Sunday, April 11, 2021

Nightcap 4/11/21 I've given up on the MCU, why is Leave It To Beaver considered a classic? and WW84

 


I’ve given up on the MCU.

It’s not that I don’t like the films or the product but I unlike many people I have a life and I like other things and I don’t want to be tied down to all of the series that they are pumping out on Disney+.  I’m sorry if that bothers some people, say the people at Disney, but life is more than superheroes, specifically more than Marvel superheroes.

This sort of ties into the notion which is slowly changing in the minds of many people which is animation is more than Disney, Pixar and Ghibli. There is more to cinema than a few studios. I know Disney would like us not to think that way but since Cartoon Saloon, Netflix and the rest of the world are turning out films light years above the typical Disney product I’m happy to piss them off. they need to work harder since they are not the only game any more an people know it.

But I digress. Part of walking away from the MCU is that I simply don’t watch TV series. Okay yes I do watch the NCIS series, but that is a hold over from watching them with my dad, so they don’t count. Mostly though if I do watch a series I will binge it. I will watch a season at a time. I have done it for decades, where I would record a whole bunch of episodes and watch them all at once. I can’t budget my time to spend half an hour or an hour every week for anything. I am forever time shifting, or missing episodes along the way.

That may be fine with series that don’t tie into other series and movies, but the way the MCU is going you have to watch it all, and watch it closely because key details for later films or series are small details in the current one.

Who has time to obsess?

More to the point why the hell would I focus on just the MCU when there is so much more out there. Never mind the various DCU films, what about the regular films and TV series? Why wouldn’t I want to try something else? Why wouldn’t want to get a different perspective of life? Let’s face it the fact that I am living in the inde film world says a hell of a lot. I love that almost all of the filmmakers are not looking at the world the same way. I love that I am not getting a corporate view for everything. I also love that I am getting a beginning a middle and an end, not an on going never ending tale of sturm and drang about archetypes.

This isn’t to say that I won’t watch the movies. I truly am interested in the feature films, I mean they tend to be great fun and they are characters I love. However the films only come out now and again. Yes there will be multiple movies this year, but at the same time they are all one and done. I don’t need to come back week after week….

Except that Disney and Marvel are making it so that over time you will need to have seen all of the series. You will have to have seen the Netflix series (hey characters are carrying over) and the ABC series, and the Disney+ series and every god damn film. Its going to freaking kill the cash cow because there is going to be a point  where its simply too much to catch up on. Trust me I know only having seen a few episodes of the Netflix series years ago, I am shaking my head at having to go back and see what I missed there and on ABC.

In all honesty if you look at the long running series in cinema history you find that the ones that worked best and lasted longest always had an easy way in in each episode and but also moved the characters forward.  Almost always once things got complicated people tuned out the series died. I know many people I know will argue I’m wrong one need only look at something like the Matrix series. While everyone was excited for the second and third films before they came out I don’t know anyone who watches anyone but the first.

While Marvel  and Disney are going to work hard not to over produce there is a point where things are simply too complicated to  bother with. I suspect that they are bordering on that now. I honestly think that they are damn close to turning out a product which is the equivalent of the Thor films- films that don’t really exist for any reason other than to get you into the next Avenger film. I hate the Thor films simply because they can not stand on their own and have stories  hobbled by the need to make the audience go to the next film.

Because Marvel and Disney is just trying to get my cash I’m walking away. While this  will probably mean I like their films less and less because I don’t have the background, that’s okay.  I just don’t need that much Captain America in my life.

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Leave it to Beaver is an awful show full of terrible characters. While I was never a fan of the show and have a avoided it like the plague over the years, recently I have been watching bits of the show again since it is on in the morning when Im getting ready for the day job. 

Honestly I am shocked that it ran for six seasons.

Never mind asshole Eddie Haskel no one else on the show is too bright. Dad is kind of loving but clueless. Mom is subservient. Wally is okay in a wishy washy way but self centered. And as for Beaver he is an absolute moron. Watching him go through his paces one can’t help but think that he is developmentally challenged. He has no real world experience and does stupid things over and over again. Yes I know it’s for the show but he is so backward that he would be in special programs if he was school now. I find it nigh impossible to watch it simply because no one can be that stupid. What’s worse is he is so consistently stupid that he’s impossible to watch.

How did this show survive for as long as it did since its all about really stupid people?

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I finally watched WW84

Its a mess. 

I can't believe the same people did the first film. 

While the film has moments in the final half hour or so and an excellent performance by Chris Pine, mostly it's wildly overlong unfocused rambling mess, that largely plays like the worst episode of a bad TV superhero show.

Frankly the final half hour needs a better first two hours.

Hubert Vigilla on Revenge of the Mekons (2013) which hits Ovid.TV April 14

(This is a repost of one of the reviews that ran when the film World premiered at DOC NYC in 2013)

Steve's already mentioned how wonderful Revenge of the Mekons is, but it's worth restating since the world premiere screening is tonight. If you're a Mekons fan, go see it. If you just like docs on fascinating people, go see it. Joe Angio's film has a lovable, amoeba-shaped quality. It isn't quite as streamlined or as obvious as some music docs, but like the band, that's part of its charm. Revenge of the Mekons is always interesting to watch because the Mekons themselves are a fascinating group of people whose longevity is rooted in the fact that they've remain consistently interesting.

There are great interviews with various Mekons boosters throughout the documentary, such as writers Luc Sante and Greil Marcus, but I think novelist Jonathan Franzen has the best summation of the band's appeal which also applies to the film (I'm paraphrasing here): the band is great for people who feel they're at conflict with their own culture; they won't show you how to win the war, but they will show you how to be a more amusing and gracious loser..

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Brief thoughts on Brewmance (2020) which hits VOD Tuesday

 


I think the only thing anyone needs to know about BREWMANCE is that it is food porn for craft beer lovers. A warm and fuzzy look at the history of craft beers in the US  the film will delight anyone who loves craft beers.  It is actually good enough that even those like me who don’t drink will be carried along with it.

Opening with Jim Koch, founder of Sam Adams,  talking about making beer with his dad before it was legal to do so Brewmance then shoots into high gear as we meet brewers and beer fans across the country who discuss their love of the golden liquid. It is a breezy up beat tale that is certain to delight.

I really can’t say much beyond that. The reason being is I don’t drink so my ability to know how complete the film is as a source of information is limited. On the other hand even as a non-drinker the film made me want to go out and try some of the beers shown.

Recommended.

Friday, April 9, 2021

After Antarctica (2021) 2021 SFFILM FESTIVAL


This is a portrait of Will Steger who in 1989 lead an expedition across Antarctica on foot. The mission was done in order to begin to take readings of the changing climate as well as to halt calls to exploit the continent. The past is contrasted with the present as we watch Steger as he crosses the arctic solo and charts the disappearing ice.

As a stay at home streaming film AFTER ANTARTICA is a good film. A portrait of a man who explored the world this is a film that is going to make many people want to get up and go themselves (though not into the wilds at the bottom of the world). This is a really nice look at a man who helped open the eyes  of many people about the deteriorating state of the world.

I am annoyed that the covid situation prevented me from seeing this on a big screen. The thought of seeing the images of the ice on a HUGE screen boggles the mind. I mean the sections of the fil where Steger and his team are trapped by the weather at the South Pole are chilling now, I can only image that they would be terrifying in a theater with truly big sound. This is a film that needs to be seen big and loud.

Premiering today at the SFFilm Festival After Antarctica is recommended 

Hercules and the Captive Women hits Bluray April 13

 


There is a running battle between Ken, one of the founding writers of Unseen Films, and myself concerning Hercules and the Captive women. Ken absolutely hates the film and can not understand why anyone would ever want to see it. His opinion is based solely upon the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode which roasts a very cut version of the film. Ken was always puzzled as why anyone would want to bother with the film when it was so bad. I of course loved the film, it’s actually one of the best sword and sandals films, especially considering that the entire MST3K episode runs 90 something minutes when the full version of film runs 102 minutes which means that probably a half hour if not more was cut from the film.

The film has Hercules trying not to get involved in the events that are causing strange weather in Greece. Kidnapped and sent off to sea Hercules and his son eventually end up in Atlantis where he battles the evil queen and ultimately causing it’s sinking.

The film is a blast and aside from the now infamously regrettable line about the “blood of Uranus” isn’t as clunky as the MST3K episode would lead you to believe.



Those of you wanting to see what the film really is  all about should make an effort to get the special edition that Film Detective has put out. A beautifully restored version of the film that is the best way to see the film short of tracking down a copy of the film in Italian. This edition is so good that I can finally get rid of all my other versions of the film.

