Category Archives: Film

“MOCK AND ROLL”— A Rockumentary

“MOCK AND ROLL”

A Rockumentary

Amos Lassen

The Ohio parody band Liberty Mean is tapped out, clueless and struggling to raise the needed money to get to the South by Southwest Music Festival where they hope that their dreams will become reality. Unfortunately, bad decisions and absurd circumstances lead the band down a dark and strange road as they try to reach their goals in this parody of rock and roll reverie. 

The film features special appearances by Roger Earl of the British band Foghat, the North Coast’s Michael Stanley, and Alex Ortiz, the comedian from Comedy Central and HBO. This is the story of ”never-beens” who have crazy visions that play against the odds.

Not nearly as over the top as the classic band mockumentary “Spinal Tap”, fans will appreciate and commiserate with the film’s band while laughing at and agreeing with many of their schemes.

 “We are the best damn Black Owls parody band in the land!” shouts Bun, the drummer for Liberty Mean. This linesays everything about “Mock and Roll”, a movie that asks as many questions as it answers.

Liberty Mean is a four-piece unit of clueless Millennials—comprised of Robin, Tom, Rick and Bun who parody another local band, The Black Owls, for a tiny crowd of followers at various dive bars around Columbus.  The band is basically using their minimal fame to cobble together a documentary that Robin’s brother—Sully—is filming for the band’s archives.  

In the spirit of ‘Spinal Tap,’ ‘Best of Show,’ ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ and ‘Fargo’—‘Mock and Roll’ follows the life of the band, who come up with insane ideas on how to expand their audience (and revenue).  At first they parodied bigger acts but those never got off the ground.  Then they decided to parody their favorite local band, The Black Owls and rewrite lyrics to the band’s tunes.  

Like most bands, Liberty Mean wants to expand their fan base by playing to larger audiences, so they come up with the crazy notion that they should attend South by Southwest (SWSW), the largest music festival in the United States.  They have no plan other than to attend the event in Texas: they aren’t booked for the event and have no contacts there.  They  feel they have to go and think that the trip to Austin would make all other details would miraculously fall into place.

The band makes several failed attempts to raise money for the cause: their crowd-funding page (managed by the guitarist’s girlfriend) only raises $27.50, and their gigs pay slightly more than that.  They decide to lend their bodies (and minds) to science in an attempt to raise quick cash, but the ensuing acid trips administered by a local quack only have negative effects on the band. Bun has a bad trip, quits the band, and considers a solo career (“I can sing too!” he bellows).  After a brief hiatus, Bun rejoins the band and comes up with a third plan: his cousin needs help delivering art, so he talks the band into taking on these shady courier jobs.

The writer and producer, Mark Stewart, says he has no political or social message to convey to his audience, but I found plenty to think about. However all ideas are basically based upon the idea that one must learn the lessons from their decisions and ultimately pay the price.  

There are many absurd moments and there keep the movie going forward. If you like music, comedy, satire and silliness then this is definitely the movie for you.  The film feels and looks like a television documentary, but with the irreverent humor and slapstick of a comedy, designed to “mock” the documentary or subject it features.

The 95-minute film has already won acclaim on the independent film festival circuit, winning Best Feature at the Inside The Loop Film Festival (Sharonville, OH). It was nominated for Best Comedy, Best Director, Best Editor, Best Poster, Best Feature Actor (Chris Wolfe) and Best Feature Actress (Aditi Molly Bhanja) at the Austin Revolution Film Festival (TX). It was also nominated for Best Feature and Best Original Score at the EyeCatcher International Film Festival (OK).

“CHICAGO CAB”— A Day in the Life of a Cab Driver

“CHICAGO CAB”

A Day in the Life of a Cab Driver

Amos Lassen

“Chicago Cab” is the story of a day in the life of one put-upon cab driver (Paul Dillon) as he deals with weird riders during Chicago’s busy Christmas season.  The film is full of cameos (including Gillian Anderson, Laurie Metcalf, Julianne Moore, and John Cusack), but the real star is Dillon, a sad soul whose profession has him picking up a rape victim who is distraught one minute and a happy architect the next. This is a dark comedy that is also very somber. Directed by the husband-and-wife directing team of Mary Cybulski and John Tintori  bring us Chicago an empty, dark, dangerous, cold shell of a town that “sucks the life out of its inhabitants with every puff of frosty air.” The camera, which, unlike the stage, draws back and reveal just how little a single taxi is in a huge city.

