Sunday, March 31, 2019

Phil sees CAPTAIN MARVEL (again) at the Puneyard Cinemas Dine-In at the Pruneyard Campbell - March 29, 2019

CAPTAIN MARVEL

Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Lashana Lynch, Lee Pace
Written by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve
Characters created by Roy Thomas, Gene Colan
Cinematography by Ben Davis
Edited by Debbie Berman, Elliot Graham
Produced by Kevin Feige
Directed by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Hello again folks! As you may have noticed, I went and saw CAPTAIN MARVEL again! But this time, I didn't see it alone! I finished up my day at work early, so I had a cool idea. I texted my girlfriend that I was finishing up work early, and we should go out on an afternoon date! Our son was at school, so I suggested to see CAPTAIN MARVEL over at the Pruneyard Cinemas Dine-In, and we can use our gift card that we received at Christmas! She was down with this date, so I went back home and picked her up, and we made our way to the theaters!

We picked up some cool seats, and remember, these are the leather reclining seats! Oh they were soooo comfty! And, we ordered lunch from The Cedar Room, where they prepared our delicious food and was brought to us! Now that's service!

As for the movie itself, I enjoyed it the second time around! For my girlfriend, she absolutely loved it! This was the third MCU film that she's seen with me in the theaters! So right there is a cause for celebration! Since we've been together, I've had her see AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and ANT-MAN AND THE WASP in the cinemas, and I've been trying to get her caught up with the other titles on Blu-Ray. Overall, it was a great daytime date!

CAPTAIN MARVEL is currently playing in theaters in 2D, 3D, and IMAX nationwide,
including at the Pruneyard Cinemas Dine-In here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.pruneyardcinemas.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends the CRUEL INTENTIONS 20th ANNIVERSARY screening at the Cinemark Century Oakridge 20 - March 26, 2019

CRUEL INTENTIONS

Starring Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Selma Blair, Joshua Jackson, Eric Mabius, Louise Fletcher
Written by Roger Kumble
Based on the novel by Choderlos de Laclos
Cinematography by Theo van de Sande
Edited by Jeff Freeman
Produced by
Directed by Roger Kumble
Originally released by Columbia Pictures
Re-released by Sony Pictures

The year was 1999. Things were different back then. For example, my rent was only $400 a month! Gas was $1.25, Bill Clinton was President, the economy was doing great, and there was no internet! Teenagers used to go the mall to hang out with there friends. Yup, life sure was different; a lot simpler now that I stop and think about it. It was here where I saw a movie that is now celebrating its 20th anniversary! And yes, that makes me feel old! Now, thanks to Sony Pictures, they are bringing back the teen cult classic CRUEL INTENTIONS for a one week engagement, and, of course, I went and saw it over at the Cinemark Century Oakridge 20, where I saw it originally all those years ago.

The film's official synopsis: Annette (Reese Witherspoon) unwittingly becomes a pawn in Sebastian's (Ryan Phillippe) and Kathryn's (Sarah Michelle Gellar) deliciously diabolical wager of sexual conquest when she writes an article in Seventeen Magazine about how she intends to stay pure until she marries her boyfriend. However, Sebastian gets more than he bargained for as he attempts to woo Annette into his bed.

is playing for one week only at select theaters, including the Cinemark Century 20 Oakridge here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit cinemark.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees US at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge - March 25, 2019

US

Starring Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Tim Heidecker, Elisabeth Moss, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon
Written by Jordan Peele
Cinematography by Mike Gioulakis
Edited by Nicholas Monsour
Produced by Jordan Peele, Jason Blum, Sean McKittrick, Ian Cooper
Directed by Jordan Peele
Released by Universal Pictures

Jordon Peele made a huge impact in the horror genre with his 2017 directorial debut film GET OUT. Addressing racial, political, and social commentary, the film was herald as one of the most polarizing films in last few decades, and becoming an Academy Award winning movie for Best Original Screenplay. Soon, Peele was all over the media, news, and online platforms discussing his debut feature, what was the inspiration for it, and, most importantly, what would be his next project! This past weekend, moviegoers all over flocked to their local theater to witness the latest creation from this talented filmmaker, and I was one of those people. It was at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge where I saw the slow burn US from Universal Pictures.

The film's official synopsis: Haunted by an unexplainable and unresolved trauma from her past and compounded by a string of eerie coincidences, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o) feels her paranoia elevate to high-alert as she grows increasingly certain that something bad is going to befall her family: husband, Gabe (Black Panther’s Winston Duke), and their two children (Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex). After spending a tense beach day with their friends, the Tylers (Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon), Adelaide and her family return to their vacation home. When darkness falls, the Wilsons discover the silhouette of four figures holding hands as they stand in the driveway. US pits an endearing American family against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgängers of themselves.

Words cannot describe just how much I enjoyed the movie! Once again, Peele demonstrates that he is one of the most talented filmmakers within the genre, and a new voice in modern day horror. While watching his sophomore feature, I found myself comparing him to the late, great George Romero; combining social commentary with avant garde storytelling. His camera literally grabs the viewers by the throat and drags them into the movie.

As I am writing this review, the film has just been dominating at the box office! Right at this moment, the movie has earned an overwhelming $128.2 million here in the states and Canada, and another $46.3 million in other countries, grossing a worldwide total of $174.5 million! Remember, the budget was only $20 million!! That is some serious box office business!! But it also means that there is an audience for horror films with minority casts! This is something that will no doubt change the landscape for not only horror films, but for all Hollywood movies to come!

US is one of the very best horror films of 2019 thus far!! The bar has been set to insurmountable heights that it's, again, going to be very difficult to top this movie! Now, there are a plethora of horror films being released this year, so my opinion might change, however, nothing will take away from the emotional experience I had watching Peele's latest masterpiece in my local theater! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

US is currently 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! 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Phil attends the BEST F(R)IENDS: VOLUME 1 & THE ROOM W/GREG SESTERO EVENT at the 3Below Theaters & Lounge - March 20, 2019

No sooner am I all done with my coverage and film reviews from the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, I'm back in Downtown San Jose to cover yet another major cinema event! Tonight I had the pleasure of attending the special screenings of BEST F(R)IENDS: VOLUME 1 & THE ROOM W/GREG SESTERO EVENT over at the 3Below Theaters & Lounge! Needless to say, I was pretty damn excited for this one! Now, some of you out there may be familiar with Sestero's name, having written the book chronicling the making of THE ROOM and his friendship with the man responsible for it: Tommy Wiseau! His book "The Disaster Artist" was made into a Hollywood film in 2017 that starred James Franco (who also directed the film) as Wiseau and his younger brother Dave Franco as Sestero (read my review of that film here). So let's not waste anymore time and get this review started!

