Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking Back On 2011 [Written By Clifford Kiyabu]

I know many of you were hoping to see the annual “Best Of” top ten list this month, but unfortunately this will not be the case this time around; TCWReviews has cancelled this year’s top ten list. While I would like to say there was a definitive reason or excuse behind the decision to cancel this year’s top ten list… truth be told there isn’t, just a string of bad luck and multiple events that transpired (Some of which you will hear about in due time). And though most of you were looking forward to it, not everything goes as planned. Heck, if wishes were horses, we'd all be eatin' steak (props to Adam Baldwin).

Now with that being said, I figured that instead of a top ten list we’d do something unprecedented for TCWReviews. I would like to reflect on the year’s pass events and what they meant to the world, and also to me. Looking back at 2011, it sure was an eventful year filled with some of the most historic moments the world has seen in the last 10 years. From unspeakable devastations to surprising moments that had us later questioning our own moral fabric that defines who we are. For personal reasons regarding the subjects I mention, I will try to maintain a nonbiased opinion.

From earthshattering earthquakes and fractured nuclear power plants to a devastating tsunami, the nation of Japan has seen a great deal of disastrous events sent her way in 2011. That left countless thousands dead and millions without a home or job to go back to. The whole world stood in shock over this heart wrenching event. I personally hold a great respect now more than ever for the Japanese people for their honor, strength, courage and unity. They mourned the loss of loved ones and the life they once had, but was still proud enough to stand back up on their two feet, dust themselves off and begin the unthinkable; rebuilding what was once lost to the devastation of mother nature, for this they shall forever have my undying respect.

2011 was a year of revolution, from the streets of Cairo, Egypt to the battlefields of Libya. Change was certainly in the air for people in the Mideast, and no longer were they going to stand quietly by and do nothing. They rose up and toppled tyranny where it stood and in some cases, the people won the change they so desperately yearned for and earned their freedoms. Regimes as old as 30 and 40 years collapsed within the wake of revolution this year, and also led to the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. All that remains unseen is with destiny at the people’s doorsteps; will they be able to hold on to that which they fought and died for?

2011 was also the year of the protester. With our global economy in the gutter, job availability becoming more and more scarce and the security of one’s livelihood threatened each and every day, people all over the globe has risen up in protest to the way those in power are doing business. From its start in Zuccotti Park in New York, it expanded to the streets of France, Spain, and even across vast regions like Greece, Italy and Germany then back to the states in which it made its way across to places like downtown Chicago and even the island state of Hawaii. The protests grew in size and its voice was made much loader. No matter what your beliefs are or on what side you stand on the political spectrum, you cannot deny that the people’s voice was heard this year, and though change has not come to those standing in protest, they have shown their resilience by hanging in there for the long hall. I personally don’t agree with most of their message but I respect their dire need to stand up for what they believe in to whatever end.

2011 marked the 10 year anniversary to one of the most horrific terror attacks in modern US history which easily became ground zero for the world we live in today. But to a great many surprise, it was also the year when those responsible for one of the greatest attacks of our time finally met their ultimate fate, and for a moment the world cheered in celebration and for a split second the world around us felt a little safer. But with the death of Osama Bin Laden, reality set in and many began to wonder, and contemplate if the end justified the means? Did we receive the justice we were promised or were we forever robbed of that luxury? Either way, I personally hope those affected by the tragedy that occurred 10 years ago can finally find some piece of mind. And I hope those forever lost to us from the event can finally rest in peace.

2011 also saw the passing of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and the rise to power of his youngest son Kim Jong-Un. I personally knew his demise wouldn’t be too far off, but his sudden death just before the holidays was indeed a shocker and has left me wondering where the North will go from here in terms as a nation. Despite how you feel about Kim Jong-Il you cannot deny that watching Team America: World Police (2004) will never be the same again. LOL!

But it wasn’t all bad memories, as 2011 also saw the wedding event of our generation, the royal wedding of Prince William to his beloved bride, Kate Middleton. Not since the wedding of Charles and Princess Diana have we seen the world so fascinated by the union of two people. This event was seen by hundreds of millions all over the world, it also stood as a defining moment for the British monarch as it secured the future of their line of succession. And what does America have to show for? The 72 day marriage of Lady Kim Kardashian to Duke Chris Humphries, that’s what. Yeah America, that’s our f****** monarch right there.

