Today’s New Release: EMPIRE: THE WHITEWATER STORY (The Award-Winning Kayaking Documentary)


“You know, every time I’m gearing up to go kayaking, like, when it’s THIS cold outside, I just don’t even know why I’m doing it. Like I could be sleeping right now -other stuff- and the question I always ask myself is “What am I doing here? Why do we DO this!?!?“”~CIARAN BROWN (kayaker) explaining his mental process for chilly whitewater excursions in New York with his friends.

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Today’s New Release: EMPIRE: THE WHITEWATER STORY (The Award-Winning Kayaking Documentary)

Click to STREAM... as in water. Get it??

Click to STREAM… as in water. Get it??

         An *Official Selection* of the 2012 New Hope Film Festival, as well as being named winner of that festival’s *Artistic Spirit Award*, this documentary takes us through both snowy and sunny upstate New York in over a year’s time through towns like Buffalo, Ithaca, Letchworth and Watertown. All varying in age, a group of eight kayakers paddle through waterways (legal and illegal) like Oatka Creek, Murder Creek, Genesee River and Buttermilk Falls to name a few. I found this documentary just a tad too long for its overall purposes, but since I originate from Utica, N.Y. myself (birthplace of actress/singer Annette Funicello and blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa), I found the personalities of our three youngest kayakers the most intriguing… mostly because they talk like my cousins. Paul Twist, Ciaran Brown and the director himself, Dan Doran, offer the viewer the most fun as they rag on one another’s kayaking woes. In one segment, Ciaran spends a good chunk of time outside of Paul’s house as he overhears Paul and his girlfriend Konnie fighting right before Paul is set to leave on a major whitewater trip. High School students might they be, as kayakers and rapid river navigators, they’re Jedi Masters! As stated over and over, they prefer this over ANYTHING in life, even if it’s an adrenaline rush that can only be attained by breaking the law. In fact, while riding the Genesee River rapids in Letchworth over Lower Falls, someone in their party video recorded and posted the act on Facebook, which resulted in arrest warrants for both Dan and Paul (you see, that section of the Genesee is off limits to rafters and paddlers). This resulted in three different violations: failure to comply with permit, trespassing, and failure to use established waterways. So who rats ‘em out!?!? For Director Doran, it doesn’t matter, and his upbeat attitude is proof; “To the person who turned us in, I just wanna let you know that I’m not mad, I’m just determined.”

This is an interesting doc made by young kids with passion. It IS engaging to watch Dan handle the voice messages left on his phone by police, all the while convincing his substitute teacher to release him from class, so he and Paul can go settle this the day before prom! (Poor Konnie!) It’s also bittersweet in watching this group in their RIOT brand kayaks in old 2011 footage at Watertown’s infamous Inner City. During the film’s course, the boys find out that a gigantic flood in the upstate area had completely wiped-out the rock beds, permanently destroying the once mighty whitewater Valhalla. Whether good news, bad news or ANY news, these guys just refuse to stop, and that’s what makes EMPIRE: THE WHITEWATER STORY TRULY bad-ass!

Directed by Daniel C. Doran

Featuring: Daniel C. Doran, Ciaran Brown, Paul Twist, Brian Page, Jim Dobbins, Mike LaFlair, Tony Gianfagna, Phil LaMarche, Adam Horton, Andre Hongach

Original Score by: Axis Armada and The Prickers



“How am I a werewolf?! Two weeks ago I got bit by a Labradoodle! A Labradoodle! Have you ever… have you ever SEEN a Labradoodle!?!” ~WALTER KAPINSKI  (Craig Simmons), explaining to Officers Baker and Malloy that he’s a werewolf, and the reason for his neighbor’s noise complaints regarding “a howling dog”.



Click to stream!

Click to stream!

