Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “My Little Pony: The Movie”

Media Mikes has teamed with our friends at Lionsgate Films to give five readers and three guests the chance to be among the first to see the new animated film “My Little Pony: The Movie.”

The screening will be held Saturday, September 30th at the Cinemark 20 and XD Theatre in Merriam, Kansas at 10:30 a.m.

All you have to do is click here and download your pass. Each pass is good for five people to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. When all passes have been claimed the giveaway is over. Good luck!

Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “Battle of the Sexes”

Media Mikes has teamed up with it’s friends at Fox Searchlight to give 50 readers and their guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “Battle of the Sexes.”

The story of the famous tennis match between world #1 Billie Jean King and former tennis champ Bobby Riggs, the film stars Academy Award winner Emma Stone and Steve Carell and will be shown on Wednesday, September 27th at the Cinemark Palace on the Plaza. The screening will begin at 7:00 pm.

All you have to do is click here and download your pass. This giveaway is first come/first serve. When the 50 allotted passes have been claimed the giveaway is over.

Good luck!

“Battle of the Sexes”
Where: Cinemark Palace on the Plaza, Kansas City, MO
When: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.

Film Society Kansas City to Host BBQ Fundraiser

As summer comes to an end, the Film Society Kansas City will be holding their annual BBQ to benefit the Robert Altman Emerging Filmmakers Fund Wednesday, September 20th. The event will be held at the Kansas City Alamo Drafthouse and run from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm.

Each year Film Society Kansas City awards grants for filmmakers to attend the Artis Inc. program, education events with the Independent Filmmaker’s Coalition, Kansas City Women in Film & TV and more! Join them for a night of networking with regional film makers, production crews, actresses, actors, and the film loving community!

For more information, go here.

Book Review: “Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters”

Author: Amy Davis (Foreword by Barry Levinson)
Johns Hopkins University Press
Hardcover: 302 pages

I think to a certain group of people my age, the movie theatre was an important place in their lives. I often comment to younger people that in the 1970s and 80s, there wasn’t a movie theatre on every other corner and the ones that were there had, at the most six screens. If you were to ask me about a certain movie I saw between 1975-1985, I’m pretty sure I could also tell you what theatre I saw it in.

I should also admit here that I worked in movie theatres, in one job or another, from 1977 to 2003. 11 of those years were spent in Baltimore, where, as a young manager, I worked in theatres ranging from a 900 seat single screen auditorium to a nine-screen multiplex (the largest complex I managed, in Kansas City, had eighteen screens). I can still remember vividly every complex I’ve worked in. Hell, if you asked me today I could tell you exactly how to turn off the lights in each one still.

I highlight Baltimore theatres because this week a beautiful new book, one which takes a look at 72 different movie palaces from Charm City, will be released. Titled “Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters,” the book is a true labor of love by author Amy Davis.

From the earliest nickle-show houses to the current multiplexes, the history of each theatre has been carefully researched. Davis has conducted interviews with the people that not only operated these theatres but frequented them. Two of my dearest friends, D. Edward Vogel and the late Dominic Wagner, share stories of their days working in the grindhouse era. Baltimore-born filmmakers like Barry Levinson and John Waters also comment on their adventures at their neighborhood movie houses. Each story brings another theatre back to life, if only momentarily.

The book also contains over 150 photographs, many in color, showing not only the theatres when they were open and vibrant but how they look today – providing they are still standing. I know for a fact that one of my old theatres is now a Walmart. Another a Kohls. Long gone but never forgotten.

“Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters” is available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. For more information, go here.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at 20th Century Fox to give 50 readers and their guest a chance to be among the first to see the upcoming film “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” All you have to do is click here and download your passes.

Each pass will admit the winner and their guest into the upcoming screening on Monday, September 18th at the B&B Shawnee 18 Theatre in Shawnee, Kansas. The screening will begin at 7:00 pm.

This is a first-come, first-served contest. Once 50 passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended.

Good luck!

