ECLECTIC ARTS

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  www.SeattleJFF.org

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



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.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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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!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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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.


No.


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





HEART IN BLOOM OFFICIAL M/V!







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.)
 


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!



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Friday, February 19, 2021

BROADWAY AT THE PARAMOUNT 2021-2022 Season Press Release! February 19, 2021

                                         



Premera Blue Cross Broadway at The Paramount and

Seattle Theatre Group Today Announce

New Dates for the Upcoming Season!






SEATTLE, WA – Dates are announced today for the 2021/2022 Premera Blue Cross Broadway at The Paramount season bringing back extraordinary entertainment to The Paramount Theatre. We are thrilled to announce that we have rescheduled six shows and were able to add back the previously cancelled production of MEAN GIRLS to complete the season package. Current subscribers’ tickets will be moved into the new dates and no action is needed. New subscription packages are available now!  CLICK HERE!



Josh LaBelle, Executive Director of Seattle Theatre Group (STG) said, “We are grateful and hopeful! All of us at STG & Broadway at The Paramount are very grateful for your ongoing support and patience. Our subscribers, donors & sponsors have been incredibly supportive and understanding! We are hopeful that live performing arts will help our communities revitalize and heal in the season ahead. We are committed to maintaining a healthy environment and are excited to gather together again and experience Broadway at The Paramount.”



The season kicks off with the new production of an iconic musical phenomenon, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR which is followed by MEAN GIRLS, the hilarious hit new musical from an award-winning creative team including the incomparable Tina Fey.

The season continues with Lincoln Center Theater’s new production of a timeless classic musical, LERNER & LOEWE’S MY FAIR LADY.

Spring brings us the critically acclaimed smash-hit musical THE BAND’S VISIT, featuring the story of a band that arrives lost in a remote town to which they bring new life with their music. This is followed by the Season Option of BEAUTIFUL – The Carole King Musical, the inspiring true story of the singer/songwriter’s rise to stardom.

Early Summer brings PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL, one of Hollywood’s most beloved stories brought to the stage by a powerhouse creative team.

Finally, rounding out the season, we have six weeks of HAMILTON, back by popular demand.



____________________________________________________




The lineup for the 2021/2022 Premera Blue Cross Broadway at The Paramount Season is as follows:





JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

October 19 - 24, 2021

(The company of the North American Tour of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. Photo by Matthew Murphy.)





MEAN GIRLS

November 16 - 21, 2021

(Mean Girls Tour Photo 6 Book by Tina Fey, Music by Jeff Richmond, Lyrics by Nell Benjamin, Directed &Choreographed by Casey Nicholaw Pictured (L-R):Danielle Wade(Cady Heron),Megan Masako Haley(Gretchen Wieners), Mariah Rose Faith(Regina George), Jonalyn Saxer (Karen Smith),Mary Kate Morrissey(Janis Sarkisian), and the National Touring Company of Mean Girls Credit: © 2019 Joan Marcus.)






LERNER & LOEWE’S MY FAIR LADY

December 28, 2021 – January 2, 2022






THE BAND’S VISIT

March 8 - 13, 2022

(Janet Dacal & Sasson Gabay. Photo by Evan Zimmerman, Murphy Made.)






BEAUTIFUL (Season Option)*

April 8 – 10, 2022

(Carnegie Hall. Kennedy Caughell (“Carole King” - photo by Joan Marcus.)






PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL

June 7 – 12, 2022




HAMILTON

August 3 – September 11, 2022

HAMILTON And Peggy National Tour - Company 5 - Joan Marcus.)






*A completed subscription purchase must be processed in order to purchase tickets for the Season Option. Season Options are not included in an 2021/2022 season package. Additional purchase is required.







JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR | October 19 - 24, 2021



JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is an iconic musical phenomenon with a world-wide fan base. In celebration of its 50th Anniversary, a new mesmerizing production comes to North America. Originally staged by London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and helmed by the acclaimed director Timothy Sheader (Crazy for You, Into the Woods) and award-winning choreographer Drew McOnie (King Kong, Strictly Ballroom), this production won the 2017 Olivier Award® for Best Musical Revival garnering unprecedented reviews and accolades. Appealing to both theater audiences and concert music fans, this production pays tribute to the historic 1971 Billboard Album of the Year while creating a modern, theatrical world that is uniquely fresh and inspiring.

Featuring award-winning music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is set against the backdrop of an extraordinary series of events during the final weeks in the life of Jesus Christ as seen through the eyes of Judas. Reflecting the rock roots that defined a generation, the legendary score includes ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’, ‘Gethsemane’ and ‘Superstar’.



MEAN GIRLS | November 16 – 21, 2021



Direct from Broadway, MEAN GIRLS is the hilarious hit musical from an award-winning creative team, including book writer Tina Fey (30 Rock), composer Jeff Richmond (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), lyricist Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde) and director Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon).



Cady Heron may have grown up on an African savanna, but nothing prepared her for the vicious ways of her strange new home: suburban Illinois. Soon, this na├»ve newbie falls prey to a trio of lionized frenemies led by the charming but ruthless Regina George. But when Cady devises a plan to end Regina’s reign, she learns the hard way that you can’t cross a Queen Bee without getting stung.



New York Magazine cheers, “MEAN GIRLS delivers with immense energy, a wicked sense of humor and joyful inside-jokery.” USA Today says, “We’ll let you in on a little secret, because we’re such good friends: GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!”





LERNER & LOEWE’S MY FAIR LADY | December 28, 2021 – January 2, 2022



From Lincoln Center Theater that brought you The King & I and South Pacific, comes “a sumptuous new production of the most perfect musical of all time” (Entertainment Weekly), Lerner & Loewe’s MY FAIR LADY. Director Bartlett Sher’s glowing production is “thrilling, glorious and better than it ever was” (New York Times). “Every so often a revival comes along that reminds you how indispensable great theater can be” (NY1).

Boasting such classic songs as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “The Rain in Spain,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” and “On the Street Where You Live,” MY FAIR LADY tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a “proper lady.” But who is really being transformed?



THE BAND’S VISIT | March 8 - 13, 2022

The critically acclaimed smash-hit Broadway musical THE BAND’S VISIT is the winner of 10 Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, making it one of the most Tony-winning musicals in history.  It is also a Grammy Award® winner for Best Musical Theater Album.

In this joyously offbeat story, set in a town that’s way off the beaten path, a band of musicians arrive lost, out of the blue. Under the spell of the desert sky, and with beautiful music perfuming the air, the band brings the town to life in unexpected and tantalizing ways. Even the briefest visit can stay with you forever.

The cast of world-class performers is led by award-winning Israeli actor Sasson Gabay, star of the original film and the Broadway production.

With a Tony- and Grammy-winning score that seduces your soul and sweeps you off your feet, and featuring thrillingly talented onstage musicians, THE BAND’S VISIT rejoices in the way music makes us laugh, makes us cry, and ultimately, brings us together.



PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL | June 7 - 12, 2022



After an incredible run on Broadway, Audience Choice Award-winner PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL is coming to Seattle! One of Hollywood’s most beloved stories of all time, PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL is brought to life by a powerhouse creative team representing the best of music, Hollywood, and Broadway. Featuring direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Hairspray, Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde), an original score by Grammy® winner Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance (“Summer of ’69”, “Heaven”), and a book by the movie’s legendary director Garry Marshall and screenwriter J.F. Lawton, PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL will lift your spirits and light up your heart. “If you love the movie, you’ll love the musical!” (BuzzFeed News).