Original Theatrical Poster (2017)
The first film screened was the latest project featuring this dynamic duo: BEST F(R)IENDS: VOLUME 1. The film's official synopsis: When a drifter (Sestero) is taken in by a peculiar mortician (Wiseau), the two hatch an underground enterprise off the back of the mortician's old habits. But greed, hatred, and jealousy soon come in turn, and their efforts unravel, causing the drifter to run off with the spoils and leaving the mortician adrift.

I found a lot of things that I really liked in the movie, First, Sestero's script deals with universal themes that we all have experienced in our lives: friendship, love, loyalty, greed, betrayal, and death. It almost has a Shakespearean tragedy to it, but feels very contemporary. Now I thought this while I was watching the movie, wondering if this was intentional or just a happy coincidence. However, during the intermission, Sestero admitted to being very high when he wrote the script, so my question was answered. Once again, he and Wiseau play off each other so damn well and have great on-screen chemistry, and with good reason. Being friends in real life for more than a decade, they have pretty much seen it all and lived to tell about it, and they bring all that experience to their respective roles. Of course, Wiseau steals every scene he's in, but Sestero holds his own, and dare I saw, looks damn handsome! Seriously, he look s like a sexy Jesus with porn star good looks! And dreamy eyes that will warm your cold dead heart. Yeah, I went there! And speaking of dreamy eyes, where the hell did actress Kristen StephensonPino come from? Wow! Not only is she absolutely stunning, but she's a damn fine actress, who plays Sestero's love interest and is the catalyst for what happens in the third act! Even though she's only acted in a handful of movies, I'll be watching this woman's acting career with great interest! And yes, she's in Volume 2, so I gotta see what she does next!

Director Justin MacGregor has some really cool shots and compositions that help bring Sestero's script to life, keeping the movie moving at a decent pace. Plus he got some awesome drone shots! Like, a shitload of drone shots! What I also liked about his directing was that it a hybrid of both arthouse style and traditional filmmaking. I dug his style immensely and I can't wait to what he does with Volume 2.

Overall, BEST F(R)IENDS: VOLUME 1 is great cult classic/midnight movie/indie film that cult enthusiasts and brave moviegoers will love and appreciate! Fans of the Wiseau and Sestero team-up will have a blast seeing these two back up on the big screen! 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended viewing!

After the film, Sestero came up on stage and participated in a hilariously funny and engaging and informative Q&A with the audience. Afterwards, we all got up stage to meet him, take pictures with him, and get some cool swag from him! Yours truly bought the Blu-ray with both movies on it, and Sestero autographed it for me as well! Again, this is one cool, laid back guy that you need to meet!

Original Theatrical Poster (2003)
The second film in tonight's double feature was the 2003 cult classic that started it all: THE ROOM. The film's official synopsis: The film is an electrifying black comedy about love, passion, betrayal and lies, starring "The Disaster Artist" himself, writer/director Tommy Wiseau. He plays a successful banker with a great respect for—and dedication to—the people in his life, especially his best friend Mark (Greg Sestero) and future wife Lisa (Juliette Danielle). As the film depicts friendships and relationships in the lives of its five major characters, it raises life's real and most-asked question: "Can you really trust anyone?"

The is one of the most infamous films ever made!! It's widely known as one of the worst movies ever made!! And I fucking love it!! With high levels of campiness, inept dialogue, and see-through plot, insane bantering, chicken clucking, and one of the most outrageous endings ever captured on celluloid!! This is a perfect example of what a true midnight movie should be!!

It's been a long time since I've watched this movie, and despite all its faults (which there is a plethora of!), there's a lot of heart and passion found within its insanely bizarre frames. Wiseau put his heart and soul (and allegedly $6 million of his own money) into this project, with the intention that it would launch his career and make him world famous! It did, for very different reasons! If you have seen THE DISASTER ARTIST, then you know the whole story. But I give him credit, he was able to take a negative and turned it into a very popular and profitable positive! Ever since its initial release, the movie has played all over the country to packed houses at midnight screenings! If you have never seen the movie, then you need to get out of the house more often! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

And there you have it folks!! What a wild and crazy night it was here in Downtown San Jose! But the the fun has just begun! Both movies are on tour, so make sure you check your local listings to see if either film is playing at a theater near you! To learn more about BEST F(R)IENDS: VOLUME 1 and the upcoming tour screenings with Greg Sestero, visit the official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bestfriendsmovie. To learn more about THE ROOM and the upcoming tour screenings with filmmaker Tommy Wiseau, visit the film's official website at theroommovie.com. To learn more about the 3 Below Theaters & Lounge, their schedule of films and shows, and ticket pricings, visit their website at 3belowtheaters.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Phil's Favorite Films from the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival- March 18, 2019

Hello again everybody and welcome back! Now that Cinequest is all over and done with, I decided it was now time to give you my Favorite Films from the festival!! Now thanks in large part to my OCD, I have listed my favorites under five categories: Best North American Film, Best Foreign Film, Best Documentary, Best Short Film, and Best Spotlight Film. So ladies and gentlemen, without further adieu, here are my Favorite Films from the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival!
 BEST NORTH AMERICAN FILM - BITE ME (Directed by Meredith Edwards)
In New York City, there is a subculture of people who identify themselves as vampires. A young woman named Sara (Naomi McDougall Jones) is one of those individuals. While she does drink blood to stay healthy, she doesn't sleep in a coffin, can walk in the daytime, has a job, and her vampire "church" is being audited by the IRS for back taxes. He life takes a turn in an unexpected direction when she meets James (Christian Coulson), the IRS agent assigned to her audit case. Before you know it, the two fall for each other, much to the chagrin of her roommates Chrissy (Naomi Grossman) and Lily (Mahira Kakkar). So how does a vampire find love in New York City, and can love truly conquer all in the real world?

