Honeymoon (Luna de Miel) (2015)

honeymoonJorge kidnaps Isabel and keeps her in his basement hoping that some conditioning and Stendhal Syndrome will make her his.  Through torture and punishment, he tries to break her. The brutal story brought to the screen here is written by Marco Tarditi Ortega and directed by Diego Cohen.  Together they create a kidnapping story where the victim is brutalized, violated, and tortured in many varied ways.  The film brings an imaginative array of ways to make someone suffer and bleed.  The way it is shot is relentless, keeping the camera directly on what is happening to victim Isabel at the hands of her captor Jorge who is a medical doctor, giving him better knowledge on how to make her suffer without killing her.

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Best Fake Friends (2016)

bestfakefriendsAfter moving to the Portland area for her husband’s work, Joy finds herself looking for new friends in the local mom crowd.  Having found her way to a big party, she meets a few of the “cool” moms who will first support her and then test her limits. Written by Sarah Hehman and Christi Sperry and directed by Paul Kampf build an adult version of the teenage-clique film which works.  The characters they build feel like grown-up versions of people most of us encountered in high school: the good girls that are slightly bookworm-y, the rich girls from silver-spoon backgrounds, the cool and dangerous girls, etc.

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Dennis the Menace: The Complete Series (DVD)

dennisthemenaceAfter many years of waiting, fans of “Dennis the Menace” finally have their precocious trouble maker on DVD thanks to Mill Creek Entertainment. In 1986, Hank Ketcham’s hit newspaper comic strip was adapted once again in to an animated series that played on Saturday mornings. I watched “Dennis the Menace” a lot as a child as the networks played the series through syndication allowing me to see the show every single day. “Dennis the Menace” is a fun and pleasant animated series that channels the antics of Dennis the Menace, along with the colorful characters and unique world that comes with the territory.

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Sendero (Path) (2015) [Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2016]

senderoAna and her friends head on the road for a weekend in the countryside.  After breaking down and getting help from a delivery driver who warns them to not stay in the area, they keep going and come across a bloody, hurt, and scared woman on the side of the road.  As Ana insists on helping the woman, things go very, very wrong. Writer/director Lucio A. Rojas creates a horror story that starts off more than a little reminiscent of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, then as the group of friends are taken to a big country house, it turns into something more reminiscent of “Frontière(s)” with a crazy with crazy family, humans turning into prey if they do not meet a certain series of criteria with many suffering gruesome injuries and deaths.

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Carl Haber and the Rome International Film School

carlCarl Haber is a prominent independent filmmaker whose latest project is the launch of the Rome International Film School (RIFS). In this exclusive interview, Mr. Haber details the inspiration for creating the school and his plans on educating the next generation of filmmakers.

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The Magnificent Seven (1960)

mag-7John Sturges’ “The Magnificent Seven” is such a pitch perfect example of how to accomplish a remake. And Sturges has his work cut out for him as “The Magnificent Seven” is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai.” Kurosawa’s film was already considered a classic by 1960, and was a juggernaut of foreign cinema that influenced filmmakers and studios worldwide. Even today its influence over cinema is immense. So it’s no small feat that “The Magnificent Seven” is just as good as the original and can stand side by side with it as another version of the tale that is as compelling and action packed. In fact Kurosawa loved it so much he allegedly sent Sturges a ceremonial sword as a bid a token of approval for his version.

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Foreign Body (Corps Etranger) (2016) [Toronto International Film Festival 2016]

foreignbody-01A group of people risks their lives crossing to France in a small, unsafe boat, escaping the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia.  A few of them survive, including Samia who tries to adapt to the life of an illegal in France as best she can.  She comes across some people from back home and a woman willing to help as she discovers the joys and fears of her new life. Writer/director Raja Amari writes and directs a masterful film about a young woman adapting to her new environment.  She shows the plight of many illegal (and legal) immigrants who are escaping violence and bad situations with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

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