Author Archives: Amos

“The Steinsaltz Humash”, (Hebrew and English Edition) by Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz— A New Translation and Commentary

Steinsaltz, Adin Even-Israel. “The Steinsaltz Humash”, (Hebrew and English Edition), Koren, 2018.

A New Translation and Commentary

Amos Lassen

I would not consider myself to be a bible collector but I do have about 15 different editions of the Five Books of Moses and I use them all. We must remember that a translation is not just a translation; it is also a commentary. About twelve years ago I decided that I needed to study the holy writings more carefully and so I decided that I would devote an hour a day to study and that the majority of that study would be in the language of the Hebrew Bible. I could look at other translations after an initial reading but not before. It is here that the various translations become so helpful. For the last two days I used the Steinsaltz bible along side of the Stone translation just to see where they differed and on the portion that I concentrated upon, I did not find any great differences but I did see nuances that I might not have seen otherwise. Aside from that the Steinsaltz was a pleasure to use.

Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz is a pioneer in his work on translating the Talmud and it sees that we have been waiting for his work on the bible for a long time. Now that it is here, we see that it contains a wealth of material that aid in understanding the text as well as background information. There are references to many commentaries, Hebrew verses in clear Koren font, with vowels and punctuation, an English translation that reflects Rabbi Steinsaltz’s understanding of the text, portions are divided thematically with introductory explanations, color photos identify biblical objects and illustrate complicated concepts, notes and photos of modern archaeological and scientific findings, maps, illustrations, and charts to clarify locations and concepts and supplemental background materials with cross-references to the Torah. I see the aim of the Steinsaltz Humash to be to connect the reader to a simple reading of the text and than providing information for further study.

“This brand-new volume features several innovative elements including:

Hebrew verses in clear Koren font, with vowels and punctuation

Accessible English translation that reflects Rabbi Steinsaltz’s understanding of the text

Parshiyot divided thematically with introductory explanation

Color photos that identify biblical objects and illustrate complicated concepts

Notes and photos of modern archaeological and scientific findings

Maps, illustrations, and charts to clarify locations and concepts

Supplemental background materials, cross-references to the Torah”

I am really excited about this edition of the Five Books of Moses and the only negative I have to give it that it too heavy to take everywhere with me and this means that I will be spending a great deal of time at home.

“Barons of the Sea” by Steven Ujifusa— A History

Ujifusa, Steven. “Barons of the Sea”, Simon and Schuster, 2018.

A History

Amos Lassen

The seas have always played a huge part in history and we know that in the early years of the republic and fortunes were made and lost importing luxury goods such as tea, silk, and porcelain from China. This was a secretive, glamorous, ugly business that had been built off the profits of the opium trade. There was a handful of cutthroat competitors who raced to build the fastest, finest, most profitable clipper ships to carry their precious cargo to American shores. “Barons of the Sea” revisits that history of nineteenth-century American dynasties and the battle for dominance in tea and opium trading. As might be expected, this history is filled with scandal, decadence and intrigue and it makes for a thrilling read. We read of the rise and fall of an American industry yet we also gain practical information such as which sail is which.

“Barons of the Sea” is the story of how the ships made huge fortunes for their owners using money from the opium trade to buy luxury goods in China—silks, teas, and porcelain—and sell them in America. These barons of the sea were initially wealthier than the railroad, oil, and steel barons. Uniting the building of the fastest ships with the China goods, the California gold rush, and the growing wealth of Americans gives us a fascinating story of trading that most of us are unfamiliar with. There are many shorter stories within the overall story of life on the seas and the enormous fortunes that seemed to justify the risks taken. We also read about the lives of the men and women who took the risks.

We begin in February 1784, when the “Empress of China” sailed from New York to Canton and returned, 14 months later, filled with cargo that sold for gigantic profits. This started a rush by young American entrepreneurs to develop partners, routes, and ships that would eventually create great wealth and power. Soon American shipyards began building vessels designed to be faster and capable of carrying more cargo than their predecessors to take advantage of early season marketing that produced the biggest profits.

The “clipper” ships that became the secret to gaining advantage over others and merchants and ship owners, mostly New Englanders risked huge sums of money trying to outdo each other at dominating the trade. Ship builders were given contracts to build the fastest and most reliable vessels possible. Ship captains were chosen for their efficiency and were employed and charged with making sure shipments were delivered as needed.

