Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Bentonville Film Festival starts Monday

The always excellent Bentonville Film Festival starts this week and it’s worth attending-even if you are some where else in the country.

Geena Davis’ fest this year is a mix of in person and streaming which means that no matter where you are you can still take part in the events, with many of them streaming on line.

If you need to know how good the festival is consider the fact that I am going to be covering it at the same time as I am covering Fantasia and New York Asian- two festivals that require my full attention individually.

I would like to wax poetic about this years festival but I'm going to be traveling with you and doing the screenings as they fest goes on. However I have seen some films and in order to help you decide on what to see here are links to reviews of films we’ve covered previously.


I should also mention I will be running an interview with the director and star of CATCH THE FAIR ONE this week.

Do yourself a favor and buy some tickets. For more information and tickets go here

Seven Golden Men films

There were two films about the Seven Golden Men . Both are essentially extended heist films with complications.

A genius named the professor robs a bank in Switzerland of its gold deposits with the help of his girlfriend and seven disciples.

Good but strange caper film that begins with the robbery, which lasts for over an hour of screen time, before becoming a standard well planned caper has complications for the last half hour. Not bad, but very odd in that the film really doesn't let you know any characters other than the professor and his girlfriend for most of the film. Who are these people, you really don't know, even if it is amusing. Its easiest to explain the film as like watching one of the recent Danny Ocean films but starting with the actual robbery, without all of the set up and character introductions.

I really Seven Golden Men, as a set piece it is one of the best heists ever put on film. It’s so good that even in the years between my viewing the film springs back into my mind as technical marvel. However as good as I think the film is I really can't understand how the film spawned a sequel, except the film haunted enough other viewers that it made enough money to justify it. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great film on its own terms but its kind of emotionally distant.

Absolutely worth tracking down especially with its sequel.

Follow up to Seven Golden Men takes the position of why do one heist when you can do several at the same time?

This time out the Professor and his crew are captured mid heist by the American government and forced to kidnap a third world dictator (aka Castro). The professor agrees for seven million dollars. As the heist goes on the government has to contend with not only the Professors weird way of doing things, but also his decision to run a second heist at the same time – the theft of several thousand tons of gold from the hold of a ship.

Very hectic film is an enjoyable romp but isn’t quite up to the first film. Blame it on the film trying to do way too much in its 100 minute running time. There is simply too much going on, including some form of character development. By the time the kidnapping is accomplished I was exhausted- and there was still almost 40 minutes of the film left to go. More is less, despite this being a better made film. Don’t get me wrong I like the film a great deal, I just don’t love it. I think the lack of the laser focus that drove the first film hurts this film. Is simply juggling way too much.

Reservations aside this is still worth a look, especially if you do so in connection with the first film

Friday, July 30, 2021

Major Grom: Plague Doctor (2021)

 Major Grom is a police investigator with a knack for both clearing cases and pissing off the brass. He has no super powers however he is very good at working out how something will play out. As a result he has managed to retain his job despite causing destruction on a grand scale. Grom is called into action when a villain calling himself The Plague Doctor appears and is killing off the super-rich and the privileged.

Based on a Russian comic book which was turned into a kick ass proof of concept film (it covers the opening armored car robbery) Major Grom is an entertaining action film. It’s a film with great characters and greater action. Grom is a hero that we all could be if we were in better shape… and had lightning reflexes and unbeatable fighting skills.

I had a blast.

Going back four or five years ago I met the men behind the comic, and the film at New York Comic Con. Back then they were trying to wrangle a feature deal and trying to answer all the questions from everyone who were standing at their booth watching the short film which was on continuous loop. What I love is that the passion and love seen in the short carried over to the feature.

If there is any problem with the film it the pacing. Running 138 minutes the film could use a little bit of trimming. I’m not sure what I would cut but there are a couple of bits in the second hour when it could have moved a bit faster. However ultimately that’s a quibble since the film is one you are going to want to see repeatedly.

Actually  a sequel is set up in one of the two mid end credits sequences.

Major Grom Plague Doctor is great fun and recommended

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Never Gonna Snow Again Opens Friday in New York and August 6 in LA

I was not planning on seeing any films in  New York Polish Film Festival because I simply was too busy to do so. Then I got an email from Liz Whittemore of Reel News Daily insisting that I had to see NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN. Liz does not flood me with must sees, and when she does I take notice because when she come knocking it's usually for something wonderful.

NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN is something wonderful.

A mystical young man, literally seven years older than the Chernobyl explosion appears in a Polish gated community and begins to help take away their pain.

Yes, we have been kind of sort of here before, but at the same time we have not been here like this. Charming, mannered, at times joyous and always mysterious NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN is film that takes the idea of an outsider changing a community and gives it new life. Its a film where we kind of know where its going and yet we don't. We delight when it does what we expect and are even more delighted when it does something different. 

I smiled from start to finish. Frankly I loved the film so much that I wanted another go through the film rather than go back to the films I said I was going to cover.

NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN plays in NYC starting on Friday and LA on August 6.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Flight to Mars (1951) has a stunning home video release


This is a brief piece to say that Film Detective has put out a restored version of Flight to Mars on DVD and Bluray and it has never looked this good.

The film is the story of a trip to Mars by five astronauts. Arriving they discover friendly Martians who are secretly planning on stealing the ship and using it to invade earth.

Released in 1951 it is one of the first of the science fiction wave that filled theaters for the next decade. Its similar to films like ROCKETSHIP XM (which preceded it), Missile to the Moon, Destination Moon,  and others where the astronauts wandered around the cabin of the ship in regular clothes, It’s an amusing film that is clearly not connected to what we know is reality

While the extras on the disc (shorts Walter Mirisch: From Bomba to Body Snatchers and Interstellar Travelogues: Cinema's First Space Race, with celebrated science-fiction artist/historian Vincent Di Fate ● Audio commentary by author/film historian Justin Humphreys) are excellent, the real reason you will want to see this is the restoration. Originally produced in Cinecolor the film has never really been put out in a version that did justice to the image.  I say this as fan of the film and as someone who has suffered with versions that were either bad TV prints, black and white dupes in off showings  or just lack luster releases.  Film Detective’s release looks wonderful compared to what went before  and as such it is recommended

Beautiful (2021)


Mulan Fu’s BEAUTIFUL is wonderful

It is the story of a young woman and her mother. It shifts from now when the mother is ill to when they were younger.

It’s a stunning kick in the heart that will leave you sobbing and feeling good.

An absolute joy and a must see.

