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All posts for the month October, 2013

Face Off: Season 5 Episode 12-Bye Bye Birdy!

Published October 31, 2013 by vfdpixie

As the artists look back on the last episode, Roy felt the judges were harsh.  He really wanted to make it to the finale.

For their last Spotlight Challenge, they went to the Burbank Airport where they were met by McKenzie and animal specialist Dave Salmoni.  They had to create a human bird hybrid from one of the birds Dave brought for them to study.  They were all beautiful and unique, and the artists were fascinated by them.

Laura picked the Umbrella Cockatoo.  She decided to create an aging, molting bird/human because these birds tend to live a long time.  She created a lot of work for herself with a separate cowl, face and feet sculpts, as well as making giant feathers, but she managed to finish everything so she could concentrate on the details during last looks.  Aside from the big fuzzy suit, the judges loved the character of the face.  They felt she captured the essence of the human hybrid.  She was the only one the incorporated flesh tones and they thought she was an intelligent designer.

Tate worked with the Egyptian Vulture.  He created a mummy-like body and with the suggestion of Mr. Westmore, a moveable beak.  His sculpt was huge and he wondered if he had gone too big.  Overcoming a slightly big head piece, he ended up creating a great makeup.  I loved this look, and the judges pointed out all the detailed paint work.  They thought it had a great profile, with a theatrical approach and it was an intelligent design.

Roy went for the Blue-throated Macaw.  He decided on a military surveillance bird.  His design was so big, that it toppled over when he was molding it.  He managed to salvage and patch it up.  He was really determined to finish.  The judges hated some black lines on the face, but they loved all the fabrications and recognized the huge amount of work he did.

Miranda picked the Silvery Cheeked Hornbill.  She really wanted to work on her time management and to redeem herself, but once again, she fell behind.  Spending too much time on her face sculpt left her little time to do anything else for the look.  The judges loved her sculpt, but felt the monotone paint job was too basic and the rest of the makeup looked slapped on.

When it came down to the wire, the judges picked well.  Tate was the winner of this final challenge and the first to go to the finale.  They loved his conceptualization and high caliber of work.  Laura was the second to make it due to her aging decision with the makeup.  The third person going to the finale was Roy!  He said he was going to make it and he did!  They like the overall form of his piece and the huge amount of work he did in such a short amount of time.

Sadly, Miranda had to go home.  The judges know what a beautiful sculptor she is but thought she played it safe.  She was grateful for the chance to be on the show again, and would take away a lot with what she learned.  I know with all her talent that she will do really, really well!  And so we’re off to the finale next week!

Face Off Season 5 Episode 11-Dark Elves

Published October 31, 2013 by vfdpixie

The numbers are dwindling!  Roy and Laura were sad that Eddie was gone, and they missed his smile and positive attitude.  Laney told Tate that she wasn’t having fun anymore and was homesick, but she wanted to focus and get on with the competition.

The 5 artists met at Kenneth Hahn State Park where they found their next challenge.  They faced giant stone structures with runic symbols on them.  Vikings believed that runes granted them special powers in battle.  They had to create a dark elf warrior from Norse mythology that had to embody the symbol’s attributes.  The catch was that they would find out the symbol’s meaning only after they chose one.

Laney chose the rune Eihwaz which represented Immortality.  She had trouble getting into this challenge.  She wasn’t into it and broke down in tears.  After an attempt by Tate, Roy finally gave her a pep talk and got her back to work.  The other artists plugged along with their own work, but were really worried about her.  She got through the first day of the challenge, but on day 2, they found a note letting them know that she had gone home.  How crazy is that?  She must have really been feeling the pressure, and she did say she missed her family.  I hope she continues with her talent.  The others were sad to see her go, but they have a job to do and a competition to win.

Tate’s rune Berkano represented Regeneration.  His created a queen of the dark elves who sought out choice elves to reproduce with.  He found it difficult to carry on with Laney’s work sitting conspicuously, like, as he described it, a headstone.  He carried on though, to create something the judges loved.  From her helmet design that blended into her face to the flaky skin and red and silver colour scheme, he went further with the character that showed as a sexy, strong dark warrior elf.

