KARMALINK: Movie Review

Karmalink_Final Poster

Production Year: 2021
Director: Jake Wachtel
Writers: Jake Wachtel, Christopher Larsen
Cast: Srey Leak Chhith, Leng Heng Prak, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Cindy Sirinya Bishop,       Rous Mony and Sveng Socheata
Genre: Sci-Fi, Mystery
Country: Cambodia
Language: Khmer with English subtitles
Run Time: 1 hour 42 minutes

Children are the Future!

Jake Wachtel’s KARMALINK is a fascinating tale of Srey Leak (Srey Leak Chhith) and Leng Heng (Leng Heng Prak) and a group of his friends, as they, their families and all the members of the community are being left behind with new technological advancements and at the same time, trying to save their community, the Tralok Bek neighborhood of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from being forced to relocate, in order to make room for a speed train. They believe they must find the buried gold Buddhist statute to save them all.

Watching Srey and 13year-old Leng, along with his friends, devise a plan to save their Tralok Bek neighborhood and their determination to not be left behind with the new technology. Is a reminder, that it is the kids of today that will eventually inherit the good and the bad that is left behind by the adults currently in power, and will have to develop solutions to those problems.

It is a reminder of what the United States is called eminent domain. It gives the government the right to to force owners to sell their private property, for what is suppose to be for the public good. Be it, freeways or highways that leads to people being forced to move and also divide communities.

The backdrop of the skyscrapers hoovering over the slums where Srey Leak Chhith, Leng Heng Prak, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Cindy Sirinya Bishop, Rous Mony and Sveng Socheata call home as they go about their daily lives is a stark reminder of the class-difference between the wealthy and those living in extreme poverty that while the kids are trying to save their close-knit community.

KARMALINK brings Girl Power! into sharp focus with Srey Leak (Srey Leak Chhith). Whether it is the interaction with her older brother, who appears to be irresponsible, or leading a group of boys, who call her the detective, as they search to find a buried gold Buddhist statute.

Reminded of the gentrification of marginalized communities from around the world and how they are left behind socially, economically and technologically too. Even here in the U. S. people do not have access to the internet, something that is now considered a basic service that is denied to many.

And, commonly used by governments, eminent domain that forces private citizens to sell their private property to state and/or federal government, is used to force people from their home in order to build a speed train. A train that those in the Tralok Bek neighborhood will most likely never use.

Director Jake Wachtel weaves together the reality of life in the slums of Cambodia, the technological advancements taking place around those who are struggling for their survival and their dominate societal belief in reincarnation thorough Sci-Fi to tell a captivating narrative in KARMALINK.

Photo 1- Leng Heng Prak in Jake Wachtel's KARMALINK (Photo Credit_ Good Deed Entertainment)

Cinematographer Robert Leitzell captures a vivid picture of Heng's reincarnations through out time., the nitty gritty life in the slums, where the actors Srey and Leng Heng were born and live. The dark lighting provides the ambiance and intensity for Leng Heng’s journeys back in time.

Editors Harrison Atkins, Stephanie Kaznocha work flows effortlessly from scene to scene, helping to tell a very compelling story.

The clothes worn by the characters give a clear indication to their social and economic status within the society they live.

The use of the actual homes and conditions of the residences in the Tralok Bek neighborhood adds to the movie experience of the Set Design (does the setting influence other elements. does it add or subtract from my experience.)

KARMALINK takes place in the Tralok Bek neighborhood of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Tralok Bek is where Srey Leak Chhith, Leng Heng Prak lived and called home. Being filmed in a real place, where real actors lived depicting their actual day to day experiences gives the film a believably story line.

Composer Ariel Marx’s musical score works well with the various scenes providing the suspense needed for a mystery and travel through time.

KARMALINK is a great film, that is sure to captivate your attention, with its cast of kids ready and able to take on the world for the greater good.

