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Today, the La Costa Film Festival ( proudly announced its lineup of narrative and documentary features and short films for this year’s festival.  The impressive program features some of the most engaging films of the past year.  The La Costa Film Festival will make its grand debut October 24-27, 2013 at the world famous Omni La Costa Resort and Spa.

The delightful documentary THE SHORT GAME will feature as the opening night film, reflecting the Omni La Costa Resort’s long tradition of golfing and family.  The film follows the lives of eight of the best seven-year-old golfers in the world as they train for and compete in the World Championships of Junior Golf.  The film has received numerous accolades, including Audience Awards at the SXSW and Maui Film Festivals, and is Executive Produced by Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.

Closing the festival will be AT MIDDLETON, which stars Andy Garcia, Vera Farmiga, and Taissa Farmiga in the story of two wildly different parents who meet and discover they have an irresistible chemistry while taking their kids on a college tour.

Both the opening and closing red carpet galas will feature screenings and parties under the stars at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa.

The juried sports competition includes a variety of compelling documentary features: THE CRASH REEL follows snowboarder Kevin Pearce and the traumatic brain injury that kept him from competing for Gold in 2010; MAIDENTRIP reveals the journey of Laura Dekker, the youngest person to ever sail around the world alone; MCCONKEY is about Shane McConkey, a revered pioneer of free-skiing and ski-BASE jumping; and the story of two young surfers who battle nature in a remote, arctic island in Northern Norway in order to catch the perfect wave is the focus of NORTH OF THE SUN.  The opening night film, THE SHORT GAME, will also compete.

Shorts in competition include: SLOMO, THE RED PILL, CROOKED LINES, and MAGNESIUM.  The jury will be announced in the coming weeks.

The winner of the local high school competition is the short film ROUTINES, which will premiere at the festival.  ROUTINES was co-directed by Canyon Crest Academy senior Jason Lee Phillips and former CCA student Jason Lee Segal, who is now at Chapman University.  Canyon Crest Academy will receive a cash prize from the La Costa Film Festival for its distinguished Envision Cinema program.

The Narrative spotlight section features favorites from this year’s festival circuit: the Belgian drama BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN is flavored with American-style bluegrass and was awarded the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin Film Festival, as well as Best Actress and Best Screenplay awards at Tribeca; based on a true story of one woman’s fight against breast cancer, DECODING ANNIE PARKER stars Helen Hunt and, winner of the Best Actress award at the recent Seattle International Film Festival, Samantha Morton; French dramedy JUST A SIGH premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this year; and winner of a Special Jury Prize at Tribeca, STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS.

The Documentary Showcase also has its share of acclaimed titles: an intimate portrait exploring the tragedy of Alzheimer’s, THE GENIUS OF MARIAN premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival; WALKING THE CAMINO is a festival audience favorite about the experience of walking the ancient 500-mile pilgrimage across Northern Spain known as “The Camino de Santiago;” and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s SXSW, WILLIAM AND THE WINDMILL follows a young Malawian who rescued his family from famine by building a power-generating windmill from scrap parts.

There will also be a special outdoor retrospective screening of the 1989 Kevin Costner classic, FIELD OF DREAMS, in which an Iowa farmer is inspired by a voice he can’t ignore to pursue a dream he can hardly believe.

In another nod to the area, two films will screen as part of the festival’s Surf Spotlight: ISOLATED and H2INDO.

The festival’s family film will be KHUMBA, an animated comedy from South Africa, which recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and features the voices of Steve Buscemi and Laurence Fishburne.

“We’re very proud to welcome so many talented filmmakers from around the world and present their work to our community,” said festival founders, Mike and Ruby Callihan. “In turn, once they experience the beauty, hospitality, and wonder of Carlsbad, we believe it will leave a lasting impression, and they’ll want to return often.”

Festival Producer and Head Programmer, Nancy Collet, added, “This is an incredibly diverse and high-quality line-up of films.  All of these titles have been awarded with accolades and have proven to be audience favorites on the festival circuit over the past year.”

More information about all the films in the line-up, along with a schedule of screenings, can be found below at

Tickets and Passes

The inaugural La Costa Film Festival runs October 24-27 at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa, located at 2100 Costa Del Mar Road in Carlsbad, CA.  Additional screenings will take place at nearby venues, including Cinepolis Theaters and the Ruby G. Schulman Theater. Festival Passes are currently on sale at the festival’s website, with special early bird pricing until October 1, when individual screening tickets go on sale. For more information please visit or follow us on Twitter (@LaCostaFilmFest).