The real reason to get the film, beyond a gorgeous looking edition of the film, are the extras. Two of them the film Hercules and the Conquest of Cinema: A Swords and Sandals Documentary from Daniel Griffith at Ballyhoo Motion Pictures and the commentary track by film historian Tim Lucas  are so good that they need a second or third viewing before I give them their own entry.  Seriously between the two you will get a new appreciation for the genre and the films that make it up. Additionally MST3K’s TV’s Frank, Frank Conniff gives us a sweet introduction to the film and as an added bonus Film Detective has included the MST3K episode so you can compare what was chopped out of the film to make it into a yuck fest for Joel and the bots.

This is a great film and a great  presentation. Highly recommended

Sam and Mattie Make a Zombie Film (2021)


Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt, who both have Sown Syndrome,​ met at the special Olympics and bonded over their mad passion for film. Their enthusiasm was such that they managed to convince a whole lot of people, including Oscar winner Peter Farrelly, that their film SPRING BREAK ZOMBIE MASSACRE was something that had to get made. Director Bobby Carnevale charts the course of the project from conception to Conan O'Brien.

If you want to see a film about the joy of filmmaking and films in general, this is it. Sam and Mattie and everyone they touch are having the time of their lives making a film because they have to. Their passion to make a film and make sure that it is their vision is infectious and you understand  why and how they managed to get their film made.

While the film is full of behind the scenes footage and most of SPRING BREAK ZOMBIE MASSACRE, what sells the film is the portrait of the two crazy guys at the center. Sam and Mattie are just insane. I say that in a good way. They are guys you want to hang out with. I suspect that there are going to be people who will say that the film came together because they have a disability, however the reality is the film came together because you can't help but like the guys.

While I could complain that this film is a bit too long, that's merely nit picking on my part. It's the film writer stepping in where he has no place. The reality is that SAM AND MATTIE MAKE A ZOMBIE FILM, like the film it charts, is a blast because it is alive with great characters and and a lot of people who come  together to do something which is really cool.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

COAST (2021) Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2021


COAST blindsided me. I was not expecting a film that was going to hang with me and make me instantly email friends that they too should be covering the film.

The film is, nominally, about 16 year old Abby who falls for the singer of a rock band and has to decide if she is going to run out on her friends and family and go on tour with him or not. The reality is this is a film about a whole community of people who love each other and the path one of them takes toward finding herself and where she belongs.

This is a great film. Its that simple. This is just a great film.

I love that going into the film kind of blind I didn't know who the film was about. I love that the film opens with a sense of friends first before it focuses on Abby. Watching the opening minutes I kept discovering all of these great people who we might want to follow.  What delighted me even more was the fact that the film maintains the sense of people and of family all the way through it. No one is two dimensional. No one  is just background. Sure they might not get more than a line or a passing appearance but there is always a sense that there is a full person right there. When the film started I thought it was going to be a typical coming of age story and then all these other people showed up and I was forced to embrace them too.

What a glorious piece of filmmaking. So many filmmaker, including the Scorseses and the Spielbergs simply do not give us an entire film of people who all belong together and all seem like family- theirs and ours.

When the film ended I got misty. The ending was spot on. More importantly I found I was attached to the characters. I was so attached I wanted to go back in and do it all again. More importantly I just wanted to tell people about this wonderful film.

World Premiering at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival tonight, COAST is highly recommended

Last Right (2020)

 Last Right is a charmer.

This is the story of an young man returning to Ireland from New York. While on the plane he ,makes the acquaintance of an older gentleman  who dies before landing. If that wasn’t bad enough he is listed as the next of kin for the stranger. Things quickly go from bad to worse as he ends up transporting the body, along with his brother and a young woman they meet along the way.

I was not planning on covering Last right, I ignored several emails to do so but I found I was sent the film anyway. Needing something to watch one slow day at lunch I put it on figuring I was going to just  it off when the hour ended and I had to go back to work. Instead I found the hour stretching  and extra couple of minutes and then I found I was staying after work in order to finish the film.

What a joy.

This is a small gem of film that you probably will think of passing by, but do yourself a favor take the time and see the film. It may not be your favorite film of the year but it will put a smile on your face and make you recommend it to friends.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

FOCUS ON FRENCH CINEMA ANNOUNCES THE LINEUP FOR THE 16th ANNUAL “ONLINE“ FESTIVAL.Wednesday, April 21- Friday, April 30, 2021


10 FILMS/ 10 DAYS, 10 FILMS/DIX JOURS-  FOCUS ON THE CINEMA OF BELGIUM

10 AWARD WINNING PREMIERES:  6 U.S. PREMIERES, 4 CT PREMIERES

 10 Day Festival opens ONLINE with U.S. Premiere of Une Vie Démente (Madly in Life)directed by Belgian directors Raphael Balboni and Ann Sirot.

 Online Q & A’s in alphabetical order: Mischa Aznavour, Raphael Baboni, Guilhem Caillard, Benoît Delépine, Charlène Favier,Nicole Garcia,Rémy Girard, Samir Guesmi, Basil Grunberger, Camélia Jordana,  Gustave Kervern, Vincent Lacoste, Félix Lefebrve, Chloé Maslo, Albane Masson, Noémie Merlant, Emmanuel Mouret, Olivier Pairoux, Benoit Pilon, Niels Schneider, Marie- Castille  Mention Schaar, Ann Sirot, Soko, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Benjamin Voisin, and others…

 Greenwich, CT – April 2, 2021- VIRTUAL ONLINE FESTIVAL

Celebrating its 16th edition, Focus on French Cinema, the annual Francophone film festival presented by the Alliance Française of Greenwich, CT will screen 10 premiere films in French with English subtitles from April 21- April 30, 2021. FFC 2021 will feature the CINEMA OF BELGIUM with 2 US premiere films as well as an exciting lineup of 10+ feature-length films in 10 days, including 6 U.S. premieres as well as multiple César and international festival nominees. 

“It was terribly disappointing to cancel last year’s Focus on French Cinema. We knew an in-person festival wouldn’t be possible and we didn’t have enough time to produce a virtual event in 2020. When it became clear that moviegoing would be put on hold for many months, we moved into high gear to plan for the virtual festival that will launch April 21” said director of programming, Joe Meyers. 

“We have drawn from other virtual festivals - such as the one our longtime Canadian partner Cinemania produced last fall - to come up with an Internet platform that will make it easy for our patrons to attend Focus on French Cinema in the comfort of their homes,” Meyers stressed. 

“These days, people are swamped with streaming options. Sometimes we’re not sure what to watch out of the hundreds of choices available. The programming committee has worked hard, sifting through dozens of films for many months, to make it smart to choose Focus on French Cinema because we have seen and can endorse every film. We are very proud of the curation we are providing with our first online festival. I think this is one of the strongest collections of movies in the history of Focus on French Cinema,” Meyers added. 

The 16th edition features a slate of newly released feature-length films including dramas, intimate thrillers, documentaries, family films, coming of age stories, hilarious comedies, LGBTQ dramas, and passionate love stories. All of the films in the 2021 edition clearly define the climate of film making in the current COVID-19 environment. 

“One of our hallmarks has been finding entertaining films that also speak directly to important contemporary issues. In that spirit, we are presenting ‘Madly in Life,’ a very funny Belgian film about adult children coping with their aging parents; a marvelous drama, ‘Slalom,’ about the insidious power coaches can have over Olympic level athletes; and ‘A Good Man,’ about coping with being trans and trying to create a new kind of family,” Meyers pointed out. 

“A highlight of the festival for me is the latest film by one France’s greatest living directors, Francois Ozon - ‘Summer of 85’ - a totally original take on the coming of age movie that seems destined to become a modern classic,” he added. “For fans of non-fiction filmmaking, we have the U.S. premiere of a wonderful documentary ‘Aznavour by Charles’ that explores the life and work of the great singer-songwriter and actor through the home movies he shot for many decades.”

 “As always, we have done our best to present a balanced slate of films that includes drama, comedy, thrillers and family entertainment. There is truly something for everyone this year,” Meyers said.

U.S. PREMIERES

 

Cabane à Sang is the First Quebec film fest held in theaters since COVID-19 April 23 and 24 2021


Crowned as the winner against COVID-19, the greasiest horror film festival in all of Quebec, will be the first to make its return to theaters and screen the world premiere of the feature film THE IMPALERS (JP Langlois) as well as an eclectic selection of genre short films.

Cabane à Sang reveals part of its juicy programing 

Hochelaga, April 6th 2021 - While waiting for season two of their TV show to air on FRISSONS TV, the greasy film festival will be celebrating its fourth year. Cabane à Sang's mission is to promote the juicy films of directors showcased at renowned events, such as the South By Southwest (Heat - Thessa Meijer) as well as those forgotten by funding institutions (Bungee inc. - Samuel Lacroix).

Screening the event in person for the first time since the start of COVID-19, Cabane à Sang will host the 2021 edition of their festival on April 23 and 24 2021 at STARCITÉ MONTRÉAL movie theater in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. 

