Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Sax Man (not another comic-book superhero) needs your help, March 7 at Lakeshore 7 Cinemas in Euclid

A Cleveland filmmaker’s music-themed project has him jamming - and in a jam. You can help out this Saturday.

A few years ago Joel Siebert, now residing in Lakewood, completed THE SAX MAN, an uptempo documentary (with a bit of bluesiness) about Cleveland’s best-known musician. No, you stupid internet kids, not Michael Stanley - well, yes, we suppose Michael Stanley is Cleveland’s best-known musician. But far more people, arguably, have heard and seen Maurice Reedus Jr.

Reedus, for the past 20 years, have been a ubiquitous street-saxophone player, blowing his notes chiefly around Playhouse Square and sporting events downtown. Many passersby in the crowd just know him as the Sax Man, who takes requests of all sorts - when police aren’t telling him to move along.

Siebert’s film (with guest appearances by radio personality Alan Cox, actor-turned-music-producer Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and prolific local writer Ted Schwarz) opens up Reedus’ bittersweet past. He’s an artist descended from Grammy royalty, a guy who could-a-been-a-contender, and now roughs it with his horn in all sorts of stormy weather. But is he a “real” musician? And could Reedus come through in an honest-to-goodness, professional-style, full-band concert set? A third act performance at the Cleveland House of Blues franchise answers that question tunefully.

NE Ohio made documentary "Stella Walsh' to screen at 39th Cleveland International Film Festival

[Press release from Rob Lucas.]

“Stella Walsh,” a short documentary about the Olympic athlete of the same name by Akron filmmaker Rob Lucas, will screen at the Cleveland International Film Festival on March 25, 2015.
Walsh, who lived most of her life in Cleveland, was one of the most celebrated female athletes on the planet. She had thousands of medals, ribbons, honors and fans from around the world. Her popularity continued for decades after winning a gold medal running the 100-meter dash for Poland in the 1932 Olympics, until she was killed during a robbery in a Cleveland parking lot and it was discovered that she had ambiguous gender.

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken (opens in Cleveland March 6th exclusively at Shaker Square Cinemas)

[KIDNAPPING MR. HEINEKEN opens in Cleveland on Friday March 6th exclusively at Shaker Square Cinemas.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

In November of 1983, CEO of the Heineken beer company Freddy Heineken, along with his driver Ab Doderer, was kidnapped by a group of amateur criminals. They got their ransom money, fled to various countries to hide out, and were eventually caught and imprisoned. I know that's a fairly flat and terse description of the crime in question, but you should see how dull it looks on film in KIDNAPPING MR. HEINEKEN.

Gangs of Wasseypur (May 8th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[GANGS OF WASSEYPUR screens Sunday May 8th. Part 1 at 3:45 pm, part 2 at 7:15 pm.]

Review by Matt Finley

My ignorance of Bollywood cinema (outside a few ubiquitous brightly clothed, dance-heavy stereotypes) is matched only by my sucking void of knowledge pertaining to India's socio-political history. So it's a marvel that through gritty, propulsive gangster film dialectics alone Anurag Kashyap's GANGS OF WASSEYPUR held me fully in its sway for an imposing five-hour-and-twenty-minute runtime.

Filmed as a single cinematic epic, but split KILL BILL-style into two distinct, serial films (PART 1 and PART 2) by its original Indian distributor, GANGS spans 75 years and 3 generations, telling the story of the Khans, a crime family whose cunning, brutal patriarchs carve a path of violence and extortion across decades of social and political strife.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Review by Pamela Zoslov

More than three years have passed since the release of THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, a sunny trifle and surprise hit that spent many months pleasing older audiences at independent theaters like Cleveland's Cedar Lee. The movie, based on a novel by British author Deborah Moggach called These Foolish Things, told of a group of British seniors who, displaced by the overburdened National Health System, took up residence in a once grand, now rather ramshackle retirement hotel in Jaipur, India. Under the tutelage of the eager hotelier Sonny Kapoor (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE star Dev Patel), the spry residents entangle romantically, find new careers, and experience rejuvenation within the teeming, colorful, disheveled culture of India.

