Wednesday, January 20, 2021

THE STRONG ONES Film Review January 20, 2021 Eclectic Arts

The Strong Ones

Reviewed: 1/19/2021
Breaking Glass Pictures
Rating: 3 / 5 

(Breaking Glass Pictures)

Every now and then it’s important to view a film in advance when you’re in the right mood for it. Much like listening to music, films can be skewed if the viewer is in the mood for a drama for instance but has a comedy to review. I do my best to be mindful of these typical traits we all share before viewing any film up for review.

I was ready to view “The Strong Ones” as I was looking forward to the premise. 

(Breaking Glass Pictures)

A man Lucas goes to visit his sister in Chile where he strikes up an intense relationship with Antonio, all while dealing with opposing viewpoints and a society that isn’t welcoming.

The film was engaging but only to a certain point. The narrative tended to get muddled as the story progressed but the actors did their best to clear it up. 

(Breaking Glass Pictures)


There were themes that could be translated to any country anywhere in the world. Acceptance. Disregard. Classism. Homophobia.

Overall, I liked “The Strong Ones” but I really wanted to like it more.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Monday, January 18, 2021

PSYCHO GOREMAN Film Review January 18, 2021 Eclectic Arts

PG Psycho Goreman

Reviewed: 1/18/2021
RLJE Films
Rating: 3 / 5 

PG: PSYCHO GOREMAN in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on January 22, 2021.

(RLJE Films)

It’s always fun to view a popcorn type movie. I was definitely in the mood for such a film and “PG: Psycho Goreman” delivered in some aspects.

With a story that involves two siblings and a creature from another world, there isn’t much more that needs to be said about the plot.

(Matthew Ninaber as Psycho Goreman in the horror/action/comedy film, “PG:PSYCHO GOREMAN,” a RLJE Films/Shudder release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.)

Practical effects were used throughout the film (with some digital as well). If you grew up with actors in rubber suits, costumes, etc, then you know the type of vibe the film was going for. 

It’s lighthearted in tone with some over the top effects so it never gets too serious. It walks the line of camp and horror to dare I say a kids type movie. The character of PG definitely stands out and I could see them making a sequel. 

(A still from the horror/action/comedy film, “PG: PSYCHO GOREMAN,” a RLJE Films/Shudder release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.)

Whether or not the creators set out to make a cult classic I don’t know. But, it wouldn’t surprise me if a contingent of fans get behind “PG: Psycho Goreman” as just such a film.

If you can suspend your disbelief, and are looking for a fun film, “PG: Psycho Goreman” will hit the spot.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Monday, January 11, 2021

SOME KIND OF HEAVEN Film Review January 11, 2021 Eclectic Arts

Some Kind Of Heaven

Reviewed: 1/7/2021
Magnolia Pictures
Rating: 4.5 / 5 


(Theatrical one-sheet for SOME KIND OF HEAVEN, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)

It’s interesting how life can imitate art. I had spent a short amount of time working at a senior living facility last year. It was an eye opening experience and the new documentary film, “Some Kind Of Heaven” is no different.

The film focuses on The Villages - a retirement community (more like a small city) in Florida. The community started out with 800 members and now has well over 130,000. It reminded me of going to Disneyland or something in terms of all the shops, restaurants, and stages that were on the grounds. If you took a large state college campus and converted every educational building into homes, you’d get an idea of what The Villages looked like. Sort of.

The film follows different members (and one non member) through their various lives as they live and explore the community. 

(A scene from SOME KIND OF HEAVEN, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)

I found the stories most interesting. Many of them anyone could relate to regardless of age. There may be a twist to it (such as being a widow, etc.) but the stories of companionship, marriage, looking for love all over again, and trying to fit in are really timeless.

It was heartbreaking in some ways to see some of the stories unfold. A bit of a stern reminder of what could be coming for all of us if we don’t plan ahead or take time now to prepare for life after retirement.

A family friend once told me that this country throws away their senior citizens. At the time many years ago I just nodded not really knowing what she meant. But as time went on, I definitely started to understand exactly what she meant.

I for one don’t think about the needs of seniors in terms of wanting to find love. To learn to love life at that age and not just dealing with life. 

