Wednesday, October 27, 2021

ATTICA (2021) opens Friday


While there were a number of films premiering at Toronto this year the one film I wanted to see the most was the documentary ATTICA about the infamous riot that happened fifty years ago and still is reverberating through society. It is a tale that I don't think most people full grasp any more. Using the first person testimony of the prisoners, the observers and some of the National Guard, the film puts us into the prison when it all went to hell

A big note about the film, it is not focused on either the run up to or what happened after the riot. ATTICA is simply focused on the riot itself, pausing to explain things like how all the guards were white and came from generations of prison guards, as needed. I mention this because there was a point where I was curious when they were going to give some background on what happened.

Despite this ATTICA kicks serious ass. This is a film that lays out hat happened in great detail. Because so much of it was filmed and photographed we get to see how it all went down. More importantly in the end we get to see the and truly understand the carnage and hell the guards rained down on every one in the prison yard. I was  horrified.

My horror at what the film shows comes from my doing a paper on the uprising when I was in college about ten years after the fact. I was stuck using the books and periodicals I could get from the school library. I didn't have access to the images of the rivers of  blood, the footage of the prisoners being forced to crawl through the latrines or of the shot up bodies of the guards victims. I never fully understood the full level of evil visited on the prisoners.

This film is a masterpiece. Its a brilliant explanation of what happened over five days in 1971. I only wish that the film might have put things into context of what it all meant and how the uprising changed many things. Still as a recounting of what happened this film can't be beat.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Medium (2021) on Shudder

 


While it probably is too long at two hours and ten minutes, THE MEDIUM still packs one hell of a punch. It’s a twisted film that is going to leave you feeling uneasy for days after seeing.

One of the best of the found footage films I’ve run across the film is the story of a film crew doing a story on a shaman in the backwoods of Thailand. She is supposed to be able to commune with the god  of her village. Of course of the course of the filming things go horribly sideways.

This is some messed up stuff.  I can completely believe that the film has connections to the Korean film THE WAILING which is simply put one of the most messed up and truly scary horror films I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t aware of the connection until after I saw the film, which is good because I may not have watched it had I known before.

I can’t stress to you this is a truly messed up film (yes I know I said that already but it’s that sort of a film). I’m talking about the sort of thing that just might have you talking to the screen.  As such if you think I’m going to clue you into what happens you’re seriously mistaken. I had to endure the insanity and as a result I am hoping to inflict the same fear and uncertainty upon you.

Normally I hate found footage films but when it works like this one, I’m not sleeping for days afterward.

Highly recommended- THE MEDIUM is one of the best horror films of 2021 and a must see

Blood in the Snow Film Festival returns to the Royal Cinema Nov 18 – 23 with stellar lineup for horror fans


TORONTO (October 25, 2021) – Blood in the Snow Film Festival (BITS), a unique and imaginative showcase of contemporary Canadian horror films, is pleased to announce the lineup for the in-theatre portion of this year’s hybrid festival taking place November 18 – 23 at the Royal Cinema.

“After being forced to take a break from in-person gatherings due to the COVID 19 pandemic and pivoting to a virtual format with the help of Super Channel in 2020, we are thrilled to be able to welcome festival fans back to the Royal Cinema this year,” said Kelly Michael Stewart, BITS Festival Director and Founder. “We can’t wait to share these exceptional films and experience them together in-person again. And with the virtual edition of the festival showcasing an entirely different selection of films on Super Channel Fuse this weekend, it’s the best of both worlds!”

BITS has two features proudly making their World Premieres at the Royal: The Chamber of Terror from writer/director Michael Pereira, featuring a who’s who of Blood in the Snow alumni including Ry Barrett (The Demolisher, The Hoard), Jessica Vano (Art of Obsession) and Robert Nolan (Mourning Has Broken), and Woodland Grey, directed by Adam Reider from a screenplay co-written with Jesse Toufexis and starring Jenny Raven, Ryan Blakely and Art Hindle. 

Also making their Canadian premieres at BITS are the thrillers Peppergrass, from directors Steven Garbas and Chantelle Han (Black Summer), as well as the festival’s closing night film, The Family directed by Dan Slater (Ashes).

Below is the lineup of all the thrills and chills headed to the BITS festival for its six-night run at the Royal Cinema. Visit www.bloodinthesnow.ca for full details.

Thursday, November 18

8:00pm - Vicious Fun (dir. Cody Calahan) 100 mins – Toronto Theatrical Premiere

Joel, a caustic 1980’s film critic for a national horror magazine, finds himself unwittingly trapped in a self-help group for serial killers. With no other choice, Joel attempts to blend in with his homicidal surroundings or risk becoming the next victim.

Friday, November 19

6:45pm - Funny Frights (87 mins) - A collection of premieres of Canadian genre shorts that look on the “lighter” side of horror.

9:30pm - Peppergrass (dir. Steven Garbas, Chantelle Han) 92 mins – Canadian Premiere

During a pandemic, a pregnant restaurateur tries to rob a priceless truffle from a reclusive veteran.

Saturday, November 20

6:45pm - Dark Visions (100 mins) - A collection of the darkest, scariest, moodiest and the most intense Canadian short films playing this year.

9:30 pm - The Chamber of Terror (dir. Michael Pereira) 93 mins – World Premiere

Nash Caruthers is on a deadly collision course with the people that tore his world apart...along with something unexpected. Something far more sinister.

Sunday, November 21

6:45 pm – Emerging Screams – A collection of short films from brilliant first-time directors and the most promising student filmmakers in Canadian horror.

9:30 pm – Flee the Light (dir. Alexandra Senza) 75 mins – Toronto Premiere

A mystical horror-thriller where reincarnation, demons and sorceresses intertwine to tell the story of a spiritual search gone wrong. A psychology student delves into her sister’s psychosis, exposing herself to an ancient predator who hunts souls.

Monday, November 22

8:00pm - Woodland Grey (dir. Adam Reider) 91 mins - World Premiere

A man living alone in the deep woods finds Emily, a hiker, unconscious and laying on the forest floor. He brings her back to his home and helps her get back to health so she can leave the forest and get home. After a few tense days coexisting, Emily makes a discovery. She finds a crudely built shed behind the man's home. When she opens it, she unleashes something truly haunting. As Emily and the man come to terms with what has been released, they also attempt to find a way out of the forest which isn't exactly what it seems.

Tuesday, November 23

8pm - The Family (dir. Dan Slater) 104 mins – Canadian Premiere

On an isolated farm in what appears to be the 1800s, a family is led by their tyrannical father who preaches fire and brimstone and their devout mother who preaches obedience. They live in fear of a higher power and an existential threat living beyond their farm. Promising eternal salvation and protection against these outside forces, the father demands blind faith and back-breaking labor.

Passes and tickets are on sale now at www.bloodinthesnow.ca

Horror fans across the country are reminded that the virtual edition of the BITS festival runs over Halloween weekend on Super Channel Fuse with a collection of films not screened at the Royal Cinema. The Blood in the Snow Film Festival presented by Super Channel will showcase five harrowing horror features and a variety of hair-raising shorts programs across three nights of terror-ific programming (Oct 29 – 31). The virtual film festival experience will include pre-recorded film intros and Q&A’s with filmmakers.

