Friday, June 30, 2017


A writer wishing to have his memories removed (kind of like ETERNAL SUNSHINE) finds that someone has implanted memories instead indicating that he is a murderer. With time ticking down before the memories become permanent he must race to discover who did it to him and why.

Solid and engrossing, if a tad too deliberately paced film is a nice change of pace for New York Asian Film Festival with a thoughtful science fiction thriller instead of a slam bang action one.  This is one of those film that is better, or at least different  than it's late night slot indicates (its not as exploitive as one might think) and deserves to be seen outside of the crush of a festival where it is going to get lost. This is one of those films that takes a premise we've seen before, dresses it up in some fancy clothes (techno steampunk) and then proceeds to bend the tale to its own ends and in unexpected ways.

I really liked this film a great deal (it's one of my favorite films of NYAFF) and I want to revisit it down the road away from the crush of the rest of the festival.

Mondocurry's take can be found here
JB's take can be found here
Nate Hood's take can be found here

NYAFF 2017 Capsule Reviews: Ordinary Person, Fantasy of the Girls, Double Life, Birdshot, The Long Excuse, Someone to Talk to, Destruction Babies, and Close Knit

Tense  thriller set in 1987 about good cop who ends up mixed up with some bad guys and in the middle of clashing political forces who will do anything for their own ends. Things become complicated when he is warned to get out before it's too late but finds he can't back out because he has arranged an operation for his son whose life hangs in the balance.

What can I say this is neat little thriller that grabs and holds your attention from start to finish. A wonderful example of the sort of thrillers that are done so well in Korea.

One of the best and most entertaining films at NYAFF this year I'm looking forward to seeing this again on the big screen.

JB's take on it can be found here

Cute romantic awakenings in and around an all girls high school production of Romeo and Juliet.

Good film is enjoyable but I kept feeling the film was intentionally keeping me at arms length and saying it wasn't for me since I am a guy.  Worth a look if you are so inclined.

JB's take can be found here

A woman  working on her masters thesis decides to follow her neighbor. She discovers that he has a mistress... .

Meditative work on the art of watching, this is a film that requires patience and a willingness to sit and watch. This is a film that seeks to explore what it means to watch and be watched. I think this film tries for more than it accomplishes

For another more detailed take take on the film JB has posted his review here.

Young women in the country shoots and kills a protected eagle. As the police begin to search for who did it they uncover a deserted bus with the passengers missing which opens up a whole new can of worms.

Often tense mediation on crime and criminality in the Philippines where the police are seen to be even worse than the criminals, this is a film that grabs hold of you and drags you along. A very  good drama it can be a little bit too reflective and trying too much about something to really be great. Still the central story is compelling enough to pull you along which makes this film a recommended one

Mondocurry's take can be found here
JB's take can be found here

A writer named Sachio's wife is killed in a bus crash. Unable to fully grieve he agrees to take in the children of a woman who was also killed in the crash. The children's father is both too distraught to care for them and unable to do so because of his job as a truck driver.

Very good, very well acted drama covers some territory you'd expect from a tale like this but also manages to carve out some new as well.

One of the better dramas at this year's NYAFF it is definitely worth a shot.

JB's take can be found here

A couple is so happy to be getting married that they won't even let a sour couple who literally pushes them out of the way so they can divorce wreck their happy day. Ten years on things are in the crapper as all their hopes are gone and affairs offer the promise of what might have been.

Thoughtful, but often soapy look at how we all refuse to communicate once life gets in our way and shatters our expectations. A solid drama one wishes that it wasn't as artfully constructed at times. Definitely worth a look.

Nate Hood's take can be found here

Like it or loath it film is either a meditation on the violence in life or an endless series of mediocre fights. The choice will be yours as a young man goes in to the city and literally beats up every guy he meets. Along the way he picks up a co-conspirator who photographs him fighting while he abuses women. That's about all there is to the tale other than a coda about violence inherent in life  via a battle at a shrine. I've read glowing reviews but I was bored almost at once since it's a little too jagged, it insists its about something and worst of all the fights are particularly well done (you can see the punches pulled) You're on your own.

Mondocurry's positive take can be found here
JB's take can be found here

When 11 year old Tomo's mother runs away from home she forms a surrogate family with here uncle and his transgender girlfriend.

Sweet film about how family is where you find it and the calming power of knitting. Its a good time passer and my favorite of the LGBT sidebar at NYAFF.

In Brief: Bad Genius (2017) NYAFF 2017

Nattawut Poonpiriya's BAD GENIUS is the opening night film of the New York Asian FIlm Festival and it's not bad.

The plot of the film has girl who is very good at taking tests making a fortune by selling the answers to various tests. When the opportunity arises to make millions by scamming the STIC tests used for international students she jumps at the chance. But the plan, involving taking the test in a time zone ahead of Thailand and sending the answers back is complicated and thing begin to fall apart.

Enjoyable to be sure but for me  the film suffers from being more flash than substance. There lots of showy set pieces which, while stunning, made me admire the technical virtuosity more than they increased my suspense level. For me it was a thriller that held my attention but doesn't thrill, I was too busy watching how the machinery was working.

I have taken a lot of abuse for not loving this to death, several fellow writers have promised not to speak to me as a result. I understand their love of the film, I know why they liked it and why I should,  but it wasn't something I was over the moon about. I know part of my lack of love is that as the opening night film it didn't hit things out of the park or at the very least impressed me that I'm still talking about them- which is something most opening films have done over the past 9 years. For me it's not bad, it's a good thriller, but I kind of hoped for more from the opening night film.

JB's review can be found here
Mondocurry's take can be found here

Thursday, June 29, 2017

NYAFF 2017 Capsule Reviews: Town in A Lake, Mrs B, Love & Other Cults, and Extraordinary Mission

Slow, moody, great to look at film concerns the weird happenings in and around a village in the country. After a young girl is found dead, her brother and others begin to investigate opening the door to strangeness including beings pretending to be human, giant shadow creatures and other things. Best viewed in a dark theater TOWN IN A LAKE is going to either thrill you if you click into to its twisted vibe or bore you to death with its pace and insistence about being something. If you like Twin Peaks this one's for you

JB's take can be found here

Bone rattling documentary about an unnamed woman from North Korea who now smuggles people out, for a price, and who isn't above selling them as well.  A dark gray look at what it takes to survive on the fringes of the world this film is a non judgemental in its approach to it's subject who is willing to talk and explain many things but not others. It's a film that gets under your skin and makes you ponder not only what we are told but what we are not.