This movie blew my mind!! I was expecting a horror comedy, not a romantic comedy/drama that deals with all-too-real problems that we face in our everyday lives. While there is horror in the film, it's modern day horrors: dead-end jobs, money problems, prejudices, and the fear of never finding that special person to love for the rest of your life. Naomi McDougall Jones soars as Sara; she just exudes talent and is absolutely wonderful in the film! Her on-screen chemistry with her co-star Christian Coulson is so believable that I fell head over heels in love with these two characters! And, in case you are not able to see the film during the festival, the filmmakers are taking the film on tour this spring. Dubbed "The Joyful Vampire Tour of America," the movie will be screened at independent theaters in 20-30 cities! Visit the film's official website www.bitemethefilm.com to learn more about the tour.
 BEST FOREIGN FILM - BORDERLINE (Directed by Anna Alfieri)
The film's about a young woman named Anna (Anna Alfieri), who is going through the aftermath of her breakup with Robyn (Agathe Ferre), the only girl she's ever loved. Told through a non-liner storyline, we see the love and heartache Anna has experienced, and the self-destructive path that she walks on after her relationship ended so damn painfully. Love is a four-letter word and we see first hand how Anna experiences this, how she lost it, and how does she find herself again.

This film had made such an impact on me that I was overwhelmed with a flood of emotions! Filmmaker Anna Alfieri tapped into a very dark and heartbreaking period in her life to tell a story of being in love and then losing it. Again, it doesn't matter if your gay, straight, bi, trans, Asian, African American or what have you, we all have the same emotions, and Alfieri bared her soul for all of us to see. Combining avant-garde visual storytelling, D.I.Y. guerrilla style filmmaking, and universal themes of love, depression, and life, the film is an unflinching look at what it means to be human, and how to overcome loss! Something that all of us can relate to!! To learn more about the film, visit www.borderline2019.com. To learn more about Anna Alfieri, visit her website at www.annaalfieri.co.uk.
 BEST DOCUMENTARY - THE EDGE OF SUCCESS (Directed by Liza Meak & Kathryn Basiji) 
This was such a compelling and heart wrenching documentary about the many suicides that has transpired at Gunn High School, located in Palo Alto, California. Through in-depth interviews with students, educators, parents, and doctors, the film attempts to shine light as to why all this has happened, what were the circumstances, and how the community is trying to stop these deaths from happening all over again.

Living here in San Jose, Palo Alto is less than half an hour north of here, and yet, I had no idea that this was happening! I knew about the first cluster of suicides, but since 2009, there have been a total of eleven deaths of Gunn High School students, all by suicide. This documentary was such an eye opener that I was shocked and saddened by this, and not realizing this until now. Directed by Kathryn Basiji and journalist Liza Meak, this is a film that should be required viewing for all high school students who feel the same way as those interviewed!: overwhelmed, pressured, and depressed about their scholastics, SATs, college choices and everything else in their lives! This is call to action for every single parent, faculty member, and administrator! To learn more about the documentary and upcoming festival screenings, visit the film's official website at edgeofsuccessmovie.com.
BEST SHORT FILM - THE WIND PHONE (Directed by Kristen Gerweck)
Inspired by true events. A phone booth on a remote ocean cliffside brings together seven strangers, having different conversations with their loved ones, but it's not your typical phone booth, and not your typical conversations.

This was emotional gut punch of a short film! We all people in our lives who have passed on, but what if we were given the opportunity to talk to them from the beyond? Writer/director Kristen Gerweck got the inspiration from a very tragic event. In 2011, a devastating 9.0 earthquake hit the northeastern section of Japan, which caused a massive tsunami that claimed the lives of more than 15,000 people. In the coastal town of Otsuchi, where they lost more than 800 lives, a phone booth was set up for people to call their dead loved ones, friends, and family members. An emotional short film that I really connected with!! To learn more about the film, the filmmakers, and future festival screenings, visit the film's official website at augohr.de/catalogue/the-wind-phone.
BEST SPOTLIGHT FILM - TEEN SPIRIT (Directed by Max Minghella)
Elle Fanning stars as Violet, a very quiet and shy seventeen-year-old girl who goes to school, does her chores on her farm, loves her horse, works waiting on tables, and likes to sing. In fact, she can sing very well. When the hit UK show Teen Spirit (kinda like American Idol) comes to her little island, she tries out and gets picked. She gets help from her new manager, who just happens to be the local drunk at her work, Oh, and he used be a famous opera singer. What are the odds? As she climbs up the competition, he's exposed to the city's indulgence, which threatens her chances to win the contest.

I wasn't expecting much here, but I was pleasantly surprised on how much I enjoyed the film. Fanning was awesome as Violet, but it's actually her singing the songs! And she can really sing people! I've already the film's main song, "Dancing On My Own" and I can't stop listening it! She is just so damn talented and she shines brightly in the movie! Written and beautifully directed by Max Minghella, the movie is scheduled to be released to theaters on April 5th, so keep you eyes peeled when this bad boy comes out! To learn more about the film, visit the official website at bleeckerstreetmedia.com/teenspirit.

And folks there you have it! My Favorite Film from the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival!! So be on the lookout for any of these films at your local theater, on cable, film festivals, VOD, and other media outlets! Also, if you would like to learn more about Cinequest, their mission statement, their Picture the Possibilities program, and how to make a donation, please visit www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Phil attends the final day of the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival - March 17, 2019

They say all good things must come to an end, and this is so true. Today was the last day of the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival! Hard to believe that it's all over! I always get a little emotional when the festival concludes; mainly because I got to meet to many talented filmmakers, actors, actresses, and I'll most likely never seen them again. I may see their film pop up on VOD or it gets either a limited theatrical release or it makes its way on home video, but that's about it. You make some really cool friends here during the festival that it can be difficult to say goodbye. However, before I do that, I've got four films to review! So let's talk about the final day of Cinequest 29!!
Upon arriving in Downtown San Jose, I made my way over to the California Theatre to see my first two films of the day. First up was BRING ME AN AVOCADO,  a dramatic comedy about a family going through one of the most difficult times in their lives. It's Robin's birthday, and her husband George and their two daughters have planned a big surprise b-day for her! While only one block away from home, she is held at gunpoint by a mugger, whom she takes to her home, gets spooked by the party goers, accidentally shoots her, and then flees. While Robin is in a coma, George gets some help from her sister and her best friend Jada. Things are going fine at first, but then a series of events causes George to feel frustrated, which results in some miscommunication and misleading nods that become out of control.

Now this is what a cool local indie movie should be! I really enjoyed the hell outta this movie! The acting were great, I loved the storyline, and the directing was very well done! While it dragged in some parts of the movie, my overall reaction was that it was a funny, tragic, and addressed some real life situations that makes us want to appreciate the people in our lives more and not to take anything in life for granted! A really fantastic film to look out for! 4 out of 5 stars!!
Film number two at the theatre was the Cinequest Spotlight film, starring the extremely talented Elle Fanning! TEEN SPIRIT stars Fanning as Violet, a very quiet and shy seventeen-year-old girl who goes to school, does her chores on her farm, loves her horse, works waiting on tables, and likes to sing. In fact, she can sing very well. When the hit UK show Teen Spirit (kinda like American Idol) comes to her little island, she tries out and gets picked. She gets help from her new manager, who just happens to be the local drunk at her work, Oh, and he used be a famous opera singer. What are the odds? As she climbs up the competition, he's exposed to the city's indulgence, which threatens her chances to win the contest.

