Tag Archive | Director

Recommended Viewing: Naz & Maalik

Naz and Maalik Movie Poster
Curtiss Cook Jr. and Kerwin Johnson Jr. Star in Naz & Maalik (All Images Courtesy of Wolfe Video)

One day in the life of a pair of Brooklyn teenagers moves beyond their typical routine to mark an emotional turning point in the lives of the two best friends in Naz & Maalik; an engaging new film from screenwriter/director Jay Dockendorf. The film’s dynamic script is based on a first-person account from one of Dockendorf’s former neighbors; a gay Muslim man who revealed his own experience as a teenager living in Brooklyn, at a time when the NYPD and FBI were spying on Muslims across the country. In Bed-Stuy (Bedford Stuyvesant, a heavily African American neighborhood of Brooklyn) in particular, COPs would infiltrate mosques with undercover agents, coerce civilians arrested for petty crimes into becoming informants and conduct door-to-door interviews with Muslim citizens in front of their homes. The overbearing presence of the police created a charged environment, and a similar atmosphere of consistent tension infiltrates this bittersweet coming-of-age story that is expertly directed and acted.

Naz and Maalik Screen Shot

Portrayed by Curtiss Cook Jr. (Maalik) and Kerwin Johnson Jr. (Naz), two young actors both making their feature film debut in these roles, Naz and Maalik spend their days together, earning cash by selling Lotto tickets, Saint cards, candy and scented oils on the streets of their neighborhood, as well as while riding the subway lines. Their faith is also made evident, as they make a stop at a local mosque during their day to pray with the faithful. Their bond of friendship is fast and tight, and, as we learn early on, their relationship has only just taken a romantic turn — something that Naz is way more comfortable with than Maalik. As devout Muslims, their love is forbidden, and it doesn’t help that Maalik’s bratty younger sister has already threatened to “out” the couple to their parents. As if being a teenager wasn’t hard enough.

And then there’s the matter of that FBI agents that starts following the boys’ every move…

Naz and Maalik In Park2

As their story unfolds naturally, Naz & Maalik takes on many hot-button issues — racial profiling, religion, sexuality — as the streets and subway trains of Brooklyn advance the backstory of just who these kids are without a need for superfluous narrative dialogue. In fact, to suggest that Brooklyn is also a main character in the film is not out of line.

Naz and Maalik Park

Naz & Maalik isn’t so much a film about easy resolution as it is about tackling life’s curve balls and trying to stay true to yourself and your beliefs while also embracing the uncertainty of new love. Naz and Maalik are extremely likable characters and their story is both straightforward and nuanced, and highly engaging overall. The film’s original score, also written by Dockendorf is also fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about this film.

Grade: A

After Debuting at NYC’s Cinema Village, Naz & Maalik is currently available via Wolfe on DVD and Video On Demand.

Naz and Maalik on Street

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Movie Review: The Film Critic (El Critico )

FILM CRITIC Poster

A film critic whose intolerance for cliché-ridden, formulaic Hollywood romances has earned him a reputation as a merciless film curmudgeon experiences a kind of existential crisis when he falls hard for beautiful, mercurial woman in Writer/Director Hernán Gerschuny’s Argentinian comedy The Film Critic (El Critico). This fast paced, sharply written and well-acted film will entertain anyone who loves movies but also enjoys a hilarious, insider jab at the filmmaking industry.

The Film Critic - 5

Victor Tellez (Rafael Spregelburd) is a popular film citric who feels that the main responsibility of his job is to help the audience discern “Art from Schlock.” Tellez spends his days in dark screening rooms with his fellow critics, with whom he then retreats to a favorite local café to discuss what they’ve just seen ad nauseum. Tellez is so pretentious that, while he speaks Spanish, he thinks in French (thus the film is in both French and Spanish with English subtitles), which is hilarious in itself.

