Category Archives: Film

“GREENER PASTURES”— Moving to a Nursing Home

 

“GREENER PASTURES”

Moving to a Nursing Home

Amos Lassen

 

Dov, a widower (played by the wonderful Shlomo Baraba), is forced by his family to move to a nursing home – and there’s nothing he can do or say about it. The nursing home feels like a prison, and all Dov can think about is getting out, buy his old house back, and live there “till he dies”. 

 

When he notices that all his fellow residents smoke legal medical cannabis, he realizes that weed will be his salvation – selling it, not smoking it. When love, cops, and gangsters come into play, Dov finds himself at a crossroads: Will he risk it all to make his dream come true?

“DEEP RED”— UHD 4K Ultra HD Limited Edition, 2-Disc Limited Edition

“DEEP RED”

UHD 4K Ultra HD Limited Edition, 2-Disc Limited Edition

Amos Lassen

“Deep Red” is director Dario Argento’s highly esteemed 1975 Italian giallo film. It was released on 7 March 1975 in Milan and Rome.

David Hemmings is jazz pianist Marcus Daly, who witnesses the brutal murder of a psychic and then investigates a series of murders by a mysterious killer wearing black leather gloves. Macha Méril is a medium called Helga Ulmann, who can read minds and the thoughts of a murderer in her audience.

Argento was interested in pushing the development of the film’s graphic violence in the murder scenes so that the audience could relate as the agony of being stabbed or shot is outside the experience of most viewers.

One night, musician Marcus looks  up from the street below and sees the axe murder of a woman in her apartment. Racing to the scene, Marcus just manages to miss the perpetrator… or does he? He becomes an amateur sleuth and finds himself part of a bizarre web of murder and mystery where nothing is what it seems…

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

  New 4K restoration of both the original 127-minute Italian version and the 105-minute export version from the original negative by Arrow Films

  4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentations of both versions in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)

  Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring originally and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative

  Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Alan Jones and Mikel J. Koven, and a new essay by Rachael Nisbet

  Fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative

  Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards

DISC 1 (4K ULTRA-HD BLU-RAY) – DEEP RED: ORIGINAL VERSION

  Restored original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks*

  Optional lossless 5.1 Italian soundtrack

  English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack

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

  New audio commentary by critics Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson

 Archival audio commentary by Argento expert Thomas Rostock

  Almost three hours of new interviews with members of the cast and crew, including co-writer/director Dario Argento, actors Macha Méril, Gabriele Lavia, Jacopo Mariani and Lino Capolicchio (Argento’s original choice for the role of Marcus Daly), production manager Angelo Iacono, composer Claudio Simonetti, and archival footage of actress Daria Nicolodi

  Italian trailer

  Arrow Video 2018 trailer

  Image galleries

DISC 2 (4K ULTRA-HD BLU-RAY) – DEEP RED: EXPORT VERSION

  Restored original lossless mono English soundtrack

  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  Archival introduction to the film by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin

  Profondo Giallo – an archival visual essay by Michael Mackenzie featuring an in-depth appreciation of Deep Red, its themes and its legacy

  Archival interviews with Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi, Claudio Simonetti and long-time Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi

  US theatrical trailer

*The English audio track on this original cut has some portions of English audio missing. English audio for these sections was never recorded for these scenes. As such, they are presented with Italian audio, subtitled in English.

“GOLDEN VOICES”— Coming to Israel from the Soviet Union

“GOLDEN VOICES”

Coming to Israel from the Soviet Union

Amos Lassen

Raja (Mariya Belkin) and Victor Frankel (Vladimir Friedman), a couple in their 60s, were once heroes of Russian cinema. For several decades they had dubbed Hollywood epics into Russian for cinema audiences. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, they left Russia and migrated to Israel. Like so many other Russian Jews in search of a better life, they struggled to adapt to their new life, new culture and language but there was no demand for their particular skills. After some missteps they found work which allowed them to use their vocal talents again. Victor dubs the latest Hollywood films for an illegal bootlegging operation, while Raja found success working for a telephone sex line.