Featured in the musical is Roy Orbison and Bill Dee’s international smash hit song “Oh, Pretty Woman,” which inspired one of the most beloved romantic comedy films of all time. Pretty Woman the film (produced by Arnon Milchan, New Regency Productions) was an international smash hit when it was released in 1990. Now, 30 years later, PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL still “Dazzles!” (Deadline) and is “Big romance and big fun!” (Broadway.com). “Irresistible! A romantic fantasy. A contemporary fairy tale,” says The Hollywood Reporter. PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL delivers on all the iconic moments you remember. Get ready to experience this dazzling theatrical take on a love story for the ages.



Are you ready to fall in love all over again?



Atlantic Records’ PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL (Original Broadway Cast Recording) is produced by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance and is now available on all DSPs.





HAMILTON | August 3 - September 11, 2022



HAMILTON is the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, HAMILTON has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre—a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education.



With book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, HAMILTON is based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography. It has won Tony®, Grammy®, and Olivier Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and an unprecedented special citation from the Kennedy Center Honors.



Plus, Season Option:





BEAUTIFUL – The Carole King Musical | April 8 - 10, 2022

BEAUTIFUL tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation.

Featuring a stunning array of beloved songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and the title song, BEAUTIFUL has a book by and Tony® Award-nominee and Academy® Award-nominated writer Douglas McGrath, direction by Marc Bruni, choreography by Josh Prince, and took home two 2014 Tony® Awards and a 2015 Grammy® Award.



A completed subscription purchase must be processed in order to purchase tickets for BEAUTIFUL. Season Options are not included in a 2021/2022 season package. Additional purchase is required.



____________________________________________________



When we open our doors again, rest assured that we will be welcoming our patrons back in to an environment that prioritizes your safety, wellness, and health. We will work with government and health officials to ensure compliance with required guidelines, while being mindful that flexibility will be required as those guidelines will likely continue to evolve. To proactively prepare, we are creating an evolving reopening plan that is aligned with and informed by government guidelines and local health officials. Please note that this plan continues to be updated as more information becomes available, and we will absolutely communicate final guidelines to our patrons prior to reopening our doors. The current plan can be found here: https://www.stgpresents.org/about/reopening.



If we need to cancel any performance at any time for any reason the value of your ticket is safe. If you have paid in full, you will receive the option of a credit, refund, or be able to donate the value of your tickets. If you have a payment plan, the value will be applied to the remaining payments on your account.

____________________________________________________



For more information and to sign up for the eClub, visit www.STGPresents.org/Broadway.



Group tickets of 10 or more are available now for all shows. Please call the Group Sales department for more information 1.888.214.6856 or email Groups@BroadwayatTheParamount.com



Single tickets for each engagement will go on sale at a later date. Watch www.STGPresents.org for single ticket on-sale dates or sign up for the eClub at www.STGPresents.org/Broadway to stay up to date with all of the latest news and on-sale dates.

The 2021/2022 Premera Blue Cross Broadway at The Paramount series is presented by Seattle Theatre Group, with support for the first year from Premera Blue Cross as the series title sponsor. Brotherton Cadillac is the official auto sponsor and The Hotel Theodore is the official sponsor hotel.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

BODY BROKERS Film Review February 16, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Body Brokers

Reviewed: 2/16/2021
Vertical Entertainment

Rating: 4 / 5

In Theaters and on Digital and On Demand on February 19, 2021.



(Vertical Entertainment Presents "Body Brokers")




Every now and then a film will come along that not only piques my interest but sustains it for the duration of the movie. “Body Brokers” is one such film.


Based on true events, the story revolves around the healthcare system and those that take advantage of it’s loopholes and payouts. Specifically the treatment programs for addicts.


The film follows one main character named Utah who lives in Ohio who, after ten years of using, stumbles upon a man that offers to get him treatment help in California. The three parts of the treatment program are broken down into this wildly elaborate system of basically paying junkies to go to treatment programs. They then cash in on the insurance benefits with some shady handshake deals with those that look to profit (the treatment center owners, doctors, and the like). Basically, using the system against itself.