Win Passes to See the New Film “mother!” in Kansas City

MediaMikes has teamed up with our friends at Paramount and AMC Theatres to give five readers and their guest a chance to see the new film “mother!” during its run in Kansas City.

All you have to do is let us know below your favorite screen mother. Was it Bambi’s mom? How about Stifflers? Or maybe you prefer John Connor’s bad-ass mom Sarah from the “Terminator” films.

On Sunday, 9/17, we will choose five random entries. Those chosen will be notified by email and will be sent their run-of-engagement passes.

“Mother!,” starring Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, opens nationally on Friday, September 15th. Good luck!

Bruce Campbell Talks About His New Book and His Traveling Game Show

If you’re not aware of Bruce Campbell you may have stumbled onto this web site in error.

A working actor for four decades, Campbell is probably best known for his role of Ash in the “Evil Dead” films and TV series, but has also turned in fine performances in such films as “Bubba Ho-Tep,” Congo” and the television series “Burn Notice.” Mr. Campbell is also an author, currently touring the country in support of his third and latest book “Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor.”

He’s promoting his book and hosting his interactive game show, “The Last Fan Standing,” at the Kansas City Alamo Draft House. While traveling the country to promote his work, Mr. Campbell took a few moments out of his busy schedule to speak with Media Mikes!

Mike Smith: You note in your new book that you’re now at a time in your career where it’s easier to say no to a role. Was there ever a role in the past that you regret not accepting?

Bruce Campbell: Nope. Nope. Because if you don’t like the work that is on the page you’re not going to like the work that is on the stage, as they say. Which means if you didn’t like it on paper you’re not going to like the finished film. That’s the blueprint for the movie…the script. I mean I’ve never turned anything down and later went, “Wow, they made that piece of shit turn out pretty good!” (laughs) I always feel confident that when I turn material down it’s because it’s not strong material. That’s the best way to go, instead of thinking “you know, maybe that director can turn it around” or “that actor could be good in that crappy part.” So now I intuitively go to the script now and if the script isn’t good I’m not going to do it.

MS: You note in the book that, while working on “Spider-man 3,” Toby McGuire tongue-in-cheek commented that “we can’t make a Spider-man movie without Bruce Campbell!” Were you approached to appear in either of the re-boots?

BC:
No I wasn’t. And I wouldn’t have anyway because if Sam’s not doing it I’m not doing it. (NOTE: Mr. Campbell has collaborated no less then nine times with director Sam Raimi. He is also a favorite of the Coen Brothers).

MS: Can you tell us what fans can expect when the participate in your interactive game show “The Last Fan Standing?”

BC: It’s a really fun show. My buddy Steve Sellery had called me and wanted me to come host a game show for the troops. He works for the military. So I went to a base in San Antonio with this game. The format is that everyone in the audience has a clicker. Everybody plays. We don’t weed anybody out. We don’t hand select. We don’t vet anybody. They could be an idiot when they get up there. (laughs) We begin with some preliminary rounds. It’s a regular game show format but it’s different in that it’s a game show for geeks. We have questions like “How much does Thor’s hammer weigh?” Questions that only geeks would know. But after I thought of a trivia show for the troops I told Steve that this would translate perfectly into my world. We’ve done it dozens of times and now we’re taking it on the road to 17 or so cities. (NOTE: Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, is said to have been forged from the inside of a star, which would make it pretty damn heavy. Some comics have it being made of Uru, a metal found only on Asgard. The Uru version is said to weigh 42.3 pounds)

MS: Your new books ends with the words END OF CHAPTER TWO. Are you gathering new stories now for CHAPTER THREE?

BC: Every day. Every day, my friend. Every day is a new adventure! I’m thinking that in 15 years I’ll publish my final confessions. That will be MY George Lucas trilogy.

Film Review: “IT”

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis and Bill Skarsgard
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hrs 15 mins
New Line Cinema

Why do I hate clowns?

