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  • Moxie & Mojo Designs

    As the Black Rock Desert becomes the palate for artists across the world this coming weekend, most are focused on the massive art installations featured at Burning Man. We’d like to take this opportunity to focus on some of the other creatives who have been inspired by the annual gathering.

    We recently interviewed designer Tina Nichole of Moxie & Mojo, a design house creating exciting, custom eye-wear and other fashionable accessories.

    • Tell us a few things that people should know about you.

    I am also a Life & Leadership Coach and it is the most rewarding career I could have ever imagined.  I see possibility and potential in everyone and everything and am deeply passionate about working with people on their big “impossible” dreams and turning them into a reality.  I don’t believe in impossible.

    My creations are part of me and I can’t force them – if I’m not passionate about it,  it won’t vibe so I create based on what’s inspiring me in the moment and if I’m stuck, I leave the piece until it calls me back to finish it.   I put a tremendous amount of energy into every piece I make.  Moxie & Mojo has been wildly successful since we opened our store just over a year ago and we’ve made a name for ourselves because we create quality products that are incredibly unique.

    • What has been your inspiration for your line Moxie & Mojo?

    Moxie & Mojo was inspired by my own search for embellished goggles to wear at a ceremony on The Playa at the 2014 Burn.  I couldn’t find anything outside of a few steampunk styles and I wanted something in white and more girly.  My girlfriend, Mia, encouraged me to let my inner artist out and give it a go at creating something for myself.  I found very quickly that my inner artist had a VERY loud voice and once that door was opened, there was no stopping me.  Since then I’ve gotten my inspiration from various sources ~ from love, nature, music, memories of experiences and friends.  I see so potential now in things that others might toss out as rubbish.

    Moxie & Mojo Designs

    • What type of materials do you use to produce your product?

    Paints, pigment powders, scraps of material, parts of old jewelry, unique vintage pieces I come across, metal, beads, ribbon, you name it!

    • What’s next for Moxie & Mojo?

    Our 2017 line will include new ways of integrating lights into our current product line along with some new clothing items… I’ve had capes on the brain since I was Elvis for Halloween about a decade ago and at some point in the near future I’d like create capes with a Moxie & Mojo flavor.  There are thousands  of ideas floating around in my mind at any given time so it’s a matter of picking which ones feel right and will push me to grow creatively.

    Moxie & Mojo Designs

    • Where’s the best place to purchase?

    You can go to our website for a full list of items that we have ready for purchase through out Etsy shop “MoxieandMojoFashion” or you can go directly our Etsy store to purchase.  I also do quite a bit of custom work for goggles, hats and respirators for festival season.  I highly encourage people to shop early as each of the pieces I create is one of a kind and only 1 of each is sold.  I like my pieces to be unique to each person.

    • Why is Burning Man important to you?

    It’s a very magical place for so many reasons… even if it’s just one week out of the year where people can let go of their “default world” tendencies and become a little more conscious of being present to the moment,  feeling free, unleashing their creativity and the “radical self reliance” of taking responsibility for yourself in place where there is no running water or grocery stores. You have to get creative to do some of the most basic things out there.  You have to rely on yourself or kindness of strangers… money won’t get you too far but a smile or kind word will… it’s a step in the right direction.  For those who’ve never attended,  do yourself a favor and go at least once and you will experience nothing like it on earth.  I love that people from all walks of life and come from every corner of the world to create temporary and profound works of art and feel like a kid again.  It is “awesome” as defined by the dictionary for certain.

    Moxie & Mojo Designs

    • What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco?

    Do I have to pick just one? Lol.  The people, the food, the beauty, the proximity to mountain biking, wine country, and snowboarding are all contributing factors for sure.  If I had to pick my favorite thing, it would be the acceptance of diversity and creative expression.  Well, that’s two things I suppose… so wrapping into it would be the higher than average level of “open-mindedness” that really makes San Francisco so great in my eyes.  I can wear a tutu to the grocery store on a Tuesday and it’s not considered “bizarre”.  I love that.

  • Is That You? and Fatima, both opening on Friday, explore different kinds of love in very different ways. The first film follows a middle-aged man’s attempt to rekindle a past relationship; the second is a look at an struggling immigrant’s devotion to her children.

    “Dear Rachel: Is that you?,” writes Ronnie (a soulful Alon Aboutboul) to an ex-girlfriend he knew 30 years ago. Though they haven’t been in touch since she left their native Israel for the United States, he thinks about her often. So when he’s fired from his projectionist job and is compensated with plane ticket to America, Ronnie’s path is laid out for him.

