ECLECTIC ARTS

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

INTERSECTION Film Review December 1, 2020


Intersection

Reviewed: 12/1/2020
Breaking Glass Pictures
Rating: 4 / 5 




(Breaking Glass Pictures)



When a thriller uses the overly familiar cat and mouse theme, it can become redundant quickly. The usual threats, pushing someone to their breaking point, kidnapping, blackmail photos, etc. If the payoff is worthy, then the overall effect can absolutely work. If the payoff is nowhere to be found, then it can feel like wasted time. “Intersection” gives you a payoff that not only works but is pleasantly surprising.


Jake Galloway (played by Matt Doran) is a white collar extortionist. He is oblivious to the needs of both his teenage son and his wife. Jake is all about the money and whatever it takes to get it.



(Matt Doran in "Intersection" from Breaking Glass Pictures.)



One evening he is contacted by a mysterious antagonist who has kidnapped Jake’s son. Thus the plot begins as the unknown kidnapper sends Jake on a series of missions in an attempt to break him.


I will stop there as the film really needs to be seen to be appreciated. There is a twist at the end that brings things together nicely. I didn’t see it coming which was a welcome surprise.


The use of the electronic voice masking for the kidnapper got a little grating further into the film. I understand why it was used but it started to remind me of a thriller version of “Saw” or something. I could have done without it.



(Matt Doran in "Intersection" from Breaking Glass Pictures.)



Outside of that, “Intersection” is a compelling thriller that, again, delivers with an ending that makes the whole experience feel quite worthwhile.


Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Monday, November 30, 2020

ECHO BOOMERS Film Review November 30, 2020


Echo Boomers

Reviewed: 11/30/2020
Saban Films
Rating: 2.5 / 5 

Saban Films released the action/thriller ECHO BOOMERS in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on November 13, 2020.



(Saban Films)



A young group of thieves rob the rich in the new thriller “Echo Boomers”. The film does its best to appeal to the eye and the mind but it comes up short.


The overused phrase all style and no substance comes to mind. The movie looks good. Slick, well shot, and with plenty of eye appeal. But the story itself is flimsy at best and the back story that should give the story its emotional weight just doesn’t work.



((L-R) Michael Shannon as Mel Donnelly and Patrick Schwarzenegger as Lance Zutterland in the action/thriller film, “ECHO BOOMERS,” a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.)



Patrick Schwarzenegger plays the lead character of Lance who is just out of college looking for an Arts related job. With no prospects, his cousin offers him a job with very little details. Lance finds out that his art expertise is being used for robberies of the rich and maybe famous. Initially disgusted by the whole scenario, Lance eventually finds the adrenaline rush of committing robberies too hard to resist.


Michael Shannon plays the man with the money, Mel. He has the newest home addresses for the crew to hit and sells their goods to buyers overseas.



(A still from the action/thriller film, “ECHO BOOMERS,” a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.)



“Echo Boomers” might appeal to a younger demographic but even then, the film doesn’t deliver on its appealing premise.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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WANDER Film Review November 30, 2020


Wander

Reviewed: 11/30/2020
Saban Films
Rating: 4 / 5 

Saban Films will release the thriller WANDER in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on December 4, 2020.


(Saban Films)



With the way this year has gone, both the pandemic and the election cycle, there are more conspiracy theories now more than ever. The new film “Wander” taps into the conspiracy side of things with great success.


Arthur Bretnik (played by Aaron Eckhart) is a private investigator with a haunted past. He is hired to investigate a murder in the town of Wander. The further he investigates, the more he believes a conspiracy is behind not only the murder but is also connected to the death of his own daughter.



((L-R) Aaron Eckhart as Arthur Bretnik, Deborah Chavez as Elena, and Tommy Lee Jones as Jimmy Cleats in the thriller film, “WANDER,” a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.)



The film is presented in such a way that it twists and turns much like a conspiracy theory. You’re not quite sure what to believe, is everything as it seems, etc. Aaron Eckhart does a masterful job of playing Bretnik. He is in basically every scene and the audience follows and most likely believes what Bretnik uncovers. No spoilers here.


