Category Archives: Film

“BAD JOHNSON”— A Penis That Takes Human Form

bad johnson

“Bad Johnson”

A Penis That Takes Human Form

Amos Lassen

Huck Botko’s “Bad Johnson” is about a penis that takes human form. With women practically throwing themselves at him, Rich (Cam Gigandet) has women throwing themselves at him and this causes him to lose control of who he is. He blames his penis and it seems that it has its own mind. He ruins a relationship with Jamie (Jamie Chung) he has finally had enough and wishes his penis would just leave him alone. The next morning, when Rich wakes up, his wish comes true—his “Johnson” is no longer on his body. Even worse, Rich is shocked to discover that his penis has taken human form. The penis seems to have taken on Rich’s characteristics of selfishness, and irresponsibility and is on the loose and does not seem to have any desire to come home. Now Rich finds himself pitted against his own penis and he must find a way to keep it in check so that he can understand the difference between men and boys.


In the first scene the film, we see Rich having sex with an attractive redhead that seems to like talk and grunts. Another woman walks in on them and she is surprised and says “You’re fucking my sister.” Rich smiles and looking innocent replies, and turns on a demeanor of nonchalance: “Not what it looks like, babe.” By the end of the film, Rich is celebrated for his transformation from bad to good boy, while every woman he “ruins” on his journey to enlightenment is forgotten and becomes only a footnote in his life story and the story of morality. larger moral story.


This is the story of the eternal struggle between id and ego is literalized in the most obvious way possible. After Jamie, Rich’s Johnson is transformed, into a living, breathing man with a penis of his own and a bad attitude. This role is played by comedian Nick Thune who becomes the penis that has made Rich’s life hell. His apartment had been turned into a place that existed for hedonistic excess with Rich bringing over women and prostitutes to fulfill his various “needs.”


What happens to Rich’s penis is an obvious metaphor for Rich’s struggle to control his penis before he can lead a fulfilling life as the male half of a productive heterosexual partnership.


Gender stereotypes are all over the film and we are to see them as self-evident truths that bring laughs in return. Rich’s world, only men are permitted to be promiscuous, while women are treated as little more than rewards for good behavior. Yes, this is a silly movie but that does not mean that it is a bad movie—I had a great time watching it.


message from Hiroshima

“Message From Hiroshima”

Before the Bomb

Amos Lassen

George Takei narrates “Message From Hiroshima”, a unique look at the people and culture of the city before the first ever atomic bomb was used.  The documentary is an inside look of the before and after effects of the war, as depicted by testimonials from survivors, reenactments that show some of the city that was lost.


Today, where the Hon and Motoyasu rivers meet, is Peace Memorial Park. It stands on the former location of the Nakajima district, which once was home to thousands of people and hundreds of businesses.  When the first atomic bomb was detonated 2,000 feet above Hiroshima’s city center on August 6, 1945, all of that vanished. Now some seventy years later, director Masaaki Tanabe makes it his mission to revive the memory of what once was by interviewing survivors and former residents. We hear heart-wrenching testimonials and see computer-generated images of restaurants, shoe stores, cinemas, and the famous Industrial Promotion Hall. The sights, sounds, and smells of a lost culture and people are recreated here.

On Aug. 6, 1945, the B-29, the Enola Gay, made its way over the Japanese mainland island of Honshu and from over 30,000 feet at 8:15 in the morning dropped “Little Boy.”   Its detonation about 2,000 feet above the city instantly killed 30 percent of the city’s population.

State of the art computer images and stock footage recreate Hiroshima here in this 30-minute documentary about the day-to-day life and culture of Hiroshima, presenting a side of the tragedy that has never been addressed in such detail.


The day the bomb dropped, an entire culture disappeared. Before the bomb, the town was bustling with life. Festivals were held in the streets. In the summers, cicadas buzzed in the trees, birds chirped and children played in the river. After the “a-Bomb” dropped, there was nothing, recalled a Hiroshima survivor, “not even the sound of birds … it was a soundless world.” Many of the survivors speak out for the first time. This film was the last of a five- part series Tanabe produced in an attempt to recreate Hiroshima prior to the atomic bomb.