Life and Life (2020) New Hope Film Festival.The Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival


This is a portrait of Reggie Austin who in 1979 murdered a single mother  while he was high on drugs.  Sentenced to life in prison he remained there for almost 4 decades. However over time he became a model prisoner teaching the other prisoners music. As his notoriety grew people began stepping in to see if they could help get Austin out on parole.

This is an excellent look at Austin and the penal system in America.  While we get good portrait of Austin the film scores bonus points by giving us a great deal to consider about the purpose of jailing people. While no one in the film is arguing against punishment, there is a great deal of discussion about how much punishment is enough? If we want to change the people we are incarcerating shouldn’t we allow them to get out if they have shown that they really have changed for the better? Its not an easy thing to answer and we get to hear from the various people who have to make the decision about whether to let Austin out or not.

However as I said above this is also an excellent portrait of Austin.  We get to see him talking about his life, his crime and more importantly we get to see how he interacts with the other musicians in and out of the prison. It’s a wonderful explanation of how – changed and why he should be allowed to get out. And not to put too fine a point on it we also get to hear some great music.

I loved this film a great deal. It is recommended when it plays at the New Hope  Film Festival July 30th and The Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival August 9

The Boys Behind the Door (2020) Hits Shudder July 29


The Boys Behind the Door is a great film. It was made before David Charbonier and Justin Powell‘s second film Djinn abut is being release second. It tells the  harrowing story of Bobby and Kevin who are kidnapped by an evil man. He drags them to his home. Bobby escapes but comes back to save his friend. It becomes a battle for survival for everyone.

If I lived near Charbonier and Powell and I had kids I would give them a wide berth. These guys absolutely have it in for kids since their first two films are basically tormenting children with horrors real and imagined. I suspect child protective services will be after them some time soon.

Of the two films they’ve made, The Boys Behind the Door is infinitely better than Djinn. It has a real world weiht to everything. It’s a film that brings every kid (and human’s) worst nightmare to the screen- being kidnapped – and then amping it up by having a to make the choice about whether to save a loved one still trapped or flee. It’s a twist that makes everything that happens have a terrible cost involved. It gives the film a weight that makes everything that happens even more crushing.

I’m not going to say more because I don’t want to spoil the fun. Then again I will say you will want to get a bowl of popcorn and a beverage of choice and curl up on the couch because this is a fun little thrill ride.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Enemies Of the State (2020) hits theaters and on demand July 30

Enemies Of The State is a wild ride. It is a very complex We said, They said story about the Matt DeHart and his family. Matt’s family says he was set up by the government because he was running a server for the hack-tivists Anonymous and the government says that Matt was committing espionage and grooming little kids.  It’s a very convoluted story that will have you wondering what exactly the truth is.

There is a great deal of information to process with Enemies. Filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck lays out both cases and has them competing with each other. This is not done to confuse us rather it’s because how certain events are viewed colors how we feel about them. Additionally as we go along we are constantly getting more and more information which colors things even more.  Its crazy and if you are like me you may get to the end and not be certain what the absolute truth  is.

This is a rare film that treats it’s audience like an adult who can follow a complicated case. I love that Kennebeck gives us the complexity since we get a much richer viewing experience. Even though there is a “solution” we still have doubts and end up pondering the film for hours after it ends.

If there is anything wrong with the film, its that there is so much information coming at us, that things can come off as a tad dry at times. Its never bad, its simply the crush of information is such there is no room for any color that would enliven things up.

Reservation aside, this is a super film. It’s a twisty turny film that grabs you by the throat early and drags you across the floor for almost two hours.


Monday, July 26, 2021

The excellent Tailgate (2021) opens Friday


A family on vacation runs afoul of a psycho on the road. He’s a psycho who will not only take you out but your family as well for bringing you up wrong.

Creepy horror film will make your skin crawl as this film turns your typical horror film on their head and has the psycho lurking in the day light and among the well-traveled by ways. There are no night scenes that I can remember, this whole film takes place in bright sunshine. This is film that makes it clear that there is no where to hide, since crazy people are right there infront of us all the time.

I really liked this film a great deal. I love that the film breaks the rules for this sort of thing and plays in the daylight. It messes up our sense that once the daylight comes we’ll be okay. Actually no we won’t. I was chilled more than I have been in years.

As good as the film is I’m not so certain that all of this makes sense. I’m not certain that he wouldn’t have been caught before this, especially since he seems to to be taking people out at a steady clip and no one is paying him any mind.

Illogic aside this film will disturb you deeply and as such is recommended

It hits Theatrical, Virtual Cinema, VOD & Digital on July 30

Sabaya (2020) Opens Friday

 The sabaya of the title are the Isis sex slaves they take from the lands the conquered.  They grabbed young women and brutalized them for their pleasure. Using a mobile phone and a gun, Mahmud, Ziyad and other volunteers from the Yazidi Home Center go into the  camps holding Isis warriors and their families and attempt to find and grab the sabaya being hidden inside.

Watching the film I was initially thinking that the film was going to be the a simple recounting of the efforts to get the women out of the camps.  However as I was watching the film I realized that the film was actually something much more frightening. Its a chilling cat and mouse game that never really ends.

I loved  this film. I loved that the film went from my watching this and pondering the rest of Sundance to  just staring at the screen and repeating several sequences because I just had to see them again.

This is a great film. Its a story of good people trying to help free people from the darkness. I can't recommend it enough.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Filmmakers You Need to Search Out Part 2

Patrick Meaney ices his hand while Neil Gaiman explains why

Welcome to part to of what is destined to be a long running list of filmmakers you need to search out. (Part 1 can be found here).

As those who read the first part know, the list comes from my getting pissed off at Film Twitter and most major writers ignoring all of the great filmmakers  from around the world who aren't cranking out the big films. In order to set the record straight I'm listing a whole bunch of filmmakers who are either making great films no one seems to have seen or they are making films that are pushing the bounds of what cinema is.

This part of the list a bunch of filmmakers I discovered as Unseen Films started to be a officially a member of the press.

There is no order here. No one is better than anyone else. Its just a randomly selected list of filmmakers ordered in the way I ran across them as I complied the list. The list is small so you don't have a ton of people to try and track down.

The list will continue into at least September - though it will probably go way beyond it.

