Apr 17 2012

Buffalo Niagara Film Festival: The reviews are in!



Buffalo Niagara Film Festival: The reviews are in!

Staff ReportsNiagara Ga

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NIAGARA FALLS — Here is a sampling of reviews of films showing at this year’s Buffalo Niagara Film Festival from journalism students at Buffalo State College:

“Brother Time”

“Brother Time” is a moving documentary about the civil violence that occurred between Kenyan tribes following the 2007 election of President Mwai Kibaki.

The documentary showcases the peace there was between tribes in Kenya before the elections and then details how things went sour after Kibaki came to power.

One of the three main tribes in Kenya, the Kalenjins, were livid over the election results and started a barbaric civil war, mainly against the Kikuyu tribe which backed Kibaki.

Riots broke out in Kenya, steered by young boys murdering and destroying everything in sight with large guns and machetes.

Watching the torment in the faces of their countrymen and women was eye-opening to say the least. The torturing, burning of houses and buildings, and murders were a horrid sight to behold, yet the film did its work of bringing awareness to the horror.

I appreciated the way this documentary was put together, as it mainly focused on the fallout of citizens that were once bound together as “brothers”. The end of the movie left me pleased that the brutal nature that once consumed Kenya had dissolved and shows the wrongs done by human beings can be defeated.

—Aaron Garland

“Beware Pickpocket”

Is the pickpocket an iniquitous self-employer, or an exploitive observer of another person’s security deficiencies? This is the question you will be asking yourself while watching the short film (18:07), “Beware Pickpocket,” directed by Michael Laicini.

A squirrelly man with nomadic tendencies is the best way to describe our protagonist. The story unfolds just north of the border in Toronto, Ontario. The use of symbolism is attempted, but I cannot place my finger on what exactly the white rabbit represents. Himself, endearment, an antagonist, or is it a fleeing sense of his life style? Comedic undertones and a semi-engrossing story line keep you entertained. A short film should never be hard to sit through. And Laicini takes you on a brief embarkment of a man trying to survive and indulge his musing all at once. (8 p.m. Friday, Market Arcade Theater)

—Michael Mazzuto

“Dot Got Shot”

It feels like the worst thing aspiring directors can do: make a movie and send a dvd to the media, but not actually put the film on the disc you mail in.That is exactly what happened to me this weekend when I went to review the independent film “Dot Got Shot”.

The movie seemed interesting. According to the press kit details, a police officer who was shot in the head while trying to settle a domestic dispute is left with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and suffers from nightmares that cause her to never sleep. However, I didn’t get see the film, so I don’t know.

I’d like to say, “Hey! You should really check out this movie. It’s about a police officer who gets shot in the head and suffers from PTSD. The only problem is, I don’t have the film, just these pictures.”

Editor’s note: The film arrived via apologetic email from writer/director Honey Lauren after this review was written. The short turns out to be a journeyman’s effort on a low budget that shows how reality can change for those with PTSD. It’s worth the time to watch Lauren as the beautiful and believable Dot. (5 p.m. April 19, Market Arcade Theater)

—Mike Straw

“Blind Turn” movie review

Jay Dee Walters plays a vengeance-seeking antihero in “Blind Turn,” a thriller about a man who lost his wife and two children in a car accident caused by a drunk driver and the subsequent punishment Walters aims to inflict on the driver, played by Rachel Boston.

It’s easy to get behind Walters’ character, whose emotion-evoking performance was very real and very relatable for anybody — not just those with a family. Some of the punishing tests Walters puts Boston through are hold-your-breath worthy in his malevolent quest to teach her a lesson.

“Blind Turn” is slow to get going and occasionally transitions awkwardly from scene-to-scene, sometimes stunting any momentum that a scene picks up. Even so, it’s a thrilling tale that warns audience members in one concise message – DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE! (8 p.m. Saturday, Market Arcade Theater)

—Tom Gallagher

“Record Paradise: The Musical Life of Joe Lee”

What do a record store, a nearly 40-year-old establishment, and a human encyclopedia have in common?

They’re all pretty hard to come by these days. But you’ll find all of them in the documentary “Record Paradise: The Musical Life of Joe Lee” which follows the life of one of the nation’s most successful record store owners. Joe Lee looks nothing like a rock star but his peddles not only nostalgia, but a wealth of knowledge on every iota of recorded music.

The 53-minute film splices Joe’s journey through American music with his experiences since opening the Maryland store in 1974. The film is also a feel-good story of Joe’s perseverance. As the black-sheep son of the former governor of Maryland he simply marched to the beat of a different drummer. The film deviates from the main plot elegantly weaving in Joe’s personal history with that of the local Baltimore rock ‘n roll scene.

Throughout the movie, Joe always seems to draw a crowd of people eager to talk music and proudly boast about their record collections. Although they just met moments ago in his store, they talk as if they have known each other for years, something you feel too watching it. There’s just something inviting about Joe’s store. Customers claim it’s full of hidden treasures. But the movie seems to show that the most valuable may be Joe himself. (4 p.m. Tuesday, Market Arcade Theater)

—Mike Provenzano

Look for more festival film reviews next week.


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