If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I saw The Legend of Tarzan on opening day. I didn’t know if the CGI would be cheesy, if Alexander Skarsgård was the right choice for the lead role, if they would put Edgar Rice Burroughs’ beloved book through a wood chipper, or if Margot Robbie would get along well with the phrase “period piece.”

What would you do if you found out you were dying? Would you extend your life by any means possible? Or would you make the most of the time you had left? That’s just one of the issues raised by the short film Beautiful Dreamer which had its west coast premiere recently at Dances With Films.

When I talked with writer/director Alicia Slimmer at the Dances With Films festival about her movie, Creedmoria, she told me it was uplifting. Given the plot synopsis, it was a little difficult for me to believe. From beginning to end, the story is full of tragic events and terrible people. Even while watching the movie, at times, I wondered how a film like this could be considered uplifting, when it puts its protagonist through such hell. Yet somehow, uplifting is exactly what Creedmoria manages to be. Because the focus isn’t on the tragic events or the terrible people. The focus is on rising above those things and realizing that that’s not all life has to offer.

In recent years, there’s been a bit of a stigma against clowns. Rather than the traditional portrait of funny, friendly, silly caricatures whose main goal is to make us laugh, they’re most often portrayed as grotesque, evil monsters. I’ve never liked this hostility towards clowns, particularly since I used to perform as a clown myself, as did my mother. Fortunately, it would appear that I’m not alone in my views. Karen McPherson, the writer/director of the short film Pop, feels much the same way and said so during a Q&A at Dances With Films, where the film screened recently.

It’s the ultimate sci-fi love story. A man tells the woman he’s seeing that he’s from the future. Not only that, but the whole reason he came back in time is to be with her. He saw a picture or a glimpse of a woman from years ago and fell so in love with her that he gave up his life in the future and traveled back in time just to win her heart. Variations on this theme have been done in movies ranging from Terminator to the highly underrated Happy Accidents. It’s also the plot of the short film Future Boyfriend which had its west coast premiere recently at Dances With Films—only with a slightly different twist on things.

When slackers rule the Earth: an adventure 30 years in the making.

There’s something magical that happens when you find all of your responsibilities absolved for a day: the joys of summer vacations spent fritting away time with no care; a canceled class replaced with a sunny day in a park; snow blanketing the world and burying work; school and transit in a gentle, yet firm, suggestion of “nope.”  These are examples on a page, but nothing can convey that feeling save through art, and no film does it better than Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Starting with the 2014 direct-to-video animated movie Justice League War, Warner Bros. Animation has slowly, but surely, been crafting their DC Animated Universe. Each of the films since then has been introducing new elements of the Justice League and Batman continuities while utilizing the same voice actors, directors, and storyboard teams. The latest and, in my opinion, best entry to this series is Justice League vs. Teen Titans. This film ties together the stories of the newly formed Justice league as well as the continuing saga of Batman’s son and new Robin, Damian Wayne.  The film follows Damian as he joins the Teen Titans and must learn what it means to be a part of a team and a family as dark secrets of Raven’s past threaten to tear the Titans apart.

What do you do when you have a compulsive need to catalog and collect all the planets in the universe, and the slot on your alphabetized shelf between “Db” and “Ea” is woefully empty?  You head for Earth, of course.  And, if you are a super-intelligent (albeit insane) extraterrestrial android named Brainiac, you won’t expect anyone or anything to be able to stop you.

The DC Animated films have long been praised among geeks as some of the best representations of the DCU ever brought from page to screen, and their latest release, Batman: Bad Blood, is another example of the craft and care put into these high-quality adaptations and original adventures. Batman: Bad Blood is also one more rock-solid chapter in DC Animated’s episodic film installments set in a New 52-esque universe. Bringing the conflicted Nightwing front and center and expanding the Bat Family in new and exciting ways, Batman: Bad Blood is sure to please Batman fans with no only its action-packed plot, but the future potential it builds and bestows upon future releases.

Every eve, of every hallow.

From the hilariously twisted mind of James Roday (Shawn Spencer, Psych) comes Gravy, a movie about a trio of costumed misfits with very special dietary requirements who seize a Mexican cantina and force the staff to engage in a late night of gaming, food, and libations. The only caveat is what's on the menu.

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