Now comes a sequel, THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, which finds the same elders a few years on, dealing with romantic and career problems. The sequel is the work of the same writer-director team of Ol Parker and John Madden.

Buzzard (opens in Cleveland March 6th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[BUZZARD opens in Cleveland on Friday March 6th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Pamela Zoslov

With his new, lo-fi film BUZZARD, Joel Potrykus revives a nearly forgotten genre, the '90s indie slacker movie. The film’s lead actor, Joshua Burge, with his mournful eyes and hangdog visage, even looks like a young Steve Buscemi, star of so many of those long-ago indies.

Road Hard (opens in Cleveland on March 6th exclusively at Tower City Cinemas)

[ROAD HARD opens in Cleveland on Friday March 6 th exclusively at Tower City Cinemas.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

I don't find Adam Carolla particularly funny. Never have. So that's a fairly major obstacle that ROAD HARD, the new film Carolla stars in and co-wrote and directed, has to overcome with this reviewer. It does so largely by being a personal and surprisingly sweet little film about a once popular comedian, Bruce Madsen (Carolla), who has fallen on hard times both in terms of his career, and life in general. Once co-star of the popular “Bro Show” and other TV programs, Bruce's star has faded and he finds himself back on the road doing stand-up in mid size comedy clubs, flying coach, and living out of hotel rooms.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Nocturna (now on video)

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

I don't know about you, but when a separate Oscar category for Best Animated Feature was inaugurated, I welcomed it as a chance to open audiences up to the rich world of cartoons, CGI and stop-motion that exists outside of the usual Disney/DreamWorks axis of evil. (Plus, I like to think that advancements in animation will mean fewer live-action cinema - meaning fewer borderline-psycho actors employed in our midst - and that can't be a bad thing). So, perhaps thanks to the Academy, more viewers are turned on to stuff like SONG OF THE SEA and the output of Studio Ghibli than would have been otherwise.

Still, there are some major animated features that take some time to get here. I'm still curious about FELIDAE, the German cartoon based on a best-selling thriller novel (that never broke big with American readers) about a cat version of Sherlock Holmes. Then there's NOCTURNA, a Franco-Spanish epic that was completed all of eight years ago. Now it's finally shown up here on disc.

Force Majeure (March 5th and 6th at the Cleveland Cinematheque. Also available on home video)

[FORCE MAJEURE screens Thursday March 5th at 6:30 pm and Friday March 6th at 9:35 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque. Also available on home video.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

We'd all probably like to think that, in a time of crisis, we'd rise to the occasion and behave heroically. But let's be honest. None of us really knows how we'd behave in a sudden, dire situation until it happens. Which is why, uncomfortable as it may be, we can relate to Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke), the protagonist of Ruben Östlund's FORCE MAJEURE.

Tomas is on a ski vacation with his wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), son Harry (Vincent Wettergren) and daughter Vera (Clara Wettergren). The family is all smiles as a resort photographer has them pose for pictures, but that all changes when a controlled avalanche goes as the family enjoys and outdoor meal. While Ebba's first instinct is to protect her children, Tomas runs away without even glancing back. Fortunately no one is hurt, but as you can imagine there's some tension between husband and wife. Tomas' refusal to even admit what happened only makes things worse.

Monday, March 2, 2015

39th Cleveland International Film Festival Announces Program Line-Up

[Press release from the Cleveland International Film Festival.]

The 39th Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF39), presented by Dollar Bank, announces its program line-up at  The CIFF39 will take place March 18th – 29th at Tower City Cinemas and select neighborhood screening locations.  The Festival will showcase 193 feature films and 234 short films representing 60 countries during its 12-day run.  Be sure to continue to check for program updates between now and March 29th.  You can also download our free Android and iPhone apps for all the latest CIFF39 info.

Tickets go on sale to members only on Friday, February 27th and to the general public on Friday, March 6th.  Not a member?  Become one by clicking here or by calling 216.623.3456 x10.

Ticket prices for films are $13 per film for CIFF members and $15 for non-members.  Once on sale, tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (1.877.304.FILM), in-person at the Film Festival Box Office in the lobby of Tower City Cinemas, or by mail using the Program Guide order form.

Program Guides will be available throughout the region, including all Dollar Bank locations, the week of February 23rd.