“Golden Voices” is a comedy about the clash of cultures and an elderly couple finding a new life. Directed by Russian born filmmaker Evgeny Ruman migrated to Israel in 1990 and wrote the script in collaboration with his cinematographer Ziv Berkovich. It explores themes of displacement, disillusionment, and new beginnings and love of cinema.

 Victor and Raya Frenkel’s positions were always a little complicated. When the Soviets finally allowed the Refuseniks to immigrate to Israel, they decided to get out while the getting was good. However, adjusting to a new country and a new way of life was more difficult than they expected. For many Soviets, the Frenkels were the voices of international films in Russia. However, Russian dubbing was not an obviously marketable skill in 1990 Israel. Still, due to the large influx of Russian immigrants, Raya manages to find a job requiring Russian fluency. She tells her husband she is tele-marketing. Her boss considers it phone sex, but the way she practices it, she is more like a voice in a chatroom for lonely men like Gera.

Meanwhile, her husband finally thinks he has found an outlet for his talents with a couple of low-rent Russian film pirates, but they just don’t have his commitment to quality cinema. As the couple goes about their new lives, Israeli society keeps moving forward while preparing for potential chemical weapons attacks from Saddam Hussein. We can only imagine how intense the atmosphere was in Israel.

Although it is billed as a comedy, the film is bittersweet in tone and generally much more serious than whimsical. Mariya Belkina gives an extraordinarily accomplished performance as Raya, especially in her acutely sad and sensitive scenes with Alexander Senderovich, who is also a standout as Gera. Vladimir Friedman is achingly dignified as Victor Frenkel.
Ruman and Berkovich periodically address the frustrations of Soviet film censorship, while providing a thoughtful and mature portrait of a long-standing but imperfect relationship.

Ruman and Berkovich trust the audience’s emotions, intelligence and imagination. Their use of metaphors that leave room for interpretation are excellent. There is no first act that shows Victor and Raya’s life in the USSR nor is there a third act scene that ties everything up neatly together; the last line of the film lets the audience use their imagination to fill the rest in. There’s a wonderful subplot involving a man who Raya interacts with and messes with his emotions in a way that could’ve made her unlikable, but the way that she shows compassion toward him and, eventually, remorse is brave, mature and admirable of her. “Golden Voices” is a rare film that’s made for adults and that treats the audience not only as mature adults, but also as human beings. 

“ROH”— A Malayan Horror Film

“ROH”

A Malayan Horror Film

Amos Lassen

 

Emir Ezwan’s “ROH” and is set in the past and tells the story of a mother and her two children living in the forest who were one day visited by a mysterious child. This child laid the foundation for all the events that transpires throughout the movie. 

From the beginning of the movie to the end, the cinematography is amazing. The biggest attribute present in the film is the impeccable atmosphere created around the remote village. It plays up the isolation and superstition that runs rampant in the area. This is aided by the dark stories about what’s out in the woods and the series of accidents that befalls them soon after. Something far more dangerous than they bargained for is there. Since they ended up taking in the little girl from the jungle, their unknowing of the true danger awaiting them and falling into the supernatural through pure bad luck carries a lot of weight as things begin to spiral out of control.

There are overt horror thrills. The initial opening of the body being buried in the mud and then ceremoniously stabbed at provides a chilling start to things much like when the family brings the girl into their home. Once that happens, the strange incidents around them begin to pile up and z sense of unease and dread builds. With the supernatural events getting so bad that a local healer must be brought in, the sense of black magic rituals and ceremonies that are performed in a futile attempt to ward off the sinister forces at play fit into the groundwork of the universe but also add a fun dimension to the film. As the effects of the curse start to take hold and the events get bloodier, the film picks up considerably, providing great action and some brutal effects-work.

A great story, plenty of chilling aspects at play and not too many detrimental elements makes “ROH” entertaining.

