Saturday, May 27, 2017

The problem that is LONDON HAS FALLEN (2016)

LONDON HAS FALLEN was one of the big action films of 2016. It's a sequel to THE WHITE HOUSE HAS FALLEN a film I liked for the sheer silliness of it but which most critics hated with a passion. LONDON ups the ante and the stupidity to epic levels

The plot has a Pakistani business man getting revenge on the West  for a drone strike two years earlier by attacking the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Mayhem results.

The film has problems-lots of problems.

The first problem is that the film takes an agonizing 25 minutes to get going. It is a painful 25 minutes as Gerard Butler gets ready for a baby, ponders his resignation and slowly makes his way to London. Its awful.

The second problem is the terrorist plot is so huge and so involved it basically would involve every cop in London. Once everything starts every cop seems to be bad, every one on the street other than a small crew is a crazy killer. Really? Even assuming it was possible that the bad guy could have all the bad cops right where he needed them it is impossible to fathom. Additionally ludicrous is the notion that they could plan it and get them in position with two years planning.

Yea I know I shouldn't be thinking about it - but there are so many other plot points that make no sense you can't help but notice it.

On the other hand once you  get 25 minutes in the film explodes with action. As a film full of over the top motion the film is great. Yea it makes no sense but it if you keep your brain in the dish by the door its a lot of fun...

I hate the plot of the film but I love the action.

Where does that leave the recommendation?

If you come in 30 minutes in and just go with the bullet ballet its worth it...if you need logic and reason then stay the hell away

Friday, May 26, 2017

Seoul Station hits iTunes Tuesday

They ran SEOUL STATION in a late night slot at the New York Asian Film Festival and it provoked two reactions. The first was nervous laughter from those in the audience who couldn’t see animation as anything other than something to entertain kids or tell jokes. The other, more pervasive, reaction was a deep dark sense of unease and dread not to mention a feeling that the film was extremely “f-ed” up. Ultimately it was a film that everyone who was there shamed those who weren’t with talk that they should have been there.

The feeling that people should have been there was intensified when Yeon Sang-ho next film the epic zombie mega hit TRAIN TO BUSAN hit theaters and stayed there for months, literally. Suddenly everyone wanted to know what he had done before and was shocked that the animated SEOUL STATION was the film before it. Everyone had to know how the films related to each other and in many circles there was a mad quest to track down copies of the film.

And now, some 11 months after the film played the New York Asian Film Festival SEOUL STATION is hitting iTunes. Knowing that everyone who saw and loved TRAIN TO BUSAN was going to be rushing to see the first film I decided to revisit the film in case my review needed to be updated.

While I’m not going to update my original review, which follows, I do want to say a couple of things.

First despite the way it’s being touted by fans and the releasing company, SEOUL STATION is not really a prequel to TRAIN TO BUSAN. While it came out first the films do not lead into each other. If anything BUSAN should be seen as the first film since it explains how it all starts where SEOUL STATION is simply one event happening at the same time, more or less. I’ve heard that director Sang-ho said that the two films are not really related and that the fact that they are both zombie films was just happenstance relating to his wanting to tell two stories set against similar backgrounds. I'm not sure it's true, but it kind of makes sense since the two films are ultimately different.

The next thing I wanted to say is that don’t let the animation get in the way of your enjoying SEOUL STATION’s story. Just think of it as a damn good horror film. While there is no doubt that it could have been told live action, the scale of some sequences would have made it cost prohibitive. Yes they could have used computers like in Train to Busan, but the scale here is bigger. Animation made it possible to tell the story the way it should be told.

Lastly realize that the film is not about zombies. The plot is really a different kind of story that’s set during a time of monsters. I know the ending bothered some people who saw it last year and I’m guessing that is going to be the case again now that it can be widely seen. Sang-ho is simply using the tropes of horror to tell the story of a search.

Ultimately take SEOUL STATION on its own terms and if you do that I think you’ll like it. For me it was one of the best films I saw in 2016, which is as high a rave as I can give.

Here now is the review I ran right after SEOUL STATION blew me away last June.

Numerous story lines collide- an old guy with a neck wound wanders back into the city and his "brother" attempts to find medical help for him. A young woman has trouble with her boyfriend who wants to pimp her out via the internet. Meanwhile a father looks for his missing daughter. Elsewhere in and around the Seoul Station various homeless people cope with the late night. Everyone wants to settle in for the night - except that the old guy isn't just wounded but carrying the infection that will begin the outbreak of a condition that will see the dead rise and attack the living.

An absolute rarity in the zombie genre, a film with honest to god characters. Not only that its a zombie film with real scares. And its animated.

Normally I hate the zombie genre. I mean I HATE IT, so when I tell you SEOUL STATION IS really good believe me, this is REALLY GOOD. Actually it's quite amazing especially since the zombie film has been so badly raped by lazy hacks and would be comediennes that that to me the genre is pretty much worthless (do not get me started about WALKING DEAD). Yes we'd occasionally get a good film but it as always buried in the middle of 25 turds.. this is one of the best I've seen in years, decades if you want a straight on balls to the wall horror film as opposed to something like MAGGIE or MISS ZOMBIE which use the tropes for other purposes.

SEOUL STATION works for two reasons. First is the characters. Pretty much everyone is a real person. If they aren't a full fleshed out person then we have enough to think there is more to them than just being a cardboard cut out. We car about the people- even the ones we don't like.

The second reason the film works is that the film is set at the start of an outbreak. The characters don't know what is happening so their panic feeds our panic. We don't know the rules because no one knows whats happening so they haven't figured them out. The hordes are not your typical zombie masses but something else. They are fast but clumsy, they fall down a lot. While there is little doubt that they are in a direct line to the George Romero ones, a head shot is needed to kill them and the film riffs his DAWN OF THE DEAD, there are enough differences that it keeps things interesting. It also allows for some scary funny moments as we can't always be sure if someone infected or not. Best of all it feels real and you get the sense that this is how is would probably go (the governmental response is just as chilling as the zombies).

I was scared and on the edge of my seat for most of the film.

And do I really need to mention the social commentary that runs rampant but unobtrusively all through the film? And when you consider this was made by Yeon Sang-ho who made the bleakly depressing KING OF PIGS you can be sure its not a happy film.

One of the best films at NYAFF and one of the best horror films of 2016. A must see.

SEOUL STATION hits iTunes Tuesday and can be purchased here

Philip K. Dick ’17: The Ningyo (pilot)

According to legend, the ningyo is sort of like a Japanese mermaid, but if true, the lore surrounding the mythical beast holds much more dramatic implications. Supposedly, those who eat ningyo flesh will extend their longevity by centuries. However, the death of a ningyo will raise great storms and natural disasters to plague the nation of Japan. Therefore, it logically follows some people will be desperately looking for the ningyo, while others are determined to keep them undiscovered. A crypto-zoologist finds himself caught between two such factions in Miguel Ortega & Tran Ma’s independent pilot, The Ningyo, which screens during this year’s Philip K. Dick Film Festival.

In this steampunky alternate 1911, Prof. C. Marlowe discovered the okapi in Africa, but his obsessive quest for the ningyo does not sit well with his museum or their donors. Even though the ancient map he recovered could be considered evidence, they just want Marlowe to shut up and go away. Yet, that map must be legit, because both the Bikuni clan and the shadowy H. Prestor Sealous want it, for very different reasons. Spurned by his colleagues, Marlowe agrees to a face-to-face with the latter, but there is no guarantee he will survive the trek to the creature-collector’s subterranean lair.

It is really amazing how fully Ortega and Ma realize the feeling and texture of a steampunk world, relying more on inspiration and creativity than things like cash. In contrast, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on films like The Wild, Wild West and The Golden Compass that look flat and pale in comparison.

Ortega and Ma also clearly know their ningyo lore, as well as their late Nineteenth Century/early Twentieth Century science fiction and adventure literature, visual allusions to which are sprinkled throughout the pilot/proof-of-concept short. Yet, we feel safe in assuming their first love is creating creatures, because there are a bunch of them in The Ningyo. Arguably, Sealous’s secret showroom ranks up there with Mos Eisley in the original Star Wars for the high number of invented species per capita.