Tommy Lee Jones plays Jimmy Cleats - a friend of Bretnik’s in the film. There is good chemistry between the two actors and I wish they had written Tommy Lee Jones a bigger part. Heather Graham plays Shelley Luscomb who is Bretnik’s friend and lawyer. It was nice seeing her on screen again.



((L-R) Heather Graham as Shelley Luscomb and Nicole Steinwedell as Tanya in the thriller film, “WANDER,” a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.)



“Wander” is a compelling film that has enough surprises that the viewer is left questioning exactly what they just saw, very much like a good conspiracy theory.


If you believe in such things, you’ll want to watch and re-watch “Wander”. If you don’t, you’ll still be entertained.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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LUXOR Film Review November 30, 2020


Luxor

Reviewed: 11/30/2020
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Rating: 3 / 5 

Samuel Goldwyn Films will release LUXOR On Demand and Digital December 4th. 



(Samuel Goldwyn Films)



The new film “Luxor” revolves around the story of a British aid worker named Hana (played by Andrea Riseborough) who runs into an archaeologist and former partner Sultan (played by Karim Saleh). The film explores Hana’s decisions about her past and her future.


Every now and then I see a film that I am quite frankly puzzled by. Whether I’m not culturally advanced enough to appreciate the nuances within the film or some other factors, I am left with a “I don’t get it” impression. “Luxor” is one of those films.



(Andrea Riseborough as Hana in the drama/romance film LUXOR, a Samuel Goldwyn Films release. Photo courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.)



The storyline is very abstract to the point where I didn’t really know what was going on for the first part of the film. Hana is exploring the city of Luxor when eventually she runs into Sultan on a boat. The former relationship aspect is clear between the two characters but the whole story was abstract. 



((L-R) Karim Saleh as Sultan and Andrea Riseborough as Hana in the drama/romance film LUXOR, a Samuel Goldwyn Films release. Photo courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.)
 


I can say that Andrea Riseborough who played Hana was interesting to watch and she made the character curious and somewhat compelling but as a whole “Luxor” left me unsatisfied.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Sunday, November 22, 2020

ZAPPA Film Review November 22, 2020


Zappa

Reviewed: 11/22/2020
Magnolia Pictures
Rating: 4.5 / 5 




(Theatrical one-sheet for ZAPPA, a Magnolia Pictures release. © Bill Gubbins. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)



There are many musicians and artists that I am aware of but really don’t know much of their story. Frank Zappa is one such artist. I’ve always associated him with his testimony during the 1980’s trial against the PMRC and guitarist Steve Vai (one of the many monster musicians that have played with Frank over his career).


The documentary “Zappa” is a fascinating look at one of the most unique musicians in the history of music. The film is narrated through various clips from Frank over the years as well as his wife and the many artistic collaborators that worked with Frank.


As directed by Alex Winter (of “Bill and Ted” fame) the film goes from the early days all the way up to Frank’s passing at the end of 1993.


Clearly an intelligent man with a distinct point of view, the various decades of his work show how he did what he wanted over the years. If he didn’t like something, even on stage, he would say so. When he wanted to put out a box set and the record company said no, he then went and recorded the last 4 contractual albums he owed Warner Brothers and then left to start his own record company (which was pretty much unheard of back then).



(Frank Zappa in ZAPPA, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo credit: Roel of Kiers. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)



Frank was a pioneer for freedom of expression and backed it up by testifying when the PMRC were on a witch hunt to ban certain artists' recordings. He was one of only three artists standing up in front of Congress for artistic expression.


He wrote many orchestral scores over his lifetime. He bluntly explained that he wanted to hire musicians to perform his music so that he could listen to it at home. He wouldn’t cut corners or make sacrifices if it meant the art was diminished in some way. You have to respect that.


It must also be mentioned that the vast array of top notch musicians that have worked with Frank over the years is just mind boggling.