Laura pick Perthro which meant Occult Abilities.  She was all over this challenge as she has studied elves extensively and had a good knowledge of them.  She designed a warrior with runes scarred into her skin.  By the end of day 1 she felt she may have gone too traditional, but powered on to create a look that the judges loved.  Instead of scarring which didn’t pan out in her design phase, she painted on tribal swirls all over the model’s skin.  They thought it was subtle and pretty, and thought the concept was beautifully done.  There was an intelligence behind her choices.

Miranda got Thurisaz, or Chaos.  She went with a more Mayan look, since the symbol had that feel.  Once again she was unsure of her work and that put her behind.  She ended up getting her model to help her finish the makeup, but that didn’t help.  The unfinished paint job, along with the bad ear design, got her a place on the bottom.  The judges thought it was an atrocity and one of the worst examples of bad time management.  Miranda knew that it was bad, and called it the worst makeup she has ever, ever done, and “a disaster”.

Roy picked Laguz which meant Psychic Powers.  He created a character with a large head to represent his abilities.  The judges thought it was “dullsville”.  The proportions were wrong, which made him look like a creature instead of an elf.  They also mentioned that while they appreciated the paint job, it was too far from this challenge’s concept.

Top looks went to Tate and Laura.  They loved how Tate incorporated his rune and took the design to another level. They thought the shapes in the armour and the story was impactful.  Laura impressed them with her well thought out design and edge work.  Roy and Miranda were in the bottom.  They thought that Roy’s proportions and sculpt was way off, and Miranda’s contribution this week was just an “atrocity”.

The judges had a tough decision to make this week.  Due to Laney’s sudden departure, they had to decide whether to get rid of one of the bottom artists, as they thought it would be unfair to keep someone with obviously substandard work.  In the end, they didn’t eliminate anyone!

It was unfortunate that Laney left, but I think once she regroups, she will definitely find work and do well in the future.  It’s now down to 4 vets in a race to the finale!

Eega: TADFF13

Published October 30, 2013 by vfdpixie

Eega

Eega ( 2012, 2 hrs 25 mins)

On Bug Night, the standout entry had to be the Tollywood action flick Eega.  I think this was the unofficial fan favourite.  With its crazy premise and action galore, it’s hard not to fall in love with the film’s unlikely hero:  the housefly.

Nani (Nani) has pursued Bindu (Samantha Ruth Prabhu) for two years.  Bindu pretends to not be interested, but secretly loves him as well.  She is a micro artist (someone who makes art from tiny canvases like grains of rice), and also a non-profit worker who catches the eye of Sudeep (Sudeep), a rich and ruthless industrialist who always gets what he wants, and he wants Bindu.  When he realizes the courtship between her and Nani, he eliminates his competition by murdering Nani, and, consoling Bindu over the loss of her friend, moves in like the shark he is.  Nani’s last words to Sudeep were a vow to kill him if he went near to Bindu.  This vengeance fuels the reincarnation of Nani as a fly.  Yup, you heard me, a fly.  Sounds crazy?  Well, it actually works.  Nani comes back to protect the love of his life, and with her micro artistic talents and love, fulfills his vow as a tiny fly.

I love me some Bollywood films, and in this case,  Telugu or Tollywood films (the film industry based in the Andhra Pradesh state in south India).  I used to work in Toronto’s Little India, and became familiar with many of the stars (I would still like to marry Vivek Oberoi) and popular films, as well as the Bollywood format.  Most of the time, that includes family oriented subject matter, i.e., no overt sexual behaviour, although action and violence are welcome, stories that instill values, comedies and elaborate musical/dance numbers.  I use these films as a go to when I have horror movie overload, to cleanse the palette so to speak.  Limited T n’ A, some bloody moments, but mostly fun and frolic.  So I was thrilled when Eega (which means “housefly”) was included in the lineup for the festival.  And so was everyone else because this movie had the crowd cheering.

There was action, a musical number, and sci-fi and fantasy elements that kept you riveted to the screen.  The fly’s determination to foil Sudeep’s diabolical overtures towards Bindu was heartwarming and hilarious at the same time, and the performances were great.  Tongue in cheek and fun, Sudeep’s villainous portrayal and his spiral into madness as he tries to cope with a vengeful fly included some downright ridiculous moments that had the best comedic timing.  Nani and Bindu’s relationship was a touch saccharine but it worked with the film’s over the top story, and coupled with some extensive CGI animation and effects, you got a roller coaster ride that made the unbelievable believable.  Definitely worth taking a look if you want a weird and wonderful cinema experience!

