Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Dances With Films 2021 Shorts OH BABY, KLUTZ and GOOD COUPLE

 


OH BABY 
This is the story of a first date that seemingly goes  side ways.

Very good short film is kind of hard to write about since the  end of the film is what makes the film. This is a tale that has the right mix f heart and humor with a nice kicker ending that will make you smile. (I’d say more but this is a film that you need to see all of before we can discuss it since I don’t want to give it away)

Recommended.


KLUTZ 
Young writer feels she has lost herself, and her ability to fight gravity. As a result she is constantly falling. Unable to write the next novel she writes the story of a young  girl whose super power is falling.

Sweet little film has some great performances and some great turns of phrase. I loved the dialog in this film which beautifully walked the line between being real and being scripted.

Mostly though I loved the fact that this film made me smile.

Recommended.


GOOD COUPLE
After a big fight Danstorms into the night. After a night of soul searching Julia is ready to hang it up but  Dan returns wanting to make up. Things become perfect. Perhaps too perfect.

Intriguing drama/thriller is a look into our souls. What do we want and what if we get it?

This is a super film that starts off making you think you know where its going and then bends as it goes along drawing us in and making us consider what we are really watching.

A small gem.

Labyrinth of Cinema (2019) is playing in a theater for Japan Cuts on September 2

 LABYINTH OF CINEMA is a film that only Obayashi could have made. Wild and crazy but with a very serious point, the film forces us to ponder the natures of war and cinema as well as our own existence.

The simple plot outline has three people at a movie marathon launched into the on screen world of Japan at war.  They experience the horrors of war in a cinematic and not so cinematic ways as the time line gets closer and closer to Hiroshima.

If you saw Obayahi's Hanagatami you may have some idea what this is like, but even so this film gets even more crazier (fish in space). Like the earlier film which had some people I know scratching their heads, Labyrinth of Cinema pushes the envelope as to what a serious movie is. Nothing is too out there for a director who is looking to make his point. Assuming you are like me the journey can take any form so long as the payoff is worth it. Here the pay off was worth it as I was left pondering what I had just seen and why it made me feel like I had been hit with a large club. It also made me want to take another 3 hours and watch the film again so that I could truly appreciate the film on it's own terms.

While I know most people know Obayashi for his cult favorite Hausu, I've always been of the opinion that while that film is good, his other films are better. I say that because more than any other director Obayashi truly understood cinema. He knew  that in cinema there are no rules nor limits. If you can dream it and if you can sell anything is game. Yes, not all his films work, but when they do they not only tell us great stories and make us think and feel in ways that a conventional telling could never manage.(and even when his films failed they were pretty damn interesting)

Labyrinth of Cinema tells us a great story and makes us feel. It does so in a way that not everyone will accept, but that is perfectly fine since Obayashi made the film he wanted to  which is enough. It is one last singular work from a master director whose body of work was wonderfully and uniquely his own.

Highly recommended to Obayashi fans as well as anyone who want a film that is unlike any other.

Zero Gravity (2021) Dances With Films 2021


In California a teacher and a group of kids from various backgrounds take part in the Zero Robotics competition, The kids will have to code a robot so that it will do a series of tasks. The competition will have them compete other schools across the country. The kicker is that the robots are located on international space station.

Very good documentary about a bunch of kids leaning to love coding and science. This is a really cool little film that transcends a basic idea of a school competition and makes it into something more. Seriously this film made me go wow and I'm not talking about the spectacular space views but the idea that they have to deduce how to move a robot moving in zero gravity. The idea that they are programming something that they probably didn't understand amazed me. 

I know that doesn't sound cool, but trust me it is. 

Also really cool are al the people we meet. I kind of fell in love with everyone on screen.

This film is great fun and recommended a when it plays at Dances With Films or any other festival this fall.

The list of upcoming showings at Dances with Films LA, United Nations Film Festival, Boston and others can be found here

Monday, August 30, 2021

Garage (2021) Dances with Films.2021

 


A man returns to the garage where he was molested as a child in order to try and banish the demons of his soul.

This is a dark and troubling film that operates on a purely visceral level. We are in out protagonist's head space as he tries to sort out the things which haunt them and the result is that we are haunted ourselves. 

I don't know what I feel about the film largely because despite watching the films a couple of times I simply don't want to be in the headspace of the film. The result is a film I can't shake and can't stop wrestling with.

That's a rave

Worth a look when it plays Dances with Films.


Hola México Film Festival presented by DishLATINO returns for its 13th annual edition September 17-25 during Hispanic Heritage Month


Welcoming film lovers back to the silver screen to celebrate together the resilience and ingenuity of the film community. 

Perdida, by the revered director Jorge Michel Grau, to open the festival. 

Opening & Closing nights will take place at LA Plaza de Cultura Y Artes 

Los Angeles, CA. August 2021 –The largest Mexican film festival outside of the Mexican territory, Hola México Film Festival presented by DishLATINO, returns for its 13th annual edition this September 17-25 during Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Bringing audiences back to the cinema, Hola México Film Festival presented by DishLATINO will give viewers an opportunity to gather once again to celebrate the perseverance of the film community and see some of the most compelling films that have recently come out of Mexico. 

“Although Hola México Film Festival continued in 2020 in a virtual format, we deeply missed the irreplaceable communal experience of being with each other to showcase the strength and diversity of Mexican cinema. Through the enduring power of the cinematic arts community, we are absolutely thrilled to welcome back film lovers and finally be able to gather and embrace in-person during the 2021 Hola México Film Festival,” remarks Samuel Douek, Founder & Director. “We look forward to helping ensure that Mexican filmmaking continues to grow and prosper for years to come.” 

The 13th annual Hola Mexico Film Festival presented by DishLATINO will take place at Regal Cinemas LA Live, located at 1000 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Opening & Closing ceremonies will take place at LA Plaza de Cultura Y Artes (an open-air venue). Opening Night Tickets & Festival Passes are available now at 10AM (PST) on www.holamexicoff.com

As public health measures from the County of Los Angeles are rapidly changing, information on social distancing and/or mask requirements will be clarified closer to the event date. 

The Hola México Film Festival presented by DishLATINO will feature 21 films, kicking off with Perdida from revered Mexican director Jorge Michel Grau. 

From acclaimed director Jorge Michel Grau (“We Are What We Are”), this sleek thriller, of marital intrigue and deceiving occurrences, first centers on Eric (José María de Tavira), the new conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic. His wife Carolina (Paulina Dávila) has vanished without a trace and the police suspect him. Though seemingly shell-shocked, Eric is quick to find solace in Fabiana (Cristina Rodlo) , a young waitress unaware of the ongoing situation. But what begins as a steamy affair between the new lovers soon turns into a labyrinth of questions without answers inside a lavish home. The more time Fabiana spends inside the property, the more she is haunted by unexplainable events. Assuredly, Grau approaches the story with non-traditional structure to immerse the viewer into the many perspectives involved in this enigmatic love triangle. Stylishly produced and superbly acted by cast of emerging faces and established stars, “Perdida” is a riveting exploration of the clash between passion and revenge set in a house where the walls themselves hold many dark secrets. The only certainty is that nothing is what is seems. 

Perdida – Trailer


The Hola México Film Festival is comprised of the following sections:  México Ahora, Documental, El Otro México, and Nocturno. México Ahora features the best of Mexican films released in recent years, covering every genre. Documental includes notable non-fiction films made by Mexican filmmakers. El Otro Mexico highlights experiences of Mexicans rarely portrayed on screen, skillfully presenting perceptive narratives that challenge the status quo. The Nocturno section offers offbeat stories and horror films. The complete official line up will be announced shortly. 

