May 20th, 2013 by Mr. C
To celebrate SPECTACLE: The Music Video exhibit, Chocko & I attended the event “An Evening with Fab 5 Freddy” hosted at the Museum of The Moving Image in Queens which was moderated by Warrington Hudlin last friday night! We almost didn’t make it because of concerns with traffic from NJ at the height of rush hour on a Friday evening and with the prospects of the Yankee game looming large at 7pm BUT we mysteriously were able to bob and weave through the traffic like Ghost Riders gliding into money making Manhattan to “The Bridge, The..The..The Bridge..Queensbridge”.
For those that do not know who Fab 5 Freddy is – he basically is an intellect from the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant who blossomed into a legendary hip hop relic before the term hip/hop even existed. Fab 5 is a pioneer, a transporter, and champion of urban culture through the use of visual arts (grafitti, fine arts), directing music videos,producing movies,making commercials, & just influencing pop culture in general with his eagle eye from the urban jungle! Fab 5’s hustle also led him into the punk rock party scene in the lower east side in the late 1970s with the likes of Deborah Harry, Chris Stein, The Clash, & the Sex Pistols! Fab helped introduce the world of hip hop to the punksters which in turn influenced hip hop to some shades of punk & nu-wave as well! We can all see where this is going now! Fab 5’s fever for the flavor of combining cultural mash ups in New York’s downtown film, music, and art scenes to the emerging hip/hop scene in Harlem and the Bronx which gave birth to a new style onto itself. Fab is a major influence in bringing hip hop culture to the mainstream for some serious consumption!
I can remember how Fab 5 Freddy and his personality helped feed my habit of rap/hip-hop in the late eighties along with Ed Lover & Dr. Dre from the TV show – YO! MTV RAPS which juiced me to buy the 12” vinyl singles, 45 singles, and god forbid cassette albums of all our favorite joints! Fab 5 brought the swagger, the hustle, the style as he introduced the streets into our living rooms as he interviewed soon to be larger than life artists like Eric B/Rakim, Beastie Boys, EPMD, Naughty by Nature, RUN DMC, Big Daddy Kane, & Wu Tang Clan to name a few while segueing into their music videos! Between Ralph Mcdaniel’s Video Music Box TV show available to watch on public TV to YO! MTV Raps which was on cable, we would have tremendous access to the latest and greatest from hip hop culture. As I became more fascinated w/ FAB, I ventured over to his grafitti laced movie called WILDSTYLE. The rest is history.
Getting back to the talks on hand at the Museum of the Moving Image, Fab 5 Freddy churned out a TREMENDOUS presentation full of flashbacks and good times filled with music, stories, & music videos of artists that we grew up listening to. We knew Freddy had directed a few music videos (60 plus, wow!) but we did NOT know that he directed videos to rap songs that were basically our soundtracks, our anthems into hip/hop fandom. Music videos that he directed and showed at the talks included: Boogie Down Productions’ – My Philosophy, Stetsasonic’s – Talkin all that jazz, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Road to the Riches, Queen Latifah + Monie Love’s – Ladies First, NAS – One Love, Gangstarr – Just to get a Rep, and Shabba Ranks – Mr. Loverman to just name a few! He even showed a really cool Yo! MTV Raps clip of an interview that he did with the Beastie Boys as they showed Freddy where they used to live on location in Chinatown near the Manhattan Bridge! The whole talks that night at the Moving Image comprised of just Freddy being Freddy with his smooth operator talking self as he discussed the evolution of hip hop from the boogie down and uptown to mingling with the downtown scene which helped to manifest itself to movies like Wildstyle & shows like Yo! MTV Raps which further spawned fans of urban culture which propagated to the whole world! Fab 5 had a memorable story that he shared with us during the talks at the Moving Image that night on how he was trying to convince Chuck D/Public Enemy into creating a music video for them with a budget of $40,000 that would make them explode in the industry. Public Enemy would turn it down, stating that for $40,000 they can front a whole album! In retrospect, we can see how the visuals from music videos can play a big part in getting the message across to your audience. Another fact that we didn’t know pertained to Fab 5 Freddy’s single in 1982 – “Change the Beat”, this song has been sampled and most definitely scratched a zillion times over by old skool and new skool DJ’s alike! We knew about the **FREeeESH** scratching/sampling of course but did not know it was Fab 5′s single that everyone was scratching on! Right on! It was made famous by Grandmixer DST in Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”.