I wasn't expecting much here, but I was pleasantly surprised on how much I enjoyed the film. Fanning was awesome as Violet, but it's actually her singing the songs! And she can really sing people! I've already the film's main song, "Dancing On My Own" and I can't stop listening it! She is just so damn talented and she shines brightly in the movie! Written and beautifully directed by Max Minghella, the movie is scheduled to be released to theaters on April 5th, so keep you eyes peeled when this bad boy comes out! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

After the screening, Cinequest co-founder Kathleen Powell present Elle Fanning with the Maverick Spirit Award and sat down with her for a very fun and informative Q&A. She talked about breaking into the movie business, how she thought she'd be a tennis pro, the making of the film, and what she's most proud of. I found her to be a very sweet, down to earth, funny, and charming young woman, and I'm planning on seeing this film again!
As soon as this ended, I jammed over to the 3Below Theaters and Lounge for screening number three! But before the feature, there was a short film. INTO THE PLAINS is about a women who abandons her husband and drives out into the plains in an attempt to cope with the loss of their child. The film stars Maggie Alexander, whom you may remember from last year's Cinequest film  ENTHUSIASTIC SINNERS (which came in at number five on my Top Ten Films of 2018 list). One again, Alexander gets to showcase her talent as an actress, and continues to grow in confidence as one of the most talented women acting in the indie scene. I predict that it's only a matter of time we see her in a major Hollywood blockbuster! I'm hoping she gets cast in a Marvel Studios movie!! 4 out 5 stars!

The documentary RITOMA focuses on a group of nomads in Tibet that enjoy playing basketball. Then, a former college basketball coach from the states shows up to help train them to become ready for the upcoming basketball tournament among eight local teams. Along the way, we're introduced to several of the folks that reside in Ritoma, and how they will navigate the collision of their traditions and the modern day world.

Another documentary that caught me by surprise, the only negative thing I have is that I wish it was longer. Clocking in at a lean 58 minutes, I felt that filmmaker Ruby Yang could've stretched the movie out longer by including more of the nomads in Ritoma, more information on the other teams in the tournament, and dig deeper in their traditions and beliefs. However, the movie was still fun to watch, and was interesting to learn that basketball exists out in Tibet of all places! I did not know this, but now I do, and now I feel all the more wiser! 4 out of 5 stars!

For my final film of the day, I made my way back to the majestic California Theatre for the Closing Night Film of Cinequest 29. Co-founder Halfdan Hussey came out on stage to greet the audience, and then awarded the Cinequest Volunteer Legacy to three of the most worthy volunteers of all time, announced artist Rose Margaret's painting "Its Center Everywhere & Circumfrence Nowhere" was the winner of the Cinequest LiveART Contest, and then we were entertained with an awesome dance and musical number courtesy of Bloco Do Sol San Jose! After the presentation of the Life of a Maverick recipient Esther Wojcicki (who's new book "How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results" will be on May 7th), it was time for the closing night film!
 THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE is the latest masterpiece from writer/director Terry Gilliam and stars Adam Driver as Toby, a cynical but supposedly genius film director finds himself trapped in the outrageous delusions of an old Spanish shoe-maker who believes himself to be Don Quixote. In the course of their comic and increasingly surreal adventures, Toby is forced to confront the tragic repercussions of a film he made in his idealistic youth - a film that changed the hopes and dreams of a small Spanish village forever. Can Toby make amends and regain his humanity? Can Don Quixote survive his madness and imminent death? Or will love conquer all?

This was Gilliam's passion project that took over 25 years to come to fruition!  When the film premiered at Cannes Film Festival, it received a fifteen minutes standing ovation, and rightfully so! Having been unable to get the project off the ground, that fact that he finally made the film proved his belief in his vision, as well as his determination! While not as batshit bonkers as his earlier films, it contains all his idiosyncratic fundamentals and randomly comical humor that we as fans have grown to love! And the good news is that it will be screened in select theaters as a one-night-only event courtesy of Fathom Events. And in case you can't make it, the 3Below Theaters & Lounge will be showing the film from May 10th through May 20th! 41/2 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

After the screening, everybody hurried off to the Corinthian Grand Ballroom located at 196 North 3rd St. (right across the street from St. James Park). There was plenty to drink, thanks in large part to our drink sponsors Tito's VodkaHendrick's Gin, Drake's Brewing, and J. Lohr Winery!! I was able to see a lot of my friends and filmmakers and took pictures as well. At about 10pm, it was time for me to call it a night. I said goodbye to everyone, walked back to my car, and drove home. I'm going to miss these crazy movie lovers and makers!!

Well folks, there you have it! Another festival has been added to the history books! What made attending the festival so much fun were the films, the filmmakers, the audiences, my friends, the afterparties, the whole vibe was intoxicating. Sometimes during the festival I thought it would never end, but unfortunately, it did. And I can't wait for next year's festival! This year I attended 20 screenings so not too shabby, but I'm hoping to set an all-time new record for myself next year! 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 or on DVD and Blu-ray. 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!! And remember, if you would like to learn more about Cinequest, their mission statement, their Picture the Possibilities program, and how to make a donation, please visit www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Phil attends the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival: Day Twelve - March 16, 2019

Hello again and welcome to the final weekend of the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival! So this is really it people!! The final weekend of the festival is upon us, and I've got movies to review. So let's get the party started! I saw another couple of movies today, one was a documentary and the other a drama. The first film was being screened at the Hammer Theatre Center.

Before the main feature, there was a short entitled LUNCH LADY. The film was about Mrs. Shirley, the lunch lady of a typical high school. She is loved by many students there, except for one student, who has been bullying her. She eventually confronts him, but not in the way that he was expecting. A really sweet short about the power of love and understanding!
After the short, it was time to watch THE EDGE OF SUCCESS, a compelling and heart wrenching documentary about the many suicides that has transpired at Gunn High School, located in Palo Alto, California. Through in-depth interviews with students, educators, parents, and doctors, the film attempts to shine light as to why all this has happened, what were the circumstances, and how the community is trying to stop these deaths from happening all over again.

