Sunday, August 31, 2014

SEAHORSES is getting some Festival Screenings in September and October.

Jason Kartalian's wonderful SEAHORSES is getting a bunch of festival screenings in September and October and I wanted to let you know so you can get yourself out and see this wonderful film.  I reviewed the film back in June (the review is here) and  I've posted an interview with Jason (here). 

Yesterday I was checking the SEAHORSES site and saw the list of up coming screenings and decided to contact Jason to get all of the relevant ticket information for all the screenings. Here is what he passed on to me:

SEAHORSES is the closing night film at the Toronto Indie Film Festival (the little brother "slamdance to tiff) In the case of FirstGlance Philly, SEAHORSES was one of four features selected to represent the fest. The SoCal fest \ will include a red carpet and reception.

Seahorses Play dates:

Toronto Independent Film Festival (the little brother "slamdance to Tiff")
9:15PM, Saturday, September 13, 2014
Carlton Theatre, 20 Carlton Street, Toronto ON, M5B 2H5

SoCal Independent Film Festival
7:PM, Saturday October 4, 2014
(Redcarpet at 5:30, Reception at 6pm)
7111 Talbert Ave. Huntington Beach CA 92648

Firstglance Film Fest Philadelphia
Screening Time not determined
FirstGlance runs through the weekend of October 17, 2014
The Franklin Institute
222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

I loved the film and if you're able to go I suggest you do so.

I'll be posting more information on further screenings as soon as it become available.

Nightcap 8/31/14-movies and links

Labor day, the end of summer, the start of the fall film season.

We at Unseen have been busy getting ready for it by seeing lots of films-I mean a lot of films-We were supposed to be quiet for another two weeks but films happen so look for the next couple of weeks to be double reviews – and that’s before we even get to the New York Film Festival. It’s going to be crazy.

I’ve been so busy with little stuff for the website and life that I don’t have much to say beyond that- so in order to fill space I give you a couple of films to watch…

And now as always some links ala Randi
Help TENSPOTTING a Dr Who Fandom short film get financed
The Stand past present and future
Vivian Maier
London Bridges
Greatest guitar riffs
The worlds worst Tourists?
Restoring Godzilla in HD
Orson Welles Too Much Johnson available for download
The terrible treatment of Pro Wrestlers
Weird toys for kids
How a bean becomes a fart

Alec Kubas-Meyer's MIRANDA (2014)

Miranda - Final Confrontation [Original] from Reel: The Movie on Vimeo.

Before you even start reading this I have had an earth shaking change happen- at least as far as this piece goes- and that is that Alec has a new film project in the works. I knew it as I was tweaking this piece over the last week, and I was expecting the Kickstarter to appear this week, but stuff happens and Alec told me it wasn't going to go up until after this posted so I dumped a  rough draft and went with the place holder piece that I had scheduled- you see I didn't want Alec to read what I was writing until I was done.

Then on Friday after I had gotten a piece into readable shape Alec emailed and said that the Kickstarter is up.  This then caused a black cloud of profanity to go up over Long Island as not only did I have to write up the Kickstarter campaign, but I also had to re-tweak this piece...which would be fine except my original piece was accidentally deleted.

What follows is an frequently altered piece about a film made by a good friend, a great dinner guest and a damn good filmmaker. Its a damn good film that I would have written up even if Alec weren't my friend. Its a film that reveals its director to be possessing the right stuff.

I have been debating whether or not to do this piece ever since I decided to do a whole month of short films. The reasons not to do it number two, first the film discussed is not readily available yes Alec has some stuff on You Tube but things like Miranda are not there (not yet anyway). Its lack of accessibility is due in part to the film being slightly reworked, which says nothing of the film, only that it's completion was rushed. The other reason not to do it is that the director Alec Kubus-Meyer is a friend and a contributor to Unseen. If I write anything positive, which I would do, it would look self-serving or worse, which it’s not. Miranda is a good film and Alec is a great director. by writing up the film I felt that I could be sending my credibility out the window…

…and then it hit me, my website, my rules, which means I'm writing up Miranda.

Over the last year I watched as Alec put together his film Miranda together. I watched as the film went from being just a script on through the various stages to a finished product. I saw test sequences of the fight sequences and I heard the stories of it being shot over a few week period. Listening to the stories gave me a window on the film that made me feel that I was watching the process. It was the sort of real cool fly on the wall stuff that film geeks would kill to have.

Miranda is the story of a young woman who becomes obsessed with keeping her roommate safe from a tall blonde man (played by Alec) whom she thinks is up to no good. What starts as looks and words soon turns violent as Miranda kicks serious ass to keep her friend safe.

Miranda in its current form is a good little film. It is a bit jagged, the result of a hyper rushed post production.  As a result of rushing to meet  a required completion date the film ended up hurt by a couple of technical issues (the sound is uneven and some of the performances came off unevenly).  While the flaws are ultimately minor, they are noticeable. However in fairness I have to point out that the film is currently being reworked for future screenings-for example the final fight, which can be accessed above, as been re-scored and the sound remixed (The fight sequence above is the corrected one. I should also mention that when you do watch the clip please keep in mind that the sequence plays differently if you have the context of the sequence's placement in the film).

I've seen the film several times, both as a friend and as "critic" and what stands out about the film is the action sequences, which are truly masterful. They are so good that I have to ask "Could someone give Alec a job doing an action film?" (see below)

Let me be completely clear here the reason I’m writing up the film is the action. Never mind the fact I know Alec, if I wasn’t impressed with what he was doing with his action choreography I wouldn’t take the time to do this. When you get a chance to see the film watch the action sequences both in and out of the context of the film. Not only do they carry the film and move things along,  but they are good enough that once you’ve seen the film, you'll want to go back just watch the action sequences. When you see them, especially in context, I think you’ll be impressed.

When you watch the film the first thing you’ll notice about the action is that the sequences aren’t really amped up like in most big budget action films. Even if it had been an option Alec chose not to go that way. There is no pounding music score, there is no quick cuts to falsely pumping up the fights, there is just the action. Alec filmed them in such a way so that things play out in real time and from limited points of view. This is kind of counter intuitive to most fight sequences these days which give you quick cuts and spiffy angles. While  rapid fire looks great  it takes the weight of the sequences away. Watching those sequences we aren’t there. We aren’t really feeling the pain of the combatants because its all quick cuts that hide the impact. Here we feel the pain because the cuts are fewer.

The crowning achievement of the film’s multiple fight sequences is the extended "single take" that climaxes the film. The original intention was to shoot the film with multiple setups and then cut the whole thing together, however because of time constraints and an impending rain storm the sequence had to be done with less setups with the result it seems to be a single take. The resulting fight carries a weight and a sense of reality that’s hard to beat.

