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When my Eyes go Dark: Walking the perilous edge between the paranormal and what society calls reality

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On January 19th, Adios Vaya Con Dios was released by Chicago studio Ave Fenix Pictures, an Official Selection at the Bel-Air Film Festival. The movie was hailed a first of its kind, capturing a movie with real gangs and real street artists. The movie is an artistic gratification and revitalizing to watch, a distinctive spin on the gangster genre. Founder of Ave Fenix Pictures, Executive Producer Monica Esmeralda Leon, has reassembled her team of producers, Marius Iliescu and Joseph Mennella to bring yet another highly unique and grippingly controversial independent film When my Eyes go Dark to audiences. The film is based on early events of Lazaro Ruben Torres ‘the man who died five times,’ observing all of Lazaro’s close encounters with death.

In 2015 forensics connected the DNA of Lazaro on the clothes of Mark Costello, strangled to death inside a pew at Detroit’s St Agnes Cathedral eight years ago. Three years after his brother, Aaron Costello, met a similar outcome coincidently beside Lazaro. The U.S. called for the extradition of Lazaro late last year, now residing in Mexico, although his location is unknown. The movie When my Eyes go Dark pieces out this exact scenario and investigates the events that led up to the homicides. The movie is strikingly controversial because the movie plays into the paranormal allegory of Lazaro. Detroit neighborhoods fabled Lazaro ‘the man who died five times,’ requesting psychic sessions based on the abilities he brought back with him from the dead. The story becomes even more abnormal when in 2010 after completing seven months in rehabilitation at the Detroit Medical Center for several attempted suicides; Lazaro began working for the Archdiocese of Detroit as an Exorcist. When my Eyes go Dark uses the actual voice-recordings from Lazaro’s exorcisms, spreading them throughout the film. Needless-to-say, we were eager to speak with Ave Fenix Pictures about the upcoming movie.

 

Lazaro and his young daughter were randomly shot in 2005, his daughter killed and himself barley clinging onto life. Allegedly, Lazaro came back with extrasensory abilities and sought the killers, now believed to be the Costello brothers. Ave Fenix Pictures once again utilizes the gifted Zachary Laoutides from Adios Vaya Con Dios as screenplay writer and lead actor.

 

You’ve been busy the last year and half finishing Adios Vaya Con Dios and now writing and playing Lazaro in When my Eyes go Dark. What drew you to this controversial story?

 

(ZL): Executive Producer Monica Leon is from a town in Mexico rooted in witchcraft and the supernatural; you’ll actually find the same thing in Hispanic neighborhoods that I’m familiar with in Chicago. Stumbling on this story was simple. It’s terribly interesting when you start asking questions and looking deep into the story. Once I began writing I couldn’t stop.

 

How do you even prepare yourself for a role like Lazaro? You also play him younger and older.

 

(ZL): It was a distrubia you need to put yourself in and put yourself through. It wasn’t really hard to change my look; that was kinda fun. Lazaro has several different emotions manifesting inside of him, he’s mourning his daughter’s death, he’s black mailed, he’s suicidal and he’s hunting down the killer… The challenge is to hold onto to that place you create for yourself for months. It was a release when I was able to stop playing him.

 

In the film you seem to show what police didn’t know; forensics just now are beginning to piece everything together. Was that artistic interpretation on your part or did you know something we didn’t? 

 

(ZL): It’s a bit of both. There’s only so much we can cover, you can easily write a series on Lazaro. I understood what we could show, what we couldn’t show and what we were able to achieve with our budget. We can always come back and show more in a different film. The material exists to go beyond what we did.

 

Likewise, we spoke with director Timothy J. Aguado, coming off of his successful directorial hand in Adios Vaya Con Dios, about blurring the lines between the paranormal and what society may soon be calling the hard facts.

 

Adios Vaya Con Dios had a very distinct organic feel. Are you going for the same art house approach?

 

(TA): Not the same, but similar. This is very much still a film that could be happening in any neighborhood. It has a real feel, so similar, but an entirely different genre style and vastly different emotional draws for each of the characters.

 

It seems that in the movie you are filling-in the gaps of time that have on going criminal investigations. Do you believe When my Eyes go Dark can be controversial to audiences?

 

(TA): It can be, despite its universal theme. As a storyteller, I do ask the audience to question their view of reality in order to connect with the character.

 

The demonic voices you have on tape and place throughout the film are disturbing to say the least. The U.S. has called for the extradition of Lazaro, linking him to murder. Do you believe in Lazaro’s paranormal capabilities or is he delusional?

 

(TA): This one I leave to the audience to choose whether Lazaro’s abilities are really happening or if it we are seeing the world that exists only in his head.

 

Actor Samuel Younan plays Mark Costello, strangled to death inside a cathedral pew. Currently, forensics believes it has solved the murder linking the DNA of Lazaro on the clothes of Mark Costello.

 

You played in arguably the most disturbing scene in the film opposite of Laoutides. Many are saying the performances you both give remind them of No Country for Old Men (2007), comparable to Javier Bardem’s character Anton Chigurh. Was it one take or numerous takes to bring that horrific scene to life?

 

(SY): Preparing for this scene was a bit difficult, I just tried to prepare by creating a similar environment and keeping a high intensity. I think we did two takes if I’m not mistaken, so you can say the first was a warm up (laughs). We tried to keep it as natural as we could. 

 

Lazaro was stabbed in 2009 inside a restaurant alongside Aaron Costello, Mark Costello’s younger brother. Aaron was pronounced dead at the scene with Lazaro claiming two people walked inside the restaurant to settle a debt with him where both were attacked. Actor Emmanuel Isaac steps into the unfortunate shoes of the victim.

 

It’s a mystery what really happened that day. Do you believe you and Laoutides through your reenactment actually reveal what happened?

 

(EI): The entire scene felt very real. After we finished filming, we both looked at one another and were speechless. We then looked at our director Timothy Aguado and immediately knew we nailed the scene. But is this the real truth…? Do we really feel like this is exactly what happened? We’ll honestly never know. Only ‘they’ know what really happened. It was our job to make it as real as possible and put ourselves in the position that day and I think we did a terrific job doing that.

 

Closing our conversation we asked director Timothy J. Aguado his personal ambition with When my Eyes go Dark, a movie resounding with such debate, dark mysticism, and once again perhaps a movie that is first of its kind, blending existent demonic voices against the backdrop up of an on going criminal investigation. His answer humbling and something we didn’t expect.

 

I notice there is some different force of storytelling with Ave Fenix Pictures that is groundbreaking in the projects you are picking. What do you hope to achieve with this film?

 

(TA): To get people thinking about the idea of forgiveness. We don’t have nearly enough of it in the world. So I show how revenge is a dark obsession and how it constantly eats at you. It truly distracts you from everything else that life has to offer. The act of revenge is detrimental to the human psyche. I wish to show just how freeing forgiveness can be.

 

When my Eyes Go Dark is due out in 2017. For more information:

 

Studio: www.avefenixpictures.com

Facebook fanpage: www.facebook.com/whenmyeyesgodark

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/131153242

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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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