Friday, March 23, 2018

What We Started (2018)

A look at the world of dance music that is framed via a dual biography of veteran DJ Carl Cox who has been spinning for decades and 18 year old  Martin Garrix who has just broken through and is now head lining various festivals.

How you feel about WHAT WE STARTED is going to be determined by how into the music you are. It is a good but basic overview of the history of the music, from pre-disco days on through the modern era,  the film stall because there is a lack of context that makes the film drift away. Lots of names are mentioned over the course of the film but there is an assumption we know who everyone is and what certain clubs and festivals are.. Yes  the whole history of the genre is here but it is in a kind of vacuum. As some one who likes the music but has no real sense of the history a great deal was lost because I had no idea what they were talking about.

Another problem is that the dual stories of Cox and Garrix, while interesting and enlightening, but they are simply not enough to support 100 minutes of screen time. Yes they are both likable,  but there just isn't enough here to be the focus of a feature.

Not having enough here is also the biggest problem with the film visually. Largely a mix of talking heads and  sequences watching people dance and DJs spin there is a point where it simply stops being interesting. The lack of compelling visuals is some thing other dance music docs have encountered  but the ones I saw always managed to hide it in other ways such as one on the Electric Daisy Carnival showing us a lot of flash from the festival or another on DJ Steve Aoki  focusing on his life outside of spinning. Here we are very much focused on the people and while its intellectually interesting, it probably could have been an audio documentary.

What does make the film interesting is the music.  Its a wall to wall mix of various beats. Watching the film with headphones I found I was constantly in motion as the music moved my head and body.

While not a bad film this is just not a really interesting one.

WHAT WE STARTED premiered at ULTRA Music Festival last night and is now in theaters.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Revenge (2018) plays Saturday the Boston Underground Film Festival

JB saw REVENGE when it played at Sundance. With the film playing this weekend at Boston Underground I'm reposting his review.

This country wouldn’t be so violent, if we could just keep out the French. That seems to be the clear take-away from this new vengeance horror-thriller. The director happens to be French too, but she is also a woman—an inescapable fact that gives her a different perspective on the brutality of the New French Extremity movement and the grindhouse tradition of the rape-revenge thriller. Jen, the party girl, is in for a hard time, but she will give back even more than she gets in Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge, which screens during this year’s Boston Underground Film Festival.

Jen does not mind that her French lover Richard is married—and neither does he. The important thing is he has money and the right kind of looks to be with her. It is maybe implied that he and his frog hunting buddies work for some sort of merc contractor, but details are kept deliberately vague. Regardless, Richard, Stanley, and Dimitri certainly seem to be comfortable with guns. The latter two were supposed to arrive after Jen had already left the isolated desert vacation home, but Jen is a good sport when they show up early. Unfortunately, Stanley takes her flirtiness as sufficient grounds to rape her during Richard’s absence. When he returns, he is quite disappointed by the state of affairs, but when Jen rebuffs his hush money he decides to kill her instead.

Usually, getting pushed off a cliff and impaled on a jagged tree trunk is enough to kill most people, but not Jen. Despite her hard-partying ways, she instinctively adapts to the hunter-prey cat-and-mouse game. She also discovers the healing power of peyote. Frankly, her epic cauterizing scene has some logical potholes (kids, do not try this at home), but you have to give the film an “A” for effort. However, Revenge really locks in during Jen’s big showdown with Richard, back at the ranch. Let’s just say Fargeat fully capitalizes on the sticky, slippery nature of blood (when it flows and pools).

It is a simple title, but that is what Revenge is all about. Matilda Lutz handles Jen’s transformation from sex kitten to spiritual vengeance warrior as convincingly as anyone could. Kevin Janssens does a similarly credible job with Richard’s evolution from loverboy to stone cold man-hunter. Vincent Colombe basically makes us hate Stanley more and more, taking him from callous attacker to sniveling cowards, but he is certainly effective.

So, where can we build a wall to keep the French out? As this grindhouse subgenre goes, Revenge is about as brutal as it gets, while still preserving the cathartic satisfaction of the payback. Granted, it is a small body of work to judge from, but Revenge still represents a radical departure from Fargeat’s previous work, the relationship-driven science fiction short film, Reality+. Nevertheless, she clearly knows what she is doing. Along with cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert, she clearly evokes the look and spirit of “classic” exploitation cinema. Even more intense than Cravioto’s Bound to Vengeance (a.k.a. Reversal), Revenge is recommended for hearty viewers who can handle its graphic extremes, when it screens Saturday at the 2018 Boston Underground Film Festival.

Woman, Warrior, Saint: Joan of Arc Onscreen April 6-12 at the Quad

In anticipation of Bruno Dumont's Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, opening exclusively at the Quad April 13, we survey onscreen depictions of this enduring historical figure from Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc to Rossellini's Joan of Arc at the Stake to—yes—Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

For more than six centuries, Joan of Arc has stood out among women in the historical record. Throughout the last century of cinema, she has been brought to the screen multiple times; her larger-than-life story would seem almost tailor-made for the movies, what with its humble beginnings, triumphant middle, and martyred end. Her lifespan was a mere 19 years and yet any telling of her story yields fascinating disparities, largely because she defied definition. The latest filmmaker to explore Joan’s life is countrymen Bruno Dumont; his musical drama Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, starring Lise Leplat Prudhomme, opens at the Quad on April 13th. To complement his take on Joan, we present a range of depictions, many with celebrated directors guiding stellar actresses through individualized interpretations of the icon. While Joan may forever loom too large for a definitive cinematic statement, these films all enhance an appreciation—and the eternal resonance—of her legend.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure Stephen Herek, 1989, U.S., 90m, 35mm
Joan of Arc at the Stake Roberto Rossellini, 1954, It/France, 80m, 35mm
Joan the Maid: The Battles Jacques Rivette, 1994, France, 160m, 35mm
Joan the Maid: The Prisons Jacques Rivette, 1994, France, 176m, 35mm
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc Luc Besson, 1999, France/Czech Republic, 148m, 35mm
The Passion of Joan of Arc Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928, France, 88m, DCP
Saint Joan Otto Preminger, 1957, U.S./UK, 110m, 35mm
The Trial of Joan of Arc Robert Bresson, 1962, France, 65m, 35mm

Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc

Opens Fri April 13—Exclusive New York engagement

Bruno Dumont, France, 105m, DCP
Joining the ranks of several renowned filmmakers to tackle the story of Joan of Arc, Bruno Dumont (director of Quad premiere Slack Bay) opts to focus on Joan’s adolescence—with a wild stylistic twist. No stodgy historical biopic, Jeannette takes the form of a heavy metal musical to tell the story of the famed young 15th-century shepherdess encountering her destiny. The result is a true tour de force, one of the most original cinematic visions in years. A KimStim release

Official Selection: Directors Fortnight, Cannes

“Visionary.” —The New Yorker

The Theta Girl (2017) Boston Underground Film Festival 2018

Wild retro throw back to some of the weird low budget exploitation films of the 1970's and 80's is about Gayce, a young tough as nails woman who deals the drug theta, which opens a doorway to another dimension. When a her friends are murdered by a bunch of the theta dosed crazies Gayce has to track down the killer and get revenge.

