VOD Spotlight: Nolan GallagherMarch 11, 2010
WE LIVE IN PUBLIC: On DemandMarch 11, 2010
WE LIVE IN PUBLIC
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the perspective of watching them from the comfort of your home. This week, Gravitas Ventures WE LIVE IN PUBLIC. Learn more about Gravitas with our one-on-one interview with founder Nolan Gallagher here.
IP MAN - On DemandAugust 24, 2010
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: IP MAN from Gravitas Ventures.
Email Sean McPhillips
Ip Man (or Yip Man as many know him) was a legend in his own time. However, the history and ongoing saga of IP MAN “the movie” has become legendary.
Having exhausted every potential iteration of the exploits of hero Wong Fei Hung, save perhaps some futuristic sci-fi variant where he wakes from cryogenic freezing on a China-owned space station to beat some occupying Cylon ass (I get a story credit if this idea is produced), the Chinese movie industry seized upon another obvious choice for deification. Bruce Lee’s teacher. Indeed, Mr. Man (my mom used to call me that when she was cross with me) has a great deal more mystery than his well-documented and infinitely more famous protégé, so the opportunities for exploring variations on his official life and history abound.
Corey Yuen (FONG SAI-YUK, THE TRANSPORTER) was to direct the first version but the studio producing the film shuttered before lift-off. Producer Raymond Wong (producer of at least sixty titles you’ve never heard of though you may have seen his face as an actor (in another fifty) if you watch Hong Kong cinema) then took up the mantle and proceeded to produce his own Ip Man “biopic.” Donnie Yen (IRON MONKEY) was attached to both to play Mr. Man.
BANKSY’S COMING FOR DINNER - Now On DemandSeptember 02, 2010
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: BANKSY’S COMING FOR DINNER.
Imagine that you have 17 hours to shoot a movie about art’s most anonymous hero. You can’t show his face. You even have to mask his voice like some mob informant. You have one shot at this so you’d better get it right. This is the first time he’s ever done this and it might be the last. If you pull it off, it could kick start your career. If you blow it, it’s over.
Director Ivan Massow accepted his own challenge to film a documentary about a dinner with graffiti artist Banksy and an assortment of British celebrities who you probably wouldn’t cross the street to meet.
Charismatic grande dame Joan Collins is our hostess on the grounds of her gilded estate, complete with a herd of deer and the occasional peacock: a fitting anti-setting for an artist who'd probably stencil a heroin spoon instead of a lobster fork. Maybe he’ll tag her pool house on his way out.
AMERICAN COWSLIP Provides a Val Kilmer Fix On DemandSeptember 10, 2010
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: AMERICAN COWSLIP.
AMERICAN COWSLIP is subtitled “A Redneck Comedy” but not in the Jeff Foxworthy sense. Sure, you’ll get the ubiquitous car parked on the front lawn, but this is not a formulaic we’re-poor-and-unsophisticated-but-still-happy kind of movie.
Instead, AMERICAN COWSLIP attempts to answer the question, What would happen if Eric Stoltz and the dude who played Waingro in HEAT had a baby and that baby grew up to be a heroin addict, doted on by three grannies and shamelessly pursued by a 17-year old hottie? And what would happen if we put our heroin hero between two speeding meteors on a collision course: being evicted from his home into an agoraphobic nightmare or winning the “Garden of the Year” contest, thus saving his house, sanity and baggie of horse? Yes, what would happen indeed.
THE CARTEL ON DEMANDDecember 22, 2010
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today's review: THE CARTEL (Gravitas Ventures).
I like my rabble roused as much as the next guy and few things can do that like a good documentary. Whether it's HEARTS AND MINDS, THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE, or HOOP DREAMS, I look to a documentary to outrage me, instigate me, drive me into high dudgeon -- just don't bore me. Subject matter is less important to me than the passion of the filmmaker. Whether you're onboard with Michael Moore, a showboater whose docs are much more about the messenger than the message, his films are nothing if not provocative.
So when I heard about Bob Bowdon's THE CARTEL, an investigation into the wasteful spending practices of state education boards and the vise grip that teachers' unions have over school districts, I salivated. As a professional educator in suburban New York, and a taxpayer who sent two kids to public school, I have a unique view of the issue of school budgets and the teacher tenure imposed by unions. From where I sat, THE CARTEL had the potential to be an explosive look at a sensitive and very current topic.
CARBON NATION - A New Documentary On Climate ChangeAugust 10, 2011
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: CARBON NATION (Gravitas Ventures).
