Thursday, September 16, 2021

Blue Bayou Review: An Oscar-Worthy Drama About Family And Circumstances

Justin Chon	Justin Chon	...	Antonio Alicia Vikander	Alicia Vikander	...	Kathy Mark O'Brien	Mark O'Brien	...	Ace Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Randy Austin	Randy Austin	...	TSA Officer Brad Blanchard	Brad Blanchard	...	Randy Chris Bosarge	Chris Bosarge	...	Ice Agent Martin Bats Bradford	Martin Bats Bradford	...	Lajon Adam Brazy	Adam Brazy	...	Judge Tracy Brotherton	Tracy Brotherton	...	Flight Attendant Ron Centanni	Ron Centanni	...	Doctor Emory Cohen	Emory Cohen		 Sylvia Grace Crim	Sylvia Grace Crim	...	Sylvia / Police Clerk Vondie Curtis-Hall	Vondie Curtis-Hall		 Rhonda Johnson Dents	Rhonda Johnson Dents	...	Jackie Divine Prince Ty Emmecca	Divine Prince Ty Emmecca	...	Airport Traveler Alexander Garcia	Alexander Garcia	...	Gulag Renell Gibbs	Renell Gibbs	...	Reggie Jim Gleason	Jim Gleason	...	Doctor Keegan

Release date: September 17, 2021
Running time: 117 minutes
Director/Writer: Justin Chon
Cast: Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander, Mark O’Brien, Linh Dan Pham, Emory Cohen, Sydney Kowalske

An official selection of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival from award-winning writer/director Justin Chon, BLUE BAYOU is the moving and timely story of an uniquely American family fighting for their future. Antonio LeBlanc (Chon), a Korean adoptee raised in a small town in the Louisiana bayou, is married to the love of his life, Kathy (Alicia Vikander) and step-dad to their beloved daughter, Jessie (Sydney Kowalske). Struggling to make a better life for his family, he must confront the ghosts of the past when he discovers that he could be deported from the only country he has ever called home.

Sage Kim Gray	...	Girl / Antonio's Mother Sydney Kowalske	Sydney Kowalske	...	Jessie Suzette Lange	Suzette Lange	...	airport traveler Susan McPhail	Susan McPhail	...	Susanne Linh Dan Pham	Linh Dan Pham	...	Parker Sean Richmond	Sean Richmond	...	DHS Agent #2 Geraldine Singer	Geraldine Singer	...	Dawn Landry K. Steele	K. Steele	...	Nurse Toby Vitrano	Toby Vitrano	...	Merk Britton Webb	Britton Webb	...	Ice Supervisor Ned Yousef	Ned Yousef	...	Mexican Worker Gordon Dexheimer	Gordon Dexheimer	...	Airport Traveler (uncredited) Produced by  Justin Bursch	...	executive in charge of production Alex Chi	...	co-producer Ashley Contino	...	post supervisor Zev Foreman	...	executive producer Greta Fuentes	...	co-producer Poppy Hanks	...	producer Ali Jazayeri	...	co-producer Charles D. King	...	producer Alan Pao	...	co-producer Kim Roth	...	producer Eddie Rubin	...	executive producer Yira Vilaro	...	co-producer
Justin Chon took on a lot for this film, but I have to imagine this was a very personal story for him to tell.  I loved his character, despite being frustrated with some of his choices, Antonio felt so uniquely American.  This Asian man with a thick New Orleans accent, tatted up and trying to do right by his family was such an amalgamation of ideas and influences that you can't help but be intrigued.  And Vikander as Kathy was a similarly interesting and deep character, the rock in the family who deals with the family's financial troubles but also the inherent racism that follows her and Antonio's love.  But the real star of this film is Kowalske as Jessie, who shows a comfort that you rarely see in young actors.  She is so natural in this role and is responsible for one of the most powerful scenes I have seen in any film.  This cast of mismatched but perfectly fitting characters really forms the heart and soul of this film, and their troubles, triumphs, and love fuel this story on.  