About Blood in the Snow

The Blood in the Snow Film Festival is a unique and imaginative showcase of contemporary Canadian horror, genre and underground cinema that exists to challenge social boundaries, explore artistic taboos and support and exhibit independent Canadian genre media artists. BITS takes place in Toronto, Ontario and brings together audiences, media coverage, community partnerships and the filmmaking industry to exhibit and celebrate Canadian genre film.

Website: https://bloodinthesnow.ca

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

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/bitsfilmfest

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bitsfilmfest/

About Super Channel Entertainment Network

Super Channel is a national pay television network, offering subscribers exceptional entertainment value, uncut and commercial-free, with four diverse channels – Super Channel Fuse, Super Channel Heart & Home, Super Channel Vault and GINX Esports TV Canada – plus, access to Super Channel On Demand where available by service provider.

Super Channel's mission is to entertain and engage Canadian audiences by providing a unique and exclusive entertainment experience.  With a core foundation of integrity and accountability, we dedicate ourselves to implementing innovative programming strategies and unparalleled teamwork that provides viewers with exceptional value and variety.

Super Channel is owned by Allarco Entertainment 2008 Inc., an Edmonton-based media company. For a list of service providers, please visit: superchannel.ca/subscribe

Connect with Super Channel: www.superchannel.ca

Monday, October 25, 2021

The story that won't die...Coda

 Dave Chappelle mess continues....

For those who want to see the first two parts of my response go here and here

The latest twist is that Dave has released a video which confuses the hell out of me. He basically says I said what I said. I will talk to the trans community if they want to meet (and under his conditions)  and it's all about corporate greed.

Okay....

First its clear that he really doesn't understand, he's said some terrible things. He doesn't care, actually he's probably too pissed off that people aren't showering him with praise to care.  He thinks it begins and ends with his right to say what he wants. While on some level it does, it also comes with consequences- which he seems to feel he's immune to. After all the members of the LGBT community he knows are nice people and okay with him. Its a comment that reminds me of the bigot who says that the members of the INSERT GROUP doesn't mind the bigot's horrible comments.

Actually the comment about the LGBT community comes in talking about the filming of his new documentary on his 2020 comedy shows and in the context doesn't rally reflect their feelings toward the special that's pissed off the world.

The documentary brings me to Dave's comment that the response to the special is a matter of corporate greed.... can anyone explain to me how people angry that they have been attacked is a matter of corporate greed? Everyone I know who is pissed off has no corporate connection.  More importantly what is the corporation which wants to stop him? Netflix? They have backed him? Who is this corporation?

The reality is that Dave is pissed off that no one wants to play his documentary. He says its been uninvited to festivals across the globe. No one wants to handle his toxic personality right now. It seems he's angry that he can't hawk his movie and make some money. Dave Chappelle the corporation is the one that can't make any money. If you listen to the whole message Dave released he's basically trying to save his new movie by trying to turn it into a cause celeb.

Smooth move Dave, this whole thing is about corporate greed, yours. You don't want your cash cow to die and you can't bring yourself to do the right thing to save it.

I'm sorry, Dave, I don't care. While I'm curious about the documentary, I'm tired of your shit.  You're a cranky/angry old man who doesn't know how to calm things down because you don't know when to shut the f-up.

Nate Hood on Blue Bayou (2021)


Then he said, “The Sabbath was created for humans; humans weren’t created for the Sabbath.
–Mark 2:27

The bayou is all the man knows—or at least all he can remember. Standing on the water’s edge and looking out over the Mississippi River, Antonio LeBlanc (Justin Chon) feels a strange kind of peace. Sneaking a forbidden cigarette he’s sworn he’s quit, he reflects on a difficult life. Orphaned in Korea, he was adopted by white Americans who abused him for years. After escaping, he bounced around Louisiana, getting in and out of trouble with the law as he struggled to survive. But now, he’s reformed and finally found a life worth living—a hard one, but a good one. He’s married a kind woman named Kathy (Alicia Vikander) and fallen in love with being the step-father of her daughter Jessie (Sydney Kowalske). Now the two have their own baby on the way, and though Antonio’s felony charges prevent him from getting a job besides piecemeal work at a tattoo parlor, the three are really and truly happy.

At least until ICE came knocking. Following an unjust arrest by a corrupt, power-tripping police officer, Antonio is scheduled for deportation after it’s discovered that his abusive foster parents never technically filed to naturalize him. He may be racially Korean, but America is all he’s ever known. But now because of a legal loophole he faces being separated from his family and sent to a country where he doesn’t even speak the language. Now he faces legal fees for an appeal he can’t afford and the specter of a future he can’t control. This is the plot to Justin Chon’s devastating melodrama Blue Bayou. Sound farfetched? It isn’t. In recent years the nativist politicization of America’s immigration system has led to an explosion of unjust rulings where countless citizens who were legally adopted from abroad as children in the 80s and 90s have been sent back to their “home countries” thanks to an aggressive, legalistic interpretation of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. I say “countless” because the actual number of adoptees who’ve been deported has proven difficult to calculate. Blue Bayou alone was directly inspired by thirteen such cases.

The film itself is understandably difficult to sit through, both in its examination of an immigration system gone insane, a law enforcement system riddled with corrupt officers, and the psychological turmoil Antonio feels as a Korean-American who, despite his thick New Orleans accent, has never felt fully accepted by his white neighbors. There’s a lovely subplot where Antonio develops a friendship with a terminally ill Vietnamese refugee named Parker (Linh Dan Pham) whose extended family provides him with a glimpse of a possible life where his Asianness might complement his American identity instead of hindering it. But for him it’s not to be. All the justice system sees in him is a foreigner—and an illegal one, at that.

Blue Bayou is above all a damning indictment of a broken immigration system that’s been hijacked by bureaucrats who see the enforcement of the letter of the law as more important than actually helping people. The second chapter of Mark sees Jesus confront such corrupt authorities after a group of Pharisees condemn him and his disciples for picking and eating heads of grain on the Sabbath, a violation of one of their 613 laws extrapolated from the teachings of Moses. Jesus rebukes them, reminding them that King David once broke such a regulation when he and his army needed food. He continues by reminding them that the Sabbath—and by extension the laws associated with it—was made for humanity, not the other way around. Here Jesus argues that if following the letter of the law hurts the people it was meant to protect, then the law itself should be reconsidered or even ignored. What good are Sabbath laws if they keep the hungry feeling hungry! One can’t help but wonder what Jesus—himself a refugee whose family fled violence into a foreign country when he was a baby—would think of Antonio’s story. What, then, might Jesus think of the immigration system that victimized him? One can’t help but shudder.

VHS 94 (2021) on Shudder

 


I’m in the minority and in that I don’t particular love VHS 94.  It’s not that the stories that make up the film are bad, rather the conceit of it all being period found footage films didn’t work for me.

The film is the story of a swat team making a raid on a cult. When they arrive at the location they find bodies in cages with their eyes pulled out. We then get three stories and a short commercial. The first story  is about a news crew covering a story about a rat man in the sewers. The second is about a woman having to watch a body in a funeral home in a rain storm. The Third is about a mad scientist. The fourth is a vampire story with a twinge of political shading. The film then returns to the swat team.