Tanabe’s house was located less than 200 feet away from ground zero. He was seven years old when the nuclear bomb destroyed the town. He was evacuated just days before the bomb dropped, to his grandmother’s house 37 miles away. It was a devastating time with people sending their children to wherever they could to make sure they were out of harm’s way.”

Tanabe tells us that no one was prepared for the nuclear bomb, or had any idea what it actually was. His father told him that it was a new type of bomb, and he imagined it as a lot of bombs together. Tanabe’s father was in the military, and he said that days leading up to the bomb, his father’s demeanor started to change. He sensed that something big was going to happen, and sent the family away. However, his mother and infant brother, went back to Hiroshima to take of his father, two days before the bomb dropped.

It was 8:15a.m. when the bomb fell and at that time Tanabe “happened to be facing the direction of Hiroshima city and I saw a flash of light and (heard) a big boom, and I thought something happened.” The film showed drawings of people on fire, dousing themselves in the river. Many drawings showed people with charred skin.

Two days after the bombing, Tanabe to the city to look for my family…and he tells us “it was like hell”. Tanabe said. “There was nothing, there was nothing,” he repeats. His mother and brother were killed and his father suffered major burns but died the day Japan surrendered.

Tanabe has not talked about Hiroshima for 60 years. At 73, he has finally come forth in an effort to preserve the stories of the survivors. “Nobody has made such a documentary before, and if I didn’t do this, no one would and it would disappear in history and I couldn’t allow that. I had to do it.” However, recreating Hiroshima has been a painstaking process because he had to rely on the memories of the survivors to restore the town is it once was. Using photos he could gather from research and other survivors, Hiroshima slowly came to life.


Tanabe tells us that he did not create the film for political reasons but rather as “a message of peace to future generations”. His hope is to prevent another nuclear bomb from ever dropping. “(Hiroshima) will never come back, that’s what’s devastating about the bomb, it has destroyed history.

“SET FIRE TO THE STARS”— Meeting Dylan Thomas

set fire to the stars


Meeting Dylan Thomas

Amos Lassen

It is the 1950s in New York City and John Malcolm Brinnin (Elijah Wood) is a New York academic who brought Dylan Thomas (Celyn Jones) to the United States. The film, based upon true events, is a look at how Brinnin and Thomas met here. Thomas is a volatile celebrity poet who is tormented by anonymity, alcohol and the abyss and he scandalized the Manhattan literati of the time and challenged Brinnin’s hero worship of his work. Because of Thomas’ extreme excesses in the city, Brinnin has no other recourse but to take him to a private retreat and get him ready to mingle in American culture.

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Directed by Andy Goddard, this is a literary biopic of Dylan Thomas and is something of a tribute to American B-movies of the Forties and Fifties. It is a character driven chamber piece and a cautionary tale about meeting our heroes.

Dylan Thomas drank himself to death when he was just 39-years-old. He has already gained a reputation as a drunken doomed poet yet this did not stop him from being invited to America in 1946 by a young literary critic and aspiring poet John Brinnin. Thomas was to go on an Ivy League campus reading tour that began in New York City.

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Brinnin felt that the honor of hosting such a literary giant was worth any  trouble that the alcoholic Thomas might get into but he soon realized that he had underestimated Thomas. He had no luck keeping Thomas remotely sober even for his readings so he hauls him off to  a remote log cabin in Connecticut to dry him out and to prepare for his next speaking engagement at Harvard.

Co-written by Jones and  director Goddard, the film was shot in black and white and in just 18 days. The film includes beautiful readings of Thomas’s work which never fail to delight and it gives us quite a look at Dylan Thomas and how his  outrageous behavior affected him and Brinnin. In the film, Thomas is described as “the purist lyrical poet in the English-speaking world”, but we also see that he was a renowned hell-raiser with a history of alcoholism.

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“Set Fire to the Stars”  dramatizes a stormy episode in the life of this brilliant and deeply troubled man of letters. literary icon. Brinnin struggles to keep a check on his unruly idol but Thomas is set on taking full advantage of his host’s hospitality. Things take a turn when Thomas’ mental and physical health problems that later contributed to his death three years later are exposed.

