Sunday, April 5, 2020

Stay At Home Festival: Film Fifty One: Man of Tai Chi (2013)

Luck was with me when I saw THE MAN OF TAI CHI. (MOTC) First I made the screening with enough time that I had my choice of seats. Secondly when I arrived I discovered quite to my complete delight that Hubert Vigilia and Peter Gutierrez were in the theater as well. Under normal circumstances they are excellent movie company, however when seeing a throwback balls to the wall zero pretensions film like MOTC they are just about as good as it gets in company (the only thing that would have made it better would have been the inclusion of Mondocurry, Mr C, Chocko and the rest of the Unseen crew and lots of popcorn and drinks.)

The plot of the film has Tiger Chen, the only student of a master of Tai Chi who lives in an ancient temple getting mixed up with Keanu Reeves and his underground fighting ring. Reeves had seen Chen fighting in a martial arts tournament and decided to recruit him for his deadly competitions. Falling down the rabbit hole Chen soon finds himself becoming a better fighter but inching closer to the dark and deadly side in order to stay alive. Meanwhile a police inspector played by Karen Mok has hit a brick wall in her investigation into the fighting ring after her informant disappears..

Okay, let me be completely honest up front, almost none of this makes a lick of sense and Keanu Reeves is often (intentionally) laugh out loud silly, but at the same time this is probably the popcorn film of the fall. It’s a blast. Its a glorious send up of the sort of western martial arts film Reeves probably grew up on, except with a modern sensibility and some kick ass Hong Kong style action. Taken on it's own terms its complete and total mindless fun. Its so much damn fun that I really wish they had allowed popcorn in the screening room because this film is very much the very definition of a popcorn film.

I loved this film.

Seriously this is a throwback to the old martial arts films of the 1980’s that studios like Cannon used to throw out with regularity (Enter the Ninja anyone?) or even some of the weird films that Jean Claude Van Damme turned out early on. It has weird evil plots, martial arts mysticism and a few moments that are screamingly funny for the "wrong" reason. I say "wrong" in quotes because I think in making his directorial debut Keanu Reeves gets so much right that the WTF moments, like his full face scream at the camera that had the audience falling on the floor laughing, had to be intentional. If I didn't know better I would swear that Reeves wants to make such a non-think pretension free film that he put these speed bumps in intentionally. You can’t take the film seriously on any level but a fun one because he didn't and we’re so much better for it.(I'm convinced this was made to have a good time).

I loved the action, which considering Woo-ping Yuen was the action director shouldn't be surprising. The fights are both exciting and WTF. I mean how does the guy end up behind Tiger in his first fight? I love that the fights are done so that they fill the screen and that we see the entire bodies of the fighters, something most Western action films never do. There clearly is wire work at times, but at other times you can’t be sure.

Watching the film I was reminded by the vastly inferior RAZE which played at Tribeca and which shares, kind of, a similar plot. Where RAZE has fights in enclosed areas that we can’t see what’s happening and are repetitive, here Reeves bumps up the fighting space and rarely repeats himself. (I should also mention that this film is much more fun than Rza's  much too serious MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS)

Say what you will Reeves could very well have directorial career ahead of him.

High art? Oh hell no. Damn entertaining? Absolutely.

A must see- and see  and see again especially if you like those weird martial arts films of the 80's and 90's

Stay At Home Festival: Film Fifty: Shock Waves (1977)

Criminally underappreciated throw back horror film about a group of vacationers stranded on an uncharted island where a mad Nazi doctor is still working on his super warrior project involving zombies.

Say what you will but when the freed zombie warriors come out of the ocean wearing their dark goggles one is filled with a deep sense of dread, sure this isn’t the scariest of horror films, as such, but at the same time you know that good things are not going happen and that people are going to die- badly. It’s one of those moments that once you’ve seen it becomes iconic in your memory. It’s an image that instantly locks the movie in your memory and makes the film something you carry with you.

I’m not going to lie and say the film breaks any new ground. It doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before, especially if you are a fan of the mad scientist on the loose genre…however what it does do is take the tropes of the genre and shines them up as bright as possible. To my mind this is as good a mad scientist movie as you are likely to see.