There is more to it than that but that is enough to get you started and not spoil anything this wild and crazy film has to offer. Filled with sex and violence and heady ideas THE THETA GIRL is the sort of film we haven't seen in decades, certainly not since the waning days of the drive-ins when filmmakers turned out some pretty weird and wild films. Based on the jolt of adrenaline that this film provides it's clear this sort of madness has been sorely missed.

This is a crazed film  where anything is possible. Reality is upended and a new one is substituted. Its a wild ride.

Perfectly capturing the look and feel of earlier films THE THETA GIRL carves out it's own niche by upping the ante with even more sex and violence than we would have seen in the films it clearly loves so much. This is a kind of perfect distillation of the exploitation genre that would have been a cult classic back in the day...and is destined to be one in today.

I desperately want to talk about the things that happen in the film but at the same time I want you to be as blindsided as I was. As good as this film is going to be on repeated viewings I don't want to take away the joy of discovering the film's wonderful delights.

This is one of my favorite (and possibly one of the verybest) films of 2018.

Very highly recommended to genre fans or anyone who wants to see a great film.

THE THETA GIRL plays Thursday night at the Boston Underground Film Festival.

Scenes from the Anthropocene (2017) Queens World Film Festival 2018

Peter Ward talks about mass extinction and global warming over hypnotic images shot at the Bronx Zoo and The American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Experimental in the extreme this is a film whose visuals are either going to delight you or make you sick. The twisting turning 3D like images  over whelmed me  and gave me a headache. (See the image above? Imagine that spinning and turning and drifting across the screen for 15 minutes)

At the same time the message expressed by Ward that global warming is spiraling us toward a mass extinction is frightening, especially since he clearly explains why the extinctions happened in the past.  I was moved my his words while being pummeled by the films images.

I'm truly uncertain what I think about the film or if I recommend it to anyone other than those ho want a real head trip. (Woe to any film that follows it)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Information on the Port Jefferson Documentary Series April 30th screening of Mole Man

DATE/TIME: Monday, April 30, 2018 @ 7PM
 LOCATION: Long Island Museum 1200 Rt. 25A, Stony Brook, NY
TICKET PRICES: $7.00 general admission, tickets at the door (No Credit Cards)

MOLE MAN Directed by Guy Fiorita,
Mole Man is the story of Outside Architect Ron Heist. Ron is a 66-year-old autistic man who built a 50-room structure solely of scrap materials, on the land behind his parent’s home in Western Pennsylvania. His home was built without the use of nails or mortar. Ron’s home keeps on expanding, as he collects, classifies and displays objects from a deserted cluster of homes in the woods. When we meet him, Ron is living with his aging parents. In an effort to keep him in his home, Ron’s friends team up in search of a mystical mansion that Ron insists lays abandoned in the forest. Mole Man examines the interplay between autism and creativity. Ron, with idiosyncrasies and an eagerness to talk about them, is an ardent archivist of work that loved ones and caregivers consider odd but not necessarily important. This is the story of an extraordinary life, a family, and the beauty of thinking differently

Sponsored by the Greater Port Jefferson/ Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, the Port Jefferson Documentary Series brings directors, producers or stars of each film into the theater for an up-close and personal question-and-answer session.
Our guest speaker will be the director, Guy Fiorita.

Running Time: 85 Minutes; Year: 2017;
Country: USA;
Language: English, Rated G

PORT JEFFERSON DOCUMENTARY SERIES ( is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by the Suffolk County Office of Film and Cultural Affairs, Steve Bellone,County Executive

One of 2017's very best films TOP KNOT DETECTIVE plays Boston Underground this weekend

Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce's mockumentary TOP KNOT DETECTIVE is one of the coolest films of the year. A dead on perfect send up of the type of crazy shows that filter out of Japan that leave audiences scratching their heads and giddy with delight.

The premise of the film is that in the 1990's there was a Japanese TV show called TOP KNOT DETECTIVE that lasted one season. The show started out as a more or less straightforward samurai/detective show made by a singer who didn't know how to make films and it morphed into weirdness not long before a series of odd and tragic events stopped production. The show then disappeared and only exists in VHS copies that were made when the show aired in Australia.

Owing to the weirdness of some TV shows from Japan it is entirely possible that if you didn't know that the film was a joke that you would think it was real. Nothing we see in the clips from the show from dancing girls, a Kamen Rider like character, splurting blood or just the general arch acting would make you think it wasn't real. Everything looks right even the VHS clips (which apparently come from ful episodes that were shot by the directors in Japan).

Everything come together and as a result the film is screamingly funny. This is the sort of film where the more you know of what is being sent up the funnier it is. In all seriousness this film spoofs or kids pretty much everything you can think of relating to Japanese culture and ow it's perceived by non-Japanese which results in a steady stream of laughs.

Most amazingly the film is so well done that the film can be seen as not really being funny simply because it gets everything so right that you're tempted to take it all straight.

I loved this film a great deal. I loved it so much I wish I had seen the film at something like the New York Asian Film Festival where the place would have been full of people on the right wavelength to get the film.

If you are a fan of Japanese genre films or TV the film is a must...and its a must even if you just like well done comedies.

Destined for cult status TOP KNOT DETECTIVE is highly recommended.

TOP KNOT DETECTIVE plays March 24th at the Boston Underground Film Festival

Timmy Slays the Talent Show (2017) QWFF 2018

Adam Vincent Wright's TIMMY SLAYS THE TALENT SHOW is a charming little cinematic message to kids struggling with their identities and sexual orientation and a damn fine film beyond that.

Timmy's is not "man" enough for his soon to be step-dad who takes great pains to tell him that once he marries Tim's mom he will make sure he grows up to be a real man and make sure he isn't queer.  When Tim performs at the local talent contest and wins over the audience the step-father is horrified.