I’m going to compare it favorably, to Alec’s favorite action film The Raid 2. When you watch something like The Raid 2, you have these huge scale action sequences that are bloody and bone crushing. Terrible things happen and we in the audience ooo and ah. But it never feels real except in a movie real. The huge battles in a prison court yard aren’t going to happen. The final fight in that films hall way super villains that wield hammers and baseball bats aren't real. For all the blood you might as well be watching something like Peking Opera or Twyla Tharp, since ultimately it’s just a violent dance number.

However with the fight scenes in Miranda are real, there is an awkwardness of real people fighting not great movie actors fighting. Their blows have weight. You feel the punches. Something I read recently said that the easiest way to make a scene play real is to simply extend a take. Don’t cut away. Alec doesn’t cut away, or at the very least he seems not to.  Alec holds his takes and we’re sucked into the film. We go from this is cool to this is real…to oh crap that's gotta hurt (and I mean really hurt).

Alec is a true film geek with an eye for action. He needs to be given money and allowed to go make a balls to the wall action film and take what he's done with Miranda to the next level..

Miranda is in the process of being slightly tweaked before heading out on the festival circuit. Once it gets there make an effort to see it and get in on the ground floor of one of the new masters of action cinema. I will post it when the revisions are done and Alec says its fine to do so.
Addendum- As this posts Alec is preparing an action short called REEL (the Miranda fight clip was posted by the production company). There will is a Kickstarter campaign to get the funds to finish it. All the details can be found on the .Kickstarter page.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Duet (2014)

Glenn Keane’s Duet is probably one of the most perfect marriages of music and image you’ll ever find. The film is the story of a boy and a girl from cradle to adulthood in three minutes. It’s the sort of thing that would have made Chuck Jones proud.

While I know everyone has been going on about Keane’s simply line work, for me the real joy is the soundtrack. As good as the images are they wouldn’t have the emotional power, they wouldn’t have the kick without the glorious score that they are married to. Likewise I don’t think the score would be as good without the images to play against.

I’m guessing there is a good chance this will win an Oscar.

Click on the link above and feel good.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Help Alec Kubas-Meyer make REEL

Alec’s making a movie. You need to give him money.

No wait- Alec is making an action movie you need to give him money.

I’m being silly here, but Alec really is making a movie and he needs you to help get it done.

The film is called REEL and it’s an action film and based on what Alec has done before you’ll want to get in on the ground floor of what is going to be a great career in action film directing. I’m not going to wax poetic about what Alec can do in a fight scene now (that’s coming Sunday when I talk about his recent film Miranda) but I am going to say again give him some money and he’ll send you stuff. Hell some of the gimmes at Kickstarter are signed stuff and the ability to have a signature before someone was famous is a plus down the road (I mean assuming you'll want to eventually sell the stuff on Ebay).

Trust me this is something you want to be part of. I’ve seen Alec demonstrating some of the fight scenes on Hubert this past Saturday night and it looks really cool. (And painful, so if you don't want Alec to come demonstrate on you give)

If you want to see what Alec has cooked up go to the film’s Kickstarter page which is here.

If you want an explanation of why Alec is doing it you should read his piece at Flixist which is here.

And remember if give the poor boy some money in five years you can meet him at his big feature blockbuster premiere and tell him you backed his film as a means of hustling tickets to the screening...of course he'll ignore you but its worth a shot

Alec and his co-director Gerard Chamberlain-Alec is the good looking one

Bathtime in Clerkenwell (2003)

The question of the day is should a music video be considered a short film?

The question occurred to me when I was watching Alex Budovsky's animated film of Bathtime in Clerkenwell for the 500th time. The reason it came up is that most people came across the movie, then fell in love with the music and then tracked down the Real Tuesday Weld album it comes from (I Lucifer). The notion of would you consider it a promotional film or just a film haunted me.

While technically the videos are short films, for the purpose of this discussion I would argue that any film that is trying to do more than just present the band in concert is a short film worth at least covering. Would I actually do so here at Unseen? Probably not. The film would have to do something extraordinary for me to do so.

Bathtime does something extraordinary. Its glorious monochromatic animation marries beautifully with the song to become something greater. I mean what sort of Looney Tune inspired madness has caused these birds to sing such a peppy song while being bounced around all over the place. I have no idea. All I know is I love the images and I love the music.

An aside here the I, Lucifer album is inspired by a novel of the same name. The album is just a wonderful take on a novel with some killer songs of which Bathtime is only one. (I should point out that there are differences between the various releases of the Album (UK and US) and Clerkenwell (Single, CD and film)

I've placed a You Tube link of the film above, but I warn you not to play it unless you want it burned forever in your brain.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The BOYHOOD Viewmaster I won looks like this...

I re-upped my membership for the IFC Center in New York and won a second prize- a Viewmaster with a disc of images from Richard Linklater's film BOYHOOD.

I've had several people threaten to steal it from me,I managed to hang ton to it.

I've posted a bunch of pictures of both the Viewmaster itself, including the autograph, and pictures of the disc at the Unseen Tumblr page so if you want to see it all follow this link.

Someday I'll see the movie....

Butterflies (2012)

Dark fable about giving up your dream and not following your heart is a kick in the ass. This is a film that is a wake up call for anyone who works in a dull job just to pay the bills.

A young woman living in a train station begging and selling her art work. She gets a job doing art for a card company and then has second thoughts as the job begins to crush her soul.

If you can get past the intentionally grotesque characters this is a film that should be shown to anyone with any passion for anything. Its a warning about the soul crushing nature and how it warps your dreams and crushes all hope. It shows you what can happen when people tell you no
and say you can't for reasons that make good sense (you can't be a vampire because they don't exist) but which are emotionally bullshit (why can't I be a vampire if I want to?) Reality maybe practical but it isn't always right.

I like that this film says that in order to remain in the light we must follow our dreams.

This is a magic film. Track it down and show it to someone you love.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Patema Inverted opens Friday at IFC and is a must see

The animated film Patema Inverted opens Friday in New York. I saw the film back at this year’s New York International Children’s Film Festival. If you want to see something that is going to make you think I highly recommend you get down to the IFC Center and see Patema Inverted.

He’s my review from earlier this year:

FromYasuhiro Yoshiura the director of Time of Eve, come Patema Inverted a trippy science fiction film about the world, literally turning upside down for some people.

In the years after an experiment to harness gravity as a means of energy went horribly wrong, some people live what we would call right-side up, while other people live the opposite way and when they fall they fall up into the sky, this group has retreated into the bowels of the earth and never venture to the surface.The Surface world is a quasi-religious civilization that wants to keep things earth bound, and to eradicate the sinners who fall up. One day when Padema is exploring she falls to the surface where she meet Age, a boy who wants to fly. The meeting sets in motion a clash of worlds that will change everything

Wild crazy film messes with your sense of reality over and over as the POV shifts repeatedly so we see the world from the various characters point of view. Its brilliantly done in a way that only movies, and animated movies can do. Its a visual masterpiece that must (no really) must be seen on a big screen.

