The masterful short films of Neill Blomkamp and Oats Studios!

Okay so it is Sunday 30 July 2017, and it has been a minute since I posted.

One of the things that has been occupying me (besides today’s POWER and ELEMENTARY marathons):

OATS STUDIOS

I do not like You Tube if I have to go to its web page, for the simple fact I hate its un-moderated comments and ignored idiocy and stupidity. But the YouTube channel on Amazon Fire or Roku is something else. I find it actually useful, and nice to view on my big screen TV. And no un-moderated comments to deal with.

The main thing I go to YouTube for is short films, followed closely by movie trailers.

But for short films YouTube’s Roku or Fire Channel, is a great boon. Giving a stage and platform for filmmakers who would otherwise go undiscovered to develop an audience and a name, through short films that wow you and stay with you far more viscerally than most feature length films can.

That brings us to OATS STUDIOS, a production company created by Neill Blomkamp of DISTRICT 9 and ELYSIUM fame.

I am not a fan of the feature films of Neill Blomkamp, they have wonderful core ideas, but tend to get lost under poor Hollywood casting or unnecessary backstory. However in the short film is where Blomkamp’s OATS STUDIOS shine.

Sporting cutting edge world class visual effects, great actors and performances, and big screen direction the films of OATS STUDIOS are, 30 minute or less, masterpieces of creativity and speculative fiction, of science fiction mixed with war, mixed with horror, mixed with a cautionary mirror tainted with pressing concerns, both moral and material.

 

FIREBASE

RAKKA

ZYGOTE

Those Oat Studio short films form a loose trilogy, united by a common theme of mankind pushed to the brink by powers unearthly. And the films are also united by being superlative and imaginative, and gems of 21st century short films.

FIREBASE (which I have also titled DREAMS OF THE RIVER GOD), the 2nd film released, is a little over 26 minutes, and set in Vietnam War era Vietnam… combines so many mind-blowing concepts, and creates one of the screens memorable creations, in the character of… The River God. I can see this spawning a lot of spin-off short films, set in this universe.

RAKKA, the first film released, moves several decades ahead to a world on the brink of extermination by a threat otherworldly.

and ZYGOTE, the last film released as of this writing, further still in the future, sports one of the most imaginative and horrific monsters since Carpenter’s THING. I like RAKKA but I love FIREBASE and ZYGOTE.

All this to say if you are looking for something to watch, then make it to the Oats Studios site and find the aforementioned films by Neill Blomkamp.

As of this writing they do not yet have a BLURAY up for these films, but I urge them to release one. Quality productions such as this deserve a quality Blu-Ray production with special features and director’s commentary, and not simply the ephemeral availability of websites and streaming.

Today’s Recommended short films!

 

Roku Fire TV FREE VOD/STREAMING Channel of the Weekend : TUBI TV

TUBI TV is not a particularly easy to browse website, however their free streaming channel has one of the largest selections of movies outside of paid options such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and even includes quite a few movies that are available on neither platform.

Here are some titles from TUBI TV that are available this weekend:

FINAL PRAYER- An okay found footage horror film. Third act goes off the rails a bit, but worth a look.

the-apartment-1960THE APARTMENT- One of my favorite Gene Wilder films, an endearing drama/romance starring two of the greats. Jack Lemmon has never been better and the late, great Shirley Maclaine has never been more radiant. A lovely movie. See it for free here then buy the blu-ray. This one deserves to be owned, complete with special features.

jack-lemmon-shirley-maclaine-the-apartment-1960

HENRY THE  V- Kenneth Branagh’s first film, and for my money still his best and most endearing. The quintessential adaption of this most rousing of Shakespeare’s plays.

greatexpectations46GREAT EXPECTATIONS- A 1947 David Lean masterpiece. Groundbreaking camera  work and lighting.

burrowersTHE BURROWERS – There are two great western-horror hybrids, BONE TOMOHAWK is one, and this is the other.

lifeforceLIFEFORCE- I remember seeing this movie as a kid, blew my mind back then. And as an adult there is much still to appreciate, especially a memorable gravity defying actress. 🙂 Well worth a look.