And the story of Blue Bayou layers the themes on but leaves plenty of surprises for the viewer to experience.  You never feel like it is intentionally holding information back from you, but new revelations occur throughout the film.  And this helps to fuel the family's plight but also gives you greater insight into the complicated person that is Antonio.  And these also allow the characters around the film to grow as well, giving depth to all the people that we meet.  But on top of this story, the film is just a beautiful piece of cinema.  The movie is in a 4:3 format, which puts the characters front and center.  And there are clever little touches, like a blurred look to some of the shots, that give it almost a dreamlike state.  And through this all, there is an amazing soundtrack.  The film has deep string notes during the dramatic parts and light clarinet during the happier times; they add layers to this film especially because much of this movie is communicated nonverbally.  

Blue Bayou is a powerful drama that packs a lot of information into an understated, beautiful, and gut wrenching film.  The movie looks at America through a unique lens, focusing on the life you build but also on how others treat you.  Justin Chon has created an absolute masterpiece, with so many themes packed into this story.  I really loved how they never felt overwhelming; the circumstances that the family is confronted with do, but the overall messages themselves are layered on and communicated to the viewer without overloading you.  And there are so many messages in this film, from immigration, to inherent bias, to the impediments that are placed in people's way, and to race and identity.  This movie is something that will speak to so many right now, when it seems that as a country there is a trend to not value hardworking people who call America home.  

Blue Bayou is a powerful drama that looks at race, family, love, and life through understated cinematography, complicated characters, beautiful music, and a gut-wrenching, uniquely American story.

Watch it.

Directed by  Justin Chon	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Justin Chon
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Blue Bayou is in theaters on September 17, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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When I'm A Moth Review: Some Beautiful Cinematography But Not A Bright Enough Flame

Release date: August, 27, 2021
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed By: Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak
Starring: Addison Timlin, 

From acclaimed filmmakers Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak, and starring Addison Timlin as Hillary Clinton, WHEN I’M A MOTH’s “what if…” scenario sees a young Hillary working as a fish monger in Alaska.  Possibly an un-biopic of Hillary Rodham set in 1969 Alaska. Possibly a collective dream about a young woman with only the most abstract connection to the politician. Possibly both.

When I'm A Moth is a strange film, and one that seems only vaguely grounded in reality.  The film looks at an alternate scenario where Hillary Clinton lived in Alaska and befriended two quiet Japanese men while working at a fish mill.  The film does have some good cinematography as the Alaskan wilderness is beautifully shown and the isolated nature of the work and the geography are brought to life.  This what if scenario also has a dreamlike quality to it as the film often has aspects that seem dreamlike, from some strange camera tricks to make the lens unfocused at times to a haunting, dreamlike soundtrack.  The film also has some very good low light scenes and beautiful camera work as this strange situation is depicted.  And the film also shows some of the brutality of the job as it  shows seemingly realistic depictions of fish being gutted.  

However, the film does not seem to really have much drive or purpose.  The dialogue often seems like it is form a play, with deliberate lines that can sometimes seem random.  I understood where they were coming from sometimes, but other times it just seemed like random lines form some eclectic characters.  And like a play, the film is slow with long scenes that often involve this awkward, disjointed dialogue.  The movie does not seem to really get its central point across to the audience, or if it is in there it requires a lot of work to really dissect it.  Much like the fish that our unbio protagonist guts, the film requires the audience to do the work of finding out what it is going for.  And in the end we are left with more questions than answers.  At least Addison Timlin's performance as Hillary is good, with an awkward, confident character that fits the protagonist but seems strange given the scenario. 

When I'm A Moth tells a dreamlike, alternate reality story but the lack of drive and playlike dialogue does not make this film a bright enough flame to draw viewers to.

Pass on it.

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When I'm A Moth is available digitally and on demand on August 27, 2021.  

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Crazy Fist Review: Action, Crocodiles, And Interesting Locales, Oh My!

Release date: September 14, 2021 (Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital)
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed By: Guo Qing
Starring: Steve Yoo, Wang Wei, Collin Chou, Xiaoming Huang, Wei Zhao, and Kai Greene 

After an opponent dies mid-match, a prominent MMA champion swore never to fight again, instead retiring to run his family’s international business. However, when his best friend dies under suspicious circumstances during another tournament, he has no choice but to step back in the ring to help uncover the truth.