This presentation by Fab 5 Freddy was entertaining as all hell and captured our attention for a few hours! It really seemed like a flashback to Yo! MTV Raps in a certain way, but 25 years later! You know – talking, showing music videos, talking, telling stories, showing music videos – stylin’ and profilin – REPEAT! It seems like a magic formula especially if you dig the tunes! FAB 5 mentioned that he should take this spoken word/lecture on the road with DJ WIZ on hand to provide the cuts and some added visuals! Fab 5 should very well take the talks on the road because the story should be told! It’s part of american culture. I have got to say that this was one of the most entertaining spoken word events that I’ve been to and we’ve been to quite a few! I say John Leguizamo – Fab 5 Freddy would make a nice combo broadway punch!
Below are some music videos that Fab 5 Freddy directed. He showed these videos as part of his presentation at the Museum of the Moving Image! I added some linear notes from his talks to supplement this!
(Boogie Down Productions – “My Philosophy” – FAB 5 Freddy’s 1st music video venture. KRS-One is one of most lyrical and positive conscious artists in the business.)
(Stetsasonic – “Talkin all that Jazz” – Fab 5 talked about Stetsasonic’s response to all the naysayers about sampling.)
(Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – “Road to the Riches” – Fab 5 discusses gangsta’ rap from Queens & the crack epidemic at the time. This video helped inspire the movie NEW JACK CITY. Fab 5 helped produce the film.)
(Queen Latifah + Monie Love – “Ladies First” – DJ Mark the 45 King discovered Latifah but wasn’t crazy over her, but when Fab 5 heard her, he was blown away. He mentioned this to Tommy Boy records and the rest was history!)
(NAS – “One Love” – Filmed in the Queensbridge projects not far from this Museum. The video was shot when crack still had a choke-hold on the neighborhood. NAS had all his homies act in the video.)
(Gangstarr – “Just to get a rep”- One of the lowest budget videos he shot. The video was about a stickup kid in the neighborhood. Filmed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.)
(Guru + MC Solaar – “Le Bien, Le Mal” – Guru’s influence with Hip Hop in France / MC Solaar. Solaar was a smooth rapper and this song blew down the doors in France.)
(Shabba Ranks – “Mr. Loverman”) – Fab 5 Freddy showed the adult cut of this video! Fab did 6 videos w/ Shabba and Mr. Loverman was one of his favorites. This was in a time when R&B was big mixing in w/ reggae and rap. The adult cut of this video was shown on the Playboy channel were you can be a bit more risque!)
(Crucial Conflict – “Hay”) Fab 5 mentions this Chicago group helped influence the No Limit/Cash Money/down south hip hop movement. Fab wanted to instill the southern rodeo attitude aesthetic to this video. There’s a cameo of an urban “lone ranger” in the video as well!).
May 15th, 2013 by chocko
Little Boots (aka Victoria Hesketh) celebrated the release of her new self-released album, Nocturnes, last week at a Diesel store (135 Spring St.) in New York City a day before the album’s U.S. release. People began queuing up an hour before the free ticketed live set. GBH/Webster Hall DJ, Alex English spun some party rocking tunes while the crowd got their drink on. Good luck in having a conversation with the person next to you, the system was booming! Free Peroni beer and Ciroc provided a lot of smiley faces in the audience and once the U.K. electro-pop star emerged, the party and booty shaking commenced. The set list was comprised mostly of brand new songs from the Little Boots sophomore album which was available at the event. The upbeat dance songs got my head shaking and fist pumping especially to the older track “New In Town.” From the start of the set with the hypnotic “Motorway” to the crowd-pleasing “Shake” Little Boots got the audience moving. Looks like your summer soundtrack came early. Pick up Nocturnes – out now!
New In Town
Every Night I Say A Prayer
LITTLE BOOTS performing “Motorway” and “Confusion” 05.06.13
LITTLE BOOTS performing “Shake” 05.06.13
May 15th, 2013 by chocko
PULSE Contemporary Art Fairs are annual events that take place in Miami and New York. The art fair set up shop last week in New York City from May 9-12, 2013 at The Metropolitan Pavillion with various galleries from around the globe displaying a dazzling mix of paintings, photographs and sculptures. Shout out to Ariela for putting me on to this fantastic event!
