Friday, August 12, 2022

FREE CHOL SOO LEE (2022) opens today

 


This is the story of Korean born Chol Soo Lee who was framed by the police who made him the murder suspect for a killing in San Francisco's Chinatown. Relying only on Caucasian testimony they ignored all the witnesses who said he didn't do it. They also ignored the chatter in Chinatown that said "the Korean didn't do it".

An important case of racial injustice that got worse by turns, (Lee had to kill a man in prison in self defense and there were later tragedies) is given a not very good telling in a film made for PBS's Independent Lens. The issue here is that the telling in jumbled, and not clear. For example talk of a committee to help get Lee free isn't mentioned until some time in the telling. The way the film is told you have no sense that Lee has any even vague support other than the woman who is his friend- when she says that she joined the committee.  Other details are left out (any real sense of the police or their investigation) or left hanging until they are brought in in such away that I was left to wonder why we weren't told that before. I was constantly asking questions to the screen the film never addressed or addressed badly (there is almost no sense of Chinatown as a place). The result is a film that is less moving than it should be, especially in the later section of the film when we should be crushed by the turn of events.

I was left shaking my head.

For me the film is a major disappointment. It's clear this is an important story but the telling doesn't do it justice and it's under 90 minute run time doesn't help. It feels like the film was put together by people too close to the material and checked by people just as close to the story.

A miss

FALL (2022)

 


If you have any interest in FALL go see it in a theater with the biggest screen possible. The film is pure movie spectacle and it needs to be seen as BIG as possible. Honestly if any film was made for IMAX this is it.

The plot of the film has two women going to climb a disused radio tower in the middle on nowhere. Called the fourth highest structure in America is it an abandoned metal tower over 2000 feet tall. One of the women is trying to get over the death of her husband  a short time before. He had fallen in climbing accident that she feels is her fault. Once they get to the top a section of the ladder breaks away and they are left stranded.

This film is all about the visuals. Its all about being on a tiny platform thousands of feet in the air. The visuals make the film and if you don’t like heights odds are this film is going to make you sick.  Yea, it you know it was done with green screen and tricks photography  but at the same time the result is as truly a harrowing experience as you will ever have in a movie theater.

The trick is that you really have to see this film in a theater where each turn is going to make you and those around you scream. If you don’t see this on the big screen, say on a TV or laptop (as I did), this is going to play to much lesser effect.

The problem with this film is that outside of the visuals there isn’t much here. The plot is nothing we haven’t seen before and its pretty much something that we could write ourselves. If you want to know how my the numbers the film is consider that one of the producers has made several similar films set in other locations where one or two people are stranded in a scary situation (often with sharks).  This film is so rote that the scenes of questionable steel cables and magically unscrewing bolts produce snickers instead of chills. And then there is one turn that had me literally screaming profanity at the screen threatening to kick the filmmakers in their privates because it was a total bullshit turn.

Of course had I seen this in a theater I would have felt differently since the images would have over whelmed the stupidity.

Recommended only if you can see this on the big screen because the images will make you forgive the stupid turns.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

We Are Living Things (2022) opens Friday


A workman taking up with a Chinese woman living in the US illegally. She is traveling under someone else's identity. The pair seem to know each other and they both share an obsession with an alien abduction that may or may not have happened.

 WE  ARE LIVING THINGS haunts me. I saw the film a couple of weeks before Slamdance and the film flipped a switch in me. Some how it just clicked with me and I have been haunted by the films look and feel and some of the scenes. I don't know why because in a weird way it doesn't do anything special except tell a compelling story.

Before you jump away understand that the film plays things absolutely straight. This is a drama cum thriller that plays things straight. If I walked into this film unaware of what it was about I wouldn't have known where it  was going, not that I could have really guessed. This is a drama and not a science fiction tale.

I have held off writing about the film because I'm not sure what to really say. My thoughts on the film are not about plot and detils but emotion. The film kicks up certin emotions that I can't really describe. It's hard to write up a review that says "I liked the film because it had a certain feel"  and then not be able to explain it.

Basically what I need you to do is take it on faith that WE ARE LIVING THINGS is worth at least trying. I'm not going to say that you'll fall in love with the film, but I think you will, as with all Slamdance films, find that there is something interesting there. This is basically a film you need to experience more than read about- mostly because my words can't express what I really want to say.

Recommended.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Emergency Declaration (2021)


As the police are informed that some people think that their neighbor is the guy threatening to do something to an airplane, the same neighbor gets on a flight looking  to do something terrible. The police quickly learn that the man has done something with a horrible disease and have to race to try and find him...just as someone on the flight begins to die horribly.

