TTFF 17 Review

Today we really got some good ones!

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Chocolate (Short\Dominican Republic 2016)

“Yan gets stood up by his date, and ends up meeting his friend at a local club. To get Yan out of his distress, his friend challenges him to talk to a girl who is standing across from them. Yan uses different tactics to try to lure her.”

Chocolate is one of those shorts, that gets inside you, and sticks with you. Its only 11 minutes long, but it has everything a great story needs. It has compelling characters (even with enough back story that you feel for them and where they are in life), it has beautiful story telling, its funny, its emotional, and it manages all this in just 11 minutes. I can’t say too much about it, as it is only 11 minutes and there is only so much of its story I could tell without telling it in its entirety, but this truly is a master class in telling  a story with no fat on it. There isn’t a wasted shot, frame, or sound here, and thats from the start to the very, very end. If you can see this short film anywhere at any time, please take the time and give it a look.

Review Score : 10 out of 10

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Nadie Nos Mira: Nobody’s Watching (Argentina 2017)

“Nico is a rising young actor in his native Argentina, but he wants to make it big in America —  and he’s running from some demons at home. He has some good friends in the US, and success dangles almost within reach as he makes some promising contacts. But unless those promises are fulfilled, he’s just another illegal immigrant struggling to make not only a living, but also to find a sense of home.”

Nadie Nos Mira or Nobody’s Watching is a hard film to watch. Its not that its not good, its very good, its just maybe a little too real. Like a short film I watched yesterday, this movie also has a big theme of “home”, and to a lesser extent family. It tells the story of a well known actor in his native Argentina, who for reasons I won’t spoil, leaves to pursue a greater career in New York. A big part of this movie is also the LGBT community, and the impact that still has on so many people across so many facets of life. This movie has a real, “real” feel to it, it really makes you feel like you’re right next to these characters in an almost voyeuristic way, which is part of the reason this movie is so hard to watch. There are some very intense scenes in this movie also, and they all fell warranted and earned, and not just done for shock value. This movie is very slow though, it almost trudges along, slowly pulling you through the snow to and ending you hope is better for these characters than the lives they currently live.

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Cartel-de-Melocotones.

Melocotones: Peaches (Dominican Republic 2015)

“For their anniversary, Diego has planned a repeat of his first weekend with his girlfriend Laura. In fact he’s planned it too exactly, and Laura is bored by his lack of spontaneity. Luckily Diego, an inventor, can rejig his Sexotron machine, travel back in time and make everything different. Filmed in Technicolor hues, this sex/science-fiction comedy has a 1950s look, and the gadgets have a distinctly antiquated air. So Diego’s scientific experiments have some unexpected and hilarious outcomes.”

Honestly, Peaches (Melocotones), is one of those movies that you almost have to see to believe, and if you have any sense of humor at all, you will be so glad you did watch it. The film takes a lot of its inspiration from Technicolor, and 1980’s cinema, down to the wonderful synths throughout the entire score of this movie. From the jump, this movie shows you that it doesn’t take itself very seriously, and you shouldn’t either. Even though this movie is done is very serious way, its shot, edited, and everything else perfectly, and it knows everything its doing because its doing them on purpose. Even in the story itself, which takes what would be a very serious sci-fi- premise, and flips it on its head with a level of absurdity that juxtaposes the traditional tropes of such a genre. Peaches is one of those movies that doesn’t need to much to be said about it, it just needs to be seen, and I highly recommend seeing it.

Review Score : 9 out of 10

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TTFF 17 Review


Salty Dog (Short\Trinidad 2017)

“When the rug is pulled from under his feet, a savvy old salt must navigate the stormy waters of his relationship with his estranged son. As tensions flare between the two, the son checks out retirement homes for his father”

Salty Dog is a short film written and directed by Oliver Milne, and features a cast, crew, and locations all related to the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. As a short, it’s actually quite ambitious in its intended scope, and the narrative it looks to tell. Deep down I think this movie is really about homes, and the things that make them such. We see through the rocky relationship between this father and son that home for each has become two separate worlds, even if they both might be more similar than either would like to admit. You get a great sense also for the difference in lives each man has been leading, even in this shortened form of story telling. By the end, you get the idea that home isn’t always to same to everyone, and that maybe and old dog can learn some new tricks. Salty Dog is nicely done bit of story telling, with enough heart and humor to fill a movie with a longer run time.