Press materials available at


Founded by La Costa residents Michael and Ruby Callihan in 2013, The La Costa Film Festival will deliver a new cultural experience to North San Diego County, integrating a series of film screenings, panels, retrospectives, and gala events in celebration of the art and impact of motion pictures. All net proceeds of the festival will go to the local Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad.

The annual event will showcase some of the most engaging international documentaries, narrative features, and short films of the past year and present them in a variety of unique local venues. The Opening Night Gala will feature a red carpet and a screening under the stars on the beautiful grounds of the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa. Additional screenings will be offered at the nearby, luxurious La Costa Cinepolis Theaters, as well as the spacious Ruby G. Schulman Theater, at the Carlsbad Dove Library next door to the Resort. Film enthusiasts may join in Q&As and mingle with participating filmmakers as well as celebrity guests at numerous intimate parties where all pass-holders are welcome.

In recognition and celebration of the La Costa area’s love of sport, in particular the world-class championship golf and tennis that the resort is known for, the La Costa Film Festival will feature a special competition focusing on sports-themed films.

There will also be a special shorts competition for local high schools, offering them the opportunity to exhibit their talent and to participate in the festival. The winning school will receive a cash prize to support its film program.


Fresh from a $50 million renovation and nestled among the beautiful coastal foothills of Carlsbad, Calif., Omni La Costa Resort & Spa boasts a new look with no part of the resort untouched. California’s original destination for Mind, Body + Sport, Omni La Costa’s re-designed areas include 607 newly imagined guestrooms and suites, an adult-only pool venue, the Coastal Events Center featuring 110,000 square feet of meeting and event space, an expanded Athletic Club as well as two golf courses, including the all-new Champions Course, recognized by Golf magazine as “Southern California’s Only Gold Medal Golf Resort.” Honored as the #1 Wellness Spa in the Nation by Spa magazine, the 43,000-square-foot Spa at Omni La Costa includes a private pool, café and therapeutic reflexology path. Acclaimed restaurants – Legends Bistro and BlueFire Grill – present an updated take on locally inspired cuisine and culinary delights prepared by Chef Gregory Frey, Jr. For more information on Omni La Costa, call (800) 854-5000 or visit

USA / 2013 / 90min
Director: Josh Greenbaum
Cast: Edd Hall, Jennifer Van Horn, Allan Kournikova, Zamokuhle Nxasana, Alexa Pano, Yang Kuan, Jed Dy, Augustin Valery, Sky Sudberry, Amari Avery

The best seven-year-old golfers from around the world descend on the world famous Pinehurst Golf course in North Carolina to determine the next world champion and who might become golf’s next phenomenon. Most of these young prodigies have been holding clubs since before they could walk and are better by the time they are six than most people will be in their lifetime. This is the breeding ground for the PGA and the stakes are huge. THE SHORT GAME follows nine young golfers vying for the title of ‘world champion’.


USA / 2013 / 100min
Director: Adam Rodgers
Writers: Glenn German, Adam Rodgers
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Taissa Farmiga, Andy Garcia, Tom Skerritt, Peter Riegert, Nicholas Braun, Daniella Garcia, Tony Doupe, Spencer Lofranco, Sean Cook, D.R. Anderson, Stephen Borello IV, Kent Kimball, Kenny Parks Jr.

It’s not only teenagers who find themselves when they go off to college. Two brilliant actors best known for dramatic roles join forces in a romantic romp, and they have a ball. Vera Farmiga and Andy Garcia play strangers who meet while escorting their teen children to campus-tour day at a mythical college named Middleton (the film is in part a hilarious parody of American college life).


USA / 1989 / 107min
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Screenplay: Phil Alden Robinson
Cast: Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Gaby Hoffman, Ray Liotta, Timothy Busfield, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, Frank Whaley, Dwier Brown

An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago Black Sox come.


USA / 2013 / 90 min
Director: Lucy Walker
Cast: Kevin Pearce, Shaun White, Mason Aguirre, Jake Burton, Danny Davis, Scotty Lago, Jack Mitrani, Luke Mitrani

Fifteen years of vérité footage show the epic rivalry between half-pipe legends Shaun White and Kevin Pearce, childhood friends who become number one and two in the world leading up to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, pushing one another to ever more dangerous tricks, until Kevin crashes on a Park City half-pipe, barely surviving. As Kevin recovers from his injury, Shaun wins Gold. Now all Kevin wants to do is get on his snowboard again, even though medics and family fear this could kill him.