While the story of the clash of worlds has been done to death, the visuals carry the film for 99% of the film. It doesn't hurt that the film sets up a rich world, or worlds (3 or 4 at least) that bleed off the screen and make you want to go explore in them.

If there is any flaw in the film, its the final couple of minutes which made me wonder what exactly I was seeing.

Momentary final reservations aside this is one to track down, especially if you like mind game films.

Nicolas Provost - Papillon d'amour (2004)

I can't review this I can only share it.

This is a bit of Akira Kurasowa's Rashomon manipulated. Its as perfect as sound and image marriage as I've seen.  Its now one of my favorite films of all time because it provokes a visceral reaction each time I watch it. I'm floored each time I see it.

Give it a shot- and if you like it even a little track down Provost's work where you can because he's amazing- he's now one of my favorite directors.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

James Brown:The Hardest Working Man in Show Business at the FIlm Society of Lincoln Center

This weekend Lincoln Center is going to be running a series of films dedicated to some of James Brown’s cinematic efforts. It’s an eclectic bunch of films that largely seem to have nothing in common other than Brown’s appearances or input. It’s also, largely a good collection of films.

Three of the films have Brown cameos as he appears to sing a song before splitting.

SKI PARTY has Brown showing up in what was an attempt to do start a Beach Blanket series on the ski slopes. Brown shows up long enough to sing I Feel Good. And because Hollywood wanted to appeal to everyone Leslie Gore also pops in. It’s an amusing trifle, but nothing special.

ROCKY IV has Rocky battling Dolph Lungren in the evil Soviet Union. An amusing piece of jingoistic fluff the film has Brown parachute in for a quick Living in America before getting the hell out of Dodge. It’s a disposable Rocky film, funny for all the wrong reasons, but in the right frame of mind it’s amusing.

If you’ve never seen THE BLUES BROTHERS you should get to Lincoln Center for this. This overblown, overdone film from John Landis is a amusing as all hell. Its full of great blues and soul singers including James Brown as a preacher. It’s funny, it’s thrilling and it has great music. It also needs to be seen big so you can really appreciate how freaking nuts they were when they made the film.

The series includes three interesting documentaries with Brown performances all are must sees.

The T.A.M.I. SHOW is a filmed record of concert that was supposed to be the start of some awards show. It was a one off, but the film, recently restored is a record of a time and place where Leslie Gore, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, The Supremes and others could all share a single stage for a night. While the performances are up and down, the over effect is sure to put a smile on the face of any music lover.

WHEN WE WERE KINGS and SOUL POWER are two films that cover the events surrounding the Rumble in the Jungle, fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. The idea was to have the fight and a huge concert at the same time, but things happened and the time went off. While many people went to the fight (recounted in KINGS) less people ended up going to see the concert (SOUL POWER is the record). While Brown floats through KINGS he’s fully shown in his glory in SOUL. If you’ve never seen the films you should, both are excellent, and the chance to see them together is a huge plus.

The last film in the series is BLACK CAESAR. An exploitation film from 1973 it’s the story of a kid from the ghetto who rises up through the ranks of the underworld to become a kingpin. One of the more socially active films of the Blaxploitation cycle the film is actually pretty good even if it occasionally wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve. James Brown’s contribution to the film are a number of songs to the score

For more information and tickets check the website.

Unicorn Blood (2013)

Dark fairy tale has  has two teddy bears Moffy, with a bow tie the color of his eyes,  and Gregorio who sports an eye patch,going out to hunt their favorite food.

A dark fable that will alter your opinion of teddy bears forever.Done in a style that looks like it's the art work of several amateur artists I know come to life,the sort of a film that doesn't resemble what any sort of  mainstream film would look like. I can't image say Disney ever doing a film that was either this dark or looked so quietly unsettling.

Watching the film I was torn between wanting to go on through its handful of minutes or instead turn it off and walk away. I stayed to the end and then instantly tried to figure out how to get copies of this off to friends who would love the glorious subversion of it all.

As I said the the film will change what you think of teddy bears.Yea there have been monstrous teddies in the movies, but never before have ones been so vile as to actually be minature humans. They are much like the people in Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, outwardly beautiful but inwardly  decayed and rotten.

This is as good as short films can be with a near perfect mix of art, story, character and music.

Track this film down.

Monday, August 25, 2014

One of the years best films, STARRED UP starts Wednesday

Starred Up is one of the best films of 2014. Its one of the few films that is so good that its place on the best of the year list is not up for discussion. It’s a film that you simply have to see.

We saw the film back at Tribeca and we’ve been raving about the film. Here’s Mondocurry’s take on the film:

Right from the outset UK film STARRED UP is a claustrophobic, panic inducing experience, beginning with a new inmates being processed and remaining in the structure’s decaying yellowish labyrinth of corridors, cramped cells, and sliding bars. While the atmosphere is as chilling as any previous dramas set in prisons where appalling acts of brutality are the norm, this film stands out more the restraint that is often shown by inmates whose every primal instinct to give in to rage is tested. That’s not to say that there aren’t fearsome confrontations; acts of violence arise that will make a chill run up your spine. Yet there is also a lot of conversation, often heated, and attempts to hash problems out as opposed to resorting to violence. The story does contain some fantastic and improbable turns of events so fans of recent trends of ultrarealistic drams might be a bit disappointed.

The result is a very satisfying drama with a powerful message and a story with enough thrills to move it forward dynamically. Director David Mackenzie and writer Jonathan Asser’s ability to achieve a few instances of humor in this most grim setting suggests a true storyteller’s gift, making the story far more memorable than if we were to just be bludgeoned by the same harsh truths over and over again.

We do not know what has landed 19 year old Eric a prison sentence, but his ferocity is rapidly established. After an assault on another inmate, with effects beyond those intended, Eric stages a showdown with a host of riot-gear clad guards, in which he manages to achieve the upper hand twice and put guards in the most precarious of situations in as many times. A resulting meeting between the warden, a high level administrator, and Oliver, a counselor volunteering to work at the prison on an experimental form of talk therapy with the prison’s more violent inmates, reveals that Eric has been ‘starred up,.’ This means he is a minor assigned to an adult facility because of the severity of his crimes. Begrudgingly the warden, being suspect of the treatment being utilized at all, agrees to allow Eric to join these sessions with the caveat of any incidents landing him in solitary confinement.

Meanwhile, there is the double-edged sword of Eric‘s father, Neville being a long incarcerated inmate in the same wing he is assigned to carrying out a life sentence. On the one hand, his father is established as a formidable prisoner, one to steer clear of, which ensures Eric a certain level of protection. On the other hand, being around each other brings up all kinds of psychic damage for the two, with both of their bottled up feelings being unleashed into violent confrontations that bring as much harm as healing, sometimes standing in direct opposition to Eric‘s therapy taking hold.

As Eric engages in these sessions with Oliver’s tightly bound group of prisoners, signs of progress appear. Yet the threat of conflict both within the group and outside of it are a constant threat to maintaining peace. Emotional power struggles arise around Neville’s sense of inadequacy as a father figure seeing Eric take to the members of this group, and an administration more eager to see -Oliver‘s progressive methods fail than succeed lurk in the background.

