Friday, July 13, 2018

Phil sees ANT-MAN AND THE WASP at the Century at the Pacific Commons and XD - July 13, 2018

While the world is still reeling from the aftermath of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, Marvel Studios has released their newest film ANT-MAN AND THE WASP to theaters. Usually, I like to celebrate Friday the 13th with a horror movie marathon, but since my girlfriend and I were out and about doing errands, we decided to take in a movie. And since were in Fremont, the Century at the Pacific Commons and XD was close by. And were were going to see it in the luxurious XD theater with the Luxury Loungers and XD Dolby Atmos surround sound!! Yeah, we were going to have a good time today!

The film’s official synopsis: In the aftermath of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a Super Hero and a father. As he struggles to re-balance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he's confronted by Hope van Dyne (Evangaline Lilly)  and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglass) with an urgent new mission. Scott must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp as the team works together to uncover secrets from their past.

The first ANT-MAN was such fun-filled action packed superhero romp, I had high expectations for the sequel. Needless to say, it lived up to the hype, and more. Paul Rudd does a great job as Scott Lang again, bringing his haplessly heroic loser to life once again. But he steps it up immensely, as he’s Hank’s and Hope’s only hope of defeating their newest adversary: Ghost (played spectacularly by Hannah John-Kamen). Both Michael Douglass and Evangaline Lilly return as they lay their emotions out for all to see, as they both discover something (or someone) that they thought was lost forever. And Lilly kicks some major ass in the film! Also returning are Scott’s loveable and goofy friends Luis, T.I., and Kurt. Making his MCU film debut is Lawerance Fishburne as Dr. Bill Foster, an old colleague/rival of Hank’s from his days at S.H.I.E.L.D. Of course, Fishburne is known for portraying Perry White in the DC Extended Universe films like MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE.

Peyton Reed returns to the directing chair for this sequel, continuing what he started in the first film. He finds the right balance of action, humor and character development that pushes the film's story to a satisfying conclusion. But here's the kick: the villain survives (as far as we know) and she may not be a villain in the upcoming MCU films, that is if she survived from Thanos' eradicating half of the universe. Reed is an awesome director, and I hope he stays with the franchise for a very long time!

And since this is a Marvel Studios film, there are two bonus scenes: the mid-credits scene (which ties in directly to AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR) and one at the end of the credits, which I found cute. But this last scene isn't required viewing. And if you have to use the restroom, then go after the mid-credits scene is over.

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is another MCU action-packed, hilariously funny, superhero popcorn flick that will have audiences and kids rushing to their local theater on these hot summer days!! It's awesome to see what the future holds for this franchise, but let's not forget that we haven't seen the last of Ant-Man, as we now enter the MCU post Thanos, and I cannot wait to see what happens next!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is currently playing in both 2D, RealD 3D, and XD in theaters nationwide, including at the Century at the Pacific Commons and XD here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at http://cinemark.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Phil sees THE FIRST PURGE at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge - June 6, 2018

I recall seeing THE PURGE (the first film) at a special advance screening at the Cinemark Century 20 Oakridge way back in 2013. While I sincerely enjoyed it, I thought it would be a one-off film. Never did I imagine that it would become a horror franchise, and now a television mini series on the USA Network this fall. So this past 4th of July, Blumhouse and Universal Pictures released the latest chapter of the series. Or should I saw prequel. Yes my friends, I went and saw THE FIRST PURGE over at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge.

The film's official synopsis: After the rise of a third political party, the New Founding Fathers of America, an experiment is conducted, no laws for 12 hours on Staten Island. No one must stay during the experiment yet there is $5,000 for anyone who does.

Ok, so let me say this about the film. It is, without a doubt, the most ghetto ass horror film of the series!! And I don't mean "ghetto" because the movie takes place in the ghettos of Staten Island, nor because it's cast is mostly African Americans, or that it contains a hip hop/rap soundtrack. None of this means it's "ghetto." I'm calling it "ghetto" because it is one of the most lazy, disenchanting, hollow, horror film I have seen in a long time!! Now, let me explain my disposition.

Given the political and social climate the country is currently in, I am completely shocked that the film doesn't address the issues that are plaguing America today. We are on the verge of a revolution, fighting against the tyranny of the Trump Regime. We are facing trade wars, alienating our closest allies, families being ripped apart, children being kept in cages, environmental polices being undone; this country is coming apart at the seams. Now, with the previous three installments, there was some form of political and social commentary, especially with PURGE: ANARCHY and PURGE: ELECTION YEAR. However, there wasn't any of that in this movie. None whatsoever!! How the hell do you make a PURGE movie and not have any commentary about the state of the country currently?!? To me, that is offensive! Whenever the country falls into despair or when it is under conservative control, horror films have been there to offer not only escapism, but comment on what is wrong with the world. From addressing racism in George Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD to commenting on AIDS in David Robert Mitchell's  IT FOLLOWS, there has been a conscience voice within our films. Whether you agree with the filmmakers or not, you have to respect them for voicing their concerns and opinions! This movie doesn't have a voice!! And that pissed me off!! But wait, there's more!!

The other reason I called it "ghetto" was that it offers nothing to the series, nor to its fans. Screenwriter James DeMonaco's script totally sucked shit; containing no real attributes to help make this movie relatable. The story was awful, there was no real character development and all of them were just basic stereotypes, and the story lacked any real sense of threat or danger. It's hard to believe that this is the same guy that wrote all the other PURGE films, but it felt like he only did this to get a paycheck. It showed in every single frame of the film!

Even more grotesque is director Gerard McMurray's set-ups and compositions, which looked unimaginative, sloppy and amateurish at best. Granted this is only his second feature length movie and his fourth film he's directed (he made two shorts prior to making features), it looked so damn bad that I was completely taken out of the movie almost right at the start. Of course, DeMonaco's lackluster script helped speed up my checking out. How McMurray got the job to direct is beyond me, but his style is still very green.

