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All posts for the day November 7th, 2013

Face Off Season 5-The “Swan Song” Finale!!

Published November 7, 2013 by vfdpixie

It was all about the vets for this final episode.  After the artists had a well deserved and much-needed pep talk from their loved ones, they headed off to get their final Spotlight Challenge.  McKenzie introduced them to the classical world, namely, ballet.  They were to create unique characters for the iconic ballet of Swan Lake:  A maiden transforming into a swan, and the sorcerer who cast the spell on her.  These roles were to be played by actual dancers from the Los Angeles Ballet who were to stage a special performance of Swan Lake.  The catch?  The artists had to incorporate a specific era into their makeups.  The eras of choice were:  the Roaring 20’s , the Industrial Revolution, the Ming Dynasty, and the Italian Renaissance.  And they were allowed teams made up of one former veteran and rookie.

Laura chose the Italian Renaissance.  Miranda and Eddie were on her team.  They all worked well together, and she came up with a beautiful design.  It was opulent and ornate, just like the era she was to represent.   She incorporated a gorgeous pearl collar that hid all her seams for the maiden, and along with her beautiful crown, went for a roman statue look for her.  Glenn thought the swan maiden had a “savage grace”.  The judges loved how theatrical the duo was, and all the detail in the sorcerer’s sculpt.  Although Ve would have liked more feathers on the maiden’s head, she thought it was marvelous.

Roy picked Frank and Scott to be on his team to create a Ming Dynasty maiden and sorcerer.  At first, he had trouble coming up with a concept because he wasn’t familiar with ballet in general.  After Mr. Westmore’s council, Roy realized that he needed to be a stronger leader, and on day two, changed his concept.  That was all he needed to get back on track.  His alchemist sorcerer and transforming maiden came out beautifully despite a messed up swan maiden cowl.  The judges loved the maiden’s hair made of feathers, and the colour palette.  The sorcerer was gorgeous, and had great Asian flare.  Both characters went well together, and they thought he created a great overall design that helped him achieve his own iconic look.

Tate created an Industrial Revolution inspired duo with the help of Alana and Lyma.  He had no trouble taking charge of his team, but also changed his concept after Mr. Westmore warned him about going too dark with his design again.  He came up with a sorcerer who put the maiden’s soul into a porcelain vessel.   His maiden was to look like a porcelain doll with gears peaking through, and the sorcerer was to have a smoky and sooty appearance.  His couple was really interesting.  I loved his swan maiden’s eyes!  The judges felt the gears on the swan summed up his era well and liked the sorcerer’s profile.  They also liked the unique silhouettes and felt his was the strongest swan of the challenge.

The special performance of Swan Lake was very dramatic and fantastic.  I thought it had a very dark, Cirque du Soleil look and feel with the makeups.  The artists were relieved that everything stayed where it was supposed to during the vigorous ballet.

When it was time for deliberations, the judges had a hard time.  They felt Roy created great silhouettes and profiles, pretty feathers and a sexy and provocative open breastbone with his Swan maiden concept.  Laura also created a beautiful Swan maiden breastplate, and had incredible detail on the sorcerer. They all thought the sorcerer was a unique character, and the detail on him was incredible.  They looked great when they performed, and her “unexpected ideas” were great for the era she chose.  With Tate, his swan was ingenious and stunning, even though they thought the sorcerer looked dusty and more like a derelict.  The characters had a great silhouette and the gears were a great way to represent the Industrial Revolution.

The judges felt that this was the tightest race on the show to date, and I had to agree.  I loved all the designs, but I think my favourite had to be Tate’s swan maiden.  Second was Roy’s Ming Dynasty swan and sorcerer for their cohesiveness.  The 3 finalists proved themselves with such innovative and stunning designs, and as Glenn pointed out, the right people made it to the finale.  Throughout the season, I think we all noticed their strengths.  Tate always had an extensive back story to his concepts which he worked hard to represent every time.  Roy created wonderful big scale characters that showed his unique and fantastical style.  Imagine if he had a whole crew?!  Laura always created beautiful and seamless sculpts and her designs were always complete.  The winner?  Laura!!  I thought it was well deserved as she was pretty consistent with her work, and was a stickler for details every time.  I also liked her demeanour throughout the show.  Calm and focused, she really stepped up and showed what she has learned since the last time she was on the show.  The $100,000, Fiat and V.I.P. trip to one of Kryolan’s international locations will go to good use with her.  Roy and Tate were proud of the accomplishments, and I know they will go far with all their talent!  Bravo to the 3 finalists and to Laura who is an artistic force!  Until next season, Face Off!!

Banshee Chapter: TADFF13

Published November 7, 2013 by vfdpixie

banshee chapter

2013 (1 hr 27 mins)

Part of Scary Night, Banshee Chapter definitely delivers with a creeping sense of mystery and impending doom.

Anna Rowland (Katia Winter), a journalist, searches for her friend, James Hirsch (Michael McMillan), after his mysterious disappearance.  He was in the process of writing a book about a secret project called MK Ultra: experiments where the U.S. government administered mind altering drugs on unwilling patients.  James takes a mysterious drug that was reportedly used by the C.I.A. on these patients, and very soon after, disappears.  Using footage she finds at James’ abandoned house, and vintage video documents of the experiments themselves, Anna’s determination leads her to writer Thomas Blackburn (Ted Levine), a famous author known for his radical ideas and experimentation with mind altering substances.  Together they travel deeper into this mystery, and reveal scary evidence of unseen, otherworldly dangers.

I found this film genuinely scary.  The combination of found footage and real-time film really worked to tell a great story based on actual events.  I thought the lighting, or lack there of, was genius to set the eerie mood of the film, and the radio transmissions that lead Anna and Thomas down the rabbit hole were really chilling and foreshadowed some really creepy moments.

The audience was lucky to have the director Blair Erickson and producer Corey Moosa (who runs the production company Before The Door Pictures with the fantastic Zachary Quinto and longtime friend Neal Dodson) do a Q & A after the screening.  The feature came from a short film done by Erickson and Moosa which was inspired by the actual drug trials started in the 1950’s by the C.I.A.  Erickson was shocked that something “true but fantastical” went on and no one faced any legal prosecution.  He wanted to take it further with a direct Lovecraftian reference (From Beyond) and introduce the possibility of another dimension.

The film’s title came from actual DMT drug research patients that reported seeing banshees after taking the hallucinogenic drug.  They filmed in New Mexico with crew from Breaking Bad in various locations, including an old missile testing range where they had to get special permission to shoot there.  It was also shot with a 3-D camera, and while the audience saw the film during a regular screening, I wondered what, if any, effect it would have on the viewing experience (I am biased.  3-D won’t work on me since my left eye is only there for show).  Erickson hinted at a couple of secrets in the plot that I figured out, and loved the elements that they added.  I hope you get to see the film and figure them out too!

In terms of casting, Ted Levine was at the top of their list.  He really stole the show with his Hunter S. Thompson/Timothy Leary inspired character.  He provided moments of comic relief which blended well with the many scares in the film.  Winter held her own as the plucky Anna who expressed regret at the lost romantic opportunities with James, and was a great foil to Blackburn’s character.

All in all, this eerie low-budget film will have you wondering where it will take you next as it leads you into creepy, unknown territory.

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