Both the tour and Brinnin’s professional reputation were on the lines o Brinnin takes Thomas off to a remote cabin in Connecticut  in an attempt to remove him from temptation. It was there that Thomas’ demons manifest themselves in the form of a letter from his wife (Kelly Reilly) that, much to Brinnin’s anger, Thomas is determined not to open. This pressure-cooker setting brings out the best and worst in both men, yet despite their relationship being pushed to breaking point and if the drama is weak at all, this is where. It needs more of an emotional punch.

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Jones as the self-destructive genius part is brilliant and he even looks like Dylan Thomas. Elijah Wood is also excellent and matches Jones blow-for-blow while keeping the film grounded in its more contrived moments, namely the scene where Thomas invites a proto-Beat couple (Shirley Henderson and Kevin Eldon) to join Brinnin and him for a booze-and-story-sharing dinner party.

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The film does not raise Thomas’ prose and chooses to reinforce rather than demystify his alcoholic and uncontrollable persona. A problem for some moviegoers it that the film does rely a bit too heavily on knowledge of Thomas’ personal life and particularly his dysfunctional estrangement from his wife. The poem “Love in the Asylum” that is the source for the name of the film is read aloud in a rather effective sequence towards the end, but “the madness from which creativity springs is perhaps too far away from the film’s actual content”. There is a stunning moment that comes when Thomas reads “And Death Shall Have No Dominion” in front of a Yale board of governors.

“THE BLOOD LET”— “Rent Apartments!!!”

the blood let

“The Blood Let”

“Rent Apartments!!!”

Amos Lassen

Gus (Rollin Blanton) is an ex-cop had been shot while on duty and is undergoing therapy. He has taken a job as a resident manager of an old apartment building, The Royal Vista Apartments. Compared to the kind of work he had been ding on the police force, it would seem that this is an easy job but that is not the case at all. Suddenly tenants begin to die at an amazingly high rate and their deaths are strange and bloody. It would seem that his new employment would be a piece of cake compared to his last job as a police officer, but not so. The greedy old owner, Wang (Clint Jung), puts non-stop pressure on Gus to “Rent apartments!!! Rent Apartments!!!” Gus is put under such pressure that he rents to whomever he can but he does not know that he has rented an apartment to vampires, Star (Elise Jackson) and Connor (David Landry).

There are some very strange characters in the film but Wang is, by far, the biggest jerk we have had in cinema in a long time. He is not funny but is totally irritating and if the movie had been made without him, I think it would probably be much better.

When Stat and Connor begin coming to look at the apartment, before renting it, at 3:30 in the morning, Gus continually sends them away but pressure from Wang finally gets to him and he rents to them. Gus discovers that they are the cause of so many tenants dying. He tries to take them on and to save the tenants they have not touched.

What I did not expect was good acting by everyone except Wang. There is one standout performance here— the transvestite/demon expert, Bob (Ken MacFarlane). Another of the weird characters is the flamboyantly gay garbage man (Ward Edmondson) who is only onscreen for a few sections but he adds much needed humor. J. R. McGarrity directed and I certainly had much more fun watching it than I thought I would have from reading about “The Blood Let”.

“THE OUTRAGEOUS SOPHIE TUCKER”— A Super Star if Ever There Was One

the outrageous sophie ticker

“The Outrageous Sophie Tucker”

A Super Star if Ever There Was One

Amos Lassen


Sophie Tucker was an icon who ruled the Flapper era. She came before all the feisty broads that followed—Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Midler, Madonna and Lady Gaga. She was the first woman to infatuate her audiences with a bold, bawdy and brassy style unlike any other previous performer. Her nickname was “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas”. Producers and narrators, Susan and Lloyd Ecker take us on their seven-year journey retracing Tucker’s 60-year show business career.


Sophie Tucker was one the World’s most popular and successful entertainers for the first half of the 20 Century. She had a wonderful range of comic and risqué songs and was one of the first women in show business. She was literally larger than life defying the norm of other females treading the boards as when she started out as she was in her words ‘fat, ugly, too old’ as well as a married Jewish lady to boot. However, in her career spanning some five decades she reveled in her differences, especially her size, and made it an integral part of her act.


Sophie Tucker was camp personified in every sense of the word. She was flamboyant and often wore ridiculous costumes which were really much more about getting noticed than trying to flatter her matronly figure. She was mentor to the likes of young Judy Garland, a best friend to stars like Frank Sinatra, and even at the end of her career she was adored by the new boys on the block in the 60’s i.e. The Beatles, and she really earned the title ‘The Last of The Red Hot Mamas’.


