Archive for April, 2016

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“Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake,” is  the newest film from Michelle Boyaner which takes us on a journey across the country to discover a buried treasure.  A gifted artist, yet relatively unknown to most, Edith Lake Wilkinson, whose crPackedInATrunk_009eations have been packed away for decades, finally resurface thanks to Jane Anderson, Wilkinson’s great-niece.   Not only is the art re-discovered, but the story behind the artist is finally told.  Anderson, an Emmy Award-winning writer and director, has an inexplicable connection with her Great Aunt Edith, but she had passed away long ago.  This connection, however, haunts her, pushing her to find out more about Wilkinson.  Does this sound like a ‘Tales from the Crypt’ story?  Well, in a way it is— in a very uplifting and upbeat sort of way.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
Anderson, not only a gifted writer, is also an artist whose similarities with Wilkinson in painting style as well as personality are uncanny.   As we travel with Anderson, we see even more similarities and witness the connection between the two growing deeper.  Without giving away too much from this amazingly moving documentary, we find that  Wilkinson was institutionalized due to the fact that she had a close female “companion” named Fannie.  In the early to mid 1900’s,  this was not an acceptable form of love and her family saw to it that she ceased not only living with Fannie, but also communicating with her.  As would happen with anyone, Wilkinson’s creativity also ceased and with this, decades of paintings would no longer occur.  It’s a story of greed, jealou5X7_Sally_Tess_Jane_1914sy, and intolerance within a family and a community.  But Anderson, through dedicated research

 

5X7_jane+jim+bakker+color+palatte and persistence, finds a way to return her great aunt’s treasures to their home in Provincetown where Wilkinson’s talents were embraced and her lifestyle was not judged.
The filming of this story is what makes “Packed in a Trunk” even more intriguing.  We, the viewer, through interviews and accompanying Anderson on her quest, feel a part of this discovery.  We have empathy for Anderson as she discovers the creative life of her aunt cut short.  We feel the injustices of a time period long gone.  And we cheer as the story comes to its rightful end.  Oh, and there are a few goosebumps when Anderson and her filming crew hit a dead end and need more information which is obtained by a spiritualist.

“Packed in a Trunk” is an enlightening and beautiful documentary revealing an important part of not only art history, but women influencing the course of art.  There is a feeling of intimacy with Wilkinson as we begin to see her as a person and understand who she was and what her paintings meant.  Admiration and appreciation for both Wilkinson and Anderson is at the forefront of this journey of discovery.  Had it not been for this inexplicable connection between them, the world would never have known that Wilkinson was truly a key player in the art world.  And thanks to the both Anderson and the filmmaker’s strength, intuition, and determination, that part of history will now be known.  American art history will forever be changed by this uplifting documentary of discovery.   It’s a hidden gem that will continue to shine more brightly throughout the years.

Beginning April 26, 2016, you can see “Packed in a Trunk” on demand through digital platforms such as iTunes and WolfeOnDemand.com as well as many other sites.

Wolfe Video On Demand

 

 

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DON’T THINK TWICE

“Don’t Think Twice” was a part of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival and RHR was invited to be a part of the red carpet interviews!  Mike Birbiglia, Keegan-Michael Key, Chris Gethard, Tami Sagher, Sondra James, and Ira Glass shared with me their thoughts on the film, independent films, and the Chicago connection!

Mike Birbiglia LOVES Chicago and “this is a Chicago film!”  WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

FullSizeRender 2Keegan-Michael Key talks all things indie!  Watch the interview  HERE  as he talks about “Don’t Think Twice” and “Welcome to Happiness!”

To watch all of the talent associated with this film AND to hear the new hit single, “Miles Doesn’t Know His Own Butt Strength,” go HERE ON YOUTUBE

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Well, Jiminy Cricket!  I never thought I’d take a bite of food that could bite me back!  The new documentary “Bugs” by Andreas Johnsen, explores the burgeoning business of baking bugs.  Johnsen explains that with an exponentially growing population and the repercussions of climate change, humans are looking at getting back to their roots, or maybe inside their roots, to find alternative protein sources.  With thousands of types of edible insects, the menu has more variety than a Greek Diner for dinner.  The film explores the research and brains behind this subject and how it is expanding globally.  Traveling the world to see what insectual dietary delights await with Head Chef Ben Reade and Roberto Flore, and Lead Food Researcher Josh Evans from the Nordic Food Lab in Denmark, we get a taste for what our future may hold.