Living here in San Jose, Palo Alto is less than half an hour north of here, and yet, I had no idea that this was happening! I knew about the first cluster of suicides, but since 2009, there have been a total of eleven deaths of Gunn High School students, all by suicide. This documentary was such an eye opener that I was shocked and saddened by this, and not realizing this until now. Directed by Kathryn Basiji and journalist Liza Meak, this is a film that should be required viewing for all high school students who feel the same way as those interviewed!: overwhelmed, pressured, and depressed about their scholastics, SATs, college choices and everything else in their lives! This is call to action for every single parent, faculty, and administrator! This needs to stopped!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

THE EDGE OF SUCCESS will be screened one last time on SundayMarch 17th at 11am at the Century 20 Redwood City.
For my second film of the day, I made my way over to the California Theatre to see the dramatic and funny THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF CELESTE GARCIA.Celeste is a former teacher who now works at the local planetarium in Havana, Cuba. Her life is pretty mundane, but then the government announced that alien visitors were living among them this whole time, and are looking for those individuals who are willing to relocate to their world to start their lives over. She goes and meets several new friends on her journey, but then she meets one who would not only betray her, but willing to take away her only chance of happiness.

Wow!! Was this a discovery!! I found the movie to be really moving, funny, warm, and it's a freaking sci-fi film from Cuba!! That is extraordinary by itself!! The movie can also be seen as a social commentary of Cuba itself; trying to rediscover itself after so many years being ruled by Fidel Castro. Almost a reawakening, in my humble opinion. The cinematography is top notch, the acting is fantastic, and then at the end, the special effects look epic and stellar! I am now very interested to see what other types of films come this area of the world! 5 out of 5 stars!

This was the last screening for the film at the festival.

And that  was Day Twelve of the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival!! Remember the festival ends tomorrow, March 17th!! Now you only have one day to check out so amazing independent films! To view the festival's film schedule, purchase tickets and passes, visit their official website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Phil attends the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival: Day Eleven - March 15, 2019

This is it! The final weekend of the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival! Hard to believe that the fun is almost over!! So let's not waste anymore precious time! There are movie reviews to discuss!! So for my first two screenings, I hung out at the 3Below Theaters & Lounge for two very awesome shorts programs!
The first screening I saw was SHORTS PROGRAM 1: INBOUND VISIONS, which consisted of 10 unique and interesting short films. Let's take a look at them, shall we?

1) The 17: Based on a true story. A tragedy befalls on a pregnant woman, resulting in her passing out on her bathroom floor bleeding. She awakens in the hospital handcuffed to her bed, charged with the murder of her stillborn baby.

2) Chickens: Two racist and violent police officers kill three innocent victims in fast food establishment. While they take the video surveillance tape, the worker had been broadcasting the officers' bloody crime via a live feed on the Internet for all to see. Very poignant in Trump's Amerikka of today!!

3) Hayley: A flight attendant is under the suspicion that a young child is being abducted by a sex and must find evidence to her claim in order to save the young girl's life. A very important message regarding child sex trafficking!!

4) Lamb: A young, inspiring actress has a meeting with a powerful Hollywood executive. She meets the assistant in the hotel bar, only to escort her to his room. A powerful social commentary regarding the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal!!

5) Nocturne: A women and her elderly mom are watching television in their retirement home when they receive a visit from a complete stranger. What happens next is murder, via a pie server! And it's pretty damn funny!

6) Notre Mort: A French short about a tale of two brothers who, after discovering their own dead bodies, conduct a series of tests to see if they're ghosts or not.

7) Nursery Rhymes: A heavy metal band pulls off on the side of the road to calm a baby down as we pan to a horrific car accident involving the baby's family and a cow.

8) The Revolutionaries: The longest short of the program, Set in America during the early 1970's a young student radical, who was involved in a bombing, is taken to her sister's husband's family house out on the East Coast to hide out. Unfortunately, an unexpected guest confronts the young radical woman to show her her past and what the future holds.

9) The Wind Phone: Inspired by true events. A phone booth on a remote ocean cliffside brings together seven strangers, having different conversations with their loved ones, but it's not your typical phone booth, and not your typical conversations.

10) Woman in Stall: A young woman rushes into a bathroom stall to change clothes for an important interview. All of a sudden, a strange man begins to talk to her while she's in the stall, and he has no interest in leaving her alone. Another important social commentary regarding women being stalked and the paranoia that women live with!!

This was the last screening for the program at the festival.
After that, I again stayed at the 3Below Theaters to watch the second shorts feature entitled SHORTS PROGRAM 6: DOCUNATION. Here, I got to see some really incredible and informative short documentaries. Here are the thirteen shorts that I saw in this program!

1) 49 Mile Scenic Drive: A fun and insight full short on the history of one of San Francisco's most famous and beloved signs, and how the community came together to restore this local and iconic sign!

2) Bones: An artist creates and carves bone sculptures while it damages his body in ways we cannot even imagine.

3) Double Exposed: Filmmaker Julie Buck narrates over a double exposed film that her grandfather did while she tells us how he had molested her and all the women in her family.

4) I am Thinking of Pierre Cardin: A loving tribute to fashion designer icon Pierre Cardin.

5) Lion in a Box: Told through photographs, it's a tale of overcoming obstacles and adversities in the pursuit of achieving her goals.

6) Nazi VR: The longest short in the program and the one I found most fascinating, it's about the trail of a WWII war criminal and how technology, more specifically virtual reality, is used in its prosecution.

7) Project Chick: An autobiography of actress, poet, and award-winning playwright Kim El, and the struggles she faced in her youth.

8) Shades: A hilarious short about the iPhone's emoji people, the choice of colors, and what people of different races think of them.

9) Shout at Me!: Melissa is a student, daughter, and a professional wrestler, and we witness first hand the trials, obstacles, and judgements she faces everyday in her life to become more than the labels she is dealt with.

10) The Spring They Didn't See: One of the most shocking and disturbing shorts of the program, the film documents the tragedy and outcome of the Kurdish genocide, and the chemical weapons that killed hundreds of men, women, children, and even babies. This left me emotionally crippled and scarred.

11) Super 80: Filmed on Super 8mm filmstock, it's about a man who turns 80 years old and his wife who makes him feel young. Super sweet short.

12) Swan: Focuses on dancer Duane Gosa of Ballet Trockadero and his transformation into The Swan.

13) The Swimmer: An quick look at an Irish long-distance swimmer and what his life means as he's swimming in the ocean.

This was the last screening for the program at the festival as well.