USA / 2013 / 75 min
Director: Jillian Schlesinger
Writers: Laura Dekker, Penelope Falk, Jillian Schlesinger
Cast: Laura Dekker

14-year-old Laura Dekker sets out on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone.

USA / 2013 / 109 min
Director: Murray Wais
Writers: Rob Bruce, Scott Gaffney, Murray Wais, Steve Winter, David Zeiff
Cast: Shane McConkey, Sherry McConkey, J.T. Holmes, Glenn McConkey, Jim McConkey, Jonny Moseley, Miles Daisher, Travis Pastrana, Bob Burnquist, Mike Douglas, Kent Kreitler, Scot Schmidt

A heartfelt examination of the legacy one athlete left to the progression of his sports, and the path he paved to conquer his dreams. Shane McConkey is revered as a pioneer of freeskiing and ski-BASE jumping, and through his talent and ability to use his trademark irreverent humor he’s an inspiration to countless lives.

Norway / 2012 / 46 min
Director: Jorn Nyseth Ranum, Inge Wegge
Writers: Jorn Nyseth Ranum, Inge Wegge
Cast: Jorn Nyseth Ranum, Inge Wegge

Inge Wegge (25) and Jorn Ranum (22) spent nine months of cold, Norwegian winter in the isolated and uninhabited bay of a remote, arctic island by the coast of Northern-Norway, facing nothing but the vast Atlantic Ocean. There they built a cabin out of driftwood and other cast-off materials that washed up on shore, and ate expired food the local stores would otherwise have thrown away. But the boys brought with them two items of utmost importance: their surfboards – perhaps their biggest motivation for the arctic adventure. Because the remote bay holds a well kept secret; some of the world’s finest waves.

USA / 2013 / 90min
Director: Josh Greenbaum
Cast: Edd Hall, Jennifer Van Horn, Allan Kournikova, Zamokuhle Nxasana, Alexa Pano, Yang Kuan, Jed Dy, Augustin Valery, Sky Sudberry, Amari Avery

The best seven-year-old golfers from around the world descend on the world famous Pinehurst Golf course in North Carolina to determine the next world champion and who might become golf’s next phenomenon. Most of these young prodigies have been holding clubs since before they could walk and are better by the time they are six than most people will be in their lifetime. This is the breeding ground for the PGA and the stakes are huge. THE SHORT GAME follows nine young golfers vying for the title of ‘world champion’.

USA / 2013 / 19 min
Director: Lucy Walker
Cast: Denise Tan, Samira Maas, Vanja Rukavina

Ailson Eraclito Da Silva is the best rower in Brazilian history, the Michael Phelps of his sport. Growing up in a leper colony on the banks of the Amazon River, he’s constantly discriminated against. But his dream to win Gold for Brazil at the Olympics is within his grasp. He’s got the talent. But there’s a twist, and this gets more interesting than any Olympics featurette. Because Ailson has an achilles heel — he’s heavy for the lightweight category he competes in. Usually, he makes his weight by not drinking ahead of regattas. This time, his plan fails: he’s disqualified from the Olympic trials. Everyone plays the blame game, until Ailson goes home and faces up to the real reason he can’t control his weight

Netherlands/ 2013 / 20 min
Director: Sam de Jong
Cast: Denise Tan, Samira Maas, Vanja Rukavina

A talented gymnast makes a life-changing discovery as she prepares for an important tournament, which is her last chance to reach the top.

USA / 2013 / 14 min
Director: Lucy Walker
Cast: Anjali Forber-Pratt, Jean Driscoll

Illinois-based Paralympian Anjali Forber-Pratt was adopted from India as an infant and became paralyzed shortly after arriving in the US. Despite daunting obstacles – told by teachers she couldn’t go to college, having to sue her school district – Anjali is now a PhD graduate and world record holder in 200m wheelchair racing. And she says if she could do it all over, she’d pick being disabled.