Okay full disclosure I am notoriously not a fan of found footage films, finding most of them fall down because the films almost always take liberties with the form, we see things we could never have seen or they are shot in a way that works for a film but would never be something anyone but a filmmaker would shoot.  I am always pulled out of the films as a result. However when the found footage films work, say in the Vicious Brothers GRAVE ENCOUNTERS or the recent Shudder film THE MEDIUM, they are absolutely terrifying.

Sadly VHS94 is not among the best. While having genuinely creepy moments and a few  scares I found the film never fully connected to me. Blame the conceit of the film being a series of found footage tapes inside a found footage tape. Blame the shooting style which aped the various video styles  but never nailed them. This is more apparent when you realize that the film is supposed to be from 1994. I was more aware of the technical issues of what I was seeing rather than being lost in the madness. It also didn’t help that the stories are uneven and have issues of their own.

I liked it but I would have been pissed if I hadn’t seen it as part of Shudder.

Worth a look, but your mileage will vary.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Blood in the Snow goes virtual October 29


Blood in the Snow is doing a two pronged attack on October 29 to the 31st the festival will screen on the Super Channel.

It will be in person November 18-23  and the schedule will be announced soon.

Because the SUper Channel screenings are Halloween weekend- which is always busy for me, I am not able to really cover (I'm hoping to cover the in person portion of the fest). But just cause I can't cover doesn't mean you can't watch so check out the website and see what interests you

I've seen a trio of the Super Channel films and the reviews can be found here.

DON’T SAY ITS NAME

RIGHTEOUS

TIN CAN

For more information and tickets go here:

Website: https://bloodinthesnow.ca

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

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/bitsfilmfest

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bitsfilmfest/

SEANCE (2021) is on Shudder

 


SÉANCE is a by the numbers thriller that is too by the numbers to really thrill.

The plot of the film has a couple of sorority girls staging a fake séance to raise the spirit of a dead girl. It scares one girl so badly she leaps to her death out a window. A new girl is invited in, but she chafes at the hazing and soon things turn deadly.

While not bad and competently put together the film never generates much in the way of thrills.  The problem is the script which does nothing new. We’re way ahead of  everyone on screen and occasionally asking “why?”.

SÉANCE is worth a look as part of the slate of films screening on Shudder or for a “free” streaming screening but it isn’t a film I would search out and pay for on it’s own

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Brief thoughts on Cry Macho (2021)


Clint Eastwood's latest film is a largely inoffensive, unremarkable drama that indicates that the Hollywood Superstar probably should hang it up when it comes to acting.

The film concerns horse trainer Eastwood being fired by his boss Dwight Yokum. Eastwood has past his prime and Yokum feels he needs to move on. However a short time later Yokum asks Eastwood to go collect his son from his mother who is in Mexico. Eastwood takes the job and ends up bonding with the boy and his chicken, who is named Macho.

Pastural road film doesn't do anything unexpected (except perhaps in not having Eastwood die in the end). This is your basic young man learns from an old codger tale that we've seen any umber of times.  In its own way its rather sweet, though it still makes you wonder what Eastwood saw in the short story four decades ago that made him want to try to film it all after all these years.

Its a largely by the numbers Eastwood film from top to bottom, which isn't bad, but assures that it doesn't stand out.

If there is any flaw in the film it's Eastwood himself. Giving a wildly uneven performance there are times when he is spot on, but more times than not, he he seems to be half heartedly walking  through a by the numbers performance. He seems distant and unconnected. While there is no doubt his directing chops are still there, Eastwood's acting chops aren't and he should consider smaller roles or just stopping.

Despite my quibbles the film is worth a look, especially for the Eastwood faithful.

Friday, October 22, 2021

18½(2021) Tallgrass Film Festival 2021


In 1974 Washington a stenographer assigned to transcribe a meeting discovers that at the end of the tape is a recording of Nixon listening to to the legendary tape with the missing 18 minutes. She contacts a reporter she admires and they end up going to listen to a motel to hear the tape. The trouble is the tape recorder is broken. This sets in motion a chase to get a new recorder and to stay out of the way of the people who maybe tracking them.

This dark comedic thriller feels like it fell through a time warp and landed here. While the film doesn't seem like a film from the 1970's, it feels like it is a document of the 1970's. I was  watching the film and a lot of little things seem like they were ripped from my memories. Watching the film it feels like I was ten again. Actually the only thing that I can see that the film got wrong is no one is smoking.

Another thing that is 1970's about the film is it's political thriller spine. The tale at the center is some thing from the family of thrillers like THE PARALAXVIEW, TWLIGHTS LAST GLEAMING and even ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN.  It should be stated that outside of the 18½ minute gap and the political figures at the center of the tale, none of this is true. Not that it matters, you'll be hooked early. 18½ mixes fiction with history.to create a compelling tale that keeps you watching.

In going throwback writer director Dan Mirvish has fashioned something fresh. No one is making films like this. It feels old school but it has a modern edge. Its a difficult path to walk but Mirvish does it near perfectly. The blending makes the film something we warm to instantly. Its so nice to fall into a film this quickly and feel utterly at home. This is something special.

If there is any bump in the film, it's some of the farcical elements. Some of the turns are a little too silly. Some of the hippie bits and bits with the older couple didn't have to be played as "broadly". The film would have been just fine playing it all completely straight.

Bumps or no 18½ is recommended. Its a wonderful little gem that tells one hell of a story. More importantly its a film that is unlike anything else out there. Its a singular film that is the perfect cure for anyone who is tired of your typical Hollywood fodder.

Vivo (2021) Animation is Film 2021


Long time coming animated film started life as an animated project from Lin Manuel Miranda started life shortly after he hit with IN THE HEIGHTS in 20210.  Dreamworks closed the project down before it was revived, finished by Sony who then sold it to Netflix.

The plot has  Vivo, a kinkajou making a trek to Miami  from Havana in order to deliver a song to the woman his deceased human partner loved. Along the way he has many adventures on his journey to find a new home.

Playing and sounding like the work of Lin Manuel Miranda (he wrote the songs and plays Vivo) this feels like a Broadway show gone weird. The songs feel very much like IN THE HEIGHTS having the same cadences of the earlier work. Additionally while Miranda  isn't listed as writer of the story, the film seems to have characters that could have come from his other works. The result is a good film, with some great sequences. that feels like it's plot and music have been borrowed from some where else.

On the other hand the film has some great characters such as Gabi, the young girl who befriends Vivo, Lutador, a python who hates loud noises and Marta, the great singer Viv is trying to find. Its the characters who make this film shine. 

The film also has some great moments, including several of the musical numbers, that beautifully show what animation can do to create real movie magic.

Definitely worth a look when the film plays Animation First this weekend.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Al-Sit (2021)


Oscar qualified film was made entirely with a crew from Sudan is a good little film.

The film is the story of a young woman who is living in a rural part of Sudan. She unexpected and unhappily is in formed that she is going to be married to someone not of her choosing. She would rather marry one of the local boys but her family has plans for her to marry a rich and obnoxious fellow from the city.

This is a nicely done film revealing how tradition is preventing many women from finding their own way in many parts of the world. Clearly our heroine is not going to be given a choice in determining her future and she is not happy  about- just as millions of other women are not happy about.