Ujifusa did tremendous research and wonderful prose in order to give us the best possible picture of what went on and provide a vivid account of intriguing characters, aggressive marketing, and innovative technology from a bygone era.

 

 

“Television’s Lost Classics Volume 2: Rare Pilots”— Looking Back

“Television’s Lost Classics Volume 2: Rare Pilots”

Looking Back

Amos Lassen

This is a special series of lost classic programs from the Golden Age of TV that have been restored by SabuCat Productions from the best archival film elements available in high definition, some of the programs have not been seen since they were originally broadcast. Volume Two features 4 half-hour lost pilots

“Cool and Lam” is directed by the great Val Lewton horror collaborator, Jacques Tourneur, and we have another version of “The Life of Riley,” this time with the Wolf Man’s great Lon Chaney, Jr. essaying Riley. A “Nero Wolfe” pilot features early William Shatner. ”Case of the Sure Thing” introduced the series “Rocket Squad.” The programs also contain the original advertising and we see how easy it was to get people to smoke.

THE “RETRO AFRIKA COLLECTION”

THE “RETRO AFRIKA COLLECTION,” FEATURING

DIGITALLY-RESTORED, APARTHEID-ERA CLASSICS

RARELY SEEN OUTSIDE THE BORDERS OF SOUTH AFRICA!

 The First Three Releases Include UMBANGO, One of the First Zulu Westerns and Two Lo-Fi Crime Capers, FISHY STONES and GONE CRAZY, Will All Be Available on October 30 on DVD, VOD and Digital as Well as Through Their SVOD Service,IndiePix Unlimited

 From light-hearted comedies, high-octane action films and provocative race dramas that were met with opposition from the apartheid government, the forgotten and discarded classics of African cinema are about to have a new life with THE RETRO AFRIKA COLLECTION from IndiePix Films. Through a partnership with Retro Afrika Bioscope, an independent label of Gravel Road Entertainment dedicated to locating, acquiring, restoring and re-releasing retro South African films from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, Indiepix will begin to release these digitally-remastered classics rarely seen outside their borders.

These Apartheid-era films, produced by and starring native South Africans, pay homage to Hollywood action in groundbreaking B-movie style, a precursor to today’s burgeoning Nollywood industry. Featuring numerous local dialects with English subtitles, the small budget vintage features have all undergone a highly-specialized digital restoration process for optimal viewing. The first three remastered classics include UMBANGO, one of the first Zulu Westerns and an Official Selection at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival, and FISHY STONES and GONE CRAZY, two outsized, humorous crime capers representative of the genre. They will all be available on October 30 on DVD ($24.95each), VOD and Digital, as well as IndiePix Films signature streaming service, IndiePix Unlimited on Amazon Channels or at IndiePixUnlimited.com.

UMBANGO (1986) — In the wild west of KwaZulu-Natal, Jack and Owen, two friends accused of murder, prepare to fight back against KK, a cunning businessman bent on revenging his dead brother. KK forms a posse of thugs to aid in his vendetta, and when the two innocent friends learn of the gang out for their blood, they prepare to fight back and stand their ground, the old-fashioned way. A final gun-fight showdown in a five-horse frontier town brings the action-packed conflict to a head, where blood will be spilt if the friends wish to come out alive.  Tonie van der Merwe directs, and the ensemble cast features Popo Gumede, Hector Mathanda, Kay Magubane, Dumisani Shogwe and Vincent Velekazi. (Zulu with English subtitles, 70 mins.)

FISHY STONES (1990) — A poorly-executed jewelry store heist finds two amateur thugs on the run from the cops. After a chase through the countryside, they desperately stash their loot in a clump of bushes, before they’re apprehended and thrown in jail. Fast forward to two teenage boys, the best of friends, heading off into the wilderness and finding a bounty of hidden diamonds on their camping expedition! Meanwhile, the two thugs make a daring escape from prison and, in a desperate search for their loot, pick up the trail of the two boys… who might need some saving. Also directed by Tonie van der Merwe, with a cast featuring Innocent Gumede, Kay Magubane and Hecor Manthanda. (Zulu with English subtitles, 70 mins.)

