Brickwall Productions Christmas Special (Cool World review)

This is a Good/Bad/Grindhouse review on Cool World

Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

Escape From Tomorrow is made interesting by the very way that it was shot. Escape from Tomorrow is a feature length film shot almost entirely in Disney World/Land without permission from Disney.  Just the fact that they were able to make this is a crazy thought, even more so that it has received such a wide release, even being shown in theaters and added to Netflix. The spectacle of seeing a dark horror movie filmed in Disney World is the reason to watch it, but the question is; Does Escape From Tomorrow have any depth or entertainment value beyond the production gimmick?

Well sadly the answer is; not really.

The story follows Jim, the father in your typical Disney going family. Jim is a sexual deviant who stalks a pair of young french girls around the park and the mother is nagging and annoying. The two children completely lack any traces of character.

Escape From Tomorrow manages to have fairly good cinematography for a large amount of the film which is especially impressive considering how it was shot, with many real people walking around and the general chaos of the park around them. There are some shots that they spent a very long time planning to achieve. The effort is valiant and doesn’t go unnoticed, but then there are particularly awful looking scenes. There are a handful of scenes that would horrible on their own, and are highlighted more so by the overall nice presentation of the rest of the film. More than one scene has the actors very obviously and poorly green screened into B-roll footage of the amusement park and it does not look passable at all.

Escape From Tomorrow is full of really bad acting. The best acting you can find in this film is passable, while the worst actually comes from the lead actor. He is consistently terrible throughout. By the end of the film I had actual become accustomed to the bad acting and stopped being as distracting, but adjusting to the bad does not make it good.

Escape From Tomorrow attempts to be a creepy screwed up horror film, but largely fails. The “scares” are too few and far between and when they do pop up they often fall flat. The closest the film got to be effective from a horror standpoint was actually the opening credits which managed to provide a genuinely surprising moment, but this one solid moment was cheapened when it was revisited later on in the film, to lesser effect.

The film seems very unsure of the tone that it wants to convey. It presents itself as a cerebral horror film, but then it throws comedic elements at you which don’t mix well. In the end both elements miss their mark and what few moments could have been funny, are muddled and ruined by the confused tones of the movie.

The Pacing is dreadful. Escape From Tomorrow has a meandering plot that kills far too much time following the characters as they walk around the park, go on rides, and do absolutely nothing of any importance. The movie wastes time and feels as though much of it was shot without purpose other than stretching out what probably should have been a 20 minute short film into a feature length film. As a 20 minute short this concept may have actually worked better. A more condensed runtime would have helped Escape From Tomorrow as most of the time it will have you waiting for something to happen, and when it does happen, it will likely disappoint. It also doesn’t help that pretty much all of the set pieces and interesting moments are given away in the trailer.

The gimmick is interesting but the film fails to impress beyond the fact that it actually got made and released the way it was produced. I would only recommend it to those who are seriously interested in the concept of a film shot guerrilla style in Disney world, otherwise definitely stay away. The concept is incredibly intriguing, but a much stronger plot and acting would have been needed to stop this film from being a disappointment.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

kiss kis bang bang

kiss kis bang bagn

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a dark comedy with a strong noir edge mystery about a murderer being pursued by a gay private investigator, a thief mistaken as an actor and his childhood love interest.

Though this movie may be enjoyable to the casual movie going audience, it is especially appealing to those well versed in the medium of film. Film buffs will find great pleasure in this film as it takes the conventions you’ve come to expect and twists them around to great comedic effect. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” follows a somewhat generic murder mystery plot, but infuses it with genre defying dark comedy at crucial moments to steer the film into unexpected territory with the comedy forming to the point of perfection and hitting its mark every time.

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While the comedy and some of the direction/cinematography stop “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” from being a true hard boiled noir, all the style is still there. The film has a great grasp of the noir style, with a lot of darkly lit sets, many washed over with heavy color as many neo-noirs do.

The music is also excellently noir and it is impressive how the often serious music manages to avoid clashing with the comedic moments that occur simultaneously. The music is all great and genre fitting, until the end credits where they used a horribly unfitting song. I’m one to usually read through the credits of a film if I like it, and the music choice stopped me from doing so. This isn’t a bad mark on the film itself, just a poor decision from the soundtrack department which up until that point had been so great.

