Friday, May 31, 2019

For The Birds (2018)

For the birds is the story of Kathy Murphy who over the years amassed a collection of over 200 birds (ducks, geese, turkeys,) much to the consternation of her family and neighbors. With the help of caring animal rescue people, friends and family we watch as she deals with her fowl addiction. We also watch the implosion of her marriage

While I like For The Birds, my reaction to the film was affected by the fact that I deal on a regular basis with a woman at my day job who is speaks in a similar fashion as Murphy and is just as lost in her own mania. No matter how serious a film is I am always looking to escape mentally to someplace else. For me watching the film was like being stuck on the phone with a certain woman for 90 minutes which made it hard for me to completely lose myself in the film.

My personal problems aside, For the Birds is a good film. A sympathetic portrait of a woman who is lost in her own mania the film makes us care for Murphy enough that we really want to see her get better. We also feel for her husband who is lost in his wife’s madness and really just wants a quiet night’s sleep. It’s heartbreaking and completely compelling. How compelling? While I was watching the screening link it my dad wandered by and saw part of it and just stood there watching for a good chunk of the film hypnotized by the film.

If you want an offbeat film that isn’t typically a Hollywood documentary give For the Birds a look either in theaters or VOD.

Renegade Dreamers (2019)

The work protesting the injustices of modern society by artists like Woody Gutherie, Alan Ginsberg Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan did not end with their death or the passage of time, but continued on to this day. The mantle has been picked up by new generations who use art to change the world.

I mostly like  Renegade Dreamers. I do love the film and it’s portrait of protest through art, music and poetry across generations. I love  the historical sections (which are beautifully put together) , and  the art we see and hear (which is wonderful). The film as a historical record of protest is gangbusters.

For me the problem is I don't really care for one of the people profiled in the film seems to be playing way too much to the camera as if he has to puff himself up for the camera. Yes, his art is vibrant and alive but there is something about him that kept me from fully connecting to the film whenever he was on screen.

My personal reservations aside the film is worth seeing because the history is so good.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Very Brief Word on Godzilla King of the Monsters (2019)

I have seen GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS and I loved it. It is everything the inner six year old who was writing the local TV stations to play the films in the afternoon would have loved to death.

I am not going to really review it. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet and all the things I really want to say will reference things that happen. However I do want to say a couple of things

First I need to take on the reviewers who haven't liked it, especially those who couldn't follow it to task because it really isn't rocket science. I say this because I read some reviews that described sequences and actions that were not in the version I saw. I saw things that could have been misinterpreted as what they wrote but that wasn't what happened.

Additionally if you are a Godzilla fan ignore the bad reviews because I think many of the poor reviews are from people who don't like or don't know the films. Complaints about Godzilla's disappearance for a chunk of the film that many people have complained about exactly mirrors what happens in many of the other 28 other Godzilla films. Godzilla disappears for a while.

If you are a Godzilla fan who really knows your films you will find references to all sorts of stuff in the earlier films. When the film was done my brother and I traded references.

A word of warning the film can be a little slow to start. Hang in there because once it gets going- it just goes like gangbusters straight to the end. (and no you don't need 3D)

Stay through the end credits. After they have all rolled there is final scene.

I love some of the twists and turns-and I got weepy a couple of times. I also had goosebumps. And as I said my inner six year old was screaming with delight especially in the final bits.

How does it rate with the recent Godzilla Monarch series? SKULL ISLAND is probably the best. I would rate the two GODZILLA films equally under that. (Remember I am a huge fan of the first Godzilla film) The first film delighted the inner adult. This one delighted the inner kid.

Assuming you know what you are getting- a Godzilla film and all that entails, done with modern special effects I highly recommend it.
This looked so cool in 3D

#Like (2019) Brooklyn Film Festival 2019

I need to see #LIKE again. That is not a bad thing but a good thing. It’s is a film that has haunted the edges of my mind since I saw it and grown in stature since I first saw it.

The film concerns Rosie who is still mourning the passing of her sister Amelia. A year earlier she took her own life- having been bullied to the point of death. Unfortunately Rosie discovers the evil person behind her sister’s death has resurfaced and she is not going to just let them do it to the next person.

