Category Archives: Reviews

#FilmReview: “Dissonance” by #German moviemaker Till Nowak

Dissonance premiered at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015. A year later, as Berlinale and other festivals begin soon, this sorrow filled but beautiful short is revisited.

Description: “A genius musician lives a lonely life in a surreal, floating world. He plays the piano every day in a gigantic concert hall, but there is nobody to listen. One day his animated world collapses and reality breaks out. The film seamlessly transforms from an animation into a live action drama, reflecting the journey from his psychotic mind into the real world. He only has one wish: To play for his daughter, which he is not allowed to visit.” From IMDb.

Dissonance shows the curious nature of the modern German mindset. Old thoughts and beliefs, the quickness to label and categorize, dismissive of the possibility of error. An example: the daughter saying her father said he would teach her how to play the piano and the mother say no, he can’t, how is that possible: “He wouldn’t live on the streets if he were so capable”. Then you have those who are quite open, so open, they accept any and all frames of thought and ways, which can be good and bad. That’s a societal introspective from a non-German who was born and lived in Germany for many years.

However, the personal aspect of the story creatively presents a situation that can happen in families most anyplace they are in the world, whatever background: the parents have separated because of some real or perceived failing on the other’s part. One parent feels they must protect the child from the “failed” parent. Sometimes they really do need to, at others, it is as an imagined a danger as the pianist father’s animated psychotic fears of the world, which he shares with a stuffed animal. It’s all he has physically left of his daughter. This stuffed animal shares his world, interactive and observant but silent, until when sadly put aside by the pianist who sadly accepts he will no longer be allowed in, the toy tells his own story.

Dissonance was stylishly, beautifully done. Very simple in a way, but profound, thoughtful, sad and hopeful at the same time. The daughter naturally yearned for her father, but the mother’s acceptable fears vs. the father’s misunderstood fears, would likely keep them apart too long. The father, whose daughter meant so much to him, seemed ready to succumb to loneliness, his psychotic difference and “The Edge” he had avoided for so long.

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NEW! From #FirstNations Author John Blackbird: “A Trilogy of the Midnight Lake Band of Indians”


NEW RELEASE from First Nations Author John Blackbird published January 28, 2016.

Available at Amazon on Kindle.

“As Indians in the 21st century we have reclaimed our own voices, and now portray ourselves and entertain on mainstream media venues for TV, Film Stage and Radio. As Indians playing Indians in a contemporary world, we are no longer confined to the pre-Reservation, buckskin clad brave and sighing maiden, but rather we have changed the narrative to a narrative that tells our story.

A Trilogy of The Midnight Lake Band of Indians is a collection of three stories from a Cree First Nations community recalling an unhappy event, unhappy relationship, unfaithful friendship and dealing with an emptiness. It’s a story of journey and sacred choices we make, whether we know it or not.”




John Blackbird is Plains Cree and a member of the Waterhen Lake Cree First Nations located in Northwestern Saskatchewan, Canada (where the prairie meets the pine). He is a descendant of the original Blackbird, who travelled north with Sitting Bull after Little Big Horn. He lives in Leipzig, Germany, where his book was penned. Says the author, “There is a great interest in the North American Indians (thanks to Karl May) and while he wrote about an imaginary Indian, I have written about my real Indianz.”

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Film Review: “In Football We Trust” (2015)- Samoans in the NFL


(Photo from their Official site please follow the link to read more.)
Country: USA | American Samoa
Release Date: 23 January 2015
Filming Locations: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, America Samoa

Directors: Tony Vainuku, Erika Cohn

Description: “In Football We Trust” captures a snapshot in time amid the rise of the Pacific Islander presence in the NFL. Presenting a new take on the American immigrant story, this feature length documentary transports viewers deep inside the tightly-knit Polynesian community in Salt Lake City, Utah. With unprecedented access and shot over a four-year time period, the film intimately portrays four young Polynesian men striving to overcome gang violence and near poverty through American football. Viewed as the “salvation” for their families, these young players reveal the culture clash they experience as they transform out of their adolescence and into the high stakes world of collegiate recruiting and rigors of societal expectations. Written by In Football We Trust


“Family means a lot to Polynesian cultures, but sometimes family can feel like a blessing and a curse. Especially under these circumstances, with so much at stake for adolescents still prone to mistakes in judgment, who may make bad choices but have so much hope and responsibility on their shoulders.