The first evening (April 23) is 100% Montreal made content and will brought to the screen in collaboration with the Fantasia International Film Festival. This includes the world premiere of JP Langlois’s feature film THE IMPALERS, a self-funded Montreal Bikersploitation.

Alan Kolovsky is chased down by a manhunt led by bikers, hired killers and Russian spies that takes us on a bloodthirsty revenge quest where car chases meet endless shootings and torture. This man is desperate to save his own skin and no one can stop him.

THE IMPALERS will also be sharing the bill with local horror short films by Miguel Plante (Plaqué), Raphaël G. Courchesne (Squirt Alley) et de Felipe Arriagada-Nunez (Xtermination) - whom has been nominated at l'ADISQ for directing a music video for FouKi.

On April 24, 2021, Cabane has programmed a variety of short films from all over the world, one greasier or juicier than the next. The quantities of blood of this film being so outrageously high that it requires the use of raincoats to watch, The Last Christmas Of The Universe by David Muñoz and Adrián Cardona will leave you soaking wet. These two filmmakers have been collecting awards for years with their films Fist of Jesus and Brutal Relax.

In Canadian premiere, the Norwegian film Hospital Dumpster Diver by Anders Elsrud Hultgreen will raise public awareness to the dangers of medical waste. A pure tribute to Basket Case and Street Trash.

Fans of Cabane à Sang know the importance of grotesque animated films in our programing each year. This edition will be no exception since the films of Robert Morgan (Tomorrow I Will Be Dirt), Joren Cull (Jimi) and Trent Shy (The Feast) will take part in this years edition.

Made in Quebec content is, as always an integral part of the programming. Films by Geneviève Dunn and Étienne Destroismaisons (The incredible Paul), stuntman Maxime Laurin (Skateblood) and Vincenzo Nappi (Filtered). For his second participation in the festival, Vincenzo helms a film brilliantly produced during the first confinement. He takes the impossibility of contact between his actors and exchanges it for an artistic approach (a film directed via Zoom).

A free streaming SCI-FI pre-show will be available on April 22, 2021 on the Cabane à Sang Facebook page. Neon-colored films by Luis Tinoco (Caronte), Aitor Almuedo Esteban (Human Trash) and Bruno Gradaschi (Consume) will kick off the festivities.

The Hochellywood (Hochelaga) based film festival Cabane à Sang 100% independently financed, but could not exist without its proud partners Horreur Québec, Frissons TV, Lopez, Vox Populi and CHOQ.

Screenings

April 22, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. - streaming on  www.facebook.com/cabaneasang

April 23, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. – StarCité Montréal (4825 Pierre de Coubertin, Hochelaga)

April 24, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. – StarCité Montréal (4825 Pierre de Coubertin, Hochelaga)

Ticket are available for purchase from: https://www.horreur.quebec/produit/cabane-a-sang-2021/

**No tickets will be sold at the door

Length of screenings: 45 minutes (stream) 2h00 (en salle)

Location: Hochellywood (Montréal)

Languages: French/English

Festival Director: Frank Appache

Cost: free (stream) 15$ (theater)

Films From: Québec and Canada, Argentina, China, Finland, France, India, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, U.K, USA.

Peter Watkins' LA COMMUNE hits Ovid.TV April 9


Peter Watkins recreates the short lived Paris Commune which sprung up after the government fled the city after the Prussians invaded. The central conceit is that all of the events are being broadcast and analyzed by two TV stations one for the official government and one for the commune.

Massive (there are over 200 speaking roles) and very long (it's six hours)  LA COMMUNE is either going to thrill you or bore you. This is everything you wanted to know and more, how you are going to react is dependent upon how you react to the endless interviews with the people on the street. This is a film about how events were viewed by the masses and we get a healthy dose of that.

I'm not going to lie, my interest came and went. I really don't know why this had to be six hours. I was overloaded. On some level I think the rave reviews for the film are simply critics being bludgeoned into submission. 

Frankly this is a film I admire more than I like.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The 2021 South East European Film Festival (SEEfest) announces film lineup for 16th edition (April 28-May 5)

 Award-winning writer Dubravka Ugrešić will receive the SEEfest Legacy Award and Marija Škaričić (MARE) and Jasna Djuričić (QUO VADIS, AIDA?) will both receive the inaugural Mira Furlan Memorial Acting Award. 

Elka Nikolova’s A QUESTION OF SURVIVAL and Kata Oláh’s MY DIGITAL NOMAD will World Premiere, with another 11 films making International, North American, and U.S. Premieres.

Los Angeles, CA (April 6, 2021) – The 2021 South East European Film Festival (SEEfest) (April 28-May 5), co-presented by ELMA, foundation for European Languages and Movies in America, announced the lineup of official selections for the 16th annual edition of the Los Angeles-based film festival. Presenting and celebrating cinematic and cultural diversity of 18 countries of the Balkans and Caucasus to American audiences, the film festival continues to provide a platform in the U.S. for the discovery of new talent from South East Europe. 

SEEfest will honor internationally celebrated author Dubravka Ugrešić (“The Age of Skin,” “Baba Yaga Laid an Egg”) with this year’s Legacy Award and Marija Škaričić (Mare) and Jasna Djuričić (Quo Vadis, Aida?) with the film festival’s inaugural Mira Furlan Memorial Acting Award.

A true discovery film festival, this year’s virtual presentation is once again rich with premieres, including 2 world premieres (Elka Nikolova’s A Question of Survival and Kata Oláh’s My Digital Nomad), and 2 international premieres, Jadran Boban’s That Other Village, and Sidar İnan Erçelik’s Wind Horse. Among the 7 North American premieres at SEEfest are Marko Djordjević’s My Morning Laughter, Gjergj Xhuvani’s final feature, My Lake, Ivan Živković’s Galeb (Tito's Boat), Nebojša Slijepčević‘s 70, Ivana Marinić Kragić’s Nun of Your Business, Bruno Pavić’s Landscape Zero, and Pavel Cuzuioc’s Please Hold the Line. The 2 films making U.S. premieres are Marija Perović’s Breasts, and Catherine Harte’s Faith & Branko. 

SEEfest Executive Director Vera Mijojlić, said, “This is another exciting year programming-wise with several films from South East Europe set to make their debut here in the States with our virtual film festival presentation. We are especially excited to host a conversation with our wonderful Legacy Award honoree Dubravka Ugrešić on April 17 and the opportunity to celebrate the great work by Marija Škaričić and Jasna Djuričić, who star in four of our highly anticipated selections, Mare, Breasts, Quo Vadis, Aida?, and My Morning Laughter with the inaugural Mira Furlan Memorial Acting Award, paying homage to our talented and beloved actor, who died earlier this year.”

 Making their world premieres at SEEfest will be two documentaries, including Elka Nikolova’s US and Bulgarian co-production, A Question of Survival, which traces the legacy of the Holocaust in the Balkans, as seen through the eyes -and conflicting memories- of three Bulgarian Jewish survivors in New York, and Kata Oláh’s My Digital Nomad, an intimate, first-person documentary from Hungary about the nomadic lifestyle turns into an intimate conversation between mother and daughter throughout countries and years;.

 

SEEfest’s 2 International premieres include; Jadran Boban’s Croatian film That Other Village about a remote village that changed twice its name, population and its own history as it continues to be torn by never ending historical traumas triggering new conflicts; and Sidar İnan Erçelik’s Wind Horse, a poetic Turkish film which tells the story of two shepherds from Anatolia, one of whom becomes a celebrated jockey; the film juxtaposes human desire for success with the toll on the spirit of freedom in both humans and horses.

North American premieres include; Ivana Marinić Kragić’s Nun of Your Business, a Croatian film about two young nuns, driven by their blossoming love, who choose to leave the convent and start a new life together; Marko Djordjević’s My Morning Laughter, a Serbian dramedy about a 30-year-old trying to lose his virginity; and the late Gjergj Xhuvani’s final feature, My Lake, an Albanian drama about a man who has become a small-time marijuana smuggler to support his family.

 Following in the tradition of SEEfest films which bring to life world history in a dynamic way is Ivan Živković’s Galeb (Tito's Boat), a Croatian film which tells the story of the ship that Yugoslav president Tito sailed numerous times, visiting close to 20 countries as he negotiated an alliance of non-aligned countries, the world's largest after the United Nations. Other North American premieres include Nebojša Slijepčević‘s 70, a documentary about the LADO Ensemble, the only professional folk music and dance ensemble in Croatia;

Bruno Pavić’s Croatian film, Landscape Zero will also make its North American Premiere, as will Pavel Cuzuioc’s Austrian film Please Hold the Line. The former follows the lives of people who are either fighting for their survival among dangerous facilities surrounding their homes or coexisting with them in harmony, while the latter focuses on cable technicians in Eastern Europe as they navigate a modern-day Tower of Babel. One of the 2 films making its U.S. premiere is Catherine Harte’s Faith & Branko, an intimate story chronicles the relationship between musicians Faith and Branko over seven years.

