Category Archives: Film

“FOOD CHAINS”— Bringing Food to the Table

food chains poster

“Food Chains”

Bringing Food to the Table

Amos Lassen

When I stop to think how our attitude about food has changed from what it was when I was growing up, I remain amazed. We have truly become a nation that cares about what we eat but there is little or no emphasis as to how that food gets to the grocers and then to the table. Keeping a kosher home, however, has always made that easy for me in that I know how animals were slaughtered and then prepares before it reaches markets. We are also certainty aware that farm labor has always been one of the most difficult and poorly paid jobs that has relied on some of the nation’s most vulnerable people. While the legal restrictions that once kept people tied to farms, like slavery, have been abolished, there is still exploitation such as low wages. The supermarkets, for example, have continued the exploitation of farm by making sure that wages are kept low.

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“Food Chains” is a documentary about the situations of migrant food workers and the economics of our food-supply system. We see the extremely poor living conditions, sexual harassment and modern slavery that they have to deal with and in this we get a good starting point to discuss our eating and shopping habits regarding food. We come face to face with the choices we can make about what and where we buy.

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No one who toils full-time in the field should live in poverty and it is the big grocery chains with their power need to take an active role in improving the lives of those that fill their shelves and later our tables, refrigerators and pantries. The film doesn’t try to present balanced viewpoint but puts its focus on raising awareness of the situation, particularly on the indignity of living in poverty.

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It should come as no surprise just how sad the livelihoods of America’s agricultural laborers have always been and that the vast majority live below the poverty line. Director Sanjay Rawal looks deeply into how the situation has become so sad. We see a large group of laborers and their supporters participating in a weeklong hunger strike at the headquarters of the major Florida-based supermarket Publix. The protestors simply want a small raise in order to elevate the workers out of slave-like conditions. Rawal focuses on the workers’ courageous spirit, and as seen throughout decades of protests that call for labor reform.

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Facts are presented in an academic manner in the presentation of facts and we ge a balance between his research and a look into the personal lives of the laborers by giving us a non-intrusive look at them going through their daily schedule. Their poor living conditions give a human face to the situation.

 

food2We go to the vineyards of Napa Valley, where the beauty of scenery hides a very sad labor model. While the wines from the area bring in great sums of money, the workers in the fields are still paid only meager wages, even as the economy booms. This exposes the ignorance on the part of the upper class as they attend charity benefits in order to raise money for their poverty-stricken workers. It is not a question of charity and the simple solution lies in just raising one’s income and the cry to raise wages has been consistently ignored.

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“The members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers are tomato pickers in Florida who work from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., each person picking about 4,000 pounds of tomatoes for $40 a day, making $10,500 to $13,000 a year. About 15 of the workers languish in a trailer together because other housing is unaffordable”. Yet grocery chains make billions in revenue and dictate produce prices nationwide. The Immokalee coalition says that if Publix would pay an additional cent per pound, its members could earn a living wage.

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“Food Chains” points its finger directly at supermarkets and price fixing as the source of most problems and we get practical solutions here. The film stresses just how little has changed over the past half century in the agricultural industry. The backbone of the industry is still immigrants and migrant workers, just as it was in 1960. At that point in time, farmers still held most of the power and determined workers’ wages. Because power in setting prices has shifted to the end buyers like fast food chains and supermarkets that exist as some of the largest corporations in the world, these same grievances over injustices in wages are now being directed to the top of the chain.

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By and large, the film approaches its topic with plenty of supporting research and a clear historical context. We all need to see this film and remember what it has to say before our next trip to buy groceries and plan our menus.

“LITTLE FAUSS AND BIG HALSY”— A Mismatched Friendship

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“LITTLE FAUSS AND BIG HALSY”

A Mismatched Friendship

Amos Lassen

Big Halsy Know (Robert Redford) is a womanizing, self-absorbed professional motorcyclist Big Halsy Knox and his friend Little Fauss (Michael J. Pollard) is a down-to-earth novice cyclist. This is truly a mismatched friendship.