After my shorts screenings, I went back home to take care of a few things, then picked up my son from school, waited for our old friend to come over a babysit him, then hurried back to Downtown San Jose to see one of my favorite silent film comedies of all time at the historic movie palace the California Theatre! Plus, my old friend Dennis James was on hand playing the Mighty Wurlitzer organ! The man being highlighted was none other than the great silent film comedian Buster Keaton!
Before the main feature, the festival screened the short two-reeler THE HIGH SIGN, which I've been fortunate to have seen several times at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Buster is hired as a hitman by a criminal gang called Blinking Buzzards, only to be hired by the man they wanted him to take out. The short is best remembered for the hysterical house with all the secret walls and trap doors that Keaton flies through! Comedy gold folks!! 

STEAMBOAT BILL JR. is considered by many film historians and silent film fanatics as one of Buster Keaton's best comedies! And it was his last independent film he made before heading over to MGM. In the film, Keaton plays the son of a riverboat captain (played by Ernest Torrence) who tries to earn the respect of his father. Then he runs into his old childhood sweetheart (Marion Byron), who's father (Tom McGuire) is trying to put Steamboat Bill Sr. out of business. Much like Romero and Juliet, both fathers refuse to let their respective children see one another. Then out of nowhere, a devastating cyclone comes hits the town, and what comes next is a series of hilarious spots featuring Buster in his element: unbelievable hilarious slapstick comedy that only Keaton himself could've have pulled off!!

The film was shot on the Sacramento River up in here in Northern California across from the junction with the American River in late 1927. They also built three full blocks of city sets near the state capitol itself. The film was released to theaters on May20, 1928, and believe it or not, actually lost money at the box office for United Artists. As I mentioned earlier, this was Keaton's last truly independent silent film he made. The very next year, he would sign with MGM, and, unfortunately, this move would cripple he genius and his films suffered from studio interference.

Another day of moving watch here at Cinequest 29 is done! Remember, this is the last weekend of the festival so make sure you join in on the fun here in Downtown San Jose!! 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 the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival: Day Ten - March 14, 2019

Greetings and salutations and welcome to Day Ten of my trip to the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival!! Hard to believe that the end of the festival is coming soon, so let's not waste anymore time! Once again I made my way back to Downtown San Jose where I saw one more film today over at the 3Below Theaters & Lounge. The movie I saw today was the dramatic HORIZON.
The film's about a building designer named Giorgi, who after having a falling out his wife Ana retreats to a remote cabin that's located in a swamp near the Black Sea, away for the chaos of civilization. Here, he meets and gets to know the locals as he deals with the pain of his wife leaving him and her falling in love with another man. The worse his situation becomes, the longer he stays away, even if he loses himself in his isolated depression.

While the movie deals with an all-too-real relationship problems that everyone of us has gone through, the movie moved way too slow, dragged in certain parts, and in the end, I didn't care about any of the characters. Even though it had great cinematography and the locations were beautiful and poetic, I didn't find myself emotionally invested in any of the characters, and, unfortunately, I found myself looking at the time more that I was watching the movie. 2 out of 5 stars.

HORIZON will be screened one last time on SundayMarch 17th at 3:45pm at the Century 20 Redwood City.

And folks there you have Day Ten of my trip to Cinequest 29! And there's still more films to watch before its conclusion! Remember the festival ends this Sunday, March 17th so make sure you come out here to Downtown San Jose to see some art! To view the festival's film schedule, purchase tickets and passes, visit their official website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Phil attends the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival: Day Nine - March 13, 2019

Hello film fanatics and welcome of Day Nine of my trip to the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival!! So far I've seen some excellent movies and having blast seeing old friends and making new ones! After all, what else do you do at film festivals? Oh yeah, watch movies!! And with that, I made my way back down to 3Below Theaters & Lounge in Downtown San Jose to watch my first movie of that day, the romantic comedy BITE ME!
In New York City, there is a subculture of people who identify themselves as vampires. A young woman named Sara (Naomi McDougall Jones) is one of those individuals. While she does drink blood to stay healthy, she doesn't sleep in a coffin, can walk in the daytime, has a job, and her vampire "church" is being audited by the IRS for back taxes. He life takes a turn in an unexpected direction when she meets James (Christian Coulson), the IRS agent assigned to her audit case. Before you know it, the two fall for each other, much to the chagrin of her roommates Chrissy (Naomi Grossman) and Lily (Mahira Kakkar). So how does a vampire find love in New York City, and can love truly conquer all in the real world?

Wow! I was not expecting the film to be quite like this! Meaning, this movie blew my mind!! I was expecting a horror comedy, not a romantic comedy/drama that deals with all-too-real problems that we face in our everyday lives. While there is horror in the film, it's modern day horrors: dead-end jobs, money problems, prejudices, and the fear of never finding that special person to love for the rest of your life. Naomi McDougall Jones soars as Sara; she just exudes talent and is absolutely wonderful in the film! Her on-screen chemistry with her co-star Christian Coulson is so believable that I fell head over heels in love with these two characters! And, in case you are not able to see the film during the festival, the filmmakers are taking the film on tour this spring. Dubbed "The Joyful Vampire Tour of America," the movie will be screened at independent theaters in 20-30 cities! Visit the film's official website www.bitemethefilm.com to learn more about the tour, and make sure you see it here at Cinequest! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

BITE ME will be screened one last time on SundayMarch 17th at 10:45am at the Century 20 Redwood City.
For film number two, I headed over to the historic California Theatre to watch the Chinese sci-fi film LAST SUNRISE. On one particular day, life changed forever, as the sun flickered and then suddenly faded, leaving Earth in a state of cold darkness. Amateur astronomer Sun Yang (Jue Zhang) along with his neighbor Chen Mu (Yue Zhang) must travel to seek shelter in the area called District Four. Along the way, they must learn to survive their new environment as they trek through this cold and dark, yet beautiful new world.

Now this was an astounding and beautifully made sci-fi movie with a voice! The film is an antithesis to what American science fiction films are. Here is a movie that is smart, unique, and provides us with hope instead of death and violence, like our films. Kudos to co-writer/director Wen Ren for crafting a film that dares to go against the norm of traditional Hollywood films and charting a new course for his highly intelligent, emotionally charged, character driven, and highly original sci-fi film that I hope will be seen by the entire world! 5 out of 5 stars!

LAST SUNRISE will be screened one last time on Saturday, March 16th at 6:30pm at the Century 20 Redwood City.