I think the film works as well as it does because the cast headed by Peter Cushing sells the whole affair. We believe because they believe. The don’t play anything except straight on. This is the situation so this is how it goes. There is no nudges or winks, just the characters.

This isn’t to sell the technical aspects short. Director Ken Wiederhorn keeps things reigned in and under control. He doesn’t go for big sweeping moments, he keeps it tight and claustrophobic. He and his technical crew wisely don’t shoot for the moon but keep things with in their budget, they don’t try to do too much, which I like. Too many times low budget horror films try to over compensate for their financial short comings by over doing say in the monster department with the result either it’s too good or more often it’s completely over done for its circumstances.

This is a great great exploitation horror film and one any horror film lover worth their salt should see at least once.

Search this one out the next time you’re going to curl up on the couch on some rainy Saturday night

AMY"S VICTORY DANCE Reelabilities 2020

Portrait of Amy Jordan, a dancer who was crushed under a bus in 2009 and never thought she would dance again. Following Amy as she goes through he day to day existence and runs Amy’s--- a charity that. We also get to witness the titled event.

Good but over long look look at a woman who refused to give up at any point in her ordeal

AMY's DANCE plays tonight at Reelabilities Virtual Film Festival. For more information go here

Stay At Home Bonus Films: Peter Greenaway at Berkeley in 2010

In 2010 Peter Greenaway gave two related lectures at Berkeley. The first was on cinema. The second on painting. Both are related, and if you can allow that he can ramble on, both are faciating.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Stay At Home Festival: Film Forty Nine: Murder By Decree (1975)

The point at which I stopped absolutely loving the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes and went to only liking them was about fifteen minutes into this film. Somewhere in the first fifteen or so minutes of this film (perhaps the peas scene or perhaps the theater scene) when I understood why the Rathbone films are just good films and not great ones., basically over the course of the 14 Rathbone films you never understood why Homes and Watson were friends. If Watson was as big an idiot as he seems in the old movies Holmes would have tossed him out the window. Here in Murder by Decree Holmes and Watson are friends, real friends who take great joy in each other’s company.

Yes Murder by Decree is one of my top five, probably my top two or three Sherlock Holmes films of all time. Yes the mystery, concerning Holmes hunting Jack the Ripper is a good one, yes the cast is great but what makes the film work, even as the mystery occasionally stumbles is the relationship between the two friends. Was there ever a more likable homes and Watson than Christopher Plummer and James Mason? I don’t think so. To me the pair is better than even the one in the Jeremy Brett series since there is more laughter and more comradery between the pair, Holmes laughing at Watson’s displeasure at squooshed peas for example or smiling and saying “well done” when Watson turns anti-royalty sentiment into a cheer.

The plot has Holmes wading into the Ripper murders and finding not a simple mad man but a far reaching scandal involving the Royal family is a good one. It takes all of the theories concerning the killings and weaves them into something that actually works from start to finish. Other films such as Study in Terror, while good, never quite managed to weave reality and fantasy together as well as this film does. Actually this film kind of echoes not so much another Sherlock Homes film but the Hudlin Brother’s adaption of Eddie Campbell’s From Hell. While the stories are both Ripper related and they do vary from one another, they do seem to echo each other in the feeling, sense of place and focus on details.

To me this is one of those curl up on the couch films that makes a rainy night so much more bearable.

Track this one down.

Stay At Home Festival: Film Forty Eight: The Devil's Rain (1975)

This film makes no sense



On the other hand the film’s dream like logic involving a devil cult trying to get back the book of members is a purely visceral horror film. The lack of sense makes it so anything can happen. Assuming that you aren’t fighting the plot and just going with it you’re going to be frightened since the whole affair seems to be off kilter, Events seem to have been imported from the next reality and not connected to our world.

The film more specifically has a group of Satanists, either the reincarnations of or the actual undead members taking on a family that long ago opposed them and has vowed to destroy them. Somehow they end up in a ghost town in the desert, where a container of the souls of the damned rests. It all ends with the title event which causes most of the cast to melt.