One of the best films at NYAFF.

JB's take on the film can be found here

Eiji Uchida's follow up to LOWLIFE LOVE is an off kilter go for broke film about the various young people in  small town in Japan. Bristling with anarchic energy the film drives head long from plot line to plot line at speed. So much is going on that one can never get board. If you like your comedy frenetic this is recommended.

Mondocurry's take can be found here
JB's take can be found here

Undercover cop gets sucked deeper and deeper into the drug business as he attempts to stop a huge drug smuggling ring. Its full of crosses and double crosses and lots of kick ass action scenes.

I am not going to lie about twenty minutes into EXTRAORDINARY MISSION I had no clue who was who any more or what was really going on.I think I blinked and missed something. I had a general sense which was enough so I went with it. It helped that there were awesome set pieces (much of the second hour is a sustained one) to help keep me from worrying what I was wasn't understanding.

Confusion aside I thought this was a great action film. I think enough of it that when I get a chance away from NYAFF I'm going to circle back and take another look.

Recommended for action junkies.

JB's review can be found here
Nate Hood's take can be found here

Reset: Directed by Chang and Produced by J.C.

This film is a Chinese movie studio’s dream come true, because it has multiple Yang Mis, the glamorous star of the smash-hit Tiny Times franchise. However, instead of an editorial assistant at a fashion magazine, she plays Xia Tian, a dedicated theoretical physicist and single-mother. That is true of all the Xia Tians. To save her son, the research scientist will jump back in time more than once in Chang (a.k.a. Yoon Hong-seung)’s Reset, which opens tomorrow in New York.

There are two labs competing to develop alternate dimension wormholes as a means of time-travel. The one in America recklessly cut corners, resulting in wide-spread psychosis in its test subjects, who basically burned the joint to the ground. By the way, did we mention Reset was produced by Jackie Chan? It isn’t hard to see his influence, is it?

Of course, the Chinese lab is proceeding in a Steady-Eddie fashion, so the Western consortium hires Tsui Hu, a former guinea pig, to steal the NeXus group’s data and bomb their Metropolis-esque facilities back to the stone age. To circumvent security, Tsui Hu kidnaps Xia Tian’s son Doudou to force her to be the inside person. Being a real piece of human sludge, Tsui Hu kills Doudou as motivation for Xia Tian to complete the time travel experiment. That turns out to be a little too motivating. Escaping from Tsui Hu’s crew, Xia Tian comes back in time on her own, becoming a migraine-inducing loose cannon. Yes, this process will repeat again.

When it comes to logic, Reset simply couldn’t be bothered. Frankly, they never attempt to explain how Evil Corp hopes to make money off time travel. Seriously, are they spending all this time and effort to game the stock market or to pick every day’s trifecta at Aqueduct? It doesn’t really matter though, because Chang just carries us along with his lunacy. Yang has first class action chops (check her out in Wu Dang if you doubt it), which she gets to start exercising when the third Xia Tian comes along. We’ll admit it, watching bunch of Yang Mis running, jumping, and fighting bad guys is pretty much our idea of a good time.

To his credit, Wallace Huo also makes a surprisingly sinister villain. Honestly, you can practically see the black smoke coming out of Tsui Hu’s ears. Plus, Chin Shih-chieh is terrific in scenes that would be spoilery to explain.

Korean filmmaker Chang has an affinity for action (catch up with The Target for an armchair roller coaster ride) that never fails him in Reset. Granted, there is a lot of fudging and hocus-pocus in Cha Muchun’s screenplay, but it still presents a relatively fresh take on time travel that it then takes delight in complicating to high heaven. It’s a ton of unruly fun, but Yang still does some credible thesping as the distraught and driven parent. Highly recommended for fans of action and time travel movies, Reset opens tomorrow (6/30) in New York, at the AMC Empire.

Clive Davis, Wendy Whelan, Rory Kennedy and Dr. Jim Yong Kim Among Guests to Attend 2017 newportFILM Outdoors Screening Series

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story to Open the Series

Screening locations include fabled Gilded Age mansions, picturesque beaches and international polo grounds

NEWPORT / NEW YORK – June 28, 2017 – newportFILM announced today an impressive line up of world-class documentaries for their annual summer series newportFILM Outdoors, with guests including Clive Davis, Wendy Whelan, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, and Rory Kennedy.  The sunset screenings kick off on June 29th and run through August 31st, with weekly Thursday night screenings, accompanied by pre-film live music and post-screening filmmaker conversations, often moderated by esteemed film and arts journalists from around the country. The series brings over 10,000 moviegoers from around the world over the course of their summer series. This marks the 8th summer season of hosting screenings at various beautiful outdoor locations, thoughtfully paired with each film, in and around historic Newport, RI.

newportFILM Outdoors kicks off with “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story,” at the Redwood Library & Athenaeum. The program will continue throughout the season with a notable collection of documentaries including the following highlights:

  • “Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives” is set to screen on the lawn of coal baron Edward Julius Berwind’s historic mansion, The Elms. A conversation with the famed music producer himself, Clive Davis, will follow. This screening will be in partnership with the iconic Newport Folk Festival™ as part of Newport Folk Presents®.

  • From Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio, “May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers” takes a behind the scenes look at the story of the beloved folk-rock group. The film will be shown in partnership with the legendary Newport Folk Festival™ and as part of Newport Folk Presents®. The screening will take place on the site where Bob Dylan first “went electric” in 1965.

  • Linda Saffire and Adam Schelsinger’s “Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan” will screen on the lawn of Rosecliff, one of Newport’s most fabled and beloved mansions. A conversation with prima ballerina Wendy Whelan will follow.

  • Rory Kennedy’s “Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton,” follows the remarkable story of an American icon, and a hard-charging athlete, who changed the sport of big wave surfing and transcended the surf genre. A conversation with Kennedy will follow the screening.

  • The emotional and epic story of the global health movement is seen through the intimate narrative of Dr. Paul Farmer and Dr. Jim Yong Kim in “Bending the Arc.” Set to screen on the breathtaking Ochre Court lawn, a conversation with Dr. Jim Yong Kim, 12th president of World Bank, will follow.  

