ECLECTIC ARTS

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

LADY OF THE MANOR Film Review September 15, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Lady Of The Manor

Lionsgate
Reviewed: 9/15/2021

Rating: 4 / 5


“Available in Select Theaters, on Digital and On Demand September 17th! Available on Blu-ray and DVD September 21st!”


(Lionsgate)



The new comedy film “Lady Of The Manor” has one thing going for it - the performance of the lead actor Melanie Lynskey. She is funny, quirky, and engaging. Luckily she is in nearly every scene in the movie. Without her presence on screen, there wouldn’t be much to write about.


Hannah (Melanie Lynskey) is hired to portray Lady Wadsworth - an aristocrat who once lived in the home that Hannah is now giving tours in. Hannah is a stoner and a mess so the tours don’t exactly go as the heirs wanted them to. The ghost of Lady Wadsworth herself (played by Judy Greer) teaches Hannah how to be more like her.



((L-R) Judy Greer as Lady Wadsworth and Melanie Lynskey as Hannah in the comedy film, LADY OF THE MANOR, a Lionsgate release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.)



The film goes back and forth with the initial fish out of water concept, then the we’re friends concept, and ends with the we're buddies now concept.


There isn’t really anything new in “Lady Of The Manor” but it is a light and high spirited comedy. If you’re in the mood for a nice distraction from your day, “Lady Of The Manor” will hit all the right notes.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

CRAZY FIST Film Review September 14, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Crazy Fist

Well Go USA
Reviewed: 9/14/2021

Rating: 2.5 / 5


On Digital & Blu-ray September 14!


(Well Go USA)



The new film “Crazy Fist” does it’s best to be a sleek, stylish, and action packed film (MMA style to be precise) but it’s clear from the onset that, while it achieves the surface nature of those attributes, the substance is sorely missing.


An original film from Hi-YAH!, this movie has plenty of eye candy for everyone to enjoy. The fights are quick edits with some occasional inspired parts but it just tries too hard to be a mix of one of the Fast and Furious films and a modern Donnie Yen film.


Cinema demands style and substance, not just style. “Crazy Fist” could have been so much more if they had added in the substance to back up the glitz.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Monday, September 13, 2021

SHELTER IN PLACE Film Review September 13, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Shelter In Place

1091 Pictures
Reviewed: 9/13/2021

Rating: 2.5 / 5


On VOD and Digital on September 14th!


(1091 Pictures)



The new horror film “Shelter In Place” takes last year’s start of the pandemic and turns it into the plot of the movie. A couple are on their honeymoon at a hotel in Hollywood where they are basically stuck due to the pandemic.


The film starts out with a scare and then plods along with not much going on other than the couple interacting with some of the hotel staff. The movie strives for uneasiness and cabin fever but it doesn’t really succeed in that regard.



(1091 Pictures)



In the second act, the film picks up a bit, especially toward the finale, but at that point I was already frustrated that more of the horror aspect wasn’t spread earlier throughout the film.


I will always be a fan of the horror genre. But, lately there have been more misses than hits when it comes to what brought me to the genre in the first place decades ago - to be scared.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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LAST NIGHT IN ROZZIE Film Review September 13, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Last Night In Rozzie

Gravitas Ventures
Reviewed: 9/13/2021

Rating: 3 / 5


(Gravitas Ventures)




The new film “Last Night In Rozzie” follows two childhood best friends into the present day. One is a lawyer with his own personal issues while the other is facing his last days from a hospital bed. His dying wish is to reconcile with his 10-year old son.


The film is clunky in places. It certainly has it’s bright moments, particularly those scenes between Ronnie (Neil Brown, Jr.) and Pattie (Nicky Whelan), but other times it seems to lose its focus surrounding the dramatic narrative.



(Gravitas Ventures)



The finale from yesteryear (no spoilers) is well done but by the time it’s revealed, the overall impact is diminished by the up and down of the film thus far.


“Last Night In Rozzie” was like a cinematic rollercoaster but not necessarily on purpose.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Saturday, September 11, 2021

FAUCI Film Review September 11, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Fauci

National Geographic Documentary Films with Magnolia Pictures
Reviewed: 9/11/2021

Rating: 5 / 5


Opens locally at the Grand Cinema in Tacoma, WA on 9/10



(National Geographic Documentary Films)



The new documentary film “Fauci” is a fascinating look at arguably the most well known doctor in the United States currently. Whether you agree with him or his findings is really immaterial if you look at the history of what Dr. Fauci has accomplished over his immense career.


