Sunday, June 2, 2013

FILM REVIEWS : Here is a ' BEST OF ' Sampler of our Film Reviews ...


Directed by Hans Petter Molland
Starring Damien Nguyen
Playing on HBO

Reviewed by Joshua A. TRILIEGI

The Beautiful Country is a heartbreaking journey which
helps any American born stateside to understand fully
the difficulty in being born elsewhere, but having ones
heart set on America & the dream it holds for so many.

Half American, half Vietnamese, our lead character leaves
his native country to find his American born father by birth.
Hated by the locals, un-accepted by his mother' s family and
friends. He takes a leap into the abyss of the unknown world.

From small town to boat, from concentration camp to ship
and on into a story of struggle, pain, not belonging, outsider
status and the search for the father ultimately becomes the
search for self. With little brother in tow and a fist full of
foreign bills, he leads us into a luckless trip full of sweet &
sour sorrow. Befriending other American dreamers along
the way : a Chinese dissident, an attractive young lady, a
sick old man, fellow refugees who have sold themselves to
get on over. None of these friendships seem make the trip
any easier. Prostitution, resistance, political oppression &
the search for that ever elusive American dream embroil
into a game of dangerous proportions with death at every
turn. Humans trapped on a chess board of heroic sacrifice
and humble beginnings. A beautiful and touching film with
excellent writing and directing, very well produced and career
making performances by newcomers as well as stalwart pros.
Tim Roth is the captain of the ship and the incomparable
Nick Nolte is the father, an ex G.I. living on a farm in Texas.

Survival, death and opportunity all mix into a volatile cocktail
of moral values versus the marketplace of human trafficking.
With allusions to death camps of both post and pre war eras,
and the promise that, " You' ll all get rich in America ." , our
characters are trapped in a carrot dangling process of hunger
for both food and a better life elsewhere. A life in America.
Another brave production by Ed Pressman, Terence Malick
and San Nazarian who put up the funds. A return to the kind of
films that Americans were known to produce in the heyday of
classic 1970's and again in the 1990's period of real film making.
All too often, cartoons, machines and digital effects have taken
center stage over story, acting and simply great film making.

The Beautiful Country is a return to the kind of film making
that made the entire world look to Hollywood with love, respect
& honor. A sorrowful film with heartbreaking proportions. A
sort of love letter to the after effects of war, peace, exodus and
the price paid to not only make it in America, but the price paid
to actually get here. Fellow inmates play a game of who can
mention the most American icons in a tandem roulette - like
fashion : Clint Eastwood, Mickey Mouse, NFL, etc ... The basic
subjects that we as Americans take for granted, others do not.
America is indeed ' The Beautiful Country ' , but a whole lotta
ugly can sure be dished out by those wishing to dangle carrots,
abuse their power & use immigrants as tools, objects and or
devices for their own personal gain.

With nothing more than a photograph, an address and a name,
our hero, heart in hand, finds a way to survive the journey, help
others along the way and somehow retain integrity & self respect
in a world full of deceit, dishonesty and destitute situations . He
loses family, gains friends and ultimately finds his father. In a
particularly heroic effort he challenges the ships bullying drug
dealer who leads the games which pit passenger against passenger.
Putting a stop to the games by ultimately out quoting him with a
list of American icons that include : The Miami Dolphins, George
Washington, Huntington Beach, Minnesota and the 10 Freeway,
A touching scene which employs humor, pathos and sadness with
a punch to the gut for anyone with a heart. Finally after several
deaths, detours and degradations, our hero does indeed make it
over. Only to find out that any Vietnamese with an American
father is allowed to fly into America free of charge. All in all
our hero retains that sweet human trait we know as ' Grace ' .
The final chapter between he and his father is touching & open.
Needless to say i highly suggest this film currently on HBO Cable.

Written By Joshua A. T R I L I E G I 09 . 27 . 2012
Exclusively for Magazine

Film Review : HESHER
a Film by Spencer SUSSER
Currently on screening on HBO
Reviewed By Joshua A. TRILIEGI

In a return to truly independent filmmaking,
the kind that is edgy, provocative, humorous
as well as a frank commentary on the American
male psyche, Spencer Susser delivers the goods.