Currently on the festival circuit AL-SIT is worth a look.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Celebrating A Movie Maverick: Sam Sherman Answers Sixteen Questions In Honor Of The Circle-Drive-In's Celebration Of His Films

Sam Sherman's memoir

Sam Sherman is an icon. He is in his way a cinematic God on the level with contemporaries like Roger Corman. He is a man who was responsible for not only making a whole slew movies (including many AL Adamson films) but bringing scores of films from around the world to the US (BEAST OF BLOOD and many giallos) to fill double and triple bills and TV slots.  Running Independent International he is responsible for many more films than his IMDB listings give him credit for.

I have loved Sherman’s films ever since I first ran across them. While some of them are among my most favorite films (the Blood Island films)  and while some are WTF were they thinking patch jobs made for a buck (BRAIN OF BLOOD)  they were all a hell of a lot of fun in the right frame of mind. They were fun because Sherman cared enough to have fun. As a result  he ended up making films that have stood the test of time. Consider that his films are still being watched, studied and celebrated half a century after they were made, while many other filmmakers have their films sitting unwatched and gathering dust.

Sam Sherman made films that touch the part of our soul where we are most comfortable and want to revisit often, usually with huge bowls of popcorn. He made films with just enough love that we end up loving them too.

This weekend the Circle Drive-in in Scranton Pennsylvania is having their First  Annual Blood-O Rama Shock Fest in  honor of Mr Sherman and is running four films connected to him- DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN and BRAIN OF BLOOD (which he produced) and MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND  and BEAST OF BLOOD which he brought to the US.

While Mr Sherman is not going to be attending the Shock Fest, I was given a chance to interview Mr Sherman.  While time has prevented me from doing a long interview with him for the moment (one is coming) I did manage to ask Mr Sherman a few questions via email  specifically geared toward the screenings at the Circle Drive-in.

I want to thank David Sehring for setting this up. I also want to thank Mr Sherman for taking the time to do this (I can’t wait to really have a sit down with you)

(For more information on the screenings at the Circle Drive-in go here)


STEVE: With the Circle Drive-in doing an evening of your films, and since so many of your films played in drive-ins, I was wondering if you like going to the drive in and if you still go?

SAM:I used to live by The Whitestone Drive-In in the Bronx and enjoyed the drive-in experience.  Sadly, only one drive-in survives in New Jersey where I live,  so I don't get much of a chance to go these days. 

STEVE: Does it surprise you that 50 years on that the films you made and released are still being talked about, shown, studied  and the source of tributes?

SAM: I'm surprised, pleased and hope people enjoy the films.  Ever since my partner Al Adamson passed, I've put a great effort in to keeping his memory alive.

STEVE: Two of the films the Circle Drive-in is showing are from your friend Al Adamson. (BRAIN OF BLOOD and DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN) . How important was Adamson to the success if Independent International.

SAM: Very important.  He had a unique way of looking at films and scripts and made interesting pictures. He had a specialized team of good people who worked with him including his wife, Regina Carrol.

STEVE: Speaking of DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN, it seems as though you had a hand in every part of the film. Is there any part of the film that you weren't involved in?

SAM: I wasn't involved in the shooting of the original filming for THE BLOOD SEEKERS which I  later reimagined as Dracula vs Frankenstein

STEVE: The Circle Drive-in is showing two of the Blood Island films (MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND and BEAST OF BLOOD). I know that the films were made by Eddie Romero in the Philippines however I was wondering if you had input into the films? Additionally did  you have any hand in the production of any of the other films from around the world that you released?

SAM: I often reviewed the scripts

I helped get Ronald Remy from the Blood Drinkers cast as Dr. Lorca in The Mad Doctor of Blood Island.

I created and produced the OATH OF GREEN BLOOD for MAD DOCTOR which was shot by Eddie Romero to my direction.

STEVE: The Blood Island films had various types of ballyhoo attached to them, say the Oath of the Green Blood as part of MAD DOCTOR. Do you miss the says of those sort of promotions? What was your favorite sort of promotion connected to your films?

SAM: OATH OF GREEN BLOOD and THE BRIDES OF BLOOD wedding ring gimmick were

I had fun doing it.

STEVE: You had your hand in so many films over the years. How many films did you have a hand in?

SAM: In excess of 50.

STEVE: related to that you are listed as having done pretty much everything related to filmmaking. What do you see your ultimate role as? Producer? Writer Director?

SAM: I like to be remembered as a film buff and historian who got a break to work in it but my ultimate role was as a PRODUCER and DISTRIBUTOR.

STEVE: You only directed a couple of films, why didn't you direct more?

SAM: Because I appreciated the hard work Al Adamson did and preferred he tackle the difficult subject matter.

STEVE:  Were there any films that you were offered to be part of but which you turned down only to later regret the decision?

SAM: NO

STEVE: Some of your contemporary producers like Roger Corman, had aspirations of making "art" films and this resulted in a number of films that no one watches any more. You on the other hand have made films that were always earnest and fun and are still being watched. Did you ever have dreams of invading the art house?

SAM: NO

STEVE: Which of the films that you've been part of  were your favorites? What films do you not like?  Are there any you regret making?

SAM: BLAZING STEWARDESSES is my favorite because it was a satire of classic Westerns with classic  Hollywood actors.   

STEVE: What films do you watch now? Are there any filmmakers who are impressing you now?

SAM: I like the film THE KING'S SPEECH.   I also like the films of Ron Howard and Martin Scorsese.

STEVE: Many of your films were not well liked by critics and some audience members. How did you handle people not liking the films you made?

SAM: It is an audience and critics right to like or dislike anything ... just as I have my opinions.   Our movies were successful and that was all that mattered.

STEVE: We're now 50 years on since many of your films were made. The films are still being shown and discovered  by new generations who are falling in love with them. At the same time the words of the critics who trashed your films have been lost to time. Does it please you that your films live on and your critics are gone?

SAM: It doesn't matter either way.  The films speak for themselves and reached their audience and still do via theatrical, home entertainment and the great American Drive-In.

STEVE I know that you are not going to make it to the Circle Drive-in, but I was wondering if there was anything you'd like to say to the people who are attending the screening?

SAM: Enjoy the show!  Buy something good at the concession stand, too.  Support The Circle Drive-In.

CHAMP (2021)


A young boy’s father wants him to grow up to be a real man, despite his desire to take a another root.

This is a killer film that I can’t really discuss because the film has one hell of an ending. It’s the ending that makes the film and unless I can discuss that there really no point in talking about it.

That said this film is a kick ass one. It’s a small gem that carries you along from start to finish, never taking a turn toward the expected. This is the way all film should be, well made and unexpected.

Currently on the festival circuit  it’s highly recommended.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

ESCAPE FROM MOGADISHU Hits home video today


ESCAPE FROM MOGIDISHU is the true story of the Korean diplomats from both North and South Korea who had to put aside their petty sniping and work together and get out of the city and Somalia when the country exploded into full blown civil war. It’s a crazy story that will ultimately move you.