Hola México Festival presented by DishLATINO is also proud to reveal this year’s key art by the Mexico City-based Lourdes Villagomez. Villagomez freshly and colorfully brings folklore mexicano to life in her captivating works of art. Although Villagomez has lived and studied in England, Australia, the United States and Italy, she proudly draws upon Mexican motifs in her work, showcasing the country’s cultural richness and its natural beauty. Villagomez’s key art for this year’s festival depicts a traditional mask from the state of Guerrero combined with familiar cinematic elements, resulting in a colorful homage to both Mexican culture and the film community.  

Supported by some of the most important film organizations in the world, Hola México Film Festival’s prestigious mentor program Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Today (TFT) connects Latino filmmakers based in Los Angeles to resources and industry leaders in order to help develop a creative community of like-minded individuals. This year’s TFT returns in an in-person format after being held online in 2020. The program’s main goal is to increase the Latino workforce in the global filmmaking industry by becoming the bridge that cultivates and develops inclusion, supports the development of Latino content, and fosters meaningful collaborations amongst its participants and the top industry leaders in Los Angeles, México and Latin America. For more information about TFT, visit https://www.holamexicoff.com/tomorrows-filmmakers/

The festival will conclude with an award ceremony. Recognitions will include best director, best short film, and best audience award.

About Hola México Film Festival presented by DishLATINO:
Founded in 2008, Hola Mexico Film Festival, the largest Mexican Film Festival outside of Mexico, strives to highlight the best and brightest talents in Mexican cinematography. Spanning comedies, dramas, horror films and documentaries, the festival showcases high quality films in a festive atmosphere in conjunction with exclusive parties and outdoor concerts. Celebrating its 13th edition, Hola Mexico Film Festival will take place both in-person and virtually in September 2021, offering film enthusiasts a chance to view a variety of significant Mexican films. Sponsors include: DishLATINO, Cinelatino, Hollywood Foreign Press, WarnerMedia, DCA, Pantaya, De La Calle! Tepache, LA Plaza de Cultura Y Artes. 

About DishLATINO:

DishLATINO is a leading suite of English and Spanish language programming packages in the United States and Puerto Rico. It offers its customers Spanish-language news, entertainment, and sports in combination with DISH's broad English-language programming lineup, providing millions of customers with access to more than 200 channels. 

Since 1980, DISH has served as a disruptive force, driving innovation and value on behalf of consumers. Through its subsidiaries, the company provides television entertainment and award-winning technology to millions of customers with its satellite DISH TV and streaming SLING TV services. 

Hola Mexico Film Festival presented by DishLATINO

In-person screenings will take place at Regal Cinemas LA Live, located at 1000 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015

Opening Ceremony - Friday September 17, 2021

Closing Ceremony Saturday September 25, 2021

Film Screenings 7:00 pm

LA Plaza de Cultura Y Artes, 501 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

For more information, please visit: www.holamexicoff.com

Atlanta’s Out on Film announces film lineup for 34th edition of the film festival (September 23 - October 3)


Peeter Rebane’s Firebird is the Opening Night selection, and William T. Horner and Stacey Woelfel’s Keep the Cameras Rolling: The Pedro Zamora Way makes its World Premiere on Closing Night Also making World Premieres are Jan Miller Corran’s  Along Came Wanda, Antony Hickling’s Down in Paris, and Jade Winters’ One Four Three. Amanda Bearse receives 2021 Out On Film Trailblazer Award 

Atlanta, GA (August 25, 2021) – Out on Film presented by WarnerMedia announced the lineup of films and events for the 34th edition of the Atlanta-based LGBTQIA+ film festival today. The Oscar® qualifying film festival returns to theaters this year as part of its hybrid presentation. Taking place September 24-October 3, Out on Film will open with Peeter Rebane’s Firebird and present the world premiere of William T. Horner and Stacey Woelfel’s Keep the Cameras Rolling: The Pedro Zamora Way as the Closing Night selection. Additional world premieres include Jan Miller Corran’s Along Came Wanda, Antony Hickling’s Down in Paris, and Jade Winters’ One Four Three. Alessandro Guida and Matteo Pilati’s Mascarpone will make its U.S. Premiere.

Out on Film will once again offer a rich selection of LGBTQIA+ films curated from around the world. 43 features (25 narrative films, 18 documentaries), 17 shorts programs with 98 films and 2 webseries, representing 24 countries will be available this year, as well as a world premiere art installation. More screenings and virtual programming will be announced soon. 

Out on Film Festival Director, Jim Farmer, said, “It’s wonderful to be back in theaters this year, and its equally wonderful knowing we have such an expansive, international lineup of films to present both in-theater as well as virtually. As one of the few film festivals that are still growing despite all of the challenges present, we are thrilled with this international lineup, including our world premieres and more films we can’t wait to introduce our audiences to.

Out on Film will open on Thursday, September 23 at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema (931 Monroe DR NE) with the Southeastern Premiere of Peeter Rebane’s Firebird. The British drama set during the Cold War follows a forbidden love triangle between a soldier, a fighter pilot and his female comrade amid the dangerous surroundings of a Soviet Air Force Base. The world premiere of William T. Horner and Stacey Woelfel’s Keep the Cameras Rolling: The Pedro Zamora Way will take place on Closing Night, Sunday, October 3 at the Out Front Theatre Company (999 Brady Ave NW). The documentary looks at the life of Pedro Zamora, who gained fame on MTV’s The Real World, and utilized that platform to open up his life, his joy, and his influence to the world until his death at the age of 22. 

Centerpiece selections include T.J. Parsell’s documentary Invisible: Gay Women in Southern Music, which explores a group of gay women songwriters who overcame more than we could imagine to write some of the most familiar and beloved “number one” hits for some of country music's greatest stars. Phil Connell’s Canadian drama, Jump, Darling features Academy Award-winning legend Chloris Leachman in her final starring role in the story of an actor turned drag queen at a crossroads in his life, who moves in with his grandmother to keep her from having to move into a nursing home. Vivian Kleiman’s documentary No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics looks at the life and career journeys of five scrappy queer comic book artists journey from DIY work and isolation to the cover of Time Magazine and the international stage, offering a fascinating window into everything from the AIDS crisis and workplace discrimination to the search for love and a good haircut. 

Additional world premieres include; Out on Film alumni Jan Miller Corran’s Along Came Wanda about a road trip with two friends inspired by a teapot from an old lover which involves a guru Daiku, a psychic, a ranch hand, and his horse Blaze, all the while two friends are falling in love; Antony Hickling’s French film Down in Paris, about a filmmaker, suddenly overwhelmed by anxiety during filming, who walks off set and wanders through the Paris night in search of answers, comfort and inspiration; and Jade Winters’ British thriller One Four Three, about a woman, having just left her family for a relationship with a woman, finds herself in the hospital with amnesia following an attack – and now must uncover what happened and who did it to her. Alessandro Guida and Matteo Pilati’s Italian film, Mascarpone will make its U.S. premiere at Out on Film with its story of a man who must find a new place to stay, a job, and a new purpose in life after getting dumped. 