  • Sandy Chronopoulos’ high fashion documentary, “House of Z”, will wrap up the season at the stunning OceanCliff Lawn. The film unveils the life and career of designer Zac Posen. A conversation with Chronopoulos & producer Cori Shepherd Sterm will follow. This event will host newportFILM’s 4th annual picnic contest.

newportFILM’s Artistic Director, Andrea van Beuren says, “Once again, we’ve been lucky enough to find and program some fantastic films. Seems like this summer we have something for everyone. We are so looking forward to introducing our audiences to the incredible lives of Hedy Lamarr, Laird Hamilton, Clive Davis, Wendy Whelan, Richard Turner, Zak Posen and the Avett Brothers.”

newportFILM has a history of bringing the most talked about award-winning films and filmmakers to the Rhode Island community. Over the years, films have included Liz Garbus’What Happened, Miss Simone?” Albert Maysles’ “Iris,” Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s“Best of Enemies,” Lauren Greenfield’s “The Queen of Versailles,” and Rory Kennedy’s “Ethel.

newportFILM Outdoors’ documentaries are screened at picturesque locations, often thematically paired with their films, for example, “The Queen of Versailles” about the largest home ever built in America, was shown on the lawn of The Elms, one of the country’s best examples of turn-of-the century opulence and Gilded age architecture. The screening events are unique and experiential, once including a curated exhibit of the heiress Doris Duke’s Dior collection and a Dior-inspired picnic contest around a screening of “Dior and I” at Doris Duke’s fabled Rough Point mansion. Each film is attended by hundreds of local residents as well as Newport’s summer visitors and guests from around the world. Film screenings are free to the public.

A full schedule of films is below.  For more information, visit

A Life Not To Follow (2015)

Christopher DiNunzio’s A LIFE NOT TO FOLLOW hits VOD July 4th and it’s worth your time.

Made before his excellent DELUSION, A LIFE NOT TO FOLLOW is three loosely connected stories of life on the criminal fringes of society. Characters carry over from one tale to the next. The first story is that of a mob controlled boxer who wants to get revenge on his handlers before they take him out for a transgression. The second story has a mob soldier trying to make good, but knowing he will have to kill a friend. The final story has a PI looking for a missing girl. All have a haunting quality to them

This is not a film crime film full of blazing guns, rather A LIFE… is full of lives on fire and burning out. Full of poetic losers and people who will never rise to the top everyone is painfully self-aware. They know they are going nowhere and are fully aware that their time is limited. Somehow knowing that their ends are rapidly approaching life and it pitfalls has made them talkative and we are blessed with some truly wonderful dialog and speeches about life. It’s kind of like watching three very well written film noir short stories on the big screen.

While not a perfect film, some of the secondary performances are merely adequate and DiNunzio’s script has a couple of overly flowerly turns of phrase, the film still impresses. DiNunzio knows that there is nothing more riveting than people in crisis trying to get out and he’s crafted a script that has that in spades. While his characters are losers on their way out they are not going without a fight and we are so much better for it.

If you like crime dramas or human stories of people in conflict A LIFE NOT TO FOLLOW is worth a look

The film hits VOD July 4th. For more information and to purchase go here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Saving Sally (2016) New York Asian Film Festival.

When you see SAVING SALLY - and you should- remember to stay through the end credits because there is a bit at the end.

Lovely little film about a teenage comic artist in love with Sally who is his best friend, inventor and mercenary. Sally had once saved him and they had become inseparable as a result. When Sally takes up with an slimey guy and her parents become too much, our hero sets out to save her.

Beautiful mix of animation and live action (out hero sees most people as monsters) was one of the films I absolutely had to see for the New York Asian Film Festival. I had seen the trailer and it simply blew me away.  It was the one film I wanted to see on the big screen.

90 to 95% of the film works perfectly. A wonderful love story with great characters the film feels like a comic book that or hero might draw. The performances are spot on, the emotion is dead right and the look of the film is delight for the eye.  For all intents and purposes the film is a  delight.

Taken on its own terms it is a unique film that is far removed from all the other cookie cutter films. A truly cinematic vision that is a confection that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. It's a romance that plays your heart strings the right way and makes you want to hug someone.

The problem here is that the film just misses being great and it should be...and I'm not sure why. It was a problem that was mentioned to me by another writer over dinner. He was troubled because he loved the film but didn't go over the moon the way he thought he should.(Everything is perfect except the finished film)

I don't think the film's handling of  dark subjects is to blame (abuse,rape and abortion are in the mix). Frankly I don't know why it just misses being truly great (not to worry its damn near close). Its a film that I loved all the way through but when I got to the end my thought was , "that was really good". And then I got puzzled because I loved so much of it. The only thing is that some of the scenes away from Sally are not  up to everything else.

Not that it matters because SAVING SALLY ultimately is a real delight. Its a film that will put a stupid smile on your face and make you want to go off and fall in love.

Recommended  for everyone (even kids if they will be okay with implied adult subjects)- And do go -you need to go see this in case the film disappears off your radar.

For further information on the film read SAVING SALLY THE FILIPINO FILM THAT NEEDED SAVING

Also JB's take on the film can be found here

Mondo Bava July14- 25 at the Quad Cinema-a 21-film retrospective plus the 50th Anniversary Restoration of KILL, BABY...KILL

The Quad celebrates the Italian maestro of the macabre with a near-complete retrospective of his work—21 titles with 13 on 35mm—plus the U.S. Premiere of a new 4K restoration of Planet of the Vampires

The series will be preceded by the World Premiere of a new 50th Anniversary restoration of Kill, Baby...Kill!, opening on July 7

Over the course of more than two dozen features, Mario Bava’s distinctive style developed from baroque manipulation of chiaroscuro into spectacular use of color, with his reach extending into spy films, Westerns, sex comedies, and a series of benchmark horror films that laid the groundwork for the giallo and the modern slasher movie. A master stylist with a flair for lurid visuals, Bava's imprint on contemporary cinema is incalculable: Fellini, Scorsese, Carpenter, Dante, del Toro, Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, Dario Argento—all were influenced by the so-called maestro of the macabre.