         Starring a former NYPD cop and a graduate from L.A.’s famed I.O. West! improv training program (as are Tina Fey, Andy Dick, Chris Farley, Tim Meadows and Amy Poehler), here we have a webseries that’s a little RENO-911 and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, mixed with SUPER TROOPERS. A huge hit at the 16th Annual L.A. Comedy Festival in 2014, this 6-episode first season of MIDTOWN is now available on BIGSTAR, and features the comic stylings of Scott Baker and Tom Malloy. These two go about their day one coffee at a time, as each episode starts with their morning patrol car banter. Whether discussing what one’s favorite soft drink tells about a person’s personality, why playing-partners in the state lotto is so crucial, or even why superheroes have dealt with such anti-Semitism since the Holocaust (ww..wait, what??), Baker and Malloy have a natural chemistry that’s quite hard to ignore. Baker even shares some facial features with CURB’s Larry David, which makes viewing almost whimsical, in a way. Myself being a graduate of I.O. West! back in 2005, I can tell what works in this concept, and what doesn’t (at certain times). What doesn’t is in certain scenes, where characters seem to come out of the woodwork to add to an established conflict, i.e., episode 4′s apartment scenario with Walter the “werewolf,” where one-by-one, neighbors and such barge into the shot to add some exposition. This scene, which has its roots in long-form improv, a.k.a. “The Harold,” unfortunately comes across jumbled and dissonant, and is a good example of why a lot of the times improv isn’t as funny as it should/could be. This isn’t a stab at anyone’s talent, per se, just their timing, since it’s understood this whole series is mostly improv. Man, but what works, is our two leads! In the following scene after the fiasco at Walter’s apartment, Baker and Malloy get gabby over Broadway musicals, which segues into a discussion of Sondheim’s WEST SIDE STORY, with Malloy quipping, “What’s amazing to me is that they yell OUT; the guy sings ‘MARIA’, and only ONE girl turns around. That’s amazing to me. Spanish Harlem.”

We haven’t reviewed a series in awhile here, but I’m happy to tell you that this one is worth viewing! This goes along with I ROCK, DOUBLE FIST and THE LIBRARIANS in regards to a BIGSTAR episodic comedy series that’ll have you rolling. Yes, it’s true that police/civilian relations in post 9-11 America are at a record low due to recent current events. Though watching a mere show won’t change everything, it’ll put a pep-in-your-step, with hopes that all cops could be as cool and hilarious as these two!

Directed by Dan Schiffmacher & Jason Torres

Starring: Scott Baker, Tom Malloy, Derrick Belkin, Lexi Delarosa, Craig Simmons, Steve Spindler

Tagline: Two Cops… Who NEVER Shut Up

Today’s New Release: FIFTY SHADES UNCOVERED (A Documentary)


“I saw people reading the paperback editions of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY on the New York subway, which I don’t think you would’ve seen a generation ago.” ~SARA NELSON (Editorial Director for *Amazon Books), regarding her observation of women (and men) publicly and openly reading the bestselling novel literally everywhere they went.


Today’s New Release: FIFTY SHADES UNCOVERED (A Documentary)

Click to stream... WHEN I tell you, and ONLY when I tell you!!!

Click to stream… WHEN I tell you, and ONLY when I tell you!!!

         The highest and fastest selling adult novel of ALL TIME (over 100 million copies) has now jettisoned sadomasochism and dominatrix-styled hijinks into the mainstreamer’s bedroom with sales surpassing both ”The Da Vinci Code” and the whole “Harry Potter” book series. The book trilogy (“Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Fifty Shades Darker,” “Fifty Shades Freed”) is classified as erotic fiction, but their author insists on calling them adult romance, as her goal was to make a “Twilight-esque” equivalent to erotic fan fiction. These books, and now the new film, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, have caused sex-toy sales to jump 626% since the very first publication!!! Damn, are we sexually repressed! In this documentary, which was just released last week in the U.K. (See, we here at BIGSTAR nabbed some brand new s***!), the worldwide phenomenon by writer E.L. James is debated and dissected from pretty much all walks of English life. One of the book’s harshest (and hilarious) critics is feminist British comedian and writer Jenny “I don’t get it” Eclair. Her funniest observation is about the old-school (what she considers) male chauvinism of Christian Grey-like men, going into a restaurant, and trying to be assertive and sexy by ordering the woman’s meal for her; “Can you imagine, going to a restaurant and your partner says, “The lady will have the Dover Sole, and a side salad.”? No, she won’t. I think you’ll find the LADY will have the steak & chips, you t**t!”. (NOTE: Jenny, I don’t get the whole phenomenon surge either, but I respect its momentous power; you kind of HAVE to, I think, even if just a smidge.)

