Saturday, April 30, 2016

White Zombie (screens April 30 at 8:45 p.m. at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

As of this writing, it appears that the next FAST AND THE FURIOUS sequel will be partially filmed in...Cleveland, in the next month or so. Those of you reading this in some far-future internet archive, say 80 years from now, may have to be reminded that 2016 was also the year that right around the same time, the Republican National Convention was held in Cleveland. Coincidence? I wonder if the car-chase action series isn't just hoping that political protestors will burn the whole city to the ground coincident with their shooting stunt sequences in the foreground. Thus, epic special f/x, absolutely free of charge! Only excuse I make for taking the franchise to Cleveland. It's a bad economy here in 2016, after all. You internet kids reading this archived in 2096 - most likely you are a race of superintelligent apes who overthrew mankind; I know how that goes - can probably just take your copy of the seventh or eighth FAST AND THE FURIOUS sequel off your antiques shelf and check out if I am correct or not.

Talk of the antiques shelf and movies from 80 years ago that are enigmas to the descendants of their first-night viewers brings us to WHITE ZOMBIE

Friday, April 22, 2016

Elvis & Nixon

Review by Pamela Zoslov

The infamous presidency of Richard Nixon continues to reverberate in American culture. Recently a quote surfaced from now-dead Nixon henchman John Ehrlichman, who admitted to a journalist in 1994 that the “War on Drugs” was aimed at neutralizing black people and the antiwar left.

The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar Left, and black people....We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Thursday, April 21, 2016

'Purple Rain' to screen at the Cedar Lee April 28th

With the untimely passing of yet another musical icon this year, the Cedar Lee Theatre will be mourning right along with Prince’s fans as it screens his 1984 classic film PURPLE RAIN on Thursday, April 28th at 7:30 PM.
“We’ve shown PURPLE RAIN a few times over the years as part of the Melt Bar & Grilled Late Shift Series,” says David Huffman, Cleveland Cinemas Director of Marketing and Late Shift programmer. “It’s a film that captured Prince at the height of his career and I can’t think of a better way to pay tribute to this legendary performer than to bring it back to the big screen.”
Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead at the age of 57 on April 21, 2016. Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
Fans are encouraged to dress in purple when they attend the screening.
Tickets to see PURPLE RAIN are $6 and are on sale at the Cedar Lee Theatre or online at
For show times and additional titles visit

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Jungle Book

Review by Candice Lee Catullo

As the wolf’s jungle law goes: "The strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf." The strength of the THE JUNGLE BOOK is in the powerful spectacle, and the strength of the spectacle is the striking details.

THE JUNGLE BOOK is a fanciful telling of Rudyard Kipling’s book of the same name. It’s not the first time that someone has turned it into a movie, but it’s my favorite. In a world where a giant orangutan lives in an abandoned jungle temple, and every leaf on every tree a special effect, I imagine it would be a slippery slope for moviemakers to take shortcuts, leaps of judgment or think they could get away with cheating the audience. But they didn't. Every fake tree, every talking critter, every detail was treated with respect and seriousness – even when the story took dark turns, much deeper than the original Disney version in 1967.

The Invitation (opens in Cleveland April 15th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[THE INVITATION opens in Cleveland on Friday April 15th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

On the surface, most new-age beliefs are relatively benign regardless of whether they have any veracity or not. Some charlatan channeling chakras might bilk you out of a few bucks for crystals, but at least they aren’t going to ask you to drink the cyanide laced Kool-Aid like Jim Jones. But any time you have a charismatic figure who people believe has a personal hotline to truth and enlightenment, that possibility is always there.

That’s certainly the way Will (Logan Marshall-Green) views self-help group “The Invitation”, a group that his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) joined after the death of their son. It’s been over 2 years since that tragedy when Eden invites Will, his new girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi), and their old group of friends to a dinner party she’s hosting with her new husband David ((Michiel Huisman) and their live-in “friend” Sadie (Lindsay Burdge), both of whom are also group members. Later another group member, Pruitt (John Carroll Lynch), joins the festivities.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Club (April 7th and 8th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[THE CLUB screens Thursday April 7th at 9:10 pm and Friday April 8th at 7:30 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Membership in director Pablo Larrain’s THE CLUB is exclusive, but not especially desirable. The members are all former Catholic priests: Father Vidal (Alfredo Castro is probably a pedophile (he admits to the urges, but claims he keeps them under control), Father Ortega (Alejandro Goic) kidnapped “unwanted” babies and gave them to homes he deemed better, army Chaplain Father Silva (Jaime Vadell) was complicit in war crimes of some kind, and Father Ramirez (Alejandro Sieveking) is too senile to remember what he did, and whatever records might have existed on the man are missing. These men have been sentenced by the church to live out their days in an austere house on the Chilean seaside, watched over by a former nun (Antonia Zegers, wife of the director) with a checkered past of her own.