 

 

“YOKAI MONSTERS”— The Collection

“YOKAI MONSTERS”

The Collection

Amos Lassen

“Yokai Monsters: The Collection” is a trilogy of terror films based on Japanese folklore. We have ghosts and monsters from ancient myths and legends brought to life through special effects, alongside an epic, big-budget reboot of the series from a modern-day master of the macabre, now available together on Blu-ray for the first time.

“100 Monsters” is the story of a greedy slumlord’s attempts to forcefully evict his tenants and this brings about the wrath of spirits when a cleansing ritual is messed up with terrifying results. “Spook Warfare” is the story of an evil Babylonian vampire who is inadvertently awoken by treasure hunters, and a brave samurai that teams with the Yokai to defeat the bloodthirsty demon. In “Along with Ghosts” , the Yokai are roused to defend a young girl on the run from deadly yakuza.

The Great Yokai War is a loose remake of “Spook Warfare”  used cutting-edge digital effects to renew the franchise for a new generation. A young boy is given a grave responsibility to band together with a group of Yokai to defend humanity against a vengeful and powerful demon that has sworn retribution against modern-day Japan.

LIMITED EDITION BOXSET CONTENTS

  High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations of all four films

  Optional English subtitles on all four films

  Illustrated 60-page collectors’ book featuring new writing on the series by Stuart Galbraith IV, Raffael Coronelli and Jolyon Yates

  Reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jolyon Yates

  Postcards featuring newly commissioned artwork for each film by Jolyon Yates

  Foldout ‘yokai guide’ poster illustrated by Jolyon Yates

DISC ONE – 100 MONSTERS

  Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio

  Hiding in Plain Sight, a brand new documentary giving a primer on yokai for Western audiences, featuring interviews with experts Matt Alt, Zack Davisson, Kim Newman, Lynda E. Rucker and Hiroko Yoda

  Theatrical trailer

  US re-release trailer

  Image gallery

DISC TWO – SPOOK WARFARE / ALONG WITH GHOSTS

  Brand new 4K restoration of Spook Warfare by Kadokawa Pictures

  Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio for both films

  Theatrical trailers for both films

  US re-release trailers for both films

  Image galleries for both films

DISC THREE – THE GREAT YOKAI WAR

  DTS-HD MA 5.1 original Japanese and dubbed English audio

  Brand new audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes

  Archive interviews with the cast and crew, including Takashi Miike

  Short Drama of Yokai, two shorts detailing the further adventures of the yokai

  Another Story of Kawataro, two shorts featuring the continuing story of the kappa character in the film

  World Yokai Conference, a publicity event where Miike speaks about the film

  Promotional Events, video of the press conference to announce the start and completion of filming, as well as the premiere in Tokyo

  Documentary on the film’s young star, Ryunosuki Kamiki, and his experience making the film

  Theatrical trailer

  Image gallery

“THE SHEPHERD”— A Psychological Drama

“THE SHEPHERD”

A Psychological Drama

Amos Lassen

Jonathan Cenzual Burley’s “The Shepherd” is a psychological drama and a parable of corporate greed. Anselmo is a taciturn shepherd who lives a spartan life on a small farm in the Spanish plains. He is approached by a construction company looking to buy his land but when he casually refuses, results occur through the community. It seems everyone around him has a stake in the development and increasingly extreme opposition from his neighbors leads to bitter conflict.

He doesn’t realize that his life is about to be turned upside down. The owners of the neighboring lands have all agreed to sell and Anselmo’s refusal jeopardizes the whole deal. The others are blinded by greed and determined to do whatever it takes to make him change his mind.

Anselmo’s  dog Pillo and sheep are his only company aside from a few friends in town. When Espanax Construction company pays him a visit with an offer to buy his house and land on which they plan to build a new residential complex, his life changes. Julian, Paco and Ignacio, are eager to unload their plots and homes in return for the construction company’s cash and this brings about a conflict with Anselmo’s unwillingness to sell; he soon learns that if Espanax cannot purchase his land, they will not buy the surrounding plots either.