The setting is a crucial component of the film. Doors being slammed shut into very cramped spaces. Structurally interesting, the cells are organized in ascending levels, spiraling upward daring those on the lower levels to attempt to climb. Eric‘s regular transcendence of this boundary suggests he is unwilling to conform to expectations, his boldness making him a compelling figure, and one whose survival is a constant question mark.

An image of a turnstile’s slow creaking rotation til reaching a thudding halt appears a few times. It makes a simple yet powerful statement of endless frustrating cycles in prison systems like the ones we get a glimpse of here. Not recidivism, but progress at large, such Oliver’s attempts to reform rather than dehumanize prisoners, that is constantly blocked by those in control.

I also reviewed the film and my take is here.

The film opens Wednesday and should be at the top of your must see list.

Ex Animo (2013)

Wojciech Wojtkowski's trippy little film is absolutely a visual delight  Its like watching the most surreal Basil Wolverton or Robert Crumb drawings come to life.

The film begins when an animator enters and begins photographing images on the sheets- as we watch the images come to life.

I can't describe what exactly happens,  but its simply things morphing into other things and spaace and reality bending over and over again. Not only does it happen with in the animation but also with in film as the we first see the animator, then we see  what he is animating and then we see a resizing of the image so we are aware its paper.

This is just wicked cool.

Wow and wow

Find this film, it will blow your mind.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Nightcap 8/24/14 A heartfelt thank you, Guardians of the Galaxy, thoughts about film and belief, links and stuff

This week I’m going to go all over the place. I have long stream of consciousness piece that was kicking around since Tribeca in one form or another that I’m tired of looking at, some random words on stuff and some links. It’s a kind of clean up post.
First up a thank you to a bunch of guys and girls who I consider my  friends, my amigos and my family. You who were there last night either as guests or mad mind behind it-I love you all.  Thank you- I don't have words to express anything beyond it.And to those who wanted to come but didn't, I love you too. I know you wanted to be there and I appreciate that.  You're all  wonderful.
I saw Guardians of the Galaxy this week in IMAX 3D. I don’t think it needed to be in IMAX 3D nor I really didn’t have to pay 19 bucks to see it but I wanted to be away from lots of little kids-and I was until a camp group showed up. Thankfully they were well behaved, so no complaints.

As for the film, it’s a great mindless action film that reminded me very much of the comic, which always had great characters but weak plotting. No offense the films plot makes no real sense and I had the feeling that there was another half hour missing somewhere.

Yea the action is good and the interplay with the characters is wonderful, but this is as mindless as the other summer blockbusters we usually get except this one’s from Marvel. Then again I’ve grown not to expect much more than that from writer/director James Gunn --

As for the much loved music track of the 70’s music, yea it’s good, but there are better songs (don’t ask me what I’d have to see the film again to say what I’d replace which with what.)

And I would like to state that until the run up to the release of the film I was a fan of Come and Get Your Love, but if I never hear the song again it will be too soon.
The piece that follows here has been kicking around since Tribeca. It started as a long piece on the Amazing Randi that came out of AN HONEST LIAR and which I decided to abandon for reasons I won’t go into. The piece grew when I saw NOAH and was intrigued at the way the people who god talked to saw the world and those he didn’t saw the world. I linked them because Randi is a devote atheist. I then bridged the pieces with a discussion of Bertrand Russell.

I think it’s a start to something but not a fully formed piece. I’m presenting it here because it’s something related to movies and because I’m so sick of the damn thing I want it out there so I don’t have to revisit it.

The public doesn't listen when they are being told straight forward facts. They would rather accept what some charismatic character tells them then think about what the truth means. They'd rather have the romance and the lies.- James Randi

I’m bumping things around for this week’s Nightcap. I’m going to ramble, briefly, about skeptics, the silence of god and teapots. This rambling is the result of a couple of films and reading some Bertrand Russell.

Before we start I have to state that I’m agnostic when it comes to pretty much everything. I’d like to believe, or even disbelieve but I really need a bit more proof from every side before I sign on to anything.

The idea for the piece was kicked up while seeing the film on James Randi AN HONEST LIAR. Watching the film I was again drawn into pondering skepticism. I’ve been a follower of Randi’s for decades, ever since his battles with Uri Gellar and Peter Popoff brought him into the forefront. I once  hung on his every word in the TV bits and loved what he was doing.

I fell out of love with him when I started reading some of his books and found that he was cooking some material himself (The one thing that hung with me was in Flimflam his presentation of charts in the Betty and Barney Hill UFO case and he spread it across several pages and in differing sizes making any real comparison impossible.) He was kind of cooking the data to prove his point (and even bits Liar seems cooked).

While I applaud Randi and his efforts to find the truth I’m less enraptured by some of his brethren, who take the position that if they can duplicate or explain something it must not be a trick. Randi at least makes an effort to try and get some sort of scientific control in what he investigates, but there are others I’ve run across who simply make pronouncements that things aren’t so or are the result of some explanation without investigating it. UFO skeptic Philip Glass frequently didn’t do his homework with some of his pronouncements like a sighting being a lighthouse not being possible because of the terrain. He may have been right, but many times it was for the wrong reason.

My feelings toward skeptics is suspect in that many feel that they don’t actually have to back up their pronouncements. These things can’t be so they are not. This has never happened before so it can't happen now.

This week I was reading a bit on Bertrand’s Russell’s Teapot. The teapot thing is Russell’s argument is that if you claim that there is a small teapot in orbit around the sun I don’t have to believe it unless you provide proof. Fair enough.

Actually I think the piece from Russell says that if you put a teapot in orbit around the sun that he doesn’t have to believe it’s there without proof. And I’m good with that but at the same time just because you don’t believe that I did something doesn’t make it not so. The whole tea pot thing ultimately should make you question what anyone says or does since we can ultimately know if anything we tell each other is true unless we experience it. We don’t have to believe anything anyone says not just about tea pots or god.

The lack of proof or silence of God is a key point in Darren Aronofsky’s NOAH. Within the frame work of the story mankind is divided into two sections the sons of Cain and the sons of Abel. The Sons of Cain are forced to deal with the indifference of god. Its their sins and arrogance that god is trying to wipe off the face of the earth. Noah and his clan are in god’s good graces and he speaks to them.

The point that I’m reaching for here is that within the context of the film Tubal-cain and his clan view the universe as being one way because god is silent and doesn’t speak to them. Since he doesn’t speak to them he doesn’t exist. Since he doesn’t tell them how the world is they have created their own way of looking at the world. While it isn’t wrong for them to think that way within the parameters of their world and their knowledge it still doesn’t mean they are right, it just means, within the context of the film that they are operating without all of the facts or possibilities. Or in the real world, like someone coming to a conclusion without all of the facts.