This is a killer film. Planned to be made at the time that covid shut the world down the filmmakers took the time to tweak their script and production with an eye of making this as realistic as possible.  They wanted it all to be as close to what would happen as possible. It was a move that paid off with an absolute killer thriller. This is a film that is quite simply going to make some people not want to fly.

I was rocked. This film grabbed me from the opening moments and dragged me white knuckled to the end. Yes, I knew some of this was a bit too neat and too formulaic, but at the same time I was so invested  I didn't care. I was willing to follow this anywhere because the cast, which includes greats like Song Kang-ho, and Lee Byung-hung, sells it. You believe because they believe.

I had a blast watching this. I was so in love with this film that I wished I was sitting in a theater with a big bucket of popcorn and a grape Hi-C  and losing myself in the madness. 

What a delight.

Recommended for those who want to take a white knuckle flight.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Roundup (2022) hits digital today


This is a sequel to OUTLAWS, not that you need to have seen that film, Ma Seok-do is a killer cop who is set up as a bad ass from the second scene where he stops a hostage situation cold. Everything you need to know about the unstoppable cop is learned in that one scene. Frankly he’s so kick ass I’m shocked this is only the first sequel.

The plot has Seok-do going to Vietnam in order to pick up a fugitive who voluntarily surrendered. Why he was doing that is a question that bothers the veteran cop and it becomes clear when he finds out that fugitive’s business of kidnapping tourists for ransom and killing them blew up in his face when he picked a mob connected victim and now his boss wants him dead. At this point bodies begin piling up and Ma Soek-do has to follow them to the man behind it all.

Told with wit and speed THE ROUNDUP is a killer film. Moving like a bone crushing wind this is one of the best action films I’ve seen this year. It’s not trying to do anything but entertain and make its audience yelp out loud with delight. This is a film you’ll want to see again and again with all your action loving friends and family. Best of all this fitting sequel to OUTLAWS scores bonus points for being a wonderful stand alone film.

I can’t say enough good about this film.

See it

Monday, August 8, 2022

Ariela Rubin on Girl Picture (2022) which opens Friday

 


Girl Picture is a Finish movie about three women coming of age and navigating love and sex.  Best friends, Mimmi and Rönkkö are having two different experiences with love and relationships. Then there's Emma, who is a competitive figure skating who Mimmi meets and is interested in. Meanwhile, Rönkkö feels nothing with the guys she's hooking up with and all she is hoping for is to feel something. 

I think Girl Picture is the first Finish movie I've ever seen. The film isn't groundbreaking, but it's pretty realistic to real life. It explores fears and confusion surrounding love and sex. Some of the conversations were a bit cringy though and I wondered if girls would really say certain things they did in real life.  I really like female coming-of-age relationship-type movies and so overall, I enjoyed it. I liked that there was some humor in it as well, and I thought all three women did a great job.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

The Old Man (2020) is released Tuesday

With THE OLDMAN THE MOVIE hitting digital release Tuesday here is my Review from last year's Fantasia

What do you get if you cross Shaun the Sheep with A Town Called Panic and filter it through the mind of kid who likes poop jokes?  The answer is THE OLD MAN THE MOVIE, a wickedly funny very unPC comedy that was spun off of Estonian TV series.

The plot has three kids going to stay with their grandfather  on his farm for the summer. The kids end up releasing his cow who wanders off the farm. The grandfather is horrified, but things take a turn for the worst when a wheelchair bound "old milker" shows up to say that the cow has to be found lest it make too much milk and explode in an explosion rivaling an atomic bomb. As the grandfather and kids head off on the tractor to find the cow, and bring her back, the old milker gets some chainsaw wielding nut jobs to help him find and kill the cow. WHat follows is a steady stream of off the wall jokes and turns you'll never see coming.

Rude, crude and sure to shock any parent who unwittingly takes their young ones to see "an animated film" the film will delight adults and older kids who love off color jokes. The big kid that I am I was roaring from start to finish wondering at what point this film was going to hit the US and take over the world.

Wrong on so many levels and right for exactly that reason THE OLD MAN MOVIE is one of the best films playing at Fantasia, assuming you are looking for well done films in bad taste. Highly recommended.




Saturday, August 6, 2022

Battle of Worlds (1961) Gets a 4K special edition on Tuesday


One of the first prerecorded VHS tapes I ever bought was the Italian Space Opera Battle of the Worlds. I bought it because it was a science fiction film and it was in a bargain bin so I could purchase it for a couple of bucks and have something to watch. It was a washed out, but watchable, pan and scan print that chopped out chunks of the 2.35 to 1 image. Not that it mattered it was a schlocky film and I loved it.

The truth of the matter is because the film has been kicking around in bargain bins for decades, almost always in crappy transfers no one has ever really seen the film the way it was meant to be seen, namely wide screen. We’ve crucified and laughed at the film simply because the film the presentation was not what it should be.

