ECLECTIC ARTS

Thursday, April 28, 2022

FLINT Film Review April 28, 2022 Eclectic Arts

FLINT

Cargo Film and Releasing
Reviewed: 4/28/2022
Rating: 5 / 5

In Theaters April 29th!


(Flint)



The new film, “Flint” is a shocking reminder of how the government will do what’s best for itself and not necessarily what’s best for the people.


I remember shooting the breeze with a friend about what’s something that would affect the world and I said if you tainted the water system. Imagine if you couldn’t drink it, wash with it, use it, etc. The world would become like the Road Warrior.


Cue the saying “life is stranger than fiction”.


I first became familiar with the city of Flint, MI in Michael Moore’s classic documentary about the auto industry there. What I didn’t know was this water issue they were/are having and it’s absolutely appalling.


Director Anthony Baxter has crafted a compelling documentary about the lead poisoned water in Flint, MI that was created by switching from Lake Huron as a water source to a local river that is contaminated.


There are twists and turns as the issue unfolds and of course the victims are not only the residents of Flint, but their future generations; the children.


Anyone with any sense of right and wrong will be upset watching this film for many different reasons. No spoilers here but this film will have you shaking your head in disbelief.


“Flint” is a tremendous film shining a light on a horrible issue.


Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here


OFFICIAL TRAILER

Thursday, April 21, 2022

MARVELOUS AND THE BLACK HOLE Film Review April 21, 2022 Eclectic Arts

MARVELOUS AND THE BLACK HOLE

Filmrise
Reviewed: 4/21/2022
Rating: 4 / 5

In theaters April 22nd!




The new film, “Marvelous and The Black Hole” is a unique coming of age story written and directed by Kate Tsang.


Fourteen year old Sammy (played by Miya Cech) is full of angst and rebellion but for understandable reasons as her mother recently passed. She runs into Margo, a magician (played by Rhea Perlman), and is slowly drawn into the world of magic for school reasons, initially. Eventually, they become friends as Sammy deals with her family dynamics as they shift and change moving forward.


I found this film to be more of a drama than a comedy. Yes, there are scenes of levity but for the most part it is really dealing with the grieving process and how the loss of someone can put people of any age in a tailspin that they feel they can’t get out of.


Miya Cech does a solid job of playing Sammy. Once she processes the loss of her mother, her character becomes more palatable. Having worked with “at-risk” youth for many years, watching a teenager act up through the beginning of the film, while it sets up the necessary character and her flaws, can become a bit grating on the viewer.


Rhea Perlman’s Margo helps offset the negativity of Sammy’s character and it is much needed. Again, as a story, it makes perfect sense. There is a natural chemistry between Sammy and Margo and it translates on the screen.


It’s great seeing an Asian American family as the center of a film. The changes the industry is going through are long overdue and every film like “Marvelous and The Black Hole” helps tell the stories from the actual people themselves.


Overall, I really enjoyed the film. It has a freshness to it and the subject matter is handled with care and compassion and truth.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here

OFFICIAL TRAILER

SARAH DARLING High Dive Seattle, WA April 19, 2022

SARAH DARLING

High Dive
Seattle, WA
April 19, 2022

(All photos - Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts (c) 2022)



With all of the film festival work going on this week, it was hard to take an intentional “break” from the festival and go and check out some live music. But, once I heard Sarah Darling’s work, I knew I wanted to be at the High Dive in Seattle on Tuesday evening.


I am the first to admit that I am new to Sarah’s work. She has been making and recording music for more than ten years. She has appeared on reality television competitions and initially she had been walking the line between pop and country music with her sound more in the country camp these days. Seattle was the first stop on the “Cruisin’” tour and the fans were ready to kick things off right.


Joined by Julie Lavery on acoustic guitar and vocals, Sarah took to the stage with a big smile on her face. Both ladies decked out in retro-cool outfits, they spent the evening performing songs together, in addition with two songs solo by Julie and the encore solo by Sarah. With a lava lamp that subscribed more to the tortoise than the hare, the set began.


If you’re a musician, then it’s fairly easy to recognize talent, regardless of genre. Both Sarah and Julie are incredibly talented musicians and songwriters. When you strip anyone down to two vocals and one or two guitars, there is nothing to hide behind. No backing tracks. No distortion or other instrumentation to “hide” the negatives. Nope. The artists are out there for all to see and hear and in this case, it was beautiful.