I enjoyed what artists had displayed at the Mike Weiss Gallery. Pictured above are life-size figures created by Brooklyn-based sculptor Will Kurtz. The sculptures were created with a variety of household materials such as newspaper, masking tape and wood. Also represented, art by Los Angeles based Cameron Gray whose multimedia works offer the viewer some eye-popping visuals. Pictured below on the left is his piece titled The Barbarians Are Almost At Your Gates which features among other things: found sculpture, digital photos (lots of naked chicks!), hat pins and acrylic paint. Below on the right is his piece My Crazy Ex-girlfriend and features a lovely girl in a bikini that features swirling colors.
During the fair, the click-clacking sound of a typewriter could be heard and it was driving me crazy. I later found out that located in the middle of the exhibitor floor was a Los Angeles based artist Tim Youd focused and busily typing and reading aloud Henry Miller’s controversial novel Tropic Of Capricorn. His project was being done on only two pieces of paper, creating a huge blot of ink and countless illegible indentations.
The West Collection featured some of my favorite pieces of the fair. The photos below features Bach by Long-Bin Chen which is a sculpture of the classical composer made out of carved up books, magazines and glue. The books can be seen from the “Bach” of the sculpture.
Miro In The Mirror by Patrick Hughes
The painting above by Patrick Hughes was definitely one of my favorites at the art fair. It is an oil on board construction piece that blew me away. The painting can only truly be appreciated when you stand in front of it and then check it out from the sides. It isn’t painted entirely on a flat surface and the background is actually painted in the foreground and vice versa, creating a really cool optical illusion of depth. Check out a couple more photos below and be sure to check out the art fair when it comes back to NYC! Chocko will be looking forward to it. The next event: PULSE Miami 2013 takes place December 5-8 at The Ice Palace Studios.
May 8th, 2013 by Mr. C
Director: Bill Siegel
Genre: Documentary on Muhammad Ali
This film is easily one of my favorite Muhammad Ali movies as it sets forth to document his other brand of fisticuffs which did not take part inside the boxing ring but rather in a staunch toe to toe fight with humanity and the United States court of law. This was arguably his best fight but then again without his boxing greatness, the stage would have never been set. From the realization of his religious beliefs as he converted to Islam to his refusal to be drafted into the Vietnam War as he filed as a conscientious objector, Ali would be sentenced to prison but his resilience in the fight with the appeal against the Supreme Court had him victorious in the end but not without consequences like being stripped of his heavyweight title and banned from boxing for 4 years along with getting villainized in the eye of the public. In these 4 years, he would reinvent himself as he continued his Ali shuffle from another point of view to support himself including lecturing, going on speaking tours, teaching, and starring in a Broadway play (Buck White)?!
The archival footage of Ali and Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the Olympic Gold medal Ceremony in 1968 with the famous Fist raise while the Star Spangled Banner was being played served as a nice way to transport the viewing audience to the times of struggle in the 1960s for black americans. Others that opposed Ali’s stance like Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, and black americans serving in the military made its way to the screen as well. Interviews and stories with Ali’s brother and Ali’s ex-wife Khalilah gives you a different perspective of the legendary man behind the fists. Kudos to the director – Bill Siegel in getting interviews with Louis Farrakhan and John Carlos – 1968 Olympic medalist. Farrakhan’s words about Ali were very instrumental in gaining insight to his stand in what was right.
The Q&A after the screening with Bill Siegel shed some light on some of the issues and challenges in making this film. The fair use doctrine for archival footage was instituted in much of the video footage in the film but the cost of the licensing for footage as a whole still added to a insurmountable figure.
A great question/comment during the Q&A after the screening that was posed by a Professor that specialized in the writings of The Nation of Islam and Islam in general that was directed at Bill Siegel was: In terms of the film, how did you bring the viewing audience back to the period of the 1960s who weren’t there so that they can comprehend what was going on? To understand Ali’s responses, attitude, and desperation in that moment, you have to understand the period of time that the blacks were going through when they were basically under siege.