Favourite Scene: It’s a tie.  This first is the fly workout montage.  Like every good action flick, the hero has to get battle ready, fueled by his revenge, to gain the upper had on his enemy.  Well, Eega does it up right.  Just has to be seen!  Then there is a scene that got everyone cheering.  I won’t give it away, but the fly gives Sudeep a direct message that will floor you!

We Are What We Are : TADFF13

Published October 29, 2013 by vfdpixie

we are what we are

(2013, 1 hr 45 mins)

Opening Night started the festival off with the highly anticipated We Are What We Are, that some touted as an art house horror film.  This creeping and haunting drama brings us the story of the Parker family in the midst of a grievous event:  the death of their wife and mother Emma (Kassie DePaiva).  As they cope with this tragedy, the head of the family, Frank Parker (Bill Sage), insists on upholding the traditions of their secretive cannibalistic ways.  Clearly, something isn’t right in this household, and we aren’t the only ones who think so.  The town doctor, Doc Barrow (Michael Parks) has a creeping suspicion as well.  His interactions with Frank’s daughters, Iris (Ambyr Childers) and Rose (Julia Garner) as they prepare for Emma’s funeral leaves him puzzled, and he is also haunted by the disappearance of his own daughter.  When he discovers a gruesome find in the local creek after heavy downpours plague the town, his instincts lead him to a game of hide and seek that keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat.

Director Jim Mickle and his writing partner/actor Nick Damici really outdid themselves.  This “remake” was more of a re-envisioning to me and a film unto itself.  Having seen the original written and directed by Jorge Michel Grau, I was glad that this version kept basic elements of the original but succeeded in going in its own direction which is really difficult to pull off.  Highlights for me were the sets and wardrobe that reflected the centuries old tradition the family was dead set on preserving.  The sisters in high collared dresses and their father’s colonial suits, combined with the beautiful backdrop of upstate New York created a time capsule for the family secret.  I was really impressed  with the great performances by Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner as sisters caught between what they have always known and their changing world.  You could literally see their imaginary tails switching as the girls toil with loyalties and self-preservation.  Bill Sage brought a Jonestown fervour as the tightly wound, seething patriarch Frank Parker determined to carry on the sinister family tradition despite the family’s loss and his questionable health.  It also was great to see veteran actor Michael Parks as the sage and determined Doc Barrow, frustrated by his own instincts and lack of support, and Kelly McGillis as the curious and slightly weirded-out neighbour.  Finally, in true Mickle/Damici style, smatterings of humour fooled you into relaxing for a moment only to be drawn into the suspense seconds after.

During the Q & A after the screening, Mickle and Damici gave the audience some insight into their process for the film.  Mickle revealed how apprehensive he was when they were asked to do the remake.  I believe he mentioned wanting to throw up in his mouth a bit after the offer.  They went about the task by first flipping the parent roles from the original film, and setting it in upstate New York, an area that he has always loved.

When asked about the art house distinction, Mickle pointed out that horror is a flexible genre, so they wanted to go with a character driven drama instead of lots of action.  In his mind, movies like Let The Right One In were his inspiration, as it is a story about the kids and their relationship first.  Since it was more of a dramatic approach to the story, the soundtrack and scoring had to be subtle.  He chose nostalgic country tracks, as well as scoring written by Phil Mossman (an original member of LCD Soundsystem), which was played during filming to create the right mood.  And the rain!  Apparently, it only rained once during the whole shoot, while the crew was on lunch.  So they had to get creative and, well, make it rain.  A lot.  There was talk at the Q & A about a possible prequel and sequel, but they have new film (Cold in July) on the go, so all we can do is cross our fingers!

As a side note, I also got to say a quick hello to Mickle and Damici at the Pub After Dark.  I really wanted to meet the duo, as I’m a big fan of their films Stake Land and Mulberry Street.  The were really great guys, and Mickle loved hearing that We Are What We Are made me so tense I wanted to throw up every 10 minutes. No seriously, he did!  We shared with the throw up!  I mentioned to the very charming Nick Damici that I loved how diverse their films were, from subject matter to cast, and he agreed, saying that they weren’t about the generic, and worked hard to keep it that way.  Amen to that, because I think they are the dream team of independent horror!

Six years after screening  Mulberry Street at TADFF 2007, it was nice to have this talented team back to show us a beautiful, haunting and agonizingly tense film that I highly recommend everyone should see.

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