Looking back at 2011, it was undoubtedly one for the books; the things mentioned here is merely the tip of the iceberg of events that transpired over 2011. And if this year has taught me anything, it’s that we must keep moving forward in life, even when life throws a few wrenches into our gears, we mustn’t falter or step back but rather keep our heads up high and keep moving forward in life. As the year comes to a close, we open the doorway to the year, 2012. What I hope for the New Year to bring is a more prosperous year for everyone, but most importantly a more prosperous New Year for everyone in The Critic’s Word’ family. Here’s to a new year of new beginnings and happy endings! Okay, maybe I added the happy endings for a little lol moment.

Sincerely
The Editor in Chief
Clifford Kiyabu.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Casting Call for New Indie Horror "The Hazed"

One of the worst things about joining a fraternity or sorority is the hazing that comes with the territory of pledging. Yeah it’s commonly known that hazing is highly unethical then alone illegal in today’s age, but just because something is deemed wrong doesn’t mean it stopped. But what if some took hazing to a whole new level of humiliation? What if some elevated it to a whole new level of horrors? From the creators of Echo Lake and Sick Flick Productions comes “The Hazed” a psychological thriller that explores the unforgiving and vindictive nature of sorority life. Once you’re in you’re in for life, and the only way to leave this sorority is through death!

The Hazed is set to begin filmming summer 2012 in the Chicago area. The film is written and produced and will also star Jonathan Moody and Kelsey Zukowski. The Hazed will also be Kelsey Zukowski’s directorial debut! Currently they doing a full casting call for both male and female actors and of various age brackets that range from age groups of 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. scroll down to read the synopsis and to get a full detail of the roles up for casting. And when you’re done be sure to drop by the official Hazed Facebook Page and click “Like” to keep up to date on all things regarding the project.

Synopsis: When Kate tries to pledge a sorority, she learns that a mistake from years ago is still haunting her. The sorority sisters are completely unforgiving, deciding to have their fun with Kate by torturing her and the other girls to no ends. Kate is determined not to let her win. She has her friends, Tyler and Hailey by her side to help her stay strong. The deeper Kate gets in though the more she realizes that these are not your typical hazing pranks. There is something much darker that lies within these girls, setting up a brutal cycle of jealousy, revenge, and a very twisted perception of reality.


The Hazed Character Breakdown

Kate: Female (18-25). Independent, determined, and spunky. Kate has always been an outsider, but isn’t going to let that get in the way of what she wants. She made a mistake years ago that Melissa isn’t willing to let her forget. Kate refuses to be a weak person though and is ready to take everything she throws her way. Role requires nudity, limited or implied is negotiable.

Melissa: Female (18-25). The head sorority sister. She loves being in charge and is used to everything going her way, blaming her problems on others when they do arise. She’s unforgiving and has a very dark nature, far beyond the bitchy fa├žade that lies on the outside. Role requires nudity, limited or implied is negotiable.

Courtney: Female (18-25). One of Melissa’s best friend’s, runs the sorority house under her.  She sticks by Melissa no matter how merciless the hazing becomes.

Kelly: Female (18-25). Melissa and Courtney’s other best friend. She is loyal to her sisters and is determined to get vengeance on Kate for Melissa’s sake.

Jenna: Female (18-25). The only reasonable sorority sister. She isn’t out to humiliate and torment the pledges and isn’t interested in getting revenge on Kate. She goes along with it to an extent, but she wants to just get through this year more than anything. She’s far more concerned with school and her long distance boyfriend who she hopes to be with when she goes to graduate school next year.

Brittany: Female (18-25). As she gets deeper in to the sorority and sees the consequence of Melissa’s jealousy her enthusiasm for the sorority quickly falls. She has a lot to deal with, but refuses to let Melissa and the other sisters run all over her. Limited clothing is required.

Lexy: Female (18-25). Almost connected at the hip to Anna. Both of the girls put all of their energy and hopes in to getting in to the sorority. They have more shallow reasons than the other girls. No matter how twisted things get the price is never too high to get what they want. Limited clothing is required.

