Titus Paar talks creating an animatronic bear in “Fear of the Woods”

Titus Paar is the director of the new upcoming survival horror film “Fear of the Woods”s starring Vernon Wells (“Commando”, “The Road Warrior”). The film just released it’s trailer to the world and has been taking over the internet since doing so.

Here is the official synopsis for the film is “Alaska 1993, A snowstorm has trapped the small mountain town. Now it’s up to a group of rebellious teenagers to save their town that don’t believe in monsters.’

The film boasts a fully animatronic bear with no CGI and looks absolutely killer (see the trailer below). Media Mikes had a chance to ask Titus a few questions about the film and also his work with Steven Seagal.

What made you want to make a killer bear movie with “Fear of the Woods”?

When I was around 6 years old I saw the anime Silver Fang for the first time, it blew me away and that bear was the coolest monster I had ever seen (And still is)As I started making movies around 15 the dream began of one day making a live action movie called Fear of the Woods and capture the essence of the Bear in Silver Fang but with a new story.And now here we are, 30 years older making that kids dream come true.  

Tell us about the decision to use an animatronic bear and no CGI for the film?

My style of directing is to mix something old and familiar with something new that I made up. I just make movie I want to see but doesn’t exist, from a fan of film standpoint.This is a retro creature movie and I wanted to pay tribute to the guys that did it all in camera.And once I found out that we had an amazing creature work shop in Sweden called fixas.se it was nothing to think twice about.With movies like Jaws, you see its fake but you don´t care because it was there for real, that shark existed and moved like that and ate the actors. Same with our movie, we had that animatronic bear in arctic temperatures, with the maker of the creature, inside the bear operating him from inside so he could walk and run, while another guy controlled the head, mouth, eyes, smoke machine. So much fun and man but so much hard work.

I have a feeling this was a difficult shoot; Can you tell us a little about the production? 

This film truly was a struggle to make in every way. The sun went up at 9 and pitch-black at 3 so we didn’t have lunch breaks or any break really. There was two meter snow so you couldn’t walk without falling and sinking down to you belly and you know I got 74 year old Hollywood star Vernon Wells coming in. And he is supposed to be running in this with a 20 kilo coat on him, being chased by an animatronic bear in tracking shots and VFX setups… So yeah everything was hard. It´s just hard being outside in that kind of cold and we where shooting up on a mountain.But the team is used to work in these conditions and my DP Marcus Möller is one of the beat nature DPs there is so he was a big life savior. Big Camera rig, running with snow shoes all days because the director wanted to have long sweeping takes 🙂 But hey it was worth it, it looks amazing.

Insane shoot for sure. Think we all lost a bit of weight falling around in that snow, digging out the snowmobile while battling the clock. I hate filming in studios, this was a true adventure and it shows in the film. Below is the location and the film is by Marcis Möller:

Tell us about the tagline “Jaws meets Strangers Things and Silver Fang”? 

Its not the tagline but I want my influences to show. This is a combination of these things mashed together in my imagination where I just take stuff that makes my blood pump and the only read thread is me liking it really. Jaws, Jurassic park and yeah the way Spielberg makes creature movies, where the film around the creature is so interesting that the film works even if you take out the creature. Stranger Things for the homage to a time period, we are in the 90s in my movie. But it’s our version of the 90s like Stranger Things is using the 80s but making it their own universe. Silver fang is the horror in snow and the idea to bring Akakabouto to life.

How did you get “Mad Max 2″/”Commando” star Vernon Wells to appear in the film? 

Vernon and I have been friends for like 10 years. Tried to make a few movies before but movies fall apart all the time, it’s a miracle when they get made.Managed to make one together before, he has a fun part in my crazy Seagal movie Perfect Weapon. Love the guy. Grew up watching him in Mad Max and wanted to look like him (I still sport the Wez mohawke) He is a great actor and I mean he is movie history, I hope he gets to make bigger films again after this, he’ll win some awards for this role, some of his best work ever. 

I read he also did all of his own stunts at the age of 74? 