I have no problem with anyone believing in gods or teapots or not believing in them. I firmly support your right to feel either way. But at the same time I have a problem with you forcing your beliefs on me or anything else. Your view isn’t my view. And considering that science is constantly revising what the truth is as more facts come in I find it highly questionable to state that one thing or isn’t possible- especially teapots which are outside of our ability to see orbiting the sun.

The point of this rambling piece is that like James Randi says, we should question what we are told, especially when it's something fantastical like a teapot orbiting the sun. On the other hand just because we don't have evidence (of said teapot) doesn't mean things aren't there...since someday we may find out otherwise (science revises)

Question everything. However be careful when you dismiss for lack of evidence, because one never knows when one might find something unexpected down the road. Besides when you get down to it, we can't tell whats going on in the house next door to ours and you're going to tell me for certainty whats floating out in space or how the universe works?
I know it's still a month away but we're already getting our New York Film Festival coverage together. I have about ten reviews banked, I eight more films locked and loaded with certainty thanks to a ticket package. Member tickets are on sale a week from Tuesday- and this Wednesday we should be finding out if we're getting press it appears that we should be keeping up with our tradition of giving you tons of coverage...
And now some links from Randi

Video for Lucius-Go Home
The legendary Van de Graaf Generators only recorded live performance
Frank Miller's rise and fall and rise
Agnes Varda-let go of the New Wave
Critic who bootlegged The Expendables 3 sees it in a theater then pans it.

Rainy Days (2014)

A man gets on a ferry. The rain starts and he thinks back to various times in his life

A great looking little film with some glorious music this is one of those small gems that is just an absolute treat for the eye and the ear. For the most part it's this off beat slice of life.

Personally I'm not sure it adds up to much, how it ties everything up is a little odd, but it looks great. It looks so good I watched it a couple of times in a row.

If you can find it give it a shot. There are worse things you can do for 7 minutes.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mixed thoughts on The Golem (1981)

Piotr Szulkin's first feature film is set in a future sometime after a cataclysm. Scientists have been tasked with improving mankind and making men. They have succeeded and their ceation is walking among men but unable to work and trying to get by. As he tries to get get out of the city, the men who created him make adjustments...

Strange science fiction film is full of style and brooding mood, but I'm not sure beyond that. Actually what I remember most of the film is its look, the color toned imagery, more than the plot line. There is lots of discussion of our place in the world, free will and politics. While its heady stuff and food for thought I'm not sure it adds up to much in the end...though to be honest it's great that any film would try to get it all in one hour and a half feature.

Watching the film I had the feeling that Terry Gilliam has seen the film and minded it for his own films specifically 12 Monkeys and Brazil.  I'm pretty sure that this film is one that has influenced the last 30 years of science fiction films, even though most people don't know it. Its for the influence that I suggest trying to track the film down.

If I seem to be ambivalent about the film, and I am to some degree, you have to understand that I admire the intelligence of the film. Granted I don't think the film succeeds completely in what its trying to do, but at the same time I admire that the film is trying to be an intelligent discussion of ideas.

The film screens in the 25th as part of Lincoln Center's STRANGE LANDS INTERNATIONAL SCI-FI. For mor information and tickets go here

Streamer (2014)

The official synopsis says "a tub dweller meets a mind fucker." I would probably describe it as a man tries to make sense of an encounter with a certain young woman.

Jared Bratt's little slice of male/female uncertainty hits a bit too close to home for me. How often have you met someone, had a great time and then were left to ponder what they wanted and what was really going on. I've had I don't know how many similar conversations with myself trying to unknot what just happened and what it means. I have been haunted by  encounters and Bratt captures all of that perfectly.

Set entirely inside a small bathroom, with a couple of side trips into the mind of of our protagonist, the film seems to come from a great deal of experience. It feels lived in and it makes me think that Bratt has had some encounters that made him ponder a stranger who had  taken over his psyche.

This is a great little film. Its a wonderful portrait of a small moment that manages to rock one one man's world.

Track this one down.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A few words on Hospital of the Transfiguration (1979)

New doctor arrives at psychiatric hospital. He soon realizes that the doctors are a crazy as th patients. However things become complicated when the Nazi's arrive.

I'm trying to work out how this film fits into the category of science fiction. More a drama than anything else the film's only real connection is that it was written by Stanislaw Lem who wrote the source novel for the films Solaris as well as many others.

To be honest I don't know what to make of the film. Its a good film but outside of the intrusion of the Nazi's there isn't much new here, even if some of the film is greatly disturbing.

Is it worth trying? Yes. Will you consider it one of the truly great films you've seen this year? Probably not. Personally I'm glad I saw it but I'm not sure I'll watch it again, then again I may down the road simply so I can feel I've given it a fair shake and taken it on it's own terms.

Hospital of the Transfiguration plays Monday at Lincoln Center as part of Strange Lands  look at International Science Fiction

Not so much a review of CAM2CAM (2014) so much as my reaction to it

It's just a head! Who travels half way round the world for a fucking head!?!

CAM2CAM is half a good movie. Its a film that requires you to get through a wrong sort of cliched and over long first 20 minutes, then another 20 or 25 minutes of routine stuff before it gets exciting.  The problem is that by the time you get to the good stuff you may either no longer care what happens  or you'll have turned the film off. I stayed with the film to the end, but I realized somewhere about an hour in I was going to have see the film again because I had so disconnected with the film that I had stopped paying attention to details so by the time it was really good I was really lost.

The basic plot of the film, which doesn't kick in for 20 plus minutes, involves a Allie, a young backpacker, who goes to Thailand and encounters a bunch of tourists who are acting a bit odd. They are connected to a web site called CAM2CAM . The young woman has a secret of sorts too, she's looking for her sister who's gone missing (what happened is the first 20 minutes). How the tourists secrets and the search for the sister converge is the film.

I love films that make me wonder how the hell they got a release. To be honest I have no idea how anyone could really watch the first 20 minutes of CAM2CAM and decide to release it as anything other than as something just to fill the slot. The opening 20 minutes involves what happened to Allie's missing sister, she was trying to connect to someone on line for a little adult fun and instead runs head long into a psycho (and please tell me why it takes her so long to figure out something is wrong) . It is slowly paced, which would be fine, except that the film nails every cliche of this sort of film with suchabandon and a misplaced sense that it's doing something new that anyone who isn't a misogynist and who has only seen a few horror films is going to be bored.

I was.

The next bit of the film plays out as Allie wanders Thailand, meets some people and is seemingly stalked by a psycho. Its run of the mill stuff better handled than the opening 20 minutes. It also ends on a WTF moment that marks the start of the film getting interesting. To be honest it wasn't until this "hello" moment that I was even remotely interested in where the film was going. It was the point where I stopped wondering if I should turn the film off or keep going. I was going to keep going.

The second half of the film is pretty good, the problem is that it's struggle to get there. As much as I'd like to go back and see what I ignored the first time through, I never want to see the first 20 minutes again. I'll try the next time starting 20 minutes in and see what happens.