When Tellez goes to see an apartment that he hopes to rent, he meets the very enigmatic and sassy Sofia (played by Dolores Fonzi, who bears a striking resemblance to Mila Kunis), who has beat him out as the next potential tenant by arriving on the scene before him. Through his relentless attempt’s to convince her to let him have the apartment, Victor is unexpectedly charmed by this lady, the likes of whom he’s not met before.

The Film Critic - 2

As Victor finds himself falling hard for Sofia, a woman who playfully challenges his beliefs and tastes on almost every level, he struggles to reconcile this new relationship with the profound disdain he has always felt towards the romantic film genre.

Ironically, when he is commissioned to write a short screenplay in exchange for some easy cash, Victor bases his story on the seemingly formulaic trajectory of his relationship with Sofia, with hilarious results. Will Life imitate Art? You’ll have to watch to find out!

The Film Critic is marvelously meta, but engaging subplots that include Victor’s relationship with his snarky teenage niece (also an avid cinephile whose idea of a great film is Jerry Maguire); and his increasingly agitated interactions with a young filmmaker who takes Victor’s scathing criticism of his own film a bit too personally, keep the action lively. We loved this movie!

The Worley Gig Gives The Film Critic (El Critico) 5 out of 5 Stars. See it in Theaters and on VOD starting May 15th, 2015!

Must See Art: John Waters’ Beverly Hills John at Marianne Boesky Gallery

Fellini's 8/1/2 Ruler
All Photos By Gail (Click on Any Image to Enlarge for Detail)

While I can’t admit to being fan of every single John Waters‘ directed film (and I have seen most of them), I sure do appreciate his artistic aesthetic, and he seems like a cool person from what I hear. So, I was really excited to rush out to the Marianne Boesky Gallery in 15 degree weather to check out Waters‘ latest exhibit (and third at this gallery) which is called Beverly Hills John. This is an ambitious exhibit which showcases the director/artist’s work in a variety of mediums including photography, prints, collage, sculpture and film — all of which I found to be utterly delightful.

In boundary-pushing works that address Waters‘ obsession with Art, Pop Culture, Pulp Fiction Novels, the Film Industry and Gay Culture, his irreverent humor is evident everywhere you look; but he also gives you something to think about.

Thimk, 2014

Or Thimk about.

Congratulations

In Congratulations (above), Waters riffs on the infamous red dot commonly used in galleries to indicate a sale.

Bill's Stroller, 2014

Bill’s Stroller features a studded leather strap for securing baby and the stenciled names of various underground Gay Sex Clubs.

R.I.P. Mike Kelley

R.I.P. Mike Kelley is a tribute to the late artist, who committed suicide in 2012.

Grim Reaper, 2014

In Grim Reaper, Jackie O and JFK are trailed by Death as portrayed by Bengt Ekerot in the Ingmar Bergman film, The Seventh Seal.

Film Festival

Film Festival takes a famous film title and changes one word, making it grammatically incorrect while (in most cases) maintaining roughly the same meaning. Two detail shots are below.

Film Festival Detail

Film Festival Detail

Separate But Equal

Separate But Equal, (2014)

Chicken Pulp Fiction

I have no comment for this one.

Lovesick, 2014

Lovesick, (2014)

Kiddie Flamingos Table Read
Screenshot from Kiddie Flamingos

The absolute highlight of the exhibit (for me) is a new 74-minute video entitled Kiddie Flamingos, which is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen in my life and is brilliant on so many levels. Kiddie Flamingos shows a table read of Waters’ X-rated 1972 cult film Pink Flamingos, rewritten as a children’s movie with an all-kid cast. Bluntly put: this video is mind blowing. Even if you can’t stay for the entire film, make sure you see at least 15 minutes of it, because it is just insane. According to the press release, “Waters hopes that this defanged and desexualized sequel is even more perverse than the original, transferring innocence into a new kind of joyous, G-rated obscenity.” Seriously, don’t miss this exhibit.