Sarah has a positive energy that at times masks her depth of artistry. What I mean by that is she has layers of emotion to her songs. It may come across as something upbeat but there’s so much more going on than surface hooks and melodies. And when she decides to intentionally write or perform a serious song, the end results are just incredibly moving.


One such song, “Silver Linings” from her upcoming new EP, is one perfect example. A song written about the ups and down of the music business, this song was perhaps Sarah at her most vulnerable. And man did it resonate with me in the best of ways.


Sarah performed the recently released, “Hungover”, “Waves” and, “Pretender” which sounded amazing in a duo format. If all of these songs are on the upcoming EP, that release is going to be one badass showcase of amazing songwriting and performance.


Sarah pulled out “Dreams” (Fleetwood Mac cover) from her Campfire Sessions she did during the pandemic times. She and Julie did an amazing job on this classic tune. The vocal harmonizing and the almost torch song quality to their version was spot on. Being a musician myself, trust me when I say these ladies have all the talent in the world.


An acknowledgment to Julie’s father who had flown in all the way from Boston was made which was really awesome to see that level of support.


As Sarah and Julie mentioned during their set, they’re looking for good vibes on this tour. Judging by their performance on Tuesday evening, they’re already spreading good vibes themselves. I hope all the fans that turn out return the good vibes in turn. Sarah and Julie definitely deserve every success they have coming their way.


Needless to say I was blown away by the performance Tuesday evening. Do yourself a favor - go support these talented musicians when they hit your town on the “Cruisin” tour.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here


"HUNGOVER" Official Music Video








(All photos - Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts (c) 2022)

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Kent Stowell's SWAN LAKE Pacific Northwest Ballet 4/16/2022 Eclectic Arts

Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake
Pacific Northwest Ballet
McCaw Hall
Seattle, WA

Review: Saturday 4/16/22 7:30 pm Performance

Performances run through Sunday April 24th.  Purchase tickets:  HERE!


(Pacific Northwest Ballet)


The classical full length ballet productions at the Pacific Northwest Ballet have each been uniquely satisfying. For someone like myself that hasn’t seen earlier “repeat” productions (yet) of the full lengths, each of them are new and exciting to me.


“Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake” was high on my list of ballet productions to see as it’s one that I had heard about, even before I started reviewing the PNB events.


The ever popular story of true love, broken trust, and eventual sorrow has been captivating audiences for decades.


With the show divided into four acts with two intermissions, the audience on Saturday evening was more than ready for the performance to begin.


In the lead roles of Odette/Odile was Elizabeth Murphy and Prince Sigfried was portrayed by Lucien Postlewaite.



Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Elizabeth Murphy and Lucien Postlewaite with company dancers in Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake, on stage April 15 – 24, and streaming digitally May 12 – 16, 2022. Photo © Angela Sterling.



The production is one where all the stops are pulled out. From the sheer number of dancers that are utilized at any given point to the grandness of the costumes and set design, the show was engaging from the opening sequence to the last.


Having watched snippets online from older productions, I was happy to recognize some of the movements as soon as they started. Of course being there in-person added so much more to the experience but it was a bit like putting together a half finished puzzle as each act unfolded.


I actually crossed Mercer Street before the performance - and walked behind Ezra Thomson and his wife Sarah Pasch, who were talking to another PNB dancer. It was a little surreal seeing Ezra on stage an hour or so later in the role of Wolfgang, having just seen him in street clothes earlier.


I mention this as my journey with the Pacific Northwest Ballet started in November of 2018. Now having seen my fair share of both full lengths and mixed bills, it’s interesting to see how my taste for one over the other really hasn’t changed in that time.


Performances like “Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake” emphasize the long history and tradition of ballet. I believe that’s why I gravitate to them more than the mixed bills. Having said that, the more I learn about the art form, the more I’m coming to appreciate the mixed bills, too.


“Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake” really is a wonderful experience, one that I wish more once a year PNB ticket buyers would partake in. I’m always looking at the performances from the eye of the non subscriber. What show would be that transition show to get the holiday PNB patron to become a two time a year patron (or more, of course)?