Haven’t seen the following but intrigued enough to give them a watch this weekend:

AFTER DUSK THEY CAME

HOWLING II

DARK CIRCLES

DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS

LAKE EERIE

BREATHING ROOM

HOWLING (2012)

ALL SOULS DAY

THE TERROR EXPERIMENT

THE BLACK WATERS OF ECHO’S POND

DARKROOM

THE PERFECT HOUSE

THE THIRST

Respond with your own TUBI TV favorites!

 

Snowed In? Binge Watch Gerry Anderson’s UFO on HULU!!

If you are like a great majority of the North East, you are very much snowed in this weekend; so let me suggest something perfect for such a weekend.

HULU offers a bevy of shows worthy of binge watching, here is one of the best:

UFO – This series, the brainchild of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson is them making the leap from their very popular children’s Marionette series to, not only Live Action, but also more Adult fare. This show, embodying many of the obsessions of the late 60s, the Space Race, ESP, the James Bond Spies, A more global, diverse perspective, and UFOs,tells an imaginative tale of a secret cold war between these mysterious UFOs and the Earth’s protectors… SHADO.

A few episodes in, getting past the wonderfully kitschy depiction of the far flung year of 1980 (Sylvia’s designs for dress and uniforms, is at once sexy, ludicrous, surreal, and ultimately captivating), and the crudeness of the effects (which I personally love, Gerry Anderson being the king of marionette and minature based effects, which he would further perfect in SPACE 1999, which itself would inspire some of the effects in STAR WARS) and you quickly realize this is a serious and at times shockingly dire and brilliant show. The scripts are surprising, in that out of this far fetched world comes moments of pathos, and thoughtfulness, and sometimes strivings toward the profound. It was a welcome tone, a morality to the writing that would be even more in evidence in the 1st season of SPACE 1999 (avoid Season 2, and make sure you watch Season 1 in the correct order).

But despite its quality UFO was an unfortunately, but possibly understandably, short lived show.

The unfortunate part because the show when originally broadcast in the US, was done out of sequence, which made it just not work from week to week. A similar fate would befall both UFO’s follow-up series and (as a 21st century example) Joss Whedon’s FIREFLY

HULU thankfully presents the series in order, and it makes all the difference, as you get to grow with the characters as they grow with each other. Treat yourself to this 46 year old, way out 60s infused tale of spies and Aliens in the far-flung future of 1980.

Highly Recommended!

BACKCOUNTRY by Writer/Director Adam MacDonald


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BACKCOUNTRY – If there is one thing that the 24 hour news cycle and a history of mostly bad horror movies teaches us, it is that nothing good comes of inexperienced but overconfident young people hiking in the wilderness. And BACKCOUNTRY is definitely in that mode, with one exception, it is actually a mostly captivating film.

Beautifully shot by Christian Bielz, it is well performed, the actors doing as well as possible with a script that paints them as, at best, brain dead idiots lacking any common sense, unable to take a hint and… at every step walking deeper into their doom.

Definitely superior to similar films such as PRESERVATION, ANIMAL, and FROM THE DARK. However, there is an infuriating nature to the film, watching stupid people do stupid things, that always tends to leave a sour note in such movies, and while BACKCOUNTRY is more capably made, it fails to avoid this sour taste.

Doom waits for all of us, even when we do everything right; but there is comfort in knowing we did everything humanely possible to foil that doom. There is no such comfort in rushing headlong into doom, shortening your life through your own stupidity. And their is no satisfaction in watching such pure Darwinism in action.

What does compell is people surviving their stupidity, by dumb luck, inner resources, or the grace of a beneficial God. Grade:C+. Not one I think is worth purchasing, but if someone asks to see a good Bear attack film… this would be the one.

To try it for yourself it’s available this weekend courtesy of HULU. If HULU with its $8.99 is one of the best deals in STREAMING then the SHOWTIME’s add on subscription for $10.99 is one of the worst deals in streaming.