5 Dolls for an August Moon 1970, 35mm
A Bay of Blood 1971, 35mm
Baron Blood 1972, 35mm
Black Sabbath 1963, 35mm
Black Sunday 1960, 35mm
Blood and Black Lace 1964, DCP
Danger: Diabolik 1968, HDCam
Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs 1966, 35mm
Erik the Conqueror 1961, 16mm
Evil Eye 1963, 35mm
Four Times That Night 1972, 35mm
A Hatchet for the Honeymoon 1970, DCP
Hercules in the Haunted World 1961, 35mm IB Technicolor
Knives of the Avenger 1966, DCP
Lisa and the Devil 1973, 35mm
*Planet of the Vampires 1965, DCP
*U.S. premiere of new 4K restoration
Rabid Dogs (aka Kidnapped) 1974, 35mm
Roy Colt and Winchester Jack 1970, 35mm
Shock (aka Beyond the Door II) 1977, 35mm
The Whip and the Body 1963, DCP

For more information and tickets go here

2:22—Caught Up in Karma

You know what they say about karma. Contemporary art can be pretty sinister too. Dylan Branson will face both for the sake of the woman he loves (despite knowing her less than a week) in Paul Currie’s 2:22, which opens this Friday in select cities.

Branson is an air traffic-controller with a knack for keeping the arrivals and departures flowing smoothly through his aptitude for perceiving patterns. However, one fateful day, at 2:22 PM, Branson falls into some sort of cosmically-induced reverie, snapping out of it just in time to avert a mid-air collision. This near-miss is so conspicuously obvious, Branson is suspended for a month, pending an official review.

During his time off, Branson starts to notice weird patterns in his life. The people are different, but the same chain of events culminates in a rather chaotic 2:22 in Grand Central. Each time around, strange electrical short circuits plague the terminal, while Branson gets visions of a violent shooting in the rotunda. However, the time off isn’t all bad. Branson meets and quickly falls for Sarah Barton. It must be fate, since they share the same birthday. Unfortunately, Branson soon starts to suspect Barton is involved in the karmic happening he is struggling to understand—in a way that could be very dangerous for her.

It sounds kind of woo-woo, but screenwriters Todd Stein and Nathan Parker rather cleverly combine metaphysics and astronomy (dissipated energy from a distant supernova may also be a contributing factor) in what could be considered a Groundhog Day-style movie, except everyone has cumulative memory. Each day until Branson and Barton’s thirtieth birthday, his visions repeat, but his interpretations evolve in significant ways.

Despite often looking like an unshaven homeless person, Michiel Huisman still pairs up rather attractively with Teresa Palmer. There really seems to be some genuine electricity between them, which is critically important for us to buy into their immediate attraction and subsequent relationship turmoil. Sam Reid is also effectively slimy as her artist ex-boyfriend, Jonas Edman, in a vintage 1980s Richard Tyson kind of way. Plus, veteran Australian singer-character actor John Waters (not the Pope of Trash) gets to chew a spot of scenery as a sardonic rival gallerist.

Somehow, Currie manages to avoid dopey New Age sentimentality, even while he piles on the fickleness of fate. In fact, 2:22 is really a nice little package that looks appropriately slick and mysterious thanks to cinematographer David Eggby. Frankly, it is rather baffling the film isn't getting a wider distribution, because it is far better than a lot of flicks that escape into theaters. At least, VOD (including iTunes) is an option. Recommended as a pleasant sleeper-surprise, 2:22 opens this Friday (6/30) in limited release (the Gateway Film Center in Columbus).

Soul Mate (2016) NYAFF 2017

Anseng's life is upset when a a journalist asks her questions about an online serial- "isn't she the Anseng of the popular story? Wasn't July, the author, her best friend growing up?" The journalist has talked to people in her old home town and everyone seems to think so.  Anseng says "no", she's not the girl, and she doesn't know July. Soon after Anseng meets Sui Jia-ming, a man who knew both girls on the subway. "How is July" he asks. "I don't know she replies we drifted apart three years earlier..."

Thus begins SOUL MATE the story of Anseng and her friend July. From there Anseng begins to read the story and suddenly everything that happened between the girls/women comes rushing back. Its a great little film that will almost assuredly have you wiping tears from your eyes somewhere along the way.

SOUL MATE is a super little drama.  While not exactly the sort of film that is high on my must see list, I hate weepie films, I found that as I watched the film I quickly fell under it's spell. This is beautifully acted, perfectly made film that hooks you and pulls you in. I found I actually wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters. 

Normally my dislike of these time fragmented romance/dramas is low because more often then not they hinge on a big revelation in the third act. While that is the case here, the promotional material tells you as much, it's not quite what you expect and by the time it happens you won't care because you care about the characters on their own terms.

Recommended, especially for those who are interested in sudsy romance/friendship films ala BEACHES.

Mondocurry's take can be found here

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


LOOK & SEE: A PORTRAIT OF WENDELL BERRY is a tough nut to sell. Far from being a bad film , it's pacing and low key way of doing things is going to cause some people to nod off. On the other hand the films magnificent marriage of words and image will delight many others, especially those who see this on the big screen.

Berry was a well known writer who in 1965 took family away from the big city to live in rural Kentucky. He found success in writing about the land and life he loved turning ot novels, stories, gardening books, poems, essays and pieces championing environmentalism. The film is full of friends and relatives speaking about the man and his work, as well as the man himself reading his words.

The opening three minutes where modern life is married to a Berry piece on society's drive to destroy to build, and build new that looks like everything else. It is as stunning a piece of cinema as I have seen in awhile (it's also a large part of the trailer). It is something that will make you sit up and take notice. From there the film gets to the farm and it all slows down. Life once more takes it's own time. It is through this slower pace that we get to know Berry and his work.

I really like LOOK & SEE. There is something about Berry's words that  impart a need to look at the world that isn't quite like anyone else's. Through Berry's words the world seems fresh and it opens up before our eyes. What we see on screen suddenly becomes vital. Its an amazing thing to experience. The trick is to be able to connect to it.

I suspect that some people won't connect. They will like the words and they will like the images but the pacing of the film, which can be leisurely may not connect with their modern sensibility. They will want things to come at them at speed and they will not want to look and see. It is their loss.

If you want a heady, beautiful film that will move your head and heart go see LOOK & SEE when it opens Friday


NYAFF is screening THE TAKING OF TIGER MOUNTAIN in 3D. If you've never seen seen the film, or if you've only seen the film 2D now is your chance to see something spectacular. Here is my review from when the festival first ran the film two years ago.

Tsui Hark glorious mess of a film is full of enough crazy action that you won't mind that it takes about 45 minutes before it makes sense.