Lovely story about being yourself and finding acceptance is a little shot of hope for kids who are just trying to be themselves. While to be certain that not all kids will have a mom as wonderful as Timmy, the film's hopeful message could also be seen to say that there are people out there who will love and support you for who you really are.

Message aside what makes TIMMY SLAYS THE TALENT SHOW something special is it is just a good film. You can't help but like everyone except the stepfather which not only helps gets the message across it endears the film to us as well. Well done from top to bottom it is a film that will just make you smile. This is good time with good people. We can't ask for more than that.

Very recommended.

TIMMY SLAYS THE TALENT SHOW played at Queens World Film Festival on March 16th. The film is playing at JDIFF next month 

Something in the Darkness (2016) Queens World Film Festival

A truly scary horror film that doesn't punk out at the end concerns a little girl who is afraid of the dark and what happens when her parents go out for the night.

Chilling film ponders being alone in bed at night when the lights go out and there is something in the darkness. Its a beautiful marriage of images, music performances and things that go bump that creates genuine suspense, real terror and a great ending.

This just might keep you up at night, especially if its the last thing you see before going to bed. It is going to leave you ill at ease and nervous. Quite an achievement in these days where jump scares are the be all and end all of most horror film directors cleverness.

Highly recommended.

SOMETHING IN THE DARKNESS plays Friday March 23 at the Queens World Film Festival. For more information and tickets go here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

QWFF ’18: Open Land—Meeting John Abercrombie

Like many guitar players, John Abercrombie often led an organ trio, but his music was more contemplative than typically greasy soul jazz. Probably no other guitarist has had as long and successful relationship with Manfred Eicher’s ECM record label, but he still swung. In short, he was a true jazz original. The late, great guitar hero takes stock of his life and career in Arno Oehri’s documentary Open Land—Meeting John Abercrombie, which screens during this year’s Queens World Film Festival.

Open Lands opens with Abercrombie’s “Sad Song” playing over atmospheric scenes of Midtown Manhattan by night. As far as the musician’s fans are concerned, the film could go on like this forever, but Oehri soon shifts, introducing us to Abercrombie’s comfortable home. This is actually quite significant in retrospect, because the musician will later discuss in length the experience of being almost completely wiped out when his house burned down a few short years prior.

Abercrombie leads Oehri on a trip down memory lane, revisiting the nearby neighborhood of his pleasant, lower middle-class youth. He discusses his early musical experiences, but the highlight of the film is his vivid recollection of recording “Timeless,” his “greatest hit.” In doing so, he expresses great love and respect for Eicher and ECM (which is indeed an extraordinarily well-run artist-focused company).

Along the way, we also hear a good deal from Abercrombie’s last regular drummer and organist, Adam Nussbaum and Gary Versace, who are thoughtful when it comes to music and warmly affectionate when it comes to Abercrombie. Of course, the best part is listening to them play. Hats off to Oehri and co-producer Oliver Primus, because they totally got it. Unlike so many documentaries about musicians that lack confidence in their subjects to hold viewer interest, they include a full trio performance, with unedited solos from all trio members. It sounds terrific.

Obviously, Open Land takes on unexpectedly bittersweet dimensions since Abercrombie passed away last year (a few months after releasing his final ECM recording, Up and Coming). Yet, there are never any uncomfortable moments in the documentary, because Abercrombie always looks like he is in good health and good spirits.

In fact, this film is quite a blessing, documenting Abercrombie at the height of his powers, for posterity. Throughout the film, Oehri shows a clear affinity for the ECM aesthetic, often approximating the distant vistas of their album cover art, while sampling Abercrombie’s considerable recorded archive. All in all, it is an excellent tribute to a great artist. Let’s put it this way—it is worth venturing all the way to Queens to see it. Very highly recommended, Open Land—Meeting John Abercrombie screens this Friday (3/23) at the 2018 QWFF.

Come and Play (2018) Queens World Film Festival 2018

Haunting film has a young boy going off to the park before dinner and having his fantasies of playing soldier become real.

Trippy surreal and disturbing film blurs our notions of what is real and what isn’t. Forcing a rethink of the childhood games we play we now see what the real outcome would be. It’s a jarring experience that sucks us in and alters how we see reality.

Gorgeously shot in black and white the film has a timeless quality. Part of the timelessness of it is the blending of war footage with the modern war images. We are connected to our war filled past in ways that we could never be if the film was shot in color. The images stay with you and envelope you. My memory of the film is a series of stark images of the growing horror.

While the film is probably a tad too long at 30 minutes COME AND PLAY is still a film of great power- more so if screened huge where you can’t get away from its images



Touring retrospective originates in New York before continuing to more than nine cities 