(Dennis Dean in SOME KIND OF HEAVEN, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)

Every human being has a story and it’s a valuable story. “Some Kind Of Heaven” shines a light on that and hopefully everyone that watches it will learn from it. I know I did.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Friday, January 8, 2021

THE BOOK IS BARE - a SOAPGIRLS Journal Entry - Part IV - January 8, 2021 Eclectic Arts

Part IV


What an eventful week! Obviously for us here in the U.S. Wednesday 1/6/21 will now live in infamy. On a personal level this week has been really rough for me. But, I’ll spare you the details. Just know things got so ridiculously bad that all I could do was laugh the laugh of the damned.

But, to get things back on track and clear my head a bit, I found myself trying to catch up on my film reviews which meant I had to sit at my laptop and, well, here I am writing Part IV of this series.

As always - this is one person’s opinion or perspective. Written in one take.

Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts


READ PART III HERE (opens in new window)

First - let me say thank you if you’ve read any of these journal entry style posts about The SoapGirls. Whether you enjoyed them, skimmed through them, or just thought they were shit, I do thank you for at least taking the time to interact with them on some level. I can see the views on each post and it gives me a very rough idea of my limited or expanded audience with each post. So, thank you.

Second - I’m kind of floored by the views on the written interview I did with the band back in July 2020. I re-posted it recently and I think some people just missed it the first time around. I wasn't an “involved” fan back then so I think it only reached a limited audience. But, again, thanks for checking it out. I was itching to publish that one back then but as I’ve already written about - I waited since I was on the virtual tour with AL1CE and basically posting more than once a day about that tour, my guests, etc. I didn’t want the written interviews to get lost in the mix of posts.

Third - thank you for watching the virtual interviews I’ve conducted with the band - either in real time or when it was convenient for you. I’ve enjoyed doing them and I am very grateful for the time the band has spent chopping it up with me. I know this is a luxury that will eventually go away once they’re back on tour (ditto many of the artists I’ve interviewed) so I’m trying to make the most of it while I can.

Onto Part IV

I’ve written about this in other reviews, interviews, and such but it bears repeating here. If you like something, you like it. If you don’t, you don’t.

My own background when it comes to music is somewhat formidable - depending on who you ask. Was I a professional touring musician? Nope. Do I have a music background? Yup. Did I work as an audio engineer? Yup. Did I ever play music around town? Yup. Does any of that make me an expert? Absolutely not. But, like many of you reading this, I do have some credentials to my name and that accounts for something.

I featured music heavily when Eclectic Arts (EA from here on out) started because that’s what I knew. I went to my first concert when I was nine years old and it’s been downhill ever since. Again, like many you, I lived and breathed music for the majority of my life - and still do.

Having said that, when I was first approached to photograph my first concert (2015), I basically had to start from scratch. My only saving grace was my model photography background so I at least had a basic photography foundation. But, shooting models that pose is night and day to shooting a concert of back bending musicians in bad light that I have no control over.

So, when it comes to music and what I see and hear, I feel I’m an informed person/fan/press. Again, not an expert but I have enough to back up what I say or think.

A comment came in tonight about the “haters” of The SoapGirls and their music - how the person didn’t understand it. The band and I discussed something similar in general during one of the interviews. There are always people out there, particularly in this social media/keyboard warrior world, that will knock on something just because they can. It takes less than a second for someone to click the dislike button on a YouTube video. No reason given - just a gesture that everyone can see on the video’s page.

We all know and have seen negative comments on social media about the band, during their streams, and elsewhere online. There was a comment just the other day during their stream from some jackass. And we all know about the bullshit incident that happened on stage a handful of years ago that spread around the online world.

From my own point of view, some people just can’t stand seeing other people happy. Or perhaps - they can’t stand seeing other people being themselves and doing what they love. They feel the need to mock, shame, dislike, and comment about something that really has no bearing on them or their lives.

I know there’s a clip on YouTube of Millie telling off some heckler at a show. I’ve mentioned before (during the interviews) that I’m not a violent person but I’m surprised Millie had enough time to cut that jerk down to size. I figured the fans would have taken care of him as soon as she started addressing him. Maybe they did after she was done. I dunno.

You can see a pattern of behavior too if you think about it. The girls have always done what they believed to be right - from selling soap for charity when they were in single digits to what they do now as The SoapGirls.