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Halsy, has been barred from racing due to his on-track behavior, convinces Fauss to let him use his name in order to enter the next big race. Fauss, who has consistently belittled and taken advantage of by Halsy, has feelings of inferiority and he fee worse when the beautiful Rita (Lauren Hutton) and Halsy meet. 

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“Fauss and Big Halsy” is a motorcycle film made in 1970 by director Sidney J. Furie. Halsy is a real sleaze who travels from race to race and doesn’t allow himself to get tangled up in anything or with anyone. He uses women, manipulates men, steals and lies to put food in his mouth, and sleeps wherever and with whomever that he finds himself each night. He comes across as a real piece of trash with few redeemable qualities, if any.

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Michael J. Pollard is a young, impressionable motorcyclist who ends up being caught in the wake of Redford’s charisma and comes along for at least part of the ride. They’re drifting, wandering from town to town, with no particular destination in mind.

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It’s not hard to understand why people are drawn to Halsy. The film has, until now, never been released on DVD and Blu-ray. There are rumors that Robert Redford had killed the movie after the disappointing theatrical run and prevented it from being released because it embarrassed him. It’s not a great film, but it’s pretty good, and pretty good’s not bad. If you’re a fan of 1970s filmmaking, location filming in California’s expansive deserts, motorcycles, Robert Redford, Johnny Cash, or the  promise of the open road, you will probably like this.

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I actually enjoyed it even though Redford’s character put me off. However, if you compare “Little Fauss and Big Halsy” with a real movie about speed racing ,you will understand the disadvantage of having, instead of a subject, a series of attitudes.Redford does fine with his role even though he is despicable and Hutton is good.

“SPECIAL EFFECTS”— A Movie About a Movie

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“Special Effects”

A Movie About a Movie

Amos Lassen

”Special Effects” is a movie about a movie being made about a murder. The story has to do with a director who strangles an aspiring actress while the camera is running and then tries to pin the crime on her husband.

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Larry Cohen directed this self-reflexive thriller that deliriously dissects the boundaries between reality and fiction. With his career in shambles after having blown a $30 million special effects- project, director Christopher Neville (Eric Bogosian) finds inspiration for a comeback after he murders a young would-be starlet named Andrea (Zoë Lund), films the scene and then blackmails the victim’s husband, Keefe (Brad Rijn) who is detective Delroy’s (Keevin O’Connor) prime suspect in the slaying. He gets the inspiration to star in a reality-based film about the murder starring an Andrea doppelganger named Elaine (also Lund) with whom Keefe begins falling in love. It’s an insane set-up to be sure, and Cohen never seems fully in control of the myriad themes he’s addressing.

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Writer/director Larry Cohen’s script for this film touches on Hollywood egotism, the cruelty of showbiz, snuff films, the corrupting allure that moviemaking holds for neophytes and even works in a few allusions to Hitchcock (a key plot device is lifted from Vertigo). Coney Island parking lot. Cohen anchors the film with gutsy performances by actors from New York’s experimental arts scene and what holds it all together is Eric Bogosian’s furiously intense portrayal of the egomaniacal director who drives the story’s events.

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Unfortunately, there is little coherence in the script and it all does not come together. If this film is meant to be a spoof of the auteur cult, Mr. Cohen doesn’t know what to do. There is some humor, however, that is extracted from the part of a detective who wants an associate-producer credit on the movie about the murder he is investigating – and gets it. “Special Effects” should have worked. 

“GAS-S-S-S”— Combining Science Fiction and Comedy

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“GAS-S-S-S”

Combining Science Fiction and Comedy

Amos Lassen

Gas-s-s-s, a mash-up of the science fiction and comedy genres. It is a post-apocalyptic tale viewed through the lens of director Roger Corman and features a cast of young talents-of-the-day including Cindy Williams, Bud Cort and Ben Vereen.

