Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Phil goes Bollywood: Phil watches KISMAT KONNECTION (2008)-November 28, 2011

My quest of watching Bollywood movies continues! Once again I visited my local library and checked out a TON of Hindi films. One of those films was a cute and funny, light-hearted, romantic comedy called KISMAT KONNECTION, which was a real treat to watch.

Original Hindi Movie Poster (2008)
Set in the bearthtaking city of Toronto, the film follows the misadventures of Raj Malhotra (Shahid Kapoor), an out of work Architect who just can't seem to get a break. Desperate, he visits a gypsy who he saw on late night television named Haseena Banu Jaan (Juhi Chawla). She tells him that his luck does need to change, plus his "lucky charm" and his "one in a million" will be the same. Her predictions come true in the form of the beautiful Priya (Vidya Balan), a social activist who is protesting the demolition of the community center where she works at so a shopping mall can be built in its place. Ironically, Raj has just been hired to design the shopping mall. Too make matters worse, Priya discovers that she is Raj's lucky charm and breaks up with him. Now Raj needs to figure out how to save the community center and to win back Priya's heart.

This was a cute, funny little romantic comedy with some great musical numbers. The cinematography is top notch, and credit goes to director Aziz Mirza, who does a great job keeping the film flowing smoothly without any dragging any part of the film. He also gets some terrific shots of Toronto as well as some fine performances out of his cast. Kapoor's portrayal of the unlucky but lovable Raj is fun to watch but Balan steals the show as the strong, independent, and caring Priya; giving her more dimensions to her character creates a pathos that we the audience can relate to. However we can relate to both Raj and Pryia for this one simple fact: they are both real and flawed characters, whether they're falling in love or fighting with one another. Their acting is very down to earth and relatable, so this is a bonus for the audience. The film was originally released in India on July 18, 2008.

KISMAT KONNECTION is a fun-filled romantic comedy that fans of this genre will enjoy to watch, while simultaneously being introduced to the wonderful world of Bollywood films. A real treat to watch and share with your significant other. Defiantly worth checking out!


KISMAT KONNECTION is currently available on DVD by UTV Home Entertainment. To purchase a copy, visit the Amazon website at www.amazon.com. To learn more about UTV and their film library, visit their website at www.utvgroup.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Phil remembers Georges Méliès: The First Wizard of Cinema-November 29, 2011

After seeing Martin Scorsese's brilliant new film HUGO 3D this past Sunday, I started to think that some of you out there may not be familiar with the films of Georges Méliès, let alone who he was. For those who read my review of the film, I only hinted as to who this extraordinary man was and how movies today would not look the same hadn't been for is imagination and sense of wonder. So for tonight, I thought it would be nice to pay homage by giving a brief biography about one of cinema's most important filmmakers ever. So ladies and gentlemen, here is the true story of Georges Méliès: The First Wizard of Cinema!

Georges Méliès (Dec. 8, 1861-Jan. 21, 1938)
Méliès was born in Paris, France on December 8, 1861, where his family manufactured shoes. Later on in life he became a professional stage magician and was performing shows at the Theatre Robert-Houdin, which he bought in 1888. But fate stepped in when in on December 28, 1895, when Méliès saw the Lumière Brothers' films and soon fell in love with the movies. He originally tried to buy a camera from the Lumières but they refused to sell him one. As a result, he bought a projector from Robert W. Paul (a successful engineer) as well as a Bioscope camera. Soon, he was off making moving pictures.

His first films, like the Lumières, were actuality films (called actualités) which he added to the program at his theatre. Years later these films would became known as documentaries. He later filmed scenes of himself doing magic tricks. Then one day he accidentally discovered that he could use stop-motion photography to render trick visual effects, such as making objects disappear or change in size with a puff of smoke. Méliès was also the first to use techniques such as fade-ins, fade-outs, and dissolves to create some of the first real narrative films. He was also the first to use split screen and double exposure in his films as well. Also by accident, Méliès also created the world's first 3D camera While trying to figure out how to make sure that his US films weren't stolen before the release of his European copy, he devised a camera that would hold two reels of film that would shoot the image simultaneously; one reel is the "right eye" and the other the "left eye." When these images overlaped on another, they would become what we call a 3D image. If you don't believe me, read my review of the Méliès program I attended at the Motion Picture Academy back in September. The link in near the bottom.

Still from A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902)
Between 1896-1914, Méliès made over 500 films, but only one of those films still stands the test of time and is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. In 1902, Méliès made the film A TRIP TO THE MOON (Le Voyage dans la Lune), which included the famous image of a rocket hitting the eye of the man in the moon. The film became the foundation for future science fiction films as well as fantasy films. However, by 1913, the first World War brought an end to the innocence of his films. Many solders had seen the horrors of war, and Méliès' films of fantasy and make believe seemed childlike. Unable to change with the times, the Theatre Robert-Houdin was closed in 1914 as a result of World War I, which forced his film company into bankruptcy. Not realizing just how important his films were, he let the French Army seized most of this stock to be melted down into boot heels during World War I. Many of the other films were sold to be recycled into new film. As a result, all of his films appeared to be lost forever along with him as well.

After being driven out of business, Méliès became a toy salesman at the Montparnasse Station in Paris and was completely forgotten. Fortunately, the French surrealist movement in the 1920s brought about a rediscovery of his surviving films, and the acknowledgment of his contributions to the art and the industry of motion pictures. Eventually, this led to his being awarded the Legion of Honor in 1931. He was also given a rent free apartment where he spent the remaining years of his life. Georges Méliès passed away on January 21, 1938, and was buried in the Pere Lachaise Cementary.

The Georges Méliès 5-Disc DVD Boxset (2008)
Seventy-three years after his death, Méliès is still talked about and his films are still being shown and being rediscovered by a whole new generation of film fans and lovers. Over the years many of his films thought to have been lost were being unearthed and preserved. In 2008, film historian David Shepard along with Eric Lange produced the unprecedented and comprehensive five disc DVD boxset entitled Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913) released by Flicker Alley. The boxset contained 173 rare and original films thought to have been lost. Upon the release of this DVD set, several more of Méliès' films were discovered, prompting Flicker Alley to release Georges Méliès Encore: New Discoveries (1896-1911). It contained 26 new and rare films on a single DVD. But the surprises weren't over yet.

In 2010, a rare, hand colored print of A TRIP TO THE MOON was discovered in a film vault in Barcelona, Spain. French film historian and archivist Serge Bromberg acquired the film but the print was in very poor condition. As a result, Bromberg's company Lobster Films, along with Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage, plus with the aid of Tom Burton at Technicolor’s laboratories in Los Angeles, California, launched the most complex and ambitious restoration project in the history of cinema. In the course of one year, they were able to restore Méliès' film in time for its premiere at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, with a recorded soundtrack done by the French band Air. During my vacation in Los Angeles back in September, I attended the special program entitled "A TRIP TO THE MOON AND OTHER TRAVELS THROUGH TIME, COLOR, AND SPACE" at the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Science, where they had a special screening of the film, along with other important silent films (including the previously mentioned Méliès 3D films). For those of you who didn't get a chance to read my review of this special occasion the first time around, please click here to read about it.

