Archive for 2017

SDCC 2017 ‘Krypton’: What House are you backing?

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2017 by aliciamovie

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By Alicia Glass

It takes real nerve to come out and do a Comic-con panel for a highly anticipated show that technically hasn’t aired yet. That is one giant way to generate interest in the new show, true, but it’s still a big gamble, because what if even an SDCC panel isn’t enough. However, The Originals panel (I think) being before Krypton, there was plenty enough audience left to give a good showing.

The panel featured Cameron Cuffe (Seg-El), Executive Producers David S. Goyer, Cameron Welsh and Damian Kindler, and was moderated by DC universe amazement Geoff Johns himself. Johns is the President and Chief Creative Officer of DC comics, y’all, and has held these posts since 2010, so bow down.

Set two generations before the long-legendary Man of Steel’s time on earth, the new show Krypton features Seg-El on the titular planet fighting to redeem his ostracized families honor and engaging in forbidden romance with, who else, the House of Zod. Given that this is yet another attempt at a TV show having to do with the Big Blue Boy Scouts family and the House of El, Krypton seems to have set their standards almost impossibly high, and are working on giving a sweeping epic backstory to what is arguably the most well-known comic character in history, so we’re talking planet-sized hero boots to fill.

Almost immediately the EPs and Mod Johns launched into a list of well-known DC characters that will be featured on Krypton – Brainiac, with his own immersive storyline; that monster Doomsday; Adam Strange in an appropriately oracular role; even a new take on Hawkgirl. Jones happily went on to spoil that a Black Mercy (I thought he meant a car) would be in the pilot episode, it belongs to a character named Mongul, and if you’re any kind of fan-atic about the Superman part of the DCU, you’ll know why the audience erupted into cheers. EP Cameron Welsh talked briefly about the forbidden romance between Seg-El and the House of Zod, saying that Lyta Zod the youngest is the heartthrob in question, while her mother Alura Zod is the Primus of the Kryptonian military guild which makes her, say it with me, General Zod.

Jones was very personable and effortlessly charmed all the fans in the audience, many of whom were at least 40+something and lifelong Superman fans. Recalling the early days of terrible villain costumes, Johns laughed, “No, there will not be any headbands for the bad guys. That’s not until Season two!” Johns raved about the production values for the show, the all-encompassing effort at world-building, prompting Damian Kindler to practically wax poetic about the same: “We are attempting to build one of the most beautiful, grand TV series on the air. One of the things that’s constantly coming back in conversations is a sense of scope – we want you to be watching and going, ‘wow, this really is another world’. We have some of the most wonderful special effects houses in like 5 or 6 different countries building effects for us this season, we have one of the most talented production design teams I’ve ever worked with. And having Geoff (Johns) right in your house, saying, ‘This is the world, go build it’, has easily been the most exciting job I’ve ever had.”

Of course Johns was asked about cross-overs with other DCU characters, and made the very clear statement that, “Krypton is a stand-alone show,” for which I personally am very grateful. After a great spoiler-laden panel and a bunch of fan-squee and questions, Johns wound up the panel by saying they all tried very hard to make a show where the legions of DC fans out there would finally say, ‘They got it right.’ I sure hope so too, Geoff Johns, and I’ll be watching Krypton when it airs in 2018 on the Syfy channel!

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SDCC 2017 ‘Stitchers’: Keep it all in the Family

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2017 by aliciamovie

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By Alicia Glass

Stitchers is a breakout hit on the Freeform TV channel, featuring Kirsten Clark, a woman suffering temporal dysplasia (a fictional condition that prevents her from sensing the passage of time) who is recruited to a super-secret NSA program. The program uses technology they call “stitching”, that allows Kirsten to dive into the memories of the newly-deceased. Kirsten is joined by neuroscientist Cameron Goodkin, bioelectrical engineer Linus Ahluwalia, computer scientist and roommate Camille Engelson, LAPD officer Detective Quincy Fisher, and headed by the redoubtable Maggie Baptiste.

I hadn’t thought Stitchers was popular enough to get their own panel at Comic-Con, but then again, Season 3 of the show started fairly recently and the line to get in to the panel was out the door and down the sidewalk, so color me pleasantly surprised! The panel featured Emma Ishta (Kirsten), Kyle Harris (Cameron), Ritesh Rajan (Linus), Damon Dayoub (Fisher), Executive Producer Jeff Schechter, and was moderated by TV Guide’s Damian Holbrook!