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TACOS MADE WITH BEE LARVAE

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Worms: a snack with crunch

BUGS educates its viewers about the effects of global warming on our resources, namely protein coming from animals.  As our population grows, the ability to find sustainable protein sources decreases.  Capitalizing on the production and consumption of insects seems a rather off-putting topic, but in many cultures, this has been and continues to be a delicacy.  The film likens the concept to sushi in the United States just 20 years ago.  Now we can find it at a local 7-11 and grocery stores.  Creating delectable dishes is of utmost importance to the chefs at Nordic Food Lab because let’s face it, if it doesn’t taste good, no one will eat it.  Through creativity and a keen palate, these chefs have found a way to turn bee larvae and grasshoppers into not only palatable dishes, but extraordinarily tasty ones.

Filmmaker Andreas Johnsen’s vision brings the viewer all the necessary information to understand the need for insect consumption.  He also balances the film with questions to ponder, especially for vegetarians and environmentalists.  Beautifully filmed as these dedicated researchers travel the world, we learn about the benefits and the history of insect in our world.   It’s a thought-provoking film that just may have you thinking twice before you fish out that fruit fly in your glass of wine!

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Filmmaker Andreas Johnsen, Pamela Powell, and Chef Roberto Flores

 

 

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“Poor Boy” premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.  It’s a tale of two brothers, attempting to make it rich by less than noble means in a remote corner of America, unknown (thankfully) to most of us.  “Poor Boy” is a visceral experience  incorporating dream-like elements contrasted by razor-sharp reality revealing a gritty look at this unfamiliar world.

Samson (Dov Tiefenbach) and Romeo (Lou Taylor Pucci) have everything working against them.  They are highly uneducated which is quite evident by their bizarre thought processes and use of language.  The two siblings, polar opposites, have what appears to be more of a symbiotic relationship creating a captivating look at their lives.   Having been abandoned by their father (Michael Shannon) at an earlier age, the two have somehow survived with little to no guidance, depending solely upon one another.   The characters that enter into their lives are equally stunning with unexpected consequences.

“Poor Boy” is an unusual film experience that expresses the power of love between two brothers.  It’s vivid and shockingly graphic as it uncovers the underlying issues within each brother.  The film comes full circle to allow the viewer to understand the unique and initially bewildering scenes giving a sense of satisfaction.  You’ll find that the film and its meaning lingers long after the final credits roll.

Check back for a full review of this film as well as an interview with the stars, Dov Tiefenbach, Lou Taylor Pucci, Amy Ferguson, and the writer/director Robert Scott Wildes.

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LOVE THY NATURE

Written and Directed by  Sylvie Rokab

Earth Day is April 22nd, a day to celebrate nature and the environment.  It’s quite evident that we really should be celebrating Earth Day every day.  Our environment is rapidly changing to the detriment of other species and to humans as well.   In our relatively short period of time on this planet, we have caused grave destruction.  Where do we go from here?  Is it all doom and gloom ahead for us?  “Love Thy Nature” addresses the use of “biomimicry” and our own personal connection with nature to help us move forward in healing the planet.

liam Climate change is real.  There’s no argument about that concept anymore, thankfully.  Documentaries addressing this topic typically leave you wanting to curl up in a fetal position, the information is so horrifically overwhelming.   “Love Thy Nature,” is different.  Narrated by Liam Neeson, this film gives us more than knowledge, it gives us hope.  And with hope, we may just give our children and grandchildren a better world.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

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“Love Thy Nature” is a stunning cinematic display of the beauty surrounding us.  Traveling  the world, diving into oceans, traipsing through forests, jungles, and open plains, this film reminds us of the wonders of nature.  While experts from NASA explain our evolutionary wall and leading scientists share their knowledge of DNA and the world’s 38 million year time line, they all give us one thing to do in order to possibly change the detrimental path of destruction:  reconnect with nature.  It’s just that simple.

The film reminds us of our interdependency love6with nature punctuating this with mind-boggling statistics.  There is also a refreshing coordination of philosophies between science and religion.  The two can be integrated as Duane Elgin, MA,

love5quotes the book of Genesis and man’s dominionship needing to evolve into stewardship to protect our environment.  We also hear from Dayna Baumeister, co-founder of The Biomimicry Institute, and Brian Swimme, author of “The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos” and “The Universe is a Green Dragon” allowing us to learn about cutting edge technology and insight into the history of our universe.

Our reconnection with our natural lovethy3surroundings is one way to increase our awareness of the importance of nature.  Thankfully, there are many organizations that have been taking the reigns in driving us along a better path, creating positive change.  One of those groups is TreePeople, founded by Andy Lipkis 40 years ago.  This organization continues to inspire volunteers in the L.A. area, planting more than 2 million trees.  There is hope.

