Author Archives: Amos

“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.

“YOKAI MONSTERS”— The Collection

“YOKAI MONSTERS”

The Collection

Amos Lassen

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

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

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

LIMITED EDITION BOXSET CONTENTS

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

  Optional English subtitles on all four films

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

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

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

  Foldout ‘yokai guide’ poster illustrated by Jolyon Yates

DISC ONE – 100 MONSTERS

  Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio

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

  Theatrical trailer

  US re-release trailer

  Image gallery

DISC TWO – SPOOK WARFARE / ALONG WITH GHOSTS

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

  Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio for both films

  Theatrical trailers for both films

  US re-release trailers for both films

  Image galleries for both films

DISC THREE – THE GREAT YOKAI WAR

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

  Brand new audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Theatrical trailer

  Image gallery

“THE SHEPHERD”— A Psychological Drama

“THE SHEPHERD”

A Psychological Drama

Amos Lassen

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Emphatically Queer Career of Artist Perkins Harnly and His Bohemian Friends” by Sarah Burns— From Nebraska to the World

Burns, Sarah. “The Emphatically Queer Career of Artist Perkins Harnly and His Bohemian Friends”, Process, 2021.

From Nebraska to the World

Amos Lassen

In Sarah Burns’ “The Emphatically Queer Career of Perkins Harnly”, we read thestory of Nebraska-born artist, Perkins Harnly (1901-1986),who during his life came into contact with famous and infamous personalities. He went to parties with Sarah Bernhardt, was friends with Paul Swan (“The Most Beautiful Man in the World”),  was the frequent houseguest of Rose O’Neill, the free-living artist who invented the Kewpie and corresponded with William Seabrook, author and occasional cannibal who introduced the zombie to America. 

We are with Harnly from Nebraska’s remote farmlands to silent-era Hollywood, post-revolutionary Mexico, Depression-era New York, wartime Hollywood, queer Los Angeles the repressive 1950s, and the rest of his life. He traveled in Europe and South America, where Harnly practiced his hobby of visiting the famous and infamous graves from Vladimir Lenin to Oscar Wilde, Queen Victoria, and Eva Peron.
Through archives of letters and interviews Harnly comes alive along with his circle of creative friends and he is a character who is unlikely to be forgotten.

“ONE IN A THOUSAND”— Affection, Desire and Sexuality

“ONE IN A THOUSAND”

Affection, Desire and Sexuality

Amos Lassen

Iris (Sofía Cabrera)) lives in the poor neighborhood of Las Mil Casas, in Corrientes, Argentina. She left school and spends her free time with her gay cousins Darío (Mauricio Vila) and Ale (Luis Molina) or wanders around the neighborhood, One in a Thousand as it is known, with her basketball. Renata (Ana Carolina García) comes into her life, bringing love. 

Iris is fascinated with Renata who is an outgoing femme fatal who is older than her. Even with all of the gossip in the neighborhood, the two girls become close. We see Iris’s close friendship with her cousins ​​and how both brothers live their gay sexuality in very different ways, in an environment where sexual choices and their fields of action are far from acceptable.

The young people of One in a Thousand make up a world with adults almost always distant. Total sexual frankness prevails and modesty or explicitness are consistent with the psychology of the characters and situations. 

Director Clarisa Navas gives us a powerful portrait of the circulation of affection, desire and sexuality in a group of young people in a marginal neighborhood and a love story that is far from  the acceptable manners and without any misery.

When Iris meets Renata in the projects of One Thousand in Argentina, she is immediately and inexplicably attracted to her. Renata makes everyone uncomfortable, and prejudices grow. Iris has to overcome her fears and struggle with her insecurities in order to experience first love. The two girls and their small group of friends are the queer resistance in an environment where desire adapts many forms and gossip is a hateful weapon.

One in a Thousand is rundown project characterized by prostitution, drug-dealing, unemployment and basketball and where sexual desire is high. Renata exudes an exciting sexual energy who to whom Iris writes a letter and gives it to her after meeting on the bus. They develop a quick relationship that is complicated by the rumors of Renata’s past. 

This isn’t your average film about LGBT struggle, whereby protagonists struggle against hatred. There is plenty of talk about what “they” say, especially with regards to Renata’s past, yet we never know who “they” are. Iris’ family members are never seen and her cousin’s supportive mother is okay with her two gay children. 

“My Father’s Wife and My Daughter’s Emu” by Nina Dabek— Moments in Life

Dabek, Nina “My Father’s Wife and My Daughter’s Emu”, Atmosphere Press, 2021.

Moments in Life

Amos Lassen

Nina Dabek brings us a collection of funny and sad stories in “My Father’s Wife and My Daughter’s Emu”.We read of moments in the life of one worried, loving woman that remind us that ordinary life is never ordinary, and is also more dangerous than we might think. Yet, with the right partner-a woman as loving as she is, happiness may be saved.

Dabek shares domestic life frankly and with humor. Nostalgia, grief, gratitude, devotion are all here. This is a  portrait of a woman’s passage from the delusions of childhood to the revelations and burdens of adulthood.

Naomi is the middle of three sister who grows up in late 20th century New York. Just as Naomi comes into her own, history frames the narrative of her life.

She lives in the Bronx with her two sisters and her parents and grapples with the complexity of her relationships, her family’s mysteries, and the world around her. She experiences the challenges and pleasures of lesbian motherhood, while at the same time dealing with her father’s past and present and her complicated love for him. We are with her from childhood to motherhood as she deals with and makes sense of the world.