GONE CRAZY (1980s) — In this lo-fi summer romp, a disgruntled psychopath seeking revenge on a small town mayor steals a mega-bomb from the explosives wing of a local chemical research facility, with plans to blow up the dam and drown the town. Two police inspectors, each working a different angle of the case, team up to rescue the kidnapped professor whose special métier is now at the crux of an evil plan. Can the inspectors stop the madman in his  tracks? The clock is ticking. Tony Cunnighma directs with a cast featuring Roy Dlaminim Pepsi Mabizela, Mandla Hgconya and more. (Zulu with English Subtitles; 74 mins.)

With these three debut films in the RETRO AFRIKA COLLECTION, IndiePix proudly delivers home audiences to Sollywood, offering a window to a filmmaking community rarely-seen in the U.S.. Look out for more RETRO AFRIKA COLLECTION releases, coming soon to a screen near you!

 

About IndiePix Films®

New York-based IndiePix Films® offers cineastes a highly-curated collection of the best independent films from around the world. Avenues for distribution include their signature streaming service, IndiePix Unlimited, dedicated commerce site, IndiePixFilms.com, which offers download-to-own, streaming rental and physical media direct to consumers, via national retail channels and select theatrical exhibition. IndiePix also owns Festival Genius, the premier platform for connecting film festivals to audiences through online ticketing, calendars, iphone apps, and more.

“The Age of Disenchantments: The Epic Story of Spain’s Most Notorious Literary Family and the Long Shadow of the Spanish Civil War” by Aaron Shulman— Art, Myth and Legacy

Shulman, Aaron. “The Age of Disenchantments: The Epic Story of Spain’s Most Notorious Literary Family and the Long Shadow of the Spanish Civil War”, Ecco, 2019.

Art, Myth, and Legacy

Amos Lassen

Journalist Aaron Shulman takes us into the circumstances surrounding the Spanish Civil War through the lives, loves, and poetry of the Paneros, Spain’s most compelling and eccentric family, whose lives came together with many of the most storied figures in the art, literature, and politics of the time. To name a few, there were Neruda, Salvador Dalí, T.S. Eliot, Gerald Brennan, Lorca, Franco, Ava Gardner, Pablo Picasso and Roberto Bolaño.

Combining memoir with cultural history and biography as well as storytelling and striking images, “The Age of Disenchantments” shows us the romance and intellectual ferment of the era while at the same time bringing out the profound and enduring devastation of the war, the Franco dictatorship, and the country’s move to democracy.

This is a story of love and hatred, art and ambition, and freedom and oppression as seen through the chronicle of a family who modeled their lives (and deaths) on the works of art that most inspired and obsessed them and who, in turn, profoundly affected the culture and society around them.

Their friends included Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, Miguel Hernandez, Javier Marais, Felix Guattari and aside from T.S. Eliot, three other Nobel laureates.

The father was Leopoldo Panero, Communist before the Civil War who became a famous and celebrated poet during Franco’s rule. Felicidad Blanc, the mother was known for her beauty and determined to live life like in a novel. The three sons included Juan Luis Panero, a loner and a pot who was obsessed with his own poetic heritage and enjoyed imitating his literary heroes, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Malcolm Lowry, and Lawrence Durell. Leopoldo Maria Panero was a doomed genius and visionary poet who spent most of his life in mental institutions yet he appears in three Robert Bolano novels. Michi Panero was a legendary playboy, a frustrated writer and “scenester par excellence” in the countercultural explosion in Madrid in the 1970s and 80s. Without a doubt this was Spain’s most compelling and eccentric literary experience and this is so much more than just a read. As we learn about the family, we also learn about the romance and the intellectual ferment of the pre-war era as well as the devastation of the Franco era and the devastation of war.

DADDYHUNT: THE SERIAL Season 3 – Oct. 24th 

DADDYHUNT: THE SERIAL Season 3 – Oct. 24th 

Check out Trailer Premiere on Out.com 

DADDYHUNT: THE SERIAL – SEASON 3 debuts on Oct. 24th and can be viewed and shared on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Daddyhunt or on the Daddyhunt YouTube Channel.

 SEASON 3 SYNOPSIS:

DADDYHUNT: THE SERIAL – SEASON 3 continues the saga of two men who connect on the social network Daddyhunt.  As Season 2 took on the issue of PrEP, Season 3 builds on that with an emphasis on STD testing and partner notification….3 months later. 

The DADDY and BOY’s happy romance is tested when a past love brings to the surface some insecurities and doubts that have profound consequences on the couple.

Meanwhile, the BFF meets his romantic match in a self-depreciating dork, but things take a turn for the worse once his HIV status is discovered.