Hope is vital and “Love Thy Nature” gives us a reviving dose of it.  Utilizing creative graphics, intelligent and interesting interviews with scientists that are relatable and understandable as well as coating our visual field with simply spectacular images of this one and only Earth, everything is put into perspective.

love7Reconnect with nature in “Love Thy Nature.”  All is not lost if we want to make a difference.  This is a unique documentary in that it gives us the hope we need to go out and make a difference.

“Love Thy Nature” will have its theatrical run in New York and Los Angeles and will also tour the country as a part of a special screening series.  Teaming up with The Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, “Love Thy Nature” will be available for special screenings as well.  For more information, go to www.lovethynature.com

 

To listen to the filmmaker, Sylvie Rokab go to www.archive.orgsylvie

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It’s been crazy here in NYC, to say the least, and I’m remiss to say that I’m behind with reviews.  However, I’ve been eating bugs (yes, on purpose) and drinking well at quaint sidewalk cafes that reminded my new friends Carol and Cookie of France…I do prioritize appropriately.

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For up to the moment info, go to my facebook page, www.facebook.com/reelhonestreviews

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1994.  22 have passed since that year.  To many of us, 1994 holds no special place, but to 4 San Antonio women, it was the year their lives took a drastic wrong turn.  They were tried, sentenced, and spent years behind bars for a crime they did not commit.  As we see on television and in the movies, prisons are full of inmates vowing their innocence, but in this  case, filmmaker Deborah S. Esquenazi uncovers the details behind the case to reveal a virtual witch hunt, proving beyond a reasonable doubt, the innocence of these young women.  Their true crime was their lifestyle.  In an era that being gay or lesbian was unexceptable, the legal system and its constituents appeared to take out its moral judgments upon 4 lesbians—their rationale reminiscent of the witch hunts of centuries ago.

Four women were accused of sexually assaulting two young girls, the nieces of one of the women.  The film delves into intricate details about the case using interviews with the professionals who testified, the family members, and the then imprisoned women.  It seems rather simple to connect the dots and use common sense in order to determine the validity of the accusations, but 22 years ago, this was not the case.  In that time, current psychological studies pointed to the waning of the diagnoses of “Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic.”  Medical professionals used a checklist of criterion to “solidly” depict this abusive behavior.  Along with a better understanding of medicine and psychology today, it is clear that the nieces  had made up the story.  The film captures the motivation behind their tall tale that negatively impacted not only these four women, but their families.

WATCH THE INTERVIEW HERE

The film truly highlights the outrageous  and total disregard for all things legal.  From the moment these women were arrested, put on trial, and sentenced, the obvious legal errors would make any “Law & Order” fan cringe.  I can only imagine what an actual lawyer watching the film would think.

Hearing the women describe what happened, all with their own unique backgrounds, is absolutely heartbreaking.  The fear is place in your own mind, “That could be me or my daughter or someone I know.”  It could have happened to anyone.

“Southwest of Salem” is a film that cuts you at your very core, unable to truly understand this judgement and the consequences upon four giving and caring women.  It also raises important questions about our legal system, our preconceived notions, and our ability to recognize errors and make them right.  As these women are now out of prison, they have yet to be exonerated of  their crimes.  This, in and of itself, is another seemingly ridiculous outcome of an inability to accept an incorrect judgment and make it right. Would this have happened in the Deep South in the year 2016?  One would hope not, but can we be guaranteed?  If these women had come from a more affluent area and families, would this have happened?  And a final question, would  this have happened if they weren’t lesbians? There is no way to turn back the hands of time and give these women back the years they have lost, but we can push forward and make things better for the future.

This is a documentary that educates and enlightens.  It’s a film that can make a difference.  If you’re in NYC, make the time to be enlightened.

Go to www.tribecafilm.com

Check back soon for an interview with these brave women.

 

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Tribeca Film Festival hosts both domestic and foreign films, giving a global outlook on the film industry.

Watch Paolo Genovese talk about his film here

Tonight, the Italian psychological thriller, “Perfect Strangers (Perfetti Sconosciuti)” premiered, posing life-altering decisions from one simple question:  “Would you openly share your cell phone?”

 

At a dinner party one evening, 3 couples and one single, all long-time friends, challenge one another to set their “little black boxes” on the dinner table, publicly answering and reading any information that arises.  The hesitancy  is obvious as the phones, one by one, are set upon the table.  The texts begin, the ring tones become identifiable, and you cringe as the brutal consequences of honesty take their toll.