 Mira Furlan Memorial Acting Award honoree Marija Škaričić stars in two other highly anticipated films among SEEfest’s official selections. Andrea Štaka’s Mare, a multiple award-winner including the Solothurn Prize, is a Swiss and Croatian co-production about a woman dedicated to her family life, yet always feeling out of place until a chance romantic encounter with a new neighbor just may put everything to the test. Marija Perović’s Breasts, which makes its U.S. premiere, is a light-hearted drama from Montenegro about four friends from high school brought together again at their 20-year reunion, who all are forced to go beyond the usual pleasantries when it is revealed that one of them has become gravely ill.

Fellow Mira Furlan Memorial Acting Award honoree Jasna Djuričić stars in Jasmila Žbanić’s Quo Vadis, Aida?. a 2021 Academy Award nominee for International Feature Film from Bosnia Herzegovina, the film follows a translator for the UN in a small town taken over by the Serbian army forcing her to use her connections as an insider to look out for the safety of her family and people. Eugen Jebeleanu’s directorial debut Poppy Field follows the struggle of a young Romanian gendarme who tries to balance two opposing parts of his identity: that of a man working in a macho hierarchical environment and that of a closeted gay man. Andrei Zinca’s So, What’s Freedom? is a Romania and U.S. co-production inspired by real events exploring how the lives of a group of people turn when they discover their freedom has become a forced exile. 

Twice the recipient of the prestigious festival grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and five other awards for programming excellence from the State of California, County and City of Los Angeles, Cities of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, and Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s festival grant, the festival’s growing list of renowned organizations which now support the festival includes the California Arts Council, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, ELMA Foundation, UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Blue Heron Foundation, Villa Aurora artists residence, Film & Ink LLC, West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, as well as a roster of cultural community partners representing diversity of our State. 

To buy passes or tickets or find more information, please go to: https://seefilmla.org/

2021 South East European Film Festival – Los Angeles’ Official Selections

 

Art/World Collection Premieres on Vimeo


ViCA Films Partners with The Big Pieces Company

(March 31, 2021/Los Angeles) The Art/World Collection is presented by VICA Films in partnership with veteran industry principals The Big Pieces Company, a curated selection of documentary, narrative, art and experimental films from the visual and performance art world including music and dance. The Collection premiered on Vimeo on March 30, 2021, and will be available on other platforms as new deals are announced. 

Filmmakers from around the world — whether just beginning their careers or dedicated masters of the medium — have procured international distribution with two companies that focus on the filmmakers first.

The films are partly chosen from the Fine Arts Film Festival (FAFF) Official Selections and Award Winners which is curated by the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art, sponsors of FAFF, now in its 8th year June 8-14, 2021 on Vimeo.

A partial list of the Art/World Collection which premiered March 30:

Ocultos (Chile), dir. Gabriel Bucher

A beautiful and engaging focus behind the scenes at the Municipal Theater in Chile where the technicians produce the magic of the shows.

On the Track of Robert Van Gulik (Belgium), dir. 

Frederik Nicolai

Robert van Gulik is one of the world's most popular Dutch writers, but relatively unrecognized in his own country.

Pathos (UK), dir. Alexandra Porter

Explores how chronic illness facilitates different kinds of artistic production and acts as a creative catalyss, as seen through the lives of four artists.

But I Love the Zine (USA), dir. Fiona McDougall

Revealed is the resurgent San Francisco Bay Area culture of zines – artistic publications that are self-made, accessible, intentionally tactile — and not on the Internet.

Fly Through (Turkey), dir. Arda Kutlu

Experimental short about a common housefly.

Transcript with Shadows (Taiwan), dir. Niu Jun Qiang

“Blind” is not the inability to see, but the alternative existence of something once in visual form, just as “the existence

of God”.

Solitary (USA), dir. Flora Chung

Featuring choreographed acrobatics set to piano, this film represents Icarus' state of mind when he was in confinement.

Roots Grow Together (USA), dir. Hart Ginsburg

A chance encounter leads throughout the city. Do we root for the guy - or the girl…or both? Is it real?

The Distraction Towers (USA), dir. David Baeumler

With an overlay of heightened reality and fantasy that is both familiar and unexpected, this fun and quirky film tickles the limits and folly of understanding.


Tip Toland (USA), dir. Gayle Podrabsky

Tip Toland is a courageous ceramicist and sculptor featured in major collections across the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is the story of her life, through the good and the challenging.

Three Seasons of Sarony (Canada), dir. Christian Fleury

Napoleon Sarony, a 19th century pioneer of photography of celebrities such as Oscar Wilde, Tchaikovsky,

Sarah Bernard, and Mark Twain, his life is compared with three present day photographers as they wrestle with art and commerce. 

A Film on Film (UK), dir. David McNulty

This Super 8mm black and white film follows award winning artist Selina Mayer one cold November morning as she faces the dilemma that her photographic images of the nude form will find altered meaning once they reach the viewer.

Lisa Adams: As It Appears to Be (USA), dir. Juri Koll

Lisa Adams life and work as a painter as she battles the complexities of eyesight issues and the art world. 

About The Big Pieces Company

The Big Pieces Company is a leader in the licensing, marketing, and distribution of motion pictures in all media. Through our extensive global sales and distribution channels, the company is able to reach viewers and fans worldwide. Bringing films of all genres and formats to market, the company maintains successful partnerships with broadcasters and independent film distribution companies throughout the world, ensuring success for every acquisition.

ViCAFilms/Venice Institute of Contemporary Art

ViCAFilms is part of the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art (ViCA) an arts organization devoted to identifying, protecting and sustaining the unique stories, history and culture of one of the most important centers of American independent artistic expression. Through its exhibitions, events, film screenings, research facilities, and education curriculum, ViCA celebrates the world of art internationally, and most importantly the art and culture of Venice Beach/Southern California. Our founding in 2011 marks an ongoing commitment to our community - to present the art world from the perspective of artists, writers, curators, collectors, and the art viewing public. veniceica.org @veniceica


The Fine Arts Film Festival

The Fine Arts Film Festival (FAFF) is dedicated to showing selected films from around the world about art, photography, collectors and artists of all mediums in and out of their studios, galleries, museums, public art, and alternative art spaces. Featuring exceptionally creative and important films about art, artists, and the art world - many premiering for the first time in the United States - from every corner of the globe! https://www.veniceica.org/fineartsfilmfestival

@fineartsfilmfestival

Watch: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/artworldcollection

Social media:

Twitter: @veniceica

@big_pieces

Instagram: @veniceica

@big_pieces_company

Facebook:    https://www.facebook.com/VeniceICA

 https://www.facebook.com/TheBigPiecesCompany/

Sex in the Comix play Ovid TV April 8


Molly Crabapple hosts a look at sex and erotic comics across the globe.

First a no duh, this film had graphic images. Only during one portion of censorship toward the end are any images censored.

This is a good but to short (it's only abut 54 minutes) over view of sex in comics. It covers all the usual suspects, Robert Crumb, Milo Manara, Ralf Konig as well as some new artists as well. It is  film that gives you a good over view of the subject of sex in sequential art.

The brevity is both a blessing and a curse. Its good because it manages to compress a lot of material into a short amount of time and keep it all balanced. It's bad because this could easily have been two or three times longer. I would have loved to here more from artists other than Crumb and Manara. While there is nothing wrong with their segments they tend to be the focus of anything like this so why not go elsewhere? I would also have liked more on the censoring of comics.

Understand that my interest in the subject is not anything new with the result that I was looking for something more. That said as a starting place SEX IN THE COMIX is gangbusters and recommended for those of appropriate age and disposition.



My Comic Shop Country (2019) hits Ovid TV April 8

If you love comics or if you’ve ever hung out in a comic shop then you really need to see Anthony Desiato‘s MY COMIC SHOP COUNTRY. The film is a glorious celebration of not so much comic books, but the people and community that they bring together. It follows director and podcast host Desiato as he travels across the country to visit 20 different comic shops to talk to owners, shoppers, and comic creators about everything that makes comic book shops so cool.

I love this film.

Part of the love comes from the fact the film made me reconnect with a whole bunch of my comic loving crazies. Right after I started the film I was stopping the film to make a long distance call to my friend Ken to find out if the Las Vegas shop was his shop. And then not long after that I was calling John and Randi to tell them that their favorite comics shop Escape Pod in Huntington NY was in the film. As more shops were visited more calls happened as I called up friends to say “hey remember when we went to ----? Well it’s in this movie”

A good part of the film involves a discussion of the economics of the comic industry. As someone who has danced in and around comics all my life I finally got a peak into what it takes to run a comics shop beyond being just plain crazy. It was something I was always curious about and now I know. If you ever wanted to understand what it takes to run a shop and do it well, this film will tell you. While it may be too much for some for others it will be a reason to go in and hug your comics person for making it all work.