It’s cool stuff

It’s scary stuff with Ernest Borgnine’s Corbis being literally the stuff of nightmares for generations of kids, myself included. His gruff, nastiness coupled with his transformation into a goat like devil scared the crap out of thousands of kids, and it still makes me uneasy.

The cast adds weight to it. In addition to Borgnine there is Ida Lupino, William Shatner, Eddie Albert. Kenan Wynn, Tom Skerrit and some guy named in a blink and you'll miss him role John Tavolta.

This is one of those films that is perfect for a rainy night on the couch doing drive-in movies. (the drive in is where I first saw this film)

Highly recommended.

Stay At Home Fest Special attraction: See Jeff Lipsky's FLANNEL PAJAMAS free this month

Writer/director/producer Jeff Lipsky is making his 2006 film FLANNEL PAJAMAS available for FREE.(Go here). It is the story of a couple who fall crazily in love and then out again.

As of this writing I have not seen the film. The film's arrival in my inbox as something I might want to share with Unseen's readers was at the same time as some other films I need to get reviewed for this week. Since I want to give you a chance to see it since Lipsky will be doing an on-line a live Q&A on Wednesday, April 15th at 7PM EST on Zoom I am putting the film out there for you to see.

The film can be found here. It mentions the Q&A at the start.

BEDLAM (2020) Closes the Reelabilities Film Festival NYC Monday night

Excellent look at the state of mental health care in the united states. Covering the history of treatment for patients as well as taking a hard look at the state of things, the film is an eye opener for any one who has had to deal with the system either themselves or for a loved one. It is a film that left me shaking my head and pondering what we need to do to be able to be better.

While the film can be faulted, slightly, for trying to do too much in too a much too short two hour run time, it does open many avenues for the viewer to explore on their own.This is an important film and a must see.

Highly recommended.

For details on the Reelabilities screening which will be followed by a virtual Q+A with producer Peter Miller and additional guests go here

BEDLAM will screen on  PBS on April 13. For information on that screening go here.

The Witch Hunters (2018) is the most charming film at Reelabilities 2020

THE WITCH HUNTERS is a charmer.

The film is the story of Jovan a young boy trying to come to terms with his Cerebral Palsy. He leads an orderly life, goes to therapy every day to help mitigate the disease and is bullied  by some bigger kids. Everything is thrown into disarray when Milica, the new girl in class, is plopped down next to him. She won't take crap from anyone and she shares Jovan's love for flights of fancy.  And she needs his help, she thinks her father has been bewitched. Jovan will have to act to help his friend... if only he wasn't afraid of taking the bus.

I have no idea why more people aren't talking about this winning film. Beautifully acted and expertly told this feels more real like what it was like to be a kid than most other films. This is real life tinged with fantasy and it is something special. Its so special that when I finished it I started emailing friends insisting that they see it.

The biggest reason the film works is that Mihajlo Milavic and Silma Mahmuti are perfect in the leads. They nail what it means to be a kid. most importantly they genuinely seem to like each other and I could imagine them hanging out even after the cameras stop rolling.

I don't know what to say beyond that other than this is an absolute delight and highly recommended.

See THE WITCH HUNTERS at the Reelabilities Virtual Film Fest tomorrow at noon. For more information and tickets go here.

Stay At Home Festival Bonus Film: 5 Scary Videos & Mysteries That Will Send Shivers Down Your Spine...

As I've said in an earlier post while I love these sort of videos I tend not post them since the collections are more often are hit or miss... This one is all hits

Friday, April 3, 2020

Stay At Home Festival: Film Forty Seven: Tideland (2005)

The following is my IMDB review of Tideland. Its is a film that many people hate and a few of us love. Because I like to champion all sorts of films I'm including this.

I've seen Tideland and I'll be damned if I know how to describe it.

Probably the best thing I can say is stop reading this review and see the film. Its a unique experience, however its not one that many people are going to warm to rather they'll be upset by it. The odds are you'll probably not like it, but its at least worth trying, especially if you love film. If you want to know a little bit more keep reading, however my words, and probably no words can do the film justice. You just have to see it.

