Long time readers know that our friend, film historian Bruce Crawford, loves to bring classic movies back to the big screen. Since I’ve known him, Bruce has presented such films as “Jaws,” “Young Frankenstein,” “The Great Escape” and “American Graffiti,” among others, to packed theatres in Omaha. On Friday, November 9, 2018, he’s doing it again.
“Back to the Future,” one of the most beloved films of all time, will be shown that evening at the Joslyn Art Museum, located at 2200 Dodge Street, in Omaha. Of course, like all of Bruce’s presentations, you get much more than a movie. Bob Gale, the co-creator (with Robert Zemeckis) of the BTTF Trilogy, will be on hand to participate in a Q&A before the screening and a meet-and-greet autograph session with fans after the show. Joining Mr. Gale is actor Harry Walters, Jr., who played musician Marvin Berry (Chuck’s cousin) in the film.
Tickets to the event are now on sale for $24 each and can be purchased at the customer service counters of all Omaha-area Hy Vee food stores. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association.
For more information, you can call (402) 830-2121 or (308) 830-2121. You can also click HERE.
To read my 30th Anniversary Interview with Bob Gale, click HERE.
A STAR IS BORN
Starring: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper and Andrew Dice Clay
Directed by: Bradley Cooper
Running time: 2 hrs 15 mins
To quote “Beauty and the Beast,” it’s a tale as old as time. Big star on the way down meets rising star on the way up. They fall in love. One embarrasses the other and their love is tested. The tale is so old that it’s already been told, very well, three times before. But the fourth time may be the best!
Jackson Maine (Cooper) is a popular singer who has lived his life on the road. Once enjoying his time on stage, now he gets by with alcohol and drugs, showing up, plugging in then hurrying off-stage to the seclusion of his limo. One night, while looking for a place to stop, he ends up at a drag club, where he gets the chance to listen to a young woman named Ally (Lady Gaga – I was just going to put “Gaga” but I’m not sure how the first name/last name thing works here. I guess I could have put “Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta” but that would probably confuse you even more. Ally does an old Edith Piaf song and soon Jackson is mesmerized by her voice. He invites her out with him, where they buy some beer and talk about music. When he drops her off at home she figures that’s the last time she will see him. It isn’t.
A familiar story with enough new twists and turns to keep it fresh, “A Star Is Born” is a triumph. Much of this praise must go to my rival Bradley Cooper. (I know my wife loves me, but if Bradley Cooper came knocking I would be just a memory J). As a first time director, especially in a film starring himself, there is an opportunity to make everything BIG and LOUD and, worse of all, put yourself front and center. Cooper directs with a restraint that is almost unheard of with newbies. He frames the story almost as if he’s shooting a documentary, and that close, inside look draws you into the story. As an actor, Cooper is equally up to the task here. His voice low and gruff (there’s a great line in the film where Sam Elliott, who plays his brother and who was also a musician, accuses Jackson of “stealing my voice”), he gives quite possibly the best performance of his career, which is saying a lot for a man who has already been nominated for the acting Oscars already in his career.
As Ally, Lady Gaga is outstanding. We already know she can sing. I haven’t heard a lot of her songs but I still include the night she showed up at the Academy Awards and sang “The Sound of Music” as one of my favorite all-time Oscar moments. Not only is she in great voice, she has incredible acting chops. Both the 1937 and 1954 versions of the film earned Oscar nominations for its stars. The 1976 version swept the Musical Film Category and I’m predicting that both Lady Gaga and Cooper get nods for their work here. Great supporting work from Andrew Dice Clay, Sam Elliott and Dave Chappelle make the film even more enjoyable.
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 attend the Kansas City screening of the new film “Bad Times at the El Royale.”
The film, starring Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm and Chris Hemsworth, will screen on Monday, October 1st at the AMC Studio 28 Theatre in Olathe, Kansas. The screening begins at 7:00 p.m.
All you have to do to attend is click HERE. The first (50) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once all (50) passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended. Good luck!
JANE FONDA IN FIVE ACTS
Starring: Jane Fonda, Robert Redford and DickCavet
Directed by: Susan Lacy
Rated: Not rated
Running time: 2 hrs 13 mins
Here is my Jane Fonda story. In 2005, Ms. Fonda was in Kansas City to promote a book she had written. I had been able to get my name on the press list in the off chance of getting a few minutes with the Oscar winning actress for a quick interview. I can’t remember what, but something came up last minute and I was unable to attend. Imagine my surprise the next morning when my phone began wringing. It seems that while she was greeting people in line, a former Vietnam War veteran named MICHAEL SMITH spit tobacco juice on her. Somehow, my name and contact info was discovered on the press list and people assumed it was me. I received over 1,000 emails, some thanking “me” and others condemning “me.” I even was invited to address an upcoming Marine Corps reunion in California. After about two weeks the furor died down, but it was pretty exciting there for a while.
