The Revenant - Balboni Films

Review: The Revenant

A tale of isolation and wilderness survival might work well in a novel (Michael Punke penned the book upon which The Revenant is based) but it's difficult at best to translate into cinematic form, and The Revenant sat in production limbo for nearly a decade before the script found its way to screenwriter Mark Smith. Even after Alejandro Iñárritu signed on to direct in 2011, it took another three years for filming to begin. Was it worth the wait? Unquestionably. Read more [...]
Welcome To Leith - First Run Features - Balboni Films

Review: Welcome To Leith

"Well this is embarrassing," someone half-groans behind me in the theater a few weeks ago as a trailer for the documentary "Welcome to Leith" plays. I'm in Bismarck, North Dakota, and the screen shows a wiry older man with frizzy white hair toting a rifle and spouting racial slurs as he strolls through a rural town elsewhere in the state. After finally seeing the full film, I can certainly feel for that other theatergoer. The story of Leith is one that strikes a uncomfortably familiar chord for many in Idaho and Montana. Read more [...]

Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

This review was originally published in Vol. 12, Issue 19 of The Sandpoint Reader. Over thirty years ago, George Miller used money he saved while working as an emergency doctor to fund his directorial debut, a violent Australian action film titled "Mad Max." Shot for next to nothing, the film went on to set box office records, launching two legendary sequels that catapulted Mel Gibson to international stardom and influenced decades of post-apocalyptic media. How did Miller follow up such a gritty, highly-regarded trilogy? By producing and co-writing the acclaimed family films Babe and Happy Feet, as well as their sequels. With Fury Road, Miller finally returns to the hellish world of Mad Max and despite all the talking animals between the Thunderdome and now, within minutes it's clear Read more [...]
Holy Hours - Balboni Films

Holy Hours

Last year, my good friend and musician Angelo Chiaverini started a groove/thrash metal project and asked if I’d like to be involved. He’s an immensely talented dummer and sound engineer from the same town as myself (one of the first things I ever shot- back when miniDV was a watchable medium- was actually his band in high school), and over the years we’ve worked on a few projects here and there. Our taste in metal has always overlapped nicely so I was absolutely thrilled to contribute vocals, and the final track turned out to be incredible. We decided to create a video for it (with Ben Cleek on acting duties, who provided additional guitar work to the track), and you can find it here. Hope you enjoy.

How Not to be a Photographer

Is it ever going to start acting like winter? I think to myself, before tossing my camera gear into the truck. Troy, MT in November & December looks like Children of Men: Everything is the bleak grey color of death and there's explosions everywhere and Clive Owen is a superhero and women can't have babies anymore the reality of another long, cold winter is starting to settle in on everyone's face. Except for mine. I'm heading south in a week, where the eighty degree weather and regular sun is offset only by a loveable, astounding ignorance found only in rural parts of The South. But that's the future, and right now I need to amass more winter photos to even out my portfolio. The objective? West Fork Falls. Obstacles? Getting out of bed before noon and rain clouds. I've defeated the former Read more [...]

A Series of Tubes

DVD Burners are a luxury item. You can still buy VHS at Best Buy. MiniDV cameras are $5,000 and compete mainly with Hi8 and 8mm. Windows XP is new and exciting. Four megapixel digital cameras are top-of-the-line. Online interaction is done largely through forums and chat applications. YouTube is a fantasy. Streaming video usually comes in the form of RealPlayer files and looks like a small mess of pixels changing shades, forming a vaguely recognizable moving picture. It takes hours to download a 40 megabyte file. Welcome to 2002. This was the state of things when I started making movies, beginning with a trilogy about a war set in modern-day Korea (a post in itself), which we shot over the course of a year on a 2.2 megapixel camera with 352x240 video resolution because, well, we didn't Read more [...]

Horror and the Spectator (part 2)

[Please review the introduction in Part I for context] ...Graphic violence and brutality are not at all the only means that horror filmmakers use to manipulate the spectator’s senses. On the contrary, an equally popular trend takes the complete opposite road: A cinema of the unknown. In this mode, the film leaves much up to the viewer’s imagination; rather than show you the monster or killer slicing up their victims, the content is only implied, and the spectator’s own mind fills in the gaps. Read more [...]

Horror and the Spectator (Part 1)

During my senior year of college, I took an advanced course in Film Theory. It was the sort of class most people imagine film students taking: lots of extremely obscure films, scholarly discussion of the various philosophical, psychological, and social impacts of films, and so on. For the course final I wanted to see if I could get away with writing a fifteen page research paper on what's generally regarded as the most juvenile genre of filmmaking, and the antithesis of everything we watched in class: Horror films. Read more [...]