And the EX’s hopes of a reconciliation with the DADDY may be within reach, with a little help…

Two months later, all their lives converge and each needs to decide whether to let history hold them back or to take a second chance on love.

ABOUT DADDYHUNT

Responding to a surge in those who subscribe to the Daddy label, the Daddyhunt app and website has become one of the largest and fastest growing social networks for men seeking a more authentic approach to meeting guys. On Daddyhunt, members never need to lie about their age — or anything else — just to meet other men.  Daddyhunt celebrates older men and their admirers.

ABOUT BUILDING HEALTHY ONLINE COMMUNITIES (BHOC)

Building Healthy Online Communities is a public-private partnership between dating sites and apps and HIV and STD prevention organizations including the National Coalition of STD Directors, NASTAD, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Project Inform, and AIDS United.

“HUSH”— Dreams and Desires

“HUSH”

Dreams and Desires

Amos Lassen

“Hush” involves one’s dreams and desires. These dreams are the ones you should keep hidden. Jeremy (Anthony Scanish) has everything going for him or so it seems. He has a good job, a wife who loves him, a nice house, a good job and a loving wife (Kristin Ann Teporelli) but there is a problem and it is quite serious. Jeremy is obsessed with his best friend’s wife Suzanna (Melissa Damas). He is not dealing with this very well. In fact, Jeremy is falling apart.

Jeremy is having difficulty seeing the difference between what is real and what is passion. Quite naturally there is now distance between Jeremy and his wife and he is facing the fact that he has no desire for her. The more he obsesses the more he is determined to act on the way he feels. The film r3flects his passion as we watch Jeremy lose all sense of reality and lust seems to take over his thoughts.

Directed by Joseph McGovern, here is a movie that we can all identify with because I am sure each of us has wanted someone he/she could not have. In “Hush” we see the dark side of a man’s inability to control his obsession. We see what can come out of this and through brief visual vignettes with inaudible dialogue, we feel the intensity as it builds. The use of color is fascinating especially how red represents how Jeremy sees himself changing Suzanna from the lovely and devoted wife of his friend into a wanton object of lust. For Jeremy, Suzanna changes from a happy member of a group of friends to a sudden explosion of erotic red turning her into the sex object that Jeremy has control.

This is a film about emotions and the actors all are able to show us how they feel without dialogue. We see animal instincts are present in us and they can cause pain and suffering. This is a hard to watch yet very important film about the ugliness of rape. The timing for this film could not have been better as we witness how women have finally come forward to show us the relevancy of coming forward. No one should have to live in fear of violation.

 

https://vimeo.com/188559066/cb9f8503e4

“THE BEAUTY QUEEN”— What Really Matters

“Beauty Queen”

What Really Matters

Amos Lassen

 Nicholas Goodwin’s 18-minute short is about Christina (Christina Goursky), an adolescent insecure girl who has been labeled as “beautiful.” After she fails at a modeling tryout, she a photographer, Sebastian Schultz (James Jelkin), who makes her look and feel the way that a young girl wants to look and feel. With the help of her father, David (Timothy J. Cox), she realizes what truly matters.

Goodwin tells this story in just 18 minutes. He examines how much social media pressure affects Christina and her body image and shows us that wisdom never goes out of style. I remember way back when that if we wanted advice about something’s, we had two choices— ask one of our parents or ask a friendly high school teacher.

Christina is a bright and intelligent young lady. She has been accepted at the liberal arts school where she applied but she realizes that scholastic success is not enough. She is well aware of the ways that boys look at her glamorous classmates. She is exposed to and influenced by the standards of beauty that are in magazines and portraits by good photographers. Not only does Christina want to be physically desirable, she also wants to know that others see her as such. More than that I cannot say about the plot..

Goursky as Christina is totally real and convincing and I really wanted to shake some sense into her when she is harsh on herself. As expected, Timothy Cox is excellent as her father and we feel his involvement and understanding with regard to his daughter. Jordan Gaches has a small part as a student who really wants to be able to tell the girl how he feels about her but he does not have the courage to do. There is a very strong message here about how the way we feel inside affects the way we appear on the outside Self-esteem comes from the self. We are our own worst critics.

“BLOOD AND BLACK LACE”— 2 Disc Special Edition

“Blood And Black Lace”

2-Disc Special Edition

Amos Lassen

The Cristian Haute Couture fashion house is a home to models, backstabbing, blackmail, drug deals and murder.