The film begins on New Year's Eve in New York Chinatown as a young man pops in to see his friends before the ball drops. Seeing a Peking Opera version of the Tiger Mountain story he travels back to China to see family. We then flash back to 1946 and the story of a group of PLA soldiers who battle well armed bandits for control of a village and surrounding territory.

Based a true incident which spawned a well loved novel which spawned a Peking Opera play which gave the film it's name TAKING OF TIGER MOUNTAIN is a batshit crazy action film that simply overwhelms the senses. Tsui Hark has fashioned a crazy 3D confection that has all sorts of things exploding into your lap. As pure popcorn powered motion picture goes this film is top of the heap. The extended battle sequences are jaw dropping (one reminded me of the end of Miike's 13 ASSASSINS) and the rest of the action sequences aren't bad either (though the mid-end credit what if sequence is also mind blowing). As a ballet of wild motion this film can't be beat.

The problem with the film is it takes a good 45 minutes to get into it. The plot is so comvuluted that unless you have read the novel you won't know what the hell is going on or worse who is who. As it is some of the mid-film action gets bogged down by the uncertainty of which side are we seeing now. If director Hark didn't have a decades long reputation from throwing the plot out (the ZU MOUNTAIN films or 7 SWORDS anyone?) I would have packed up shop and gone home. Eventually it does all click and then goes like gangbusters, but for a while its really confused.

A minor problem, which depends on how you see the film is that the film was shot for 3D. Watching the Bluray at home one of my brothers wandered in and wondered why the special effects looked so weird to which I responded "this was shot for 3D". "That explains it" he said before he wandered off. The effects are heavy CGI and are full of things created to blow up or crash in the audience. I'm thinking it looks great in 3D but in 2D it looks really weak.

Still this is a kick ass film and one that is highly recommended for the action film lover.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Reagan Show opens Friday

THE REAGAN SHOW played Tribeca and is opening in New York at the Metrograph Theater and in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Monica Film Center on Friday, with a national right after. It will also be on VOD on July 4. Here is a repost of my Tribeca review.

Made up of news footage and what became known as White House TV, ie. footage shot by the Reagan administration, The Reagan Show is a look at the Reagan presidency in a way that reveals a very human side to both Ronnie and Nancy.

Largely focusing on Reagan’s struggles to bring down the number of nuclear missiles the film marches us through the Regan years at speed giving us a look at what happened and who many of the players were. What is interesting is the supporting cast of players who cameo, Newt, Pat Buchanan, Joe Biden and a few others are seen here and there. Interesting other people who were once big players (Heads of conservative groups) make you look at the screen and wonder why in the hell did anyone listen to them.

Because it begins with a title saying that the Reagan’s shot more footage than the previous five presidents combined I was left to wonder why this film is only 74 minutes long. Full of tons of fly on the wall material and a real sense of time and place this film should be two or three times longer than it is. This is one of the few presidential docs that really adds to what we know and changes how we think about them. The only thing I can think of is that the Reagan family/Library refused permission to delve deeper into other areas of Reagan’s administration such as Iran/Contra.

It should be noted that one of the strengths of the film is that it shows us how the world changed in regard to Presidential coverage. We see all of the normal things that we now take for granted with tight control of the image beginning here. Watching the film you can’t help but think of Donald Trump and see how badly he shapes up to Regan and his crew. Regan and his bunch made it all look so easy- especially the pleasant way they deny or counter allegations. Trump should watch this and learn something.


Election (2005) NYAFF 2017

Johnnie To’s Election is, along with its sequel, one the greatest crime stories ever put on film. While the two films can be seen separately, they are increased 10 fold in power when seen together.

The New York Asian Film Festival is only screening the first film and if you’ve never seen it you have to go. While it was to be part of the Tony Leung Kai-Fa tribute and he’s not coming, the film is still screening so there is no reason not to go. The film is an absolute kick in the ass. It’s about the election of the head of a criminal organization and the games played by the men who want power (insert election 2016 joke here).

What follows is my review of the film from the early days of Unseen Films. Because the film and its sequel play as one story, and because that is how I saw it, that is the way the review is written. I have tweaked it slightly but this is pretty much as written.

It is one of the must see of the festival so go buy tickets

I should probably say at the start that what is now out on DVD in the US as Triad Election is actually Election2 the sequel to Johnnie To's Election. While you probably can see just the second film I don't recommend it since so much happens in the first film that's only eluded to in the second and the depth of understanding seeing the first film is vast.

Election is the story of the election of a chairman for one of the Hong Kong Triads. Every two years a new leader is elected by the uncles-the elder statesman of the Triad. In the first film the loser doesn't care to hear that he's lost and takes steps to put himself in power, mostly having to do with getting the Dragon Baton which signifies authority. As the leaders discuss and plot, often from in jail, the foot soldiers begin trying to find the Baton and bring it back so the leader can take power. It’s a bloody tale that leaves many dead.

The second film is set two years later. It’s time for a second election and the candidates are lining up. If you thought there was at least some honor among thieves in the first film all notions go out the window as everyone tries to manipulate everyone else. (I want to say more but I don't want to spoil anything).

Time Out NY reviewed the films and compare them favorably to the Godfather. I would say these guys are much more dangerous than the Corleone clan. I think also that they are a meaner bunch of people than even the Sopranos. You don't want to cross these guys because you'll never see it coming, especially when they’ll get you as you’re looking them square in the face.

The first time I saw these films I started them while sitting to do some cleaning and cooking. There was some stuff I could do that didn't require me to move so I sat and put on the first film. I fell into it, and before I realized what was happening I was half way into the film. It was a strange trip as the film shift gears from the election to the finding of the Baton to another unexpected thread. This is a wild ride that keeps you consistently off balance.

As a standalone film this is a good film with a great start. As a tale meant to stand alone it suffers from meandering a bit too much and leaving a few too many threads hanging. Chilling and a deeply visceral punch in the gut the film is not completely satisfying. The film suffers from shifts in perspective and a very large cast of characters...however the story doesn't really end there and it helps knowing that.

The second film picks up two years later as the next election looms. Candidates begin to gather and everyone tries to either become the new chairman or side with the next one. This film has almost no set up it just goes, with a dinner among friends briefly recapping what went before. It’s done in such a way that unless you saw the first film you wouldn't know what was being done.

As a standalone film I'm certain this film will play okay. Indeed the film played the New York Film Festival with nary a word that it was a sequel, so you can see the films apart, but I wouldn't do it, there simply is too you wouldn't know.