The two leads are great. Robert Downey Jr. as Harry Lockhart and Val Kilmer as Gay Perry are both terrific. Each character is well formed, and though the characters never take on the buddy cop formula, they do have good back and forth on screen chemistry which makes the comedy work that much better. The excellent comedic writing is pulled off flawlessly by these two leads. The female lead, Harmony Lane played by Michelle Monaghan, is a different story. The threeactress did a fine job, but the writing of the character does not work to the film’s benefit . The only aspect of the film that didn’t work to me was the romance between Harry Lockhart and Harmony Lane. I really can’t see why she is worth all the trouble or why Harry would even want to be with her, she’s honestly quite a whore.

The film has one of the absolute best narrations of all time from Robert Downey Jr. as his character tells the story while having quite a bit of difficulty. He goes back to parts he forgot, criticizes scenes and gets off topic. All to excellent comedic effect. The film is very self aware which works in its favor and gives a feeling of true originality to the film.

The clever, tightly written script is the main reason to watch the film. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is hilarious but also manages to be very cool and stylish with a nice noir tone and even managing to have a pretty damn cool final shootout.
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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is a fantastic film. I highly recommend it to all fans of cinema. Anyone looking for a neo-noir, a comedy or even a low octane action film will likely find a good time wrapped up within “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, it can even work as an alternative Christmas film like “Die Hard” or “In Bruges“.

 

Max Payne: A Reason to Live – by Sam Kench

max payne title card

This is a short that I wrote, directed, edited, and did the cinematography on inspired by the Max Payne video game series.

The Max Payne games are fantastic and I highly recommend them, I might get around to an actual review of these games eventually but this is my tribute to the series. It’s not a recreation of the game, but more of a side story revolving around the title character.

We shot this a while ago, over the summer actually, but it got stuck in post production for a long time. Once I got After Effects and learned how to do the VFX I was able to get the muzzle flashes, smoke and blood dones. This is the first video I’ve done VFX, so there was a steep learning curve. Now it’s finally finished and public.

Max Payne is played by Emmett Morrill, I provided the voice for the narration, and Elias Redcloud played Walter Santiago. The goons are played by myself, Andrew Fortier, and Logan Frye. I hope you’ll all check it out and enjoy it and maybe leave some feedback.

Here’s a little background information about the making of the video:

  • This video was shot in one day coming hot off the heels of another larger scale project which I hope to be able to release in the future.
  • Max Payne’s costume was a joint effort by Elias Redcloud and the owner of Green Carbon 2112. The jacket belonged to Eli, and the Max Payne tie was custom made for the video by Amy Lyn.
  • The day before filming I sat down with Emmett Morrill who played Max Payne and we played the game. I had him pay close attention to Max’s mannerisms. The way he walked/ran with/without guns, the way he takes cover, and especially the way he jumps. The trademark of the Max Payne games is the slow motion diving and shooting and this is something that I strove to recreate for the video. It was important to me that we were faithful to the dives and that meant getting serious height and flying backwards into the ground. This is hard to do from a stunt person perspective as it is very hard to stop your body from instinctively putting your hands down and catching yourself. We used a crash mat for Emmett to dive onto to make it a little easier on him.
  • Max Payne’s signature emotion is his trademark hyper frown, it’s not quite a Dredd hyper frown but it’s pretty close. Max is a guy who has no joy in his life so we spent a great deal of time working on Emmett’s frown.
  • The video was filmed downstairs at the Gordon Nash Library in New Hampton New Hampshire which is where we held our film club meetings over the summer.

A sequel video is currently in pre-production but it could be a while before that takes off. The rate at which it happens depends largely on locations and actors as well as the editing, but if enough people are really itching to see the sequel I can make that priority.

 

A Lapse in Sanity

"A Lapse in Sanity" short horror film by Sam Kench
“A Lapse in Sanity” short horror film by Sam Kench

I have recently completed my latest short film, titled “A Lapse in Sanity”, A 25 minute horror short starring Shaun Hathaway and Cathy Nolan Vincevic.

The short focuses on the idea of something Mrs. Crowley says “When you blink your mind shuts off. For that fraction of a second, your brain is off, and your mind is left wide open.”

The short is an allegory for what happens to the mind when you are not in control of it. What can “enter your mind” if you will.

“A Lapse in Sanity” is a surreal journey following the main character’s descent into madness. Full of stark and jarring images. It aims to get inside your mind, and unnerve you.