That was a heavy hitting question and the director mentioned that he himself is as white as he can be from Minnesota so he’s not pretending that he can relate to what went on during that time. It was not a lived experience and that he was relying on being as honest to himself as he can be in finding the answer from people who lived that experience. The use of archival footage, interviews, and research were basically the tools he used in capturing the essence of what Ali was fighting for.
Bill Siegel (Director) then proceeded to ask the professor: Did the film help bring you back to this period in time? The Professor’s response: Parts of the film did like when the image of the lynchings helped illustrate the type of trauma and less than human feeling that the blacks felt.
The director also mentioned that he had spent some time at Muhammad Ali’s home to show him a cut of the film. Ali could not speak but he can still communicate by body language and expressions and by the reactions on his face – Bill Siegel knew that he loved the film! But jokingly (or maybe not so jokingly), Siegel said that he was told that Ali loves nothing more than watching Muhammad Ali on the screen besides watching black & white Westerns!
In his closing comments, Bill Siegel stated that he wanted to distinguish his film from all of the other Muhammad Ali stories being told by the virtue of the limited number of talking head interviewees by only talking to those who were there during the times of Ali’s struggle like his brother, the ex-wife, the founder of the Louisville Sponsor group, & Minister Farrakhan who was there from the very beginning when Cassius Clay joined the Nation of Islam. Siegel only wanted the principle first-hand storytellers & witnesses in telling the Ali Story which was history in the making. Siegel hopes that he captured the importance of this Muhammad Ali story with strides to educate the youngsters of this relevant part of american history.
Go and see The Trials of Muhammad Ali when it rolls around to a theater near you! You will be enlightened by Muhammad Ali’s spiritual transformation and guaranteed, it will provide motivation for us to overcome today’s issues of race, faith and identity.
May 8th, 2013 by Mr. C
The following are just a few images that we captured that sums up our weekend at the 2013 Montclair Film Festival. Besides catching a few screenings, we went to a documentary panel of filmmakers; a comedy event starring the three writers and producers of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – Rory Albanese, Adam Lowitt, and Elliott Kalan who performed stand-up comedy and commented on a collection of esoteric film clips; and just soaked up some Montclair culture in general like attending the Glenridge Avenue street fair across the street from the festival and soaking in some jazz music in the lobby of the Clairidge before the BULLITT screening. All in all, the 2nd Annual Montclair Film Festival was fun and we hope to be invited back to do it all over again next year! Thanks to all of the festival organizers including co-directors of the MFF – Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen! Also a big thank you to the 600 volunteers for making the event such a smooth one along with providing much enthusiasm with a smiling face!
May 7th, 2013 by Mr. C
We had missed the Race and Film panel earlier in the day in which film critics from Grantland, New York magazine & Variety discussed how they approach race when writing about film. But we were able to catch the very informative DOCS-IN-PROGRESS panel held at the Montclair Public Library. This panel would include film clips and a discussion on 3 documentaries in progress by acclaimed NJ Film Teams: Dawn Porter (Spies in Mississippi), Julie Winokur (Bring It to the Table), and Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno & Jerome Bongiorno (The Rule). Nancy Abraham from HBO Documentary Films was also on hand for the discussion.
THE RULE directed by Marylou Tibaldo-bongiorno & Jerome Bongiorno
This seemed to be a very interesting film about the long history of the Monks of Newark Abbey the so called Monks in the Hood and their strong commitment to Newark,NJ and their teachings at the Saint Benedict’s Preparatory School. The school’s success can directly be attributed to the monks who work and teach there. The Monks of Abbey have strong ties to the community of Newark. The Rule’s main objective is to tell the tale of this dynamic group and their influence on the culturally & demographically diverse student body at Saint Benedict’s.
BRING IT TO THE TABLE directed by Julie Winokur
This enlightening documentary is meant to ignite sparks to unite citizens together in order to open up a friendly dialogue to discuss issues that would normally drive us all apart. Talking about politics seems to be such a taboo these days that conversations and debates on important topics amongst the different political parties are all but rare. Bring it to the Table is an attempt to engage the community to talk in order to bridge the gap between political parties so that we can really begin to solve problems in society instead of being loyal and just hiding behind party affiliations. This project’s goal is just as simple as sitting at the table to talk politics and to have an open discussion on the best way to get to the bottom of issues at hand. The director Julie Winokur mentioned something at the panel that rang so true to me. Julie said that when you gather like minded individuals together, they often become extremists which sometimes creates an atmosphere akin to a gathering of bullies. It’s very hard to open up free conversations in an environment like that. Julie’s statement really hit home with me.
