ECLECTIC ARTS

Monday, January 25, 2021

DRAW WITH ME Film Review January 25, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Draw With Me

Reviewed: 1/25/2021
Ithaka Films and The Onassis Foundation
Rating: 4 / 5



View via ArenaScreen Through February 9th
Click Here For More Screening Information



(Ithaka Films and The Onassis Foundation)



The short film “Draw With Me” tells the story of Brendon Scholl - a trans youth who uses art as an outlet to express their emotions.


Forget about the family ties to Jennifer Lopez or the appearance of (now) President Joe Biden. The real star here is Brendon and their story.


On one hand the film hits all the right notes about how Brendon tried to come out to one of their teachers, how that decision basically forced them to come out to their parents, and how the extended family handled the news.


On the other hand, the film could have delved deeper into the background, the coming out, and the now (college). It is a captivating short film that could have been at least an hour long - maybe more. In other words, I wanted more.



(Ithaka Films and The Onassis Foundation)



The art aspect is on display but it really seems almost second fiddle to the coming out story. I would have loved to have seen more about the art and how it’s progressed over time, what each of the paintings meant to Brendon, and so on.


The film also touches on Brendon’s suicide attempt. It also mentions how nearly half of trans youth will attempt suicide before they are 25. I would have liked to have seen more awareness regarding these issues brought up surrounding trans youth and the struggles they face.


“Draw With Me” is a well done, inspirational short film. It is absolutely worth watching.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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THE BOOK IS BARE - a SOAPGIRLS Journal Entry - PART V January 25, 2021 Eclectic Arts

(Mark Sugiyama - Eclectic Arts (c) 2021)


Monday
1/18/2021
Part V





Read PART I Here (opens in a new window)


Greetings,


So, I just conducted the January edition of the virtual interview series/sessions with the band (link is at the bottom). Before we started they updated me on their current situation with the “crap”outs (blackouts) down in ZA. The timing was awful as it was going to affect their acoustic show at 10pm. So, they bought an inverter and here’s hoping it has enough juice to keep things alive and kicking tonight (It worked just fine - Mark - 1/25/21).


So much shit they deal with on a constant basis down there.


This entry was for the first time not written in one sitting. The dates correspond to what was written when.


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


Cheers,
Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts


*


It’s 11:48AM here in the U.S. on Monday the 18th (a holiday here - MLK Day). With any luck the band’s acoustic show will be starting shortly (inverter willing) as I type this.


Personally, 2021 has been a shit show for me from about the 4th on. As if things weren’t already bad from 2020, my plate of steaming, stinking, shit seemed to just get bigger and bigger.


Things are slowly evening out which I’m grateful for but man oh man there were a couple days in there where I was just left speechless.


What’s this have to do with the band? Nothing, really. But, I wanted to give a little background on where my head was at before I did the virtual interview with the band this morning - Part IV.


*


I came home from my survival job yesterday (night) and after unwinding a bit, started getting things together for this morning’s interview before I went to sleep. The biggest thing is always writing the introduction.


The other three introductions also took some time but this one in particular took me a good thirty minutes to come up with - maybe a bit more.


I was in a reflective state last night and I wanted that to come out in the introduction. I was trying to encapsulate my experiences with the band thus far, the artistic inspiration, and something heartfelt. I’m really happy with how it came out.


Truth be told I was considering making it longer but I’m glad I didn’t. I had already put together a 2 ½ minute video intro to start things off and then when I came on camera, I was eating into the interview time even more. And we had limited time today due to the crapout (blackout).


Maybe the next introduction next month will be a page long - who knows?


*


If you watch the beginning of the new interview - we talk about the Art on my walls that were inspired by the band. The process, the music, the color palette, all of it. But I won’t repeat things here as you can watch it (or maybe only hear it as there were connection issues with the good old Internet today from my end it appears).


I will say that everything I said was true. And I am very glad the band inspired me to try something well outside of my artistic comfort zone. Thank you Mie, Millie, and Sam.


*


I’m going to actually stop this entry and continue it later. I think getting up at 5:30AM is starting to hit me - either that or I need to eat something. Probably both.


