Short film review: John Stuart Wildman’s ‘SWEAT OF HIS COW’ is the sexy absurdity we all secretly desire.

SWEAT OF HIS COW

From the depths of someone’s lost VHS tapes is this story of an impossibly gorgeous doctor lawyer who runs out of gas next to a barn where an impossibly sweaty man is milking a cow. A sexy relationship ensues where they learn that gas is just the beginning, milk is always the end.


Thoughts I had while watching the award-winning short film, SWEAT OF HIS COW...

“Is this a lost VHS from someone’s basement? Oh, this score is very softcore porn goodness. Does this film star Milky White from Into The Woods?! Amazing. These hair flips are luscious, and now I’m laughing. Wow, this is a softcore porn-inspired rom-com! And also, WOW! John is really sweaty and also a proper beefcake. Should I be watching this? Am I allowed to watch this? My god, this is hilarious wordplay.”

Celena Rea nails every line with total commitment. She has a commanding presence, accentuated by specific hair, make-up, and costume choices. Also, she does her own stunts. Her chemistry with writer-director John Stuart Wildman as Sweaty Man is electric. He knocks it out of the park. I knew John was charming, but, damn. Casting directors pay attention. John could easily carry leading roles in literally every genre. Shout out to Chris Gardner for his comic timing as Saxophone Player.

I couldn’t love this weird, little film anymore. There’s not a dull moment in its 5-minute runtime. Sweat Of His Cow is easily something you’d see produced by Funny Or Die or SNL, but better. I want a series of Sweaty Man shorts about his sexual encounters. And, I’m not sorry about it. This film is now burned into my brain forever.


You can watch Sweat of His Cow screening virtually at the Sarasota Film Festival now!

(And you should.)

https://www.sarasotafilmfestival.com/film/sweat-of-his-cow/


SXSW 2022 short film review: ‘THE VOICE ACTRESS’ is an elegant ode to the unseen legends.

Kingyo, a veteran voice actress working in Tokyo, possesses a unique ability to see the soul in all things, living and inanimate. The voice acting world is changing and she must find a way to reconcile her way of living with the modern industry. As Kingyo prepares for an upcoming audition, she seeks inspiration from the world around her and from her pet goldfish, Asatte. In the face of professional and personal adversity, Kingyo looks decidedly inward for strength through empathy and kindness.

Urara Takano plays Kingyo, a voice actress whose passion for her work is clear to the audience from the very beginning. In 15 minutes we get an emotional journey worth every second of screen time. Competing with a new generation proficient in self-promotion, how does a dedicated veteran compete? The Voice Actress gives us a peek behind the curtain that is the boys club of entertainment, while simultaneously putting us inside the mind of an accomplished performer. Writer-director Anna J. Takayama gives Takano space to bloom. I would happily watch a feature on this character. There is a purposeful beauty to the costumes, especially the use of the color red. The undeniable quirkiness from Takano makes you fall in love with her. It’s no wonder the short garnered SXSW22’s Mailchimp Support the Shorts Award.


 

SXSW 2022 review: Winner of Best Cinematography ‘A VANISHING FOG’ is spellbinding journey of whimsy and warning.

A VANISHING FOG

Facing the imminent return of an unnamed social and ecological violence, F – played by the emblematic and commanding newcomer Sebastián Pii in his debut cinematic role—yearns to overcome his human limitations and plan his escape, knowing all too well that his departure will come with a heartrending goodbye to the only world he has ever known.


It should be no surprise that A Vanishing Fog won the SXSW22 film festival award for Best Cinematography. This film not only speaks to the race against the climate crisis, but The Vanishing Fog also specifically tackles the helpless human aspect. The film follows a young man named F. He appears to be the last protector of an enormous and lush hidden landscape. As capitalist outsiders seek to buy his home, F’s internal struggle between escape and loyalty is palpable. Caring for his ailing father, attempting to communicate with any possible remaining ally by yelling out into the abyss, F understands the end is nigh, whatever that form may take. 

First-time cinematographer Gio Park shot A Vanishing Fog in the mysterious and formidable Páramo of Sumapaz—the largest swath of alpine moorland in the world. It is the first feature film to be shot in this location. You won’t believe such a place exists. It is so incredible that it looks to have been created on a soundstage or green screen. It will take your breath away. 