Okay, okay… seeing the film wide screen isn’t going to suddenly make you think the film is a masterpiece of scifi cinema but it will make the film slightly better. I mean the film is a good but slow space opera about a stray planet that approaches earth and once in orbit starts sending out craft to battle the earthlings. The film haunts me because it’s the final film of Claude Rains and because the sets of the alien planet seem to have rooted inside mt head. There is a physical nature to them that I rarely saw in Italian space operas of the period.

Releasing Tuesday Film Detective is releasing a 4k scan of Battle of the Worlds and it’s never looked better. This is another outstanding job by the company and seeing their edition is like seeing the film for the first time. To be certain the film is far from perfect but the new scan makes it clear that that the film is less cheesy then we have been thinking for decades.  The problems with the film are not the fault of the scenic designers whose work now can be seen to have rightly haunted my nightmares.

If you’ve only seen this film in a poorly transferred edition the Film Detective edition is a must more so because it has their usual slate of nigh impossible to beat extras (BONUS FEATURES: Original essay by author Don Stradley, Margheriti’s World; Full-length commentary track by film historian Justin Humphreys; all-new original production, A Cinematic Outsider: The Fantastical Worlds of Antonio Margheriti by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures; and an insert with a special surprise for TFD fans.)

Releasing Tuesday it is recommended.


I need to also mention that the film is going to be riffed by the Mads (Trace  and Frank from MST3K) on Tuesday as well. The riff was not planned as a tie in, however I do know that the producer of the broadcast is thrilled because he wants to see a good copy of the film.

Friday, August 5, 2022

The Fish Tale (2022) Fantasia 2022


This is the story of Japanese celebrity ichthyologist, Youtuber, TV host, illustrator and all-around “fish ambassador” Sakana-kun, here called Meebo. She was an obsessed young girl who followed her heart and love of fish to international fame.

The word coming out of Fantasia regarding this film was the talk of the New York Asian Film Festival. What I mean by that was that people at Fantasia were calling people at NYAFF telling them to see the film at the festival. The trouble was that the THE FISH TALE wasn't playing NYAFF which left everyone in Fantasia kind of incredulous (I heard more than one person ask "why not?" on a cellphone call) 

Having seen the film I'm wondering why this film didn't get picked either.

This is a lovely little film about a lovely person. Yea, it uses many of the quirky cute tropes, but at the same time, it's just a lovely little film.  It made me smile from start to finish.

What an absolute joy and must see. 

Fast And Feel Love (2022) NYAFF 2022 Fantasia 2022


Young man with a wicked skill in sport stacking is helped by a regular girl to to all he can be and along the way the pair become friends and help a lot of other people along the way.

First thing you need to know, sport stacking, people stack and  then unstack special designed cups in a prescribed pattern as fast as possible,  is a real thing. There are associations for it and lots of video. I say this because I thought it was something created for the film. I was wrong.

I had no interest in this film. Despite the film opening the New York Asian Film Festival and screening a few days later I was going to take a pass. Then I spoke with people at NYAFF who were raving about it. At the end of the first week of the fest everyone was raving about how it was the best film at the festival so when I got the chance to see it for Fantasia I jumped.

This is a great film.

This is a film that beautifully celebrates the uniqueness of everyone, even if it's just being average. This is a film that wonderfully says that everyone has a passion they should follow. I love that. THis is a film for the outsider in all of us.

What an absolute joy. 

I love that the film is its own thing. It doesn't follow any film cliche it goes off on its own merry way and simply tells it's story, passionately and in it's own way.

A must see.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

What To Do With The Dead Kaiju (2022) Fantasia 2022

 


WHAT TO DO WITH THE DEAD KAIJU? Was near the top of my must see list for Fantasia. I was curious to see what filmmakers were going to do with the obvious question, what do they people do with dead giant monsters after the battles in various films. It was a question that I wanted answered, kind of like wanting to know what happens after a superhero battle in the comics (Marvel answered that with Damage Control)

In WHAT TO DO the action picks up after the rampaging monster was killed by a mysterious light from the sky. As everyone rejoices, the government tries to deduce if the beast is indeed dead.  Once they realize he is, they then have to figure out what to do. Tourism is a possibility. As other solutions are suggested, it's realized that corpse is decaying and that trapped inside its tough hide gasses are building up and it could explode sending flesh and toxic gases everywhere. It now becomes a rush to solve the problem.

This is an interesting, if messy, comedy satire that sends up all sorts of kaiju related films. Its focus on bureaucracy makes it a direct riff on SHIN GODZILLA but there are even more references to other films, including Ultraman, whose rethink also played Fantasia. The kaiju fan in me was delighted by most of what I saw.