Yeah that man doesn’t complain. I asked him if I was going to bring in a stunt double and MZ stunts was ready to bring in a guy (I mean I did a Seagal film and Seagal has a stunt double for walking and he is 12 years younger than Vernon) He just looked at me and said. I’ll be alright as long as I can use my wheelchair… What do you think? I´m a fucking 80s action star I do all my own stunts. Well what can I say, he did almost kill Arnold (Schwarzenegger) and Mel (Gibson)…

Now that the trailer has been tearing up the internet; when can horror fans expect the release of this film? 

We are still in post on the film but we will do some festivals first. Want to win some awards for this and we will. So when the world opens up there are a lot of horror festivals around Halloween that will showcase it. But we also want to compete in mainstream festivals with this one, it has something fresh and people really dig it. Makes me so happy. You never know when you make these little more out-there movies if anyone else but you will like them.So it makes you very happy when they do. I have seen both sides, I won so many awards and gotten 5 star reviews many times but also been bashed like hell online and in reviews. So it’s nice to be praised for sure.

Your previous film “The Perfect Weapon”, starring Steven Seagal, was recently #1 on Netflix; what was it like working with Seagal? 

Seagal is a hard man to work with. But I knew that walking in to make that movie so I was prepared for it.It was fun doing a 80-90s B-action tribute with him, Vernon Wells and Richard Tyson from Kindergarten Cop. It was never clear in the marketing like I wanted that the movie is an ironic tribute to the B-action genre, so it was bashed for being too B. But that was the point to make the ultimate B movie. It did very well financially, was released worldwide by SONY even went theatrical in Japan and Dubai.The film brought me to Hollywood so I´m grateful to Seagal for taking a chance on me, but I would not do another Seagal movie. Working with much better and bigger talent now on my upcoming movies, you´ll see soon.I´ll say this doe, I like that Seagal is just like you expect him to be, he is larger than life, it’s not an act he puts on, I get bored easily but I was never bored hanging around with Seagal. I got so many good Seagal stories but I only tell them to people that buy me a drink.

Hey thank you Media Mikes for caring about my little crazy movie, means the world to me and the team that made it.Hope you get to see it in a festival or a platform later this year. Looking forward to hear your thoughts.

Billy Bryan talks about playing Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters, Dune and Army of Darkness

Billy Bryan is the man who created the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man suit for Ghostbusters as well as the man inside. He is also one of the puppeteers for Chucky in Child’s Play and also played the Pit Bitch in Army of Darkness.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Billy about his role in Ghostbusters as well as Dune, Child’s Play, Army of Darkness, Men in Black and meeting Dave Grohl for his work on Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny.

Robert Wuhl talks about Tim Burton’s Batman and the legacy of HBO’s Arli$$

Robert Wuhl is best known as the creator and star of the television comedy series Arli$$ (1996–2002) and for his portrayal of newspaper reporter Alexander Knox in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989).

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Robert about working with Tim Burton on Batman, his appearance in Supergirl and the legacy of Arli$$.

Diane Franklin talks about Better Off Dead, Terrorvision and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Diane Franklin is an icon from the 80’s having starred in “The Last American Virgin”, “Amityville II: The Possession”, “Better Off Dead”, “Terrorvision” and “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”.

She is also an author with her latest book titled “Diane Franklin: The Excellent Curls of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s”.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Diane to discuss her rise to fame and also her current work in “The Amityville Murders”.

Television/Streaming Review: ESPN 30 for 30 – “Long Gone Summer’

On September 8, 1998 my son Phillip, his friend Bobby and I drove from Kansas City to St. Louis to take in that evening’s Cardinals/Cubs match-up. We witnessed baseball history when J.D. Drew hit his first career home run. I’ve told this story for over two decades.

Most people know Todd MacFarlane as the creator of the popular SPAWN comics and his amazing toys. He is also a huge baseball fan. We learn that as the film begins with McFarlane bidding almost $3 million to purchase a baseball. But not any baseball. This is the ball hit by Mark McGwire for his 70th home run, at the time a new record. The summer of 1998 was a big one for baseball. After the players strike in 1994 caused the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in history, the game began to draw fans back in 1995 when Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripken, Jr. played in his 2131st consecutive game. But the summer of 1998 is the one that drew fans, old and new, to the game. It was the summer McGwire and Chicago Cub Sammy Sosa swung their way into the history books.