EP Jeff talked about how the Cam-sten shippers are making things actually a bit harder for him, as Cameron and Kirsten were tossed together pretty much in Episode 1 of the entire show and for the next ten episodes they turned into like the perfect couple. And while that may be good for the characters, it makes for poor drama, even he was bored. So we’ll make it rain on their parade, rain on these two saps with all sorts of troubles that prevent their romantic relationship moving forward, especially that thing discovered recently, that if Cameron and Kirsten raise their oxytocin levels by means naughty or nice even a little, it prevents them from stitching effectively!

It’s not a spoiler to mention that Linus lost his father in the very first episode of Season Three, and Ritesh Rajan went on to talk about how such a storyline has massively affected his character. “He’s a character who wears his heart on his sleeve, very open and genuine, so for him to go through something so shocking and heartbreaking, it does leave him with an emotional scar that’s going to change him for the rest of his life,” Ritesh said. “It started the season that way and just catapults the character in a direction of massive growth. He’s forced to deal with these changes and this heartache, and he wonders, where is it going to lead him?”

Damon Dayoub good-naturedly endured ribbing about his being the father figure of the stitchers team and kind of the class clown of the cast of the show too. He laughingly went on to state that he became an actor so he wouldn’t have to wear a suit and tie every day, and yet here he is as this character who, inevitably, wears a suit and tie every day. “So, that sucks,” Dayoub grinned, “And I’ve got to shave every day, and as you can see I’m not a big shaver, so maybe next season,” as he nudged Schechter down the row, “Fisher could go undercover! A big beard and no showers, come on, what do you say?” To which Schechter smirked, “We’ve had this conversation before, and it’s still no.”

Rajan had a fun Comic-Con exclusive moment when Moderator Holbrook mentioned Linus knowing pi to umpti-squat-decimal-place and asked him what number he, Ritesh Rajan knew it to, which was rather small. Of course a fan in the front rows had to shout out a correct answer, and got applauded by the entire Stitchers cast!

Kyle Harris was charming and funny, struggling to recall all the nicknames Cameron has tossed at Kirsten so far, “Stretch, ‘K, Cupcake, Sunshine, Blondie, Chewie (as in Chewbacca from Star Wars),” and of course some helpful wag from the audience shouted, “Princess!” as well. Harris grinned when Holbrook mentioned Cameron’s gamer-geek-god experience in a recent episode and asked what games he likes to play in real life, answering with, “Mario Kart,” and challenging the cast to play the game on the giant SDCC screen to see who’s best! Harris didn’t deny it either, when Ishta told the entire panel about how Harris had donned (and broke) her stitch suit and climbed into the tank they use for stitching on the show, actually finding a photograph of that instance on her phone to share!

Harris got his own good-natured ribbing to endure too, as the entire cast and the EP goaded him about checking his hairstyle in every single last reflective surface he could find, including but not limited to the shooting cameras and the tank itself! And of course the fans wanted to hear, as soon as they heard that Harris does voice impressions from some of the geek culture references on the show, so Kyle obligingly mussed his hair and growled a line from as Doc from Back to the Future!

Some interesting trivia, it turns out that Kyle Harris and Grant Gustin of CW’s The Flash fame are super best pals in real life, and even share a musical background, as do many of the main cast members of Stitchers. Of course this sent the fans slavering for a musical Stitchers episode, which I don’t think would be too hard, but I personally am more interested in what else Schechter teasingly stated, which was a cross-over episode between the major Freeform shows, Shadowhunters or Beyond, and Stitchers, now there’s a real challenge!

The panel was wrapped up with loving fan questions, but before that the Mod asked what we can expect to see from each character in further coming episodes of Stitchers. Dayoub of course replied mysteriously about his character getting back together with his wife and making some big decisions; Harris intimated about Cameron getting into a row with Maggie; Rajan lamented the difficult-to-read women in Linus’ life; and of course Emma Ishta flip-flopped between Kirsten’s mom, dad, and sister. We were also treated to a genuine San Diego Comic-Con 2017 exclusive bite: we the fans will meet Cameron’s mother in the next few upcoming episodes of Stitchers!

Catch Stitchers on Freeform, Mondays @ 9/8c!

Portland Horror Film Festival 2017: Short-Length Horror Shorts Part 2

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy, horror, Movies, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2017 by aliciamovie

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‘Blackbird’

Country: UK

Director: Tim Fellingham & Charlotte Stente Nielsen

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

What happens when the one you think is your savior, turns out to have been your tormentor all along? Here on a lonely stretch of nowhere, a man with a concussion and severe memory loss, apparently from getting tossed from his motorcycle, goes to save a runaway maiden in a nightgown. The both of them hole up together trying to figure out what they’re running from, and through a series of dreams and flashbacks and one horrible “gotcha!” moment involving a blackbird tattoo, discover they really do know each-other, a little too well for either ones comfort.

