ECLECTIC ARTS

Thursday, September 30, 2021

a-ha: The Movie Film Review for SIFF DOCFEST September 30, 2021 Eclectic Arts


a-ha: The Movie

SIFF DOCFEST
Reviewed: 9/30/2021

Rating: 5 / 5









The Seattle International Film Festival Docfest begins today live and in person at SIFF Cinema Egyptian (9/30-10/4, 10/7) as well as virtually through the SIFF Channel (Oct 4-7).


I had the good fortune to check out one of the documentaries from the inaugural festival. The Norwegian band/trio known as a-ha are best known for their massive hit “Take On Me” from their debut album in 1986. It was (and still is) one of the best marriages of song, band, and medium (video) ever in my opinion.


For those of us in America, the band seemed to be a bit of a one hit wonder which is really a terrible thing to say after you watch the film. You’ll realize just how prolific the band has been overseas and why they felt their hold on America evaporated by their own decisions.


Like any good music documentary, the humble beginnings of the band are shown in detail, including interviews from different eras of the band. The film does a splendid job of showing just how talented the band members were/are as musicians. Being that they broke big in the mid 80’s, they were lumped into the pop/new wave/pretty boys of the time period. Yet, they had so much more to offer.


Of course, as the years wore on, the band had disagreements that eventually led to them taking breaks, breaking up, and reuniting. One thing that was very constant throughout the film was how much the band was put together for that - the music. They weren’t life long friends that decided to start a band. They realized when they played music, it just worked. The friendship, which is shown as off and on, was secondary to the music they produced.


Being a music junkie myself, I was embarrassed to find out just how little I knew of the band's vast catalog. A deep dive is in order and watching the documentary for those reading this is essential.


Recommended!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

IMPLANTED Film Review September 29, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Implanted

Gravitas Ventures
Reviewed: 9/29/2021

Rating: 4 / 5


OPENING ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS ON OCTOBER 1





The new film “Implanted” is a science fiction thriller that is tied close to modern day as it takes place only a few years after the COVID-19 pandemic. For those that love alien worlds and spaceships exploring new galaxies, this isn’t that type of science fiction film.


What “Implanted” is though is an interesting character study pulled off masterfully by lead actor Michelle Girolami. Her character Sarah is implanted with a nanochip that is designed with artificial intelligence to ward off any disease or illness at inception. But things go awry and the A.I. ends up malfunctioning and taking Sarah on a wild roller coaster ride of deception and murder.






“Implanted” really lives or dies on the Sarah character. She is in basically every scene and any emotional weight for the viewers comes from the circumstances Sarah finds herself in. Fortunately, Michelle Girolami rises to the challenge of playing Sarah. And she does it with refined detail in her choices as an actor. In some ways, I almost wish there were no other characters in the film so that nothing would take away from her performance.


The film is not without its flaws, one of which is the acting of some (not all) of the support players. The special effects worked for the most part, especially the taking over of Sarah early on in the film.


Overall, “Implanted” was an interesting take on the future of artificial intelligence - but the main reason to watch it is for the performance of Michelle Girolami. I hope this is the start of an amazing feature film career for her.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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WITCH HUNT Film Review September 29, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Witch Hunt

Momentum Pictures
Reviewed: 9/29/2021

Rating: 4 / 5



WITCH HUNT in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on October 1, 2021.




(Witch Hunt - Momentum Pictures)



The new film “Witch Hunt” is an interesting take on a very familiar subject - witchcraft. Instead of going back into yesteryear or turning up the horror element, we get a modern day tale mixed in with some current events that yields creative results.


Perhaps one of the most misunderstood groups, witches can be many things - not just the lady in black with the pointy hat riding a broomstick. “Witch Hunt” attempts to show the empathetic side of witchery as well as the powerful side.


At times the juxtaposition of not belonging reminded me a little bit of the mutants from X-Men - where society shuns them because they don’t understand them. And eventually hunt them down - or in this case - burn them at the stake.



([L-R] Gideon Adlan as Claire and Abigail Cowen as Fiona in the thriller/horror film, WITCH HUNT, a Momentum Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Momentum Pictures.)



Instead of going through the plot, I feel it’s better for the viewer to take in the film with little knowledge beforehand.


There are obvious and not so obvious parallels to what’s been in the news over the last few years. This may turn off some viewers but to me, it was a creative take on a very real issue.


The creatives behind “Witch Hunt” did what I really admire - they did the most they could with what they had. The special effects were a bit rough in the opening scene but other than that, they maximized their budget and produced an enjoyable tale of modern day witchcraft.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

APACHE JUNCTION Film Review September 23, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Apache Junction

Saban Films
Reviewed: 9/23/2021

Rating: 2 / 5


APACHE JUNCTION arrives in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on September 24, 2021.