Outside of its runtime, “Ken Stowell’s Swan Lake” could be that missing link show. I believe “A Midsummer Night’s Dream (which is back as a part of the upcoming 2022-2023 season) is another solid candidate.


Do yourself a favor and check out one of the performances of “Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake”. It is a beautiful example of everything the Pacific Northwest Ballet does for the ballet community, the local community, and the arts community in the greater Seattle area.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here

THUNDERPUSSY April 15, 2022 The Showbox Eclectic Arts

THUNDERPUSSY
Smokey Brights
Actionesse

The Showbox at The Market
Seattle, WA
April 15, 2022

(All Photos - Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts (c) 2022)


The original New Year’s Eve celebration for Thunderpussy was postponed due to you know what. The New Year’s Eve gig has become a tradition at this point with the band pulling out all the stops to make for an extra special event each year.


While at the time everyone understood the need to postpone the show, the good news is not only was it rescheduled for April 15th, 2022 but it actually happened! I remember thinking to myself back at the end of December "I wonder where we’ll be with all of this shit by April?" Well, I, along with hundreds of others, were at The Showbox, celebrating, properly this time, like it was 12/31/21.


I’ve learned about a lot of awesome local (and not local) bands at the various Thunderpussy shows. The Black Tones, Wild Powwers, and Kolars just to name a few. Friday night the band had two local bands on the bill that I had heard about but had never seen live so I was excited.


Actionesse started things off for the evening. A fucking bundle of energy, the band hit the stage like it was their encore. I was blown away by their energy and their unique sound. They are a band that is hard to categorize but that just makes them that much more special. They made the most of their 30 minute set. By the time they were done, they wore me out. And I mean that as a high compliment. Great way to kick off the show!


Smokey Brights were up next. Their sound was much more polished but it was also a different kind of music. At times it went from funky retro dance to more folk inspired songs which mostly worked. They, like Actionesse, have been playing around town doing their own shows for quite some time now. And it showed. They were very professional sounding with the harmonies and instrumentation. The keyboard/synth in the middle of the stage is always a tough one to figure out for any band. For mellow singer songwriters, it kinda works. For bands that have more energy like Smokey Brights, it’s kind of distracting. I almost wanted the vocalist and keys/synth player Kim to kick that thing into the photo pit and start stalking the stage with a mic in her hand. Another great set by another quality Seattle based band.


This was my fifth New Year’s Eve gig in a row covering Thunderpussy (I’m counting 2016 but I was there on 12/30 instead of the second 12/31 show at Neumos that year). I always love the intention behind these special events. From the amazing wardrobe custom designed by Pakio Galore to the visuals (dancers, light design) to how the band is going to start the shows - they never repeat themselves. It’s always something different. And in recent years there have been special guests - sometimes many special guests.


Thunderpussy came on stage (Molly - vocals, Whitney - guitar, Leah - bass, and Michelle - drums) and blasted straight into, “Never Know”. If you’ve never experienced the band live, you’re in for a rock n roll spectacle.


The band is a rock band but they are uniquely their own. I’ve said it a ton of times but Molly is such a fantastic leader of the band. Her dance and movement background is always on high display at any Thunderpussy show. And Friday night was no different. Back bends, dropping to the stage, kicks, and just a constant ball of rhythmic energy, she is the perfect front person for the band.


Whitney is stage right with her trusty Les Paul and she dishes out the 70’s inspired guitar work. Her energy is always one of a fun, bad-ass guitarist. She speaks her mind in between songs as well on the mic.


Leah is stage left and she carries the bottom end with upper fret melodies at times, too, which sometimes go overlooked. She moves to the music as well, whipping her four string bass around the stage.


Michelle was new to me on the drums. She clearly knew the set as she fit in great with the band. I don’t know if she was filling in for the gig or what but, again, she did a great job on the songs.


Old favorite, “Speed Queen” brought out two dancers for the first time while “Velvet Noose” brought out special guests to the stage. “Fever” brought out pole dancers on each side of the stage which added to the visual presentation I mentioned earlier.


Dancers and special guests rotated in and out depending on the songs toward the end of the night. “Barracuda” by Heart got the Thunderpussy treatment as did set-ender “The Show Must Go On” by Queen, complete with basically everyone from the entire night on stage all at once.