Each of the taxi driver’s passengers is a colorful character with a story. The driver is a confessor of a sort to some and a target for others. He has more than 30 different fares from churchgoers (the first fares), who prompt their sullen young daughter to assist in saving the driver for Jesus. The last passenger is a quiet black man who listens to the driver’s sad story of the rape victim he has just taken home.

In between these two fares, he races a pregnant woman to the hospital, is tricked by a couple who pretend to have sex, witnesses a drug deal, gives legal advice to a man cheated by a used car lot, gets into what looks like a stickup situation, has a girl say “I wish you were my boyfriend,” and listens to some New Yorkers who insult Chicago. The only times he speaks is when a fare bring up the Bulls. We never learn his name and he is quite odd-looking, with a bald head and sideburns. He smokes, drinks coffee and does not seem to be happy ever. He gives rides to everyone. The most alarming guys he meets are the white kids looking for drugs on the South Side; they leave a girl in the cab, and he drives off with her – saving them both, maybe, from something bad.

There is some sense of a savior in him. A guy drops off his date and then tells the guy all about her including that she is a slut she and that he mistreats her and lies to her. Dillon gives us very little of this driver, just a few insights when he talks to himself in the empty cab. Basically, he is a witness and a cab driver who doesn’t know which way to turn.

“A CHRISTMAS CAROL”— Ultimate Collectors’ Edition

“A Christmas Carol”

Ultimate Collectors’ Edition

Amos Lassen

It may be September but retailers are letting us know that Christmas is coming and one sure sign of this is when the film of “A Christmas Carol” is making its way into stores. But this film of the Dickens’ novel is not just any movie. It is the film with Alastair Sim’s tour-de-force performance as the ultimate miser that has helped to make it a beloved version of the story and one of the best-loved Christmas films of all time. 

It comes to us this year with a new state-of-the art High Definition transfer from the original 35mm negatives and many wonderful extras. It has the magnificent, full-bodied portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge by Alastair Sim that leaves everyone else looking pale by comparison. Director Brian Desmond Hurst keeps the focus on Scrooge’s life story, beautifully simplifying and underscoring the theme of lost women. Sim’s commitment to the role is at times astonishing.

Released in 1951, this is simply the best movie version of “A Christmas Carol” because of the perfectly cast Sim and his bravura performance as the old miserly skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge, turning from old meanie to a nice guy and playing both with equal conviction and charm.

In the famous tale, Scrooge is given a chance for redemption when he is haunted by ghosts of Christmas Past (played by Michael Dolan), Present (Francis De Wolff) and Yet To Come (C Konarski) on Christmas Eve.

Among the movie’s many qualities are the wonderful ensemble cast and Noel Langley’s amusing and poignant script that wisely stays close to the Dickens original. The rudimentary special effects of the era have their own kind of charm and work well in context. It is atmospherically filmed in black and white by cinematographer C Pennington-Richards.

Sim’s characterization of Charles Dickens’ notorious curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge is not only generally regarded as definitive, but is also the only one of his films to achieve wide circulation in America, where it became a Christmas television perennial.  Even when the stellar cast temporarily usurps his performance, he shines.  Simsrelished the chance to play Scrooge as both villain and reformed hero and takes delight in mocking the trappings of Christmas at every opportunity, shooing away carol singers and refusing to contribute to a fund for the poor. But after he’s learned his lesson, he becomes almost gleeful and even dances a little jig as he realizes that he might actually enjoy living as a reformed character.

An impressive supporting cast supports Sims (Mervyn Johns and Hermione Baddeley as the downtrodden Cratchits, Michael Hordern as Scrooge’s deceased partner Jacob Marley, Patrick Macnee as young Marley, Kathleen Harrison as Scrooge’s Cockney housemaid, and a scene-stealing Ernest Thesiger as an over-eager undertaker. The film’s real voice of authority comes from Rona Anderson as Scrooge’s fiancée Alice: in a crucial central scene when she bitterly rebukes him for favoring material wealth over love of his fellow man.

The Victorian London setting is effectively staged and alternates between a picture-postcard white Christmas to an altogether harsher impression, as homeless women hold on to their children. Not only does this implicitly rebuke Scrooge for his callousness, it reminds us of the reforming zeal underpinning Dickens’ own words.

