“Blackhearts,” available now on DVD, Digital and VOD, is a documentary from Gammaglimt Productions that follows three Black Metal musicians and/or their bands, who travel to Norway from their home countries to perform at festivals and meet their idols. The movie won Best International Documentary at the Sound On Screen Film Festival 2016 and the Grand Jury Honorable Mention at Nordic/Docs 2016 in Fredrikstad, Norway. The featured musicians are Sina from Iran, who risks his life by performing Black Metal even out of the country; Hector and his band Luciferian from Colombia, who are committed to worshiping Satan; and the band Naer Mataron from Greece, who struggle to separate their music from member Kaiadas’s notoriety as an extreme right-wing politician. Check out the trailer above.
“Caltiki The Immortal Monster” (1959, Arrow Video) Archaeologists working in the ruins of a Mayan city uncover a vast array of gold in the depths of a sunken temple, as well as the creature that watches over the riches – the amoebic, man-eating monster-goddess Caltiki! Economically paced (and budgeted) Italian horror-science fiction hybrid benefits from a barrage of surprisingly gruesome special effects – both the gelatinous Caltiki herself (constructed largely from a mound of tripe) and the carnage she wreaks on her victims (gooey, dissolved faces and limbs) – but more notably, from the presence of two bona fide legends of Italian horror behind the camera, director Riccardo Freda (“I, Vampiri”) and cinematographer/special effects creator Mario Bava (“Black Sabbath”), who also made his uncredited directorial debut when Freda left the picture. Their presence brings a considerable amount of Gothic atmosphere – as Bava scholar Tim Lucas notes in his excellent and informative commentary, the sequence in which a fear-crazed scientist runs frantically through the fog-shrouded Mayan city foreshadows similar sequences in Bava’s “Black Sunday” and “Planet of the Vampires. Moments like these also elevate the pulpy plot, which owes a debt to “The Quatermass Xperiment,” most notably in a secondary storyline involving a bastardly member of the expedition who gets mauled by Caltiki and turns increasingly inhuman. All of these elements help to boost “Caltiki” past its shortcomings, budgetary and otherwise (melodramatic performances, especially by Gerhard Haerter as the expedition member maimed by Caltiki), and result in a breezy and entirely watchable effort for creature feature fans and Bava/Italian horror completists alike.
Netflix practically invented binge-watching by creating addictive shows and dropping the entire season into the queue at the same time. Now they have branched off into making documentary series that are just as compelling. In the vein of “Making of a Murderer,” “The Keepers,” which will drop May 19th, takes on a small town whodunnit that will have you glued to the screen.
Director Ryan White’s docuseries focuses on the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a beloved Catholic nun and high school teacher who was abducted and murdered in Baltimore in 1969. Sister Cathy was 26 years old. Only four days after Sister Cathy’s disappearance, 20 year-old Joyce Malecki went missing and was found two days later in a nearby river. Evidence was collected and interviews were conducted, but no progress was made.
Once again Masters of Taste brought their “A” game to the field of the Rose Bowl. There was a wealth of delicious high-end food and cocktails throughout, plus comfy sofas and lounging areas. And maybe my favorite perk of all — chair massages! In spite of a lightning storm midway through the event we soldiered on.
The steamed oxtail dumpling with a plum wine reduction from Home Kettle was the hands-down favorite bite of the day. It was rich and loaded with umami. Even the pasta was meaty. Another crowd-pleaser was the Thai style roast beef belly from Claud Beltran & Co./Bacchus Kitchen. The meat was so tender and the marinade was fragrant with Thai spices.
Everything that Hollywood produces doesn’t always shimmer like gold or sound angelic. Sometimes some of the most brilliant and creative music comes from the gutters, dark tunnels and blackened crevices of the mind. Vocalist Kristof Bathory has spent seven albums spewing and spell-casting incantations on record with the symphonic influences of Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth, among others, with Dawn of Ashes. Pulling inspiration from thrash, death and classical music, pouring choice selections into an absinthe-induced web, creating left hand path Diabolos in Musica, from the sunny west coast.