Could it be because one Saturday night, while eating dinner alone at a Pizza Hut, the evening entertainment was a clown? Asking if there was “anything else” she could do for me, I told the waitress to “keep the clown away from me.” She must have said something to Bozo because, before I could finish my salad, this red-nosed freak stood next to my table and announced, very loudly, “Hey everybody….this guy doesn’t like clowns.” He then led the kids in the restaurant in booing me. Hell, who am I kidding, he got the parents to boo me too. When I left I told the waitress that I had left her a nice tip but that I had seen the clown take it off the table!

Could it be that quiet afternoon in 1991 when I was visited at the theatre I managed by three clowns, all in full regalia, who warned me that if I played the movie “Shakes the Clown” there “could be trouble?” I told them I could handle trouble, I just didn’t want any “drive by pie-ings.” They stared blankly at me.

Or it’s possible it’s because a woman I dated and gave almost five years of my life to liked clowns immensely and then ripped my heart out. Works for me. This hatred (read “fear”) of clowns led me to completely ignore the 1990 television production of “IT.” However, I did watch it recently to prepare me for the movie, thinking if I know what’s going to happen I won’t react to the new film. Wrong!

As summer begins in the town of Derry, Maine school ends. The town is dotted with all kinds of kids, but not enough that no one notices when one turns up missing. We quickly meet Bill Denbrough (Lieberher) and his little brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott). Bill has made Georgie a paper boat to sail in the rain-swollen gutters outside. In order to make sure the boat will not sink, Bill sends Georgie to the cellar to get some wax to seal it. The cellar is a dark, foreboding place and Georgie hurries down and back in a flash. Pleased with himself, he soon finds himself chasing the boat down along the curb and watching it slide down into a storm drain. The boat is lost. Or is it? Georgie is surprised to be stared at by a pair of blood-shot eyes, attached to the white face of a friendly clown. Well, more like a non-friendly clown. One that likes to eat children!

Based on the popular novel by the master of horror himself, Stephen King, “IT” is a terrifying journey through childhood, one that doesn’t let the occasional “lost kid” go by unnoticed! A group of kids that calls themselves the Losers Club notice a lot. They are led by Bill, a slight boy with a stutter. The other members include Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), the fat kid; Beverly Marsh (Lillis), the girl with the bad reputation; Richie (Finn Wolfhard), the smart aleck; Mike (Chosen Jacobs), whose only apparent malady in this town is that he is black; Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), the Jewish kid and Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), the sickly one. Together these youngsters battle their childhood fears, a couple of JD thugs and a horrifying clown named Pennywise (Skarsgard) as they investigate the morbid history of Derry.

Why is this movie so damn scary? The cast. The filmmakers have assembled an amazing cast of young actors that perfectly fit each role. Each is pitch-perfect in his/her portrayal and you can’t help but see the film (and the horror in if) through their eyes. And Skarsgard is a revelation! With minimal dialogue and eyes that dart wildly, his Pennywise is up there with Hannibal Lecter and Heath Ledger’s Joker in the movie villain Hall of Fame. A warning to those who only remember the television production: this is a violent film. Very dark for a King adaptation, though I’ve been warned that the novel, which I may or may not attempt to read, is even darker. And that’s no joke!

Film Review: “Goon: Last of the Enforcers”

Starring: Seann William Scott, Wyatt Russell and Liev Schreiber
Directed by: Jay Baruchel
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hr 41 mins
Momentum Pictures

In 2011, a small budget comedy written by actor Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen’s long-tine partner, Evan Goldberg, called “Goon” attracted itself a small following. The story of Doug Glatt, a man whose IQ level is so low it leads him to become an enforcer in pro hockey, had its funny moments. Not sure if anyone was clamoring for a sequel but one has arrived. And it’s not too bad.

The NHL is on strike, which means more attention is being paid to the minor league teams, including Halifax Highlanders. Doug (Scott) is now the team’s captain, and each night he leads them onto the ice. He also leads the team in penalty minutes. It seems Doug is still a goon – picking a fight with anyone he sees. However this year things have changed. There’s a new black-hat in the league, Anders Cain (Russell) who is not only big and bad but is the son of the Highlander’s team owner. One night out on the ice Doug and Anders throw down, with Doug being seriously injured. With a new wife and a baby on the way, Doug decides to retire, thinking he can skate away from the game he loves. But it’s never easy to walk away.