The story of Jeliza-Rose who's father takes her to his boyhood home after her mother overdoses is a pastoral trip into the bizarre. Set on the prairie, in a world like an Andrew Wyeth painting, this is the interior life of a little girl who doesn't understand the world around her, partly because of her age and partly because of the world she grows up in. Its a very bizarre trip thats part fantasy, part comedy, part horror film, part tragedy, part what ever else you can think of. Its unlike any Terry Gilliam movie and like the darker parts of them. Its the realism of Fisher King and the nightmare and flights of fantasy of Brazil mashed together.

Its not for all audiences, or even all Gilliam fans. This is a profoundly disturbing film. Its very straight forward with these tiny flashes of oddness (which get longer as things go on). In its way its possibly one of the scariest movies of the year, not just because of what we see on the screen but also because of how it echoes out to our own lives and how we see the world being just as cockeyed, we are all in our own fantasy worlds.How Jeliza-Rose sees the world is in its way the same way we all do. Its a scary thought.

Forgive me for not being more specific, this is a film that needs to hit you with out expectations and without preconceived notions, so the less you know the better it is.

I liked the film a great deal even though it made me feel really uneasy. Possibly one of the best films of the year, certainly one of the best Terry Gilliam movies, this movie demands to be seen by serious film lovers and those with an open mind.


SXSW has long been a champion of independent filmmakers, and premiering a short film at the festival is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for creators to share their vision with the world. When the City of Austin had to cancel this year’s festival, hundreds of filmmakers lost the opportunity for their work to be seen.

Together, Mailchimp and Oscilloscope Laboratories have created a digital home for this incredible slate of short films, so you can watch them from wherever you are. While we can’t replace the camaraderie of the SXSW festival, watching these films is a way to support the artists you love and connect to the world around you, during a time when we could all use a little more connection.

Please enjoy the SXSW 2020 Official Short Film Selections.

The films can be found here

(And stay tuned Amazon and SXSW will be presenting the features soon)

Stay At Home Festival: Film Forty Six: TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA (1985)

I don’t know if it was this film or Michael Mann’s Manhunter (the original Hannibal Lecter film) that prompted my cousin Anthony to say that it was the last time I picked a movie. It seemed that the combination of the two William Petersen starring films within weeks (months) of each other was simply too much and he wanted to take a long bath and then perhaps, shoot himself.

To Live and Die in LA follows William Petersen’s treasury agent as he, and his new partner John Pankow, chase expert counterfeiter and artist Willem Dafoe. The battle is brutal, ugly and dwells in the dark side of human existence, a fact reinforced by Dafoe’s nihilistic outlook on life.

Actually the film is so much on the dark side that even the good guys are just as bad if not worse than the bad guys. Petersen’s “girlfriend”, played by Darlene Fluegel, is a hooker who is held in check by threats to have her thrown into jail. And just to make sure that no one isn’t covered in shit, when the film ends its revealed that the one character we could like and root for unconditionally is, in fact the biggest bastard of all.

Ain’t life grand?

This is William Friedkin operating as his gritty and grimy best. Coming right before his disappeared film Rampage (which I reviewed way back when), this is Friedkin at the height of his midcareer powers turning out small trips to the cesspool. Its a film with both flash and substance which I suspect lead to a generation or two of directors to steal from it's stylings.

What I find amusing is that the film when the film came out it wasn't highly regarded. I still don't think it is.  But it's still floating around. Its a film that many people almost 30 years on are still aware of when many other films released at about the same time are gone. I know the opinion of some, my cousin for example, has improved.

I really like this film a great deal. Its a gritty violent  look at people on the edge of society. Its a film that at times feels superficial (a complaint in some reviews from 85) but which carries a great deal of weight, to the point that it's ending is a kind of a gut punch. Its a film with enough gravitas that it's still around and still making waves.

This is a film to track down and see.