It was fucking amazing to be back after not seeing the Thunderpussy live for over two years. With things going the way they are out in society, here’s to seeing the band live again at least one more time before we do it all over again on 12/31/22.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here

Special thanks: Whitney for putting me on the list and for saying hello before the show. Great sharing the photo-pit with Christine Mitchell again after two plus years. And thanks to my friends that made it out to the show as well. I was so glad you guys could all make it. Thank you for supporting Thunderpussy and the local music scene here in Seattle!




(All Photos - Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts (c) 2022)
Thunderpussy











Smokey Brights


Actionesse

More photos coming soon!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2022 April 14 - 24th Eclectic Arts

48th SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2022

April 14th through April 24th, 2022

Purchase passes and tickets:  HERE!


(Photo credit:  Elizabeth Crook)



Opening Night - 4/14/22

My very first in-person SIFF event was the Opening Night Gala on April 14th at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle, WA. This year SIFF went hybrid, similar to many of us at our jobs. After having been fully virtual last year, this year the organization decided to not only keep the virtual portion but fold in a good number of in person events and screenings.

Thankfully the world outside is improving to the point where these in-person events can take place. I’m sure in planning this year’s event, much of that had to be discussed months ago with alternatives in place, based on the state of the pandemic.

Like many of the events that I cover, there was absolutely a buzz in the air as in-person SIFF had been on hiatus for two years. So, to finally be back in-person, many long time SIFF supporters were ecstatic to say the least.

There was a red carpet experience, an after-party on a closed down 9th avenue, and a DJ prior to the program starting at 7pm. A few words from the board of directors, a montage of the upcoming festival films, a few words from Beth Barrett (the artistic director of SIFF), and the mayor of Seattle (who presented Tom Skerritt with the Mayor’s Award), the opening film began.

“Navalny” is a documentary but you would never know it.

If you’re like me and aren’t familiar with the story of Alexei Nalvany, the film will have you riveted to the screen. If you already know about the news surrounding him, then the film may come across differently (but still be compelling).

As many of you know, I don’t like to go through the plots in my film reviews. This film in particular would be ruined if you went into it already knowing what happens.

But I will say this. The old saying life is stranger than fiction applies here. The twists and turns that director Daniel Roher presents are just astounding. After the first fifteen minutes, you actually forget that you’re watching a documentary at times. It’s that engrossing.

At the conclusion of the film, there was a Q&A session with the director, producers, and editor from the movie.

5 out 5



Only In Theaters (review held as requested)


This documentary tells the fascinating tale of the Los Angeles Laemmle Theatres arthouse chain. The ups and downs of running a non traditional set of theatres as well as the hardships that were compounded by the pandemic shutdown of 2020-2021.

4.5 out of 5



Daughter of a Lost Bird (review held as requested)


This documentary is a look at race, culture, and when two worlds collide. Anyone that is from one race that was brought up by another race will most likely find something that resonates with this film.

4.5 out of 5



Nothing Compares (in-person viewing)


I was fortunate enough to cover Sinead O’Connor’s concert performance in January 2020 here in Seattle. It was one of the last live events before the lockdown.

The documentary “Nothing Compares” is a non-traditional look at Sinead the artist and person. It is not an exhaustive documentary that goes from her birth to the present. While it certainly covers some of those years, it tends to fuse past media (such as interviews and performances) to tell the story of this highly influential musician and artist.

Director Kathryn Ferguson spent three hours interviewing Sinead for the audio soundbites that are throughout the film. She does a wonderful job of showing just how Sinead hasn’t wavered over the years. The controversies were really self expression about things Sinead felt passionately about. The controversy really came from others and how they reacted to it.

“Nothing Compares” is a necessary and brilliantly done documentary about one of the artistic and misunderstood leaders of the music world.

5 out of 5



Resurrection (in-person viewing - review held as requested)


Let me just say that Rebecca Hall is absolutely amazing in this film. There is a part where she does like a ten minute monologue, with a single camera on her face, that is Oscar worthy.

The film itself? It definitely fits in the programming section that is called WTF. I’ll just leave it at that.

