Life On Set (Straight Shooter Pilot Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Featured, MicroFilmmaking, Narrative, Pilot/Series, Reviews, Short Length, Straight Shooter Review (Pilot/Series), Straight Shooter Reviews | 0 comments

Life On Set (Straight Shooter Pilot Review)

Life on Set Cover

Director: Russell Robertson
Production Company: The Robertson Company
Genre: Comedy
Running Time: 33 min.
Budget: $9000
Expected TV Rating: TV-14 (parents strongly cautioned)
Website:  lifeonsetseries.com
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent/Purchase: TBA
Reviewer: Manuel Crosby
Final Score:  6.2 (out of 10)

What really goes on behind the scenes of a film set- that extravagant, well-oiled machine where the greatest of blockbusters are produced?  According to the pilot episode of Russell Robertson’s web series, Life on Set- you’ll find a whole lot of absurdity, plenty of comedy, and very little work getting done.  In this web series. Paul (Ben Campbell), a goofy PA, schemes and struggles to get face time with the egotistical yet incompetent director, Rod (Todd Gaebe) and hopes to eventually call the shots on set.  Meanwhile, Catalina (Lauren Chapman), a cheery yet hopelessly naive actress, struggles to gain notoriety and get on the good side of the film’s producers- including a clueless, crazy-haired Hoop (Jason Carr).  And as you might imagine, hijinks abound.


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No Retreat (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Featured, Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Narrative) | 1 comment

No Retreat (Straight Shooter Review)

No Retreat PosterDirector: Nicholas Zafonte
Distributor: Sharawadgi
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 78 minutes
Budget: $30,000
Expected Rating: R for Language
Website:  Click Here
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: Click Here
Online Purchase: Click Here
Reviewer: Jeremy T. Hanke
Final Score:  8.0 – Worth watching at festivals and art house theaters!

When artistic hipster Sean (Josh Tyson) decides to make a film, he invites his old high school flame, Emily (Samantha Soule), to help him write it. 15 years out of high school, Emily is now a successful partner in a law firm and the only person Sean—whose never stuck it out at any of his creative ventures—knows with the actual cash to bankroll his project.

Meeting at a summer house on the beach that Emily’s side-action owns, they agree to a weekend writer’s retreat that explores not only what they want to do next, but also the things they never resolved from their relationship in the past.

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Unaccountable (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 12:00 pm in Featured, Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Short Documentary) | 0 comments

Unaccountable (Straight Shooter Review)

Cover ImageDirector: Stacey Stone
Distributor: None
Genre: Documentary
Running Time: 12 min. 29 sec.
Budget: $2000
Expected Rating: G for General Audiences
Website:  Click Here
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: TBA
Online Purchase: TBA
Reviewer: Manuel Crosby
Final Score:  8.5 – Worth watching at festivals, at home, and highly recommended!

In the 1950’s, the Salton Sea–created by flood overflow from the Colorado River decades earlier–was an oasis in the middle of the Southern California desert.  The large inland body of water became a tourist destination, a place where families would enjoy the cool, clean water and sunshine. However, a lack of outflow caused a slow rise in salinity of the water- proving deadly to the fish and birds there.  This, combined with polluted runoff from nearby farms, made the once idyllic Salton Sea barren and desolate, incapable of supporting life. “Unaccountable”, the latest documentary by director Stacey Stone, takes a reflective, melancholy look at both of these periods in the Salton Sea’s history.


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Betty Williams: Contagious Courage (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Documentary, Feature Length, Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Documentary) | 0 comments

Betty Williams:  Contagious Courage (Straight Shooter Review)

Contagious Courage CoverDirector: Dawn Gifford Engle
Production Company:
Gravitas Ventures
Genre:
Documentary
Running Time:
67 min. 9 sec.
Budget:
$490,000
Expected Rating:
PG for realistic violence
Website: 
peacejamfilms.org
Trailer: 
Click Here
Online Rent:
TBA
Online Purchase:
TBA
Reviewer:
Manuel Crosby
Final Score: 
7.5 – worth a watch at a festival or at home on streaming!