Yoshihiro Nakamura

Chun-Yi Hsieh was the first filmmaker who ever reached out to me. He asked me to see his short BRAID in 2011 when I missed it at Tribeca.. It is a masterpiece. He has since gone on to make films in Asia and all of them are worth seeing. APOLITICAL ROMANCE

Patrick Meaney maybe best known for his documentaries about comic gods (Grant Morrison, Chris Claremont and Neil Gaiman, among others,) but he also has made a killer horror film (HOUSE OF DEMONS) and is now writing comics.

Irina Varina - Brooklyn based filmmaker has a glorious one of a kind look at the world. I fell under her spell with her feature US, FOREVER AGO and I have been delighted with everything that followed 

Qunshu Gao, the director of THE MESSAGE, OLD FISHBEIJING BLUES and WIND BLAST is making the best films you haven't seen and which are difficult to see in the US outside of a festival. Don't be fooled or put off by the difficulty he is one of the truly great directors you need to be actively searching out.

Yoshihiro Nakamura is one of my most favorite directors in the world. His INERASABLE is one of the most terrifying films I've ever seen. Hs other films like POTECHI, SNOW  WHITE MURDER CASE, A FISH STORY, A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI and others. Thank god I did Unseen so I could not only discover him but meet him.

Hitoshi Matsumoto makes off kilter films. They always seem to be about one thing before they twist at the end into perfection in ways that will move you. R100, SCABBARD  SAMURAI, BIG MAN JAPAN, SYMBOL are magic films. (SCABBARD SAMURAI will rock your world and SYMBOL is a glorious shaggy dog tale)

Segundo de Chomon was a contemporary of Melies and he ripped off some of his films, like a TRIP TO THE MOON, but he also improved on many, and he also made a ton of other films that were wonderfully unique.

Benjamin Renner has made two of my favorite animated films of all time  Ernest and Celstine and THE BIG BAD FOX AND OTHER TALES.  Both films will make you laugh, make you feel warm and make you want to revist them over and over again.

Andy Viner makes funny funny films. Start with Dick Night and Kirsten Lives in Los Angeles and go off laughing from there. That may not sound like a huge rave- but once you see his films you'll know its enough.

Linda Hoaglund's THINGS LEFT BEHIND and WOUND AND THE GIFT have haunted me since I saw them. THINGS LEFT BEHIND maybe the greatest film on the Hiroshima bombing I've seen reducing the massive tragedy to a level we can all understand.

BBC War of the Worlds (2019)

This three part period adaption of the HG Wells classic made waves when several sequences of the Martian attacks hit the internet. Everyone was excited to see the series and we all waited for it to hit American screens. The trouble was if it ever did the vast majority of people seemed to have missed it. I know I completely missed it and had to catch up with via an import DVD. Having seen it I kind of understand why it’s become MIA.

Magnificently made, beautifully acted this adaption has some of the best representations of scenes from the novel put on film. The sequences are stunning with the attack on the Thundechild  being one that will live in your memory forever.

However the trouble is the film is ultimately just a bunch of sequences, the arrival, the naval battle, the red weed. There is no real attempt to link the sequences up.  Yes there is enough to move the story, but there isn’t enough to make us care. We don’t get real character development we just gets scenes  with no sense of what happened between them.

I was disappointed. I wanted a film where I cared about the characters. Instead I got tableaus. Yes they come to life but they don’t feel like an organic story.

That said the sequences are spectacular which makes the series worth a look when it plays, but it isn’t anything worth searching out

Saturday, July 24, 2021

For Madmen Only (2021) hits streaming July 27

 Comedy master Del Close was insane. I mean that literally- he was batshit crazy. However that didn’t stop him from doing improv as Second City or whatever club he was performing at would have a car take to and from the psyche ward. Really.

If you like today’s comedy or if you don’t it’s Del Close’s fault. He was the guy who taught everyone who went through Second City (say Belushi, Ackroyd, Murray, Williams, ect, ect) how to do it. The people who he taught the next generation and that generation taught the people we have now. Almost everyone who does comedy has a place in their heart for Close because he cause he shaped what they and their friends. What all his students gave us is a direct result of what he taught them.

I discovered Close back in the 90’s when I was chasing down comics by  John Ostrander. I wanted to read everything he did. As a result I ran across the comic  Wasteland which DC produced after it decided to allow Del Close to do a comic book. Close would come up with the stories, many autobiographical, and Ostrander would figure out how to get them into comic form. To say that the comic and the stories were unlike anything in comics is putting it mildly. DC was putting out these stories? Really?

I bought the whole run.

I’ve been scarred ever since.

FOR MADMEN ONLY is based on the creation of Wasteland. It takes the tapes that were made of the writing sessions and combines them with clips, interviews (old and new), comic panels and recreations to give us a look at the man who changed the world as we know it, despite the fact that most of us don’t know it. It’s an enthralling affair, that is very messy, often all over the place. There are pieces I absolutely adore and pieces I don’t like and despite that I am thrilled that this  portrait of an crazy man.  It’s a film that matches the man himself.  

Or simply put I was moved by the film. I was moved by the man and I was moved by the way it forced the history of modern culture to take on a new shape. One can not learn of Close and not see how his presence and world view hangs over the world as we know it.

You need to see this film. You need to see it because you will laugh. More importantly you need to see it because it will change how you see the world as you know it.

Highly recommended. FOR RMADMEN ONLY hits VOD July 27

Friday, July 23, 2021

Sweat (2020) hits Mubi today


SWEAT is a the story of Sylwie a physical fitness social media influencer who is pushing to get bigger and more influential. We watch as she struggles to broaden her appeal publicly while privately her life is sliding into the crapper as all her effort for public love is leaving a void in her personal life.

To be honest I don’t know what I think of the character of Sylwie, which is as it should be. We can admire her drive, we can feel for the lack of personal connection with anyone behind the scenes, but at the same time we don’t particularly like her. To be certain she is lonely but at the same time a chunk of that loneliness is her doing, she simply is too self-centered for people not to stay away from her. I mean there is the sequence when she goes to a club and all the guys give her wide berth despite he being the hottest girl in the place. Its as if they sense there is something they should stay away from.

That the film works as well as it does is entirely Magdalena Kolesnik. She manages to make Sylwie a person we can’t stop watching. We need to see what happens to her  because despite our better judgment we still care about her, if only out of pity. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is in the running for an Oscar at year’s end.

Ultimately SWEAT is a good film with a great central performance and recommended.

The film is finishing up it’s theatrical run and can be seen on Mubi starting today

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Mandible (2021) Hits theaters July 23

Two brain dead buddies are sent on a mission to deliver a suitcase for a friend they find their car vandalized so they steal a new one. Along the way they open the trunk and find a giant fly inside. Deciding not to deliver the suitcase they instead decide to train the fly...but things happen.