“Long Gone Summer” not only chronicles both players assault on Roger Maris’ then-record of 61 home runs in a season, but the effect the challenge had on America. People that had sworn off baseball after the strike left a bitter taste in their mouth began to pay attention to the game again, while people who had never shown interest began to watch. Having been in Camden Yards when Ripken set his milestone I was already a fan so I followed the exploits of McGwire and Sosa daily, ensuring that ESPN’s SPORTCENTER was a must-see every night.

As the film follows McGwire, Sosa and, for a time, Ken Griffey, Jr, it also talks with some baseball fans who are household names, among them Bob Costas and George Will. Also interviewed are Roger Maris’ sons, as well as Cardinal’s broadcasters Jack Buck (though archival footage) and Mike Shannon. The race had a personal feel to Shannon, who had been a Cardinal teammate of Roger Maris in the mid 1960s.

But the big voices here belong to the two players themselves. McGwire explains his lifelong desire to hit the ball far while Sosa talks about the fun he had. What they don’t talk about are the accusations that both were using performance enhancing drugs. In fact, in a show that runs almost 1 3/4 hours, PED’s are not mentioned until the 45 minute mark, when a container of Androstenedione is spotted in McGwire’s locker. He brushes the questions off, noting that Andro is available over the counter. It’s almost another 45 minutes before the subject comes up again.

Of the two players, McGwire comes off the best. He is insightful in looking back at what he describes as both the best, and worst, time of his life. Sosa, speaking perfect English – when he testified before Congress he had to have his attorney read his statement, as he felt his English wasn’t strong -is more concerned with relaying the fun times he had that summer. Archival interviews with both – again with Sosa speaking English like a native – gives a look into the love and respect Big Mac and Slammin’ Sammy had for each other. As the season ends, McGwire finishes with 70 home runs, Sosa with 66. Sosa would hit 63 the next year and Baroid Bonds would hit 73 in 2001. By then, the PED cat was out of the bag and, in the almost 20 years since Bonds, no one has hit 60 home runs in a season.

Given an opportunity to confirm whether or not he juiced, Sosa will only say that “Everybody was doing them.” After years of denial, in 2010 McGwire admitted to using PED’s. His admission and apology seemed sincere to me. So much so that I can tell you that, on September 8, 1998, my son Phillip, his friend Bobby and I drove from Kansas City to St. Louis to take in that evening’s Cardinals/Cubs match-up. We witnessed baseball history when Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run of the season over the left field fence, directly below where we were sitting. No disrespect to J.D. Drew, but this story is more exciting.

“Long Gone Summer” airs this Sunday night at 8:00 pm EST on ESPN and will stream directly afterwards on ESPN+.

Film Review: “The King of Staten Island”

THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND
Starring:  Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei and Steve Buscemi
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Rated:  R
Running time:  2 hrs 16 mins
Universal

Scott Carlin (Davidson) sits on the couch with some friends, enjoying their company.  One of them notices a tattoo on Scott’s arm and asks him the significance.  His attitude seems to change as he informs the questioner that the ink commemorates the day his father died.  Upset that she made have upset Scott, she begins to apologize, to which Scott and the others burst into laughter as if it’s no big deal.  “Knock, knock,” one of them says.  “Who’s there,” Scott queries.  “Not your dad!”

A dark comedy featuring an unexpectedly powerful performance from Pete Davidson, “The King of Staten Island” takes a look at a young man who is still struggling to understand the eternal question, “why?”  Based in part on Davidson’s own family experience – his father bravely died while attempting to rescue people inside the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel on September 11, 2001 – the film, which Davidson also co-wrote with director Apatow and Dave Sirus, is an often funny, sometimes tragic look at a life forever changed in a single tragic moment.