Hesher is a film that will make you squirm as
well as laugh at where we are in today's society.
Out of nowhere a foul mouthed outlaw rocker
appears in the life of an average young American
boy going through a tough period in his life. The
question here is wether the title character is real
or simply imagined by the young man in this film,
simply named, ' T.J. '.

Recovering from the loss of his mother in a car
accident and the deep depression of his father,
while seemingly ignoring his grandmother, T.J.
taps into the power of Rock & Roll. With slight
allusion to Jesus Christ, Joseph Campbell' s myth-
ology of the male as well as the current challenges
for young women, old women, the working class
and the emasculated male, Susser and his brilliant
cast which includes Joseph Gordon Levitt & Piper
Laurie, bring to the fore a dangerous little film.

This is the type of filmmaking which is totally new
territory. A mix of humor, tension, allegory and a
big dose of satire which embroils into the dark humor
that folks like JohnBelushi and others attempted to
dish out in the eighties, but often missed by just a
few notches. Susser is outstanding in his ability to
be both audacious and make a serious commentary
on why young Americans either are or should be very
upset by their current circumstances . The lack of job
opportunities, the inability to get enough hours if you
do have a job, the housing market situation , etc, etc,

Rebel with a cause is more like it. Hesher is the new
James Dean character and Natalie Portman plays his
Natalie Wood accordingly. T.J. is not quite our Sal
Mineo, though there are scenes which expound upon
the same issues that were properly placed within the
of the classic teenage angst that were so well expressed
in that particular time and place. In this case T.J. &
Hesher are both the James Dean character and together
they lift up the father figure, whom too is broken and
emasculated by his experience as a good dad in todays
American society.

Mom is absent, she has passed on. Grandma and Hesher
share a liking for Medical Marijuana and somehow, some-
where in this strange little suburban world T.J., his father,
the local cashier & Grandma all transform into something
different from what they were. One thinks of the situation
that happened in Memphis and Hard Rock & Roll loving
young men whom were falsely accused and convicted of
crimes they did not commit.

In this fantasy like satire, the spirit of hard driving rock
& roll is resurrected in the title character's every move.
Creating a kind of imaginary angel whom may or may not
be a figment of T.J.s imagination, rage and downright
frustration at being picked on by the local bully & or
watching the girl you love being taken away by someone
else or watching dad fall apart before our eyes.

By the films end, we see the world a little differently,
Hesher is gone but the song remains the same, in that
goes on in suburbia, albeit with a slightly tougher and
wiser young T.J.We get the sense that the mythological
big foot appeared and left his foot prints on the front
yard of American Suburbia. This type of filmmaking
would not exist without the extremely brave producers
whom must have had a challenge cobbling enough money
to make this film. Bravo to this gang of folks. The cast
and crew are pitch perfect. Everything works here.

Susser and his gang are on to something that we as the
public are dealing with on a daily basis. They have tapped
into a kind of movie making that bites like films from other
eras that definitely hit hard, fast & mean. Who' s Afraid of
Virginia Wolfe ? and also The Sweet Smell of Success come
to mind. Check out Ernest Lehman's career. Susser is one to
watch. Hesher hits the mark at every turn, I highly suggest
everyone to watch it. It is Currently Playing on HBO the
Home Box Office Entertainment Cable Channel which
seems to be producing and screening top entertainment.

Film Review By Joshua A. TRILIEGI / 8 . 13 . 12

a Film by James MANGOLD
The Fifteen Year Anniversary

Sylvester Stallone has always been a symbol
of the ability of an actor to create a script and
find a group of producers whom will complete
it. Rocky helped to lift the spirit of Americans
back in the seventies. It played an important
role in many of our lives as youngsters growing
up. I recall some of my friends whom were in
grade school, blending raw eggs and running in
the early morning hours, mimicking the Rocky
regiment of physical workouts before a fight.
Films do have an influence on the way we act.

Fifteen years ago, Sly Stallone took a chance on
a new type of hero, in the extremely well written
screenplay by writer and director James Mangold.
This film, which takes some of the classic themes
of good & evil, mostly honed from early Westerns,
and places them in the context of a contemporary
setting on the East Coast. Stellar performances by
DeNiro, Keitel, Liotta and other great American
actors whom have cut their teeth with Scorsese
makes one wonder if the great master film maker
himself had somehow assisted Mangold or if the
producers whom include Cary Woods, Cathy Konrad
& Ezra Swerdlow attracted the talent to this master
work of film making which at every single scene turns
in the way a great classic international art needs to.