And that cinephiles was Day Nine of the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival!! And there's still plenty more films to watch! Remember the festival ends on Sunday, March 17th so make sure you come out here to Downtown San Jose and see some art! To view the festival's film schedule, purchase tickets and passes, visit their official website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Phil attends the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival: Day Eight - March 12, 2019

Hello again and welcome to Day Eight of my trip to the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival!! Today I saw a couple movies here in beautiful Downtown San Jose! Upon my arrival to the heart of the city, I made my way over to the 3Below Theaters & Lounge to watch my first movie of that day, and that movie was called CIRCLE OF STEEL.
Meet Wendy Fong (Chantelle Han), a young, bright, and eager engineer who has only been with her new company for about year, but then rumors begin to surface regarding potential layoffs. During this time of waiting, she keeps herself busy by hanging out the local watering hole drinking and singing karaoke, working out to Pilates tapes in her hotel room, online dating, and getting smashed on blow with her friend Kristen (Andrea Jorawsky). But eventually, the real world becomes more real than she can imagine, and her future comes to an unknown conclusion.

While the film addresses issues of job loss, drugs and alcohol, and the nightmare of adult routines, the film fell flat for me. It was described as a comedy in the festival program, but I didn't find anything funny about it, nor did I know if it was supposed to be a dark humor or a laugh-out-loud comedy. My impression of the movie was that the filmmakers didn't really know either. It could have had potential to be comedy, but there wasn't anything funny about it. I did enjoy the acting in it, and I thought that the lead actress Chantelle Han was great in it, the movie was a let down for me. 2 out of 5 stars.

This was the last screening for the film at the festival.
I remained at the 3Below Theaters & Lounge for my second feature of the day., but before the main feature there was a short film screened. THE FRINGE CLASS is about a group of runaway and homeless teenagers living on the streets of the Bay Area. We follow Thena, who has been living on the streets since her falling out with her no-so understanding mother. On the streets she meets and befriends Sabrina, who is now being pimped out by Romeo. Soon the situation becomes violent as Thena must now choose to either stay in her current situation or to seek refuge elsewhere.

Based on the novel "The Art of Love" by Betsy Franco, the short film looks and feels very authentic to the plight that young homeless teenagers are forced to live through out on the streets. It was very well acted, great cinematography, and really addresses the issues of the rise teenage homelessness and what we as a community and society can do to help theses runaways get off the streets. A really powerful short film that I would love to see again! 5 out of stars!
BROKEN PLACES is a documentary that explores why some children are permanently damaged by early adversity while others are able to thrive. By revisiting some of the abused and neglected children we profiled decades ago, we're able to dramatically illustrate how early trauma shaped their lives as adults. The film interweaves these longitudinal narratives with commentary from a few internationally renowned experts to help viewers better understand the devastating impact of childhood adversity as well as the inspiring characteristics of resilience.

The documentary was very informative and provides evidence on how our environments of our childhood shape us as we grow into adulthood. Award-winning director Roger Weisberg revisits several of his interviewers that he has filmed for the past four decades to see how they are all doing, if they are surviving, and what is their attitude about their lives in the present. 5 out 5 stars!

This was the last screening for the film at the festival as well.

And that ladies and gentlemen was Day Seven of the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival!! And there's still plenty more films to watch! Remember the festival ends on Sunday, March 17th so make sure you come out here to Downtown San Jose and see some art! To view the festival's film schedule, purchase tickets and passes, visit their official website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Phil attends the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival: Day Seven - March 11, 2019

Hello again everybody and welcome to Day Seven of my trip to the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival!! Now as some of you may have noticed, I missed three days of the festival, but there's a very good reason for that. My incredibly talented and beautiful girlfriend is one of the leads in the new show called EURYDICE, a Greek tragedy play that will be opening at the City Lights Theater on Saturday, March 14th and it will run till April 14th (click the link in the title to purchase your tickets today). Because of this, she is in rehearsals a lot, and this past weekend she had all-day rehearsals! That's 11 hour days my friends!! So I was watching our son while she was getting her theater groove on, but I did sneak in a screening of CAPTAIN MARVEL on Friday after work (which was awesome!), but that's where I've been. Like I've said before, being a parent is a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but I would not change it for the world! I got to spend some quality time with my son and I get to see my love back up in the stage acting again! So I would say that it's a win-win for yours truly!

I'm on vacation from work this week, and so I was able to see two movies today. After grabbing an early lunch over at the awesome La Victoria Taqueria (home of the delicious orange sauce) over on San Carlos and 4th Street, I made my over to the 3Below Theaters & Lounge to see the LGBTQ love drama BORDERLINE.
The film's about a young woman named Anna (Anna Alfieri), who is going through the aftermath of her breakup with Robyn (Agathe Ferre), the only girl she's ever loved. Told through a non-liner storyline, we see the love and heartache Anna has experienced, and the self-destructive path that she walks on after her relationship ended so damn painfully. Love is a four-letter word and we see first hand how Anna experiences this, how she lost it, and how does she find herself again.

This was such an outstanding film!! I absolutely loved it!! It proves, once again, that it doesn't matter if your gay or straight, we all feel the exact same way, and we feel the pain and suffering when we lose that special someone that we loved the most. I applaud filmmaker Anna Alfieri for her bravery to put all of this on the screen. Based on a true event that she herself went through, the film was her passion project; she wrote, produced, acted, and directed the film, took over two years to make, filmed in three different countries, and it was entirely improvised based on only a twelve page skeleton outlined script! The end result is a raw, unflinching, and uncompromising movie that discusses not only to have been love and lose said love, but of depression and the inner demons that most people cannot comprehend, nor understand the daily struggle of trying to figure out how to be happy in the modern world. As of this moment, this is my FAVORITE film of the festival, and it's gonna be damn hard to see if anything top this emotionally charged, beautifully haunting, and powerful examination of the human soul!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

BORDERLINE will have two more screenings: Tuesday, March 12th at 6:00pm and Friday, March 15th at 9:30pm at the Century 20 Redwood City.
For my second of the day, I went down the block to the Hammer Theatre Center to watch LAKE OVER FIRE, a Norwegian comedy that was also making its world premiere at the festival as well. The film takes place in a remote desert town (it's actually just a bunch of mobile trailers) where everybody is filthy rich, thanks in large part to a mine that's filled with these red circular things (almost Lego-like). Because of this, the whole town doesn't feel like working anymore (would you?). Then out of nowhere, a stranger rides into town (on a moped no less) and decides to stir things up by pitting the townsfolks against each other.