Quentin Dupieux's latest film MANDIBLES is almost a normal film. Almost entirely free of surreal touches, the film actually runs closer to a Farrelly Brothers film than his typical insanity such as a sentient tire out to kill people. Admittedly the film is centered around a giant fly found in the trunk of a car, but at the same time the fly falls away from things for long sections of the film and you'll almost forget about it.

I'm not certain what I think of MANDIBLES. In some ways this film is tighter than some of Dupieux's other films but at the same time without the madness of the out there situations he creates the film kind of falls flat. I think the problem for me is that without a loopy though line, even something as simple as gaslighting cops  in KEEP AN EYE OUT,  Dupieux's humor is unremarkable. To be certain I don't like all of his films but I will always try them because he is at least reaching for something. Here is a been there and done that lowbrow comedy that we've kind of seen before. Its not that Dupieux is repeating himself, he is repeating other people which is something he has never done before.

To be fair MANDIBLES is funny. It has laughs, many in very poor taste, and if that's all you want that's great but if you are a fan of Dupieux's madness you might find yourself slightly disappointed

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Pendular 2017 plays starting July 23

With PENDLAR playin OVID.TV here is the review I ran when it played New Directors New Films in 2017

One of the best acted films in the entire New Directors New Films festival this year the film is going to divide audiences into two groups those who fall madly in love with it and those who admire it's technical achievements but never fully warm to it. The film is the downward arc of a couple. He sculpts, she dances. They have moved into a large industrial space, Part is their home and the rest is divided evenly between their work spaces. While the thought of always being with the one you love may sound great, the actuality is it kills many relationships. While the film is beautifully acted and expertly put together the storytelling never worked for me, Its not that there is anything truly wrong with it other than the film seems to be trying a little too hard to make it's points, while not always being clear what they all are. On a certain level I really loved the film but there was a point where it couldn't bridge the gap between what it was trying to do with what it was doing. That said, the pluses out weigh the minuses and the film is one of my recommended films for the festival.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Kandisha (2021) hits Shudder July 22

KANDISHA disappointed me. It’s a film with a great plot and some stunning sequences and images that are not as well connected up as it should be.

The plot of the film concerns three young women living in a housing complex in France. When one of them is assaulted  they decide to call on a demon in the form of a veiled young woman to come and get revenge for them Unfortunately once release the demon keeps going and the young ladies have to figure out how to stop it.

I love a great deal about this film. The characters are well drawn, there are wonderful sequences which give us a real sense of life in the projects. Some of the killing sequences are chilling or provoke a reaction. I yelped out loud during the first murder when the target who is being drown grabs a knife and stabs the demon in the face who simply looks at her victim with an unchanging expression before getting even nastier.

The problem with the film is the editing isn’t as tight as it should be several of the scarier sequences are slackly paced draining them of chills (the aforementioned first kill) despite provoking reactions with what happens. There are also a couple of times where things happen or are mentioned and it seems like they are coming out of left field because there seems to be a line or a sequence missing (I can’t explain it lest I give something away).  Additionally the film is wildly low key at times and you have to wonder is this a horror film or a drama such as in the case of one of the girls announcing that she sees the killings from the point of view of the demon. She says it with a real lack of emotion to the point you have to wonder if she is even bothered by it.

I was frustrated. I wanted a sense of suspense and fear that was never generated.

While the over all film is okay there are some truly great bits and for those KANDISHA is recommend

Settlers (2021) Opens July 23


One of the real finds of this year's Tribeca SETTLERS is a film that melds science fiction and westerns in a way that opens things up both genres. It is an unexpectedly mature and adult film that gives us a great deal to think about.

Because I was lucky enough to see SETTLERS with only a bare plot description, I am going to keep it simple in this discussion as well since I don't want to give you any foreshadowing of where this film goes. 

The plot has small family on Mars going along and staying alive as best they can. One day they wake up to find LEAVE scrawled across their  windows. Its clear they have been found and are not welcome. What follows is the film.

This is a true form of both science fiction western tales. It is a fictional tale that relies on science for it's setting (Mars) and is a western in it's plotting, a homestead under siege. It uses both genres to drive things along. 

What I like about this film is the fact that it is very adult in what happens. While there is violence of many different kinds, this is not a shoot'em up, sheriff to the rescue, this is a complex tale that is firmly rooted in how humans on the edge of civilization might interact. It may be set on Mars and they may have scientific gadgets but for better or worse you could move this to the wilds of Montana in the 1850's and you could still have it play out in a similar way.

And that is SETTLERS strength. It is first and last about the people. It is a film about the interaction of all the characters. We remain glued to the screen because of what is happening between the actors.

I was surprised by the film early on. I thought I had a handle on where this was going to go but then the film began to get going and I realized this wasn't going to play out in expected ways.  The writing keeps it fresh. It also doesn't over explain everything. More often than not details are simply dropped in lines of natural dialog and not in speeches of exposition.

Apologies for not being more detailed but SETTLERS is a film you need to experience rather than read about. Truthfully I will have no problem discussing things after you see it, but see it first.


Aliey (2021) opens Friday


Portrait of choreographer Alvin Ailey, his company and his influence in the world of dance and beyond.

This is a very good documentary about a man I knew nothing about and whose company I've enjoyed over the years. I loved that this film opened my eyes about a whole bunch of things I never knew. I never knew about Ailey. I only kind of understood what he was doing with his dancing. I love it when I see something that truly opens my eyes to something.

If you are interested in Ailey you are going to love this film. If you love dance you are going to love this film.

If I have any complaint about this film its that the telling isn't anything special. Sue me the structure of the film is kind of run of the mill, and while that might work for someone of a lesser stature than Alvin Ailey with a man who changed the form of dance and how we see  the world I was hoping I was hoping  something more.

Still this is a super film and worth a look.

Monday, July 19, 2021

44th Asian American International Film Festival to Open with New York Premiere of SNAKEHEAD

 Exclusive In-Person Screening and Reception with Safety Protocols, Early Bird Gold and Cine Pass on Sale Now

July 19, 2021, NEW YORK – The 44th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF44) will kick off on Aug. 11 with the New York City premiere of its Opening Night film SNAKEHEAD by Evan Jackson Leong, with an exclusive in-person screening. The festival will take place from Aug. 11-22. Combining in-person events and online programs, AAIFF44 will be a hybrid festival. Early Bird Gold and Cine Pass are currently on sale at with limited-time pricing that ends on Aug. 4. 