4 out of 5 (for Rebecca Hall’s performance)



Sweetheart Deal (review held as requested)


This documentary is a really raw and rough look at prostitution, drug addiction, and recovery along Aurora Avenue in Seattle - which has a reputation of offering illegal trades to any and all takers.

Without giving anything away, it also is a document about a very serious legal case that spawned from one of the subjects the film follows around.

The film is hard to watch at times but that is a compliment to the creatives behind it.

4 out of 5



Speak No Evil


This film is a thriller that takes its time building up the story but the payoff is well worth it. Two couples randomly meet (one from Denmark, the other from the Netherlands) while on vacation and hit it off.

The Dutch couple offers to have the Danish couple visit for a relaxing weekend at their home. Everything seems fine but, of course, it’s not.

No spoilers here but the finale is dark and really brings the story to a climax that is very fitting for the narrative.

This one is for fans of thrillers with some horror thrown in for good measure.

4 out of 5



The Pez Outlaw


This documentary is a really fascinating look at the collector culture, in this case Pez, and also the way marketing works around the world.

The focus is on one collector in the U.S. who manages to buy Pez that are not sold in the U.S., only abroad. Of course the collectors market in the U.S. goes crazy for these and the collector ends up making a business of buying international Pez dispensers and selling them in the U.S.

Of course this catches the eye of the president of the U.S. Pez company “pezident” so that’s where the outlaw portion comes in. The collector defies the company and continues his ways of bringing in products and selling them for a handsome profit.

The film is enjoyable and I understand the collector mentality so it was on one hand fun to watch the collector stick it to the company. On the other hand, he is clearly breaking the law as he isn’t importing a few dozen Pez dispensers, we’re talking thousands upon thousands.

Any way you look at it, “The Pez Outlaw” is a documentary worth watching.

4.5 out of 5



The Passenger (Spain)


If you’re looking for a midnight movie, you found it. “The Passenger” follows a mother and daughter, along with another passenger, as they take a ride share of sorts in Spain. They run into something from outer space that has infected two human victims earlier in the film.

The rest of the film is centered around the ups and downs as they try to survive in one piece. The movie is interesting and over the top in parts which makes it fun.

If you’re in the mood for a late night popcorn film, “The Passenger” will fit the bill nicely.

4 out of 5



Ali & Ava


This film was a nice change of pace. I’m always amazed when films present a slice of life so real that it doesn’t even seem scripted at times. “Ali & Ava” is one such film. It revolves around two adults, who’s lives intersect in a very organic way. The lead actors carry the film with skill and artistry. The film also touches on interracial relationships, blended families, and other assorted topics that many will relate to.

A quality film.

4 out of 5



Hockeyland


I enjoy most documentaries and if they are sports related, then that’s just a plus. This documentary about two rival high school hockey teams started off well. It shows one team that has been a powerhouse while the other team has been so close to beating the other team but never quite gets the job done.

As the movie follows the season and the players, it starts to lose its way a bit. While it’s still a good film, it didn’t find a way to dig deep enough to create the emotional weight that would have made it great.

3.5 out of 5



It’s Just A Phase, Honey (review held as requested)


I wasn’t expecting this German film to be as funny and heartwarming as it was but it was certainly welcome.

The story revolves around a family where the mother and father are losing their interest in each other. The film follows their paths that eventually lead them…somewhere. No spoilers here.

The cast was superb and it was a film I would watch again. Recommended.

5 out of 5



Life Of Ivana (review held as requested)


This documentary follows a mother and her children that live in the Arctic as she attempts to move them to the furthermost northern village.

Initially, the film was interesting but after a while it started to drag on - much like something you would have seen on television many years ago. The narrative became redundant and hard to focus on.

3 out of 5



Midday Black Midnight Blue (review held as requested)


This drama was filmed on Whidbey Island here in Washington state. It follows a man who is still grieving the loss of the woman he loved over two decades ago.

The narrative was interesting but some of the sequences were a little confusing. They eventually sorted themselves out though.

It’s a tough film to digest but it was created with a solid vision that comes through in the end product.

4 out of 5



Warm Blood (review held as requested)


This film is a nod to the 1980’s but instead of the cliche’s that are popular of that era, it goes for the underbelly aspects of films from the time.

I really wanted to like the film but it just didn’t resonate with me. The storyline and the characters were hard for me to care about. Perhaps you’ll feel different.