Mark 12:12pm PST.


*


Thursday
1/21/2021
10:46pm PST


This is my Friday night. I am working a survival job that is in the evening right now (6-9pm typically) five nights a week. It’s a physically demanding job so I am just pooped out right now but I am glad I made it through the week.


Earlier today I managed to watch the entire live-stream from the band (Disney themed - and I got Mie’s character wrong which she mentioned - par for the course for me I suppose (there’s a Disney story here from the AL1CE virtual tour but I’ll leave that for another time)). I had to leave during the Q/A as I had my own live-stream to do at 3pm PST.


I really enjoyed the set today - the music hit home a little more so than usual for some reason - probably because I’ve been tired all week which makes me more emotional at times. So thankful for what they’ve been doing since April of last year with these shows.


I really think that bands like The SoapGirls that have stayed really active during the pandemic lockdown are going to see a swell in fans at their in-person gigs when touring resumes. So, as annoying as it may be that live events aren’t a thing right now, this is not wasted time by any stretch. And DIY artists know this already. They have to be extra creative, extra out of the box, as they have to do everything on their own.


I know something similar happened on the AL1CE virtual tour. Their existing fans were loving the virtual tour, getting to see their band night after night virtually. But, it also allowed new fans to check them out “free of charge” and see what they would be missing when the band came to their town. A preview if you will. And if they became fans - they had 59 shows to watch (not including the acoustic sets, the other AL1CE project sets, etc.).


My apologies for skipping all over the place with this Journal Entry.


During Monday’s virtual interview, I kept thinking what kind of places have the band been playing when it came to some of those road stories. I can only speak to the bars and clubs around WA State but I can’t think of one that would allow some of the fucked up shit the band was talking about. I get the whole punk thing, and the attitude that goes with it, but choking Millie?! And why was that asshole hitting Sam in the head before she Jackie Chan’d his ass? Again, I’ve been going to shows since I was 9 and I’ve seen some crazy and fucked up shit at shows but it rarely involved the bands - it was almost always fan on fan, or fan on security, or band on security craziness. I was just shaking my head during some of those stories.


I know many of you reading this have had the pleasure of seeing the band live (multiple times in many cases). What stories do you have of the gig(s) you were at of The SoapGirls? Any crazy ones?


*


My Calls and Society’s CD’s arrived today which made me happy - mailed on the 14th of January so that’s not bad at all - 7 days from the UK. I have placed three orders now. Once my employment situation improves, then there will be a fourth order for sure. I know it.


*


The book was really awesome that was gifted to the band. It looked like it was photos from the livestreams only (not positive - I had to leave the Q/A as they were showing the photos in it and talking about it again but Millie mentioned how her face paint evolved during the early streams to now so that’s what I’m guessing). Cool as hell but they’re right - an official historical book at some point would be wonderful!

Speaking of ideas - one thing Alex Story and Cancerslug do is pre-order merch that I would love to see The SoapGirls adopt. It would be on a bigger scale for The SoapGirls (is my guess) but here’s what Alex has been doing.


He’ll put out a limited CD of either demo material he recorded or studio material. Sometimes re-recorded material or live material. All on CD. Then he’ll also print up a t-shirt and usually a third item like a patch, button, or sticker. He offers the CD only, or bundles. Bundles like a CD, shirt, and third item are usually $50. He doesn’t repress anything but may have the occasional left over that he stashes in case an order goes missing or there’s some other issue with an order. And after that - it’s done. You can’t get it again. So, trying to collect Cancerslug stuff becomes quite the task.


What’s great about this is that there is limited risk to the band. The fans have already paid their money up front so the band isn’t stuck with boxes of merch or going in the red on the sales. They get everything printed up and then shipped out. During the pandemic I know Alex and his friend(s) put everything together themselves at his house and shipped everything out. It’s a lot of work but it’s really a cool way for the hardcore fans to get limited edition merch at a decent price and keeps everything DIY for the most part.


I would love to see The SoapGirls maybe do one such thing. Again, I don’t know their merch orders compared to Cancerslug but it could be a cool thing to do for the hardcore fans. Maybe a CD of live material from the streamed shows or an acoustic CD of material, a bundle only t-shirt design, and a button. Charge people $50 plus shipping (or more) and take down the offer after X amount of days.