Also making its world premiere will be the art installation of “The Hate Shield Project”. Artist Matthew Terrell debuted “The Hate Shield” in October 2019 at Atlanta Pride. The mobile, soundproof wall blocked both sight and sound of hate preachers at Pride that year, with the mirrored back side of the walls ensuring the preachers could only see themselves. It also significantly reduced the loudness and hearing distance of the hate preachers, effectively neutralizing them and transforming their efforts into a comical, futile display. By disarming their hate, their words and actions only served to make them look small and ridiculous. The footage captured on the body camera reveals this shift. In this art installation which will be present at both Out on Film theater locations, Terrell will use the actual original panels of “The Hate Shield” to create a soundproof pod, where viewers can watch a short, first-person POV documentary about the project. 

Amanda Bearse will be receiving the 2021 Trailblazer Award virtually. After roles in All My Children and the horror classic Fright Night, Bearse became a household name playing Marcy D’Arcy on Fox’s Married…With Children. At the height of her acting career, Bearse came out as a lesbian to the public with a cover article in The Advocate and her activism for the LGBT community began as the first poster child for HRC’s National Coming Out Day. After 35 years in entertainment, Bearse, who grew up in Atlanta, has become a top television director, having helmed episodes for such series as Malcolm & Eddie, The Jamie Foxx Show, Dharma & Greg, Reba, MADtv, and The Big Gay Sketch Show, as well as acting, appearing most recently in John Heder’s Topawingo, with Billy Eichner’s upcoming Bros, set to shoot this fall. A special “In Conversation” event with Bearse will be available virtually on September 23.  

More highlights include Debra Branham’s Being Bebe, which captures the incredible rise of the first ever winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the legendary BeBe Zahara Benet. The film won the 2021 Best Documentary Award at the Provincetown International Film Festival. Prolific documentarian Jeffrey Schwarz’s is back with his latest, Boulevard! A Hollywood Story, about the creative triangle of the legendary Gloria Swanson, and two struggling songwriters, Dickson Hughes and Richard Stapley, who created the Broadway smash hit. Nathan Hale Williams brings Bernard David Jones, Dyllón Burnside, Thomas Hobson, and Jenifer Lewis together to bring George M. Johnson’s words to life in this dramatic reading of their book All Boys Aren’t Blue. 

For information on purchasing passes, tickets, and additional details on Out on Film, please go to: outonfilm.org.

Big Scary S Word (2020) releases Friday

 


A look at Socialism as viewed in the United States. It is an effort to sort out what it really is, as opposed  to what the the far right says and the far left says.

How you react to this film is going to be determined by how you feel about the subject of socialism and how much you know. While the film is full of stories trying to make the world better for all of us the film is largely a primer on the subject aimed at straightening out everyone's thoughts on the subject. Its a place you should go if you want to get the real skinny on what socialism really is.

For me this was a good film but not wholly my cup of tea. My problem is that I have been having discussions about the nature of socialism for a months as the GOP and even the Democratic Party chaffed at the moves of the far (and even center) left toward this supposed bugaboo. I've been covering a lot of this material so I'm really too close to this to be full objective about it.

That said if you want to know what socialism really is is the place to start. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Nightcap 8/29/21: We interrupt everything....

 


Going to hold off one more week with the filmmakers list. No offense to anyone on it, I just am so burnt from the six film festivals of the last three weeks that I haven’t been doing anything since last Saturday film-wise  as you can see by the drop off in posts over the week.

I will never do that insanity again-which is why I am backing off the three other fests running exactly against New York Film Fest. I say that because I am so burnt out and because after close to 200 films for 6 festivals  in roughly 4 weeks I don’t remember what most of them are.

I will not try to sum up any of the fests because, well, I don’t want to think about them that hard.

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I am not certain how the fall festival season is going to go. There are all sorts of rumors and talks and such about how festivals are going to handle things should covid force changes. Some fests are trying to draw up plans to pivot to virtual if things slide. Some writers are putting in for credentials for in person fests hoping/knowing that they will not go in person, hoping to be ready when the pivot comes. They are gambling that they will be able to cover some part of some fests.  Having spoken with a number of writers and programmers  I feel for everyone’s pain. I’m simply going to wait and see what happens and roll with it

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After much soul searching I have purchased a ticket package for NYFF. I am hoping to see a number of films on the BIG  screen. I am not going to assume I will get a press pass, besides I want to see DUNE on the Alice Tully screen.

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I will have some coverage of Toronto and perhaps Camden and the Festival of Cinema NYC. 

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I saw ANNETTE the weird musical from Leo Carex and Sparks.

It’s a film I admire more than like. Its way too mannered and artificial, however the technical aspects of it are stunning. This is a film to watch if you want to know about the craft of making a film.

Not sure you need to see it if you want to see a good film.

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I am going to run my Marq Evans interview to tie into the Port Jefferson Doc series screening of CLAYDREAMS

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One of my favorite filmmakers Irina Varina  has been posting  episodes in her new series The Ministry of Loneliness over the last few weeks.  The fourth one just dropped this week.  The series is nominally about the first Minister of Loneliness. What is actually has yet to be determined as the short episodes mix a building story with some obtuse pondering. I’m not  entirely sure what I feel about it all (hence no review) but I’m curious where it’s going to go. The episodes can be found here.

Final Frequency (2021) hits VOD Tuesday


 Final Frequency is about group of evil scientists who are using long suppressed technology created by Nikola Tesla to cause an earthquake. They are countered by other scientists who attempt to fight back as best they can.

This science fiction action thriller is an okay view experience that is hampered by wildly uneven performances, and prop designs that will have you laughing out loud. I’m not sure what to make of some of the performances here. Are some of the lesser performers bad actors or are they simply there for a pay check? I’m not sure. In either case they are terrible enough that we never get drawn into the film.  As for the leads some of their performances are good but no one seems invested in what’s happening on screen with the result we just don’t care either.

Equally bad is some of the  “scientific” equipment and weapons that just look silly. I completely lost it late in the film when there is a shoot out using the stupidest ray guns I’ve ever seen. They are these long rifle like things with bowls on the end. Watching the actors waving them about had me roaring with laughter to the point I banged my head.

I would skip this

Saturday, August 28, 2021

OVER MY DEAD BODY (2021) Dances with Films 2021


Excellent short film  about a Persian Jewish woman who brings her boyfriend home to meet her parents. All is fine until she reveals that he is a Muslim. As he family freaks out, and her father threatens to burn himself alive, the young woman has to decide what to do, bow down to the wishes of her family or find happiness with the man she loves.

Beautifully acted film feels lived in. The arguments here feel as though they are the sort of battles that the filmmakers experience. The result is a pained film where we realize that any choice is a wrong one and going to cause pain to someone.

A small gem.

Last Night in Rozzie (2021) Dances WIth Films 2021

Ronnie Russo returns to Boston to see his dying friend. He’s tasked with finding the friends son so that he can connect with him before he passes away. As sets out on his appointed task, the past come calling and he begins to ponder a tragic event from his childhood that linked the two friends.

Beautifully acted film over comes the occasional feeling that we have been here before. While there is nothing wrong with the story, it’s the cast that does the heavy lifting. You fall in love with the characters that Neil Brown Jr., Nicky Whelan, Jeremy Sisto, Kevin Chapman play and they make taking the ride worth the trip.

This is a nice little film. It may not rattle heaven but it entertains and moves us.

Worth a look 

Friday, August 27, 2021

Incognito (2021) Dances With Films 2021


 Police in 1995 find a woman looking confused. She thinks it's still 40 years earlier. She is brought to a hospital where her doctor tries to get to the bottom of it.

Allegedly based on a true story tale is the sort of thing  that would be right at home on the Twilight Zone. Its a solid little film  that plays better the second time through when the science fiction twist falls away and this is revealed to be a solid little drama.