I was saddened to read that Leng Heng Prak had passed away in 2021. He had the potential a future in film making

Release Date: July 15, 2022
Distributor: Good Deed Entertainment
Producer: Valerie Steinberg
Production Co: Valerie Steinberg Productions
Co-producers: Sok Visal (802 Films, Cambodia), Christopher Rompré (littleBIG Films, Cambodia)
Executive Producer(s): Todd Brown, Nate Bolotin, Joe & Freddi Felt
Run time: 1 hour 42 minutes
Cast: Srey Leak Chhith, Leng Heng Prak, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Cindy Sirinya Bishop, Rous Mony, Sveng Socheata, Sokvan So, Sreng Chear, Samneang Chea, No Mo, Ty Li, Tommy Henderson, Rando Henderson, Savern Oum, Pisey Pen, Linda Chhith, Sreyneat Chhith, Morokort Chhith, David Rithyruth Alexander, Channan Moa, Reach Hunchan, Sothun Sok, Socheata Khek, Sotereak Ouk, James Adomian
Director: Jake Wachtel
Writers: Jake Wachtel, Christopher Larsen
Cinematography: Robert Leitzell
Editors: Harrison Atkins, Stephanie Kaznocha
Sound Editor: Vincent Villa
Composer: Ariel Marx
Production Designer: Olga Miasnikova

‘THE QUEST: Nepal’ Movie Review

THE QUEST Nepal - Poster

Year: 2022
Director and Writer: Alex Harz
Starring: Alex Harz, Tashi Sherpa, Hanuman Baba, Russell Brice, Mike Hamill, and more,
Genre: Documentary

The Many Rewards in Fulfilling a Childhood Promise

Harz said, “often, the best way to get to know the true essence of a city, is walking its streets and talking to its people.”

He is true to his word as he explores the villages and the people of the city of Kathmandou and the country of Nepal, that call it home, as he prepares to take on the Himalayan mountain’s Mt. Everest.

It includes stops along the Bagmati River, a holy river to both the Hindu and Buddhist religions, where cremations are performed for Hindu believers. The Sherpa culture is explained. He visits the town of Namche Bazaar, in the north-eastern area of Nepal, that is a major trading hub for the area.

Alex Approaching the South Summit of Everest
Alex Approaching the South Summit of Everest
We see the memorial for all those who lost their life in their own quest to climb the mountain

The beauty of the environment and the primitive natural of so much of daily life in the Khumka Valley and the Sherpa culture that required to make the climb, stands out in the film. Human, animals and helicopters are the only mean of transportation for people and transporting of goods.

The cinematography provides a fantastic background and setting for the harrowing climb. The dialogue provides a great opportunity to learn about the people and the history of the region. Hart's editing gives a nice flow from the first the last scene. THE QUEST: Nepal’ is a good film that accomplishes a promise that is rewarding by itself, when combined with the introduction of the people of Kathmandou and the history of their city and country of Nepal, beauty of Mt. Everest and the surrounding Himalayan mountain adds to magnificence of Harz's journey.
Release May 2022
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures (2022) (USA) (all media), The Quest (2021) (USA) (all media)
Executive Producer:  Alex Harz 
Producer: Tate Zandstra  
Production Co: The Quest
Run time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Starring: Hanuman Baba as Hindu Sadhu, Russell Brice as Expedition Operator, Mike Hamill as Expedition Operator. Alex Harz Alex Harz as Host, Ang Tshering Lama as Mountain Guide,Erlend Ness as Everest Climber,Lama Nawang Paljor as Tibetan Buddhist Monk, Caroline Pemberton as Everest Journalist,Kumar Rupakheti as Nepalese Historian,Lakpa Rita Sherpa as Basecamp Manager,Mingma Chiri Sherpa as Everest Climber,Pasang T. Sherpa as Sherpa Barista,Pasang Temba Sherpa as Puja Monk, Phunjo Lama Sherpa as Mountain Guide,Riten Jangbu Sherpa as Expedition Sirdar, Tashi Sherpa as Trekking Guide, Tshering Sherpa as SPCC Director, Tshering Sarg Sherpa as Expedition Manager
Director and Writer: Alex Harz
Cinematographers: Alex Harz, Ang Tshering Lama, Manish Maharjan, Samuel Emerson Morgan, Alex Schauer, Riten Jangbu Sherpa, Ryan Waters 
Editors: Greg Bartlett, Alex Harz, Nicholas Orris, Tate Zandstra

Review: Wood and Water

WOOD AND WATER POSTER_US_800 (1)