Overall, THE FIRST PURGE is a total piece of shit, waste of my time type of movie!! I was so looking forward to watching this movie, only to regret my decision immediately after the opening credits!! That's how early I knew that this was going to suck, and how painful it was to sit through the whole damn thing!! So stick with the first three films, and just forget about seeing this in theaters!! But if you really want to see it, then just watch the trailer! 1 out of 5 stars!! It sucked shit!!


THE FIRST PURGE is playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cineluxtheatres.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Phil sees AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR for the fourth time at the AMC Saratoga 14 - June 20, 2018

So it’s official; I have seen AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR four times now. This historic event encapsulates my love of this movie. And since it will be coming out on Blu-Ray and DVD before you know it, I thought it would be nice to have my girlfriend finally see it, even though she was way behind seeing all the other MCU films.

So before I took her to see the movie, I had her watch some of the key films that lead into the third installment of the series: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, DOCTOR STRANGER, and THOR: RAGNAROK. I was disappointed that she didn’t get to watch BLACK PANTHER, but we ran out of time, and since we hardly ever have time alone, we had a very small window to go out to the theaters. Plus, she had gift cards to the AMC Theaters, so we headed over to the AMC Saratoga 14 to watch this soul crushing installment of the MCU.

*HEADS UP! SO I DIDN’T TELL MY GIRLFRIEND ANYTHING ABOUT THE MOVIE. SO, SHE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. FOR MOST OF THE FILM, I WAS WATCHING HER FACIAL EXPRESSIONS AND ENJOYING HER BITTER HATRED FOR THANOS.*

When the movie ended and the screen went black and the credits started to roll, my girlfriend just sat there in her seat, repeating this phrase, "SHUT UP! SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!! THAT’ S HOW THE MOVIE ENDS?!? ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?" Needless to say, she was quite upset, especially since I had her watch all those other MCU films so that she can get to know the characters, storylines, and references. So I think she felt like she was cheated.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is playing in 2D, Real 3D, and in IMAX in theaters nationwide, including at the AMC Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.amctheatres.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Phil sees AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR for the third time at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge - May 21, 2018

Yes, I saw AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR for the third time! You would think I'd be tired of seeing it. Well then, you don't know me very well. I'm the type of person that can watch the same movie over and over and over again. Yup, I'm weird!

Another reason I wanted to see it again was that this past weekend Disney announced the release date for the Blu-Ray for the film! Already!! It's been in theaters for only a month for crying out loud!! Sure, the movie made a shitload of money, but still?!? WTF!! That's why I went to see it again. However, I am planning on seeing it several more times before it's gone for good. So keep an eye peeled here as I'm planning to see it at other theaters, like for example, the brand new Pruneyard Cinemas, formerly known as the Camera 7! I still would like to see it in an IMAX theater too!

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is playing in 2D, Real 3D, and in IMAX in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cineluxtheatres.com.

Phil sees DEADPOOL 2 at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge - May 18, 2018

I was a big fan of Deadpool long before the first film came out. He was one of the most unique, funny, and original characters in the Marvel Comics Universe (which is ironic because he was a rip off of the DC Comic's character Deathstroke). So when DEADPOOL was released to theaters, I was also one of the first ones who saw it an immediately became one of my favorite films of that year. Fast forward to today and I'm back at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge to see the highly  anticipated sequel DEADPOOL 2.

The film's official synopsis: After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry's hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste. Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the Yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavor - finding a new taste for adventure and earning the coveted coffee mug title of World's Best Lover.

Dude, seriously, this was a hilariously fucking awesome movie! The jokes come fast (pun intended) and funny, the action is a hybrid of THE MATRIX and JOHN WICK, and it builds off what the first film established. It does what a sequel should do, and all this comes courtesy of screenwriters Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds (yeah, that surprised me too) and the film's director David Leitch, who also helmed ATOMIC BLONDE and is the uncredited co-director on JOHN WICK. So, good job fellas. You guys made a lot of fanboys and fangirls very, very happy.

As for our players, they all knocked it out of the park! Reynolds brings his "A" game to out favorite "Merc with the Mouth", but this time, old Deadpool has some pathos and sympathy to go along with his wise cracking, fowl-mouthed, fourth wall breaking, ass kicking shenanigans. Josh Brolin IS Cable: the look, the voice, the mannerism, and is a badass all the way! Newcommer Zazie Beetz shines as the lucky mutant Domino, and does quite a bit of ass kicking herself. Returning actress Brianna Hildebrand is back as our favorite X-Men Negasonic Teenage Warhead, but now has a super awesome girlfriend Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna), who has a super cute friendship with Wade Wilson. Also back are Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Weasel (T.J. Miller), Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), Dopinder (Karan Soni), and Stefan Kapicic as the voice as Colossus.

So, as always, there are end credit scenes, cause it wouldn't be a Marvel Film without end credit scenes. However, these are mid-credit scenes. There are two of them, and are fucking hysterically, gut busting fantastic!! After that, then leave the theater so you can go pee! There, I saved you five minutes of doing the "Pee-Pee Dance" in your seat.

DEADPOOL 2 is wickedly funny, outrageously funny, action packed, superhero comic book movie sequel you've been waiting for!! So shit your pants and call in sick for work, then change your pants and go see this bad boy before it comes out on Blu-Ray next week!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


DEADPOOL 2 is playing in 2D, Real 3D, and in IMAX in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cineluxtheatres.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Phil's Cult Classics: THAT'S SEXPLOITATION (2013) from Something Weird Video/Severin Films - May 14, 2015

As some of you might know, I'm a big fan of the old exploitation films, and I've been an avid fan of Something Weird Video, home of the largest library of exploitation films ever from the 1930's to the 1970's. Founded by Mike Vraney in 1990, the company has released thousands of films from all subgenres: Nudie Cuties, Roughies, Nudist Camps, Roadshow Rarities, Burlesque, Horror, Drive-In Classics, and Sexploitation. Before Vraney passed away in 2014, he along with filmmaker Frank Henenlotter teamed up with the "King of Exploitation" David F. Friedman to make the documentary THAT'S SEXPLOITATION, "The Untold Story of American Cinema from the 1920s to the 1960s!"