Review Score : 7.5 out of 10


King of Peking (China 2017)

“When home entertainment enters the market in 90s Beijing, a former projectionist ropes his young son into starting their own pirate movie company, but easy money comes with its own price tag.”

King of Peking is one of those movies made to make you feel warm inside. It plays on two major fronts, our love of movies, and our love for family. You feel for Big Wong and Little Wong throughout their ups and downs. They have a strong and great connection as father and son, and that connection is built on a mutual love of cinema. And we really do get to see that love, over the 5 chapters of the movie, and we really feel like we become part of the family. It reminds all of us that love film, that through right and wrong, through thick and thin, we will always have our favorite movies, and the connections we make from them. Shot with a real warmth, paced really nicely, and written super smartly, King of Peking is one of those movies that make you smile, and want to go home and hug your parents for all they’ve done for you.

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Wrap Up : American Vandal

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When you hear the name “American Vandal”, the first thing you think of is probably some gritty new movie or series, or maybe even a series about a true crime story that needed telling….you don’t probably think about a “mockumentary” style take on one of those aforementioned series. That is however, just what American Vandal is, its a satirical take on documentary-serieses yes, but it doesn’t deprive itself of the same level of drama, with a narrative that twists and turns across all 8 of its episodes. It leaves no stone unturned, it leaves no thread unpulled, and it doesn’t miss any details.

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This series on a whole shines across all boards. The writing to start with is absolutely excellent. It pays so much attention to detail, with every hint and bit of information it releases over time. Even details as small and simple as the credits in the intro being the names of the characters because they are making this faux documentary-series shows the kind of attention to detail the writing shows from start to the very end. Each of the characters is given a deep, thoughtful, and totally believable back story and story line, which gives the characters enough weight to have you invested in them, and where they each stand in the narrative.

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The acting here is also spectacular. Not only are the roles incredibly cast in their age and diversity, but because the series takes itself and its character seriously, the actors themselves are given so much to work it, and are allowed to play out the roles in a full dramatic fashion. This series is both hilarious and emotional, and it can be both these things without trying to be either because it is simply portraying real life, and people with real lives. You believe everyone of these characters, and what they are going through at all times, and while the writing gives these actors a great base, their acting itself was needed to make and maintain that emotional connection.

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All in all, American Vandal is one of the best series I’ve seen in a long time, and one of those shows where I feel like many people would over look the quality of things like the writing and production here. If you have any free time at all, give this series a watch. It only about 4 and a half hours total, and makes a great binge.

Review : Kingsman – The Golden Circle


“When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.”

Kingsman the golden circle, or just Kingsman 2, tells the continued story of unrefined youth turned super spy Eggsy, in a brand new story. Everything about Kingsman 2 is meant to be bigger and better. More action, more stunts, more fights, more guns, more everything. For the most part we do get all the “more”, but we could have done with a touch of the “less” also. The Kingsman sequel definitely makes some sacrifices for the sake of bigger and better, but in that we do lose a little of the soul that made the first movie so memorable. Bringing in their American counterparts in the Statesmen, the movie basically doubles its cast of over the top, but super charismatic spies, and allows for an entire new style to be used to great effect. All the great action you would expect is all here, where the movie falters, in its character development. All these new characters have their times to shine, but that spreading of the spot light, does mean less time to dive a bit deeper. I also feel like this movie made some choices in an attempt the deepen our emotional connections with characters, but served only to take some of the best characters out, most like in preparing for third and likely final entry in the Kingsman saga. Just like the original movie, this movie is certainly over the top, and doesn’t shy away from pointing the camera directly at the lesser flattering areas sometimes, and in some cases, some might find it goes too far. The new additions to the cast are also all fantastic, and do a great job to build out the world, as well as allow for some interesting match ups going forward. All in all, Kingsman 2 is every bit the over the top action movie you would expect it to be, it just lacks a bit of the deeper soul that made the first movie one of the best movies of 2014.

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Review : Green Days by the River

A Trinidadian boy on the edge of adult responsibilities, Shellie moves to a new village and meets two girls. He is charmed by Rosalie but also attracted to the more cheerful and accessible Joan.