Drugs, corruption, power, big city politics and small
town values collide as a supposedly deaf and dumb
local Sheriff, played by Stallone, starts to wake up.
Produced in 1997 when the Miramax films group was
at its height, makes one truly miss a decade when real
money was being thrown at real film makers, whom
were telling incredibly complex stories which could truly
make a difference, teach us something & shake up the
system. When a film maker understands film history and
is also very in touch with the undercurrents in society, he
or she has the ability to create lasting works of art which
will stand the test of time. Cop Land is indeed a classic.

An original musical score by Howard Shore and camera
work by Eric Edwards allows for this piece of cinema to
soar from back story to the current situations facing our
hero without missing a beat. Stallone' s performance is
one of the best of his entire career. A local boy hero whom
once saved the life of a girl drowning in the river is forever
damaged by this act of bravery, losing the hearing in one
ear and forever keeping him from advancing in his career.
Thats the back story, which is revealed in small portions.
She is married to a city cop whom is caught up in a series
of indiscretions on and off the job, played superbly here by
Peter Berg whom has gone on to direct & overcome many
of the same obstacles that Sly Stallone indeed was faced
with, actors turned directors take a lot of heat in this town.

This film takes us into situations with ease and confidence,
the pressure builds so accordingly that professionals whom
have studied Hitchcock for timing, Kurosawa for morality &
Scorsese for acting and reality, will appreciate a second look
at what appears to be another cop film, but is much more.
James Mangold has produced a handful of films, but we feel
that Cop Land may be his defining film to date and we look
forward to and urge producers such as cary Woods & others
to return to the films which walk that line between great art
and a reality that exists in todays day and age. We also wish
to urge Sylvester Stallone to keep working on character pieces
that reveal the other sides of his character and to work with
new and younger film makers whom may not have a big budget,
big guns and big explosions, but pack a mighty big message .

Film Review by Joshua TRILIEGI / BUREAU of Arts and Culture
A Fifteen Year Anniversary Appreciation to Great Film Making .


A dangerously loyal adaption of a highly influential and often
misunderstood novel
by an author who dearly loved his friends, jazz, people and places that
were inspiring.
" The only ones for me are the mad ones... " is a quote from Jack
Kerouac's novel
which was reviewed by a stand - in literature critic for The New York
Times, who
lauded the work as a breakthrough moment in American Literature and a
star was
born. This is the novel that inspired an entire generation to break
free of the social
norms and simply be yourself, travel, make love, make music, love the
common man,
write about your hearts desires and most of all, love your life for all
it has to offer.
First of all, I am a biased reviewer in that I love Jack Kerouac, The
Beats, Jazz,
the common man, people and places that are inspiring. I have read most
of the
novels and published letters by the characters personified within this
film: Jack
Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg & William Burroughs and have produced minor
films that
were inspired by these American authors. That said, this is the
greatest film adaption
of any Beat Film ever. One only hopes that the film makers will be able
to put on the
screen a classic novel that so many of us have loved, honored and
cherished our whole
lives. The film is nothing less than the most perfect adaption ever
produced on Beats.

From the opening shot above a parking lot to the final scene on the
streets of New York,
the film breaths life into an impossible novel that took decades to
bring to the big screen.
Francis Ford Coppola executive produces [ that means he put up the
dough ] so that the
director Walter Salles could bring this gem into existence and put
himself into the major
arena of outstanding film adaption by directors who shall be honored
for years to come.
The performances as far as I am concerned, are pitch perfect. Accents,
style and character development as well as a commitment to realistic
are entirely delivered with a loyalty to truth, legend and
entertainment. This is dangerous.
This is exciting. This is Inspiring. This is On The Road and life after
Neil Cassady will
never be the same again. For those not ' In The Know ' heres a primer.
Have you ever
had a best friend ? Attractive, exciting, dangerous, from the wrong
side of the tracks ?
Someone who showed you a side of life never seen within your own house,
city, state, country ? Well, Jack Kerouac did, he had several, but his
old pal Neil took the
cake. Sure, he also had Allen Ginsberg, who would go onto write the
famous poem that
was banned for indecency entitled, " HOWL ". These days it is taught as
a major work of
art at places like West Point Academy. He also had William Burroughs
famous for his
dangerously subversive novel entitled, " Naked Lunch " another Beat
film which was also
brought to the big screen by Canadian director, David Cronenberg.
Another dangerously
loyal film adaption that went way beyond the book into the realm of