CARBON NATION - A New Documentary On Climate Change
By Scott Zaretsky
I have to admit, I’m a little “documentary filmed–out” these days. The thought of sitting thru and screening a “climate change” film after a day at the “office” wasn’t quite the movie-mojo I had signed up for. That said, I found Award-winning director Peter Byck’s CARBON NATION to be the best film on climate change I have ever seen.
You might laugh aloud thinking … well if you’ve “seen one, you seen ‘em all” … and I saw AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH --- while eye-opening, it wasn’t exactly exciting. CARBON NATION is engaging, funny, daunting and most importantly, non-preachy all packaged nicely with production value, great aesthetics, and good all-around rhythm and flow.
Folks, the bottom line is that we have a problem with the environment whether you believe it or not. You don’t even have to question glaciers melting and what’s the cause (as that debate gets boring after five minutes), you can just ask the question … can I get useful, everyday survival stuff like gas and electricity for less without taxing the environment?
With narration by Bill Kurtis and appearances that include NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman, VIRGIN Group CEO Sir Richard Branson, Former CIA Director James Woolsey and several Energy CEO’s and environment afficianados, the film is filled with hope and optimism rooted in solutions not problems. Traveling across the country and hearing stories from the “Red State” folk makes you realize very quickly that we are not as divided a country as we may think, but somehow, the media and Washington like to play the division game.
CARBON NATION is a film that celebrates the solutions that are out there, the inspiration that exists and the action that people are taking. It’s a movie that has no political affiliation, is purely non-partisan and quite frankly, inspiring enough to think about a career change - “going green” is good for business a the film points out. Green is good and Green is profitable.
Can An Arranged Marriage Work In Modern Day?August 16, 2011
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: WHEN HARRY WANTS TO MARRY (Gravitas).
WHEN HARRY WANTS TO MARRY - On Demand
By Amy Slotnick
Harry is an Indian-American college student who, scarred by the divorce of his parents as a child, is longing for a marriage the old fashioned way – arranged. With a matchmaker in India, he is quickly matched up with an Indian beauty who seems perfect for Harry. Before even meeting her, and even though Harry’s parents and friends are not supportive, wedding plans get started.
Simultaneously, Harry is falling for Theresa, a beautiful co-ed he is paired with for a Sociology project (coincidentally, the topic is marriage).
The premise feels more like a 30-minute sitcom, and the exaggerated tone makes it feel like the film should have a laugh track. The story plays out in a predictable way, with super-broad comedic moments thrown in, some with no rhyme or reason, like an unfunny waxing scene with Harry’s roommate. There is good chemistry between Theresa and Harry, but the critical suspense of whether or not he forgoes the arrangement and hooks up with Theresa peters out after the first half.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOMAugust 24, 2011
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM (Gravitas).
THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM
My kitten is bigger than yours… but I love him just as much.
By Cynthia Kane
Statistics tell us right away in the opening of THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM that the U.S. is home to over 15,000 exotic animals – as pets. That’s right - most of these wild animals are not living in zoos: lions, tigers and bears… oh my! And chimpanzees and cobras and pythons and alligators and vipers and cougars and elephants and well, you name it.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM is the story of these animals, these so-called pets and those who love them unequivocally, but sometimes, and sometimes is the all-too important word here, don’t really know how to care for them.
It’s a controversial subculture in our society, raising dangerous animals as common household pets. Unregulated – for example, your lion doesn’t need a license unlike your, say, corgi -, not quite illegal, but dangerous and sometimes deadly.
Director Michael Webber travels across the United States meeting these ‘pet owners’, allowing them to tell their stories, encountering their animals, traveling with hidden cameras to the under-the-radar trade fairs that sell these creatures, and following state and local officials who have to catch the runaways, those that get loose in the neighborhood or say, for example, an overpopulation of Burmese pythons run amuck in the Everglades.
The heart of Webber’s doc takes place in the Midwest. Here we meet Tim Harrison, Executive Director of Outreach for Animals whose job as a public safety officer is to protect both the exotic animals and people. After having served as a police officer, firefighter, and paramedic in Oakwood, near Dayton, Ohio, he has often been called to rescue wild and dangerous animals in suburban settings and has been consulted for his expertise on the national as well as state level.
“You don’t have to go to India to see a tiger or to Africa to see a lion”, he shrugs.
“You can go to any town, USA.”