USA / 2013 / 17 min
Director: Joshua Izenberg
Cast: John Kitchin
SXSW ’13 (Best Short Doc), Big Sky Documentary FF ’13 (Best Short Doc)

Depressed and frustrated with his life, Dr. John Kitchin abandons his career as a neurologist and moves to Pacific Beach. There, he undergoes a radical transformation into SLOMO, trading his lab coat for a pair of rollerblades and his IRA for a taste of divinity.


Belgium / 2012 / 111min
Director: Felix Van Groeningen
Writer: Johan Heldenbergh, Mieke Dobbels, Carl Joos, Felix Van Groeningen
Cast: Veerle Baetens, Johan Heldenbergh, Nell Cattryse, Geert Van Rampelberg, Nils De Caster, Robbie Cleiren, Bert Huysentruyt, Jan Bijvoet, Blanka Heirman, George W Bush

Elise and Didier fall in love at first sight, in spite of their differences. He talks, she listens. He’s a romantic atheist, she’s a religious realist. When their daughter becomes seriously ill, their love is put on trial.

USA / 2013 / 91min
Director: Steven Bernstein
Writer: Adam Bernstein, Steven Bernstein, Michael Moss
Cast: Samantha Morton, Helen Hunt

Love, science, sex, infidelity, disease, and comedy.  The wild, mostly true, story of the irrepressible Annie Parker and the almost discovery of a cure for cancer.

France, Belgium, Ireland / 2013 / 104min
Director: Jérôme Bonnell
Writer: Jérôme Bonnell
Cast: Emmanuelle Devos, Gabriel Byrne, Gilles Privat, Aurélia Petit, Laurent Capelluto

Alix and Doug were not supposed to meet, but they did. They did because Alix, whose relationship with her husband was at a crossroads, fancied this handsome serious-looking gentleman on the Paris-bound train. They did because Doug, although not in the mood for love, quickly fell for her. They were not supposed to meet but their brief encounter would prove to be overwhelming.

USA/ 2013/ 102min
Director: Sam Fleischner
Writer: Rose Lichter-Marck, Micah Bloomberg
Cast: Andrea Suarez Paz, Jesus Sanchez-Velez, Azul Zorrilla, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Tenoch Huerta Mejia, Kevin Bewersdorf

The story of an autistic youth named Ricky who, after a particularly difficult day at school, escapes into the subways. It’s here that he starts his real journey, on a days-long voyage of discovery while, above ground, his mom frantically searches for him.


USA / 2013 / 85min
Director: Anna Fitch, Banker White
Cast: Pam White, Marian Steele, Banker White

The Genius of Marian follows Pam White in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Her son, the filmmaker, works with her as she attempts to write a book that tributes her mother, the artist Marian Steele. As Pam’s family comes together to support her, they must also prepare for the new reality that Alzheimer’s brings. Both an intimate look at a much-feared illness and a loving portrait of the meaning of family.

USA / 2013 / 76min
Director: Lydia B. Smith

The story of walking the ancient 500-mile pilgrimage across Northern Spain known as ‘The Camino de Santiago’. The documentary follows six strangers from incredibly diverse walks of life as they attempt to cross an entire country on foot with only a backpack, a pair of boots, and an open mind. Each pilgrim throws themselves heart-and-soul into their physical trek to Santiago de Compostela, and their personal journey to themselves. As you watch, you will learn the rich history of this honored tradition, as well as witness the Camino’s remarkable ability to change lives and provide those who choose to walk its paths with a greater sense of self and spiritual knowledge.

USA, Malawi, South Africa / 2013 / 95min
Director & Producer: Ben Nabors
Cast: William Kamkwamba,Tom Rielly

Fourteen-year-old Malawian William Kamkwamba teaches himself to build a power-generating windmill from junk parts, successfully rescuing his family from poverty and famine. He becomes an energy icon for the developing world and meets American entrepreneur and mentor Tom Rielly, who helps him imagine a new future. Fame, opportunity, stress, and isolation follow his invention, and his life is transformed. As William struggles with the potential of his promising future, he privately yearns to distance himself from the windmill that made him famous. This is a story about a complex young man straddling two cultures, carrying the burdens of his past achievements, while boldly pursuing a bright future.


USA, Indonesia / 2013 / 106 min
Director: Justin Le Pera
Writer: Justin Le Pera
Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Travis Potter, Jenny Useldinger, Jimmy Rotherham, Josh Fuller, Andrew Mooney

Five world-class surfers travel to New Guinea in search of undiscovered waves, but end up discovering so much more.