3 out of 5



N.W. Confidential Shorts Block


I thoroughly enjoyed the first and the last short films in this block. “Rachel’s Don’t Run” and “In The Event Of My Death”. Both were unique visions of stories that could potentially become features.

The other films in the block were hit and miss but they were all interesting. Typically there’s at least one film that is a pass in a shorts block but not this time.

4 out of 5



While I did the best I could with my coverage of the 2022 Seattle International Film Festival, it was a bit underwhelming for me due to contracting the dreaded "C" early into the proceedings. So, my virtual experience from last year was nearly replicated this year. Fortunately, I was able to get out to the Opening Night Gala and two other in-person screenings. But, I had hoped to see several more films with an audience but that wasn’t in the cards for me this year. Hopefully, next year it will be a different story.


I want to thank everyone involved with the festival for persevering through the last two years to bring this wonderful institution back to in-person events and screenings. I, of course, want to thank the PR team for giving me the opportunity to partake in SIFF 2022.


Again, I hope 2023 will be a “third times the charm” sort of experience for me. I want to experience SIFF fully without distraction. Here’s to hoping and I hope to see everyone then!
 

Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

NITRAM Film Review April 12, 2022 Eclectic Arts

NITRAM

IFC Films
Reviewed: 4/12/2022

Rating: 4 / 5


Available Now!


(IFC Films)



The new film, “Nitram” is based on the horrific event that occurred in Tasmania, Australia in the mid 90’s.


WIthout going into too much detail about the plot, Nitram (played exquisitely by Caleb Landry Jones) is a young man that lives with his parents. He struggles to fit in and consistently feels alone.


He eventually meets an elderly woman when he knocks on her door to see if she’d like her lawn mowed so he can earn some money. They form an odd friendship and it’s really Nitram’s only friendship. Helen (played by Essie Davis) turns out to be an eccentric heiress with a great deal of money.


I’ll stop there so I don’t spoil the film.


“Nitram” is a compelling film. Caleb Landry Jones is in basically every scene and he brings the level of method type acting that only a master can execute. He is simply incredible to watch as his character descends into a state that is eventually unspeakably horrific.


“Nitram” is worth your viewing time.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here

OFFICIAL TRAILER

Monday, April 11, 2022

THE CELLAR Film Review April 11, 2022 Eclectic Arts

THE CELLAR

Shudder and RLJE Films
Reviewed: 4/11/2022

Rating: 3 / 5


Shudder and RLJE Films will release THE CELLAR in theaters and streaming on Shudder on April 15, 2022


(Shudder and RLJE Films)



The new horror film, “The Cellar” looked really promising from the trailer. And, yes, I know trailers can be misleading.


A husband and wife’s teenage daughter goes down into the cellar of their new (old) home and disappears. As they do everything in their power to find her, they discover the house is a gateway to something else.


The film definitely started out with a good amount of atmosphere and uneasiness. I liked where it was headed.


(Dylan Fitzmaurice Bradyas Stevenin the horror film,THE CELLAR, a SHUDDER / RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of SHUDDER / RLJE Films.)



But, once they started explaining what world was beyond the cellar in the house, it lost me. I wanted more of a guts and gore reveal than what they ended up doing in the finale.


“The Cellar” was a decent watch and some of you out there may enjoy the direction they went with the ending. I just thought the build up came with a let down.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here


OFFICIAL TRAILER





SPIRITWALKER Film Review April 11, 2022 Eclectic Arts

SPIRITWALKER

Well Go USA
Reviewed: 4/11/2022

Rating: 4.5 / 5


Releasing April 12 on Digital, Blu-ray & DVD


(Well Go USA)



The new South Korean film, “Spiritwalker” is a mix of modern day science fiction and stunning action.


I can’t remember the last time I saw a film where the action sequences actually seemed new and fresh. It’s a hard thing to accomplish when every type of action scene has been done over the decades. But, “Spiritwalker” found a way to rise above the norm and present some eye-catching action.


Action alone isn’t enough, though and thankfully “Spiritwalker” has an interesting story that has layers of depth to it. After surviving a car crash, a man Kang I-an wakes up every 12 hours in a different body. Kang I-an is determined to figure out what happened and by doing so ends up on an action-packed thrill ride.



