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Weekly Roundup Episode 56: Congrats on the Engagement Ella and 2021 Tribeca Film Festival LeftOvers


Strictly Films welcomes you back to the end coverage of this year’s 2021 Tribeca Film Festival and to another edition of Weekly Roundup!


My cousin Ella… This is one special person in my life man. Me and Ella got acquainted back when I was a Junior in High School, as she was a 8th grader. With the help of Juan, I was introduced to a soul in which was nothing short of one that can compare the energy levels, like Russell Westbrook on a basketball court. When it came to showing people how much they’re loved and how joyous life can be, just by her body language… Ella can really turn any dark cloud into sunshine. Me and Ella have had conversations back in those days, where she always treated me not only with kindness, but always was excited to talk to me like I’m some kind of celebrity. I mean the first time I met Ella, I stepped foot inside of a Faiss Middle School Gymnasium, the first thing I hear was her screaming out “MITCH” while she was cheering in the middle of the game… That was awesome!


Me and her got to go to High School for one year, as I started Senior Year as she started Freshmen Year. I didn’t recall not too many memories unfortunately with her that year, me and her were busy doing our own thing, regarding school and fulfilling our hopeless romantic void. If there is one thing me and Ella have in common: We were the biggest cornballs when it came to being Hopeless Romantics… She always out do me in that category, trust me no one is a bigger hopeless romantic than Ella. But even when me and her didn’t have many memories that year, she would still keep that same energy she did back in 8th grade, as she always greeted me with upmost kindness and support. Those brief memories of her happily greeting me in the hallway would ALWAYS make my day, I mean how can you not get boosted up by one that delivers you love that feels genuine and not in no way forced?! I hardly ever get that, as it meant the world to me.


After High School is where me and Ella would create a lot of memories. Anytime I would come to games, Ella and her group of friends cheered me on for a fabulous welcome. Me and Ella spent a lot of times at games, as I would try to out match her energy she had for school spirit. I didn’t do a whole lot of that while I was in High School due to the treatment I received back in those days. But now that I was graduated, finally feeling free from torment, as I can now spend quality time with my cousin… I could let the past go and just enjoy my time with her.


Ella has given me a consistent support system all the way back from Junior Year, as I did the same for her. She supported my dream as an up and coming rapper, as I returned the favor of supporting her at her own graduation, her own YouTube channel, and even supported her dream of becoming a hairdresser.


Me and Ella have been through some high points in our life and some low points in our life. Where it mattered the most: Ella came through a critical time in my life, where I needed one like her the most, to help lift me up off from the grave I was currently digging myself down to the bottom. The thing that struck me the most about Ella is I didn’t have to ask, beg, or even didn’t give me a difficult time to just help me, she just went and did it because that’s the kind of person Ella is… She just genuinely loves and cares about you through and through, as she just wants you happy. Ella and the likes of her group of friends in the 8th grade, made a major impact on my life in which I can honestly say if I wasn’t acquainted with them back in my Junior Year, I would be dead and this wouldn’t have been written.


My Cousin Ella has recently announced she’s engaged, which has been her life long dream. To that lucky man whom is bound to be married by my cousin, all I can say is… She’s everything you want to have for the rest of your life in a significant other. She’s Italian, Intelligent, Funny, Extremely Supportive, Caring, Loving, Has a Passion for Life Itself, and Extremely Tough. She may look little, but on inside she’s like a body builder who doesn’t stand down to anyone and stays true to herself. Ella is the definition of a Strong Independent Woman, as I’m just ever so proud of her.


I’m happy you were the one lone 8th grader that stuck by me all these years, as we establish a fantastic bondage together. These folks out here can say whatever they want, with their conspiracy theories… But one thing that is for sure is that you are my cousin, you are my family, always and forever. At least one of us Hopeless Romantics finally secure the ultimate dream, but I’m just extremely happy it was you first, if anyone deserves it the most, it’s the one that has given me the best out of my life and the best version of myself. We’re both living out our dreams, as you can say the Kids are just doing just fine! Thank you for all you’ve done for me in life, I love you oh so much. I wish you and your man many happy years of marriage, may God Bless you both! Alrighty enough with the water works an tissues, let’s talk about some 2021 Tribeca Film Festival Films!


Werewolves Within Grade: B-

As I was discovering the plot of this film, it said it was adapted off a video game… Really?! Sure didn’t felt like it at all.

Werewolves Within is a fairly written “Who Dun It” film, located in a small town during a cold time of year. I think the best thing this film has to offer was the deep meaning of it all, meaning people can take advantage of a terrible situation and use it for their own gain, politics especially. Like near the end it comes full effect where a certain group clearly starts taking this werewolf attacks situation, as behind the scenes trying to get the majority vote of getting something quite controversial done to the town. It’s scary accurate, I mean you look at what politicians and groups have done with the Covid situation… Feels more selfish than it is selfless.

