Posts Tagged ‘low budget’

POP-U-larity!

Posted 21 Jul 2012 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

POP-U-larity!, USA, 2012

Directed by Michelle Ehlen

POP-U-larity! is a reasonably enjoyable light comedy that satirizes modern singing competition shows such as American Idol and The Voice.Michelle Ehlen’s POP-U-larity! is a reasonably enjoyable light comedy that satirizes modern singing competition shows such as American Idol and The Voice. It is filled with strange, amusing characters and moments of genuine humor, but unfortunately most of its best material is used up in its first half. By the time the inevitable competition happens, the film and its characters have worn out their welcome and, for the most part, become somewhat grating. More than anything, it feels like an extra low-budget take on Christopher Guest’s largely improvised mockumentaries, such as Waiting for Guffman (1996) and Best in Show (2000), with the small-town quirkiness of Guffman at the forefront.

POP-U-larity! is at its best in its first act, when it introduces its wildly varied characters and their respective quirks and self-delusions. Ehlen, who also co-wrote the film with J.C. Peterson, stars as the film’s ostensible protagonist, a cowgirl named Charlene Hornsby who feels a deep affinity for one of her horses, Beth; she says of the other horse she tends, “We’re not close.” The writing and delivery of lines like this provides some of the film’s best humor, and many of the scenes involving two other competitors, Darque (Krys Fox) and Ness (Thessaly Lerner), are even better. Performing together as “Darkness,” the two bring a pot-addled, pseudo-nihilistic edge to the competition with their unlistenable melange of noise created by banging on random household objects while shouting a bizarre, stream-of-consciousness rant about the meaninglessness of life over the cacophony. A second act argument between the two of them about their artistic direction is undoubtedly the movie’s best scene.  Read More

James Vogel’s The City

Posted 30 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Colleen Powers

The City is a strange and twisted dark comedy/thriller from director James Vogel. The City, USA, 2009

Directed by James Vogel

Shameless Plug Alert – The following is a review originally published in The Wake magazine (http://www.wakemag.org/) of a film co-written by and starring Movies I Didn’t Get’s own head editor, Ezra Stead. We are republishing it as part of our continuing quest to provide information on lesser-known films, as well as mainstream and indie movies that are on the entire nation’s radar. While Ezra edited and posted the review, he had no hand at all in its writing, outside of the quoted interview segments below:

The City, first screened at Minneapolis’s Oak Street Cinema on November 19, 2009, may sound like any other violent, low-budget action flick trying to live up to Scorsese or Tarantino, but a clever premise laced with smart subtext and wicked humor makes this a film worth seeing.

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Blank City

Posted 02 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Blank City, USA, 2010

Directed by Celine Danhier

Blank City is a lively, well-made documentary of a bygone era.

Celine Danhier’s documentary Blank City is an invigorating love letter to a bygone era, a time when guerrilla filmmakers ran wild in the streets, freely shooting their cinematic visions without the hindrance of Hollywood extravagances like permits, budgets and stars. It is the kind of film that inspires not only nostalgia, but also a forward-thinking desire to follow in the footsteps of its many sometimes deranged but always passionate and interesting subjects. It is a lively documentary, one that celebrates life and manages to revel in nostalgia without ever getting sappy about it.

Blank City follows the rise and eventual fall (or, at least, evolution) of the so-called “No Wave” independent filmmaking scene of New York City in the late 1970s and beyond. A few of the renegades seen in the film went on to become famous and successful – perhaps the biggest names interviewed for the film are John Waters, Jim Jarmusch and Steve Buscemi (Vincent Gallo is also seen in archival footage) – while others remain noteworthy cult figures, highly respected in some circles, but far on the fringes of mainstream renown – Lydia Lunch, Richard Kern, John Lurie. Many of the rest faded completely into obscurity, but the legacy of their approach to filmmaking can be seen in some of today’s indie cult success stories made on extraordinarily low-budgets; the DIY approach advocated by this film’s subjects can easily be seen in the making of films like Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi (1992), Kevin Smith’s Clerks (1994), and Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez’s The Blair Witch Project (1999), to name just a few. Read More

Bangkok Girl – What’s In A Smile?

Posted 12 Oct 2010 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Jason A. Hill

Bangkok Girl, Canada, 2005

Directed by Jordan Clark

pla smilingAfter the first few minutes into this film, I realized it wasn’t your typical big-budget, Michael Moore-style documentary about global/macro world issues. However, Jordan Clark, with his low-budget quality, gives us a film that is free-flowing and spontaneous, with the kind of scenes that are often missing from many higher profile docs. The filmmaker gets close to the subject of the film, perhaps too close. He blurs the line of objective observance while digging into Bangkok’s seedy underworld. The film deals with the comparatively seldom recognized issue of Bangkok’s “sex tourism” industry. Prostitution is a thriving part of the city’s economy, but it’s also a cause of crime and the exploitation of Bangkok’s young women. Clark arrives just like many other westerners on holiday, but he is armed with a camera and the intent of capturing a story. Read More