(Well Go USA)



“Spiritwalker” was released in South Korea at the end of November 2021. By the end of the year (basically one month) it was the number seven highest grossing film for all of 2021 in South Korea. That should give you an idea of how good it is.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here


OFFICIAL TRAILER

Sunday, April 10, 2022

THE BOOK CLUB PLAY Village Theatre April 9, 2022 Eclectic Arts

THE BOOK CLUB PLAY
By Karen Zacarías
Directed by Arlene Martínez-Vázquez and Jéhan Òsanyìn

Village Theatre
Everett, WA

Opening Weekend Review: 8pm Performance on April 9, 2022


(The Ensemble of Village Theatre’s production of The Book Club Play. Photo by Gabriel Corey.)



I was happy to finally be back at the Village Theatre Everett for their new production, “The Book Club Play”. The last (but not least - it just worked out that way) on my list of theatres to return to in-person after the pandemic was a real treat.


I always enjoy seeing actors that I’ve seen in other productions around town and “The Book Club Play '' had at least two actors whose work I enjoyed previously.


With the premise revolving around a small book club and the lives of each member, “The Book Club Play” was advertised as a smart comedy.


Act I started off rather slow. The dialogue and humor were odd at best and it took a long while for me to warm up to any of the initial characters. By the time Arlando Smith’s character arrived, that’s when things took a turn for the better. The banter between all six actors was witty and the chemistry started to develop between the characters.


Act II continued the ups and downs of the characters and then turned into a more serious affair to end the show, not including the epilogue. As always I don’t like to give away too much of the plot in any of my reviews.


The cast was strong across the board and there were no weak links whatsoever. The lighting, staging, wardrobe, etc. were all of the high quality I’ve come to expect from the Village Theatre. The show overall was enjoyable and it definitely had its moments but it didn’t quite resonate with me like I hoped it would. Considering that it was an exceptionally produced show, I was hoping I would be raving about it and telling everyone I know to go see it. Instead, I left somewhat satisfied but also a little empty as well, if I’m being honest.


Perhaps you’ll have a different viewpoint after you see it.


“The Book Club Play” runs through May 1st. Tickets are available here:  TICKETS!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here

MAMA WON'T FLY The Phoenix Theatre April 7, 2022 Eclectic Arts

MAMA WON’T FLY
by Jones, Hope, and Wooten
Directed by Jay Jenkins
Produced with permission of Dramatists Play Service

The Phoenix Theatre
Edmonds, WA

Dress Rehearsal Review: April 7, 2022





Due to a busier than ever schedule, I attended my first ever dress rehearsal to review a local theatre production at The Phoenix Theatre. The show officially opened the next night so the show was basically ready to go (and I can say that now having seen it from beginning to end).


The show revolves around a mother, daughter, son, and his fiancee’. Mom and daughter are headed to meet up with the son for his wedding but the only problem is - mom won’t fly. So, the daughter begrudgingly agrees to drive mom halfway across the U.S. to the wedding destination. They are met of course with more than a few surprises along the way and that’s where the comedy begins.


If you’ve ever seen Susan Connors (Norleen Sprunt aka mama) on stage at The Phoenix Theatre, then you know just what level of acting and comedic timing you’re going to get. Susan never fails to bring her A-game and she absolutely shines in this production.


Her partner in crime Renee Gilbert (Savannah aka the daughter) is equally good in her role as the put-upon daughter who has her own issues to work out with her mom. Renee really kept this play moving forward and it was great seeing her back in another production at The Phoenix.



(Renee Gilbert, Susan Connors, and Melanie Calderwood - photo courtesy TPT)



Laughs came from all of the cast members including Jeannine Early/Tanya/Rema Jean/Edweena/Kiki, Arianna Villasor/ Hayley Quinn, Anthony Gaynes/Denton/ Chicken /Mitch /Duggar /Ronald /Kelvin, Melanie Calderwood/Essie/Pawnee/Fanny/Sybil, and James Lynch/ Ferd/Red/Mickey/Spud.


“Mama Won’t Fly” will have you feeling like you just endured a road trip unlike any other. Believe me, though, it’s a trip worth taking.


