Tuesday, June 25, 2013

TWENTY MILLION PEOPLE reviewed by Pamela Powell

Starring:  Michael Ferrell, Devin Sanchez, and Chris Prine
Written and directed by:  Michael Ferrell
(Viewed at the Waterfront Film Festival)

Michael Ferrell takes on love from a male's perspective giving this Rom-Com genre a breath of fresh air in his new film "Twenty Million People."  Written and directed by, as well as starring, Michael Ferrell, his character Brian is fed up with sappy, cliche love story movies where the couple runs off into the sunset and lives happily ever after.  As a bartender in NYC, Brian has no qualms about sharing his jaded viewpoint.  It's just this cynical attitude that introduces him to the girl that could be his "happily ever after."

Trudging through the day to day work as a bartender, Brian sets up movie night at his place of employment.  Brian's attitude toward love and relationships is evident from the beginning.  He wholeheartedly disagrees with the possibility of a soulmate...that is until he meets Ashley (Devin Sanchez) that night.  With similar jaded viewpoints on love, the two start to hang out together.  No commitment, just spending time together.  However, Brian begrudgingly falls more deeply in love with Ashley and with these confusing feelings, the fictional movie characters from that sappy love story movie come to life for Brian as they lend a hand in figuring out  his love life.  Perhaps Brian has more insecurities than a cynical attitude.  When Ashley suddenly disappears, Brian is lost. With the help of his best friend, Edward (Chris Prine), and his new found fictional friends, Brian seeks out this woman and finds much more.

Beautifully set in recognizable parts of Manhattan, this film dances gracefully through the steps of a new relationship.  Creatively interwoven fictional movie characters with real life brings "Twenty Million People" to a higher level of entertainment.  Sanchez' character, a stand up comedian, adds even more humor to this film.  Ferrell's writing, directing and acting are realistic and superb lending the viewer to see relationships from a different viewpoint.

"Twenty Million People" is a classic NYC love story.  Even with some predictability, it's a film that is refreshingly honest and realistic.  Fun, humorous, sweet, and creative Rom-Coms from a male's point of view are unique and a welcome change to the movie industry!

Monday, June 24, 2013

SOME GIRL(S) by Pamela Powell

Starring: Adam Brody, Kristen Bell, Zoe Kazan and Jennifer Morrison
Written by: Neil LaBute
Directed by: Daisy von Scherler Mayer

With "Some Girl(s)...." you can fill in the blank here.  You could say, "Some girls never learn," or "Some girls have low self-esteem," or "Some girls seek revenge."  Now it's your turn.  You fill in the blank.  Some girls______.  In the film, "Some Girl(s)," a successful writer travels around the country seeking forgiveness from his ex-girlfriends.  However, what he gets is much more than he bargained for.  "Some Girl(s)," originally a play by Neil LaBute and adapted to the screen by the same author, tackles a topic that some might consider a nightmare.  Starring Adam Brody, Kristen Bell, and Zoe Kazan, this nameless main character, apologizes to many exes in the hopes of forgiveness.  Why would any man put himself in this situation?  He wants a clean slate before he marries.  Good luck with that one!

I'm addressing all the women now.  What would you do if you had the opportunity to set the record straight with someone from your past who broke your heart?  Picture him calling you out of the blue, wanting to meet, but not saying why.  Would you go?  Would you have dreams that he wanted you back?  Or would you give him a piece of your mind and put him in his place?  These are the questions posed as Man, as we will call him, checked in on five former loves.  Man first showed up in a Seattle hotel to visit a high school sweetheart that he dumped senior year before prom.  15 years have passed. Sam was now confronted with her long lost love being brutally, but not intentionally, honest with her regarding their break up.  Maybe some things are better left unsaid! This awkward interaction left me wanting to slap Man silly!  As Man zig-zagged across the continent, visiting these extremely varied individuals, he was left with more questions than he started with.  Each woman dealt with his pompous, overconfident, and frequently condescending attitude in different ways.  Which woman would you have been?

