CD Review: Dropkick Murphys “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”

“11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”
Dropkick Murphys
Born & Bred
Producer: Ted Hutt
Tracks: 11

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

Everyone’s favorite Bostonian punk band Dropkick Murphys are back with a brand new studio album titled “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”. The album (the bands ninth) is being released via the groups own Born & Bred label and features 11 tracks which were produced by Grammy Award winning producer Ted Hutt.

With a four year lapse since the release of 2013’s “Signed and Sealed in Blood” fans of Dropkick Murphys have had a bit of a wait for new material however with the release of “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory” DKM has made up for that lost time. The album opens up with a mostly instrumental track titled “The Lonesome Boatman”. The track which features gang like chanting serves as sort of a rallying call announcing the bands return. I found this to be a fitting way to open the album given the gap between this album and the last. As you make your way through the albums 11 tracks you get a spattering blend of traditional and non-traditional instrumentation mixed with vocalists Ken Casey and Al Barr’s signature Boston snarl. Tracks like the upbeat “Rebels with a Cause” and the rawkus “I Had a Hat” are classic DKM in their subject matter and approach while the 1945 Rogers and Hammerstein show tune “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is given a folk/punk makeover that is new and fresh while still paying homage to the original. Another track worth mentioning is the somber “4-15-13” which is the bands heart-felt tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

“11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory” is everything fans of Dropkick Murphy’s have come to love about the band and their music. The only negative I really found was as the title suggests the album is a bit short. Clocking in at less than 40 minutes I seemed to be through all 11 tracks before I knew it, the upside is the albums diversity makes it easy to listen to multiple times through without it getting stale or redundant negating its short run time. No matter if you are a long time fan of the boys from Boston or a more casual listener the latest release from Dropkick Murphy’s surely has something you will enjoy.

Track Listing:
1.) The Lonesome Boatman
2.) Rebels with a Cause
3.) Blood
4.) Sandlot
5.) First Class Loser
6.) Paying My Way
7.) I Had a Hat
8.) Kicked to the Curb
9.) You’ll Never Walk Alone
10.) 4-15-13
11.) Until the Next Time

Film Review “The Big Short”

Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale
Directed by: Adam McKay
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hrs 16 mins
Paramount Pictures

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

They said it could never happen. That any financial institution could do so poorly that it could affect the world. But that is what happened in 2008 when the housing industry imploded. Thousands of people lost money and even thousands more lost their homes. Yet, even in the toughest times, a fortuitous group of investors bucked the odds. Such is the story of “The Big Short.”

The year is 2005. We meet Dr. Michael Burry (Bale). Burry is not your typical money guy. He spends days in his office, sans shoes, and is more apt to have a pair of drumsticks in his hands then a prospectus. However, his uncanny ability to read upcoming trends in stocks and banking has made him a valuable asset to his firm, where he is given carte blanche to invest the firm’s money as he sees fit. And he’s seen fit to invest $1.3 billion in home mortgages. Rather, in home mortgages that will fail. Is he a genius? Or did he just blow a lot of people’s college fund?

Smartly written and skillfully directed, “The Big Short” is the last film you’d expect to see from Adam McKay, best known for his long association with Will Ferrell. But McKay delivers here in spades. He is helped by an amazing script, based on the book by Michael Lewis and co-written by McKay and Charles Randolph. Here we are introduced to the key players, headlined by Bale, Carell, Gosling, Brad Pitt and others. The dialogue is sharp (“who the hell doesn’t pay their mortgage?” one character asks early on) and the actors are up to the challenge. Characters sometime break the fourth wall to explain things and the film also contains some very funny cameos who also keep the audience up to the minute on the events unfolding. As the film progresses we learn more about the characters and what motivates them. Each has a reason they’ve arrived at the same conclusion and no two are the same.

To say any more would equate to “spoiling” the film so I’ll leave you with this: make an investment in “The Big Short”…it’s a sure thing!

First official trailer for the short film, “Kadence”!

A few weeks back we had the privilege to interview Jacob Johnston, who works for Marvel on their Visual Development team. He has worked on films like “Thor”, “Thor: The Dark World”, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Guardians of the Galaxy” and currently on “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”. Jacob is also a writer and director and recent funded his short film “Kadence” via Kickstarter. Read our interview with him here. Media Mikes is happy to present you with the first official trailer from the short film “Kandence”! Check it out and spread the word!