It was almost exactly 47 years ago (September 19, 1971) that President Richard Nixon, on one of his many tape recordings, asked an aide, “What in the world is wrong with Jane Fonda?”
The honest answer? Not a damn thing!
“Jane Fonda in Five Acts” takes a look back at the actresses life and career, beginning when she was just known as Henry Fonda’s daughter. Along with James Stewart, no other actor so embodied the image of the normal American male than Henry Fonda. He was, according to his daughter, “a national monument.” But behind that image was a man who could not express emotions unless he was in front of a camera. Ms. Fonda is shown a photo of the family at a picnic, to which she explains that the image is staged. The smiles forced and phony. She can tell by the look in her mother’s face that she is not happy (Ms. Fonda’s mother dealt with many mental issues and would eventually kill herself. She and her brother, Peter, were told she’d had a heart attack. It wasn’t until years later, when Ms. Fonda read about it in a movie magazine, did she learn the truth).
As a young woman in her early 20s, she makes her way to the home of famed acting teacher Lee Strasberg. He accepts her into his classes and, after a couple of months, puts her on the stage. He recognizes her talents and encourages her to pursue them. She begins to do small parts on television and in film while also modeling. Tired of always doing the “cheerleader” roles, she heads to France, where she meets director Roger Vadim. What follows is marriage, a child and a career changing role as the title character in “Barbarella.”
Back in America, she accepts a role in what she calls her first “real” movie, Sydney Pollack’s “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?<” earning her first of seven Academy Award nominations. (NOTE: I didn’t see “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” until the mid 1980s at a tribute to Sydney Pollack. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly suggest you do). Just as she is being taken seriously as an actress she does two things: cuts her hair and visits Vietnam.Fonda, shown here with Roy Scheider, won her first Academy Award for her role in the film “Klute.”
Depending on the age of the people you speak with, Fonda is either “a great actress” or “Hanoi Jane.” There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. She was one of the first major celebrities to speak out against the United States’ involvement in Vietnam. If there is any criticism now it is some of the ways she spoke out. In the late 1980’s she apologized to the veterans and their families if her actions make things tougher for them. A chance meeting with former vet and anti-Vietnam activist Ron Kovic gives her the idea for the film “Coming Home,” which would win her her second Oscar.
Now married to activist Tom Hayden, she puts together films that speak to her beliefs. Many people scoffed at “The China Syndrome,” a film that dealt with a fictional melt-down at a nuclear power plant. However, two weeks after the film opened there was a real incident at Three Mile Island. Nobody was scoffing then. In one of the most emotional moments of the documentary, Ms. Fonda talks about the only film she did with her father, “On Golden Pond.” She recalls how, during a scene in the film, she surprised her father with a slight touch of his arm, causing the actor to cover his eyes to hide the tears welling up in them. This would be Henry Fonda’s last film and it earned him his first Academy Award.
As the years progress we learn more about the actress and her life. Needing to raise money for an organization she and her husband had founded, she produced her own workout video, which today remains the most popular home video ever made. We follow her through her divorce from Hayden and her marriage to media mogul Ted Turner. She speaks highly of all three of her ex-husbands. We also meet some of her children, who explain that growing up was not all limos and mansions. However, in the end, you end up with an amazing story of an amazing person. At age 80, Jane Fonda is still going strong. Here’s to act number six!
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde and Antonio Banderas
Directed by: Dan Fogelman
Running time: 1 hr 58 mins
If only all movies could begin like “Life Itself.” A single camera shot but one that is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson in all his glory! You can’t help but laugh during the first five minutes of this film. Which is a good thing, because you’re probably going to be crying for the other113 minutes!
We meet Will (Isaac) and Abby (Wilde) in the middle of what seems to be an incredible relationship. Living happily together with their dog (a dog with the greatest name ever used in film), it seems like their life together will be perfect for all time. That is until fate steps in.
