Must own Blu-Rays in the Age of Streaming/VOD : BLACK JOY Arrow Bluray

BLACK JOY – For the soundtrack alone this is a great purchase. A wild, raucous, caustic, but also tender, funny, troubling, dangerous bitter-sweet little film about the life and struggles and shenanigans of a specific bunch of people , in a specific place, at a specific time. It is a snapshot of a population, and a neighborhood, and a city, and even a world and music, that is far removed from today, and yet still resonates by the timeless conceit of the fish out of water, the good hearted but simple county-innocent… among hip city wolves.

Well shot and engrossingly performed. However, you will need subtitles, as the Patwa/West Indian slang flows fast and free, but despite that the meaning is always crystal clear.

Now, You are not going to mistake this for a blockbuster of cinema, but it is a surprisingly adept and charming (when not being of its time offensive) little film. This was a blind buy for me, and I am glad I bought it, because I am enriched by the viewing of it. Trevor Thomas is a wonderful actor, as is the whole cast, but definitely catch his interview on the disc, as well as the brilliant Floella Benjamin interview. Some of the stronger special features included.

 

“The opportunity to star in a film was great. Infact you got more opportunities, back in those days, the late 70s, 80s to play meaningful roles, as a Black actress, than you do today.”– Floella Benjamin

 

Grade: B-/C+ – A charming little film.

Get your copy here! As the Arrow Edition with booklet, will sell out.

Streaming VOD Channel Review -BLACK NEON- And a review on WOLF and the films of Robert Bresson!

So while I advocate always keeping things you LOVE in physical media, DVDs , Blurays, CDs, etc; the benefit of Streaming and Digital is that it is GREAT for exploring, and finding out what out there is worth having. Most things are not worth having or keeping. So Streaming is great for a try before you buy methodology, or simply finding new things to watch right now.

This installment, the channel that is up for review is…  BLACK NEON.

BLACK NEON  – first thing that strikes you about this channel, is unlike the hundreds of options of other channels, this one has a very limited number of movies. Many I have to confess to being unaware of or not having seen on other channels. Always a plus in my book.

To avoid the mishap of doing a lengthy listing of its titles, only to determine the actual streaming service is crap, or ad infested. I decide to pick a movie and test it out.

Wolf (2018)

My eyes gravitate to a film called WOLF, a thriller of some type seemingly, and without reading the description I just start the film. From frame one I’m captivated. And over sixteen minutes in and not a single ad.

I’m loving the movie and the channel so far.

BLACK NEON may be a home-run. I’ll update after finishing the movie and looking around a bit.

***UPDATE*****

Okay I just finished watching WOLF courtesy of the BLACK NEON channel. Do a search for new streaming movie channels to add and you will find BLACK NEON.

Wolf (2018)

They do not have much content, maybe a dozen movies.But it is worth getting the channel just to see WOLF. What an incredibly strange film. Very off kilter, and always has you on the edge and not knowing where it is going, which I find refreshing.

It is very Bressonian. Robert Bresson was a French director, little known, and unfortunately little remembered today, but he used most effectively and most notably the idea of the pregnant frame. An empty frame, and the emptiness, the waiting for it to be filled would create tension.  And while not a horror director, his films such as A MAN ESCAPED and PICKPOCKET (both absolute masterpieces) build incredible amounts of tension by using the empty frame, and our desire to have it filled.

It has been used by directors since, and is used here in WOLF to great effect.  It is a slow burn movie, and has a WTF turn, that you never quite recover from, and is never truly made clear. You leave the film arguably with as many questions as you came, the final meaning of the film, and of what actually happened left up to individual interpretation.

Wolf (2018)

That can be frustrating to some, however I really liked it. I loved it actually, the patience of the film, and its willingness to court confusion.

That does not always work for me, sometimes it is the sign of a lazy filmmaker. But I do not think that is the case here, the filmmaker and writer Michael Jones has crafted a compelling story and wanted to let it finish cooking in the mind of the viewer.

Love it or hate it, I do not think it is a film you will easily dismiss.I fall in the camp of being very impressed by this raw nerve, of a movie.  

WOLF (2016 Australian release/2018 VOD release)

A Michael Jones Film

Grade: B+.

Recommended! This is definitely a movie that deserves to be owned on DVD and/or Blu-Ray.

Currently Listening and Addicted to : YOURS TRULY JOHNNY DOLLAR

I have these episodes of Johnny Dollar on CD, that I purchased off of Ebay many moons ago, and I’ve lately taken to listening to them in the morning when driving to work. They are such an enjoyable alternative to what usually is available on radio these days. And most of the CDs I never listened to (they would always take a backseat to other great, but more garish shows… such as THE SHADOW, SUSPENSE or ESCAPE). Reevaluating it now, in my more seasoned years, the show has a compelling modernity and universalness that transcends its 6+ Decades of age.

