Monday, March 1, 2021

SON Film Review March 1, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Reviewed: 2/28/2021
RLJE Films and Shudder
Rating: 3 / 5

(RLJE Films)

Any time a horror film utilizes a child in it’s storyline, there is a fine line to walk. So many past horror films have used this tactic to great effect (The Omen and The Exorcist for example). However, it can also go into predictable territory if the director is not careful.

“Son” tells the story of a mother who gives birth to a child that she initially claims she doesn’t want. Fast forward some years and the mother and son are living in a nice suburban neighborhood. Everything seems normal.

One evening mom sees spirits in her son’s room. She gets the police involved but there are no traces of anyone having been in their home. At one point in the story, the son David ends up in the hospital. The doctors can’t explain what’s wrong with him.

(Andi Matichak as Laura in the horror film SON, a RLJE Films/Shudder release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.)

Mom then takes David away as she believes spirits are after her child.

“Son” works well between the two lead actors performances - Andi Matichak (mom) and Luke David Blumm (son). They keep the film engaging and interesting.

Overall, however, the finale leaves a lot to be desired. While there will be no spoilers here I felt the ending let down the rest of the film that had preceded it. A reshoot of the ending would have lifted this film from average to great.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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DREAMCATCHER Film Review March 1, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Reviewed: 3/1/2021
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Rating: 3 / 5

Samuel Goldwyn Films will release the horror / thriller film, DREAMCATCHER On Digital and On Demand March 5, 2021. 

(Samuel Goldwyn Films)

The new horror film “Dreamcatcher” started off interestingly enough. The first aspect that jumped out at me was the dialogue. Director and writer Jacob Johnston has a way with words and it works well throughout the movie.

DJ Dreamcatcher is a headlining performer at a music festival. A group of friends go to the festival and then within 48 hours things get turned upside down.

(Niki Koss as Pierce in the Horror/ Thriller film, DREAMCATCHER, a Samuel Goldwyn Film release. Photo courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.)

The film has a specific look to it that was also intriguing.

However, the story as a whole got stretched out into something that should have been ninety minutes or less. There were too many scenes trying to establish characters that ultimately the horror fan just wants to see die a gruesome death.

(Travis Burns as Dylan in the Horror/ Thriller film, DREAMCATCHER, a Samuel Goldwyn Film release. Photo courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.)

There was indeed promise from Mr. Johnston’s work and with some more tweaking, I believe a future film with his direction and writing could be a money maker.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Sunday, February 28, 2021

26th SEATTLE JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL March 4th through March 18th, 2021 Eclectic Arts

Full Line-Up Announced for the 26th Seattle Jewish Film Festival

Virtually Together Again! March 4-18

Comedian Howie Mandel launches Opening Night with documentary film
and Zoom conversation featuring acclaimed director Barry Avrich

The Seattle Jewish Film Festival (SJFF) has announced its full line-up of streaming films for the 26th festival, running March 4-18, 2021.

SJFF features 19 films from around the world, including Germany, Poland, Argentina, Israel, and Norway. This year’s festival features comedies, love stories, and tales of triumph and overcoming adversity to joyously bring us virtually together again, even though we're far apart.

The festival opens with the documentary film HOWIE MANDEL: BUT, ENOUGH ABOUT ME, a revealing and funny look at the Emmy-nominated comedian and game show host’s quirky career and struggles with mental health. The film will be available for streaming March 4-7; as with all films in the virtual line-up, it will be available for 72 hours. Howie Mandel will also join us, along with acclaimed documentary film director Barry Avrich, for a Zoom conversation.

Films also include WINTER JOURNEY, starring Bruno Ganz (WINGS OF DESIRE) in his final role; the star-studded ON BROADWAY (a half-price matinee for seniors 65+) featuring Helen Mirren, Alec Baldwin, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, among others; THEY AIN’T READY FOR ME, a powerhouse profile of African American rabbinical student, mom, and Chicago community activist Tamar Manasseh; and the hilarious Argentinian comedy MY AMAZING FUNERAL to close out the festival. This year’s festival features two LGBTQ+ Spotlight films: SUBLET by acclaimed Israeli director Eytan Fox and romantic comedy KISS ME KOSHER, director Shirel Peleg’s brave debut.