Missing Good Omens? Try the much more serious THE DISCOVERY OF HEAVEN which is on You Tube (A Stay AT Home Fest bonus film)

This is another film that I wanted to put into the Stay At Home Fest but I couldn't find an official streaming release. However I just discovered it is on You Tube and if you search it out you'll find it.

Similar in story to Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's GOOD OMENS this film is based on a book written at about the same time. However where GOOD OMENS is full of humor and colorful characters, the novel is full of serious meditation and philosophy as well as humanity. That is not to sell OMENS short only to point out that they are very different takes on similar stories. There is a reason that I keep revisiting this film every couple of years.

This is a film that will touch your heart and head. This is the story of people caught up in a plan that is not their own and which they are are largely unaware so the result is very much like life. It is, as I say below one of my favorite films of all time. (If you want to know what film I would absolutely lay at a real Unseen Films Film Festival this is it.)

This is my review from a decade ago. I don't think anything about my feelings has changed-even the note about the DVD release is spot on.

Do yourself a favor and give this film a try. You may not like it, then again you may love it. Either way you will find it to be a film that will get you thinking and which will move you.

Now go search it out on You Tube.

This is a film that tends to split the audience. I don't know why some people hate the film, though I can make some guesses. I do understand why some people love the film, since I'm one of those people.

This philosophical comedy/drama is based upon a novel by Harry Mulisch. It was directed by Jeroen Krabbe, best know as an actor in a variety of films including General Koskov in the James Bond film, The Living Daylights. I've read that the film was close to his heart and I can completely understand it since he did probably as good a job at bringing this story to the screen as we are likely to get. To be certain he had to remove a large chunk of the philosophical discussions that made the novel so well loved in some circles, and while I regret their loss I completely understand that for the story to work as a film they had to go.(Full Disclosure: I've read about a quarter of the novel and loved it but it was requiring more time then I had when I started to read it, so I put it down. I could have torn through it but to do so would have not done the book the justice it deserves. Its a good read)

The plot of the film has God fed up with mankind. He has reached the point where he wants nothing to do with us, but long ago he made a covenant with Moses and before he can wipe us out he has to get it back. In order to do this he needs someone capable of actually getting it back. In order to actually retrieve what he needs he needs a very special person. To this end he has some of his host of angels selectively breed a child who, when he grows up will be able of getting the covenant back for him. As the story opens the plan is close to completion and all that is required is for the young woman to mate with the two men who will be the child's fathers. (Hey its okay its the swinging 60's). What follows is the course of the child's life and how the choices made by men and angels affects the future of mankind.

I should stress that this is not a straight forward philosophical film. Its a film about people, Quentin, the child created by the Angels, his fathers Max and Onno (played wonderfully by Stephen Fry in one of his best roles) and his mother; and everyone that they deal with in the course of their lives. This is a film about life and people and what matters, and at the same time there's some business about god and the angels mixed in to keep things interesting. I should stress the angelic bits are the reason things are set in motion but not the reason the meat of the story, that is the people.

I love this film. It is in a way one of my favorite films of all time. I don't watch it often but I find myself frequently thinking about sequences and situations. It is a film that I carry around with me at all times. I don't need to see it because its right there with me just out of view. It spurs me on in many ways. I find myself engaging in internal battles about the meaning of it all and the nature of God and the universe. Honestly if you want to ponder why if there is a god and why he doesn't answer, this may provide some answers- we've pissed him off.

It is for me a near perfect film. I think everything in the film comes together to create the perfect combination of philosophy and entertainment. Its a film for the head and the heart. I love all of these people. I love the characters and the actors. I love Stephen Fry's Onno. He is a wonderful, sometimes difficult, man who loves his son but has a love hate relationship with life. I love Max the other father, an astronomer looking for and finding...something. And then there is Ada, the perfect woman any man could love. Actually I pretty much love everyone.

If there is a flaw in the film its the acting of one character, Quentin, the child created by angelic interference. The problem is not with the character himself, the problem is that he's played by several people of the course of the film and their acting, while never bad, never comes together to create a single character. Each person plays it slightly different and the result is not as strong as it should have been (its several characters, not one).

I love the film.