Anna: Female (18-25). Lexy’s best friend. It quickly becomes them against the other girls. They intend to do whatever they can to get in to the sorority even when things turn morbid. It’s shocking to them at first, but they put their better judgment aside when their own desires blind them. Limited clothing is required.

Brad: Male (18-25). Head of one of the school’s fraternity’s. He treats woman horribly, especially his girlfriend, Melissa. He has been cheating on her for years and really has no qualms or guilt about it. He comes from a wealthy family in the same social circle as Melissa’s; part of the reason their parents want them to be together. Nudity is required.

Chase: Male (18-25). Sexist and objectifies woman. He’s Brad’s best friend and one of the brothers, but cannot stand Melissa. He’s a good friend to him regardless. Chase is one of the only people to really reject Melissa and show his interest elsewhere.

Chris: Male (18-25). School football star and one of Chase and Brad’s brothers. He’s crude and violent towards others.

Jennifer: Female (22-35) Jack’s wife. She loves her husband, but is going through a very hard time in her life. She hasn’t really been happy in a long time and acts on this unhappiness. She desperately wants to put that all behind them and learn to be happy with Jack again.

Jack: Male (25-40) Jennifer’s husband. She’s broken his heart and he can never be the same again. We begin to see him breaking before us, unable to hold on any longer.

Bryan: Male (20-30) Jenna’s long distance boyfriend. He is very caring and sincere, doing everything he can to try to be there for her. He tries to keep her rational and focused amongst all of the mayhem that ensues in the house.

Dr. Lucas: Male or Female (Min. age 25, but could preferably middle aged). The psychiatrist who tries to piece everything together in the aftermath. (S)he is desperate to reach his/her patient so they can accept what they’ve done and have hope for recovery so nothing like this ever happens again.

Lauren:  Female (20-30). Kate’s Resident Advisor. Once she realizes Kate is going through something serious she steps in.

Delivery Man: Male. (Min. age 20, but preferably middle aged) Once he’s in the house he lets his curiosity and imagination get the best of him. He never would have expected what lies within this house.

Waitress: (Min. 18, but can be any age). Waitress at a steak/seafood restaurant that serves Hailey and Tyler. 

Please email the character or characters you are interested in auditioning for to kels_z3@sbcglobal.net. We will be accepting video auditions for desired roles. Filming is set for summer 2012.

Christopher Meloni Joins Cast of True Blood!

It’s been an awful long while since we’ve heard any news regarding HBO’s True Blood am I right? Well fear not Fangbangers and Trubies because I’ve got some True Blood news coming at ya! A few weeks back rumors hit the web that Law & Order star Christopher Meloni was set to join the cast of True Blood for its 5th season.

Well according to TV Line, an a deal has been made. And a few details were given away about Meloni's character, which was described as being a "powerful vampire."

According to the HBO series creator Alan Ball, Meloni will play an “ancient, powerful vampire who holds the fate of Bill and Eric in his hands.” Though there’s still not a lot of details regarding his character on the show or what exact plot he’ll play in the 5th season, one can assume he’ll play the part of a possible new big bad baddy in the series aside from the return of American Horror Story star Denis O'Hare in the role of Russell Edgington.

No official word as of yet when exactly the next season will begin but also joining the cast next season will be Scott Foley, Lucy Griffiths, Dale Dickey, Louis Herthum and Kelly Overton.

Side Tidbit: So how many seasons do you suspect the show will continue to go on for?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Casting Call for “TRAPPED” A New Kid Friendly Horror By Fathead Films!

These days the horror genre is jacked full of films that take us to the extreme with testing the waters on what’s considered “Acceptable” and what’s seen as downright despicable. But people now days have easily become desensitized to these facts when we’re introduced to such torture porn films like “The Human Centipede” and  “Saw” on a regular bases, we forget that horror isn’t about how far one can go to gross their audience or leaving them beyond disturbed.
 
Sometimes it’s the little stories on a softer scale that can prove to be equally entertaining and a little terrifying. One of the best examples of soft-core horror that proved to be fun for all ages while still maintain a “scare factor” for viewers was none other than the mid 90’s with such shows like “Goosebumps” and “Are You Afraid of The Dark” just to name a few, these type of shows produced material that was enjoyed by viewers of all ages while not having to succumb to picking either the more graphic edgier rout or yielding to the overly demeaning rout with a high cheese factor. But I digress; it seems that a sense of this magnitude will be making its way to the indie screen with the the production company Fathead Films has announcing plans to film a project titled “Trapped.” A short film that is said to be a “Kid Friendly” horror, the project is slated to begin filming sometime in early 2012 in Illinois.