As if that were not enough, cult film and television fans will definitely dig the cast, which includes Tamlyn Tomita (from The Karate Kid II and Awesome Asian Bad Guys) lending her elegant gravitas to the project as mysterious matriarch Kiyohime Bikuni, Louis Ozawa Changchien (recurring on The Man in the High Castle) personifying steeliness as the enforcer, Hatori Bikuni, and Jerry Lacy (from the original Dark Shadows) reveling in villainy as the evil Sealous. As Marlowe, Rodrigo Lopresti (a.k.a. The Hermit) also has a firm handle on brooding and scientific mumbo jumbo.

The Ningyo looks amazing and it is wildly fun to watch. However, since Marlowe is essentially a Gilded Age Indiana Jones, it should come as no surprise the pilot ends with a cliffhanger. Presumably, that will be true for all subsequent episodes, which just feels right for this kind of steampunk adventure genre. Anyone who sees the Ningyo pilot will hope to see the full series get produced soon. (Is anyone from Netflix or Amazon Studios free Sunday morning?) Regardless, it is just invigorating for genre fans to dive into such a richly crafted world. Very highly recommended, The Ningyo screens this Sunday (5/28) at the Soho Playhouse, as part of the Philip K. Dick Film Festival’s Fantasy and the Fantastic shorts block.

A Study in Terror (1965)

I have no idea how many times Sherlock Holmes has battled Jack the Ripper over the years but here he is at it again, and in brilliant color to boot. I mention the color since the film, coming as films were rapidly being only made in color, takes great pleasure in showing us the colorful world of Victorian London and White Chapel in particular. Its a very 1960's sort of thing to do, as is the use of bongos on the soundtrack. Neither of these things really hurt the films plotting, but they do place it in a reality that could only be an English film studio in the 1960's. There's a feeling attached to many non-Hammer English films of the period that the producers were trying to give you something you couldn't get at home on a black and white TV, namely color. This need to show off detracts from what is a good thriller.

The plotting of Holmes attempt to solve the Ripper killings is reasonably well done. The hows and whys of the killings are interesting, however I have to say that I find that they are not as well done as in Murder by Decree, which is one of my favorite films (Holmes or otherwise.) For this reason I have some reservations, which are purely personal and should not stop you from at least watching this good movie.

John Neville as Holmes gives a very human portrait of a man of both mind and action, doing what ever it is to get the case solved. His relationship with Watson is pretty much as equals, something that is missing from most Holmes films which present the Holmes/Watson relationship in such away as to make you wonder why they are friends. I like that you can understand why they are together.

Over all, a good little movie, though as I said it suffers by comparison.

Thursday, May 25, 2017


June 8 – July 2, 2017

New York, New York, May 25, 2017— Museum of the Moving Image will present a screening series from June 8 through July 2 to mark the 15th anniversary of Film Movement, the pioneering New York–based film distributor of independent and foreign films. The series, Film Movement: A 15th Anniversary Celebration, includes fifteen features and a number of shorts, ranging from films by established directors Takeshi Kitano, Marleen Gorris, and Eric Rohmer; to Film Movement’s first Academy Award®–nominated film Theeb by Naji Abu Nowar; Maren Ade’s (Tony Erdrmann) first feature The Forest for the Trees; and a range of films from Italy, Argentina, and Mexico. The selections celebrate the vitality and vision of a company that has brought so much great cinema to North American audiences.

“With an innovative distribution strategy including theatrical runs and a film-of-the-month club, and a library of new films from the international festival circuit and classics by established directors, Film Movement plays a vital cultural role in introducing the best in global cinema to American audiences,” said Chief Curator David Schwartz. “We are pleased to present this series to celebrate the company’s fifteen anniversary.”

Michael E. Rosenberg, President of Film Movement, said, “Film Movement is thrilled and honored by this anniversary program at Museum of the Moving Image. The series reflects the intense care shown by David Schwartz and his team at this iconic New York cultural institution in selecting titles that truly reflect the vision of our company.”

Film Movement: A 15th Anniversary Celebration opens on Thursday, June 8, with In Between, an energetic and distinctly modern dramedy by the Palestinian director Maysaloun Hamoud, who will receive the Young Talents award at Cannes this year from Isabelle Huppert. In Between’s producer Shlomi Elkabetz (Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem) will introduce the screening in person and the film is scheduled to open theatrically at the end of the year. The series continues with Takeshi Kitano’s second feature Boiling Point; Naji Abu Nowar’s Academy Award®-nominated “Bedouin Western” Theeb; Pedro González-Rubio’s narrative documentary hybrid Alamar, Eric Rohmer’s ‘80s classic Full Moon in Paris; Alice Rohrwacher’s gritty exploration of Italian Catholicism, Corpo Celeste; Papirosen, Gastón Solnicki’s intimate portrait of multiple generations of his own family in Argentina; Wolf Gremm’s Kamikaze ’89, featuring the legendary director Rainer Werner Fassbinder in his final acting role; Human Capital, Paolo Virzi’s adaptation of Stephen Amidon’s acclaimed novel; Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke’s dreamy, mesmerizing Lake Tahoe; Toni Erdmann director Maren Ade’s debut feature, The Forest for the Trees; Argentine director Lucia Puenzo’s XXY, a delicate tale of sexuality and identity; Marleen Gorris’s Academy Award®Foreign Language Film winner Antonia’s Line; Shane Meadow’s English coming-of-age tale Somers Town; and a closing film, to be announced. See below for schedule and descriptions or visit

Sponsors for Film Movement: A 15th Anniversary Celebration include Deluxe, The ADS Group, Kobrand Corporation, and Bounce Creative Group.

About Film Movement
Celebrating its 15th year, Film Movement is a North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign films based in New York City. Film Movement has released more than 250 feature films and shorts culled from prestigious film festivals worldwide, and last year it had its first Academy Award®-nominated film, Naji Abu Nowar’s Theeb. Film Movement’s theatrical distribution strategy has evolved to include promising American independent films, documentaries, and an even stronger slate of foreign art house titles. Its catalog includes titles by directors such as Hirokazu Kore-eda, Maren Ade, Jessica Hausner, Andrei Konchalovsky, Andrzej Wajda, Diane Kurys, Ciro Guerra, and Melanie Laurent. In 2015, Film Movement launched its reissue label Film Movement Classics, featuring new restorations released theatrically as well as on Blu-ray and DVD, including films by such noted directors as Eric Rohmer, Peter Greenaway, Bille August, Marleen Gorris, Takeshi Kitano, Arturo Ripstein, and Ettore Scola. For more information, please visit

Unless otherwise noted, tickets are $15 adults (ages 18+), $11 (Standard museum members, seniors and students), $7 youth (ages 3–17), free or discounted for Museum members. Advance tickets are available online at Ticket purchase includes same-day admission to Museum galleries.

In Between (Bar Bahar)
With producer Shlomi Elkabetz in person
Dir. Maysaloun Hamoud. Israel. 2016, 103 mins. DCP. With Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh, Shaden Kanboura. A lively and distinctly modern dramedy by the Arab-Israeli female director Maysaloun Hamoud, In Between follows three women who live together in the vibrant heart of Tel Aviv. Lalia, a criminal lawyer with a wicked wit, loves to burn off her workday stress in the underground club scene. Salma, slightly more subdued, is a DJ and bartender. Nur is a young, observant Muslim woman who moves into their apartment to study at the local university. A visit by Nur’s conservative fiancé sets off a complicated tangle of conflicts between tradition and modernity, citizenship and culture, fealty and freedom.

Boiling Point (3-4 x Jugatsu)
FRIDAY, JUNE 9. 7:30 P.M.
Dir. Takeshi Kitano. Japan. 1990, 97 mins. 35mm. With Takeshi Kitano, Yurei Yanagi, Yuriko Ishida. In Japanese with English subtitles. In his second film, action auteur Takeshi “Beat” Kitano shows his masterful ability to blend drama and hilarity. An unlucky gas station attendant belongs to a losing junior baseball team whose coach has been captured by the local yakuza. The attendant and a friend travel to Okinawa seeking revenge; instead they tumble into a crazy night of karaoke, sex, gun dealing, and flower gathering, with Kitano in top form playing a mercurial gangster.

