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“Blood on the Plain” Review

February 5, 2012 Leave a comment

I thought I’d take a break from the insanity of the awards season to provide a little spotlight on an outstanding short film to come out of the Chicago area. Having spent six years in film school, I can both understand and relate to what it’s like to be an unrecognized talent, attempting to make a standout film with practically no budget. With that being said, to this little endeavor in moviemaking, I say “bravo.”

The story is set against the backdrop of small-town life in Kansas on the day of the high school homecoming dance. A tribe of people, thought to be extinct for hundreds of years, have returned, evolved into a form of creature never before seen or imagined. Seeking revenge for the sins of the town’s ancestors, the demons strike at what is most precious to them, prompting the residents to band together and put a stop to the evil, once and for all.

Director Mac Eldridge (helmer of “Chemical 12-D,” which played at last year’s Fantasia Fest in Montreal), has gone above and beyond in crafting a fantastic, cross-genre experience: a horror-western. Imagine, if you will, the ominous, wayfaring overtones of “No Country for Old Men” meeting the gruesome action and thrills of “Predator.” The film packs some genuinely philosophical vibes that, while not reaching fruition, raise its caliber a notch or two above what a short like this could normally offer, and yet never skimps on its level of pure excitement.

For a movie in which the characters are not usually the main draw, the actors really hold their own. Otis Fine does a remarkable job of anchoring the ensemble as the thinking-man’s bartender. Richard Alpert, meanwhile, nails the film’s climax, encompassing everything you could hope for from a hard-nosed, eyepatch-wearing sheriff who can still handle a Winchester rifle. The emotional core of the film, however, is held by Joey Bicicchi and Dani Wilkin, the two star-crossed high school lovers who bear witness to the town’s tragedy. Caught in a whirlwind of horror and carnage, we see the massacre through their eyes, and it isn’t pretty.

The above-mentioned storm pertains to the horror element of the film, which will likely draw a large amount of viewers and they will not be disappointed. First off, the creature design is stellar. The makeup team created a lean, mean, savage superhuman with plenty of unique touchups and details that add a distinct element of character. They meet all the necessary criteria to be added to the long list of things you would not want to run into in a dark alley. Meanwhile, the title of the film really lives up to expectations with some outstanding gore. There’s enough stabbing, throat-cutting and general slaughter to keep any self-respecting horror fan glued to the screen.

It’s worth mentioning that much of the film’s success would not have been realized without its fabulous technical qualities. This film, which was made with a minuscule amount of money, looks, sounds and feels like a movie that should garner envy from any big-budget Hollywood producer. The cinematography, crafted by the young Chicago phenom David Wagenaar, is top notch. The film’s warm color palette help heighten the authentic western vibe, while Wagenaar’s staunch, high-contrast lighting during the massacre greatly elevates the level of terror. The film’s production design team successfully pulled off transforming suburban Chicago into rural Kansas (not an easy feat). Finally, the sound mix by Rob Davis adds a quality to the film that absolutely cannot be beaten.

Perhaps the greatest compliment one can give to “Blood on the Plain” is how well it works as a short film. Some may argue that the movie lacks a solid build-up. Yet, all in all, what more could you want for your twelve minutes? The film wastes not a second of its running time and delivers more scares, thrills and raw emotion than any other short that I’ve seen this year. The filmmakers wish to soon expand this film into a feature, and I can only hope beyond hope that it happens. When you see this short you will know what I mean, because, by the time the credits roll, the only thing you will want is more. You’ll be begging for it.

“Blood” is about to start its international festival run and is not yet available for streaming. However, you can go to the film’s website and can find all sorts of ways to see it. The DVD is on sale for ten dollars and is packed with all kinds of great extras. Or, if you’re as self-conscious about blind buys as I am, the film is also available for download in a stunning 2k (a quality higher than HD) transfer for only four dollars. Trust me, this film is worth your four dollars. Help support these phenomenal young indie filmmakers.

