Monthly Archives: October 2021

“GREENER PASTURES”— Moving to a Nursing Home

 

“GREENER PASTURES”

Moving to a Nursing Home

Amos Lassen

 

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

 

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

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

“DEEP RED”

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

Amos Lassen

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

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

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

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

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Restored original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks*

  Optional lossless 5.1 Italian soundtrack

  English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack

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

  New audio commentary by critics Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson

 Archival audio commentary by Argento expert Thomas Rostock

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

  Italian trailer

  Arrow Video 2018 trailer

  Image galleries

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

  Restored original lossless mono English soundtrack

  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  Archival introduction to the film by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin

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

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

  US theatrical trailer

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

“The Light Streamed Beneath It: A Memoir of Grief and Celebration” by Shawn Hitchins— A Modern Memoir

“Hitchins, Shawn. “The Light Streamed Beneath It: A Memoir of Grief and Celebration”, ECW Press, 2021.

A Modern Memoir

Amos Lassen

In The Light Streamed Beneath It: A Memoir of Grief and Celebration”, Shawn Hitchins brings us amodern gay memoir that looks at love, death, pain, and community— a story of love, loss, and recovery and human resilience. Due to sudden death, Hitchins loses two great loves, five months apart. He shares his life and gives a tender elegy that explores what it means to be alive alongside longing, desire, anger, grief — and healing he discovers when he lets his heart remain open. We feel his self-awareness as he deals with his past and being in the present. He confronts the stories that have shaped him and seeks connection in what he used to deflect with laughter  while being aware that death’s is always present.

There is grief, love, community, hope and celebration here. It is not just about loving what you want, but loving what you have. The main message that death is a phase of life and like life itself, Hitchins’ story is often disjointed. It is not only about hoping for the future, but also about living in the present. 

We need to appreciate the things that we have in abundance such as love, laughter, hope, faith and community.  Hitchins shares his life with us and this is what allows us to see the need  to appreciate what we have. This is an emotional reading experience and a breathtaking memoir of love and death, pain and healing. It hits hard.

“Can We Talk About Israel?: A Guide for the Curious, Confused, and Conflicted” by Daniel Sketch— A Primer

Sokatch, Daniel. “Can We Talk About Israel?: A Guide for the Curious, Confused, and Conflicted”, illustrated by Christopher Noxon, Bloomsbury, 2021.

A Primer

Amos Lassen

As a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, not a day goes by that I do not stop to think about the situation in Israel. After all, Israel was my home for almost half of my life. I willingly admit that I do not fully understand the situation. With the publication of Daniel Sokatch’s “Can We Talk About Israel?: A Guide for the Curious, Confused, and Conflicted”, things are much clearer yet I still am able to formulate my own conclusions… or am I?

Sokatch understands both sides the topic and brings us a primer on Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He understands much more than we do but then he is
the head of the New Israel Fund, an organization dedicated to equality and democracy for all Israelis, not just Jews. He gives us thestory of that conflict, and of why so many people feel so strongly about it without actually understanding it very well at all. It has been a century-long struggle between two peoples that both perceive themselves as victims and, indeed, they are victims. He tries to explain why Israel (and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) brings about extreme feelings and “why it seems like Israel is the answer to ‘what is wrong with the world’ for half the people in it, and ‘what is right with the world’ for the other half. It is a topic about which so many intelligent, educated and sophisticated people hold passionate convictions yet know so little about it.

We look at the history and ideas of one of the most complicated conflicts in the world. No matter what we know, there is always what we do not now. I have studied the history of Israel during most of my life and devoted time to building the country in the early days and served in the Israel Defense Forces during both peace and war. I watched the currency change before my eyes and spent hours and days in bomb shelters. I have wept during victories and failures, I have voted in Israel’s elections and watched the government turn around and I have seen once persecuted minority groups achieve equality. I remember the jubilation after the Six Day War in 1967 and have cried learning the truth about what really went on behind the scenes yet I remain proud in saying that I am an Israeli citizen.

The country has taken a major turn to the right and that turn is brilliantly explained here.  I so needed this book to explain to me what was missing in my own mind. Sokatch not only knows what he is writing about, he knows how to share that knowledge. Dealing with politics is no easy task. We have no final or correct answers about the situation but we DO have a lot to think about.