“Kadence” stars:

Max Lloyd-Jones
Alyson Stoner
Zane Holtz
Bailey Chase
Jaime Gallagher
Annette Westwood

Still reeling from the loss of his mother, a damaging and complex relationship with his father, and a relentless battle with his own inner demons, Kadin’s grip on reality is loosening by the day. Amid this struggle comes an enigmatic and brazen new neighbor, Marissa, who, along with the promise of a budding new friendship gives Kadin an ancient voodoo doll. Her reassurance is seductive and the promise of a brighter future leads Kadin to make a sinister choice.

Written and Directed by: Jacob Johnston

Produced by: Jonathan Back, Rachel Walker, Nicole Hendrix and Jason Rostovsky.

https://www.facebook.com/KadenceFilm?…

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3840684/?…

Marvel’s Jacob Johnston talks about his short film “Kadence”

Jacob Johnston has been working at Marvel Studios with their Visual Development team on films like “Thor”, “Thor: The Dark World”, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Guardians of the Galaxy” and currently on “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”. Aside from working on superhero movies, Jacob is also a writer and director. He is currently trying to get his short films made “Kadence” via Kickstarter. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jacob about the short film, what we can expect and how can you help get this film made.

Click here to become a backer for “Kadence” on Kickstarter! At the time of posting, there is only 23 hours left! So don’t miss out!

Mike Gencarelli: Give us some background on how “Kadence”, came to be that you wrote and directed?
Jacob Johnston: It all started when I was driving to a friend’s birthday party last spring. It was just a visual of a young boy lying helpless in his room with a voodoo doll within arms reach – but it all felt so far away – something we saw by the pinning look in his eye. Following that: Kadence was a project that took me about 3 months to even form into words. For the most part, it started as a series of visuals – highlighting certain story elements – but finding a unique and compelling through line was something I didn’t want to force. As I began writing the script out, it evolved from a more supernatural based story into a more character-driven drama with horror elements. Which, to be honest, was far more interesting to me. I wanted a project that brought back the terrifying elements of visceral human interaction and unraveling – evocative of movies like The Haunting [1963], Silence of the Lambs and Let the Right One In.

MG: Give us the one minute pitch on the story?
JJ: Still reeling from the loss of his mother, a damaging and complex relationship with his father, and a relentless battle with his own inner demons, Kadin’s [17] grip on reality is loosening by the day. Amid this struggle comes an enigmatic and brazen new neighbor, Marissa [19], who, along with the promise of a budding new friendship gives Kadin an ancient voodoo doll. Her reassurance is seductive and the promise of a brighter future leads Kadin to make a sinister choice. [laughs] Was that a minute!?
MG: Well, I am sold man! For sure!

MG: Tell us about your Kickstarter campaign or your goals?
JJ: The Kickstarter campaign was launched for a couple of reasons: to help raise crucial funds for the production budget and for building an audience. We have brought on a lot of industry professionals to help bring this story to life, most of which who are donating their time for little or no pay – however, the cost of permits, locations and equipment adds up incredibly fast. More than raising additional budget money, we launched the campaign to create a community long before the movie was even finished. The horror community is huge and very tied together – we wanted to network with them and get those who we could reach as excited about the project as we were. Kickstarter really granted us the opportunity to do more than raise money, it really is a wonderful platform.

MG: You recruiting any of your co-workers at Marvel to assist with the film?

Production keyframe by Anthony Francisco

JJ: I work with a number of extremely talented artists who were graciously willing to use their nights and weekends to illustrate the crazy visuals in my head so the rest of the world could see. Jackson Sze, Anthony Francisco and Andy Park have been working as professional illustrators in this industry for quite some time and definitely brought both a legitimacy to the project and look to the film that went above and beyond what I ever envisioned in the beginning of the process.

MG: After the film is completed; what are you plans to distribute?
JJ: Ha. Let’s have that conversation after the film is done! Just want to focus my attention on telling the best possible story for now!

MG: “Kadence” is a short film; any chance to develop into feature?
JJ: Another good question and one that many people have asked. It’s hard to say. I think there is definitely a potential for a feature. However, I never wanted to see the project that way – for fear that I may compromise the story I was trying to tell in the short.

DVD Review “Life’s Too Short: The Complete First Season”

Actors: Warwick Davis, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Rating: TV-MA
Studio: HBO Studios
DVD Release Date: January 15, 2013
Run Time: 280 minutes

Series: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

If you are fans of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the comedy duo behind BBC series’ “The Office” and “Extras” and “The Ricky Gervais Show”, then “Life’s Too Short” is definitely for you! The series stars Warwick Davis (“Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” and “Harry Potter” franchise) playing a fictionalized character of himself.  I love the fact that he is able to poke fun at himself and in a very tongue-in-cheek style. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant also pop in from time to time through the episodes for a good laugh. The show is also ace with cameo celebrity appearances like Liam Neeson (my favorite) and Johnny Depp They appear completely out of their typical context and will leave you on the floor laughing! Can’t wait for season two! Bring it on HBO!