([L-R]Michael Kenneth Williams as Wood and Jack Kilmer as Utah in the thriller BODY BROKERS, a Vertical Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.)




“Body Brokers” throws the numbers down too as the movie plays out. It’s staggering just how much money was being made from the southern California treatment centers alone. We’re talking millions and millions of dollars here.


The performances throughout the film are extremely well done - no weak links here. This is the first film that I’ve seen from writer/director John Swab. I will definitely have to check out more in the near future.



([L-R] Jack Kilmer as Utah and Alice Englert as Opal in the thriller BODY BROKERS, a Vertical Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.)




When the government and the systems it ultimately oversees are dubious at best, subject matter like “Body Brokers” just adds fuel to the “don’t trust government” argument. But you can trust me when I say the film is worth watching.


Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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Sunday, February 14, 2021

THE SWORDSMAN Film Review February 14, 2021 Eclectic Arts


The Swordsman

Reviewed: 2/14/2021
Well Go USA

Rating: 4 / 5



(Well Go USA)



I love a quality Asian epic film that spans generations from yesteryear. When they’re done right, they tattoo themselves on your psyche. When they’re done wrong, they meander and plod along at a snail's pace. The new South Korean film, “The Swordsman” is actually in neither camp.


The film tells the tale of the best swordsman in the land, who retires with his daughter to a faraway mountain home. As his sight begins to deteriorate, his daughter ventures into town with him to seek a cure only to be kidnapped. The father then will go to any length to get his daughter back.



(Well Go USA)



“The Swordsman” plays more like a film from a manga, anime, or comic book background. The first half of the film is slow to develop and other than the opening fight scene, it is drama heavy. But, once the daughter is kidnapped, then everything takes a turn for the better and swordplay action scenes abound.


While the film is set as a period piece, it doesn’t have the epic scope that I mentioned earlier in my review. It is however quite entertaining once the body count starts to pile up.



(Well Go USA)



“The Swordsman” delivers the action but only in the second half of the film. If you go into it knowing that, you’ll be quite entertained I’m sure. I know I was.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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Monday, February 8, 2021

TAZMANIAN DEVIL Film Review February 8, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Tazmanian Devil

Reviewed: 2/8/2021
1091 Pictures
Rating: 4 / 5



AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE OR RENT ON FEBRUARY 9, 2021


(1091 Pictures)



There have been many films over the years that explore the cultural and generational divide between parents and children, particularly immigrants from another country. Having worked with such dynamics in my professional life over the years, this topic is always intriguing and many times difficult to filter through.


“Tazmanian Devil” revolves around Dayo - a newly immigrated college student originally from Nigeria who comes to live with his estranged father, a Christian pastor. Dayo is drawn to college life and one fraternity in particular Tau Alpha Zeta (“the devils”).


Dayo is caught between trying to fit in in American college culture and being respectful of his father’s wishes.



(1091 Pictures)



The film explores the concept of belonging. From Dayo wanting to be a part of a family (his father was gone for years at a time), to joining the fraternity to be a part of a family, as well as religion as a family concept. Everyone wants to feel like they belong somewhere and Dayo is caught in multiple worlds at an impressionable and idealistic age.


“Tazmanian Devil” was an interesting film that held my interest from start to finish. I would have liked less of the fraternity storyline and more of the father/son dynamic, but, overall, it was a film worth checking out.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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Sunday, February 7, 2021

JIANG ZIYA Film Review February 7, 2021 Eclectic Arts


JIANG ZIYA

Reviewed: 2/4/2021
Well Go USA
Rating: 4 / 5


On Digital, Blu-ray™ and DVD February 9 from Well Go USA Entertainment.



(Well Go USA)



I haven’t had the opportunity to review many animated films. I was looking forward to the new film from Well Go USA, “Jiang Ziya”.