Special features

  • Audio Commentary by Marcus Hearn and George Cole
  • “Spirit of Christmas Past”–George Cole remembers Alistair Sim
  • “Richard Gordon Remembers George Minter & Renown Pictures”
  • “Charles Dickens–His Life and Times”
  • Bonus: Colorized Version
  • Before & After Restoration Comparison
  • Optional Narrative for the Blind
  • Photo & Press Book Gallery
  • Cast Bios
  • Original American and British Theatrical Trailers
  • “Scrooge” (1935 Seymour Hicks Version)”

“YOMEDDINE”— Day of Judgment

“YOMEDDINE”

Day of Judgment

Amos Lassen

My Jewish readers who sound out the title of this film, “Yomeddine” will recognize that the Arabic title is very similar to the Hebrew Yom HaDin or Judgement Day in both languages and how appropriate that the movie is released on DVD so close to Yom Kippur, the traditional Jewish Day of Judgement.

Austrian-Egyptian director A. B. Shawky’s “Yomeddine” is reminiscent of the art films of early 1990s art-house hits and it is also a rarity since films made in Egypt are I themselves rare on American screens.

“Yomeddine”  has both sentiment and grit found and it has an embracing and nonjudgmental theme. It all begins with Beshay (Rady Gamal) who we see scavenging for metal in a trash heap, aided by a 10 year-old orphan, Obama (Ahmed Abdelhafiz). Beshay is a Christian around 40-years-old (so he thinks) and had leprosy decades ago and now has scars all over his body. Most of his life  has been lived in a desert leper colony, the one place where no one is afraid to touch him. He is a recent widower who begin to search for what is left of his biological family. All he knows is the name of his father and the village where he lives.

He acts on impulse heading south on his donkey-drawn carriage with all of his possession onboard and a young stowaway named Obama. The boy’s real name is Mohammad, but he goes by the name Obama because of “the guy on TV,” and probably because he has been ostracized; he has a darker complexion than the other orphans.

The story line follows the map of many a road trip movie and includes theft, transportation problems, the kindness of strangers but what is special is the sense of location and the integrity and authenticity of Shawky’s ensemble of actors who are all nonprofessional  that give the film a straightforward voice.

Any description of the story is going to make it sound like a grim social drama, which it most definitely is not. The film has some of the same heart-tugging picaresque qualities. Beshay is no longer contagious but the scars, lumps, and twisted hands are forever. His sense of humor is a constant and he absolutely has no self-pity. One day, Obama, a ten-year-old Nubian orphan, attaches himself to Beshay and never leaves.

The two run away together to pursue Beshay’s dream to find the family that long ago abandoned him as a child at the gate of the leper colony in the middle of the night. This is a modern folk tale about a remarkable odyssey of as a tour through 2019 Egypt. Director Shawky loves the vistas of this rural land of villages and squatter camps, green fields, and the mighty Nile that we see as little more than muddy stream where kids take dips alongside the cattle.  (I had the same feeling when I saw the Jordan River for the first time).

Beshay and Obama ride the donkey cart until the donkey dies. Then they hitchhike, freeload on trains, and get help from a legless professional beggar, who introduces them to the little colony of other outcasts who live together under a bridge. Obama and Beshay bond the deeply in a father-son relationship. At its serious core, “Yomeddine” is about fathers and sons as well as about acceptance and forgiveness.  Beshay and Obama each face a terrifying moment of truth, in which their identity and future is at stake, and they manage to come out of it whole.  

Leprosy, poverty and a story of social exclusion are the unlikely ingredients for the deeply engaging and often funny road movie yet it works here beautifully. If there is a message here,  it is that we should not be too quick to judge others. There will come a day when we are all equal, Beshay says. Shawky sees the good in people and uses humor, even in miserable conditions and poverty. He is helped by the down-to-earth charisma of his leads and the film takes its tone principally from Gamal’s performance with his determination not to fall into despair or self-pity. This is an accomplished appeal for empathy and an entertaining journey of discovery.

“THE SOUND OF SILENCE”— Mapping Tones

“THE SOUND OF SILENCE”

Mapping Tones

Amos Lassen

Writer-director Michael Tyburski’s “The Sound of Silence” is “a symphony of almost undetectable sounds that make up a moment of silence”. Peter Lucian (Peter Sarsgaard) is determined to catalogue all of these sounds. Through his job as a New York City “house tuner,” Peter “works meticulously to diagnose the discordant ambient noises-produced by everything from wind patterns to humming electrical appliances-adversely affecting his clients’ moods.” He takes a particularly difficult case of Ellen (Rashida Jones), a lonely woman dealing with chronic exhaustion and finds that the mysteries of the soul can be even greater than the mysteries of sound.

