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To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story

Surprisingly deep and compassionate.
This is a surprisingly good movie. Kane Hodder is a very funny, compassionate all around awesome human being.

The stories he tells are the main force of this film. Starting with a tale of being bullied, through long, sometimes graphically excruciating accounts of a terrible full body burn stunt accident and onto the legends that made him the most iconic actor to take on the famous role of Jason Voorhees in some of the later Friday the 13th movies. The worst part was the incompetent doctors who almost killed him because they did not know what they were doing.

The film is full of great interviews with fellow horror icons Robert Englund, Cassandra 'Elvira' Peterson, Bruce Campbell, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, directors Adam Rifkin, Sean S. Cunningham, Adam Green, makeup artists, tattooists, old friends and family member.

This is honestly one of the most thoroughly researched documentaries I've seen in a long time. According to the Q&A I attended with director Derek Dennis Herbert, they had thirty nine hours of footage with Kane alone.

They were even able to get Kane to revisit the San Francisco Burn Unit that saved his life over 40 years ago. This is not a fluffy nostalgic puff piece about a horror movie actor. There is real emotional healing in those scenes. I was considering sharing a trailer for some of the PTSD facebook groups I belonged to, but I don't think a trigger warning would be enough to prepare some of the members for the endless scenes of hardcore movie violence.

I enjoyed horror movies as a teenager a lot. But I've had to walk out of horror movies in more recent years because of my PTSD. This film is unexpected, and I wish there was more that I could do to help it get the attention and praise it deserves.

It does get a bit long towards the end, especially for a theatrical film, but I still have to give it my highest recommendation.

So Sayeth the King of Funny Faces.

Bajo la Rosa

Mean spirited, sexually motivated torture porn
The film festival I saw this at advertised as a "crime thriller." If it could be called that, it's only because that's the pretext to get a creepy man inside a family home where he can torture the father, rape the mother and molest the hell out of an underage son. And the filmmakers did it with such glee, I'm surprised nobody is reporting the main profile poster for depicting an underage model in a sexual situation. If I had known that this was going to be torture porn on the level of Human Centipede or A Serbian Film, I would have spared myself real trauma.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no prude. I hate censorship as much as anyone. But if somebody's going to show this somewhere, they should at least give a warning more than "sexual situation." Sex is different from rape, rape, rape all the way through this film. It makes no sense that it actually won an award somewhere.


Will be remembered as one of Scorsese's truly great films.
Fifty years from now, this will be remembered as one of Scorsese's truly great films. It's not fashionable to make a film about devout Jesuit missionaries these days. Certainly not as fashionable as making films about sucking cocaine out of prostitutes' orifices.

This film has a soul. It has a purpose. It sets up a goalpost. It does not move them. It achieves the goal.

The first two acts are very violent and disturbing, not unlike The Passion of the Christ or The Mission, which also starred a younger Liam Neeson, Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons as Jesuit Priests in the Amazon jungles. Real portrayals of actual martyrdom occur relentlessly, multiple times, and for quite some time in Silence. And it is extremely confusing and distressing to watch. There are a few gory scenes, but the real torture comes from the mental games that the Inquisitors play in order to get the outlaw Christians to renounce their faith.

The third act has quite an impressive twist that I did not expect at all. By the end, it was truly graceful and satisfying. Scorse has said that Taxi Driver was directly influenced by Robert Bresson's Pickpocket, both tales of alienation in modern society. I haven't seen a lot of discussion about Silence, but it seems to be that the third act especially must have been influenced, at least in part, by Bresson's masterpiece Diary of a Country Priest. One of my favorite films of all time. Though I fell asleep three times trying to watch Diary, my heart soared when I finally got to see the end of it. "All is..." Well, I don't really have to tell you now, do I? All you need to know is right there in the film.

Five Percent Man

funny, lighthearted, sophisticated, well produced, well written
A fictional filmmaker is followed by a fictional documentary crew while he is being courted to work for another filmmaker who makes ridiculous demands.

