Friday, September 4, 2015

Mistress America (opens in Cleveland September 4th at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[MISTRESS AMERICA opens in Cleveland on Friday September 4th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Pamela Zoslov

Noah Baumbach has a penchant for writing irritating, difficult leading characters. He followed up his acclaimed, semi-autobiographical THE SQUID AND THE WHALE (2005) with darker pieces like MARGOT AT THE WEDDING (2007) and GREENBERG (2010), centering on neurotic, narcissistic personalities: Nicole Kidman's Margot, a short-story writer who wreaks havoc at her sister's wedding, and Ben Stiller as Greenberg, a damaged, volatile 40-year-old ne'er-do-well.

Meru (opens in Cleveland September 4th at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[MERU opens in Cleveland on Friday September 4th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

If you really want to prove yourself as a climber and/or certifiable crazy person, forget Mount Everest. Sure, it’s the highest mountain on earth and a tough climb that has taken the lives of many who attempt it, but you can hire sherpas to help carry your gear, and plenty of people have successfully made it to the top since Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary first accomplished the feat in 1953. No, if you want a real challenge, try Meru Peak in India. Noted for its distinctive “shark fin”, Meru may not be as tall as Everest, but it is a notoriously difficult mountain to summit. 

As the documentary MERU begins in 2009, no one has yet reached the top. Led by world renowned climber Conrad Anker, the ascent was filmed by Jimmy Chin (Anker’s climbing partner of many years) and Renan Ozturk, a skilled but comparatively green climber. They almost make it, but various hardships force the team to return without reaching the peak.

Repost: Kahlil Gilbran's The Prophet (opens in Akron September 4th)

[KAHLIL GILBRAN'S THE PROPHET opens in Akron on Friday September 4th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Bringing to animated life several of its author’s metaphysical parables, KAHLIL GILBRAN’S THE PROPHET reminds me of the time-worn aphorism, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” There’s no doubt that producer Salma Hayek, who also provides the voice for one of the film’s main characters, wanted this to be an uplifting and inspiring experience for those who watch it. But in trying to shoehorn Gilbran’s much loved prose poetry into something with enough action and conflict to hold a modern audience’s attention, THE PROPHET follows the ‘Save the Cat’ beat sheet to a depressing tee. The result is a film that, when it isn't cheapening the source material with a cheesy and predictable plot, is boring the target audience of kids to tears with long stretches of metaphysical philosophizing

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Reckless (now on video)

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

I don’t know how many of you saw 2009’s THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED. The UK thriller from director J Blakeson was a three-character suspense drama redux, in the tradition of Polanski’s KNIFE IN THE WATER, that dragged the viewer in to seductions, shifting alliances, and betrayals among a pair of kidnappers and their well-to-do female captive. I’d give it a strong recommendation, for viewers not put off by the sense of female victimization (yes, I’m a rather quaint 20th-century guy; audiences in the torture-porn era probably feel misled if an actress isn’t degraded).

Now, for those of who prefer Dutch-with-subtitles rather than accented English, there comes RECKLESS. No relation to the 1984 Daryl Hannah drama (or, for that matter, the 1935 Jean Harlow musical), Joram Lursen’s feature is a very near subplot-for-subplot remake of the 2009 DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED. Now done in the Netherlands (under the original title BLOEDLINK) its heroine is blonde (compare-contrast Gemma Atherton in the original), if that buys interest points.

Two Classic Robert Altman Films at the Capitol Theatre

[Press release from Cleveland Cinemas.]
The Capitol Theatre (1390 W. 65th St., Cleveland) will present two classic films by director Robert Altman starting Friday, September 11th in honor of their anniversaries. Oscar-winner NASHVILLE will be back on the big screen for its 40th and POPEYE returns for its 35th.
With a cast of 24 characters whose lives are intertwined through multiple storylines rather than a single plotline, NASHVILLE was unlike any other film when it was released in the summer of 1975. Set in an election year as a third party candidate is organizing musical talent for a rally, NASHVILLE’s themes of celebrity culture and politics are as timely today as they were when the film was originally released.