Based on a true story and featuring a New York-based cast, SNAKEHEAD centers on Sister Tse (Shuya Chang) and her attempt to survive in New York’s Chinatown as an immigrant while she gets caught up in an international crime ring of human smuggling. 

The in-person Opening Night Screening of SNAKEHEAD will take place on Aug. 11 at Regal Essex Crossing & RPX in New York City with cast and crew attending 

An exclusive reception at Sour Mouse NYC will follow the screening right after with safety protocols in mind

The film will then be available online from Aug. 12-14 on CineSend, the official online screening platform of AAIFF44

Tickets for both the in-person Opening Night screening and the online screening are now available at

Tickets to SNAKEHEAD and all other programs and events are now available: 

The Early Bird Gold Pass grants admission to all in-person events and access to all online programs at $175

The Early Bird Cine Pass offers access to all online programs at $90

The Early Bird Promotion ends Aug. 4, after which Gold Pass and Cine Pass will be sold at $250 and $150 for Regular Prices 

“We are so excited to return to New York City to celebrate the magic of cinema together again. With new categories and awards this year, we can’t wait to meet everyone in-person!” said Festival Director Kayla Wong.

AAIFF continues to partner with the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment this year to highlight New York City-produced films.

“We are proud to support the 44th annual Asian American International Film Festival, especially in these times when Asian and Asian American voices need to be heard,” said the Mayor's Office Media Entertainment Commissioner, Anne del Castillo. “The films and programs featured in this year’s lineup shine a light on stories that represent the rich diversity of our AAPI community.”

More in-person events and the full lineup of AAIFF44 will be announced by the end of July. 

About the Asian American International Film Festival

The Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) is proudly known as "The First Home to Asian American Cinema." Organized by Asian CineVision, it's the first and longest-running festival dedicated to showcasing the moving image work by media artists of Asian descent for and about the Asian diaspora experience. The Festival takes place in New York City, the second-largest Asian-American market in the U.S. Every year, AAIFF attracts audiences from all five boroughs of New York City, the tri-state region, and around the world. 

About Asian CineVision

Asian CineVision (ACV) is a media arts nonprofit devoted to the development, exhibition, promotion, and preservation of Asian and Asian American experiences through storytelling. Our mission is to nurture and grow the community of makers and lovers of Asian and Asian American independent film, television, and digital.

Films submitted and screened at the festival are eligible to participate in our National Tour program, bringing Asian diaspora stories to broader audiences across North America through a rental service for cultural and educational institutions. 

Thank You

The 44th Asian American International Film Festival is made possible with support from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences, Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, Citibank, AARP, Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York, Philippine Consulate General in New York, Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, NYU Special Collections, SAG-AFTRA, CUNY Graduate Center, and the friends of ACV. We are also pleased to have AsAmNews as a Primary Media Partner this year.

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Fear and Loathing In Aspen(2021) opens July 23


Full confession- I had zero hope for Fear and Loathing in Aspen. I wanted nothing to do with it. I figured it was going to be an over the top gonzo insane film. I knew that Jay Bulger as Hunter S Thompson was not going to work. I just cringed at the thought of seeing the film, but it got sent to me anyway and I put it on and almost instantly realized I was dead wrong about the film- it’s really really good. Its so good I told my friends who are Thompson fans to give it ago.

The plot of the film follows Hunter S Thompson as he runs for Sheriff of Aspen Colorado in 1970. Its told in the style of a 1970 film with changing frame ratios and split screens.

Jay Bulger is brilliant as Hunter. Portraying him as a real honest to god person, as opposed to the stereotypical mumbling Hunter of Bill Murray and Johnnie Depp, we get to see that there is more to him than just the wild journalist. We see him with his wife and son behaving as a dad and hubby and it resets what you think of Thompson. He is no longer the cartoon but as someone who is more than the show. You understand why so many people loved him and why people hated him.  For me, a longtime fan of Thompson,  it was a revelation since I could now see him beyond the bullshit of cliché.

Beyond the central performance this film rocks. It’s a beautifully told story that uses the tropes of cinema from when it was set to pull us in and carry us along. Being old enough to have been alive when the film was set, some part of the five year old me connected to the feel of the film. It all feels genuinely like its 1970.  Where other films like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood do the same time period and come off as dress up this Fear and Loathing comes off as the real deal.

While I’m not going to say this is the best film of the year I will say it’s a great find and one of the joys of my film year.

Highly recommended

PLAYING WITH SHARKS (2021) Launches on Disney+ JULY 23rd

"These camera men had these giant housings mad of metal and I had a stick"
- Valerie Taylor on the filming of BLUE WATER WHITE DEATH

Portrait of filmmaker, naturalist, conversationalist and shark expert Valerie Taylor who was instrumental in making us realize that sharks were not inherently dangerous.

This visually overwhelming film is going to rock your world. While not a perfect film, I'm going to be guessing that the film will be running for the Oscar  at an upcoming Academy Award ceremony.

Telling the story of Taylor's life in the sea, where she began as an exert spear fisher it follow her on through the meeting of her husband with whom she began to make films and work to protect the sharks and the other sea animals. We also get large sections on BLUE WATER WHITE DEATH and JAWS which she helped to film.

The images, made up of the footage shot over six decades of filming is amazing. Because Taylor was the only woman doing what she did there is plenty of footage beyond what she shot to delight the eyes. 
I was really blown away by the beauty of much of it. 

And there is sadness as well. Watching the footage of the spear fishing tournaments you become ill  at the senseless slaughter of so many creatures.  There is also sadness at realizing that the number of sharks in the footage in from the film BLLUE WATER WHITE DEATH in which Taylor appears and which she helped shoot, can never be repeated because the sharks are largely gone, having been hunted into near extinction.

Also sad is the section on JAWS which she and her husband went to thinking it would be a great tale never realizing that the fear the film generated was responsible for decreasing shark populations across the globe. She regrets having been part of the film as a result.

As much as I love the film, I do have to quibble with a couple of things. First the film rambles for much of it's running time. While this allows for some great footage to be seen, it results in the films other flaw which is the last half hour is much too rushed and over loaded as the film desperately tries to cove everything. While in no way fatal, the flaws keep the film from just being an all time classic. 

Quibbles aside it is however still an absolute must see.

This is ne to see sooner than later- and expect plenty of awards (The editing is some of the best I have ever seen in any film ever)

Stay at Home bonus Film WHAT ARE THE WALTEN FILES?