What was set up in the first film is built upon here. Characters try to take sides, stray remarks from the first film are haunting in the second. Motivation and back story are all explained in the first film and here they have a dark resonance that is barely even hinted at if you saw this film as a standalone (The heartbreaking final moments of one character are even sadder when you know all that went before) In deed one key character in the second film will play very differently when you know some of what happens in the first. The second film-in actuality the second part of the story smooths out some of the flaws of the first film. Things make sense in retrospect since you know where they lead.

This isn't to say that the second film isn't flawed, it does seem to move a bit too fast for the story its telling, and there are a few too many characters to completely follow, but it’s still a really good film. As the first film is improved by the second, this film is improved by seeing the first, its flaws are smoothed out by its brother.

(Of course the films together have some flaws that aren't in either single film)

I've been kicked in the chest by these films. The two films together form one of the best gangster sagas put on film.

This is grand human story telling. The layers and the complexity of the tales they tell simply demand repeated viewing. Honestly these are films that get better with a second viewing simply because what happens in each film is deepened by knowing what has gone before and after.

As standalone films they rate a 7 out of 10. If seen together I'd rate them 9 out of 10 and a must see.

As much as it might be considered sacrilege I'm hoping this gets dubbed into English at some point- simply because there are many people who won't read subtitles and they are missing out on one of the best gangster films of the last few years.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The New York Asian Film Festival Starts Friday- The Obligatory Curtain Raiser

Welcome to Unseen Film’s obligatory NYAFF curtain raiser. If you are a long time reader of Unseen then you’ve read a version of this before (I've done it eight times before) so feel free to jump to the recommended films below. If you’re new to NYAFF start at the top and read all the way through.

The New York Asian Film Festival starts Friday which means that I’ll be heading home to the Walter Reade Theater where my family by different mother live each July. The people who go to the fest are best people in the world and I can't think of a better bunch to hang out with for two weeks every July. It’s a glorious thing and it’s the family reunion you could want -where no one’s related and everyone gets along.

I love NYAFF. Why? Just look at all the contributors to Unseen Films and realize that a good chunk of them came from the friendships struck up at the festival. Even those who weren’t picked up at the fest still go to the fest. It’s something that’s in our blood.

What I love is that once you go to a screening or two you’re family. Once we know that you’re one of us- something revealed by seeing you at multiple screenings you’re welcome for life. People will take you home and cook you dinner. We are a friendly bunch…

And there are movies. All sorts of films from across Asia. Many films which you will see nowhere else but at NYAFF. It’s a glorious thing. The films are what brings everyone to the festival the first time, the friendships are the reason for every other trip.

This year my appearances are going to be limited to two maybe three days (assuming the LIRR doesn’t melt down for the third). Sadly I have conflicts which couple the way the programing falls on the other days makes actually getting to the fest neigh impossible….

…Not to worry we’ll be reporting on all but maybe three, possibly four films. As it stand right now I’ve seen all but 12 of the films. Basically I’ve seen 45 , have tickets to 7 and will miss 4. I’m not including the secret screening in this because since it’s secret I can’t run a review. Reviews, except those I'm seeing at the fest, will run before the films screen. There are so many that some are simply capsules but others are full on reviews.

I’ll discuss what I think of the films as a whole when the fest is over, but for now know that there is some great stuff here

What are the must sees? I’m glad you asked because here’s my list:

The must sees:

Sabu's HAPPINESS is not for all audiences (no really I've already gotten into arguments about this film). The light first half hour gives way to a dark, shocking and very sad last hour. Its food for thought and a throw back to Sabu's more meditative films like DRIVE, BLESSING BELL, SATURDAY and recent MISS ZOMBIE. Its a master director making a film at the top of his game.

If you missed NOT WHAT I EXPECTED when it played NYC a couple months back you missed a killer romcom of the highest order. A must see.

ELECTION- If you've never seen the Election films here's your chance to see the first. While working best as the first half of a two part film ELECTION still rocks on it's own and will make you want to rush out and see the second part.

TAKING OF TIGER MOUNTAIN- Tsui Harks insane war film demands to be seen big and in 3D. NYAFF is giving you a chance to do both. An absolute must with a huge bowl of popcorn

ORDINARY PERSON- a killer Korean thriller about a good cop caught in a bad place

TRUTH BENEATH- despite a confusing middle this korean thriller about the daughter of political candidate who goes missing has bookends that will leave you gasping.(I had a frantic email from one writer who was blown away by it)

FABRICATED CITY- Awesome action film about a gamer who is framed for murder and his race to clear himself. Not only is it an awesome thriller but its a biting attack on Korean society. One of the best films at NYAFF and one of the best action thrillers in years.

ETERNAL SUMMER- is a really good coming of age film. I saw this ages ago and I wrote it up for something when I saw it - I will repost the review when I find it

THE ROAD TO MANDALAY- Brooding film from Midi Z is like his earlier films and concerns migrants trying to get work in Thailand

MAD WORLD- An absent father takes in his bipolar son when the hospital decides it can't do any more for him. Acting tour deforce by all involved is a trip into the world of mental illness. Go and see the legendary Eric Tsang in person when he finally comes to NYC for the screening

MRS B- haunting doc about a North Korean woman living in China who smuggles and sells people. If you want a film to make you think this is it.

Those are the musts and here are a couple more suggestions:

If you miss old school Hong Kong horror comedies do try VAMPIRE CLEANUP DEPARTMENT-it's just what the doctor ordered.(With an Eric Tsang cameo)

Miike's second MOLE SONG film is rude crude and very funny. If you liked the first film or Miike's manic style  give it a shot.

And finally a word of warning about BAMSEOM PIRATES SEOUL INFERNO. The audio of the music was intentionally not mixed or cleaned up with the result there is a lot of distortion during the musical performances. Despite playing the film at low volume on my laptop without headphones it made my ears ring and my head throb in ways that I've only experienced at the two loudest concerts I've ever attended.

For tickets and more information for here. Also follow the festival and Subway Cinema on Twitter and Facebook

Unseen Repost: Crooked Circle (1932)

1930's comedy mystery about "The Crooked Circle" a band of hooded crooks who set about plotting the murder of some one who swore to oppose them. Enjoyable but really unremarkable little film, the movie works simply because the cast headed by Zazu Pitts and James Gleason (both of whom would later appear together in a couple of Hildegarde Withers films after Edna Mae Oliver dropped out of that series) and supported by a great cast of actors and actresses you know but may not know the name of (I don't hence the lack naming).

