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Knights of Swing

USA 2023
produced by
Rolland Jacks, Emilio Palame, Donald Nguyen
directed by Emilio Palame, David M. Gutel
starring Curran Barker, Kyle DeCamp, Jeremy Lee Staple, Christopher Pollack, Brandon Ruiter, Greg Sadler, Richard Neil, Emilio Palame, Amanda Lamberti, Randy Irwin, Trevor Brunsink, Abigail McKee, Kathy Christopherson, Emily Goglia, Ivana Cespesdes Jordan (= Vi Jordan), Olivia Dessy, Jeffrey Conway, Jon Briddell, Halston Autumn McMurray, Sarah Zeemá, Elizabeth Burr, Ian Eugene Ryan, Don Nowak, Gabriel Lemus, Martin Thompson, Janie Rodgers Wainwright, Alberto Favero, Franco Lara, Jesse Howland, Vangie Gunn, Halston McMurray, Dean Martin (II), David Engel, Ellen Kobayashi, Joelle Tschudy, Cheyenne Washington, Brian Barker, Reno Schrock, Bryan Thompson, Neil Cannone
created by Rolland Jacks, written by Rolland Jacks, David M. Gutel, Emilio Palame, music by Rolland Jacks, Emilio Palame, lyrics by Rolland Jacks, music arranged by Emilio Palame, vocals arranged by Darlene Koldenhoven

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Smalltown USA, 1947: Over the summer, singer, songwriter and sax-player Giff (Curran Barker) has formed a swing sextet with his friends Nolan (Kyle DeCamp), Conrad (Jeremy Lee Staple), Elliott (Christopher Pollack), Kenny (Brandon Ruiter) and Duke (Greg Sadler), but now that it's back to school, they want to take it to the next level and launch a big band, and surprisingly enough, they meet very little resistance from their school as the principal Mr. Arthur (Emilio Palame) is a jazz head and their class teacher Mr. Miller (Richard Neil) has a past in leading big bands and has learned from arguably the greatest, his late brother Glenn Miller. And soon enough they assemble a really great orchestra and seem to be unstoppable - until they refuse to accept moderately talented young Carol (Halston Autumn McMurray) as their lead singer, upon which her mother, Mrs Barlutski (Amanda Lamberti), threatens to raise hell, especially since the band also has a coloured member, Conrad. She soon has the school inspector, Tanner (Randy Irwin), on her side, and also Giff's brother Wesley (Trevor Brunsink), a PTSD-struck World War II veteran, and even the band's lead trumpeteer, Elliott. And they try everything to stop the band, from chasing them off the school grounds to stealing their music sheets, from cutting off their funding to tampering with the band's insurance for going on field trips - like the all-important Battle of the Bands. The band, christened Knights of Swing, soldiers through all of this admirably, but how much will it take to finally break them?

 

Now one thing, you pretty much need to like swing music to enjoy this movie as most of the film's 150 minute running time is accompanied by swing tunes - but it's really above all the music that makes this movie, as despite it clearly being old school jazz arranged in an overall traditional way, the music does feel very fresh - and that's not only because most of the pieces were composed especially for the film but also because the musicians involved very obviously had fun playing it and put their focus on enjoyability and groove rather than utter authenticity. Also the film comes into its own especially in the musical performances that are filmed by people who very obviously love music in general and jazz in particular. Storywise, I have to admit the film definitely has its heart in the right place, but also is a bit of a tearjerker that uses a few too many clichées to wholly convince - but once yet another jazzy tune sets in, all this is quickly forgotten and one can't help but tap one's foot time and again when watching this.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD