Camille Hollett-French

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Camille Hollett-French filmmaker and actor of the new short anthology “Her Story : Told In 3 Parts” covering writing, directing and starring in her films. Telling stories involving the shame of sexual assault. The aftermath of abuse. Balancing mental health with creativity. Festivals and more!

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“Growing Up”  by Eytan Mirsky

Jesse Borrego

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Iconic actor Jesse Borrego joined Neal for an epic 2 1/2 hour interview! Covering his new film Phoenix Oregon opening March 20th with a revolutionary new option to view at home! Working with James LeGros, Diedrich Bader, Lisa Edelstein, Kevin Corrigan and director Gary Lundgren. The relatability of the story and characters. Independent cinema, how the Marvel type blockbusters are hurting the cinema chances for smaller films. His break out performance in Fame and what it meant to him. His legacy as a Latino actor what that is important to him. Working with Danny Trejo, Nicolas Cage, Kiefer Sutherland and more! His character arc on 24. Working alongside Jimmy Smits on season 3 of Dexter. Con Air and playing basketball with John Malkovich. Passion for the arts and what you love. South Texas filmmakers. Film festivals.  The importance of homemade tortillas and so much more!

Please check out PhoenixOregonMovie.com for information on how to see the new film!

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“Growing Up”  by Eytan Mirsky

Film Review: The Social Ones (2019)

socialones-1Legendary pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin supposedly advises rookie grapplers to pick an aspect of their respective personalities and amplify it in order to make a lasting impression with fans. For better or worse, social media personalities and influencers seemed to have applied a similar recipe for success in their chosen occupations, magnifying their own idiosyncrasies and obsessing over nuance, details, and minutiae in an unyielding effort to remain relevant and popular. Seizing upon this Dadaesque sociocultural trend, screenwriter and director Laura Kosann has crafted the comedy film The Social Ones, which purports to offer parody and commentary of social media as both concept and phenomenon.

The Social Ones is something of a documentary-type spoof in the tradition of The Office in which a duo of senior staff at a magazine attempts to bring together the top (fictionalized) influencers and personalities of each social major media platform for a photoshoot for the ages. Along the way, the audience meets each social media luminary, and of course, they all epitomize the worst hyperbolic foibles of real-world Internet sensations. A plot twist of sorts results in one of the most influential ‘net celebs flaking out and leaving the magazine folks and his fellow social media cohorts hanging as he goes on a nonsensical quest for self-realization.

It would be a nice gesture to claim that The Social Ones is simply too good at lampooning the most objectionable standouts of present-day pop culture. But the fact of the matter is that if that is indeed the task at hand, then it’s simply too easy to poke fun such types and too difficult to ultimately turn them into redeemable character. Indeed, not a single character in The Social Ones is even slightly likable or relatable and the longer any of them are on screen, it becomes more difficult to tolerate them, much less to empathize with them or to root for them. Perhaps Sheila Berger, played by That 70’s Show alumnus Debra Jo Rupp, emerges as the closest offering to an original and intriguing character here, but even by the end of the film, as each cast learns his or her respective “truth” about the importance of real-world interaction, her novelty wears thin, much like the general concept of the film itself. Even Richard Kind, a veteran of television with a particular flair for comedic endeavors, doesn’t bring much to the table here, as his performance is overshadowed by the positively ridiculous premise of his character.

All told, The Social Ones is not so much of a satire as it is a painful reminder of how predictable and shallow some aspects of popular culture have become over the course of the past decade or so. Granted, The Social Ones might elicit a chuckle or two for folks in the audience who find some kind enjoyment in following the exploits of self-aggrandizing narcissists. But those who find such behavior annoying and contemptible likely won’t find much entertainment in this effort.

Inside Your Head doffs our proverbial cap to The Social Ones with a modicum of regard, giving the movie one out of five golden tophats.