“Trnka—the name is the sum of childhood and poetry.” —Jean Cocteau

A Midsummer Night's Dream, courtesy Czech National Film Archive 
New York, NY (March 20, 2018) – The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Comeback Company announce The Puppet Master: The Complete Jiri Trnka, the first complete U.S. retrospective of the works of Czech animation master Jiri Trnka (1912-1969), April 20-25.
Revered as the pioneer of a remarkable new genre of animation that utilized puppets, Trnka conveyed the drama and psychology of his characters through his figures’ body language, expressive lighting, and camera movement. The director’s approach to puppet film as a serious art form was borne out of the lively Czech puppet theater tradition, which helped preserve the language over centuries of Hapsburg rule when there were no Czech schools, theater, or books published in the language. Already a prolific artist, author, and beloved book illustrator in his country, Trnka made films that had enormous impact on the development of Czech animation, and he inspired the careers of generations of filmmakers and animators around the globe. 
Trnka’s body of work as a director—18 short and six feature-length animated films in total—was rivaled only by Walt Disney Studios in output and brought him international acclaim, from Cannes to Venice and beyond. With his puppet animation studio, founded in 1946, he helped lay the groundwork for Czech animation predominance alongside stop-motion animation masters Karel Zeman, Hermina Tyrlova, Jan Svankmajer, and Jiri Barta. 
This essential series will present all 24 of the artist’s films, including 11 newly translated works and the U.S. premieres of two new digital restorations: Trnka’s Venice Film Festival prize-winning first feature The Czech Year and Old Czech Legends, a breathtaking collection of Bohemian myths. The lineup also features Trnka’s Shakespeare adaptation A Midsummer Night’s Dream, narrated by Richard Burton; his subversive, absurdist, anti-authoritarian trilogy The Good Soldier Svejk; and three distinct shorts programs featuring the filmmaker’s unique early work in hand-drawn cartoons (including Cannes Film Festival prize-winning The Animals and the Brigands), his magical family-friendly works, and his later, more formally and politically defiant films (featuring his final masterpiece, The Hand, about the plight of artists toiling under the restrictions of a totalitarian government). Also included is a two-program sidebar dedicated to Jiri Brdecka, a screenwriter and animation director whose close friendship with Trnka occasioned a number of short- and feature-film collaborations. 
After originating at the Film Society in April, the series will continue on in variations to tour North America. Trnka’s films will screen at the American Cinematheque (Los Angeles, CA), George Eastman Museum (Rochester, NY), Cleveland Cinematheque/CIA (Cleveland, OH), Harvard Film Archive (Cambridge, MA), Lightbox Film Center (Philadelphia, PA), The Gene Siskel Film Center (Chicago, IL), The Cinematheque (Vancouver, BC, Canada), Cornell Cinema (Ithaca, NY), Speed Art Museum (Louisville, KY), and more to be announced. 
The touring retrospective is produced by Comeback Company, with support from the Czech Film Fund. Organized by Irena Kovarova with Florence Almozini and Tyler Wilson. Films provided by the Czech National Film Archive. 
Tickets go on sale April 6 and are $15; $12 for students, seniors (62+); $8 for kids under 12; and $10 for Film Society members. See more and save with the 3+ film discount package or All-Access Pass. Learn more at
Acknowledgments:Alex Zucker; Martina Raclavska; Marketa Santrochova, Czech Film Center; Michal Bregant, Katerina Fojtova, Tomas Zurek, Michaela Mertova, Czech National Film Archive. Special thanks to the Czech Center New York.

FILMS & DESCRIPTIONSAll screenings held at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th) unless otherwise noted
*Please note, while some films may be appropriate for children, most of Trnka’s films are for adult audiences.*

The Czech Year / Spalicek
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1947, 78m
Czech with English subtitles
Trnka established his reputation as a world-renowned master of puppet animation with his Venice prize-winning first feature, a kinetic visual symphony bursting with music and dance that celebrates the customs and folklore of the Czech people. Composed of six short episodes—the last of which, Bethlehem, was Trnka’s first-ever attempt at puppet animation—it traces one year in a country village through the town’s traditions, from springtime festivities to feasts to fairs to Christmas-night rituals. Trnka’s extraordinary puppet work is a marvel to behold in this new digital restoration by the Czech National Film Archive, but equally impressive is his mastery of the cinematic language, with rhythmic montage editing and swooping camera movements creating a whirling dervish sense of dynamism. U.S. Premiere of the new digital restoration.
Friday, April 20, 6:30pm (Introduction by Irena Kovarova)
Sunday, April 22, 8:30pm 

The Emperor’s Nightingale / Cisaruv slavik
Jiri Trnka & Milos Makovec, Czechoslovakia, 1948, 35mm, 72m
No dialogue
Trnka’s adaptation of a classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale is an enchanting animated jewel box. Framed by live-action sequences—about a lonely boy shut away from fun and play—the story unfolds as a child’s dream vision, a tale of illusion versus reality in which a Chinese emperor is ensorcelled first by the song of a nightingale, then by its mechanical replica. Working in a rich red, green, and gold visual palette, Trnka conjures a hallucinatory storybook world of moonlit bamboo forests, softly glowing Chinese lanterns, and bursting fireworks displays all set to a gorgeous, rhapsodic score by his key collaborator, Vaclav Trojan. 
Preceded by:
The Devil's Mill / Certuv mlyn
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1949, 20m
No dialogue 
A barrel organ grinder meets the devil on a mysterious moonlit night in this haunted-house fable, which showcases Trnka’s atmospheric use of sound to conjure a macabre mood. Saturday, April 21, 2:30pm (Introduction by Irena Kovarova)
Wednesday, April 25, 4:30pm 

Bayaya / Bajaja
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1950, 75m
Czech with English subtitles
Based on a pair of Czech fables, this rousing, medieval-set adventure charts the exploits of a young peasant whose dead mother returns in the form of a white horse, whisking him away on a quest to free her soul from purgatory and save three princesses from a host of hydra-headed dragons. Balancing moments of atmospheric lyricism with vigorous action sequences, the third feature-length collaboration between Trnka and composer Vaclav Trojan—who contributes a stirring, cantata-like score set to text by Surrealist writer Vitezslav Nezval—confirms the pair to be a creative partnership as fruitful as Eisenstein and Prokofiev or Hitchcock and Herrmann.
Preceded by: Song of the Prairie / Arie prerie
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1949, 20m
No dialogue
One of Trnka’s most delightfully silly efforts is a slapstick spoof of John Ford’s Stagecoach and Hollywood singing-cowboy Westerns based on a popular novel by Jiri Brdecka, who would later direct his own adaptation, the cult favorite Lemonade Joe (screening in the Brdecka sidebar).
Sunday, April 22, 2:30pm (Introduction by Irena Kovarova)
Tuesday, April 24, 4:30pm 

Old Czech Legends / Stare povesti ceske
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1952, 91m
Czech with English subtitles
A treasure trove of Bohemian myths are brought to life by Trnka’s magical puppet work in this folkloric hymn to the Czech land, history, and people newly restored by Czech National Film Archive. Based on a tome by the “Czech Sir Walter Scott” Alois Jirasek and the medieval chronicle of Cosmas, it illustrates seven fabled historical episodes, including the settling of an Edenic ancient Bohemia, the tale of an all-female revolt led by a cast-out princess, and the legend of a weak-willed king whose passion for gold nearly destroys his kingdom. It all culminates in a breathtaking climactic battle sequence—a tour de force of editing, music, and stop-motion (employing more than 70 figurines) that plays like puppet Kurosawa.
U.S. Premiere of the new digital restoration.
Friday, April 20, 4:00pm
Saturday, April 21, 9:30pm (Introduction by Irena Kovarova) 