A well written but slowly paced film, the “Life Itself” poster tells us the movie is written and directed by the man who created the popular television show “This is Us.” I haven’t watched it but my wife does religiously and, judging from the amount of Kleenex she goes through each week, I assume it’s a weep-fest. This movie certainly is. The film jumps around in time, showing the audience how Will and Abby met, their life together and their all too soon separation. In between the vignettes you get to spend time with Will’s parents, played by Jean Smart and Mandy Patinkin. It is their relationship with their granddaughter that makes up the second act of the film. Act three is the longest – and the most drawn out. It deals with characters who are peripheral to other two stories, though we are not at first sure how. It takes place in Spain, where a wealthy land owner (Banderas) falls in love with the wife of one of his workers. The various extended scenes not only begin to drag, they are delivered in Spanish, which means it’s going to be a long night reading subtitles!
As I mentioned, the film is well written. I can see why it found itself on the 2016 list of the best unmade screenplays in Hollywood. There are a few laughs, among them Isaac comparing the vocal stylings of Bob Dylan to the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon. Of course it’s even funnier to laugh if you know that Isaac is also a recurring character in the “Star Wars” film series. And the rest of the cast are equally endearing. The ending comes across as a little too far-fetched but still pretty well thought out. But be warned, make sure you bring your Kleenex with you, because “Life Itself” makes “Manchester by the Sea” look like the second coming of “Airplane!”
I’m a little late to the party, I know, but I really needed a day to gather my thoughts before I wrote my tribute to Mr. Burton Leon Reynolds, Jr., who passed away yesterday at the age of 82. Cause of death was listed as a heart attack.
I grew up in Tampa, and if there’s one thing that Floridians were always proud of it was that Burt Reynolds was one of us! Yes, he was born in Michigan but at age 10 he and his family made their way to the Sunshine State, so he’s one of ours!
Burt became an actor by accident. He attended Florida State University on a Football Scholarship (in high school he had been named both ALL STATE and ALL SOUTHERN as a fullback). In his sophomore year, he injured his knee. He later injured the other knee, and ruptured his spleen, in an automobile accident. These injuries hampered his ability and, seeing his dreams of playing professional football dashed, he decided to look for a career. After hearing him read Shakespeare in English class, his professor convinced Reynolds to try out for a play he was producing, called Outward Bound. Reynolds won the lead role and, for his performance, was given the Florida State Drama Award.
With the award came a summer at the Hyde Park Playhouse in New York. There Burton met actress Joanne Woodward, who introduced him to agents in the area. This lead to his first appearance on Broadway, in the play Look We’ve Come Through, earning good reviews. He went on the road with the show but soon found himself out of work. However, he soon found himself in the company of Mister Roberts, with Charlton Heston in the lead role. The play’s director got Reynolds an audition for the film Sayonara, but that film’s director, Joshua Logan, informed Reynolds he couldn’t use him as he looked too much like the film’s star, Marlon Brando. Logan did encourage Reynolds to go to Hollywood, where he soon found himself in small roles on television.
His big break came when he starred on the television show Riverboat. He gained more fame when he joined the cast of Gunsmoke as Quint Asper, a “half-breed” blacksmith. As his success in television grew, he began doing films, including Angel Baby and Navajo Joe. Reportedly producer Albert Broccoli asked Reynolds to be George Lazenby’s replacement as James Bond, but Reynolds turned him down, being unable to imagine an American playing the British secret agent.“Deliverance” made Reynolds a star
Reynolds ascended to star status with his role in the film Deliverance. The film, coupled with Reynolds appearing as the centerfold of “Playgirl” magazine began a run of success that would, by the end of the decades, see him named as the most popular actor in Hollywood.“COSMO” made him a legend!
His meteoric box office run included such films as The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, White Lightning, Gator, The Longest Yard, Lucky Lady and the second most popular film of 1977: Smokey and the Bandit (damn you, Star Wars!) 1978 gave us all a double shot of classic Reynolds, as both Hooper and The End are released.
As the 1980s rolled in, he continued his streak with roles in Smokey and the Bandit 2, Cannonball Run, Best Friends and Paternity. He also took more interest behind the camera, directing several of his films, including Sharky’s Machine, which was both a box office and critical success. Having released an album in the early 70s, Reynolds was a natural to star opposite Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He later went on to star on the long running television series Evening Shade, earning an Emmy as Best Actor in a comedy.Burt sings! One of the prizes on my record shelf!
Though he has played many an iconic character, Reynolds also turned down many roles that made other actors stars. Besides James Bond, he turned down the role of Han Solo in Star Wars, Michael in The Godfather and John McClain in Die Hard. The one role he regrets turning down was one written especially for him, that of former astronaut Garret Breedlove in Terms of Endearment. Citing a promise to his friend Hal Needham to do the film Stroker Ace, Reynolds turned the role down. The part was given to Jack Nicholson, who would go on to win the Academy Award as Best Supporting /Actor for his work. The one role he’s glad he turned down? Edward, the lonely businessman played by Richard Gere in Pretty Woman. Reynolds actually repeatedly turned down the role that would bring him his only Oscar nomination, that of Jack Horner, the adult film director in Boogie Nights.