"Some Girl(s)" was a clever and entertaining look at how we women feel about ourselves and past loves.  With realistic, engaging dialogue and adroit acting, "Some Girl(s)" brought you back to your own long-lost loves.  Each woman represented a small piece of the everyday woman.  Witty, sad, infuriating, and satisfying describe the overall film.  It was a mirror that perhaps every woman should look into in order to gain a bit of introspective knowledge.

"Some Girl(s)" opens in theaters and vimeo on demand on June 28.  Grab your girlfriends and see this film.  Head out for wine and great conversation afterward!  You'll learn a lot about yourselves!

Friday, June 21, 2013

WORLD WAR Z by Pamela Powell

Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, and Daniella Kertesz
Based on the novel by Max Brooks
Directed by: Marc Forster

Oh, gee, another Apocalyptic flick.  Yay.  I was so excited...NOT!  But before I get to the review, might I add a bit of movie etiquette?  Please, oh please, do not bring food wrapped in hard cellophane into the theater.  The only saving grace with the 6 year old kid behind me (it was a PG-13 movie, people), was the fact that there were so many bombs and gun fights that it masked the 100dB crinkling!  Anyway, back to the movie.  Former UN investigator, Gerry Lane, with more skills than a Clark Kent, fights against time to find out how to stop the zombies from taking over the entire world population.  Lane's kyrptonite is his family.  His sole purpose is to protect them.  He must save the world in order to save his family.

This intense and stressful film struck a chord from the beginning by showing a beautiful section of Philadelphia, in complete pandemonium.  The bombing and the chasing began as Lane and his family sought shelter from the streets of Philly.  It wasn't just Philly, though.  Th entire world was being devoured.  With Lane's investigative services needed by the government to solve this world-ending dilemma, he left his family behind to save the world.  Zombies, however, were the not so obvious culprit to blame as the fleeing victims quickly morphed into flesh eating soulless corpses.   As more and more of the world's population succumbed to the walking dead, Lane had to put together the pieces of this puzzle to save his family.

The make up and special effects were quite spectacular.  The close ups of the undead with the heinous dentures and tissue thin rotting skin were captivating.  As the zombies chomped their choppers and squawked their pterodactyl noises, I couldn't help but chuckle a few times...a bit over the top silly, but hey, it's a zombie movie.  What do you expect?  It was definitely a step up from Night of the Living Dead!  These zombies were nothing like the information I have ascertained over the years about the undead.  First of all, daylight didn't bother them at all! In addition, these creatures could not only run, but run fast!  They could also jump and climb like monkeys!  Thankfully, they did adhere to some previous knowledge of zombies in that they were very strong.  Whew!  At least I had some accurate knowledge from my teen years!

I am thankful that Brad Pitt was in this film as his Hot Dad exterior and intense blue eyes were much more interesting for me to view than the blow 'em up, shoot 'em up zombie movie.  The rest of the cast was just fine in their roles.  The story was rather predictable, but I will admit that I jumped in my seat a few times.  It is fun to get spooked or scared here and there.  Although this film was not my cup of tea, if you like horror flicks with lots of special effects and explosions, you will thoroughly enjoy this movie.  But PLEASE leave your sun chips and your 6 year olds at home.

 WORLD WAR Z trailer



Thursday, June 20, 2013


Starring: Owen Williams, Adriana Mather, and Kristin Minter
Written and directed by:  James Bird

"Eat Spirit Eat" graced the Waterfront Film Festival in beautiful South Haven, Michigan with its World Premiere recently.  Kristin Minter, actress and spokesperson to introduce the film, bubbled over with excitement.  This screening was also the first time the filmmaker and actors would be viewing it on "the big screen."  Her enthusiasm spilled over to the audience with our anticipation of seeing it as well.  "Eat Spirit Eat" was about an orphaned boy, Oliver, who wanted nothing more than for his father to come back for him.  Oliver's father had promised that when he became a movie star, he would come back for him.  That promise was made before Oliver's mother died and was held on to until he had become an adult.  With the help of his foster siblings that came and went in his early life, Oliver set out to see if his father would keep his promise.
The movie started at the end as Oliver narrated his current dire circumstances.  The situation looked tense with police surrounding him as he got out of a car with what appeared to be war paint on his face.  As the movie went back in time to explain how Oliver got to this place, the pace and overall feel of the movie took on an entirely different characteristic.  It became lighthearted and whimsical.  We watched Oliver grow up.  We were introduced to the his foster mother and foster siblings who were all very unique individuals.  Oliver had made a pact with each of them, promising that they would help him make his father a movie star so that he could come back to Oliver. This sweet, charming, and eccentric movie incorporated an eclectic group actors to portray these orphans.  From the indian-mexican kid to the pompous, pretentious brat and every character in between, these now grown "kids" helped Oliver, the sweet and lovable glass-is-half-full kind of guy find his father and help him fulfill his promise.  The film weaved in and out of various situations as if following a treasure map to the big red "X."  