Werewolves Within however doesn’t feel entirely original, as I compared this to the likes of Fargo and especially Wolf of Snow Hollow, especially the lead character of this film and the lead character of Wolf of Snow Hollow felt almost identical. I also was hoping this film would be funnier, however the comedic chops didn’t impress me at all. I don’t think the film is any way poorly written in the comedic field, I just was hoping to laugh uncontrollably which unfortunately I didn’t, but the jokes weren’t written bad at all. The ending regarding a particular character reveal… I didn’t care for it, thought it felt very silly and over the top. Would’ve prefer it to be more realistic than supernatural is all.

Overall, Werewolves Within is a decent film. I recommend checking this one out, it shall be in limited theaters this weekend and we’ll head straight to streaming next weekend. I mean this film is impressive for a video game adaptation that’s for sure, never felt like one.

The Novice Grade: B+

I didn’t read the plot synopsis at all, however I did spot Isabelle Fuhrman’s name as the classic horror film Orphan was right next to her name… Damn straight I’m going to watch a film lead by Esther!

The Novice felt like Whiplash without the abusive douche bag coaches. The level of intensity this film was on was quite astounding, as I felt like I was on a motion ride almost the entire run time, especially going through the competitive mind of our lead Alex Dall (Isabelle Fuhrman). It speaks volumes as to what goes through the mind of a student athlete, how much hard work and anxiety one goes through in order to try and be the best at their sport and in school work as well, great camera work in almost every single sequence as it compliments in what our main character is going through. I wasn’t too aware of the sport Rowing and the entire coverage of Rowing was pure awesomeness in this film. Sure it may look relaxing, however it’s not as relaxing as it seems, as the level of work these women have to put in is beyond effortless. I mean the damaging effects Alex Dall goes through mentality and especially physically left me stunned, for a sport that looked relaxing… Those results are no walk in the park.

The biggest Achilles Heel for this film for me was Alex Dall’s romantic side plot… I thought it was awful. It was poorly developed in the beginning, as it just randomly happens as you question “Oh this was a thing?! Ok.” But the duration of the entire relationship, it almost as it felt entirely forced, as you question why is Alex Dall is in this relationship?! Her mind is totally on rowing and school work, her being involved in this relationship doesn’t make any logical sense at all, I was waiting for her to drift off from it however this film refuses to let this irrelevant relationship go. Cut that entire romantic side plot and this would’ve easily been a great film, I didn’t understand that choice at all, it took away from the level of intensity I was feeling off this story.

Overall, The Novice was a pretty damn good film. I highly recommend this film, not sure when this is going to be released, hopefully it’ll be in theaters because this is a MUST WATCH, for the story and especially Isabelle’s commanding and strong performance!

Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James Grade: B

As far as I knew of Rick James, all I know was his involvement in the Rick James skit on The Chappelle Show and I knew a few tunes such as Mary Jane and SuperFreak.

Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James t’was a solid documentary covering Rick James as a person, as a talented visionary musician being the one whom birth Funk Pop, and especially covering his hometown of Buffalo. I was honestly surprised how much coverage was made on his time in Buffalo, NY and more importantly uncovers the sad truth of Buffalo as being one of the racist cities in the country. Buffalo was heavily known as the most segregated city hands down, as my parents whom were born and raised there could tell you themselves that the city was broken down in groups. I’ve lived there for a good year and I can tell you first hand: It’s True as everything saying here is still relevant to this day. But Rick James surprising enough still loved Buffalo, spent a lot of time there even when he was getting big, and even did helped impact his own community. It was cool to see someone whom gotten big starting from Buffalo, at least represented Buffalo, where often times many celebrities don’t ever speak of that city when they become famous.


The involvement in Rick James’ music career honestly made me envious, as I really wish I lived in this era of music. Like the music Rick James was into and made was the same kind of stuff I’m into as well, as it really was the golden period of music. Rick James’ hustle to get into the industry was extremely inspiring, as he literally clawed his way into receiving fame and recognition. Rick James basically helped inspired a new genre of music, in which I do believe if it wasn’t for Rick James, Prince would not be there… I’m dead serious, Rick James helped inspired that whole new generation of music and the different kind of style as well.


Unfortunately Rick James as a person was very troubled, as this film does cover the dysfunction of his character. Mainly had to do with drugs especially, as he was just rotting his life away with crack and cocaine which unfortunately had him lost his talent and even lose Rick James as a person. I do believe Rick James was a genuine good person somewhere, he did love the people around him whom impacted his life and even lead the way for African American artists music videos to be played on MTV. It’s unfortunate drugs truly killed a man with tremendous talent but more importantly killed a man whom had potential to improve himself for the better, please stay off of drugs man, it’s not worth it.


