ECLECTIC ARTS

Monday, November 29, 2021

7 SHORT FILMS ABOUT (OUR) MARRIAGE Film Review November 29, 2021 Eclectic Arts


7 Short Films About (Our) Marriage

Reviewed: 11/29/2021

Rating: 5 / 5


Available Now On Digital






The new film “7 Short Films About (Our) Marriage” is a drama split into seven chapters or short films. Spanning the life of a young couple who have artistic dreams in film and dance only to watch life have its way with their dreams.


Chynna Walker and Drez Ryan play the married couple and both do a masterful job of taking the audience on a journey that many of us are all too familiar with in our own lives. Dreams versus reality, and all of the nuances that come along with both.


Written and directed by Chris Hansen, the film really comes across like a play. As a matter of fact, I would love to see this taken to the live theatre stage as I think it would work well on so many levels.


Everything is subdued so the focus falls on the two main characters on the screen. Even the soundtrack music is absent during much of the film and sparingly used to enhance only certain scenes.


The direction and the performances make this film stand out in a big way. I’m looking forward to seeing more work from all three artists.


Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

"THE MUSTANGS: America's Wild Horses" Film Review November 23, 2021 Eclectic Arts


THE MUSTANGS: AMERICA'S WILD HORSES

Virgil Films Entertainment
Reviewed: 11/23/2021

Rating: 3.5 / 5


Available on TV On Demand via Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video





The new documentary film “The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses” is a look at the history of mustangs as wild horses throughout America leading up to the present day. The issues with federal corrals and horses still in the wild are also addressed.


The film is interesting and informative. I would have liked to have seen more from the other points of view - such as those that want to see the horses roam free completely. The lack of resources to sustain the thousands of horses currently is an interesting one. It begs the question of what would have happened if humans had never existed. Would the mustangs and every other species of animal on the planet thrived or would they have run into the same issues currently facing them?


Don’t get me wrong - the efforts to conserve and to assist veterans are admirable ones. But, any time I see animals in peril, I can’t help but wonder what if ….


“The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses” is available as TVOD (TV on demand) November 23rd.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here


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BABETTE'S FEAST Show Review November 20, 2021 Eclectic Arts


BABETTE’S FEAST

Taproot Theatre
Seattle, WA

Review: 11/20/21 Performance


Performances run through December 30th, 2021


(Matthew Posner, Nolan Palmer, Jenny Vaughn Hall, Pam Nolte, and April Poland in Babette's Feast at Taproot Theatre.  Photo by Eric Stuhaug.)



Taproot Theatre has been putting on consistently high quality productions ever since I first started reviewing their shows back in 2018. Just like everyone else involved in the arts community, 2020 and part of 2021 has been one of the most difficult times in recent memory. The absence of live events has really exposed the old adage of “you don’t know what you miss until it’s gone” to a proverbial T. Thankfully, the show must go on and Taproot Theatre is back in action with their play, “Babette’s Feast”.


The Covid-19 protocols were being followed at the east door, with concessions in the Isaac Studio. The performance I attended was nearly full save a few seats here and there (some of which may have been to protect patrons and the actors due to proximity).


How wonderful it was to be back at the Taproot Theatre on Saturday evening!


The play was approximately 90 minutes long with no intermission. Again, this may have been a deliberate decision due to Covid-19 to get patrons in and out of the theatre.


The trademarks that I’ve come to know and love about any Taproot Theatre production were clearly evident in, “Babette’s Feast”. Top-notch casting, professional performances, and solid storytelling were all on display during the play.


The narrative was a little all over the place during the first ten minutes or so of the first act. But, eventually the characterizations became more clear and the show went to another level.


As much as I enjoyed the performances and the execution of the show, I just didn’t find it resonating with me. This will happen from time to time with live theatre. Again, it had really nothing to do with the show as it was an extremely solid production.


I’m ecstatic that live theatre is back on stage at the Taproot Theatre and I’m looking forward to their upcoming new season.


“Babette’s Feast” runs through December 30th. Tickets are available here:  TICKETS!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

ZEROS AND ONES Film Review November 17, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Zeros and Ones

Lionsgate
Reviewed: 11/17/2021

Rating: 3 / 5


(Lionsgate)



ZEROS AND ONES will be Available in Select Theaters, on Apple TV and Everywhere You Rent Movies on November 19th! Available on Blu-ray and DVD on January 4th!



The new film “Zeros and Ones” looks promising on paper. Ethan Hawke (playing two characters) as directed by Abel Ferrara. With a long standing career as a director, Abel Ferrara presents a film that is a mix of confusion and artistry shaped by the pandemic (is my guess).


As a thriller, the film comes up short. As an interesting piece of cinema, the film excels. But, if you’re looking for a straight forward film with action and thrills, this isn’t the movie for you. It definitely leans into Ferrara’s artistic style, a bit too much at times, and that takes away from the impact of the narrative.