The use of Memento-like timelines and flashbacks can be perfectly fine, but I thought a little too much emphasis was placed on atmosphere and not enough on the story itself. If a movie, either short or feature-length, has only two actors in it, it is very likely that the villain is one of them; it kind of lessens the potential shock value. Nevertheless, should the story be expanded, the short could have real potential.

‘The Dark Hunger’

Country: USA

Director: Anthony Williams

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

What to do when one discovers a supernatural cannibal terrorizing your neighborhood? No calling in the CIA or some paranormal equivalent, no, some sort of mafia-like gang kidnaps the man they call Dead Fred and stick him in a cell, to be fed their enemies. Because Dead Fred is a full cannibal and always cleans his plate, so there’s no evidence left behind. And when we meet up with our cannibal hero, it looks like he’s been enduring this setup for awhile.  His Dark Passenger, the actual cannibal vampire in his skull with the awesome deep voice, is content to stay in prison so long as the captors keep feeding it, but Fred has other ideas. Despite that not actually being his real name, Dead Fred decides to embrace the pseudonym and make a deal with his Dark Passenger to get out of this prison and find the man at the top, the real mastermind monster who put Fred here in the first place!

It’s never easy to combine a supernatural element with an attempt at Hannibal Lecter-like characters, and yet somehow The Dark Hunger manages it nicely. The short reads like a trailer for a film that I would certainly watch, and I sincerely wished the short was one of the longer short films, so I could pretend it was a movie. With even some of the better notes of 30 Days of Night thrown in, The Dark Hunger should make Director Williams an up-and-comer worthy of keeping an eye on.

‘Chateau Sauvignon: Terroir’

Country: USA

Director: David E. Munz-Maire

Review Rating: 7.5 out of 10 

If you could ever imagine what a winery run by Children of the Corn would be like, then the Chateau Sauvignon is for you. The stark landscape, dead animal skulls and eerie wine-making equipment that looks suspiciously like butchery pressings all serve to provide an atmosphere that screams Horror. And almost immediately, it turns out, the vitner equipment really does still make wine for the tourists and all, but is also being used in the butchery of at least some of those tourists, to keep Mom alive. (Whether Mom is a zombie, some kind of vampire, cannibal or anything else, is unclear.) But the meat juice is beginning to run out, Son is becoming concerned, and Dad is just trying to hold everything together, despite Moms condition. Two new tourists have come late to the winery and Son wants to give them the full tour, no matter what Dad says – here sample some of our wine, over here is some of the processes we use to make our vintages, and by the way, your son is a jackass, here’s a glass pouring beaker shoved into your skull. Because Mom needs to be fed, and wine isn’t cutting it anymore.

A very fine short, all kinds of atmospheric and moody, though I would have liked to have a bit more to the story. What kind of creature is Mom now, how did she get this way, what happens to all of them when the meat juice finally runs out? Perhaps for the next series of Horror shorts from Director Munz-Maire, or, he could turn the whole thing into a feature-length jaunt – I would watch it.

‘Death Metal’

Country: USA

Director: Chris McInroy

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

Dude man, I get you, hail Satan and Metal is God and all that, you bet. But if you’re handed Grand-dad’s axe (as in guitar), that he supposedly got from the Dark Prince himself, along with three important rules to follow when using it, you’d want to adhere to them and be respectful wouldn’t you? It doesn’t seem as though frustrated metal-head Lars gives two damns about any of that, and immediately goes off to break all three rules jamming in the afternoon at the park on the axe. Is it any wonder that the axe-head breaks off from the rest of the guitar and goes hog-wild?

I saw Lars and his dumbassery at another Horror film festival and thought it was hilarious then, as now. It’s always so cute to see the Metalheads tossing the horns and headbanging for all they’re worth, because of course Satan’s all kinds of into that. Just never forget, Lucifer has a very wicked sense of humor, too.

‘As They Continue to Fall’

Country: USA

Director: Nikhil Bhagat

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

Whether you’re a fan of the Prophecy series, or saw the film Legion and the short-lived Syfy show it spawned, Dominion, Angels are fairly well-known these days as something other than the be-winged halo’d bringers of light and Gods love. What we have here is the somewhat now-familiar trope of the hobo hero hunting bad guys, in this case actual Angels, and it must be said, doing a fair job of it. From the looks of the feather trophies that line his coat, keeping him warm, our hobo hero is no-one to be trifled with. (Because really, depending upon which hierarchy of Angel you’re fighting, you could strap a nuke to the Angelic type and he’d laugh at you.) Our hobo hero has been dealing with Angelic visions all his life, but now after the apparent end of the world, has taken to hunting them down with vim and vigor. And who could blame him? What is an Angel, after all, but another Devil just waiting to fall?