Jack was probably the most traditional of all the Beats, A French
Catholic boy who loved
America dearly, hated suppressive government and wanted to express that
in his work.
On The Road was his opus which sat around for years, influencing his
friends as well as
informing his detractors and pissing off the squares who had no idea
what he was talking
about most of the time. The film offers a straight ahead, lush and
lovely offering - like
version of the written word that is bound to ruffle a few feathers,
scare a few squares,
rattle a few cages and inspire more than a few too read the novels and
break free once
again. Its a beautiful look at an oppressive time in America. These are
the Mc Carthy
Years. the time of the black lists in Hollywood and New York.
Eisenhower, Truman, etc...
The story and film itself is insulated by its own parameters of
friendship, loyalty, love,
sex, drugs and endless searchings for kicks, kicks, kicks. Do you know
the song lyric,
" Get your kicks on Route 66 ... " ? The popularity of goatee beards,
black sunglasses,
black clothes, jazz music for white folks, coffeehouses, Bob Dylan,
poetry, classic cars,
the popularity of Marijuana, traveling by bus, car and railway, heading
West, the entire
hippy movement, rock and roll, tune in , turn on and drop out, as well
as the writings of
folks who brought us : One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, Easy Rider and
This film here,
all of it stems from the pen, the mind, the man, the myth, the legend
that is Jack Kerouac.

The canon of influence that ON THE ROAD and HOWL and NAKED LUNCH had is
immense. These folks were dealing with themes and taboos that have been
broken wide
open : Mixed Race Couples, Gay Sex, Marijuana. In the nineteen fifties,
you went to jail,
were beaten down or in some case were actually killed for being outside
the system. Some
would argue that some of these restrictions have creeped up on us
again. In any event,
this a an outstanding rendition of a classic American Novel that to be
sure, Jack Kerouac
and his pals, gals and fans would be very proud of. Its the real thing.
A word about the
production design. Flawless costumes, atmosphere, hand held camera work
that captures
the mystery, mastery and misanthropy as well as the come downs from the
heavy high of
being On The Road and having to come home, back down to Earth, back to
the real world.
I'm unsure what the average American viewer will think of all the sex,
drugs and rock & roll.
There are plenty of inside jokes for beat fans, beat readers and those
who actually lived through
this period of time. I will say that the performances are explicit,
expressive and exciting as well
as entertaining. There is just the right amount of travel across
America and into Mexico as well
as a balanced display of the price this type of life costed the
participants as well as the friends
and relatives of those nearby. For Jack, it gave him life lessons,
broke his heart, gave him a novel
and taught him a thing or two about loyalty, friendship, love, freedom
and the boundaries thereof.
For beat fans this is a fabulous film, for the actors, maybe a
nomination, for the producer and
director, one can only hope for a few awards by early next year. Ya got
my vote. Because the only
ones for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to be
saved, desirous of everything...

LA :



" Nobody Surfs Forever "

A Thirty Five Year Anniversary Appreciation


It's hard to believe that thirty five years have passed since this
classic surf film about
California and specifically Malibu beach surfing culture, characters
and history had its
debut. Upon re watching this classic film recently, I was drawn into a
kind of nostalgia
that reminded me of other classic films from the seventies that seem to
define the
formative years here in California. American Graffiti being the other
fine example of a
piece of cinema that celebrates, defines & indeed explains to outsiders
what it was like
to be a part of a California subculture that has since gone mainstream:
Classic Cars.
Big Wednesday does the same thing for Surfing. These days surfing and
its nearest
offspring, skateboarding, are world renown industries owned by a hand
full of companies,
corporations, associations and ecologically informed non-profit

But back in the day, guys like Leroy, Jack and Matt made California
surfing. The lifestyle
and its loyalty to expressing ones self with nature was a coveted and
special relationship
that each surfer had on his or her own. It was a private experience one
had with the
waves, the coast, the ocean, the earth itself. It is a sacred thing to
drop in on a wave
and ride it as long as one is able. Honing a craft, one-second at a
time, in unison with
mother nature. Simply, a person, their craft and the ocean itself
relating to one another.