This is an extremely funny, lighthearted, sophisticated, well produced, well written meta-satire of Japanese customs of politeness in business, as well as a satire of the day to day reality of film and show business in general. It is surprisingly very suspenseful and sorely needed. It's basically the profile of a neurotic filmmaker in a culture that breeds neuroticism. I see a Woody Allen influnce. I don't know that much about contemporary Japanese film but whoever made this is, if not a master now, has the potential to become a master. Highest recommendation.

Möte om eftermiddagen

Screenplay is full of surprises.
A nonagenarian couple who have been separated for many years meet and talk for the first time in ages after the wife visits the husband to ask for a final divorce.

This is a sweet film. It's an important film. And beautiful in its own way. The cinematography is very nice. The music is modern, yet it fits the lovely mood in the film. The actors are clearly veterans. They look like they are in their 70's and not 90's, but they do the job well. And the screenplay is full of surprises. Over the 45 minutes they run the gamut from intimate, even erotic, love to hatred, betrayal and resigned indifference. There's something very romantic about still being with the one you love when you are so old and at the end of your life.

It is rather long on the exposition, and it feels claustrophobic and slow at times. The set was well put together, but it was obviously all they had because of a low budget. It felt like a play on a soundstage. I had trouble understanding some of what was said because I don't understand Swedish, but that was more likely because I am at home distracted by things and in the theater setting that will matter less. It's not a perfect film. It might have a hard time competing for a prize because of its length and slowness, but I give it a solid recommendation. It held my attention the whole time. Elderly actors so rarely get to star in quality films. If it fits into a short track at that length, I don't see why it shouldn't be selected.

A Woman's Right to Shoes

Would like to see more from these filmmakers.
A young professional woman in the city has OCD, can't stop counting, and for some unknown reason only ever has one shoe on. When she finds a man's lost shoe, she speculates with the bartender about finding a male Cinderella who will be the answer to all her problems. Clichés ensue.

This is an extremely professional, well made film. Technically speaking, the director and cinematographer have a very bright future. Effective use of mirror images, pacing and a bright engaging actress do well to portray hipster female neuroticism more akin to Seinfeld than most portrayals of a "woman on the verge" that rely on edge, "hysteria", abject humiliation or shock value.

Unfortunately, as the title suggests, the material is too dreadfully clichéd to recommend this particular piece.

I hope that this teams finds success doing something more meaningful. With the recent successes of Lena Dunham and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, there is definitely a market for this sort of thing out there.


America should be known for it's Southern noirs.
A southern Gothic coming of age story about a boy who grew up with only the memory of his mother on his eighteenth birthday.

I really like this film. I was just thinking not too long ago about how there aren't that many good southern Gothic films, and here is one. Not completely perfect, mind you, but definitely good enough to give a high recommendation. The cinematography is gorgeous. The story has a clear beginning, middle and end. The protagonist goes on a very serious and important journey. It does feel slow, but after a while I realized that things are just slower in the south, especially in the country. Real things that matter actually happen in this film. My only criticism is that the interaction between the boy and the father feels like they are just reading lines to each other. But luckily, those scenes are few and far between. When he talks to the love interest and his best friend, and when the father talks to potential business clients and fishing buddies, it feels fine. I think these types of southern Gothic films should be encouraged. It's this kind of spiritual journey, rather than Hollywood gross out remakes, that America should be better known for in the film industry throughout the world. If done really well, they can compete with the Australian noirs set in the Outback and the Russian or Scandinavian spiritual journeys set in the remote north. The director/writer Daniel Peddle is young, and I hope to see a lot more from him. He could be the next Jeff Nichols.

My Pretty Pony

This one is magical
A grandfather teaches his grandson an important lesson about time.

This is a very gorgeous looking film. And sounding too. The music is very nice. The story is a Stephen King one. When I saw it the first time, I had trouble concentrating on the polish subtitles. They are rather small and have to compete with a lot of color. Plus, the dialogue is quite slow and nothing all that exciting happens. However, it's just a nice film. Reminds me of Black Beauty from when I was a kid. It's warm hearted. There's a lesson about childhood and mortality. And apparently, this is a hot property. There's an American short film released this year based on the same exact story. Without having seen it, I bet this one's better. American productions always find a way to be dumb. This one is magical. And finally, we are an international film festival, and we should be encouraging quality filmmaking like this. I'm not sure I've seen a new one from Poland recently. Not my absolute highest recommendation, but it's very good and definitely earned my vote.