To be honest I'm wondering if the whole opening sequence was added in to make the film a salable length. It doesn't play like anything that follows and outside of setting up one character, and the missing sister, I don't know if it's needed. Then again I had my brain off for most of the first hour.

The second half of the film, details of which I won't reveal, is actually pretty good. It has some nice twists, some good lines and does some unexpected things, but at the same time it's a battle to get there.

I'm really torn about this film. I mean the first half is disposable then it gets good. The question is are you going to be able to make it to the good stuff and more importantly are you going to find that it's worth it. To be honest I can't make a suggestion because as I write this I'm still battling with that question myself. Whats worse is the very people who I'd recommend this film to, horror film lovers, are the ones who are going to be pulling their hair out at  how cliche the opening is, while non-horror fans may not feel its so bad.

Ultimately you're on you're own. Let me know what you think.

Beauty (2014)

Some day I hope to see this on a truly huge screen because this film becomes more overpowering the more you see it and the bigger it is.

Rino Stefano Tagliafierro's meditation of life and death via the manipulation of images from classic paintings is haunting.  Running together all these well known images we now are forced to reconsider what they mean-an in many cases what they are really depicting. Yes some of the violent scenes are violent- but by putting them into slow motion we're suddenly forced to reconsider what the image really is.

And that is the strength of the film, its not simply that we are now seeing the images in motion, which is cool unto itself, rather the director is forcing us to consider things on multiple levels, first as I just mentioned we must consider what the paintings are really about, which is something I don't think even most scholars have ever conciously considered, and secondly we are asked to confront the cycle of life and death in a way that is out side the norm. What I mean by this is that by using these beautiful images and images that in many cases are well known we now have to ponder it as something other than the drab decaying notions of our lives. If these beautiful people and images cycle through, what does it say about us?

There is much to ponder.

I have seen this film a couple of time now and it moves me, nay it floors me every time.

Take this one down and watch it as big as you can.

Some one posted the full 10 minute version on You Tube (May not be considered safe for work)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pink Zone (2014) Action on Film International Film Festival

2026-a plague has wiped out most of the women in the world. The plague is carried by men and is so virulent that a single kiss can kill a woman instantly. The surviving women have been rounded up and are kept in  protective areas. One day Emily, who lives with her father, the head of one particular "pink zone", is targeted by three toughs who break into the pink zone and crash her classroom with a plan that has Emily as a key component.

I'm mixed on this film. I'm so mixed on the film that I don't know what to say. There are things that work and things that don't and the two crash into each other. Stay with me because you'll have to see how all over the place I am.

I think the easiest thing to do is take the script and pull it out of the film and talk about that and then talk about everything else.

At it's core the story of the aftermath of plague is a good one. The film's premise is more artistic then realistic which lessens its impact in many ways, but if you just go with it the story carries you along once it gets going. yes we've seen the story of outsiders crashing into a closed society before and the film handles the intrusion reasonably well.

Actually what the film handles well is the violence. This is a deeply disturbing film purely from the violence. The abuse of the characters and especially the women is troubling and the sort of thing that will send some audience members out of the theater. The handling of the various acts has a visceral quality that is edgier than many films with more money.

And the lack of money really hurts the film a great deal. Shot cheaply in real locations the film has the feel of some of the films I used to do where rooms would be locations simply because I said so. They never felt like the place in the film, rather they felt like a repurposed room.

The film is hindered by some of the design choices. The all white clad "police" uniforms that are worn by the intruders are okay for about ten seconds until the echoes of Kubrick's Clockwork Orange become too strong and you realize yea it was an inexpensive way of costuming some of the characters but it feels borrowed and unrealistic.

It doesn't help that the performances are all over the places, with some actors giving real performances and others making you want to cringe. One of the toughs was really bad, and some of the other actors while much better aren't good enough to sell what they are doing.

To be honest the film is an interesting mess where bits work (the violence, the basic plot, the leads) and bits don't (the costuming, the supporting actors, some of the scripts flourishes) with the over all reaction being something that is going to make you shake your head.

Should you see it?

The painfully honest answer is that I'm completely surprised that this film is being seen by anyone. How the hell did this get play dates when there are other films that can't catch a break?

I know, now that the film has escaped, should you see it? If you are very forgiving, if you can look at the good and forget the bad go for it. The violence is nicely handled and threads of the plot aren't bad. Beyond that I can't say.

The film plays at the Action on Film International Film Festival tomorrow. For more details and tickets go here.

My personal reaction to METRO MANILA (2013)

This is a look at the plight of one farming family forced to go to Manila when the harvest fails to give them enough money for the next planting season's seeds. Struggling to get by, taken advantage at every turn the family realizes that things are not even remotely as they had hoped. When Oscar, the head of thee family, lucks out and talks his way into a position as a security guard things are looking up, until he finds out that there are other forces at work that once again look to crush him and his family.

I've seen several of director Sean Ellis's earlier films, however other than his horror film The Broken, none of them really stayed with me other than my knowing I saw them. While The Broken didn't completely work, it had moments that did. Actually it had enough that I actually have a clear memory of the film.

In some ways Metro Manila is like The Broken in that I think that the film works best in pieces, especially in it's later sections. Once Oscar gets the job working security the film picks up and it becomes something more interesting than the just a farming family in the big city. The cat and mouse game that plays out makes this film something worth seeing.

Okay full disclosure, until the point where Oscar gets the job I couldn't give myself over to the film fully. Its not the fault of the film, which is very good on it's own terms. The problem, and it's my problem is that this film is like a whole spate of recent films from around the world that are pretty much exactly the same, namely the genre of  farmer leaves his village for the big city only to end up in a life somehow connected to crime. I think I've seen at least four other similar films recently, I think the only one I've reviewed here was Ice Poison, where the basic plot was exactly the same. I know the directors weren't copying each other since the films all came from different countries, were made independently and released apart from each other, the problem is that the releasing companies have brought them all here within a 12 months (with most within in the last six) of each other with the result that you can't help but feel a bit of deja vu. I think that had I seen this back in February during Film Comment Selects I would have liked it more, since it wouldn't have crashed into the films at Tribeca and elsewhere.

My bias stated I have to say Metro Manila when seen on it's own terms is really good, and the second half lifting it up into the realm of something special. Actually I know a couple of people who saw it at Film Comment Selects and who haven't seen variations on its plot who are absolutely over the moon for it. They warned me that it was a film that was going to hang with me for days afterward. Me,I know it's good enough that if I can distance myself from this mini-wave of similar films I am coming back to it to give it a second go. You should try it for yourself.

The film opens in theaters and on VOD tomorrow and is worth a shot if you haven't seen similar films.