Nexpo takes a long look at a disturbing series on You Tube

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Filmmakers You Need to Search Out Part1: Notes from before I went Inde


On the 4th of July I tweeted that I was sick and tired of people prattling on about Tarantino, Scorsese, Lynch, Spielberg and all of the other big name directors that people are constantly going back to. I did this because if you listen to Film Twitter there are only  five or six directors worth speaking of and all the good films have been made until these filmmakers make their next film. Of course they are saying this at the same time as they are professing a deep love of cinema… the vast majority of which they are completely ignoring. 

In all seriousness these so called film fans, who claim to live and die cinema, seem not to be watching anything new. They are not wading into the trenches and watching anything from the up and coming filmmakers. Worse they are not attempting to find new voices that need to be amplified. They are not  out there  trying to find the next great director by watching the small films and going to the small fests. If you ask me ,they should  be, since its been my experience the best filmmakers are outside the studio system; or if they are in the system they are down in the food chain.

I’m sick and tired of Film Twitter and many of the big name writers droning on and on about filmmakers and films that have been talked up to death. Frankly most of the  “great filmmakers” are not in touch with the world today and their films show it. They live isolated lives and aren't making films that connect to life being lived.

In the tweet I suggested that people need to track down people like Marq Evans, Justin McConnell, Jason Karatilianm, Shaun Clarke and Bao Tran because they are making films that will open you mind and your idea of what film could be (even if it’s in the form of a well-worn genre). And having said it I instantly freaked out because there are more than just those guys who are doing great things. Those were just  the guys I had been talking to and about  right before the Tweet. I knew I needed to highlight all the other filmmakers,  especially the women since the last five years have been full of the most amazing films from women  (Madison Campion and Elena Beuca being just the tip of the iceberg). I needed to put all their names out there… I came up with the idea of putting a list together.

Foolishly I tweeted that I would run a list in August…and went off to make it.  I figured I could bang it out and put it up  one day and be done with it. I mean how hard could it be? Well it was hard enough that the list is going to appear over several weeks (months?) time and end eventually.

Let's face it there are a lot of great filmmakers out there that most people are not talking about.

You should know that it is a list of filmmakers with a few brief words about them and some of their films you should see see.  I know I should have given you links to the films but this has turned into a long list and for now the best I can do is point you to their work. Its so big that I have broken the list  into random bite sized pieces. I have done this so that you will  not get overwhelmed by a huge list. I want you to look at the names and try the films. Doing in bite size pieces will allow that

The list is going to run Sunday nights for the next couple of months, so its going to be a while before I get to everyone I want to highlight... and  I know the finished list maybe incomplete because there are simply too many filmmakers I have run across and I may not have written down every name.  I may miss someone  it will be accidently. I'm going to do my best not to have that happen, but then again the list won't be done until I say its done so hopefully I will get everyone I need to.

A quick note to the various filmmakers- there is no order to how anyone appears or in what part. The order is random, selected by my trips backward and forward through my notes and the posts at Unseen. They appear as I ran across a name, not because I like some one better.

And now the first part of the list.  I made the this part by going through the early days of Unseen Films, before I truly fell in love with inde films, before I started to make a lot of friends who shared films and filmmakers with me. As a result  it is a list made up of some better known filmmakers, because that's what I was watching. The part of the list that follow will be less mainstream (assuming you can call even these filmmakers mainstream.)

Jean-Francois Laguionie

Yes you all know Kiyoshi Kurosawa because of his art house hits but what you need to do is search out his early work for hire films, the Revenge films, the Suit Yourself or  Shoot Yourself series or even the completely off kilter recent films that were run by NYAFF or the Japan Society because no one else would touch them.  These are the films that show you a director who is bold and daring even when he is falling on his face.

Jiri Barta is a stop motion master who makes films unlike anything else If you can find his IN THE ATTIC OR WHO HAS A BIRTHDAY TODAY? in it's original dub (the English dub is beyond awful) you will have a film that will become a favorite forever.

Jean-François Laguionie is a French animator who is just a brilliant filmmaker. His GWEN AND THE BOOK OF SAND is a dystopian tone poem. While his LOUISE BY THE SHORE and THE PRINCE'S VOYAGE take seemingly typical plots and turn them in to pure magic.

Do I need to mention Johnnie To? Uneven, all over the place, he makes films that are just cinematic magic - often making something out of someone else's failed film.  His ELECTION films are the equal of the GODFATHER.  And just because its a smack in the face find THE LONGEST NIGHT- though all his films are worth trying.

Andy Milligan was a force in the off Broadway world when it was just starting up into he 50's and 60's before starting to make films in the 60's. Eventually he became known for churning out trash cinema his films were at best a mixed bag and destroyed minds but he was influential.

Sergei Bondarchuk made the best version of WAR AND PEACE. However he made other films like THEY FOUGHT FOR THE MOTHERLAND or DESTINY OF A MAN that need to be seen,

Sabu is one of the greatest director's you've never heard of. Why are you not searching out his genre spanning films? He is one of the greatest directors in the world and while he may not always hit, he is always interesting. All his films are worth seeing but try DRIVE which is a meditation on life.

Jim Mickle made MULBRRY STREET and then the masterpiece STAKE LAND Start there and be amazed.

 Isao Takahata found Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki. He was also the better director. Just see GRAVE OF FIREFLIES and tell me differently

Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperis changed the world when they made MONDO CANE. However everyone overlooks the other films they made, specifically AFRICA ADDIO and GOODBYE UNCLE TOM which have multiple versions and like them or not are are in your face looks at the world and our thoughts. Their final film MONDO CANDIDO is an uneven take on the classic by Voltaire, which make you wonder what they would have done next.

Superior! (2021) North Bend Film Festival 2021

 Superior feels like a film that would have been a low budget film from 1987 when the film is set. It looks and moves like many of the slightly more ambitious films of the period that were trying to do more than be a by the numbers thriller. Its and interesting throwback that is well done but strangely not as clever as it thinks it is.

The plot has sisters Ani and Alessandra Messa playing sisters. They haven’t seen each other in 6 years when one of them shows up at the house of the other needing a place to crash. She is on the run from an abusive boyfriend. As time goes on the pair rekindle their closeness and eventually begin to merge and swap personalities to the point that the people around them can’t tell them apart.