Mario Bava set about cementing the rules of giallo with his movie, “Blood and Black Lace”. In doing so he created one of the most influential Italian films ever made and one that that would spearhead the giallo genre, give a prototype for the slasher movie, and have a huge effect on many diverse filmmakers. Now newly restored from the original camera negative and presented here in its original, uncut Italian form, we get a chance to see a major piece of cult filmmaking.

At the heart of this mystery is the desperation to retrieve a diary that contains far too much information. To cover up the death of its author, a few other women had to die. This was a smoke screen, a distraction meant to confuse and befuddle the authorities.

At the time this film was made, it might have seemed brutal and extreme. By today’s standards, it is quite tame. The cinematography (Ubaldo Terzano) is incredible as is Mario Serandrei’s editing and the art direction. It is very stylish and stylized with a great use of color, light, and shadow. The story is routine and the actors tend to be stiff and formal, which is not helped by the dubbing process Nonetheless there is something about this film that is quite compelling.

Every frame is interesting and this Blu Ray is packed with features. Almost three hours of good documentaries about Giallo films in general. Like all movies of this Genre it’s a hybrid of slasher and murder mystery films. There is no real protagonist, but there are plenty of misleading suspects and victims, and the violent deaths have a fetish quality that could easily put someone off. The gore is minimal, and I will say there is plenty of sympathy for the victims. The main reason to see this movie is the visual storytelling. The Giallo is sort of an inverted noir where suspense and corruption are set in a hyper colored beautiful environment that plays off the psychological state of the beautiful people that inhabit that world. Based on plot alone it’s a well-paced, inventive film. This is a well paced, entertaining film shot in a style that most would associate with the art house Italian cinema. combines some of the art house aesthetic with the pacing and simplicity. There are a few tense moments but overall the tone is somewhat light and it remains engaging and entertaining nearly throughout

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:

Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations

Optional Italian and English soundtracks presented in original uncompressed mono PCM audio

Newly translated subtitles for the Italian audio

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack

Brand new audio commentary by Mario Bava’s biographer Tim Lucas

Psycho Analysis a new documentary on Blood and Black Lace and the origins of the giallo genre featuring interviews with directors Dario Argento (Suspiria) and Lamberto Bava (Demons), screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (All the Colors of the Dark) critics Roberto Curti and Steve Della Casa, and crime novelists Sandrone Dazieri and Carlo Lucarelli

An appreciation by Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, the creative duo behind Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body s Tears

Yellow the much-acclaimed neo-giallo by Ryan Haysom & Jon Britt [Blu-ray exclusive]

Gender and Giallo a visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring the giallo s relationship with the social upheavals of the 1960s and 70s Panel discussion on Mario Bava featuring Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava and Steve Della Casa, recorded at the 2014 Courmayeur Film Festival

The Sinister Image: Cameron Mitchell an episode of David Del Valle s television series, devoted to the star of Blood and Black Lace and presented in full

The alternative US opening titles, sourced from Joe Dante s private print and scanned in 2K especially for this release

Original theatrical trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Howard Hughes, author of Cinema Italiano and Mario Bava: Destination Terror, an interview with Joe Dante, David Del Valle on Cameron Mitchell and more, all illustrated with archive stills and posters

“YESSONGS”— 40th Anniversary Edition

“Yessongs”

40th Anniversary Edition

Amos Lassen

YES has always been considered as a unique rock group and progressive rock legends. They were constant innovators and covered the entire spectrum of music from symphonic to rock. YES has been at the forefront of progressive rock and became a major force in popular music selling over 30 million albums and reaching platinum status multiple times worldwide.

During the late 1960’s YES were famed and renowned for their live performances culminating in their seminal album and film of the same name, YESSONGS. Filmed in 1972 at London’s Rainbow theatre. This feature film was released theatrically in the UK the following year with a quadraphonic sound track. It features their new line-up of the time Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Alan White. The songs performed here are:

All Good People

The Clap

And You And I

Rick’s Solo

Roundabout

Yours Is No Disgrace

Wurm

Unfortunately the video is not the best that it could be but it has been remastered and put on blu ray making the picture as clear as possible.

I understand that many feel that those were great days for music, bands and the industry in general. YES will always be among the best bands of all time. Period. They were truly talented, all the way around and original, creative and powerful.