Friday, June 23, 2017

The Exception (opens June 23rd at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[THE EXCEPTION opens in Cleveland on Friday June 23rd exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

A racy bit of historical fiction, David Leveaux's THE EXCEPTION is set shortly before World War II has begun. Hitler has come to power, and Germany's former ruler, Kaiser Wilhelm (Christopher Plummer), is living in exile in the Netherlands with his wife Princess Hermine (Janet McTeer). Nonetheless, Hitler is still concerned that the Kaiser might exert his influence on the populace. To keep tabs on the Kaiser, he has former SS officer Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney) assigned to look after the monarch.

Brandt finds himself keeping his eye not so much on the Kaiser, though, but rather on the Kaiser's pretty maid Mieke de Jong (Lily James). But beyond the fact that he isn't supposed to be engaging in hanky panky with the help, there's a pretty big complication to this budding romance: Mieke is a British spy, not to mention Jewish.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Twilight Zone: The Movie (June 23 at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE screens Friday June 23rd at 7:30 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

Rod Serling’s revered TV half-hour anthology The Twilight Zone, aired originally from 1959 to 1965, told different sci-fi and fantasy-tinged morality plays each week. It’s long shadow inspired this Warner Brothers big-budget movie anthology that made its theatrical debut in 1983 – an era when the blockbuster box-office returns of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg fantasias led the entertainment rackets to lavishly remake, relaunch and reboot all the way-out properties they owned the rights to. Whether the studios “got it” or not.

Three parts of the four installments in TWILIGHT ZONE – THE MOVIE remake favorite TZ episodes, but the first, directed by John Landis (hot after AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON) is an original. It's about a bigoted businessman (Vic Morrow), ranting about losing a job promotion to a Jew, who instantly finds himself cruelly knocked about the whole 20th century, suffering the same persecutions as blacks in the Jim Crow South, Jews in the Holocaust, and Indochinese during the Vietnam War. This was the featurette in which actor Morrow (and two child actors) died in an on-camera accident, perishing beneath a crashing helicopter while filming the Vietnam section. The horrific waste made even more disappointing by the segment itself, a one-note bashing of a nasty guy that feels like something whipped up by slumming liberal Hollywood film-school students.

Beatriz at Dinner (opens June 23rd at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[BEATRIZ AT DINNER opens in Cleveland Friday June 23rd exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Pamela Zoslov

The dinner party has long been a reliable setting for a comedy of manners or nightmarish descent into hell. BEATRIZ AT DINNER falls somewhere in between, with Salma Hayek as the titular Beatriz, a massage therapist who is the accidental guest at an elite soirée hosted by her wealthy clients.

The film was written by Mike White, a writer, director and sometime actor, and directed by his frequent collaborator Miguel Arteta. It's an unusual chamber piece that touches on corporate greed, animal rights, immigration, social inequality and spirituality. While not entirely satisfying as a linear narrative, it's beautifully filmed, thoughtfully written, and well acted.

The Bad Batch (opens June 23rd at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[THE BAD BATCH opens in Cleveland on Friday June 23rd exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

In a not too distant dystopian future, undesirables are labeled members of the "bad batch" and sentenced to a candy-colored dessert hellscape. This lawless zone is divided into two camps – the  Bridgers are cannibalistic body builders, while the residents live in a world that's flea market by day, rave by night. When they aren't partying, they somehow manage to eke out enough in the way of conventional sustenance from the limited resources around them to survive.

THE BAD BATCH opens with Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) being released into this world, where she is promptly chased down and captured by one of the Bridgers. In short order, her captor chops off an arm and part of a leg, cauterizing the wounds so Arlen won't bleed out. She is then chained up and kept alive to provide additional sustenance at a future date.

Friday, June 16, 2017

47 Meters Down

Review by Bob Ignizio

Last year THE SHALLOWS found success with modestly budgeted shark thrills, limited locations, and small cast. This year 47 METERS DOWN tries to not only replicate that success, but one-up it by doubling the number of women in peril, increasing the number of sharks, and adding in the additional danger of being trapped under water in a shark cage with limited air.