“The films in this year’s virtual festival focus on light, levity, and laughter to brighten our spirits in dark, challenging times,” says Pamela Lavitt, SJCC Arts + Ideas and Festival Director. “Comics, romantic comedies, inclusivity, and triumphant gritty stories will bring everyone in your household together—even if virtually—to gather ‘round and laugh, cry, debate, and celebrate global Jewish and Israeli cinema in our hearts and homes.”

The two-week festival will also feature Zoom conversations with filmmakers and guests, delicious partnerships with culinary vendors, and engaging community events.

Tickets for SJFF are on sale now. Single household film ticket prices range from $12-20. Ticket 6-packs range from $60-75 and Full Festival All-Access passes for $160-180. Discounts are available for seniors 65+ and students. While tickets and passes are per household, only one device can watch a film. Once you start playing a film, you must continue watching on the same device/location. All films are available for 72-hour viewing windows. All films can be viewed in WA state and many can be viewed from outside of WA. Check the film descriptions for specific geographic viewing areas. We recommend reading our STREAMING FAQ's before purchasing tickets.
Full festival schedule and online ticket sales at

For a list of all programs in schedule order, including streaming windows for each film, visit

CRAZY SAMURAI: 400 vs 1 Film Review February 28, 2021 Eclectic Arts

Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1

Reviewed: 2/28/2021
Well Go USA
Rating: 3 / 5

(Well Go USA)

The new film, “Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1” embellishes the tale of a prized samurai who won 61 fights before defeat. The claim to fame in this version is the majority of the film was shot in one take.

After the plot is established in the first few minutes, the battle begins and the action doesn’t let up. It’s one long sword fight that is, well, crazy to witness.

I applaud the director and the team for attempting such a feat. They strategically built in moments of rest, stops for water, and such but for 70+ minutes, the fight scene never ends.

(Well Go USA)

As much as I applaud the attempt to do something different, after a while I need more than just a fight scene. I need a story, character development, and the like. I need the dramatic ups and downs of a classic samurai tale.

“Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1” was entertaining to a point. I think it would have been much more complete if they finished the fight scene and then continued the story.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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THE HOUSE THAT ROB BUILT Film Review February 28, 2021 Eclectic Arts

The House That Rob Built

Reviewed: 2/28/2021
1091 Pictures
Rating: 5 / 5

The inequality between men’s and women’s sports has always been a hotly contested subject. Over the years the gap has narrowed but it’s still a gap and an unfortunate one at that.

The documentary film, “The House That Rob Built” tells the story of Robin Selvig - head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Montana.

It wasn’t long ago when there were no women's sports teams at the college level. It seems ridiculous in 2021 but indeed that was the case. Title IX changed that and the rise and further rise of the Lady Grizzlies became a national phenomenon.

But it wasn’t easy.

The lack of support and respect permeated the early years and there are still naysayers when it comes to women’s athletics. The best come back to those narrow minded simpletons is something Coach Selvig says at the end of this film. To paraphrase he mentioned one of his old coaches told him he played like a girl (as an insult). After coaching the Lady Grizz to win after win for decades, Coach Selvig realized what an honor it was to be called that.

The film is tight and engaging albeit a bit short. I would have loved to have seen more footage. The retirement party was truly a sight to see. Over a hundred players from different years came back to see their old coach and to wish him well. If that scene doesn’t choke you up, nothing will.

“The House That Rob Built” is more than a film, it’s a life lesson. Highly recommended!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Friday, February 26, 2021

THE SOAPGIRLS - Shut Up and Listen February 26, 2021 Eclectic Arts

The SoapGirls - Shut Up and Listen

Never judge a book by its cover, right? We’ve all heard that phrase over the years. In the case of the South African band, The SoapGirls, it is beyond true.

At first glance the casual viewer will see two twenty-something blonde haired, model-esque, women dressed in colorful outfits, sometimes with upper bodies exposed and/or body painted and their bottoms hanging out in thongs or even tape.

If a listener stumbles upon the band for the first time, without seeing them, they will be treated to a sonic barrage of revolt rock n roll. A mixture of punk, rock, pop, and anything else the band organically includes in their songs, the listener will hear a trio of instruments (guitar, bass, drums) along with vocals from the sisters Camille and Noemie.

