Whether or not you align with the experimental nature of the film, the technical prowess (even for a short so isolated and simplistic in scope) is remarkable. ChewBoy productions remains an ambitious, uniquely bizarre, indie film group unafraid to embrace the delightfully weird Duplass-ian grassroots that make experimental film so interesting. The Zizz is one part The Puffy Chair with a small dash of Last Year at Mariebad and slight tonal similarities to THX 1138. It’s an enigmatic amalgamation of themes that universally offer solace in understanding—an acknowledgement that the internal dilemmas, the suffering we feel inside, may actually be a shared experience. Perhaps, in that way, The Zizz (in what it represents) doesn’t have to feel so daunting.
Dugan does deserve props for one thing…he managed to attract a pretty decent cast. I’m not sure how he pulled it off, because Love, Weddings & Other Disasters is…well, a disaster. It’s an interminable, laugh-free endurance test with artificial characters, erratic pacing and moments of shallow sentimentality. The most prominent name in the credits gets most of the blame.
While the direction is understated, often echoing the works of Cianfrance in its quiet demeanor, Lewis and Thomas add a lot of personality into the anxiety induced by the camera. The way the shots often linger on Katie’s boiling frustration, locking down her pacing with stewing medium closeups as she struggles to maintain stability, adds to the internal dilemma of the audience. The aforementioned question: “What would I do?” It gives us pause. Because at first glance, you may say to yourself that you would never consider something so dastardly. But the longer the film presses on, the more you attempt to rationalize. Until we ultimately feel culpable. The White Lie passes on to us. And in that aim, this is a film that undoubtably succeeds.
Despite the L.A. location, this is an Israeli production filmed in English and Hebrew, with characters sometimes switching languages mid-sentence. I don’t know if it was writer-director Michael Mayer’s intention to incorporate both as a commentary on cultural integration, but it does seem to loom large with some characters. Whatever the case, Happy Times is smart, fast-paced, violent fun that strides up to the line without ever crossing it. Like all good black comedies, the film works because it knows when to say when.
Whether one considers it a comedy with horrific moments or a horror film that just happens to be really funny, at least Freaky isn’t another parody, nor is it the kind of self-aware meta-horror purveyed in such films as The Cabin in the Woods. With smart writing, amusing performances and a wild spin on a familiar premise, saddling it with a dumb mash-up title like Freaky Friday the 13th would have been a disservice.
How the titular fish came to exist is never explained, but do you really care? Anyone still reading this were sold by the title alone. But unlike the smug, self-aware silliness of Sharknado and its ilk, Sky Sharks isn’t presented with a nudge-and-a-wink. Sure, it’s goofy as hell, often intentionally. And yeah, the dialogue is godawful, as are some of the visual effects. However, writer-director Marc Fehse (whose name pops up in the end credits for at-least a half-dozen other jobs) compensates with enough soft-core sex, bouncing breasts and over-the-top gore (both practical and CGI) to amuse indiscriminate connoisseurs of cinematic sleaze.