Original Theatrical Poster (2013)
The film's official synopsis: From director Frank Henenlotter (BASKET CASE, BRAIN DAMAGEand co-producer Mike Vraney (the late founder of Something Weird Video) comes the epic documentary critics call “fascinating” (Video Watchdog), “titillating” (Time Out Los Angeles) and “jaw-dropping” (Seattle Weekly): Henenlotter and legendary exploitation monarch David F. Friedman – in his final film appearance – are your hosts for this eye-popping expedition through the world of pre-code peekaboos, stags, sex-hygiene films, goona-goonas, nudie-cuties, roughies, druggies, white-coaters and more, featuring thousands of spicy, steamy and downright sleazy slips from the SWV archives.

This was a very insightful, and fun documentary that sheds a bright spotlight on these overlooked and forgotten within film history. Friedman is our ringmaster; guiding us through the hills and valleys of exploitation's vast library of subgenres and movies. Highlights are the early Roadshow Films of the 1930's and the sex hygiene movies of the 1940's: BECAUSE OF EVE, MOM AND DAD, CHILD BRIDE, SECRETS OF A HIGH SCHOOL GIRL, and WAGES OF SIN are personal favorites of mine. I own them and have watched them repeatedly. It's so amusing at what was so controversial back then is so tamed by today's society (however CHILD BRIDE is still hard to watch today). I would have loved to see these movies play in theaters back then! All the balleyhoo, posters, lobby cards, fake doctors selling sex hygiene books, it all sounded like so much fun! And people like Friedman laughed all the way to the bank.

Henenlotter shows up from time to time in the movie to give us some information about the changing times in America, what and how each decade was defined by the exploitation movies that were made, and how the filmmakers, producers, and distributors stayed on step ahead to make sure their product was bringing in the cash. Henenlotter is also a great historian in his own right, and would love to meet him one day and just pick is brain. I mean, his first film BASKET CASE actually played in a grindhouse theater on 42nd Street! That's bragging rights till the end of time!

THAT'S EXPLOITATION Blu-Ray
Last person I would like to talk about is the late, great Mike Vraney, who produced the documentary. Vraney. He and Something Weird Video has released thousands of films, not only Friedman's movies, but also films from Harry Novak, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Doris Wishman, and many others. He championed these films and made them available for all those people who were into seeing something new and different. Mike Vraney died after a lengthy battle with lung cancer on January 2, 2014. He was just 56 years old. We owe this great man a debt that will never be able to pay back.

This was also David F. Friedman final film appearance. On February 14, 2011, Friedman died in his home in Anniston, Alabama at the age of 87. There will never, ever be another "King of Exploitation." But rest assured, both Friedman and Vraney are reunited somewhere out there.

Besides looking fantastic, the Blu-Ray also contains an audio commentary with Frank Henenlotter and Lisa Petrucci  (Vraney's widow who's now in charge of Something Weird Video), film's trailer and over "3.5 hours of Sexploitation Shorts from the Something Weird Archives!"

THAT'S SEXPLOITATION is a highly entertaining, wonderfully absurd and informative documentary that diehard exploitation fans will love and new viewers will get an education on these outrageous films!! I've been a fan for decades, and it's incredible to have this movie for us to watch over and over again!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


THAT'S SEXPLOITATION is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD from Something Weird Video and Severin Films. To purchase a copy visit www.somethingweird.com or severin-films.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Phil’s Netflix Picks: CULT OF CHUCKY (2017) - May 9, 2018

The CHILD'S PLAY/CHUCKY franchise has had its ups and downs, but there has been one consistency with it: its creator Don Mancini. He has written every film of everyone's favorite homicidal killing doll, and has been directing since 2004's SEED OF CHUCKY. Recently, I was able to check out the latest installment of his beloved franchise on Netflix, which was the horrifying and amazing CULT OF CHUCKY.

The film's official synopsis: After accused of murdering her family, Nica (Fiona Dourif) is taken to an asylum and thinks that she's the cause of the deaths of her family. However, when grizzly deaths start to occur, she then realizes that Chucky (Brad Dourif), her illusion might not be make believe. She also finds out that the doll is slowly starting to possess anyone or anything to join a huge cult to kill off Chucky's victims, but things don't go to well in the asylum, including for Chucky's long lost friend Andy Barcley (Alex Vincent) who tries to stop the cult from getting bigger while also trying to get past Chucky's wife, Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly).

I am so impressed with Mancini's directing. He clearly has a vision and, despite its very low budget, he is able to capture some outstanding sweeps, compositions, and gore galore. He finds the balance of scares and drama, with a little bit of humor for good measure. You can also see how much confident he gains from each film. I cannot wait to see what he does in his next film! (Yes, I'm trying not to spoil the ending, but c'mon, it's a horror movie. Of course the movie's ending sets up a sequel. Where have you been since 1986?!?)

Returning to the sequel is the talented Fiona Dourif as our protagonist Nica Pierce. Dourif gives it he all as she takes he character to new heights. Picking up where the previous film left, she's lost he whole family, is now in an asylum, and is haggard and defeated. Her performance commands your attention and is heartbreakingly painful to watch. Alex Vincent's Andy Barcley is another returning character who's also hit some painful lows (not to mention he's kinda sadistic). And I cannot forgot the ringmaster of the movie: Chucky himself, voiced once again by Brad Dourif. He makes the film so much fun to watch, as he has the best lines in the movie, and still sounds like a sick little bastard! And just in case you didn't notice the family connection, Fiona is Brad's daughter. Yup, it's a family affair!