I so wanted to love this film. I can still remember my parents gong to every show Tucker when she performed in New Orleans. Indeed there were parts of the film that I did indeed love but unfortunately the film falls a bit short just as two Broadway musicals did and closed before they ever opened. What happened with this film is that the Eckers use too much of the film to give their own take on Tucker even though they never met her. But even with that it is very hard not to love Sophie Tucker and to see just why she became the star that she was.


Sophie Tucker worked her way through vaudeville, the first talking motion pictures, and eventually television. She inspired stars like Better Midler, and Judy Garland, and may be one of the most important names in jazz and blues, that you’ve never heard of. Born in an Orthodox Jewish family, Sophie wasn’t what you would expect for a star. She wasn’t exactly beautiful, but her voice, attitude, and humor, were enough to pack the house. This documentary looks at Sophie’s early years, when she was finally able to become a star.


Through archival footage, including many interviews with Tucker, fans are treated to her amazing voice, as well as an insight into Tucker’s impressive business savvy. In our world of social media, it’s unthinkable that a celebrity isn’t in the public eye at all times. Although it would be decades before a star could tweet their every movement, yet Tucker was constantly promoting herself and knew just how to do so. The stories of her selling books, advertising her own shows on the street, and making sure that she remained in contact with every person she met, is amazing viewing. Her talent is great but the way she sold herself is truly amazing.


The film Opens in NYC & LA on July 24, 2015.


“EVERY LAST CHILD”— Polio in Pakistan

every last child

“Every Last Child”

Polio in Pakistan

Amos Lassen

Here in the United States we rarely, if at all, hear about Polio but in Pakistan parents and health care workers are caught in “the cross-hairs of violence and politics as they attempt to protect their children from Polio”. Once on the brink of eradication, the disease has again become a global threat and Pakistan at its epicenter. Will these everyday heroes succeed and end Polio in our lifetime, or will another young generation be at risk?

“Every Last Child” is the dramatic story of five people dealing with the current polio crisis in Pakistan. This is a story of sacrifice, fearless determination and sorrow in the face of mistrust, cynicism and violence.


Until just a few years ago, polio persisted in only three countries and the number of victims was steadily decreasing. Pakistan was the key battleground with over 80% of all endemic cases. “When the Pakistan Taliban issued a ban against the polio vaccination program, and incited fatal attacks against vaccinators, Pakistan’s campaign was thrown into disarray.” Now we are closer than ever of eliminating Polio around the world but what that requires is international support and commitment.

Through the stories of five subjects—a medical specialist, a vaccinator, a vaccination skeptic, an adult polio victim and a sick child—we are taken in to the desperate search to find a solution to this devastating disease.


hunting elephants

“Hunting Elephants”

Robbing a Bank

Amos Lassen

Three elderly men and grandson Yonatan (Gil Blank) find themselves stuck together in a Jerusalem nursing home. The kid is a genius, but stammers and is bullied at school. Yonatan’s grandfather, Eliahu (Sasson Gabai), whom he had never met, is a former member of the Lehi (pre-State Jewish underground), and a cold person. Eliahu’s best friend Nick (Moni Moshonov), is full of ambition and passion that will never materialize; and Eliahu’s English brother-in-law, Michael (Patrick Stuart), a has-been, third-rate actor in debt for 232,000 Euros. What keeps them together is that they all want to rob the bank that employed Yonatan’s deceased father to avenge it for not paying the Yonatan’s mother compensation for his dad’s death, due to the “small print” in his employment contract.


Reshef Levi directed this comedy with a light hand but he also intercuts the film with elements of mockumentary to keep the audience guessing. Interviews with various secondary characters are interspersed throughout the film in which the witnesses to the bank robbery give their own versions of the events that unfold in the primary narrative. Because things don’t always match up in the perspectives it is indeed possible that the oncoming senility of the three older men, we question their memories (that are somewhat elusive), as well the legitimacy of recorded narratives versus those captured only with experience. The occasional cut to a present-day interview reframes the caper as an action in the past, the film plays with and on the viewers’ expectations that the revisit to the events means that the bank robbery resulted in either a tremendous success or a major failure. Either outcome seems feasible when we look at what went on during the preparations. It is interesting that the robbers are portrayed as likeable underdogs that we want to be able to get the money.