Actually the problem with the film is that the construction works against our expectations in the wrong sort of way. I was watching the film waiting for a gotcha ending and disappointed that there wasn't a solid sting in the tail. Watching the film a second time I found with my expectations gone I liked the film more.

Worth a look when the film plays Dances With Films

Final Set (2021)opens today


Aging tennis player decides to give it one more trip around the court by attempting to win an up coming tournament

Good but unremarkable drama is very well done on pretty much every level, except the one that injects excitement into the proceedings. While I admire the effort to try an keep the proceedings realistic and not to really pump up the tennis sequences, the unfortunate result of it is the matches are exceedingly dull with the final match ending up kind of boring. I'm certain that were I a tennis fan this might play better, but for me as a person with only a passing interest in the sport I lost interest relatively early and only hung in there because I wanted to know how it ended.

Not my cup of tea, but tennis fans may like it.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Van Gogh The Immersive Experience

 


There are two dueling Van Gogh exhibits in New York. I'm told they are basically the same thing- a lead up to going into a room where they project images on a wall, before they give you crayons and paper in order to color. After that  you then can pay extra cash to use a VR headset  to go on a trip into Van Goghs works. And of course there's a gift shop.

I bought the tickets blind. I didn't know where it was, but I figured it was going to be like the Dali Museum Show  with all orts of screens and stuff. I was wrong.

The one I went to is on the Westside of Manhattan on Vesey right next to the Irish Famine Memorial.

Once the door opened we were sent up stairs-yes we had to go up three floors via stairs- to the exhibit. I found out once I got upstairs there is an elevator but you have to ask, and it dumps you in an odd place in relation to the exhibit. The stair thing kind of had me lost because it was a 95 degree day and I wasn't planning on mountain climbing.

Once you go in there is a lot to read on the walls- what we were going to see, some bits on important people and locations. Little of it ties into anything.

There is a giant vase over which they project various versions of his paintings with flowers.  Down the hall are bad prints of his paintings. The colors are off and you can see the pixels from the images they used to make them. They lost me here because I couldn't believe they were so freaking cheap in creating their props.

Around the corner and we are in a huge two story open space  where they project his paintings and related images on the walls and floor. Some of the images move or some of the things in the images move, the boats sail, trees rock and people bop. There were a couple of moments that were cool, one with sunflowers going all over and another with something unrelated to Van Gogh. I wanted to scream with the dancing trees during Starry Night- it looked like a freaking 2 year old designed it.

The best part of the experience was watching two tiny kids trying to jump on the sunflowers on the floor or to jump into the projected puddles.

I felt ripped off.

This is a small scale museum side exhibition blown way out of proportion and wildly over priced.

Despite the efforts made as we went in there is nothing here but pretty pictures badly utilized. Why couldn't they have gotten some video game programmers to design the show?

I paid 40 bucks for this?

I have seen similar shows, and paid more for it and would gladly go back. Peter Greenaway's Last Supper at the Park Avenue Armory was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. This was purely a cash grab of the worst sort. I mean- why didn't they spend some money to make decent projections and paintings?

I would have been okay with 10 bucks not 40

Avoid this.

Wife of a Spy (2021) Japan Cuts 2021

 


Kiyoshi Kurosawa does the unthinkable and tells a more or less straight forward historical tale, proving he can do pretty much anything and will always surprise.

Shot for Japanese television WIFE OF A SPY is the story of an actress married to successful business man in the early days of the Second World War (1940). When her husband returns from Manchuria things are not quite right and it transpires that he was altered by what he saw there in a medical experimentation camp.

A mix of war time domestic drama and espionage tale is not what I would have expected from Kurosawa how tends to tell tales that have an odd bend into them, I mean his REAL ends with the out of left field appearance of a sea monster. Then again this film doesn’t behave like most similar films you’ve ever seen. I didn’t expect the okay drama to turn to switch up and become a tense war time drama.

This is a really good film. Beginning with the fact the film shows a side of war time Japan that we in America don’t see, I mean almost all depictions are of soldiers and their families and the fact that we see something approaching “normal life” or filmmaking is kind of eye opening. From there we have a compelling story that doesn’t do what we expect. I didn’t expect a man trying to get word out of Japan of atrocities.

This is solid filmmaking. If there is anything to quibble about it is perhaps the fact that being made for Japanese TV the budget is less than for a feature and we can feel it in some scenes that feel a little small. But, as I said  that is a minor quibble especially when you are seeing a new film from a master director.

Playing both in person and virtually at Japan Cuts WIFE OF A SPY is recommended. 

For access to the film streaming or to see it in person on August 27 go here.

The Great Yokai War Gaurdians (2021) Japan Cuts 2021 Fantasia 2021

 Takashi Miike returns to the world of Yokai Wars with a second film Guardians, the story of two modern brothers who join the battle with the Yoaki Wars.


Decidedly more kid friendly than the previous entry. You would be hard pressed to think that Miike was behind this film. On the other hand he is such a prolific filmmaker it’s almost impossible to nail him down as what sort of filmmaker he is. This is a grand romp full of great characters and bits of magic and whimsy that utterly delight.

Forgive me if I don’t really try to critique this film, its not something you can do. Its both clunky and forced, and perfectly made and dead on. The films near climatic Iron Giant-esque moment completely wrecked me despite it’s unevenness simply because the love and emotion of the story and the characters far outshone the narrative.

And of course there are the monsters. There seem to be hundreds if not thousands of unique monsters walking around and even if they don’t do anything the simply delight.

Personally I absolutely love this film to death. No it’s not an adult love- but one of the inner kid. This is the sort of film that if you show a kid at the right age you will damn them to loving the movies and monsters forever. I feel this way because Miike, a man who has made some of the most violent and ugly films ever has made a film with true child like magic and wonder.

God bless him and god bless this film.

Recommended for anyone who wants to see a film and be a wide eyed kid all over again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Colony (2021)


Decades after the wealthy left earth in the wake of environmental/global warming disaster scouts come back to the planet in order to assess the ability for people to return. Only one woman survives joining a band of people left behind. However she soon finds out that there is some one more dangerous lurking on the seas and it is closer to home than she could eve imagine.

Good science fiction thriller is going to play better for patient audiences. I say this because the film is deliberately paced and at times more talk than action. Its  not bad but some sequences, the post landing exploration at the start is really good but seems to be in real time.

I really like the film. I particularly loved the look of the film which creates a world we completely buy.

Hitting theaters and VOD Friday THE COLONY is recommended 

Behemoth (2021) Hits digital platforms August 27


 BEHEMOTH is a neat little film. It’s a solid little thriller with great special effects.

The film is the story of a chemical engineer whose daughter suddenly develops an terrible illness. He realizes that the company he works for maybe behind it and he kidnaps the head of the company. However things don’t well, he is shot and has to take pain pills. Its at that point his grip on reality begins to go- or does it.

Nominally a small scale film BEHEMOTH is largely set in a motel room which creates a neat sense of claustrophobia. However there are times when the walls of reality come down and the film suddenly expands its scope an we see the most amazing things.

Made for almost no money BEHEMOTH truly shines with its effect. With effects that exceed most big budget Hollywood films it’s a film that makes you go wow  repeatedly.  Clearly all you need is love and care to make effects work.

And that is what makes BEHEMOTH so special, clearly this is a labor of love. Sure the film has a small budget but there is love and it shows in every detail, including the performances. Bravo to the whole cast who sell the events and don’t phone it in. I was delighted.

BEHEMOTH is the little film that could and is recommended

Ida Red (2021) Fantasia 2021

 


A family in crime is having a bad run of luck. Things go even more off the rails when their matron who is behind bars is diagnosed with terminal cancer and wants to get out to die free.

