Day 3 Reviews: Raiders! The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made doc, Remember & Counter Clockwise

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Can’t believe Day 4 is almost over and I’ve just finally got a chance to actually post my reviews of Day 3. The adrenaline rush actually helps keep me going, as I managed to write TWO reviews in one hour. That’s pretty fast for me but I’m sure more skilled bloggers/critics are used to that. The two films I saw back to back were excellent, and the same is true for Day 4 (review should be up tomorrow).

So here are two of my reviews from Day 3 and one from blog contributor Ted S.:

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Raiders! The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made

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One of the things I love about TCFF is that I get to consume more documentaries in a span of two weeks than I normally do in a given year. It really doesn’t get more exhilarating-ly entertaining than this one. Basically the premise is what it says in the title. In 1982, a trio of 11-year-old kids remade Raiders of the Lost Ark shot for shot, and they completed everything except for one scene, which is the action-packed plane scene. Thirty years later, the guys reunited to complete that very scene.

I love how the film went back to the genesis of the seemingly-bonkers idea of actually making it happen. It shows how Eric and Chris (who played Indy) went to pitch to a producer to get funding and walking away geedily with a $5000 check. The rest of the film show actual footage of the young boys filming in Eric’s family home, over the course of seven years his family house is turned into a film set! The boys’ family members are part of the ‘talking heads’ in the film, sharing their experience witnessing their kids being absorbed by their passion of making this film. It literally consumed seven Summer breaks of their lives and you just can’t help to be enraptured by their endeavor.
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I used the term ‘enraptured’ because I don’t think it’s a hyperbole. It was easy to root for these guys and see them succeed! Their little *remake* film that was titled Raiders of the Lost Ark Adaptation somehow got the attention of Eli Roth and the film ended up playing at Butt-Numb-A-Thon Film Fest, held annually in Austin TX. It was hilarious to see the audience being so excited watching this grainy, amateurish footage made by a bunch of kids and they actually booed when the film fest turned it off to show the scheduled LOTR sequel Two Towers! It was rather shocking that people would rather see this than the latest Peter Jackson’s masterpiece. But once you see this documentary, it’s easy to see why!

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I’m not gonna reveal some of the big surprises of the film as I think it’s more fun that you discover them for yourself. This is the purest form of passion for filmmaking and you can’t help but cheer that creativity and teamwork is at the heart of the project, as opposed to money & fame. A must-see for any Indiana Jones’ fans, but it will entertain anyone who loves a good documentary.

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The main draw for me to see this is definitely Christopher Plummer, and he definitely shines in yet another Oscar-worthy performance. He plays Zev, an elderly man suffering from dementia living in a Jewish nursing home. His wife Ruth just passed away two weeks prior but Zev is still calling her name when he wakes up. One night during a [party], Zev’s friend Max (Martin Landau) called him aside and gives him a letter and a great deal of cash. Later that night Zev gets into a cab with only a small black pouch as his only luggage.

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We soon find out he’s on a quest to find a former Nazi officer who murdered his family some 70 years ago is living in America under an assumed identity. It’s a plan he and Max have cultivated for years, to be executed as soon as his wife passed on. Max convinced him he’s the only one who could still recognize that man and that he must pay for what he has done. So the rest of the film follows Zev in his journey, via a train, bus, etc. all the way to Canada. Everything I expected about this film is constantly surpassed as the film gets more unpredictable and darker as time progressed. Plummer carried the film with such skill and aplomb, and you’re transfixed by him. It helps to have such a strong actor as he’s pretty much in every scene and for the most part he’s the only one on screen.

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There have been so many Nazi vengeance tales been made on screen before and yet this one manages to inject something new and different into the sub-genre. That alone is a feat in and of itself. Director Atom Egoyan made this with not much frills but the film is brimming with mystery and suspense. And that finale, wow, I certainly did not see it coming. That’s all I can say as it’s best that you know as little as possible. I’m still reeling from it and ponder about all the clues I might’ve been missing as I was watching it. I also love that the seemingly generic and even boring title actually fits the plot VERY well and I can’t imagine a better title for it.

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CounterClockwiseReview

I love time traveling stories; it’s always fun to imagine how we can change the future by traveling back in time or see the future if we travel ahead in time. There have been several films that have covered these kinds of stories and this latest one didn’t really try to come up with anything new to tell.

A scientist named Ethan (the totally miscast Michael Kopelow) and his partner Ceil (Alice Rietveld) are trying to create a time machine. But it appears they’ve failed several times, after an experiment gone bad, Ceil is upset and both left their facility. Later Ethan came back the facility and accidentally transported himself into the future where he’s being accused of killing his wife and her sister. He’s also being pursues by a bunch of thugs and who apparently knew about the time machine. In order to find out what happened and clear his name, Ethan has to travel through time again.

CounterClockwise_stillI believe had this movie been a short story, it would’ve worked much better. With a weak leading actor and shoestring budget, stretching a story to full length feature just didn’t work. It also didn’t help that the filmmakers copied every elements from other time traveling movies like The Terminator and Back to the Future. Also, I don’t get the sudden switch to Quentin Tarantino style by showing burst of violence and each character dropping the F-bombs every five seconds.

Not the worse low budget film I’ve seen but not very good either.

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Thoughts on any one of these movies? Well, let’s hear it!

My interview with ‘The Old, Old Story’ director Samuel Hathaway + lead actor Charles Hubbell

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I LOVE seeing directorial debuts of up and coming filmmakers being represented in TCFF. And one of the screenings today is an indie drama that’s ripe with lots of food for thought to ponder afterwards.

On the morning of a young woman’s engagement, a stranger shows up and begins to debate the meaning of life.

If you love great dialog on film (and who doesn’t?) you wouldn’t want to miss this! One of the lead actors is the talented and most prolific Minnesota-based actor Charles Hubbell. Surely you’ve seen his work even if you can’t tell his name, as is the case with a lot of skilled character actors. Check out my Q&A with director Samuel Hathaway and Charles Hubbell who have kindly shared their insights and experience in making the film.


TCFF Screening Time(s): 
10/24/2015  (2:15 PM)

Check out the trailer:


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Interview with Samuel Hathaway

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