This is a fun money that allows us to escape from our daily grinds and sit back and relax. Yet there is a message here and it is to enjoy our lives as much as possible as we get older. Jonathan plans most of the technical specs of the operation and the three veterans each contribute their own expertise and life experience to fill in for his deceased father. Jonathan gets advice on going for the girl and this gives the whole team a feeling of confidence, for Michael’s own bashfulness around girls fits right in with the hound dogs of the retirement home who line up for a show whenever the resident sexy nurse, Sigi (Rotem Zussman), gives the comatose patients a sponge bath. There are plenty of jokes about older folks and Viagra and we spend a lot of time having fun with the old timers. We never laugh at them-just with them than it does making jokes at their expense.


The humor in the film is self-deprecating and it lets the older actors have fun with their age appropriate roles. All three poke fun at their geriatric shortcomings and they are having a great time doing so. The humor here mixes aging with defiance and it is fun.

The story now begins with Jonathan’s dad (Tzvika Hadar), a bank guard and also the designer of the bank’s security system who works overtime. He is underpaid and stressed out and one day has a fatal heart attack while at work. Jonathan was with him that day and he now seeks revenge for the bank’s exploitation of his father. He needs to get money sp that his mother won’t have to have to have sex with the bank manager in order to get financial support. A footnote in the bank’s insurance policy leaves Jonathan and his mother Dorit (Yael Abecassis) penniless.

I found the times when the characters directly address the camera to be distracting, however. Yet this is a film that shows that it is indeed possible to make a movie about geriatrics that works.

The film is funny, sad, endearing, heartfelt and most of all genuine.  There are no forced moments, everything comes about naturally and everyone in the cast is equally funny and tragic.  The whole thing is helped along by a hilarious performance by Patrick Stewart as a struggling actor who shamed his noble family by becoming an actor, but that doesn’t stop him from flaunting his title and himself in everyone’s face.


It seems that we forget sometimes that the older generation is made up of people and many of these older people function properly. Here each character has a personality and a back-story and these make them more likeable. I kept thinking how much fun it would have been to see them as young. We do not often see older actors treated with this kind of respect in a comedy.  Here they are given real characters to play instead of caricatures of age who just complain about being old and make the people around them feel bad for being young.  These characters are experienced at life and try to help Jonathan as much as they can while still ultimately trying to help themselves.  “Hunting Elephants” delights as throughout and deals with some very heavy material side by side with the hilarious concept of a group of old men and a pre-teen robbing a bank. The movie was quite a box office hit in Israel and it is easy to see why.


Dusty's Trail

“Dusty’s Trail: Summit of Borneo”

Climbing for Dusty

Amos Lassen

Dusty’s is a young man Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a fatal and debilitating muscle wasting condition that affects one in 3,500 boys worldwide. His story is one of people coming together from around the world to climb a mountain in Borneo for charity to raise awareness for Duchenne. “Dusty’s Trail” is a celebration of life and it about the power of creating a positive, happy, fulfilling and inspiring life when that seems to be impossible to do. This documentary film was made in Borneo and California and is based on interviews with doctors, researchers, parents, friends and people who have been inspired by Dusty’s life, some with whom he has never met, and others who share the same path.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the number one disease in children. Life expectancy varies in each case, those with the disease rarely live past their 20s. Dusty was diagnosed with it when he was just six-years-old and it caused his parents to realize that their happy and playful child would suffer a long, progressively weakening condition for the rest of his life until his heart and breathing muscles stopped functioning. They came together as a family learn as much as they could about the disease and to enjoy every moment in life. This caused Dusty to ask why were no old people with the disease. Dusty’s mother, Catherine, was inspired to form Coalition Duchenne in order to raise global awareness of and funding for research and a cure through musical events and a yearly expedition to Mount Kinabalu on the Malaysian island of Borneo.  The film is a chronicle of Dusty and his family and friends as they climb the 13,435-foot high mountain in tribute to the boys who face the everyday challenges of living with Duchenne.