Mostly what I love about the film is that the film beautifully shows us what the comics community is at its best. I love how we get a sense of a place that people can go and hang out. As someone explains it was a place where he could go and hang out and be with people and the older kids would talk to them about something they loved. I love that the film shows us that what makes the comic shops work  which is a sense of family. Desiato gets it right.

And I have to give Desiato a hand for including a discussion of women in comics shops. While part of me wants to ask him why he didn't go into a bigger discussion, I realize that ultimately that a discussion of the comics shops and women needs to be an entire film. For now I will happily take his discussion as part of the bigger picture of acceptance of everyone.

While I love this film and its reflection of comics culture, I’m not going to assume how this will play for people who are not comically inclined.(The films one real flaw is that it can be a tad insidery at times).  That is not a knock but more a statement that I am too far into comics to be able to adequately judge how someone who is on the outside will react. Hopefully this will bring more people to the fold, or at least give a greater understanding to those who are don’t know what to make of us crazies who love comics.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves comics. Definitely suggested for everyone else.

This is one of the best comics docs I’ve run across.

Monday, April 5, 2021

LOOKING FOR A LADY WITH FANGS AND A MOUSTACHE Abramorama will release the film through a live virtual premiere and panel discussion on April 8th hosted by The Rubin Museum of Art and a worldwide Watch Now @ Home Cinema Release on April 9th

You won't understand it if I explain it simply so I'll make it complicated - a monk explains to Tenzin about how he can save his life

Tenzin has been having strange dreams and visions of a young girl. Sometimes she is in a field of flowers and sometimes not. He is so haunted by her he is having trouble focusing on finding a place to open his coffee house in Kathmandu. A friend of his says it maybe an omen and after consulting with a monk Tenzin is told he has a week to live. If he wants to avert his fate he must find a certain kind of mystical being.

As unwieldy as my explanation of the plot is, the reality is this is a smooth flowing spiritual quest of a film. Putting us in a particular place and particular time, we are travelers with Tenzin on his spiritual quest for enlightenment, or at least a reconnection to the world.

As much as Tenzin is desperately trying to find the "lady with the fangs and a moustache" he is also on a quest to reconnect with the world. Everything in his life is focused on making money. What will be the best place for his coffee shop?  Never mind that it is an abandoned, but still holy temple, maybe that will do. And maybe, perhaps the goddess cursed him as a result, or maybe he just ventured too far into the world of the yellow haired people. His drive to making money is stepping on toes and beliefs an whether gods are real or not he is bumping into things people hold dear.

The lessons here are quiet and accumulate. It's a series of ah ha moments not bone shaking thunderbolts. The reality is it takes time for Tenzin to change and it takes time for us to do so as well.

Beautifully shot by Mark Lee Ping-bing (In the Mood for Love) the film is a love song to the world with everything, every moment being perfectly rendered. This is life in balance even if Tenzin's isn't.

Director Khyentse Norbu, a Lama himself, has fashion philosophical journey that melds Nepalese thought with the modern world through a beautifully written script that he has augmented with a kick ass music score. Traditional songs meld with music from people like Tom Waits. And a small thing that I love is that Norbu doesn't use pieces of songs, but more often than not he sets an sequence to one song. It's a small thing but it is vitally important to keeping us in the moment.

As with Norbu's earlier film VARA: A BLESSING this is a film that you need to see rather than read about. It is like a looking at a picture of a fabulous place. To be certain the picture can show you the beauty but it can't make you feel what it is like to be physically there, especially after the journey to it.

LOOKING FOR A LADY... is a stunner and highly recommended. It is one of ym favorites of the year.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Nightcap 4/4/21 Can we retrocon trouble some works of art?, Unseen's readers tend not to like new releases, up coming events at Lincoln Center

The rock group not the fictional character

 I recently stumbled  upon three of Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu novels as audio books.  Curious about how they'd play in todays world I gave them a listen.  They are, as expected, xenophobic, racist and culturally offensive. I would like to dismiss them out of hand, as I suspect many people in today's  woke world would, except that listening to them I was struck by how exciting they are.  Forgive me, but if you could strip away the racism of the Yellow Peril villain, you have series of  rippingly good yarns of the sort the movies are always trying to replicate.

And there in lies the problem, how do we as a people handle  all of the stories, both cinematic and literary, from earlier times that are rooted in questionable racial ideas? Do we let the the tales die and get lost or do we make some effort to keep them around in some form?

I’m not going to suggest I have any ideas, rather I just want to point out something that I have been pondering for a while now. There is a debate about whether we should keep them with a warning or to alter them or completely remove them. It's not an easy thing to figure out.

The reason I am asking this is because in listening to the Rohmer novels I was shocked at how, on the most basic level, the novels worked. They are the sort of tales that Hollywood would buy up and turn into a James Bond like franchise. The books really are good and if you could change the offending bits you might be able to make them into acceptable tales once more. The question is do we or should we?

To be honest I don't have any answers. I would suspect that what we do with culturally questionable pieces of art should be handled on a case by case basis, but some people want to rewrite the past with their own ideas as the guide. That is an equally questionable thing to do since without knowing the past we will be more likely to repeat past mistakes.

There are no easy answers.

---

Yes I posted a piece on GODZILLA VS KONG and I posted Kaiju Kim and Chock's video take on the film as well. However in all honesty the posting of my thoughts was just out of habit rather than the thought anyone was going to read it.

The problem is that with the way the world Unseen is not the place most people turn to to get the latest Hollywood blockbuster information. We are not the place everyone turns to for the latest Godzilla information (Kim's YouTube channel is, Unseen is definitely not)

But that's okay. Unseen was never set up to cover the Hollywood mega films. Yes we do it but in the explosion of opening day reviews our coverage is all but ignored by everyone other than the regular readers who want the off brand coverage.

The reality is that Unseen Films is really set up to highlight the small films and the festivals. The reality is that readers come to us to get word on the films the big outlets aren't covering. There is a reason that coverage at Unseen Films spikes when we do heavy festival coverage because we are covering more than the top ten or twenty must sees that say Entertainment Weekly will highlight in a line or two. Additionally we will cover the short films which very few big outlets will cover because they don't think people care. They do, more so now when the shorts end up on line.

Generally the traffic comes a couple of weeks after release, once everyone has read all the big outlet coverage. We also will noticed when we do a think piece on the films like the pieces by Dr Isaac Cates and Nate Hood on the Marvel and DC superhero films. If you need proof consider my piece from last weekend on superheroes in film was read by more people than my review of JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Readership also spikes on the smaller films a week or so after release as the movie goers begin to discover the various films and want some sort of word on them.

There was a point a while back where I got crazy because I wanted Unseen to try and be the outlet people turned to for all films. I wanted people to be reading all our coverage especially the big films. I wanted the big studios to notice... I got frustrated because I didn't think anyone was paying attention.

And then I looked at the numbers and then then I suddenly saw that people, filmmaker and not just PR people, were starting to come to us, and that we were being quoted and sought out and it occurred to me that maybe we were actually doing something right.

SO maybe no one cares right now what we say about Godzilla, but at some point they will and that will be fine....

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An FYI on upcoming Film at Lincoln Center events;

Youn Yuh-jung—April 9-18

New Directors/New Films—April 28 – May 8

Human Rights Watch Film Festival—May 19-26

Open Roads: New Italian Cinema—May 28 – June 6

Hong Sangsoo’s The Power of Kangwon Province—opening June 11 

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The Howls (2020) Neighboring Scenes 2021


Julio Hernández Cordón's free form film is kind of impossible to classify as to what it is. A self aware film that has to director's daughter wandering trough various vignettes where Francisco Barreiro plays nine or ten different roles, the film talks about the history of Mexico, the area called Texcoco, his family and werewolves.

Kind of feeling like many covid projects I've run across in the last few months, but in reality something that was shot earlier during Cordon's daughter's school vacation (the film played some fests early in 2020) this is a film that feels more like a goof than something serious. I don't mean that in a bad way since the film entertains and has some interesting things to say about the various subjects it covers, rather I mean it just feels like a bunch of friends and family screwing around to fill time. I say this partly because we have the multiple roles of Barreiro and partly because it kind of feels like its a bunch of scenes shot on the fly.

Truth be told I genuinely like the film. I had a good time watching it but I'm not going to pretend that it is anything other than a footnote film. Sure it has some interesting things to say about Mexico and family and werewolves, but at the same time the construction makes it feel slight. Still I laughed and smiled and pondered which frankly is enough.

Worth a look.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Samichay: In Search of Happiness (2020) Neighboring Scenes 2021

 


This is a stunningly beautiful film about a man and his cow. Set high in the Peruvian Andes the film is the story of a solitary farmer who thinks his cow will bring him happiness if he can just manage to sell it.