Unbeknownst to Anselmo, Julian has entered into a dodgy agreement for Espanax to finance his deeply indebted slaughterhouse business using his house as a down payment and in return he is to make sure that the land owners sell, no matter what it takes. As the film’s biblical theme begins to unfold, forces quickly conspire against Anselmo as Julian grows more desperate to save his house and business.

A wonderful opening sequence establishes the character of Anselmo, as he leaves his isolated house in the middle of the arid plains of Salamanca, to go out with his beloved dog to take the sheep to pasture in the early morning light.  The peace of this place is threatened when the property developers decide to buy up land in the area to build a new town. The whole rural community of the area is turned upside down by the destructive nature of corporate greed.

We get a message against avarice and the abuse by those who feel entitled to step on those that are small.

“SWEET THING”— A Look at Race and Poverty In Childhood

“SWEET THING”

A Look at Race and Poverty In Childhood

Amos Lassen

“Sweet Thing” is director Alexandre Rockwell’s story of the strength of children in the face of neglect, warring parents, and identity crisis. It is a meditation on an impoverished childhood that filled with innocence and imagination Rockwell’s own daughter Lana is Billie, the daughter of unreliable, alcoholic but loving Adam (Will Patton) and older sister to Nico (Nico Rockwell, the director’s son). Billie is a talented singer who was named after Billie Holliday, whom she sees as her guide. This guidance and emotional support is necessary: her mother, Eve, (Karyn Parsons) has left the family to be with her controlling, abusive boyfriend Beaux (ML Josepher). Adam is ineffectual even when sober, and Nico is too young to be independent, thus Billie ends up the caregiver for her father and brother.

Adam moves between tenderness and tyranny regarding his children. One moment he gives Billie a cheap ukulele for Christmas and the next he pulls her into the bathroom and cuts her gorgeous hair off as punishment while mumbling regrets for doing so.

When Adam, who has been earning casual money as a Santa-for-hire, gets arrested and sent to rehab to dry out, the kids go to live with Eve and Beaux, where they become friends with teenaged Malik (Jabari Watkins) but when Beaux turns sexually predatory toward Nico, Eve refuses to believe Billie when she shares this and te three kids run off in a stolen car, hoping to get to  Florida, where Malik’s absentee father lives.

Even though the film is set in New Bedford, Massachusetts, it really could play out anywhere. “Sweet Thing” looks at the misery of children of alcoholic parents, and has something to say about race. Blackness is not a foregrounded theme, but it is important to this story of marginalization. Billie and Nico fight to find joy within the struggle. Sincerity and optimism are everywhere in “Sweet Thing” and we see that youth can handle anything that they face in life.

“FINAL SET”— A Comeback

“FINAL SET”

A Comeback

Amos Lassen

Writer/Director Quentin Reynaud’s “Final Set” places emphasis on the psychology of the athlete and their personal stakes. Thomas Edison (Alex Lutz) is a once-promising and prodigious talent who made a French Open Semi-final at just 19, but he never lived up to his full potential. Now at 37, he is married to Eve (Ana Girardot), and they have a young child. His tennis career seems to be over. He has a knee injury and struggles to get invitations to big tournaments while coaching children to make a living. Though he is well past his prime, his desire to go on continues. After missing his expected entry into the French Open, Thomas must work his way through the qualifying rounds to get into the main draw and prove that he still has the ability and his worth to play.

Thomas knows this tournament could be his last, yet he is determined to push. This persistence leaves his wife and their young child in its wake. She, having once being a tennis player herself has moved into sports management and raising a child. Thomas continues traveling the world to play in tournaments in which they lose time and money. There is an intense argument between the two at dinner and these frustrations are exchanged. Both parties are angry that they are not supporting each other.

Thomas also has everything to prove to his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas), a very stern and cold woman who is brutally honest about her son’s unfulfilled potential. She thinks she is partly to blame for sending him to a tennis academy at a young age where he taught to believe he was going to be a star and this resulted in her leaving her job and a then getting a divorce. She has lost faith in him and does not believe he has the mindset to be a champion. She can’t watch him play anymore. The conversations between Thomas and his mother show their relationship and the impact that his shortcomings have had on both their lives.