Dark family drama is part of the wave of films that have been spawned in the wake of  Animal Kingdom movie and TV series. Its full of violence and bad people we hate to like. Its a film with a really mean edge.

As good much of this is the plotting is all over the place. Its build as a jail break film but that only clicks in in the second half. Before that we follow the various circles the characters take as they commit crimes and have things go down hill. The whole subplot about the granddaughter seems to have been artificially injected, much like in the Danish film WILDLIFE. It doesn't help that the actress playing her seems about 25 and not 15. (And pushing her drinking and smoking into the front is wildly intrusive)

Forgive my quibbling. It comes from love. The stuff here that works is fantastic. I just which it wasn't as rambling.

That said because the good stuff is do kick ass this is recommended.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The 5th Annual Festival of Cinema NYC brings in-person screenings back to the Regal UA Midway in Forest Hills September 24-October 3

 


John Carlucci & Brandon Laganke’s Drunk Bus Opens the film festival with the directors in attendance, Erin Granat & Machete Bang Bang’s Moon Manor is the Closing Night selection.

 World Premieres include Cristiano Vieira’s A Cisterna (The Well) and Samuel Tressler IV’s Leda, while Pedro von Krüger’s Any Given Day and Vishal P.Chaliha’s Sijou will make North American Premieres

Queens, NY, September 24, 2021 - Festival of Cinema NYC proudly returns for its 5th year, as a live in-person 10-day event, taking place September 24-October 3. Bookending over 120 independent films from around the world with many premieres among them, will be the Opening Night selection of John Carlucci and Brandon Laganke’s crowd favorite Drunk Bus, and the Closing Night screening of Erin Granat & Machete Bang Bang’s acclaimed LGBTQ film, Moon Manor. 

Over 85 filmmakers are expected to attend Festival of Cinema NYC next month which will be hosted once again by the Regal UA Midway in Forest Hills, Queens, famous for their state-of-the-art projection and sound. World premieres include Cristiano Vieira’s A Cisterna (The Well) and Samuel Tressler IV’s Leda, which will mark FOC NYC’s very first RealD 3D presentation, while Pedro von Krüger’s Any Given Day and Vishal P. Chaliha’s Sijou will make North American Premieres at the film festival.

Festival of Cinema NYC Founder and Executive Director Jayson Simba, said, “In our 5th year, and despite the pandemic, we still continue to grow by nearly every metric – submissions, films selected, screenings, and more. We could not be more excited to return to our home at the Regal and to see these amazing films on screen and meet all of the 85 filmmakers we are expecting to join us here in Forest Hills. We pride ourselves on bringing world cinema to the many film lovers here in Queens, and this year’s lineup really delivers on that front.” 

John Carlucci and Brandon Laganke’s raucous comedy Drunk Bus kicks things off on Friday, September 24. The film follows a recent college graduate whose life plan is derailed when his girlfriend leaves him for a job in New York City. However, when he runs into Pineapple, a 300-lb punk rock Samoan who challenges him with a kick in the ass to break from the loop and start living, his life will never be the same. or risk driving in circles forever. Both Carlucci and Laganke will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A. 

Erin Granat and Machete Bang Bang’s Moon Manor will make its Queens Premiere on Saturday, October 2 as FOC NYC’s Closing Night selection. The film focuses on a man

with advancing Alzheimer’s who decides that he will orchestrate a party of a funeral–a FUNeral, prior to his death, showing his estranged brother, salt-of-the earth caretaker, sharp-witted death doula, a novice obituary writer, a cosmic being, and everyone else the proper way to make an exit.

 Leading the premiere-rich lineup are world premieres including; Cristiano Vieira’s Brazilian thriller A Cisterna (The Well), which centers on a successful journalist and popular television host’s fight for survival when she is kidnapped and held inside a well; and Samuel Tressler IV’s Leda imaginative drama about a woman living alone at a large family estate, who begins to lose touch with reality and time, and begins to spiral into a nightmare of madness. Making their North American premieres are Pedro von Krüger’s Brazilian thriller, Any Given Day where a woman’s son goes missing inspiring him to take the investigation and matters into his own hands; and Vishal P. Chaliha’s Sijou, about a boy who becomes a victim of the Feudal Land Tenure System which enslaved people to land holding lords.

For its fifth year, Festival of Cinema NYC is working with the Americas Media Initiative organization to raise awareness of the current societal turmoil and political conditions in Cuba. On Tuesday September 28 at 7:00PM, the festival will be presenting the animated short film Esperanza vs. the U.S. Embargo of Cuba proceeded by Ricardo Figueredo Oliva’s documentary The Singular Story of Unlucky Juan. The screenings will be followed by a 60-minute moderated discussion with guest speakers and activists, Roberto Monticello and Isabel Alfonso leading the conversation. Proceeds from the evening’s presentation will be donated to assist in Cuban Relief efforts. 

This year’s edition of Festival of Cinema NYC is supported and made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Other major sponsors for the 2021 festival include Regal Cinemas, Resorts World Casino NYC, the NYC & Company Foundation, Techsoup, and Final Draft. 

Tickets to Festival of Cinema NYC are on sale now, and are priced at $17 for regular daily screening blocks. Red Carpet Opening and Closing night tickets are priced at $30 and include entry into the after party following those screenings. (Discounts are available, at the door, for Senior Citizens, SAG-AFTRA members, members of the Queens Economic Development Corporation, the Forest Hills Asian Association, the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and members Community Board 6.) Tickets to Tuesday’s Fundraising Presentation on Cuba will cost $35. 

To purchase tickets and learn more information about the festival,  please visit http://www.festivalofcinemanyc.com/

2021 FESTIVAL OF CINEMA NYC OFFICIAL SELECTIONS

 

Camden International Film Festival 2021: CIFF Announces Film Slate for 17th Hybrid Edition

 


Highlights include new films by Oscar® and Emmy® winners and nominees Liz Garbus, Bing Liu, Sam Pollard, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, and Jimmy Chin; acclaimed directors Robert Greene, Penny Lane, and Nadia Hallgren

Stand-out emerging directors include Cannes winner Payal Kapadia, Berlinale winner Alonso Ruizpalacios, Sundance winner Jessica Beshir, and Jonas Poher Rasmussen whose Sundance-winning animated documentary film Flee on an Afghan refugee is closing night

The festival and its concurrent Artist Programs will constitute one of the largest gatherings of the documentary community since the start of the global pandemic's impact in Spring 2020.

SHOWTIME® Documentary Films is the 2021 Headlining Sponsor

CAMDEN, Maine – Monday, August 23, 2021 – The Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) has announced the slate of feature and short films for its 17th edition, which will take place in person from September 16-19 at venues in Camden and Rockland, Maine, and online from September 16-26 for audiences across North America. Longtime sponsor SHOWTIME Documentary Films returns as Headlining Sponsor of CIFF. The festival and its concurrent Artist Programs will constitute one of the largest gatherings of the documentary community since the start of the global pandemic's impact in Spring 2020. 

A program of the Points North Institute, CIFF is one of the top documentary film festivals in the world. This year's festival will present 37 features and 33 short films from over 30 countries. Recognized as a growing platform for championing the next generation of nonfiction storytellers, 52% of the films presented this year are directed or co-directed by POC directors. Since 2017, the festival has been committed to gender parity across all sections and competitions. 57% of this year's slate of films have been directed or co-directed by women.