Monday, April 11, 2016

God Knows Where I Am (recently shown at the Cleveland International Film Festival)

[GOD KNOWS WHERE I AM screened this past weekend at the Cleveland International Film Festival.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Where do you draw the line between personal freedom and making sure a mentally ill person gets the treatment they need? And who should make those decisions – family members, doctors, judges? These questions and more are raised by the excellent new documentary film GOD KNOWS WHERE I AM. The film doesn’t necessarily offer answers, but it does at least provide a starting point for the conversation.

Rather than cast a wide net, co-directors Jedd and Todd Wider focus on the single, heartbreaking case of Linda Bishop. By all accounts an intelligent, capable, and outgoing woman who loved her friends and her daughter, Bishop also suffered from schizophrenia. And like many schizophrenics, she stopped taking her medication. The results were tragic.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Midnight Special

Review by Joseph Anthony

Recent press about MIDNIGHT SPECIAL has drawn comparisons to Steven Spielberg’s earlier sci-fi work. While those comparisons are valid, MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is unmistakably a Jeff Nichols’ film. SPECIAL has the grandeur and emotional tidings of a Spielberg flick, but like his three previous efforts (SHOTGUN STORIES, TAKE SHELTER, MUD), Nichols brings a southern charm that adds calm and charisma to his work.

2013’s MUD was one of my favorites of that year. In my review for that film, I described it as being “funny, tense, romantic, dramatic and even has some action. And while it’s packed with things we love in film, it still moves at a leisurely pace, telling us the story it wants to tell.” With the exception of romance, this description is just as appropriate for MIDNIGHT SPECIAL.


Review by Pamela Zoslov

DEMOLITION opens with an auto accident that kills the wife of Davis, a successful Manhattan investment banker. A similar collision is taking place between the styles of the movie's writer, Bryan Sipe, and its director, the Quebecois Jean-Marc Vallée.

Sipe's screenplay is a conventionally glossy Hollywood weeper, which has Jake Gyllenhaal as the young widower unable to come to terms with the death of his wife, Julia (Heather Lind). Despite the urgings of his father-in-law, Phil (Chris Cooper), who is also his boss, Davis is unable to cry or grieve in the expected ways. Instead, he becomes obsessed with taking things apart, literally — the refrigerator his wife had asked him to repair; furniture, lamps and bathroom stalls at his office; eventually, his shiny glass-box house in White Plains, which he attacks ferociously with sledgehammers and even a bulldozer. It's a clumsy, heavy-handed metaphor for grief and the postmortem examination of a marriage. (He's “taking things apart,” get it?)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"Goodbye, Ohio" (April 6th at the Cleveland International Film Festival)

[“Goodbye, Ohio” screens Wednesday April 6th at 9:40 pm as part of the Ohio Shorts 2 program at the Cleveland International Film Festival.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

A young woman (Jessy Leigh) is leaving behind her small Ohio town (Chagrin Falls) to chase her dream of being a writer in the big Apple. Before she goes, though, there’s a loose end that needs to be tied up in the form of her ex-boyfriend (Jesse DeFranco). The two meet for lunch at a diner, and it isn’t long before trite small talk gives way to the guy trying to convince his ex-girlfriend not to go.

Co-producer/director Mike Wendt has crafted a solid, professional looking piece. Co-producer/writer/editor/co-star Jessy Leigh gives herself a nice spotlight for her acting talents, and her editing is tight and professional. Her screenplay is a bit too cutesy and on the nose at times, but it also has the ring of authenticity. Co-star Jesse DeFranco acquits himself well, too, although his role doesn’t allow him to stand out quite as much. The end result isn’t exactly what I’d call a “must see”, but it’s a pleasant enough diversion for its fifteen-minute running time that makes a nice little calling card for its participants. 2 ½ out of 4 stars.