The problem though is the film is all over the place. The comedy ranges from low brow to witty references. It never settles on a tone.  Additionally while I was watching this I kept wondering if this wouldn’t have been better had it been played straight, with it all a kind thriller to solve the problem before an unexpected disaster. It’s so all over the place that I completely understand the weak IMDB rating, it really doesn’t work on it’s own terms.(You really need to be a die hard kaiju fan for this to work for you)

On the other hand as a spoof of kaiju with all sorts of references it a delightful footnote for giant monster fans.

A pointer toward The Witch Part 2: The Other One (2022) Fantasia 2022


Full disclosure, I never saw the previous film THE WITCH THE SUBVERSION. I mention this because I went into THE WITCH PART 2 thinking it was a sequel to a different film. Twenty minutes in, feeling hopelessly lost I stopped the film and rechecked the films description and when I realized I was in the wrong place, I read on the first film.  Sadly I was still still a bit lost watching this film.

The plot of the film has a young woman escaping from a super secret facility and going on the run. She's a young woman with special powers that everyone wants to control.  As she takes up with some people who don't know who she is, various people hunt her.

This is a great looking film with style to burn. It has some great action film and...it left me feeling like I should have seen the first film. Yes the plot isn't anything we haven't seen before and yes it hits a lot of expected notes so I could follow it. But at the same time I never stopped feeling that I was missing something. 

Because I felt lost and I don't think I could give this film a fair shake I'm simply going to point you toward the film and say if you saw the first one give this one a shot. If you haven't seen the first one see that one first before you try this.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

SEIRE (2022) Fantasia 2022

 


SEIRE is a horror film that is doing too much. Yes it’s a good film but the film is hurt by juggling too many balls in the air at the same time.

The film has a man going to the funeral of an ex-girlfriend despite the protests of his wife that it will put him into danger from a spiritual curse. At the funeral he meets the twin sister of the dead woman. Returning from the funeral weird things begin to happen.

While the film is horror film and ponders folk beliefs the film is also trying to deal with the memory and the past and how they effect how we see the present, not to mention a few other things. Its all well and good but in looking to do more than scare they put some dings in the shine of a solid horror film. You get a sense that the director is trying to push this to be more than a ghost story with the result it’s less scary than it should have been.

Don’t get me wrong I really like this film a great deal I just wanted to be head over heels about it…

…on the other hand I may have been expecting something more since the Fantasia write up mentioned the truly frightening THE WAILING in connection to this film and I was looking for that level of fear.

Reservations this film is recommended for anyone who likes ghost stories- especially with a Korean flavor

Compulsus (2022) Fantasia 2022


After Wally takes out her anger and frustrations on the chef who was sexually harassing her friend, she begins to hunt men who are taking advantage of women.

This is a much too mannered film of female empowerment by way of a Death Wish/MS 45 like vigilante. While the idea behind the film is really good, execution is not. 

Designed to make a point over and a above it all this heartfelt scream about the #metoo movement never engages. The film is constantly trying to argue it's point at the expense of the story.  For example the dialog is much to measured and full of meaning, the male objects of rage are largely ciphers that we barely see (is this supposed to mean all men are evil?), and the performances are much too mannered to be real much of the time. The result is that the parts that are polemical seem to be a different film with characters disappearing during the "speeches".

I also have some quibbles with how some sequences , particularly the ones involving Wally assaulting men were filmed. The shot choices seem less than idea and rather static with the result there is no tension. It doesn't help that the music used in the attack sequences seems meant for another film with shots seeming not to match up to the beats of the images. 

While the film isn't bad, it isn't what it should be. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Marq Evans talks CLAYDREAM which opens Friday

I discovered Marq Evan when I saw his film THE GLAMOUR AND THE SQUALOR about DJ Marco Collins who was the guy who broke Nirvana, Beck Garbage and Weezer. It appeared to be a typical bio but Evans turned in such a way that it was something special. It was a film I showed/recommended to friends who grew up living and dying by the radio. Everyone fell in love with it.

Then his next film CLAYDREAM about animator was announced for this last year's Tribeca and I saw his name attached and I knew I not only had to see it but I also I had to talk to him. An interview during Tribeca didn't work but we still manages to connect. The result is one of my favorite interviews I've ever Done. Mr Evans was just a great person to talk to and if I didn't have to go back to the day job I could have spoken to him all day.

I want to thank  Marq Evans for taking the time to do this.  I can't wait until your next film.

CLAYDREAM opens Friday at the Quad Cinemas in New York and theaters around the country.


Marq:
Hey, Steve. How you doing?

Steve: I'm all right. You, you able to talk now?

Marq: Yeah, sure.