Well cast and smartly written, “Goon: Last of the Enforcers” is built on different relationships. Doug and his teammates. Doug and his wife. Anders and his father. They all play a part in the story. And the cast help pull these relationships off. Scott has always been able to play the dense guy who just doesn’t get it but here he give Doug (or, as he signs his name, “Dug”) a quiet sweetness that keeps you rooting for him. And as much as you want to hate him, you also quietly root for Anders. It’s obvious that he’s only playing the game the way he does to earn some recognition from his father, a one-time hockey star. The violence he dispenses is his way of asking for attention. I had the opportunity to meet Wyatt Russell last year and he is a pretty good sized guy. He was also a hockey player (he was a goalie) so I can imagine it was fun for him to be outside the pipes and facing off on the ice. Schreiber seems to be having fun with his role as former enforcer Ross Rhea who, like Doug, finds himself reliving the old days by participating in local “hockey nights.” It should be noted that no hockey is played at these events. It’s just fighting match-ups, with the winner moving on to the next guy.

First-time feature director Baruchel shows a keen eye for keeping the film moving and his cameras have managed to capture the best part of ice hockey – the speed in which the game flows.

If I have a problem with the film it’s with the amount of blood that is shed during the on-ice battles. Most hockey fights consist of one guy grabbing another guy’s sweater, pulling it up over his head and giving him a few shots to the head. Those pale in comparison to the violence here, where teeth are lost and gallons of blood are spilled. Oh, and also TJ. Miller has an unfunny, recurring gig as a “Sportcenter” style host. I wish I knew who in Hollywood he had naked pictures of because I’d steal them back and return them if it meant I never had to endure him again in a film.

Kansas City Theater Review: “Motown the Musical”

Starlight Theater, Kansas City, MO
August 22, 2017

It is truly part of the soundtrack of my life. In fact, I would bet cash money that if you’re over the age of 16 you’ve heard the sound of Motown. From Smokey Robinson to the Four Tops. Diana Ross to the Jackson 5. Rick James to Rockwell. For almost 60 years we have grooved to the music delivered to us by the great Berry Gordy. If you’ve seen “Dreamgirls” you kind of had an idea of what went on behind the scenes. With “Motown” you know the truth.

The show opens during the famed “Motown” 25 television special, which was put together to honor the label and it’s artists but it mostly remembered for being the show where Michael Jackson introduced the Moonwalk! While current and former Motown artists (the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Junior Walker) perform for the audience, we see an assistant trying to persuade Motown founder Gordy (Chester Gregory) to attend the event. Gordy is upset, having lost many of his founding musicians to bigger record labels with bigger budgets. It wasn’t always like this, he notes.

A step back into one of the most important parts of musical history, “Motown” is an amazing homage to the music most of us grew up listening to. But it’s more then just a “greatest hits” variety show. It takes a look inside the famous walls of Hitsville U.S.A. and the struggles that were endured, both musically and personally. Among the main parts of the story line are the budding romance between the married Gordy and Diana Ross (Allison Semmes). Gordy has chosen to mentor Ross to be the best she can and this mentoring has slowly grown into love. In fighting among the groups, choices of songs and the rights of artists to do what they feel is important. Gaye fights to record an album of socially conscious songs and though Gordy resists at first, he relents and the world is given “What’s Going On,” followed by “Mercy, Mercy Me.” You needn’t wonder if the music is timeless, as both of those songs should be mandatory listening today.

As the story progresses into the 1970s, we meet the Jackson 5 (this group was easily the most anticipated of the evening, earning the loudest applause). The 70s slow down until the company faces the prospects of having to sell. But the late 70s and early 80s, with groups like the Commodores and singers like Rick James (btch) keep the company going. All in all you will hear a virtual jukebox of over 50 great songs, all performed by an amazing cast, led by Mr. Gregory, Ms. Semmes and Jarran Muse, who brings the soul and the spirit of the late Marvin Gaye to life. If you love music and the power it has over us, this is the show for you!