AL1CE also made these handmade boxes for their DVD release. The band got all arts and crafty and made these boxes where no two were alike. They put extra things in the boxes (little printed notes and such) and it just made them unique. I’ll try to post pics of mine with this Entry.


I guess what I’m getting at is based on the livestreams I’ve watched, I see the same fans in the chat over and over again. I’m willing to bet they would love to get their hands on a cool limited edition item from the band at some point. And yes, I know the setlist items (lounge pants, t-shirts) are in the same vein of being cool and special - similar idea. Only in this case you don’t have to get your name drawn - you just have to buy before the sale link gets taken down.


I don’t know. Just an idea.


*


I saw someone I know in the chat today who clearly doesn’t know who the band is but it’s great that he tuned in after seeing my posts about them. I think people that follow me are getting tired of my posts to be honest. But I don’t care. I post about other things all the time too - but for the last 4 months, it’s been peppered with SoapGirls stuff, too. And I don't see that changing any time soon.   ;o)

*


It’s been nice to get to know some of the fans, too. I know I keep comparing things to the AL1CE virtual tour but it really is similar. I know many of their fans now too because of the virtual interviews. The Soap Suds are no different. Well, it is different in the sense that I’ve never seen The SoapGirls live as they haven’t toured here before. Bruce (Doyle’s manager) was trying to make that happen (which we talked about in one of the interviews) but there were VISA issues and other things that postponed it to…..you guessed it - 2020. And we all know what happened there.


But, anyway, what’s interesting to me is that some of the fans I’ve gotten to know are either my age or older. Completely the opposite of AL1CE. All their fans I now know are younger than me except for maybe one or two.


I hope to someday see a gig or three with some of you fans at an actual SoapGirls show! I know there’s talk of many of us congregating in L.A. for an AL1CE show at some point which would be fucking amazing, too.


Bringing people together from all parts of the world - gotta love music!


*


Well, my back is killing me from work tonight so I’m going to go rest it and revisit this tomorrow. If it looks good, I’ll post it. Thanks for reading!


*


Monday
1/25/2021
3:26pm PST


I learned a lesson. Yes, you can teach this old dog new tricks. When the livestream shows are going on, I get really distracted. Even if I’m just hearing the music/banter, I get distracted. If I can see the actual livestream - forget it. I’ll stop what I’m working on and start watching. The next thing I know they’re doing the Q/A and two hours give or take has lapsed.


So, I now try to watch when I don’t have deadlines looming overhead with EA stuff. I’ve been marginally successful lol so far. But today - I missed the acoustic show - as I had a list of reviews to write before I got scolded by the various publicists.


Thankfully, I can go back and watch things later tonight after work - well, my other work.


I have a new Art idea to explore at some point when I have some down time. If all goes well, it will debut at the next virtual interview (next month most likely - we don’t schedule them this far in advance so I don’t know for sure).


I hope everyone is hanging in there. I know this is a tough time - particularly those that are in lockdown during the winter months. I know my own patience is wearing thin for many reasons. But, I try to take a few steps back when I can and regain my perspective. Easier said than done some days but I do try.


Thank you for reading. The next Entry will most likely be an actual written article/piece if I can flesh out my ideas. We shall see.


Much love to Sam, Mie, and Millie,
Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


(Mark Sugiyama - Eclectic Arts (c) 2021)



"Heart In Bloom" Official M/V!



VIRTUAL INTERVIEW - JANUARY 2021



VIRTUAL INTERVIEW - DECEMBER 2020



VIRTUAL INTERVIEW - NOVEMBER 2020



VIRTUAL INTERVIEW - OCTOBER 2020



AL1CE Box Set Example (mine)


Cancerslug Bundle (CD, t-shirt, button, sticker)



THE SOAPGIRLS OFFICIAL SITE (includes social media buttons on the top left)




THE FLOWERS OF PASSION - Stories From the Japanese Underground Idol Scene Episode 1 Review January 25, 2021 Eclectic Arts



The Flowers of Passion: Stories From the Japanese Underground Idol Scene - Episode 01

Reviewed: 1/25/2021
Rating: 5 / 5 




(IU Entertainment)




The new documentary series from Derek Vasconi and Idol Underworld has arrived. As of this review, there are two episodes out with more on the way.