And they’ve gotten shit for it from young and old alike.

I have no clue what they were like as young children (well I kinda do) but (again we’ve talked about this) it’s so fucked up that children AND adults mocked them during those years. There’s always three sides to every story but I get the feeling because they were doing something different, something they believed in, others targeted them. And good on them for not changing their ways. I’m not saying it was easy - I’m sure many a tear was shed during those formative years - but just think what would have happened if they caved into the bullying and the torment?

I wouldn't be writing about this band called The SoapGirls right now and you wouldn’t be reading this as a fan of the band either because they wouldn’t exist.

So, the girls grew up dealing with this shit. And once the band started coming into their own they continued dealing with this shit but on another level - an international one thanks (or no thanks) to social media and the Internet.

I know I’d rather focus on the love instead of the hate. Why some people take the time to go around, say, YouTube and leave dislikes and nasty comments on video pages is really pathetic. Your life must be empty as all get out to spend so much time spreading negativity just because you can.

I used to tell my students “just because you can doesn’t mean you should”. Instead of bringing that person down, how about you try lifting them up? I think the band and I subscribe to this way of thinking.

But ask yourself - have you ever disliked a video or left a negative comment on social media? I’m speaking in general - friends page, band you follow, photo you saw, etc. It’s easy to get caught up in all of it if we’re not careful.

I think another reason the band gains the attention of haters is their appearance. They’ve said more than once they have no control over how someone perceives them and they’re right. They don’t. The band is going to do what they do and fuck the haters. If someone is so immature that they can’t get over someone with a nudist mentality, that’s their own issue - not the bands. If someone can’t see the art and the artistic expression in what the band wears on stage, that’s on that person’s limited vision.

Ever met someone that’s not artistic minded? I have. They could still be a great person don’t get me wrong but they’re wired differently. I’m not necessarily talking about those folks. I’m talking about the conservative, prudish, nude=sex, etc. kind of dingdongs.

And let’s not forget the haters that think they know what is “true” punk rock, or rock, or even music. The flag waving gatekeepers of the Internet that try to dictate what is worth supporting and what isn’t. These haters live and breathe in the underground of all genres of music. I’ve been around them for years in the metal underground.

It’s laughable. It really is.

I go back to my earlier comment. You like what you like and vice versa. Don’t like something? Move along to something that you do. No need to let every other person in the world know why some band is shit in your opinion. But some haters just have to prove why their opinion is right and your’s is wrong.

I can say from my limited view (having known about the band for a few years now but I was on the sidelines) it seems the haters, while still there, are not as prevalent as before. I think what’s happened is the word is getting out about the band and more and more people are becoming fans. So the haters are getting much more outnumbered than before. They always were outnumbered but even more so now.

Again, I know some people that are now fans of the band because of the work I’ve done with them - including the social media posts, etc.. They get it. I’m sure all of you reading this have turned someone new onto the band at some point, too. Social media can be great that way.

Does the band know that a professional ballet dancer likes the band? How did that happen? Yup - my EA social media. And I don’t say that egotistically - I’m fucking happy that more and more people from all walks of life that know or follow me are now following the band.

The band knows how to deal with the occasional hater. They’ve got so many insults ready to hurl at them it's amazing to watch/hear. Do I wish those haters would just move on to something positive? Yes. But, the world ain’t pretty sometimes. You deal with the negative so you can get back to the positive.

And on a future touring scale - more of the hate is coming. The fans in the new countries will of course show up to the shows. But so will people that have no idea who they are, that just happened to be at the club that night, or if the band isn’t headlining, etc. They're going to get the negative comments or the “hey baby blah blah blah” comments, etc. The band doesn’t give a shit about that though (IMO). They love their fans that support them and will tell off those that hate on them and their work.

But they will also have the opportunity to make new fans on these tours. To convert the uninitiated into their world. That’s obviously where we, the existing fans, come in. I know even as a media member, when certain artists come to town, I always try to get friends/family to check them out. Send them links ahead of the show date so they can see and hear what I’m talking about. With music it’s worked rather well. I’ve got enough open minded friends that have checked out bands they knew nothing about. Spreading the word.