Gina's Journey: The Search for William Grimes

Is there a more important story in American History, than this?
An African-American woman's search through family genealogy records reveals she is the descendant of the first slave narrator in US history. With no higher education and very little work experience as a result of being a stay at home mother, Gina works hard to become a respected published author herself.

This is a very inspiring story. Completely relevant to everything that's going on today. It's narrated by David Keith, a well known voice actor. It will do well and is definitely a contender for winning an award. This film should get picked up by and shown on PBS. There are many people interested in genealogy these days and of course there isn't a more important story in American History, than that of the first slave narrator. I can say that with complete confidence. It doesn't feel like a typical cinema movie, but we would be foolish not to select this one for viewing at the festival. Highest recommendation.


Seems like a really bad gimmick for a while, but the resolution is worthwhile.
A foreign man from the middle east moves into a top floor apartment in Japan next to a suspicious old man. All is not what it seems.

This film was very frustrating at first. It appears to be about a murder, or maybe a terrorist attack, then there are more flashbacks in a short film that go back 2 days, then 245 days, then 1 day, the 385 days, then 18654 days back, and also follow action going on in the present. It seems like a really bad gimmick for a while, but then when the mystery is finally solved, it makes sense. I don't want to spoil it too much, but its' politically sensitive and relevant and also enjoyable. Not my highest recommendation for this one, but definitely five stars.

Candle for Minority

One or two notes stall a little, but as a whole this is an important, beautiful film.
A Bangladeshi photographer lives with a Japanese singer he met in Paris after a terrorist attack. They live and work in Tokyo facing many of the same struggles and prejudices that are familiar all around the world.

This one is really special. I don't recall a film that shows non- white, non-Japanese characters not only speaking Japanese but trying to live life in Japan. It's a fully developed story. While it is explicitly political, it's the kind of politics that I can get down with. Calling for compassion and understanding in a diverse world is never wrong. It's not propaganda. There is also a great love story with beautiful poetic moments among the rough ones. One or two notes stall a little, but as a whole this is an important, beautiful film that I would be proud to give my highest recommendation.

The Receptionist

Like a Chekov story or an Ibsen play.
A young college graduate in London takes a job as a receptionist in an illegal massage parlor where she and her fellow Taiwanese immigrants experience real existential hardship.

I love love love this movie. I feel like I had a life affirming, if not life changing, experience watching this. Everything about this film works. Especially the acting and the story. Some of the scenes are brutal. It would definitely get an R rating in the US, but it's not exploitative one bit. It's the furthest thing from a dumb, slasher horror film or a gross out high school comedy.

It's like a Chekov story or an Ibsen play. It's for fans of intelligent, tight, suspenseful, compassionate, slow burning crime dramas. It's definitely one I will be raving about to my friends. If I could give it higher than my absolute highest recommendation, I would. Please, please watch this film. It's really amazing.

Ostoja Will Move your Piano

Ostoja will move your piano
A piano mover keeps delivering a piano to people who don't want it.

This is a very funny, clever, lighthearted screwball comedy. I don't speak Serbian, but the actors don't feel like they're just reading their lines. For a short, it feels like a nice, professionally made little comedy film. Comedy like this is hard to do, which makes this rare, I think. It's not the most original idea - the Out-of-Towners did it best - but it doesn't insult anybody's intelligence and it does the job it set out to do well. I don't know that it would win a major award necessarily, but I think enough people will like it to make it a worthwhile recommendation.

The Colonel

An inspirational Marine teaches football to private school kids.
A colonel in the Marines is forced to retire due to an irregular heart beat. Instead of taking a lucrative job, he becomes a football coach at a struggling Texas prep school and makes it great.