Georges Méliès is more than just a filmmaker, he is an icon. A hero to some, others see him as a pioneer. But what is not disputed is this: now and forever more, Georges Méliès will simply be remembered as the first wizard of cinema!


The Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913) 5-Disc DVD Boxset and the Georges Méliès Encore: New Discoveries (1896-1911) single disc are currently available on the Flicker Alley website. To purchase copies, visit their website at www.flickeralley.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees MY WEEK WITH MARILYN at the CineArts Theatre Santanna Row-November 27, 2011

For the third and final film I saw on Sunday, I headed over to the CineArts Theatre located in Santanna Row. It was a cool, crisp night; the perfect night to go see a movie! So with this in mind, I went and saw MY WEEK WITH MARILYN which is based on two books by Collin Clark, the man who had his first love with the legendary Monroe.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
The film takes place in the early summer of 1956, and a young 23 year-old named Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) is working as an 3rd assistant director (i.e. gopher) on the British set of THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL, the film that famously paired Sir Lawrence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams), who was also on honeymoon with her new husband, playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott). When Miller leaves the country, Clark introduces Monroe to British life and they spend a week together, during which time she escapes from her Hollywood routine and the pressures of work. But when young Clark falls in love with Mrs. Monroe, she reminds him that she's married and will not give up being a film star for him.

As previously mentioned, the film is based on Colin's two books: The Prince, the Showgirl and Me was published in 1996, based on his diary account nearly 40 years after completion of the film. However, there was one week that was missing from his first book. Then in the year 2000, that missing week come to light in the form of My Week with Marilyn. The book received harsh criticism from both readers and fans of Monroe, who bashed and berated Colin's book, citing that it's filled with utter lies and rubbish. Whether if Colin's story is true or not, some people found it fascinating, and thought it would make a good movie.

While the film is simply wonderful, it is Williams' performance as Monroe that's really outstanding. She really channels Marilyn into her performance, and when you watch her in the film, you're not watching Williams; you're watching Marilyn Monroe walk. You're watching Marilyn Monroe talk, and act, and sing, and dance. But also we see Marlyn when she's depressed, sad, overwhelmed, and doped up on pills. The range of emotions the Williams' goes through to perfect the Blonde Goddess herself is just astounding! She even looks like Marilyn! Look for Williams' name at Oscar time, because she so deserves to be nominated after giving this compelling performance!

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN is a marvelous and amazing film, a vibrant and reveling story of not just film history, but of first love. A must see for all fans of Monroe or of film history. Two very big thumbs up!


MY WEEK WITH MARILYN is currently playing in select theaters nationwide, including the CineArts Theatre here in San Jose. To view showtimes, visit their website at http://cinemark.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees HUGO 3D at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-November 27, 2011

Whenever someone mentions the name Martin Scorsese, a thousand thoughts and images run through my mind. He is an American treasure, one of the most talented, beloved, and respected directors of the last half of the 20th century. His film have enriched all our lives, and we have been privileged to see his films. For the second film I saw today at the Camera 7 Pruneyard, I went and saw Scorsese's new film HUGO 3D, based on the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by author Brian Selznick.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
Set in 1930s Paris, the film follows a young boy named Hugo (Asa Butterfield), whose master clockmaker father (Jude Law) died in a fire and thus is dragged off by his uncle, an alcoholic watchmaker who is responsible for maintaining all the clocks in a Paris train station. After his uncle disappears, Hugo steals gadgets and tools to fix the only thing left by his father: a broken automaton—a mechanical man that his father was restoring, which may also solve the mystery of his death. But one day Hugo is caught stealing tools from by a toy store owner named Méliès (Ben Kingsley), who takes away Hugo's blueprints for the automaton. By coincidence, Hugo befriends Méliès' adventurous goddaughter Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), who helps him with his automaton. But by investigating the origin of the automaton, they both discover a startling secret: that Isabelle's godfather is none other than Georges Méliès, forgotten French film pioneer of silent cinema!

The film is Scorese's love letter to both his passion of films (is this case silent films) and his idol, the great Georges Méliès. In the scene where Hugo and Isabelle sneak into a theatre to watch Harold Lloyd's 1923 silent film classic SAFETY LAST, my heart went a flutter. For those people in the audience, young and old, who have never seen a silent film before, here was Scorsese's opportunity to expose people to this long, lost art form. When Hugo gets the automaton to work (thanks to the key that Isabelle wears as a necklace), it draws an image that he saw in a film with his father. This leads the children to the library to learn more about the cinema. They look through a film book which has pictures and, in a beautiful montage, Scorsese has images form some of the most important silent films ever to have graced the screen. From D.W. Griffith's 1916 film INTOLERANCE to Charlie Chaplin 1921 film THE KID, the audience is given a visual treat, a treat that hopefully inspires them to see and learn more about the wonderful world of silent films.

The image that the automaton drew was from one of the most iconic image ever in cinema history. In 1902, Méliès directed the film A TRIP TO THE MOON, one of the most important and influential films ever made! Now I have seen this film several times in my life, and I can honestly say that every time I watch it, I am just amazed by it. It was one of the first films to tell a story; containing a plot to put it more scholastically. A group of astronomers create a rocket that sends them to the moon. The image of the moon's face with a rocket in its eye is THE most recognized image ever! Whether or not you have seen the film, you have defiantly seen this image! Scorsese pays homage to Méliès in the film, citing him as cinema's first true innovator, pioneer, and artist.

HUGO 3D is Scorsese's most personal film to date; a marvelous family film that also pays tribute to films and filmmakers of the past. The film truly is Scorsese's best movie ever, and for this film lover, it is wonderful gem to watch. Please go see this amazing film with your family, your friends, or even by yourself, and share it with others! Six out of five stars here people!!


HUGO 3D is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the South Bay. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Phil sees THE DESCENDANTS at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-November 27, 2011

Around this time of year Hollywood unleashes a tidal wave of great films during the holiday season, which tells me that we are now in Oscar season! This month I've seen some truly amazing films, one right after another. So for today I ventured out to see three films; two of them at the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell. The first film I saw today was THE DESCENDANTS, directed by Alexander Payne and starring George Clooney.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, Clooney portrays Matt King, a lawyer who also happens to be a land baron on the verge of selling 25,000 acres of land owned by his family with his cousins (which includes Beau Bridges) for a large sum of money. However during this, his wife Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) is involved in a terrible boating accident, leaving her in a coma to which the doctors say that she will not wake up from. Soon Matt finds himself alone with his two daughters: youngest Scottie (Amara Miller) and rebellious seventeen year-old Alexandra (Shailene Woodley). But when Alexandra informs him the Elizabeth was having an affair with a real estate broker Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard), Matt takes his daughters and Alexandra's friend Sid (Nick Krause) on a trip from Oahu to Kauai to confront him, all the while he still wrestles with the decision whether or not to sell the family's land that was handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.

