KO Reviews CUFF Films

CUFF 2017KO Reviews by Emily Mody

The 14th Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) kicks off today! Emily reviewed the Local Feature Films Lost Solace & Blood Mountain in addition to G-Funk in this years festival.

The Highlights of this years festival are the 15th Anniversary of the cult classic Calgary-shot FUBAR. The FUBAR screening with have Director Michael Dowse and cast member Dave Lawrence in attendance. The Sundance hit The Little Hours will open the festival with Director Jeff Baena and actress Aubrey Plaza Yeah, my favorite sarcastic character in Parks & Rec!!!!)in attendance. An especially fun open night film about two medieval nuns. A free film on National Canadian Screening of Pontypool, the return of Saturday Morning Cartoons, and new indie arcade games featured as part of CUFFcade.

The full line-up of films can be found on their website (link above). General admission tickets are now available and cost $10 and are on sale now. $120 Festival passes and $40 multi-pack tickets are also now available.

Lost Solace is a feature length thriller directed by Chris Scheuerman. The film follows psychopathic playboy, Spence Cutler (played by Andrew Jenkins). After he completes one of his standard heists successfully he decides to celebrate by going out to a club where he meets a stranger. This stranger gives Spence a new type of ecstasy known as radiant pink dove. Unbeknownst to Spence this drug has a permanent effect on his concept of morality.

I absolutely loved Lost Solace, from start to finish. I thought the premise was intriguing, the characters were dynamic, and the story provided an intensity and drama that kept me completely invested. I really enjoyed all of the actors in Lost Solace. All of the actors portrayed their characters extremely well and all of the relationships were very believable and interesting to watch. The way that Spence’s story was conveyed was done in a somewhat unconventional way. I loved how his story was handled, in particular, how specific paint colours were utilized to convey ever-evolving aspects of his character. I also really enjoyed the character, Azaria (played by Melissa Roxburgh). She mainly functioned as the antithesis of Spence’s character and was utilized to demonstrate his moments of softness and morality. Their relationship became something very real for Spence and conveyed his caring for another human being presumably for the first time in his life. I loved Azaria’s character because she was able to give this beautiful softness to the story that was otherwise quite dark and ruthless. She gave a beautiful balance to Spence’s character that was very much needed. Lost Solace was so well crafted. I will look toward the future for more films from Scheuerman. I am sincerely excited for what his future projects will bring to the Canadian cinema landscape. I would recommend Lost Solace to anyone who is looking for an unconventional thriller/drama film that will not disappoint.

I would compare Lost Solace to the film Vanilla Sky directed by Cameron Crowe. I feel that both films share an unconventional quality that set them apart from regular Hollywood cinema. Both films also have a protagonist whose seemingly perfect life is upended by something that changes their worldview entirely. There is also an aspect of altered reality in both films that make them a dynamic viewing experience. If you enjoyed Vanilla Sky and would like to see another film with similar ideas and themes then I would highly recommend Lost Solace. It is also important to note, however, that Lost Solace is much more of a thriller and is quite a bit scarier than Vanilla Sky.

 Lost Solace runs a total of 106 minutes. If you are a sensitive viewer it is important to note that Lost Solace is rated 18+ for violence, sexual content, nudity, language, and drug use. Lost Solace will be premiering provincially as a part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF). It will be playing on Thursday, April 20th, 2017 at the Globe Cinema at 9:30pm.  Again, you can’t go wrong with Lost Solace. Go and see it. You won’t regret it.

Charlotte Tilbury CA

Blood Mountain is a feature length horror film directed by Jason Wan Lim. The film follows a family man, Colt Carson (played by Stafford Perry) who gets pulled into a mountain biking expedition with his brother, Paul (played by Joe Perry), and his brother’s coworker, Chris (played by Joshua Murdoch). As the more experienced mountain bikers, Colt and Paul, push further up the trail and ahead of Chris. After some time spent enjoying the trails, Chris goes missing and the three men are thrust headlong into a dangerous game that forces them to fight for their survival.