Portrait (2014)

The subtitle for the film, and its official synopsis is " A slow and surreal video slideshow of  nightmarish,grotesque and apparently static characters"

What it is in in reality is deeply disturbing  pans around faves and people in mid decay. The whole thing is set to a soundscape that makes it sound like your skin is crawling all over your body. Imagiine what someones melting or exploding face would be at the moment they realized they were blowing apart and you have an idea of what most of these images look like.

I watched this on a laptop in the middle of a sunny afternoon and I was disturbed, I can't imagine how this would play late at night or in the middle of a horror festival of shorts.

This extremely messed up and highly recommended.

(and give the filmmakers bonus points for timing it perfectly- long enough to suck us in but not too long as to become a joke)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Kin-dza-dza! (1986)

Two men in Moscow try to help a homeless looking fellow to get out of the cold. The man claims to be from another planet- however when they try to help him they find themselves transported to another planet.

Absurdist satire will either thrill you or bore you. To be honest I took a good half hour before I kind of clicked with the film and it's everyone has an angle angle. From my point of view it took that long to get through the nonsense to something interesting. Actually what was interesting was that it wasn't like any other science fiction film I've seen. Things are decidedly odd, frequently crossing into silly,but at the same time it makes a weird sort of sense.

Is this a great film? Probably not, on the other hand  the decaying industrial look is pretty cool and the visual effects are well done, and odds are its sensibilities is probably unlike anything you've ever run across.

If you're tired of big splashy Hollywood science fiction give it (and all the films in the Lincoln Center Strange Lands series) a try

Kin-dza-dza! plays Friday and Saturday at Strange Lands Lincoln Center's look at International Science Fiction. For tickets and more information go here.

Oh Dear (2004

Nicolas Provost's minute long film about a bunch of kids go cart racing is an absolute delight.

This glorious short film, with amped up colors and a very intentional look perfectly expresses the joy I find in short films in that it takes small moments and then gets off.  I love that it takes you to a perfect cathartic moment and then is done. Short films don't get much better than this.

The film was commissioned by the International Film Festival Rotterdam and can be found on Provost's website here. Take the time, the film is only a minute and it will make you smile.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

To Be Takei (2014)

The first thing I learned about George Takei was that the name name is pronounced Tak “A” not Tak “I”. I’ve been wrong for almost 50 years.

The other thing I learned was that the man best known for playing Sulu on the original Star Trek is funny guy. I know if you’ve been following him on social media over the last few years that’s apparent, but seeing him in action it’s clear , he’s the sort of guy you want to hang out with.

To those of you who aren’t long time Star Trek fans, that may not have been something readily apparent. I remember going to a Star Trek Convention in the mid 1970’s with my brother and a friend and seeing Takei speak. It was one of the dullest most pompous things I’ve ever seen. All he did was talk about San Francisco politics and his attempt at running for office. It instantly turned me off to Takei since it colored my perception of him for decades. It wasn’t until things like his Howard Stern appearances and his coming out that I really thawed toward him.

To Be Takei is a loving and frankly hagiographic look at George Takei and his life. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing since Takei and his husband are great guys. The film covers his whole life from his birth through the Japanese internment camps on through Star Trek and on to now. All the while we see how he largely refused to go the stereotypical Asian route (two Jerry Lewis films being the regretted exception) and influenced generations of Asian (and non-Asian) actors.

This film is a lot of fun. It has interviews with everyone who matters, his family, the Star Trek crew, Howard Stern, the actors he influenced, friends and of course the man himself. It’s blast.

Blast or no it’s not without some flaws, it’s clear that the time in the internment camps left their scars and sequences concerning them, while informative are bit too rigid and they grate against the jovialness of the rest of the film. The other problem is that the film kind of runs out of steam in the second half. It’s nothing serious, it’s just that the film feels like its got a double curse of too much of a good thing and running on a couple of minutes longer than it needs to be. I’m a fan. But there is a point where its too much ass kissing.

Too much or no- this is definitely worth your time. The film hits theaters Friday and is available on Direct TV VOD now.

Walk in the Flesh (2013)

Seven minute condensation of David Cronenberg's Scanners with electronic sound track and melty visuals.

If you thought Scanners was off-this is weirder- i mean real f-ing weird.This is morphing images changing and shifting and melting together in weird ways. The whole process is extremely strange and creates a weird headscape that kind of one ups the plot of the films.

And thats the trouble with Walk in the Flesh, a wonderfully weird and trippy as it is, I'm not sure this is going to play all that well if you haven't seen, and know, the Cronenberg original. How the the images melt  and what the images are are not explained in this short so if you have no knowledge or memory of the source this could be very annoying.

On the other hand if you know Cronenberg 's film this is an incredible trip.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Winter in the Blood (2013)

I was caught in the in-between space-my body was vulnerable to the spirits

The easiest thing I can say is see this movie. This is a stunner. Its a quiet gem of a film that surprised the hell out of me and is so good that I can wait until I can't to sit down and see it a second time.

By all rights I should not have bothered to see this film. I swore up and down that I was not going to see any film for review until the New York Film Festival  unless I really wanted to see it. It was going to have to be one of those big blockbusters or high profile films. And then I got an invitation from the PR people and I did what any rational person would have done I filed it away-only to come back to it three days later and go, "you know I should see that." I have no idea why, just a change of heart, but I decided to wing it... and all I can say is I'm absolutely thrilled I did.

Being dead ain't so bad once you get used to it

Based on a a 1974 novel Winter in the Blood tells the story of a Native American named Virgil. Waking up one morning in a ditch her returns home to find that his wife has left him taking his rifle and his electric razor. He doesn't care about the razor but the rifle is very important to him. Setting off to recover the gun Virgil finds that he is in-between, that it's not only now, but the past and that mixed in with all of that the spirits are appearing to him

I don't know if this film is going to work for everyone. This is a very deliberate film. Scenes can seem long. The narration and some of the dialog is very literary, and I'm guessing because it was lifted from the novel. The result is a film that is as close an approximation to a novel on film as we are likely to get. Words form pictures, images blend together to create something greater, time blurs and we are in the head and heart of our hero.

Watching the film I felt more like I was reading a novel then seeing a film. There is a weight to everything. There is an importance to each image and word as if directors Andrew and Alex Smith measured out each sequence precisely so that it's effect would be perfect both with in the short term for the scene it self but for the overall picture of the film itself. Its rare that any sort of film is this perfectly constructed, especially to the point where you can admire the design and yet lose yourself completely in the tale.

I am in awe.

If you read my reviews with any regularity you know I can nitpick, you know I can say "well it was good but...", but I really can't do that here. Yes there are things that didn't work in the moment, but the whole is so good, so wonderful that I can't in good conscious mention them. Sitting here staring at my notes I'm like yea I see a problem, but the over riding feeling is it doesn't make difference.

That doesn't mean some of you won't like it. The literary quality of the dialog and narration may annoy some of you, others by the fragmented structure, still others by the pacing. On the other hand if you can click with it, if you can give yourself over to this film then you'll have a wonderful experience.

I loved it.