It would be wrong not to warn you that some people don't. Many have read the novel and hate the changes to the book. They hate the loss of the poetry and discussion. Others have kittens at the thought of God hating man and loosing faith in us. One enraged person who hates the film didn't think it was right to even suggest that god would ever consider wiping us out because he loves us so. I have no opinion and think that people are over thinking. Its a work of fiction and the notion of an angry deityis merely  a plot device. Still others just don't like it for any of a number of reasons.

Personally I love a film that splits the audience. I love a film that makes you think and feel and react. This is one of those films. I can't say whether you'll love the film or if you'll hate it but I'm pretty certain that you will have a reaction to it. You will not just sit there and have it wash over you before you move on to the next thing.

See this movie. Feel something for some good characters. Have your gray cells tickled and maybe think of something new.

I'm sure you're either going to thank me or hate me, because I know you're not going to just shrug and walk off.

The availabilty of this film in the US seems to be only as an import DVD. Some Amazon e-sellers have it. I've read, but I don't know how accurate it is, that this film has never gotten an American distributor partly because some distributors didn't like it and partly because some people didn't know if they could market it.

Shhhh- The Barber of Siberia is on You Tube (Stay At Home Fest Bonus Film)

If you want a grand epic, if you want to see a grand romance of the sort that they don't make any more, or if you want a film that is a throw back to the Hollywood widescreen monsters that ate everything up in the 1950's and 60's THE BARBER OF SIBERIA is for you.

Actually if you just want a wonderful film almost no one I know has heard of  much less seen you should see this film.

In doing the Stay at Home Fest this was one of the first films I thought of but I couldn't find it legally streaming (it maybe there but I missed it- if you know where it is comment below). In looking for something else I found that it is on line in a couple of different audio versions are on You Tube.  What do I mean by that, I mean that there is a gorgeous version from a Russian Source that has a narrator speaking in Russian over the English portions (you can hear it under the narration). There is also a version subtitled in Korean which has the English audio but the Russian parts are only subtitles in Korean.  And there are other versions.

I was going to post a link to the best version but that would have been what worked for me and it may not be what works for you.  What I suggest you do is search the film out yourself and see what version works for you and then watch that.

Trust me if you love epics this is for you. Its a hidden gem.

Here is the review I ran a decade ago as what was one of the very first reviews ever at Unseen Films.

Here’s a grand romance on a huge scale (that was made even bigger by a directors cut). It’s the sort of tragic romance of lost true love that women swoon over. It’s a grand pot boiler of a film that I like so much that I’ve picked up three different copies. It’s something that should have been huge but because it bombed when it was first shown it was sent to near oblivion.

The story I heard goes that back in 1998 this Russian lensed, multi-national co-production was brought into Cannes with high hopes, great word of mouth and the expectations that this was going to be a huge international blockbuster. The thinking was how could it not be when it had one of the hottest actresses in the world at the time in Julia Ormond, and it was mostly in English for easier international sales. When the film ended its first screening it was all over but the shouting with the film’s high hopes dashed and the film consigned to a dust bin of sorts. The director, Nikita Mikhalkov, didn’t direct another film until last years Oscar nominee 12, a very good re-imagining the story of 12 Angry Men as a story set in one of the breakaway Russian republics.

I don’t know why since it’s a really good little epic. Actually it was passed off to me as one of the best films you’ve never seen.

Set at the turn of the 20th century before the Russian Revolution, the plot of the film has Julia Ormond going to Russia with Richard Harris in the hopes of making their fortune. Harris is an inventor who has come up with an automated means of chopping down trees, making him essentially the Barber of Siberia. Ormond in the meantime travels around charming everyone she meets. Eventually she takes up with a young military cadet and what happens after that is the story.

I really like this film. It’s a grand romance of the highest order. To be certain it’s a bit soapy and it does have a touch of pot boiler in it, but this is a sumptuous film with a story that Hollywood and the rest of the world really doesn’t try to tell any more. I carries you away to a time and a place and it touches and tugs on your heart strings.