SPIES IN MISSISSIPPI directed by Dawn Porter
This documentary was a very intriguing story of a secret spy agency formed by the State of Mississippi in order to preserve segregation and support white supremacy during the 1950s and 1960s. This secret agency’s main strategy was to undercut the civil right activists to gain a stronghold in their agenda for supremacy. The agency employed a healthy network of informants and investigators to infiltrate these civil rights organizations. Talk about some serious spy files in our backyard during the civil rights movement! I’ll have to add this film to my to watch list!
May 6th, 2013 by Mr. C
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Stars: Skylan Brooks,Ethan Dizon,Jennifer Hudson,Jordan Sparks
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete is a down and out urban version of Home Alone with additional subject matter that addresses much of the social and economic issues flooding our cities today. Instead of the suburban home, we are presented with an apartment in the low income housing projects of Brooklyn. Instead of an upper to middle class caucasian family, we have a set of poor, working class African-american & Korean-American single moms. 14 year old – Mister (Skylan Brooks) and 8 year old – Pete (Ethan Dizon) are dealing with individual issues of their own such as being bullied at school and having bad grades but nothing can compare to the real issues at hand in their home life. Both of their moms hustle the streets to make a living and in situations of child neglect it is inevitable that DYFS and the housing authority will get involved. Of course when their moms are nowhere to be found or incarcerated, Mister & Pete will do their best to make due by themselves in their rundown apartments with no resources. Meanwhile, the housing police are on the mad hunt to take custody of these kids. Just as in Home Alone fashion, these two savvy city kids will do by any means necessary to get by until their moms come home. By all means necessary, we mean dodging the police, the local thugs, shady babysitters, thieves, and the local bodega monger or shall we say bodega mongrel!
The film is sad & disturbing yet inspirational and uplifting in terms of offering a glimpse of hope in our society. The theme of brotherhood despite the obvious differences between Mister and Pete was something to make note of. The question of morality and making ends meet is a very thin line indeed. We will see how addiction truly affects our children firsthand. The film exposes the lack thereof of real role models for our kids and the lack of quality time being spent with them. Authority figures such as the Police and teachers are cast in such a light that sometimes they seem to be more menacing than helpful at times. Besides some of the bleak offerings that this film is surrounded by, shades of humor and charm also joined the party. The Pete character is so cute and innocent while the more street smart Mister is very creative and enchanting in his very own way. Mister was a character, though only 14 years old was a kid that thinks on his feet and was able to adjust to difficult situations. Jennifer Hudson plays Mister’s mother in a role that I could have never ever imagined her perform in! Suffice to say, she knocked it out of the park! Jordan Sparks has a secondary role in the film but she plays a very important part in Mister’s struggle. Alicia Keys provides some of the excellent soundtrack in the film!
I did find the film to be a bit longer than I anticipated and felt portions of the movie could of been edited. After the screening the director, George Tillman made it clear that we saw a cut of the film that would be different than the official release in October. I’m gathering it means that the film will go under the knife for further editing.
The Q&A after the movie revealed that Tillman had been sitting on the script of The Inevitable Defeat since 2009. It was a 3 year struggle to make the film mainly because no studio believed anyone would want to see a movie with a 14 yr old black kid hanging out with a 8 year old asian american boy. Hollywood believed that it was a marketing nightmare to try to promote such a film with kids in it but was not really a kids film. Hollywood wanted Tillman to continue making the blockbuster actions (FASTER) or comedies such as he did with – Beauty Shop, BarberShop, & BarberShop 2. The director mentioned that he had similiar struggles making Soul Food. As it goes, he went the Indie route with a 3 million dollar budget for Mister and Pete.
As far as Tillman’s latest project, he stated that he is still working on The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete and continues to think about the film everyday. It’s slated for a release later in the year. He’s trying to get Alicia Keys to add more music to the soundtrack. Lastly, he truly believes in the message of this film and hopes that we all will come out to support it! Stay tuned for the release of The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete at theaters near you!