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“Perfect Strangers” is a compelling look at honesty and how technology has become a part of our lives.  Each of the couples are at different stages in their lives, creating various realistic scenarios with which the impact of their secret lives creates a heavy blow.  The total lunar eclipse artistically parallels the narrative arc of the story.

To think that this could be a harrowing and intense, yet at times comically humorous film, seems out of the question, but it is a very accurate description.  From the beginning,  the scenarios are well-crafted in order to create intrigue and suspense.  It’s a delightful mind-game that you can easily envision happening in your own circle of friends.  But just to make this outstanding film even better, the ending is one that there is no possible way to predict.  As the credits rolled, I wanted to clap…but this was a press screening so that just wouldn’t be acceptable.  So now I will applaud the superior intellect and storytelling abilities of the writers and directors of “Perfect Strangers.”

4 STARS!

If you’re in NYC, be sure to check out this brilliant work of art and life.  For more information go to www.tribecafilm.com

Watch for the link to to interview with the filmmaker, Paolo Genovese!

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Paolo Genovese at Tribeca Film Festival

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Filmmakers from the Estonian crime thriller, “Mother,” joined me to talk about the premiere tonight at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival!

Watch it here!

Female-centric films are a focal point this year at the Tribeca Film Festival and “Mother” fits in perfectly to be a part of this category.  Not only is the lead and main subject female, the film is also written, directed, and produced by women.

Elsa and her husband live in a small town in Estonia where everyone knows everyone—and everyone’s business.  It’s quaint, yet there an undertone that we immediately feel that this is just a superficial feeling.  What actually happens behind closed doors is an entirely different story and that’s where “Mother” becomes one of the most sublimely subtle crime thrillers of recent years.

Being a mother, if we are honest with ourselves, can be an overwhelming responsibility no matter your child’s age.  Couple that with the devastation of having your adult son being shot and in a vegetative coma and you are the sole caregiver creates a situation that is completely unfathomable.   No matter how much you love your child, being charged with the daily tasks and the constant reminder of the loss of independence, hopes, and dreams he had is more than most could take.  Elsa must shut those emotions down, bury them deep within herself, in order to function on a daily basis.   This stoic woman, trapped in a loveless marriage, reveals that there is more to her than initially meets the eye.

The story is intensely gripping as there is the search for her son’s shooter.  The darkness that shadows every scene is palpable, even on a bright, sunny day where the garden is perfectly kept and the house is spotless.  The tension and resentment between Elsa and her husband seeps into every part of Elsa’s life, including her affair.  Within all of this drama comes some very wry humor as we meet the bumbling detective and we watch Elsa’s reaction to the various visitors who come to see her son.  We have both sympathy and empathy for Elsa and seeing the sixth sense she has about people and their motives can be seen quite subtly with Elsa’s barely perceptible, yet dramatic expressions.

“Mother” delves deeply into the human psyche and the differences among women and their needs and wants.  Elsa is complicated, but in a very familiar way.  The honest portrayal of a woman who sacrifices her hopes and dreams early in life eliciting resentment, creates an element of reality in “Mother.”  The film also captures a generation where marriages stay together, even if they are not happy ones.

It’s wonderfully refreshing to see such a strong female lead portrayed with the grace and deft acting skills of Tiina Malberg.  Of equal importance in “Mother” is the portrayal of men who have few lines, and their characterizations are what you might typically see for female supporting roles.

“Mother” is a powerful film with its writing, style, and most of all the performance by Malberg.  Beautifully filmed, this captivating story will intrigue you, bring you into the story to try to solve the mystery, and then blow you away with the ending.  Well done!

If you’re in NYC, be sure to check out this film at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Go to www.tribecafilm.com

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Tribeca Film Festival welcomes “the bomb” as the closing night multimedia event, immersing its participants in the sights and sounds of the realities of nuclear war.  Images both beautiful and disturbing will be projected onto 360 degree screens while a live performance by The Acid accompanies and augments this powerful and  visceral experience.  The premiere, never before seen in this capacity even by its creators, will take place at Gotham Hall on April 23 and 24 at 7pm and 10 pm.  For tickets go to tribecafilm.com/filmguide/bomb2016

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Smriti Keshari

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Eric Schlosser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smriti Keshari (“Food Chains”), Eric Schlosser (“Fast Food Nation” and “Command and Control”) and Kevin Ford joined me earlier last week to discuss the importance of making this film and what audience members can expect.  Their knowledge and passion about a seldom talked about topic is truly eye-opening, but of equal importance is their determination to bring this subject to the public using cutting edge technology.  To listen to the interview in its entirety go to www.archive.org

To learn more about this film experience, go to www.thebombnow.com