Below is the film’s official trailer and a link to their site:

Blood on the Plain’s Official Site

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New “Blood on the Plain” Trailer and Poster

November 2, 2011 Leave a comment

This is a little film that I have been following closely over the past year. As some of you may recall, I made a few posts about the short as it was in the midst of production, and since then, it has grown by leaps and bounds. Director Mac Eldridge leads a stellar cast and crew, made up of dozens of rising stars in the Chicago film scene. Here they have crafted a visceral and entertaining short film that is about to take the world by storm.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the film, as stated by the film’s website:

Part western, part horror, “Blood on the Plain” is a self-aware pulp exploration of a small town in the wake of tragedy. Following a savage massacre at the Wadsworth High School homecoming dance, the townspeople take up arms and under the guidance of four seasoned trackers, set out in search of justice. Those who survive will be forced to square off with the assailants; a breed of man never before seen and born under a previous generation’s offense.

All in all, the concept is a virtual cross between “No Country for Old Men” and “Predator.” If you’re wondering how those two films could mesh, I believe that’s evident of the stark originality of this piece. Right now, the film exists as a short narrative that focuses on the massacre and the events that lead up to it. However, the film is now gaining a lot of traction in different film communities and is about to begin its international festival tour. From there, it will hopefully gain enough support to become to the full feature it deserves to be.

Everything I say about this exciting project could not do enough justice as the trailer below. I must warn that were it viewed by the MPAA, this preview would certainly carry a red band rating. It contains some footage of the film’s fantastic make-up and special effects which can get a little gory at moments. Yet, considering the movies I have mentioned above, that shouldn’t be unwelcome or a surprise.

Check out the trailer, along with photos, cast and crew biographies, and behind the scenes footage, at the link, below:

“BLOOD ON THE PLAIN” TRAILER AND WEBSITE!

FYC Roger Deakins – “True Grit”

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

So, I’m not the biggest fan of this film. I’m not even sure if Roger Deakins will top my list of Best Cinematography of 2010. One thing’s for sure, however. Roger Deakins is probably one of the top five greatest cinematographers of all time and easily the best DP to never win an Oscar. His career first took off after shooting the independent feature “Sid and Nancy” which also launched Gary Oldman’s career. After taking the role of the Coen Brothers’ official DP, his talents went straight to the top of the list.

On top of his NINE Oscar nominations, including “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Fargo,” “O Brother Where Art Thou,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (the first three of which earned him wins from my personal awards), Deakins also did phenomenal work on “Revolutionary Road” “Dead Man Walking” and the visually astounding “Jarhead.” His work has had a truly lasting impact on the contemporary world of cinema, and from a film student’s perspective, there are not many people in today’s film industry who are more admired and revered.

When asked how he felt about receiving the American Society of Cinematographers’ Lifetime Achievement Award this month, he said he was slightly disappointed. He states that he likes to think of his career only halfway over and hopes to still do better work in the future. One can only hope that Roger keeps creating incredible visuals until the day he dies. But in the meantime, can we please just give the man an Oscar, already?

Check out this short video showing Roger Deakins work on the film “True Grit,” for which, if there’s any justice in the world, he will finally bring home a statue for:

“The Social Network” Updated Awards Tally

January 8, 2011 1 comment

You know, it’s true that “The Social Network” is my favorite movie of this year and many others. It’s probably in my Top 5 films of the last 20 years. However, that’s not why I am posting this. People really need to understand the precedent that is being set here. Never in the history of film has a movie been so unanimously praised as this one.

Every year there is a critical darling. Last year, at this point last year, “The Hurt Locker” has won 12 Best Picture awards, as has “Slumdog Millionaire.” “No Country for Old Men” was the only one that came close with 20 wins. “The Social Network” has 25 Best Picture wins under its belt. Not to mention, it is also the first film in nearly 15 years to win the “Big Four,” meaning the NYFCC, LAFCA, NBR and NSFC (L.A. Confidential was the last film to do that, and before that, Schindler’s List).

This has been a bigger critical coronation than ever there was one, and it’s really something to admire and remember.