USA / 2013 / 76 min
Director: Brent Deal
Writer: Brent Deal
Cast: Dave Kalama, Connor Baxter, Chuck Patterson, Slater Trout, Talia Gangini, Dave Boehne, Jamie Mitchell

Seven of the world’s greatest surfers, Dave Kalama, Connor Baxter, Slater Trout, Talia Gangini, Chuck Patterson, Dave Boehne, and Jamie Mitchell, travel to Indonesia to Stand Up Paddle Indo’s most famous surf breaks. The result is the compelling story of these athletes and the World’s fastest growing sport. The surfing images as well as the underwater scenes are breathtaking.


South Africa / 2013 / 85 min
Director: Anthony Silverstein
Writers: Anthony Silverstein, Raffaella Delle Donne
Cast: Steve Buscemi, Liam Neeson

Rejected by his superstitious herd, a half-striped zebra embarks on a daring quest to earn his stripes but finds the courage and self-acceptance to save all the animals of the Great Karoo.


ROUTINES – High School Student Short Winner
USA / 2012/ 11min
Directors: Jason Phillips, Jason Segal
Writers: Jason Phillips, Jason Segal
Cast: Jerrin Padre, Jason Phillips, Helen Segal

ROUTINES begins with a boy who is trying to cover up his loneliness by using routines. He creates these routines to hide from real life and so that he will be protected by the spontaneity that the world has to offer.

France / 2013 / 21min
Director: Melanie Delloye
Writer: Melanie Delloye
Cast: Elodie Bouchez, Malo Blondel, Jarome Boyer, Laurent Cyr

Anna hasn’t always done things right, but she wants to change. She dreams of taking Jerome far away and starting over somewhere else. They could be happy, just the two of them.

USA/ 2013 / 11min
Director: Jeffrey DeChausse
Writer: Jeffrey DeChausse
Cast: Astrid Carranza, Osvaldo Andersson

Carmela visits the beauty salon in preparation for an evening out on her 45th wedding anniversary. She’s greeted by her two favorite hairdressers, Chu Chi and Pepe. But in a tragic twist, Carmela becomes the most important makeover of their lives.

USA/2013/ 8min
Director: Tamar Halpern
Writer: Tamar Halpern, George Roth III
Cast: Aymeric Dauge-Roth, Claire Dauge-Roth, Hannah Perrault

A little girl ponders the meaning of life as her friend helps her file taxes.

Director: Will Anderson
Writer: Will Anderson, Ainslie Henderson, Vitalij Sicinava
Cast: Will Anderson, Tobias Feltus, Vitalij Sicinava

A ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at an Animator/Filmmaker as he struggles with his character.

Ireland/ 2012/ 5min
Director: Richard Keane
Writer: Richard Keane

A man plans to eat his lunch in the park, but the local pigeons have other ideas.

Ireland / 2012/ 9min
Director: Conor Finnigan
Writer: Conor Finnigan
Cast: Mark Doherty, Aoife Duffin, Steven Courtney

A small bird with a fear of flying tries to avoid heading south for the winter.

Belgium / Netherlands / 2012 / 2min
Director: Lars Damoiseaux, Frederik Palmaers
Writer: Lars Damoiseaux, Michael Palmaers
Cast: Ruud Lammers, Duncan Meijering

The circle of life. A mantis gets eaten by a frog, the frog has been swallowed by a stork while the stork itself is eaten by a crocodile before the crocodile gets shot by a hunter.

Egypt / 2012 / 11min
Director: Ritesh Batra
Writer: Ritesh Batra
Cast: Mai Abozeed, Alaa Ezzat

In a regular cafe in Cairo a relationship goes through its first big test.

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Midnight Mass: The Blood of Life



The isolated island community of Crockett receives a mysterious new head priest, full of secrets and a brand new testament under a very unusual Messenger of God. 

Meet poor Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), freshly released from prison and wracked with guilt over what got him there, a stupid drinking accident that caused the death of his ex-girlfriend. The last thing he wants to do is go back to Crockett and the judgment of the mostly religious community there, his disappointed family, and the nightmares of his ex’s death that plague him. But where else would have him? Resignedly on the ferry, he goes. 