Once again Payne blends both humor and emotional drama to his film. His first film since 2004's SIDEWAYS, the film wears its heart on its sleeve, but Payne makes sure he doesn't overdue it. It's emotional depths that all of the characters in the film transcend into makes it so rewarding to watch.

Clooney once again nails his role as the grief stricken Matt, who also must attend to his affair. Young Amara Miller does a great job as well considering the how much darkness is in the film. However major applauds goes to Woodley, who is just devastating as the angst ridden, mother-hating, foul-mouthed Alexandra. Woodley is mostly well known for portraying Amy Juergens on the TV show THE SECRET LIFE OF AN AMERICAN TEENAGER, but with this role, she is able to really stretch out as an actress and turns in an incredible performance. Defiantly watch her career take off after this film!

THE DESCENDANTS is an great film, witty and dark surrounded with compelling characters that will stay with you long after the film is over. Truly worth seeing in the theater!


THE DESCENDANTS is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the South Bay. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Phil sees THE MUPPETS at the Camera 12 Downtown San Jose-November 26, 2011

OK, every now and then, you have to indulge your inner child! It is a requirement that we adults must do to remain young, or at least feel young. So today my friend Amanda and I traveled to the Camera 12 located in downtown San Jose to visit some "old friends" from our childhood. So ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, it's time to raise the curtains! It's time to light the lights! It's time for you to see THE MUPPETS on the big screen tonight!

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
Before the film, there was another TOY STORY TOONS short film before the main feature. Entitled SMALL FRY, the film's about a mini "Happy Meal" Buzz Lightyear toy who switches places with the real Buzz. However Woody and the rest of the gang realize this and try to rescue their friend. Another great Pixar short!

Now about the main feature! Jason Segel stars as Gary, who has a great girlfriend named Mary (Amy Adams) and has a younger brother named Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), who also just happens to be a huge Muppets fan! The three of them take a trip to Los Angeles for Gary and Mary's 10 year anniversary. The also stop by the old Muppets studio, where they learn that oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) plans to tear down the studio and drill for the oil that is underneath it. Soon they track down Kermit the Frog and inform him of Richman's evil plot. The guys (and gal) manage to reunite the Muppet gang to put on one last show, The Muppet Telethon Show, to save their beloved studio.

The film also boasts appearances from Rashida Jones (CDE Executive), Alan Arkin (Tour Guide), Bill Cobbs (Grandfather), Zach Galifianakis (Hobo Joe), Ken Jeong ('Punch Teacher' TV Host), Jim Parsons (Human Walter), Kristen Schaal (Moderator), Emily Blunt (Miss Piggy's Receptionist), and Sarah Silverman (Mel's Drive-In Hostess). Also appearing as themselves are Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Neil Patrick Harris, Judd Hirsch, Rico Rodriguez and Jack Black, with cameos by Dave Grohl, Mickey Rooney, and Fiest.

Once again, the Muppets are back, thanks to a very clever script by none other than Segel (a die-hard Muppet fan) and Nicholas Stoller. Their love for this franchise is evident; fun sing-a-longs, random humor, self-parody, mocking pop culture; keeping the spirit of Muppets creator Jim Henson alive. But the film also touches on such important issues such as self esteem, believing in yourself, and whether or not you are relevant still, which Kermit struggles with, along with Walter. Do the Muppets still matter in the 21st Century? Does anybody care about them still? Will they be able to save their studio? But the big question is this: Will Kermit and Miss Piggy get back together? What? I'm not gonna tell you! You have to go see the film for yourself!

Granted the Muppets are not exactly as they were when I was a kid, but with good reason. Many of the voices are not the same, which happened with the passing of Mr. Henson (he died on May 16, 1990 from walking pneumonia at the young age of 54). Ironically, he passed away on the weekend that he was going to sell his company to Disney (he also died on the same day as Sammy Davis Jr.). Also Frank Oz didn't participate in the film.  Oz was one of Henson's longest collaboraters and former performer of some of the more popular Muppets, including Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and Animal. Oz, who reportedly had been working on a script of his own for a new Muppets movie when Disney made the choice to go with one by Segel and Stoller, was offered a chance to work on the movie but turned it down. As a result, Oz and his trademark "voices" are no where to be found, and to be honest, it's a real shame. Hopefully this little dilemma will be solved before the next Muppet movie is made.

THE MUPPETS is great fun for the whole family! Kids will have fun watching it, meeting these great characters for the first time, while the adults will reminisce about watching the original TV show when they were their kid's age. Like I said, I had a blast watching these guys again, and hopefully we'll be seeing more of them very soon!!


THE MUPPETS is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees LIKE CRAZY at the CineArts Theatre Santanna Row-November 25, 2011

Not too often, I see a film that really speaks to me. A film that talks to my soul and unearths buried emotions that reawakens forgotten memories of days past. The film I saw tonight was a film that I wasn't really interested in seeing. While the trailer looked promising and it received raved reviews, I literally had to force myself to see it. And I'm really glad that I did. The film LIKE CRAZY is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best romantic, love stories to have ever graced the silver screen this past year!

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
The film follows a young couple, who despite coming from different worlds, fall madly in love with one another. While attending at an unnamed LA college, British student Anna (Felicity Jones) falls in love with an American student named Jacob (Anton Yelchin). They are a match made in heaven, but when Anna violates her Visa by remaining here in the US, she is immediately sent back to the U.K. While fighting customs and immigration battles, Anna and Jacob must decide if their relationship is worth the distance and the hardship. While they try to move, with Anna dating her neighbor Simon (Charlie Bewley) and Jacob seeing his co-worker Sam (Jennifer Lawrence), their love for each other remains intact. But will it be enough to save their relationship?

Words cannot begin to describe just how beautiful this film truly is. It is as if the film was made just for me, showing me my greatest lost love. The film is sheer poetry, weaving words and emotions together seamlessly, creating a love letter for the whole world to read.

Director Drake Doremus, who also co-wrote the script with screenwriter Ben York Jones, delved deep within to create such a moving piece of film. Directed with such tenderness and affection, it is perfectly directed without you realizing it. But the best part of the film is Jones, who turns it an Oscar- worthy performance as Anna. She is just absolutely spellbinding! A captivating performance, realistic and grounded. She really does deserve an Oscar nomination for this film!

LIKE CRAZY is just a beautiful film, touching and riveting, the best romance film for all time!! For fans of THE NOTEBOOK(500) DAYS OF SUMMER and BLUE VALENTINE, the film is required viewing! Go see this film and get ready to fall in love all over again! Five out of five stars!!!


LIKE CRAZY is currently playing in select theaters, including the CineArts Theatre here in San Jose. To view showtimes, visit their website at http://cinemark.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Phil goes Bollywood: Phil watches CHAMELI (2003)-November 22, 2011

Ever since I saw RA.ONE and ROCKSTAR a couple of weeks ago, my desire to watch Bollywood films has reached a fever pitch! I also made it a point to watch any film that had actress Kareena Kapoor in it. So while I was in the Willow Glen library checking out some books, I stumbled upon their Hindi DVD section. There I started to pick up Bollywood films that looked promising. One of those films had Kapoor in it, so I had to watch that one first. Expecting your typical lavish Bollywood extravaganza, the film CHAMELI is the polar opposite; offering complex characters and development while examining the affairs of the human heart as it tries to comprehend love, life, and loss.