We at Media Mikes have many fond memories of Burt Reynolds. Both Mikes (and our wives) met up in New Jersey, where Reynolds was scheduled to be a guest at the Chiller Theater convention. Due to scheduling reasons, Reynolds could not attend, but we spent the weekend making each other laugh as we all tried to impersonate Reynolds classic, high pitched “Ha-ha!” laugh. In 2011, Mike G. got the envious job of getting to interview Reynolds for the site. You can read that interview HERE
And if you want to hear that classic laugh, click HERE.Breaker, breaker to the Bandit. Keep those wheels spinning and the beavers grinning. R,I.P. sir.
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Amazon Studios to give (40) lucky readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “Life Itself.”
The film will be shown on Wednesday, September 19th at the B&B Overland Park 16 Theatre in Overland Park, Kansas and will begin at 7:30 p.m.
All you have to do is click HERE. The first (40) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once the (40) passes have been claimed, the giveaway has ended. Good Luck!
Last year my wife gifted my son and I gift cards to the new-to-Kansas City attraction known as TOPGOLF.. TOPGOLF is basically an elevated driving range with various targets which you can hit to score points while competing against your friends. Sounds fun, I know, but the constant hassles are not worth the energy and time spent.
Depending on where you live, the hourly rates may differ from the ones in KC. Here the cost is $25 an hour if you go before noon, $35 an hour between noon and five o’clock and $45 an hour after five. We got there at 11:30 a.m. and were sent to one of the elevated tees. We were going to play for two hours (thinking since we were there before noon that the cost would be $50.00) but learned that, even if you’re there before noon, once the clock strikes “12” the price goes up. Not wanting to pay $60 we elected for play for 90 mins at a cost of $42.50.
My son “signed in” to the game and his name appeared on the screen. We tried to “add a player” but were unable to. I finally signaled one of the employees and he came over. We explained the situation and he said that I’d have to pay $5.00 to add my name. I told him we had already paid for the time and he told me that there is also a $5.00 charge to come in. It reminded me of the old casinos here in Kansas City -when they first opened you had to pay a $15.00 “docking fee” to go inside. That’s right…you had to give them money for them to allow you to spend your money! I agreed to pay the five bucks and we began hitting balls.
At TOPGOLF, if you want a ball you have to wave your club over a sensor, which then has a machine spit a ball out. Sadly for us, you had to wave your club over the sensor repeatedly…sometimes five or six times…before a ball came out. The constant wait for a ball obviously ate into our time. Also, we would alternate our shots but sometimes, even though I was noted as the player up, after I hit the ball it would suddenly change to my son and award him the points. At 12:15 everything stopped and a message on the screen told us we had 15-minutes left to play. As we had signed up for 90-minutes we were surprised to see this. After a few minutes I tracked down the same employee. Again he came over and pushed some buttons. “You only paid for an hour,” he told us. “No,” I said, “we requested 90 minutes. The cost was $42.50.” Again, he had to push some buttons. The whole exchange probably took another five minutes off of our playing time. I mentioned that and he shrugged. It was obvious he could care less. I jokingly said to my son, “well, this isn’t going to look good in my write up.” As if I had flicked a switch, he immediately showed some interest in us, asking if there was anything he could do for us. I told him “no.” A few minutes the manager approached us and asked the same thing. I explained to her all of the problems we had had and how we had probably lost 15-minutes of our time to glitches. Obviously she felt that, despite hearing about all of the problems we had had, none of them qualified for the “something I can do” request to be followed up with actually doing something. No “I’m sorry, let me extend your time” or “I’m sorry, let me get you a pass to come back another time. Like the previous employee, she just shrugged. She walked away, we finished up and left.
Maybe when everything is working properly TOPGOLF is a fun time. But if I’m going to drop $45, I’m going to play 18 holes.
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at 20th Century Fox to give (50) lucky readers and a guest the chance to be among the first in Kansas City to see the new film “The Predator” at an advance screening.
The screening will be held on Monday, September 10th at the AMC Town Center Theatre in Leawood, Kansas. It will begin at 7:00 p.m.
All you have to do is click HERE. The first (50) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once all of the passes have been claimed, the giveaway has ended. Good Luck!