When Dusty was young, he seemed like any other normal child. He was smart, happy and playful. However, Dusty was never able to run, hop, or jump. His parents and doctors thought that there were just delays in physical development but was discovered was a devastating reality when he was diagnosed with Duchenne.


Duchenne cuts across countries, cultures and races bit it does not affect the mind. Nonetheless, Dusty went from walking at age six to a wheelchair by age nine. What his diagnosis meant was that every muscle in Dusty’s body was going to steadily weaken for the rest of his life until the heart and breathing muscles would stop altogether. Many young men with Duchenne die in their early to mid 20’s.


Throughout Dusty’s life, Duchenne took many things from him: his ability to walk, to lift his arms, to comb his hair, to hug, to cough, to breathe independently. He is confined to a wheelchair where he sits in a tightly fitted orthotic seat that accommodates a spine twisted by scoliosis. The seat helps him sit up since he is unable to on his own. Gradually, he has lost all physical ability and in the last few years, Dusty has experienced weakness in the muscles of his heart and diaphragm.


Even with the lows he has suffered, Dusty thrives. His strength and resilience have withstood the challenges he has faced. He has managed to live a life of laughter, happiness and love.



stop the pounding heart

“Stop the Pounding Heart”

In the Rural South

Amos Lassen

Sara is a home-schooled young girl and one of twelve children who finds her values challenged after meeting Colby, an amateur bull rider. She lives in a family of goat farmers; a family that follows the precepts of the Bible. Like her sisters, Sara has been taught to be a devout woman, subservient to men, while keeping her emotional and physical purity intact until marriage. When Sara meets Colby, a young amateur bull rider, she finds herself in crisis, questioning the only way of life she has ever known. ”Stop the Pounding Heart’ is a look at rural America and its insular communities. The film explores adolescence, family and social values, gender roles, and religion in the rural American South. Director Robert Minervini uses a film method of looking inward into the lives of his characters and he brings us a sensitive film about a world that most of us do not know or are even aware of. He uses fundamentals of neo-realism and cinema verite as he deals with issues of faith and family and personal conviction as these are experienced by a contemporary adolescent girl who is beginning to question her life.


Sara is a young girl raised in a family of goat farmers. Her parents home school their twelve children, rigorously following the precepts of the Bible. Like her sisters, Sara is taught to be a devout woman, subservient to men while keeping her emotional and physical purity intact until marriage. When Sara meets Colby, a young amateur bull rider, she is thrown into crisis, questioning the only way of life she has ever known. In a stunning portrayal of contemporary America and the insular communities that dot its landscape, Stop the Pounding Heart is an exploration of adolescence, family and social values, gender roles, and religion in the rural American South.

stop2The film stars non-professional actors; teenagers who are versions of themselves, Sara Carlson and Colby Trichell. They become part of a love triangle in rural Waller, Texas and while this is an important aspect of the film, the focus is actually on the themes of femininity, theology, and domesticity. We are very aware of the flirtations and sexual tension between Sara and Colby from early on. Colby also is entranced by Tayler (Tayler LaFlash), a talented fellow bull rider. Colby’s life has been dominated by guns, backyard wrestling, and riding practice, among other “masculine” activities, none of which interests Sara even though she has a primal attraction to him. We them look at how Sara’s home life and her father’s strident Christianity is questioned and reformed through her interactions with Colby and her inability to deal with the faith. The heart of the film is the struggle that comes out of raising and teaching young women to adhere to a faith that clearly values them less than their male counterparts.


The feminism that we see here is one that comes out of hard work and intuitiveness. This comes to the family through the mother’s home-schooling bible study that brings up fascinating discussion and, eventually, dissent especially when Sara’s sisters criticize her intentions to never marry. At the end of the film we see Sara tearfully admitting to her mother that she doesn’t know how to be a “good Christian” and as we think about that we realize that questioning seems to hang over the entire movie. Minervini cares about Sara’s doubt and is totally empathetic to Sara’s struggle with coming to an answer she can accept. Her fear and apprehension about taking part in the advances that Colby makes is certainly the result of her own uncertainty. Sara’s rebellion is both respectful and respectable.