Repost: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (September 5th at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES screens Saturday September 5th at 9:30 pm and 11:59 pm at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

Andrew Sarris may have invented the Auteur Theory, Sergei Eisenstein the "revolutionary" style of film editing, James Cameron everything else. But me? My big contribution to cinematic thought? The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theory. I hold that were it not for these campy cartoon characters, martial-arts cinema would have had to wait even longer than it did to get wide acceptance in the west. That's right, no CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, no Jet Li a household name, no Tsui Hark or Cory Yuen an idol to yankee-dog film students without Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Leonardo and Splinter the Rat.

Repost: Roar (September 3rd and 4th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[ROAR screens Thursday September 3rd at 6:45 pm and Friday September 4th at 9:35 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Wildlife advocate Hank (Noel Marshall) takes cat hoarding to a new level, living in Africa with a hundred or so lions, tigers, leopards, and other assorted big cats in the one of a kind ROAR. Given his unusual hobby, is it any surprise Hank is separated from his wife Madeline (Tippi Hedren, married to Noel in real life at the time this was made)? As the film begins, Hank is anxiously looking forward to being reunited with Madeline and the rest of their family – daughter Melanie (Melanie Griffith) and sons John (John Marshall) and Jerry (Jerry Marshall).

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Review by Pamela Zoslov

I had a strange feeling while watching THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL that someone had, in fact, read my diary and put parts of it onscreen. No, I did not have an affair with my mother's boyfriend, nor did I do most of the things Minnie Goetze, the 15-year-old heroine of the movie, did in 1970s San Francisco. But I did once write a letter to Aline Kominsky-Crumb, the talented cartoonist who is married to the famous Robert Crumb, telling her how much I admired and identified with her hilarious confessional comics.

Aline wrote back to me too, a friendly and encouraging letter, just as she wrote to Minnie, and apparently to Minnie's creator, writer and artist Phoebe Gloeckner, whose 2002 confessional graphic novel is the basis of this film. Clearly Kominsky-Crumb's work is captivating, and she is really nice to her fans.

Listen to Me Marlon (opens in Cleveland August 28th at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[LISTEN TO ME MARLON opens in Cleveland on Friday August 28th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

Hearing the premise of the new documentary LISTEN TO ME MARLON, thrilling though it was, still brought to my jaded mind the sideshow come-ons when someone announces they've got exclusive cine footage of a crashed-UFO retrieval at Roswell in 1947, or long-lost Bigfoot celluloid.

The pitch: it turns out that the legendary Marlon Brando, before his 2004 death, had squirreled away hundreds of hours of secret audio narration. Everything from psychotherapy sessions to phone-answering machine messages to what I might imagine were dry runs to the autobiography he published in 1994 (that critics found somewhat unilluminating, if my memory serves). There was even some attempt at DIY sleep-hypnosis - poignantly urging him to shed the obesity that had made him a distorted caricature of himself.

Canopy Collective raises the awning on a local film-night event, August 28

[Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.]

The Canopy Collective is a group of local artists in various disciplines, from photography to poetry to sculpting to embroidery, who maintain a gallery and performance space at 3910 Lorain Avenue. On August 28 the site will host the first-ever Canopy Movie Night, in which a collection of locally wrought shorts, music-videos and clips from features-in-progress will be screened.

Among those taking part are Turnstyle Films, a production company best known for DRAW HARD, a portrait of maverick Cleveland cartoonist and comic-strip supporter John G. Sickening Pictures is Zach Shildwatchter’s outfit specializing in grindhouse-horror style shorts riffing on serial killers and other unspeakable topics. University of Akron graduate (oh, is the University of Akron still in business? We thought it had sold on Craigslist) Mike Wendt, when not working as a location manager on visiting film shoots, has embarked on projects of his own, such as the documentary short feature about Cleveland rock radio THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT.

Expect a few local premieres, refreshments, raffle prizes and Q&A sessions. Admission is $5, and the show lasts from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, go online to