The festival will open with National Geographic Documentary Films’ Becoming Cousteau, from two-time Oscar nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus, about the iconic undersea explorer and filmmaker who tried decades ago to warn the world about the climate crisis. The festival will close its in-person festival on Sunday, September 19 with NEON’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Flee. Recounted mostly through animation by director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, the film tells Amin Nawani's extraordinary journey as a child refugee from Afghanistan.

Festival highlights include SHOWTIME Documentary Films’ new feature about the most iconic figure in film history, The Real Charlie Chaplin, in which directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney were given access to a personal archive of the silent-movie star that includes previously unknown material, Robert Greene’s latest feature Procession which explores the intertwined stories of six survivors of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests, and National Geographic Documentary Films’ The Rescue by Oscar-winning directors Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi about the famous 2018 rescue of 12 Thai boys trapped in a cave.

Nearly half of the feature films are presented as major premieres including the US Premiere of Payal Kapadia’s A Night of Knowing Nothing, which recently won the prestigious Oeil d'Or award for 'Best Documentary’ at Cannes, Hot Docs Grand Jury Winner, Ostrov - Lost Island by Svetlana Rodina and Laurent Stoop, and Penny Lane’s Listening to Kenny G.

“Much like our festival this year, our 2021 slate celebrates documentary as a reimagining of the ways we engage with stories from both near and far,” says Ben Fowlie, Executive and Artistic Director of the Points North Institute, and Founder of the Camden International Film Festival. “As programmers, we have been transformed by these films. And in a moment when we are all feeling the forced distance between us, we are grateful to the filmmakers who have made these works of art, and shared these stories with us. Cinema is a beacon, and there is no question that the near seventy films that will be presented both in person and online at CIFF are, all in their own way, a light in the dark.”

As a leading showcase of international work, CIFF will present five North American Premieres including the Netflix title A Cop Movie by Alonso Ruizpalacios, which took home the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution at the 2021 Berlin Film Festival, Our Memory Belongs To Us by Rami Farah & Final Cut FOr Real’s Signe Byrge Sørensen, which received a DOX:AWARD Special Jury Mention at CPH DOX, Marie Amiguet’s The Velvet Queen, which recently premiered at Cannes, The Mushroom Speaks by Marion Neumann, and Roots (Koreni) by emerging filmmaker, Tea Lukač', set to premiere at Karlovy Vary Film Festival this month.

Storyforms, CIFF’s exhibition of immersive documentary experiences and installations will include a collection of work by Simon Liu, a film artist whose work has been featured at festivals and museums across the world for its exploration of his place of origin in Hong Kong through alternative documentary forms, diary films, and multi-channel video installations. 

In total, nearly fifty filmmakers are expected to converge in Maine for the festival, and films will be exhibited in person in four venues, including the festival’s recently built Shotwell Drive-In and a new pop-up cinema housed inside a 12,000 square foot boat barn located on the edge of the Atlantic designed with social distancing in mind.

Organizers also announced that it will continue with its Filmmaker Solidarity Fund, a one-of-a-kind funding model established in 2020 that redirects 50% of all revenue from CIFF’s virtual pass and ticket sales back to participating filmmakers. 

A complete list of the program’s feature films can be found below.

2021 Camden International Film Festival Features

VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS ANNOUNCES DATES FOR THE 37TH ANNUAL LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL SEPTEMBER 23 TO OCTOBER 2, 2021


FESTIVAL OPENS WITH "MANZANAR, DIVERTED: WHEN WATER BECOMES DUST"

EARLY HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE THE LOS ANGELES PREMIERES OF: "AMERICANISH," "I WAS A SIMPLE MAN," "DEFINITION PLEASE," "LIKE A ROLLING STONE: THE LIFE & TIMES OF BEN FONG-TORRES," and "THE FABULOUS FILIPINO BROTHERS"

Tuesday, August 24, 2021 - Los Angeles, CA - The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF), presented annually by Visual Communications (VC), today announced the first set of films that will screen as part of the 37th edition of the Festival, which will be a hybrid event taking place virtually and in person at select cinemas in the Los Angeles area from September 23 to October 2, 2021.

The Festival will open on Thursday, September 23 at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center’s Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles with the Los Angeles premiere of Ann Kaneko’s MANZANAR, DIVERTED: WHEN WATER BECOMES DUST, a poetic look at the unexpected alliance formed by Native Americans, Japanese American WWII incarcerees, and environmentalists to defend their land and water from Los Angeles.

“Visual Communications looks forward to sharing the stories that intersect and converge movements such as MANZANAR, DIVERTED,” says Francis Cullado, Executive Director of Visual Communications. “From emerging to established filmmakers, the Festival continues to celebrate artists who are making an impact in our communities.”

Following Opening Night, LAAPFF will showcase new works as part of Centerpiece Weekend at the Aratani Theatre and Regal L.A. LIVE. Highlights include the Los Angeles premieres of: Iman Zawahry’s AMERICANISH, the first American Muslim rom-com directed by an American Muslim female filmmaker; Sujata Day’s comedy-drama DEFINITION PLEASE, which she also stars in; Christopher Makoto Yogi’s Sundance hit I WAS A SIMPLE MAN, starring Constance Wu; Dante Basco’s directorial debut THE FABULOUS FILIPINO BROTHERS; and Suzanne Kai’s long awaited crowdpleaser from Tribeca, LIKE A ROLLING STONE: THE LIFE & TIMES OF BEN FONG-TORRES, about the legendary Rolling Stone editor and writer Ben Fong-Torres.

LAAPFF is a proud Academy Award®-qualifying film festival for the Short Film Awards. Recipient(s) of the Film Festival’s Golden Reel Award for Narrative Short Film will be eligible for consideration in the Animated Short Film/Live-Action Short Film category of the Academy Awards®. This Festival is the only one of its kind in the world to have earned this qualification. Some highlights from the shorts lineup include the World Premiere presentations of: Candace Ho’s CHASING CLOUDS, a narrative short about a Taiwanese American woman forced to confront the harsh reality of her mother’s dementia; Paolo Bitanga’s NIGHT & DAY, a documentary short from the Philippines about a mother′s home that comes alive once a year when her many children return for the holidays; and Dakota Camacho’s FANA’GUYAN, a short dance film that explores ending violence and generating healing through embodiment, intimacy, and ancestral creativity. FANA'GUYAN will screen as part of Pacific Cinewaves, programming which represents LAAPFF’s commitment to amplify Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities from Hawai’i, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Guåhan (Guam), Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Samoa, and throughout the Pacific region.

“It is an honor to work in this landscape and witness the rise of storytellers from Asian & Pacific Islander communities,” said Eseel Borlasa, Programmer & Festival Operations Director of Visual Communications. “Each year, the Festival is proud to share these diverse perspectives, and we hope to continuously bridge understanding and build empathy and solidarity amongst our audiences. That collective work of storytelling to audience impact helps put values into action. LAAPFF believes in that work, and we are proud to be part of the process.”

Visual Communications is proud to continue their partnership with HBO for the fifth annual HBO Asian Pacific American Visionaries, a short film competition which showcases cinematic storytellers of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. The finalists were selected from hundreds of submissions and were judged by a distinguished panel of HBO executives, industry leaders and fellow APA filmmakers. The three winning films exemplified this year’s competition theme: “Taking the Lead.” Jess X. Snow’s LITTLE SKY, Jesse Gi’s NEH, and Urvashi Pathania’s UNMOTHERED will premiere at LAAPFF on September 25, and debut on HBO Max on September 27.