Full confession having seen, and been excited by the trailer for the film I was ready to turn the film off about fifteen minutes into the film.  I was looking for a tense thriller/action film and what the early part of the film is recounting of some of the games being played between the two Koreas in a far off land. While it introduced the characters, there was a silliness that really didn’t work for me. It wasn't all that exciting.  I stuck it out, which was good because once things get going this is a killer suspense film. About 25 minutes in some one turns the suspense knob to 50 and it never lets up until the end.

I have no idea how gospel true this is, but god damn some of this is wild. From the group of diplomats being confronted by little kids with big guns as they begin their flight to "safety", straight on to the mad dash in cars with jerry-rigged armor this film will blow you away.

What I loved is that the characters remain always in focus. This is always about the people which makes it even more tense. I was so invested that the fate of one of the characters broke my heart as did the final goodbyes of two groups of diplomats who had to stop being a family forged in fire.

This is a stunning film and recommended.

Animation Is Film 2021 opens Friday


Animation Is Film is a killer animation festival in Los Angeles. It’s a fest that is screening some the best animated films you will see all year, plus it’s having a ton of special events and talks. The festival is so good that I am trying to arrange to do coverage of the festival from a distance.

The festival is geared toward  showing that animation just a means of telling important stories. For example the film JOSEP is a look a concentration camp during the Spanish Civil War. The almost certain to be Oscar nominated FLEE is about trying to get out of Syria. These are not the sort of thing that most people think of when they think of animated films but Animation Is Film. wants to correct that.

Of course the festival is showing more family orients which explains RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON and THE MICHELLS VS THE MACHINES.

This is great stuff and if you want to see some of the best films (animated or not) of the year you need to go to the festival.  And I know the festival is running some of the best films of the year  because I’ve seen a number of them. If you want a heads up on what great films to see click on the links:

NAHULE AND THE MAGIC BOOK

THE MITCHELL'S VS THE MACHINE
BELLE
JOSEP
FORTUNE FAVORS LADY NIKUKO
FLEE
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON

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

Monday, October 18, 2021

A quick reminder the Circle Drive-in in Scranton Pennsylvania is having a BLOOD-O-RAMA SHOCK FESTIVAL Friday


Just want to remind you that the Circle Drive-in in Scranton Pennsylvania is doing their first annual  BLOOD-O-RAMA SHOCK FESTIVAL. Four great drive-in films- DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN, BRAIN OF BLOOD, MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND and BEAST OF BLOOD- for an all night movie feast in honor of movie mogul Sam Sherman who produced the first two and released the second. I am hoping to have an interview with Mr Sherman next couple of days at which time I will talk more about the movies.

Yes I am going to the show. It is going to be the last drive in trip for the year and we are going to make it count. 

They are having giveaways, monsters at the car and lots of fun stuff. And if you need an additional push they are also running their annual Halloween Haunt aka haunted house( there are combination tickets.)

The doors open around 4pm. The information I was given as that the movies will start sometime after 6pm.

GO BUY TICKETS.

Becoming Cousteau (2021) opens Friday

 


Jacques Cousteau is one of my boyhood heroes. I grew up watching his TV show and watching him on the TV talk shows. He opened my eyes to the world in ways you can not imagine. He along with Muhammad Ali were the two people I regret not meeting. 

As you can imagine when I found out there was a documentary of the man I had to see it. Honestly I sooooooo had to see it it was the only reason I made a hole in my dance card to cover the Camden Film Festival.

Culled from hundreds of hours of film and video and hundreds more hours of audio BECOMING COUSTEAU is a film about the man in his own words and images. It does have the words of other people chiming in, but mostly this is all Cousteau.

I both loved this film and as disappointed. What I loved about the film was that the film brings us back into the world of the man himself. I never realized how much I missed listening to him talk about things until I saw this film. He was a man full of wonder and it bleeds off the screen. We also get a sense of how the TV nature documentaries we see today all come from him. If there was no Cousteau there would have been no Discovery Channel or Nat Geo. I love that we see how important he was to people in the 1970's. I also love that the documentary kind of takes the man to task for the bad things he did like working for big oil and killing many of the animals he was supposed to be studying. 

What disappointed me was that the form and structure of the film is incredibly conventional. Yes Cousteau created the conventions, but he did it by destroying out previous notions of what the form could be. I was hoping for something that was magical in form, instead of by the numbers. Basically I wanted something as special as the man himself. And while what is here is choice I would have liked more fireworks.

Then again I suspect that had I seen this on the big screen I would have loved this unconditionally.

BECOMING COUSTEAU hits theaters Friday

The Tallgrass Film Festival is in person October 20-24 and virtual Oct 24-29


One of the great film fests of the year The Tallgrass Film Festival starts its in person festival on Wednesday before turning into a virtual one on the 24th. Its place to go see great films in person if you are located in and around Wichita Kansas or around the country if you want to do a virtual fest.

While I have been remiss in many past years for not throwing the festival some coverage, it doesn't mean that I haven't been looking at what films it's programmed. What Tallgrass screens is often a pointer toward many of the films that people will be talking abut at years end. Honestly I have been looking at the festival to know what films I will need to pick up before the year turns.

 This year I'm slightly a head. I've seen a large number of films already, however I am still hoping to pick up a few along the way.

In rder to help you decide what to see (and you should see something) I'm presenting a list of links to the films we've previously reviewed. Just click on the link and see what we thought of the films- a word of warning some of these are some of the best films you'll see all year.

KILI BIG

SUBJECT OF DESIRE

UPROOTED

ZERO GRAVITY

ASCENSION

FATHER OF THE CYBORGS

I’M FINE

LUZZU

NOT GOING QUIETLY

POSER

NEUTRAL GROUND

A BAG AND A RIFLE

SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS

FIRST STEP

BEING BEBE

FINDING SALLY

FERGUSON RISES

CHOICE OF WEAPONS

CHASING CHILDHOOD

ALICE STREET

ADDICT NAMED HAL

And now if you forgive me I'm going to go look at the film list and see what I can fit in.

For more information and tickets go here

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Addendum to the Netflix special mess- no one is really defending what was said or claiming its funny

Any real defense of Chappelle's anti-LGBT screed has been lacking. Not that he should be defended, he shouldn't, but those that are being marched out to speak for their friend are failing badly. I say this because anyone saying a word defending Chappelle is doing so purely on free speech grounds, which is the only way you can.

As I said in my original piece on the matter even I would and will defend Chappelle's right to spew his hate but I don't have to like or want to hear it. 

Truthfully as a proponent of free speech, even something as hateful as Chappelle's, results in crashing up against a wall of is it defensible? It is because I will not take anyone's words away, however I will clearly state that what Chappelle is saying is hateful from top to bottom.

On the other hand I would rather just say that the special isn't funny or clever and not worth seeing since that will go along way to kill it. Several people I know were curious about seeing the special until I said it was not funny and then they lost interest.

Honestly I feel bad for the people defending Chappelle in the media. I've heard several people on the radio and TV and I've seen some stuff in the paper "defending" his right to say what he did. Everyone talks about the First Amendment rights, the speak of the great cases preserving it and argue that not to support it will kill comedy. While I totally agree with that tact (its the only way to do it), no one, and I mean no one is actually addressing the special.