Oliver needed to find a producer to help him set up a film for his father to star in; therefore making Oliver's dad a success.  Vera and her twin sister Vill were just the two coffee shop owners/dog walkers to do this.  Having "seen over 250 movies,"  this automatically made them experts in the field!  Each aspect of movie making 101 was covered with each foster sibling having just that skill to help.  With the whole gang in collaboration of making this movie, “hiring” Oliver’s dad to play this strange role in this bizarre pseudo-movie began.  What exactly is a Zombot?  You’ll find out when you see this movie!

The entire cast of "Eat Spirit Eat, delivering their quick-witted lines, was superb.  The story was sweet yet unpredictable which was engaging.  Utilizing vibrant colors, exaggerations in every category, yet keeping to a touching story, enabled the film to be a success.  “Eat Spirit Eat" was a truly sweet story about belonging, family, and a search for a father.  The sincerity of the feelings one might have in search of one's father were interspersed in this otherwise lighthearted, feel-good, humorous film.  The pace of the film with quick.  The colors of the clothing and backgrounds were striking and almost cartoonish.  The style of speech from Vera was staccato and overarticulated which made it so fun to listen to!  All of the characters were an over-exaggeration, but this just added to the fun of the film.  The story took time to develop so that we cared about Oliver and all the other characters; even the father.  The ridiculousness of many of the situations just endeared you to Oliver and his circumstances even more.  This story had heart as well as humor; a wonderful combination.

As the credits rolled and the lights came up, the audience’s applause was overwhelming.  Comments such as, “I loved it” were heard several times.  The cast and filmmaker took to center stage to answer questions from the audience.  The smiles on their faces were infectious.  James Bird, the writer and director, shared with us that he never knew his father which was the impetuous for making this film.  Several other actors in the group shared that their relationships with their fathers were either non-existent or not ideal.  One of the most touching stories concerned the producer and composer of the film and her father who lived in Russia.  Sadly, he was dying of brain cancer.  During the filming, he passed away.  Knowing that completion of this film was his daughter’s dream, he left the money for them to do so.  And that is truly a father’s love.

Please watch the trailer at the link below...


Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Starring:  Blayne Weaver, Patrick Day, and Cheryl Nichols
Written and Directed by: Paul Osborne

"Favor" had its Midwest Premiere at the Waterfront Film Festival to a packed house recently on a late Friday night.  Given its dark and twisted nature, nighttime was the perfect time to see this film.  "Favor" posed these questions...When you do a friend a favor, do you keep track?  And if you keep track, when do you call it "Even Steven?"  When Kip, a successful marketing agent accidentally murders his mistress in a seedy hotel room, he calls his childhood friend Marvin to clean up his mess. Marvin, an unemployed loser, apparently sees this as an opportunity to balance the scales.  How far will each of them go to get what they want?

"Favor" was a powerful, suspenseful, and intense psychological thriller that kept you guessing at every dramatic intersection.  This film had more dangerous twists and turns than Mulholland Drive on a dark and stormy night.  Kip, in his perfect life where his colleagues admired him, women wanted him, and his adoring, beautiful wife trusted and loved him, didn't appear to realize what he had.  Greed got the better of him and when his bosom buddy from elementary school tried to make him realize this, in not so friendly ways, both Kip and Martin fell into a moral abyss.  As the decisions spiraled downward, I sat on the edge of my seat, sometimes holding my breath, not knowing what was going to happen next.  This unpredictability paired with the intensity of each and every deeper and darker situation, kept you glued to the screen.  How could Kip rectify the situation?  Kip just kept getting dragged further and further down the the slippery slope of life.  Take a deep breath here because even with all the intensity and violence, there was still humor interspersed.  The balance of all these factors made this film brilliant.  I'm not from England so I'm not throwing around the term 'brilliant.'  It truly was.  From the beginning to the end, you will never see what's around the next corner.