Steve: If you don't mind, I'm going to not just ask you questions about, CLAYDREAM but also THE GLAMOUR AND THE SQUALOR because I loved that. When I found out that you had done the Will Vinton film, it became even more of a priority to see it and to talk to you.

Marq: Oh, that's very cool. I appreciate that.

Steve: One of the things I loved about THE GLMOUR AND THE SQUALOR was the way you did it  came across differently than every other documentary I've seen. Actually both of your films are unique.  The two films are are their own animals, but there's a definite voice. There's a definite reason for everything, and I absolutely love that.

Marq: I really appreciate you saying that. I mean, there's so many decisions with every little second of a film. That's true for all filmmakers, but it's nice to hear you say that the decisions are paying off.

I think there are similarities, certainly, between the two films, although they're made quite differently. With CLAYDREAM other than the interviews, we didn't shoot a ton. We didn't have to because we had so much of Will's work and so much behind-the-scenes works. With THE GLAMOUR AND THE SQUALOR, there wasn't a lot of footage that existed. So, not just the interviews, the recreation, the B roll, we shot most of that movie. As far as structurally and how we went about the edit, there's definitely a lot of similarities.

Steve: I'm curious about the origins of both films. How did you come to make THE GLAMOUR AND THE SQUALOR? How did you come to make the Will Vinton film? They are completely different. One's a DJ most people never have heard of. The other one is somebody, everybody has seen his work.

Marq: Yeah, what's interesting about Will, though, and I've certainly come to realize this even more since the movie premiered and reading what some people have said about it, most people I don't think are familiar with Wills name. Certainly, they've seen something of his -- whether it's the Raisin's, the M&M's, or the Mark Twain MYSTERIOUS STRANGER -- when they were kids. But I was a little bit surprised to realize how unknown he is as a name.

As far as how they both came together, THE GLAMOUR AND THE SQUALOR started when I was listening to the radio station that he used to be on, which was 107.7 The End in Seattle. And this is back in like 2011, 13 years ago, I guess now,  for the idea. I don't normally listen to radio much, but I happened to be somewhere out of range of serious ... or anything. I had the radio on, and that was the one station that was coming through in a thick snowstorm. And I had to go to the grocery store to get the groceries to stock up before the storm, and this radio show was on. They were celebrating their 20-year anniversary of the radio station The End, and they were counting down the 107 songs of all time. In between the songs they would have these, but the radio DJs come back and tell their best stories from their time, you know, in Seattle working with The End. Every time Marko came on, I was really wanting his voice to kind of wrap through the radio. The stories that he told, and the access that he had with all these rock stars was really just fascinating to me. At the time I think I had just seen -- or it had just come out – MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, the Woody Allen movie where Owen Wilson is in Paris. At the time, we get sucked into the 1920s, and it reminded me a bit about that of like going back in time, in this case just to the 1990s, about all these rock stars there in Seattle at the exact same time, and there's Marko in the radio station kind of being right in the middle of it. It started with that radio show that I heard, and then I thought this could be a good idea for a film.

Originally, I started thinking I might write it as a script, but as I started doing research I came across a great article in the Seattle Weekly by a guy called Chris Cornell, who turned out to be a good friend of my next-door neighbor --but I didn't know him at the time. He had just written this feature article about Marko's rise and fall and re-invention. That was a big piece. When I read that, I thought, "Maybe I should do this as a documentary." Anyway, that's how that all started. I reached out to Marco, and, you know, he was interested. But it probably took months before he finally came on board and decided that he would do it.

And it was a little bit similar with Will Vinton for CLAYDREAM.  In this case I'd read an article. I can't remember what the publication was, but it was a blog-type thing. And then I did the same thing. It outlined his rise and fall. And I was familiar with Will's work. I did know the name, I knew the mustache, but I didn't know much about the story. When I read this article, it felt like a movie the way that this article was written.

I had just put out GLAMOUR or maybe it wasn't even done yet. I was finishing GLAMOUR, so I was looking for the next project. When I came across this article, I thought this could be it.

I see the two similarities there are the nostalgia for me. I grew up listening to the music that Marco helped break, the grunge scene in the '90s. Right about that same time, you've got the California Raisins and all those characters. Both of those stories hit me at this coming-of-age time in my life, so that meant something.

Did the same thing with Will, reached out to him. [laughs] We got together right away, but it was the same thing where he wasn't really that interested or didn't know if he wanted to do it. It probably took another five, six months with him as well before he came around and decided to go for it. For Will, as soon as he decided he was in, he was all in, access whenever. I would spend hours and hours and hours in his basement. He would help a lot of the time, going through old archives. A lot of that had to be digitized. It was all analog in boxes, whether it was photos, things on old data tapes, or whatever it may be. That's the origin of both of those films.