May 6th, 2013 by chocko
GRACELAND is a gritty Filipino thriller that pulls no punches and will open the viewer’s eyes to a near hopeless, poverty stricken world infested with crime, corruption and violence. In the film, Marlon (Arnold Reyes) must find a way to rescue his daughter Elvie (Ella Guevara) who becomes a victim of mistaken identity in a kidnapping gone terribly wrong.
BUGGY makes her return to Planet Chocko with the following interview we did with writer/director Ron Morales about his latest film.
Where did the idea for GRACELAND come from?
The idea behind GRACELAND started while I was in a car driving around in Manila. I was reading a recent news article about a kidnapping then all of a sudden a police officer on a motorcycle pulled the car over. In the Philippines the police are known for shakedowns and corruption, so in this situation, I imagined what if something horribly went wrong.
What was the message you were trying to convey by making the film?
We are what we are. People will do almost anything in their power to save their loved ones even if the actions are morally wrong. We all are susceptible to the evils within humanity.
It took 5 years to make the movie. Was it primarily research or were there obstacles that you had to overcome to complete the film?
The original script of GRACELAND was an action thriller. I had to shelve it after I realized that it would be too expensive to make. In the interim, I researched a different screenplay in the Philippines. I was very close to receive funding, but in the last minute the script did not get the green light. It wasn’t until producers Sam Rider and Rebecca Lundgren jumped on board that I was able to make GRACELAND in 2010. But with many low budget independent films, raising funds is the biggest challenge.
Where exactly was the film shot in the Philippines?
GRACELAND was filmed more or less in the entirely Metro Manila. The locations were spread out through out the city, but the majority of locations spanned Taguig City and Quezon City.
The film focuses on underage female prostitution. Were you apprehensive about including the nude scenes?
We were apprehensive about including the scenes, but when it came down to the final edit, I felt that the research and the reality of these issues would be wasted. I feel that these scenes are necessary and done in a way that forwards the story, as well as portray the harsh reality with in the world we live in.
What did you learn about filming in the Philippines?
Being a Filipino American, filming in my homeland allowed me to investigate my culture and grow as an artist. Filipinos have a talent of making something out of nothing. What we accomplished with the small budget we had and the time restraints still amazes me. This is the product of some of the hardest working crew I have ever had the pleasure to work with.
What future projects can we look forward to?
I have a couple of new scripts that I am working on. One is a US Mexico Border crossing thriller and another film that partially takes place in the Philippines.
GRACELAND is available on VOD/iTunes and out now in select theaters. Click here to purchase tickets.
May 4th, 2013 by chocko
If you love movies and you can get to Montclair, New Jersey this weekend…come on down. The Montclair Film Festival wraps nearly a week of screening 80 films and hosting free panels. MFF has an excellent mix of films including documentaries, comedies, family films and drama. More reviews of the movies we have seen will be coming up on the website shortly. In the meantime, check out some movies this weekend in Montclair. It’s a great town with lots to see and plenty of restaurants and places to fill your belly with yummy food. Please check the Montclair Film Festival website for ticket availability. Many of the screenings this weekend may be sold out in advance, but if you show up at the theater before the screening you might just score some rush tickets at the box offce. If you tweet, follow them on twitter for the updates. #MFF13 Congratulations to all the filmmakers participating in this event and a special shout out to the 600 volunteers who make the festival happen.
Director Morgan Neville (left) at a Q & A after a screening of JOHNNY CASH’S AMERICA (2008) with Festival Director, Thom Powers (right) at Clairidge Cinema. Neville’s latest film TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM made its NJ Premiere at this year’s Opening Night Gala at the festival.
(L-R) Thom Powers (he’s everywhere!) and writer/Staten Island native Chris Galletta introduce THE KINGS OF SUMMER (2013) at Montclair Kimberley Academy (6 Lloyd Rd). THE KINGS OF SUMMER is funny, smart and well written. The movie is about three teenage boys who decide to run away from their families and build a house in the woods. THE KINGS OF SUMMER will be in select theaters May 31. Highly recommended!