John Waters: Beverly Hills John will be on Exhibit Through February 14th, 2015 at Marianne Boesky Gallery, Located at 509 West 24th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Beverly Hills John Signage

Reccommended Viewing: Escape From Tomorrow

Escape From Tomorrow Poster

Do you like Disneyland? I sure do. I’ve been going to Disney parks since I was practically an egg, and I never, ever get tired of it. I was there two summers ago with my older sister and we had so much fucking fun, our heads almost exploded. Disneyland Rules! It is largely due to my obsession with Disneyland (or DisneyWorld, whatever) that I’m very excited to tell you about an independent film I just saw called Escape From Tomorrow which was filmed Guerrilla-style almost entirely on location at Disneyland and Disneyworld! Holy shit! How did that even happen?

Now, when you have been to Disneyland as many times as I have, you KNOW that they have plain-clothes spies all over the park watching you and just waiting for you to do something that could be perceived as a mild threat to the status quo — or “Un-Disney” — so that they can scold you, or worse, kick your ass out of the park. I have been approached by The Secret Disney Police twice in my life — once for wearing a red bandana on my head during my adolescent Punk Rock phase (Read: Wearing Gang Colors), and once for sitting on the back of the boat during the Pirates of the Caribbean ride to make it scarier (don’t ask) — and both times the experience was appropriately surreal, but considerably less than fun. My point is, when you are at Disneyland, you are “Under the Dome,” so to speak, and your every move is most likely being watched. This type of close surveillance and strict adherence to rules is why, in 50 years of operation, there have only been, say, a dozen or so murders or deaths at Disney parks. Those are good odds! But “Bad Things Happen Everywhere,” as the Movie Poster Tells us.

The plot of Escape from Tomorrow does not matter. You can read about the plot here. The plot is just a loose facilitator for what does matter, which is that the film’s writer/director, Randy Moore was able to film a fucking movie inside the rides at two different Disney parks and get away with it! If there were an Academy Award category for “Biggest Set of Balls,” the Oscar would go to Randy Moore! This movie is amazing! If you love the art of Independent film making, and/or Disneyland, you need to see it.  Just read the Wikipedia Entry first so you know what you’re getting yourself into.

The Worley Gig Gives Escape From Tomorrow Four and 1/2 out of Five Stars!

Escape From Tomorrow is currently showing at the IFC Center on Sixth Avenue and 4th Street in Greenwich Village, NYC, and I believe it is also available On Demand from certain Cable Channels. Consult The Google for Showtimes and to find where it is playing near you!

Escape From Tomorrow Marquee
Photo By Gail

This Weekend Only: Martin Scorsese Tribute Show at Bold Hype Gallery!

DeNiro as Travis Bickle

You can see what seems like a thousand different interpretations of Robert De Niro as the character Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver — a film I really did not enjoy all that much — this weekend only at Scorsese: A Tribute Art Show at Bold Hype Gallery in Chelsea. Geoffrey and I waited in line for 45 minutes (another first!) to get into the opening reception last night, and inside the gallery it was more packed than a can of sardines, as you’ll see in the photo below:

Packed Bold Hype Gallery
Sardine City!

All of the art on display represents characters, scenes or themes from Director Martin Scorsese’s many iconic films, but mostly it’s about artists painting and drawing likenesses of characters in these films that were played by Robert DeNiro.

Robert DeNiro Character Heads
See What I mean?

Robert De Niro Triptych
This one is Nice.

DeNiro Gaga
DeNiro Gaga. Kind of Scary.

Bunny Bickle

I enjoyed Bethany Marchman’s interpretation of Travis Bickle / DeNiro as a rabbit.

Travis and Iris

Here, De Niro shares the wall with Jody Foster as their characters from Taxi Driver in two paintings that are, surprisingly, not by Shepard Fairey.

A few other non-De Niro characters managed to earn space on the walls.