This is a fine film. The lead actor, Kevin Durand, who is one of the finest actors working today. Mostly in supporting roles, which is why most people don't know his name, but if you see his face, he's known from lots of critically acclaimed films. A very tall, physically imposing actor, with a great sense of humor and amazing psychological sophistication as an actor.

This film is a great story too. Very inspiring, if conventional. Based on a true story. It's a sports movie. It is also a sure thing to be a top contender for the best awards in its category. If it won, it would surely deserve it. I wasn't much of a football jock in school, but if I had this guy for a coach, I might have thought differently about a lot of things. Assuming it was a truly true story, and not an idealized sentimental homage to somebody's mentor. But anyway, it was a good story, and I give it my absolute highest recommendation.

The Heist

Feels a lot longer than 4 minutes. It was fun too.
Two handsome criminals talk about an Ocean's 11 style heist to a rich financier. The team members they propose get more and more outlandish.

This is actually a very funny satire of the film industry. They spin a story so full of movie tropes that it eventually goes total meta by the end of the story. It definitely had me smiling and laughing most of the time, and at 4 minutes, that's probably very easy to fit into any festival program. It feels a lot longer than 4 minutes. It may not be the best thing I've ever screened, but I can't give it anything less than my highest recommendation.

4 Pounds of Flowers

Nice little film.
A couple who work together growing weed face the end of the season with an uncertain future when it is revealed that one of them is pregnant.

This is a nice film. A little slow and confusing at first, but it's basically a nice sweet love story. The lead actor, Chris Chalk, is one of those guys you've seen in that thing. Definitely not a lightweight. Has played many different roles in 12 Years a Slave and several episodes of critically acclaimed television. I don't recognize the actress, but apparently she's no lightweight either. The story is easy to follow and it has a feel good sort of ending to it. And I think the unspoken thing it says is that it portrays a very normal, happy, relatively conflict free inter-racial relationship...involved in what used to be a criminalized business. Maybe I should have left that unspoken, but it's hard to miss. The more I think about it, the more I like it. I recommend it.


Excellent, fast paced, suspenseful thriller.
A little girl goes missing during a traffic jam in a small town country road. The community goes hysterical.

This is an excellent, fast paced, suspenseful thriller. I give it my highest recommendation right off. You can tell they are beginners, but I can see the creators of this film quickly moving on into episodic BBC or Scandi-Noir crime fiction television on the strength of this short alone. This is the kind of films that should be encouraged. Five stars.

A Fancy Piece of Homicide

A real potboiler detective story in the classic style.
An old Private Eye who was wrongfully convicted of a crime and exonerated is tormented by a mystery conspiracy just before he is about to land a book deal.

This is a really excellent piece of writing. A real potboiler detective story in the classic style of Raymond Chandler. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It also had a real dark, modern edge. There was a palpable sense of dread and mystery by the end that would appeal to fans of David Lynch. I really cared about the main characters right from the get go. The lead actor in particular was stellar and, especially considering his advanced age, should be celebrated as a master of his craft for this work.

Unfortunately, it suffered from a low budget. If this movie could have gotten a little more money, and put a "name" actor or two with established reputations in the supporting roles, I could see this movie doing some moderately successful business. But, that isn't the case with this film. It was very obvious that most if not all of the tertiary actors were just reading their lines, and poorly. And the big reveal in the end wasn't very clear, though perhaps it was meant to be confusing.

I doubt this would win any awards, or that it will ultimately even be accepted to the film festival, but all things being equal, this is a hell of a movie so I have to give it four stars and a reserved recommendation.


An awkward success.
An awkward first date gets very awkward, but the parties persist, despite communication difficulties, toward a successful evening.

I wanted to hate this movie. It starts out with two actors, who have extreme vocal fry, talking about food. These are very difficult things for me personally to experience. I get revolted easily by food sounds and vocal fry. The lines in the script are a bit repetitive too. And this is annoying, as well. However, they don't actually eat anything. Hooray. And they do actually manage to have a very successful, non-threatening date, by the end of the film. The woman reveals a past traumatic experience and the man responds in a favorable way. I think it's a neat film. It might have a few problems, but definitely needs to be considered for recognition.