This best sort of literary adaption opens Wednesday at the IFC Center in New York and a platformed roll out will follow. Do yourself a favor and make an effort to see it. Trust me, even if you don't like it I'm guessing you'll at the very least realize that the film is something special.

In the Woods(2013)

Very short short, it runs about 4 minutes  that plays like some sort of dark nightmare as a person traveling through the woods sees strange figures.

The danger of writing up a short that is not fully story driven and plays out more on a deeply psychological and visceral level rears its ugly head is saying too much. How do I write up a film that were you watching it in a darkened room or theater might very well kick you to the curb?

You can't do it without spoiling it for everyone. If I could embed  the short so you could see it before discussing it I would, but I can't. All I can say is  this is a wonderfully brick to the side of the head sort of film. Its one of those that make you want to see it again right away because it's like- Oh Shit what was that and why do I feel beaten up. I don't know but I'd like to investigate why.

If you get a chance to taste this demonic little blotter paper I highly suggest you do so since it will mess you up.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nightcap 8/17/14 On the passings of Robin WIlliams, Lauren Bacall, Your Radio Adventure and Burbage at The Fringe plus links

I am heart broken by the death of Robin Williams.

I will not argue for or against what he did. It was his choice.

I have no real words-All I can say is thank you for the laughs, thanks for the tears, and perhaps I'll get to hang with you on the flip side, hopefully with Mr Winters as well.

Robin Williams says goodbye (to his wife) in WHAT DREAMS MAY COME
The great ballsy Lauren Bacall has passed.

She was a great lady who was classy all the way. She was always a beacon of strength.

My best memory of her was when I saw her on Broadway doing WAITING IN THE WINGS. I sat in the fourth or fifth row and I had Elaine Stritch behind me.
Yesterday a friend and I went to two shows at New York's Fringe Festival

Your Radio Adventure was staged like an old time radio show where over the course of  90 minutes two stories were performed in the style of the choose your own adventure books. The first story was a hard boiled detective story that involved a missing scientist who was involved in space research. It was okay but suffered from too frequent endings so much of the first half was spent replaying the set up sequences.

The second radio adventure was Road Trip of Doom and involved 4 friends going to Niagra falls and ending up in deep supernatural trouble. This one played much better and smoother.

The second show of the day was Burbage: The Man Who Made Shakespeare Famous. A brilliant play this needs to go somewhere say Broadway. This is a one man show that has Burbage talking to a boy who wants to be an actor on the eve before setting off on a summer tour. Its as good a play as you're likely to see....there is only one problem the show's listed running time was 90 minutes it actually rant 45 to 50.  If there is a way to make this longer this could be a huge hit in Broadway or Off Broadway house
This is going to be another busy week here at Unseen. Not only are we going to get the films of the day, but there is a slew of new releases being reviewed and then toward the end of the week there are a few films playing at the Lincoln Center Strange Lands, International Science Fiction series. Look for things to get busier over the next few weeks since despite my plan not to do anything extra, things keep popping up
And now Randi's links

Usagi Yojimbo - "The Last Request"
The models and behind the scenes of Last Request
Grand Budapest Hotel on Trip Advisor
Left to freeze on K2

Orphan and the Polar Bear (2013)

Wanna know the power of stories? Look no further.

Holy Moly was I moved.

Legend of an orphan who was being raised by community. However when ever he was taken out hunting by the hunters of the group he was picked on and left to find his own way back. One day as he began his long walk home he found that a polar bear had come up behind him. The bear was a spirit who took pity on the young boy and took him away...

I have no idea what to say.

There is something about the telling of an old story, that, when the telling is dead nuts perfect is truly magical. This is the perfect story perfectly told. A simple tale that has greater resonance and deeper meaning.


When the film ended I just sat there staring at the screen of my laptop with tears rolling down my cheeks. Why I have no idea- there was something about the image and the voice and the music that just all came together to create one of the most magical movies I've seen in 2014.

Its films like this that make me wonder why people bother with features since little bits of magic like this can be so much more potent.

Track this down

Saturday, August 16, 2014


GEOGRAPHICALLY DESIRABLE tells the story of Nicole, a young woman who is a behind the scenes whiz at DC television ‘s news bureau. Working the overnight she puts in long hours and gets very little sleep. When her Uncle Eddie dies and leaves her his house and his dog in a small town in the middle of nowhere Nicole‘s life is thrown into turmoil. Not only is she away from the hustle and bustle world of TV news she also has a chance at to catch up on her sleep…and she has her eyes opened up to the possibility of romance with someone who isn’t in the business.

The promotional material slants the film as being a romcom, but the reality is that the film is more a portrait of a young woman at the crossroads of her life more than a romance. Yes there is romance and comedy but it’s part of the arc of Nicole‘s life, it’s not the primary focus. What we get is something better and more interesting than the promised genre film. This really is the course of one woman’s life and not a real genre film.

I like this film. I like that it’s a film that isn’t genre. I like that the film tries to do something more and be realistic. This is a really good film.

At the same time there are a two things that bothered me. One kind of a big deal and the other asmall niggling thing that will make you go he can't be serious. I am and I just can't get it out of my head. I'm sorry, its not fair to bring them up but they really bothered me

First the small niggling thing- the film’s look is too perfect. What I mean by this is that many sets are spot less and perfect. Nicole's desk at the beginning of the film is dressed to look like a desk, but it doesn’t feel like anyone actually works there. The office, and numerous sets, feel like they are Ikea displays and not places that people real inhabit. Taking it a step farther everyone's wardrobe is perfect. Everyone looks as if they just put on their clothes instead of wandering in from somewhere else. There are no wrinkles or signs of wear. Watch the clothing, say at the beginning because we’re given a time frame as to how long the people have been there-many many hours, none of the clothes are wrinkled, everything is freshly pressed. Also driving me up the wall was Nicole working in her jacket- no woman I know works in her jacket unless it’s for a very short bit of time and even then they’ll take it off after a minute or two so as not to wrinkle it. For a film that strives to get so much right in the story, the relationships, the portrayal of TV news, it mess up a lot of details.

The other thing is I’m mixed on the performances, especially in the early part of the film. Blair Bowers as Nicole is good but occassionally a tad too stiff. Yes I understand she’s supposed to be a kind of rigid soul who can get things done, but there are times where she seem uncomfortable to be in front of the camera.  I didn't really notice it until she starts spending time in her Uncle's house and the people around her felt more real and grounded. As the film goes on the cast gets more consistently good, and pretty much once she gets to the funeral things pick up and people didn't seem to be acting.

Yes I’m nitpicking. If you read Unseen with any regularity you know I do that, I’m sorry. I’m saying I’m sorry because this is a good little film, I shouldn’t be picking on it especially since the film is trying, and succeeding to do more than your typical inde film.

The film is currently on the festival circuit and a regular run is being planned for some time after that. If you get a chance to see GEOGRAPHICALLY DESIRABLE give it a shot. You may be pleasantly surprised.