Steve: I like your truthfulness in the films, one of the things I like about both GLAMOUR and CLAYDREAM, is that you didn't make straight happy films. You show the bad side, the good side. Did, did, did either Marco or Will want you not to deal with some of the failures?

Marq: I would say they differed in whereas Marco, from day one, was like, "We've got to show the darkness." He understood that. He was a big movie buff himself. He knew that in order to make an interesting movie, there has to be drama. There has to be conflict, and he had plenty of that in his life. He was totally game. That said, it took a while for us to get there with him. I think he was and felt like he was being really open and vulnerable. Then when the editor and I were looking to cut, it wasn't quite there. It wasn't quite coming across, so it took a while. There was a final interview where he really let it all out, and that was important for the film. He just needed to go even deeper than maybe he thought he possibly could. He was totally understood and up for it from the beginning, but we just had to get him to go further.

For Will, that was a gradual thing. I think he would have loved for the film to just be this celebration, not just him, but he wanted to celebrate all the work that was done by the studio and all of the animators, and the hundreds of people that worked on these projects. He would have loved probably if that were it. He also knows what good stories are, so that was a little bit more gradual. Just as time went on, for instance, even that footage with him and with Phil Knight, I didn't even know about that. It was about two years into the project before told me that he had that. That came from Will. I think it was part of this gradual process of trusting me and knowing, "OK, you know, we can have some of this, more of this conflict, and it's going OK. And it's going to make for the best film." If you don't have the conflict, if I just made this puff piece about Will and the work, nobody would watch this, just maybe the most diehard animation fans.

I definitely wanted to tell a true story, but as we were making it, we were thinking we wanted to do it in a cross between THE SOCAIL NETWORK, the David Fincher Facebook movie, and the Mr. Rogers documentary, WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR combining those two moods.

It's like Will, at first I don't think he would have wanted it to be like that. As time went on, especially as he realized that he was getting more and more sick too. I didn't think at the beginning of this process that he ever would have thought that he would have allowed me to shoot while he's getting treatment, sitting in that chair getting cancer treatment, you know, sitting in, sitting in that chair getting cancer treatment. But I just think as the project evolved and just more and more conversations, he understood more what I was trying to do. He just became much more open to all of that.

Steve: Did he see the film before he, die-, a cut of the film before he died?

Marq: No. There was about a 15-minute edit that I showed him, I don't know if that changed that much. I'm sure it changed a lot as far as just like how, you know, shot selection and pacing and stuff like that, but he, he had at least seen kind of, what at the time, was the first 15 minutes of the movie and really was happy with it. I think you know, he, he had actually seen a movie about one of his animator friends that had just come out or was about to come out about a couple weeks earlier and he thought it was really not very good. He was like, "Oh crap," It really relieved him when I shared him this 15 minutes, and he saw everything that went into it, and at the end, he just smiled, and he said, "Well, I don't have to worry about there being anything lazy about this. This is, this is incredible, um, just all, all that's gone into it." I think felt that he was in good hands and, um, didn't have to worry about whether the film was going to negatively portray him. I think he'd be really happy with it. I wish he would have gotten to see it. I wish he would   have been a part of the Tribeca premiere and then, you know, we went out to Annecy, France. I got back just last week, and that's a place that he would always premiere his films. So, it was pretty special being out there, that hopefully, you know, take his spirit along with us.

Steve: What do his friends and family think of the film?

Marq: Uh, you know, we haven't actually spoke about it. I'm giving them a little bit more time. I guess at some point I'll have to follow up 'cause I'm sure it's just super heavy for them. You know? I've heard from some of his close friends that just how much they loved it and how much they think he would've loved it. So, that's, that's like given me comfort. I have not had the, uh, the conversation yet with the family, but definitely looking forward. Hoping that they feel that it represents him.

Steve: What is your favorite Will Vinton film?

Marq: My favorite Will Vinton film? I mean, the favorite of the shorts would probably be THE COGNITO  just because it's the standup comic with things coming out of his head. I just think it's so brilliant and creative and funny. But I also just have to go back to the Mark Twain film. You know, being the only feature film ever made out of a hundred percent clay. You know? It's all, it's all clay. The entire thing. Not a frame...Not an object or a frame. The bulk of it is. I just think from like a creative standpoint...I mean, the, the film's got its flaws, you know, mostly story related 'cause it's kind of like a bunch of different stories, and they try to tie it all together into one story, but, to me, that doesn't really matter. It's just, it's just an amazing piece of art  that I think should have had a better audience than it did and, you know. It got marketed towards kids, and it wasn't really a kid movie, but hopefully if our film has enough to, to get out there maybe that film will kind of have a bit of a new life.