Chaos filled the streets of Northern Ireland in the 1970s.  Shootings, car bombings, and civilian death became the norm for citizens living through a time known as “The Troubles”.  The strife stemmed from fierce disagreement, both political and religious, between the Protestants and Catholics. No one was safe from this violence.  But for Betty Williams, the firsthand experience of living through violence served as a call to action. She made it her life’s mission to spread peace and protect children in the face of unrest- both in her turbulent home nation and around the globe.  The documentary film Betty Williams:  Contagious Courage, directed by Dawn Gifford Engle, documents Betty’s journey along with the events that sparked her struggle for peace.


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Glossary of Broken Dreams (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Documentary) | 0 comments

Glossary of Broken Dreams (Straight Shooter Review)

Glossary Of Broken Dreams coverDirector: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Distributor: Pace Films
Genre: Political Documentary
Running Time: 97 min 40 sec
Budget: $15,000
Expected Rating: PG
Website: Click Here
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: TBD
Online Purchase: TBD
Reviewer: Manuel Crosby
Final Score: 5.2 – Worthwhile for existing fans, challenging for general public.

Johannes Grenzfurthner has grown tired of ignorance in political discourse. Armed with cameras, animation, a two-piece acoustic band, and a very unique sense of humor, he hopes to educate the rest of us on some key topics of political discourse, like “Capitalism”, “Freedom”, “Privacy”, “Identity”, “Resistance”, and “The Market”. The result: A kinda-sorta-documentary called Glossary of Broken Dreams.

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The Happiest Place on Earth (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Featured, MicroFilmmaking, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Narrative) | 2 comments

The Happiest Place on Earth (Straight Shooter Review)

When Jonah (Tom Kemnitz Jr.) and Maggie (Jennifer Faith Ward) move into their dream home in Orlando to start their family, things take a sudden turn for the worse when Jonah loses his job at the local paper. Then, as they’re trying to figure out how to make ends meet to survive their mortgage, Jonah is lost at sea in a mysterious camping accident. Now Maggie has to deal with her grief while trying to do everything she can to save money so she won’t lose the anchor that’s drowning everything in her life: the house.

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Forever Under Siege (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Short Documentary) | 0 comments

Forever Under Siege (Straight Shooter Review)

Imagine coming home from war, but finding yourself unable to escape the terror and panic you felt on the battlefield. Feeling trapped, searching for exits whenever you walk into a coffee shop. Forcing yourself into seclusion, unable to go outdoors. And not having the words or the trust to describe your pain to others. In fact, many veterans of the Armed Forces struggle with these demons as a result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the documentary Forever Under Siege, filmmaker Stacy Stone talks to some of these veterans in order to shine a light on the enormity of PTSD, and to examine potential for healing.

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Oscar Arias: Without A Shot Fired (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Documentary, Feature Length, Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Documentary) | 0 comments

Oscar Arias:  Without A Shot Fired (Straight Shooter Review)

Without a Shot Fired CoverDirector: Dawn Engle
Production Company: Gravitas Ventures
Genre: Documentary
Running Time: 63 minutes
Budget: $300,000
Expected Rating: PG for war footage & adult concepts
Website:  peacejamfilms.org
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: Not Yet Available
Online Purchase: Not Yet Available
Reviewer: Manuel Crosby
Final Score:  7.0 (out of 10)

Why is war a constant in our world?  The borders between conflicting nations may shift, and the reasons behind the battles may evolve, but the bloodshed never seems to stop.  Yet, one leader chooses not to let the status quo of violence dictate the future of humanity.

Oscar Arias, the former president of Costa Rica, dedicates his life to the goal of de-weaponizing the world.  Filmmaker Dawn Engle shares his journey to end the cycle of destructive conflict between the globe’s citizens in her documentary, Oscar Arias:  Without A Shot Fired.


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My Own War (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Documentary, Feature Length, Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Documentary) | 0 comments

My Own War (Straight Shooter Review)

My Own War CoverDirector: Stacey Stone
Production Company/Distributor: Pace Films
Genre: Documentary
Running Time: 52 min 39 sec
Budget: $15,000
Expected Rating: PG
Website:  MyOwnWar.com
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: Not Yet Available
Online Purchase: Not Yet Available
Reviewer: Manuel Crosby
Final Score:  9.0 (out of 10)

For many soldiers haunted by the demons of battlefield experiences, discussing them with ordinary civilians may prove unbearable.  Even with their own health and well-being on the line, many would rather stay silent about their struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.