(Saban Films)



The new film “Apache Junction” is set in the old west as a big city reporter goes to the far reaches of the city to write a report on it. She becomes a target soon after she arrives. A gunslinger, Jericho Ford, comes to her rescue and the story goes on from there.


There are recognizable names in the cast such as Scout Taylor-Compton and Trace Adkins. But even those talented artists can’t save this film. And I don’t blame them.


“Apache Junction” is poorly written and poorly executed. I couldn’t find much to write home about (no pun intended) as I watched scene after incredulous scene just waste the talents on the call sheet.


Granted, period pieces like a film set in the old west are always harder to pull off on a limited budget as quite frankly the sets, costumes, and other aspects will show. You can’t hide the shortcomings like you can in a modern day drama, for example.


I had moderate hopes for “Apache Junction” and even those weren’t met. Perhaps this film will resonate with other viewers.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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MAN IN THE FIELD: THE LIFE AND ART OF JIM DENEVAN Film Review September 23, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Man In The Field: The Life and Art of Jim Denevan


Reviewed: 9/23/2021
Rating: 4 / 5


Debuts September 24th In Theaters + VOD






The new film “Man In The Field: The Life and Art of Jim Denevan” is a fascinating look at an artist, a chef/foodie, and someone that has battled mental illness for a lifetime.


The documentary explores the art of Jim Denevan - which he has also incorporated into his lavish one of a kind dinners. Farm to table is an old food concept nowadays but Jim was creating farm to table in the (literal) field to really take the concept to new heights. Picture eating the most local of ingredients literally in a field where it was grown, only to find out the table and the surroundings are a part of a larger piece of art only visible from an aerial view. This gives you just a bit of an idea of the level of genius we're talking about here.


Jim has also struggled with mental health which runs in his family. He speaks about it candidly and it really adds another dimension to an already compelling figure on film.


Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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SURGE Film Review September 23, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Surge

Reviewed: 9/23/2021
Rating: 4.5 / 5


Debuts September 24th In Theaters + On Demand





The new film “Surge” is a dark and disturbing look at the breakdown of the human psyche. Ben Whishaw gives new meaning to the term method acting as he takes the audience on a journey into madness.


Joseph (Ben Whishaw) works at an airport as a screening agent. His parents are emotionally unattached to him and his life seems to be going nowhere. The layers of nothingness just keep adding up to an eventual boiling point.


We’ve all been there. That one day when you get up and you just know it’s going to be one of “those” days. For Joseph his whole life is one of those days.


“Surge” is an emotionally compelling drama that lives and dies on it’s lead actor. Ben Whishaw is absolutely mesmerizing in the lead role of Joseph. The depths he had to go to to portray Joseph is astonishing to watch.


Recommended!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

2021 CAMDEN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL September 16 through September 26 (virtually) Eclectic Arts



2021 Camden International Film Festival


OFFICIAL SITE


I have been so very honored to take part in several (virtual) film festivals this year. If you had told me back in early 2020 that I would have been credentialed for any film festival, let alone six, I would have straight up laughed at you. Yet, through a chance opportunity, and a lot of hard time consuming work, here we are in 2021 having achieved just that.


If you thought you missed out, you’re in luck. The CIFF virtual film festival is running right now! It goes through this Sunday the 26th so don’t miss out. One of the best parts is that 50% of the virtual pass sales go to the creators themselves through the Filmmaker Solidarity Fund.


Ticket options:
https://pointsnorthinstitute.org/ciff/box-office/


Below are the reviews of the films I’ve watched so far with more coming.


*


After Antarctica





The first film of the festival for me. “After Antarctica” was a fascinating look at a long time expedition explorer who braved the unpredictable nature of Antarctica in 1989. Some of his team didn’t make it back.


At 75 years young, Will Steger has lived a very unpredictable life. He decides to go down to Antarctica for his last major expedition. That’s right - at 75.


The documentary spends a lot of time discussing the 1989 expedition and everything that happened, right and wrong. There is a ton of footage from this trip that makes it into the film.


My only minor gripe is that I wish there had been more footage from the current expedition. Don’t get me wrong, there is footage. And Will Steger points out how things have changed over the years (climate change being a major factor). But I would have preferred the ratio of old to new footage reversed.


Having said that, “After Antarctica” is still a compelling documentary.


https://afterantarctica.com/



The Real Charlie Chaplin




Charlie Chaplin really needs no introduction. However, the man behind the characters certainly does. Known for his legendary character “The Tramp”, many associate that character with Charlie Chaplin as if he actually was “The Tramp”.


Like many comedic geniuses, Charlie Chaplin has a very checkered past. His interest in really young women (late teens) - all the way up to his last marriage where he was decades the senior of his bride, really put him in a bad light. One can talk about how the times were different back then but that’s just excuses in my book. Abortions were also scattered throughout his past with his girlfriends and wives. And his major mood swings were also well evident in the film.