A Vanishing Fog is a film that deserves enormous screens. Imagine sitting in a room surrounded by IMAX-sized walls. The film begs this experience. I could easily see this becoming a staple at any museum. Lead actor Sebastián Pii leaves every ounce of himself in this role. He’s charming, innocent, desperate, endearing, and determined. You are right alongside his emotional journey. Visual grandeur aside, Pii captures your heart with his wonder and physical fearlessness. A Vanishing Fog is unlike anything you’ve experienced before. It’s a must-see.

 


A VANISHING FOG (Entre la niebla). Colombia/Czech Republic/Norway, 2021, 76 min. In English and Sunapakún with English subtitles. Director / Writer: Augusto Sandino; Producer: Augusto Sandino; Executive Producer: Alejandro Santo Domingo, Munir Falah and Nubia Stella Cubillos; Cinematography: Gio Park; Editor: Augusto Sandino; Production Designer: Constanza Romero; Sound Designer: Emil Nygård Olsen; Music: Emil Nygård Olsen; Principal Cast: Sebastián Pii, Mario de Jesús Viana, Christian Ballesteros; Worldwide Sales: Pluto Film.

About the director:

Augusto Sandino is one of the outstanding names in Colombian contemporary cinema. Winner of over 30 international accolades and the National Cinema Award 2000-2005 given by the Ministry of Culture of Colombia for his short Aniversario. His feature debut Gentle Breath (Suave el aliento) won the Special Jury prize and the FIPRESCI award at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in 2016. Founding Director of the Auteur cinema symposium manifesto with Carlos Reygadas, Lisandro Alonso and Amat Escalante in 2014, Sandino has also been the producer of his films plus the works La forma del presente (The Shape of Now) at DOK Leipzig Next Masters 2018; La torre (The Tower) at IFFR Bright Future 2018; and Karen llora en un bus (Karen Cries on the Bus) at Berlinale Forum 2011. A Vanishing Fog (Entre la niebla) is his second feature film.


SXSW.com


Review: ‘Identifying Features’ is devastating and captivating.

IDENTIFYING FEATURES

Directed by Fernanda Valadez
Written by Fernanda Valadez & Astrid Rondero
Middle-aged Magdalena (Mercedes Hernandez) has lost contact with her son after he took off with a friend from their town of Guanajuato to cross the border into the U.S., hopeful to find work. Desperate to find out what happened to him—and to know whether or not he’s even alive—she embarks on an ever-expanding and increasingly dangerous journey to discover the truth. At the same time, a young man named Miguel (David Illescas) has returned to Mexico after being deported from the U.S., and eventually, his path converges with Magdalena’s. From this simple but urgent premise, director Fernanda Valadez has crafted a lyrical, suspenseful slow burn, equally constructed of moments of beauty and horror, and which leads to a startling, shattering conclusion. Winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Audience and Screenplay Awards at the Sundance Film Festival.
Every once in a blue moon a film comes along that pushes you past your own emotional boundaries. The heaviness of the stories in Identifying Features swallows you whole. You are forced to confront the realities that are far too often swept under the political rug here in the US and are dreaded in Mexico. With a score that vibrates your already unsettled soul, the handheld cinematography puts you in the shoes of any one of these individuals getting shoved back across the border… And those who don’t ever make it. The alternating scenes from a mother to a son build up a visceral tension to an ending that is beyond shocking. The intimacy of the sound editing and long lingering beautifully shot close-ups force you to remain engaged no matter how badly you’d like to look away. Identifying Features is brilliant in its unyielding honesty. You will sink so far into the depths of these families’ grief, digging out will take more time than you’ll realize. It’s nothing short of captivating.
This film is now playing in virtual cinemas. Click here to find a Kino Marquee virtual cinema supporting a theater near you.
Mexico /In Spanish with English subtitles / 94 min

Review: ‘The Twentieth Century’ is a satirical feast for the eyes.

Aspiring young politician Mackenzie King (Dan Beirne) dreams of becoming the Prime Minister of Canada. But his romantic vacillation between a British soldier and a French nurse, exacerbated by a fetishistic obsession, may well bring about his downfall. In his quest for power, King must gratify the expectations of his imperious Mother, the hawkish fantasies of a war-mongering Governor-General, and the utopian idealism of a Québécois mystic before facing one, final test of leadership. Culminating in an epic battle between good and evil, King learns that disappointment may be the defining characteristic of the twentieth century!