Seriously no one defending him is mentioning what was said at all. People have discussed Chappelle and his style of comedy, but that is as close to the subjects discussed as anyone will go. I've heard a couple of comedians say that they still haven't seen the special. You haven't seen it? Then what the hell are you doing on TV or the radio talking about it? I suspect no one wants to offend Chappelle as if he's going to wreck their career, but the truth is Chappelle just wrecked his, since he's just offended a large number of people with his comments in an unfunny special.

If you want to know if  Chappelle crossed a line realize that what he said is so vile that no one wants to talk about what he said in discussing what he said- not even comedians who pretty much have no boundaries.  Think about it- he's actually gone so far the comedians won't say he's funny here. Chappelle has caused the very talkative comedy brotherhood to shut up

Should stop Chappelle from speaking?

No. Let him talk. Let people see what a hateful man he apparently is. Let him talk so that we can tell the world that he is wrong. Best of all let him talk so that he can see that we've stopped listening and that he needs to pack up his circus and go home.

--

And as for Netflix, they need to do something beyond just saying that Chappelle has the right to say what he did because it doesn't wash. They have censored too much to take the high road. Worse, everything they are doing is just making it worse. They are screwed  no matter what they are going to do. It's not worth continuing forward on this track when the cost to gain ratio is so narrow as is when the service may start to hemorrhage viewers.

What do I mean it's not worth it? Apparently they spent over $20 million on the special and got less views than many less costly similar shows. Why spend 20 million on a special of a guy and a mic on stage?

Inde Memphis October 20th - 25th, 2021


Starting this week is the Inde Memphis Film Festival is a great place to see films.  Its so great that it was frequently the subject of discussions in the New York Film Festival press screenings. The reason it was discussed was it was the place to play catch up with many of the big films for the fall and winter.

If you love movies this is the place to see them before everyone else.

Frankly if I could get away from the day job I would have made a trip to Memphis to see a lot of movies.

Normally I would make an effort to wade into the festival and try to fill in things virtually, however this year it’s not wholly possible. I do have feelers out for a few films but I’m not sure what I can get to.

That said I’ve seen a good number of the films playing already and to that end I’m presenting a list of links to the films we’ve previously covered.

WE'RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLDS FAIR

LARRY FLYNT FOR PRESIDENT

MEMORIA

PETITE MAMAN

ALIEN ON STAGE

FLEE

SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS

NORTH BY CURRENT

STE. ANNE

LISTENING TO KENNY G

CHAMELEON STREET

RADIO ON

LEARNING TO TALK TAGALOG WITH KAYLA

QUEEN OF GLORY

If you are in the Memphis area do yourself a favor and make an effort to wade in and see a lot of great films.

For more information and tickets go here.

The Rescue (2021) GlobeDocs 2021

 


Last to be chosen for the cricket team, first to be chosen for the cave rescue

This is the story of the rescue of the 12 boys and their coach who were trapped for several in a cave in Thailand when it was flooded by monsoon rains. The focuses on the efforts of the international cave divers who came to help when it was determined that the skills they honed in their hobby, was exactly what was needed to help effect a rescue.

This mix of actual film of the events mixed with recreations is compelling viewing. It is actually one of the best thrillers of the year, despite the fact we ultimately knw how it's all going to come out. It remains compelling because not only does the film put us into the middle of everything  but also explains what a Herculean task the whole affair was. Over 5000 people were involved from many different countries and Thai agencies. It was something bigger than we could have imagined.

I loved this film. I knew how it would go and I was still on the edge of my seat. I love that we get to know the divers as people and not just guys who did this thing. For example the quote above is from one of the divers who wasn't good at sports and was left out of everything. Because we are given background on him, when he says the line towards the end of the film we can't hlp but laugh with delight knowing when it counted he was the one chosen.

It should be noted that the interviews in the film are limited to the divers themselves and a few Thai officials who don't have movie deals. It seems every one connected with the event has some sort of deal in the works which precludes them from speaking to anyone else about what happened. Even the footage of the boys in the cave comes from footage shot at the time and from TV news coverage. Clearly their is a hope that everyone is going to get rich. I suspect that won't happen with the market for versions of this story being small.

This is a great film. It was the source of repeated and loving discussion on the press line at the New York Film Festival. Everyone who was going to the press screenings at night (it did not screen at NYFF) was coming back glowing.  Now that I've seen it I can't stop talking about it either.

Currently in select theaters and on the festival circuit THE RESCUE is highly recommended. Look fo Oscar nominations.

Undertaker (2021)

 


There is a reason I love Chris Esper’s films, and that is that he surprises the hell out of me every damn time he unleashes a film on the world. The other night I saw an email from him sitting in my email and I became giddy with anticipation. Yes most of the film world will go crazy about the new Sean Baker, Pedro Almodóvar or Martin Scorsese but for me a new film from any of the filmmakers on my growing list of Filmmakers You Must Search out and I’m like a kid on Christmas.

Esper is on that list and he is a delight. He’s a filmmaker who turns out films that challenge and move me. He never seems to be doing the same thing, instead he seems to be pushing himself with each new film. Watching him over the years has been a pleasure as his filmmaking chops have grown  and built upon what has gone before.

Esper’s latest is called UNDERTAKER. It’s a moody, slightly obtuse film about a young man who wakes up in a small town. He has no idea where he is or how he got there. As he the morning moves on and he moves closer to his fate he finds that everyone knows him, and maybe, possibly knows them.

I can’t say more. That would be telling. That also might give you a clue about what is going on, which is something you’ll have to work out for yourself.

This is a great little film that you have to search out (as are all of Chris Esper’s films)

Highly Recommended

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Jagged (2021) Globe Docs 2021


This HBO portrait of Alanis Morrissette has been disavowed by the singer because of the way the material was shaped by the filmmakers with a sensationalistic shading. If I were the singer I would be disappointed because the film is simply so bland.

The film is film is primarily a look at the singer and her career leading up to and through the period of the release of her album Jagged Little Pill. The film consists of an extensive interview with the singer intercut with footage of her her life interviews with the people who knew her along the way. 

As great as the interview with Morrissette is, the rest of the film is really dull. We've been here before and we've seen the same sort of thing  hundreds of times. This is your standard issue portrait of the artist doc with all the typical bells and whistles. Worse the film only seems to be interested in focusing on a certain period of her life and certain aspects. You have the cooperation of a young woman who changed the world and you don't do anything with it. More importantly why don't you tell her whole story.

I got bored early and largely stayed disinterested until we got back to the woman herself talking about things. I was so disinterested that I fund I had to keep skipping back to interview segments because case I was looking away.

For what it's worth the film does improve how one thinks of Morrissette. The woman sitting before us is clearly in charge and we instantly fall in love with and respect. I now would love to meet her.

As for the film, I could easily never see it again.(though if I would happily watch all the unedited interview footage)

On top of everything else Dave Chappelle's new special is just bad

 Dave Chappelle’s latest special on Netflix is taking a lot of heat for the comments that are made concerning the LGBTQ community.  Having seen the special I completely think the vitriol is well placed. However the truth is that without the controversy the special would disappear rather quickly because it is terrible. It’s one of the worst comedy specials I’ve seen in my five plus decades as a comedy fan.