May 3rd, 2013 by Mr. C
Director: Ziad Doueiri
Stars: Ali Suliman,Evgenia Dodena,Reymond Amsalem,Dvir Benedek,Uri Gavriel
Genre: Drama, Thriller
From the local, small time thugs in the U.K. from WASTELAND to a much bigger stage and unfortunately, somewhat realistic happenings in our world today comes this disturbing but excellent film – THE ATTACK.
The skinny of the film takes us on a ride to modern day Tel Aviv as an Arab surgeon (Ali Suliman) learns a mind-blowing secret about his wife in the aftermath of a suicide bombing. The opening sequences of the film would create light mentions of the everyday lives in this part of the world where Arabs co-exist with the Israelis but the juxtaposition of the two cultures colliding can turn light ripples of friendliness into bigger waves of destruction. Our main character, Dr. Amin Jaafari (Ali Suliman) is a man that is not tied to any particular religious beliefs and is leading a very affluent lifestyle along with his wife – Siham (Reymond Amsalem), a devout Christian. Everything seems cool as a breeze as Dr. Amin Jaafari is being recognized with a medical achievement award which is equivalent to the Oscars in the medical field while the wife seems to be in a very happy place as they both have assimilated to the lifestyle and culture in Tel Aviv rather well. Suddenly a bombing in the city that killed 17 people would change the rest of their lives forever as Arabs living in an Israeli society. How well do you really know your loved one. We will come to find out!
The Attack raises a lot of questions on the culture of terrorism, suicide bombings, and self-worth. I hate to bring up religion but these horrendous acts seem to use religion as an excuse – a mask – a vehicle to fool those who are disillusioned & impressionable into performing such hellish crusades which will bring glory upon their cause, their people, god forbid – their religion. Instead, they are causing harm to the innocent, themselves, and loved ones. This powerful movie opens up the discussion highway to a century old conflict between two nations. The film attempts to try to understand the suicide bombing by putting a face, a personality, an emotion to the martyr of the act to justify the reasoning behind such desperate crimes. If any flaw or fault can be found in the movie, it’s that the story takes a turn that is a bit over-dramatized and unrealistic. However with the not realistic comes a conversation with a priest and a brush with an Imam that proves to be revealing.
The Attack also intensifies the spotlight on individuals with a lack of identity, a sense of being ‘Out of Place’, and to some just being plain old ignorant or brainwashed to the matters at hand.
On the flipside, a man that is well educated who gives back to the community as a medical healer is suddenly looked at with guilty eyes when he straddles both sides of the fence meanwhile his own people regard him as a traitor, as a man that lives amongst the enemy. Such a dichotomy exists within these confines.
The acting performances of the entire cast was excellent with special shoutouts to the main character Dr. Amin Jaafari and the detective who played the aggressive interrogator. The roles they played were frighteningly lifelike! The scene when they showed the sequence of psychological torture with the practice of playing loud music to promote sleep deprivation in hopes to break down the accused into a confession or statement seemed all to real. Looking at the big picture in the end, it sounds easy to say that providing evidence to incriminate your own is a moral obligation as a citizen in that particular country, however with the state of affairs between Arabs and Israelis, it’s not quite that simple.
The Attack takes a riveting and gut-wrenching look at such an ordeal. Go see this film and have a friendly discussion to make sense of it all!
The Montclair Film Festival continues to run through to the weekend of May 5th! Catch a screening or 10!