If you are a cinephile with any sense of humor, The Twentieth Century will delight you to no end. It’s Monty Python meets golden era Hollywood musical mixed-media delicious. (It’s basically the most appropriate mouthful I can begin with… nudge, nudge, wink, wink) It’s the wackiest and most wonderful way to jump headlong into the holiday season in 2020. It’s easy to see why it won three Screen Canada Awards and jury accolades at TIFF and Berlin. Writer, director, and editor Matthew Rankin gifts us with one of the most unique and visually lush cinematic experiences. The attention to detail is flawless and the writing will bedazzle you. While I find the plot difficult to properly describe, that’s all the more reason to watch. I guarantee you have never seen anything akin to The Twentieth Century, ever.

The complete and total commitment from these actors is to be applauded. The laugh out loud absurdity of the dialogue fraught with overt sexual innuendo is pushed gleefully further with a large percentage of the cast being performers in drag. The scenery often consists of sharp-angled, backlit, triangular towers sometimes wrapped with black & white political iconography. I fully expected a Fred Astaire dance number but was too distracted by the fetish shaming and the nationalist propaganda. It simply goes from weird to completely batshit. Performances across the board are magic. Fun fact: The film is (loosely) based on a true story! What, what, what?! While I know zero about the dynamics of the Canadian government and identity, I can say that The Twentieth Century stands out from a line of great indie films that arrived on the scene this year. Even without the national connection, the story screams a global political familiarity in your face all while making you merrily cringe in fits of laughter. It’s one of a kind.

Arriving in Virtual Cinemas on November 20, 2020!
Runtime: 90 Minutes
English Language
Color
Not Rated
🏆 Winner of the Best Canadian First Feature Film Award at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival
🏆 Winner of Best Film at the 2019 Los Cabos International Film Festival
🏆 Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival
🏆🏆🏆 Nominated for eight Canadian Screen Awards and Winner of three

Review: ‘ A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE’ is eternally mysterious.

PRESENTS THE ACCLAIMED NEW MASTERPIECE
FROM LEGENDARY JAPANESE DIRECTOR SHUNJI IWAI
A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE
リップヴァンウィンクルの花嫁
Synopsis: Nanami is an apathetic, part-time junior high school teacher, whose only solace comes from connecting with others on “Planet”, a new social network service. One day, a young man named Tetsuya messages her and asks to meet in person. The two begin dating and quickly become engaged. When Testuya begs Nanami to increase her guest list for the wedding, Nanami reaches out to online-friend, Amuro, a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades, who hires actors to play Nanami’s guests on her big day. A few weeks following the ceremony, Tetsuya’s mother confronts Nanami with allegations of lying and cheating. Heartbroken and despondent, Nanami checks herself into a hotel and manages to get hired there as a maid. One day, Amuro offers Nanami a housekeeping job in an old mansion, whose sole resident’s infectious spirit helps Nanami to open her heart. However, Nanami soon realizes that Amuro, the mansion, and its occupant aren’t what they seem – and even dreams have limits.
There is something otherworldly about Iwai Shunji‘s latest film. While A BrideFor Rip Van Winkle runs just minutes shy of 3 hrs, the story is vastly engrossing. Our beautiful lead actress, Haru Kuroki, gives us an honest and quietly bold performance that allows us to feel each beat in real time with her. We are along for the ride just as much as she is. The classical soundtrack adds an ethereal quality to mysterious turns in the script. To speak too much about the plot would ruin it for the viewer. I can say that it will be unlike anything you’ve seen before. It certainly speaks to the power of social media. It tackles isolationism and the yearning to feel truly connected physically and emotionally. A Bride For Rip Van Winkle will surprise and delight to no end. You can check out the trailer below and catch the film in theaters this Friday.

A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE opens in cinemas November 10th!

Color
Japanese Language with English Subtitles
179 minutes
Not Rated

Review: ‘Indivisible’ takes the family bond to the extreme.