STEVE JOBS: ONE LAST THING - Now On DemandJanuary 11, 2012
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: STEVE JOBS: ONE LAST THING (Gravitas).
STEVE JOBS: ONE LAST THING
By Joe Charnitski
I visited the Apple Store near Central Park shortly after the untimely passing of Steve Jobs. I wanted to see the memorials and the crowds for myself. There were dozens, maybe hundreds of people either standing silently, as if at a sacred site, or slowly streaming by, rubber necking to see the many cards, bouquets and, of course, apples that had been strewn along the front of the store in memoriam.
I was a little surprised at the substantial outpouring of sadness from young and old set off by Jobs’ death. Not because I didn’t consider him a significant figure in our new century and the previous, or that I didn’t appreciate the contributions of his products, his vision and, not to be overlooked, his treasured “Think Different” campaign of the late-90s. I assumed the response would mirror the reaction to the death of any beloved celebrity. This, instead, felt like a national tragedy.
I was similarly surprised by the one-hour documentary STEVE JOBS: ONE LAST THING. It starts off as a fairly routine “before he was famous” story. We go back to Jobs’ home town, walk the streets he grew up on, meet the friends he knew then. Everyone talks about how Steve was something special. They all knew he would do great things one day. Nothing shocking here.
As the film goes on, though, I couldn’t help but find it compelling, because Jobs is so damn compelling. His resilience is so compelling. The film includes a few interviews Jobs had done over the years. In one of them, when he was much younger, he describes the important moment he realized that everything around him that we call “life” was created by people no smarter than him, or any of us he demands. Once you understand that, Jobs insists, you realize that you can do anything, and then you do.
ALCATRAZ’s Sarah Jones Stars in 2ND TAKE On DemandFebruary 15, 2012
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: 2ND TAKE (Gravitas).
An emotionally damaged storage facility owner must come to terms with his troubled romantic past in 2ND TAKE. Tom Everett Scott (THAT THING YOU DO, "southland") plays Peter, a one-hit screenwriter who has decided to step out of the Hollywood spotlight in the wake of a personal tragedy. Spending his nights with prostitutes has rendered him incapable of true love, but when a beautiful, young actress-hopeful, Charlie (Sarah Jones, "Alcatraz" and "Sons of Anarchy") steps in to buy a unit, Peter is compelled to help.
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: THE TENTS (Gravitas).
Calling all fashion lovers! Fashion enthusiasts and pop culture devotees will delight in THE TENTS, directed by James Belzer. From 1994 to Spring of 2010, Bryant Park symbolized a vision of American creativity and brought together a culture of designers under pristine white tents in the middle of Manhattan. This documentary provides an inside look into one of New York City’s most iconic events – New York Fashion Week. From its humble and sporadic beginnings in vacant SoHo lofts to its current location at Lincoln Center, Fashion Week in New York has catapulted the American fashion industry to the forefront of the market.
THE TENTS will be enjoyed not just by lovers of clothes but by New York historians and people interested in the business of brand creation. Through interviews with top designers like Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Zac Posen and more, Belzer brings to life an industry known for its exclusivity. The director also makes the case that young designers who are rarely given a chance in other markets have been able to flourish under the guidance of the CFDA.
Today, New York Fashion Week is more than just the shows. THE TENTS goes beyond the runway to explore how the fashion industry has evolved in the U.S. While youthful looks and beauty reign supreme, it is usually the older clientele purchasing the couture styles. Modern designers must adapt their brand with ready-to-wear and sportswear lines to compete in larger markets.
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE (Gravitas) .
COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a new doc from stuntumentarian Morgan Spurlock. After taking on fast food in SUPERSIZE ME, terrorism in WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN, and the business of product placement in POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, Spurlock’s new film faces the final frontier, the San Diego Comic-Con. With his cameras floating amidst over 130,000 fanboys, geeks, and sci-fi mavens, Spurlock tells the buoyantly enjoyable story of the people who make an annual pilgrimage to the shrine devoted to all things comic, sci-fi, and fantasy-related.
And one of the best things to say about the film: Spurlock isn’t in it.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Spurlock has made some of the most entertaining docs of the last ten years, but as it with Michael Moore’s oeuvre, Spurlock’s subject matter is often secondary to the carnival barking of its filmmaker. No matter what he is tackling, Spurlock undercuts his subject by making himself the center of attention and often comes off as tiresomely indulgent. No such problem plagues COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE and the film is better for it. Just as Spike Lee showed his faculty for a genre piece with INSIDE MAN, Spurlock proves that by remaining behind the camera, he can tell a fuller, more character-centric story.