Unfortunately Blood Mountain is not for me. I always enjoy a classic horror film and the premise of this film seemed potentially interesting. I was disappointed, however, by how formulaic the storyline became. Even though there were definitely interesting character elements, which I won’t mention here for fear of spoiling crucial plot elements, I still felt that for the majority of the film I was just going through the motions of watching three men getting chased around a mountain. I was never pulled into the story in a way that could allow me to become truly frightened.

I did feel that the acting was very strong for the leads of the film and I was actually pleasantly surprised to see such impressive work from lesser-known actors. I think that the main area that Blood Mountain lacked was in the writing. I found the ending very confusing from a critical storyline perspective. I think the average film viewer would really struggle with the ending so this was very concerning to me.

When I finished Blood Mountain I was reminded of the film, Wrong Turn directed by Rob Schmidt. There are many similarities between the two films. In plot, for example, both horror films revolve around characters that are being pursued through a mountainous landscape and for one reason or another have no means of escape. The fear of an unknown landscape is prevalent throughout the entirety of both films. It seems that at any moment someone could appear around a bend in the trail. Wrong Turn has a lot more characters involved in the film and if I remember correctly, is much less character driven then Blood Mountain. You may enjoy Blood Mountain if you are looking for a horror film with a character driven story that focuses on a family dynamic. You may also enjoy Blood Mountain if you do not mind watching a film that will potentially leave with more questions then it will answers.

Blood Mountain runs a total of 87 minutes. If you are a sensitive viewer it is important to note that this film contains violence, language, and gore. Blood Mountain’s world premiere will be taking place on April 21st, 2017 as a part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival. For the purposes of the festival they are rating it 18+ for admittance. It will be screening at 9:45pm at the Globe Cinema.

G-Funk is a feature length documentary directed by Karam Gill. The film demonstrates the foundational elements that made up the origins of the music genre known as G-Funk and how this has ultimately impacted hip-hop and the music industry today. G-funk is a subset of hip-hop that came after P-funk. This music genre emerged from the West Coast and typically emphasizes a smoother, almost hypnotic style and sound. G-Funk consists of interviews with Warren G, Ice Cube, Ice-T, Wiz Khalifa, Russell Simmons, and Snoop Dogg to name a few. The film covers the time period from approximately 1980 to the current day.

The best documentaries are ones in which you forget the camera and interviewer is there and in many ways that definitely happened for me with G-Funk. Being an individual who is a fan of contemporary hip-hop and yet knows next to nothing about its origins and formational elements I was completely fascinated with the whole film. I became so invested in the history and story that surrounded the formation of the hip-hop group 213. I had never known exactly what happened surrounding the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Easy-E mainly because I was so young when it happened. G-Funk gave a relatively clear description of everything that happened and the events that ultimately led to their deaths. There was also a lot of discussion regarding the social and political issues that were taking place during the period with regards to civil rights. This was a particularly interesting aspect of the film and a very important aspect of hip-hop history and how it was able to gain such wide spread popularity. The way the film was shot and the way that the story and history was shared was so engaging. The director utilized photos and video as well as some action dramatizations with voice over narration from the interviewee. I really enjoyed how this was done.

G-Funk and the documentary, Peter De Rome directed by Ethan Reid share many comparisons. Although these two films differ greatly in subject matter they share many stylistic similarities. How the directors chose to convey the story and communicate that to the audience were very similar. Both Reid and Gill utilized a variety of interviews, old footage and new footage, as well as dramatizations of the past. I think if you enjoyed the documentary style of Peter De Rome you will definitely enjoy how G-Funk was done as well.

G-Funk runs a total of 83 minutes. If you are a sensitive viewer it is important to note that G-Funk is rated 18+ for language, drug use, and violence. G-Funk will be premiering internationally as a part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF). It will be playing onFriday, April 21st, 2017 at the Globe Cinema at 7:15pm. The director Karam Gill will also be in attendance.

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