Blue Mountain (2019): Drama / Romance / Short

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A woman lies in bed watching the love of her life sleeping and can’t help but wonder if life is how she perceives it to be.

Watching Blue Mountain you stop debating with yourself regarding whether a short film can convey the message as effectively as a feature can and start wondering if what you perceive as real is everyone’s reality or just yours. Translucent Film Studios, Congo Station Productions, and one (wo)man army Jasmine Brotzman produces, writes, acts, edits, designs, and directs life’s convolution, focusing on the antitheses of certainty and doubt, love and the perception of it, and the human mind’s complexity as it endlessly and relentlessly weaves our story’s should haves, could haves, would haves…

A proud addition to the Film Festival Circuit (www.filmfestivalcircuit.com), Blue Mountain deserves all the spotlight it can get, and so does Jasmine.

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The Story of 90 Coins (2015): Short / Drama / Romance

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Love and aspiration battle in a young fashion designer’s head when the time comes to making the decision of her life.

If there is anything worse than something preventing you from achieving your dream, that is someone preventing you from doing so… 90 coins, in 90 days that will glue you to your seats for 9 minutes. Directorial debut for Michael Wong who hits the nail with a short drama portraying the gut-wrenching feeling of slowly losing love to an idle, utopic, pseudo-promising dream.

Brilliantly directed, edited, and acted, “The Story of 90 Coins” serves as a memory which comes and goes in waves blending two peoples’ lives the way they would like to remember them, and the way they actually were. A memory that will lead them to find eternal love or lose themselves forever.

Ashes in the Snow (2018): Drama / History / Romance

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In 1941, as Stalin’s army marches through Lithuania, a 16-year-old girl, her family, and thousands of men, women, and children who have been accused of treason, and are deported to Siberia.

A heartbreaking and soul-crushing story about a nation we know little and the same nation’s suffering that we know even less. A powerful drama based on Ruta Sepetys’ book “Between Shades of Gray” (Don’t you dare mix it up!), directed by Marius A. Markevicius, and with two actors leading strong: Bel Powley and Martin Wallström.

Shot on a moderate budget, it lacks the Hollywood flamboyance but the message is coming across straight through and expands to the rest of the Baltic people and whoever else faced the Russian atrocities. Shamelessness and misanthropy add to the film’s drama, history, and romance and clash the two forces that, in abhorrent times like this, are battling over the human soul: hope and despair.

A massive round of applause to Sorrento Productions, Tauras Films, Twilight Merengue Studios, and Vertical Entertainment which produced and distributed the film for the world to know. And then another one to the Lithuanian government for allowing it and supporting it.

People are often wondering how the descendants of the Nazis feel nowadays about their ancestors. How about the Russians’ ancestors? How about the current followers of the same regime that still exists and still oppresses, has surpassed the deaths caused by the fascist regimes, and competes with the deaths caused by theocratic ones?

Edward Scissorhands (1990): Drama / Fantasy / Romance

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Living on the top of a hill, Edward, having scissors for hands, is at first welcomed but then abominated by a conservative society.

Potentially, Tim Burton’s greatest fairy tale. One of Danny Elfman’s best film score. Stefan Czapsky’s most wondrous cinematography. The film that showcased Johnny Depp’s true thespian skills. The film that Winona Ryder made me fall in love with an actress for the first time. Dianne Wiest and Alan Arkin are amazing as gullible and naive parents and both the visual and sound departments deliver a truly mesmerising result.

As for the story and its development, please keep in mind that it is about Edward Scissorhands who is… different. And through his eyes, we recognise isolation, we seek self-discovery, and we find love. Similar, yet more sensitive than the story of Frankenstein, “Edward Scissorhands” could be more of a different take on the Beauty and the Beast through German Expressionism enhanced with Gothic constituents.

Try not to ask too many “whys”. Try not to rationalise actions and reactions. Try not to get too political or too scientific diagnosing Edward with autism. This is one of the best modern, love stories Hollywood has to offer. It is a magical love story…

The Vanishing of Sidney Hall (2017): Drama / Mystery / Romance

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I don’t know how to begin or even elaborate on my admiration and simultaneously my frustration on “The Vanishing of Sidney Hall”. One feeling at a time I guess…

A young, talented writer becomes successful immediately after his first publication and inexplicably disappears into thin air. Shawn Christensen, pens, produces, and directs an ostensibly simple story, which he develops intricately, unfolds beautifully, and delivers didactically. Sabine Hoffman’s editing is stupendous, Daniel Katz’s cinematography is mesmerizing, and Logan Lerman, Margaret Qualley, Elle Fanning, Michelle Monaghan, and Kyle Chandler are shinning in front of the camera.

So, that’s the admiration part. Here comes the frustration… Not even one nomination!!! I guess we have the critics to thank for that who ignorantly saw past it. Whose perceptual inability prevents them from conceptualizing Sidney Hall’s depth, magnitude, and complexity. “The Vanishing of Sidney Hall” is poetry on screen. It is really a shame not to give it the chance it deserves. The chance the critics never did.

London (2005): Drama / Romance

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Let me introduce to you writer/director Hunter Richards. Is he well-known? No. Should he be? Definitely. What for? “London”! Unknown too? It shouldn’t be.

Addressing mostly the Hollywood lovers, “London” focuses on three characters portrayed by two actors and one actress who are known to be action heroes and one of the hottest women alive respectively. Chris Evans, Jason Statham, and Jessica Biel have been fully humanized, “made redundant” to people next door, and deal with everyday issues that you and I are troubled with. No heroes, no celebrities here.

“London” takes place profusely in a house party’s toilet where:

  • Evans and Statham camp there as they are not welcome.
  • Expensive paintings are used as a flat surface for everyone to constantly snort cocaine.
  • Politics, religion, history, sociology, philosophy, drugs, human psyche, sadomasochism, and relationship issues are elaborated.
  • Finally, while the aforementioned are happening, everyone comes in and out to do their need.

Statham and Evans steel the show. They look each other in the eye, are not afraid to go berserk, and their characters find mental and spiritual/psychological ablution. A brilliant cinematic reflection on how real-life introspection can be turned into a liberating life’s unfolding.

Dirty Dancing (1987): Drama / Music Romance

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Ladies… Ladies… Ladies… How many times, in your youth, pending boring family holidays, didn’t you find yourselves daydreaming of being a Jennifer Grey… And that, during them tedious holidays, you would meet, dance, and fall in love with a – more often than not – half naked Patrick Swayze.

Before Hollywood’s decadence in the Romance genre… Before millions of dollars were spent on cliche, “soppiness”, unnecessary CGI, and kitsch… there was “Dirty Dancing”! There was the Jennifer Grey and the Patrick Swayze. In a production that everything that could go wrong did, I dare anyone to challenge its success and dethrone it.

As for us gentlemen… we pay our respects to Patrick Swayze – dancer, bouncer, surfer, lover… who carved the path for modern actors like Ryan Gosling and Hugh Jackman… to take on multidisciplinary roles who fight, dance, sing, become superheroes and everyday people.

Regardless… ladies and gentlemen… we all hope he rests in peace…

For Petroula.