“Zeros and Ones” was an interesting start to a collaboration that may yield stronger results should there be a follow up film.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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MEAN GIRLS Premera Blue Cross Broadway At The Paramount Seattle, WA 11/16/21 Eclectic Arts


MEAN GIRLS

Premera Blue Cross Broadway At The Paramount
Seattle, WA

Opening Night Review: 11/16/21


From November 16 – 21, 2021


Mean Girls  Book by Tina Fey, Music by Jeff Richmond, Lyrics by Nell Benjamin, Directed &Choreographed by Casey Nicholaw  Credit: © 2019 Jenny Anderson



It was with great anticipation that I and my guest ventured into Seattle for the first time since the pandemic began in early 2020. The second show in the 2021/2022 Premera Blue Cross Broadway At The Paramount’s return to the in-person stage Tuesday evening was “Mean Girls” which is based on the popular comedic film of the same name.


This was only my third in-person event back since the pandemic so it was both nostalgic (which is weird to type) and exciting to get back to the Paramount Theater. Kudos to the event staff for getting the patrons through the Covid-19 protocols as quickly as they could. We were amongst the line of people waiting to get in twenty minutes before show time but for us the line moved quickly, the early hand stamp after having your credentials checked (card or negative test and ID) before reaching the tent really helped, and the line went by super fast.


The show itself was visually stunning to watch. I loved the use of the screens to depict the various classrooms, homes, and other sets. The lighting design was also worth noting which added the extra emphasis to each scene and musical number.


The story followed the film for the most part with a few changes or additions for 2021. Having seen the film recently, I can say that I was surprised to see/hear just how many songs were in this touring musical. I really expected more dialogue than numbers - yet we got the opposite. The songs just kept on coming with plenty of choreography as well. I enjoyed the early number with the lunch trays but after a while I started to yearn for more storytelling.


The performances from the entire cast were strong throughout which is no surprise for a touring musical. The characters portrayed are high school age so the singing voices needed to match. This was a bit grating to my ears after the first few numbers. Others were eating it up though so I think it just depends on what you like to listen to.


Fans of the film will most likely enjoy this musical. They’ll identify with the characters and the themes. I was somewhat surprised to see that not much of the themes were updated for 2021. They did change a few things but much of it was just left as is much like a time capsule of the film.


If you’re not familiar with the film, I honestly don’t know what you will think of this show. Again, it was a top notch production with a cast and behind the scenes crew that put on a bang up show. But the songs, the pitches of the performers, and the overall tone of the show (which was light) may be a hit or a miss for theatre goers. You’ll have to see for yourself.


Oh - and tsk tsk to the patron that had their phone out during Act II for several minutes. Such bad form.


Having said that, being back at an in-person Premera Blue Cross Broadway At The Paramount performance was amazing!  I knew I had missed attending the performances but last night really emphasized just how much I had missed them.  From that respect, it was a fantastic evening.    


“Mean Girls” runs through Sunday November 21st. Tickets are still available here:  BUY TICKETS!


See you at the theatre,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here

Monday, November 15, 2021

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND Film Review November 15, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Prisoners Of The Ghostland

Streaming Exclusively on AMC+ and Shudder on November 19th
Reviewed: 11/15/2021

Rating: 2 / 5


(Shudder)



The new film “Prisoners Of The Ghostland” is a Nicolas Cage film. Just that sentence alone will get some people/fans excited and make others raise their “is it any good” eyebrow. In this case, the eyebrow is the correct response.


Nicolas Cage has developed a cult following for any film that he is a part of. The issue is that the quality of those films has been suspect for, honestly, years now.



(Nicolas Cage as Hero in the action/adventure film, PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND. Photo courtesy of AMC+ and Shudder.)
 


This film is so all over the place that I actually laughed at certain scenes that weren’t designed to be funny. That says a lot.


“Prisoners Of The Ghostland” is a pass. For many, a hard pass.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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BOILING POINT Film Review November 15, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Boiling Point


Saban Films
Reviewed: 11/15/2021

Rating: 4.5 / 5


"Boiling Point" will be in theaters on November 19 and on VOD and Digital Nov. 23.



(Saban Films)



The new film “Boiling Point” is the perfect marriage of daring filmmaking and personal storytelling. Utilizing a single camera, no edit approach, making a film about a drama in a busy restaurant absolutely worked with this method.


The craziness, pressure to perform, falling off the rails feel of working in a restaurant comes through in spades. I reviewed one other film that utilized a one camera approach and it came up short. But, here, again, the marriage of subject matter and filmmaking method works so well.



(Stephen Graham as Andy Jones in the drama/thriller, BOILING POINT, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.)




The storylines are many, including societal issue commentary, and my understanding is that the actors improvised their dialogue working from bullet points in rehearsal. This makes sense to me and also makes me applaud the team that much more in bringing “Boiling Point” to the silver screen.


Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Friday, November 12, 2021

ASCENSION Film Review November 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Ascension

MTV Documentary Films
Reviewed: 11/12/2021

Rating: 4 / 5


(MTV Documentary Films)



The new documentary film “Ascension” is an interesting look at the world of business and work in modern day China. From the warehouses offering $3 an hour to manufacture everything under the sun to the courses on butlery, manners, and how to be an influencer, the film really digs into the world that may seem foreign to a Western audience.