“Zappa” is being screened for one night only in 100+ theaters around the country on Monday November 23rd. Following the credits additional previously unseen footage from the Zappa vaults will be shown.  


Here locally the film hits VOD on November 27th through the Northwest Film Forum.


It is a worthwhile documentary about an incredibly unique and important artist.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS: PENINSULA Film Review November 19, 2020


Train To Busan Presents: Peninsula

Reviewed: 11/19/2020
Well Go USA
Rating: 2.5 / 5 

4K Ultra Combo Pack, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD available November 24 from Well Go USA Entertainment.


(Well Go USA)



There’s always the debate amongst fans about whether a well received film should have a sequel or not. “Train To Busan” was a hit four years ago and the ending left things open for a possible sequel.


“Train To Busan Presents: Peninsula” was released earlier this year. I loved what I saw in the trailers and purposely did not read a single review so I could see the film as fresh as possible.



(Well Go USA)



The new film is a standalone sequel - taking place under the direction of Yeon Sang Ho (who directed the first film). The plot involves a group of covert operatives that are sent in to retrieve a large sum of money and leave unscathed if possible.


Of course things don’t work out the way they planned and the story evolves into a militant group that is surviving amongst the infected. There is also a family that is living amongst the survivors in this post apocalyptic area as well.


The action sequences with the infected are almost like watching a video game. They take place almost exclusively at night and the CGI really shows a lack of execution. I would also add the overall film is shot in such a way it looks like they’re on a soundstage much of the time instead of in a dirty and ruined city.



(Well Go USA)



Unlike the first film, the characterization is lost this go around and by the time the melodrama kicks in toward the end of the film, it’s really too little too late. I wish the drama had been planted early on in the film so that the payoff had more of an impact.


I really, really wanted to like “Train To Busan Presents: Peninsula” but it just fell short in almost every category. After waiting four years for this sequel, the end result is ho hum.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

COLLECTIVE Film Review November 18, 2020


Collective

Reviewed: 11/18/2020
Magnolia Pictures
Rating: 5 / 5 

Opens at the (virtual) SIFF Film Center:  11/20/2020


(Theatrical one-sheet for COLLECTIVE, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)



The documentary “Collective” had me go from relaxing on my couch at the start of the film to literally sitting on the edge of my seat for the rest of it. It was that good.


The film centers around the aftermath of a horrific fire in a music club in Romania where many people perished. Those that were injured were rushed to nearby hospitals where even more victims eventually passed away.


A team of journalists at a sports gazette started looking into the cause of the fire, lack of exits, etc. and it created a national politically driven story. When the hospital burn victims started to die at an alarming rate, they continued their investigation into the causes. The bulk of the film takes off from there. As always I don’t like to give away too many plot points in my reviews.



(Tedy Ursuleanu in COLLECTIVE, a Magnolia Pictures release. ©Alexander Nanau Production, Samsa Film, HBO Europe 2019. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)



“Collective” looks at the corruption in the hospital system in Romania, along with the political motives behind it. It is a daring and down right brutal look at a system gone wrong for decades. And the patients pay the price with their lives.


The look at the journalists and their desire to find the truth is inspiring. You feel their defeats, their frustrations, and their triumphs. The healthcare workers that can’t in good conscience work under those barbaric conditions any longer pull at the viewers heartstrings as well.


It boils down to what’s right and what’s wrong. And the uphill battle for those fighting the good fight.



(A scene from COLLECTIVE, a Magnolia Pictures release. ©Alexander Nanau Production, Samsa Film, HBO Europe 2019. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)



There is painful beauty in the survivors' tales who are trying to carry on with their lives. The families of the victims and their sorrow is also incorporated into the film.


The power of film is clearly on display in “Collective”. There were times I almost felt like I was watching a fictional film, where the characters are trying to uncover the truth only to be foiled by the powers that be. But, this was not a work of fiction. This was a documentary about human lives lost in a system that bowed down to the all mighty political dollar.


Highly recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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