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When a military chemical accident kills everyone on the planet over the age of twenty-five, Earth is left in the hands of the youth. Hippies Coel (Robert Corff) and Cilla (Elaine Giftos) will lead a quest for survival joined by Hooper (Bud Cort), Coralee (Tally Coppola), Marissa (Cindy Williams), and Carlos (Ben Vereen).

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When “Gas-s-s-s” was released in 1970, it was promoted with ads that proclaimed, ‘Invite a few friends over to watch the end of the world. They travel around the country to find a specific place in New Mexico where many survivors are traveling to although we never know just why so many survivors are traveling there. The various characters the group encounters along the way are all goofballs.

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“Gas” came to be is Roger Corman’s latest attempt to be funny and hip. I do not know what happened here as this movie left me totally befuddled. The young actors are fine and some of the jokes work but by and large, I was lost during the viewing.

“THE HILLS HAVE EYES” A Masterpiece of Horror

the hills have eyes
“THE HILLS HAVE EYES”

A Masterpiece of Horror

Amos Lassen

Taking a detour whilst on route to Los Angeles, the Carter family meet trouble when their camper van breaks down in the middle of the desert. Now stranded, the family find themselves at the mercy of a group of monstrous cannibals living in the surrounding hills. With their lives under threat, the Carters are forced to fight back by any means necessary.  Now some 35 years after its debut, this movie remains a disorienting, blood-soaked affair. It creates a palpable sense of dread as we are led to believe that escalating acts of debauchery are everywhere.

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The Carter family is stranded at a place where there is no industry or residences anywhere close; these is just the faraway hills and a nuclear testing site. After filling up with gas, they try to take a shortcut and their car inevitably breaks down. Big Bob (Russ Grieve) and his son-in-law Doug (Martin Speer) decide to head in opposite directions to find some help leaving mother Ethel (Virginia Vincent), her daughter Brenda (Susan Lanier), son Bobby (Robert Houston) and oldest daughter Lynne (Dee Wallace) to stay with the car and tend to Lynne and Doug’s newborn baby.

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Deformed cannibals who live in a nearby cave begin playing mind games with their new visitors. There’s a lot of screaming, blood, near sexual attacks, gasoline and, yes, even some cannibalism. Craven somehow keeps the camera just out of reach from the most horrific scenes, sparing us the details of the grossness.

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One by one, the family members begin to fall, and it’s up to the survivors to protect the baby. A helpful German shepherd aids the victims in their crusade. Craven’s direction is the real reason to see this film. As a young filmmaker, he sets up unconventional shots and with what appears to be a shoestring budget. There’s one scene where the camera leaves a solitary figure in the darkness of the desert, only his silhouette is visible. The atmosphere and hysterics all add to the directing style and realism of this very unreal story.

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Over the years, “The Hills Have Eyes” has become a bona fide cult classic with a legion of dedicated fans even though it is not a good film but then it was not meant to be. Years later, the film looks like one of the great genre films of its time and succeeds in being exciting, funny and, sometimes, deeply unsettling.

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A group of cannibals led by the patriarch Jupiter is determined to add the intruders to their menu and they begin an onslaught that begins at sunset and lasts through a freezing desert night into the next morning. Only by throwing off the trappings of sophisticated civilization can the family, gradually being culled one by one, find a way to survive.

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Essentially, this is bloody and gruesome but no more so than most modern action movies. The cast is surprisingly good. One has to bear in mind the low budget nature of the film and the actors are more than adequate. The extras are amazing:

* Brand new 4K restoration of the film, supervised by producer Peter Locke and viewable with both original and alternate endings 

* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation 

igh Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation 

* Original Uncompressed PCM Mono Audio

* Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing 

* 6 Postcards 

* Reversible Fold-out Poster 

* Limited Edition 40-page booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Brad Stevens and a consideration of the Hills franchise by disc producer Ewan Cant, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

* Brand new audio commentary with actors Michael Berryman, Janus Blythe, Susan Lanier and Martin Speer