This is a fun documentary where you get a lot of skeptical debate about the unrealistic merits of Grey’s sex contract with the clueless Anastasia Steele. Comediennes, comics, writers, feminists, psychologists, models… they all weigh-in on the international appeal of these books and upcoming films, and how they may or may not project unhealthy expectations between men and women sexually, in a modern westernized world that’s so desperately trying to eliminate both sexism and violence against women, and increase equality awareness. Whether you care to see the film or not, or even start on any of the three books, this is a documentary that plays fast and loose, and is enjoyable to watch. If you hate absolutely EVERYTHING about FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, you’ll truly love Jenny Eclair! She doesn’t give a rat’s (expletive).

Written, Directed & Produced by Sonia Anderson

Appearances by: Chris White, Jenny Eclair, Emily Agnes, Philip Hodson, Aura Borellis, Lauren Bowgen, Philip Goulding, Mistress Josephine      

Tagline: 50 SHADES OF GREY Fiction, Films & Fans              

Today’s New Release: THE BASEMENT


“You gotta shoot me. Can’t you stand it when someone tells you the truth? Huh? Go on, pull the trigger, do it now! Kill me and show the world what a “big boy” you are, then that door will open ALL BY ITSELF!!” ~GABRIEL (Shaun Lawton) calling his captor Tarek’s bluff.


Today’s New Release: THE BASEMENT

Click to stream!

Click to stream!

        Receiving the prestigious *Award of Merit at the 2010 Accolade Film Festival, this suspense thriller from Germany stars Numan Acar from Jon Stewart’s critically acclaimed new theatrical release, ROSEWATER. This feature also stars Shaun Lawton (CLOUD ATLAS; AEON FLUX; ANONYMOUS), Alessija Lause (HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS) and Jeff Burrell (Lars von Trier’s NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. 1) in a story about two strangers -an off-duty cop and a man on the run- who absolutely MUST work together to get out of the factory basement they’ve seemed to lock themselves into. When Tarek gets back his hostage girlfriend from the deadly trafficker Faruk, he knows they both must hit the road before a swarm of middle-eastern henchmen are hot on their trail. To protect his gal, Tarek puts the newly rescued Jasmin in the trunk to avoid detection, and off they dart. As they speed through the city, Tarek’s shaky vehicle grabs the attention of Gabriel, an officer who happened to be taking a long-earned nap in his car. Well, a second pursuit becomes inevitable, where it results in an on-foot chase where both cop and suspect end up chasing each other into a basement that locks behind them! So that makes two guys locked in a basement, one gal locked in a trunk, and the cop’s partners wondering where he went! Man, talk about “wrong place, wrong time!”

This is simply great suspense! There are confusing moments at first, like Faruk’s dialogue in the beginning. A false establishment was made by yours truly in the beginning, where I was thinking that Jasmin was Tarek’s sister instead… which made the make-out scene REALLY creepy, but that wasn’t the case. This indie film has a camera style reminiscent to the TAKEN movie franchise, and an extended intro credit scene that looked fantastic, however, I think it would have been better suited towards the film’s end, once all the pictured characters were better established. THE BASEMENT is truly a worthy Friday film for BIGSTAR, so have a gander!