I liked that the film showed footage from the detractors. This was not a love fest by any means. But it also shows how, in the case of AIDS/HIV and Ebola, Dr. Fauci took criticism and used it to actually change the way he continued his pioneering work in both of those historical disease outbreaks.


Of course they show modern day footage from the current COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Fauci is interviewed at length throughout the film and it’s interesting hearing his take on what has transpired over the last 19 months or so.



(Dr. Anthony Fauci in seated interview in his office at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (National Geographic for Disney+))



Again, you are entitled to your opinion about Dr. Fauci and his work. But, make sure you’re looking at his entire career and also this film before slamming the scientist that has given us more hours of his life than, frankly, any of us deserve.


I, for one, am glad he pursued medicine. And even more thankful that his work, while influenced over the years (it can’t be helped when you’re the go to infectious disease guy for the leaders of the free world to be affected by the politics in DC), has created a strong think tank of scientists that are doing what they can to eradicate the infectious diseases of the world.



Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Monday, September 6, 2021

AZOR Film Review September 6, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Azor

Mubi 
Reviewed: 9/6/2021

Rating: 3.5 / 5


Azor will open 9/10 in New York at the IFC Center and 9/17 at the Laemmle Royal and Playhouse in Los Angeles.



(MUBI Presents:  "Azor")



The new film “Azor” is a political thriller based in Argentina in the 1970’s. The plot revolves around a private Swiss banker Yvan (Fabrizio Rongione) and his partner who has mysteriously disappeared.


The film takes it’s time setting up the plot, the characters, and eventually the finale.


Fabrizio Rongione was a delight to watch throughout the film. His portrayal of Yvan was both nuanced and sophisticated.


The plot as a whole though started to wear thin for me as the movie plodded along. The pacing never really picked up. I thought with all the clues being dropped throughout the first part of the movie, the second act would have picked up the pace a bit. But, it didn’t.


“Azor” was an interesting film but it seems like the director (first timer Andreas Fontana) was still finding his way throughout the filmmaking process. It was a good, solid, directorial debut that really could have been great.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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THE INFLUENCER Film Review September 6, 2021 Eclectic Arts


The Influencer

Breaking Glass Pictures
Reviewed: 9/6/2021

Rating: 4 / 5


(Breaking Glass Pictures)




The new film “The Influencer” is a present day look at the social media influencer phenomenon. And in this case, how it can go very wrong. If you’re not familiar with influencers, they are basically modern day pitch people. Their large social media following can catch the interest of companies that then hire them to promote their products/business/etc.


As someone that has a love/hate relationship with social media right now, “The Influencer” was a fun yet dark look at what’s behind some (not all) of the influencers out there, taken to a thrilling extreme of course.



(Breaking Glass Pictures)



Abbie Rose (played by Kasia Szarek) is a popular social media influencer that is as shallow as they come. She is the center of a home invasion by five criminals (actually numbered - initially led by Yasmine "Yaz" Abeydeera") that tears her world apart and shows what her life is really like.


The world of social media and it’s own influence on modern society is something that will continue to evolve and develop over time. For those of us that remember a time when none of this existed, it will be very interesting to see how all of this affects the future generations that are growing up with social media as a normal part of their culture.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Saturday, September 4, 2021

DEAR IKE Film Review September 4, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Dear Ike : Lost Letters To A Teen Idol

Reviewed: 9/4/2021
Rating: 4.5 / 5


West Coast Premiere at Dances With Films on Sunday, September 5th at 2:30PM PST at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood, CA.


("Dear Ike")


The new film “Dear Ike” is a really wonderful documentary about a man finding solace in an entertainer’s work and doing everything in his power to connect with him for his own artistic projects as a school age fan. This never happens in those teenage years but through a stroke of random coincidence, forty some odd years later, the dream becomes a reality.


I’ve said many times during my own livestream interviews how life can be so random at times. Sometimes life just hands you one. I’ve also been asked about networking and how do I manage to secure some of the guests that I have over the years. The way a young Dion went about writing letters to Ike and never really giving up resonated with me and my own pursuits.


Many people will recognize Ike Eisenmann from his work in the 70’s and 80’s. I didn’t know the name but I certainly knew who he was as soon as the clips from his TV work were shown during the film. “Escape From Witch Mountain” arguably being his best known work.



(Ike Eisenmann headshot from his teen years)



“Dear Ike” without spoiling it too much is really an amazing film with both a beginning and an ending bookend. In the majority of cases, when someone is a fan of an artist at an early age, the chances of them meeting, let alone working with that artist, are very slim. But, in life, there are always exceptions.  And in this case - a glorious exception.