Now available on DVD.

Memento (2000) Review

Memento (2000) Review

Memento was based off of a short story by Jonathan Nolan called Memento Mori. Then his brother Christopher Nolan adapted it into a screenplay, and directed it as a thriller called Memento. Jonathan has also worked on other films with Christopher including, The Dark Night, The Dark Night Rises, and The Prestige.

Memento won 45 awards and was nominated for another 33 awards. I knew absolutely nothing about Memento before watching it. I had heard that it was a good movie, but that was all. So I’m going to keep the plot out of my review.

Memento stars Guy Pearce who has been in many other films and shows, but I haven’t really seen anything else with him in it. He was great in this, so maybe I will see some more stuff with him in it now. It also stars Carrie-Anne Moss of Matrix fame, and Joe Pantoliano. Both do their job very well.

The story in this is just fantastic. It’s such a smart story told in a completely engrossing way. The story is told backwards. It starts on one final shot then rewinds. From there on the movie plays in backwards in chronological order. There are colored segments, which are interrupted by black and white segments.

The way the story is written works with this style of story telling. You would think that having the ending spoiled would ruin the intrigue. But it does just the opposite. There is actually a line in the movie where someone is reading the same book for the 100th time, and someone say’s “I thought the point of a book was to find out what happens next.” That is subtle irony. The audience knows what happens next, yet it works better. If the story was told in chronological order, it wouldn’t be half as enjoyable. It just wouldn’t be as interesting or effective.

The directing is really solid. I have grown to like Nolan. I always respected him as a director, but now I enjoy his style and have come to like most of his films.

Memento has a great story with some big twists along the way. I highly recommend it.

 

Sin City Review (2005) Sam’s Neo-Noir month part 2


Sin City is based on the graphic novel series of the same name. The graphic novels are done by Frank Miller.  Frank Miller is most famous for “Sin City”, but has done other stories like 300 and Hard Boiled (unrelated to the John Woo film).

I saw the movie “Sin City” before I had ever read any of the books. Now I have actually read a couple of the books, and they are good. I really like the visual style, and the narrative is always interesting.

Robert Rodriguez is the man behind the movie. He is my second favorite director of all time. He gives the movie his style, but keeps it feeling like “Sin City” and not “The Robert Rodriguez version of Sin City”. The visual style of the movie is great and keeps in style from the books. Almost all of the dialogue is quoted word for word from the books. I think it’s impressive how true to the books this movie is. I think it might be one of the best screen translation of a book ever. It works because Rodriguez is such a big fan of the source material. Tarantino directed one scene as a special guest director. The reason why is because Rodriguez wanted to show him how to shoot digitally.

As previously mentioned, the visual style is great. The movie is done in more than one style. The movie is mostly black and white, but stylized black and white. Important colors show through like red for blood, or a car, or sky, and eye color. Blood shows up red but also shows up as pure white. The visual style alone is enough reason to watch the movie, it just looks good.

Aside from just looking good, “Sin City” is a damn good movie. The movie is an anthology, which means it is a collection of stories. There are three main stories, with one much smaller side story. The smaller stories open and close the film. The first real part is with detective Hartigan played by Bruce Willis, then it goes to Mickey Rourke playing Marv, and over to the big fat kill, where Clive Owen plays Dwight, then back to Hartigan to finish his story, before ending on the smaller story.

All of the characters are pure awesome. the 3 main protagonists Willis, Rourke, and Owen are all awesome, but my favorite is Rourke. His character Marv, is my favorite. The character is just so cool. The man gets put on the electric chair. When they start to read his rights he says “can we hurry this up? I haven’t got all night.” then they electrocute him, but he doesn’t die, they have to shock him twice. if that isn’t cool then I don’t know what is.

The movie is not realistic, not at all. All the action is exaggerated but doesn’t feel too over the top. Characters have power, sending people flying across a room with one smack. If you’ve ever seen the Jet Li  movie “The One” that’s an example of how not to do the exaggerated action, “Sin City” is an example of how to do it.

Out of all the great antagonists my favorite is Kevin played by Elijah Wood. He isn’t really a main protagonist more of a side one, but the character is just so interesting. that is the best word to describe the character. He’s interesting. You want to know more about him. I hope the character is in “Sin City 2” and it’s a prequel so he might be. Kevin is completely silent, but he tells so much with his unfazed face. He always has this evil smile, even after his arms and legs have been cut off and his pet wolf is eating his stomach. Rodriguez actually digitally elongated Elijah’s chin in his first shot so he would be less recognizable.