Original Hindi Movie Poster (2003)
The film follows Aman (Rahul Bose), a wealthy investment banker, whose car breaks down during a cold, stormy night in the area called Kamathipura, which is notorious for it's red-light district and its also known as a crime-prone area. Unable to call for help on his cellphone, he takes refuge in a nearby building. There he meets a prostitute named Chameli (Kareena Kapoor), who at first propositions him, but he turns her down. But soon he gets involved in her nightmare world involving pimps, eunuchs, prostitutes, and corrupt police officers. However it is during the duration of the night these two opposite individuals begin to slowly reveal themselves to each other, and so do their hearts.

The film unfolds so beautifully, like a rose blossoming open during a warm spring day. Some fantastic directing on the part of Sudhir Mishra, who really takes his time and lets us in on these two lost souls who have some pain hiding within them. Also worth noting is the amazing acting on the part of Kapoor. She brought pathos, intelligence and vulnerability to the role, and her performance is just captivating. Before making this film, Kapoor was pretty much typecast as the "funny, silly carefree" character as seen in her previous films. When the role of Chameli was announced, she auditioned for the it, and the rest as they say is history. The film and the role redefined Kapoor, and relaunched her career into the stratosphere. New and challenging roles we offered, and soon she became the most popular actress in Bollywood.

The film was released in India on December 31, 2003. It received critical acclaim right from the get go. The film would later go on to win Best Cinematography at the Film Fare awards and Kapoor would also win a Special Award for Best Performance. The film was released on DVD here in the states in 2004 by Rainbow Films USA.

CHAMELI is a beautiful and enchanting love story of two strangers who meet by chance, but are destined for love. So if you if you are tried of the same old Hollywood love story, then please, by all means, track this film down and watch it! It is a fantastic film that I highly recommended!!


CHAMELI is currently available on DVD and can be purchased at your local video retailers or at Amazon. Visit their website at www.amazon.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Phil attends COMEDY SHORTS NIGHT at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-November 19, 2011

This past Saturday night I ventured back to the Edison Theatre, home of the world famous Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, where they were having their popular Comedy Shorts Night. So I took my good friend Amanda, her son Brian with me to have some silent film fun. First we stopped off to eat dinner at Bronco Billy's Pizza Palace, where we filled up on burgers, pizzas, and garlic cheese bread, severed by my long time friend Heather. Afterwards, the three of us made our way to the theatre.

Not only it was comedy night, but there was also a special book signing at the museum as well. Authors Gary Meyer and Julie Lindow were there signing their book Left in the Dark: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theatres. Also there was Jack Tillmany with his Arcadia book Theatres of the San Francisco Peninsula. During the opening introductions, all three authors came up to talk about their respective books and thanked the museum for hosting and providing a wonderful environment to show these great silent films. Tonight's program consisted of four hilarious shorts:

Snub Pollard (1889-1962)
COURTSHIP OF MILES SANDWICH (1923): Starring funnyman Snub Pollard. In the film Snub plays Papa, who tells his son the story about the very first Thanksgiving. It's a funny story involving Pilgrims, Indians, Pilgrims driving Fords, renting skis, exploding peace pipes, and other funny sight gags. The film was directed by Charley Chase, who went on to star in his own series of comedy shorts. The film was produced by Hal Roach studios and was released to theaters on June 24, 1923.

Max Davidson (1875-1950)
PASS THE GRAVY (1929): Starring Max Davidson, Spec O'Donnell, Martha Sleeper, Bert Sprotte, and Gene Morgan. The museum's Thanksgiving short film they screen every year, the film is the best 20 minutes you'll have laughing at a movie! Words cannot begin to describe the film, so I'll try to do my best here. Max and his neighbor Shultz (Sprotte) can't seem to get along, due to the fact that Sprotte breeds chickens, which eat up his plant seeds. However, Max's daughter (Sleeper) and Shultz's son (Morgan) are now engaed, and to celebrate, Max sends his youngest son (Spec) to buy a $2 chicken. But his son finds a chicken that will do just fine for dinner. But the catch is this: that chicken was Shultz's prize winning rooster Brigham! As of course, some comedic shenanigans ensues, and thus comedy gold is shown right before your very eyes! The film was produced by Hal Roach Studios and released to theaters by MGM on January 7, 1928.

After a brief intermission, the show continued with:

Charley Chase (1893-1940)
MOVIE NIGHT (1929): Starring comedian Charley Chase, Spec O'Donnell, Eugenia Gilbert, and Edith Fellows. In the film Chase and his family are getting ready for the weekly outing to the movies. But poor Chase can't seem to get a break. First he tries to pass off his wife's brother (O'Donnell) as a minor to save some money but to no avail, then his daughter (Fellows) has a severe case of the hiccups, which she passes on to Chase. Then he's being harassed by the theatre manager for interrupting the picture for the audience. Things get even wilder when Chase wins a duck during the theatre's raffle! This was on of the last silent films that Hal Roach Studios produced and it was Chase's last silent film ever. The film was released by MGM on May 11, 1929.

S. Laurel (1890-1965) O. Hardy (1892-1957)
DO DETECTIVES THINK? (1927): Starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. In this film, the boys play Ferdinand Finkleberry (Laurel) and Sherlock Pinkham (Hardy), two of the worst detectives ever who have been assigned to watch over Judge Foozle (James Finlayson), whose life is threatened when The Tipton Slasher (Noah Young) escapes from prison and targets the Foozle as his next victim. This is Laurel and Hardy at their best! The film is a long lost classic that has never been released on DVD! The film was produced by Hal Roach Studios (noticed the theme of tonight?) and released into theatres on November 20, 1927.

Another great Comedy Shorts Night at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum! If you would like to learn more about the museum, their film schedule, and how to become a member, visit their website at www.nilesfilmmuseum.org

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Phil goes Bollywood: Phil sees RA.ONE (again) in 3D at the AMC Mercado 20 Theaters-November 19, 2011

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
OK,OK, I know what thinking! "Uhhhh....Phil, you've already seen this film. And I've already read your review. So what the hell are you doing writing another review for the movie?" Yes, you are right my faithful readers. But for those who haven't read my original review of the film, click here to read about it.

OK, now the reason for my watching and reviewing it again. I saw it in 3D! That's it! That's the only reason I saw the film again. But let's face it, the film rocks! I loved seeing the film the first time, and since it was my first Bollywood film, it now has a special place in my heart. So when I read that the film was still playing at the AMC Mercado 20, I wanted to see it again, but when I saw that it was also playing in 3D, I jammed out there like a bat outta Hell to see the film. Yes, I got to see it all in 3D: fierce action fight scenes, fast paced car chases, computer games sequences, spectacular dance scenes, and the amazingly, the enchanting, the absolutely stunning Kareena Kapoor...in 3D! When I saw Kapoor appear in the film in 3D, I though I died and gone to heaven! So make this an important engagement, and go see RA.ONE now! And don't forget to see it in 3D!!