Largely told in long beautifully composed black and white shots, the film this is a film not just about the narrative of the farmer but also about the isolated existence of the people who live in the mountains. As we see in almost every shot, there is no one around for miles and living in the mountains solitary existence.

How you are going to react to the film is going to depend upon how you feel about a film told in a series of long takes in which we are kept, largely, at "arms" length from the action. I liked  the way the story was told and I was carried along, thanks in large part to the incredible widescreen images. At the same time I fully understand anyone who needs constant action and motion is going to be asleep rater quickly.

If you want to see a film whose images will haunt you all year then SAMICHAY: IN SEARCH OF HAPPINESS is a must. 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Panquiaco (2020) Neighboring Scenes 2021


This dreamlike narrative borders on being a documentary as we follow Cebaldo as he drifts from Portugal through the cities and wilds of Panama. 

As the film opens Cebaldo is living in Portugal where he works on a fishing boat. haunted by thoughts, images and sounds of home in Panama he decides to travel home.

Less a narrative than a portrait of one man and his feelings of home PANQUIACO sucks us in early as we wonder what we are seeing. Open matte images of indigenous people fill the screen. The film then shifts to Cebaldo and his life far from home. We watch him going through his paces and talking to friends and co-workers. Its an intriguing slice of life where his past is constantly calling to him.

I fell into PANQUIACO. I loved its dreamlike quality and gladly went along with its travel deep into the subconscious. I was carried along by its images and thoughtful probing of how we can never leave our past behind. I liked the film so much that when I finished the film I started it again  before heading off to my own dreams for the evening.

Recommended.

The Club (2016) hits Ovid TV today


This film will kick you to the curb.

It's a damning look at the Catholic Church and the evil that priests do as revealed by a bunch of priests who are being warehoused in a small coastal town in Chile. They are there because of what they did to children. Locked away they go through their days kept away from the other villagers and controlled in a strictly regulated manner. Their only outlet is training a greyhound for a race. One day a new priest arrives and before he can barely even sit down a young man claiming to have been abused by the priest stands outside and begins to shout graphic details about what happened to him. Everyone is terrified about being found out-when one of the men produces a gun and tells the new priest to go scare the shouting man - he does go outside and shoots himself.  What happens in the wake of shooting is the film.

Billed as a darkly comic film, all humor is choked out of the film in the first 20 minutes as a the screws are turned and it all becomes more and more harrowing. By the time the black humor arrives with a crisis counselor there is nothing to laugh out at only pain and suffering and the urge to get sick. If the film is flawed in any way it's that it's just not funny despite a couple of attempts at uncomfortable humor.

I don't have words beyond this film will rock your world. An absolute must see-but only for those with strong constitutions.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

ADDICT NAMED HAL (2021) Santa Barbara International Film Festival

 


ADDICT NAMED HAL is a very good drama. This is the story of Amy, a 21 year old woman who reluctantly goes into a rehab facility for alcohol abuse. She doesn’t think she has a problem, she is 21 after all and people her age drink and party. However as her mother reminds her, they may drink, but most aren’t getting so loaded that they are crashing car after car.  Falling in with the people  living in the house she begins to find herself with a second family and she finds herself getting close to the titled how.

Good performances and a solid script highlight a small gem of a film. ADDICT NAME HAL is the sort of films that make me happy about doing Unseen Films, specifically a film I have little interest in going in (I’m watching it simply because in a weak moment I said yes) however on the back end I come out wiping tears from my eyes (I’m not crying) , feeling moved and wanting to spread the word on a little film that people should see.

While I could quibble about some small things, ultimately it doesn’t matter since one it gets going ADDICT NAMED HAL will move you.

Recommended.

ONE IN A THOUSAND (2020) Neighboring Scenes 2021


Iris is a young woman living in a housing project with friends in Argentina. She is attracted to and falls for Renata a young woman a few years older than herself.

A good if rambling slice of life, ONE IN THOUSAND shows puts us into a world where first love is not as easy as some might imagine. It is a nice look at a bunch of LGBT friends wo are looking to just get by, while Iris is simply trying to navigate love and what it will mean to her world since she will truly be out.

A beautifully made film with a cast of non professionals there is much to like thanks to the open and inviting performances of the cast. They make this a film that we want to engage with even if at times the view of the world the film presents is a little too perfect.

Quibbles of the plotting aside my only real problem with the film is the pacing. Running just under two hours the film at times seems a bit unfocused as it lets events play out much too leisurely In all honesty if the film was trimmed it would be a film I loved instead of just liked

Recommended

AMUNDSEN THE GREATEST EXPEDITION (2019) in virtual cinemas and VOD April 2

 


AMUNDSEN THE GREATEST EXPEDITION is a complex portrait of the legendary explorer told in flashback. As the film opens Amundsen has gone missing. He had taken his plane up in what would be a vein effort to save Italian explorer Nobile who had crashed over the North Pole in a dirigible. Where Nobile would find his way back to civilization Amundsen and his co-pilot would disappear into the frozen void. In his home his brother and fiancé discuss the man and his complexities.

Amundsen was man driven to explore. He pushed himself and others hard and while he made it to the South Pole first and achieved many other feats, he was not an easy man to get a handle on. The result was a man that most people who liked and loved him didn’t really know.

From a cinematic standpoint this gives us a main character that we like more than love.  I personally admire him but I don’t know beyond that.  Normally this would doom a film in my eyes, but in this case we like the people around Amundsen so we are willing to give him a pass of sorts. Actually in my case it made me lean into the film a bit more. While I know why his brother hung around him, I was curious about Bess Magids, his fiancé. What did she see in him that she went along with his self-centered isolation? While I don’t know if I have answers I know that the film gave me a great deal to ponder.

I’ve always been curious about Amundsen since I saw Sean Connery in The Red Tent  at the drive-in in 1973 (when it played with Snoopy Come Home). I had to know who this person that James Bond played.  AMUNDSEN THE GREATEST EXPEDITION at least gives me a some cinematic answers. Or if not answers some kick ass and frightening sequences of the trials and tribulation s of the great explorer. If he was one of a kind, his adventures clearly made him that way.

I really liked AMUNDSEN THE GREATEST EXPEDITION. It’s a wonderful atypical biopic that gives us thrills , chills and lots to ponder.

Recommended.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Thoughts on Godzilla vs Kong (2021) (Spoilers)


I was a kid who grew up on Godzilla films, and salivated every time  one of the original ones hit TV or theaters. Any time they were on I was right there in front of the TV.  I loved them so much that some of the first films I rented on VHS and bought on laser disc and DVD were Godzilla films. Watching the films I'm six years old again and I am lost in a world somewhere else.

SO the answer is yes I loved the GODZILLA VS KONG. My inner six year old was openly weeping during the finale as the battles I waited five decades to see finally were happening right there on the big screen. It was only made better being their with friends (Stan and Eric) and my brother Joe and my niece, who never saw a Godzilla film before but fell in love with him and Kong tanks to this film. In all seriousness I delighted in her beautiful explanation of the film and why she loved it on the ride home. I wish I recorded it but I was smiling too big to even think of it.

The plot has an evil corporation looking for a way to the hollow earth so they can find a new power source to rule the world. What they are really doing is building a mecha-Godzilla and want to take over the world. They need Kong to show them the way because Godzilla is constantly trying to stop them. Lots of battles result.

As an engine of destruction this film kicks ass and takes names. This is a battle six decades in the making since the first time they clashed on screen. The filmmakers have all sorts of riffs and refences to that first meeting and if you know that film the references will delight you.

This film is as perfect a visceral engine of carnage and joy as you can get.  As I said there were times during the Kong /Godzilla battles when I was crying from joy. All of the big dust ups will have you going wow repeatedly with turns you never saw coming.

That said I still have issues with the film. The candy colored Hong Kong aside the films problems are in the script. I suspect that the problem is that in cutting the film down for pacing lots of details went. The result of the details missing is a film that just kind of hangs there until you're 20 minutes in.

A quick list of the problems would go something like this:

The film kind of removes Godzilla as having any sort of personality. You kind of need the last two Godzilla films to have any sense of him as a character.

Apex and the  baddies in it need more explanation. They are there at the start and then disappear. We have so sense of who they are and how they managed to build all these things. It really sucks that they are bad guys and they do almost nothing to give us a sense of who they are.

Actually outside of Rebecca Hall's and her adopted daughter's character no one really has a character except in the briefest of short hand.

We need more information on the Ghidorah skulls. Didn't Godzilla eat 2 in the last film?

What exactly happened with Skull Island, there is a stray comment about a perpetual storm- but even then how did Monarch build a containment area for Kong in a storm?

And there are more tidbits that feel left out and I keep thinking that with another ten to twenty minutes of exposition the film would be my most favorite film in the world. You'll forgive me I was too busy watching the film to write down all of them

But my quibbles are pointless since all that matters is the action and on that level its perfect.