What is nominally a thriller is in reality something more. A mediation on our on line lives, revenge, and a whole bunch of other things. It’s a film that you watch and enjoy- and then you can quite shake. I watched the film figuring it was going to take a certain path and it did for a bit until it didn’t (and no I am not going to tell you what happens, you’ll have to see it) and it was the little twists and turns that hung with me. Not because of what they did with the plot but because they raised all sorts of interesting threads such as how do we handle the results of our actions.

I really like the film, but at the same time I’m not certain what I fully think of the film. Please don’t take that to mean it’s a bad film. Take that to mean that this is one of those films where I am cursing having a short turnaround time. Ideally I would like to sit with the film for a week or two and then see the film a second time to see how I feel about it. Films like this, the one’s you can’t shake are the films that I search out since it means that it is more than the typical Hollywood fodder. You know the one’s that you watch, instantly forget and then want something else.

I suspect that I would have a better handle on the film if I would allow myself to really discuss the film, but I can’t do that. I don’t want to clue you into anything that happens, and most importantly I don’t want you to go in with any preconceived notions. I want you to go into the film and have it hit you in the face. I want you to go through the story unaware of what happens, and I want you to watch director Sarah Pirozek‘s artistry and see the work of someone to watch.

Go see #LIKE. It is playing this weekend at the Brooklyn Film Festival(tickets here) and then it will move out from there. I will not promise you that it is going to be the best film you see, hell I’m still working out my thoughts, but I will promise you that you will walk out feeling that you’ve seen something more than your run of the mill thriller.

For tickets and more information go here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


The 9th annual Lower East Side Film Festival (June 6th - 10th, 2019) invites you to experience innovative feature films and specialty short showcases, industry talk backs, and more throughout their five day festival, all with an open wine and beer bar provided by Hecht & Bannier and Radeberger.

New York, NY -- The Lower East Side Film Festival directors are proud to announce the festival’s 9th annual opening and closing night films along with the complete festival schedule.

Opening Night (June 6th) will feature the New York Premiere of Shaina Feinberg’s Senior Escort Service written & directed by Shaina Feinberg and starring Chris Manley, Shaina Feinberg, Chris Roberti (High Maintenance, Broad City), Jeff Seal, Mona Chalabi, and Drae Campbell. “After the sudden death of her father, filmmaker Shaina Feinberg goes on a tour of grief in this genre-bending feature film. Blending archival footage with a series of journeys – both real and imagined –Senior Escort Service is a funny and sad meditation on loss.”

Opening Night will kick off with a short preceding the Feature; the World Premiere of Nighty Night written & directed by Matt Porter (the Chris Gethard Show)and starring Chris Gethard (The Chris Gethard Show, Parks and Recreation, Inside Amy Schumer, The Office, Broad City) and Zach Cherry (Crashing, You, Spider Man: Homecoming)This year’s Opening Night Party will be curated by Matt FX and will feature live musical performances from Synead and Simba.

LESFF is also super thrilled to announce that this year, 50% of The Lower East Side Film Festival’s programming (Features and Shorts) are created (produced and directed) by womenand they will be partnering with Refinery29 and The Writers Guild of America East for Crafting the Female Protagonist-- a night of storytelling and discussion at the East Village’s Bathhouse Studios.

LESFF is also excited to be screening the New York Premiere of feature film This Is Our Home; a romance turned horror film directed by Omri Dorani about a struggling couple's weekend getaway that goes awry when a child arrives in the middle of the night claiming to be their son. Starring and produced by Simone Policano and Jeff Ayers, and written by Rob Harmon.

Shorts Highlights at LESFF 2019  include:

Legal Smuggling. After making a name for himself as 'Hanksy,' Tom Hanks/Banksy mashup street artist, Adam Lucas, found himself meeting his idol: Tom Hanks. During the meeting, Adam is forced to question whether his 'Hanksy' monicker is doing more bad than good.

La BrujaThe Daily Show’s Eliza Cossio will present a bilingual dark comedy about a Mexican American woman who goes through a breakup, then meets a witch who offers to help. La Bruja is written & directed by Eliza Cossio (HBO’s Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas, The Daily Show) and stars, Ronny Chieng (The Daily Show, Crazy Rich Asians), Sophie Zucker (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Other Two), and Andy Bustillos (HBO's Girls, Divorce).