"Favor" was like few movies hitting the theaters these days in wide release.  It was a great story told well, as independent film supporter Robert Redford would say.  The script was concise and intelligently written.  However, even with a great script, you also need a talented cast.  "Favor" had not only a talented cast, but an outstanding one.  Blayne Weaver played Kip, the self-absorbed, egotistical, greedy yet successful marketing agent.  Patrick Day, starred as Marvin, the not-so-lovable loser.  His appearance, style of speech, mannerisms, and overall presence were increasingly more menacing and disturbing as the movie developed.  "Favor," made you realize that when you have the right script, the right cast, and the right director, you have a standout film.  Favor was a brilliant, dark, and intense psychological thriller that was full of surprises.

As the lights in the theater came up, the audience simultaneously had an audible exhalation.  Several of us chuckled at how we didn't see things coming and the overall response was, "Amazing!"  We were then lucky enough to hear the director/writer and two main actors answer questions after the film.

Given the nature of the film, I anticipated a somber and brooding type of writer.  I couldn't have been any more wrong.  Paul Osborne was charasmatic and immensely funny.  The Q & A had the flavor of an interactive stand up comedy show!  Blayne and Patrick were sweet, handsome, and humble...quite the antithesis of their characters.  This was pointed out by several audience members which hammered home the point of how talented these actors were. One story that stood out concerned one of the hidden obstacles or bumps in the road they experienced while filming.  There was a need for a couple of mounds of dirt.  The digging was to take place in the Santa Monica mountains.  Apparently, according to section 2.4, article 32, paragraph 3, you may not dig here.  You can bring dirt in for the mounding purposes, but it couldn't be just any dirt.  It had to be "special" dirt.  As he ordered his special dirt, he needed to specify a quantity.  The poor guy didn't know what a "yard" was so he ordered 9 of them!  I guess there are advantages to growing up in rural NY!  Many other stories were told, but if I share any more, it might ruin
the movie for you.

"Favor" is now one of my top psychological thrillers.  This is a must see!  When it gets picked up by a distributor, be sure to catch it.

FAVOR trailer

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Waterfront Film Festival A Hidden Gem by Pamela Powell

I have found a very well-kept secret...the Waterfront Film Festival in South Haven, Michigan.  Getting up at 5 am to drive to Michigan for a 9 am film seems a bit extreme, but let me tell you, it was well worth it!  For the past 14 years, the festival has been in Saugatuck, MI, but now has moved to this new venue of South Haven...a slice of heaven.  Being from the East Coast, I felt like I was in Cape Cod with the sandy beaches, the lighthouses, the clapboard houses, and the quaint shops and restaurants.  You couldn't ask for a better location to not only enjoy films, but to enjoy a summer vacation as well.

As the film festival staff scurried about trying to play catch up after a tremendous storm the day before knocking out power, phone lines and internet, creativity for press passes was necessary. With my iPhone camera, a photo with the PR director was taken.  This was my temporary press pass!  Ingenuity with a smile on your face and it was all good!  I easily accessed 5 films for the day.  The locations were relatively close together with ample parking...a huge bonus!  Filmmakers were on hand to answer questions at most of the films which added to the entire experience. This is what sets film festivals apart from just seeing it in a theater after it opens.  In the upcoming reviews, I will have many interesting stories to share with you which will make the film, when you see it, that much better!

Having attended many film festivals in the past, I absolutely loved the fact that Waterfront utilized their "shorts" before the feature film.  These were brilliant!  I truly wish the mainstream theaters would capitalize on this.  So many of these wonderful short films just get lost after the festival.  Thank you, Waterfront for putting the entire
package together in this festival. The short films that I absolutely loved and will post links later, if possible, were AMERICA 101, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ROBERT LEAVES THE ROOM, THINGS MY FATHER NEVER TAUGHT ME, THE FUTURE, and CRUSH.  These films, in 10-15 quick minutes, captivated and entertained me.  They were all perfectly paired with the upcoming feature film which set the appropriate mood.