The idea  that happiness is dependent on the sounds around us drives Peter as a music theorist and self-proclaimed house tuner and he is obsessed with this. He is eccentric and determined and goes from house to house to see if noises in one’s homes clash. He then makes the slightest adjustments to appease one’s equilibrium. Peter’s philosophy is that one has a relationship with the home as if it was a partner and nearly all of one’s problems can be boiled down to this relationship being in a bad condition. He goes all over Manhattan and has been working towards his bigger project of mapping the shared tone of each neighborhood, which approves his accuracy at solving the problems of his clients.

Living a life of solitary obsession, Peter who lives a life of solitary obsession but he slightly opens up when he meets his new client Ellen who believes that her exhaustion might have to do with the soundscape of her apartment. As he awkwardly sits on her bed and asks her with a solemn sincerity if she’s a side sleeper, we see the kind of humor that we will have here. Peter is the kind of guy who senses a disturbance in his apartment and so he walks up flights of stairs to his roof to shut a door that was left ajar to fix the problem.

Director Tyburski looks at some potentially compelling threads. Peter  has invented a useful tool that corporations have utilized for mass consumption, but he’s never been interested in this capitalistic route. He sees himself as an explorer and leader in the field and not a salesman. When he is offered a chance to take his methods to the population by a corporation, he turns it down.  He sticks to his values.

It is not the narrative that pulls you in; rather it is the performances. Peter is quite successful in his profession. There is a  poignancy to the film and because Peter is a character who works with sound frequencies, the sound mixing is fantastic and it plays as its own character. When those frequencies go away, so do his emotions.

The biggest problem here is how the narrative is set. It’s a subtle romantic drama that is enjoyable to watch but the comedy often falls flat. The romance between Ellen and Peter is the best thing about the movie and also the worst because it is so vanilla. The relationship is presented as something where the balance comes from each other, but the way it takes place is silly and leaves questions. While the film is quiet, short, and has a lot to appreciate but some it falls flat. The film is defined by sound and the lack of it.

“THE MAD ADVENTURES OF “RABBI” JACOB”— A Slapstick Comedy from 1973

“THE MAD ADVENTURES OF “RABBI” JACOB”

A Slapstick Comedy from 1973

Amos Lassen

Comedy is everywhere in d Film Movement’s “The Mad Adventures of “Rabbi” Jacob, a 1973 cult classic filled with frantic disguises and mistaken identities. Victor Pivert (Louis de Funès) is a blustering, bigoted French factory owner who finds himself taken hostage by Mohammed Larbi Slimane (Claude Giraud), an Arab rebel leader. The two dress up as rabbis as they try to elude not only assassins from Slimane’s country, but also the police, who think Pivert is a murderer. Pivert ends up posing as Rabbi Jacob, a beloved figure who’s returned to France for his first visit after 30 years in the United States. Adding to the confusion are Pivert’s dentist-wife, who thinks her husband is leaving her for another woman, their daughter, who’s about to get married, and a Parisian neighborhood filled with people eager to celebrate the return of Rabbi Jacob (Marcel Dario).

The film was a showcase for de Funès, one of the most popular French comic actors of his time. Directed by French filmmaker Gerard Oury, the film was nominated for “Best Foreign Film” at the 1974 Golden Globe Awards. The National Board of Review said it is, “The funniest picture of the year,” with kudos to Louis de Funès as “in a class with Woody Allen”. 

Rabbi Jacob (Marcel Dalio) is one of the most loved rabbis of New York. One day, the French side of his family, the Schmolls, invite him to celebrate the bar mitzvah  of young David. He boards a plane to leave America for his birthland of France after more than 30 years of American life. His young friend Rabbi Samuel comes with him.

In Normandy, the rich businessman Victor Pivert (Louis de Funes) is also on his way since his daughter (Miou-Miou) is getting married the next day. Pivert is a dreadful man. He is bad-tempered, rude and a bigot, a racist against blacks, Jews, and pretty much all foreigners. He and his driver, Salomon (Henri Guybet) have an accident in which Pivert’s car (carrying a speed boat) flips upside-down into a lake. When Salomon, who is Jewish, refuses to help because the Sabbath  has just begun, Pivert fires him, much to Salomon’s happiness.