Too Long At the Fair. Written & Directed by Jessie Barr and Lena Hudson and starring Jessie Barr, Lena Hudson, and Chris Messina (Sharp Objects, The Mindy Project)Too Long at the Fair follows best friends and owners of a fledgling Princess Party business in Los Angeles. After a mishap at an important client's party the two find themselves in the hole and desperate for funds. They meet a charming divorcee (Chris Messina), and what begins as a provocative yet seemingly harmless adventure takes a downward turn that will alter their lives forever.

The Chair. Written by Eric Ledgin (Writer -- Superstore, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) & Kelsey Ledgin and directed by Eric Ledgin, The Chair stars Stephen Schneider (Bumblebee, Broad City) and Odette Annable (Cloverfield, Supergirl) and follows two recent exes who try to peacefully divide up their shared belongings.

Closing Night (June 10th at Village East Cinema) will feature two documentaries and shorts: The Sweetest Land, The Last Pig, This Is America Shorts Showcase, and Best Buds Shorts Showcase. The  Sweetest Land, directed by Jeffrey B. Teitler is a powerful documentary investigating the real story of violence through the eyes of the midnight surgeons, the victims of violence, the beat cops and prevention organizations. The Last Pig is a lyrical meditation on what it means to be a sentient creature with the power to kill. Set against the stunning backdrop of upstate New York, this deeply immersive film is a poetic snapshot and a contemplation on the value of life.

LESFF Judges include Rosario Dawson (Kids, Rent, Daredevil, Jane The Virgin), Joe Quesada (Chief Creative Officer at Marvel, Executive Producer Cloak & Dagger, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones), Matt FX (Music Supervisor -- Broad City, Difficult People, In The Mix with Matt FX), Tamra Simmons (Producer -- Surviving R. Kelly, Growing Up Hip Hop), Sam Levy (Cinematographer -- Jerry Before Seinfeld, LadyBird, Frances Ha).

Short showcases this year include: Mind F*ck Night -- short films that festival programmers promise will f*ck with your mind, This is America Shorts, and New York Filmmaker Shorts, among others.

The Complete 2019 Lower East Film Festival Schedule is as follows:

Thursday, June 6th: Opening Night
      Opening Night Film, SENIOR ESCORT SERVICE (NEW YORK PREMIERE) 8pm, Village East Cinema
      Opening Night Party: Music Showcase presented by MATT FX 10pm, DROM

Friday, June 7th:
      NY FILMMAKER SHORTS SHOWCASE. 7pm, Village East Cinema
      STRANGELOVE SHORTS SHOWCASE. 9pm, Village East Cinema

Saturday, June 8th:
      ROOFTOP FILMMAKER RECEPTION Presented by Radeberger, 2pm, cloudM Rooftop Bar at citizenM Bowery Hotel
      Feature Film: THIS IS OUR HOME (NEW YORK PREMIERE). 7pm, Village East Cinema
      MIND F*CK SHORTS SHOWCASE, 9pm, Village East Cinema

Sunday, June 9th:
      FEMALE PROTAG PLAYLIST SHORTS 3pm, Bathhouse Studios
      CRAFTING THE FEMALE PROTAGONIST with Refinery29 + WGAE, 7pm, Bathhouse Studios

Monday, June 10h:
      THIS IS AMERICA SHORTS SHOWCASE, 6:30pm, Village East Cinema
      Feature Documentary: THE SWEETEST LAND, 7:30pm, Village East Cinema
      Feature Documentary: THE LAST PIG. 8pm, Village East Cinema
      BEST BUDS SHORTS SHOWCASE, 8:30pm, Village East Cinema

2019 Official Selection Film Trailers:

Random Thoughts on John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum (2019)

The first thing you need to know is that if you haven't seen the first two films don't see this film until you do. It begins with John on the run after the events of the last film and just goes with no hint of explanation of the world or its rules so you will be hopelessly lost.