Directed by Robert Franke

Starring: Numan Acar, Shaun Lawton, Alessija Lause, Jeff Burrell,  Sila Sahin, Kida Khodr Ramadan

Tagline: The Truth Lies In The Basement

(Alternate) Tagline: Trapped In… Torn Apart…

Today’s New Release: THE GRAY MAN


“Dear Mrs. Karlson: We had a bargain. You promised that I could take your boy Timmy to the pictures. Why didn’t you keep your promise? I should’ve known that you were like the rest of them. I hoped against it, but you’re a woman; a useless, good-for-nothing c***! You don’t know how to raise your child! God help him when he finds out what a b**** of a mother he has.” ~ALBERT FISH, SR. (Patrick Bauchau), in a scathing letter to his neighbor, Mrs. Karlson (Heather Surdukan), after she refuses in allowing her young son to spend time alone with Albert. Oh, trust me, it’s the right (expletive) call!


Today’s New Release: THE GRAY MAN

Click to stream!

Click to stream!

       This $1,300,000-budgeted Golden Zenith Nominee* from the 2007 Montréal World Film Festival stars Patrick Bauchau (Professor Lodz from HBO’s CARNIVALE), Vyto Ruginis (Kolcheck from NCIS: LOS ANGELES) and Silas Weir Mitchell (Monroe from NBC’s GRIMM) in the biographical tale of real life 20th century cannibalistic serial killer Albert Fish. A period piece that starts off playing like a made-for-t.v. movie yet picks up fair pace, there is a high creep factor for THE GRAY MAN (better known here in the states as WISTERIA: THE STORY OF ALBERT FISH), where the old adage is applied; less is MOREfar more, actually. This is not SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, nor should it even be compared, because this is based off of real events. However, for “cinematic analogy” purposes (it’s become my thing, I know), the best way to perhaps describe the style/setup would be if the L.A. CONFIDENTIAL gang went after Pennywise the Clown. It’s just plain creepy to watch any film about child murder, child abduction, child molestation or even cannibalism towards children, but to see this all unfold in a true story that actually took place during a time period where DNA, forensics, and the internet were as far out as a Fritz Lang film! To witness how Albert Fish preyed on young children is harrowing and macabre. What’s even more eerie is how he got away with it for so long; eerie but NOT unbelievable, especially considering the absence of today’s 21st century technology. The horrific actions depicted are 89% “implied,” as opposed to “shown,” which I believe makes the story even more disturbing! The acting here is subtly nuanced, especially from Bauchau. Jack Conley as Detective Will King does a fine job, though some of his scenes have him facially mugging as if he was Buster Poindexter about to sing “Hot Hot Hot.”

"Me mind on FY-YA, me soul on FY-YA...

“Me mind on FY-YA, me soul on FY-YA…

... feelin' HOT-HOT-HOT!"

… feelin’ HOT-HOT-HOT!”

Another compelling performance comes from Jillian Armenante as Delia Budd, the melodramatic, attention-seeking, mother-in-grief of the young Grace Budd, whom Albert abducts. Delia Budd becomes enamored with the spotlight of the press to the point that, comparatively, she’s the 1930′s equivalent of a Kate Gosselin; the “woe-is-me” mother who just won’t go away. In all honesty, this is an engaging, high-grade television movie. The period’s police protocol is represented as aloof and inefficient, especially in an age where information was easily misconstrued at the slightest glitch. A good example of this is when Detective King listens on the radio as they announce possible suspect Frank Howard (Fish’s pseudonym) as Frank Parker. Retracting journalistic misinformation took a little bit longer 80+ years ago. THE GRAY MAN TRULY shows us how fortunate we are nowadays to better deal with procedural snafus in law enforcement. Yes… in the age of Michael Brown, Treyvon Martin, the Boston Marathon Bombers… it could be worse. And for some in this film, it’s indeed a mouthful- Owwwww! Pun intended, pun achieved!

Directed by Scott L. Flynn

Starring: Patrick Bauchau, Jack Conley, Vyto Ruginis, John Aylward, Silas Weir Mitchell, Jillian Armenante, Lisa Carnahan, Bill Flynn, Brett Bower

Tagline: Inside The Dark Mind Of A Serial Killer.