Release Date in theaters: March 24, 2022
Director, Screenwriter, Editor: Jonas Bak 
Cast: Anke Bak, Ricky Yeung, Alexandra Batten, Patrick Lo, Theresa Bak, Susanne Johnssen, Patrick Shum, Lena Ackermann, Edward Chan, Christel Hohssen, Amy Aceituna, Jonas Bak, Wolfgang Ackermann, Rachel Chan, Harry Ha, Tony Poon, Tai Chi Chan C Fu Group 

Genre: Drama, Fiction 
Countries: Germany, France/Hong Kong 
Language: German, English, Cantonese

Not Even Political Turmoil Can Keep a Mother From Her Child

Anke (Anke Bak), a widow and newly retired from her job at a small church, in the idyllic Black Forest and wants to recreate , with her family, their time spent living by the Baltic Sea in Jonas Bak’s film “Wood and Water.” Things do not go according to plans, when her son Max cancels his planned trip home for their family, because of the political unrest in his new home of Hong Kong.

 KimStim, Trance Films - Wood and Water - Alexandra Batten & Anke Bak
KimStim, Trance Films - Wood and Water - Alexandra Batten & Anke Bak

Max said he was unable to travel home, because of the protests, but the protests were not enough to stop Anke from going to see her son in Hong Kong

Bak exams the relationship of a mother as she travels to be in the company of her son and upon her arrival, begins to find herself.

Anke interacts with interesting people along her journey.  One of the most interesting is Anke’s Hostel Roommate, who said something to her, as she lay in bed, that really stood out. she said, “your story is just beginning.”

She goes on to meet the Fortune Teller (Edward Chan), the Psychiatrist (Patrick Shum), the Social Activist (Ricky Yeung) and her Hostel Roommate (Alexandra Batten).

KimStim, Trance Films - Wood and Water - Anke Bak Patrick Lo
KimStim, Trance Films - Wood and Water - Anke Bak Patrick Lo

Shot in on location in Germany and Hong Kong, the noise and fast pace of life in Hong Kong compared to the peaceful setting of the Black Forest gives a stark contrast of the different environments Anke finds herself in and the impact on her life.

A good film about the value and importance of a family’s bond, love for each other and for oneself.

Brian Eno "New Space Music" gives a wonderful backdrop to sounds of life in Germany and Hong Kong. From the calm and peaceful to the vibrant and non-stop noise.

Release Date in theaters: March 24, 2022
Run time: 1 hour 19 minutes
Distributor: KimStim
Producer: Charlotte Lelong
Co-producers: Ulla Lehmann, Andrea Roggon 
Production Co: Trance Film
Cast: Anke Bak, Ricky Yeung, Alexandra Batten, Patrick Lo, Theresa Bak, Susanne Johnssen, Patrick Shum, Lena Ackermann, Edward Chan, Christel Hohssen, Amy Aceituna, Jonas Bak, Wolfgang Ackermann, Rachel Chan, Harry Ha, Tony Poon, Tai Chi Chan C Fu Group
Director, Screenwriter, Editor: Jonas Bak
Cinematography: Alex Grigoras 
Music: “New Space Music” written and performed by Brian Eno
Courtesy of All Saints Records, © Universal Music Publishing Ltd on behalf of Opal Music

WORST TO FIRST: THE TRUE STORY OF Z100 NEW YORK Review

WORST TO FIRST THE TRUE STORY OF Z100 NEW YORK New Key Art

Director, Writer, and Producer: Mitchell Stuart
Producers: Trish Hunter Shannon, Elvis Duran, David Katz and John McConnell
Cast: Scott Shannon, Elvis Duran, Jon Bon Jovi, Nile Rodgers, Clive Davis, Debbie Gibson, Joan Jett, Taylor Dayne, Tony Orlando, Joe Piscopo, “Magic” Matthew Alan, “Professor” Jonathan B. Bell,  Anita Bonita, Ross Brittain,
Pete Cosenza, Michael Ellis, Gavin DeGraw, Cathy Donovan, Gary Fisher, Frank Foti, Sean “Hollywood” Hamilton, David Hinckley, Donnie Lenner, Jim Kerr, Steve Kingston, Ken Lane, Kenny Laguna, Jimi Lumia, Tom Poleman, Geraldo Rivera, Trish Hunter Shannon, Patty Steele, Claire Stevens, Mitchell Stuart, John Sykes and Jim Wood
Genre: Feature Documentary
Rating: G
Runtime: 1 hour 4 minutes

