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In the Lion’s Den with The Romanian Dramatic Marius Iliescu

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In 1995 Marius Iliescu graduated Hyperion University, a private conservatory in Bucharest, Romania majoring in acting. Acting was a form of expression in a distressed society where life was not permitted to be free even after the anti-communist revolution of 1989, in which Iliescu took up arms. Iliescu would discover Stanislavksi’s psychological acting and approaches of physical actions, which would result in his travels throughout the European countryside (Vienna, Amsterdam, Avignon, Paris, Rome, Glasgow, Birmingham and Dublin) with the Greek play The Suppliants. The production was performed in French, a language that Iliescu speaks fluently.

In 1997, Iliescu performed the play at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City, that moment being conclusive in his choice to continue pursuing his career in the United States. In 2005, Iliescu graduated in Dance Performance and Choreography, becoming the principal dancer with the most captivating contemporary dance company in the middle of the United States, the Detroit Dance Collective, lead by the explosive Artistic Director Barbara Selinger.

Settling in the Chicago, Iliescu would pursue acting opportunities in Hollywood where he helped launch Ave Fenix Pictures, a movie studio founded by Mexican native, Mónica Esmeralda León, that has been hailed the first Latino film studio in the American Midwest. Ave Fenix Pictures is an independent film hub with two functioning branches, León covering Chicago and Iliescu operating Los Angeles. Iliescu debuted an iconic character in the award winning and nominated independent film Adios Vaya Con Dios, an Official Selection at the Bel-Air Film Festival and Runner up for Best Audience Feature Film Award. The movie stars and is written by Zachary Laoutides, about a half Mexican and Irish gang member trying to leave the violent streets of Chicago. The Mexican Irishman soon collides into Iliescu’s character, the sadistic Olmec gang leader, Tiger De’Leon, who finds satisfaction in torturing and sexually abusing his young recruits. Although the scene was short-lived, Iliescu directed the scene with real gang members and neighborhood locals. The scene was impacting and gained exceptionally good reviews from most critics. Critics and fans soon asked the questions – who is Marius Iliescu and where can we see more of him?

We caught up with the Romanian Dramatic and asked him how, where and when…

Ave Fenix Pictures is interesting because it came out of nowhere very suddenly. It has secured itself on the independent stage with the unique film of Adios Vaya Con Dios, where everyone seemed to contribute an artistic vision. How did a film from the streets get to Hollywood?

(MI): Streets dictate cinema. You can’t fool the streets, they dictate the successes of your film and they can feel the pulse of when a movie is real, that’s when a movie is able to transcend. This is what happened on the streets of Chicago; our successes was dictated by the voice of the streets.

You gave us a memorable performance in Adios Vaya Con Dios. I heard that Zachary Laoutides was actually injured on set and you were working with real street gang members. How did you direct the scene with injury and take real people off the streets coaching them into a noteworthy piece of cinema?

(MI): Somebody’s pain can by a catalyst through which all others unite. We all have pains of all kind: physical, emotional — When an actor is in this situation you help him go through it by raising the stakes in the scene. My connection to Zach’s pain created such a depth in between our characters — the effect felt and acclaimed by public and critics alike. In Chicago’s gang worlds ‘respect’ is more valuable than gold. If on set these people feel the ‘respect’ they will give the director all their life experience without restrictions. I needed exactly that to create the authenticity of the scene and implicit, the film asked for it.

Being a guy of average stature you made Tiger De’Leon into an intimidating goliath who felt larger then life. Where did you go mentally to mold yourself into that temperament?

(MI): To me acting is a slice of life larger than life itself. Even in the most banal moments, on screen must exist an element of surprise, an unseen depth, a rhythm change… Tiger De’Leon is a bomb with delayed effect. All I had to do is to find and fire my own wicks — Tiger De’Leon belongs to a powerful cartel family, which the sky is the limit. In his cognizance, no law applies to him and the fact that he’s not holding real supremacy in Chicago makes him violent. His own malice feeds his own misery, creating a venomous circle — ancient coming to manhood traditions and physical abuse. His name says it all; what’s the use of being a Tiger and a Lion if caged with limitation in Chicago?

What is your goal of expanding Ave Fenix Pictures in California?

(MI): Filmmaking with a message; recreating a positive image of the Latino community through film. California is the perfect place to work on those goals.

Rumor has it there’s an Adios Vaya Con Dios sequel in the works. Everyone wants to see Tiger comeback, but how and when is that going to happen?