Official Synopsis: Shot faux-documentary style, Life’s Too Short gleefully charts Davis’s every move as he tries to jumpstart his waning career by opening his doors to a reality TV film crew while trying to maintain his pride and self-respect in a series of uncomfortable, often-humiliating situations. Along the way, he seeks advice from his old pals Gervais and Merchant (playing versions of themselves) in hopes that their A-list celebrity connections including Johnny Depp, Liam Neeson, Sting, Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Carell, Cat Deely (who all cameo) will aid his career.

The DVD is jam-packed with bonus features. To start there is a short featurette (get it short?), well not that short called “Making of Life’s Too Short”.  There are ten behind-the-scenes clips from the series.  There are also various deleted scenes and outtakes.  I feel the series works the way it did but I welcome the extra footage, as parts of it were indeed hilarious.  Lastly, there are previews for each episode.  Did I mention that I love Liam Neeson’s episode? I am surprised that HBO is not giving this series a Blu-ray release since in the UK it is getting one.

Short Film Review “Familiar”

Director: Richard Powel
Cast: Robert Nolan, Astrida Auza, Cathryn Hostick
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 24 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Before I got approached to review this short horror film, I was unaware of it.  But after watching the trailer for “Familiar”, I couldn’t help but immediately plug in to watch this short.  The trailer is really sets the stage for one hell of a fucked up ride.  but only gives a taste of what to expect. The film’s star is Robert Nolan delivers such a fantastically unsettling performance. Definitely not the squeamish but I highly recommend this for all horror fans.

I don’t want to give anything away but here is a brief synopsis for the film:  “Through a series of tragic events a middle aged man grows to suspect the negative impulses plaguing his mind may not be his own…”. Most of the dialogue spoken over the film by John’s voice in his head (or maybe more than that…gotta watch) and really seals the deal on John Dodd’s insanity.  The inner torment for John is so intense, it literally leaves you forgetting to breath. The film itself is simple yet completely devious and rather disturbing. For a low-budget short, the make-up effects are extremely impressive and add a lot to this film.  I couldn’t help but relate this film to the earlier works of David Cronenberg with “Dead Ringers” and Naked Lunch”.

Personally, I feel that the poster gives away some of the shock factor but still ends up throwing you for a complete loop. I was unaware of the fact that “Familiar” is actually a sequel to the director’s previous short sequel called “Worm”, which stars the character John Dodd’s brother, Geoffrey. I look forward to seeing that short next. Richard Powell is hot on my radar now and I can’t wait to see what he has planned next.  I also hope that this short gets the attention that it deserves but people need to see this!

Blu-ray Review “Pixar Short Films Collection: Vol. 2”

Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Disney-Pixar
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Run Time: 75 minutes

Shorts: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to Disney/Pixar, the Award-winning studio behind Toy Story 3, Up and WALL•E, they are the best when it comes to short films.  I get to the theater early for everyone of their films just to catch the shorts.  This Blu-ray release includes 12 short films, which are together for the very first time.  Obviously, this is the second volume of shorts and is a real step up from volume one.  The first volume includes the classics but these include some of my personal favorites.  If you are a fan of these shorts, then this a must purchase to get all these shorts in one place.

The following shorts included are “Your Friend the Rat” (2007). “Presto” (2008), “BURN-E” (2008), “Partly Cloudy” (2009), “Dug’s Special Mission” (2009), “George & A.J. (2009), “Day & Night” (2010), “Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation” (2011), “Cars Toons: Air Mater” (2011), “Toy Story Toons: Small Fry” (2011), “La Luna” (2011) and “Cars Toons: Time Travel Mater” (2012).

“BURN•E” is based on characters from “WALL•E”. “Dug’s Special Mission” and George & AJ” are both inspired from “Up”. “Air Mater” and “Time Travel Mater” are from “Cars Toons” featuring Mater. “Your Friend The Rat” features Remy and Emile from “Ratatouille”. The last two that are related to a franchise are  “Toy Story Toons” including “Hawaiian Vacation”, which was shown in front of “Cars 2” and “Small Fry”, which was shown in front of “The Muppets”. Original shorts included are Day & Night was shown before “Toy Story 3”. La Luna is the newest and was just shown in front of “Brave”. “Partly Cloudy” was shown before “Up”. “Presto” was shown before “WALL-E”. These areall previously on the respective Blu-ray/DVD releases. This is the first time that the shorts “George & AJ”, “Small Fry” and “Time Travel Mater” have ever been released on Blu-ray/DVD.