“Motown: The Musical” continues in Kansas City through August 27th. Here is the show’s touring schedule through the end of October:

Chicago, IL: Oct. 3 – Oct. 8, 2017 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre
Huntsville, AL: Oct. 10 – Oct. 15, 2017 at the Broadway Theatre League
Peoria, IL: Oct. 17 – Oct. 19, 2017 at the Peoria Civic Center
Lincoln, NE: Oct. 21 – Oct. 22, 2017 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts
Mason City, IA: Oct. 25 – Oct. 26, 2017 at the North Iowa Community Auditorium
Sioux Falls, SD: Oct. 27 – Oct. 29, 2017 at the Washington Pavilion

Remembering Jerry Lewis

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know who Jerry Lewis was. As a kid in the 60s, I loved his films. As someone who liked music, I loved his son’s group, Gary Lewis and the Playboys. And, as I got older and was allowed to stay up late, I loved watching him every Labor Day on the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon he hosted every year. Monday is a sad day because Mr. Lewis won’t be a part of it. He died August 20th at the age of 91.

Born Jerome Levitch in Newark, New Jersey in March 1926, he was 20 years old when he was teamed up with singer Dean Martin and the duo became the most popular nightclub comedy act of the time. Capitalizing on their stage personas (Dean was the good looking singer, Jerry the spastic goof) they made a successful number of films for Paramount. The duo broke up in 1956 and the next year found Jerry starring by himself in the comedy “The Delicate Delinquent.” After success in a series of films created by others (“The Sad Sack,” “The Geisha Boy”) he decided to write and direct himself, beginning with 1960’s “The Bell Boy.” He worte and/or directed 10 films in 10 years including “The Ladies Man,” “The Errand Boy” and the film he was most closely associated with, “The Nutty Professor.”

Critics dismissed Lewis’ films but other cultures, notably the French, hailed him as a comic genius. Lewis was also technically brilliant as a filmmaker, developing the “video assist” system employed by most directors today, giving them the chance to see what they have just shot instead of waiting for the film to be developed. In 1972 he took on a personal project dealing with the Holocaust, writing, directing and starring in “The Day the Clown Cried.” The story of a former clown who is used to escort young children to the gas chambers, the film has rarely been seen. For many years Lewis kept the only print of the film locked up in a vault. However, in 2015 he donated it to the Library of Congress with the stipulation that it not be shown until 2025.

As his film career slowed down Lewis turned his attention more and more to finding the cure for Muscular Dystrophy, raising almost $2.5 BILLION when he stopped hosting in 2010. One of the highlights of the show came in 1976, when Frank Sinatra reunited Lewis with Dean Martin on air. To me it is one of the greatest live moments caught on television. Everything from Jerry muttering “you son of a bitch” to Sinatra to him wiping the tears from his eyes is genuine.

After a decade away from films, Lewis returned with a flourish, playing late-night talk show host Jerry Langdon in Martin Scorsese’s brilliant film “The King of Comedy.” Starring opposite Robert De Niro, Lewis received the best reviews of his life. He continued to work in film, television and theater through 2015. In 2009 he was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scientists for his 50 years of work with Muscular Dystrophy.

Snag Tickets to the Kansas City Premiere of “Patti Cake$”

Media Mikes has teamed up with our friends at Fox Searchlight to give it’s Kansas City-area readers the chance to be among the first to see the highly anticipated film “Patti Cake$.” Called “an instant classic” by TIME magazine, the film tells the story of aspiring rapper Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$, who is fighting an unlikely quest for glory in her downtrodden hometown in New Jersey.

The film also earned raves at this year’s Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals. The screening will be held on Wednesday, August 23rd at the Cinemark Palace on the Plaza in Kansas City and will start at 7:00 pm.