Green days by the River is an extremely popular and well received book from author Michael Anthony. It tells a classic coming of age story, but with some twists and turns that make it distinctly Trinidadian. This feature adaptation is directed by Michael Mooleedhar, with an adaption for the screen by Dawn Cumberbatch. There is definitely a lot to like here, but we have some problems to address also. The good here is that Sudai Tafari who is charged with the title role of Shellie, does a great job in his subtle and nuanced performance here. He does a great job anchoring the film, and keeping it grounded. The rest of the main cast here is also good, and the occasional bad delivery or over acted scene is balanced by Tafari’s performance. The score here also, while it could be a bit over bearing at times, definitely suited the material. The story of Green days is certainly a small one, but I felt like the film itself was made to feel a bit too small. It was as if a minimal amount of scenery was used to represent a much larger area. This leads into some of the movies main problems. To start, I’m not sure what the desired effect of the editing was, but it just served to chop up the movies pace, and maybe try and cover up a lack of content to provide a more flowing narrative. There is a lot of great scenery to be had here, but it felt like it was more opportunistic than planned, and in this story, Mayaro where this story takes place is a character in itself. Also it’s needs to be said that one of the most titular moments of the book, is over in a flash with little or the tension, pain, and despair of its novel counterpart. I don’t know if it was a budgetary issue, or a lack of the requisite tools, but I think any book fan would be disappointed with the movies version of those events. All in all, Green Days is a movie that gives us parts of the story we love, but lacks the authenticity of the novel it’s based on. I do think it’s worth seeing, but I wish I could recommend it more highly. (Also those big Tobago dogs were pretty skinny man).

Review Score: 6.5 out of 10

Review : It


“A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of clown, begins hunting children.”

First off it must be said that I spent the majority of this movie looking off to a safe blank spot on the cinema wall, needless to say, if you’re not sure if this movie is “scary” worry not….its f$&@#ing terrifying. As the synopsis implies, this movie is heavy on the clowns, but what really matters here is it’s also super heavy on the story, and character development. It sees a cast of very talented young actors, who all add real emotion and depth to the story here, and you give you that human and emotional hook that a movie like this really needs. Lead by Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, and Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard we become deeply aquanted with the losers club, and the circumstances that bring them all together. They have great chemistry as a group, and each is capable of standing on their own, acting wise. Then we get to Pennywise….the dancing clown. In roles such as these (made famous by another actor already), making your performance stand out is a real task, one however, accomplished perfectly by Bill Skarsgård. I know a lot of his terror comes from special effects, wether make up or digital, but a large part here is also his acting. His tone, delivery, cadence and even movement really bring to life many of our nightmares. On top of all this however, this movie also shines because of its writing. Based of course on the popular Steven King novel, and adapted for the screen by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman, It brings just as much dramatic, emotional, humorous story telling as it brings scares. It also benefits from not needing to rely on jump scares, but more often than not it uses real tension, and real emotional connection to scare the shit out of you. All in all, It is more than just a scary movie, it’s just a really good movie (that happens to be scary as shit and I recommend seeing it in the light of day), and really good movies deserve to be seen, and seen in cinemas.

Review Score : 9 out of 10

Review : Shot Caller

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“A newly released prison gangster is forced by the leaders of his gang to orchestrate a major crime with a brutal rival gang on the streets of Southern California.”

Shot Caller is written and directed by Ricin’s Roman Waugh, and stars the one and only Jamie Lannister himself (Nikolaj CosterWaldau) in the title role here as Jacob aka Money. What Shot Caller really is though, is a character study, and its in that aspect that the movie shines brightest. The movie itself is filled with a surprising cast list, with actors like Coster-Waldau, Lake Bell, Jon Bernthal, Benjamin Bratt, and more This is actually the strongest aspect of this movie as it does serve up some great moments for these actors to really give some good performances. Bernthal and Coster-Waldau are by far the best, but they also have two of the biggest roles here, and this movie really does allow for a great character arch for Nikolaj’s Jacob. The way he’s able to change his character from mild mannered business man, to gang leading Money, not just in his language and actions, but in his physicality and mannerisms is extremely well done. Where the movie falls apart a bit is in the writing, and in some of the characters who just aren’t brought to life as well by the actors portraying them. For a movie that deals with certain things in a very subtle and nuanced way, its strange at times to see some really over written and thus over acted moments that pull you out of the drama at points. The real meat of this movie, is most of the cast being able to stretch their acting legs and give some great performances, even amidst some bad acting and some some bad writing. All in all, Shot Caller is a movie worth seeing, especially since it can be seen streamed at home, and would be a great solid choice for a good night home movie.

Review Score : 7 out of 10