This was one of the most bonkers-ass movies I've seen at the festival for quite some time! The movie is filled with brightly colored mobile trailers, people with giant cowboy helmets with giant rotary phones on their hips, riding on mopeds, and garbage everywhere. There's barely a story, quirky characters, people killing each other, and it's just freaking weird ass movie! If Alejandro Jodorowsky teamed up with John Waters to make a film, this would be the end result! I didn't love it, not did I hate it. It was just there. And that's where I'll end this review. 3 out of 5 stars.

This was the last screening for the film at the festival.

And there you have it! Day Seven is now in the history books! And there's still plenty more films to watch! Remember the festival ends on Sunday, March 17th so make sure you come out here to Downtown San Jose! To view the festival's film schedule, purchase tickets and passes, visit their official website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Phil sees CAPTAIN MARVEL at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge - March 8, 2019

CAPTAIN MARVEL

Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Lashana Lynch, Lee Pace
Written by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve
Characters created by Roy Thomas, Gene Colan
Cinematography by Ben Davis
Edited by Debbie Berman, Elliot Graham
Produced by Kevin Feige
Directed by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

It's been a rewarding experience to have seen every single film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the theaters. Ever since I attended a special preview screening of IRON MAN at the Century 20 Oakridge all the way back in 2008. Since then, we have been treated to some of the most iconic characters ever created in the comic book world, having major Hollywood stars bringing these iconic heroes and villains to life on the big screen, and seeing some major first and record breaking debuts in those eleven years. Today, audiences were once again treated to another first: Marvel Studio's first female starring film that will be loved by female audiences worldwide. Taking place in that awesome year of 1995, let's take a ride with the MCU's newest superhero CAPTAIN MARVEL at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge.

The film's official synopsis: Captain Marvel (Larson) is an extraterrestrial Kree warrior who finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her people and the Skrulls. Living on Earth in 1995, she keeps having recurring memories of another life as U.S. Air Force pilot Carol Danvers. With help from Nick Fury (Jackson), Captain Marvel tries to uncover the secrets of her past while harnessing her special superpowers to end the war with the evil Skrulls.

So I had a blast watching this movie! Now, I was surprised when Marvel Studios announced that Brie Larson was cast as our heroine. Reason being that she's an Academy Award winner, star of ROOM and the THE GLASS CASTLE. These are amazing dramas! Of course she's been in other movies like TRAINWRECK, KONG: SKULL ISLAND, and FREE FIRE, but I figured she would go on to star in these lavish time period dramas and arthouse type films after her big win. Thankfully, she embraced her inner superhero and she nailed her performance as US Air Force Pilot Carol Danvers, her new alien identity Vers, and the most powerful entity known as Captain Marvel! Samuel L. Jackson once again return as Nick Fury, but this is 1995 and Fury is not yet the man in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. but we get to see how he came to be (and why he wears that patch). Also back on the big screen is Clark Gregg, who has been portraying Agent Coulson since the first IRON MAN back in 2008! While he died in THE AVENGERS, he was brought back to life and has been appearing of the hit television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. since 2013. Now, with the Marvel Studios, there's always a legendary Hollywood actor or actress making their MCU debut, and with this film, they can add the iconic Annette Bening, who plays Supreme Intelligence in the movie, to that list. Add Jude Law as Yon-Rogg to the mix, along with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY alumnus Djimon Hounsou and Lee Pace (Korath and Ronan, respectively), and you've got yourself a kick ass Marvel movie!

As I write-up this review, the movie has garnered acclaim from fans of the MCU and from female audience members alike. But the big news to come out of this weekend was its boxoffice haul. The movie has grossed a freaking unbelievable $455 million worldwide and became the sixth-highest worldwide debut ever!! It also scored a whopping $153 million domestically and is the studio's latest best-performing opening weekend of the year!! That is outstanding!! And to all those dipshit trolls who were trying to boycott the movie, guess what boys? You lost big time!! Now shut the hell up and go get a life!!

CAPTAIN MARVEL is another fun-filled, superheroic blockbuster of a movie that will make fans rejoice and chat for more!! And in case you've been living under a rock, she will be appearing in the upcoming conclusion AVENGERS: ENDGAME. The film serves its purpose as an awesome origin film, but it sets up an epic battle to come as well! If you're excited to see Captain Marvel square off against Thanos, we only have one month to wait! In the meantime, make sure you see this one at least three more times, and if it's playing in 3D and IMAX, then see it that way as well! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


CAPTAIN MARVEL is currently playing in theaters in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 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!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Phil attends the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival: Day Three - March 7, 2019

Greetings and salutations and welcome to Day Three of my trip to the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival!! So far I've seen two amazing films; foreign films to be precise.What I really enjoy about watching foreign film sis that I am transported to a far away land that I will never get to visit, meeting people I will never get to meet, explore their cultures, beliefs, and their histories. Today was one such film, as I made my way once again to the California Theatre to see the Albanian export A SHELTER AMONG THE CLOUDS.

Besnik is a lonely shepherd and devoted Muslim, haunted by unfulfilled love. He is the son of a Catholic mother and formerly Communist father whom he takes care of in an Albanian village in the mountains. Up here, Christians and Muslims have found a way to co-exist peacefully. Even after the discovery that the old mosque used to be a church and that the building was actually shared by the two religions in the past, the calm of daily life can be preserved - with Besnik's help. After the death of his father, however, drastic changes threaten Besnik's multi-faith family and the shepherd is forced to seek his own path.

I found the movie to be interesting and thoughtful, albeit the pacing of it is very slow. There were several things that I found to be fascinating. The first being the setting, which is basically a village within the mountains. It's hard to fathom that, even in the 21st century, there are still places that haven't been corrupted by the so-called "wonders of technology." The people who live in this village live a very simple life; some are Sheppard, women wash the laundry by hand and hang them up to dry and a rope tied to trees, houses look ancient and primitive, etc. The world of today doesn't exist out there. The second is that while they live a simple life, that way of life is almost ruined by the religions they practiced. It's one thing to believe in God, but religion and the "right way" to worship Him is what tears about families and communities. Overall, the film is a dramatic, character driven film, with beautiful cinematography, but the finale was a bit lackluster and felt flat to me. 3 out of 5 stars!

A SHELTER AMONG THE CLOUDS will be screened one more time on Saturday, March 16th at 3:10pm at the Century 20 Redwood City.

And that was Day Three of my Cinequest 29 excursion! Three films in so far, but there's still plenty more to watch! Remember the festival ends on Sunday, March 17th so make sure you come out here to Downtown San Jose! To view the festival's film schedule, purchase tickets and passes, visit their official website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!