This year, the Festival will also continue to host C3, a space for creators to converge and celebrate creative communities. These consist of both virtual and in-person panels and conversations.

Established in 1983, LAAPFF is the largest festival of its kind in Southern California, and the premier showcase for the best and brightest of Asian Pacific cinema. It was recently named one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker Magazine. For over three decades, LAAPFF has presented over 5,000 films by Asian & Pacific Islander talent, and continues to expand its commitment to nurturing new talent and promoting the development of Asian & Pacific Islanders both behind and in front of the camera. T he Festival is proud to be an Oscar® qualifying fest for the best short film Academy Award category - either live action or animation.

LAAPFF will announce its full lineup on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Ticketing for the general public will be available starting Monday, September 13, 2021 at 12:00pm PT.

For program information, please visit festival.vcmedia.org.

#BLUE_WHALE (2021) Fantasia 2021

The story of a website that pushes people to suicide was not my cup of tea. Told entirely via computer screens, cellphones and website posts the film would seem to on target for todays tech savvy audiences. Unfortunately the film has a couple of problems that derail the film.


The first problem is the film’s screens with in screens approach grow tiring and out of touch. Its not so much that there is too much information, but rather the screens we see are too often only there for a effect. For example right at the start a cell phone gets cracked and splashed with a color which stays (and changes shape) despite being there for several days. One would think they would have cleaned off the magenta paint.

The second problem is that despite being limited to what various cameras see we see a hell of a lot of material that no camera would catch.  Who is shooting these events? Worse there are several times in the film when things are supposed to be from a stationary camera and they have the movement of a camera person shifting their weight. Things that should be cellphone vertical are often horizontal. The film can’t get it’s own conceit right.

Lastly we’ve been here before any number of times. Outside of the tech dress up this is a story we’ve seen dozens of times over the years  done better. Even going back to the 1930’s and 40’s where people were driven to suicide by letters.

I would pass on this.

Brief thoughts on Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction (2021) which plays at the Japan Society 8/26 and 28 Japan Cuts 2021

 


Amusing story about the efforts to safe a failing magazine by various people, many of whom have their own agenda.

When I watch films at Japan Cuts I make a list of the films I want to see when the slate comes out and then I just watch them blind. I love going into the films blind and with no expectations. This made for a great experience for me since I went into the film and had no clue where it was going. I laughed and smiled and had a grand time watching great actors going through their paces.

Recommended.

KIBA FANGS OF FICTION plays at the Japan Society AUgust 26 and 28 and is worth making the trip.

For tickets go here.

Mad God (2021) Fantasia 2021


 Phil Tippett's  MAD GOD has been in the works for 30 years, and it has finally arrived.  The result is jaw dropping.

The nominal plot has a mysterious figure taking a diving bell don into the bowels of hell. He then heads off to complete his appointed task...or something.

I am all over the place about this film. Its a film that seems to have been made in three different periods by three different people. The result is a cinematic experience that is unlike anything else you've ever seen.

The first half hour is quite simply one of the greatest films I have ever seen. stunning in the truest sense of the word it is full of images unlike anything that has ever ben put on film. It is not for kids or the sensitive since its full of blood and fluids and sex and shit and ugliness that will disturb even the strongest of souls. I floored at the technical achievement as well. I can't believe what it took to create this section of the film.

The second half hour film seems to be be a bit less than the first. We get a look at the person sending the people down into hell. We also get a second trip. The worlds are a bit less complex but it is still intriguing. There is also a sense that this section of the film as done years(decades) after the first as the film behind to incorporate video images.

The final 25 minutes is more mysterious actions in hell. The images are arresting but the plot drifts off and becomes something else. Its almost as if another film by another director was grafted onto the film. I should state that had the first hour not been as magnificent as it is this last third would play so much better.

This film is a flawed masterpiece. The first half hour is as good as filmmaking gets. It is everything I love about cinema, it shows me things to marvel at and makes me feel things and ponder life. As the film goes on the feeling lessens until in the last 25 minutes the film is just "pretty" pictures.

My all over the place feelings aside MAD GOD must be seen. If you love the movies you need to see this- I say that because this is ultimately one of the greatest achievements in cinema you will ever run across.

Monday, August 23, 2021

ALL THE MOONS (2021) Fantasia 2021


ALL THE MOONS is a wonderful addition to the vampire genre. If you liked LET THE RIGHT ONE IN you’ll love this film.

The plot of the film has a young girl injured when the orphanage she is living in is bombed during a war. Rescued by a strange woman she is turned into a vampire. How the next decade plays out is the film.

This is not a jump scare horror film but a mediation on human existence.  This is closer to LET THE IGHT ONE IN, ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE and BYZANTIUM rather than DRACULA or NEAR DARK. It’s a film that is pondering what it means to be an outsider and to live forever, while telling us a very real human story that kicks the shit out of us.

This film is a stunner. It’s a film that upends expectations from start to finish. You may think you know that the film is at the start however as it goes on it shifts.  This is one of the most humanistic “horror” films I’ve seen. Frankly other than the fact it’s about vampires the film isn’t really a horror film. There are no scares except at the sort that come from the evil men do to each other. The tale is merely fantastical because of a couple of elements that are not realistic. However the one thing that is real is the emotion which is there in abundance, especially in an ending which will take your breath away.

Beautifully shot and exquisitely acted the whole film has the feel of special fairy tale that you will carry with you from now on.

Highly recommended

Boschi Di Stefano House Museum: The Space of Dreams (2021) Chain Film Festival


Boschi Di Stefano House Museum: The Space of Dreams- is a neat little film. It’s a look at the titled museum which is in an apartment in Milan. Once the home to Antonio and Marieda Di Stefano, who were artists and art collectors who kept all 2000 works on display in every nook and cranny of their home, it is a museum dedicated to showing new works as well as old ones with newly commissioned works of art swapped in for older pieces.

I really liked this film a great deal. Running a brief  52 minutes the film shows us the behind scenes working of the museum as administrators decide on which paintings to swap out, how new works are created and the role of the museum in the city and the world is discussed. It’s a grand time looking at beautiful art.

If I were to quibble at all about the film it would be I wish we spent  bit more time really getting to know about the lives of the Di Stefanos. Yes we get a sense of them and their love of art, but I would have liked to know more.

However as I said, it’s a quibble since what is here is absolutely choice.

Recommended when the film plays at the Chain Film Festival, it can be seen now as part of their virtual fest or in person on Friday the 27th. For tickets and more information go here.

No Man Of God (2021) opens August 27


Between 1984 and 89 FBI agent Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood) sat down with serial killer Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) and got him to talk about the crimes of other killers and eventually his own. 

This film will buckle your knees. Its a chilling film that takes us into the mind of a mad man. This is a slow building nightmare that will have you sitting bolt upright and just staring at the screen trembling. 

My friend Liz Whittmore sent me a short note saying she needed to know what I thought of the film. When it was done I weakly said it was really good. What followed was a discussion of the awards it  will win and what it would be like to see this as a play. Through the discussion and the pondering afterward I realized just how great this film is,

Look for Oscars and awards for the film as well as leads Elijah Wood and Luke Kirby.  Wood is so good you will forget everything he's ever done before. As for Kirby, he's going to end up type cast as Bundy forever. Rarely have we ever been so charmed and frightened by a sociopath.

This film messed me up. I'm so rocked by the film that I need time to process it. Unfortunately I have to get this review up for the festival.

Do yourself a favor, mess up your life and see NO MAN OF GOD. One of the best films of the year.