A breezy hour long romp, the movie doesn't make a great deal of sense with mistaken identity, secret passages, ghostly music and people not being who they seem. Its the perfect thing for a dark and stormy night or a late night viewing when one is nostalgic for the late late show.

Currently available from places like Alpha video and other public domain releases I recommend it as one of the reasons to pick up one of the many multi-movie sets such as Night Screams 50 movie set from Mill Creek that are floating around. (I mention that set because I have it and because its collection of mysteries in it quite good with very few clunkers)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Underworld (1927)

Underworld is said to be the first of the “modern” gangster films. It is the film that all the films for the next two decades copied or stole from. It’s said to have been the first film to force theaters to stay open 24 hours to meet the demand of audiences. It’s also one hell of a movie.

The film is the story of a crook named Bull Weed. A big time gangster who robs banks on his own, he’s strong enough to bend a silver dollar in half with his bare hands. He has a sweet spot for feathers, his lovely lady. He also has a soft spot for those down on life befriending a down out fellow he nick names Rolls Royce.  Bull cleans up Rolls and sets him up in his old hideout as the keeper to a secret escape route. Trouble rears its head as Feathers and Rolls begin to circle each other. They remain apart, but Bull is jealous. However Rolls and Feathers don't have much to worry about because Bull's rage ends up directed at a rival gang leader who tries to rape Feathers. Its a rage that will spiral everything to tragedy

Watching the film 90 years on for the first time it’s odd how familiar the film is. I’ve seen variations of this before because this is where it all started. The quintessential crime film it’s easy to see how the film was pillaged for decades after (the City is Yours sign here is echoed in DePalma’s Scarface with the one about the world). Not paying attention to the credits I was shocked at how much it seemed like a Ben Hecht script and I wasn’t surprised to see it came from a story he had written. Actually if you read lips you’ll see the lines of dialog spoken on screen sounds like Hecht dialog. The lines are so good I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t used in sound films years later.

What amazes me at how much the film doesn’t feel like a silent film. Other than the occasional shot the whole film feels as though it belongs from five or ten years later. I think the reason it stayed with audiences wasn’t because of the genre simply because it doesn’t feel old. Even today, despite some classic movie conventions, this is a film that moves and behaves like a modern film. There is a nice grayness to the characters that keep things nicely shaded.

Evelyn Brent performance as Feathers is stunning. There is a strength of character that is beyond the script. You feel the miles on her.  It as glorious bit of acting as I've ever seen.

Larry Semon is amazing in a character role. Semon, an actor director best known as a comic (and director and star of the 1925 Wizard of Oz) shines as one of Bull's henchmen. While the role most assuredly has comic elements to it it is still light years away from Semon's other films. There is a wormy sense of menace that makes you wary of him. Watching it one has to wonder whether how would have not had the break down in his health that killed if had had managed to take more roles in other people's films.

This is a great film. Its so good that when the film was done I started the DVD over again. This is not a classic of silent cinema but a classic and influential film for all cinema.

I can't recommend this film enough. This is definitely worth seeing especially i you can get the Criterion Von Sternberg DVD set which two scores for the film plus a 40 minute making of, not to mention two other films (Last Command and Docks of New York)

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Ghost Story (2017) BAMcinema Fest (Spoilers)

Word going into A GHOST STORY was it either going to be the best film I saw this year or the worst. It would all hinge on whether I accepted the idea that a ghost in the film would be a person in a sheet. I went in hoping to see something special. What I got was a film with severe problems that almost worked before it went off the rails. The ghost as sheet idea was the least of the films problems.

I will say that the film could have been something if it had been a black and white short directed by Bela Tarr. As it is now its  very close to pretentious twaddle. It’s a film that plays as if it is about something momentous-but it never clues us into what that was.(what are we suppose to think or feel?)

I suspect some people are going to be rapturous, I know others are not- several people walked out of the BAMCinema Fest screening, others myself included yawned loudly, while others stared at the screen quizzically (there are dull stretches so I watched the audience). When the film ended the couple behind me could be heard saying that they were hoping Lowery would explain what they had just seen. I left seconds later because films need to stand on their own and not be explained- and the only way it can really work is not to have it explained. Sadly David Lowery is going to have to explain the film to most people who see it for them to really get it.

I need to say that at this point I’m going to discuss the film and it’s plot in detail. I’m going to spill the beans (as much as that is possible) so if you don’t want to know you should stop reading here and move on to something else. If you don’t mind knowing them keep reading.

The film concerns a couple (Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara) living in a rented house. There is some tension between them. Why isn’t clear because the sound mix is such it drives all but the sound effects and the overly intrusive score to the background (it's intentional- the director is making a point-I think). One day we find Affleck has been killed in a car crash outside his driveway. He returns as a ghost who haunts the house. Lots of time passes as he watches Mara wander around grieving and eventually get on with her life. Before leaving the house Mara leaves a note on a small piece of paper hidden in between two boards in a door jam. A new family moves in. Affleck watches them. He smashes their china. He talks to a ghost in a house next door who is floral printed sheet. Other people come. Affleck watches them. He keeps trying to get at the hidden note. The house is torn down a high rise goes up. Affleck leaps from the roof. Suddenly it's the mid-19th century he watches a family on the prairie. They are killed by Native Americans. He finds himself back in the house. He watches events play out again- this time we hear the dialog we didn't the first time. Affleck is finally able to get the note and he disappears.

Told in incredibly long takes the film frequently feels glacial. We frequently watch as things happen in real time. For example Rooney Mara eats most of pie in (essentially) one shot before running off to throw it up.

There is little dialog. Mostly the ghost stares while overdone music blasts us.

Because the film moves so slowly and is full of static shots and little direction my mind wandered and I realized the film has all sorts of plot problems:

The car accident that claims Casey Affleck's life couldn't happen the way we see it. Never mind the road is where he lives is a rundown rutted film the angle of the cars is all wrong for the street they are on. No one would be traveling fast enough or in the right direction to create that sort of accident- especially a fatal one.

How time moves for the ghost is internally inconsistent. Never mind that there is the 200 year time jump, how we move through time makes no sense as some  months or years speed past while at others times we watch things in real time. We never get a sense of how or why things speed by.