High School 911

simply an unforgettable movie.
A documentary crew spends a year following the only EMS post in the world made up entirely of High School Students.

This is really sort of a miracle that this exists. I'm glowing, I think. I knew it was going to be great when early on they interviewed the elderly founder of the post, who put so much of everything in context. Apparently, the history of the EMS responder program didn't start until after the Vietnam War? Who knew that? Not me. This particular EMS post started at the same time.

This is a film that simply needs to be seen. Especially by high school students.

The only complaints I have are in the production value. The music choices and the camera quality are quite low. It doesn't feel like a feature film half the time. The ride along scenes seem like an episode of COPs from the 1980's. I really hope that they are able to invest in a few little tweaks to the soundtrack before it gets a wider release, otherwise it will be relegated to a ghetto. It will probably get picked up in the back catalog of Amazon Prime or some other lower end streaming service. It's a shame. With a few minor improvements to the production value, this could be a real viral hit on Netflix or maybe one of the Cable channels like Spike or FX or A&E. Anyway, it is a really admirable and honorable thing these kids are doing. We should definitely be giving it a chance. I give it my highest unreserved recommendation. Thank you for the privilege.


Understated, touching, beautiful father son story.
A father and on share a meal after a long day at their mother's funeral.

This film is a little bit of greatness. It's extremely understated, but these characters are great men. Not just good men. Great men. Honorable men.The conversation is quiet and intimate, real and heartbreaking at the same time. They are examining the past with grief, but really without regret or resentment. They are building new traditions for their family.

I will look out for more from this director. He is obviously influenced by Yasujirō Ozu. We need a new filmmaker like that. Some may say it's a little too simple, but I give this film my highest recommendation.

Rule of Threes

All in the exposition.
The last survivors of an apocalypse that has led to cannibalism due to shortness of food live by the rule of threes, killing each other, at times, out of so-called necessity. When only three of them are left however, a new rule emerges.

Always an interesting premise, but this short film is all in the exposition. Nothing actually happens on screen. The entire plot has already happened, and the survivors are merely left to talk about it. Sometimes they argue, sometimes they cry, sometimes they moralize on a soapbox. There is no action on screen whatsoever, and the philosophical questions they talk about are very simple and uninteresting.

National Treasure

Starts out well, but it gets uglier and uglier. Not necessarily in a good way.
I've seen two episodes so far. The characters are very likable in the beginning, but they get more and more ugly as the series goes on. The characters in the flashbacks seem like completely different persons. It's very unpleasant and less and less believable. The Jimmy Savile scandal is an important subject, but this film ultimately feels exploitative in its own way. Not sure if I want to finish it.

The cats

Extreme Animal Abuse in this Cartoon
A man finds a cat in an alley, pours milk in the street, it looks up real cute, he takes it home. It dances around for several minutes, I'm bored. Suddenly, the man takes the cat, puts it on a table and breaks its arm. The cat screams, and screams. The man wraps the broken arm, then puts the cat out into the dark city to spend the night in the streets. The cat struggles in the gutter with a broken arm, then it looks in the window of the man again. The man lets the cat back in. End of film.

There is a disclaimer in the credits that says, "This is not a film about animal abuse, it is a film about those who take comfort in abuse." Which is like say, "This is not a film about water. It's a film about drinking, and swimming or irrigation." Or more appropriately, "This is not child pornography. It's a boy being raped by a man so you know it's bad."

Regardless of the fact that it's animated, this is nothing more than an abhorrent kitty crush video. If the filmmakers had other intentions, they failed miserably.

Boo Cats!

Chasing Robert Barker

It's just a miserable man being miserable.
It's just a miserable guy going around the city being miserable to miserable people.

His drug of choice is being a Paparazzi, I guess. Something is bothering him from the past, but we never really know what it is.

Anything that could be described as plot is only revealed through exposition about two thirds of the way through. And even when that is revealed, it does not make sense how the man who betrayed him actually betrayed him.

This movie is awful. I cannot think of one redeeming quality. The other reviewers who keep saying "good film" over and over, well, maybe they just watched a different movie than I did.

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