A visual feast for the senses, the film is the second chapter in the Fengshen Cinematic Universe. The story revolves around the universal concept of do you risk the life of one to save the lives of many.



(Well Go USA)
 


The animation is wonderful to watch. It has its own sense of style and substance. A mix of Pixar meets 2D meets anime. This film would look fantastic in a movie theater on the biggest screen.


The story held my interest as well and I’m excited to see what comes in the next chapter.



(Well Go USA)


“Jiang Ziya” is a worthwhile watch.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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Thursday, February 4, 2021

THE RIGHT ONE Film Review February 4, 2021 Eclectic Arts


THE RIGHT ONE

Reviewed: 2/4/2021
Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment Group
Rating: 4 / 5

THE RIGHT ONE on Digital and On Demand on February 5, 2021 Worldwide and on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 9, 2021 in the U.S.



(Lionsgate)




It’s pretty rare when a romantic comedy is sent my way for review. I wish more would be sent actually. The new film from Lionsgate, “The Right One”, tells the tale of Sara, a novelist who is facing writer’s block. She happens upon Godfrey - a seemingly free spirited character who portrays himself as different people. Fascinated by all of this, Sara befriends him and eventually grows attached to him. Meanwhile, Godfrey finds out he is the subject of Sara’s new novel and the trust is broken. Or so it seems.



((L-R) Nick Thune as Godfrey and Cleopatra Coleman as Sara in the romantic comedy, THE RIGHT ONE ,a Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment Group, a Lionsgate Company release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.)



The tone of “The Right One” is straight out of the 80’s. It is lighthearted and tugs at the heartstrings at the appropriate moments. The backstory of Godfrey and why he does what he does was a nice change of pace and for the most part worked. While the film won’t set the world on fire, it will entertain, and that’s the most important thing.



((L-R) Nick Thune as Godfrey and Cleopatra Coleman as Sara in the romantic comedy,THERIGHTONE, a Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment Group, a Lionsgate Company release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.)



If you’re in the mood for a rom-com that isn’t too serious, “The Right One’ will fit the bill nicely for an enjoyable evening at home.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

X Film Review February 2, 2021 Eclectic Arts


X

Reviewed: 2/2/2021
Cinedigm
Rating: 2 / 5


Queer Camp Melodrama Arrives on Digital & DVD Feb. 9


(Cinedigm)



As I’ve been reviewing films, I always come back to one simple question - would I watch this again? Even for live events (pre-pandemic) - would I go again? Also, I keep in mind that just because something didn’t resonate with me doesn’t mean it won’t resonate with someone else. We’ve all experienced that when a friend, co-worker, or family member raves about something that you thought was only okay, etc.


The story of the new film “X” - not to be confused with the band from L.A. of the same name or the band from Japan, revolves around Christian - aka X - who is the hostess of a masquerade ball. There are fun and games to be had, both during the event, and during the after party, until someone from Christian’s past threatens to reveal her secrets.



(Cinedigm)
 


I just could not get into this film. It meandered and plodded along. When things did pick up, I found myself not really caring as I wasn't emotionally attached to any of the characters.


It’s shot well. There definitely are campy elements mixed among the serious. But it just wasn’t resonating with me. Perhaps it will resonate with you.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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PVT CHAT Film Review February 2, 2021 Eclectic Arts


PVT CHAT

Reviewed: 2/2/2021
Dark Star Pictures
Rating: 3 / 5


PVT CHAT in Theaters February 5, 2021 and On Demand & Digital on February 9, 2021.


(Dark Star Pictures)



Every now and then a film is made in such a way that after a while, you forget you’re watching a film (it feels more like a documentary). “PVT Chat” started to venture into this realm about a quarter of the way into the story.


Jack is the main character, an online blackjack player, who is barely getting by (eating ramen regularly), that seeks out cam girl companionship.


Scarlet is one cam girl that Jack takes a liking too. As a dominatrix, she commands Jack to do her bidding (lick her boots, put her cigarette out on his tongue, etc) virtually through the Internet.