Think of it as Dr Zhivago meets Gone with the Wind meets (pick a grand romance.) This was filmed all over Russia with a sense of detail that is only dreamed of by most producers. Rarely has any film ever so neatly put you in a time and a place as this one does. I’ve put this film on just so I can watch the scenery go by.

The central story of Julia Ormond and her young lover is magical. You genuine like the characters and care about them. Ormond’s brash heroine doing what she wants; flaunting convention is a wonderful modern woman who doesn’t see what’s coming. Oleg Menshikov as her paramour is note perfect as the charming young man whose passion for the girl will be his downfall. Its an exhilarating ride that will leave you heartbroken in the end.

I really like this film a great deal. Its so good that I’ve been on the look out for the longer directors cut which is said to run 100 minutes longer than the 3 hour theatrical cut. I love the idea of spending more time with these people.

Currently unavailable as a US release the film is available from Amazon e-sellers as an import of the UK . I believe the film is also still available from Russia on the Ruscico label (the subtitles on this one are a bit strange in that the choice is to have them on all the time or not at all- an annoying prospect for a film that’s 90% or so in English. Worse, if you want to switch back and forth you have to go to out of the movie). I own both versions and prefer the UK import.

The Inaugural OUTstream Film Fest Announces CALL FOR ENTRIES (June 1-7)

Online Film event will celebrate queer cinema and seek to bring all audiences together remotely to enjoy and appreciate those films and provide a connection with filmmakers

Los Angeles, CA (April 2, 2020) — OUTstream Film Fest, which will make its debut June 1-7, 2020, announced its Call for Entries for film submissions. The LGBTQIA+ focused film festival will kick off Pride month amid the COVID-19 crisis offering a selection of films celebrating queer cinema and seeking to bring all audiences together online to enjoy the films, as well as be virtually introduced to the filmmakers. The early deadline for submissions is April 6.

Produced by McArts Consulting, the seven-day virtual film festival featuring queer film, episodic, and short films from all over the world will provide audiences an opportunity to view the programs from any device as well as participate in interactive online Q&As and discussions about the state of queer art, film, and media.

OUTstream Film Fest Co-Founder and Co-Director Ben McCarthy, said, “We have created OUTstream Film Fest to bring people together all across the country, of any sexual identity, to view these films, which we feel will entertain, touch, enlighten, and affect all audiences. Thanks to COVID-19, everyone in the world has received a stark reminder that we are all together and similar in many more ways than we are not. We believe this has the potential to bring people together virtually via this shared event – because art offers a rich opportunity to connect us all.”

McCarthy added, “OUTstream Film Fest could reach people that want to have an understanding about LGBTQIA+ people or appreciation for queer cinema. It’s all about inclusivity. Films are made to tell someone’s unique story and if it’s only being seen by people that have “lived” that story, then it’s not reaching everyone that could legitimately connect with and be touched by that story.”

Audience awards will be announced for Narrative, Documentary, and short films at the conclusion of the film festival. For more information, please go to:


Early Bird: April 6, 2020
Regular: April 26, 2020
Late: May 16, 2020

Film submissions are now open at:

About OUTstream Film Fest
The OUTstream Film Fest is a seven day online on-demand and livestream film festival featuring queer film, episodic, and short films from all over the world. OUTstream Film Fest was created to give audiences everywhere an opportunity to see queer cinema and participate in interactive online Q&As and discussions about the state of queer, art, film, and media.

About McArts Consulting
McArts Consulting represents film festivals and other creative clients across the United States. Led by Ben McCarthy, MFA, McArts Consulting specializes in fundraising and marketing strategies, arts and film programming, box office management, and leadership development. In addition to consulting services, McArts produces cultural events and programs with a focus on building inclusivity among communities.

Film Detective Is Streaming Free Classic Comedy (And More) in April

The Film Detective is featuring a collection of classic comics on its live channel and adding more than a dozen comedies to its streaming library of over 1,000 classic film and television titles—and a variety of movie marathons.