Superior is a film I admire more than I like. It is a meticulously designed film where every image is perfectly presented. I suspect that if there had been enough money the whole film would have been shot on artificial sets instead of actual locations.  This is a film where writer director Erin Vassilopoulos is doing everything within his power to tell us the exact story he wants. The results in a film that looks splendid and feels like it was 35 years old (that’s a compliment)

The trouble is the plot isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. There have been variations of it going back to the early days of cinema with notable stops at PERFORMANCE and the works of David Lynch. We’ve been here before enough that the plot doesn’t have any surprises. While it isn’t fatal, its kind of disappointing since so much work went into the design and making sure that by the end of the film we can’t tell Messa sister's apart. The result is a film that is good but great.

Ayar (2021) North Bend Film Festival 2021

AYAR is a one of kind cinematic experience that melds a variety of styles and genres into a film that is a wild ride.  If you’re like me you may not be certain of what you’ll think of the entire ride but I suspect you’ll be glad you took it.

The film is nominally the story of Ayar, a young woman who returns from Las Vegas to LA homing to reconnect with her daughter who is being raised by some one else. Its been a few years and Ayar gave up he daughter to pursue a singing career and a romance that imploded.  She is living in a motel room which is being over grown by vines. She is living next to a woman who may or may not have covid. We get to know her and the people around her. Somewhere along the way the film begins shifting going into unexpected directions including turning into  a meta exploration of the making of the film.

The film is a disorienting trip. Subjective collides with objective, making of collides with narrative and conventional collides with experimental. The result is film that grabs you and drags you along. You can’t help but stay staring at the screen because you don’t know what piece of magic or unexpected turn is coming next. I couldn’t look away. It’s a hell of a ride unlike any other.

While I was watching the film I was absolutely enraptured. I had to see how it was going to go. The problem with the film is that as thrilling as the ride is, it does go all over the place. Some where in the final twenty minutes you begin to get a sense that some of the film could have been trimmed. The sequences aren’t hanging together as well as before. When the film was done I was exhilarated by the ride but I didn’t know if I liked it simply because I don’t know if everything gets pulled together enough to be satisfying.

My uncertainty of the finished product aside, AYAR is still worth a look for the cinematically adventurous

Saturday, July 17, 2021

How it Ends (2021) hits VOD July 20

Shot during the covid lockdown HOW IT ENDS is about the last day of the earth. We are hours away from some great celestial body slamming into the earth and everyone is largely resigned to dying.  In the final hours Liza and her younger self wader through the city trying to score drugs before heading to a party where they will dance and drink and eat until the inevitable happens.

I skipped HOW IT ENDS at Sundance (the previous year was not a happy one) and I considered skipping it at Tribeca but since it was going to be my last film at the festival I decided to give it ago. If it put me in a dark place I could turn it off.

It is a maudlin and occasionally funny story about life, the choices we made and regrets.  I was amused by much of it. I was also overwhelmed by the sadness inherent in the situation. I know my view of the film of the film was colored by losing my dad and numerous friend in the last 18 months. Seeing the film and it’s world with death hanging over it all was not that far from how I’m seeing the world right now.

While I like the film it is clearly a footnote film. When you watch the film you can see that there is a distance to everyone. We only have a crowd at the end and until then everyone is 6 feet apart. It’s not completely noticeable until you realize how it was filmed. Because of that there is a lack of weight to some of the proceedings because we are distant from the characters. Personally I thought the similar SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD was better and more satisfying.

Regardless of my quibbling , its worth a look.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Red Post on Escher Street (2021) North Bend Film Festival

 Red Post on Escher Street is going delight many of Sion Son’s fans and annoy others.  This skewed love letter to the movies and the extras that fill the backgrounds is a film that you have  go with before it pays off. It is a film that asks us to juggle a lot of pieces before they are put together at the end.

The plot of the film is nominally the story of a filmmaker trying to make a retirn independent film after shifting toward the mainstream (much like Sono himself). He hands out fliers for an open casting call.  As everyone comes in to audition we get the stories of the extras, the filmmaker as he tries to put the film together and various related people to all the stories. How they interact and come together is the film.

The reason I say you have to work with this film is that the focus of the film shifts every ten or fifteen minutes. New characters come in to replace ones we were following. While we will run across people we’ve met before Sono is constantly introducing us to more and more people. The result is that we feel the films’ almost 150 minute run time because the film never builds momentum, even as it builds to a climax.

It is a grand party of sorts for anyone who ever wanted to be part of a movie

And if you are wondering why I am not saying more it’s because I am still processing the film.  It’s a film I need another pass through because it didn’t come together for me until I got to the end and then it snapped into place for me. Once it came together did  I realized that I needed to watch it a second time so I could properly reference all the connections- but I realized that in order to make the deadline for the festival I was going to have to wing this review since I didn’t have another two and a half hour block.

My desire to see the film a second time aside, this is a really good film and is recommended when it plays at the North Bend Film Festival

ROADRUNNER (2021) opens today

 In fairness the only piece on Roadrunner you need to read is Nate Hood’s which can be found here. However since this is a piece is from the stand point of someone only vaguely familiar with Anthony Bourdain I’ve decided to still post it.

This is the story of celebrity chef, raconteur and world traveler Anthony Bourdain. Told  in part through his own words via interviews and unused footage from his TV shows, as well as interviews with the people who loved and worked with him. It is a warts and all portrait of a man who changed the way the world eats.

Hands down one of the most complex biographical documentaries you will ever see Roadrunner will move you in all sorts of directions all at the same time. It’s the rare film that both is madly in love with its subject while calling him an asshole at the same time. Most amazingly you completely understand both points of view and by the time the film ends you’ll be crying at the loss while fighting back the urge to track Bourdain down (who you will swear is still alive) so you can beat the shit out of him because he was such a dick.

If Oscars were given for expressing a wide range of emotions Roadrunner would win in a walk over because no film makes you feel as much as this film does.

As someone who knew of Bourdain but didn’t live and die by his books and TV shows ROADRUNNER was an good introduction to the man who meant so much to so many. I know many who viewed him as a near god, influencing their diet and their desire to travel. Bourdain was a key person in their life despite never having met him. Watching the film I gained respect for the man. I also came to understand why so many people were crushed by his passing even if I never quite felt the loss myself.

I fully expect Roadrunner to be in the awards mix at the end of the year. It’s a great film about a much loved personality. If it doesn’t win an Oscar or two it will only be because the voting body isn’t used to having their emotions played with.

Recommended.Nate Hood’s which can be found here

As We Like It (2021) NYAFF 2021

Updating of Shakespeare As You Like it into the modern world where the kingdom is a corporation and the characters  are gender fluid.

