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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Unique and Creative
by Betty Jo Tucker

Talk about creativity and originality! The Lives of Hamilton Fish, a cinema rock opera from the multi-talented Rachel Mason, boasts all that and more. Mason wrote, directed,  composed the music, and stars in this independent gem that won Best Picture at the 2014 New England Underground Film Festival.  

Inspired by a true story, The Lives of Hamilton Fish deals with two men named Hamilton Fish who died one day apart in 1936. One of them was a serial killer, the other a descendant of one of the most prominent families in New York state. A newspaper editor becomes obsessed with this coincidence after publishing their obituaries on his front page. Told entirely through songs in the editorís voice, this story mixes the surreal with historical facts. Watching this unique film is quite an experience. It even motivated me to write the following poem.

One Fish, two Fish

a day apart

died and noted

in news and art.


Mason highlights

in film and song

the lives they lived

both right and wrong.


She tells the tale

with lots of flair.

Her movie goes

where most donít dare.


Three cheers for her

unique approach.

It fills the screen

without reproach.


We seldom see

a film like this.

     Itís one, for sure,   

 you should not miss.

Mason brings her many talents to this artistic project. She is also a singer, songwriter, sculptor and performer who has written three operas, recorded ten full-length albums, and performed at numerous art museums and other venues. Taking on the role of the editor and narrator of The Lives of Hamilton Fish, Mason sings (beautifully) all the dialogue -- even for the other characters. What could be off-putting about that merely enhances the dreamlike atmosphere of this inventive production. Itís fascinating to watch Masonís impressive interpretation of an editor who starts out as an objective journalist but soon becomes obsessed with the morbid details of her subjectsí lives. In this regard, the film delivers a timely message about the dangers of media madness.    

Happily, the two ďFishĒ actors, wearing a bit of Picasso-like make-up, get into the spirit of Masonís ingenious creation. Bill Weeden shows great emotional range as the criminal Fish, and Theodore Bouloukos does a fine job projecting the political Fishís immense grief over the loss of his wife. Plus, mesmerizing music as well as interesting sets and costumes add to the high quality of this very different independent film.  

Hooray for Rachel Mason and The Lives of Hamilton Fish! 

(Companies: The New York Foundation for the Arts and Pony Oink. Not rated by MPAA.) 

For more information about this rock opera film, please go to

Listen to Rachel Mason's interview on Movie Addict Headquarters by clicking here.

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