Jon Bon Jovi from Mitchell Stuart's WORST TO FIRST (Photo Credit Gunpowder & Sky)
Jon Bon Jovi from Mitchell Stuart's WORST TO FIRST (Photo Credit Gunpowder & Sky)
Joan Jett from Mitchell Stuart's WORST TO FIRST (Photo Credit Gunpowder & Sky)
Joan Jett from Mitchell Stuart's WORST TO FIRST (Photo Credit Gunpowder & Sky)
Taylor Dayne from Mitchell Stuart's WORST TO FIRST (Photo Credit Gunpowder and Sky)
Taylor Dayne from Mitchell Stuart's WORST TO FIRST (Photo Credit Gunpowder and Sky)

Dare to be Different

From Secaucus, New Jersey in 1983 to taking over the media market in the Big Apple, New York, New York and becoming the 1# radio station, director, writer and a producer Mitchell Stuart's WORST TO FIRST: THE TRUE STORY OF Z100 NEW YORK tells the amazing history of Z100's rise to dominate the biggest and toughest media market in the United States.

Z100 begins its journey with DJ Scott Shannon and his out of the box and crazy format and great music of up-and-coming musical artist to legendary Elvis Duran and other Hall of Fame DJs in between. Z100 would play the music of young artist like Madonna, Jon Bon Jovi, Debbie Gibson, Joan Jett, Niles Rogers and more.

WORST TO FIRST: THE TRUE STORY OF Z100 NEW YORK features conversations with music industry legend Clive Davis, as well as Jon Bon Jovi, Debbi Gibson, Tayler Dane and others.

It is hard to imagine that the DJS at Z100There are a couple of things that stand out. The first being the realization of where Howard Stern got his radio formation. As well as the impact Z100 had on so many musical artists' early in their career.

Daring to be different with their Zoo morning show and Shock Jock format enabled Z100 to not only make a space for themselves but also to dominate the New York media market. A huge and unimaginable accomplishment at the time that is story worthy of being told.

WORST TO FIRST: THE TRUE STORY OF Z100 NEW YORK is an inspirational story of dedication and hard work against all odds that truly paid off big-time. 

Gunpowder and sky logo

Release Date: Streaming February 11, 2022
Production Co: A Penguardia Productions, Elvis Duran Group, Workhouse Media and HQ Creative Production
Run time: 1 hour 4 minutes
Cast: Scott Shannon, Elvis Duran, Jon Bon Jovi, Nile Rodgers, Clive Davis, Debbie Gibson, Joan Jett, Taylor Dayne, Tony Orlando, Joe Piscopo, “Magic” Matthew Alan, “Professor” Jonathan B. Bell, Anita Bonita, Ross Brittain, Pete Cosenza, Michael Ellis, Gavin DeGraw, Cathy Donovan, Gary Fisher, Frank Foti, Sean “Hollywood” Hamilton, David Hinckley, Donnie Lenner, Jim Kerr, Steve Kingston, Ken Lane,
Kenny Laguna, Jimi Lumia, Tom Poleman, Geraldo Rivera, Trish Hunter Shannon, Patty Steele, Claire Stevens, Mitchell Stuart, John Sykes and Jim Wood
Director, Writer and Producer: Mitchell Stuart
Cinematography: John Carlo Serrano
Editors: Alex Dolginko, Corey Williams
Music: Martin John Butler, Alex Dolginko, Mitchell Stuart

MITCHELL STUART is a multiple film festival and Emmy-Award winning filmmaker and storyteller of compelling documentaries, groundbreaking digital series and industry-disrupting brand campaigns. Whether following his heart to tell an inspirational, against all odds story about female freedom fighters in Africa, or honoring his lifelong passion for music and filmmaking, Mitchell tells authentic stories that move and engage an audience.