The Good Soldier Svejk, Parts I-III / Osudy dobreho vojaka Svejka I.-III.
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1954, 74m
Czech with English subtitles
Adapted from the scathingly funny, hugely influential anti-war classic by anarchist writer Jaroslav Hasek, this three-part satirical farce charts the exploits of the eponymous World War I infantryman, whose antic misadventures continually frustrate his commanding officers—and reveal the absurdity of the entire conflict. Basing his designs on the novel’s original, celebrated illustrations by Josef Lada, Trnka mixes his trademark puppetry with striking cutout-animation sequences to accompany the droll, rambling tales that Svejk spins. The result is a subversive anti-authoritarian statement that captures the novel’s biting wit and irreverent spirit. 
Preceded by: The Two Frosts/ Dva mrazici
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1954, 12m
Czech with English subtitles
Two mischievous frost spirits—voiced by famed comedian Vlasta Burian and author, popular actor, and satirist Jan Werich—make things chilly for a pair of travelers in this wintry comic folktale.
Friday, April 20, 2:00pm
Sunday, April 22, 4:30pm (Introduction by Irena Kovarova) 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream / Sen noci svatojanske Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1959, 35mm, 72m English version Richard Burton narrates this bewitching adaptation of Shakespeare’s romantic fairy tale, in which the love lives of mortals and forest sprites mingle during one magical moonlit evening. In his final feature—also the first CinemaScope film made in Czechoslovakia—Trnka deploys the full force of his imagination and technical wizardry to evoke the story’s enchanted-woodlands setting, a garlanded, pastel dreamscape awash in starry-night atmosphere, colorful festoons of flowers, and exquisitely wrought fantasy creatures. The graceful puppetry combined with the Vaclav Trojan score and voiceover work by Burton and members of the Royal Shakespeare Company yields a masterpiece of surpassing, balletic beauty. 
Preceded by:
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1958, 10m
Czech with English subtitles
Commissioned by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (which considered Disney for the assignment before settling on Trnka), this cartoon short employs strikingly simple animation to make the case that all of humanity is enriched when we tear down the walls that separate us.
Saturday, April 21, 7:30pm (Q&A with Tereza Brdeckova, film writer and daughter of Jiri Brdecka)
*Pre-screening reception open to all ticket holders, with beer courtesy of the Czech Center New York.
Wednesday, April 25, 6:30pm

Shorts Program 1: A Star from the Start TRT: 74m
Trnka proved himself to be a master animator from the very beginning, as evidenced by the formally inventive, wittily offbeat works in this program, which includes the filmmaker’s earliest experiments in the art form: hand-drawn cartoons that play like a distinctly Czech anti-Disney, a modernist tour de force of surrealist invention, and a rapturously beautiful puppet adaptation of Chekhov. 
Grandpa Planted a Beet / Zasadil dedek repu
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1945, 10m
No dialogue
A farmer finds himself with an unusually fertile bumper crop on his hands in Trnka’s first film, a charming hand-drawn adaptation of a Czech fairy tale that announced the director as an animation talent to rival Disney. The program also serves as a survey of animation techniques employed by the artist throughout his career. 
The Animals and the Brigands / Zviratka a petrovsti
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1946, 8m
Czech with English subtitles
A rooster, a cat, and a goat meet a trio of ignoble characters deep in a night-shrouded forest in this hand-illustrated, Cannes prize-winning folktale, which showcases Trnka’s gift for evoking light and shadow. 
Springman and the SS / Perak a SS
Jiri Brdecka & Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1946, 35mm, 13m
No dialogue
Trnka combines 2-D and collage animation to striking effect in this zanily offbeat, anti-Nazi lampoon, which crosses Max Fleischer–like absurdism with a biting satirical edge. His first collaboration with Jiri Brdecka. 
The Gift / Darek
Jiri Trnka & Jiri Krejcik, Czechoslovakia, 1946, 15m
Czech with English subtitles
Trnka reached new heights of modernist abstraction with this innovative, surrealist mini-masterwork, which critic Jean-Pierre Coursodon praised as the Citizen Kane of animation.
Romance with Double Bass / Roman s basou
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1949, 13m
Czech with English subtitles
This dreamily beautiful puppet work adapts a short story by Chekhov into a magical, moonlit reverie about a musician, a princess, and a chance encounter while night-swimming.
The Golden Fish / O zlate rybceJiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1951, 15m Czech with English subtitlesTrnka returned to 2-D animation for this wryly humorous fairy tale—written and narrated by legendary Czech actor Jan Werich—about a man whose problems only multiply when he catches a wish-granting fish. Friday, April 20, 8:15pm (Introduction by Irena Kovarova)
Tuesday, April 24, 8:30pm 

Shorts Program 2: Tales and CollaborationsTRT: 93m
Silly circuses, classic fairy tales, and toy trains come to life through magical stop-motion, puppet, and hand-drawn animation in these charming, family-friendly shorts that showcase Trnka’s fruitful collaborations with fellow artists, animators, and puppeteers.
Merry Circus / Vesely cirkus Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1951, 35mm, 12m
No dialogue
Trnka brings to life a surrealist circus of tightrope-walking fish, musical monkeys, balancing bears, and high-flying acrobatics in this whimsical feat of cutout animation made in collaboration with leading Czech painters of the era.  
The Gingerbread House / Pernikova chaloupka
Bretislav Pojar, Czechoslovakia, 1951, 35mm, 18m
No dialogue
The Czech version of Hansel and Gretel receives a captivating, puppet-animated adaptation, featuring striking—and fittingly macabre—storybook imagery designed by Trnka and direction by his close colleague and animation heir, Bretislav Pojar.

How the Old Man Traded It All Away / Jak starecek menil, az vymenil
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1953, 9m
Czech with English subtitles
Folk art–like hand-drawn stills illustrate this sweetly simple pastoral fable, in which a peasant comes into possession of a small fortune—but realizes there are treasures greater than gold.
Kutasek and Kutilka / Kutasek a Kutilka jak rano vstavali
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1954, 18m
Czech with English subtitles
ow do you wake up a sleeping puppet? Made by Trnka in collaboration with actor and puppeteer Josef Pehr, this winsome mix of live action and puppet play is enchanting entertainment for the youngest of viewers.
The Midnight Adventure / Pulnocni prihoda
Bretislav Pojar, Czechoslovakia, 1960, 13m
No dialogue
An old woodblock train meets its shiny new electric replacement one Christmas Eve in this glowingly nostalgic stop-motion toy story, directed by Bretislav Pojar and featuring gorgeous design by Trnka.
Circus Hurvinek / Cirkus Hurvinek Jiri Trnka & Stanislav Latal, Czechoslovakia, 1955, 23m Czech with English subtitles Trnka pays homage to two of Czechoslovakia’s most beloved characters—Spejbl and the mischievous Hurvinek, a father and son duo created by Trnka’s puppeteer mentor, Josef Skupa—in this imaginative tale of a young boy who dreams of being part of the circus.
Saturday, April 21, 12:30pm (Introduction by Irena Kovarova) Sunday, April 22, 12:30pm