Daniel Day Lewis Gangs of New York
Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York

Sharon Stone in Casino
Sharon Stone in Casino

Goodfellas Cast Mt Rushmore Tribute
Goodfellas Cast Mt. Rushmore Tribute. Just a little De Niro in this one.

It was not that easy to photograph the show due to the crowds, but there are hundreds of paintings, sculptures and drawings on display, so if you’re a fan of Robert De Niro or the films of Martin Scorsese, this is a must see show!

The Martin Scorsese Tribute Exhibit will be up on Saturday April 20th and Sunday April 21st only, from 12 Noon to 5 PM each day! Bold Hype is located at 547 West 27th Street, 5th Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Stanley Kubrick Retrospective at LA County Museum of Art

 LACMA Kubrick Exhibit Title

While I was in Califorina over the Christmas holdays I was fortunate to be able to check out the Stanley Kubrick Career Retrospective at LACMA – which was just amazing! I absolutley loved the exhibit and took a bunch of pictures, some of which I’ll share with you in this post.

As the museum’s website concisely describes the exhibit: “Stanley Kubrick was known for exerting complete artistic control over his projects; in doing so, he reconceived the genres in which he worked. The exhibition covers the breadth of Kubrick’s practice, beginning with his early photographs for Look magazine, taken in the 1940s, and continuing with his groundbreaking directorial achievements of the 1950s through the 1990s. His films are represented through a selection of annotated scripts, production photography, lenses and cameras, set models, costumes and props.

Kubrick Posters Wall
A Selection of Posters and Lobby Cards from Kubrick’s Films

In addition, the exhibition explores Napoleon and The Aryan Papers, two projects that Kubrick never completed, as well as the technological advances developed and utilized by Kubrick and his team. By featuring this legendary film auteur and his oeuvre as the focus of his first retrospective in the context of an art museum, the exhibition reevaluates how we define the artist in the 21st century, and simultaneously expands upon LACMA’s commitment to exploring the intersection of art and film.”

Below is a selection of my photos from the show, representative of an overview of the exhibit. Enjoy!

Kubrick Strangelove Model
Miniature Boardroom Set from Dr. Strangelove

Kubrick 2001 Seating
Seating from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Production Stills at Rear of Gallery.

Kubrick 2001 Cutlery Props
Custom Designed Futuristic Cutlery used in 2001.

Kubrick 2001 Space Ship Model
Spaceship Model from 2001

Kubrick 2001 Model Set
2001 Miniature Model Set

Kubrick Barry Lyndon Costumes

Kubrick’s epic period drama, Barry Lyndon, is represented mostly by its lavish costumes. Barry Lyndon is a fantastic film if you have three hours to devote to a viewing.

Kubrick Spartacus Costume
Costume from Spartacus

Kubrick Clockwork Milkbar Props

Signage and Props from the Korovoa Milk Bar scene in A Clockwork Orange — My favorite movie of all time!

Kubrick Clockwork Orange Droog Costume

Droog Costume worn by Malcom McDowell as Alex, A Clockwork Orange. Notice the skewed shadow of the baton against the wall.

 Kubrick Clockwork Orange Turntable

Alex’s Turntable.  Trivia: the British band Heaven 17 took their name from the pre-orgy record store scene in this film.

Kubrick Shining Production Stills

The Shining Production Stills. Note the emphatic use of the color red, which Kubrick employed in each of his films to heighten the emotional impact of certain scenes.

Kubrick Shining Hedge Maze Miniature

The Shining Hedge Maze Model

Kubrick Shining Room Wall with Axes

The Shining’s Grady Sisters with Axes buried in the gallery wall.

Kubrick EWS Masks

Masks from Eyes Wide Shut

Kubrick AI Set Rendering

AI Set Rendering

Kubrick Hellacopter Model from Full Metal Jacket
Helicopter Model from Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick Runs Through June 30, 2013 in the Art of the Americas Building, Level 2 at LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Admission to the Exhibit, which includes Admission to all Galleries, is $20.00. Tickets can be purchased online at This Link.