(MI): I don’t know yet (laughs)…. Paraphrasing Zachary Laoutides, it’s a personal story to him that was never fully told. There’s more story to his character Rory King and more narrative surrounding all the characters in the film. I truly believe he wants to go back and show what wasn’t used in the screenplay. The movie became art house and that’s rewarding, but there’s too much culture and depth to be satisfied. I think Tiger’s brother is not too happy about what went down, and I hear the brother looks a lot like Tiger (laughs)!

 

For more information:

Marius Iliescu: www.mariusiliescu.com

Watch Adios Vaya Con Dios on Itunes:

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Frogfathers lessons from the Normandy surf

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Frog Fathers: Lessons from the Normandy Surf” is a deeply moving documentary directed by Bob Whitney, narrated by John C McGinley, and presented by World of Warships and FORCE BLUE. It chronicles the journey of four Navy SEAL veterans revisiting the site of the D-Day landings to honor their forefathers and gain a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made during World War II.

The film’s strength lies in its raw emotional impact and historical significance. It blends personal narratives with archival footage, offering a poignant tribute to the bravery and resilience of those who fought on June 6, 1944. The veterans’ reflections and the cinematography effectively capture the solemnity and reverence of their pilgrimage.

While the documentary focuses primarily on the veterans’ experiences, it also serves as an educational tool, highlighting the strategic importance of the Normandy invasion and its pivotal role in shaping modern history. The film’s respectful approach and engaging storytelling make it a compelling watch for anyone interested in military history and the enduring legacy of the D-Day heroes.

Overall, “Frog Fathers” is a powerful and heartfelt documentary that honors the past while inspiring present and future generations to remember the sacrifices made for freedom 

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American Horror Story: Delicate

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As most of us are already aware, the 12th Season of AHS has been fraught with all kinds of differences to the previous seasons, mainly in that this is the first one to be based entirely off a novel, ‘Delicate Condition’ by Danielle Valentine. The first half of the season aired in October 2023 to mediocre reviews, while the SAG-AFTRA strike caused production and airing delays for the latter half of the season, and the episodes of Part 2 were all cut to less than an hour long apiece. And none of that is even getting into the disjointed attempt at storytelling for Season 12, so let’s dive into this! 

Meet Anna Victoria Alcott (Emma Roberts), former young ling star of Hollywood now struggling to recapture fame as an adult, who wants a baby, very very badly. Bad enough to drive herself and her husband Dex (Matt Czuchry) through multiple unsuccessful rounds of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), bad enough to keep trying no matter how crushing each failure turns out to be, bad enough to involve her purported best friend and bougie publicist Siobhan Corbyn (Kim Kardashian) in her struggles, and maybe, just maybe, bad enough to give up on a burgeoning resurgence of her career after interest in her comeback role for The Auteur begins garnering her Oscar-worthy attention. 

So, Anna and Dex are going to go through yet another round of IVF, likely one of their last attempts at it, from a different doctor, Dr. Andrew Hill (Denis O’Hare), and clinic based on Siobhan’s recommendation. And already, strange things are beginning to happen to Anna – her appointments that she set herself begin springing up incorrectly, a doom saying woman called Preacher (Julia White) shows up spouting warnings about trusting no one, dire warnings appear in unlikely places, and BTW, it seems as though long-suffering but good-nurtured Dex has a side-piece too. It doesn’t help that Dex’s new partner at his art gallery, Sonia Shawcross (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), bears a striking resemblance to his dead ex-wife Adeline, either. Those spiked emerald heels start appearing weirdly too, and it seems as though no one will listen to Anna as she grows more and more suspicious that some sort of sinister cult has designs on her as-yet-unborn baby. At the same time, Anna tries to live the life of a successful returning actress, attending parties and gallery openings while draping her rapidly-expanding middle in shimmering fabrics and actively ‘campaigning’ for that little golden statue that most actors covet. Competition is fierce, even among her co-stars of The Auteur, and while Anna wants to be supportive of her fellow entertainers, she clearly appears to be incapable of doing both at the same time – wanting the baby and the little gold award at the same time is too much to ask, apparently. 

Elsewhere, mostly in the past, various women in states of desperation formed from one situation or another are visited by sinister-looking women in prim black dresses, headgear reminiscent of – to me anyway – an odd cross betwixt birds and bunnies, my guess is an ostensive nod to fertility in general, and a general feeling of blood-bound witchery about them at critical moments of crossroad choices. 