Shorts Program 3: Mature Mastery TRT: 84m
In the 1960s, at the height of his artistic powers, Trnka turned to increasingly dark, surreal, satirical, and politically defiant subject matter. The result was a string of visually innovative, modernist masterpieces that encompass dystopian science fiction, religious parody, and, in his final crowning achievement, an impassioned protest against state censorship. 
Passion / Vasen
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1962, 9m

No dialogue
A boy’s need for speed causes problems throughout his life in this triumph of modernist design, which blends puppet, stop-motion, collage, and cutout animation with a gothic humor and Pop Art–like visual design. 
Cybernetic Grandma / Kyberneticka babicka
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1962, 28m
Czech with English subtitles
Trnka took a turn into Space Age sci-fi surrealism with this dark, dystopian satire on automatization in which a child traverses a forbidding technological wasteland to meet (surprise!) her uncanny new robotic grandmother.
Archangel Gabriel and Mistress Goose / Archandel Gabriel a pani Husa
Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1964, 29m
No dialogue
Adapted from a story in Boccaccio’s Decameron, this irreverent, medieval-set lampoon of religious hypocrisy mixes Christian iconography with bawdy black humor to tell the tale of a lusty Venetian monk who assumes the guise of the angel Gabriel to seduce a married woman.  
The Hand / RukaJiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1965, 35mm, 18m
No dialogue
Trnka’s final work is a powerful, deeply personal allegory about the plight of the artist toiling under the restrictions of a totalitarian government. The story of a simple sculptor who is menaced by a giant, disembodied hand that forces him to bend to its will, it was banned by the Communist censors for two decades—but has since taken its place as an acknowledged masterpiece of animation.
Sunday, April 22, 6:30pm (Introduction by Irena Kovarova) Wednesday, April 25, 8:30pm

Tribute to Jiri Brdecka Along with Trnka, Jiri Brdecka (1917-1982) was one of the founders of Czech animation, who explored its potential as a serious art form as early as the 1940s. Even though he’s best-remembered and revered abroad for his short animated works as a director, Brdecka wrote many screenplays for others’ films, both animated and live action, including the remarkable and immensely popular Western parody Lemonade Joe (1964), based on his eponymous novel. He penned original ideas, scripts, and dialogues for renowned directors such as Martin Fric (The Emperor’s BakerThe Baker’s Emperor), Oldrich Lipsky, Jiri Weiss, Karel Zeman (The Fabulous Baron Munchausen), Vojtech Jasny (Cassandra Cat), and Vera Chytilova (The Very Late Afternoon of a Faun, based on his book of the same name). But his longest-lasting collaboration was with Jiri Trnka, having co-written four of Trnka’s animated shorts and three of his feature-length puppet animated films. This program is a companion to the complete Trnka retrospective, held in homage to their creative partnership and close friendship.
Program organized by Limonadovy Joe s.r.o. in partnership with Czech Centres. Films courtesy of the Czech National Film Archive, Kratky Film Praha a.s., and Rembrandt Films. Thanks to Irena Kovarova/Comeback Company 
Lemonade Joe / Limonadovy Joe aneb Konska operaOldrich Lipsky, Czechoslovakia, 1964, 99m
Czech with English subtitles
This relentless and hilarious musical send-up of the American Western written by Brdecka is one of the most popular works in Czech film history. Lemonade Joe follows a soft drink–swigging gunfighter as he tries to steer the sinful residents of Arizona’s Stetson City away from alcohol and toward the health benefits offered in Kolaloka (a parody of Coca-Cola). The satire was adapted from versions of the character created by Brdecka across various media, including print, radio, and the theater. The visual gags are reminiscent both of the 1920s American silent slapstick and the colorful era of the swinging ’60s, including its inspired music and songs (the full title in Czech calls it a Horse Opera). Based on the same source, Jiri Trnka made the short puppet film Song of the Prairie (1949), showing in his retrospective with the feature Bayaya.
Tuesday, April 24, 6:30pm (Introduction by Irena Kovarova) 

Shorts Program: Jiri Brdecka’s Animated ShortsThis program of nine animated shorts by Brdecka spans his entire directing career and showcases his wealth of collaborations with important Czech artists and animators, such as Jiri Trnka and Eva Svankmajerova. From comedy to musical, tragedy, and even horror, the short films here, each designed by a different artist, have it all, even receiving acclaim in the West: Brdecka won the Grand Prix at Annecy International Animation Festival for his film Gallina Vogelbirdae (1963). TRT: 100m 
Springman and the SS / Perak a SSJiri Brdecka & Jiri Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1946, 14mNo dialogue 
Reason and Emotion / Rozum a citJiri Brdecka, Czechoslovakia, 1962, 15mNo dialogue
The Frozen Logger / Zmrzly drevarJiri Brdecka, Czechoslovakia, 1962, 5mIn English
Gallina Vogelbirdae / Spatne namalovana slepiceJiri Brdecka, Czechoslovakia, 1963, 14mNo dialogue 
The Letter M / Slovce MJiri Brdecka, Czechoslovakia, 1964, 9mCzech with English subtitles
Forester’s Song / Do lesicka na cekanouJiri Brdecka, Czechoslovakia, 1966, 10mCzech with English subtitles 
Metamorpheus / MetamorfeusJiri Brdecka, Czechoslovakia, 1969, 13mLatin and Czech with English subtitles 
There Was a Miller on a River / Jsouc na rece mlynar jedenJiri Brdecka, Czechoslovakia, 1971, 11mCzech with English subtitles
Prince Copperslick / Trinacta komnata prince MedenceJiri Brdecka, Czechoslovakia, 1980, 9mCzech with English subtitlesSaturday, April 21, 4:30pm (Introduction by Tereza Brdeckova, film writer and daughter of Jiri Brdecka) *Post-screening reception open to all ticket holders, with beer courtesy of the Czech Center New York.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center is devoted to supporting the art and elevating the craft of cinema. The only branch of the world-renowned arts complex Lincoln Center to shine a light on the everlasting yet evolving importance of the moving image, this nonprofit organization was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international film. Via year-round programming and discussions; its annual New York Film Festival; and its publications, including Film Comment, the U.S.’s premier magazine about films and film culture, the Film Society endeavors to make the discussion and appreciation of cinema accessible to a broader audience, as well as to ensure that it will remain an essential art form for years to come.
Special Thanks to NYLO NYC. 
The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from Shutterstock, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. American Airlines is the Official Airline of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. For more information, visit and follow @filmlinc on Twitter.
Based in New York, Comeback Company was founded by producer and independent film programmer Irena Kovarova. Having worked in repertory cinema since 2004, Irena founded the company in 2013 to further expand her film projects. Among major programs produced by the company are a retrospective of Czech director Jan Nemec’s 50 year career (in 2014), and a touring retrospective of Academy Award nominated director Ruben Ostlund (in 2014-15), which both toured over 15 cities in North America and screened in New York City. Another program was a retrospective of Kelly Reichardt films touring through 5 countries in Central Europe in 2016; For details, visit