Arab revolutionist leader Mohamed Larbi Slimane (Claude Giraud) is kidnapped by killers who are working for his country’s government. The team takes him to an empty bubble gum factory… the same place where Victor Pivert goes to find assistance. Pivert involuntarily helps Slimane to flee, leaving two killers’ dead bodies behind them. The police, alerted by Salomon, find the bodies and accuse Pivert of the crime.

The next day, Slimane forces Pivert to go to Orly airport to catch a plane to Slimane’s country (if the revolution succeeds, he will become President). However, they are followed by a number of people including Germaine, Pivert’s wife, who thinks her husband is going to leave her for another woman; the killers; and the police commissioner Andréani, a zealous and overly suspicious cop who imagines that Pivert is the new Al Capone. Germaine is kidnapped by the revolutionaries and they use her own dentist equipment to interrogate her.

Trying to conceal his and Pivert’s identities, Slimane attacks two rabbis in the toilets, stealing their clothes and shaving their beards and their side locks . The disguises are perfect, and they are mistaken for Rabbi Jacob and Rabbi Samuel by the Schmoll family. The only one who recognizes Pivert (and Slimane) behind the disguise is Salomon, his former driver, who just happens to be a Schmoll nephew. But Pivert and Slimane are able to keep their identity secret and even manage to hold a sermon in Hebrew.  

After a few misunderstandings, Commissioner Andréani and his two inspectors are mistaken by the Jews for terrorists attempting to kill Rabbi Jacob. The real Rabbi Jacob arrives at Orly, where no one is waiting for him  and he is mistaken for Victor Pivert by the police, then by the killers. There is a chaotic, but sweeping happy ending with the revolution as a success and Slimane becoming President of the Republic Pivert’s daughter falls in love with Slimane and escapes her dull fiancé near the altar to go with him and Pivert learns tolerance towards other religions and cultures. Salomon and Slimane make peace with their respective Arab and Jewish colleagues, the Schmolls finally find the real Rabbi Jacob and the Piverts and the Schmolls go together feasting and celebrating.

I said a lot here but there is no way I could have said too much because too much happens. As slapstick as the film is, you will have great fun watching it.

 About Film Movement

 Founded in 2002 as one of the first-ever subscription film services with its DVD-of-the-Month club, Film Movement is now a North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign films based in New York City. It has released more than 250 feature films and shorts culled from prestigious film festivals worldwide.  Film Movement’s theatrical releases include American independent films, documentaries, and foreign art house titles. Its catalog includes titles by directors such as Hirokazu Kore-eda, Maren Ade, Jessica Hausner, Andrei Konchalovsky, Andrzej Wajda, Diane Kurys, Ciro Guerra and Melanie Laurent. In 2015, Film Movement launched its reissue label Film Movement Classics, featuring new restorations released theatrically as well as on Blu-ray and DVD, including films by such noted directors as Eric Rohmer, Peter Greenaway, Bille August, Marleen Gorris, Takeshi Kitano, Arturo Ripstein, King Hu, Sergio Corbucci and Ettore Scola. For more information, please visit www.filmmovement.com. Visit www.filmmovementplus.com for more information about Film Movement Plus, the new subscription streaming service from Film Movement.

“CLARENCE CLEMONS: WHO DO I THINK I AM”—   The Iconic Clarence Clemens

“CLARENCE CLEMONS: WHO DO I THINK I AM”  

The Iconic Clarence Clemens

Amos Lassen

Clarence Clemons was part of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s marathon ”Rising Tour” and when it ended in 2003, he felt like he needed a break. He packed up his saxophone and went to China where he could be a nameless traveler in a foreign land. 

The film “ Who Do I Think I Am” follows Clemons after China and document his transcendent awakening and then tragedy that struck him. While in Florida where we went after China, Clemons suffered a stroke and passed away. 

The film features interviews with President Bill Clinton, Jake Clemons, Joe Walsh, Willie Nile, Nils Lofgren, Vini Lopez, Norman Seldin, Michael Narada Walden, Gayle Morrison, Danny Clinch, Don Reo and additional family and friends who knew him well. The feature also highlights his life as musician and member of the E Street band while also presenting another side of Clarence not many saw when he was away from the stage. This is an intimate portrait of a man who searched for enlightenment and meaning at the unknowingly final years of his life.