As I stated earlier, Universal released the film for streaming on Netflix, however, about two before it was released, some dipshit leaked the movie in its entirety to Twitter and YouTube. Being a film student when I was younger and meeting and interviewing filmmakers, let me tell you that making a film isn't easy. A lot of hard work goes into producing a film, and costs money to do it. And when you pirate a movie or television series for free, you're spitting in the faces of everyone who put in their time, blood, sweat and tears. So the moral of my story is: DON'T PIRATE OR STEAL MOVIES!! PAY FOR THEM YOU CHEAP ASS BASTARDS!!

CULT OF CHUCKY is another sick and twisted, crazy ass, gore filled killer doll flick that will make hardcore Chucky fans grin form ear to ear!! I absolutely loved this fright flick and the ending makes me want more!! So make sure you check out this movie!! 4 out of 5 stars! Highly recommended!


CULT OF CHUCK is now streaming exclusively on Netflix. To start your subscription, visit their website at www.netflix.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Phil sees AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (again) in 2D at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge - May 5, 2018

Yes, I saw AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR again. Four days later. Yeah, it took me a couple of days to mentally prepare myself to view the movie again. You see, this one hit me in the feels. It really did. Reading the original comics was one thing, but to see it on the big screen, with real actors and actresses bringing these characters to life, and watching them grow for the past ten years, it hits you when they fail and fall. So I journeyed back to the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge to watch the film again.

So, after watching the movie again for the second time, I have decided it that it's my favorite Marvel movie, for the following reasons. Warning: spoilers ahead.

1) Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely laid it all on the line and crafted an out of this world, action packed, story driven, character driven, high stakes story that had me on the edge of my seat. The story had a riveting three-act story arc, life and death situations, big time action, and characters we've grown to love. And to watch them fight for their lives as well as for the universe, and to see them fail, was absolutely heartbreaking.

2) Filmmaking brothers Joe and Anthony Russo directed the hell out of this movie! Their framing and pacing fits the film's look and action. They give the right amount death-defying action and much needed humor. And they make it awesome to watch!

3) All the actors and actresses were fantastic!! And to finally see them all in action in the same film made me scream like a little girl at a Beatles concert (and yes, I sort of dated myself there, but let's be honest, music today blows just as bad as Trump. Yup, I went there!). To see Iron Man, Dr. Stranger and Spider-Man interact with one anther, and then with the Guardians of the Galaxy, watching Captain America, Falcon and Black Widow team up with Black Panther, seeing Thor with Rocket and Groot, and seeing how evil Thanos is, it's enough to make you gush with joy! This movie was ten years in the making!! Holy crap, I'm old!!

4) It's such a great entertaining movie! Period!

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is the film that changes the MCU forever! And it will leave you emotionally devastated and drained to the point of exhaustion! AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is playing in 2D, Real 3D, and in IMAX in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cineluxtheatres.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil’s Horror Watch: NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE (2016) from Hurricane Bridge Entertainment - May 3, 2018

Today's horror film has been garnering a lot of attention and acclaim. From Fangoria to Dread Central, its reputation has reached out all over the horror community. So far that, it was selected to be streamed on the horror streaming service Shudder back in February. Now that says something, however, I didn't see it on Shudder. Nope, I went and purchased a Blu-Ray copy for myself, and after watching it, I can honestly say that NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE lives up to the hype!

The film's official synopsis: Five teenage friends set out for the beach on their Spring Break vacation. Good times are cut short when one of the group, Carrie, contracts a deadly sexual transmitted disease during a bathroom stop. When they stop for the night at an isolated motel, the real terror begins when the STD virus starts running rampant, turning those infected into the living dead. However, there's more going on at the motel than meets the eye.

If there was ever a film that promotes that abstinence as well as the dangers of necrophilia, it's this film!

Writer/director Jonathan Straiton, along with co-writers Ron Bonk and Mean Gene, crafted one of the most insane, gory, fast paced, batshit crazy, darkly sexual, horror film I have ever seen! His set-ups and framing captures every joke, every bloodshed, every grotesque killing and he makes it look like a work of art! He doesn't shy away form the violence, sex, and gore; rather, he embraces the nuances and the spirit of independent filmmaking while catering to hardcore horror fans. It's his vision, he's artistic vision, that he bares on the screen, and so far, horror fans are loving it! And this was Straiton's directorial debut!! What a way to make an entrance!! I cannot wait to see his next film!!

The film's cast was another aspect that made the film so much fun to watch. Highlights for me were Rebecca C. Kasek and Trey Harrison's performances as Christine and Dirk, respectively. Both have great on-screen chemistry and I was rooting for them throughout the movie, which was a good sign. We, the audience, want to invest in our protagonists, and we we find ourselves emotionally invested in them. Toni Ann Gambale's character Carrie is one evil looking zombie, thanks to our main zombie antagonist Cornelius, played by Wayne W. Johnson.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the awesome looking special effects. Kuddos to special effects artist Colby Flinchum and Nicola Fiore for an astounding job! The actresses and actors looked great, the blood was plentiful, and the gore was sick looking!

As I said earlier, I purchased a signed Blu-Ray copy for myself on their website, and it has some very cool special features, such as: an informative Behind the Scenes feature entitled Making Something Strange, a hilarious Gag Reel, Filmmaker's Audio Commentary, Cast Auditions, and trailers to other independent horror films like THE BARN, SHE KILLS, and others. Also, you can purchase other cool memorabilia like tee shirts, stickers, buttons, key chains, posters, and iPhone cases!

NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE is one of my favorite independent horror films of 2018!! It's amazing to see so much great horror films coming out of the indie scene!! We are seeing a renaissance in the horror genre, and here is another example of a movie that fans will be watching and talking about for years to come! Just make sure you don't have sex with any corpses. 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD on the film's official website at www.nightofsomethingstrange.com. The film is also streaming on Shudder. To view it, sign up on its website at www.shudder.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Phil sees AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge - May 1, 2018

So after ten years of bringing their beloved (and obscure title that made bank) comic book characters to the big screen, Marvel's Cinematic Universe has come to an end (well, majority of the actors and actresses are still contractually obligated to appear in a film or two) and the world will never be the same. Now, I've been a watching the MCU since the very beginning, since I saw an advanced screening of the first IRON MAN back in 2008, and now, in 2018, I witnessed the climatic conclusion in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR at my local haunt: The Cinelux Alamden Lounge & Cafe. So buckle up kiddies, cause your gonna cry like a baby!

The film's official synopsis: As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment - the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

So, for this review, I'm gonna relive for you all my inner monologue while watching the film. Now, since I am a sensitive bastard, this will be a spoiler-free review. However, there might be some vulgar language, so you have all been warned. 

Ready? Ok, let's start the review:

Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!!

*remembers to breathe. Oooooohhhhh man, this is a fucking awesome movie. Ok, let's see what happens next.*

Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!!

*Oh man, I almost forgot I bought a hot dog! (Takes a bite of said hot dog) Mmmmmmmm......I love movie theater hot dogs. They're so delicious and so bad for my cholesterol. (bite, bite, swallow) And now for a sip of my root beer. (Takes a big slurp) Oh yeah, that's so refreshing. Ok, back to the movie*

Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!! Holy fucking shit!!

*Credits roll. Ok, so let's check out this bonus scene and see how it sets up the next film.* 

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!

*Lights go up. I think I need therapy after watching this movie.*

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is this summer's "Holy fucking shit!!" blockbuster that will make you cry like a bitch, seek counseling and question the meaning of life. And it's a fucking badass movie!! So if you see one film that will make you hide in the corner till the next AVERGERS film, then go see this today!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is playing in 2D, Real 3D, and in IMAX in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cineluxtheatres.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Phil’s Cult Classics: SPACE BABES FROM OUTER SPACE (2017) from Bandit Motion Pictures - April 22, 2018

I've been  busy digging through the independent film world for something that would catch my eye. Luckily, there's a lot of activity here in the underground, which produces some unique and interesting works of art. Take for instance filmmaker Brian K. Williams' SPACE BABES FROM OUTER SPACE, which both harkens back to the glory days of Mom & Pop video stores and USA Up All Night while showing us where the B-movie sci-fi genre is now.

The film's official synopsis: Three babes from a faraway galaxy (Ellie Church, Allison Maier, Alyss Winkler) end up stranded on Earth after a surprise encounter with their mortal enemies, the Scrotes! The babes need sexual energy to refuel their ship and return home. Lucky for them, their newfound friend Charlie (Brian Papandrea) knows just the place to get it — the strip club! Will they harness enough sexual energy to get back home? Or will the Scrotes put another wrinkle in their plans?

Now this is how B-movie films and cult classics should be: FUN!! Good crap, I had so much freaking fun watching this! First off, you have a fantastic cast to bring these characters to life!  Actresses Ellie Church, Allison Maier, Alyss Winkler carry the film and they do a tremendous job here! All three bring humor, toughness, and vulnerability as well as a heavy dose of beauty and out-of-this-world sexiness! These ladies rocked my world and channel their inner Scream Queen, especially Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley, and Elizabeth Kaitan. Add actor
Brian Papandrea's character lovable and horny country boy Charlie, and you have a film that's worth your time and attention!

Kudos to director Brian K. Williams, who along with producer Scott Schirmer founded Bandit Motion Pictures in Bloomington, Indiana in 2016. However, this dynamic duo have been part of the Indiana indie film community for a long time. They've workd on other titles like HEADLESS, HARVEST LAKE and PLANK FACE. Williams captures the essence of the independent spirit while forging an active and local film community. His set-ups and compositions capture all the fun and mayhem of the movie, which is what you should always do! I don't know how many times I watch a movie with a cool premise, but the directing is all over the place. I'm now a big fan of Williams and I cannot wait to see his next film, which is called AMAZON HOT BOX.

I bought my Blu-Ray copy on their Bandit Motion Pictures website, and since I'm also a hardcore collector, I had to buy my copy of the film signed by both Williams and Schirmer. The bonus features include the 20 minute feature "The Making of Space Babes", audio commentary with Ellie Church, Allison Maier, and Alyss Winkler, a second audio commentary with Brian K. Williams and Scott Schirmer, and movie trailers for other independently released movies.

SPACE BABES FROM OUTER SPACE is a loving tribute to those awesome happy-go-lucky, feel good B-movie of yesterday!! If you're a fan of SLAVE GIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY, HYBRID, and CREEPOZOIDS, then this movie is right up your alley!! This is a future cult classic, so get on the ground floor now because this movie is gonna take off into the stratosphere!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


SPACE BABES FROM OUTER SPACE is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD on the Bandit Motion Picture website. To purchase a copy, visit banditmotionpictures.com. The film is also available on Vimeo-On-Demand and Amazon Instant Video.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends the SUNDAY EARTHQUAKE ANNIVERSARY SHOW - April 15, 2018

Once again I was at the Edison Theater, home of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, where I was volunteering this past Sunday. The museum was busy that day, be we were having our EARTHQUAKE ANNIVERSARY SHOW. The Saturday night show was a huge hit and was completely sold out. Even the ABC 7 Evening News came out to report about the screening! We also had two more screenings on Sunday: a 2pm and 4pm screening. I was on the first shift, and had the pleasure of watching history unfold before me. Plus, we were also showing the recently restored long, lost film from the Miles Brothers that was thought to have been lost forever.

A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET (1906): The show started off with a museum staple. By now, you’ve heard about how our archivist/historian David Kiehn deduced that the film was made just four days before the 1906 Earthquake that rocked San Francisco. You may have also seen the story on 60 Minutes where Kiehn was interviewed by none other than the legendary Morley Safer. This local film was selected by the Library of Congress to be part of the National Film Registry in 2011. It’s a silent film that I’ve seen more than any other silent film. It’s a film that captured history before history took place four days later.