Steve: Well, it's interesting you mentioned that film because  it has been starting to pop up again in on line animation discussions because a lot of people saw it as a very little kid but didn't know what it was. The images, and a lot of it just stuck with everybody. It's like everybody seems to be rediscovering it because now as older people they are rediscovering it.

Marq: There's a narrative that’s going through a lot of the darker stories that people didn't know that Twain wrote, like The Mysterious Stranger. It has a cult following, but it's not super known. And the Stranger scene kind of terrified a lot of kids when they watched it. That scene out of context has, you know, like a YouTube page, and it's got like millions of views and comments of people saying, "Oh, I remember this when a kid. When I was a kid." It scared a lot of them. Even for some of my crew members that's like the scene that they remember. They'd seen Mark Twain. They remembered The Mysterious Stranger scene that just terrified them [laughs] .And I can understand taken out the context, though when you watch the movie as a whole it definitely has a rhyme and a reason to it.

Steve:  I'm going to bounce back to GLAMOUR because something stayed with me from the film. There's a point in the film where  Marcos discussing talking to the kids sitting alone with the radio, the kids whose best friend growing up was that radio. The scene feels like it comes from some one who could be that kid who felt like the only person talking to him was the radio. Were you that sort of a kid who is alone with the best friend as the radio growing up?

Marq: Not as much with the radio 'cause I grew up in a small town in Washington, a smaller town and I didn't have  a radio stations or the DJ that I felt like were talking to me. But I know people that did. Many like my wife, who listened to Marcos show when she was growing up, and  got super excited when they found out that I was making this film. The DJ could be like almost like a best friend to people, you know. Especially that are growing up with maybe kids that, you know, feel like outsiders, or just feel, you know, lonely, don't feel like they've got, um, you know, the best friend. They've been expecting the support from their family members that they feel like they've been forgot. You know, like a stranger doesn't feel like a stranger, it literally feels like a friend talking to just them. I know Marco took that really, really seriously and I think...I've heard that from other some other DJs.

Pat O'Day, you know, was a legendary Seattle DJ in, like, '50s, '60s, '70s. He actually just recently passed away, but he had talked about that as well too. So, I think it's...it's not a trick but just something that great DJs have that ability to really make a connection, and it's. So, you just think about all the lives that they've been able to improve because of that ability to do that. It's pretty special and...But unfortunately, you know, I think mostly lost...

There's still some great voices that are out there, but it's never going to be this because, you know, radio was just such a unique thing, and radio will never be the same. It was like the one main thing that everyone was turning into.

Steve: I had to ask you about that because some of my friends mentioned that the radio was their friend. And then I had showed them THE GLAMOUR AND THE SQUALOR, and they were like, "That's it!" When they saw that scene, it was like, they were, they, it was like, "That's it. That's what it was like." That was, I mean, because it  just brought everything home for them. 

Marq: Cool.

Steve: Next question what is Cow by Bear?

Marq: I was friends with this Chef Bear. He's a bear that, that learned how to walk and talk and cook. He's a good friend of mine. So I kind of just help him out with his media. But he's got like a dining experience out in San Diego, in Seattle, and for a while in Savannah, Georgia.He asked me to not talk too much about that, but people should definitely check out cowbybear.com. If they're ever in San Diego, they can go get a really, really good five-course meal cooked by a Bear.

We did a couple episodes of a show that could have kept going, but it fizzled out a little bit. It was a web series.

Steve: Where are you going with CLAYDREAM next?

Marq: It's kind of interesting because, as of right this moment, it's not available anywhere in America. We had the Tribeca 10-day or whatever virtual run, so people could see it then. Then the Annecy, it was available in France, but once those things are done we're working on a sale right now. We're working on distribution. Hopefully, at some point this year it'll be available to a wide audience wherever that may be. As of, I think, yesterday, it's playing in Australia as part of the Melbourne Documentary Festival. We've got couple other festivals winding up, and we'll continue to do some festivals, but the focus is getting the distribution and figuring out a wider release for it.

Steve: That's cool. What are you doing next?

Marq: I've got a handful that are in different spots in development right now. There's a documentary that I've been making in Haiti with my brother for about 11 years now, ever since the 2010 earthquake. That's something we would like to finish. It's like a boyhood documentary where it's following this brilliant young Haitian kid. We met him when he was 12 years old. Now he's 23, living in Brooklyn. He's got this fascinating story, super interesting kid. We'd like to finish that.

Probably the two projects that are most far along that I've been working on for a while and developing and pitching, there's a true crime, murder mystery story in the '80s in Kodiak, Alaska that I got quite a bit into so far and we're pitching. And then also a series about stoicism, the Ancient Greek and Roman Empire philosophy from 2000 years ago that is really relevant today, just how, how this group of modern stoics, a lot of celebrities and a lot of athletes and business people are taking these methods from 2,000 years ago and using them to apply it to their situations today. Those are the two that are probably the furthest along, then there's a handful of other ones I've been poking around on too, but we'll just [laughs] see what goes.