Rosaria Dawson as Gail
Devon Aoki as Miho

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the characters are great including the side characters like Miho and Gail, all interesting. The characters are very important, because “Sin City” is driven’ by it’s strong narrative.

Sin city has great stories, great action, great narratives, great characters, great visual style, great atmosphere, etc. it’s just an all around great movie. one of my favorite movie.

Following (1998) Neo-noir month part 1 of 3


Following is a Neo-noir film written and Directed by Christopher Nolan. Christopher Nolan is a well known director now, but Following was his first feature film. He is most well known for The Dark Knight and Inception.

I think ‘Inception‘ is horribly over rated. I don’t think that it is a bad movie but people say that it is the best ever made, and that is a gross overstatement. “Inception” is a movie that I need to watch again, maybe I missed something.


The Dark Knight is a good movie. The best batman movie ever made, but I still think that it is a little over rated. There are large scenes that are useless and should have been cut from the movie. The movie needed about 30 minutes trimmed out of it in my opinion. I didn’t really like “Batman Begins” at all. I do however think that his movie “The Prestige” is very good, I will be doing a review of that movie at some point.

Now on to the “Following”. Despite thinking that Christoper Nolan is very over rated, I still think that he is a good director. I only watched “Following” because Christopher Nolan directed it, and because Netflix told me it was like “Pi” (The next movie I’m going to review for Neo-noir month). “Following” stars Jeremy Theobald, who has pretty much only worked with Nolan. The other star is Alex Haw, who has only been in this one movie. The movie is told out of order, and can be a little hard to “follow”.

The main character goes through a complete appearance change, his hair, clothes, everything change. Later on in the movie after it jumps between the time frame a couple of times they explain that he changed his appearance for a specific reason. before that part happened I wasn’t actually sure if it was the same actor or just one that looked very similar. The same character also gets horribly beaten, and that is almost another completely different look.

He gets horribly beat up in a fight between him and Alex Haw. The fight is completely pathetic. The actors are just not good at “movie fighting”. It ends up looking silly and really pulls you away from  the serious tone.

I really did not like the female character. Maybe it was the actress, or the way she was written, but I really didn’t care about what happened to her and found any scene with her boring. The other two characters are okay.

The movie had an idea that I really liked, but would have liked to have seen done differently or expanded upon. The idea of breaking into people’s homes, not to steal stuff but to just to interfere with the lives of the owners. “You take it away to show them what they had.” I like the message behind that quote. The fact that people don’t know what they have until it’s gone, people take so much for granted. I would like to see this idea in another movie. I might use this theme myself.

The title “Following” comes from what the main character likes to do, follow people. This is another interesting theme. he followed them, not to attack them or stalk them, but just to see where they go and what they do. When he started he would just pick a random person that looked interesting and follow them. He would never follow the same person twice. He breaks his rule and trouble happens. The idea of following is interesting but just like the robbery I feel it could have been expanded upon. It seems like the part that inspired the title is kind of lacking.

I really like the ending. The whole story wraps up very nicely and things come full circle. The ending is not really a twist but a jump. The ending made the movie worth watching in my opinion.

“Following” is an okay movie that has some really good things going for it. But, not worth going out of your way to watch.

Video

“Extortion” a neo-noir short film by Sam

This video was written, shot, and edited in one day. I edited the video on Sony Vegas Platinum 11. I wrote, produced, directed, edited and was the cinematographer and art director. I also acted Marcus alongside Shaun Hathaway playing Joey.

The movie is styled as a neo-noir movie, with a unique visual style. I made the film pure black and white; no grays. The style is influenced by noir works such as “Pi”, “L.A. Noir”, and “Sin City”.

The suit is a reference to Tarantino‘s “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs”, and the boss’ name is a “Pulp Fiction” reference as well. The music is the theme to Darren Aronofsky’sPi

We shot the video in a secluded parking lot behind an abandoned building. Someone saw us filming and thought it was real (a compliment to our acting!) and called the police. The police showed up and we had to explain to them that we were just shooting a movie.

Like this video? Visit The Tam Guardians on You Tube to see more of our work.