In a vacuous but thankfully short setup we meet sisters meet Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) vacationing at a seaside resort in Mexico. Lisa is getting over being dumped by her boyfriend, the one thing in her opinion that she had going for her over her more popular and fun sister. The reason she was dumped, she confides to Kate, is because her ex found her boring.

Cars 3

Review by Bob Ignizio

I am the father of a six-year-old boy. It should therefore come as no surprise that I have seen CARS, CARS 2, and MATER TALES, in whole or in part, several times each. It just kind of goes with the territory.

In general, critics have dismissed the CARS franchise as a mediocre piece of product from a studio, Pixar, that otherwise is the gold standard of animation. They are not wrong. Nonetheless, through repetition, the positive aspects of these films have come into sharper focus for me.

There are some funny bits, the voice cast are mostly likeable, and the always top notch Pixar animation is still top notch. I wouldn't describe any of these movies as good, but for product aimed at the kiddie market, there's plenty worse out there.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Monterey Pop (June 17th and 18th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[MONTERY POP screens Saturday June 17th at 7:05 pm and Sunday June 18th at 4:30 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

Music (and film) producer Lou Adler, who helped stage the Monterey International Pop Festival, proudly boasted that a "phenomenal" 1,100 media people covered the event (press arrangement handled by the ex-publicist for the Beatles), thus guaranteeing that the weekend of June 16-18, 1967 would go
down in history as the apex of the "Summer of Love." From that mix of cultural revolution, undeniable talent, and stage-managed corporate hype came MONTEREY POP, first in a cycle of widely-released,
mass-audience "rockumentaries."

The feature directed by D.A. Pennebaker skims highlights of the three-day, 33-act festival. First the hippie music fans arrive, one predicting that the concert in Monterey, California, will be "a Easter, Christmas and your birthday all at once!" Even the many police patrolling the Monterey County Fairgrounds are shown smiling benignly.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Can You Check Out Any Time But You Can Never Leave...Horror Hotel in Hudson? June 15 - June 18

Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.

At the annual installment of the International Horror Hotel Festival & Convention, you can see a short subject called DICKEATERS: THE MOVIE. Wouldn't it be worth it alone, to say you did that?

After all, the Cavaliers lost; might as well have some takeaway for 2017.

Horror Hotel is an early-summer offshoot of The Indie Gathering, a long-running series of meetings and networking expositions and festivals put on by and for DIY Ohio filmmakers. The Indie Gathering upholds "microcinema," ultra-low budget moviemaking outside the big film-industry system.

The Indie Gathering has a big annual international film festival in Hudson, Ohio, in early fall. But from the submissions that were coming in, the organizers - stunt coordinator Ray Szuch and actress-producer Kristina Michelle, of Cleveland - noticed that backyard filmmakers around the world most often gravitated horror and science-fiction genre shorts and features.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Free passes to the Indie Gathering Horror Hotel convention Thursday June 15th and Friday June 16th

[Free Ticket Giveaway!]

Horror Hotel is coming up again on June 15 through June 18, once again held at The Clarion Inn in Hudson. There are a lot of movies screening with filmmakers in attendance, with this year's fest bringing in filmmakers from as far away as Scotland, Saudi Arabia and China. If you would like a pair of passes for Thursday June 15th or Friday June 16th, send an email to: We have 10 pairs to give away for each day.

Uncle Gloria: One Helluva Ride! (June 13th at the Capitol Theatre)

[UNCLE GLORIA: ONE HELLUVA RIDE! plays as part of the Pride Month Film Series in Cleveland at The Capitol Theatre on Tuesday, June 1th3 at 7:30 pm]

Review by Eric Sever

Gender identity and sexuality are not always clear cut or fixed, and UNCLE GLORIA: ONE HELLUVA RIDE delves into both topics in an intimate and irreverent documentary of one woman's stranger-than-fiction journey.

Gloria Stein, a charismatic 70-something, began life as Butch, a scrappy, loud-mouthed, homophobic bald dude with a successful auto-salvaging business.

A couple friends introduced Butch to cross-dressing on one fateful "boys" weekend, and Butch embraced a new part-time identity as Gloria. When a contentious divorce forces Butch to hide from the law, he begins living full-time as Gloria, a blonde spitfire with a taste for old-Hollywood-style glamour.