I recently took a bike ride along all the coast passing all best surf
spots where much of
the film was photographed. Pacific Coast Highway starting at the County
Line, Topanga
Canyon & on into Malibu Beach. Re visiting these historic beaches and
film locations is a
beautiful way to understand the art of surfing. Reviewing the motion
picture Big Wednesday
directed by John Milius and starring Gary Busey, Jan Michael Vincent
and William Katt and
thinking about their careers & some of the damage done personally was a
bit heartbreaking.
I guess that's the power of film to preserve a time and a place. To
express a moment in time,
be it, documentary, fiction or otherwise. As far as surf films go, when
it comes to fictional
versions of what surfing is about, Big Wednesday, in my book, is simply
the best at capturing
the philosophy, the lifestyle & the character of what it is to be a
surfer at that particular time
and place: the 1960's and its transition into the early seventies. With
a cameo by Legendary
Lightening Bolt founder and classic surfer, Jerry Lopez. An important
casting choice that gives
the film a groundedness in reality & boosted its credibility with real
surf fans during its heyday
i& initial release. The red surfboard with a yellow lightening bolt
placed directly in a vertical
fashion down the center of the board was & will always be as iconic as
a Mercedes Benz logo.

There are the documentaries by Bruce Brown: Endless Summer and the
like. As well as
a catalogue of other classics such as Five Summer Stories & the others
within the genre.
More recently Stacy Peralta' s Dogtown Documentary & subsequent Lords
of Dogtown as
well as his Big Wave Surf documentaries have added more information to
surfing dialogue.
But still and all, Big Wednesday is king. I know because I grew up and
witnessed the tail
end of this particular period and hung out with and admired the older
guys who were a
part of this important period in West Coast & specifically Southern
California surf culture.
[ Read the short story SURFERS AND LOWRIDERS on our Website for more on
this period]

Big Wednesday captures the music, the friendship, the heroic stature,
the generation to
generation torch passing, the gaining your friends/losing your friends
aspect of growing up.
The original musical compositions by Basil Poledouris and theme songs
hold up just fine.
Nothing is too trendy or dated, The costumes, sets, locations and
acting are what we call
pitch perfect. The props and logos have become legendary. The BEAR logo
to this day is
being reprinted and celebrated on sweatshirts, classic cars and
stickers. Big Wednesday
is a classic film in the Warner Brothers catalogue that helped to
redefine a generation
of West Coast culture: surfing, skateboarding and the California cool
that people from all
over the world appreciate, envy and honor, sometimes more than the
locals themselves.

The actors actually did most of their own surfing in this film, which
is rare. There are
surfing doubles, but the editing and cinematography is extremely well
done for its
time. Shot on real film, on location, with a group of actors and
actresses, including Lee
Purcell and Patti D'Arbanville at the very end of a time & place when
Hollywood was able
to create stories that were highly dependent on character, story and
emotional content.

This film which was released in 1978, thirty five years ago, stands up
against any film
of its genre. It's as entertaining as American Graffiti, as honest as
Dogtown , as funny
as Animal House and ultimately a heartfelt and heartbreaking story
about the fleeting
moments in life. Like a wave: life, friends, careers, loves, memories
pass rather quickly.
Movies such as Big Wednesday preserve these moments, capture those
times, creating
a painting of sorts, a photograph, a time, a place that will never be
the same again.
Cinema has a way of allowing us to re-enter history, experiencing life
itself to enjoy
over and over. This has been an appreciation of BIG WEDNESDAY on the 35
Anniversary. An ongoing Series of articles marking the Films, Books &
Artworks that
are worth remembering, re-watching, re-reading and re-celebrating time
& time again.

by Joshua A. TRILIEGI Exclusively for



" In The Kingdom of Kitsch "

A Twenty Five Year Anniversary Appreciation


In 1988 director Phillip Kaufman brought to the screen a novel by
Milan Kundera.
Mr Kaufman has always been at least, a decade ahead of the times. His
films have
constantly created genres, influenced directors and bravely translated
literature &
historical events to the screen. His adherence and loyalty to source
material is
unmatched. The Wanderers, The Right Stuff, Henry and June, to name a
few, have
inspired and set the stage for other films within the genre,
consistently raising the
bar on truth, quality, reverence to the originator and entertainment
well beyond the
current trends. Mr. Kaufman brings to life words with a keen sense of
detail and a
wide world view which brings the viewer into a realm of reality or
fantasy that seems
to punctuate humanity and specifically the boundaries with which life

The Unbearable Lightness of Being might be considered his masterpiece,
due to his prolific and influential output in other genres, it is safe
to say that Kaufman
will not be remembered for any one film. He is under rated, in terms of
being what
they call a house hold name. But to directors in the industry, film
students and
international film festivals, associations and aficionados, Mr. Kaufman
is heroic.
The Right Stuff opened the door for a slew of astronaut films including
Apollo 13.
Kaufman practically created the genre. By setting an absolute tone,
fabulous casting,
flawless research and collaboration with top costumers, photographers
and producers
his influence is felt far beyond the time and the place with which his
films are released.

In The Unbearable Lightness of Being a stellar cast of actors bring to
life historical
events. Politics, passion, literature and history meld into a
contemporary take on a
situation which relates to and possibly rivals director David Lean's,
Doctor Zhivago.
Film history relies on itself to continue certain traditions. Film
makers grow up watching
films which inspire works of art that later influence the next
generation and so on.
As Zhivago was based on a great novel about love that just so happens
to be placed
in a time of political upheaval, so to does the source material for
Milan Kundera's novel.

Daniel Day - Lewis spreads his wings in this production which for the
first time truly
employs his talents to an international audience in a story that
juxtaposes his love
for life, women and country and the complications that arise between
politics, change,
revolution and expressing one's self as a writer while making a living
at another trade,
in this case : brain surgery. One can imagine Mr. Kaufman's desk
covered with book
options through the years & muttering to his producers cliches' such
as, 'It's not rocket
science.' or 'It doesn't take a brain Surgeon.' But for Kaufman it
definitely is rocket
science & as far as this writer is concerned, it is brain surgery, for
Kaufman is a genius.
I never use the word and yet there it is on the page. There is
something about his films
that generate a certain amount of passion, interest and bon vivant. His
take on life is
liberated, his characters are on the edge of history, pushing the
envelope into a new
time & place. Sam Shepard' s characterization of astronaut Chuck Yeager
in the
Right Stuff is a perfect example. Characters who break boundaries and
later seem to
go uncredited or under the radar. Or bringing to life the triangular
love relationship
between Henry Miller and his lovers. Source material that few directors
would know
how to approach, let alone, how to raise the funds for and bring to
life on the screen.

Unbearable Lightness of Being also visits this type of triangular
passion and complicated
relationship that make for great drama. Kaufman's take on life, love &
history are dramatic,
but laced with a pathos, irony and humor that keeps one interested
through out. He has
a rare viewpoint that illustrates life's issues and relationships in an
original & complicated
way. With stellar performances by Lena Olin and a fresh faced newcomer
on the scene,
Juliet Binoche. Supporting cast includes Stellan Skarsgard. This
erotic, yet human feature
film takes us inside Czekloslavakia during a particularly tumultuous
time in their history
with an oppressive an invasive Russian takeover during the nineteen
sixties. Politics, passion
and provocation abound. Kaufman's films almost never come in at the
usual commercial
time of ninety minutes. He is an artist, most of his features are two
hours or more.
Unbearable Lightness of Being comes in at an epic 172 minutes, just
under three hours.
Every scene, every line, every moment is fresh, alive, undeniably
truthful, unabashedly
human & heartbreakingly real. Originally a part of the Orion Pictures
catalogue. Produced
by The Saul Zaentz Company. A brave and bold historical film well worth

This has been an appreciation of UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING on the
25 year
Anniversary. An ongoing Series of articles marking the Films, Books &
Artworks that
are worth remembering, re-watching, re-reading and re-celebrating time
& time again.

by Joshua A. TRILIEGI Exclusively for

Thank You,
Editor - in - Chief


LA :

Joshua Aaron TRILIEGI 1282 W. Sunset Bd Los Angeles
California USA 90026 Phone Direct : 213 975 0067