Films at the festival that I want to highlight are EAT SPIRIT EAT, FAVOR,  BETWEEN US, MUTUAL FRIENDS, ONE SMALL HITCH, TWENTY MILLION PEOPLE, THE INTERRUPTERS, CRAVE, and BE GOOD.  Many of these films were done truly on a shoestring budget.  Funding ranged from utilizing Kickstarter to the filmmaker digging into his or her own wallet to fund the film.  Each filmmaker had their own story to share and I'll be posting those compelling and sometimes heartbreaking stories in my reviews later.  I think it showed that you don't have to spend $5M on a film to tell a great story.  Another bonus of this hidden gem of a festival is that I never worried about getting in to see the films I wanted to see.  That was never an issue.
Michael Farrell, Devin Sanchez, and Chris Prine
Blayne Weaver
Patrick Day
Paul Osborne
Cast and writers from EAT SPIRIT EAT

Films weren't the only thing on the agenda in South Haven.  How do you squeeze 9 or 10 films into 2 days plus take advantage of all this area has to offer?  Sleep really isn't a necessary thing, is it?  The beautiful beaches should not be missed whether it's sitting at night looking at the stars or going for a run in the morning, a feeling of tranquility overcomes you.  The quaint little shops and clothing boutiques were fun to browse and restaurants such as "Taste" offered delicious "small" plates.  Ordering the tuna tartar and the
humus, these small plates could have fed 4.  No, I didn't eat all of it...just most of it!  The nightlife with live bands on the inlet just added to the fun film festival atmosphere.  Next year, I will make a week-long vacation out of this film event because yes, sleep really is a necessary thing!

Sundance Film Festival is the perfect wintertime get-away and location in Park City, Utah.  The Tribeca Film Festival is energizing in the spring in NYC, and the Waterfront Film Festival in South Haven is utopia in the summer.  Great films shown in a phenomenal beach town with outstanding restaurants, nightlife and shopping.  This truly is a hidden gem of a festival, but I think the secret might be getting out!

Music and drinks by the water

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Rated R
Starring:  Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Jay Baruchel
107 unretrievable minutes

What was I thinking?  Really?  Put together Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, and James Franco in an apocalyptic/Book of Revelations horror flick and of course you're going to have scatological references, crass male appendage jokes, and overall immature and sophomoric humor.  But I had hope. Dumbass me!  Again, what was I thinking?

All of these actors played themselves, although I really hope their personalities were nothing like their on-screen selves.  Rogen and Baruchel were past friends from back home who scheduled a visit together in LA complete with drugs, awful food, and video games, trying to reconnect.  Seth was intent on Jay getting to know and like his LA friends.  They attended Franco's party at his new home.  When the world began its very, very slow decent into the end, they all figured out who was truly good at heart; who was a real friend.

Where do I begin?  Seriously!  I really don't know where to begin this review.  Even my 18 year old daughter looked at her watch several times...an indication that she thought it was never going to end either!  Yes, there were some funny references to past movies and characters, but many of them were unknown to me.  I'd mention the funny ones, but to me, that would blow the whole movie for you.  There would be nothing left to laugh about!  In a nutshell, the movie was childish with lots of screaming and running from things.  The lines were ridiculous and forced at times, but you just knew that these guys were in a love fest with each other.  I think they really thought it was funny!  I just wanted it to end.  This Is The End really should never have begun.

Now that I have that out of my system, I will say that I am sure based on the penis jokes, the fart and masturbation references, and other "boy" kinds of humor (I can say that...I raised one!), the 18-24 year old male population will find it much more enjoyable than the female population...at least the 40-something year olds.  I'm guessing based on my daughter's response that she could never get back those two hours, the teen girls might not think its too funny either.

So, unless you're an
18-24 and male, skip it.  I'm not slamming the 18-24 year olds, I'm just recognizing the differences in humor and appreciation.  If you're a religious type, you might find this rather blasphemous and offensive.  There is a nice message in the film though...be nice.

3 REELS because I did laugh a few times...3 exactly.