To obtain tickets to the screening, just go to here and click on the “GET MY PASS” tab. Passes are first come/first serve. Good luck!

“Patti Cake$” opens nationally on Wednesday, August 30th.

Film Review: “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek
Directed by: Patrick Hughes
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hr 58 mins
Lionsgate

Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is a Triple-A rated bodyguard who is proud of the fact the he hasn’t lost a client since….BANG! Oops.

A film that only works in small doses, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is several films in one. First you have an action comedy full of dirty words and exploding heads. Next is a political thriller as the leader of Belarus (Gary Oldman) is put on trial, at the Hague in the Netherlands no less! Finally you have the “bro-mance,” featuring Bryce and hired killer Darius Kincaid (Jackson), a duo that yells and bickers with each other like an old married couple. Taken separately, you have a surprisingly entertaining (sometimes) film. Put it all together, and you have a mess.

When the film works it’s when Reynolds and Jackson act as you expect them too. Reynolds is all smarm, his character seemingly trying to be the smartest man in the room while Jackson finds new and entertaining ways to use the words “mother” and, well, you know.

Somehow Kincaid is the only witness that can put Oldman’s character away forever, though it’s never really understood how until the end of the film. Throw in Bryce’s old lover, who just happens to be an INTERPOL agent, and you can see how jumbled the film is. Thankfully, the chemistry (and improvisational skills) of Reynolds and Jackson keep the film moving. The action is frenetic, moving across Europe like a Zagat video gone wild, so much so that you appreciate it when Mr. Jackson gets to utter his favorite phrase. “You know you’ve totally ruined “mother fu**er) for me, Bryce tells Kincaid. Hardly. The words flow out of Kincaid like the paint off of an artist’s brush. If only the rest of the film were as much of a masterpiece.

Jerry Pearce Talks About the Great American Songbook

 

When I first heard Jerry Pearce sing I couldn’t believe my ears. Neither could my wife, who asked me if I was listening to the Sinatra channel on my Sirius/XM radio. It wasn’t the “Chairman of the Board” we were listening to, but a talented young man about to make his New York City debut August 18th. Mr. Pearce took some time out of his day to talk to me about the music he has loved since he was a child.

Mike Smith:
You’re awfully young to have such an appreciation for these songs. How did you get interested in this musical genre’?

Jerry Pearce: My grandfather was a truck driver for 30 years. When he retired he took a job “under the table” and delivered stuff with his own truck. I would ride in the truck with him and he would play the same Sinatra CD over and over and over. Somehow it got stuck in my head.

MS: This gig you have coming up…how did it come about?

JP: I had performed in two concerts. One last December and one in May which were put on by a non-profit organization to promote music education for children. I then took part in a Frank Sinatra contest that was held in Hoboken, New Jersey (Sinatra’s home town) in June and won 1st Prize. A friend of mine named Gary Wilner, who is a singer and ventriloquist, sent a clip of my performance to the owner of the Metropolitan Room in New York City. The owner called me and within a week we had set up a date.

MS: Hoboken? That’s pretty bold, singing Sinatra in his hometown. That’s like going to Freehold, New Jersey and singing Springsteen!

JP: (laughing) I know, right.

MS: When you sing are you intentionally trying to sound like Sinatra or is that your normal voice?

JP: That’s my voice. I really don’t try to imitate anyone. I have been told often that I sound like Sinatra but I’ve also been told a couple of times that I sound like Perry Como, which is very flattering.

MS: All you need is a sweater.

JP: (laughs) Right. (NOTE: Besides an amazing voice, Perry Como was known for almost always wearing a Cardigan sweater).

MS: Tell me about your gig this Friday night.

JP: It’s basically a tribute to THE GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK. It will be held at the Metropolitan Room on West 22nd Street in New York City. Of course I’ll be honoring Sinatra, who is my favorite singer, but I will also be paying tribute to the great songwriters of the era. What they wrote was poetry. And I’m hoping to keep their music and their personalities in the spotlight.