Crazy Fist is going to be judged mostly by its action and thankfully that is mostly positive.  I enjoyed the intense introduction and the craziness of a fighting ring surrounded by crocodiles which made every step that much more dangerous.  And for the most part the fights are intense and fast, but many don't' have the same gravity as the first showdown.  They are over pretty quickly and sometimes the character's hits don't connect to their opponents, especially when weapons are used.  It's not too distracting but can be noticeable at times.  But the film does also give you an excuse to visit several Chinese locales, which are bright and imaginative.  I liked seeing some of the more colorful locales in between the big bouts.  And the cast is full of interesting characters with many ulterior motives.  I especially liked one of the police officers who kept using crazy disguises to try and stay undercover.  It provided some levity to this often serious film, letting you crack a smile between intense combat.  

However, despite Crazy Fist's entertaining action and imaginative locales, the film also has a story that was just tough to follow.  It feels like too much is going on and it will frequently cut mid fight with little notice.  This is not always the smoothest transition, and it definitely interrupts the flow of the movie.  You'll be in the middle of a bout and all of the sudden it goes to some gangster's room.  And although the film does not use much CG, there is an unnecessary CG moment in the middle of it that just sticks out at you.  It is strange because the film is mostly free of noticeable CG until that point, and the scene itself is relatively minor so it just seemed like an odd choice.  

In the end, Crazy Fist has entertaining action and bright locations to visit that will keep you engaged despite the somewhat difficult to follow story.

Rent it.

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Crazy Fist is available on VOD, Digital, DVD and Blu-ray on September 14, 2021.  It is also available to stream on Hi-Yah! now!

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Prisoners of the Ghostland Review: A Japanese and Western Nic Cage Fever Dream

Nicolas Cage	Nicolas Cage	...	Hero Sofia Boutella	Sofia Boutella	...	Bernice Nick Cassavetes	Nick Cassavetes	...	Psycho Bill Moseley	Bill Moseley	...	The Governor Narisa Suzuki	Narisa Suzuki		 Tak Sakaguchi	Tak Sakaguchi	...	Yasujiro Grace Santos	Grace Santos	...	Angel Canon Nawata	Canon Nawata	...	Nancy Takato Yonemoto	Takato Yonemoto	...	Takato Jeffrey Rowe	Jeffrey Rowe	...	Gunman Jai West	Jai West	...	Jai Saki Ohwada	Saki Ohwada	...	banker Charles Glover	Charles Glover	...	Enoch Shin Shimizu	Shin Shimizu	...	Shin Yurino	Yurino	...	Geisha & Ghost of the Banker Matthew Chozick	Matthew Chozick	...	Matthew Lorena Kotô	Lorena Kotô	...	Stella Yuzuka Nakaya	Yuzuka Nakaya

Release date: September 17, 2021
Running time: 101 minutes
Director: Sion Sono (Why Don’t You Play in Hell)
Writers: Aaron Hendry and Rexa Sixo Safai (Western Wonderland)
Starring: Nicolas Cage (Hero), Sofia Boutella (Bernice), Nick Cassavetes (Psycho), Bill Moseley (The Governor), Tak Sakaguchi (Yasujiro) and Yuzuka Nakaya (Suzi)

Prisoners of the Ghostland is set in the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town where a ruthless bank robber (Cage) is sprung from jail by wealthy warlord The Governor (Moseley), whose adopted granddaughter Bernice (Boutella) has gone missing. The Governor offers the prisoner his freedom in exchange for retrieving the runaway. Strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct within three days, the bandit sets off on a journey to find the young woman—and his own path to redemption.

Directed by  Sion Sono	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Aaron Hendry	...	(written by) Reza Sixo Safai	...	(screenplay)
Prisoners of the Ghostland is a strange film and you will either love it or hate it.  It has a mix of classic Japanese and Western tropes and film styles with an overarching an apocalyptic vibe.  It feels like a dreamlike wild west Japanese film; and yes that is exactly how I meant to describe it.  Everything is overexaggerated and overdelivered, from the serious scenes to the crazy scenes.  The colors, the locales, and the characters are all ramped up.  And when the film gets going, this is emphasized more.  Cage goes to several areas on his journey and they are all very different looking. You have the traditional Japanese / Wild West Samurai Town, a more apocalyptic town, and several stops along the way.  And it is not just the film's style that shows a blend of influences; the music also blends traditional Japanese music with spaghetti western music to form something unique.  This film is like if fallout and borderlands had a baby that was raised by an insane Japanese person.