SATURDAY, JUNE 10, 2:00 P.M.
Dir. Naji Abu Nowar. Jordan. 2014, 100 mins. DCP. With Jacir Eid, Hassan Mutlag, Hussein Salameh. In Arabic with English subtitles. Nominated for the 2016 Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film. Naji Abu Nowar’s powerful and assured directorial debut, set in the land of Lawrence of Arabia, is a wondrous and riveting “Bedouin Western” about a boy who, in order to survive, must grow up fast. In 1916, while war rages in the Ottoman Empire, Hussein raises his younger brother Theeb (“Wolf”) in a traditional desert community. The brothers’ quiet existence is suddenly interrupted when a British Army officer and his guide ask Hussein to escort them to a well located along the pilgrimage route to Mecca. Hussein agrees, and Theeb chases after his brother. The group is soon trapped amidst threatening terrain riddled with Ottoman mercenaries, Arab revolutionaries, and outcast Bedouin raiders.

SATURDAY, JUNE 10, 4:15 P.M.
Dir. Pedro González-Rubio. Mexico. 2009, 73 mins. 35mm. With Jorge Machado, Natan Machado Palombini. In Spanish and Italian with English subtitles. In this “luminous semi-documentary film” (The New York Times), Jorge has only a few weeks with his five-year-old son Natan who is going to live with his mother in Rome. Intent on teaching Natan about their Mayan heritage, Jorge takes him to the pristine Chinchorro reef, and eases him into the rhythms of a fisherman's life. This lovely film observes the growing bonds between father and son, and between Natan and nature. Preceded by Ground Floor (Dir. Asya Aizenstein, Israel. 2015, 3 mins.)

Full Moon in Paris (Les nuits de la pleine lune)
SATURDAY, JUNE 10, 6:30 P.M.
Dir. Eric Rohmer. France. 1984, 103 mins. 35mm. With Pascale Ogier, Tchéky Karyo, Fabrice Luchini, Virginie Thévenet. In French with English subtitles. New York Times critic Vincent Canby called Eric Rohmer's Full Moon in Paris “a small masterpiece,” adding “it is small only in its scope, which focuses exclusively on one wonderfully headstrong, positive young woman and her pursuit of an impossible goal.” The late, luminous Pascale Ogier plays Louise, a young interior designer who is bored with the sleepy suburbs and her live-in boyfriend, and arranges to move back into her Paris apartment during the week. Balancing a steady boyfriend in the suburbs with a best friend, Octave (Fabrice Luchini), who makes plain his interest in her, and a bad-boy musician who catches her eye at a party, Louise tries to manage her tangled life in Rohmer’s modern, wry observation of youth and love. Preceded by Finale (Dir. Balázs Simonyi, Hungary, 2011, 8 mins.)

Corpo Celeste
SUNDAY, JUNE 11, 2:30 P.M.
Dir. Alice Rohrwacher. Italy. 2011, 100 mins. Digital projection. With Yle Vianello, Salvatore Cantaloupo, Pasqualina Scuncia. In Italian with English subtitles. Having recently returned to her native Italy after ten years away, the quiet but curious thirteen-year-old Marta is left to her own devices while her loving but worn-out mother works at an industrial bakery. Marta's only source of social outlet is the local church, where she is told to attend preparatory classes for her confirmation. But the doctrines of Roman Catholicism offer little in terms of life lessons or consolation, and Marta must forge her very own way of the cross. In her debut film, Rohrwacher updates the tradition of Neorealism, with her own poetic naturalism.

SUNDAY, JUNE 11, 4:30 P.M.
Dir. Gastón Solnicki. Argentina. 2011, 74 mins. Digital projection. In Spanish with English subtitles. Fashioning nearly 200 hours of footage shot over a decade into a family portrait at once epic and intimate, the young Argentinian filmmaker Gastón Solnicki (whose previous film was the music documentary Suden) elevates the home movie to an art. Four generations of his Buenos Aires clan are captured on vacations and at family gatherings, as well as in small everyday moments. Digging into the family archives (vintage 8mm footage, a video recording of a bar mitzvah) and incorporating the musings of his grandmother, Pola, a Holocaust survivor, Solnicki crafts a deeply affecting meditation on the meaning of family and the weight of history. Preceded by Aĭssa (Dir. Clément Tréhin-Lalanne, France, 2013, 8 mins.)

Kamikaze ‘89
FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 7:30 P.M.
Dir. Wolf Gremm. Germany. 1982, 106 mins. Digital projection. With Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Gunther Kaufmann. In German with English subtitles. In his final acting role, legendary director Rainer Werner Fassbinder (clad in an iconic leopard-skin suit) stars as the hardboiled detective Jansen. In a neon-drenched futuristic dystopia ruled by a multimedia conglomerate called The Combine, Jansen is sent on a labyrinthine investigation when their headquarters is threatened with mass destruction by a phantom bomber. This essential cult classic features a hypnotic electronic score by Tangerine Dream’s Edward Froese as well as gleefully mind-bending production design. Preceded by The Gunfighter (Dir. Eric Kissack, U.S., 2014, 9 mins. Narrated by Nick Offerman.)

Human Capital (Il capitale umano)
SATURDAY, JUNE 17, 4:00 P.M.
Dir. Paolo Virzì. Italy. 2014, 110 mins. Digital projection. With Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Valeria Golino, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. In Italian with English subtitles. Paolo Virzì’s adaptation of Stephen Amidon’s acclaimed novel is a riveting and stylish modern day morality tale of class, greed and desire. With a lavish home and beautiful wife, hedge-fund manager Giovanni Bernaschi seemingly has it all. Meanwhile, real estate agent Dino Ossala struggles to maintain his family’s middle-class existence and faces even worse financial straits when his wife announces that she is pregnant with twins. Dino tries to leverage his daughter’s relationship with Giovanni’s son, and the destinies of both families become intertwined in surprising ways. Preceded by Job Interview (Dir. Julia Walter, Germany, 2013, 10 mins.)

Lake Tahoe
SUNDAY, JUNE 18, 2:00 P.M.
Dir. Fernando Eimbcke. Mexico. 2008, 81 mins. 35mm. With Diego Cataño, Hector Herrera, Daniela Valentine. In Spanish with English subtitles. Teenage Juan crashes his family’s car into a telegraph pole on the outskirts of town, and then scours the streets searching for someone to help him fix it. His quest will bring him to Don Heber, an old paranoid mechanic whose only companion is Sica, his almost human boxer dog; to Lucía, a young mother who is convinced that her real place in life is as a lead singer in a punk band; and to “The One who Knows,” a teenage mechanic obsessed with martial arts and kung fu philosophy. The second feature from the talented Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke (Duck Season, Club Sandwich), Lake Tahoe is a dreamy, mesmerizing film about death, family, love and sex. Preceded by Driving Lessons (Dir. Elodie Lélu, Belgium, 2012, 12 mins.)

The Forest for the Trees (Der Wald vor lauter Bäumen)
SUNDAY, JUNE 18, 4:30 P.M.
Dir. Maren Ade. Germany. 2003, 81 mins. 35mm. With Eva Lobau, Daniela Holtz. In German with English subtitles. The impressive debut film by Maren Ade (Toni Erdmann) is about Melanie Pröschle, an awkward and idealistic young teacher from the countryside, who starts her first job at a high school in the city. Although she wants to be a “fresh breeze” at the school, she finds that it is not easy to start a new life, as she copes with loneliness, the inertia of established teachers, and the whims of ninth-grade students. Preceded by House Arrest (Dir. Matthias Sahli, Switzerland, 2015, Switzerland, 13 mins.)

SUNDAY, JUNE 18, 7:00 P.M.
Dir. Lucia Puenzo. Argentina. 2007, 91 mins. 35mm. With Ricardo Darín, Ines Efron, Valerie Bertuccelli. In Spanish with English subtitles. Most adolescents confront tough choices and life decisions, but rarely any as monumental as the one facing fifteen-year-old Alex, who was born an intersex child. As Alex begins to explore her sexuality, her mother invites friends from Buenos Aires to come for a visit at their house on the gorgeous Uruguayan shore. Alex is immediately attracted to a young man, which adds yet another level of complexity to her personal search for identity, and forces both families to face their worst fears.

Antonia’s Line
Dir. Marleen Gorris. Netherlands. 1995, 102 mins. With Willeke van Ammelrooy, Els Dottermans, Dora van der Groen. In Dutch with English subtitles. Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In the aftermath of WWII, strong-willed Antonia returns to her hometown after inheriting her mother's farm. With her free-spirited artist daughter Danielle, they ingratiate themselves into the town’s tight-knit and eccentric community. As the years unfold, love and tragedy come to Antonia and Danielle and the pair foster a vibrant circle of strong, liberated women.