MFM Award of Superiority

Filmmaker Stacey Stone brings this struggle to light through her documentary, My Own War.  In it, she attempts to open up conversations and illuminate a path towards healing for all of those who suffer from PTSD.  Her film, consisting mainly of intimate conversations with war veterans and those connected to them, certainly accomplishes this goal.


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Slim (Feature Critique)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Critiques, Critiques (Feature Narrative), Feature Length, Featured, Narrative | 0 comments

Slim (Feature Critique)

Slim Cover

Slim Cover

Director:  Michael Arell
Expected Rating: PG
Distribution: No known distribution
Budget: $0 (Due to Preowned Equipment and donations)
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: August 2017
Official Website: sleepydogfilmsusa.com
Trailer: Click Here
Online Version: Not currently available
Running Time: 82 minutes
Critique Issue: #133 (4/17)
Critiqued By: Manuel Crosby
Final Score: 3.1 (out of 10)

Slim (Michael Arell) is an overweight archaeologist who doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in his life… That is, until his boss sends him on a mission to find the mythical Golden Dustpan.

While Slim gets himself into far more trouble than he expected on his quest, he ends up learning about himself and who he wants to be in the world.

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The Barren Pine (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Narrative) | 0 comments

The Barren Pine (Straight Shooter Review)

The Barren Pine CoverDirector: John Boggi
Production Company/Distributor: None
Genre: Horror/Drama
Running Time: 69 minutes 39 Seconds
Expected/Actual Rating: PG-13 due to language & adult situations
Website: Facebook
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: TBA
Online Purchase: TBA
Reviewer: Jeremy T. Hanke
Final Score: 5.0 (out of 10)  – A first feature film which may appeal to folks who like Lynchian experimentalism.

When Jake (Ken Sandberg), Byron (Owen McCuen), and Jack (Glenn Mercer) come to a forest reserve for a weekend retreat at a cabin, they’re surprised to meet an over enthusiastic forest ranger (Brian Holcomb) who warns them about the dangers of a mysterious area known as “Apple Island.”

Upon arriving at their cabin and getting settled, they are further surprised to meet Angela (Jacqueline Holloway) and her sister, Nora (Heather Cole), two young women who need a place to stay for the night—and who are mysteriously linked to a dark part of Apple Island’s sordid past.

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Smile Again, Jenny Lee (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 3:15 am in Feature Length, Featured, Narrative, Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Narrative) | 0 comments

Smile Again, Jenny Lee (Straight Shooter Review)

Smile Again, Jenny Lee Cover

Smile Again, Jenny Lee Cover

Director: Carlo Caldana
Production Company: Marguery Films Production
Genre: Drama/Mystery
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Date: December 2015
Expected Rating: PG-13, due to language
Website: Click Here
Trailer: Click Here
Rent/Purchase: TBD
Novel: Click Here
Reviewer: Jeremy T. Hanke
Final Score: 8.0 – Worth seeing with an audience at a Regional Film Festival!

In 2013, Carlo Caldana released an independent novel called, Smile Again, Jenny Lee, about a world renowned tennis player with a personality like Tonya Harding, who got her leg messed up like Nancy Kerrigan. (Only in this tale, she actually was knocked out of her sport for good.)

Two years later, in a feat of moxy that’s truly impressive, Carlo Caldana translated his novel into a script, directed the film, and cast himself as the colead alongside Monique Hafen who played the titular Jenny Lee.

The tale of the film revolves around Jenny’s attempt to find her place in the world after losing her spot in tennis. Low on funds and about to be cut off by her wealthy mother (Linda DeMetrick), she agrees to help a lawyer named Charles Landale (Carlo Caldana) track down her absentee father, hoping that he will float her some cash. However, when the mystery of her father’s disappearance grows more ominous, she and Landale will have to keep their wits about them to unravel the mystery.


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