“Astro,” the latest film from filmmaker Asif Akbar, took home two awards at the 14th Annual Action on Film International Film Festival which was held this past weekend in Las Vegas.
Actor Gary Daniels was named the Best Male Action Performer of the Year while the film’s costume design was given the Best Costume award. “Astro” had received a total of (5) nominations, including Best Action Sequence, Best Fight Choreography and Best Sci-Fi Feature Film.
“The competition at this year’s festival was tremendous and we are proud and excited of our five nominations and two awards,” said Akbar, the film’s director and co-writer.
For a look at an exclusive clip, click HERE
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures to give (35) readers and a guest the chance to be the first to see their latest film, “God Bless the Broken Road,” which will be screened on Wednesday, September 5th at the B&B Lee’s Summit Theatre. The screening will start at 7:00 pm.
All you have to do is click HERE. The first (35) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once the (35) passes have been claimed, the giveaway has ended. GOOD LUCK!
GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD
Wednesday, September 6, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.
B&B Lee’s Summit Theatre, Lee’s Summit, Missouri
@gbbrmovie #BlessAVet #GBBR
#BlessAVet is a huge initiative for this film launched in partnership with Disabled American Veterans, Fandango, and the film God Bless the Broken Road where people can contribute to give a veteran a night out to dinner and to go see God Bless the Broken Road in theaters this September. Visit http://bit.ly/BlessAVetGen for more information!
“MAXIMUM IMPACT is the biggest film in my career and I’m so glad it was recognized in such a great way! I’m also happy to receive the “Breakout Action Star Award” and would like to thank “Action on Film International Film Festival” and Mr. Del Weston for this honor. But I couldn’t be here without my idols Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ralf Moeller and Matthias Hues so I would like to thank them too for all the inspiration and support over the years!” said Nevsky.
THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks and Joel McHale
Directed by: Brian Henson
Running time: 1 hr 31 mins
It’s been almost exactly 35 years since I met Jim Henson.
In September 1983 I was at the World Science Fiction Convention in Baltimore, where one of the films being promoted that year was “The Muppets Take Manhattan.” Knowing Mr. Henson was going to be in attendance I took a couple photos with me. One of him and Kermit the Frog taken behind the scenes of “The Muppet Movie” and one from “The Dark Crystal.” I tracked him down and he very graciously signed both. I got lucky because he happened to be walking around with Gary Kurtz, who produced “The Dark Crystal,” so I got his autograph also. He was very friendly and, in speaking with him, I could tell he had a great sense of humor. Which tells me he would love his son’s latest film, “The Happytime Murders.”
(Ominous voice) “In a world where humans and puppets live together….”
Meet Phil Phillips (voiced by Bill Barretta). He’s a former puppets cop turned private detective. Actually, he’s been the ONLY puppet cop. Due to a mishap that led to the killing of an innocent bystander, Phil was fired and a law was put into place forbidding puppets to be police officers. One day Phil is hired by a mysterious lady-puppet. His leads take him to an adult bookstore, where he runs into Bumblypants, one of the puppet characters of the popular 80’s kids show “The Happytime Gang.” As Phil investigates another part of the shop, Bumblypants is murdered. Soon, other members of the cast are also brutally murdered and the finger points at Phil. Can he clear his name? Maybe.
A fun combination of live-action and puppets, “The Happytime Murders” is an outrageously raunchy look at what life may have been like on a certain “Street” if that show had taken place in the worse part of the worse town ever. In the world of “Happytime” humans and puppets co-exist, though the puppets are often horribly treated. Call it “Apuppethied.” Phil’s former police partner, Detective Connie Edwards (McCarthy) is called in to investigate the case and must reluctantly team up with Phil before the entire cast of the show is murdered. Along the way they must deal with a world full of sex, drugs and violence. This isn’t your parent’s “Street.”
Let me say this up front (or in the middle): THIS IS NOT A KIDS MOVIE. Don’t be fooled by the puppets and the bright lights. Taking a child to this film will traumatize them for life. So, again, unless you want to see a puppet re-enactment of Sharon Stone’s famous reveal from “Basic Instinct,” or want to explain to your little one what an eight-armed reach-around is, leave them home. That being sad, THIS IS AN ADULTS MOVIE. The jokes are funny, the visuals outrageous and the overall mood of the film will put a smile on your face. The combination of human and puppet characters is well portrayed, and as the film goes on, you forget your watching puppets. They become believable characters, which is what you need to make a film work, especially a comedy. Like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” the melding of human and non-human characters is seamless. Well, except for the seams on the puppets. J