Must See Film: The Other F Word

The Other F Word Movie Poster

Three Words: Punk Rock Dads. Without going into any detail at all, just the idea that anyone would make a documentary film about Punk Rock Dads is so golden. I mean, seriously: taking the ultimate anti-authoritarian pop-culture figure and putting him in the position of being the iron-fisted authority in a child’s life is both wildly fascinating and unbelievably hilarious. So, convincing me to check out the new film, The Other F Word, (the “F” standing for Fatherhood) directed by Andrea Blaugrund Nevins was a total no-brainer. Because, Punk Rock Dads! The LA and Orange Country Punk Rock scene of the late 70s / early 80s was HUGE for me when I was a teenager and into my early 20s. Being aware that a number of the “kids” I grew up with in Southern California would be featured musicians in the film, I knew this would be an enjoyable viewing experience, but honestly, I had no idea what I was in for. As riveting as any scripted drama, unbelievably funny and deeply – often unexpectedly – emotionally gut wrenching, The Other F Word is one of the best movies of 2011 and is way up there on my top 10 list of best music documentaries I’ve seen. I just loved this movie so much and can’t recommend it highly enough.

Blaugrund Nevins interviewed about two dozen Punk Dads for the film, and she got a really good mix, but the ones that get the most screen time are Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg (whom I’d call the “star” of the film), Art Alexakis (Everclear), Fat Mike (NOFX), Lars Frederiksen (Rancid), Mark Hoppus (Blink 182), Ron Reyes (Black Flag), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Pro-Skating legend Tony Hawk, Drummer Josh Freese and Tony Brandenburg (The Adolescents). All of these guys are clearly just in love with being Dads and are entirely devoted to their children, who range in age from infants to grown teenagers. The guys come off as being really cool people in addition to being great Dads, and a lot of candid and funny moments got captured on film.

Lars Fredrickson and Son
Lars Fredriksen and his Son

I loved the part where Lars Fredriksen (who has a tattooed forehead and sports a cheetah print buzzcut) jokes in one scene that the quickest way to clear a playground of kids and their moms is to “have the punk rock dad show up with the camera crew.” There’s also a very “punk rock” scene in which Josh Freese and his son play catch with a dirty diaper, and any scene that Fat Mike is in steals the show! It is not surprising that many of the Dads reveal that they are determined to be “the dad [they] never had.”

Fat Mike and Daughter
Fat Mike and His Daughter

In addition to the many scenes of these guys interacting with their children and relating hilarious anecdotes about their personal experiences with parenthood, the film spends an entire section discussing what it’s like to be a working musician whose band’s financial success is the basis of how they put food on the table. With the possible exception of Flea, Josh Freese or Mark from Blink 182, who probably never have to work a day job again if they don’t want to, none of these guys are in millionaire Rock Star bands, but rather are working-class musicians who must tour up to 300 or more days per year to support their families. It’s surprising how many of the guys featured in the film admit that they never got into music to make money, but now, 20 years into it they’ve managed to earn a steady and viable income playing punk rock music. Like the story of the Golden Handcuffs, the downside to “realizing the dream” while making a living in a changing musical environment is that it requires them to be away from their kids for such a major part of the year that they miss out on first days of school, ball games and birthdays. Many wonder aloud in this film if it is worth it. One, ultimately, decides that it is not.

You may still be able to find The Other F Word showing at a theater near you (visit This Link for theater engagements), but if you’ve already missed out on seeing it on the big screen, the film will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on January 31st, and is well worth owning. Executive Produced by Morgan Spurlock and Jeremy Chilnick, The Other F Word will appeal to music fans – and fans of these featured bands in particular – cool parents and anyone who loves a good documentary film.

The Worley Gig Gives The Other F Word Five Out of Five Stars!! Watch the Trailer Below!