of some sort. The couple who discover her are distressed and call for help; as they do the young girl slowly turns toward the camera and smiles a scary smile. What a great start to this short film! We are then introduced to 2 young teenagers on the beach (Riley played by Madison Guthrie) and (Chris played be Tyler Perez), and instantly I smile because not only is the cinematography good but so is the sound and acting. Anyone who has shot on the beach knows that the wind can be hell to your sound, yet this sound is clean and perfect. As the film progresses, the story about Nova Road starts to open up. Chris and Riley, now in their car, drive down Nova Road, and they come across a girl stranded on the side of the road. As they pull over, the screen cuts to black and we find Riley, now along the middle of the road, bloodied with a strange mark on her wrist and her brother missing. From there we learn that there are many deaths and strange disappearances on Nova Road, The police are frustrated and feel the kids were drag racing or horsing around at the time of their accident. For Riley she just wants to know what happen to her brother and how that stretch of road has something to do with all of it. What Director Ashton Bracciodieta does with this short film shows his understanding of suspense and editing. Cinematographer Daniel Guadalupe and Composer Uriah Ocean Peterson did a great job capturing Ashton’s vision. Working with young actors can be tough, but Michelle Brown’s script captures their dialogue perfectly and Ashton’s direction really brought out their best. Now, it’s not a perfect film, as there are a few out of focus shots and few week performances, however, this is not enough to really take away from the film. The script needed a little bit more polishing but nothing to really complain about as this film is a short that is being pitched for a feature, which gives them time to finesse the script. In the end, the film leaves us on a cliff hanger that has me hoping they can raise the funds to do the feature. There were some good standouts in this film, namely Madison Guthrie, who’s performance really took the film to the next level and director Ashton Bracciodieta, who is someone to look out for in the future.

Over all the film gets a sold B-


Podcast: Florida Film Festival 2013 Day 7-10

Days 7, 8 & 9 of the Florida Film Fest were busy ones for us at ICS! We’ve been busting our humps to bring you the best from the Florida Film Festival, and even landed exclusive interviews with Hitchcock leading lady and big cat activist, Tippi Hedren, and actress/stuntwoman/all around badass, Zoe Bell! Stay tuned…

 

We’ll be back momentarily with Days 8, 9 & 10 but in the meantime, please listen to Day 7’s wrap up here:

https://archive.org/details/ICSFFFPodcastDay7

 

The Enzian lawn was packed with Tarantino fans!

More fun from the FFF 2013 after this short break…

Thank you to everyone out there for listening! We hope you enjoy our ramblings about the Florida Film Festival, among other things. To those of you watching our MegaConvention Web Exclusive on Vimeo and YouTube – THANK YOU! We are blown away at the number of views this and our other episodes of ICS are getting. It makes us very proud, and we’re glad you are listening!

 

Shout outs to:

  • Christina Carmona
  • Nando Torres
  • David Kuskie
  • Jay De Los Santos
  • Kate Ramsey
  • TL Westgate

Apologies to:

  • Our listeners
  • Wallpaper
  • Ghosts
  • Truffle Fries

Shame on:

  • Jen Vargas
  • Sleep in general

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Podcast: Florida Film Festival 2013 Day 6

Day 6 of the Florida Film Festival began early (for us filmmakers!) with the panel portion of our fest. This morning’s Our Digital Future: Innovation at the Intersection of Creativity and Technology discussion, sponsored by Disney, was a great start. Panelists included Senior Computer Graphics Supervisor André Thomas of EA Sports, Creative Marketing Consultant, Evan Jones of Snap! Orlando, founder and Chief Storytelling Officer of Orlando innovation studio IDEAS Bob Allen, and moderator Chip Weston, painter, photographer, graphic artist, and Course Director of New Media and Social Media at Full Sail University. In tonight’s podcast we explore our digital age, enjoy some truffle fries and a few Quentin Tarantinis from Eden Bar in honor of tonight’s Wednesday Night Pitcher Show at FFF, PULP FICTION!

The Enzian lawn was packed with Tarantino fans!

The Enzian lawn was packed with Tarantino fans!

Thank you to everyone out there for listening! We hope you enjoy our ramblings about the Florida Film Festival, among other things. To those of you watching our MegaConvention Web Exclusive on Vimeo and YouTube – THANK YOU! We are blown away at the number of views this and our other episodes of ICS are getting. It makes us very proud, and we’re glad you are watching (and listening)!

Listen HERE: http://archive.org/details/ICSFFFPodcastDay6

Joining us on Day 6; ICS Photographer Nando “Fancy Boots” Torres (of Atomic Phoenix Photography), ICS Hostess Christina CarmonaICS Production Assistant/Gaffer/Sound/Miscellaneous Wrangler/Zombie Fluffer/Choreographer Dangerous Dave Kuskie, Producer Jen Vargas (who really should look into that whole ‘sleep’ thing), local photographer Vanessa Benoit, ICS Executive Producer and Editor Gerald Godbout III, Producer Allan “Lefty” Marrero (and his lovely wife Jennifer), and ICS Camera Op Jay De Los Santos makes a very brief appearance between breaks. A great companion video to tonight’s podcast…


Shout outs to:

Apologies to:

  • The British Empire
  • SIR Anthony Hopkins
  • SIR Alfred Hitchcock
  • DAME Judi Dench
  • Short Attention Span Theater
  • Silence
  • The Future
  • Anyone who ISN’T at the 2013 Florida Film Festival

Shame on:

  • Lazy filmmakers
  • Aderall
  • ADHD Posers
  • Winking

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Podcast: Florida Film Festival 2013 Day 5