The problem with the special is Chappelle doesn’t seem to have worked on his material at all. Its as if Chappelle decided to book a theater and film a show and do it off the cuff. The “jokes” (I’m trying to be generous here) crash like a wet sack of cement.  It feels as though Chappelle either didn’t care and was fulfilling a contractual obligation or more likely Chappelle thinks he’s Dave Chappelle so he can do no wrong.

Yea, he can.

Part of the problem is there really aren’t any jokes. I mean beyond there being almost nothing to laugh at  Chappelle is trying to do the Stand Up Philosopher route that was walked by Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce and George Carlin. Chappelle is telling his stories and trying to get us to think. When Chappelle, like those before him, did this previously he rattled cages and made us think about society while making us laugh at ourselves. This time out there is no laughs, just hate and meanness. Chappelle is just spewing vitriol and hate speak and calling it social commentary. While it makes us think, its not about society but the man who is saying the terrible things.

Chappelle almost instantly goes off the rails when he begins his rant not with humor but with statements that this is art and he is an artist and what he is saying is not how he feels but is saying for effect.

Yea Dave right. You are doing the exactly same thing that bigots and hurtful people do when they say “I don’t mean to offend but…” or some variation before saying the most vile and terrible things imaginable. And Dave, you say some of the most terrible things imaginable.

I’m not going to repeat what Chappelle says about the LGBT community, women, and numerous other subjects. Lets just say he takes a flamethrower and sets them all on fire because, despite his protests, he really seems to hate them. I say this because be talks about getting into fights with members of the LGBT community and seems to enjoy relating the stories  (Dave, your arguments that this is art and that the performance isn’t really you falls down when your disinterested stand up is punctuated by lip smacking glee when you are talking about your fights with gays or the hateful things you are saying about people you clearly don’t like).

Chappelle’s show is less about making us laugh and think than laying waste to the people he hates. (For what it’s worth Chappelle does make a couple of points about racism somewhere in his special but its too little too late- and it's buried in so much hatred he loses the argument)

Watching the show I couldn’t help but think of the late George Carlin who got angrier and angrier with society as he got older. Carlin had words for everyone. He was tired of the bullshit  and he called it out where he saw it. While I had my issues with Carlin and his comedy and his turn to dark hopelessness in the last years of his life,  he never managed to slip into the guise of the mean old man standing on the porch yelling at the kids about his personal hatreds. Or if he was doing that he never let it seem like we were looking into the dark soul of an angry man. Carlin always managed to be funny even when he was bleak. He also never managed to be hateful, just disappointed.

Looking at the current Netflix special Dave Chappelle seems to be an angry man standing on his stoop saying terrible things just because. While I’m not going discount the wonderful things that Chappelle has done for various people and communities, there is still anger that is lurking around him. For someone who has spent a decade or more living in a small community he hasn’t mellowed. Granted he doesn’t have to mellow,  but the time from the spotlight hasn’t made him happier, indeed it seems to have made him meaner. I mean he’s still waving the flag of walking away from 50 million dollars as if it’s a badge of honor, now seemingly angry that he did it.  (Dave I love that you did it, but do you have to mention it every time you’re in front of a camera? Let it go, we don’t care any more) He has allowed his anger at the world color everything he says and does. While some of what he feels is earned, a lot of what he is saying is just bigoted and the ranting of a man unconnected to the world, there is nothing artistic to it. 

While I will defend to the death Chappelle’s right to feel and say what he wants (preferably in his own home) I can not defend the special on Netflix. It’s not a comedy. It’s not really art. It’s not really a “performance”. It’s the words of an angry man saying really terrible things about the things he really hates and calling it pretend so he doesn’t get in trouble. It's just bad on it's own terms never mind that it’s a TED Talk from a bigot and should be avoided.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Miguel's War (2021) New Fest 2021

 


MIGUEL'S WAR is a trip. It’s one of the rare films that is impossible to pigeonhole and more importantly impossible to know where it its going.

The film is the story of Miguel who left Lebanon after 37 years ago and made a new life for himself in Spain as an openly gay man. The film is an attempt to come to terms with his past but it doesn't go as expected. As he says at the start of the film he thought doing the film would be easy. He would simply sit and answer questions about his life, however that isn’t what happened. It seems Miguel wasn’t telling the truth about a lot of things (for example Miguel’s real name is Michel named after the archangel) and in looking at the life he puts forward ends up opening a lot of doors he would prefer to keep closed.

Buckle up and sit back this is going to be one hell of an emotional ride.

This is a tough film. There are a lot of raw exposed emotions here. Its a journey without easy answers. The film is  tough because we connect with Miguel and we understand his refusal to deal with his past. Most of us would rather keep much of our lives buried and the thought of having all the twists and turns of our lives unearthed before a camera is something that would send most of us screaming into the night. Kudos to Miguel for having the strength to do it publicly

The film is also tough because Miguel is a tough guy to warm to. Its clear from early on he isn't going to tell us everything because he doesn't want to deal with it. The result is a guy we don't always like. He is at times prickly as he tries not to have to open the doors to his past, something we all know he is going to have to do.

I was moved. How culd I not, this is a complex film about a complex man that asks a lot of questions about how we related to our past and who we are really. How did we get to now? MIGUEL'S WAR wants to know and because of it we are forced to confront the arcs of our lives. This reflecting of ourselves in the life of a film's subject is what lifts MIGUEL'S WAR up from the pile of typical biographical documentaries and makes it something much greater.

Highly recommended

Brief thoughts Demigod (2021) opens today


A woman and her husband go to her family home in Germany after her her grandfather dies. There they find things are not okay and that something is lurking in the forest and a group of women have plans for them.

Solid little horror film is surprisingly good. I was watching the film in the middle of coverage of the New York Film Festival as a kind of palate cleanse and I found that I was really enjoying myself.. To be certain the film doesn't reinvent the wheel, however it does entertain and make an effort to be scary. The film also gets bonus pints for having a cast that seems invested in the proceedings.

Worth a look if you like horror films. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Death and Bowling (2021) New Fest 2021


This is a pointer toward the good drama DEATH AND BOWLING. Its a film I'm not going to review but which should be on your radar.

The plot of the film has a man named X falling in with a group of older lesbians in a bowling league. The film explores what happens when the son of one of them comes to town. 

I have been wrestling with how to write up the film since I first saw it and I have failed miserably. It’s not that the film is bad rather it is simply that I am a straight man with little connection to the Trans community. I mention that because in addition to being a moving film about among other things, the connections we make,  the film is a critique of the Trans community made by a cast and crew of eople from the community. While I can speak of it as drama, the film wants to be something more. It has a great deal to say, but I don't have the vocabulary to correctly discuss the film on that level. What it is trying to do and say is something that I don’t have enough connection to to explain.

My inability to adequately discuss the film aside, DEATH AND BOWLING is a film that needs to be seen and is therefore being pointed out as something special. See it at New Fest



The Spore (2021) Grimmfest 2021


Mankind is being killed off by the appearance of fungus that take them  over and mutates them.

Okay film plague film never quite comes together because it is juggling to many things.  Part of the problem is that this is trying to be a small scale story but it has almost too many people wandering through the film. It might have worked if the performances are  better but the cast is all over the place, with a couple of them being down right terrible. It also doesn’t help that the film feels like we’ve been here before. Riffing on plague films and zombie/mutant tales the film never quite finds it’s own voice.