AFTER THE QUAKE (1906): After the earthquake destroyed most of San Francisco, the Miles Brothers shot over two hours of film of the devastation that it had caused. Unfortunately, the footage was considered lost. Then in 2017, Jason Wright, a film historian from the bay area now living in England, bought the remaining nine minutes from a man named David Silver, who found the film at the San Francisco’s Alemany Flea Market. Wright then contacted Kiehn in helping to restore this cinematic find. He spent the past eight months preparing a digital version that premiered at the museum for the show. After seeing it, it felt like it was the bookend to A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET, and it was simply amazing to see it up on the silver screen. It was history thought to have been lost, but thanks to Kiehn and Wright, it no live on forever!

THE DESTRUCTION OF SAN FRANCISCO (1906): The film is an amalgam of footage shot by the Edison, Pathe, and Biograph film companies as well as some footage shot by the Miles brothers. It shows the devastation caused by the earthquake an by the subsequent fires that blanketed the city in a cloud of smoke.


Another great earthquake show at the museum. Remember folks the museum is open for tours every weekend from 12pm-4pm and every Saturday night there's a silent film show starting at 7:30pm (doors open at 7pm). So if you would like to learn more about the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, on how to become a member, and to view their film schedule, visit their website at www.nilesfilmmuseum.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Phil attends the Final Day of Cinequest 28 - March 11, 2018

Well, here we are everybody and welcome to the final day of the Cinequest Film Festival! Hard to believe it's all over, but at least I have the memories! For the last day of the festival, I saw a total of zero films. OK, I know that I said that I was going to attend the last day, but life throws a lot of curve balls at you. And so, I missed the last day of Cinequest.

However, at least I got to see some excellent films during the festival, and I am very happy to have meet some truly talented filmmakers and extraordinary actors and actresses. And I saw a total of 31 screenings! And seeing how I've been gone for the last three years, this was something that I have been looking forward to once I moved back to San Jose!

And it was just announced that next year's Cinequest Film Festival will take place on March 5 to March 17, 2019!! By that time, I will be able to take time off to work and check out all the films, and maybe, just maybe, set an all-time world record for me!

So now I would like to say hi to all my friends, old and new, from the festival. I had the best time seeing you all again and I hope to see you at next year's festival. To all the filmmakers I got to meet, good luck with your respective films and I hope to see them again on either the big screen, home release or on VOD. And to all my friends and followers who read my blog during the festival, I just want to say thank you! Take care everybody, and I'll see you all again soon!!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends CInequest 28: Day 12 - March 10, 2018

OK folks!! This is it!! The final weekend of the Cinequest 28 Film Festival! For today I saw a total of zero films! Yup, you read that right. I didn't attend the festival again today.

To be completely honest, I was dead tired from work and I was totally broken. I was sore, tired, sleep deprived, and was just extremely exhausted. Again, I am very thankful for having my new job, but I was way too tired to go to the festival, so I'm hoping to attend the last day of it.

Please visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 11 - March 9, 2018

This is it! The final weekend of the 28th Annual Cinequest Film Festival! So after not attending any screenings yesterday, I was planning to make up for it today by seeing four films. But I had to drive out to Santa Rosa for work, where there was a meeting I had to attend. So I didn't get back to San Jose in time for my afternoon screening. Then my girlfriend and I couldn't find parking at the 2nd Street Garage above the 3 Below Theaters, so we missed the silent film at 7pm. Once we did find parking, ate dinner at the Blue Chip on First Street, then made out way back to the California Theatre.

YOU & ME stars Hillary Baack as Ella, a sweet and beautiful book author, who falls in love with a recently blinded man named Tony, played by Paul Guyet. They soon realize that it's not all sunshine and rainbows, as they come across many obstacles that could tear them apart if they don't stick together.

The film was written and directed by Alexander Baack, along with his wife and lead actress Hillary. Together, they've produced a film that shines a spotlight on not just the deaf community, but also the blind community. Hillary Baack is deaf in real life, but Alexander is hearing, and the film reminds us that people in these communities can function just fine in the real world and shouldn't be ridiculed or put down just because they can't hear or see. We shouldn't feel sorry for them, instead, we should just treat them as just people. 

After the screening, Alexander Baack participated in a Q&A session. He mentioned that Hillary was supposed to be there at the screening, but was ill and couldn't attend. Also, they had just moved to their new home and the timing wasn't there, but hopes to come back to Cinequest with Hillary and maybe a new film as well.

Another day of moving watching here at Cinequest 28 is done. To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 10 - March 8, 2018

We're getting down to the final days here folks so welcome back to Day Ten of my trip to the 28th Annual Cinequest Film Festival! Well, to tell you the truth, Day Ten didn't really take place, and here's the reason why.

My first week of my new job has been very rewarding, but also very tiring. I get up at 3:15 every morning so I can drive out to the peninsula to start work at 5am.  By the time I get off work, it's about 2pm and I still have to drive all the way back to San Jose. After a hot shower, I take a two hour nap. By the time I wake up, I would head over to Cinequest. However, everything finally caught up with me, and therefore, I collapsed and I didn't have the energy to attend the festival tonight. So, I would like to apologize to all the filmmakers, to whom I told that I would see their films today. But I am expecting to attend some screenings tomorrow!

 To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 9 - March 7, 2018

Hello everybody and welcome to Day Nine of my trip to Cinequest 24! Again, because of my new job, I only got to attend one screening, but it was one that I have been anticipating since it was announced during the Cinequest Media Launch Party back in January! After getting my grub and drinks on at the Cinequest Soiree at the Cafe Stritch, I made my way to my one and only screening of the night.