Somers Town
Dir. Shane Meadows. United Kingdom. 2008, 70 mins. 35mm. With Thomas Turgoose, Piotr Jagiello, Elisa Lasowski. The director (Shane Meadows) and star (Thomas Turgoose) of This is England created this wry and captivating coming-of-age tale about two teens, new to London, who forge an unlikely friendship during a hot summer. Marek lets homeless Tomo move into his room, and the pair forms a hilarious bond as they work odd jobs for an eccentric neighbor and compete for the attention of a beautiful young French waitress. Meadows “explores the comic and tragic absurdities of small-town life in a populist, invigorating fashion, moving with swagger and ease from laughs to tears and back again” (Time Out New York). Preceded by So You’ve Grown Attached (Dir. Kate Tsang, U.S., 2014, 15 mins.)

Museum of the Moving Image ( advances the understanding, enjoyment, and appreciation of the art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media. In its stunning facilities—acclaimed for both its accessibility and bold design—the Museum presents exhibitions; screenings of significant works; discussion programs featuring actors, directors, craftspeople, and business leaders; and education programs which serve more than 50,000 students each year. The Museum also houses a significant collection of moving-image artifacts.

Hours: Wednesday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Friday, 10:30 to 8:00 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Museum Admission: $15 adults (18+); $11 senior citizens (65+) and students (18+) with ID; $7 youth (ages 3–17). Children under 3 and Museum members are admitted free. Admission to the galleries is free on Fridays, 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Film Screenings: Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays, and as scheduled. Unless otherwise noted, ticket are $15 adults / $11 seniors and students / $7 youth 3–17 / Free for members at the Film Lover and Kids Premium levels and above. Advance purchase is available online. Ticket purchase may be applied toward same-day admission to the Museum’s galleries.
Location: 36-01 35 Avenue (at 37 Street) in Astoria.
Subway: M (weekdays only) or R to Steinway Street. W (weekdays only) or N to 36 Avenue.
Program Information: Telephone: 718 777 6888; Website:
Membership: or 718 777 6877

Museum of the Moving Image is housed in a building owned by the City of New York and has received significant support from the following public agencies: New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York City Economic Development Corporation; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; Institute of Museum and Library Services; National Endowment for the Humanities; National Endowment for the Arts; and Natural Heritage Trust (administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation). For more information, please visit

Spirit Game: Pride of a Nation

Everyone readily concedes the game of lacrosse was invented by the Haudenosaunee, also referred to as the Iroquois and Six Nations. However, it seems like Canadians will go out of their way to take credit for indoor “box lacrosse.” It’s the same basic rules and equipment, but with a roof. Wow, how did they ever come up with that? Not surprisingly, the Iroquois (as their jerseys self-identify) and Canadian national teams are natural rivals in World Indoor Lacrosse Championship (WLIC) competitions. Peter Spirer and Peter Baxter chronicle the development of the Iroquois national team and their bid for glory at the 2015 WLIC tournament in Spirit Game: Pride of a Nation, which opens this Friday in Los Angeles.

Iroquois homes throughout Upstate New York and Ontario are just like their neighbors, except there very well might be a lacrosse goal in the backyard. The game has always been a source of national pride, so it is not surprising the Iroquois are disproportionately represented among professional lacrosse players. Still, when WLIC decided to recognize the Iroquois national team, it was obviously a hugely significant decision.

It was also a big deal when the Haudenosaunee hosted the 2015 tourney (at the Syracuse stadium). Unfortunately, the Iroquois missed the previous championship, because the UK refused to recognize their tribal passports and the Iroquois refused to travel under official U.S. documents. When acting as hosts, they made it clear they hoped each team would go through the ceremony of having their passports stamped at the tribal offices. We’re pleased to report the American and Israeli teams were happy to oblige, with the proper spirit. In fact, the only team to snub the passport ritual was Team Canada.

Lacrosse is a fast-paced, action-packed game, but it does not get a heck of a lot of sports media attention, so it is fascinating to watch a behind-the-scenes peak into tournament play, especially from the underdog perspective of the Iroquois. Although scrupulously multicultural in their approach, Spirer and Baxter mostly take a straight-forward reportorial approach, with one notable exception. They really, really seem to dislike Dean French, the arrogant chairman of the Canadian national team, because they do their best to make him look like a fool and a blowhard. Towards that end, they get no shortage of assistance from Dean French, the tone-deaf chairman of the Canadian national team.

Arguably, the film veers a little too far out of bounds when it focused on attempts of Haudenosaunee leaders to start a dialogue with Pope Francis of the “Doctrine of Discovery” during his visit to America. Not surprisingly, Spirit Game is much more effective as a sports doc than as another piece of advocacy journalism. Recommended for sports fans of all WLIC member nations, except Canada, Spirit Game: Pride of a Nation opens this Friday (5/26) in Los Angeles, at the Arena Cinelounge Sunset Park.

Armored (2009)

New guy at an armored car company gets talked into becoming involved in an armored car heist by his fellow drivers in order to score some quick cash. The problem is that they really don't have much of a plan and when complications arise things turn deadly.

Fast moving popcorn action film has a great deal going with it. First off the film is under 90 minutes so the film doesn't really have the time to bog down in plot. It cranks everything up and just goes. Next the film has some great action sequences so one moves towards the edge of ones seat. Lastly the film has a stellar cast that include Matt Dillon, Jean Reno and Lawrence Fishburne. Its a first rate cast that sells and covers over the stories short comings.

This isn't brain surgery its a popcorn movie and on that level it scores highly. Worth a look.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Long Strange Trip: The Grateful Dead in Four Hours

The Grateful Dead were an anomaly. They were hippies with work ethics. While the band was intact, they played an estimated 2,350 live gigs—an officially recognized Guinness World’s Record. Of course, that life on the road took a toll. The surviving band members look back on the music and the entire madcap phenomenon in Amir Bar-Lev’s four-hour documentary-palooza Long Strange Trip, which opens this Friday in New York.

The Grateful Dead was one of the few bands whose members even casual listeners could name—at least as far as lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, and maybe percussionist Mickey Hart. The true blues could also easily rattle off the names of bassist Phil Lesh, drummer Bill Kreutmann, and the late keyboarder player, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. The Dead were unusual in many ways, one being they considered their regular lyricists John Perry Barlow and Robert Hunter to be members of the band. They processed a rich gumbo of styles, including bluegrass from Garcia, jazz and avant-garde music from Lesh, and the blues from McKernan, synthesizing it into the original rock & roll jam band.

As Joe Smith, the former president of Warner Bros. Records readily attests, marketing the undisciplined Dead was a challenge in the early days. They racked up an enormous debt to the label by using their initial recording sessions as tutorials in studio production techniques. Of course, it is easy for him to look back and laugh, given the money the label made on the more stripped-down, Americana-influenced Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty albums. In fact, it is rather interesting to watch Long Strange and PBS’s American Epic in short succession.

Inevitably, The Dead decided they were much more of a live band than a recording act. Essentially, they subscribed to a jazz-like ethos that every set should be different, with no predetermined set lists. Yet, the very unpredictability and in-the-moment nature of Dead shows gave rise to a culture of bootleg “Tapers,” who religiously documented every set, eventually with the band’s officially blessing.

Initially, Long Strange is a bit unfocused, but the film locks in when the band really starts to establish its identity. Frankly, the participating band alumni (including Barlow and back-up singer Donna Jane Godchaux) are all quite forthcoming about the band’s excesses and tragedies. Weir and his co-founding members admit they let McKernan feel too isolated within the band. They tried not to make the same mistake with Garcia in the mid-1990s, but it seems the iconic musician just didn’t want to be helped. However, when it comes to from-the-hip reminiscing, nobody can top the Dead’s former road manager, Sam Cutler. He was only with the band during the years of 1970-1974, but what long, strange years they were.

In fact, Bar-Lev consistently exposes the darkness lurking just below the hippy-dippy Deadhead experience. Frankly, much of the film serves as a cautionary warning against drug abuse and the increasingly intrusive idolatry of fans. He also gets a rare glimpse of the notoriously interview-averse Hunter, but no sound-bites.