The second thing you need to know is that the the Parabellum of the title is the name of an automatic weapon whose name is formed by the Latin words for Prepare For War (As in the If you want peace, Prepare for war). I mention this because the film sets up a sequel, a bigger badder and an oh my god how are they going to top what just happened sequel...not that you couldn't have guessed that, but I just wanted to state the obvious.

As I said the film begins right where the previous film left off and just goes for two hours plus. Lots of people die and we get hints of the larger world of not only the assassins but of Wick as well. The film is essentially a series of set pieces that manage to build character and move the plot, something that other action films usually fail to do.

The film is not without it's mistakes. While beginning right after the last film which ended in sunshine and daylight this film picks up at night in the rain. The geography of New York is laughable with characters moving impossibly through the city in ways anyone with a passing knowledge of the city will recognize (on foot in the north end of the Times Square Wick hops a cab  to suddenly be several blocks south and west of where he was- at a time his destination, NYPL, was closer before he got into the cab. He then end up in Chinatown in minutes when it would take him 30 minutes to get where he wanted to go.) And I won't get into the missing finger that is still in some shots.

Of course you won't care because the action just keeps going.

I really like the film a great deal. I love that the Wick saga is actually expanding. Of course none of it is realistic but hey, its a great deal of fun.

Highly recommended for action fans

Free Trip to Egypt (2019)

Full confession: I agreed to review FREE TRIP TO EYGPT because I thought it was going to be easy. One of any number inde docs sent my way which are good but nothing special. I figured it would be an easy film to handle in the wake of a heavy Tribeca schedule…and then I saw the film and found it wasn’t easy…in a good way.

FREE TRIP... is the story of Canadian/Egyptian entrepreneur Tarek Mounib who realized that the way to change minds and the world was to open a dialog. If we can get people to talk to each other about their realities, views and fears we can build bridges. To that end he would go to America, find some people, mostly right leaning MAGA types, who are either anti-Islam or don’t know anything about the religion, but who are open minded enough to be willing to find out and take them to Egypt and show them what they “fear”. The film crew would film what happens and there would be a film.

Low key unexpected joy is a must see. On some level the film does what you expect it to, which is show how real and meaningful dialog can and will change minds for the better, but at the same time hanging out with everyone and watching the change happen results in a rare form of movie magic. No strike that- real magic because these are real people and what happens to them really happened. Trust me this film will sneak up on you and then jump you with an emotional punch. It did that to me, with an ending section which was completely unexpected.

To be honest this is not a film you should be reading about, rather it is one you should just experience. I say that not because I don’t want to write on the film, but rather that what I will say will not match the experience of seeing it. I went in thinking it was going to be one thing but it wasn’t that. Well it was, but the experience of seeing it wasn’t what I expected. There was more going on than I expected, which made me happy at the complexity, but saddened me because I went in with such a half-assed attitude that I had to go back and give the first twenty minutes a second go.

Highly recommended, A FREE TRIP TO EGYPT plays New York for a week starting Friday May 31. It will play in Los Angeles on June 7th and then will screen in 500 theaters on June 12th as part of a Fathom Event

2019 Milwaukee Film Festival Ticket Packages and Passes on Sale This Week

MILWAUKEE - Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - Milwaukee Film announced today that ticket packages and passes for the 2019 Milwaukee Film Festival, presented by Associated Bank, will go on sale this Friday, May 31, at 9 a.m. Central through the Milwaukee Film website,

Through Aug. 1, Festival passes, 6-packs and new 10-packs boast the biggest discount of the season, with Milwaukee Film Members earning an additional discount as part of their benefits.

"Our annual Festival presents hundreds of films from around the globe, truly the best of contemporary cinema, and we want our attendees to explore as many titles as they can during the 15-day celebration," stated Jonathan Jackson, CEO and artistic director of Milwaukee Film. "The introduction of 10-packs this year gives Festival-goers more opportunities to see great cinema at the most affordable price point for tickets."

Ticket 6-packs and 10-packs are comprised of electronic vouchers that can be redeemed for non-premium screenings when the Festival box office opens in October. Festival passes grant entry to every screening at the Festival except the Member-exclusive Super-Secret Screening, in addition to the Opening Night party.