This release comes as a combo pack including both a Blu-ray and DVD included. There are several commentary tracks, as well as introductions for the shorts included. But the real draw for this release besides the shorts themselves are seven rarely seen student films from John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter. These are worth the purchase of the disc alone. The student films that are included are “Nitemare”, “The Lady & The Lamp”, “Somewhere in the Arctic”, “A Story”, “Winter”, “Palm Springs” and “Next Door”. These just show where these creative geniuses have come from and how far they have come since their early days.

Susan Graham talks about new short film “Quiet”

Susan Graham stars, co-wrote and co-produced the new short film “Quiet.” Some of her other work includes co-producing the web short “2 Girls 1 Cop” (seen on Comedy Central) as well as the award-winning series “Natural Hazards.”  Media Mikes had a chance to ask Susan a few questions about her short film.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your latest short film “Quiet”?
Susan Graham: “Quiet” is inspired by a true story. I play a woman named Ali who is forced to lie and say she is her partner’s sister in order to be with her in the hospital.

MG: Where did you come up with the story and was it always planned as short?
SG: It is based on the real life experience of Janice Langbehn, who lost her partner Lisa Pond in a Florida hospital in 2007. Despite having all the legal documents, neither Janice nor the couple’s three children were allowed to say good-bye. “Quiet” is currently being expanded into a feature film.

MG: You also take on the role of producer, do you have plans to produce more?
SG: I love producing. I find it intellectually and creatively fulfilling (and at times
frustrating!). I hope tohave the opportunity to produce more films.

MG: What was your biggest challenge on this project?
SG: We were so lucky to have the support of an amazing group of executive producers to see us through to the end of “Quiet,” so we are extremely grateful. Major challenges included casting and locations, given that it is a longer film set in a Texas hospital. However, I think we prevailed.

MG: Where can people currently see this short “Quiet”?
SG: “Quiet” is currently doing the rounds at festivals nationwide. For updated screening info head to www.quietthemovie.com

PJ Byrne Wrote and Directed New Short on Funny of Die


PJ Byrne had a busy year last in 2011 with co-starring in both “Horrible Bosses” and “Final Destination 5”.  Stealing the show in both film’s easily. PJ is heating up the small screen in 2012, recently joining up on Martin Lawrence’s CBS Comedy Pilot and also voicing Bolin on Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” spin off “The Legend of Korra”.

Check out his directorial debut below for Funny or Die called “The Last Supper”.  PJ also wrote this short film as well.  Check it out below and enjoy!!

Click here for our interview from last year with PJ Byrne.

Premise: Jesus and the Apostles fight over the check at The Last Supper and end up stiffing the wrong waitress.

Short Review “Slash-in-the-Box”

Directed by Nick Everhart
Starring: Elizabeth Masucci and Tyler Hollinger
Aweso Entertainment
Running Time: 5 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Immediately when I heard about this film, I pictured Will Ferrell winding the jack-in-the-box in the movie “Elf”. It is a scene that always makes me laugh but also jump. There is just something about a jack-in-the-box that leaves you on edge. This short is suspenseful and also a lot of fun. They should most definitely enter this into some horror festivals because it deserves some major attention.

It is only 5 minutes long but is extremely clever and really makes every minute count. It is gory, yet not cheesy at all.  The score is really great and sets up a few decent jumps. This film was shot in only one day plus another week for post production. The budget was just $2000, which nothing but the production does not look or feel cheap. Each shot feels is very polished and well directed. Even though it was shot in one day, I have a feeling that a lot of planning when into pre-production.

The films stars Tyler Hollinger and Elizabeth Masucci, who have both worked with writer/director Nick Everhart before in the recent “Dororthy and The Witches of Oz”, read our review here. I have watched many, many bad horror films and I this is a setup above the rest.  I was satisfied yet wishing for more. Who knows maybe one day, this could make a interesting feature. Weirder movies have been made…ever see “The Gingerdead Man”, one of my favorites by the way.

Watch the short below, come on…what’s five minutes of your time? You watch all those stupid videos on YouTube, this is much better.  Spread the word!

