Sunday, September 26 marked the third and final day of the Dark Bridges Film Festival. Opening the festival was the Saskatchewan Shorts showcase which featured local short films varying from zombie comedies to an end-of-days Western and everything in between. Black Field, the first feature of the day hailed from Manitoba and took a turn in the festival as a serious period drama with some tension. The preceding short films included the wonderfully animated The Thomas Beale Cipher and Without Wings.
Black Field tells the tale of two lone women left to look after their family farm when a lone stranger appears and breaks things apart.
Tyler Baptist: “Quiet, beautifully shot, and richly character driven. Black Field‘s slow burn story of sisters alone to fend for themselves is disquieting and powerfully realized by Danishka Esterhazy.” 3/5
John Allison, the Dark Bridges festival director, advised those in attendance, as well as in advance of the festival happening, to not seek out any information on the next feature, but to go in with an open slate. This was an Irish black comedy titled A Film With Me In It where a series of accidents go from bad to worse for a starving actor. The opening short film No Escape, a little German robbery thriller, had a great concept but a lackluster pay-off.
Skot M. Hamilton: “Neither dark enough, nor funny enough, to succeed entirely and trying to purposely pigeon hole itself next to black comedy peers. A Film With Me In It manages to avoid being totally mediocre through a few strong central performances, but does waiver beneath the weight of its overall drabness.” 2.5/5
TB: “A fantastic set-up for a black comedy with a few great laughs and winces along the way, but in the end feels rushed and too tidy.” 3.5/5
Adrienne Brody once again reinvents his career portraying a strung-out drug dealer in the new stoner-comedy High School. Preceding the film was a short also portraying high school life, entitled Worm, but this time from the point of view of a narcissistic teacher and much darker in tone. High School details a Grade-A student and his stoner buddy who get the entire student body to ingest pot brownies.
SMH: “A typical drug comedy about absolutely nothing. Immature, exhausting, and derivative. One could assume that the filmmakers were counting on the short attention spans of their target audience to ignore that they’ve already laughed at these lame jokes in the last six stoner comedies they’ve seen.” 1.5/5
TB: “As unrealistic as stoner comedies are, High School takes the cake. Convoluted, unfunny, and actually getting high before watching would probably not make this any better or help pass the time.” 2/5
And finally, book-ending the entire festival weekend took us to the far East. Junkios Shamisen, a live-action and animated multi-media short, told a fable of revenge with a Kabuki twist. Finally, the closing picture packed a wallop with the Korean kimchi Western The Good, The Bad, The Weird. The festival audience fully got into the film and were laughing and cheering throughout, thus ending the festival on a positive note.
SMH: “Relentlessly fun! This is the type of action-adventure picture that Hollywood should be pumping all of its money into. If North Americans weren’t so frightened of subtitles this could dominate the box office, and deserve to at that.” 4.5/5
TB: “As big as blockbuster action can get. The Good, The Bad, The Weird is a wild Western mash-up that delivers the laughs along with the insane action and doesn’t let up for one dull moment. Epic, entertaining, and pure fun!” 4.5/5
That wraps up CFCR’s coverage of the first annual Dark Bridges Film Festival. Stay tuned for a forthcoming interview with festival director John Allison.
Check out the Reel to Reel blog for film reviews and much more.