Trapped is being produced and directed by Keith Romine (Acceptance 2010) and written by The Critic’s Word very own Kelsey Zukowski (What They Say.) and is currently casting young actors between the ages of 8 to 18 all December. Read on below for more details regarding the project and how you can help out:

Fathead Films is proud to announce the filming of short film “Trapped” to be filmed in Belvidere/Rockford area early 2012.

Trapped:

Trapped is a scary but kid friendly short film currently in pre-production and slated to begin principal photography in the Belvidere, IL area early 2012. The film Produced/Directed by Keith Romine of Fathead Films, will primarily feature local Northern Illinois talent ages 8 to 18... And of course some adults to fill the roles of meddling parents, troublesome siblings and maybe even a villain or two.

The Concept:

Keith Romine began toying with the concept that has evolved into Trapped in late 2010. Keith's purpose was to bring a 'scary' but kid friendly film to his acting students and other young actors in the Northern Illinois region. Inspired by his young acting classes in the Belvidere and Rockford IL areas Keith commissioned Kelsey Zukowski (What They Say) of Chicago to write a short screenplay stating he wanted a scary movie that (unlike most of his work) his acting students could audition to be in and actually watch once finished!

The Team:

Kelsey exceeded expectations and after nearly a year of planning Trapped is nearly ready to begin production. Keith has teamed with Berdella Endress (That's My Girl) to Co-Produce and has also brought on Stuart Wahlin (Hand of Glory) as Director of Photography. Keith hopes to see many of his current and former students auditioning but notes that auditions will not be limited to Fathead Films students and to avoid bias Keith will rely heavily on the rest of his production team to assist in casting decisions. Auditions will be held early December in the Belvidere and Rockford, IL area.

How You Can Help:

Please help us to spread the word about our fundraising efforts! (”Trapped” Indiegogo Page.) Share with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, email and word of mouth. All of the funds raised will directly help bring this film to life covering a wide variety of expenses from providing on-set snacks and beverages, equipment, locations, props, extensive makeup and special effects in production to editing and effects in post-production and full festival run to follow. Also follow us on Facebook for up to date casting and all things Trapped.

Other Ways You Can Help:

Please help us to spread the word! Share with friends and family via Facebook, twitter, MySpace, email and word of mouth!

Side Tidbit: on a more personal note, aside from marking yet another big milestone for Ms. Zukowski as a writer, Trapped will also include The Critic’s Word new staffer Stuart R. Wahlin as Director of Photography. To which I say congrats to the both of you!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: Second Star (2011) [Reviewed By Kelsey Zukowski]


Starring: Stephanie Sylvester, Troy Zitzelberger, Brittany Collins, Heather Dorff

Directed By: Derek Quint

Grade: B

Second Star is a short film about a homeless woman on New Year’s Eve. We follow her throughout the night as the lines between reality, fantasy, and past are blurred. It was inspired by J.M. Barrie’s book, “Peter Pan” as well as old and modern ghost legends.

Director, Derek Quint, follows a guerilla film style for a very realistic opening. For someone living in Chicago, it’s something you witness nearly every day, but are rarely a part of the way it is shown to us here. Once the party begins I liked how drastically the tone and atmosphere changed. The noticeable difference takes us in to a surreal cycle of events. We can’t be completely sure what’s real and what’s not, much like our protagonist who is scared and lost in the world she finds herself in.

The exploration of fiction and reality is among my favorite themes that can be explored through film. It’s the perfect medium to do so since film itself could be considered the blurring of fiction and reality. It’s not real, but is encompassed around reality; part of the reason film exists as a intelligent art form. Second Star takes advantage of this exploration and experiments with this character’s psyche.

The director even says he isn’t completely sure what happens, how it ends, or what is reality and what is fiction. This really emphasis the importance of the experience of Second Star; it really doesn’t matter what happens because the film is about something much larger. It’s up to you to decide what that is.