What stuck out to me was the overall message from many of the companies that everything must put China in the best possible light. How you look, how you dress, your work ethic, etc. Having watched a few films about Japanese business culture, there were similarities that I don’t think you’d ever see adopted by an American company.



(Employees working on a rooftop infinity pool in Chengdu, China, as seen in Ascension, directed by Jessica Kingdon. Image courtesy of MTV Documentary Films.)



Some of the mentality during the workshop courses was almost laughable and at times seemed like a scam. But, this is perhaps a difference in culture and a difference in business models.


“Ascension” is a documentary worth viewing.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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NIGHT RAIDERS Film Review November 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Night Raiders

Samuel Goldwyn Films
Reviewed: 11/12/2021

Rating: 4.5 / 5


(Samuel Goldwyn Films)



The new film “Night Raiders” is a departure science fiction film that touches on societal issues that have been around for centuries.


A post-apocalyptic world where a mother Niska (played by Elle-Maija Tailfeathers) and her daughter Waseese (played by Brooklyn Letexier-Hart) are struggling to survive. Children in this new world are sent to institutions when discovered, which happens to Waseese. This sends Niska on a journey to rescue her daughter.



([L-R] Brooklyn Letexier-Hart as Waseese and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers as Niskain theSci-Fi/Drama/Thriller film,“NIGHT RAIDERS,”a Samuel Goldwyn Films release. Photo courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.)



The Indiginous aspect of the film really creates a refreshing atmosphere on what could have been a more typical sci-fi film. Instead, “Night Raiders” explores the world of injustice through a very specific and much needed lens.


The story is compelling and the cast is spot on with their performances.


“Night Raiders” is definitely a film worth checking out.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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DOUBLE WALKER Film Review November 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Double Walker

Cranked Up
Reviewed: 11/12/2021

Rating: 4.5 / 5





The new film “Double Walker” is a compelling yet surreal take on the modern day ghost story. The plot focuses on a ghost who comes back to investigate the details of her own demise. While that aspect reminded me just a wee bit of “The Crow”, “Double Walker” isn’t a gothic dark tale.


Sylvie Mix (co-producer, co-writer, and star) plays the lead role to perfection. She is vulnerable, intense, curious, and interesting. She handles the layers within the storyline with ease. I would love to see another film that is perhaps a continuation of this storyline or even in this fictional universe.






“Double Walker” is a refreshing new independent film.


Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here


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Monday, November 8, 2021

THE EMPEROR'S SWORD Film Review November 8, 2021 Eclectic Arts


The Emperor’s Sword

Well Go USA
Reviewed: 11/8/2021

Rating: 3.5 / 5


(Well Go USA)



The new film “The Emperor’s Sword” is another release from Well Go USA and Hi YAH! The plot is confusing from the start which is sometimes typical of these period dramas. At times the film really shows promise and then either the narrative or sometimes the special effects knock it back down a peg (or two).


But when it works, it works really well.



(Well Go USA)

 

I will always be a sucker for period films from Asia. They remind me of my first foray into the sub-genre many decades ago. When the aesthetic matches the story, that’s when things really become something special.


The cast is hit and miss with this film and that’s another area in need of improvement.


Overall, “The Emperor’s Sword” is an entertaining film but it shows so much more promise than it delivers.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Friday, November 5, 2021

HELL HATH NO FURY Film Review November 5, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Hell Hath No Fury

Well Go USA
Reviewed: 11/5/2021

Rating: 3.5  / 5


(Well Go USA)



The new film “Hell Hath No Fury” is an interesting take on the action genre. At times a bit of a throwback to the grindhouse style films of yesteryear mixed in with modern day technology. The sum of its parts, however, comes up short.


The story is really secondary to the action which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, with the cast and talent involved, I was expecting a higher combination of the two areas.



(Well Go USA)
 

Nina Bergman and Daniel Bernhardt did a fine job in their respective roles. I was only familiar with Nina from her short stint with a now defunct rock band so it was good to see her in the film world as I had heard she had an array of artistic talents. Daniel is such an underrated performer. He needs more vehicles like this where he can really shine.


Overall, “Hell Hath No Fury” is a violent, action film. It could have been more, though.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Thursday, November 4, 2021

IDA RED Film Review November 4, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Ida Red

Saban Films
Reviewed: 11/4/2021

Rating: 4.5 / 5


(Saban Films)



The new film “Ida Red” is a fascinating and well done thriller about a lawless family in a small town, rural setting. Josh Hartnett and Frank Grillo play brothers who are conducting “family business” for their ailing mother who is in prison.


The narrative is compelling and the whole feeling of the sands of time shifting definitely plays a part in how this movie comes across. The viewer knows that eventually the bad guys will run out of time, there will be a shoot out of some sort, and then there will be a finale.


The performances by the entire cast are top notch and there wasn’t a weak link in the bunch. “Ida Red” is arguably the best film Saban Films has put out in a long time.


Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here


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