Frankly at this point I expect the series to implode since the film effectively shakes off the seriousness of the first two Godzilla films and instead goes balls to the wall crazy. Think of it as the DESTROY ALL MONSTERS moment in this series. In the original run that was the point when the series started to get a bit loopy. I still loved what followed but after that we got some silly freaking films (GODZILLA'S REVENGE anyone?)

Highly recommended GODZILLA VS KONG is a must see- especially if you can do so on the big screen.

Kaiju Kim and Chocko talk about GODZILLA VS KONG (2021)

God hits Ovid TV April 2


GOD is one of the great surprises of this film year. Appearing during the holy week between Passover and Easter on Ovid.tv, the film is a perfect film for the modern age. 17 filmmakers recorded the Pope’s visit to Chile in 2018 focusing not only on the preparations for the event but life in the cities and villages. The result is a film full of life and wonder that  not only warms the heart at times but makes you think about the intersection of religion and society and religion and commerce.

I love this film a great deal. I love that it can balance the ridiculous (workman work that a statue of the baby Jesus doesn’t have underwear) with the serious ( you really notice the cost as we see the huge splendor of the stage and the poverty of some communities)  with the thought provoking (two men discuss the right to believe in a hospital room). This is a film that makes up feel and think all sorts of  things during its brief running time and manages to never ever make any emotion or thought feel short changed. It all is put together perfectly for maximum effect.

I am in awe of the editing which blends the work of so many different filmmakers seamlessly. It all feels like it was one crew and one mind putting it together. It’s an amazing achievement considering that films that try a similar thing always seem to have one or two bits that seem like they were made by other hands.

This is a great film. I can’t say enough good about it.

Recommended when the film starts playing Friday April 2 on Ovid.tv

SPACE DOGS: TROPICAL ADVENTURE (2021) In Theaters April 2, on VOD April 6

 


SPACE DOGS: TROPICAL ADVENTURE has Belka and Strelka recalled from space to deal with a weird whirlpool anomaly in the Atlantic.

I really liked the first two films in the series so when the chance to review this third and supposed final film in the series I jumped at the chance. While the films aren’t the pinnacle of animated art they are damn fine and entertaining family films that actually work for the whole family, adults included.

This time out the series has started to show a bit of wear. While still containing some great set pieces  and some funny lines, everything doesn’t hang together as well as in the earlier films. We can see how the plot was constructed, and while the film is still very entertaining it still feels as though it’s been put together for the money more than the love. While that might hamper most other series in this case the film still entertains and unless you are a fan of the earlier films, like myself odds are you won’t notice a thing. In truth this film is entertaining enough that if this is your first trip to the well you are going to want to go visit the earlier adventures.

What can I say I had a good time so SPACE DOGS: TROPICAL ADVENTURE is recommended.

Backyard Village (2020) plays at Santa Barbara’s Nordic Cinema Competition


Brynja doesn't want to go home. Her mother who abandoned her 35 years earlier has returned to Iceland. She then takes up residence in a guest house in a development called Backyard Village. There she meets an Englishman named Mark who is trying to get over a tragedy.

A warm and fuzzy movie, this is an utterly charming film that gets under your skin and carries you along. That the film works as well as it does is entirely due to the cast headed by the marvelous Laufey Eliasdottir and Tim Plester who make you feel that they aren’t characters on the screen but real people you know.  I really would like to spend an afternoon with them which says a great deal.

I have to hand it to director Marteinn Thorsson​ who has crafted a film that looks simple, at times it seems like he just let the camera run while Laufey Eliasdottir and Tim Plester were in front of it, but there is more going on  as Marteinn Thorsson perfectly shifts POV to give the maximum emotional impact.

Honestly this film really impressed me. I had no intention of covering it, but something told me to watch it. I’m so glad I did since this film is one of my great finds. It’s a must see at Santa Barbara IFF Nordic Film Competition or where ever you can find it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Kino Polska: New Polish Cinema at BAM, Apr 30th - May 6th

 BAM Presents Kino Polska: New Polish Cinema, Featuring Work from the Country’s Leading Filmmakers, April 30th - May 6th 

Including the New York Premiere of NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN

(March 30, 2021 | Brooklyn, NY) From Friday, April 30th through Thursday, May 6th BAM presents the fourth edition of Kino Polska: New Polish Cinema, bringing together the best new works from Poland’s boundary-pushing filmmakers. The series is presented in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York and co-programmed by Tomek Smolarski. Kino Polska features seven feature films, including the New York premiere of Poland’s Oscar submission NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN (2020). Director Malgorzata Szumowska (whose Berlinale prizewinner Mug screened in the 2018 iteration of Kino Polska) partners with longtime cinematographer and co-writer Michal Englert’s for this Venice Film Festival hit about an enigmatic healer (Alec Utgoff, "Stranger Things") who casts a spell over a rich Polish community. This year’s series also includes Mariko Bobrik’s touching debut feature THE TASTE OF PHO (2019) about a Vietnamese father and daughter dealing with grief and the immigrant experience in Warsaw; the bittersweet coming-of-age drama I NEVER CRY (2020) from Piotr Domalewski whose previous film SILENT NIGHT won major awards in Poland; Bartosz Kruhlik’s edge-of-your-seat thriller SUPERNOVA (2019); Piotr Adamski’s EASTERN (2019), a tale of revenge set in a dystopic Poland; Mariusz Wilczynski’s deeply personal, hand-drawn animated film KILL IT AND LEAVE THIS TOWN (2020)—winner of the Grand Prize for Feature Animation at the Ottawa International Animation Festival and a FIPRESCI Award at the 2020 Viennale; and Agnieszka Holland’s Soviet Union thriller MR. JONES (2019) starring James Norton, Vanessa Kirby, and Peter Sarsgaard.

All films will screen April 30th - May 6th on BAM's virtual streaming platform at BAM.org.  

I NEVER CRY
Dir. Piotr Domalewski
2020, 98min
Language: In Polish with English subtitles
With Zofia Stafiej, Arkadiusz Jakubik, Kinga Preis

Seventeen-year-old Ola sets off to Ireland to bring her father’s body back to Poland after he dies in a building site accident. But never mind her dad, Ola wants to know if he had saved the money for a car he had promised her. Dealing with a foreign bureaucracy in her own streetwise way, Ola finally gets to know the father who had been largely absent in her life. A bittersweet coming-of-age drama that explores the perplexity of family bonds, illustrating the gloomy landscape of today’s Europe.

MR. JONES
Dir. Agnieszka Holland
2019, 119min
Language: In Polish with English subtitles
With James Norton, Vanessa Kirby, Peter Sarsgaard

Agnieszka Holland’s thriller, set on the eve of world WWII, sees Hitler’s rise to power and Stalin’s Soviet propaganda machine pushing their “utopia” to the Western world. Meanwhile an ambitious young journalist, Gareth Jones (Norton) travels to Moscow to uncover the truth behind the propaganda, but then gets a tip that could expose an international conspiracy, one that could cost him and his informant their lives. Jones goes on a life-or-death journey to uncover the truth behind the façade that would later inspire George Orwell’s seminal book Animal Farm.

NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN
Dirs. Malgorzata Szumowska & Michal Englert
2020, 113min
Language: In Polish with English subtitles
With Alec Utgoff, Maja Ostaszewska, Agata Kulesza

On a gray, foggy morning outside a large Polish city, Zhenia (Alec Utgoff), a masseur from the East, enters the lives of the wealthy residents of a gated community. Using hypnotic, almost magical techniques to get a residence permit, he starts working. The well-to-do residents in their cookie-cutter homes seemingly have it all, but they all suffer from an inner sadness, some unexplained longing. The attractive and mysterious newcomer's hands heal, and Zhenia’s eyes seem to penetrate their souls. To them, his Russian accent sounds like a song from the past, a memory of their seemingly safer childhoods. The latest from writer/director Malgorzata Szumowska (ELLES, IN THE NAME OF) and her longtime collaborator Michal Englert is an unclassifiable meditation on class, immigration, and global warming with touches of magical realism and moments of sober beauty and subtle humor.

SUPERNOVA
Dir. Bartosz Kruhlik
2019, 78min
Language: In Polish with English subtitles

Three men, one place and one event that will change the life of each one of them. A universal tale, kept in a realistic style, tells the story of a few hours in the life of a rural community. The film raises questions about the essence of chance and destiny. A bloody story, oscillating on the edge of drama, thriller and disaster cinema.

KILL IT AND LEAVE THIS TOWN
Dir. Mariusz Wilczynski
2020, 88min
Language: In Polish with English subtitles

Fleeing from despair after losing those dearest to him, the hero hides in a safe land of memories, where time stands still and all those dear to him are alive. Over the years, a city grows in his imagination. One day, literary heroes and cartoon childhood idols, who in the consciousness of the successive generations are forever young and wearing short pants, come to live there, uninvited. When our hero discovers they have all grown old and that eternal youth does not exist, he decides to return to real life. And the amazing characters living in his imagination lead him back to the real world.