Riley’s dad Ed (Henry Thomas) isn’t the kind of man who talks very much at all, much less about his feelings, or his very real disappointment in his elder son. Riley’s teen brother Warren (Igby Rigney) has no idea what to say to him either, and just generally keeps mum. Riley’s mom Annie (Kristin Lehman) is accepting and loving, hesitant in how to help her eldest son but never wavering in her faith in the help of our lord Jesus. Mom seems to think a good heaping dose of the Church would set Riley right but is surprised to learn that the old priest of the Parish, Pruitt, has taken an extended leave of absence from the island, and his newcomer replacement Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) is young, charismatic, and bursting at the seams to tell the whole island about the gifts he brought them, most especially what he claims as a new testament under a messenger of God. 

We’ll get back to that whole ball of issues in a moment, the other interesting characters of Crockett Island. Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan) is the nightmarish overly polite and gently, almost lovingly condescending neighbor Christian woman you’ve ever loathed, the kind of person who explains away every last thing her Church may do wrong or contradictory because, after all, God works in mysterious ways. Pfft. Of course, Bev immediately ingratiates herself as the second to the new Father Paul in their services and is the first to start covering up his transgressions as they become more rampant. 

Newcomers to Crockett Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli) and his son Ali (Rahul Abburi) present a burgeoning problem to the plans of Father Paul and his shadowy companion, for they are both practicing Muslims. The practical side of investigating these so-called ‘miracles’ and strange happenings falls on Hassan’s shoulders, as he already struggles with barely-concealed racism and suspicion from his fellow islanders, and of course his son is being wooed away from him by the promise of actual, tangible miracles, but from a different whole faith and God. Father Paul definitely does not practice a traditional Christian faith and relies far too much on making use of the eucharist, the ceremony of the blood and flesh of Jesus Christ turning into bread and wine and, well, consumed. 

Wade (Michael Trucco) and his wife Dolly (Crystal Balint) are lifers of the island and both in general interested in one thing, the advancement of their own family, specifically their daughter Leeza (Annarah Cymone), who happens to be in a wheelchair. And that happens to be the canny Father Paul’s first real miracle-with-a-cost that he demonstrates to the astonishment of the parishioners, after a heartfelt and rousing sermon, Father Paul commands Leeza to rise, to stand, and to walk. And lo, she does. What parents wouldn’t wholly dedicate themselves to a cause after seeing this happen to their beloved precious daughter? The fringe benefits of healing, and power, the ones that come at a mighty, currently unnamed, cost, are simply a nice bonus. 

Joe Collie (Robert Longstreet) is the town drunk, and while his reasons for drowning his sorrows in the sauce might be understandable, absolution wears a very different face when it comes from Father Paul. While Leeza might be willing to forgive Joe, and even as Joe begins attending the newly-formed Al-Anon meetings on the island of course hosted by Father Paul, redemption might’ve been better sought from medical professionals, and not this newfound method of religious worship. 

Dr. Sarah Gunning (Annabeth Gish) is the islands’ kind of all-around medic, and this is how she and Riley’s old friend Erin (Kate Siegel), also newly returned to the island, a few months pregnant but traveling quietly alone, met when Erin comes to the Doc for obstetrics. Sarah’s older mother Mildred Gunning (Alexandra Essoe) has many medical and mental issues, and Sarah struggles in their shared home, to take care of her addled mom and balance her own life. Then Father Paul takes it upon himself to visit one of his oldest parishioners, bringing the sacred host and wine with him to give directly to Mildred, who starts looking and acting so much better under his loving care. 

The show is very much a slow slow burn, with a lot of the actual action taking place in the last two episodes. Much of the beginning and middle episodes feature two people just sitting alone, having quiet and seriously in-depth conversations about heavy subjects – grief and repentance, what happens when we die, the disasters that come as a result of addictions, how our actions’ consequences reverberate to those we love around us, faith and the foibles of man, and of course, the giving of oneself over to a higher power, for strength, and guidance, and love. 

Except, for the higher power that Father Paul brought back with him, to share with his beloved flock of Crockett Island, while it may be extremely powerful and full of what could be considered miraculous magic, everything comes at some kind of a cost. And when the Messenger of God is finally revealed to the shocked denizens of Crockett at Easter Mass, with Father Paul rapturing on about rebirth as the bloody massacre begins in earnest, it’s faith, not in any kind of God or religion, but faith in each other, that may save a few hardy souls. 

Question the wisdom of your religious leaders along with the rest of us in a fine slow-burn addition to the Flanaverse, Midnight Mass is on Netflix now! 

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Saw X: It ain’t brain surgery!