This is a good retelling of Shakespeare  made with joy and love. How you react to the film will be determined by how you react will be to the flashy style it is made. Its animation, fashion and craziness all blended together in the story of two girls looking for love.

I liked this film but I didn’t love it. It was a bit too flashy for me and it kept me from feeling the story had any weight. It was like watching some reality TV show but less serious. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the hell out of it but when it was done I was instantly ready for something else.



During the Cold War the under water monitoring forces of the US heard the sound of a whale song at 52 megahertz. The frequency was unlike any whale song known. It was so out of the ordinary that people assumed it was un able to communicate with other whales and that there was a good probability that he was all alone. Haunted by the story filmmaker Joshua Zeman decided to see if he could find the whale.

This is a solid little doc. Its a film that casts its net wide and ends up being about more than just the search. The cold war is here, how we as humans see the world is here as are a many other threads. Its a film that is ever changing and ever evolving Best of all it doesn't go as you expect...and you just may tear up at the end for an unexpected reason.

I had a blast watching this. It is a film full of beautiful images  that pull us in and drags us along. I was  hooked and smiling from start to finish.

THE LONELIEST WHALE hits VOD today and is very recommended.

Luchadores (2021) North Bend Film Festival 2021


LUCHADORAS is a portrait of three female wrestlers living in and around Ciudad Juárez Mexico. The town is notorious for the much too large number of women who are kidnapped and/or killed each year. We follow the women as they go through their days, wrestle, and try to make it safer for the women in the area.

This is a good but slightly uneven film that is often an intriguing portrait of a way of life alien to most people.  It is not a wrestling doc, but a film about women in a specific place and their lives. Wrestling is merely the means by which the women connect to each other and find empowerment  where they can help make things better for the other women.

The unevenness that I mentioned is from the fact that while the everyday life part and the wrestling part are absolutely part of the same story there is a sense at times that this could almost be two films. The story of the lady wrestlers is a subject ripe for expansion while the story of the town where so many women are being murdered is perfect for another.  Truth be told I would love to see a film just on the missing and murdered women since there's clearly something wrong there and it should be highlighted so that the authorities are forced to act. 

Quibble aside this is a very good little film. It is a wonderful portrait of three great women and the people in their lives

Thursday, July 15, 2021

A pointer toward Sleepless Unrest: The Real Conjuring Home (2021)

This is a documentary about a group of paranormal investigators who spend two weeks in the house that was the inspiration for THE CONJURING.

I am not going to do a real review of this film because this isn't really a film that is in my wheelhouse. The film is similar to the paranormal investigator TV shows that you see on cable but without commercials, hype about what is going on or the need to vamp for the next show.

Actually the fact that this isn't a TV show is a major selling point. The film scores a lot of points just by allowing things to run and not have to set up the next segment.  Events are allowed to play  out and not feel as edited.

While the film is better than the vast majority to its TV cousins it still hits many of the same tropes of the crew going around setting up  cameras and being freaked out by creep noises. If you like that sort of thing this is going to be manna from heaven. For me it was just okay.

Brief thoughts on THE CALL on Shudder


After driving an old woman they thought was a witch the kids responsible are forced to call  the phone inside her coffin and bad things happen. 

Outside of Lin Shaye and Torin Bell this film is largely bad. There is no life in there film which feels like a paycheck job for everyone except the stars. Set in 1987 simply to do away with modern conveniences such as cellphones, the time frame adds nothing to the story. Worse it all feels wrong. And by the numbers. 

I stopped caring after a short while, only to pay attention when Shaye and Bell appeared.

Skip it.

Cryptozoo (2021) North Bend FIlm Festival

 CRYPTOZOO begins  with the recounting of a dream abut storming the capitol and taking it over and forming a world where we all can live in peace. It then moves on to a man being speared by a unicorn and his girlfriend in a rage beating it to death. One thing is troubling for the context of the world the film has been birthed into and the other is troubling simply because it's a disturbing sequence. From there the film spins off into the story of a woman who is trying to save all the "mythical" creatures in the world before the government or collectors can snatch them and use them for evil purposes. It is often violent, occasionally sexually graphic and not for all audiences.

As some one who hated director Dash Shaw's first film my saying that this is a film I admire is saying a great deal.  While I have a lot of issues with the film, and I just kind of like it, I still think it has a somethings going for it. For example the film has several moments of great beauty and the plot actually isn't bad when you get down to it.

The problem for me is I don't know if Dash Shaw can fully tell a story. While less meandering than his first film, the plot still moves with fits and starts and has a raw nature of a a big schooler trying to write something bigger than his experience. It doesn't help that the art frequently looks like the work of good but still learning young artist. 

My issues aside I will give it points for decidedly being it's own thing with the only thing I can compare it to is the work of Japanese artist Ujicha (Violence Voyager, Burning Buddha Man) expect that it is more hopeful and less disturbing.

Worth a look for Shaw fans and the adventurous,  it a film that just missed for me.

ALICE STREET is playing across California starting today

This is an excellent look at the power of art to bring communities together. It’s also a film that takes a look at gentrification and its effects upon the community It’s a film that will make you think about the communities around you.

The film is the the story of artists, Pancho Peskador, a Chilean studio painter, and Desi Mundo, a Chicago-born aerosol artist who come together to plan and execute a 4 story mural in Oakland at Alice street where the African American part of the city meets the Chinese. Normally the two communities were wary of each other, however through the discussions about the mural door ways were opened and the two communities began to come together to fight the gentrification that is over taking the city.

I had a blast watching this film. While I loved watching the creative process involved in the creation of the mural, I loved watching the communities coming together. I was moved. More importantly the film perfectly balances telling us an engaging tale with giving us information on gentrification and other social problems. This is perfectly balanced film that effects the head and the heart

Highly Recommended.

The Summer Impact Events in July:

July 15 at 6:30PM

Virtual screening in partnership with the American Institute of Architects Orange County
(AIA Orange County) for their Diversity and Inclusion program.

July 22 at 6:30PM

Plaza Paz - Artes Americas
1630 Van Ness Ave, Fresno, CA
Community screening and panel discussion

July 28 at 7:00PM

Virtual screening in partnership with Reiss-Davis Graduate School (Los Angeles, CA).
A panel of psychologists will discuss the trauma of gentrification.

July 31 at 7:00PM

The Frida Cinema
305 E 4th St #100, Santa Ana, CA
Benefit screening in partnership with Community Engagement and The Frida Cinema Fundraising
for Community Engagement's grant program for local filmmakers and artists.