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– Mike Bessler, February 2020

Film Review: Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band (2019)

owbIn his 2007 book I Am A Strange Loop, scholar Douglas Hofstadter described the memory of an individual as a sort of mosaic comprised of “coarser grain” and like “blurry copies” of that person’s experiences and encounters. While the march of time contributes to the general fuzziness of memories as they become more and more distant, sentimentality might sometimes color the perceptions of reminiscences, as well. So when the opportunity emerges to chronicle the rise and demise of an influential cultural force as The Band, it’s surely a daunting challenge to wade through decades of emotion and influence to assemble a compelling and accurate depiction of the group, both as people and as a phenomenon. Thankfully, Daniel Roher and a team of producers were up for the challenge, as is evident by their 2019 film Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band.

The film presents a stirring depiction of the Canadian group The Band, told mostly from the perspective of Robbie Robertson, who served as a guitarist and songwriter for the group. His recollections, told in intimate, confessional-style interviews, are complemented by accounts from his peers and fellow travelers, including blues icon Taj Mahal, filmmaker Martin Scorsese, and celebrated recording artist Bob Dylan. Dylan, who was backed by The Band from 1965 to 1967, is arguably one of the most important presences in the film (perhaps a close second to Robertson himself) as his firsthand accounts of The Band during its formative years provide invaluable texture to the stuff of rock legend. Roher’s use of archival footage in this endeavor is particularly noteworthy, offering candid and somewhat rare glimpses into the process and product of The Band at all stages of their collective and individual endeavors.

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band is a rock and roll enthusiast’s dream, told in documentary style but infused with the kind of detail and pathos that lend essential credibility to its overarching narrative. Although a certain subgroup of critical viewers may lament the emphasis on Robertson’s role in the story, it is largely his accounts that ensure that the portrait of The Band that emerges through Once Were Brothers is sharp and defined so that its finer points aren’t reduced to just another fuzzy mosaic.

Inside Your Head offers a tip of the cap to Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, awarding the film four out of five golden tophats.

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Mike Bessler
February 2020

Terence Gordon and Terra Renee

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Terence Gordon director of “What’s In A Name: The Alfredo Versace Story” and producer Terra Renee president of AAWIC (African American Women In Cinema) joined “Nasty” Neal! Come see “What’s In A Name” January 25 at the AAWIC Sundance special film screening program during Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah!
Reserve your complimentary tickets today! 
African American Women In Cinema

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“Growing Up”  by Eytan Mirsky

Film Review: In the Absence

in-the-absencePopular expectations often compel filmmakers to portray large-scale disasters – whether fictional or dramatized accounts of actual events – with considerable bombast and sensationalism. And while the present era is one in which skewed, muddled, and opinion-based reporting dominate all forms of media, there remain people who regard stark, unembellished truth-telling as both art and necessity, including Director Seung-jun Yi, whose Academy Award film In the Absence offers a concise but harrowing chronicle of the Sewol ferry disaster.

The MV Sewol capsized in the Yellow Sea off the coast of South Korea on April 16, 2014, ultimately sinking and claiming the lives of 304 passengers in the process. Among the deceased were 250 high school students, many of whom made efforts to contact family and friends as they helplessly awaited their demise. In the Absence chronicles the tragedy in heart-wrenching detail, melding together harrowing video of the incident at every stage with audio of government dispatches and conversations and messages sent by trapped and helpless passengers. In a decidedly cruel irony, the story unfolds amidst the scenery of shimmering waters and distant mountains, transforming an otherwise breathtaking panorama into a hellscape stained by human suffering.

What emerges through Yi’s masterfully edited montage of primary source material, is a sobering reminder of the high cost of bureaucracy, malfeasance, and incompetence, especially when innocent lives hang in the balance. Indeed, the sinking of the Sewol set into motion a scandal that rocked South Korean society and government, eventually resulting in civil and criminal penalties against many individuals and instructions, including South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who was ultimately expelled from office for her lack of leadership and action in the early, critical hours of the tragedy.

Seung-jun Yi’s In the Absence presents the story of the Sewol disaster with simplicity and sensitivity, providing a respectful platform for the tragedy’s underrepresented victims and those who have carried on without them while quietly suffering and searching for answers. In the Absence is not a lighthearted cinematic experience, but it is a necessary one that reminds audiences that the chaos and uncertainty of life is often compounded by the disconnect between those of power and influence and the everyday people.

Inside Your Head offers a tip of the proverbial cap to In the Absence, awarding this film four and a half out of five golden top hats.

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Mike Bessler, January 2020