And I have to say, this show in particular, because of its still innovative format of using an Insurance Investigator’s expense account as the hook into these narratives, is surprisingly addictive. All adults to some extent are part and parcell of the Insurance world, either as an occupation or a customer, so the films slant is familiar and well worn.

A few talented actors played Johnny Dollar, but the episodes with Bob Bailey… read as the show at its best. Starting in 1955 around episode #185, those are the shows to start with.

And because the shows are public domain you can burn to CD or copy to your media player and listen to as you travel or work.

Listen to some here:

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_YoursTrulyJohnnyDollar_Singles

Highly Recommended!

FALL OF THE CITY / American Election Results! Hillary wins at the Polls but loses due to the bs Electorial College?! That’s Nonsense!

You expect me to rant, I’m not goint to rant.

Except to say I did my part, I voted for the candidate who actually had some experience both on the national and international stage, ie the candidate who wasn’t Trump.

First it is sad that in a nation of 322 million people, these are the two individuals that rise to the largest seat in the nation and the world. Sadder still that anyone would vote for Trump, much less in any numbers (That being relative since only about 125 million people voted in total. Not great numbers in a nation of over 300 Million). And yet more direness, that again the popular vote which is obstensibly what we are fed is this Nation’s great Democracy in action, loses to the backdoor shenanigans of the Electoral College (Clinton beat Trump by over 200,000 votes). A stop gap measure created for just such a reason, to muddy the waters, and make the will of the many, subbordinate to the desires of the few.

I guess I am going to rant.

This is a talk show president of an apathetic and ignorant population that chooses based on sound bytes and media bias rather than on the record/resume of the individual. Whatever else you say for or against Hillary Clinton, she is an experienced and tested politician on the national and international level.

Even the 2nd Bush, at least was a Governor first. Trump has never even been a mayor, he lacks any diplomacy. He’s a walking talkshow host. Who now… due to a, from my vantage, very suspect election day voting process, and the fuzzy math of the Electoral College has been granted the most powerful seat in the world.

And he is going to use it to make himself and his friends richer, by making the poor, poorer. That is absolutely his agenda. If you make under $300000 and voted for Trump, you are worse than an ignorant, fool… you are a slave.

You are a nation of masterless men… seeking a master. In Archibald MacLeish’s great FALL OF THE CITY, he forewarned against days like this , a whole population  ‘seeking to be free of the burden of their freedoms’.

The people invent their oppressors: they wish to believe in them.
They wish to be free of their freedom: released from their liberty —
The long labor of liberty ended!
— Archibald MacLeish, “The Fall of the City”

If I was a foreign nation looking at this election, I would see… opportunity. An America that eschews moving forward for the familiarity of moving back. That seeks division over unity, and hate over hope. An America that is ready to fall.

http://www.wnyc.org/story/86853-the-fall-of-the-city/

 

I can not control the ignorance of the led, or the machinations of their leaders, all I can do is prepare, enlighten, and support those better voices of our nature and our America. All I can do is define America not as those resources and liberties the venal waste, but those individuals who against the odds seek, preserve, and uplift what is best and noble.

But I think in this Trump coup, is the impetus for the formerly apathetic to get involved, to turn around this ship of corruption that is America, beginning with eradicating this Electoral college idiocy.

The end?

No, this is the beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Podcast of the Day : NO SLEEP Season 1 Ep 1-3

Podcast of the Day : NO SLEEP SEASON 1 First 3 Episodes!

EPISODE 01 – Two stories in this inaugural episode.
THE STAIRS AND THE DOORWAY is the first story and the stronger one. The second story THE MIDNIGHT MAN starts strong, but fizzles, as if the writer couldn’t work out an ending, and just abruptly turned it off.

EPISODE 02 – Matt Dymmerski’s THE BASEMENT as read by David Cummings is the last story of this 2nd episode, and the only memorable one. More than memorable, it’s a tight, effective burst of Poe tinged horror. A crazy quilt TELL TALE HEART as viewed by the victim. And Cummings is an effective Narrator.

EPISODE 3 – This is the first really strong episode of NO SLEEP with all three of the stories being satisfying reads/narrations. They are DON’T EVER TURN IT OFF, THE CORNFIELD, and THE THING IN THE FIELDS.