The Film Society & IndieWire’s Special Screening/Q&A of “Mary Last Seen” (Martha Marcy May Marlene) with Director Sean Durkin and Cast

“Mary Last Seen” was the short that Durkin wrote and directed prior to the full feature. It introduced the world of the film while also working as a standalone story. Fortunately it didn’t have to stand alone and now it makes for an eerie precursor ‘Martha’. The short screened prior to the “Martha Marcy May Marlene” Blu-ray release at New York’s Lincoln Center. In attendance for the IndieWire sponsored event were director Sean Durkin, producer Antonio Campos, cinematographer Drew Innis and actress Alexia Rasmussen (Mary).

In discussing the short, the filmmakers emphasized that if ‘Martha’ was a feature about exiting a cult, ‘Mary’ was about entering it. The connective character between the short and the feature is Brady Corbet’s Watts. Here we get to see how he goes about luring the cult women onto the isolated farm, cutting them off from the world. It’s disconcerting just how much damage the loss of a cell phone can do. “It’s the numbers” Mary laments, accentuating the modern reliance on automated contact lists. If nothing else, the short serves to help understand how Martha in the eventual feature film could have fallen off the face of the Earth to her family.

Click here for our DVD review of “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

Short Film Review “Frankie”

Directed by: Francesca Zappitelli
Starring: Francesca Zappitelli
Running Time: 15 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Frankie” is a short film about Francesca Zappitelli’s road from wanting to join the WWE to professional wrestling. Francesca tries to show that there a lot of challenges in the world of female fighting. With a mix of testimonials from wrestling industry and a match, she is somewhat able to convey this message. The narration in the film starts off strong in the beginning but missing during the match. I think it would have been a lot more clear to include background what was happening throughout.

The film is based around the fight “Frankie vs. Christie”. I would have liked to seen a little more of the road she took and a little less of the fight itself. After watching the film I am still not sure the relevance of the fight itself in her career. Don’t get me wrong though, it definitely was a tough fight. Francesca succeeds for her in proving her closing statement “Life is a fight and I fight back.” Overall, I feel that Francesca did a good job but film just needed more direction.

Short Film Review “Sailcloth”

Directed by: Elfar Adalsteins
Starring: John Hurt
Disturbed by: Berserk Films
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 17 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

This a beautiful wordless short film with wonderful acting. John Hurt is such an amazing actor, which he has proved over his career. He further proves this by starring in this amazing short and without speaking a single word. That is something that very few people can do well. He simply nails it. The film is lead by an amazing score, which takes us on this beautiful visual journey.

The story follows an elderly man (John Hurt) who sneaks out of an assisted living home to head to the sea. He sets out on a sailboat with his self-made sail and sets out on a mission. Once he gets on board, he reveals a picture of a woman (probably his past on wife or lover) and there is a dance scene with the two, which is so well depicted behind this sailcloth. He then begins to set the boat on fire and send himself overboard attached to an anchor bringing down himself and the boat. It is the story of a man has lead a good life and is lost without his love. It is very touching and well done.

It is very smartly written and directed by Elfar Adalsteins. He tells this amazing story so well in such a short period of time. It has some really beautiful cinematography courtesy of Karl Oskarsson. I have to say though since this film is wordless besides the acting, the credit needs to be go Richard Cottle for creating the original music that drives this short. Overall such a beautiful and touching film. Must see! John Hurt better win many awards for this film.

Short Film Review “The Sea Is All I Know”

Director: Jordan Bayne
Starring: Melissa Leo, Peter Gerety and Kelly Hutchinson
Blue Eyed Cherokee Films
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 30 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Right off the bat, I had to watch this film twice back-to-back since it was so intense and emotional to absorb in just one viewing. Even though the film is short doesn’t mean it is not mega packed with features some deep issues. Melissa Leo is fantastic, as usual, she delivers a fantastic performance and shines. I am not a big watcher of short films and I think that this film will open many doors for me as a critic. It is amazing so you are able to tell such a meaningful and intense story is such a short period of time. This film is wound so tight and so powerful that the you find that you were holding your breath throughout.

The story is amazing a girl (Kelly Hutchinson) who is terminally sick at home with her mother (Melissa Leo). She is suffering very much and asks for her family to assist in her death to relieve the pain. Her fisherman deadbeat father comes into picture and comforts both her and her mother. They deal with the issue at hand and have to make a very hard and moral pressing decision.

All is all great performances by all. The short is very smartly and sharply directed by Jordan Bayne. I am looking forwarding to see further work of hers. If you have a chance to catch this make sure you do it pass it up since it is surely not to be missed. I wish it a feature because I couldn’t help but want more but for what it was great.