This is one documentary that anyone can relate to. You don’t have to be a creative minded person nor do you have to be a genre geek. The full circle moment that happens in this film will remind anyone not to give up on their dreams.


Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Friday, September 3, 2021

STAGE MANAGED TV Pilot Review September 3, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Stage Managed

TV Pilot
Reviewed: 9/3/2021

Rating: 4 / 5



Premieres at Dances With Films TV Group Block Saturday, September 4th at 5pm.





The new TV pilot mockumentary “Stage Managed” is a funny look at a theatre company at the end of their rope. They’re given one last chance to stage a successful production of “My Fair Lady” (which becomes “My Fair Lassy”) before the plug gets pulled on the theatre company.


The pilot sets up the open call process, the behind the scenes drama, and what could happen if the pilot is picked up for a season of episodes.


There could be much to explore if a distributor/studio/company decides to greenlight “Stage Managed” for more episodes. The whole process of getting “My Fair Lassy” ready for opening night could take either several episodes or the entire season with the actual opening being the season finale.


I liked what I saw and I hope someone out there does the right thing and picks this pilot up!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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SAVING PARADISE Film Review September 3, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Saving Paradise

Vertical Entertainment
Reviewed: 9/3/2021

Rating: 4 / 5


Available today!


(Vertical Entertainment)




The new film “Saving Paradise” is a feel good film that crosses through familiar territory. A small town (now) lawyer named Michael (William Moseley), now living in the big city, goes back home to handle the affairs of his family’s dying business.


The pencil factory business is one of the last big companies left in the small town, meaning if it closes hundreds will be without a job. The guilt complex is big here as Michael did everything he could to “escape” from the small town. But, he finds himself at a crossroads about the future of the company and his own life choices.


“Saving Paradise” is an enjoyable film. The long lost love interest Charlie (Johanna Braddy) really shines in her role as the local administrator at the company that won’t go down without a fight.


I wish the lead Michael Moseley would have shown more heart toward the second half of the film. His performance is very muted and one note. For the first half, it makes sense as he is portraying the cold hearted lawyer who doesn’t want to deal with his family’s small town business. But when things take a turn in the second half, I found it hard to believe his character was genuinely fighting for the business. A small quibble.


Overall, “Saving Paradise” is a worthwhile viewing and it certainly shows how David can overcome Goliath.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

YAKUZA PRINCESS Film Review September 1, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Yakuza Princess

Magnet Releasing/Magnolia Pictures
Reviewed: 9/1/2021

Rating: 4 / 5


(Magnet Releasing)



The new film “Yakuza Princess” is based on a popular graphic novel. Don’t let that fool you, though. While the source material may be from comic books, the film adaptation isn’t nearly as comic book in presentation as one might guess.


Akemi (played by MASUMI - pop songstress) who grew up an orphan later in life discovers she is the inheritor of nearly half of the Yakuza crime syndicate. Of course many don’t want her to inherit such power and wealth which sets the narrative for crime, action, and drama.



(MASUMI in YAKUZA PRINCESS, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.)



The film is very gritty with a dark overtone that never dissipates. The fights are realistic and my understanding is MASUMI did her own stunts for this film which is impressive. Her acting skills could use some work but given enough time, I believe her future roles will be big improvements in that department.


Overall, “Yakuza Princess” is a worthy title in the Magnet/Magnolia Pictures canon of genre films (and that’s saying something considering how many top quality films they already have to their credit).


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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THE GATEWAY Film Review September 1, 2021 Eclectic Arts


The Gateway

Lionsgate
Reviewed: 9/1/2021

Rating: 3.5 / 5


(Lionsgate Movies)




The new film “The Gateway” starts with a predictable premise other than the background of the lead character Parker (played by Shea Whigham). If they had made him a burnt out detective or a vigilante that had grown tired of that lifestyle, it would have made more sense. But, Parker is a social worker who uses drugs and has a “lived in” background shall we say.


This aspect of the narrative really detracted from the overall impact of the film. Having been someone that’s worked alongside many social workers over the years, it just seemed rather silly to me.


Other than that, the movie is dark, gritty, and very watchable. The subplot with Olivia Munn's character was also interesting.  I would have like to have seen that explored a bit more.  



(Shea Whigham as Parker in the crime/thriller film, THE GATEWAY, a Lionsgate release. Photo courtesy of Antony Platt.)



It’s not going to win many points in the originality department but when you watch the trailer, you’ll know what you’re getting.


Again, a minor quibble about the background of Parker but outside of that, a good crime story thriller.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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