May 1st, 2013 by chocko
Chocko and Mr. C busted through the doors of Chiller Theatre once again to celebrate pop culture, horror and b-movies, sci-fi and everything else in between. This spring was another huge event with a lot of guests from the world of movies, television, music and professional wrestling. A lot of temptations await at Chiller if you are a fan of movies and one of the vendors we tend to gravitate towards is the VHSPS booth. The VHS Preservation Society believes in your right to watch movies as they were first seen on VHS. They pretty much transfer long forgotten or Out Of Print movies on VHS and transfer them to DVD. I picked up “The Making Of Star Wars” (1977) which came with the bonus Star Wars Holiday Special. I haven’t seen the Holiday Special since it aired on tv a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…it should’ve stayed there! I never realized how terrible it was and I would rather kiss a Wookie than have to sit through it again. There is a really cool animation segment featuring Boba Fett that does make up for the rest of the tv special. I also stopped by the Skreem Magazine booth that has the best deal in the house. If you bought their magazine, you got a random movie. I got The Funhouse (1981) by the director Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
We always get a kick outta seeing the guys and ghouls at Chiller Theatre all dressed up like it’s Halloween in April. Sometimes it was hard to tell if people were in costume or in their usual mondo bizarro getup. The photos below were taken during the Chiller Theatre “Live” Rock & Roll Monster Surf Party. The Dead Elvi played their monster surf tunes and invited a number of special guests to the stage including Zacherley the COOL Ghoul who sang “Come With Me To Transylvania” and “Monster Mash.” Denny Laine of Wings performed 2 songs with the band “Live and Let Die” and “Band On The Run.” Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators hopped up and down while singing The Stooges classic “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and the MC5′s “Kick Out The Jams.” Kane Roberts performed 2 Alice Cooper songs “Freedom” and “School’s Out” with Joe Von T on vocals. More heavy metal thundered through the room when Chris Holmes stepped on stage for “Blind In Texas” by W.A.S.P. Akira Takarada was also invited to the stage where he surprised the crowd with a Misfits cover. Just kidding, he blew out the candles on a Godzilla birthday cake. The Next Chiller Theatre is October 25 – 27, 2013!
The Dead Elvi with Denny Laine performing “Band On The Run”
The Dead Elvi w/ Manitoba performing “I Wanna Be Your Dog”
May 1st, 2013 by Mr. C
Director: Rowan Athale
Stars: Luke Treadaway,Timothy Spall,Iwan Rheon,Matthew Lewis,Neil Maskell
Genre: Suspense, thriller, heist
On my initial artificial inspection of Wasteland and opening sequences of the film, my reaction was that this movie was going to be a very grimy, seedy, & dark film. In retrospect, that view shattered my preconceived notions. Actually, the setting seemed to be in a grimy and seedy locale but the movie never stepped into the depths of darkness as much as I wanted it to. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it on some level even with the few predictable story lines. The audience at the Montclair Film Festival reacted with a few chuckles and some grunts during the screening which is a positive sign for engaging the viewer. This stylish British heist caper film starts us off with the main cheeky protagonist Harvey (Luke Treadaway) in a bruised and battered state being interrogated at the Police Station by Detective West (Timothy Spall) on the charge of stolen money from a local social club. This is when Harvey flashes back to his story of being recently released from jail, framed by a local brute force drug dealer and “security” specialist in Steven Roper (Neil Maskell). Mind you Harvey is no innocent cat either with his local small time dealings with the white stuff. With inflamed revenge on his mind, Harvey recruits his other hipster buddies to join him on the heist escapade in hopes to one, get back at Roper and two, to steal money.
The interactions and dialogue of these young british gunners reminded me so much of the band of lost misfits known as the cutters in the movie “Breaking Away”. These two movies have no similarities whatsoever but the camaraderie of both of these groups with parallel struggles of day to day life reminded me of the dynamics in their brotherhood no matter what the circumstance.
As the stage was being set in Wasteland – flashes of other well known heist films began to scroll through my mind as flashbacks to the crime scene and the master plan w/ alternate stories would clue us in on the plot. The robbery is quite hokey and complicated as the story starts to unfold. Our lead character in my opinion is a bit laid back and aloof while the supporting actors including the bruiser antagonist – Roper does a good job in their roles to make their characters somewhat believable. The end result is a lightweight heist with a convoluted plot. The twists and turns of the story reveal themselves when Harvey is trying to mislead the Detective during interrogation. The movie begins at a slow pace until our main character add layers to the story for embellishment and trickery for the interrogator. In the meantime, the director seems to take the time in showing us the nuts/bolts of the relationship with this antagonist crew and their take on their dead end/mundane lifestyle of living which is very similiar to the ‘Cutter’ crew in “Breaking Away”. I would guess their take on this hopeless way of living is a reference to the title of the movie.
The film is artistically shot and pleasing to the eye without the overuse of technology. In the end, I welcomed the film in for the fresh outlook and interpretation from the young cast with a gritty appeal of a U.K. that is not doused with royalty. I just wished the story would of went to a darker shade of Waste. The Heist story plot was all too familiar and needed some serious overhauling. I would say for a directorial debut, Wasteland was a success!
For other screenings at the 2nd Annual Montclair Film Festival, checkout their schedule!