More than the cost of HULU but offering only a fraction of Hulu’s content? SHOWTIME’s add-on subscription is insulting, and high-way robbery.

So watch SHOWTIME’s free week, but then give the finger to paying for their over-priced streaming add-on service.

What’s Hot on the Web: THE FERGUSON THEATER


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Lot’s of places on the web are catching my attention this weekend, among them…

FERGUSON THEATER- By Pulp Writer Derrick Ferguson features reviews of the films that are catching his attention these days, and helps introduce me to things to try. I like that he covers films that I may have missed or not put on my radar; and further he gives these eloquent dissertations on why the covered material works or fails to.

Some recent highlights for me his thumbs down on Tarsem Singh’s SELF/LESS (I think Tarsem Singh is a visually stunning and experimental director, but is unable to add to those visuals a coherent or compelling story).

I also quite like Ferguson Theater’s take on why Josh Trank’s FANTASTIC FOUR failed. I haven’t seen the movie, and have no real rush to see it; the trailers and posters alone just did not add up to good. I do find funny, for all the hoopla about casting, that Michael B. Jordan as the HUMAN TORCH, across the board it seems, is the only bit of casting that did work.

Also, it is so interesting to hear Josh Trank and Kevin Smith on Smith’s podcast FATMAN ON BATMAN for three weeks pontificate, and really have a little love fest, on the upcoming FANTASTIC FOUR movie, then when the movie comes out Josh Trank does not return to do the fourth planned episode. Go listen to those episodes, it is an interesting insight into how someone can feel themselves on the right track, and ultimately end up so far off the mark.

And FT also puts on my “must see” radar, the films SOMETIMES SALVATION and MACKED, HAMMERED, SLAUGHTERED AND SHAFTED. As a huge fan of David Walker’s defunct magazine BADASS MOFO (and congrats on David Walker’s recent success in the comic book scene) I’ll be buying the DVD of MHSS as soon as it is available.

But yeah, Derrick Ferguson’s FERGUSON’S THEATER is filled with such captivating observations on films old, new, and overlooked. Check it out for yourself at the link below.

FERGUSON THEATER

And I also direct you to Kevin Smith’s fun podcast FATMAN ON BATMAN.

THIS WEEKEND’S Recommended MUSIC! THE HEAVY!


Music so good, that mp3s and Itunes do them a disservice. Music that deserves buying on CD and listening all the way through.

thehousethatdirtbuilt

The House That Dirt Built
– Was introduced to this band THE HEAVY because of the awesomely addictive song they did for the great opening credits of the TV show STRIKE BACK.

Based on that one song, I bought this album. And I am glad I did, it is a great, addictive item. How good is it? It is so good that I bought their other two albums (available at the links below) without listening to a single song. That is how heavy… THE HEAVY is!

gloriousdead
The Glorious Dead

greatvengeance
Great Vengeance & Furious Fire

“I was listening to Michelle Myers Saturday broadcast on KEXP a few weeks back and she played an infectious cut from their follow up album “The House That Dirt Built”. Usually music needs some time to grow on me but the song SHORT CHANGE HERO cut deep with an intoxicating groove that sent me on an instant quest to search them out.

… This is hands down one of the five best CD’s I have purchased this year rivaling their sophomore “The House That Dirt Built”. Do yourself a favor. If you purchase no other music in the next year get one (or both) of The Heavy’s releases.”

—Amazon Review JSG

NOW SHOWING On Netflix On-Demand Streaming : GRAND PIANO

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Eugenio Mira’s GRAND PIANO is a tight, compact and visually stunning thriller, starring Elijah Wood in a stellar role as a concert pianist and his most memorable night. Laced with rousing score and sound design throughout, it’s a film that would have made Hitchcock proud. Ignore the naysayers, a highly enjoyable 90 minutes!

See where you can view it… here:

http://www.canistream.it/search/movie/grand%20piano

and when you’ve determined it is worth owning purchase the DVD (complete with special features) here:Grand Piano DVD