Milwaukee Film Members will be exclusively able to purchase passes, 6-packs and 10-packs online starting at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 30. Members attending the monthly Members-only screening at the Oriental Theatre on Wednesday, May 29, can purchase in person starting at 5:30 p.m.

Quantities are limited for Festival passes and 6- and 10-packs at each pricing stage. Details on becoming a Milwaukee Film Member are available at

The 11th annual Milwaukee Film Festival runs Oct. 17-31. During the Festival, Milwaukee Film welcomes tens of thousands of attendees and guests from around the globe to hundreds of films, parties, and panels. For more information or to purchase tickets later this week, visit

Act One pricing | Friday, May 31 - Wednesday, July 31

6-Packs - $66
Milwaukee Film Members - $51

10-Packs - $90
Milwaukee Film Members - $80

Festival Passes - $390
Milwaukee Film Members - $300

Act Two pricing | Thursday, Aug. 1 - Monday, Sept. 30

6-Packs - $72
Milwaukee Film Members - $57

10-Packs - $100
Milwaukee Film Members - $90

Film Passes - $460
Milwaukee Film Members - $385

Festival box office open | Thursday, Oct. 3 - Thursday, Oct. 31
Milwaukee Film Members will have access to individual tickets through the Festival box office beginning on Oct. 1.

Single Tickets - $13
Senior/Student/Military - $12
Milwaukee Film Members - $11

Festival Passes - $475
Milwaukee Film Members - $425


About Milwaukee Film
Milwaukee Film is a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to entertaining, educating, and engaging our community through cinematic experiences, with a vision to make Milwaukee a center for film culture. Milwaukee Film operates the magnificent Oriental Theatre, a historic cinema palace committed to high-quality and accessible film and education programming. The 11th annual Milwaukee Film Festival will take place Oct. 17-31, 2019. For more information or to become a member, visit

Facebook: | Twitter: @mkefilm | Instagram: @mkefilm

About the Milwaukee Film Board of Directors
Milwaukee Film’s independent board is made up of the following members: Chris Abele (Past Board Chair); John P. Bania; Donna Baumgartner; Elizabeth Brenner; Héctor Colón; Karen Ellenbecker; Jeff Fitzsimmons; Alexander P. Fraser (Immediate Past Board Chair); Carmen Haberman; Susan Haise; Katie Heil; Patti Keating Kahn (Board Chair); Tracey L. Klein (Past Board Chair); Michael G. Klein; Michael J. Koss Jr.; Alexander Lasry; Steve Laughlin (Past Board Chair); Emilia Layden; Michael R. Lovell; Joan Lubar; Marianne Lubar; Steve Mech; Mark Mone; Susan Mikulay; Kenneth W. Muth; Bob Pothier; John Ridley; Joseph A. Rock; Ramona Rogers-Windsor; Lacey Sadoff; Dave Stamm; Julia Taylor; John Utz; Kimberly Walker; Emeritus members: Tom Barrett; Jacqueline Strayer

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Unholy ‘Mole (2019)

Director David Bornstein needs to be locked up. He needs to go somewhere he can never hurt anyone…I still want him to make movies…oh how I want him to continue to make movies.. I just want someone this sick and twisted to go somewhere safe…

The reason I’m saying this is that Bornstein is back at it after A King's Betrayal, which was about the life of a piñata from the piñata’s POV, with Unholy ‘Mole, which is the story of a man who really really wants his wife to make him some guacamole and the steps he takes to have her do it.

I was deeply disturbed by this film. I mean what happens could be in the dictionary under the term wrong. Clearly Bornstein knows no boundaries, and if you need proof consider that even as I was feeling bothered I was laughing uncontrollably. Yes, Bornstein once again is working in the sweet spot where laughter meets horror and we are better for it.

This is a grand jewel of a film. As if Bornstein’s previous films weren’t enough of a calling card this film should put him on the radar of someone who has money for a feature film. And based on what we see here, with killer effects, great performances, an awesome script  and perfect unrecognizable vocal work by Ray Wise, the thought of giving Bornstein a feature budget could be a good thing.

But I am digressing….

Soon to hit the festival circuit, where I am certain it will be a big hit, Holy ‘Mole is must see for anyone who likes horror or has a love of twisted humor. I can’t recommend it enough. It is one of the very best films of any length I've seen in 2019.