Ishmael's Ghosts (2017) opens Friday

With ISHMAEL'S GHOSTS opening this week here is a repost of my review from last year's New York Film Festival

Arnaud Desplechin's ISMAEL'S GHOSTS confused the audience I saw the film with. It wasn't that the film was bad it's just that it leaves so much out we didn't know what to think.

The plot of the film has writer Ishmael going through his paces some 21 years after his wife disappeared. He is happy with his new love and he frequently commiserates with his father in law about their shared loss. Then one day his wife returns throwing everyone's life into utter turmoil.

Beautifully made and perfectly acted film is like watching the best and most dramatic sequences from a drama which unfortunately never connects the scenes together. Huge portions of backstory are missing. While this was Desplechin's intention, at the post screening Q&A he said it's moments in Ismails life, it makes for a bumpy viewing experience since the moments at so close together as to kind of form a conventional drama.

The cast headed by Mathieu Amalric, Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg are sterling and are so good that you largely forgive the flaws and just ride the wave of excellent acting.

I really liked the film a great deal, as did many of the confused people around me at the festival. However we all just wished that the film tied it all together enough that we loved the film instead of liked it.

(The difference between the Director's Cut and Theatrical release according to the director is that the director's cut contains the trip to Israel and the Theatrical doesn't)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Liquid Sky (1982) Boston Underground Film Festival 2018

LIQUID SKY has been restored in 4K and is playing this weekend at the Boston Underground Film Festival, The punk science fiction film was a key film for many people I know since it broadened many people’s definition as to what science fiction was.

The plot of the film has a tiny alien space ship land o the roof of an apartment building in NYC. The aliens then begin to feed off the lovers of one of the women living in the building because the need the energy released at orgasm. A scientist begins to study the aliens. Strange things happen.

Weird science fiction films is in some ways less a science fiction film than an odd ball drama. The film is inde in the extreme, a fact which confused many people who discovered it on home video in the heyday of VHS tapes. What is this film that has aliens but isn’t like STAR WARS? Many people didn’t know. They didn’t know what the film was trying to do, just as they didn’t get THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH.

Way back in my days running a video store LIQUID SKY was a frequent renter especially on the weekend when groups of teenagers would take the film out to watch this weird little film that had warped the brains of their friends. The reaction when the film came back was always mixed, with some people loving it’s off beat aesthetic, especially for mainstream cinema of the 1980’s and others flustered by it.

My personal reaction has always been colored by the reaction of watching the film be rented for years. I love any film that shakes what anyone’s perceptions of film and story can be. As a touchstone film and the point where some people altered their thoughts on film I love LIQUID SKY. I love that the film messes with people who are unprepared for it.

On the other hand I am not a huge fan of the film itself. I never really clicked with it much. I loved the look of the film and I loved Anne Carlisle who wrote and starred in the film. But I didn’t like it. I always thought it was trying too hard and it didn’t really succeed.

As I write this I haven’t seen the film in at least 15 years. I’ve never felt the need to rewatch the film since my video store days, though I did run across it at one point and watched a portion of it and found it aged pretty good, largely I think because inde film caught up with because it was influenced by it.

Should you make an effort to see at Boston Underground or in its eventual home video release. Yes. Unequivocally yes. For better or worse LIQUID SKY is an important film for the history of science fiction. Even with my reservations about it it’s a good enough film to try. Hell I’ve talked to hundreds of people who have seen it and it always affected them in some way. Additionally the film hit home video at the right time to influence generations of filmmakers and film-goers. It was and is a film that changes minds. If you watch it and can’t see it it’s because you live in a world that was changed by its very existence. In order to understand the present and future you need to know the past. Liquid Sky is a small, but important part of cinema and science fiction history and must be seen.

LIQUID SKY plays March 21 at the Boston Underground Film Festival. It will also be getting a regular theatrical release including an engagement at the Quad Cinemas in New York Starting April 13th.

The Endless (2017) opens April 6

With THE ENDLESS opening Friday, here is a repost of my Tribeca review from last year

THE ENDLESS was a film that everyone who had seen it had warned me to be wary of. The film they said worked for most of it's running time but collapsed in the final third as things went loopy. Normally I would have taken the advice but the description as a modern take on HP Lovecraft was too much to pass up.

The plot of the film has two brothers who aren't happy and barely employed returning to the "UFO death cult" they grew up in in order to say goodbye after they are mailed a videotape message. They aren't sure what will happen when they get there but they go anyway. Once there they are welcomed which kind of surprises them. While the cult isn't happy they are forgiving, as is, it seems, their god an unknown thing living in the woods. The return to the camp begins to set the brothers against each other as one decides maybe they shouldn't have left after all.

Odd ball film makes zero sense even on it's own loopy terms. What the film says is going on makes so little sense that if you try to line it up your brain will explode. Rules are broken left and right to the point that the more you think about it the worse it seems- I could explain the basic lot to you, which would be fine, but the details are such bullshit the film implodes the more you think about it.

In a weird way I like the film. As long as I see it as a story about the two brothers I'm fine with it. The one thing the film has that works is the characters. But as soon as you see it as a horror/science fiction/fantasy film (that is no way scary) the film crumbles because it's so badly written.

To be honest everyone who hates the final third is right in doing so. While we still have characters and moments the actual explanation is, as I've said bullshit.

The choice to see this film is yours.

THE ALIENIST: Episode 9: Requiem

Running  down a clue
Not sure but you'll either scream or groan at the end of this episode because it get dark.

While Kreizler mourns and withdraws from the investigation, the rest press on. Racing against time to find their suspect they struggle to find a way to be certain they are.

The penultimate episode is a nail biter from start to finish. If you've been watching from the start you will be on the edge of your seat and talking to the TV at every turn. Nothing is being held back the series is now racing to a conclusion. The question is who will be alive when it all ends.