At four hours and two minutes, Long Strange runs about half an hour longer than executive producer Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living in the Material World. Yet, jazz fans will be frustrated Bar-Lev never found time for Ornette Coleman, Merl Saunders, and Bruce Hornsby, all of whom notably collaborated with the band. It also seems strange he left out the Dead’s involvement with The New Twilight Zone, because it would have fit nicely with Garcia’s fascination with the Universal Frankenstein movies, which Bar-Lev uses as a recurring motif.

Still, the film has a good handle on what made the Dead and their music so successful. It vividly evokes the tenor of their successive eras, without idealizing any of them. Bar-Lev really makes the case they were the quintessential American rock band of the Twentieth Century. Recommended for serious Deadheads and causal listeners curious enough to invest four hours, Long Strange Trip opens this Friday (5/26) in New York, at the IFC Center.

Apocalypto (2006)

Epic adventure on a grand scale. Mad Mel has made a great adventure film, who's subtitles will keep away a core audience.(Though I guess the idea of the vernacular coming from Indians would have been laughable) The plot has an Indian village raided by the Mayan city. The survivors are carted off for sacrifice (though Jaguar paws wife and children successfully hide in a well.) In the city that are brought to the temple for sacrifice but when they aren't needed, they are "turned loose" and used as moving targets. Jaguar Paw escapes and his flight becomes a fight to elude his pursuers and to get back to his family.

Its violent, but thats the nature of the story and not necessarily a condemnation of the Maya.(Anyone taking offense at the portrayals of the society should keep in mind this is a look at the city on one day at one brief moment of time) While bits of the story have been been there done that (Naked Prey?), the characters and the sense of place and being somewhere for the first time short circuit any real notion of cliché.

This is grand story telling that was a good reason to get to bed really late

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Women's Balcony (2016)

When the women's balcony at the local temple collapses injuring the rabbi's wife the community is left is chaos. The rabbi is heartbroken so there is no one to either lead the prayers nor over see the restoration of their spiritual home. Soon everything seems to be fine when a young rabbi agrees to step in, however his ultra orthodox ways collide with the more liberal ways of the congregation leading to culture clash when the women are pushed out of the temple.

While some of the big details may not ring true for all religions or cultures, this charming comedy drama survives in the small details that echo across cultures, from something as simple as a label stuck on a new dress to the boy at the center of the "tragedy" saying it's all his fault since he wanted a way out, to the funny way the human heart works and pretty much every thing else THE WOMEN"S BALCONY is a sweet little film. This a story about people and we are all the same even if the names are different.

I don't know what else to tell you other than this small little gem of a film is definitely worth your time and money

Monday, May 22, 2017

Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower hits Netflix and theaters Friday

With JOSHUA: TEENAGER VS SUPERPOWER starting on Netflix and in theaters Friday  I'm reposting JB's review from Sundance

A teenager should not feel personally responsible for saving his homeland’s values and way of life, but this is the role Joshua Wong has voluntarily assumed. As the founder of the student activist society Scholarism, Wong has challenged the Mainland Communist Party’s plans to impose Party indoctrination in Hong Kong schools and its relentless efforts to undermine the “One China Two Systems” promise of HK democracy. Viewers will see what genuine democracy protests look like and how perilously high the stakes can in Joe Piscatella’s documentary Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower, which screens during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

To promote obedience, the Education Bureau of Hong Kong proposed, at the Mainland Party’s behest, the ominous sounding Moral and National Education (MNE) curriculum, which was essentially Communist propaganda combined with criticisms of democratic forms of government. In response, the not quite fifteen-year-old Wong founded Scholarism and began coordinating a campaign of protests and outreach. Rather remarkably, the Mainland’s dedicated servant HK Chief Executive CY Leung gave a bit of ground, making the MNE curriculum voluntary, at each school’s discretion.

Ironically, the partial MNE victory may have given Wong and Scholarism too much faith the Mainland’s political puppets would listen to reason when presented with the overwhelming will of the people. Tragically, that would not be the case during the 2014 Umbrella Protests.

To say the Western media’s coverage of the 2014 demonstrations was inadequate would be a gross understatement. Frankly, Piscatella’s documentary is crucially valuable just for its lucid step-by-step chronicle of the Umbrella movement—so named because the demonstrators (the vast majority of whom were high school and college students) deployed umbrellas to combat police tear gas. For 79 days, the students hung tough—and when the police shock troops started using military-style tactics against them, the normally rail-thin Wong launched a dangerous hunger strike.

As in Chan Tze-woon’s more verite (but equally valuable) Yellowing, the one thing that immediately strikes viewers of Teenager is just how shockingly young Wong and his Scholarism colleagues look. Both films will make you wish you could travel back in time to the Admiralty and Mong Kok to protect them. What is nearly as significant in Teenager is how explicitly and ardently Wong and his classmates identify as Hong Kongers, not Chinese.

Piscatella follows a pretty standard documentary playbook, utilizing media footage and talking head interviews. However, many of his commentators are unusually insightful and honest in their analysis, such as the journalist who describes the current Beijing-Leung strategy as the shrinkage of One China-Two Systems to One China-1.9 Systems and then to 1.8 Systems, and so on.

Even though everyone really ought to know how the Umbrella Demonstrations turned out, viewers will still get caught up in Teenager’s narrative. It is a highly compelling, emotionally involving film by any standards. There is no false optimism, but Piscatella leaves the audience with some hope, once Wong explains how he and his fellow activists have learned from the mistakes of 2014. If you want to protest, protest Xi Jinping and CY Leung (frankly, this film could very well be why the festival was hacked). If you want to see a great doc, make every effort to see Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower when it theater screens  and Netflix starting Friday

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Nightcap 5/21/17 The Philip K Dick Film Festival starts Thursday and Randi's links

The Philip K Dick Film Festival starts Thursday and runs through the holiday weekend at various locations through the Holiday weekend. It’s a lot of mind bending films that are sure to get your grey cells churning. I’m still working out coverage- there are panels I want to attend- so check back to see what we’ve managed to see.

To get tickets and for more information go here
Randi's links

comic collages
Stock Footage :Comic Industry
Batman Dept of Labor Stock Footage
Star Wars Toy commercials
Vintage Lego Commercial
Board Games come to life
Dare to Be Different Premiere photos
David Hasselhoff raps
Work it
Dirty Sock Fun TIme Band
Custom Lego

Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan

RESTLESS CREATURE is a portrait of ballerina Wendy Whalen, who after30 years with the New York City Ballet decides to call it quits and move on.  We watch as she deals with the damage her body has suffered, she plans her farewell and tries to figure out what to do next.

One of the best of the flood of  recent ballet related docs, RESTLESS CREATURE is a portrait of a woman trying to figure out where life is going to take her. Beautifully filmed is a rare bird in ballet films  which not only makes a non-ballet fan understand not only how good Whalen is but also appreciate the dancing. I can't tell you how many dance films I see where  the director keeps everything so inside that unless you're a fan going in you won't have a clue as to what is going on. That is not the case here and directors Adam Schlesinger and Linda Saffire have made a film that has me wanting to go see Whalen dance when she comes to town.

I don't know what to say other than I highly recommend the film when it opens in theaters starting May 24th in New York and June 9th in LA.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Anamorph (2008)

Willem Dafoe is a troubled detective who is now teaching at the police academy. Years earlier he helped solve a series of murders that were laid out like works of art...especially when seen from a specific location. When a frisky couple knock into a door in their building they unknowingly step into a crime scene that once again has echoes to the earlier case. Dafoe is called in to take a look and it soon becomes clear that the killer is intent on bringing him into his ghoulish works or art.

I want to say this is Saw for the art set, but its not quite that. To be certain the murders are gruesome and very clever, but this film aspires to be more than a catalog of death and destruction. For the most part this is a good little thriller about a troubled man searching for a unique killer that he doesn't want to deal with since its opening too many doors he wants to keep closed (Dafoe's character is an odd duck. Points to the filmmakers for giving us a very odd man for a central character). For most of its running time I really enjoyed the film. The problem for me was that the ending didn't really come together. The film ends but it isn't really resolved, which considering how it ends makes sense but left this viewer (and my dad) going, thats it? It was a disappointment.

The real question is is the film worth seeing? Actually yes. The murders are unique and the film keeps Dafoe's character is worth seeing. I don't know if I had paid 11 bucks to see this on the big screen I would have been so forgiving, but on IFC in Theaters on cable it was worth the time.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Angels and Demons (2009)

Based on the book that precedes The DaVinci Code this film follows Robert Langdon as he tries to sort out an evil plot that involves the kidnap and murder of four Cardinals and plot to blow up the Vatican via an anti matter explosion. Once more Langdon has scant hours to unlock the secrets of the mystery and save the lives of the people in Rome.