For the Japanese Idol fan, this is a must-see series. The behind the scenes of the Idol movement is extremely private as most fans know. They present what they want to present to their fans and the public and that’s it.


This is what makes this documentary so invaluable. Derek has been granted unprecedented access to the Idol world. From the Idols themselves to the creative powerhouses behind the groups, “The Flowers Of Passion” shows many facets to the Idol underground world.


The first episode is filled with interviews that are eye opening and enlightening. There is live footage mixed in with fan merchandise interaction as well. Basically, no stone is left unturned.


For those that are new to the Idol scene the whole phenomenon may seem a little hard to digest at first. But, I can almost guarantee it will come across as at least an interesting documentary to watch. It also wouldn’t surprise me if your curiosity is piqued enough to look into the groups and performers once you’re done.


The episodes are subtitled for English speaking/reading viewers so both east and west can enjoy “The Flowers Of Passion - Stories From the Japanese Underground Idol Scene”.


Recommended!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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SYNCHRONIC Film Review January 25, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Synchronic

Reviewed: 1/25/2021
Well Go USA
Rating: 4 / 5


On Blu-ray™ & DVD January 26



(Well Go USA)



The science fiction thriller “Synchronic” really needs to be watched more than once. The story and the visuals are all encompassing and there are details you will miss the first time through.


Starring Anthony Mackie (“Falcon” from the Marvel films), Jamie Dornan, Katie Aselton, and Ally Ioaniddes, the film is directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead.



(Well Go USA)



The story revolves around two paramedics and the lives of victims that are linked to a designer drug.


Everything about the film works. It was really executed with a great deal of confidence and it shows. 



(Well Go USA)
 


If you’ve seen any of the previous work from Benson and Moorhead, you’ll have a good idea what you’re in for when you watch “Synchronic”. They have been putting out quality independent films that are cult worthy and eventually mainstream worthy as well.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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SAVAGE STATE Film Review January 25, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Savage State

Reviewed: 1/25/2021
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Rating: 3 / 5




SAVAGE STATE On Demand and Digital on January 29, 2021. 



(Samuel Goldwyn Films)




The period drama “Savage State” looks promising from its opening scenes. Set during the American Civil War, a family decides to head back to France after living in the south of the U.S. They must travel to New York state to make the trip across the Atlantic.


The acting, wardrobe, locations, and visuals all looked really solid throughout the film. What needed some tweaking was definitely the storyline. There just wasn’t much going on once the journey was established. 



([L-R] Armelle Abibouas Layla, Déborah Françoisas Justine, Alice Isaaz as Esther and Constance Dolléas Madeleine in the drama SAVAGE STATE,a Samuel Goldwyn Films release. Photo courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.)
 


I enjoyed the stories of the three sisters and their parents but after a while it just seemed so overly drawn out.


Being a period piece, the emotional weight of the characters and their stories came up a bit short.


The audience wants to feel the anguish and the peril when the family decides to leave the U.S. and head back to France. But, it just wasn’t resonating enough with me. 



(Alice Isaaz as Esther in the drama SAVAGE STATE, a Samuel Goldwyn Films release. Photo courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.)
 


“Savage State” is an interesting film that unfortunately could have been top tier with a better story.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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HAYMAKER Film Review January 25, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Haymaker

Reviewed: 1/18/2021
Gravitas Ventures and Kamikaze Dogfight

Rating: 3 / 5 


In Theaters, VOD and Digital January 29th



(Gravitas Ventures and Kamikaze Dogfight)



The new film “Haymaker” was written, edited, and directed by Nick Sasso. Playing a retired muay-thai fighter, Nick (who also stars in the film) works as a bodyguard for an entertainer. Through a turn of events, he is eventually lured back into the world of muay-thai fighting.


“Haymaker” has a definitive style to it. Once I found out Nick Sasso’s visual effects background, it made sense. At times it was like watching a very well done commercial for a product. Color saturation, edits, and an overall aesthetic appeal.