“Mama Won’t Fly” runs through May 1st. Tickets are available here:  TICKETS!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here

GHOSTS Seattle Rep April 6, 2022 Eclectic Arts

GHOSTS

By Henrik Ibsen 
Translated from the Norwegian by Paul Walsh
Directed by Carey Perloff 

Seattle Rep
Seattle, WA


Opening Night Review: April 6, 2022


(Seattle Rep)


There was an energy of great anticipation in the air as opening night for the drama, “Ghosts” finally came to be on April 6th. The material by Henrik Ibsen (as translated by Paul Walsh) paired with the headlining cast created quite the stir amongst the Seattle theatre community.


With well known actors Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, David Strathairn, and Thom Sesma leading the way, the Bagley Wright theatre at Seattle Rep was filled with theatre veterans and newcomers alike discussing the show before it even began.


“Ghosts” is such a rich story that it is one of those plays that lingers with the viewer long after one has left the theatre.


The plot surrounding a dysfunctional family that in many facets repeats its own history is a fascinating look at themes that were quite controversial in their day (and in some cases in the present day as well). As most readers know, I’d rather a patron witness any play without plot spoilers from any of my reviews.



(Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and David Strathairn in Ghosts at Seattle Rep. Photo by Bronwen Houck.)



The master class that Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio put on was worth the price of admission alone. After the multitude of plays I’ve reviewed, her performance was the first where I was so captivated by her acting when she wasn’t even speaking. Her response to her castmates' dialogue was stunning to watch. You can only imagine just how powerful her acting was then when she was delivering line after line of precise yet heartfelt dialogue that thrust the narrative forward.


David Strathairn played his character to perfection. The pastor who doesn’t see just how archaic his line of thinking is and that his offers of help are tinged with a backhanded slight was also an incredible sight to behold.


The staging and the musical score from David Couleter was nothing short of brilliant. Such a nuanced use of instruments to create an unsettled feeling all through the production was spot on.


“Ghosts” won’t have you jumping for joy once you leave the theatre. However, it will have you singing its praises for the high level of quality theatre it evokes.


Highly recommended.


“Ghosts” runs through May 1st. Tickets are available here: TICKETS!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here

Saturday, April 9, 2022

BEAUTIFUL - THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL April 8, 2022 Eclectic Arts

BEAUTIFUL
The Carole King Musical

Premera Blue Cross Broadway At The Paramount
Seattle, WA

Opening Night Review: April 8, 2022


((l to r) Sara Sheperd, Sara King, Ryan Farnsworth and James D. Gish)



Musicians recognize other musicians, regardless of genre. A songwriter or tunesmith - same thing. The average musician out there doesn’t need to love Carole King’s music to recognize her greatness as a songwriter.


While I grew up with her music, I really knew next to nothing about her story. “Beautiful - The Carole King Musical” attempts to shed some light on the woman that has a songbook for the ages.


The show never lets up with the vast catalog that Carole King wrote or co-wrote over the decades. Many, many songs that other artists recorded were hers. Each song performance was well done and the audience really ate it all up. By the second act, it was more like being at a rock concert than a musical.


While the story addresses some of the ups and downs of Carole King’s life, it chose to stay with a focus on the music and her first marriage (she had been married four times in real life). By doing that, her life story took a bit of a back seat to the songs and the performances.


It's understandable that her music is also her life. When you’ve written as many classic tunes as she has, the two areas are intertwined. But I would have preferred to have had more focus on her life from the early days to more recent times, including the changes over the decades. The show addressed some of this but it felt incomplete and the storyline was merely in the background so the performances of the songs could take center stage.



(Sara Sheperd as “Carole King")



The performances were outstanding. Sara Sheperd as Carole King, James D. Gish as Gerry Goffin, Sara King as Cynthia Weil, and Ryan Farnsworth as Barry Mann could not have been more engaging and entertaining. The tone of much of the musical was light (with a few exceptions) and the leads all did an amazing job of bringing Carole King’s music to life.


The opening night audience clearly enjoyed the performance. As I mentioned earlier, there was a ton of applause and verbal appreciation after every tune in the second act.


Overall, “Beautiful - The Carole King Musical” was highly entertaining and a wonderful tribute to one of the greatest songwriters of our time.


“Beautiful - The Carole King Musical” runs through Saturday April 9th. Tickets are available here:  TICKETS!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here