Overall, Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James was a dope documentary. I recommend this film, should be premiering on ShowTime later on in the Fall I believe.

Queen of Glory Grade: B

Queen of Glory got some kind of achievement at Tribeca, with the very short run time I went ahead and checked it out.

From the opening I felt I was going to get something similar like Farewell Amor, in terms of quality both can feel similar as both are good films, however I felt Queen of Glory impacted me a bit more than Farewell Amor.

When the story of Queen of Glory got going, it was generally a simple tale however it was well written and honestly felt relaxing and very wholesome. Experiencing a character like Sarah (Nana Mensah), whom is bound to establish a great future on her hands out in Ohio, gets hit with a curve ball as her mother past away unexpectedly, leaving Sarah responsible for her house, her little Bible Gift Store, but most importantly felt responsible keeping past inmate Pitt (Meeko) employed. Just watching this character trying to cope with her lost, trying to figure out this difficult situation, and establishing a bond within the store and the employee was throughly engaging. Like I was genuinely enjoying what I was watching, especially by the simplicity of it all. Well written characters especially, I don’t know I felt a fair connection with the people involved in this story, as it all wraps up in a sweet wholesome end.

Overall, Queen of Glory is a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, not sure when this is going to be release but it’s sure worth a watch.

The Kids Grade: A-

The Kids is a documentary that centers around the controversial film Kids, which went on to be highly successful. The film is based around the actors whom were involved with the film, as we go behind the scenes of their lives before the film, during the film making process of the film, and the aftermath of the film.

It’s been a long time since a documentary flat out floored me, as The Kids did just that. Loved the film making of this film, as the footage gathered was extremely awesome. I loved seeing the resurface footage of the teenagers filming just randomly, as you get a glimpse of whom these kids are and what they were all about, it was just so cool and authentic.

The thing with The Kids it does feel like a documentary, however it felt in it’s way as a moving narrative. Like yeah we’re experiencing how Kids got inspired to be made, but we’re also experiencing a story within the kids themselves and it’s very emotionally moving, as I felt many goosebumps while experiencing this tale. Within the circumstances you feel joyous fore these kids, as they can create joy within a difficult situation, however you feel completely terrible. Especially with what happens within the film Kids and what happens after Kids… It honestly left me pretty upset, as you establish a well developed relationship with the people in this film.

That’s the thing about what makes The Kids special: It’s like you’re in the family. You learn about all of them and love the bond they share with each other, as when something happens within the family you yourself feel it too. This is one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in a very long time, as I think this could be easily up for contention for awards season.


Overall, The Kids is a fantastic film and it’s the best film I’ve seen not only in the festival, but it’s the best film I’ve seen this year so far. I highly recommend this film, I hope it gets a theatrical release because it DESERVES IT, DO IT FOR THE KIDS!


Last Film Show Grade: B+

How ironic: The last film I seen from the festival, so happens to be Last Film Show… Not planned by the way.

If you loved Cinema Paradiso, you’re gonna really enjoy Last Film Show as it does reminisces to the likes of that film. A young boy who gets a grip of film, falls in love with film, as he establishes a connection with the projectionist?! Very similar.

Last Film Show does in a way differ from Cinema Paradiso, as it’s mainly focused on the main character Samay (Bhavin Rabari) and his aspiration of wanting to become a film maker. The whole drive of Samay sharing his love of film with the kids, trying to create a projector themselves, and seeing life through light was truly wholesome as many cinephiles can totally relate with Samay. The story itself was extremely enjoyable from start to finish, well paced as well. There are some strong meaningful moments of dialogue, especially the projectionist explaining film, as storytelling is all about creating lies… It was very deep believe me, as a fan of film it kind of struck a reality check with me. Loved the characters, I do wish there was more within Samay and his relationship with the projectionist, however I think it was able to do just enough. There was quite a bit of fun sequences and even in the midst of horror was even a fun sequence. The whole sequence of how hoop rings were made will terrify you, however you be oddly engaged in the whole process


I will say the ending was kind of cheesy in a good and yet bad way. I think bad because how it was established to get to that point felt unnecessary and didn’t really make much logical sense. I mean Samay coming back around so fast out of nowhere was just… Weird?! This may not be on the level of Cinema Paradiso, however this stands firmly on it’s own fairly strong.


Overall, Last Film Show was pretty good! I highly recommend checking this one out, especially if you’re a cinephile, not sure when this is gonna come. Well that’s just about it for me and festival watching for awhile, it t’was fun, now if you excuse me I’m gonna get some well rested shut eye… Damn festival had me EXHAUSTED! -Mitch Smietana

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