Here’s the full list of main awards that it has won:

BEST PICTURE

WINS
African American Film Critics Association
Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Boston Society of Film Critics
Broadcast Film Critics Association
Central Ohio Film Critics Association (runner-up)
Chicago Film Critics Association
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
Detroit Film Critics Society
Florida Film Critics Circle
Hollywood Foreign Press Association
Houston Film Critics Society
Indiana Film Journalists Association
International Press Academy
Iowa Film Critics
Kansas City Film Critics Circle
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
National Board of Review
National Society of Film Critics
New York Film Critics Circle
New York Film Critics Online
Oklahoma City Film Critics Circle
Online Film Critics Society
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Southeastern Film Critics Association
St. Louis Film Critics Association
Toronto Film Critics Association
Utah Film Critics Association
Vancouver Film Critics Circle
Washington D.C. Film Critics Association

NOMINATIONS
Austin Film Critics Association
London Film Critics Circle (not yet awarded)
Phoenix Film Critics Society
Producers Guild of America (not yet awarded)
San Diego Film Critics

BEST DIRECTOR

WINS
Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Boston Society of Film Critics
Broadcast Film Critics Association
Chicago Film Critics Association
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
Florida Film Critics Circle
Hollywood Foreign Press Association
Houston Film Critics Society
Indiana Film Journalists Association
International Press Academy
Iowa Film Critics
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
Los Angeles Film Critics Association (TIE with Carlos Assayas)
National Board of Review
National Society of Film Critics
New York Film Critics Circle
New York Film Critics Online
Oklahoma City Film Critics Circle
Online Film Critics Society
San Francisco Film Critics Circle (TIE with Darren Aronofsky)
Southeastern Film Critics Association
St. Louis Film Critics Association
Toronto Film Critics Association
Utah Film Critics Association
Vancouver Film Critics Circle
Washington D.C. Film Critics Association

NOMINATIONS
Austin Film Critics Association
Central Ohio Film Critics Association
Detroit Film Critics Society
London Film Critics Circle (not yet awarded)
Phoenix Film Critics Society
San Diego Film Critics

BEST ACTOR

WINS
Boston Society of Film Critics
Houston Film Critics Society
Indiana Film Journalists Association (runner-up)
National Board of Review
National Society of Film Critics
Oklahoma City Film Critics Circle
Toronto Film Critics Association
Utah Film Critics Association

NOMINATIONS
Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Broadcast Film Critics Association
Central Ohio Film Critics Association
Chicago Film Critics Association
Detroit Film Critics Society
Hollywood Foreign Press Association
International Press Academy
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
London Film Critics Circle (not yet awarded)
Online Film Critics Society
Phoenix Film Critics Society
San Diego Film Critics
Screen Actors Guild Award (not yet awarded)
St. Louis Film Critics Association
Vancouver Film Critics Circle

BEST SCREENPLAY

WINS
Alliance of Women Film Journalists (adapted)
Austin Film Critics Association (adapted)
Boston Society of Film Critics
Broadcast Film Critics Association
Central Ohio Film Critics Association (adapted)
Chicago Film Critics Association
Dallas-Forth Worth Film Critics Association
Florida Film Critics Circle (adapted)
Hollywood Foreign Press Association
Houston Film Critics Society
Indiana Film Journalists Association
International Press Academy
Kansas City Film Critics Circle
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
National Board of Review
National Society of Film Critics
New York Film Critics Online
Oklahoma City Film Critics Circle (adapted)
Online Film Critics Society
Phoenix Film Critics Society
San Diego Film Critics Society (adapted)
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Southeastern Film Critics Association (adapted)
St. Louis Film Critics Association (adapted)
Toronto Film Critics Association (adapted)
Utah Film Critics Association
Vancouver Film Critics Circle
Washington D.C. Film Critics Association (adapted)

NOMINATIONS
London Film Critics Circle (not yet awarded)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

WINS
Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Broadcast Film Critics Association
Central Ohio Film Critics Association (runner-up)
Hollywood Foreign Press Association
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
Los Angeles Film Critics Association (TIE w/The Ghost Writer)
St. Louis Film Critics Association

NOMINATIONS
Chicago Film Critics Association
Houston Film Critics Association
International Press Academy
San Diego Film Critics Society
Washington Film Critics Association

Congrats, “Social Network.” You earned it.

Post 100 – Chlotrudis Society’s Top 100 Films of the Decade

January 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, there you have it, folks. This is my 100th post on The Edge of the Frame. It has come a long way. I can remember back to when I first tried to start a blog about four years ago, I had gotten to post number four and pretty much just gave in. However, thanks to everyone’s support, I’ve been able to push past my original quota and quite a bit further. At the current rate, and with continued support, I may be at 500 by this time, next year.