INDIVISIBLE
(Indivisibili)In a complex and incredibly nuanced new film, sisters must decide if physical and emotional separation is what they need to survive. Indivisible is a story of exploitation and personal desire.
Daisy and Viola are conjoined twin sisters living in the suburbs of Naples. They are blessed with beautiful voices and, thanks to their performances at local weddings, communions, and baptisms, have become the breadwinners for their entire family. Kept isolated from the world by their exploitative father, their lives are turned upside down when one of them falls in love for the first time… and they discover that it is possible for them to be separated.
Angela and Marianna Fontana play conjoined twins Dasy and Viola. Sought after for their singing talents and local idolatry, everyone wants a piece of them. Born into a selfish family living off the girls’ fame, they are forced to perform, threatened by guilt and permeating greed. While one sister yearns to be surgically divided, the other feels devastated by the idea. In bold performances from these real-life twins, we are rooting for their ultimate happiness. Despite being attached at the hip, each young woman gives a brilliant performance. Full of dreams and determination, these ladies own the screen is presence and ability. Battling religious fanaticism and the seduction of escapism, our leading ladies ooze with charisma. Indivisible takes a heartfelt and intimate approach to dismiss the sideshow mentality. Every theme in this script is some sort of double entendre. With beautiful cinematography on top of a clever and unexpected script, Indivisible is one of a kind.
The film is currently playing in New York City and opens theatrically in Los Angeles today. A national rollout will follow.

100 mins | Italy | in Italian with English subtitles | 2016

Written and Directed by Edoardo De Angelis
**NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE – TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2016**
**WORLD PREMIERE – 73RD VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL**

**OPENING NIGHT – OPEN ROADS**

Review: Now available on VOD, film festival favorite ‘ANGEL OF NANJING’ soars.

Balance Films and Blue Bus Productions PresentsANGEL OF NANJING

In the US, depression is a subject we either tackle with prescription drugs or after a suicide. Most of us are so consumed with our own lives, we oftentimes fail to look beyond the emotional scope of our own noses. In a new documentary by Jordan Horowitz and Frank L. Ferendo, ANGEL OF NANJING, one solitary man makes it his mission to save the souls on The Yangtze River Bridge.

SYNOPSIS:

The Yangtze River Bridge in Nanjing is one of the most famous landmarks in China. It is also the most popular place in the world to commit suicide. After hearing reports about this from the news, Chen Si, an average man with no professional training, decided to do something about it. On September 19, 2003, he went to the bridge with a heart-shaped sign that read, “Nothing is impossible. When God closes a door he opens a window.” That morning he saved someone, and has dedicated his life to standing vigil on that bridge ever since. Incredibly, he’s saved over 300 lives since he began.

 

Despite all the lives he’s saved, Chen’s mission has taken an unexpected toll on him. He feels incredible guilt when he learns someone committed suicide while he wasn’t at the bridge, and even more when he is there and is still unable to save them. He’s become a heavy smoker and drinker, and often finds himself battling with depression. He is also under growing pressure from his family to quit, who cannot understand why he spends so much time and money helping others when he has his own family to worry about.

ANGEL OF NANJING

The film has an incredibly organic feeling from its handheld camera work to the pulled back moments when Chen is speaking to the men and women so seemingly desperate to jump. Once rescued, the audience feels as if they’re part of the healing as they are treated to intimate face to face conflict resolution. It is a perfect snapshot into the Chinese culture. Suicide is considered extraordinarily shameful. Chinese media always refers to a desperate or depressed individual as in a “bad mood” in any aftermath coverage. Once you accept the familial implications of a suicide, you begin to understand Chen’s pragmatic approach. Cultural tactics are perfectly balanced with genuine tenderness resulting in incredibly touching rescues. Chen is a complex man, struggling with the sense of responsibility to those in such despair and his own happiness. Horowitz and Ferendo do absolute justice to Chen and this unique scenario. As an added bonus, the film’s score is both haunting and glorious. It is something I would seek out on its own. As a whole, ANGEL OF NANJING is a beautiful story of hope and humanity.

ANGEL OF NANJING

ANGEL OF NANJING is now available! Check out the trailer below…

Award-winning documentary debuted on VOD (iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play) February 16

Winner – Best Documentary, Phoenix Film Festival
Wi
nner – Best Documentary, Catalina Film Festival
Winner – Best Documentary, SaMo Indie Fest
Winner – Best Documentary, Big Apple Film Festival
Winner – Best Documentary, New Jersey Film Festival

Directed by Jordan Horowitz and Frank Ferendo, ANGEL OF NANJING tells the story of an ordinary man doing something extraordinary, and at great personal sacrifice. It is a personal portrait of a man, who in a country of over one billion people, has chosen to dedicate himself to making a difference, one person at a time.