* Brand new audio commentary by academic Mikel J. Koven 

* Audio commentary with Wes Craven and Peter Locke 

* Looking Back on The Hills Have Eyes – making-of documentary featuring interviews with Wes Craven, Peter Locke, actors Michael Berryman, Janus Blythe, Robert Houston, Susan Lanier, Dee Wallace and director of photography Eric Saarinen

* Brand new interview with actor Martin Speer

* The Desert Sessions – brand new interview with composer Don Peake

* Never-before-seen Outtakes 

* Alternate Ending, in HD for the first time 

* Trailers and TV Spots 

* Image Gallery

* Original Screenplay (BD-ROM Content)

* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper

“BUBBA THE REDNECK WEREWOLF”— Are We Ready?

bubba the redneck werewolf

“Bubba The Redneck Werewolf”

Are We Ready?

Amos Lassen

I doubt that many of us get the chance to see a totally “Low-brow, completely ridiculous [film] that is and packed to the gills with heart”. Here is your chance and I bet that you will love it as much as I do. “Bubba The Redneck Werewolf” is  based on the cult classic comic book series that was originally published in 1996 by Brass Ball Comics and later by Creature Entertainment and has become a favorite among collectors. Created by Mitch Hyman, who also serves as the film’s executive producer, the original idea of Bubba came from a Halloween costume. 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the comic book release and producers Will Phillips and Brendan Jackson Rogers feel that making the movie of “Bubba The Redneck Werewolf” was a great opportunity to bring such wacky characters to life!

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The film follows Bubba (Fred Lass) who has had a run of bad luck. He works at an animal shelter where the cleans the mess out of the dog cages.  He loves his job and simple life but his ex- girlfriend wants a man that can take up for his self and has a four-slice toaster. Bubba does not meet that and leaves Bubba.  Bubba is heart broken and hits his favorite bar where he meets a guy dressed in red with horns who promises to make Bubba strong if he just signs a contract. Bubba agrees and Bubba gets tipsy.

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The next morning Bubba awakens to find himself covered in fur and stronger than before.  He is now a werewolf and goes back to his bar to drink it up before getting back his girl.  However, he is unaware that the red man is running through town tricking people into signing contracts.  Now the townspeople want Bubba to take on the devil to get their contracts back.

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With a big heart and a small brain, Bubba has lost the love of his life; Bobby Jo (Malone Thomas) who just wants him defend her honor, stand up for himself and buy a toaster. Bubba accidentally calls upon the devil to help him and sure enough, Old Scratch (Mitch Hyman) comes and offers Bubba everything his heart desires. Bubba will have to use his newfound power to save the simple folks of Cracker County and send the Devil packing…assuming that doesn’t get distracted by anything or everything else first. The film brings together horror, humor, and hubris to make this wing-eating, cigar-chomping, whiskey-swigging werewolf the hero whose theme song is addictive. Clever details and some good-natured ribbing toward small town life that many of us know, keep the story moving along. Every conceivable angle is played up, from Bubba first seeing himself in a bathroom mirror to watching the townsfolk being cheated by the Devil.

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Unfortunately, the acting in this one is not consistent.  The film has two different Bubbas.  The first is Bubba pre-werewolf and is genuine and fun at times and an imbecile at others. The other Bubba, the werewolf, is very funny and never breaks character.  He juggles stupidity with raw power and is fun to watch.  

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This is not a new story—the idea of the devil has been with us forever and it works great as a horror comedy.   We have two great performances from Malone Thomas as Bubba’s girlfriend and from Mitch Hyman who is a lot of fun as the devil and bringing charm and comic destruction with his performance. The film is filled with humor from its supporting cast as well. It includes bartender Jamie Sue (Sara Humbert), the Gypsy Fortune Teller (Gail Fleming), and Drunk Cletus (Gary Norris). I really like the fact that the citizens of Cracker County are so accepting of Bubba the Werewolf and barely flinch at his furry appearance regarding it as if it were something normal.