And so with the good of this film's insanity also comes a convoluted story.  I think I need to watch this again as some of the concepts were tough to follow, and the film has a slightly out of order storytelling that is difficult at the start.  And some of the characters are weird to be weird.  The effects are generally fine except for the violence scenes, which are not distracting but do feel like an older film style.  Exploding packs of blood are common for gunshots and some characters are extremely bad shots until they land the killing blow, which is also overemphasized.  And the movie also has some strange cuts during the action scenes, possibly for budgetary reasons.  The most noticeable is during an odd car crash where the film cuts away during the actual crash.  This is a hallmark of budgetary constraints, yet the film itself does not have an overall budget feel.  

But despite all the strangeness, the difficult to follow story, and some of the over the top characters, what I kept coming back to was this film's unique style.  It just feels like a modern mashup of older films with a very unique spin on it; something that you don't see in other films.  I loved the craziness and the bright colors, the melding of Japanese and Western styles, and seeing Nic Cage back in a more insane role.  

Prisoners of the Ghostland is pure insanity, with a cinema blend of Japanese, spaghetti western, and apocalyptic influences into a Nic Cage fever dream of violence and style.

Watch it.

Teruaki Ogawa		 Chiho Fujii	Chiho Fujii	...	Chimera Servant Tatsuhiro Yamaoka	Tatsuhiro Yamaoka		 Christina Virzi	Christina Virzi	...	Crystal Produced by  Nate Bolotin	...	producer Brian David Cange	...	line producer: USA Lauren Craig	...	associate producer Michael Mendelsohn	...	producer Ko Mori	...	producer (as Kô Mori) Natalie Perrotta	...	executive producer Laura Rister	...	producer Yûji Sadai	...	executive producer Reza Sixo Safai	...	producer Nick Spicer	...	executive producer Aram Tertzakian	...	executive producer Toyoyuki Yokohama	...	executive producer
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Prisoners of the Ghostland is available in theaters, digitally, and on demand on September 17, 2021.  For showtimes, click here

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Screening: See Dear Evan Hansen Early And Free

We have partnered with Universal for an early screening of the Broadway hit made movie, Dear Evan Hansen!  The film is coming to theaters on Friday, September 24, 2021, but you can see it early and free!!  Details and entry form are below!

Dear Evan Hansen

Cast: Ben Platt, Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Nik Dodani, Danny Pino, Colton Ryan, DeMarius Copes

Directed by: Stephen Chbosky

Screenplay by: Steven Levenson

Music & Lyrics by: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul


The breathtaking, generation-defining Broadway phenomenon becomes a soaring cinematic event as Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner Ben Platt reprises his role as an anxious, isolated high schooler aching for understanding and belonging amid the chaos and cruelty of the social-media age.   

 Screening Info:


Tuesday, September 21


AMC Tysons

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Last Matinee Review: A Throwback Movie Theater Horror Experience

Ricardo Islas	...	Asesino comeojos Luciana Grasso	Luciana Grasso	...	Ana Franco Duran	Franco Duran	...	Tomás Julieta Spinelli	Julieta Spinelli	...	Ángela Bruno Salvatti	Bruno Salvatti	...	Esteban (Tea) Vladimir Knazevs	Vladimir Knazevs	...	Goni Daiana Carigi	Daiana Carigi	...	Maite (Brooke Shields) Patricia Porzio	Patricia Porzio	...	Gabriela Emanuel Sobré	Emanuel Sobré	...	Horacio Pedro Duarte	Pedro Duarte	...	Mauricio Yuly Aramburu	Yuly Aramburu	...	María Julia Hugo Blandamuro	Hugo Blandamuro	...	Hugo Julio Troisi	Julio Troisi	...	Vilardebó Juan Carlos Lema	Juan Carlos Lema	...	Viejo Vicente Varela	Vicente Varela	...	Diego Valeria Martínez Eguizabal	Valeria Martínez Eguizabal	...	Mamá de Diego Lucas Fressero	Lucas Fressero	...	Niño jugando Fernán Moliv	Fernán Moliv	...	Policía

Release date: August 6, 2021
Running time: 88 minutes
Directed By: Maxi Contenti (Muñeco viviente V, Neptunia)
Written By: Maxi Contenti and Manuel Facal (High Five, Fiesta Nibiru) and Contenti,
Starring: Luciana Grasso (El Secreto de Julia), Ricardo Islas (El Que No Corre Vuela, Bailiwick), Julieta Spinelli, Franco Duran, 
Patricia Porzio, and Pedro Duarte.