The world knew him as “The Big Man” or “The Minister of Soul” or “The Secretary of the Brotherhood”.  Clemons was a musician, singer, songwriter and a lifetime member of the E Street Band. There was also a deeply spiritual side to Clarence Clemons and that is why to China, someplace he had never been on the other side of the world. 

That trip had a profound effect on him. He sought  his true self. The documentary shows us his soulful mission and how it changed him, while paying  tribute to The Big Man through recollections with his closest friends and family members.

“WHO SAW HER DIE?”— A Special Edition

“WHO SAW HER DIE?”

A Special Edition

Amos Lassen

Former Bond star George Lazenby stars in “Who Saw Her die”, a classic giallo directed by Aldo Lado. It has a haunting atmosphere and is filled with twists and turns.

Sculptor Franco Serpieri (Lazenby) has a young daughter,  Roberta (Nicoletta Elmi) from a failed marriage  and does not realize that a disturbed child-killer is stalking the Venice s canals. When Roberta’s body is found floating face-down in the river, the lives of Franco and his estranged wife Elizabeth (Anita Strindberg) are torn into pieces. Franco wants vengeance and becomes a detective to track down his daughter’s killer. In the process he discovers shocking evidence of depravity and corruption that implicates some of the most powerful and respected figures in Venetian society.

The film begins with a prologue set in France in 1968and we see  a child playing in the snow. Lado builds this moment of childhood innocence before giving us a point of view shot from beneath a black veil. The murder that follows is all the more effective because of its swiftness and by the efforts of the black clad psychopath to hide the child’s corpse beneath the snow. Lado illustrates the fine line between the carefree innocence of childhood and an adult world of murder and violence. The scene of a child being murdered so early creates tension that never lets up even in the films quieter moments. In a brief credits sequence we get a look  into the case files of the police investigation and the narrative begins proper with the knowledge that the child’s murder is still unsolved. Then the film jumps forward to 1972 and we see a plane coming into land at an airport. We are quickly introduced to sculptor Franco as he picks up his daughter and shows her the sites of Venice.

The Venetian setting allows Lado’s camera to wind through the waterways, backstreets, and cloisters of the ancient city stressing that it like A its labyrinth. It dwells on the decadent architecture yet, at the same time, it mistrusts the artifice of the people. There is a sense here that the characters that we meet are not worthy of such a space in which to play out their perversions and conspiracies. Lado gives us an unfamiliar look at Venice. He picks out somber and tired streets, mist covered boat rides and the overriding sensation of claustrophobia and dislocation is stressed.

It takes the killer three or four tries to finally snatch Franco’s daughter and each moment is preceded by music that builds dread. Each of the adult characters that Franco meets seem to take an unnatural interest in the girl and a subtext of pedophilia comes forward. This reaches an apex in a sequence set at a basketball match run by a priest who constantly flits in and out of the narrative. It is no surprise that the police are ineffectual; they failed the first time around in France to catch the culprit, so Franco is forced to become an amateur detective. Franco is bitter, driven, and obsessive yet sympathetic and believable. When Franco’s investigation begins the convolution also increases, but as he goes about his research he begins to discover a conspiracy of perversion and child molestation with wealthy art dealer called Serafian (Adolfo Celi) at its core. 

It is possible to predict who the killer is and when it is revealed it isn’t a surprise. But Lado does reserve an excellent slow motion death for the perverted psycho. The only weakness is a lack of identifiable motive. We are never sure why the killer commit’s the crimes because the film rushes rather too quickly to a contrived conclusion. But these are minor weaknesses because this is a very stylish giallo.

During the murder sequence, we get brief glimpses of the antagonist and it appears to be a lady dressed all in black, with a black veil over her face. In true giallo fashion, we do get some first person shots from inside the veil as the murderer stalks her prey.
I felt a sense a dread seeing Roberta playing with her friends in the village square. This was interrupted by the first person shot from behind the veil of the killer. I knew this was coming, it was just a matter of when, but I didn’t expect to be so disappointed that Roberta was about to meet her fate. 

“Who Saw Her Die?” is  an excellent example of the giallo genre, and truly succeeds. Aldo Lado made use of his quaint setting to great effect and got good acting from his actors. The sound design is wonderful.