Thomas’ fortitude, strength, and desire to win is unmatched and the physical and mental hurdles he must clear is fascinating viewing. The tennis matches add a sense of realism. While much of the drama takes place off court, the final match between Thomas and a young protégé Damien Thosso is compelling viewing and full of tension.

We also see how hard it is to make it to an elite level and the levels of dedication and commitment that are necessary to maintain that level. We see Thomas’ regime as he strives to compete against his younger opponents and his last shot at success and is grueling.

This is an entertaining, well-acted film showing the effects elite sport can have on family relationships and long-term physical health problems. While its ending may seem abrupt, there are some really tender and emotionally charged sequences between Thomas and both his wife and mother, that help to give his matches a greater sense of purpose and meaning for his life moving forward.

“SURGE”— A Change of Behavior

“SURGE”

A Change of Behavior

Amos Lassen

Joseph (Ben Whishaw) is a British airport security officer who responds to his alienating environment by snapping and going on a crime spree. Director Aneil Karia, however, takes us away from the fantasy of white male grievance that it could have been.

Joseph’s snap is more of a crumbling as we see when Joseph has to pat down an older traveler who seems to recognize him. Joseph has never met him before, can’t remember him, or won’t acknowledge any past with him. The man complains that the metal-detector wand is burning his skin and tells Joseph to follow him in exactly 63 seconds before running, only for security to immediately subdue him. Even if the man doesn’t know Joseph, he suggests that they are comrades in psychosis, allowing Joseph to recognize some kind of aberration in himself, even though it might just be a product of his imagination.

Joseph’s reaction escalates by doing a favor for his co-worker, Lily (Jasmine Jobson), by fixing her television set. The job calls for a cheap cable, but when the ATM eats his bank card, he goes to the bank, but they won’t accept his bus pass as identification. He writes a note saying he has a gun, and the teller empties the register. The bank robbery, combined with that of the unanticipated sex he has with Lily begins a chain reaction of norm-shattering behavior.

Filmed with a handheld camera that remains close to Whishaw’s face is both nauseating and exhilarating as we see Joseph’s disorientation.  

Joseph revenges himself on objects and his spree is seen as inevitableand inevitably short-lived. Bythe end,  Joseph’s gun turns out to be a banana and the wounds he’s sustained to his face become joyful.

Whitshaw’s performance is incredible and burning. He provokes people into beating him up on the streets of London but by the end his whole experience is like being trapped in a broken-down subway car with a mental patient.

Joseph’s increasingly manic mood is so strange that it’s almost believable. The film continues with incident after incident, until it just stops giving us very little about Joseph except that he’s very unhappy.

Frantic, kinetic energy propels the film but it never seems entirely sure where it has been or where it is going.

“THE UNIVERSALITY OF IT ALL”— “We are all part of the same story…”

“THE UNIVERSALITY OF IT ALL”

“We are all part of the same story…”

Amos Lassen

Shot in Paris, Berlin, London, New York, USA, Sarasota, Vancouver, San Jose, and Costa Rica, “The Universality of It All” is focuses human migration and inequality. The film is intimate and informative explaining the complexity of human migration through important data and information and shows that these affect the reality of two friends and their daily lives.

 Emad is a refugee from Yemen living in Vancouver who realizes the interconnectedness of all the major events of the 21st century. We are taken around the world, looking at different cases of migration from an economic and historical perspective and understanding the life, thoughts, and experiences of Emad. The juxtaposition between narratives allows us to see the similarities and correlations that are common to all migrations. 

We also look at climate change, colonialism, neoliberalism, globalization, identity politics, fertility rates, wealth gaps, trade wars, terrorism, and the media.

Interviewees include Catherine De Withol (Research Director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research), Radha S. Hedge (Professor in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University), Ives Charbit (Professor of Demography, University Paris Descartes), Carlos Sandoval (Columbia Journalism School) and Nicolas Boeglin (Professor of International Law at the Law Faculty, University of Costa Rica).

What we see is that“everything is connected”.