RA.ONE is currently playing in 2D and 3D in select theaters nationwide, including at the AMC Theaters. To view showtimes, visit their website www.amctheatres.com. The film is also playing at the BIG Theaters in Fremont. To view their showtimes, visit their website at http://us.bigcinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Phil goes Porno Chic: Phil reviews HORIZON from Wicked Pictures-November 17, 2011

Outside the Frisco Theatre (1972)
Greetings and salutations everybody and welcome to a special edition of Phil's Film Adventures. Today I decided to do something completely different, and as a result, I am going Porno Chic for today's review. For those of you may not know this term, it refers to a time when it seemed okay to go out and see a "dirty movie" at your local theatre. Couples were going, along with groups of women, curious as to what the clamour was all about. Causing all this clamour was the film DEEP THROAT, an adult film that was released on June 12, 1972 at the World Theatre in Manhattan. In early 1973, a news article about the film appeared on the New York Times. Written by reporter Ralph Blumenthal and using the phrase "Porno Chic" for its title, it helped usher in what has been coined "The Golden Age of Pornography," which lasted between 1972-1984. Following on the heels of the film's success came a plethora of adult films that are now considered classics among its peers; films like THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES, BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR, THE OPENING OF MISTY BEETHOVEN, TABOO, INSATIABLE, and MARASCHINO CHERRY are true works of art, blending eroticism and avant-garde style filmmaking that represented and reflected the culture and society of that time. However with the invention of the VCR, adult theatres became a thing of the past and soon couples were renting and watching these films in the privacy of their home. Also with the home camcorder, adult films switched from being shot on film to on tape, thus bringing down the production values, rendering it to low grade (and often low quality) product that was mass produced. As a result, quantity replaced quality.

With the new millennium came new technologies, which the adult film industry used to upgrade their films. Combining high quality HD cameras and digital special effects with solid scripts and fine acting, adult films have once again come full circle; combining eroticism and storytelling to create contemporary works of art. All of this has lead me to Wicked Picture's new film HORIZON, the most ambitious science fiction film ever made in the adult industry.

Original Cover Artwork (2011)
Set in the year 2097 CE, the planet Earth has been invaded by an alien civilization that has brought mankind on the eve of extinction. About on-third of the planet's 9 billion inhabitants  are dead and roughly 2 billion more have been rescued and sent to a hidden military base that is buried in the core of the planet Mercury. However, the remaining 4 billion lives still on Earth are predicted to perish within the next 48hrs. To thwart the alien invasion from reaching other planets and other solar systems, Captain Beth Ezra (Wicked Picture's contract star Jessica Drake) and her her crew aboard the military space cruiser the Horizon are sent to return to Earth for one last stand. But is it a mercy mission or an act of genocide? With billions of lives hanging in the balance, the stakes are high for the crew of the Horizon.

Also appearing in the film are Drake's fellow Wicked Girls Kaylani Lei (CMDR Wright) and Alektra Blue (Civilian), as well as Kimberly Kane (Emily Hill), Bobbi Starr (Dr. Torin), Misty Stone (Lt. Green), Aiden Starr (Femme), Andy San Dimas (Dr. Vilenkin), Bill Bailey (Dawson),  Tony De Sergio (Sean Hill), Rocco Reed (LT. CMDR Marrs), Xander Corvus (President), and Danny Mountain (Chairman).

This is not your ordinary, run of the mill, adult film. Boasting an incredibly talented cast, a great futuristic script, amazing special effects, fantastic cinematography, and scorching sex scenes, the film raises the bar extremely high that other films will be hard press to reach, let alone achieve. Wicked Pictures specializes in producing high quality films for couples to enjoy together, and they keep their promise with this beautifully made, big-budgeted film!

Right at the beginning of the film, you know that this not your father's porno. In the film's opening when we see a spaceship flying high above Earth. This is very reminiscent to the opening of the original STAR WARS (1977), and just like what that opening did, it sets the pace and tone of the film. Ghastly alien creatures called Crawlers wreck havoc on the Earth's surface, irradiating the human race. This combination of spectacular CGI and creature make-up gives the film a look and feel of a high gloss, big budgeted Hollywood film. However unlike some of those supposed sci-fi films (i.e. LOST IN SPACE, BATTLEFIELD: EARTH to name a few) this film really provides the entertainment in spades.

Drake is amazing as the stern and determined Capt. Ezra, who will stop at nothing to complete her mission, even if it includes harming her own crew in the process. Also worth noting are Kaylani Lei and Bobbi Starr, whose characters are domestic partners in the film (is this foreshadowing as to what might happen in our present day military? Well let's hope we can get same sex marriage legalized first, but let's keep our fingers crossed still). These two actresses portray their love for one another is such a beautiful display of affection that we care about them and hope they survive their dangerous mission. Kimberly Kane is also great as Emily, who inadvertently becomes the link between mankind's survival or its demise.

The film was written and directed by Sam Hain, who does a tremendous job creating such an instant classic! Skillfully directed using the new Red Epic camera system, showcasing that he really is a talented film director; interesting camera angles, fast paced action sequences, up-close drama tensions, combined with a tight, action packed, sex infused script, and you have all hallmarks of a blockbuster on your hands!

Now you're probably waiting patiently, thinking to yourselves, "OK, all this sounds great, but Phil, how are the sex scenes?" Well I'm glad you asked, so here it is: They're hot! Damn hot! First Misty Stone and her beau Bailey have a steamy shower sex scene (the only thing I didn't like about it was the water coming out of the shower was CGI. As to why they did this I do not know, but maybe they were afraid of getting the Red Epic camera wet, so this is my theory), then the ultra sexy Alektra Blue has a scorching three way with Mountain and Corvus (one of my personal favorite scenes of the film). Kane and her scene with De Sergio is also hot, but the next scene with Kaylani and Bobbi is erotic lesbian heaven (and is my other favorite sex scene of the film)! Next up we finally get to see Drake's Capt. Ezra get down and dirty in an insatiable scene with Reed, and the last scene is for the ladies, with Kane returning once more with another hot scene, this time a trice with the sultry Aiden Starr in the film's other enticing lesbian scene!

HORIZON is one of the best action packed, sexually charged, science fiction films ever to come out of the adult industry! If you still have that same, stereotypical pizza delivery boy scenario stuck in your head, best you remove that image immediately. The film goes beyond the category of being label as just another porno. If you don't  believe me, let me tell you this quick story: the film had its premiere back in September, where it was held at the Landmark Theatres in Westwood, California, complete with a fascinating and insightful Q&A with the cast and crew, as well as a lavish afterparty! And if that still doesn't impress you, it was also screened at USC Santa Barbara, where again some of the cast and crew participated in a Q&A. So do yourself a favor, if you and your loved one want to see a film that is both entertaining and erotic as hell, then HORIZON is the perfect film the both of you will enjoy!