The audience attending the last showing of a horror film in a small downtown cinema are terrorized by a murderer who begins to pick them off, one by one. The only person to notice that something strange is going on is the projectionist’s daughter.

Maximiliano Contenti	...	producer Alina Kaplan	...	producer Daniel Pensa	...	co-producer Fernanda Pifano	...	assistant producer Miguel Angel Rocca	...	co-producer Martin Rupenian	...	associate producer Lucía Gaviglio Salkind	...	producer Carlos Scheck	...	associate producer Valentina Titakis	...	assistant producer
The Last Matinee has a great old school horror feel that starts with the main attraction of this film, the wonderful classic theater that it is set in.  From the projector film, to the grandiose entryway, to the thick curtains at the auditorium entrance, to the classic movie posters hanging on the wall, the theaters is a great monument to a different time in cinema.  I loved seeing the light of the projector, the issues with the film, and just how spectacular the place was.  And through it all you had a classic horror film playing on the screen, a nice touch that gave this film a horror vibe right from the start.  And it was nice to see a grand auditorium given that many haven't been back to the theaters in a very long time.

But on top of the wonderful setting, The Last Matinee has a sense of dread that hits you from the start.  It is a rain soaked night, meaning that a large ominous man in a face-obscuring rain coat doesn't seem that strange.  And the dark movie theater, horror film, and general lack of people in this giant auditorium make for the perfect setting for them to be picked off one by one.  And to add to this dread the film has some old-style horror sounds and big notes to help amplify the feeling of unease.  And the emptiness of the theater means that you are always expecting the killer to jump out at just that moment, and sometimes he does!

And the auditorium itself is full of somewhat quirky characters, at least providing enough variety to keep the story interesting.  You don't learn much about them due to the movie nature (they can't talk much) but there is enough here to keep the story moving.  And when the story really picks up, you get some grisly special effects and deaths.  The movie has a throwback feel in the deaths too, with over the top violence, practical effects, and plenty of blood.  And in true slasher fashion, the villain is ruthless and pretty much crazed.  The film doesn't give you justification for why this is happening and you don't really care; you just know that this killer is taking people out and you are holding your breath to see who will survive.  

The Last Matinee has a throwback slasher feel with its wonderful classic theater setting, grisly effects and deaths, and quirky cast of theater patrons.

Watch it.

Directed by  Maximiliano Contenti	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Maximiliano Contenti	...	(original idea) Maximiliano Contenti	...	(screenplay collaboration) Manuel Facal
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The Last Matinee available digitally and on demand on August 24, 2021.  

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The Protege Assassinating Your Wallet With Digital on September 21 and Physical on October 19

Michael Keaton, Maggie Q, and Samuel L. Jackson Star in Pulse-Pounding Thriller Arriving on Digital September 21 And 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, and DVD October 19 from Lionsgate®

SANTA MONICA, CA (September 14, 2021) – A deadly assassin is out for vengeance in the “bold, brilliant and relentlessly bad-ass” (Mark S. Allen, ABC-TV) action thriller The Protégé, taking aim on Digital September 21, and 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, and On Demand October 19 from Lionsgate. Headlined by OscarⓇ nominee Michael Keaton (2014, Actor in a Leading Role, Birdman; Spiderman: Homecoming,), Maggie Q (“Nikita,” Divergent) and OscarⓇ nominee Samuel L. Jackson (1994, Actor in a Supporting Role, Pulp Fiction; Avengers: Endgame), alongside Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), the “sharp and surprisingly intelligent” (Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post) film was written by Richard Wenk (The Equalizer franchise and The Expendables) and directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale and GoldenEye). 

Rescued as a child and raised by legendary assassin Moody (Jackson), Anna (Maggie Q) was trained to become the world’s most skilled contract killer. When Anna learns that Moody has been brutally killed, she vows revenge. On the murderer’s trail, Anna is entangled with an enigmatic hit man (Keaton) and, as their confrontation turns deadly, the loose ends of a life spent killing weave themselves ever tighter in this adrenaline-fueled action-thriller from the director of Casino Royale.

 The Protégé 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD will be available for the suggested retail prices of $42.99, $39.99, and $29.96, respectively. Additionally, the Digital release will be available for the suggested retail price of $14.99.


“Scars of the Past: Making The Protégé” Featurette

“Anna vs Rembrandt” Featurette

Deleted Scene

Theatrical Trailer