I’ve not been an American football watcher for well over a decade, though I used to follow it closely. I listed away because it began to feel so contrived, just about the money, about team names, not the individuals. Or rather too much about the individual: the showboating, the attitudes and self-entitlement. Although it’s unlikely I’ll ever go back to actively watching, this film inspired me to again selectively follow the careers of some players because it highlighted their drive, desire, and love for the game, their determination to succeed not just for themselves, but to support their communities. It also showed how the pressure to succeed, both from schools, teams and their families, can bring push them to breaking point.

The four players have great support from their Islander roots, mothers strongly backing their sons, especially in that most of them have come from very humble, even desperate conditions: gang violence, personal losses. Families didn’t have money to see their sons play, but traded work for tickets, cleaning up whole stadiums each week. “We don’t have the money,” one mother said, “but we have the heart.”

The film touches on several subjects interrelated to life as a football player of Pacific Islander descent such as interracial dating, differences of religious beliefs and wanting to move beyond them. Others are the challenges of finally getting money above just survival level and how to navigate the colleges and leagues were exploitation can be an issue. It was filmed over four years, progressively showing how the four players improve, change, in possible good or bad ways, and their motivations, desires, fears, angers, and what is most important to them: Family.

In a straightforward way, “In Football We Trust” shows how complicated life can be, especially as immigrants from a very different culture coming to live in communities radically different than their back home just to play football. Stereotyping, culture clash, the pressure to win at any cost, not just for themselves but for their families can at times be overwhelming and occasionally, hopefully rewarding. A solid documentary for those interested in the culture and topic.” (Also posted at my IMBb Profile.)

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Native Perspectives Film Review: “The Revenant” (2015)



Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writers: Mark L. Smith (screenplay), Alejandro González Iñárritu (screenplay)
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson & Full Cast


With its honest portrayal of life spend in nature, the shifts between intense action and often tedious but necessary patient waiting and work, “The Revenant” was rumored to be an unforgettable film centered on Leonard DiCaprio’s performance and it delivered. “The Revenant” is directed by Mexico-born Alejandro González Iñárritu, an award-winning writer, director and producer born, an artist known for works highlighting the complexity of human motivations and needs. Self-described as music more often influencing for his work than other films, one easily discerned this in his latest offering for it was like watching a movie equivalent of a symphony: slow movements, a rising crescendo, and at last a finalé and resolution.

There have been survival dramas in the past, and the closest equivalent I can think of is “Jeremiah Johnson” (1972), whose titular character was played by Robert Redford. A similar theme of vengeance against those who wronged and murdered his adopted native family is central, as well as the poignant ending. DiCaprio’s character Hugh Glass was left to die after a bear attack, though mostly because his former comrades rationalize this eventuality is best, but also to save themselves from threatening natives. Thomas Hardy’s character, John Fitzgerald, is most outspoken to abandon Glass along with a half native son, whose people and all natives John deeply hates. However, he volunteers to stay behind to witness Glass’ “passing”, but as soon as the others leave his rancor is made evident to both Glass and his son.

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#Native Perspectives- #Film #Review: “Matariki” (A watchable #NewYears Film)

matariki 1copyTagline: “In the darkest night the stars still shine.”

Director: Michael Bennett

Writers: Iaheto Ah Hi (story), Michael Bennett (story)


At times a little disjointed, “Matariki” is the story of how lives can coincide just through one senseless act then overlap and metamorphosize into a new network of connections.

Everyone has their struggles, their strengths and weaknesses in this “slice of life” drama, and we see a common thread of wanting and needing love, of belonging, of being accepted for who and what they are. Sometimes it works out, at other times it doesn’t, but more often they just don’t really know what to do and things just happen. They keep trying, however.

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