At this point there is nothing left to say other than everything that has gone before is now paying off big time and I can't wait to see next weeks episode.

Frankly as much as I love the book this series which is based on it has become it' own thing. Yes I know the book, but everyone involved with this series has done a sterling job and made something that stands on it's own feet. I've long ago stopped comparing the book to the series and consider both equally valid telling of the tale.

I am sorry that the series ends next week, but I'll soldier on in the hope that we get ANGEL OF DARKNESS next year.

If you haven't been watching the series I have to ask why the hell not- go binge it so you can join everyone as it all comes to a conclusion next Monday.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Nightcap 3/18/18 The Kit Film Noir Festival and Boston Underground start this week and other upcoming festivals

Buy your snacks now because there are lots of films to watch (dark glasses optional)
The truly marvelous and absolutely kickass Kit Film Noir Festival starts Wednesday and if you are in NYC you MUST go

Think of all of the great noirs in one place playing over the course of one five day period and you have the festival. Seriously  you get THE MALTESE FALCON, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, LAURA, MURDER MY SWEET and many others all playing at Columbia University.

Its so incredible that I know people who are moving into the screening room for the week.

Go to your planner, cancel all your plans for the 21st through the 25th then go to the website and look at the schedule and  say to hell with it and just buy tickets for everything.

Seriously The Kit Film Noir Festival is the best thing you can do in New York.


The Boston Underground Film Festival starts Wednesday and runs through the weekend. Its full of great films so just buy a ticket and go.

Because of embargos I can't run new reviews until the day of the screenings so don't wait for my word just buy tickets for anything you are interested in. I highly recommend THE THETA GIRL, which is a throw back to weird 1970's drive-in exploitation  and TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID which is like a Guillermo del Toro film only better.

I also recommend REVENGE and one of 2017's very best TOP KNOT DETECTIVE. I'll be reposting reviews before the fest.

Basically just go and buy tickets.


Queens World Film Festival continues this week and we'll be running more reviews. Other than one film I've loved everything that I've seen so buy some tickets and go.


The next few weeks are going to be crazy so if you're looking forward to coverage of inde and festival films this is the place to be.

New Directors New Films is coming March 28 to MOMA and Lincoln Center and we'll have a good selection of films covered.

The What The Fest March 29 to the IFC Center in Manhattan and assuming this week's nor'easter doesn't wash out the tracks we'll have some reports from the press screenings.

The Kino Festival the annual collection of German films is coming. This is one of the great festivals of the year and is a must attend. A small word of warning - where in past years we've covered the entire festival, this year our coverage will be smaller owing to the fact that we've already done a number of the films

Kazuo Miyagawa: Japan’s Greatest Cinematographer is getting a tag team retrospective at The Japan Society and MOMA  starting April 12 (with Mizoguchi's A Story From Chikamatsu and Sansho the Bailiff  at Film Forum from April 6-12.) Its a killer retrospective with most films playing in each location, however check to be sure. Thanks to JB we'll have a good selection of reviews coming.

And complicating everything is the fact that the Tribeca pre-fest screenings start so we'll be distracted from everything else as we wade into the 100 plus features and lord know how many shorts.

And on top of the festivals we'll have new release coverage (and the last two episodes of THE ALIENIST) as well.So things are going to be crazy.

Trust me when I say we have lots of stuff coming- we do.  I've spent a portion of the last three months catching up with older films you probably missed or  never heard of which I figured would allow us to coast for a bit, but we've got so much new film and festival coverage coming that I keep pushing the old stuff back with the result that if I stopped reporting today Unseen would run uinto September.

Keep reading because we're going to keep reporting

Panic Attack (2017) Queens World Film Festival 2018

Eileen O'Meara's PANIC ATTACK begins with a woman at a stop light pondering if she left the coffeemaker on and then spiral outs as she deconstructs her life.

Beautifully animated so that one metaphysical crisis blends into the next this film score huge points and more laughs by nailing how our minds work when left untethered. How we get from A to B to Z makes absolute perfect sense not so much because it does but rather we all have done exactly that.

Rarely has three minutes been so perfectly spent.

This charmer is one of the best films at Queens World Film Festival and is absolutely something you have to track down.

Fucking My Way Back Home (2018) Queens World Film Festival 2018

A man in debt to bad man is hired to drive an escort to her clients for an evening and deduce if she is skimming money from their boss. In the middle of the evening  she gets a call that her mother has died and that if she doesn't have the  $50,000 for the rent owed by her mother on her house by the next morning it will be taken away and her relatives will put her daughter into a foster home.

To be honest this is a film with a great deal going against it, beginning with a contrived plot. Not only does it have a non-family friendly title which will prevent some bookings, the film barely runs over an hour with an official running time of 70 minutes. If there was a film doomed never to be seen this is it...

...which is a shame since if you can get past the fact that the plot makes zero sense, even the most contrived soap opera would never make up the incredibly stupid reasoning to set the action in motion this is a pretty good little drama on it's own terms. Seriously the whole time frame thing makes no sense and then marry it to the "we think the person is junkie stealing money" nonsense is just too much to take.  However if you  skip the set up and then just go with it the film turn out to be something nicely off beat.

Sure there are other bumps along the way but film has some really nice moments such as Megan talking to an old man while on a date and the exchanges between the main characters that reveal character more more than just move the plot work very well. Its good enough that I could recommend this film to people with a taste for small inde films who don't mind the bumps.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Screamers (2017) Queens World Film Festival 2018

SCREAMERS is not only the title of this film but also the description of the audience watching of the film as they implore it to do something other than be a "conceptual horror film" based on Kubrick's THE SHINING. (descriptions are those on the film's IMDB page and Queens World FF page)

Slow painful and mannered in ways no Kubrick's films never were SCREAMERS is horror film made by some one who doesn't understand what a horror film is and only seems to understand obtuse performance pieces. I say this since each shot, each line of dialog is purple with meaning. Everything oozes meaning for no serious reason.What those meanings are are not on the screen, but are held by the filmmakers who refuse to reveal them to the audience.

I grew weary of the intellectually intentionally contrived nature of it all and rapidly slid off to sleep... It took me several restarts to get through the film but it wasn't worth it.

Its not so much that anyone thought making a film like this would be a good idea, rather it's more a question of who did they think we would actually want to watch it?

I can't recommend this film.

The one clunker at this year's Queens World Film Festival