HORIZON is currently available in a special edition DVD/Blu-Ray Combo set. To purchase a copy, visit the Adult DVD Empire website at www.adultdvdempire.com. To learn more about Wicked Pictures and their films, visit their website at www.wickedpictures.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Phil sees J. EDGAR at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-November 14, 2011

Usually my Mondays at work are both physical and plagued with long hours. To help unwind and relieve my tension and stress, there is nothing more therapeutic than going to see a movie. So after work today, I headed back to the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell to see the new film J. EDGAR by famed and celebrated director Clint Eastwood.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
This biopic tells the life and times of J. Edgar Hoover, one of the most important figures in American history. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hoover, the face of the FBI for more than 50 years. Through flashbacks and reminiscent memories, we learn about the man behind the FBI: a young and zealous man who had very big plans for himself, his rise in power as the head of the FBI, his personal files that contained enough evidence to bring down presidents, politicians, and criminals alike. All the while Hoover was keeping a secret; a deep, dark secret that could have destroyed his life, his reputation, and his career. Those who knew his secret was his mother Annie (Judi Dench), his personal assistant Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts), and his second in command Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), the only man that Edgar ever loved but couldn't.

Brilliantly directed by Eastwood, the film offers us an insightful and compassionate portrait of one of the most private and complex men in U.S. history. Eastwood's directing is simply flawless; precise shots, beautiful set ups, excellent sweeps during the action scenes, intensive close ups when there's drama, and the candidness when love is present. Eastwood carefully takes his time when unraveling the hidden obsessions and insecurities of a man who had hidden his true self from the same country he swore to protect. He wasn't just hiding in the closet, he nailed it shut so no one could ever enter. But when he met Mr. Tolson, he knew this was the man he wanted to spend the rest of life with, however, it was disguised as a working relationship. But for Edgar, it was better than nothing. Eastwood also wrote the soundtrack and acted as producer along side another famous Hollywood director, Ron Howard!

Teaming up with Eastwood for this biopic was screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, the man responsible for writing the Academy Award winning film MILK. It is interesting to see these two individuals working together. Black is openly gay man, whose writing offers different dimensions to gay persons, whether it be Harvey Milk of J. Edgar Hoover. His talent is to make these extraordinary, larger than life heroes and reduce them to their most basic components that makes them human. Real people with real problems, other than just being gay. However being gay is important, but Black processes that rare talent of telling a story that both gay and straight audiences can relate to. It is the human condition that unites us all; our struggles, our fears, our triumphs, and our tragedies.

Let it also be known that DiCaprio's performance in the film was riveting, bringing multiple sides of J. Edgar to life. His fierce, determination, and aggressive persona blended with his momma boy's complex was quite astounding, bringing such depth and clarity. The special make-up team of Sian Grigg and Duncan Jarman did an incredible job of aging DiCaprio's Hoover into his twilight years. Watts also gives a great performance in the film as well as Hammer, and they both have a great make-up artists aging them as well. Of course, Judi Dench is knocks it out of the park when she's in front of the camera as always.

J. EDGAR is a triumph in the world of filmmaking! Sincere, unapologetic, moving, and absolutely stunning! The film should be receiving several Oscar nominations next year. Overall, a vital cinematic experience that you should not miss!


J. EDGAR is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the South Bay. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Phil sees THE COAST PATROL at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-November 12, 2011

Hello there everybody! Hope you fine folks are had fun this weekend! I sure did, because this past Saturday I made my way back to the Edison Theater in Niles, home of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Once again I took a trip back in time to when films were silent, but spoke profoundly to us all. The program consisted of two shorts and our feature presentation. But first up the shorts...

MABEL'S BLUNDER (1914): Starring the funny and enchanting Mabel Normand, the film's about out Mabel being engaged to Harry (Harry McCoy), but his dad (Charles Bennett) has his eye on her as well. But when Harry's sister (Eva Nelson) comes by for a visit, Mabel thinks his cheating on her. Soon it's a barrage of laughs and mistaken identities involving her brother (Al St. John) and Mabel dressing up as a driver. Also look for a guest appearance by none other than future Hal Roach star Charley Chase. The film was released by the Keystone Film Company on October 14, 1914.

THE HALFBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1924):  Starring Harry Gibson, Madeline Hurlock, and Jack Cooper, this comedy is about the college life: funny football games gags, slapstick dentistry techniques, and other hilarious hijinks. The film was produced and distributed by comedy king Mack Sennett on February 24, 1924.

Fay Wray (1907-2004)
After a brief intermission, the show continued with the main feature. THE COAST PATROL was the first starring role for an up and coming actress named Fay Wray, who was just 17 years old when the film was made. Wray plays Beth, a tomboyish girl who was adopted by the old lighthouse keeper. But her sheltered life is turned upside down when she saves a woman named Valerie (Claire de Lorez) from drowning. Aiding Beth in the rescue is Dale Ripley (Kenneth MacDonald) from the coast patrol and all three are safely returned to shore. However unknown to our heroes, Valerie is secretly partners with a man named Eric Marmont (Gino Corrado), a local smuggler who posses as a "titled foreigner" as his cover. He rents a boat from Beth's father and tries to seduce her into marrying him. But soon Dale discovers Eric's true identity and tries to save Beth from grave danger!

This was a great little film that was a pleasure to see, especially with seeing Wray so young in both her age and career. Wray's Beth is visibly inhabited by a tomboy spirit, and she plays the lightweight part well. Her scenes with her adoptive father are perhaps her most dramatic.The film was released by the Bud Barsky Corporation in August of 1925.

A long, lost silent film finally being rediscovered is of the many reasons I love coming to the museum's Saturday night shows! If you would like to learn more about the museum, their film schedule, and how to become a member, please visit their website at www.nilesfilmmuseum.org

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil goes Bollywood: Phil sees ROCKSTAR at the BIG Cinemas Towne 3-November 12, 2011

After seeing my first Bollywod film this past Wednesday, I can honestly say that I am hooked on these films! When I went to see RA.ONE on Wednesday, I saw a trailer for a film that really looked promising. Lucky for me, it was to be released on Friday. So today I went back to the BIG Cinema Towne 3 and saw the new Eros International film ROCKSTAR.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
The film focuses on Janardan (Ranbir Kapoor), a young, naive college student who is also a talented musician who dreams of becoming a famous rock star just like Jim Morrison. However, nobody will take his music (or himself) seriously. Also he lacks the ability to write songs, seeing how he has never experienced any sort of tragedy; suffering from painful heartbreaks, sordid upbringings and whatever the case may be that made them the stars they are. Enter the love of his life; Heer (the enchanting Nargis Fakhri), a tough and beautiful young woman who at first dismisses Janardan's advances. Eventually she gives him a chance and soon the two become the best of friends. However, she is to be married in a couple of months. Soon their feelings for one another surface, but Heer goes through with her marriage and Janardan is left completely devastated. A few months later he is signed to a record label and becomes the rock star named Jordon. But his erratic behavior and bad bay image is fueled for his lost of Heer and only she can help save him from self-destruction.