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Yes the movie is a silly tongue-in-cheek comedy that constantly winks at its audience with its ridiculous and often funny premise and gags but it is just a lot of fun. The devil wreaks havoc across Cracker County with the clueless denizens giving up their soul for maligned desires that go terribly awry (the guy who wants to be Batman, but is instead left to live with a bat through his skull). There are enough comically bloody moments in the film as well, for those who love gore. The film was written by Stephen Biro and directed by Brendan Jackson Rogers and, of course, the comic was created by Mitchell Hyman, the creator of the original comic book. This is a very funny and bloody movie with some wonderful one-liners.

“THE INNOCENTS”— Faith and Solidarity”

the innocents poster

“The Innocents”

Faith and Solidarity

Amos Lassen

French director Anne Fontaine takes us back to Warsaw in December, 1945 with the end of World War Two. French Red Cross doctor Mathilde (Lou de Laage) is treating the last of her patients when suddenly a panicked Benedictine nun appears at the clinic begging Mathilde to follow her back to the convent. What she finds there is shocking: a holy sister about to give birth and several more in advanced stages of pregnancy. Mathilde is a non-believer, yet enters the sisters fiercely private world, dictated by the rituals of their order and the strict Reverend Mother (Ida Agata Kulesza). The nuns fear the shame of exposure and the hostility of the occupying Soviet troops and local Polish communists. They are going through an unprecedented crisis of faith and increasingly turn to Mathilde as their beliefs and traditions clash with harsh realities.

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This is a film that is all gloom and doom from beginning to end because of the scale of horror impinged upon an entire community. Seeing so many pregnant nuns could be comical if the pregnancies were the product of breaking their vows of celibacy. Here they are pregnant because of a series of gang rapes committed by occupying Russians. These terrible events lead some of the sisters to doubt their faith.

Some welcome Mathilde’s help, while others refuse it in the name of dogma, as being touched is a sin, even if it means letting syphilis go untreated. In one scene we see the severity of the convent’s repression as Mathilde gives a nun what seems to be her first medical examination; it may also be the first time that another adult has touched her body without violence. When Mathilde places her hand on the nun’s pregnant belly, the nun explodes in laughter, as if overwhelmed by the excitation but this is short-lived as the nun quickly recoils into muteness once she realizes another nun is watching her.

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The problem I have with the film is that we never spend enough time with each character in order to care about them as individuals. At times it is even difficult at times to tell the nuns apart. This helps make the film something of an allegory for women’s condition in times of war or peace. We see that their kinship (the discovered link between the pious ones and the sexually liberated nurse) despite their different beliefs, behaviors, and customs is that they’re never safe.

We see this is a scene when a Soviet soldier attacks Mathilde while his colleagues egg him on and begin lining up to do the same. We are reminded that the making of a woman isn’t in the materiality of their bodies, but in the ways in which their bodies are repetitively made to not matter. Here, war seems to be something of an excuse for men to band together so they can all vow to annihilate the bodies of women as if to disavow the fact that their own will also annihilated sooner or later as well.

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The Reverend Mother manages to persuade a very hesitant Mathilde, the only female doctor in the small Hospital to accompany  her back to the convent, to attend to the nun who is in urgent need of medical care, but first she swears her to total secrecy about the visit. The nun Mathilde goes to see is, in fact, not sick, but actually about to give birth. This is the result of some months back when the convent was overrun by the invading Russian Army who raped the nuns and took control of the region.

Seven of the nuns are pregnant and they fear that not only will the towns-people want to evict them, but also that they are destined to face damnation. Some of them will not  let Mathilde examine them as it is against Holy Orders to be touched or even be naked in front of anyone at all. The Mother Superior is loathed to let the doctor get involved at all, but when the babies literally starting dropping like flies, she realizes that she has no alternative.  The moment they are born she whisks them off to be discreetly adopted, and the first baby is actually taken to live with the nun’s aunt.