I made my way over to the 3 Below Theater for the groundbreaking and innovative traveling film festival LUNAFEST SERIES. The series of short films were all made by talented female filmmakers that will no doubt be making a difference in the male dominated Hollywood. Moderated by Carly Severn, the screening consisted of nine extraordinary shorts:

YOURS SINCERELY, LOIS WEBER: Introduced by Elizabeth Banks, the short is a tribute to silent filmmaker and trailblazer Lois Weber, who was then the highest paid director at Universal Pictures. Infusing social commentary and feminist issues, some of Weber's most famous films include THE BLOT, SHOES, and THE DUMB GIRL FROM PORTICI, which are available to purchase from Milestone Films and Flicker Alley.

GIRLS LEVEL UP: A documentary about a young Muslim woman who sets up a special camp for middle grade school girls. Here, they are taught how to design their very own video games. A powerful message that girls are gamers too, and are a force to be reckon with!

WAITING FOR HASSANA: In this dramatic short that's set in 2014, 276 teenage girls came together for exams in Chibok, Nigeria -- by dawn, nearly all had disappeared and their school was burnt. Jessica, an escapee, shares her haunting account of a friendship violently interrupted by Boko Haram.
 
LAST SUMMER, IN THE GARDEN: An animated short about nature, seasons, cycles, and the unavoidable speed bumps in the road of life.

FANNYPACK: A young Indian-American woman who wants to follow her dreams, and a fanny pack clad Indian father who chases his daughter through an airport hoping that she will follow his.

JOY JOY NAILS: Sarah manages Joy Joy Nails with a cheerful iron fist, but she gets her manicured claws out when Chinese Mia, a manicurist trainee, looks to be stealing the boss's son's affections, soon discovering that under the varnish, everyone's a victim.

TOYS: In 1930s farm country, a father wants a son, but he gets a little girl. He tries to toughen her up by giving her toys intended for boys. His efforts backfire when she proves a little too capable for comfort.

BUTTERCUP: As Maggie struggles with her mother's death a surprise visitor helps her find joy again.

JESSZILLA: Jesselyn "Jesszilla" Silva is serious about boxing, and at 10 years old trains seriously with dreams of becoming a professional fighter. Her father, Pedro, finds himself caught in between supporting her dream and worrying about her future as she tries to master a combat sport.

After the program, Carly Severn interviewed director Svetlana Cvetko and Erin Palmquist, whose film FROM BAGHDAD TO THE BAY was screening at the festival. After a very informative and insightful interview, they participated in a fun Q&A with the audience.

And folks, there you have Day Nine of Cinequest 28! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 8 - March 6, 2018

Welcome everybody to Day Eight of my trip to Cinequest 28! I saw another three films today. As I stated in a previous entry, I mentioned that I started a new job, which I am very happy to report that it's been going extremely well! Unfortunately, it's taking up a lot of my time, due to training and learning my route, which has be starting at 5am Monday thru Friday. As a result, I won't be seeing a lot of movies as I had originally planned on. So for today, I only attended on screening, so let me talk about that!

After work, I headed on over to the Cinequest Soiree, which was held at the awesome Scott's Seafood up on the 6th floor. There, I had plenty to drink and eat, but mostly drank like a fish! Afterwards, my old friend and fellow blogger Jason and I headed over to the 3 Below Theaters for our 6pm screening!

The screening I attended was the SHORTS FILM PROGRAM 6: DOCUNATION, which featured some extraordinary documentaries! I was very excited to watch this program, and had the pleasure of watching the following shorts:

6th Graders School Roy Moore's Attorney: Director Sam Frazier Jr. filmed his two 6th grade nephews correcting the grammar of the infamous letter from Roy Moore’s attorney, which was shot on Thanksgiving Day 2017. Yes, these kids rip the letter to shreds and is damn funny!

Describe What You Heard: A special effects expert gives advise on how to make gunshot sounds with your mouth. Informative, yet heartbreaking considering what just happened in Florida.

The Duel: A short about when a 16 year-old girl who saves her brother from their father's sudden and deadly mental breakdown that resulted with the father challenging his son to a knife fight. In the end, it was their mother who helped save them. Powerful and disturbing short film.

Free Fall: Adults and kids alike, there's one thing we all love the most: bouncy castles!

The Happiness Machine: Meet Carl, who gives up being an academic librarian to become a sharecropper on 22 acres in rural Iowa, which he now calls The Promised Land. Here, he shares his ideas, his philosophies, and what it means to pass on the gift of place. I wish Carl was my grandfather! My favorite short of the program!

The Lectora: The short takes a look at the long-standing tradition of having a reader in the factory in one of the most famous cigar factories in Cuba.

Mister Sunshine: An old black man, who used to be a millionare, jettisons his old life to take on the life of a shoeshine man in Auckland, New Zealand, teaching us that life's about the shine on your face and not on just your shoes. Really moving short film!

Nobody Dies in Longyearbyen: Yes, nobody dies there because the permafrost will push the body back out of the ground. Think NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD meets THE THING, but it's a documentary.

Phototaxis: An animated short about the legendary demon Mothman in West Virginia and set to Narcotics Anonymouss literature, the primary treatment program in West Virginia’s addiction epidemic. Are the two somehow related? Maybe...

Twilight Dancers: Due to a colonial history, Indigenous youth from a small remote reservation use square dancing to heal the trauma from the recent suicide epidemic.

Unspoken: A short focusing on spoken word poet Farah Chamma and how she expresses and censors herself with her poetry while keeping her work raw, authentic and real.

The Velvet Underground Played at My High School: An animated short film when The Velvet Underground perform at a New Jersey high school in 1967, narrated by one of the students who was there. I wonder if Lou Reed was wearing shiny boots of leather that night.