Between the casual viewer and the new listener, one might think they know what The SoapGirls are all about. But you’d be as wrong as I am young in years.

Having gained their namesake as youngsters selling bars of soap for charity in South Africa, and bullied for it I might add by kids and adults alike, there is a uniqueness to the band that comes from the obstacles they have had to overcome.

Both Millie and Mie are complex yet simple people. They are caring, empathetic, and beyond driven to bring positivity to the world in any way that they can. When a new obstacle is put in their way, they take a quick breath and then tackle it like only they know how. This is most certainly a trait their manager (and mom) Sam instilled in them at an early age.

They will not take kindly to negativity, put downs, bullying, or victimization of others - human and animal alike. They will not sit idly by while things go on that they do not agree with. They will use their voice to call out those who use their positions in society to censor and attack freedom in all its forms.

The SoapGirls are quite frankly being who they authentically are as human beings. They have always been performers and they have always marched to the beat of their own drum. I can’t think of any other band before or since their inception that are like them. And that’s saying a lot.

Fiercely independent (after an early experience with a major label that tried to mold them into a cookie cutter product), the band has been touring the UK and Europe extensively for over five years. Then the lockdown happened in 2020.


Cue The SoapGirls live-stream themed shows.

While many other artists were resting on their laurels (note I said many not all), The SoapGirls went virtual. Thursday’s, Friday’s, and Saturday’s they perform live themed shows. These are not short promo sets - these are full sets of music, with skits and banter mixed in every night. And the themes constantly change to keep things fresh and interesting. Why stop there - they added acoustic sets on Monday’s and virtual chats on Wednesday’s (while watching a previous live set from one social media platform and aired on another).

You read that right - five nights they are engaging their rabid fan base and gaining new fans in the process.

Oh, and if you want to shoot the band a question or comment - you can do so at the end of every fucking live-stream show live! How cool is that? The only thing cooler would be a worldwide Zoom session if Zoom could handle triple digit participants at the same time (which it can’t).

The band is well over the 100 show mark and will hit 200 shows before you know it. Quite the feat considering all the work that goes into the sets, the themes, the makeup, the art, the - well you get the idea.

Did I mention the power blackouts (some planned, some not)? Or the authorities being contacted by the neighbors (lockdown has things quiet from 9pm to 6am or thereabouts)? Or the government censoring the shit out of the band when they speak up about issues they care about? Or social media platforms choking their reach with shadowbans or even plain removal of their page without warning? This is only a tiny fraction of the obstacles this band has faced recently and yet they soldier on like the magnificent warriors they are.

The SoapGirls are doing what legendary bands do - they are entertaining their fans in every way possible. But they are also educating their fans and perhaps even more important - they are inspiring their fans.

Do you believe in artistic freedom? Do you believe in freedom, period? If you said yes to either of those questions then you already align your thinking with The SoapGirls. They are as real as real can be and they could use your support.


They deserve your support.

What are you waiting for? Fuck the struggle - the fight is real. And The SoapGirls are leading the charge. So look in the mirror, ask yourself what you believe in, bring your authentic self to the party, and join the fucking revolution!

Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
February 26, 2021


Monday, February 22, 2021

WRONG TURN Film Review February 22, 2021 Eclectic Arts

Wrong Turn

Reviewed: 2/22/2021
Saban Films
Rating: 2 / 5

On Demand, Digital, Blu-ray and DVD on February 23, 2021.

(Saban Films)

The Wrong Turn franchise returns with a reboot of sorts that is not related to the many sequels that came out after the original film.

A group of young adults venture into the woods and, even though they were warned not to, they venture off the hiking trails into unknown terror. They meet The Foundation which is a group of people that have been living in the hills for many years.

(Charlotte Vega as Jen in the horror film, WRONG TURN, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.)

I love a good horror film and unfortunately this isn’t one of them. The story was flimsy at best and the entire film was just poorly executed. A few good “kills” couldn’t save this film, either. I kept hoping it would improve as it went on but it just didn’t resonate with me on any level.

Perhaps you’ll think differently. The film will be available everywhere on the 23rd of February.

(Adain Bradley as Darius in the horror film, WRONG TURN, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.)

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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