Short Fantasia 2021 reviews: GIVING BIRTH TO A BUTTERFLY, THE RIGHTEOUS, WHEN WE CONSUME YOU and MARTYRS LANE

 


GIVING BIRTH TO A BUTTERFLY
Ethereal some thing tries way too had to be deep and manages to be really shallow.
Twenty minutes in I stated to look at my phone.
I should have listened to the warning I got to avoid this


THE RIGHTEOUS
An ex-priest having a crisis of conscious after the death of a child finds his life even further kicked down the road when  a stranger ends up in his home.
A good script and some good performances get lost in a film that is shot with an of lack of imagination. While every fourth or fifth shot looks magnificent the others are unremarkable. Its so noticeable I kept wondering if there was a better shot.
That  said the film does have some moments that make it worth trying.


WHEN WE CONSUME YOU
Pretentious and tedious horror film about brother and sister and the darkness that follows them.
By the time the supernatural stuff is blended in, somewhere  about twenty five minutes in, odds are you'll either have turned off these whiney people or fallen asleep. Honestly I tuned out.
Not recommended


MARTYRS LANE
A young girl makes contact with a spectral girl in her home. As they become friends a dark connection is revealed.
Less a horror film than a tragic fairy tale. I found it to be okay but a bit too deliberately paced for my tastes.- Though to be perfectly honest I'm going to try this small quiet film again down the road when I can see it away from  a festival like Fantasia which is full of big and loud films that are counter to  a small film like this.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Dances With FIlms August 26 to September 12


The always great Dances With Films hits Los Angeles starting Thursday and runs until September 12. This great not so little festival always has some of the best films I see every year. I am looking forward to wading into this years goodies.

I have a stack of films to go through starting tomorrow.  I have to finish up four other festivals (NYAFF, Fantasia, Chain and AAIFF) before I can.

Until the reviews hit  here are some reviews of films we've reviewed before.

ADDICT NAMED HAL
TAKE OUT GIRL
BLEEDING AUDIO
FIREBOYS
HOLY FRIT

For more information and tickets go here.

Whisper of the Marimba (2021) Chain Film Festival 2021

 


While you would think that WHISPER OF THE MARIMBA is going to be about the musical instrument the reality is that the film casts its net much wider.  While nominally the story of three generations of musicians trying to make their way in the world, the film is actually a look at how culture forms who we are and our place in the world. The film is specifically on Afro-Ecuadorians, but the film speaks to a larger audience, with the marimbas of the film’s title acting as a bridge between Africa and South America since the instrument spans continents.

I really liked this film a great deal. I liked it so much that I watched some sections more than once just because. I liked the film not just because of the music, but mostly because of the people. I fell in love with everyone in it. I just liked hanging out with them as they talked about life and made music.

I also loved that this is not a slick American film. WHISPER is a German produced documentary with the result that we see things with a slightly rough edged sensibility. The result is a sense of life beyond the frame that is frequently missing from many other documentaries.

The film is playing at the Chain Film Festival and  is recommended.

The film is streaming now  or it can be seen in person Monday the 23rd. For more information or tickets go here.

CAUTION HAZARDOUS WIFE (2021) Fantasia 2021


Super spy loses her memory. She is sent to a seaside village to live unaware of who she is. However things ae not as they seem and along with the mechanizations of the town council begin to bring he memory back.

This TV series based action comedy is a great deal of fun. Great characters wander though many humorous situations that allow for some great action sequences. Its a light and frothy confection that will make you smile.

While I have no idea how the film compares to the series I liked this film enough that I may try and track it down.

A joy.

Recommended.

The Sadness (2021) Fantasia 2021


A flu like disease morphs into a plague that turns people into homicidal maniacs. It happens one morning after a couple say good bye and head off to work.

What starts out as a possible tense commentary on covid turns almost instantly into a film about the couple trying to find each other as all sorts of horrible things happen around them. Its an unending stream of violence, blood, gore and really vile comments. If you like that sort of thing this film is for you- if you don't stay away.

I loved the craft, I loved the set pieces, but I lost interest because there isn't much here beyond that. This film exists to be gross and to have people say ugly things and for no other reason. The film just wants us to watch people die and is little more than torture porn in another form.

Though I suspect a HUGE part of my problem is that the film's internal logic breaks down almost instantly. Some people turn into monsters right away. Others incubate. The turning always is when it can do the most damage. Turns of the plot are geared not for a reasonable action but to simply drive the plot. i was talking to the screen for the wrong reason

If you don't care about a real plot and logic and love gore give it a shot, If you hate blood stay far away.

Brief word on four shorts and 2 feature films from Japan Cuts

Here's word on four of the  Japan Cuts shots


Red Table
Deeply disturbing animated film about a child playing with a railway. However the allegory of selling out and not caring about the people we hurt is truly bothersome. I have no idea what it all means, but on a purely subconscious and visceral level it has left me feeling extremely ill at ease.


Night Snorkeling
Documentary of a couple snorleing at night. It has some truly amazing images and made me want to do the same thing.


School Radio To Major Tom
A guy producing radio programs no one listens to during the day connects with a night student who discovers one of his programs and begins inter acting with him.A magical and lovely little film about two wonderful people.  It is a film that I wasn’t sure of but by the end it had me misting up. Recommended


Go Seppuku Yourselves
A samurai looks for a demon.A great looking film kind of rambles along to an uncertain purpose. Yes its well done, but I’m not sure it adds up to much.

And Brief word on two films


My Sorry Life
Is a good drama about a young woman trying to find her place in the world. The film has the feel of some of the better inde American dramas I’ve been running across lately and is worth a look.


Mari And Mari
Young man has his girlfriend disappear only to have another young woman appear claiming to be her. Intriguing drama might be a bit too clever for its own good but it still entertains.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Catnip Nation (2021) Chain Film Festival 2021


 This is a film about advocates for feral cats in Augusta Kansas, Oceanside New York and Seaside Heights New Jersey who are having trouble with authorities. The local authorities do not want them to care for the animals and would prefer to then to go to shelters where almost certainly they will be killed.

This film clearly explains how the advocates are tying to manage the populations and how they aren't creating the colonies but managing them. The local authorities seem to think that the advocates are the ones creating the problem, but the reality is that most of the cats are the result of people dropping off their cats far from home when they tire of them. The advocates are getting the animals neutered so they won't reproduce.

If you love animals this film will piss you off. You won't believe how many people would rather kill the cats and punish the humans. 

If the film has any problem with the film its that some of the people profiled can be annoying. More than once I told them to shut up. At the same time the importance of this film makes it worth a look. 

CATNIP NATION is playing now virtually at the Chain Film Festival and in person Tue, Aug 24th, 7:00 PM @ Chain Studio Theatre. For tickets and more information go here.

Blue Danube (2021) Japan Cuts 2021


A town on a river is at war with it's neighbor. Everyday between 9 & 5 they fire volleys of bullets at each other. One of the soldiers is assigned to play the trumpet in the band. His view of the war begins to slowly change.

This is a mannered film that echoes the work of Ionesco, Kafka and Beckett that reals how bureaucracy and war are damning combination. Its a film that for all it's oddness seems right on target

As pointed as the film is the film is the running time of  almost two hours works against it. I am a fan of Beckett and Ionesco but at the same time I will be the first to admit that it is nigh impossible to do a film of their plays because in the real world of film, their mannered views of the film feels off. While BLUE DANUBE hits the right notes, there is a point where we disconnect from the film because  of the mannered nature.

Frankly I like the film a great deal. Indeed there are several moments that have been rolling around in my head for the last two weeks, but at the same over all it just hasn't stuck with me.