I'm not sure why he can affect somethings and not others. There are times when he tries to do something but has no effect and then at other times he's knocking pictures over or tossing china

We also don't know why he is anchored to the house. He has to walk from the hospital.   The reason can't be his need to see the note since the note comes a good while after he is dead. As to get back to Mara, perhaps, but why not go with her then? Of course we don't fully know what the deal is between Affleck and Mara.

Because 90% of the dialog is either mumbled, covered up the sound mix or in Spanish we never get to know either Affleck's or Mara's characters. The relationship between them is nothing but longing looks because we never really hear anything until the closing minutes of the film and events replay. How can we be moved when we know nothing? We have no sense of them as people- which means we have so sense of Affleck as a ghost. Worse we never get to know anyone's motivation-why are these people here? Why do they love each other – we have no clue.

(And I don't care that Affleck won an Oscar as best actor, it's very clear here that he is a man of limited talents and needs a better script than this to give a performance and do more than mumble)

How can Affleck Ghost be in the house at the same time as himself?

How does Affleck pull out the note and read it when within the time line when he almost has it out when the house is destroyed at a later time? What is the nature of time within the film anyway?

I think outside of the moments anything positive is the result of what people carry into the film rather than what is there.

And there are moments-

The talks with the ghost across the way is kind of haunting (despite being silly). The not remembering why you were waiting stayed with me as did the sadness of realizing the one ghost had been waiting for nothing.

The monolog about nothing having meaning because the universe will end in billions of years is really good but at the same time what the hell is it doing in this film?(That’s a question I could ask about lots of the moments) Its a glorious bleak moment that is unconnected and free floating but adds nothing to the film except running time.

The high rise bit isn't bad and the film kind of comes together for a while and until he jumps from the roof. I thought the film had come together but the jump back in time killed it. My thought was if trimmed the film’s excesses down prior and ended it before he jumps (the shot through the window is killer) you’d have a great short. (I'm annoyed because I honestly thought Lowery was pulling gold from the shit- and then he jumped into the void)

Mara listening to the song and remember hearing it for the first time was really good. I just wish it was connected to a better film where we could be fully connected to the characters so it broke our hearts the way it should have. Its too adrift to have impact even if it is a nice moment.

I do have to say that while it is not the worst film I've ever paid to see at a festival (it kind of works in fits and starts) it is for long stretches one of the dullest. This is a really clever short film stretched to feature length.

And the most amazing thing is that the sheet ghost idea isn't a bad one- it's most of the other stuff that David Lowery does with the film that does it in.

An occasionally intriguing failure, it is not really recommended except for the curious.

In Transit (2015) opens today

I saw IN TRANSIT when it played Tribeca in 2015. With the film opening in theaters today I'm reposting the review.

IN TRANSIT is one of the final projects worked on by Albert Maysles. Working with several other people they document Amtrak's Empire Builder the busiest long distance run in the US between Seattle and Chicago. The film blends trips in either direction into one long journey.

An American version of IRON MINISTRY which played at The New York Film Festival in 2014 this is little more than an observational look at three days on a train. We see how various people pass the time and interact. In a few cases people, a conductor from the mid-west in particular, are interviewed.

How is it?

Much like a trip across the country, full of great things to look at and a mixed collection of people.Some people you completely understand why the camera focused on them (the pregnant mother and the shutterbug), Others we are left to wonder where the rest of the conversation is (the two people above) since we seem to have come in the middle of something.

While most definitely worth seeing on a big screen, this is light confection compared to some of Maysles other films.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Food Evolution opens Friday

Ariela saw and reviewed FOOD EVOLUTION last year at DOC NYC. Now that iit is hitting theaters I'm reposting the review.

FOOD EVOLUTION in my opinion is a must see documentary. It's very educational and discusses the controversy of GMO food, which is very relevant these days.

GMO=Genetically Modified Organism. They change the DNA. They vaccinate plants through genetic engineering. Change seeds to have enrichment in them. Disease resistant.

Who’s right? I was actually surprised by a lot of the information. There is a consensus among scientists that GMO foods are safe to eat. There's no evidence that GMO foods are bad for us. The film states that scientists have repeatedly tested all GMO foods and there have been no adverse reaction. They also say GMO's have decreased pesticide use.

The people who are anti-gmo say they get their information from social media and that they don’t believe/trust the scientists. They argue against science without any scientific facts.

The film uses farmers, scientists and experts in the field to discuss their point of views. They really discuss both sides so the viewer can come to his or her own conclusion.

The film started in Hawaii which was the first state to ban GMO's. Other cities and countries followed. But we quickly see that maybe GMO’s are not the enemy.

GMO's have saved crops from being wiped out.

An example of this happened in Uganda where there were banana problems- the bananas had wilted. This is a huge world risk as it’s a huge source of nutrition and money. They did a test run of planting a GMO and a non GMO banana plant. The GMO plant grew, the other didn’t. The farmers were so excited. Even the organic farmers wanted in on it.

By the end of the film, several people who were fighting against GMO’s had changed their viewpoint. I wonder what the future will be like.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

in pursuit of silence opens Friday

I saw IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE last year at the Dallas Film Festival and have been haunted by it ever since. This is a must see in theaters. or if you are seeing this on TV or computer put on head phones this is all about sound. It opens Friday so here is my review

This film MUST be seen in a theater. The controlled environment is required to full comprehend the aural nature of the film. It begins with 4 minutes of silence and then the sound creeps in with the ringing of a bell. The soundscape of the film is so important that the festival video link gives the instructions that the film is to be watched with headphones.

Mediation on the nature of sound and silence in particular is less a documentary and more an essay. Its a stunning trip into a particular head space. Its one that clears the mind and gets you thinking about all of the sounds and noises that intrude on our lives.

It is in its way a kind of spiritual sibling to the great documentary INTO GREAT SILENCE which is portrait of a monastery where the brothers remain mostly silence. Its a film that makes you want to go off into the silence and just think and commune with the world around you.

I don't know what to say. Its hard to really discuss or review a film such as this because ultimately the film isn't really a film, it's a journey. Its a film that takes us somewhere and shows us something and forces us to confront the world and ourselves. I can not even begin to imagine how you will react to it. Rather this is simply a film I can tell you about and press into your hands and say "See this. You must see this because it will make you think and feel." This is a film that may very well change the way you see the world and interact with it.

Of course it may not, but it is something you should see and all I cn do is point you toward the Dallas Film Festival or where ever this screening and have you try it.

It's a very recommended mediation