The ultimate love letter for hopeless romantics, the film really focuses on the forbidden passion between Janardan and Heer. We the audience are sympathetic to Janardan and his quest for not only to win the heart of Keer, but his desire to become a famous rock star. Both Kapoor and Fakhri have great chemistry on screen, and their acting is honest and believable. Also worth noting is director Imtiaz Ali's superb job at keeping the camera focused on the story. Amazing shots, clean sweeps, using fast and slow motion are some of the tools he uses to tell the story of longing love.

The music of the film was created by AR Rahman and it is incredible! His music alone is worth going to see the film. When we hear the song "Saddha Haq" in the film, you too will be pumping your fist in the air with Jordan as well. This awesome soundtrack is woven perfectly within the film!


 ROCKSTAR is a dynamic, rockin', emotionally charged love film that couples everywhere should see! Leave it to Bollywood to create a fantastic and entertaining work of true art! Highly recommended!!

ROCKSTAR is currently playing at the BIG Cinemas. To view showtimes, visit their website at http://us.bigcinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Phil sees MELANCHOLIA at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-November 11, 2011

Hollywood films depicting the end of the world isn't anything new. This has been staple for quite sometime now. Usually it is either caused by space aliens, an asteroid, or some man made nuclear device that devastates all life on Earth. Pretty much the same old cliches that I find rather boring. However, when I went to the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell to see director Lars von Trier's new film MELANCHOLIA, I can honestly say that this was the most beautiful apocalypse that I have ever seen in a film before!

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
In this mesmerizing and poetic film about the end of the world, Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) are celebrating their wedding at a fancy party in the home of her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her wealthy husband John (Kiefer Sutherland). Despite their best efforts, the wedding is a disaster, due to family squabbling, lack of love and support, and Justine's deep depression. To make matters worse, the mysterious planet called Melancholia, which has been hidden behind the sun for all this time, is now on a collision course with Earth. With the end of the world in sight, the two sisters try to make peace with one another and be a family again before it is too late.

While watching a Lars von Trier film, one expects certain themes woven within the frames, and this film continues with this tradition: death, sorrow, cynicism, and symbolism. Unlike his previous film, 2009's controversial ANTICHRIST, von Trier also throws into the mix just a pinch of science fiction as well as humor, especially in the beginning of the film, as if to throw the audience off after witnessing the majestic opening collage of images portraying the end of the world set to the music from the overture of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. However, this opening sets up the middle and end of the film. The beginning of the story explains our characters as well as how they face their fears and their mortality.

The film is divided into two parts: the first concentrating on Justine. We are immediately thrust into her wedding, and it would seem on the surface that Justine is quite happy. But then the smile fades away, and soon she is all doom and gloom. She escapes from her family, friends, guests, and even her new husband by hiding out in her room, taking baths with her veil still on, as if it was permanently attached to head as a reminder that today should be the happiest day of her life. Instead, the veil feels more like an anchor, which sinks her deeper into her depression. She seeks help and advise from her parents, however both are too busy with their disdain for one another to help their daughter out. Her sister Claire does all she can to cheer up her up, even making her favorite meal; meatloaf. But it doesn't help, and according to Justine it, "tastes like ashes." It's as if she's choking on the ashes of life itself, which could be seen as her personal view on life, or as some kind of warning that death is coming.

Part two focuses on Claire and her apparent inability to handle Justine's massive depression, her husband's loathe for her sister, and the fear that the wayward planet Melancholia will come crashing into Earth. Eventually her fears are realized and soon her and John lose control and let fear cloud their better judgment. Throughout part two, we see John as the voice of reason, reassuring to his scared wife that Melancholia is just passing by and in now way will it harm Earth. John soon realizes that he was incorrect, and "leaves" while both Justine and Claire, and her son Leo (Cameron Spurr) are left to witness their inescapable fates.

Again, von Trier's directing style in the film is very reminiscent of is early Dogma 95 days: hand held cameras, using mostly natural and available lighting that's there, and filming on location. But there are certain aspects that he has injected into his film: using established actors, musical soundtracks, and a dash of CGI; mostly for the planet Melancholia. With these added tools to his repertoire, von Trier has been able to transcend his films into works of art. Dunst is absolutely captivating in the film. Her performance as Justine will not doubt garner her a Best Actress nomination at next year's Oscars. Her best work ever!

MELANCHOLIA is a haunting and astonishing film; a visceral achievement that delves deep in the human psyche and exposes to us our fears and our intricities. The word melancholia is a Greek word meaning sadness, literally black bile. With his film, Lars von Trier has added a new definition to this particular word: illumination.


MELANCHOLIA is currently playing in select theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends a very special screening of 9,000 NEEDLES at the Camera 3 Downtown San Jose-Nov. 10, 2011

So while I was heading over to the Camera 12 in Downtown San Jose to see what was playing, I passed the Camera 3 Theater (which is half a block away for the Camera 12) and saw that there was a special screening of an independent documentary called 9,000 NEEDLES. Also the film's co-producer/director Doug Dearth and co-producer/cameraman Douglas Busby were there to participate in a Q&A session after the screening. This sounded like it was something very important, so I rushed into the theater to see the film.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
Sponsored by the Five Branches Medical Centers here in San Jose, the film focuses on 40 year old Devin Dearth. Devin is living the American dream: he is a successful business man, an awarded bodybuilder, has a beautiful wife and three great kids in a nice house in their hometown of Central City, Kentucky. Then, without warning, Devin sufferers a severe stroke caused by a bleed in the brain stem. The stroke leaves Devin paralyzed on the right side of his body, resulting in him not being able to walk, double vision, difficulty speaking, and unable to take care of himself. And to make matters worse, the US Healthcare System only provided a small widow for recovery according to their coverage, forcing Devin to leave his treatment early.

Seeking alternative care, Devin's older brother Doug (the director of the film) discovers a medical facility in Tianjian, China that is both affordable and can also provide the treatment that Devin so desperately needs. After a successful benefit fundraiser, Devin is enrolled in the program in China, where they combined both modern and ancient Chinese medicine; the amalgam of these two worlds provide Devin the care he needs to win back his life.

Because Doug is family, and with clearance from the Chinese hospital, he was able to get up close and personal with documenting his brother's recovery. Through day by day treatment, which included acupuncture, herbal treatment, physical therapy, Devin showed vast improvement as well as his determination to heal quickly and to resume his daily routines again. The simply tasks that we perform on such as speaking and walking are a challenge to Devin, and to watch him gain such tremendous strides in his rehabilitation was just astounding! However, treatment go only go so far, for it is the human spirit that make a difference during the healing process. Devin was so focused on getting better that the Chinese doctors were surprised at how fast we was recovering. In the end, it was and still is a long road to for Devin, but after his full stay at the hospital, he walked out of there.