I really disliked the Da Vinci Code. I found it slow and dull and very silly. This is a better movie that is fast paced, occasionally exciting and very silly.

Okay if you think about the amount of time that they have to unlock the secret of whats going on you'll find its really not possible. Basically all of the events happen in four or five hours and its not enough time. Add to it the fact that what the plot requires is so incredibly laughable that you really can't believe it. I have no doubt that this would work as a book where words can be used to gloss over or redirect the silliness of it all, but as a movie where its stark reality you really can't hide how dumb much of it is. So many times all that needed to happen was for one person to say something obvious then it would all collapse.(I won't even get into the fact that you'd have to be blind not to realize who the bad guy is the minute he walks on screen)

That said its a reasonably enjoyable film.I know that may shock you but there is enough to the story that you may very well get hooked into the tale. Certainly most of the set pieces work unto themselves (with the exception of the incident with the cops and the fountain). There are some incredibly beautiful images (the nature of which I dare not reveal lest I reveal plot points). When the film works and you manage not to think about how dumb much of plot is its actually worth a bucket of popcorn. I and my dad both enjoyed the film on a pure entertainment level. That said I didn't need to pay 11 bucks to see this and think either DVD or cable is the way to go.


NEW YORK, NY (May 4, 2017) - The Greenwich International Film Festival is proud to announce the full film slate and programming for the 3rd annual festival running June 1st- -4th, 2017 in Greenwich, Connecticut. BENDING THE ARC, a documentary about the extraordinary team of doctors and activists whose work thirty years ago to save lives in a rural Haitian village grew into a global battle in the halls of power for the right to health for all, directed by Kief Davidson and Pedro Kos, will open the festival on June 2nd with a special Town Hall Panel Q&A moderated by Barbara Pierce Bush with Ophelia Dahl (Partners in Health), writer/producer Cori Stern, Joia Mukherjee (Partners in Health), and Rifat Latifi M.D. from Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) to discuss the state of global healthcare.

WMCHealth is the presenting sponsor of the opening night film, Bending the Arc and Q&A discussion following the screening.

Other highlights of the festival weekend include:

The Changemaker Awards honoring Christy Turlington Burns for her work with Every Mother Counts and Renee Zellweger for her leadership and support in the search for a cure for ALS.
A performance by Flo Rida at the opening night party on Friday, June 2nd.

The Social Impact Awards with a jury chaired by Actress, Activist and Humanitarian Sophia Bush.
LIVE FROM CONNECTICUT: A Discussion with Saturday Night Live Writers to be moderated by Lorne Manley of The New York Times. Presented by GIFF in partnership with First Republic and WGA-E.

PRODUCING SPORTS: ESPN 30 for 30’s Mike and The Mad Dog screening followed by an insightful panel with sports entertainment leaders Connor Schell, Mark Teixeira, Kyle Martino and moderator in sports Ryen Russillo.

“The Film Review: An Inside Look At the Responsibility of a Film Critic,” moderated by Joe Meyers of the Connecticut Post, featuring Alison Wilmore (Buzzfeed), Richard Lawson (Vanity Fair) and Marshall Fine (General Manager, NYFCC)

“Women Driving ROI Panel in the Film Marketplace,” sponsored by J.P. Morgan.featuring Suzanne Farwell, Producer (Carrie Pilby, It’s Complicated, the Intern, Something’s Gotta Give) and Susan Cartsonis, Producer (The DUFF, Where the Heart Is, What Women Want) and Moderated by: Ruth Ann Harnisch (Lead Investor, Superlative Films, Executive Producer, The Hunting Ground, Unrest).
A Captain Underpants book signing by Dav Pilkey and screening of DreamWorks Animation’s CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE on Thursday, June 1st at 5:00pm.

Post-screening conversations will include a panel on rape culture and sexual assault following the Centerpiece showing of Jessica Thompson’s THE LIGHT OF THE MOON on Saturday, June 3 at 1:00pm at Bow Tie Cinemas in Greenwich. Participating in the Q&A will be Jessica Thompson, film producer Carlos Velayo, lead actress Stephanie Beatriz, and Peg Cafferty (producer, India’s Daughter).

Film highlights including: Centerpiece film, Phillip Baribeau’s CHARGED: THE EDUARDO GARCIA STORY on June 3rd, at 6:30pm at Bow Tie Cinemas in Greenwich. Sophia Kruz’s LITTLE STONES on June 2nd at 3:00pm at Cole Auditorium at Greenwich Library. Beach Rats on June 3rd, at 8:45pm at Bow Tie Cinemas in Greenwich. Dina on June 3rd at 6:15pm at Bow Tie Cinemas in Greenwich. Blame on June 3rd at 3:45pm at Bow Tie Cinemas in Greenwich. Bobbi Jene on June 2nd at 3:30pm at Bow Tie Cinemas in Greenwich. Writer/director Brett Haley’s THE HERO starring Sam Elliot, Nick Offerman and Krysten Ritter on June 3rd at 4:30pm at Bow Tie Cinemas in Greenwich. The Connecticut Shorts Program on June 3 at 3:00pm at Bow Tie Cinemas in Greenwich showcases short films that were either shot in Connecticut or made by a filmmaker from Connecticut. This new category will celebrate local film talent and the beautiful State of Connecticut.

As previously announced, the 3rd annual Changemaker Gala will take place on Thursday, June 1, 2017. The Changemaker Awards honor artists who have used their public platform and the power of film to further positive social change. This year, Renée Zellweger and Christy Turlington Burns, will be honored for their humanitarian work with ALS and Every Mother Counts, respectively. The June 1st Changemaker event, presented by CuisinArt Resorts & Residences and ALS FindingACure, will include a cocktail reception at Betteridge followed by a black tie dinner at L’Escale in Greenwich, CT

Actress, Activist and Humanitarian, Sophia Bush will present the Best Social Impact Film Award at Opening Night Party on Friday June 2nd. This prize will be awarded to one film across all categories that promotes social change and awareness. The films in competition for The Social Impact Prize will be determined by the GIFF team, awarded by the Jury and the prize will have a cash value of $10,000.00 USD. The Social Impact Jury is comprised of actors, activists, philanthropists, and entertainment professionals. The award will be presented to the winning director, during an awards ceremony, where he or she will be presented with a trophy and receive a check.

The Festival will host a special performance open to the public by Flo Rida on Friday, June 2nd. Tickets will go on sale Friday, May 5th, 2017 and will be available for purchase at

About The Greenwich International Film Festival
Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that hosts a world-class film festival in Greenwich, CT. The goal of the Festival is to bridge the worlds of film, finance and philanthropy. The third annual Festival will take place June 1st – 4th, 2017, has a social impact focus, and will benefit charity partners with proceeds. The four-day event will feature a star-studded Opening Night Party, film premieres, engaging panels, a Changemaker Honoree Gala, and more. For additional information, please visit

About Westchester Medical Center Health Network
The Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) is a 1,700-bed healthcare system headquartered in Valhalla, New York, with 10 hospitals on eight campuses spanning 6,200 square miles of the Hudson Valley. WMCHealth employs more than 12,000 people and has nearly 3,000 attending physicians. From Level 1, Level 2 and Pediatric Trauma Centers, the region’s only acute care children’s hospital, an academic medical center, several community hospitals, dozens of specialized institutes and centers, skilled nursing, assisted living facilities, homecare services and one of the largest mental health systems in New York State, today WMCHealth is the pre-eminent provider of integrated healthcare in the Hudson Valley. For more information about WMCHealth, visit


The following panels will take place during the festival.


Festival opens ninth year with KING OF PEKING, screens a stunning 27 features and 55 short films, premieres episodic content and VR component

May 18, 2017 (Long Beach Island, NJ) — The Lighthouse International Film Festival (LIFF) has announced the complete lineup for its ninth annual event, which will take place June 8-11, 2017 on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. The festival will open with Sam Voutas’ acclaimed KING OF PEKING, a rousing Beijing-set love letter to cinema that brought cheering audiences to their feet at Tribeca 2017.