 

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  Brand new 2K restoration of the full-length Italian version of the film from the original 35mm camera negative

  High Definition Blu-rayTM (1080p) presentation

  Uncompressed mono 1.0 LPCM audio

  Original English and Italian soundtracks, titles and credits

  Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack

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

  New audio commentary by author and critic Travis Crawford

  I Saw Her Die, a new video interview with director Aldo Lado

  Nicoletta, Child of Darkness, a new video interview with actress Nicoletta Elmi

  Once Upon a Time in Venice, a new video interview with co-writer Francesco Barilli

  Giallo in Venice, a new video interview with author and critic Michael Mackenzie

  Original Italian and English theatrical trailers

  Poster and fotobusta gallery

  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love

 “SPIDER IN THE WEB”— Maintaining Relevance

 “SPIDER IN THE WEB”

Maintaining Relevance

Amos Lassen

Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis brings us a new spy drama starring Ben Kingsley as an aging Mossad agent who is struggling to maintain his relevance. He bonds with a younger operative sent to monitor him while he’s on a secret mission in Europe and this is a reflection on human relationships as well as “on the Europe of today – fragile, troubled, under constant threats from the outside and in turmoil on the inside.”

Adereth (Sir Ben Kingsley), is a once-lauded but now aging field agent of the Israeli Mossad and his superiors feel that he is past his prime. There are those above him that are sure that he’s been fabricating intelligence to maintain his relevance and so they send Daniel (Itay Tiran) a young operative to insure that Adereth does not deviate from his mission to deliver crucial information regarding a sale of chemical weapons to a Middle Eastern dictatorship that he claims is waiting for him. This information leads to the mysterious Angela (Monica Bellucci), who might be a target, a lover or an enemy. (or all of these or none of these). Lines of trust become blurred and Adereth realizes the hunter may become the hunted. 

Naturally the art of seduction plays a role and there are many double-crosses  as we move toward the end of the film. As you are on the edge of your seat, it all comes together but only after you have been confused by the somewhat convoluted plot. The basic theme seems to be that if one wears a mask, he/she may not know who he/she is once it is removed and this certainly says something about those wearing masks today.

Adereth has had quite a good career with the Mossad and his successes compensate for his personal sacrifices. Eventually he feels that he needs pats on the back and the feeling of being useful so that he does not regret what he has missed in life. As he gets older his successes become less frequent and his contacts less valuable but he cannot stand the idea that once he is no longer a spy, he will not have any importance.

So instead of just fading away, Adereth chooses to add to the reports that he gets from his contacts. In particular, he added to the dossier results in 50,000 troops amassing on the border of Syria. Just as he is discovered to be pretending, he finds real information that could save his reputation and the life he has lost through lying. 

Director Riklis brings us a spy film without much action  and that depends on reality being obscured by lies. We sense how it will all end because we know that lies often get out of control of the person who tells it. Kingsley is bitter but he accepts his fate as he tries to find some kind of redemption when  no one believes what he says. Having a bit of familiarity with the Mossad, I can think of no crueler fate for an agent.

We are kept on our toes from scene to scene and we find it becomes difficult to stay on the side of a character who just may not be what he seems to be. The subplot of main romance, between Adereth and Angela just did not work for me but it does provide a respite from the thrilling aspects of the plot. 

The film is able to convince the viewer what living as a liar among other liars is like. As difficult as it is to follow all of the twists and turns, we still get a rewarding experience with “Spider in the Web”. to convincingly weave what it must be like to live as just another liar amongst many. The over-complicated plot twists, however, will leave many scratching their heads.

“ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME: IN CONCERT”— Music, Music, Music

“ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME: IN CONCERT”

Music, Music, Music

Amos Lassen

Here is a musical experience unlike any other. On11 am-packed discs, we have nearly 30 Hours of  live performances from Epic Hall of Fame Ceremonies from 2010-2017 and these include over 160 amazing performances, collaborations and induction speeches from inductees such as Simon & Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, U2, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, John Fogerty, Rush, Cat Stevens, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Journey, Pearl Jam, Peter Gabriel, Ringo Starr, Yes, Alice Cooper, Heart, Randy Newman, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Many More; Also included is the 25TH ANNIVERSARY ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME CONCERTS, Called “the Big Mother of Rock Concerts”!

Each year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors rock music’s pioneering figures during a very prestigious, black-tie ceremony. As the Hall of Fame enters its thirtieth year, these extraordinary induction ceremonies have become nearly as epic as the artists they celebrate. On September 6, Time Life and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will give home audiences front row seats to the unforgettable ceremonies from 2010-2017 with tis set.