Though the second half of the season moves a good deal faster than the first, the attempts at callbacks and reminder flashes to Part 1 hit with all the impact of a dropped bag of garbage onto their friends Talia’s (Julia Canfield) borrowed bougie kitchen floor – splat, into incomprehensible silence, from all parties, both characters and audience, concerned. Even the reminders that, in Part 1 of Delicate Dex’s mother Virginia Harding (Debra Monk) did indeed have perfectly valid memories of abuse at the hands of a black cult and Dex’s own father Dex Sr. (Reed Birney), the revelation pales and peels away in the face of Dex’s true parentage. 

Which brings us back around full circle kinda sorta, to the only real character worth a damn in this entire miserable season of strange feminism and aspirations of world domination through a kind of idiotic Rosemary’s Baby nightmare scenario, we should have known she’d steal the show when Kardashian was cast for it, Siobhan Corbyn, leader of the blood cult her high and mighty (old) self. Throughout the whole show her character has remained exactly the same, and it’s a wonder Anna can stare at her all stupefied while Siobhan does her villain speech at the end of the last episode. Siobhan never masked her ambition or greed, her mysterious protective vibe and even deep love for Anna, and can always be counted on to have secret plans of her own, already in motion, bitch. 

The idea that Anna herself was used as a surrogate for Siobhan and her incestuous eugenicist plans, plus the sweet little demon baby she just birthed, has an ironic the-world-is-tilting-the-wrong-way kind of witchy madness to it. Sure, Anna really can have it all, the baby and the golden statue, if only she joins the patriarchy-crushing cabal of blood witches with world domination plans, got it. 

I have questions, or I would have, but things are moving on and Anna is being saved by … Dex’s dead ex, Adaline the former member of the coven right okay her, she’s going to show back up and offer Anna a simple chant to Hestia her patron Goddess, and that is somehow enough to deal with Siobhan entirely – poof. And finally, after all that rigamarole, decades of planning and scheming and witchy plotting finally settled, Anna really can have it all as a White Witch of Hollywood, heaven help us, with her perfectly human baby and that damned little golden statue, clutched in an only slightly desperate grip. 

As with any season of AHS there are a great deal of statements that could be implied just under the skin of the season – the canker way of ambition, the millenia-old pain of a woman giving birth, the savagery and bloodshed that comes with bringing forth life, pushback against both the patriarchy and ultra-feminism, the absolute desperation of humans wanting to have a child, and perhaps strangest and most open to interpretation of all, what it means to be feminine. The worlds population of women who can’t or don’t or simply won’t have children, for any reason or none, are relegated to servants, expendable servants at that, for this new world order that Siobhan is proposing, and that is far too close a comfort to things like outright slavery. A dictator is a dictator, no matter how great she looks in those emerald spiked heels. 

It’s not the really beautiful grotesquerie that Ryan Murphy and his AHS gang are often known for, nor is it utterly terrible and should be burned at the stake. What Delicate should be, is put back together with missing and cut footage, an hour long per episode again come on folks, fleshed some more of Siobhan’s baby-stealing adventures in the past and given us an actual reason to like anything about the whiny Anna, at least the Part 2 we as longtime AHS fans deserve. Toss in some more spidery hijinks! Give us the actual origin of those weird feather bunny-ear headdresses! 

American Horror Story Delicate the whole season can be seen on FX! 

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Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery in a World Gone Prehistoric!

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Hold onto your hats, dino fans! The highly anticipated sequel to the adrenaline-pumping Camp Cretaceous saga is here, and it’s taking us on a wild ride six years in the making. Following the harrowing events of Camp Cretaceous, our beloved “Nublar Six” are back, but they’re not out of the woods just yet. In fact, they’re about to plunge headfirst into a world where dinosaurs roam freely alongside dangerous humans, and trust us when we say, it’s a Jurassic jungle out there!

Picture this: a world where survival isn’t just about avoiding sharp-toothed predators but also navigating the treacherous waters of human greed and deceit. As our resilient heroes reunite in the aftermath of a heart-wrenching tragedy, they quickly realize that danger lurks around every corner, and trust is a luxury they can’t afford. 

But wait, there’s more! Prepare to embark on a globetrotting adventure like no other as the Nublar Six find themselves thrust into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens not only the fragile balance between dinosaurs and humanity but also their very existence. From the lush jungles of Isla Nublar to the bustling streets of bustling cities, buckle up for a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions as our intrepid group races against time to uncover the truth about one of their own and, ultimately, save both dinosaur and humankind from certain doom.

So, dear readers, if you thought you’d seen it all in Jurassic Park, think again! With heart-stopping action, pulse-pounding suspense, and jaw-dropping revelations, this latest installment promises to be a game-changer in the Jurassic universe. Get ready to roar with excitement because Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery is about to take a bite out of your imagination and leave you hungry for more!

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