7 Best Podcasts of Jan 2016!

7 Best Podcasts of Jan 2016!

Knifepoint-HorrorKNIFEPOINT HORROR ‘These tales of supernatural suspense by Soren Narnia adhere to the most primal element of storytelling: a single human voice describing events exactly as it experienced them. The stories, stripped of even proper titles, spill forward as taut, uninterrupted confessions. Knifepoint Horror leaves nothing but the story’s riveting spine to compel and chill you to the core. Music by Kevin MacLeod.’

bookriotBOOK RIOT‘Book Riot – The Podcast is a weekly news and talk show about what’s new, cool, and worth talking about in the world of books and reading, brought to you by the editors of Book Riot.’

wtf_logoWTF

11oclock11’OCLOCK COMICS ‘VinceB, David Price, and Jason Wood talk comics and stuff.’

bmc960-37kB-MOVIE CAST ‘The B-Movie Cast is a website podcast and forum devoted all things B-movie and cult move related.’

blacktapesTHE BLACK TAPES PODCAST ‘The Black Tapes is a weekly podcast from Pacific Northwest Stories and Minnow Beats Whale, and is hosted by Alex Reagan. The Black Tapes is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her enigmatic subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both.’

cgsCOMIC GEEK SPEAK ‘Comic Geek Speak (CGS) was started in March, 2005 when Bryan and Peter decided to try their hand at the then-new world of podcasting. They quickly invited their friends to join them and then the show was complete.

CGS is far more than just a few friends in a room with microphones. CGS is now a worldwide community of comic fans that helps to foster and grow the love of comics that is vital to the industry’s success.’

Netflix Movie of the Day: BEYOND THE LIGHTS

beyondthelightslge

What we watch in cinema, if you ask a thousand people, you may get a thousand answers. But what we want from cinema? I think that answer is simpler.

We want cinema even at its most fantastic to tell us something true. To tell us something about ourself, and how we can aspire to be better than ourself. And that is what the best cinema does, for the fleeting time we share our attention with it, whether in a darkened theater or a light lit living room, we want to aspire to more than we are, to be better than we are.

Whether inspired to, if only in our dreams, be nicer, or more caring, or more concerned, or more heroic, or more… humane. That’s a rare gift, in a dire age, for cinema for a fleeting moment to have us believe in being better.

That is what BEYOND THE LIGHTS does. With a stellar cast of new faces and seasoned pros, Gina Prince-Bythewood of LOVE AND BASKETBALL and THE SECRET LIVES OF BEES here with her third feature film, creates inarguably her best film, and one that will become a perennial classic in households everywhere. But particularly households of color, in an America that increasingly is more ethnically diverse, our cinema and media is, doggedly and obstinately it would seem, ever more dismissive and marginalizing and denigrating, to characters of color or stories of color, that do not fit into narrow, nonthreatening, and tired stereotypes.

beyond_the_lights

That’s why Gina Prince-Bythewood as writer and director is so important, and BEYOND THE LIGHTS should be so heralded. In an America where Urban Love is often defined for young people in terms of players and hos, or in terms of its absence, it is so rewarding and refreshing to see a movie with intelligent Black Characters (ie more than one or two token characters) and healthy Black relationships, between Black Men and Black women, that does not fall into tired rhetoric, or bashing, or talk show idiocy.

 

Korean media and cinema is filled with such loving positive interplay, as is Japanese, or Thai, or Russian, or Dutch, or Indian, or Spanish. But somehow when it comes to the broad and diverse ethnic group called Black (African-American being a marginalizing appellation, misapplied and removed from the inclusive, unifying bridge it was meant, but failed to be. Defining an ethnic group, using a nationalistic descriptor being the height of stupidity), positive loving images are in drastic shortage.

As Black Men are increasingly invisible or the sexless , funny sidekick or cross dressing Enuchs in mass media, and Black women increasingly the hor, or the pining 2nd choice for the White Knight of American mass media. Or they are self-hating thugs, raised and bedded on ignorance.

With such a table, and such rotten food to feed young and old alike on, when someone brings to the table a fine steak or beautiful trout, you realize just how empty you had been, and for how long.

BEYOND THE LIGHTS is a great film, that makes you feel better for having seen it. Makes you feel better. What a concept.

Hopefully we can look forward to more such filmmakers and more such films. Highly Recommended!

Try it for free on Netflix, but only long enough to realize you really want to own this film in Blu-Ray. Get your copy here:

beyondthelights

Beyond the Lights [Blu-ray]

PODCAST OF THE DAY: FATMAN on BATMAN 45

PODCAST OF THE DAY: FATMAN on BATMAN 45

Okay combine the writings of living legend Alan Moore at his best, with the impassioned reading of Kevin Smith and you have something excellent to accompany you through an hour or two of work.

Smith has an excellent voice for radio/podcasts, and using it to recite one of Moore’s most imaginative tales, makes this podcast a must listen.

Whether or not you have any interest in comics, Kevin Smith’s passion for the subject, and masterful reading is just addictive and entertaining. Highly recommended!

Go here to listen!