    Is That You?, from Israeli filmmaker Dani Menkin (Dolphin Boy, 39 Pounds of Love), is an off-beat drama that makes up for its somewhat ramshackle quality and quirk overload with genuine warmth and nice performances from its leads. Though its motif about trying to reconnect with the past gets a bit repetitive at times, Is That You? is a poetic, not altogether predictable meditation on the theme, an admirable achievement in itself.

    Courtesy of Hey Jude Productions

    Courtesy of Hey Jude Productions

    When Ronnie arrives in upstate New York, he stays with his outgoing car salesman brother, Jacob (Rani Bleier). Coincidentally, Jacob has recently run into Rachel (Suzanne Sadler), who asked about Ronnie. With the help of Jacob’s son, they find several women named Rachel Golan on Facebook and narrow down Ronnie’s search. The couple once made a pact to be together on her 60th birthday, which happens to be in two days. Jacob gives Ronnie a car and the advice, “Sometimes there are dreams against all logic; you just have to make them happen.”

    After an unfruitful visit to Rachel’s old address, Ronnie’s car breaks down. A pixieish young woman named Myla (Naruna Kaplan de Macedo) agrees to help him if she can include him in the documentary she is making about regrets called The Road Not Taken (yes, coincidences abound). He reluctantly agrees and the two pursue several false leads, making a stop at one point to visit Myla’s ailing grandmother, who mistakes Ronnie for someone she once knew, asking him, “Is that you?” Along the way, Myla interviews everyone they encounter, including a cop who pulls them over on the highway. The resulting footage of regular folks speaking honestly about their lives provides some nice interludes.

    Courtesy of Hey Jude Productions

    Courtesy of Hey Jude Productions

    As their road trip continues, Ronnie and Myla’s odd friendship becomes almost uncomfortably affectionate, until we realize it has taken on a father-daughter dynamic. This is confirmed by the revelation of Myla’s personal reasons for making The Road Not Taken, after the two spend an evening drinking at a motel pool.

    Though the last part of the film is a bit drawn out, it is also the most moving, as Ronnie finds what he’s looking for (as does Myla). It’s a satisfying conclusion to a good-hearted film that tackles an issue we’ve all pondered at some point and dares to provide a solid outcome.

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    A low-key, slice-of-life movie, Philippe Faucon’s Fatima charts the travails of a divorced, Algerian mother of two teenage daughters living in Lyon, France. Based on Fatima Elayoubi’s collection of autobiographical poems, Fatima stars Soria Zeroual as its stoic title character, a hard-working immigrant who is unwavering in her devotion to studious older daughter Nesrine (Zita Hanrot) and the rebellious Souad (Kenza-Noah Aïche), despite various frustrations. A series of naturalistic vignettes show the escalating struggles and hard-won victories of these characters; it makes for a compelling narrative.

    Courtesy of Kino Lorber

    Courtesy of Kino Lorber

    Early in the film, we see the family dynamic in conversations between Fatima and her daughters: she speaks Arabic and they answer in French. The girls (especially Souad) are acclimated to western life, while the headscarf-wearing Fatima struggles with the language and culture, as well as criticisms from fellow North African women who resent the fact that Nesrine attends college. To support her daughter’s medical studies, Fatima cleans the apartment of a French woman, in addition to her regular job cleaning commercial spaces. Though her employer seems fair enough, Fatima believes the woman is testing her by leaving money unattended. In an earlier incident involving apartment-hunting with Nesrine, Fatima likewise suspected discrimination. As in real life, the answer isn’t always clear.

    The girls’ westernized father, who has remarried, sees them occasionally but is nowhere as involved as Fatima. As the film progresses, arguments escalate between Fatima and the sullen, smart-alecky Souad, with mother warning daughter to cover up and be more careful, so as not to cause talk. Ironically, it’s the more conservative, hard-working Nesrine who is the brunt of gossip among Fatima’s acquaintances.

    Courtesy of Kino Lorber

    Courtesy of Kino Lorber

    After a frustrating parent-teacher meeting, Fatima admits to a co-worker that she feels inadequate due to her limited education. She enrolls in a French class and soon begins speaking the language at home and communicating more to her employer. Meanwhile, Nesrine struggles both with her studies and neighbors who accuse her of snubbing them. A nice-seeming boy flirts with her on the bus but, unlike Souad, she spurns male attention, until her ever-perceptive mother counsels otherwise. As her own stresses build, Fatima describes her life in increasingly poetic entries she writes in a notebook, clearly a crucial outlet.