Known for riveting, thought-provoking visuals and for often composing original music for the soundtracks of his films, he has been honored with 15 NY Emmy-Award Nominations for his music and entertainment documentary series, the Emmy-Award Winning Road to MSG, featuring Jay Z, Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago, Z100’s Jingle Ball concerts with Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, John Mayer, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and more. Dozens of film festivals throughout the world have honored him and his partner, Cheryl Halpern, winning awards for directing, best film, social justice, world peace and humanitarian efforts with their documentaries, Natsanat (Ethiopian for freedom), Fighting to be Free and Remembering Maurits Kiek.

Working closely with the Broadway community, Mitchell spearheaded the documentary-style Tony Award Campaign for Moulin Rouge the Musical resulting in 14 Tony Award nominations. He was also directed a uniquely cinematic short film on the return to Broadway of Phantom of the Opera, and Broadway’s partnership with the MTA, The Only Sure Way to Broadway.

A proud born and bred New Yorker, his natural drive for diving deeper into his research preparation has led to stellar work with a diverse and brilliant who’s who list of musicians and newsmakers including The Who, Rod Stewart, Trevor Noah, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Jon Bon Jovi, Sting and The Foo Fighters in first concert celebrating the return of live music to Madison Square Garden post COVID-19.

Along Came Wanda: Review

Along Came Wanda Key Art

Year: 2021
Director and Writer: Jan Miller Corran
Starring: Constance Brenneman, Cathy DeBuono, Isabella Hofman, Monica Young, Rich Ceraulo Ko, Adam Huss, Roberta Hanlen, Carly Frintner, Kyla Harris, Monica Young
Genre: Comedy
Runtime: 1 hour 34 minutes
Rating: Not yet rated
Country: United States
Language: English

Mary Beth and Wanda Along Came Wanda
Mary Beth and Wanda Along Came Wanda

You Can Try to Live-up to Other's Expectations or Live-up to Your Own

Jan Miller Corran's directorial debut 'Along Came Wanda' takes you on the journey of Mary Beth (Contance Brenneman)
following the break-up of her decades long marriage to Bill (Max Adler), that gave her her only son, Kevin (Hank Matusek),
as she sets out on a journey with her new friend Wanda, (Cathy DeBuono) in her RV.

We are giving a glimpse into an intimate part of Mary's life, when she is reminded of a past love.

Wanda encourages Mary Beth to return to her passion of photography and to enter a photography contest while out on the road. The relationship between Mary Beth and Wanda is front and center as their friendship grows and they become closer during their road trip. W

Wanda and Davina Along Came Wanda
Wanda and Davina Along Came Wanda

Filmed during COVID-19 pandemic, art imitates life with the challenges of COVID-19 on marriages and relationships in general a crucial part of the film that has the characters talking about the pandemic, wearing masks and social distant.

There are a few scenes that stuck with me. One is Mary Beth talking to Wanda and telling her, "I grew up in a small midwestern town that come with expectations for their daughters, including grandchildren. It stayed with me because it goes to the heart of Mary Beth's struggles and the need to find herself.

The second is when Davina Moonbeam (Roberta Hanlen), a well-known psychic said to Wanda, "Just be. Set in the nowness." ("Just Be" is the film's theme song " composed by Monica Young and Richie Sullivan and sung by Monica Young). Reminder of the importance of being and enjoying the moment and letting things happen naturally instead of forcing a desired outcome.

Mary Beth and Wanda Along Came Wanda
Mary Beth and Wanda Along Came Wanda

Mary Beth breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to her viewers helps evoke a level of compassion for her and her plight, stands out as well.

Filming in Los Angeles was a good choice. The City has as variety of landscapes that captures the natural features of California.

Kanoa Wolfe-Doblin score works well with the scenes providing the right mood to help tell their story.

A journey of friendship, fun and discovery, 'Along Came Wanda' is a film to watch.

Distributor: buffalo 8 A Bondit Company
Producers: Jan Miller Corran, LeeAnee Matusek
Production Co.: Three women in a box films
Run time: 1 hour 34 minutes
Starring: Contance Brenneman, Cathy DeBuono, Max Adler, Isabella Hofman, Monica Young, Rich Ceraulo Ko, Adam Huss, Roberta Hanlen, Hank Matusek,
Carly Frintner, Kyla Harris, Monica Young
Director and Writer: Jan Miller Corran
Cinematography: Cameron Schmucker
Editor: Josh Rifkin
Music: Kanoa Wolfe-Doblin