((L-R] Peter Vack as Jack and Julia Fox as Scarlet in the thriller PVT CHAT, a Dark Star Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.)



Jack lies to Scarlet about what he does for a living, what he has in the works, and how he lives. Further into the story, Jack becomes nearly obsessed with her. He thinks he spots her in a neighborhood convenience store in New York city where Jack resides, but she flat out denies it as she is based in San Francisco.


At one point, a friend of Jack’s says he sees Scarlet on the streets of New York, and the story goes on from there.


“PVT Chat” is an interesting film. Again, it got to a point early on that I thought I was watching a documentary more so than a feature film.


The subject matter does involve BDSM and cam girls so if you are not familiar with either or you are quite conservative in your views, this may not be the film for you. Even for myself - the frontal nudity and stimulation of Jack was a bit of a shocker but it absolutely fits the theme of the storyline.

An interesting film.

Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


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Monday, February 1, 2021

STREAM BLOODY STREAM Event Review February 1, 2021 Eclectic Arts


STREAM BLOODY STREAM

Wolf, Sorcerer, Descend, and Lugnet

Review: 2/1/2021




The stream is still available for purchase through this coming weekend.  Check it out!



On Saturday January 30th, the Stream Bloody Stream took place online. Over four hours of live performances as well as in studio interviews with all four bands from Sweden.


The first band up Lugnet played a 45 minute set of pure rock n roll with a 70’s influence. They absolutely got things rocking right from the get go. I was not familiar with the band prior to the show. They made a fan out of me with their blistering set of punch to the gut blues based rock. Definitely a band to watch out for!


The second band was Descend (all bands played a 45 minute set give or take a minute). They performed a set of technical progressive metal with extreme vocals (at times). Clearly a talented group of musicians, their brand of metal didn’t really resonate with me but they were still a band worth checking out. If I was at a club and they were playing, I would absolutely stay for their set.


Up next was Sorcerer. I really enjoyed their set. I didn’t know much about them other than they were around decades ago and then reformed. Their brand of metal reminded me of a mix of traditional metal and some of the more recent concept/storytelling type of metal - both of which I enjoy.


Wolf closed the door on the event. A mix of traditional heavy metal and a punch of more modern metal, musically they sounded great. I was familiar with the band and I’ve always felt their vocals were holding the band back. Hearing them live on the stream didn’t change my opinion of that. Don’t get me wrong - they are still a quality metal band but I would just like to hear a voice that has more range and depth to it.


Overall, Stream Bloody Stream was a great way to spend a Saturday (morning over here) while we wait for live events to return. If this package could ever tour together, that would be fucking amazing!


Best,
Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect With Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!









THE RECKONING Film Review February 1, 2021 Eclectic Arts


The Reckoning

Reviewed: 2/1/2021
RLJE Films and Shudder
Rating: 4 / 5


RLJE Films and Shudder will release the action / horror film THE RECKONING In Theaters, On Demand and Digital February 5, 2021.


(RLJE Films and Shudder)



The Great Plague of 1665 also created the now infamous witch trials of the same era. Thousands of women were killed who were accused of being witches.


“The Reckoning” tells the tale of Grace Haverstock (Charlotte Kirk) who must deal with the world after her husband passes. Alone with her infant daughter, Grace is accused of being a witch. Judge Moorcroft, one of the most well known witch-hunters, is brought in to get a confession out of Grace by any means necessary.


The film was co-written by director Neil Marshall, Charlotte Kirk, and Edward Evers-Swindell. The story really becomes a mix of witchcraft and horror but also the empowerment of women. Director Neil Marshall could have easily slipped into familiar territory with this concept but instead took the film in a much desired direction where Grace is a character the audience can empathize with.



(Charlotte Kirk as Grace Haverstock in the horror film, THE RECKONING, a RLJE Films/Shudder release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films/Shudder.)



