Steven W. Alloway

Steven W. Alloway (292)

How do you find happiness? What do you do about regret? What would you do if you had a chance to change a single mistake in your life? These are some of the questions explored in the quirky and fun Welcome to Happiness, which screened at Dances With Films on Sunday.

Enter the Janitor is a unique and cleverly written book about the secret, semi-Men in Black-style organization that keeps things clean, both literally and figuratively. And, keeping things clean is a messy business sometimes. Just ask Ben, the Janitor. He doesn’t just mop floors and clean windows. It’s his job to protect the world from Scum and Corruption, which lurk just beneath the world we think we know.

I rather enjoyed Echo Lake, which has me a bit worried. The film, which screened at Dances With Films earlier this week, was explained to me as having an unlikable protagonist, and without a happy ending. Well, I rather liked and, furthermore, identified with, the protagonist. And, though the ending isn’t exactly tied up with a ribbon and bows, I found it happy in its own small way, or at least satisfying.

Parallax is the story of a man trying to create the Internet, sort of. Taking place in the 1980s, he uses television sets and radio waves to build a revolutionary, new communications device that will connect everyone to everyone else. In the meantime, he himself becomes more and more isolated, as he withdraws into his obsession with making his dream a reality.

The basic plot synopsis for Actor for Hire, which premiered at Dances With Films this week and was written/directed by Marcus Mizelle, goes something like this: A bald actor, down on his luck and struggling to find work in L.A., buys himself a wig and suddenly finds everything starting to go his way. This is technically accurate, but there’s much more to it than that. Actor for Hire is a funny, real, and often an uncomfortable look at what it takes to make it in the business.

For pretty much anyone who’s reading this, chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve wanted to be a superhero. Having superhuman powers would be amazing, of course, but the appeal is more than that. It’s the confidence they project, the respect they command, and the unflappable nobility that they exude that makes superheroes so cool, and that makes us long to be them.

Shevenge, an 11-minute film which screened at the Dances With Films festival on Saturday evening, is the tale of three women and the men who wronged them. Each of them spins an elaborate revenge fantasy, which the three of them proceed to act out in their collective imaginations.

About a year ago, I reviewed a web comic called Wart which claimed to be inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. A lot of comics, movies, and other forms of entertainment make this claim. Many of them mainly slap the name “Cthulhu” on their creation somewhere and call it a day. Wart, however, was actually able to capture the truly morbid and macabre feel of Lovecraft’s work—and infuse it with comedy.

It’s 1910. A group of highly influential bankers meets in a smoke-filled train car to decide the nation’s financial future—and, ultimately, ruin it in order to line their own pockets; however, our intrepid time agents have different ideas. Are they going to save the country? Being that their previous assignments have included killing Kennedy and saving Hitler, it’s doubtful that things are that simple; however, whatever they end up doing, their AI-god, The Sing, has determined that it’s the best course of action to ensure the future, so they carry it out without question.

Indestructible follows Greg Pincus, an ordinary man who, due to a little misunderstanding and a lot of outright lies, finds himself thrust into the world of superheroes—despite the fact that he has no actual superpowers. In the previous volume, we saw Greg enjoying the celebrity status that this misunderstanding has afforded him. Now in Volume 2, he has to put his money where his mouth is.

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