EASTERN
Dir. Piotr Adamski
2019, 78min
Language: In Polish with English subtitles

In a dystopian world regulated by an inexorable, patriarchal code, the Nowak and Kowalski families have been embroiled in a vendetta for years. When the Nowaks’ son dies at the hand of Klara Kowalska, his sister, Ewa, is faced with a choice between carrying out revenge in the name of honour on the one hand and her own life and freedom on the other.

THE TASTE OF PHO
Dir. Mariko Bobrik
2019, 84min
Language: In Polish with English subtitles

A Warsaw-based Vietnamese cook struggles to fit into the European culture, which his ten-year-old daughter has already embraced as her own. A story about love, misunderstanding and food.

Night Shot (2020) Neighboring Scenes 2021


Carolina Moscoso's gut punch meditation on rape was assembled from a decades worth of film. It is not strictly speaking a film about the act but about the seismic change that occurs within the victim and the inability of society to give her justice.

One part documentary, one part meditation, and one art essay Moscoso's film is a heady trip that will rock you. More concerned with creating a head space that effects our thinking, and thus changing the way we see the world, NIGHT SHOT works us over. This isn't a film that goes from A to B to C and allows us to simply walk away. Instead this film puts us into the mind of its director and has us wander around in her shoes for a while altering our perceptions and forcing us to truly engage with what sexual violence is. To be certain it can be a bit chaotic and seeming uncertain as to what it all means but I would think having your world altered in such a violent manner will do that to you

Simply put this film left me staring at the screen, trying desperately to piece together what to say. On the other hand this film is such an emotional rollercoaster and trip into the head space of another person that writing on the film is incredibly difficult since the act of seeing the film is not one can adequately express in words any more than one can explain what riding a rollercoaster is. I can do it but only to those who have ridden a coaster since the act of doing, or in this case seeing will give us a shared vocabulary.

To that end see NIGHT SHOT at Neighboring Scenes and experience the things I am in aable of expressing in words.

Witness Infection (2020)


Two mafia families in witness protection  end up in the same town. As they try not to kill each other and survive the appearance of flesh eating zombies.

Low brow comedy horror film is better than you would expect it to be. Genuinely funny, more so if you come from an Italian family,  you'll laugh yourself silly Sure there are some scare but mostly there is the humor and the wonderful sense of family.

I liked the film so much that I watched it a second time with my brother Joe, Unseen Films resident zombie expert. His attitude was as follows

" This film is dumb as dirt, toilet humor, but some times that's what the doctor ordered. there are some good laughs, especially if you undertsand the Italian family stereotypes. What can I say it moves, it's short, it's dumb, it's crude and it have some laughs. More laughs than Zombieland. Worth a watch. "


Monday, March 29, 2021

Thoughts on Zack Snyder's Justice League and why any future films will probably won't work

 


Zack Snyder's cut of JUSTICE LEAGUE has hit HBO MAX and the fans rejoice. (Though apparently there maybe more to come with a black and white version just released and stills from scenes not included promising more scenes.) I'm not going to recount the plot since it is basically the same as the theatrical cut. The differences are the reason to watch it.

The question everyone is asking each other is what did you think?

I loved it. I genuinely like the theatrical but but I loved this version. It had  me misty at times....

…and it had me groaning in pain as it got somethings terribly wrong. Yea, for as good as somethings are others are awful.

One of the things I like about Justice League is there are many moments that transcend the superhero genre to the point of becoming glorious in their own right. Small moments between characters shine, Ma Kent running to see her reborn boy, the women singing on the edge of the sea when Arthur leaves and many others lift the film up.

I also love that there is a real sense of loss and danger. More so than the Marvel films there is a sense that people will die and stay dead (unless you are Kryptonian). There is a weight to the proceedings that runs through Snyder’s films from the opening of BATMAN VS SUPERMAN when Bruce Wayne is horrified by the death of thousands via Superman and Zod’s battle on through the death of Victor’s father in a sacrifice that allows the team to find Steppenwolf what happens has a cost. We know we are not in a comic world and as a result we root for our heroes more.

Even in the foreshadowing of a future where Superman has gone to the dark side things are not going to be okay, things are going to go wrong.

Of course that’s true too in the film itself. As glorious as the film is over all there are problems. The CGI is uneven, some sequences such as the Amazons trying to keep the motherbox from Steppenwolf, while exciting and very close to a comic book sequence in the wrong sort of way so it comes off as  much too silly. The slo-mo is wildly over used. And the pacing is uneven.  And there are other hiccups which, while never fatal in my eyes, make me completely understand why some people don’t like the film.

The problems with the Justice League universe are going to come when, and if, Zack Snyder tries to continue the Knightmare/Darkseid  storyline. My intense dislike for the New Gods aside (don't get me started) Snyder has created all sorts of probable story problems that have me shaking my head and not looking forward to anything that follows in this direct line of plotting.

The first problem is that in showing all of the armies coming together to take on Darkseid to defeat him the first time, throwing Batman and his band of mazurka players at him when he comes back is going to seem silly. In all seriousness a small band of superpowered humans taking on huge band of super powered aliens is silly when all the armies of earth, space and the gods had to do it before and barely won, so now a handful of humans are going to do the same thing- and survive. Unlikely, especially since Darkseid is supposed to be this ultimate bad ass who conquered galaxies. They are making him the ultimate boogey man-except he's not for some unknown and probable stupid reason. And his armies should be genuinely dangerous and capable of fighting as opposed to the mindless parademons. This is video game plotting.

There is all sorts of problem with some of the details in the grand plot- such as Darkseid not coming back to earth because he is afraid of the Kryptonian when you consider that millennia passed and he didn't come back and there was no Kryptonian on earth. The humans now have the mother boxes and have a vague idea how to use them so wy can't they do something that would work against Darkseid.

Let's face it there are real issues with the godlike powers of Superman. Why is Darkseid afraid of Superman,  when the Gods- the literal gods- came to earth according to the film to fight Darkseid and he damn near shrugged them off? This  is more than a bit bizarre especially since there is the odd reference about Diana being a god- so we have to ask what are gods in the universe anyway? Why is this one Kryptonian so dangerous? And do I even have to go into the whole thing about Superman only having super powers because of the power of our yellow sun. Again I ask why is Darkid afraid of the Kryptonian? 

And then there is the whole issue of time streams and multiple worlds. I know that fans will argue he Krptonian ships argument about the future being set implies the end is coming, but at the  same time Flash messed with time after the future is set...and I'm sure he will again (hey isn't that the plot of the Flash movie?) so nothing is set. 

To be honest the whole time travel trope is not now and never has been a plot device that worked for me. It always feels like desperation because it always allows a cheat of getting out of it. It almost always breaks my like for any film because using it not only feels lazy but creates so many logic problems when used multiple times and I can see it creating many issues  in future films.

A HUGE problem is that if everyone knows that  Batman will not protect Lois at the start, why wouldn't anyone tell Superman that it was foreseen and then everyone could just take steps to prevent it from happening? Additionally even if you know you can't change some of what is going to happen you can just take steps to stop other parts (kryptonite is on earth). Basically if the way to stop Darkseid is for Batman to die instead of Lois, and he and everyone else knows that going in, why doesn't he make the sacrifice to start with? Why inflict the loop de loop time travel nonsense- especially since Batman has changed and now talking about faith and seems to be less a stick in the mud? Why wouldn't he just fix the problem since he knows how to do it, I mean he's been specifically told in advance what has to be done. His not doing it makes the film a potential live action version of the Woody Woodpecker cartoon which has a narrator saying repeatedly " If Woody had just gone to the police none of this would have happened"

And lets face it, while the Snyderverse fans love the idea of his future films right now,  but they are going to scream what I am saying  about these plot problems down the road when they realize how simple the problem could have been solved.

I do have to confess that for all my bitching about the almost certain narrative problems in any sequels, I like the idea of a dark future-unfortunately I don't think that Zack Snyder can pull it off what he is planning without people throwing up their hands because he is formulating a plot that is going to crash from first look.

In all honesty if Snyder for some reason is allowed to make sequels he should radically rethink what he's going to do because honestly what he has in mind is kind of dumb (not to mention kind of similar to the Infinity War films with the time travel- and I won't get into the problems with those films' plotting) besides why give us what he already promised since that will result in no suspense since we knw how it will lay out.

As much as I like JUSTICE LEAGUE I don’t think Snyder can pull it off the proposed next two films. I mean who hell would want to go to the hellscape  he is proposing when he has foreshadowed so much in this film, not to mention revealing what was supposed to happen in the films when they were completely dead. I think his ideas while interesting, are going to end up with some sort of diminishing returns