Dons of Disco (2019) Brooklyn Film Festival 2019

Sometimes when singers such as Milli Vanilli are outed as not singing it destroys their careers. In the case of Italian superstar Den Harrow people didn't seem to mind.  The film is the story of singer Thomas Barbey who was the voice and one of the song writers for a made up singer. Created by the record company Barbey was hired to sing and write songs for a good looking guy, Stefano Zandri, who the producers found in a disco. Charismatic, to a fault he was the perfect front man but he really couldn't sing. After several years behind the scenes Barbey walked away and focused on his own music and photography. When he realized he should be getting credit, if not royalties he held a press conference to reveal the true story...and it didn't go quite as expected.

Being completely unaware of Italian pop I had no idea what this story was all about and as such I went into the film completely blind. It resulted in my being completely delighted at discovering a really wonderful film that doesn't remotely go as expected. I was certain that this was a case of an Italian Milli Vanilli but there is much more to the story with the result we are kind of held captive to the tale because we really want to see where it goes. I absolutely love when  a story refuses to follow the expected path and shows us all sorts of new things, such as a giving us a glimpse into the life of an artist in the shadows and a lip syncing superstar.

Highly recommended

Monday, May 27, 2019

The contractually obligated Brooklyn Film Festival Curtain Raiser and recommended film list

Friday the latest edition of the Brooklyn Film Festival is slated to begin and Nate Hood and myself will be wading into its cinematic goodness. Its 10 days and 133 films playing in various venues across the borough.

Brooklyn is the little film festival that could, it's bounced all over its confines, always outlasting any trouble that has gone it's way, such as the closing of various venues that it once found a home in. Outside of the festivals that I had been going to prior to starting Unseen Films, Brooklyn is the festival I've covered the most. Every year since I discovered it Unseen has provided some form of coverage.

What keeps us coming back is the excellent selection of films. Brooklyn is a festival is beautifully programmed with some of the best films you'll see in any film year. Almost every year the festival throws up films that end up on our year end lists. In addition to everything else it has an animation track that is absolutely killer.

This year our coverage is going to be a little less comprehensive as we might have liked. Life is interfering and making it difficult to fully submerge ourselves in everything that we would like to. However both Nate and myself are going to do what we can and get you the low down on as amuch as possible.

Since there are a few days until the festival starts I know you are wondering what films do we recommend? Here is a quick list based on what we've seen so far:

JUDAS COLLAR- stunning wordless short film about camels in the Australian Outback.One of the coolest films you'll see all year. An amazing visual experience I would put money down on it being an Oscar finalist.

SANCTUARY- Hands down one of the most important films of 2019. It is the story of a mother who seeks sanctuary in a church in upper Manhattan in the hope that ICE and Trump don't deport her or her family. It makes a very real problem understandable to everyone.

SILENT FORESTS - a portrait of the efforts to save the elephants that live in the forests of the Congo Basin. While not wall to wall pretty pictures it is a great portrait of the people fighting to save a very endangered group of animals.

LUISTA PHOTO STUDIO - portrait of the sisters who ran a legendary Buenos Aires photo studio that took pictures of anyone who was anyone. It is my favorite films at the film festival.

DONS OF DISCO- excellent portrait of the voice behind a legendary singer (ala Milli Vanilli) who is trying to get his place in the sun.

I should note that while full reviews of every film I’ve seen are coming, I am not going to do a full review of THE LOST FOOTAGE OF LEAH SULLIVAN. The lack of a full review is not because I didn’t like the film, rather it is simply not my kind of a film. A good found footage thriller, it suffers because I am not a fan of genre. I find that unless I absolutely love the film I end up picking apart the internal logic of the film, with the result the film seems to be less than it is. With THE LOST FOOTAGE that’s really not fair since on its own terms it’s quite good. If you love found footage films, and would like to see one that isn’t a straight up horror film (as most seem to be) give this film a go.

And with that I'm going to sign off and go watch some movies. There is a ton of times to see and a short time to see them. If I were you I would go to the website and pick out some films and go. Having seen a number of the films I can honestly say they are all good.

For tickets and more information go here.