Sokatch tries to give us answers and does so from his personal point of view along with the ideas of others. Unfortunately it all remains open-ended. We have two nations both convinced of their right to belong and they are not willing or unable to find a suitable compromise.  This is a fascinating look at Israel’s history, politics, and its relation with the land and the Palestinian people. It is s respectful look at everything involved.

Sokatch presents everything clearly even for those who have no previous knowledge on the conflict. We gain a better understanding and Sokatch is impartial and does not support one way or the other. Instead, he gives us facts and details, the good and the bad about the situation.  Divided into two parts, we first get a history, from Biblical accounts all the way to  the year 2020 in the first part and in the second we have a  discussion of why people get so excited when speaking about what is going on.

“ZIYARA”— To Morocco

“ZIYARA”

To Morocco

Amos Lassen

Director Simone Bitton takes us on acinematic pilgrimage to her homeland of Morocco, as she explores her Jewish roots through the sphere of the Muslim guardians of the nation’s Jewish memory that are centered around the tradition of “ziyara”.

In rural Morocco, the country’s youngest citizens have largely never coexisted alongside Jews, although their presence is still felt in symbols, old shrines, synagogues and cemeteries. Many Muslims still maintain and find beauty in these commodities, seeing them as a timeless connection to the word of God.

Throughout the film, Bitton looks at the tradition of ziyara, a shared tradition between both Muslims and Jews. Pilgrims take a few days off in order to visit the tombs of saints, not only to pray but more importantly to commune with nature, celebrate outdoors, meet new people and exchange. Bitton revisits her original identity through the eyes of maturity and tells the story of Jews and Muslims, as has been the consistent theme in her work for decades. She finds a story of hope.

Through intimate conversations not only with those old enough to remember sharing their land with Jews, but with a new generation of Moroccans inspired by their heritage, we are with Bitton. These deeply personal insights include everyday people and specialists, all of them modest and magnificent heroes in a relentless quest for modernity, dignity, and social justice.

 

“THE SWIMMER”— Acceptance and Love

“THE SWIMMER”

Acceptance and Love

Amos Lassen

Erez (Omer Perelman Striks) is one of five swimmers selected for an elite residential training program where They compete for a single position on the Israeli Olympic team. At first, a favorite, Erez develops an attraction for one of his teammates, Nevo (Asaf Jonas). This arouses the suspicions of Dima, their Russian immigrant homophobic trainer. Ignoring Dima’s warnings against unwholesome attachments, Erez makes a move on Nevo.

Set in a summer training camp, we followa sportsman as he learns how to accept and love himself even with the discriminative tendencies of the high-performance sports environment against LGBTQ sports people. 

Muscular Nevo slowly awakens subconscious homosexual desires in Erez. However, they both have girlfriends and Dima does not want the competitors to have friendships with each other. Dima warns Erez to stay away from Nevo, but Erez can’t help himself. Erez and Nevo hang out together at the camp when not training and Erez clumsily attempts to act upon his feelings.

Directed, produced and written by Adam Kalderon, this is a gentle coming-of-age/coming out story. Omer Perelman Striks gives a fine performance as Erez.

QUEERX AWARDS HONOR SNL’S BOWEN YANG, POSE’S MJ RODRIGUEZ, ELVIRA / CASSANDRA PETERSON & WNBA STAR ERICA WHEELER — AIRING MONDAY OCTOBER 11TH

THE QUEERX AWARDS BROUGHT TO YOU BY LEXUS TO HONOR SNL’S BOWEN YANG, POSE’S MJ RODRIGUEZ, ELVIRA / CASSANDRA PETERSON & WNBA STAR ERICA WHEELER

Hosts Drew Droege and Raneir Pollard Join Presenters Dwyane and Zaya Wade, Steven Canals, Peaches Christ, and Patton Oswalt for the QueerX Awards Streaming Live on National Coming Out Day with Musical Performances, Special Screenings of the Winning Films, and the Revry Visibility Awards.