While never out right bad the film never rises above being okay.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Crutch (2020) hits Discovery+ tomorrow

CRUTCH surprised me. This portrait of dancer Bill Shannon, who has a degenerative hip disease and moves along via crutches is a wonderful portrait of a man following his heart to do wondrous things.

Diagnosed at an early age with Avascular necrosis, Shannon's parents fought to keep him mainstreamed. He took the slings and arrows of the kids not understanding what was wrong with him and simply went on to do things he loved such as dance. Turning his use of a crutch to his advantage, he gained notoriety partly because he was an “handicapped person dancing, but also because what he was doing was magical and unique by any standards. How unique? Cirque du Soleil, the Sydney Opera House and various museums and erformance spaces hired him to put pieces together for them.

I could use the cliché that this film is inspiring but I won’t. Rather I will simply say that the film show cases a really cool artist who is doing things no one else is.

Recommended

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Storm Lake (2021) Hamptons Film Festival 2021, Double Exposure 2021, GlobeDocs 2021


Portrait of the small town Iowan newspaper The Storm Lake Times, it's Pulitzer Prize winning editor Art Cullen and his family. Its a twice a week paper with 3000 readers and it is fighting to stay in print.

I almost missed this excellent film because I was too distracted by other things to take a look at the film. It wasn't until the film started to appear in festival line up after festival line up that I realized I had to jump in and take a look. I'm glad a I did because the film has a great deal to say about a great many subjects. 

Nominally the story of a small town newspaper the film transcends that by looking at the changing way we get our news, the changing way we farm, the changing life in small towns and how all of the changes effect and affect ourselves. Its a film that lays a lot on our plate all the while making it look like its a simple tale.

The nifty thing with this film is that the filmmakers lucked into a great deal of drama. First they caught the early days of the last Presidential election  and then they found themselves covering the the paper as it had to struggle through the covid crisis. As bad as some of the turns are it makes for even more compelling viewing. 

I loved this film. In a year when I've seen probably too many documentaries I was delighted to discover this small little charmer that not only entertained me but forced me to consider everything I thought I knew about small tons and the news business.

Highly recommended where ever you see it.

The Old Way (2021) hits VOD today

 


The Old Ways is a film I admire more than I like. The story of a woman from Veracruz in Mexico who long ago left and grew up in the US she returns as a reporter with the aim of focusing on the local myths and legends. She finds herself taken prisoner as the people in her home town insist there is a demon inside her.

Beautifully made the film has images and moments that are going to stay with me forever. For example one of the final shots in the film sent chills down my spine. It also has a chilly sound design that keeps the film chugging away.

The trouble for me is that all of the good bits don’t quite come together. I thought it was a little too abrupt getting into the film and I didn’t connect until a good way in. I also thought things were a little too bright to be scary. There wasn’t the proper creep factor for my tastes. I also have grown weary with any film that relies on jump scares.

But if I am quibbling with this film it is because while I like the film I wanted to love the film like I love the pieces. There is so much great here I wanted it all to be great. Regardless of it all there are some wondrous things that lovers of horror films should see.

Recommended

Hitting the Criterion Channel on October 13: FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO (2020)

In FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO director Lynne Sachs takes 35 years of film and video of her father, mixes it with interviews with her family and friends and tries to figure out who her dad really is.

What starts out as a typical look at  father by a daughter  slowly becomes something else as revelations about Sachs' father begin to muddy the waters and change what she and others think of him. It quickly becomes clear that there are more than one way to see him.

What I love about the film is that Sachs throws things out and doesn't tie it all up. We are left to piece things together. If you've noticed that I am not discussing the details of the revelations it is because how Sachs tells us things influences how we feel at any particular moment. If I start to feed you revelations before you go in you will have a differing experience than what the director intended. You will also know where this goes and the journey there is the point of the film, so I'm not telling.

So where does that leave this review? It leaves me simply to say if you want to take an intriguing ride though one woman's life see FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Globedocs 2021 Runs October 13th to the 17th


The excellent Globedocs starts Wednesday and run through the weekend. This Boston based doc fest is one of the best out there. It cherry picks a manageable number films and brings them to the Boston area---and the rest of the country as well since there are virtual components as well

In order to help you decide what to see I am posting links to the films we've previously reviewed. I am hoping to have a few more reviews going up as well so keep checking back.

ATTICA
BERNSTEINS WALL
BECOMING COUSTEAU
CITIZEN ASHE
FLEE
FIRST STEP
NO STRAIGHT LINES
PAPER AND GLUE
STORM LAKE (a review will run this week)
WHO WE ARE
CODED:THE HIDDEN LOVE OF J.C. LEYENDECKER
SNOWY

For more information on the at home and in person choices go here.

2 Witches (2021) Grimmfest 2021


Two scary stories for the price of one both involving witches. In the first tale a pregnant mother is cursed by a “strange woman”. In the second there is a falling out between roommates.

I liked this little film. While the stories can be a bit bumpy, they both contain some really scary moments. Indeed some of the moments in the first story had me talking to the screen as reality seemed to bend. This is a grand popcorn film. This is the sort of horror film I would have eaten up as teenager when I going to every horror movie that opened just because.

Recommended

Brooklyn Horror Festival runs October 14th to the 21st


The always great Brooklyn Horror Film Festival starts Thursday and runs for the next 11 days. This annual gathering of scary films is always a highlight of the film year since it brings together some f the best horror films from around the world for intimate screenings in great locations.

This years festival is all in person so if you want to attend you have to get yourself down to Brooklyn. Sadly My schedule is such that I am still struggling to see if I can get to the festival to cover it. Hopefully the far flung reporters who promised to go and see and report will come through.

While I may not be attending the fest this year that doesn't mean that I will leave you high and dry with coverage. I have seen a few films previously and if you want to know my take on them you can click on the links below.

THE SADNESS
FEAST
THE LAST THING MARY SAW
WHEN I CONSUME YOU

There are many many more films for you to see and you really need to check the schedule and see what's playing and buy tickets. For tickets and more information go here.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

We continue with this interruption....


The New York Film Festival is done and I’m feeling tired and broken. The last few months of festivals and life have taken a serious toll on me.  I’m burnt.

I have been declining a very large number of films for  the next few weeks just because. Those that I said yes to or just appeared, I will get to.(This includes some Shudder releases I missed to release date on- not to worry I will get to them). While I have a bunch to over (a few inde films and New Fest Titles), I don’t have as much as I normally have at this time so I will be falling back on the banked reviews for some days later this month.

Honestly I’m movied out- I’ve passing on covering a few  of this months festivals just because I don’t have it in me.(Though I will be doing curtain raisers).  If you must know I broke in  July and August when I did around 200 films for coverage (we've done probably close to 1000 films this year and that's with 3 months left gin the year). It was not my intention but everyone counter programmed some of my favorite festivals and I tried to cover everything. 

Anyway as a result of the big push the last three months I’m going to be slowing down for a bit. I need to regroup and rethink what I can do. I also have to rethink where this site is going. I’m not certain that my throwing as much into it is worth what is coming out of it. I also need to steel myself for DOC NYC which is the last of this years festivals that has to be covered.

Look for several curtain raisers this week and some new releases. After that we'll be spinning the wheel of oldies.