And folks, there you have Day Seven of Cinequest 28! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 7 - March 5, 2018

Hello everybody and welcome to Day Seven of my trip to Cinequest 28! So my life is full of surprises, and the biggest surprises I received was I started my BRAND NEW JOB TODAY!! Yes, I am very excited about it! However, because I started today, it meant that I wouldn't be able to reach my goal of 60 films this year. So I'm just going to try for a personal best for myself. And after my first day of work, I headed back to the festival and saw two films today, reason being is that I have to get up early for work. now. So let's get this show on the road, shall we?

The first film of the night was the Spanish film CYGNUS over at the California Theatre. The movie follows astronomer Fabian, who receives a signal from an unknown object near the Cygnus constellation 37,000 light years from Earth. But he's not the only one that wants to know what the signal came from, as he soon discovers that the signal wasn't the only thing that came down to Earth.

Mexican cinema focuses on only four genres: musicals, comedies, romance and action/adventures. Filmmaker Hugo Felix Mercado, producer Hugo Espinosa Juarez, and Carlos Alvahuante Contreras saw that there was a hole in Mexican cinema, that being science fiction films, and decided to rectify that problem. This movie is a pure sci-fi film, featuring real science, fiction, space monsters, and intrigue. All three were there at the festival to take part in a Q&A session. This was a big surprise for me at this year's festival and a rewarding one at that!! 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!!

I stayed at the California Theatre to see THE LAST MOVIE STAR, my second film of the day. Legendary actor Burt Reynolds stars as Vic Edwards, a washed-up, has-been actor whose glory days a long behind him. When I he accepts to attend the Dallas Film Festival, he is paired with the organizer's eccentric sister Lil (Ariel Winter), who takes him on a trip down Memory Lane, only to discover what it means about growing older and coming to terms with your past.

I absolutely loved this movie!! Mainly because I related so much with it. Even though I'm only 45 years old, I find myself longing to return to the past to right my mistakes, while coming to terms on growing older, feeling like my best days are already behind me. Like his character Vic, Reynolds is in the same situation as well. His performance was just incredibly poignant, remarkable and all-too real. And the film was written and directed by Adam Rifkin!! I have been a fan of his for years!! He started off making low-budget B-movies and horror flicks like THE INVISIBLE MANIAC and PSYCHO COP RETURNS before helming the cult classic DETROIT ROCK CITY and his segment "Wadzilla" in the horror anthology CHILLERAMA. This, for me, marks his return to the mainstream and a turn in his career. If you didn't get the chance to see this at the festival, don't worry! The movie will be released by A24 to theaters on March 30th! My favorite spotlight film of the festival!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

And folks, there you have Day Seven of Cinequest 24! So far it's been a fun-filled festival!! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 6 - March 4, 2018

Howdy folks and welcome back to my trip to the 28th Annual Cinequest Film Festival! Now originally I was planning to see five movies, but sometimes life gets in the way. However, I am not complaining at all. Life has been very good to me! But I did get to see three movies today! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the reviews!

The first film I saw was being shown over at the 3 Below Theaters. The amazing drama VENUS tells the story of Sid (Debargo Sanyal), a transgender woman who finds out she has a 14 year old son named Ralph (Jamie Mayers). Soon, Sid's life is giving him more than he can handle, with dealing with a closeted boyfriend, establishing a relationship with her parents, and learning how to be a parent to a son she never knew she had.

This was such a rewarding film to see! I've always been a huge fan and supporter of queer cinema (I was an intern at Wolfe Video while a film student) and what I discovered a long time ago was that it doesn't matter if your gay or straight, we all have the same emotions. We get angry, sad, happy, silly, horny, lonely, and depressed. We are all human!! So here I am watching Sid find love, acceptance from her parents, learning parenting skills and dealing with her sexuality while discovering herself. This is nothing new to the human race, as we all had to deal with the same issues. Congratulations to director Eisha Marjara for making such a warm, funny, sincere and important movie and lead actor
Debargo Sanyal for a commanding performance! Good news for all of you out there: the movie will be released by Wolfe Video later this year!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

My second film of the day was BIKINI MOON, which I saw back at the 3 Below Theaters. The film's about a documentary film couple Trevor (Will Janowitz) and Kate (Sarah Goldberg) who take in a charismatic but unstable homeless vet named Bikini Moon (Condola Rashad) as the subject for their film. Eventually, Bikini's presence begins to shake everybody's lives to their core and reveals that all is not right in this picture perfect world.

Along with co-writer W.P. Rosenthal, writer/director Milcho Manchevski is one of the most visually stunning directors ever! His eye captures every beautiful, funny, unnerving, and grotesque moment in the film superbly!! And it goes without saying that actress Condola Rashad turns in her best performance ever!! If this film gains more speed and recognition, maybe she will receive an Independent Spirit Award nomination!! 5 out of 5 stars!!
The third and final movie of the day was preseted by the animated short film VALLEY OF WHITE BIRDS. In the pursuit of the white bird, Sheng has to face his own inner guilt, fear, haze, after a tortuous journey of searching, born again finally. A beautifully animated short about letting go of our guilt and past in order to become who we were meant to be.

Next was the main feature ARUN,  a Thailand drama about three childhood friends: boys Arun and Kasem and girl Isara, who grow up into young adults with dreams and ambitions. However, when Isara's mom sends her off to Bangkok in the middle of the night, the boys head there to find her, but Isara is in more trouble than Arun and Kasem could ever imagine.

The film deals with the harsh reality of children being sold as sex workers. It's an ugly truth that people would like to either ignore or pretend it doesn't exist. Writer/producer/director Sarah Hanks is very familiar with this topic, having worked as a teacher in Thailand. Her movie is a narrative film but looks and feels like a documentary; it's both dramatic and unflinching look at a topic that, unfortunately, will not go away. Hanks along with student/actor and his translator took part in a Q&A session with the audience. A powerful film that hopefully will be seen by more people!! 5 out of 5 stars!!


And that was Day Six of my cinematic trip to Cinequest!! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!