 It is an unparalleled rock ‘n’ roll experience and a must-own for every music fan The set is comprised of three separate collections: ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME IN CONCERT – ENCORE (2010-2013), ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME IN CONCERT (2014-2017) and the complete 25TH ANNIVERSARY ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME CONCERTS from 2009. 

On this new-to-retail collection, singular performance highlights include: 

  • Bruce Springsteen joining inductees E Street Band for the deep cut classic “E Street Shuffle” from the Boss’s second album, from 1973, as well as Bruce joining Billy Joel on-stage for a rollicking rendition of “Born to Run.”
  • The two surviving members of Nirvana joined on stage by Lorde, Annie Clark, Kim Gordon and Joan Jett for emotional renderings of the group’s biggest hits.
  • Cat Stevens performing a spine-tingling version of “Father & Son” that turned the massive Barclay Center quiet as a church.
  • Ringo Starr being welcomed into the Rock Hall with a little help from Paul McCartney.
  • Original Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos joining the band for the first time in 6 years tearing through their early hits including “Surrender” and “Dream Police.”
  • The legendary Canadian power trio Rush performing fiery classics “Tom Sawyer” and “The Spirit of Radio” for their fervent fans.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers leading a searing all-star jam session of “Higher Ground” anchored by Slash and Ron Wood.
  • Heart going “Crazy on You” before being joined onstage by fellow members of Seattle rock royalty from Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.
  • Alice Cooper ripping into ferocious versions of “Eighteen” and “Under My Wheels” before closing the set with Rob Zombie on “School’s Out.”
  • Ozzy Osbourne singing with Metallica on the Black Sabbath classics “Iron Man” and “Paranoid.”
  • The Hurdy Gurdy Man Donovan is joined onstage by John Mellencamp for a chilling performance of “Season of the Witch.”
  • Legendary grunge-rock group Pearl Jam delivering thundering performances of “Alive,” “Given to Fly” and “Better Man.”
  • Journey performing three classics: “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” “Lights” and “Don’t Stop Believin.'”
  • Five of the original members of Chicago performing on stage for the first time in 25 years.
  • Mick Jagger and Fergie in a blistering version of the Stones’ classic “Gimme Shelter,” with U2 as the backing band.
  • Sting joining Jeff Beck for the Curtis Mayfeld classic “People Get Ready.”
  • Paul Simon, David Crosby and Graham Nash join together for a spine-tingling “Here Comes the Sun.”
  • And much more! 

ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME: IN CONCERT wouldn’t be complete without historic, irreverent and emotional induction speeches including Coldplay’s Chris Martin inducting Peter Gabriel, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich inducting Deep Purple, Don Henley inducting Randy Newman, and Neil Young inducting Tom Waits, as well as speeches from Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Kid Rock, Dave Grohl, Art Garfunkel, Glenn Fry, Miley Cyrus, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, John Mellencamp and more. Additionally, the set includes collectible booklets, as well as the 26-page collector’s edition of Rolling Stone with behind-the-scenes stories of the 25th Anniversary Hall of Fame concerts.

The biggest and best video music collection Time Life has ever produced, only Time Life and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame could have put ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME: INCONCERT together. Because as Eric Clapton memorably said from the stage “music is all you really need, love and music.”

About Time Life

Time Life is one of the world’s pre-eminent creators and direct marketers of unique music and video/DVD products, specializing in distinctive multi-media collections that evoke memories of yesterday, capture the spirit of today, and can be enjoyed for a lifetime. TIME LIFE and the TIME LIFE logo are registered trademarks of Time Warner Inc. and affiliated companies used under license by Direct Holdings Americas Inc., which is not affiliated with Time Warner Inc. or Time Inc. 

 

About the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s mission is to engage, teach and inspire through the power of rock and roll. The institution carries out its mission by giving voice to the stories of the people, artifacts and events that shaped rock and roll – through Museum exhibits, materials in the Museum’s Library and Archives, traveling exhibitions, and a wide array of innovative educational programs and activities. The Museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. On Wednesdays (and Saturdays through Labor Day), the Museum is open until 9 p.m. For more information, please call 216.781.ROCK (7625), visit rockhall.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@rock_hall) and Instagram (@rockhall).