When you read The Condimental Op by Andrez Bergen, have a Google tab open nearby. Over the course of the anthology, you’ll undoubtedly want to look a few things up. This is not to imply that the book is somehow vague or hard to understand, or that you’ll need to research a lot of obscure references in order to follow along. There ARE a lot of references in this book—famous film scenes he makes reference to, book characters he says inspired him, music he discusses, and an eclectic array of other things—but many of them are familiar, and the ones that aren’t, he explains adeptly.
She Loves Me Not, which premiered Sunday on the closing night of “Dances With Films,” tells three separate stories of a man in crisis. Or is it one story, in three parts? Either way, it features Cary Elwes as an alcoholic writer, so it’s hard to go wrong.
Mutual Friends, which had its Los Angeles premiere at the Dances With Films festival in Hollywood on Friday night, is an ensemble cast romantic movie, with separate stories all intertwining, similar to, say, Love Actually. However, unlike Love Actually, which was entirely the work of writer/director Richard Curtis, Mutual Friends has a different writer for each story. They all blend seamlessly together, but, at the same time, it provides a variety of different perspectives on different types of relationships in different stages and situations.
Forever’s End is a small, quiet movie about the end of the world. Sarah (Charity Farrell) is a teenage girl who has spent the last six years completely alone, after everyone around her—and for all she knows, everyone on the planet—was killed by some great, unnamed cataclysm. Then, out of nowhere, her sister Lily (Lili Reinhart) shows up on her doorstep, without a word as to where she’s been all this time, or what’s happened to her. A few days later, a young man calling himself Ryan (Warren Bryson) shows up as well. And, slowly, it becomes apparent that maybe the world isn’t as empty and desolate as they thought.
One of the hallmarks of a really good drama is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. From the Q&A session after How to Follow Strangers at the Dances With Films independent film festival on Monday night, it’s clear that writer/director Chioke Nassor doesn’t take himself too seriously. Not only did he come up wearing a tiara with colored flashing lights, but nearly every question was met with a silly answer before he gave the real one. He invited the audience to come and buy him drinks at the Roosevelt Hotel after the screening, and generally seemed to be a fun, down-to-earth guy. At the same time, it was also clear from the Q&A session that Mr. Nassor loves what he does and really cares about this film and the team that helped him put it together, which is a hallmark, not just of dramas, but of any really good film.
ReCalculating, which was screened at the Dances With Films independent film festival in Hollywood on Sunday, is a funny, lighthearted short film that provides a wry look at our society’s addiction to technology. It centers around Paul (Yuri Lowenthal, Ben 10), a young professional who's looking for love, and lunch, with the help of his smartphone. His phone, however, seems to know better than he does what it is he actually needs. Think Siri with a sarcastic streak. She sends him on a quest through the streets of Los Angeles to find the perfect girl, Anna (Tara Platt, Lowenthal’s real-life wife). All the while, Paul remains exasperatingly oblivious.
Lotti Pharriss Knowles, the writer/producer of Chastity Bites, is a self-professed horror nerd, and it shows. The film, which had a midnight showing at the Dances With Films independent film festival in Hollywood on Saturday night, both honors and sends up a lot of classic horror tropes and conventions. The result is a fun, campy horror/comedy that’s both genuinely funny and genuinely scary.
Everything old is new again. Doctor Who Classics, from IDW Publishing, takes old comics, published in Doctor Who Magazine during the time of the original series, and repackages them for a new generation of Doctor Who fans. Originally printed in black and white, they’ve been colorized and given a slick, new appearance. This first issue contains two adventures of the Seventh Doctor (played by Sylvester McCoy on the show), a somewhat mysterious, though capable and determined, incarnation, identifiable by the question mark motif in his attire.
In many ways, Tales of Discord plays out like a season of the show Lost. There’s a large ensemble cast and a number of concurrent storylines. There’s a present-day plotline, which is illuminated by flashbacks to the histories and origins of the various major characters. And, most importantly, it’s confusing to follow at times . . . but still addictively entertaining.
Doctor Who Classics #2 takes another old adventure from issues of Doctor Who Magazine, colorizes it, and assembles it into comic form. "Invaders from Gantac" is a three-part arc which has the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy on the television series) stumbling into an alien invasion as only the Doctor can stumble.