With opera, not so much lol (referencing one of the virtual interviews again). I have had two friends accompany me as my guest to the Seattle Opera - one even went to a second performance. Other than that, no takers. Millie - if you’re ever here in Seattle and the timing’s right - that EA media member guest list spot is your’s if you were being serious. No free whiskey in the press room I’m afraid - but there is wine. Lots and lots of free wine.

Take care everybody and, again, thank you for reading my ramblings.

Much love to Millie, Sam, and Mie,
Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
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Thursday, January 7, 2021

MAX CLOUD Film Review January 7, 2021 Eclectic Arts

Max Cloud

Reviewed: 1/7/2021
Well Go USA
Rating: 2 / 5 

On Blu-ray™ & DVD January 19

(Well Go USA)

I am a fan of Scott Adkins martial arts work. He also has a fantastic interview series on YouTube where he interviews other famous action stars from around the world.

So, I was looking forward to Scott’s newest film, “Max Cloud”. Sometimes when I review films, I’m just at a loss as to why the film was made in the first place. Maybe it’s me and the film just didn’t resonate with me. Always a possibility. But, in the case of this film, I can’t even determine who the audience would be for this film.

The film is supposed to be a fun throwback, tongue in cheek, comedy action film set in the 80’s. A teenager Sarah gets trapped in a video game and to avoid the villains, she must team up with the hero of the game to finally win.

(Well Go USA)

The action sequences were good for children. Again, the overall tone of this film is not a R rated action flick. It’s trying to appeal to a wide demographic (is my only guess). The story and the dialogue needed a lot of work. Even with other recognizable actors, there wasn’t much to save this film from itself.

Maybe children would enjoy this but who knows? All I know is that this could have been so much better considering the cast involved. Disappointing.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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REVERSION Film Review January 7, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Reviewed: 1/7/2021
Level 33 Entertainment
Rating: 2 / 5 

(Level 33 Entertainment)

I like films from all genres, all levels of craftsmanship, and that has never really changed. The new film “Reversion” looked like it could deliver on the thriller genre in the trailer but unfortunately it comes up short.

I can forgive many aspects of independent filmmaking. But, in the end, there has to be a vision to accomplish a feature film from beginning to end. I know how a film starts in the process and how it ends are often two different things. I also commend any creative artist for attempting to create something from nothing independently.

(Level 33 Entertainment)

“Reversion” is really missing a story. Yes, there is a plot and there are two twists in it but by the time the twists come, it doesn’t really matter if I’m being completely honest.

The film feels low budget at best (which hasn’t stopped other films from being classics) with a flimsy storyline that doesn’t leave much for the actors to work with.

At times I felt like I was watching a college student film where the shortcomings can be overlooked. But, here, with an independent feature film, I expect more.

(Level 33 Entertainment)

Suggestions beyond tweaking the script include using at least one other main location if at all possible. The storyline dictated that at least one other location needed to be used for many of the scenes (not including the flashbacks). This was not a drama after all that could get away with that sort of thing. The choice of editing and camera work was not having the desired effect intended (I’m only guessing here).

Overall, I was disappointed in “Reversion”. Maybe you won’t be.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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IF NOT NOW, WHEN? Film Review January 7, 2021 Eclectic Arts

If Not Now, When?

Reviewed: 1/7/2021
Vertical Entertainment
Rating: 3.5 / 5 

(Vertical Entertainment)

I used to watch a regular amount of network television years ago. My viewing habits have changed over the years but I know the networks are still putting out dramas that people love.

The new film “If Not Now, When?” reminded me of a television drama but in a feature film.

(Meagan Good as Tyra in the drama, IF NOT NOW, WHEN?, a Vertical Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.)

Four high school friends help support one of their friends fifteen years later when she is in a crisis. The film explores the bond that friends make when things are good or when things are bad. I think almost anyone can relate to that scenario.

The film looks great and the cast look like they stepped out of a magazine advertisement. When showcasing diversity, we must show everything. The working family next door sitcom is fine but there are many other aspects of diversity to explore. The beautiful, the plain, the rich, the poor. This film gives us another aspect to consider which is most welcome.

((L-R) Tamara Bass as Patrice, Meagan Holder as Deidre and Mekia Cox as Suzanne in the drama, IF NOT NOW, WHEN?, a Vertical Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.)

This is a drama, no question about it. All the pieces are there if you enjoy this type of dramatic film.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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