Actually, Spurlock tells multiple stories, spotlighting a cross-section of Con attendees who represent a variety of races, ages, and genders. His through-lines are diverse and compelling, focusing on two aspiring comic artists, a costume fabricator who creates replicas of videogame characters, a Denver-based comics dealer seeking a big sale, and even a self-proclaimed “geek couple” for whom the Con will be a life-changing event.
Heartfelt, goofy, and never condescending, COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE is a buoyant look at an event where, no matter what your denomination, Trek or Galactica, you’re welcome. Spurlock highlights that camaraderie that permeates the event, which is populated by a huge cross section of ages and races. Throughout the film, Spurlock offers Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, Stan Lee, and others to wax rhapsodic about the annual gathering as “a big reward for being passionate about something that doesn’t exist.”
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: FARMAGEDDON (Gravitas).
The title of the film implies the “end is near” and is referring to our citizens access to small, family farms in this country. While FOOD, INC and FRESH are similar films in the genre, FARMAGEDDON focuses mostly on America’s small dairy farms and how our government has an approach to food safety regulations that is designed to serve big agriculture and in turn, running our small farms out of business. Along a parallel path, the film showcases the tremendous health benefits many believe to be in RAW MILK and how Americans access to this longtime staple is being jeopardized.
First-time filmmaker, Kristin Canty is a concerned mother of four, who has relied on the benefits of raw milk, most notably for her son who suffered terrible allergies at a young age. When regular medicine didn’t help, she turned to raw milk, which cured her son. She felt compelled to make the film to shed light on the regulatory challenges these small farmers, coops and buying clubs were facing that would severely hamper our access to raw milk and other natural products.
The film begins with the mother of a Mennonite farming family explaining a terrifying experience when
an armed SWAT team raided her home
in the middle of the night with guns pointed.
"I was at the top of the stairs and I saw a man with a gun pointed up at me. All I could see was a black hat and a black jacket. I stood there thinking this was a serial killer.” As the film continues, you realize this exaggerated action by government agencies on peaceful people is not rare.
The film weaves in and out of several accounts by small farmers who have been terrorized by the government on questionable grounds. Like Linda and Larry Failace, whose sheep farm in Vermont was raided, then quarantined, due to unfound claims of mad cow disease in their sheep. It was later proven in court that no sheep had ever been known to have mad cow, including their sheep that tested negative but were victims of politics. This story is particularly disturbing as the Failace family considered their sheep members of the family and were devastated after they were wrongfully taken and destroyed.
The bullying of these farms by the government is a result of applying a “one size fits all” approach to policy that is geared toward big companies and makes it unsustainable for a small-scale farm to survive. “Every time there is a shake up in our food system, local food takes a hit” says JOEL SALATIN of POLYFACE FARMS. You learn in the film that mounting paperwork, fees and unrealistic policies are what are burying the small farmer. “You can’t expect a policy to be written for a multi billion dollar company to apply to a small local farm” said a former FDA/USDA administrator interviewed in the film.
Courtesy DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures)
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures).
EXCLUSIVE: Read Director Joel Schroeder's 8 Things He’d Like You to Know About Calvin & Hobbes here...
DEAR MR. WATTERSON
By Joe Charnitski
Courtesy DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures)
There was something for everyone, but few strips have received the “icon” treatment given to Calvin and Hobbes from the new documentary DEAR MR. WATTERSON.
Most of the first section of the film is filled with recollections from the deepest corners of comic fandom about Calvin & Hobbes. Strip historians and archivists, contemporaries of Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin & Hobbes, and a league of writers and artists who came after, bathed in Mr. Watterson’s influence tell us that Calvin & Hobbes was the most important and memorable strip of its era.
Courtesy DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures)
A trip to Bill Watterson’s hometown yields some small perspective on the town he created for his characters to live in. There are a few examples of particularly important episodes in the Calvin & Hobbes epic and a little insight as the doc moves along into the life of a strip artist, although not enough of any of that. A lot of time is spent with talking heads telling us how important and influential Watterson was, a point well made very early and then repeated...and repeated.
The most interesting section of the film gets a little more esoteric. It discusses the battle between art and commerce in the comic strip world. Certainly that tug of war is present in every creative field, but in Bill Watterson you have a unique foil to the standard tale. He never licensed Calvin & Hobbes: no toys, no lunch boxes, no cartoons, no holiday specials.
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