Many of the minds who worked on this short have made major names for themselves elsewhere (Sinister, Deus Ex, The Thing, the NBC TV show Dracula, to name only a few), and they managed to cobble together a short awesome to watch. The future dystopian world where our hobo hero hunts Angels is clear and perfectly understandable, while much is still left open to audience interpretation and judgment, and in building a world like this, that is what we would prefer.

San Diego Film Week presents ‘A Life Lived’: For Love or Money?

Posted in comedy, drama, Movies, Romance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Riley Wood

Studio: Not A Camel Productions

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

The journey of a single dollar bill and the lives it affects, inadvertently and directly, along the way.

We as collective humans have more in common with each-other than most of us ever realize, or are willing to admit in some nasty cases. We all covet and desire, love and hate and all kinds of emotions betwixt and between, torn between responsibility and the need to just say, “Screw it all!” Our actions, and occasionally the very lack of acting, ripple-affects those in our lives, and sometimes even outside or our sphere of awareness, in ways we can’t possibly begin to fathom, but are endlessly fascinating to ruminate upon. And it is this circular unknowing that A Life Lived dives into, presenting the journey of a dollar bill with a heart on it for our perusal.

One wouldn’t think that a man who had dumped his wife and gotten a brand-new upgraded girlfriend who need to pay for his sex elsewhere, but there you have it. Our first protagonist went to get change for a $20 from the grocery store and the adorkable eternally smiling cashier was not only super-duper extra-nice to him, she drew a heart on one of the dollar bills. This is of course how we know that it’s that particular dollar bill we’re following, but hey, that works for me. And not too much later, when he decides to go get his rocks off with a motel Dominatrix, that’s where the hearted dollar bill ends up.

We follow the heart to a botched robbery of a convenience store; Tom’s wife is dying, his insurance has run out, and he’s been nerving himself to rob in full view of the store for hours. In trying to be nice and let Tom off with a minor infraction, the store clerk actually made it worse for him, but there are still some avenging angels in the police force, and a certain Mr. Jackson pockets the hearted bill in an actual theft for a genuinely good cause.

We follow the heart unerringly through a thievery sleepover, a cocaine slide from whacked-out performer Dixx, the revenge of Dixx’s assistant and her attempt to break the 4th wall inside the movie, the plight of homeless George, a disgusting attempt at sexual coercion when the bill goes “missing” from a diner till, and finally Delby Madison gets a lawyerly consultation fee from Peter, Tom’s brother, for, you guessed it, a single dollar bill with a heart on it.

We’ve come round to the end, at least the end of this bill’s particular journey, and as many journeys do, this one ends in death. The death of Tom’s beloved wife Martha, yes, but he was sprung from jail in enough time to say goodbye to her, in tears and lamentations and perhaps even a little relief that her pain had finally come to an end. Tom will have to do some time in jail, but it’s likely to be very little, and he’s allowed some extra time off for the funeral and a night of mourning after. As Tom sits and ruminates over a life he lived, with Martha, and now the life he may have to live without her, he needs some way to light the very fine Cuban cigar his brother gifted him. Wooden matches aren’t doing it. And then, finally, Tom’s eyes fall on the dollar bill with a heart drawn on it that made its way back to him – a fitting end for the life lived of that one single solitary dollar bill.

Of course there is a wonderful little easter egg after that, we see the morning routine of the kooky cat lady grocery store clerk, as she prepares to be eternally cheerful and smiling no matter what comes her way, and always and forever drawing random hearts on peoples single dollar bills. What lives will these bills lead, how will they cross us in unsuspecting ways and bring us together, or apart, depending on the choices made with these little green pieces of paper that can move the world?

After the showing of the film, which I greatly enjoyed, there was a Q&A session with filmmaker and director Riley Wood, who delightedly told me about more easter eggs and tidbits to be found in A Life Lived. Such as the number 13 myth, referencing the original 13 colonies and said to be found hiding all over in our currency, connecting to all sorts of mysticism and ancient secret socities; director Wood subtly inserted the number 13 in many places in the film. Wood confirmed that the cocaine legend was indeed inserted into the film, for it is after all part of the dollars own legend, and that every named character in the film was named from a person somewhere on U.S. currency (Jackson, Jefferson, etc.). And lastly, Wood talked about giving each of the main characters a few moments alone in their vehicle as a spotlight into their heads, because every one of us is at least a slightly different person when we’re alone in our car.

The film is still working on distribution rights, but believe me when I say it is a delightfully heart-strung romp and should be viewed whenever possible.

A Life Lived Trailer from Riley Wood on Vimeo.