Hump Day 5 of the Florida Film Festival was DOCtacular!! More beautiful weather, lots of documentary (short and feature) love, more delicious food and a bottle of Mexican Coke. Thank you to everyone out there for listening! We hope you enjoy our ramblings about the Florida Film Festival, among other things. HUGE thank yous to the love all of you have shown our MegaConvention Web Exclusive! We are at 9,000 views and climbing! Incidentally, we now have a very pretty and handsome Indie Cinema Showcase Channel on Vimeo. Please do take a gander…

Listen HERE: https://archive.org/details/ICSFFFPodcastDay5

Joining us on Day 5; ICS Photographer Nando Torres (of Atomic Phoenix Photography), ICS Production Assistant/Gaffer/Sound/Miscellaneous Wrangler/Zombie Fluffer Dangerous David Kuskie, Producer Jen Vargas (resident MexiCANT), ICS Executive Producer and Editor Gerald Godbout III and ICS Camera Op Jay De Los Santos. ICS Hostess Christina Carmona had the night off but received many timely shout outs, as per her contract. We’ve had a few people text us about sitting in on the podcast, which is exciting! Stay tuned to see who might sit in with us next…

Zombie @ohaiitskira wants you to see Cockneys VS Zombies Regal Winter Park Village this Friday at 10pm and Ghost Team One on Saturday (same place) @ 9:30pm for even more real life zombies and ghosts!

Zombie @ohaiitskira wants you to see Cockneys VS Zombies Regal Winter Park Village this Friday at 10pm and Ghost Team One on Saturday (same place) @ 9:30pm for even more real life zombies and ghosts!

Shout outs to:

Apologies to:

Shame on:

  • YouTube

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Podcast: Florida Film Festival 2013 Day 4

Day 4 of the Florida Film Festival was VERY filling thanks to Joe Esposito and the crew from Buca di Beppo of Maitland, Florida! We went a little longer again, did a little dancing, got a little devine, Eden Bar got a little loud… and we loved every minute of it! Fernando thinks our podcast should be named “Shout Outs and Apologies,” so we’re going with that. Thoughts? Concerns? Are you digging us? Is anyone listening? Why is the sky blue?

Joining us on Day 4; ICS Hostess Christina Carmona, panda loving ICS Photographer Nando Torres (of Atomic Phoenix Photography), ICS Production Assistant/Gaffer/Sound/Miscellaneous Wrangler Dangerous David Kuskie, Producer Jen Vargas (who got a solid 6 hours of sleep!) and a very brief, distant cameo from artist Kate Ramsey and her documentary film director mister, Chris. Thank you for listening to us ramble. We appreciate you!

Listen HERE: https://archive.org/details/ICSFFFPodcastDay4

Shout outs to:

Apologies to:

  • Everyone listening past the 30 minute mark
  • Glenn Danzig
  • Anyone who ISN’T at the 2013 Florida Film Festival
  • Irony

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Podcast: Florida Film Festival 2013 Day 3

Day 3 of the Florida Film Festival was… relaxed. Beautiful weather, lots of people watching, a ton of laughs, MANY shout outs with marginal apologies.

Listen HERE: http://archive.org/details/ICSFFFPodcastDay3

Joining us on Day 3; ICS Hostess Christina Carmona, vocally restored ICS Photographer Nando Torres (of Atomic Phoenix Photography), ICS Production Assistant/Gaffer/Sound/Miscellaneous Wrangler Dangerous David Kuskie, Producer Jen Vargas (who apologizes in advance), and new to the podcast, past Popcorn Gallery panelist, filmmaker Chris Collins, new photographer to Central Florida Vanessa Benoit and our Executive Producer and Editor Gerald Godbout III! Anyone is welcome to join us, by the way. No particular format, clearly.

[Allison Walter did not join us – it’s her birthday (yester)today!! Peter Hoang and Jay De Los Santos were again away on work commitments, but don’t lose hope!]

FYI: Vanessa Benoit is in the witness relocation program. Don't tell anyone.

FYI: Vanessa Benoit (L) is in the witness relocation program. Don’t tell anyone.

Shout outs to:

  • Greg Nicotero and all his boss makeup/fx folks
  • Brandon Tartikoff, TV theme songs & The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
  • Baby Jesuses/Jesui
  • Scott Bakula
  • Yelp Orlando
  • Christina Carmona
  • Vanessa Benoit (may/may not be her real name)

Apologies to:

  • Baby Jesuses
  • Baby Jasons
  • Will Smith
  • Apostrophes
  • Zombies
  • The elderly
  • Anyone who ISN’T at the 2013 Florida Film Festival

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Podcast: Florida Film Festival 2013 Day 2

Due to technical circumstances beyond our control, though recorded, our 2nd podcast does not exist. It was so awesome no one can ever hear it, including us. We’ll be back on Sunday! In the meantime, if you missed our first Costco-sized inaugural podcast wrap up of Opening Night of the Florida Film Festival, you may listen here:

https://archive.org/details/ICSTVFFFDay1Podcast

Joining us on Day 2 were; ICS Hostess Christina Carmona, ICS Photographer Nando Torres (of Atomic Phoenix Photography), ICS Production Assistant/Gaffer/Sound/Miscellaneous Wrangler David Kuskie and Producer Jen Vargas (who isn’t really typing this). [We lost Allison WalterPeter Hoang and Jay De Los Santos tonight to work commitments but they will be back soon!]

David and Christina shared an awkward prom dance and photo in the parking lot. It was deliriously awkward. Relive the magic.

(Missing: Braces and AquaNet)

Enchantment Under the Squee 2013

Shout outs were given to:

Apologies humbly go out to:

  • You!
  • Christina
  • David
  • Nando
  • Awkward Prom Dances and taffeta

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