“From the opening frames of KING OF PEKING, I knew that it was special and a film that the LIFF audience will love,” says Lighthouse International Film Festival’s Eric Johnson. “Sam Voutas has made a film that speaks to cinephiles in a unique way, filled with moments that show film’s ability to act as a universal bond, while also telling a terrific story with a ton of heart and laughs. It is punctuated by pitch-perfect turns from his actors and it all comes together to form a sublime way to kick off the 2017 festival. We are thrilled to champion the emergence of one of the most exciting young directors working today by opening with KING OF PEKING.”

KING OF PEKING will open LIFF on June 8th at Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts & Sciences in Loveladies, NJ, with director Sam Voutas participating in a Q&A following the screening.

LIFF will again present both Documentary and Narrative Centerpiece Films, including Jonathan Olshefski’s QUEST as Documentary Centerpiece. A vérité portrait of a North Philadelphia family that was shot over the course of a decade, it tells the tale of Christopher “Quest” Rainey, along with his wife Christine (aka “Ma Quest”). They open the door to their home music studio, which serves as a creative sanctuary from the strife that grips their neighborhood. Over the years, the family evolves as everyday life brings a mix of joy and unexpected crisis. Set against the backdrop of a country now in turmoil, the film is a tender depiction of an American family whose journey is a profound testament to love, healing and hope. QUEST will screen at The Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts & Sciences on June 10th.

The Festival’s Narrative Centerpiece film is FITS AND STARTS, the feature directorial debut of Laura Terruso. The acclaimed comedy stars The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac as a struggling writer who has been toiling away at the same novel for years. His wife (Jennifer Greta Lee) is a hot young literary figure, who has just released a new masterpiece. When her publisher invites the couple to an artists’ salon at his home in Connecticut, the pair embark on a twisted journey, and David must face his demons and try to “not be weird” among the waspy salon guests and competitive art set in attendance. He encounters a dentist with publishing aspirations, a book critic full of condescending advice, a fellow writer who may know his wife a little too well, an old “friend” and a high powered bipolar literary agent who just might be able to help him... for a price. FITS AND STARTS will screen on June 9th at The Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts & Sciences, with Laura Terruso in attendance for a Q&A after the film.

Closing the 2017 Festival will be MISSING IN EUROPE, director Tamar Halpern’s tense new thriller about a cyber security expert visiting Serbia under the guise of attending a conference for work, but is really there to check in on her daughter, Karissa, who has been studying abroad. Their happy reunion is cut short when Karissa and her classmate Lara go clubbing and seemingly disappear into thin air. Sara is certain that her daughter has been abducted. Utilizing a host of hacking skills and following the clues Karissa is leaving behind, she starts to uncover a major sex trafficking ring. Even worse, it seems the local police force is in on it. With nobody to trust but herself, Sara uses every tool at her disposal to locate her daughter before she’s sold to the highest bidder and disappears forever. MISSING IN EUROPE will screen at The Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts & Sciences on June 11th, with director Tamar Halpern on hand for a Q&A afterward.

The Lighthouse International Film Festival is also proud to announce the inclusion of Sundance Jury Winner DINA, the World Premiere of New Jersey-lensed THE OYSTER FARMERS, the Ugandan Wakaliwood actioner BAD BLACK, and its first-ever VR content. Alongside Lighthouse’s thrilling first foray into episodic content - Onur Tukel’s highly-anticipated BLACK MAGIC FOR WHITE BOYS - the festival will also be bringing back its immensely successful “Write By the Beach”, last year’s debut writers’ retreat program for female filmmakers and screenwriters. Designed with a simple mission to foster female voices in independent film, the program will see the Festival bring four female filmmakers and screenwriters to Long Beach Island for a week leading up to and including the Festival, with no obligation except to put work into whatever project they are currently developing. The 2017 Write By The Beach recipient writers will be announced later in May.

Additional talent attending the festival’s 2017 edition include Angela Anderson and Corrine Gray Ruff (THE OYSTER FARMERS), Jody Lambert (BRAVE NEW JERSEY), Lara Stolman (SWIM TEAM), Michael Borowiec and Sam Marine (MAN UNDERGROUND), Michael Clayton (THE DUNNING MAN), Onur Tukel (BLACK MAGIC FOR WHITE BOYS), Rachel Shuman (ONE OCTOBER), Rotem Zissman-Cohen (actress, OUR FATHER), Sandra Luckow (THAT WAY MADNESS LIES), Victoria Negri (GOLD STAR), and Will Rogers (actor, A BAD IDEA GONE WRONG).

Inspired by the historic Barnegat Lighthouse, which has beckoned travelers to LBI since 1859, LIFF has emerged as New Jersey’s leading international film festival. The festival will feature award-winning films from countries around the world, as well as nightly parties and panel discussions.

For full schedule and ticket information on the 2017 festival, visit

King of Peking, Sam Voutas, China

Fits and Starts, Laura Terruso, USA

Quest, Jonathan Olshefski, USA

Missing in Europe, Tamar Halopern, USA


Bad Black, Nabwana I.G.G., Uganda
Dina, Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini, USA
Gaza Surf Club, Philip Gnadt and Mickey Yamine, Germany
Infinity Baby, Bob Byington, USA
The Journey, Nick Hamm, UK
Person to Person, Dustin Guy Defa, USA
The Road Movie, Dimitrii Kalashnikov, Belarus/Russia/Serbia/Bosnia & Herzegovina/Croatia


The seventh annual LESFF, June 8th-15th, 2017, invites all New Yorkers to experience innovative films and specialty nights such as ‘Comedy Night’ presented by Showtime, ‘Mind F*ck Night’, Ladies’ Night Short Films, and more throughout the 8 day festival- plus free wine + beer at all events.

New York, NY -- May 17, 2017 -- The Lower East Side Film Festival directors are proud to announce the festival’s seventh annual opening and closing night films along with the complete festival schedule. Opening Night will feature Michael Angarano’s Avenues on June 8th and Closing Night will feature Aaron Feldman’s Poop Talk as well as Ali Weinsten’s Mermaids on June 15th. The LESFF celebrates the work of creative, up and coming filmmakers, and showcases their films in the heart of NYC’s Lower East Side. Additionally, this year’s schedule features specialty nights, specific to the New York culture and what the city currently loves. This year’s festival judges include Sasheer Zamata (SNL), Jeremy Allen White (Shameless), cinematographer Sam Levy (Frances Ha, Mistress America), Stephen Schneider (Broad City) and Paola Mendoza, Documentary Filmmaker and Artistic Director of The Women’s March, among others.

Specialty nights include, among others, ‘Comedy Night’ presented by SHOWTIME® with a comedy shorts, a premiere of the first two episodes of the new SHOWTIME drama series I’m Dying Up Here, and live standup from Sasheer Zamata (SNL), Judah Friedlander (30 Rock), Jena Friedman (Daily Show with Jon Stewart) and more.‘Mind F*ck Night’ includes short films that festival programmers promise will f*ck with your mind. Ladies’ Night is a series of shorts with strong female characters.

The Opening Night Film will be the New York Premiere of Michael Angarano’s directorial debut film, Avenues, at Sunshine Cinema, June 8th at 8pm. The film stars Michael Angarano himself (The Knick), Nicholas Braun (How To Be Single), Juno Temple (The Dark Knight Rises), Adelaide Clemens (The Great Gatsby), Ari Graynor (Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist) and Maya Kazan (Frances Ha). Written and directed by Angarano, and produced by Michael Sherman, Matthew Perniciaro, Michael Angarano, Elyse Seiden and Jonah Quickmire Pettigrew.

Avenues tells the story of when Peter (Nicholas Braun) arrives in Manhattan to visit his best friend Max (Michael Angarano) and the two go out for a day on the town, hitting the tourist spots and all the while hilariously working through the baggage of their friendship. When they meet two young women, day spills into night and takes an unexpected turn. Angarano creates a portrait of contemporary New York City in his directorial debut that harkens back to the classics of the 1970s and is alive to new possibilities.

The Closing Night Films are: Poop Talk, a World Premiere, and Mermaids, a US Premiere. Closing Night will take place on June 15th at Sunshine Cinema at 6:30pm and 8:30pm, respectively.