THEATER REVIEW: CSC’s Movable Shakespeare’s RICHARD III

“No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.”
― William Shakespeare, Richard III

There is no shortage of villains in the oeuvre of the writer known as William Shakespeare. From the machinations of Hamlet’s Uncle-cum-Father who puts Hamlet ‘too much in the Sun’, to the deviousness of Othello’s ‘trusted’ Iago, to the bloody, eye-plucking Cornwall in King Lear, but none are so ever quotable, and perhaps as eminently watchable as Richard III, who is of such expanse in his villainy that he is the star of his own self-titled play, rather than just a player in another character’s tale.

And this comes to life in florid detail in the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s unique production of RICHARD III. Directed by Ian Gallanar, one of the CSC’s founders, RICHARD III is presented in a ‘movable’ style that puts the audience, truly in the heart of the action and makes them mute(and not so mute) chorus to this tale of treachery and tragedy.

Taking place in the ‘haunted’ ruins at the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, Maryland, beneath the stars and the eyes of God, it is truly a presentation to remember. Particularly on a good, clear fall night (which we were blessed to see it on) with the wind picking up just a little, and showering Richard III with leaves, almost on queue, as he woos a man’s widow over his corpse. Ay, it’s a great thing, when the heavens provide your special effects.

And the whole play went thus, as a crowd of over 100, moved from picturesque room or steps or courtyard, moved from scene to scene, and watched actors of talent and temper… a tale unfold.

And before getting into the actors, a bit more on the setting.

Ellicott City is a 30 square mile area, more loose community than incorporated sub-division, that traces its history back to its founding as a Flour Mill back in 1772 by Quaker Brothers named Ellicott. Nestled in the Baltimore-Washington bosom, the area is rumored to, like Rome, be built on seven hills.

So this is no concrete jungle or ‘great white way’ for your theatrical experience, it is a beautiful and languid tree-lined drive, followed by a pretty spooky uphill walk to make the (typically) 8pm showing, that takes place in the Grecian tinged ruins of the Patapsco Female Institute.

So that is the stage, not New York, or Charlotte, or DC or LA, but the woodlands of Ellicott City; and the PFI Historic Park is a stage worth traveling to see.

Now for those who prance upon that stage.

While there are many strengths to an outdoor production, there are also obvious weaknesses. There are minor moments of congestion and confusion inherent in herding a hundred people to and fro, and that very act of going in and out of the ‘reality’ of the play, perhaps can limit how engrossed the viewer can get into the play.

However I think the immediacy of being ‘in’ the play, and viewing that closely the actors and interacting in their space, compensates for any loss of concentrated immersion in the piece.

However one other weakness of an outdoor production, is the sound. Without the acoustics and sound system of a real theater the actors have to project to be heard, particularly should the weather pick up. Some actors were better at doing this than others. Some actors needed to project better. And some actors were stellar.

The word stellar has to be kept close to the name Vince Eisenson who stars as the titular Richard the IIIrd. He has, as expected, to carry much of the play, much of the language, much of the energy. It is a ponderous role to undertake, and Eisenson manages not just to suffer the weight of the role, but to carry it as if he was born to it.

Part of this may have to do with his youth, but more than that Eisenson’s Richard is a far more vibrant and lively Richard, no less tortured than other actors who have portrayed the character, but there is a sophistication there, a deft touch to his portrayal, that eschews mustache twirling, that makes the character’s ability to charm and deceive, more believable here.

Also of note is the performance of Associate Director Scott Allan Small, as he makes the role of Buckingham, that I think can often come off as no more than a yes man, into one of the formidable figures of the play. He particularly just shines in the scene where he mixes with the audience as he ‘attempts’ to get Richard to accept the crown.

Also the scene where Buckingham draws the line at the slaying of children, and demands his due of Richard, I thought was just played beautifully between the two actors of Eisenson and Small. The physicality of how they played that role, with Buckingham played as the brick wall in that scene (like Marvel Comics’ Kingpin transplanted to Shakespeare), against Richard’s flowing water, that seeps into the brick… and breaks it all to pieces.

And the CSC performance is filled with such capable actors, among them Dave Gamble, Greg Burgess, and Jamie Jager in a passionate performance as Richmond. Another highlight scene is with Ron Heneghan delivering a very captivating performance as the imprisoned Clarence; it takes place in a fireplace dominated prison opposite equally entertaining performances by Bart Debicki as Brackenbury (the lieutenant of the tower) and the actors playing his assassins (Rebecca Dreyfuss and Jared Murray).

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable and recommended production, by a theater company I do not think you would be wrong, in calling world class. And this is typified by the fact that the last few performances of their RICHARD III (ending the weekend of this writing) are all sold out.

But don’t mourn too much, if moved by this review to sample the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in the future and will be visiting the East Coast, 2013 brings new CSC productions of Shakespeare’s classic plays, among them ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA and THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.

And If RICHARD III is a gauge, both shows will be much labored over in their construction, and much loved in their delivery.

Accolades go out to communications Director Sandra Maddox Barton for all her assistance, in making this review possible.