Legendary executioner Jigsaw returns to exact revenge on a cadre of scam artists who promised him a bogus cure for his cancer! 

First off, be aware, that this is what I call an interleaved sequel, a movie set between previous films in the franchise. In this case, Saw X occurs after the events of the very first Saw film, and before Saw II. Everybody got where we are? Good! Into the madness, we dive! 

So, as we all know, John Kramer’s been diagnosed with cancer, very aggressive brain cancer, and likely doesn’t have much time left. And he’s tried everything under the sun, doing a ton of meticulous research, we’d expect nothing less from our master of the art of murder, and not one thing has worked. Yet one man from the support group for cancer sufferers, Henry (Michael Beach), offers an off-the-books supposed miracle cure, and John jumps at the chance. 

Why does this nonsense always sound too good to be true? Because it is. Deleted scenes from the first Deadpool movie already told us why traveling to Mexico for any kind of medical cure is a sublimely stupid move, but Kramer is desperate. And while he might be sick and dying, John Kramer has never been what anyone could call stupid. So the villa out in the Mexican countryside, the affable cab driver Diego (Joshua Okamoto) professes surprise at Kramer being highjacked for his good, the nervous muttering from assistant Valentina (Paulette Hernandez), the side-eyeing from little housekeep Gabriela (Renata Vaca) and her tequila, and most especially the smooth and smarming reassurances of head “doctor” Cecilia Pederson (Synnove Macody Lund), all leave a kind of sour taste in John’s mouth. 

The whole cluex4 scene is done in the style that the Saw films are known for, where we the audience are treated to cut-together explanatory scenes in a flip-flash fashion of usually about two minutes, for poor John when he realizes he’s been hoodwinked and just how badly, seems a little contrived. But then it’s entirely possible that we the audience truly expected our genius mastermind of the infamous Jigsaw murders to have realized what was happening sooner, and got enraged along with Kramer. And cheered as he prepared to take his bloody and ultra-violent revenge! 

First up in our grand guignol of executions is the return of Jigsaw’s first protégé, Amanda (Shawnee Smith). And despite her avowed reverence for Jigsaw and his proven “therapy”, Amanda does waver a bit when the scammers are put through the paces of their specially-made Saw traps, and they shriek and blubber and bleed out. The appearance of the ringer of the bunch, Parker (Steven Brand), doesn’t even slow our beloved engineer of the damned down, because we knew Jigsaw would have his other apprentice waiting just off stage, the deliciously vicious Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). Even the monkeywrench of involving little-boy soccer fan Carlos (Jorge Briseno) in the traps, is just another cog in the machine that is the brilliantly plotting mind of John Kramer. 

A fine addition to the Saw legends, showcasing a return to the beloved style and panache of the original Tobin Bell-starring Jigsaw films, Saw X is splashing gore and gallons of blood in theaters now! 

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Scott Pilgrim Takes Off



“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off,” Netflix’s latest series, is a rollicking journey through the world of video game culture, blending nostalgic references with a fresh narrative twist. Centered around Scott Pilgrim, portrayed with magnetic charisma by Michael Cera, the show skillfully integrates gaming elements into its storytelling, creating a delightful homage to the video game subculture.

The series cleverly employs pixelated graphics, power-up animations, and game-like sound effects to bring the virtual world to life. These visual cues, reminiscent of classic video games, enhance the storytelling and resonate with audiences familiar with the gaming landscape. The attention to detail in recreating iconic gaming moments is commendable, creating a visual and auditory treat for enthusiasts.

The exploration of video game culture goes beyond mere aesthetics; it becomes an integral part of the characters’ identities and interactions. The script intelligently weaves gaming terminology and tropes into the dialogue, effectively blending the real and virtual worlds. The series navigates the challenges and triumphs of the characters through the lens of gaming, making it a unique and engaging experience for both gamers and general audiences.

The ensemble cast, including standout performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, and Chris Evans embraces the gaming theme with infectious enthusiasm. The chemistry between the characters is palpable, adding emotional depth to the series.

“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” successfully taps into the zeitgeist of video game culture, offering a nostalgic yet contemporary take on the gaming phenomenon. It’s a must-watch for those who cherish the pixelated roots of the gaming world while providing an accessible and entertaining narrative for a broader audience. The series takes off not only in its title but also in its ability to soar within the ever-expanding realm of Netflix originals.

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