(Nick Sasso as Nick in the action/drama film HAYMAKER, a Gravitas Ventures and Kamikaze Dogfight release. Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures and Kamikaze Dogfight.)



The film itself needed more of a cohesive storyline to add the emotional weight that was missing from it. Nick Sasso came across like a Jason Statham type of character in the film which was not a bad thing.


It was apparent that the film was a labor of love. I think with more resources the next film Mr. Sasso directs will most likely be something on a new level of visuals and film making.



(Nomi Ruiz as Nomi in the action/drama film HAYMAKER, a Gravitas Ventures and Kamikaze Dogfight release. Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures and Kamikaze Dogfight.)


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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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.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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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.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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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 

BUY TICKETS HERE!



(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.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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Friday, January 8, 2021

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



1/7/2021
Part IV

Greetings,

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.

Cheers,
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
Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!



HEART IN BLOOM OFFICIAL M/V



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.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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REVERSION Film Review January 7, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Reversion

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.


Best,
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.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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GIRL LOST, A HOLLYWDOOD STORY Film Review January 7, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Girl Lost, A Hollywood Story

Reviewed: 1/7/2021
Breaking Glass Pictures
Rating: 4 / 5 





(Breaking Glass Pictures)



The film “Girl Lost, A Hollywood Story” delivered on many topical levels - many of which are absolutely unfortunate but honest and direct. Writer, director, producer, and editor Robin Bain, who won awards for the previous film, “Girl Lost”, put together a stark reminder of what society tends to turn a blind eye toward - sexual exploitation of young women.


The film follows two characters' storylines as they navigate their real life problems living in Hollywood. One a single mother and the other a barely legal teen, the stories are harsh and uncompromising.


The performances are strong across the board. Moxie Owens as Hope looks and acts the part of her character. She doesn’t get along with her stepmother, dad dotes on his new wife, and she gets lured to Hollywood by a former babysitter - looking to pimp her out on the streets of Hollywood.



(Moxie Owens as Hope in "Girl Lost, A Hollywood Story" - Breaking Glass Pictures)



Psalms Salazar as Baby Girl also makes you empathize with her character's situation. A single mother with no real skill set to fall back on, wants a better life for her daughter, so she does whatever it takes to make that happen.


The film doesn’t necessarily preach. It does a great job of showing how these situations can arise. It’s easy to point fingers but in reality these things are going on all around the world even as I type this.



(Psalms Salazar as Baby Girl in "Girl Lost, A Hollywood Story" - Breaking Glass Pictures)



“Girl Lost, A Hollywood Story” is a hard film to watch but a necessary one. Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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YOURSELF and YOURS Film Review January 7, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Yourself and Yours

Reviewed: 1/7/2021
The Cinema Guild
Rating: 3 / 5 


(Cinema Guild)



When I first started venturing into other aspects of the arts and entertainment world, initially I would find myself excited about the new prospect but also overwhelmed at times. I felt very much like a fish out of water.


As a film reviewer officially for less than a year, there are always a few films that I review that I am just at a loss as to what I’m missing. That’s not to say they are bad films or poorly executed. No. It usually means they are abstract to the point where I don’t understand the underlying meanings. Yet.


“Yourself and Yours” is a South Korean film that came out overseas four years ago. It was released last year by Cinema Guild.



(Cinema Guild)



The two main characters are everyday average people. Youngsoo and his girlfriend Minjung are the center of the storyline. Youngsoo learns Minjung was seen having drinks with another man. While in pursuit of the truth, things take a few unexpected turns.


I am always amazed when a film can be produced in such a way that it seems like you’re not watching something made up. It feels like you’re watching some sort of reality based film. “Yourself and Yours” definitely fits that bill as the day to day he said, she said, seemed like found footage in some ways.



(Cinema Guild)



Director Hong Sangsoo clearly has a story he wants to tell in an authentic and realistic way. While I understood some of that story and vision, some of it was lost on me.


Perhaps if I view the film in five years, I will have a better knowledge base by then to understand the details of such a film. I’ll see you then.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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