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Things deteriorate further when the Mother Superior who was also raped, develops a bad case of syphilis and adamantly refuses to let Mathilde help her. Whilst she is laid up the Russian soldiers suddenly return to the Convent and it is only quick thinking by Mathilde who tells them that there had been an outbreak of typhoid and it is this that averts further sexual abuse.

The story  also has a subplot based  at the Red Cross Unit where Mathilde’s boss, a very insecure Jewish man puts the moves on her. The two have a real connection but they both know that it is simply a temporary pastime during war even though he would like it to continue. This film is actually based on a true story, and is essentially about various crises of faith that are tested by all the traumas and iniquities of wartime. 

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The movie is shot in dark drab hues that convey a world ravaged by all the fighting and battles that damaged it almost beyond recognition and that needs to be rebuilt and re-born like the people who still live there. Viewers are left with a fresh understanding of man’s capacity to respond to suffering with good or evil and then to find new ways to define vocation and grace. We get a quite serious look at the struggle to hold on to faith in the most difficult of situations.

“ENTER THE FAUN”— The Ability to Transform

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“ENTER THE FAUN”

The Ability to Transform

Amos Lassen

Tamar Rogoff and Daisy Wright’s “Enter the Faun” is the story of an unlikely collaboration between a veteran choreographer, Tamar Rogoff and Gregg Mozgala, a young actor with cerebral palsy. Quite simply, it proves that each and every body is capable of miraculous transformation. The fact Rogoff has no formal medical training and his fears and physical limitations are not obstacles at all but instead serve as challenges. What we see challenges the boundaries of medicine and art, as well as the limitations that so often are associated with disability.

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When choreographer Tamar Rogoff first encountered Gregg Mozgala, an actor with cerebral palsy, she thought his unusual physical presence would make for a unique piece of dance. She didn’t expect creating that dance to leave the performer so dramatically changed that he might walk down the street without revealing his disability. But that’s what happens during “Enter the Faun” in which Rogoff and co-director Daisy Wright follow the yearlong process from training to opening night. This is filmmaking that is plain and simple and it pulled me in immediately.

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When Mozgala danced in a performance of “Romeo and Juliet”, Rogoff saw a sensuality in him that led her to think of a faun. However, in her early sessions, directing Mozgala him and an able-bodied partner, she understood that he could hardly move through a dance gesture without losing his balance. She then set out to help him change his “alignment choices,” and overcome his fear of the ground. By the fourth month of their work together, Mozgala’s heels had never touched the ground before as he walked were capable of heel-toe footsteps. We see that even with no background in physical therapy, Rogoff’s coaching did what years of therapy and trips to the doctor could not. We see him Mozgala walking so steadily he’s able to play with strangers on the street as he searched for see him gain more confidence in rehearsals with two female partners and the intimacy that always exists between dancers seems more charged than usual. Of course there are unusual challenges that come up and arouse Mozgala’s terror of losing balance but he manages to get through them.

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Trained as a dancer, Rogoff has always been in love with the body and its intelligence and inspiration, its imperfections that are as compelling as its ultimate perfection. As a choreographer, she has been interested in working with non-dancers as well as dancers. When she met Gregg Mozgala, a young actor with cerebral palsy, she invited him to dance the lead in her newest piece. Some may find this strange but Rogoff saw it as an irresistible step. When it became clear that Gregg’s prognosis of being in a wheelchair at age 40 was becoming a far different reality, she began filming. Gregg’s transformation that was so radical that even before Tamar could understand its ramifications, she knew she had to capture it on film so that his and that Mozgala’s story would reach a larger audience.

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Mozgala’s story opens the door on stagnant images of disability. We see that the key to change in any area is to pay attention to the idea that change is possible. At the heart of our film we see the path and the proof of Gregg’s transformation. The film documents the unexpected and the hope is that it will. We hope our film will go out in the world and empower people with disabilities, connect the communities of dance and medicine, and make change not just a possibility but something that can be relied upon in every field and with every person everywhere.

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The work done by Gregg and Tamar is nothing short of revolutionary. Now we know that cerebral palsy is not a fixed disease.