Steve: Sounds good. Thank you for taking the time.

CLAYDREAM (2021) Opens Friday


CLAYDREAM is a great film. A portrait of the late great animator Will Vinton from his birth through his battle with the founder of Nike over his studio on to his death. It is a glorious celebration of the man and his work.

I am a huge Will Vinton fan. His version of the THE LITTLE PRINCE is one of my favorite films of all time. His CLOSED MONDAYS changed how I see animation. His feature films were unlike anything out there. When I saw that this film was playing Tribeca I instantly reached out to get a copy of the film. Having seen it I want to go back through all of Vinton’s films.

While the film is very much a celebration of the man the film doesn’t shy away from some the missteps that he made. Getting hooked up with Nike, a move that would ultimate result in his being thrown out of his own studio being chief among them. While the mistakes are softened by the words of friends and family we see that Vinton sometimes reached too far.


There is much to love in this film. I suspect that the abundance of clips will make this a film that is a revelation for even long time Vinton fans. I kept seeing bits and realizing that there are still a good number of films I know nothing about. I also love the way that director Marq Evans weaves together new and old interviews in such a way that I completely forgot that Vinton had past. This is a film that put all of Vinton’s films firmly in the present.

In all honesty I was so sure that Vinton was alive  that the films final image, that of the aviator carrying a sleeping Prince crushed me with in the context of Vinton’s life. It  hit me so unexpectedly that I had to back up the film and watch it a second time, only to have it reduce me to a sobbing mess with the perfection of the image and context.

I love this film a great deal

It, along with the earlier The GLAMOUR AND THE SQUALOR makes director Marq Evans one to put on your must follow list. Evans has a unique vision that is unlike anyone else and I am hoping he makes films for many decades to come.

CLAYDREAM is playing at the Quad Cinema in New York and other theaters and should be high on your must see list

Forced Change (2022)

 


This is a pointer toward FORCED CHANGE which is being release today.

The film is the story of three families dealing with the changes brought by Hurricane Katrina. Though the storm was almost two decades ago the effects are still being felt today.

Filmed over 14 years the film is a document of what the families faced right after the storm and how they have fared over the years since. Not only do we see how they faced losing pretty much everything but also how they tried to put it all back together and how they cope living in a place that isn’t New Orleans, which they still consider their home.

This is a really good film that really shows the effects of one event hangs over everything that follows. It’s a wonderful portrait of the families involved and their stories really hit home.

And I can’t say more than that. Its not for any reason than I have recently seen several similar films  and I don’t have anything beyond THIS IS REALLY GOOD AND WORTH YOUR TIME to say about it. To that end if the subject interests you give FORCED CHANGE a shot.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Missing (2022) Fantasia 2022


Shinzo Katayama's MISSING is a hard film to discuss. It's one of those films that starts off seeming to be on thing and then turns and turns and turns and ends up not being what you thought it was going in. Yes it is most definitely a thriller, however there are other things going on. I mean at it's heart its the story of a father and his daughter...and there are some other things going on which you really need to just see.

The set up of the film is about Kaeda. She is desperately trying to deal with her father who has completely broken after the death of his wife/her mother. He simply doesn't want to do anything. Then suddenly he announces that he knows who the serial killer No Name is. He's seen him on a train when he briefly took off his mask. He's going to find the killer and bring him to justice. Not long after he begins his quest he disappears and Kaeda is left to try and figure out what happened to him.

I won't say more 

Actually I dare not say more because there is enough going on here to make you sit up and take notice. It's the sort of a film that signals early on it's not going to do what you expect so you lean way in and are in for the whole ride. As a result it kicks you in the gut in the best sort of way.

High recommended.

Incredible But True (2022) Fantasia 2022


Quentin Dupieux returns with more off kilter insanity about a couple that buys a house with a tunnel in the basement that leads to the upstairs in their house and a  twlve hours away. There is more afoot here, including a plot line concerning male enhancement, all of which is going to make you sit up and take notice.

After two films that worked in fits and starts (MANDIBLES and  DEERSKIN) Dupieux returns to form with an obtuse tale that walks on the weirdside. Refusing to give answers he mines  his material for maximum effect opening our eyes with the unexpected turns and make us think with connections we never previously considered.  For me this was the type of film that keeps me going back to Dupieux’s films, a point of view unlike anyone else.

As with all of Dupieux’s films this is not for everyone. It’s skewed sense of reality will not sit well with people who want their stories closer to reality. On the other hand this is probably his most mainstream film so there is a good chance that even if you haven’t like Dupieux’s other films you’ll like this one

Recommended.