(Alternate) Tagline: A Real Life Hannibal Lecter.

Today’s New Release: NEW BROOKLYN

New Brooklyn

New Brooklyn

Today’s New Release: NEW BROOKLYN

Click to stream!

Click to stream!

      An official selection at both the 2009 Cinequest Film Festival (San Jose, CA) and the 2009 Festivalito VIII (Canary Islands), as well as Winner of Best Narrative Feature at the 2010 Digital International Film Festival (Vina del Mar, Chile), this drama proves quite a feat, especially since it marks lead actor Blanca Lewin’s first feature in English. In a film about both the determination and reevaluation of one’s aspirations, as well as the painful crossroads that are long-distance relationships, Lewin’s Marta is a most intriguing and vulnerable creature that will break the viewer’s heart repeatedly; “It’s okay, I’m used to being less important.” Lewin holds her own easily here, but it doesn’t hurt to have such a great cast, like Frank Harts (SALT, JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT, FX’s THE AMERICANS) as her roommate’s shady brother Eddie, and Matt Cavenaugh (LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT). To listen to Lewin, you’d never think in a million years she hadn’t acted in an English speaking movie prior, but here she delivers with the engaging style of a seasoned pro.

Viewers will enjoy this movie for it’s homages to the cinematography of Brooklyn itself, not to mention the struggles of societal circumstance for each character as they maneuver through their own day-to-day drudgery. Whether it’s Marta’s uncertainty of her newfound place or purpose there after moving all the way from South America, or Angela’s well practiced denial of her brother’s misgivings, NEW BROOKLYN truly isn’t that different from the ‘old’ Brooklyn: you just stick around long enough, you’ll be surprised in all the ways you toughen up, and then grow in a new and bold direction.

Directed by Christopher Cannucciari

Starring: Blanca Lewin, Pablo Cerda, Matt Cavenaugh, Frank Harts, Shelley Thomas, Frank Nasso

Tagline: Change is inevitable

Video Fashion Collection Season 3

Not watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show tonight? Watch one of ours!

‘Video Fashion Collection Season 3′ is a great compilation of runway shows, fashion interviews, and more. This high fashion series will take you all over the world, so get ready to be transported from one fashion week to another.

From Paris to New York, there is not a dull moment in this tasteful collection.

With over 35 years of fashion coverage, Videofashion’s video vault is your unparalled source for timeless style. Enjoy!

The Upper East’s Dark Side

Jane had it all: a high profile job, a fashionable brownstone on the Upper East Side, and a hip artist husband.

Jane realizes that she must risk it all to find out who she really is and leave behind the life she’s always known.

PBS Documentary on NYC Graffiti During the 1970s & 80s

Some call it tagging, some call it writing, still others call it bombing–it’s all graffiti. Whether it’s art or not is another matter, but it’s undeniably illegal. Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant’s historic PBS documentary Style Wars tracks the rise and fall of subway graffiti in New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

At the peak of its popularity, graffiti was as much a part of B-boy culture as rapping, scratching, and breaking. Thefilmmakers present a sympathetic, but well-rounded portrait of their subject through extensive interviews with taggers–notably Seen, Kase, and Dondi–art collectors, transit authorities, and even Mayor Ed Koch, who would eventually put the hammer down. Along the way, they documented the burgeoning breakdance scene, with a focus on the world-famous Rock Steady Crew. The soundtrack features selections from Grandmaster Flash, the Treacherous Three, and other tagger-approved icons of old-school hip-hop.

Surfing Monks? Why Not.

Ocean Monk chronicles the soul-searching of a group of monks living in New York City.

Students of the late Indian teacher, Sri Chinmoy, who lived in Queens for over 40 years, this band of friends discovers the beauty and power of the nearby surfing beaches and incorporate their love for the ocean into their search for enlightenment.

Includes appearances by Kelly Slater, Jack Johnson and Titus Kinimaka.