April is dedicated to the Golden age of Comedy with The Three Stooges, Buster Keaton, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and Abbott and Costello (April 1); celebrating Charlie Chaplin’s birthday on April 16; highlighting iconic filmmaker Roger Corman; and featuring religious titles for Easter (April 12) from The Cathedral Films Collection and The Loyola Films Collection, courtesy of Vision Video.

For more information on The Film Detective’s April schedule, visit

Check out The Film Detective (no password necessary).
Viewers can watch for free (with ads) or subscribe to watch ad free and access bonus content.
All April content in release available for free viewing.

DON'T FOIL MY PLANS plays April 5 at Reelabilities 2020

Hour long portrait of artist Justin who is on the autism spectrum. As much as he loves his family he wants to be self-sufficient. However before he can move out he has to work on getting a job as well as working on learning the rules and manner for getting by in society.

Good portrait of a very talented young man. While Justin can be a bit difficult to get a handle on owing to his disease, once you click into his rhythms he reveals himself to be a charming young man. A sweet film worth your time.

The film plays Reelabilities on April 5 as part of their virtual film festival. For more information  and how to stream it go here.

Stay At Home Festival Bonus Film: WHAT IS "THIS ROOM DOES NOT EXIST"?

Another documentary on a web series about some people caught in the web of a virtual reality system.  As with the piece I posted a few days ago on LOCAL 58 is this is a attempt to untangle the time line of the series.

As this piece posts I haven't watched the whole series, largely because I haven't decided if I'm going to watch the series as pieces so I can get the clues in the descriptions or if I am going to watch the complete series which has been stitched together and put up. Therefore I present this purely as a pointer to something that looks intriguing and as something you may want to watch while in Covid quarantine.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Stay At Home Festival: Film Forty Five: Europa Report

Put this film on my list as one of the big finds of 2013.

I need to begin by saying that this film is not a horror film or monster on the lose film. I say that at the start because the initial trailer I saw for the film made me think this was going to be some grand horror film or science fiction space opera instead of what it is a truly amazing science fiction (with a strong emphasis on SCIENCE) film about a manned trip to Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter.

Told in a found footage style that mixes footage from the trip to the distant planet with news footage of the launch on earth plus interview segments of the administrators and ground crew on earth, the film chronicles what happens when we send our first mission out past the moon. It’s a tense compelling story full of suspense thanks to a never ending series of real complications. Things go wrong. Potential disastrous decisions have to be made as the crew ends up isolated (their communications with earth goes down) millions of miles away from home with no hope of rescue. It all plays like the real deal, which is no doubt due to the involvement of NASA who were consulted in pre-production regarding ship design and other matters and who’s photo and visual archives were used to create the look of the film.

Don’t kid yourself the film is incredibly tense. We know at the start that something went wrong, we know that events occurred that no one expected and that the film is a kind of TV news report or special chronicling what happened when we went to Europa. The fact we know it all went sideways keeps us on edge, as does the initial out of order telling which infers that at least some of the crew die. The question is who and how. It also raises the question does anyone get back?

All the questions are answered, though not as you might expect.

The film has a great look to it. The ship feels like a roomier version of the space station but considering that the astronauts are to be in the space for a several years it’s understandable. The film largely matches the types of footage you see from NASA and thanks to some great performances you really believe that this is footage from the ill-fated mission. To me the film looks like something I could see on my TV.

I’m curious how this will play on a big movie screen. I got this on VOD on cable in advance of its theatrical release and it impressed the hell out of me. I suspect that the fact that the film is supposed to be “TV” footage was helped by the fact that I was seeing it on a big screen TV, the conceit of the film being helped along by the location of my viewing.

I loved this movie. Its an intelligent look at what actually happen. It doesn’t talk down to the audience, it doesn’t dumb it down or make it any more spectacular than it actually might be. It simply shows us what might happen when real people and not movie characters go to the stars.

I would be tempted to say that this could be one of the best science fiction films ever made but I need to see the film again. I need to see it for what it is and not as something that blew me away because it confounded my expectations. I will say, that for this lifelong space nut it’s a great film, but for now I’ll leave the hyperbole beyond that to see how time and tide treat the film.

This is a grand true life adventure of the sort we might have one day- see it.