I won’t get into the argument about separating the art from the artist. But, the film “The Real Charlie Chaplin” is an interesting study for a very complex man.



All These Sons





I worked with gang-involved youth in South and West Seattle for over ten years. Until you work hands-on with the demographic that is featured in the film “All These Sons”, it may be hard to relate to what it’s really like.


The film focuses on two men in Chicago trying to teach the future victims or perpetrators of gun violence that there is a better way in life.


The documentary is hard hitting and relevant. We all know that the violence in this country is out of control. And when you’re growing up in the hood - anywhere in America - it seems like there is no other life. I know. I heard it from the young people I worked with for years.


But as community leaders and adults, we have to believe that there is a better way. With the setbacks, the deaths, and the frustration, if you stay the course, your teachings will impact the young people of the future.



Listening To Kenny G





Being from Seattle, I’ve known about Kenny G for decades. I saw him live at the height of his popularity when the Kenny G “Live” album came out.


What I really liked about the film is that it showed both sides - the fans and the detractors. The jazz-heads that can’t stand him and the fans that got married to his music. The dichotomy really makes for an interesting documentary.


Kenny is interviewed throughout the film. He is self-deprecating, hard working, and goal driven. He also comes off a little full of himself at times too but I believe it’s really unintentional. It reminds me of the nerd in class that finishes an assignment first and tells everyone so. They don’t necessarily mean to brag, they are just proud of themselves for finishing the assignment first. They don’t really understand how it might rub some people the wrong way.


There is a great basketball analogy in the film by one of the jazz critics. I won’t paraphrase it here but let’s just say it’s spot on about why jazz heads don’t like Kenny G’s music.


I happen to like Kenny G’s music in moderation. Even at his show back in the day, I could only take so much instrumental music. And holding a note for ten minutes doesn’t impress me, it’s rather annoying, actually.


But at the end of the day, “Listening To Kenny G” is a great documentary by all involved and is worth checking out.



Fathom





The songs of whales are front and center in this documentary about two marine biologists that have spent years trying to not only decipher the songs of humpback whales but also a means to actually communicate with them.


I understand the scientific need to discover answers to questions that seem to have no answer. One can’t help but wonder though after watching a documentary like this what would have happened if the scientific minds involved (and there are many) dedicated a part (not all) of their time, energy, and resources to helping the human condition.


I love animals as much as the next person but perhaps there is no reason behind the songs of the humpback whales that will unlock new layers of revelation for the human race to understand. Just a random thought.



Citizen Ashe





I love it when I watch a documentary that I didn’t know much about the subject, in this case Arthur Ashe. Sure, I knew he was a talented tennis player but beyond that I really knew nothing more.


“Citizen Ashe” really does a fine job of showing Arthur’s background, his upbringing under his father’s stern supervision, and the many, many obstacles he overcame as an African American tennis pro.


What really stuck with me was how Arthur carried himself. As a social justice activist, as he worked with John McEnroe, and his unwillingness to bend to what others wanted him to be. He was uniquely himself and that is to be commended.


A recommended viewing.

https://dogwoofsales.com/citizen-ashe



Underdog





There are many interesting plots in the documentary “Underdog”. The plight of the American farmer. How they manage to work their tales off while dealing with monetary debt overhead pretty much every day.


In this case, we also get to see a man, Doug Butler, pursue his other dream which is to race dogs in Alaska.


The film is a pure documentary where there are not separate interviews with any of the cast. The footage is edited together from what I assume is months of filming (perhaps years). Questions are clearly asked of Doug and the other subjects but it’s during the course of their everyday lives.


Doug is an underdog in more ways than one and it makes for a fascinating film.


http://underdogfilm.org/


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

23 WALKS Film Review September 16, 2021 Eclectic Arts


23 Walks

Vertical Entertainment
Reviewed: 9/16/2021

Rating: 4 / 5


OPENING IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON DEMAND EVERYWHERE ON SEPTEMBER 17



(Vertical Entertainment)



The new film “23 Walks” is somewhat of a rarity these days in cinema where the lead characters are seniors. It’s often been said that Hollywood/filmdom around the world dismiss their actors over 40 (particularly women) so it’s refreshing to see a film where the characters have more to offer than the typical adults.


Over the course of 23 walks in the dog park, Dave and Fern meet each other and slowly strike up a friendship. Their families are explored as well as their family secrets. But it’s pure day to day drama, nothing over the top or outlandish. They explore being more than friends but things go awry with no spoilers here.


I enjoyed the interplay between Dave and Fern, played by Dave Johns and Alison Steadman respectively. Being the lead actors, they have to carry the film and they carry it in fine fashion.


“23 Walks” may not be the most original film but it certainly is enjoyable and I hope more films utilize the talents of our veteran actors in the future.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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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

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here


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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

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here


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