Los Angeles, CA – October 8, 2021 – Revry, the largest LGBT-first streaming media network, premieres theQueerX Awards brought to you by Lexus at 5PM PST/8PM EST on October 11, 2021 for National Coming Out Day. The streaming special is the grand finale to the month-long international film festival competition, QueerX, and features dynamic music performances, full screenings of the winning films, and the star-studded Revry Visibility Awards.

“National Coming Out Day is our moment to shine a light on the best emerging LGBTQ talent and the leading voices in queer culture,” says Revry and QueerX co-founder and show producer, Christopher J. Rodriguez. “What could be a better way to celebrate this holiday than with a showcase of authentic storytellers, breakout musicians, and recognizing unapologetically visible icons.”

Show highlights include:

Revry Visibility Awards 2021: Revry’s annual honors of influential celebrities who have made an impact on the community, including: 

·         NBA star Dwyane Wade and his daughter Zaya Wade presenting to WNBA star Erica Wheeler.

·         Drag Icon Peaches Christ presenting to Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

·         Patton Oswalt presenting to Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live).

·         Emmy nominated actress and musician, Michaela Jaé (MJ) Rodriguez will be honored.

Competition Winners & Films: International film festival winners introduce their films which then screen in their entirety.

Musical Performances: The world premiere of music from non-binary pop rocker, Chanel and the Circus, and queer rap lyrcist, Alsace Carcione. The show also features an updated gender-inclusive rendition of the Weather Girls’ gay anthem with Mila Jam’s “It’s Raining Them.”

Sponsors include Lexus, Final Draft, Tourism Spain, Florida Keys and Key West.

Film Awards Trailer (embeddable) HERE

Approved Headshots HERE

Awards Show Art HERE

About QueerX

Since its inception, QueerX has broken the mold of LGBTQ film festivals with a focus on the culture of queer entertainment. Utilizing cutting-edge technology to reach global audiences with its live festival TV channel, anyone in the world can screen the “Official Selections” for free. The competition culminates annually on National Coming Out Day with the star-studded QueerX Awards–featuring music performances, screenings of the winning films, and the Revry Visibility Awards. The festival has become a discovery platform for emerging queer musicians and underrepresented filmmakers–providing invaluable resources to connect directly to the entertainment industry. QueerX aims to create a space where artists, industry professionals, and enthusiasts alike can come together to celebrate the future of queer entertainment.

About Revry

Revry is the LGBTQ-first streaming media network with free live TV, movies, series, news and exclusive Original programming amounting to over 5,000 titles. Its mission is to inspire exploration of LGBTQ content for the community and allies. Revry is led by a diverse founding team with technology, digital media, and LGBTQ advocacy experience. Revry reaches millions of global viewers on connected TV, Smart TV, OTT and mobile platforms including Samsung, Vizio, Roku, Apple, Comcast Xfinity, Cox Communications,Google, TiVo, and many others.

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

“GOLDEN VOICES”

Coming to Israel from the Soviet Union

Amos Lassen

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

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

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

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

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

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

“ROH”— A Malayan Horror Film

“ROH”

A Malayan Horror Film

Amos Lassen

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

“THE BEST FAMILIES” A Comedy of Manners

“THE BEST FAMILIES”

A Comedy of Manners

Amos Lassen

Peruvian Director Javier Fuentes-León in “The Best Families” portrays the Lima upper class represented in two families that are neighbors. It can also be seen as a reflection of society anywhere in the world.

The entire story takes place in two mansions linked by a garden, in the center of which is a small house or shed.  The two rich families live in isolation, like in a bubble, in fear of losing their status. There is another family, the two cook sisters who work for them whose efforts to get from their home on the outskirts of Lima to the residential area and we see the abyss that separates them.

Both mothers, Alicia and Carmen (Gracia Olaya and Grapa Paola), are very busy organizing the return of one of the children to present their Spanish girlfriend. Also coinciding with the birthday of one of them.

 This is not only a movie of entanglement, it is a deep reflection. It is complex, set in a world as macho as that of Latin America. And not only there, but also in other parts of the world. The best families perfectly portrays the secrets and miseries jealously guarded between an unjust class struggle.

“The Best Families” is a  black comedy that reminds us that the old upstairs-downstairs indulgent lifestyles are a thing of the past. As the story unfolds, it seems that everyone in the two families and their staff led by fiercely competitive matriarchs are hiding their own secrets.