Poop Talk is directed by Aaron Feldman and the film’s Executive Producers are Jason and Randy Sklar. The film stars comedians Paul Provenza, Adam Carolla, Nikki Glaser, Paul Scheer, Beth Hoyt, Pete Holmes, Eric Stonestreet and Nick Swardson, as well as media personality Dr. Drew Pinsky, among others. Poop Talk is an uncensored sharing of tales of the taboo that connects us all. We all do it but no one talks about it … or do we? Through the lens of 50 comedians and experts, Poop Talk is an authentic and hysterical exploration into how we as a society deal with poop and what that reveals about who we are.

To close out the 7th Annual fest, Mermaids is directed by Ali Weinstein and produced by Caitlin Durlak with Executive Producer Ronn Mann. A feature documentary about the powerful allure of a universal myth, Mermaids immerses audiences in a world where fantasies come to life. Following the stories of five extraordinary tail-donning women who are part of a growing “mermaiding” subculture, audiences voyage between mermaid theme parks, conventions, tail-making studios, and deep into the ocean where transforming into the empowered icon of the mermaid is possible.

The full 2017 Lower East Film Festival Schedule is as follows:

Thursday, June 8th: Opening Night
Opening Night Film, 8pm, Sunshine Cinema: Avenues
Opening Night Party Presented by Vimeo, 10pm, DROM

Friday, June 9th:
The Filmmaker Reception + Ice Cream Social, 7pm, MEET on Bowery
25th Anniversary Screening of Home Alone 2 + Christmas Party, 11:59pm, Sunshine Cinema

Saturday, June 10th: Comedy Night Presented by Showtime
Showtime Presents: Comedy Shorts, 7pm, Sunshine Cinema: Accomplice, Perfect Roast Potatoes, Bombing, Shy Guys
Showtime Presents: I’m Dying Up Here, 8pm, Sunshine Cinema: Episodes 1 & 2
Showtime Presents - The LESFF LIVE Stand Up Special, 10pm, Subculture: Performers include Sasheer Zamata (SNL), Judah Friedlander (30 Rock), Sergio Chicon, Jena Friedman (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), Matteo Lane (Late Night With Seth Meyers, MTV’s Girl Code). Hosted by Kerry Coddett (The Nightly Show)

Sunday, June 11th:
Feature Film (Documentary), 6pm, Sunshine Cinema: Kosher Love

Monday, June 12th:
Ladies’ Night Shorts Showcase (where Feminists pay $16, and Non-Feminists pay $8,632 to adjust for the median annual earnings difference between men and women), 7pm, Sunshine Cinema: Fry Day, JessZilla, Smile, Kiss Me, Reflections
Ladies’ Night Feature Film, 8pm, Sunshine Cinema: What Children Do
‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ Shorts Showcase, 9pm, Sunshine Cinema: Tav Falco: Make Me Know You’re Mine, Kojo: A Short Documentary, Soy Yo, Sunday Saxon, Mixtape Marauders

Tuesday, June 13th:
‘Writing The Documentary Screenplay Panel’ with The Writers Guild of America East, 6pm, Sunshine Cinema: Panelists include David Riker (Dirty Wars), Sarah Burns (The Central Park Five), Jeremy Chilnick (Rats, Greatest Movie Ever Sold), Nelson George (Hip-Hop Evolution, A Ballerina's Tale) and Moderated by: Michael Winship (President of WGAE)
NY Filmmaker Shorts, 7pm, Sunshine Cinema: Food City: Feast Of Five Boroughs, I Choose You, White Face, Kojo: A Short Documentary
Feature Film (Documentary), 8pm, Sunshine Cinema: NANA
“Queer Shorts: Best of NewFest," with NewFest: New York’s LGBT Film & Media Arts Organization, 9pm Sunshine Cinema

Wednesday, June 14th:
‘Mind F*CK’ Shorts, 7pm, Sunshine Cinema: Fluffernutter, Staycation, Pizza Face, There Are Too Many of These Crows, Sunday Saxon, Everything’s Gonna Be OK, Birdhouse
Feature Film, 8pm, Sunshine Cinema: Sweet Parents
‘Under Pressure’ Shorts, 9pm, Sunshine Cinema: The Accomplice, Fry Day, Story 304, Mariner, Jailbreak, It’s Been Like A Year

Thursday, June 15th: Closing Night
Closing Night Feature Film (Documentary), 6:30pm, Sunshine Cinema: Poop Talk
Closing Night Feature Film (Documentary), 8:30pm, Sunshine Cinema: Mermaids
Closing Night Party, 9:00pm: Libation

For tickets and more information go here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Becoming Bond: The Lazenby Affair

If George Lazenby had re-upped with the James Bond franchise producers, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service would probably be remembered as the best Bond movie ever. It featured Telly Savalas as Blofeld, Diana Rigg from the Avengers and Joanna Lumley from The New Avengers as Bond Girls, and Louis Armstrong’s final chart-topping hurrah, “We Have All the Time in the World” as the theme song. Yet, Lazenby didn’t, so now he is known as the one-and-done Bond. Arguably, it was the worst case of career self-destruction in movie history. However, Lazenby spins it as well as he can in Josh Greenbaum’s documentary profile, Becoming Bond, which releases on Hulu this Saturday.

Lazenby is happy to admit to Greenbaum he was just a working-class bloke in Australia, who only came to England in pursuit of Belinda, the great love of his life. After a bit of scuffling, he fell into a successful modeling career. Unfortunately, he succumbed to the temptation represented by his female counterparts, thereby sabotaging his relationship with Belinda yet again. Frankly, the newly single Lazenby pursued a lifestyle that would make James Bond look like a celibate Trappist. He managed to catch the eye of an agent who arranged meetings with the director and co-producer of the first non-Connery Bond film, Peter Hunt and Harry Saltzman, which turned out to be dates with destiny.

So, what happened? Contrary to popular belief, Majesty’s Secret Service was a huge hit. Lazenby was offered a huge contract for six more Bond pictures, but he turned it down, for reasons he still has trouble explaining today. It is fair to say he chafed at some of the contractual controls they wanted to exert over his career, but frankly he obviously could have used their guidance.

Greenbaum’s novel approach intersperses close-up interview segments of Lazenby dishing on his notorious life with dramatized vignettes, in which actors play the Aussie Bond and the major figures revolving around him. It keeps things rather lively and certainly gives us a taste of the wild times. The only drawback is Josh Lawson, who is far too sleight of stature for the broad shouldered Lazenby. In contrast, Jeff Garlin and the ageless Jane Seymour are both quite scene-stealing scenery-chewing riots as Saltzman and Lazenby’s vampy agent Maggie.

Still, it is rather striking (and ultimately quite poignant) how much time Lazenby and Greenbaum devote to Belinda, the one who kept getting away. In fact, Becoming Bond starts out as an ironic pop culture documentary and evolves into a bittersweet love story. Fear not Bond fans, there are still plenty of juicy behind-the-scenes details.

Indeed, Bond is the focus of Becoming Bond, because it is the association that defines Lazenby’s career. However, it seems strange Greenbaum omits Lazenby’s stint with Hong Kong’s Golden Harvest. He was supposed to team up with Bruce Lee, but the martial arts legend died before their scheduled lunch meeting. Instead, Lazenby made the awesome Stoner with Angela Mao Ying and the fan favorite Man from Hong Kong with Jimmy Wang Yu. There have to be some crazy stories from that time, but did Greenbaum think to sign Lazenby for a sequel? Regardless, it is quite entertaining to hear the forgotten Bond have his say. Recommended for all James Bond fans and anyone who enjoys movie-making gossip, Becoming Bond starts streaming this Saturday (5/20) on Hulu.

Alien Uprising

Ship full of marines with one civilian are sent to a far off prison planet to find out what happened to the people on the planet and to stop the explosion of nuclear power plane which could destroy the interstellar jump gates.

Well written and decently acted scifi story is sunk by a no budget approach that results in too cheap sets and costumes (its cardboard and cast offs). To be certain the cast manages to sell the story as much as possible,but at the same time the sets and props are so poor that watching this is a tough haul. Honestly this looks like what I was doing back in my film-making salad days in high school. Personally I'm bothered that the budget for the film didn't exist because had there been some money, any money, this might have been the sort of film that ends up in a rotation on cable TV. As it stands now the film will only be seen by those who stumble upon it painfully unaware that their rental was more than the entire budget for the film. If you can be very very forgiving of the lack of money and want to see a space opera that could have been better I recommend the film. If you can't deal with card board sets and cut corners stay away.