After the screening, the "Two Dougs" participated in a fascinating and informative Q&A. They talked about how Devin is doing, his second trip back to China, Devin's continuation of Chinese treatments like acupuncture and herbal remedies, and their future film projects they are working on. Later on in the lobby, Doug Dearth gave me an autographed copy of the film on DVD. I thanked him and made a small donation for his brother.

9,000 NEEDLES is a powerful, inspiring, and moving examination of the will of man, the acceptance of other medical treatments, and the faults of the American Helathcare System. Are we a country that has been outsourcing jobs and whatnot's for so long that now we as Americans are outsourcing ourselves to get the best medical treatment that we cannot afford by staying here? This doesn't sit well for me. We shouldn't have to be forced to go elsewhere in the world to get treatment, but until our healthcare system is fixed, we will continue to go to great lengths like Devin did. let's all hope that this problem is fixed very, very soon.


9,000 NEEDLES is now touring the country in select theaters and it will be shown again here over in Santa Cruz! To learn more about the film, visit the film's website at http://9000needles.com. To learn more about traditional Chinese medicine here in the South Bay, visit the Five Branches Medical Centers website at www.fivebranches.edu

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Phil goes Bollywood: Phil sees RA.ONE at the BIG Cinemas Towne 3-November 9, 2011

So after driving by the BIG Cinemas Towne 3 (an Indian theater that was once owned by the Camera Cinemas before they sold it) for about the millionth time, I told myself that I really need to see a movie there soon. Then yesterday when I drove by it, I saw a movie poster that caught my eye. I pulled over to see what film it was for. As it turned out, it was for the new Bollywood, sci-fi action film RA.ONE and so, I went to see it the following night. All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to the amazing world of Bollywood!!

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
The films stars Shah Rukh Khan as Shekhar Subramaniam, a video gamer developer at Barron Industries who is loving married to his wife Sonia (the absolutely breathtaking Kareena Kapoor) and has a son Prateek (Satish Shah). While in the process of developing the ultimate superhero for his project, Shekhar faces harsh criticism from his son, saying that he would rather see the ultimate super villain instead. Wanting to part of his son's world, he takes he's advise and creates the indestructible villain called RA.One (pronounced as in Lankashwar Raven and portrayed by Arjun Rampal) and his arch foe, the heroic G.One (Jeevan and modeled after Shekhar's likeness). However, on the eve of the game's release, RA.One discovers a way to enter the real world and plans on destroying anything that comes in his path.

So as my first real Bollywood film ever, I have to say that I really enjoyed the film. It was first very entertaining. It had a good script with fun and eclectic characters, fantastic action scenes, and like other Bollywood films, three great song and dance numbers. The first musical dance sequence "Criminal" was fun and sets up the rest of the songs later on in the film. This at first shocked and surprised me. I'm not use to seeing an action fight scene fitted into a musical dance number, but this is common in these films. And so I fell in love with it! It was just that damn awesome! All the songs were catchy and it will make you dance in your seat!

Another fascinating aspect I noticed in the film was the influence of Western culture there in India. Brand name designer clothes, skateboards and American slang and behavior, as well as the music. While it contains traditional Indian music, it is also infused with hip hop and techno dance music; creating a very interesting and very creative style of music that I really enjoyed!

Shah Rukh Khan does a great job as both the nerdy, cowardly, goofball dad Shekhar and the heroic G.One. Khan is a very popular movie star in India, and has made several films. For me, seeing Kareena Kapoor up on the big screen was a revelation to me. Here is a talented actress who can sing, dance, act, and look beautiful while in the middle of a fight scene! And yes, I am in love with her!

RA.ONE is an cinematic experience that I will always cherish with me forever! A great film for fans of sci-fi, Bollywood, and it's fun the whole family. It is also a great introduction for those who have seen a Bollywood film before. I am so glad that I decided to see this film. Now a whole new world has been opened up for me, and I look forward to seeing more films at the BIG Cinemas.


RA.ONE is playing at select theaters here in the South Bay. It is currently playing at the AMC Theaters Mercardo 20 Santa Clara and AMC Cupertino Square 16 as well as at the BIG Cinemas Fremont 7. Click the links for showtimes near you!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil reviews the SHOCKORAMA DOUBLE FEATURE DVD for Fangoria-November 8, 2011

So I was recently given the task to review a new DVD from my good friends at Fangoria, the home for all things horror. Here is a review that I just recently wrote for them, which I thought that it would be fun for you fine folks to read as well!

Original DVD Cover (2011

The marriage of exploitation and horror films has been part of cinema for decades. However, during the 1960s this union had an unprecedented amount of offsprings. And like most children, some were good, some were bad, and then there were some that were just plain awful. In this case, the newly released SHOCKORAMA double feature DVD offers to of these abominations, courtesy from the folks at Cheezy Flicks.

The DVD package consists of two movies on two discs. Disc one contains BILLY THE KID VS. DRACULA, which as the Prince of Darkness himself (portrayed by John Carradine) traveling to the Old West, posing as an uncle to the young and naïve Elizabeth Bentley (Melinda Plowman). She introduces her “Uncle James” to her fiancée William Bonney (Chuck Courtney), who is better known as Billy the Kid. When strange supernatural occurrences begin to happen on the ranch, Billy suspects that Uncle James is a vampire, and tries to prevent him from turning his blushing bride into an unholy creature of the night.

With JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN’S DAUGHTER on disc two, the legendary outlaw Jesse James (John Lupton) and his slow-witted sidekick Hank (Cal Bolder) are on the run from the local sheriff after a foiled stagecoach heist. Seeking shelter, the duo hide in the castle belonging to Dr. Maria Frankenstein (Narda Onyx), the granddaughter of Dr. Baron Von Frankenstein. Determined to carry on her grandfather’s legacy, she uses Hank for her experiment, thus transforming him into a walking bald monstrosity which she names Igor. Soon it’s up to Jesse to stop Maria and to end the Frankenstein curse.

Both films were directed by William Beaudine, better known as “One Shot” Beaudine because of his refusal to do more than one take of any scene. Both films were shot in 1966, and contain the basic ingredients of a bad, B-movie, horror flick: terrible acting, horrible dialogue, plausible storyline, and bland directing. While all these examples add up to two atrocious films, the transfer of these films was even more laughable.

The people behind Cheezy Flicks never disguised the fact that these films were obviously transferred from really bad and apparently really old VHS tapes that also contained early drive-in intermission commercials. The blatant scribble lines found at the bottom of the screen, fading picture quality, and muffled audio soundtrack shows a lack of quality and care. Even the DVD cover art for it looks like it was done on someone’s personal home computer. As for the DVD extras, both discs contain the same features: a chapter menu, and a director bio.

Overall, Cheezy Films’ SHOCKORAMA double feature is a lack luster release that won’t hold anyone’s attention, let alone grab any attention. While both films are nothing more than forgotten cinema trash, they at least deserve a better fate (and release) than this.

SHOCKORAMA Double Feature DVD is currently available at your local retailer. You can order a copy at the Cheezy Flicks website at http://cheezyflicks.com/shop/

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!