Of course there are parallels to what’s been going on in the world in recent times which is really a sad statement. When thousands of women were accused (and eventually killed) for ridiculous reasons centuries ago, here we are in 2021 and we haven’t really come that far, have we?


“The Reckoning” is a well done film that offers more than meets the eye. Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX Film Review February 1, 2021 Eclectic Arts


A Glitch In The Matrix

Reviewed: 2/1/2021
Magnolia Pictures
Rating: 3 / 5



A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX opens in Theaters and On Demand on February 5th, 2021.



(Theatrical one-sheet for GLITCH IN THE MATRIX, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)



The world of virtual reality and simulation is a topic that the new documentary “A Glitch In The Matrix” attempts to explore and explain.


Of course when people see the word matrix they almost automatically think of the film trilogy which also explored these same themes.


While the documentary is comprehensive and explores several different story lines dating back to the 1970’s to present, the topic really boils down to - do you agree or not. Are we living in a simulation? Are we all a part of an elaborate game that none of us can actually comprehend?



(A scene from GLITCH IN THE MATRIX, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.) 



If you’re open to the idea, then the film will keep your interest and make you think about the evidence put forth. If you think it’s a ridiculous notion, then the film won’t be to your liking most likely.


I found the film interesting but also far fetched. I’m in the latter category when it comes to believing we’re living in a simulated world. I don’t buy it.


I thought the similarities between some of the interview guests were more than coincidental. Adults who were awkward as children, major video gamers, and the like. While quite intelligent, the areas of their lives that were lacking seemed to manifest itself in the belief that this world really isn’t a world at all. It’s nothing but a simulation.


“A Glitch In The Matrix” will again fascinate some and bore others. You decide.


Or do you?


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!




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TODD LA TORRE "Rejoice In The Suffering" Album Review February 1, 2021 Eclectic Arts


TODD LA TORRE
“Rejoice In The Suffering”
Rat Pak Records
Review: 2/1/2021


Release: Friday 2/5/2021


BUY THE ALBUM HERE!



(Todd La Torre)



Many times when a band member does a solo album, the results can be a bit all over the place. They are no longer in a position of compromise as they are when working in a band dynamic. The solo release can come off as a vanity project, while other times it can be too much of a singular vision.


The debut solo album from Todd La Torre (of Queensryche fame) “Rejoice In The Suffering” is neither of those two scenarios. Instead Todd has put together an album that is terrifyingly good and showcases his talents as well as his long time friend Craig Blackwell.


A bit like a heavy metal musical circus, many styles of metal are offered here. The first tastes the public got came in the form of the audio track for “Darkened Majesty” and the M/V for “Vanguards of the Dawn Wall”. Both heavy thrashers with Todd’s vocals going back and forth between more traditional and definitely thrash vocal stylings.



 

The just released M/V for, “Crossroads To Insanity”, Todd and Craig take a detour down a much more atmospheric road, one that I personally thought stood out on the record. Reminiscent of Queensryche at times but with a different dark flavor, the tune and M/V require multiple listens and viewings to fully grasp. Craig does some very tasty lead work here with the harmonies toward the end of the solo.


The bonus tracks are not throwaways by any means. Todd has been very open about liking all sorts of music and on the track “One by One'', the death and black metal influences come to the forefront. A blistering track of arpeggiated guitar notes and ominous aura, the track serves as a teaser to what we can expect from the next solo release (based on what Todd said during our interview - link at the bottom).


“Rejoice In The Suffering” is a remarkable release. From the first song to the last, there is no filler on this album. It has to be one of the strongest solo releases I’ve heard in years.


Todd and Craig have put together one Hell of a record! Highly recommended!


Best,
Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect With Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here!


Virtual Interview 1/29/2021 (52 minutes)


"Crossroads to Insanity" M/V

"Vanguards of the Dawn Wall" M/V