    Things come to a head as Souad blows up at her mother, Nesrine breaks down over the strain of her studies and the distracted Fatima sustains an injury. Eventually, she finds comfort in a young female doctor to whom she reads one of her poems in its entirety. It’s a surprisingly poignant moment in this straightforward film, which makes it all the more powerful.

    Is That You? opens Friday at Cinema Village; Fatima opens Friday at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

    Marina Zogbi

  • With the weather forecast calling for temperatures in the upper 90’s on Friday, we did our best to prepare for an all day event in the sweltering NYC summer heat.  But upon entering the venue, it was clear that the organizers of the Panorama Festival planned appropriately for our day.  With many free water kiosks, tents and air conditioned art & music areas, it was easy to cool down if you were feeling overwhelmed by the oppressive heat.

    And although it’s not so easy to get to Randall’s Island, our timing was very good, and as we walked in Here We Go Magic was just starting to play in the huge tent to the north side of the venue.  I was happy to finally here the band live. Some years ago I interviewed Luke Temple, but lost touch with the band’s more recent happenings.  They had a decent crowd for the early part of the day, and although they apologized for some technical difficulties, we were impressed with their set.

    Here We Go Magic

    As we made our way over to the main stage, we could hear Algier’s set was already in full swing.  Algier’s set was only 30 minutes, but their powerful, dark soulful sound was evident throughout.  While listening we were able to cool down over at the American Express spot.  We snapped together some complimentary sunglasses and enjoyed some refreshments for a bit before heading back to the pavilion to hear Preservation Hall Jazz Band. A rather large, enthusiastic crowd was now gathered and grooving to some of the best New Orleans style jazz you can find on the planet.  As the band closed their set, we had just enough time to grab a bite from one of the many food vendors on hand.  There was certainly something for everyone, with a slight bias toward the all American favorite, pizza.

    Preservation Hall Jazz Band

    The next band up on the main stage was Silversun Pickups.  I was very excited to see the band, but my excitement was a bit tempered after watching them on TV perform in the late spring. It seemed like maybe they were a bit off, or still getting their chops in order for the big tour on that day. With a new album out earlier in the year, this would be the first time performing much of the new material. Well, they were much more polished for their set at Panorama, and overall it was a very good performance. The new songs were great live, and the older hits had the crowd in a euphoric state as they closed out with my personal favorite, Lazy Eye.

    Silversun Pickups

    As we worked our way back to the pavilion stage, we could see that a massive crowd had gathered to see Broken Social Scene; one of two Canadian bands to play at the festival on Friday.  They were already rocking their 2nd or 3rd song by the time we got there and they were in fine form.  After hearing “Shoreline”, we quickly headed over to the parlor to check out Mike D’s debut as a DJ.

    I came to find that my expectation of an old school hip hop DJ set from the former Beastie Boy rapper extraordinaire was way off the mark. Instead, Mike D was playing newer, trap music and was struggling to put it all together.  It was a real head scratcher given that his era of hip hop was much different, and I would imagine most came with similar expectations.  Being such a huge Beastie Boys fan, it was disappointing, but there was little time for disappointment as Alabama Shakes was getting set to take the main stage.

    When you hear about artists having a certain stage presence, one may wonder exactly what that means.  Brittany Howard, lead singer, guitarist for Alabama Shakes has a massive stage presence that commands your attention. She plays guitar with a level of comfort rarely seen, while the raw power of her vocals and the band’s sound will take your breath away. In a day with so many great performances, the stage was set for Arcade Fire to make it a truly unforgettable night, and that’s exactly what they did.

    Alabama Shakes

    As Arcade Fire took to the stage playing their massive hit “Ready to Start” from the 2010 Grammy winning album, “The Suburbs,” it was clear that the crowd was energized and ready to hear the band’s first live set in the U.S this year.  As the band flawlessly and aggressively weaved through their set improvising their original wide ranging songs from indie & punk rock to electronic dance beats,  they did so with a flair and presence that hearkens back to The Who’s rock opera, “Tommy.” As if this wasn’t enough, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band joined Arcade Fire to form a Mardi Gras second line and marched through the crowd in tribute to the late, great David Bowie playing classics, “Rebel Rebel,” “Suffragette City” and “Heroes.”

