Monday, May 29, 2017

Zen Dog

Take a trip of imagination and adventure in this vivid new indie feature from LA-based producer, director and writer Rick Darge.

The film centers around two friends, one who's life is enclosed and tormented by what one might call his limiting cognition, and the other a freethinker at a level that could be hazardous. Together, they spark a journey across wide open, American spaces, conveying freedom in a cinematically resplendent way while driving that thin line in the road between liberation and self-delusion. The lead character travels with the help of an exotic potion and a Volkswagen, but the film suggests that getting to a truly blissful place might require no more transportation devices than a will of mind and cognoscenti other than one's self.

There's a touch of surrealist painting in Darge's film, his first feature, as he unveils a kaleidoscope of sights, and with them, liberating truths, that lie beyond what the routine mind perceives. With periodic narration from British philosopher, writer, and speaker Alan Watts, whose background in theology and Asian Studies led him to cutting-edge ideas of mysticism and aesthetic fusion in the 1950s and 60s, the film also conveys a sense of intelligentsia, with Watts as both participant and otherworldly observer.

Zen Dog isn't a drug film or a pitch for LSD. It's something else, and that something else, lying just beyond the conscious mind yet paradoxically within your grasp, is what makes it so good. You can watch the trailer here (parental discretion advised): Zen Dog Trailer

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Surviving International Boulevard: Domestic Child Sex Trafficking

Witness the testimonies in this searing and profoundly heartbreaking documentary, and you'll know, if you didn't already. Child sex trafficking is a saddening reality in the United States, and brave activists in child advocate organizations such as MISSEY.org and S.H.A.D.E. Project are doing everything in their power to stop it.

The sight of a mother patrolling a dangerous, urban street at night to find her teenaged daughter, as you'll see in this film, is beyond description. The idea of young girls cruelly exploited by their so-called "boyfriends" is so raw, and so painful, that society might tend to look the other way instead of act, but director Sian Gowan puts these hard, bitter truths on film for all to see, making action a moral imperative.

An unflinching expose and a powerful cry for help, Surviving International Boulevard is aimed at rescuing vulnerable members of our society who are too young to understand their exploitation and who don't even have a voice.

To contribute and otherwise help this most worthwhile cause, please visit the Surviving International Boulevard website. You can watch the trailer here: Surviving International Boulevard Trailer

Sunday, May 21, 2017

D-Love

A couple with longstanding marital issues lands at LAX after a getaway in Europe. For a few years now, Stefania has been working a job she detests and Dan hasn't worked at all. Their palpable strain is only made worse when a vagabond, Ditlev Dharmakaya, asks for a ride to the busiest freeway in Los Angeles and Dan, much to his wife's horror, offers to take this total stranger home.

Ditlev is a ragamuffin in every sense of the word, and now that he's a third wheel, too, he has quite a challenge ahead of him because he's likely to be homeless again real soon. But Romanian-born director Elena Beuca has plenty in store for the childlike, wandering soul.

Although it's home to the only member of the Romance language family spoken in Eastern Europe, Romania's Slavic influences are manifest. It's not entirely surprising, then, that Beuca lends qualities to Ditlev reminiscent of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's characters Alyosha and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Prince Myshkin. That is, Ditlev is a pure spirit who acts as a conduit for something far beyond the material world. In further pursuit of this spiritual theme, Beuca also utilizes the motif of the wandering Buddha made famous in the West by German writer Hermann Hesse's 1922 novel, Siddhartha.

It's worth exploring such literary undertones to appreciate better what is less a dramatic film than a meditation on what is takes to banish conflict from your life and achieve nirvana. Fans of spiritual literature and grassroots independent film alike will find much to love in D-Love.

You can watch the trailer here: D-Love Trailer

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Reality Disorder

In this cheeky and high-spirited TV pilot, Nikki and Gerard, two struggling New York City producers, are desperate for a hit. Most of their rather humdrum options are likely to land them more rejection, and that is the last thing they need. They need something fresh. Something bold. Exciting—even risky, but with the potential to take off like wildfire.

They need it now, too, and in this urgent moment, only one, singular option shines through: build a reality show around Gerard's rich, playboy cousin. Their willing dupe readily agrees, and soon all parties are on the yellow brick road to stardom.

Enter the love interest. Even wealthy playboys can fall under the spell of a chaste stand-up comic, after all, and after this stunner enters the picture, there's no telling where this pilot is heading.

You can watch the trailer here: Reality Disorder Trailer

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Working Out the Kinks

After an upwardly mobile African American woman invites a clueless white girl from the suburbs to share a city apartment, her other roommates will have nothing of it and all mayhem ensues. This new media webisode with echoes of a '90s sitcom is laugh-out-loud hilarious while probing material that in lesser hands might come across as mean and decidedly not funny in today's hypersensitive culture.

Working Out the Kinks hits its mark with terrific writing, zany characters and a wildly risk-taking yet deftly controlled spirit. Props to producer and writer J. Nycole Ralph, director and editor William Alexander Runnels and producer Artesia Balthrop for their fine work. Watch this episode and you'll be hooked!

You can check out the trailer here: Working Out the Kinks Trailer

Wash Up

Many young people dream of making it big in the world of sport, but few have the chops to succeed. What happens when you lend your body, mind and soul to the dream only to fail? Pushing hard in a realm where performance counts above the myriad factors that would help you advance elsewhere, athletes often face an unsettling truth: they weren't born to do this. No matter how hard they try, the cards are stacked against them; they never even had a chance.

When this happens, the one person who brought you into this world, your mom, may be your only backstop, but she is also the last person on earth you'd want to look in the eye and tell you're a failure. Such is the layered and textured drama behind Wash Up, a thoroughly Canadian film with a heart of gold that will lift you up as much as it tears you to pieces.

Lead character Mason O'Brien, superbly played by Allan Yates, has just the downcast eyes and broken spirit one would expect from someone tossed out of the minors, but he still has plenty of fight in him. Actress Jennifer Redford delivers an MVP performance as Mason's strong and deeply perceptive mother, Jo, who would be the most steadfast winger the young man could have if only he would look towards her.

This is a touching film, and with the sublime Canadian outdoors as a backdrop and a concomitant score, it's somehow enchanting, too, in a manner unlike the sweat and drama of professional sport. Wash Up will resonate with any ambitious person who has fallen on hard times, because it offers a glimpse into how you can be a loser in competition yet a champion in life.

You can watch the trailer here: Wash Up Trailer

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Hobbyist

Based on the 1961 short story by Frederic Brown, this chilling neo-noire thriller centers around a clever druggist with a reputation that has brought him various characters, but most notably those with dark intentions. 

The tale features one such character, Sangstrom, a seemingly ordinary man who comes to the druggist to request an untraceable poison, but finds out the hard way that murder will change him in ways he did not expect. 

The Hobbyist is a short film that packs a big punch, blending the perfect mix of creepy and pleasing to match its dark yet purposeful message. With cinematically beautiful shots and a soundtrack that will keep you on the edge of your seat, The Hobbyist sets up a world in which morality can shine in even the darkest of places, and right and wrong can be taught in the most peculiar of ways.



You can watch the trailer here: The Hobbyist Trailer