“TALENT HAS HUNGER”— The Power of Music

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“TALENT HAS HUNGER”

The Power of Music

Amos Lassen

Music is a powerful force in our lives. It “consumes, enhances, and propels” how we live. lives. A Talent for Hunger” was filmed over a 7 year period and it takes us into the world of the musical artist and shows the passion that can sustain a young player from childhood onward. We become very aware of sacrifices and dedication that a budding artist must give to his craft. We go to Paul Katz’s New England conservatory where he meets with gifted students. Katz, himself, is a master cello teacher. In the film we see his challenges of elevating young people from being talented students to performing at the level of an artist. Katz has done so for some fifty years and he has worked with all kinds of people who have all kinds of temperaments. We also see the tremendous amount of detail necessary to master certain techniques. Musicians usually possess a high degree of sensitivity and Katz helps them feel emotionally open and confident enough to walk on stage to play at their highest artistic level.

This is a film that everyone can appreciate. The pursuit of becoming a master is quite simply a metaphor for the pursuit of excellence in an area. This is a powerful example of how to inspire talent of any type, at any age and it shows that this demands hard work hard and diligence achieve greatness. As we watch, we appreciate the work that goes into being a concert musician and we now notice it in ways we have never thought of. As the “Boston Globe” says, this is “An illuminating celebration of music and the art of teaching.” It wonderfully captures the “rare magical process of a master teacher at work” and while his students are students on the cello in the film, those of us who watch become students of life.

“DELUSION”— A Mysterious Woman

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“Delusion”

A Mysterious Woman

Amos Lassen

It is never easy to move on after a loved one dies and for Frank (David Graziano) who lost his wife Isabella (Carlyne Fournier) three years ago, the struggle seems to have no end in sight. and has been struggling ever since.  Tommy (Justin Thibault), Frank’s nephew, has been trying to help him out, but Frank is still is unable to cope even while medicated. Suddenly he mysteriously receives a letter from his wife urging him to try to live his life again and, Frank begins following that advice with hesitation. (After all, who gets letters from the dead?).

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Frank has noticed a very pretty woman who seems to appear at random—walking by his house, in the park and then suddenly vanishing. He even senses her sometimes in his house but he does nothing about it. These “hallucinations” appear to be warnings of some kind him against the woman, Mary.  We meet another strange character, Grayson (Kris Salvi), and we are not sure if he is real or a hallucination like Mary. He has philosophical questions for Frank and occasionally gives some kind of warning about those people Frank should be watching. All of this befuddles Frank just as it would for any of us in the same situation.

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Toward the end of her life, Isabella began to turn toward God and look for some kind of spirituality that would satisfy her needs. This leads Frank to visit Miss Lavinia (Irina Peligrad), a physic, for guidance, even though he has little faith.  She tells him that she sees possible danger ahead for Frank and she warns him of such. Lavinia actually becomes involved in the whole business.

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The film is like the old psychological portraits we used to love. But it is so much more than that. Christopher Di Nunzio directed this film and he should be very proud of himself. He brings his audience into the film almost immediately even though we really do not understand what is going on. It is as if we are peeking at everything that is going on with Frank. I found myself wondering if what I was watching was real or imaginary. The film very cleverly gives us a lot to think about. It seems that there is some kind of message for him somewhere. Lavinia warned him that doom is right ahead but Frank does not believe in spirits or in what Lavinia has to say. She tries her best to save him but there are powers out over which she has no control.

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One must be patient while watching this because of the thinness of the line between reality, this world and imagination, the world to come. As we move toward the end of the film, we suddenly get death and gore. Even though this seems inevitable, it is nonetheless shocking.

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You should keep an eye of Di Nunzio as he is an independent moviemaker to be watched. The story pulls us in immediately and almost everything about the film is a-one. The audience remains stunned and intrigued throughout the film. We can watch it over and over and find different aspects to be considered. I am writing this after my third viewing.