Bathory created DOA in 2001 to instill musical and visual nightmares into the listener’s minds, using numerous soundscapes and genres to smash ears and heads open, adding in what they want you to imagine, see and hear. 2013’s Anathema signaled an acclaimed artistic peak and oddly timed curtain call.
The high-stakes world of pre-Civil War horse racing sets the stage for this captivating drama during the time of slavery followed by the Reconstruction era in the 1900’s.
Director Marya Mazor tells us that “this is a play, that at first glance, appears to be a period piece and yet, like other great ‘history plays’ it uses that period in time to shed light on similar issues that are taking place right now.”
“Pure Confidence” written by celebrated award winning playwright, Carlyle Brown, is the story of an unlikely friendship between Colonel Wiley Johnson (the excellent William Salyers) and his slave, Simon Cato (Armond Edward Dorsey) who happens to be a winning jockey that has never lost a race riding the horse Pure Confidence owned by his master. The two men strike up a deal; the jockey shall give up his take of the winnings in order to buy his freedom. Continue reading →
Topanga Days is back, and being a four-year Topanga resident, I look forward to this event every year. I can’t think of a better way to spend Memorial Day weekend. In its 44th year, this three-day family-friendly festival and fundraiser continues to draw a diverse group of people with its eclectic mix of musical acts, as well as activities that are fun for all ages. You’ll experience the work of local artists while feasting on delicious food from local vendors, including BBQ, Pizza, Mexican, Thai and Vegan. There will also be beer, wine and the popular sangria bar.
According to the press release, this year’s musical lineup features the enduring 70’s psychedelic rock band Jefferson Starship on Saturday, May 27th at 5:30 pm and L.A’s legendary Ozomatli on Sunday, May 28th at 5:30 pm. Ozomatli is named for the Aztec god of dance, fire and music. The group was formed in L.A. in 1995. Their politically charged lyrics advocating social justice are delivered with their signature fusion of salsa, jazz, funk, reggae, rap and more.
Believe it or not, LA was once a hotbed of quality underground newspapers. Open City (1967 – 1969), the Los Angeles Reader (1978 – 1996) and its successor New Times LA (1996 – 2002), and arguably the crown jewel, the L.A. Free Press, a legendary rag printed from 1966 – 1976. The Beat has learned about a great website called ADSAUSAGE which, among other things, has posted a retrospective of high quality scans of ads and covers from that paper. J.J. Englender, the historian/archivist responsible for the website says it best: “With essays on movies, music and regional places of interest, it’s a fascinating look into the days of: Kaleidoscope, KMET, the Peace and Freedom Party, experimental film at Cinematheque-16, psychedelic coffee houses on Fairfax, and double-features at the Mayan.”
The rest of the website is definitely worth a look – ADSAUSAGE is a glorious repository of vintage advertising, curated since 2004 “from the personal archives of the late international business magnate, Sir Roger Delfont.” Covering fashion, film, design, consumer items, LA history and more, these ads will take you back.
Popular bartender, Boo, mixes cocktails for Mama Lion (Photo by Billy Bennight)
From Faith & Flower to Viviane, and now to Mama Lion, we have been following chef Michael Hung around like the Grateful Dead. Mama Lion is the dreamchild of hospitality veteran Robert Kim. He formerly operated the restaurants in The Beverly Hills Hotel and worked on the plan to revitalize Park Plaza Hotel, one of our favorite event spaces. When Kim took over the space at 6th and Western, he paid homage to the neighborhood’s history by retaining the name of the nightclub that formerly occupied the corner, Mama Lion.
Kim brought in chef Michael Hung and nightlife authority Aidan Demarest, previously of Seven Grand, The Edison, and The Spare Room. Demarest is the General Manager as well as managing beverages alongside Barman Todd Eames. Mama Lion is billed as a “supperclub” which made me think of dinner with a show, but they are referring to the phrase’s dictionary definition, “a nightclub, especially a small, luxurious one.” (Thanks, dictionary.com.)