    Arcade Fire

    It was truly an incredible day of music, and the organizers of Panorama Festival did a fine job in curating the music for Friday’s show as well as the overall production and execution of a massive event.  For all the doubters questioning the $125 ticket price, it was well worth it- Brooklyn Vegan!

    -Frank Jackson

  • Courtesy of Kino Lorber

    Courtesy of Kino Lorber

    The new documentary Lucha Mexico is an entertaining, enlightening and, ultimately, poignant look at Lucha Libre, the colorful, acrobatic form of professional wrestling that has been popular in Mexico for decades. Filmmakers Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz give us a truly inside view of the sport and its wildly popular superhero personalities, its intense physical demands and its widespread influence throughout the country. Even nonfans of spectacle wrestling can appreciate this in-depth look at the longtime phenomenon and its myriad masked players.

    From the get-go, the filmmakers take us right into the ring for up-close scenes of amusing and highly energetic matches featuring dramatic, larger-than-life (in some cases, literally) stars cheered on by thousands of adoring fans. We also see glimpses of life outside of the arena, as the luchadores train, meet fans, and talk about their lives. One of the film’s main spotlights follows the popular and likeable Shocker, who is used as a sort of guide through Lucha Libre, as we see him working out, posing for fan photos, touring the country to compete in matches big and small, and receiving brutal-looking medical treatments for a devastating knee injury (he opens a restaurant during his recovery). Former strength competitor Jon “Strongman” Andersen provides another veteran point of view, as he talks matter-of-factly about the realities of the profession. We also see him in various settings, including home with family and at the gym, where he hoists insanely heavy barbells to maintain his mountainous physique. Eventually, he too suffers an injury that forces him into temporary retirement.

    Courtesy of Kino Lorber

    Courtesy of Kino Lorber

    We’re introduced to several other leading luchadores, including those from wrestling dynasties, such as Blue Demon, Jr. (who has never been seen in public unmasked) and the tragic, charismatic El Hijo Del Perro Aguayo, founder of the Perros Del Mal, infamous for violently hardcore matches. Others, like Fabian “El Gitano,” a former Chippendales dancer, come from non-wrestling backgrounds, all of them embracing the passion and dedication necessary to make it to the “major leagues,” i.e., the CMLL (Consejo Mundial De Lucha Libre), founded in 1933 and the oldest still-operating wrestling promotion in the world, or the newer AAA. We also watch equally buff female luchadoras Faby Apache and her main rival Sexy Star, who prays before every match and claims that Lucha Libre saved her from crippling depression. Interestingly, there are Catholic shrines set up in several arenas and one match is hosted by a religious festival. Such is the place of wrestling in Mexican culture.

    Much of the action takes place at the unofficial home of Lucha Libre, Mexico City’s historically significant Arena Mexico, and the filmmakers take us to other enormous arenas that have been built specifically for the sport. Apparently, big matches no longer take place in the country’s most crime-ridden cities (including Tijuana and Matamoros), where once-thriving arenas have been closed.

    Courtesy of Kino Lorber

    Courtesy of Kino Lorber

    We learn that wrestlers choose between two character types: Tecnicos, good guys who play by the rules and are cheered by the crowds; and Rudos, dirty fighters who are happily booed. (A popular chant at matches: “Asshole! Asshole!”) There’s also the definitive luchador challenge: Mask Vs. Mask, in which the loser suffers the ultimate humiliation of forced unmasking (a fate that proved devastating for the deceptively sensitive “El Gitano”).

    All this is presented with maximum, you-are-in-the-ring action, as we feel the crowd’s excitement and the wrestlers’ sweat and strain. We want to be horrified by the “abuse” of beloved mascot Kemonito, a dwarf in a fuzzy monkey suit who is routinely tossed around like a stuffed animal, but reluctantly appreciate the fact that he’s a respected working luchador who seems happy in his profession. On the other hand, the ruthless Perros del Mal matches shown on screen are truly disturbing.

    Whatever ideas one may have had about Lucha Libre going into this film, it’s hard not to come away impressed by the drive and commitment of these masked athletes, with their broken down bodies, whether they’re performing in a huge, slick arena or delighting children in some makeshift rural set-up. Though they obviously get off on the fame (and undoubtedly the money) involved, it’s clear there’s some kind of higher calling pulling them into the ring.

    Lucha Mexico opens on Friday at Nitehawk Cinema and IFC Center.

    Marina Zogbi