In honor of my 100th posting, I thought I’d report the Chlotrudis Society’s List of the Top 100 of the decade. For those that don’t know, the Chlotrudis Society is a non-profit organization that serves to promote and preserve the art of independent filmmaking. Sadly, I really don’t care about this list too much, mostly because of how bogus it is. First of all, any list that holds “Donnie Darko” (a great film, just horribly overrated by society, especially my generation) above films like “Brokeback Mountain,” “Memento,” “Pan’s Labyrinth,” or, for God’s sake, “The Social Network,” really doesn’t hold a lot of credence in my mind.

Secondly, this is not a best of the decade list. This is a best of the decade and another year after that. In other words, films like “The Social Network” and “Winter’s Bone,” while incredible works, have no business being on this list. I know that everyone misses this time last year when all film critics and commentators could have the joy of whipping out their best films of the decade (it just has such a dramatic ring to it). However, that ship has sailed. You can’t just add a morpheme like “ish” to the end of the word decade and justify yourself like that. Suck it up, be professionals and wait nine years.

Here’s the first five films on the list. Full List after the jump:

1. In the Mood for Love
2. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
3. The Lives of Others
4. Caché
5. Let the Right One In

Read more…

The Golden Globes: My Thoughts

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, my first reaction to the Golden Globes was, of course, uproarious laughter. HFPA, you crazy bastards, you. Every year, when I make my predictions out, I actually imagine that they will make rational decisions, decisions actually catered to how good a film is rather than how many celebrities they can kiss ass to and cram onto a red carpet. Then, every year, I have to give a little giggle and remember who I’m dealing with.

Let’s actually go through the good, first, because believe it or not, there is some. The HFPA actually showed more love for “The Social Network” than I thought that they would. 6 nominations, tying the second largest amount for the year, including what I believe to be an Oscar nomination-sealing nod to Jesse Eisenberg, as well as much deserved recognition to Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch for their unorthodox and compelling score. I do believe that “The King’s Speech” will take down this particular Best Picture award, due to the HFPA’s penchant for grandiose over edgy (“The Aviator” over “Million Dollar Baby,” which I was actually happy about, “Atonement” over “No Country for Old Men,” “Avatar” over “The Hurt Locker”). However, “Social”‘s strong showing proves that it is definitely in it for the longterm win.

Some other things that I liked: “Inception” pulling in such a great reception. After the HFPA’s proverbial snub of “The Dark Knight,” I expecting the Christopher Nolan hate to filter into this film’s chances, as well. I was pleasantly surprised. The film pulled in 4 nominations. Also, it was very nice to see noms for both Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. I have not yet seen the film so I can’t say that I’m pleased because they impressed me, but just that the Globes had enough hootspa to nominated such a dark and gritty film, especially with all of its MPAA controversey. Plus, Ryan Gosling is one of the most impressive young performers working in the game, today.

All right, let’s move on to the laughable. The Drama section was fine, if not predictable. The Musical/Comedy section is a travesty. I will refrain from completely ripping apart their nominations for “Burlesque” and “The Tourist” for I have not seen them. However, when a film receives a Metacritic score of 48 as in “Burlesque,” or much less a 37 that “The Tourist” received, there is something to say about the finickiness of nominating said films for the distinction of Best Picture of the Year. Even the Globes would stoop that low for a chance to get Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and Cher all at their swanky party. I think that I’m actually going to see at least one of those films just to relish in my ridicule of them.

Here’s a few more things grinding my gears: Michael Douglas’ last ditch nomination for “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” I know that the man is inching close to death, but couldn’t they have at least given him a goodbye nom for something like “Solitary Man,” something he might be proud to be remembered for? The snub of Sally Hawkins, to make room for Angelina Jolie, no less, is an insult. I’m sure it was also necessary to make sure Johnny Depp had two nominations instead of recognizing some of the amazing work done by Jim Carrey in “I Love You Phillip Morris?” And the big finale…..not a single nomination for “True Grit.” Tell me that they just didn’t see it and not that they would literally hand a complete snub to it on purpose.

Some day, I hope that the Golden Globes are fully recognized for the sham that they are, or maybe they’ll just shape up. Who knows? Until then, I will try to forget that these ever happened.