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The main focus of the film is on the Carlsons, a family of goat farmers that sell their dairy products at farmers’ markets. The parents, Leeanne (Leeanne Carlson) and Tim (Tim Carlson) have raised their twelve children, explicitly by the laws of the Bible. They live almost as sparsely as the Amish with lots and lots and lots of discussions about Jesus. When Sara meets Colby her attraction to him makes her begin to question the way she’s been brought up. Although, you’d never guess how she feels based Her mother teaches her about the helpfulness of doubt and that being a Christian isn’t easy. Yet Sara and her sisters are told time and again that woman is made from man and that they must remain subservient and that being submissive doesn’t mean being weak.


Some may find it hard to believe that today in America there are still isolated communities that exist in the ways we see here. All of the characters here actually play themselves, and keep their real names and this makes the line between reality and fiction even thinner. It is indeed frustrating to see how women are portrayed in this community and they continue being submissive to men. We can see that this kind of conditioning is the result of reading and rereading the same material over and over and that alternative ways of thinking as well as people who live a different life style are never introduced. Therefore, for Sara, it only took one meeting with Colby to understand that something is amiss in the Christian teachings she has had to live with. Sara then becomes, for the viewer, a young woman who desires something more but is left behind. The ending of the film, therefore, signifies that Sara and her family continue to regress while holding on to a past that does not exist any longer. holding on staunchly to a past that no longer exists.


One of the reviews that I read from the Cannes film festival where the movie premiered says that the film is a “hybrid of documentary and unscripted narrative depicting real people in an insular rural community”. This is a wonderful way to regard this film.

The main conflict of the film does not come up until a good bit of time has passed and then only in subdued terms. Some may find it to be paced too slowly but it is engrossing nonetheless. Minervini’s character development is amazing especially regarding Sara and Colby. Colby is a “skinny, sweet-natured cowboy who’s all sinew but no muscle, he needs focus and determination to master his rodeo skills and avoid injury”. Sara is “a born nurturer with a special feeling for animals, she holds sacred beliefs yet at the same time is needled by doubts and fears that she’s unable to articulate, which her mother assures her are an inevitable part of the battle for inner peace”. Sara is emotionally transparent and innately spiritual.


We do not often get films of such beauty as “Stop the Pounding Heart”, I see it as more of a total experience than just a film.

“PIT STOP” (1969)— A New Kind of Race Car Driving

pit stop

“Pit Stop”

A New Kind of Race Car Driving

Amos Lassen

The Figure Eight is a new kind of racecar driving that is sponsored by Grant Willard (Brian Donleavy). “The Pit Stop” is the rise and fall of one of those drivers. Pitting man against man and flesh against steel in the figure-8 race is the most dangerous game ever invented. Rick Bowman (Richard Davalos) is a street punk who winds up in jail after a street race goes wrong. Grant Williams, a race promoter bailed him and put him in the deadly track where he comes up against Haig’s maniacal winner Hawk Sidney. “Pit Stop” was filmed on a real figure-8 track and the movie captures gripping real-life car wreck scenes.

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Rick is reluctant to get involved until he is challenged by Willard’s current “bad boy of racing”, Hawk Sidney (Sid Haig). Although beaten in his first tries at the track, Rick picks up some pointers from an old-timer racer and humiliates Hawk. The win puts him in the position to supplant Hawk in driving interference for champion racer Ed McLeod (George Washburn) at the nationals against Southern hotshot Sonny Simpson (Ted Duncan). When McLeod is dismissive Rick’s abilities, Rick instead seduces McLeod’s neglected wife Ellen (Ellen Burstyn) and then plots to have Hawk drive interference against Simpson in order to take on McLeod and win the championship himself.

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The new release has many bonus features:

* New High Definition digital transfer supervised and approved by director Jack Hill

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

* Original Mono 1.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)

* New UK exclusive audio commentary with director Jack Hill moderated by his biographer Calum Waddell

* Crash and Burn! – Jack Hill on the making of Pit Stop

* Drive Hard – Actor Sid Haig speaks about his experience of acting in Pit Stop

* Life in the Fast Lane – producer Roger Corman on the genesis of Pit Stop

* Restoring Pit Stop – Restoration demonstration with Technical Supervisor James White

* Original Trailer

* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw

.* Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Glenn Kenny and musicologist and writer Gray Newell on the film’s soundtrack, illustrated with original stills and artwork