Scott, age 24, still lives at home with his mother, Margie (an excellent Tomei) and pretty much spends his days hanging out with his friends, smoking weed and trying to get a job as a tattoo artist.  Scott’s own body is covered in tats, some professional and others not-so professional.  Things change when, while partying with his friends in the woods a young boy wanders by.  He’s encouraged to join the group and even agrees for Scott to give him a tattoo.  Of course, as soon as the needle touches his skin he jumps up and runs away.  Soon the young man and his father are on Scott’s doorstep.  Dad is not angry.  Marcie tries to intervene but the man continues yelling.  When he asks to speak to Scott’s father he is informed that he is dead and this softens the man a bit.  When he returns later to apologize he asks Marcie out.  After 17 years Marcie has begun to live for herself again.  Scott is unhappy with the situation and even more so when he learns that Marcie’s new friend is a fireman.

As I noted earlier, “The King of Staten Island” rests squarely on the narrow shoulders of Pete Davidson.  I’ve found him funny on “Saturday Night Live” – though I can’t help but cringe when he tells 9/11 jokes – and expected him to be funny here.  But it’s the emotional journey Davidson takes that impresses.  Scott has a lot of pent up feelings – as I’m sure Davidson does – and when they are released the feeling is both terrifying and a relief.  Tomei, who appears to be aging in reverse like Benjamin Button, is also well cast here.  And I want to mention a great supporting turn by Steve Buscemi who plays a wizened fireman.  Buscemi was a New York City fireman before becoming an actor and, after 9/11, returned to his old firehouse to assist in searching the rubble at Ground Zero.

It’s mid-June and, even though Hollywood has slowed down a bit in light of the current world situation, there are still films that need to be seen.  “The King of Staten Island” is one of them!  “The King of Staten Island” is now available through Video on Demand.  

Dan Shor talks about TRON, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Star Trek

Dan Shor is know best for playing the supporting character Ram, in the movie, TRON. He also played the character Roy Kleinberg in the TRON: The Next Day epilogue to TRON: Legacy, a role that was reprised from TRON in which the character was listed as “Popcorn Co-Worker”. Besides being a veteran actor, he is also a director, writer and teacher with a career spanning 28 years.

Dan is also known for playing Billy the Kid in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. He also appeared “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek Voyager” playing Dr. Arridor.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Dan about these roles and reflect on the legacy of TRON.

Streaming Review: “You Don’t Nomi”

YOU DON’T NOMI
Directed By: Jeffrey McHale
Starring: Elizabeth Berkley, Paul Verhoeven, Adam Nayman, April Kidwell
Runtime: 92 mins.
RLJE Films

My introduction to Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls was definitely by accident on some random childhood afternoon on a local network because my memories are of a hazy mishmash of ‘why does Jesse-from-Saved by the Bell looked Like That?’ and laughing at the crude 90s tech that they used to ‘paint’ dodgy cgi bras over very naked chests. So in tackling McHale’s documentary You Don’t Nomi, I knew I’d have to take another look. I don’t regret it as such but I was not converted into the cult that this doc’s trailer alluded to. That doesn’t mean You Don’t Nomi isn’t worth a look for the uninitiated. On its surface, You Don’t Nomi may appear a puff piece on something so-bad-it’s-good but it puts in a surprising amount of work to show not only Showgirls’s second life as a camp crowdpleaser but also how a critically reviled film evolves over time–even in the eyes of its filmmakers.

There is no better way to describe the 1995 critical reception to Showgirls than dog pile. It was brutal in that way that it becomes a sport unto itself to find the snarkiest pull quotes. It tanked Elizabeth Berkley’s transition from sitcom actress to the big screen and took the sexual thriller momentum that Verhoeven had in the US off of 1992’s Basic Instinct and sent him back to the more marketable sci-fi with Starship Troopers (Instinct was preceded by Total Recall and Robocop). The doc delves deep into Verhoeven’s career and finds parallels and themes that connect Showgirls back into his work in Europe before he escaped to Hollywood. Unfortunately the documentary did not manage to include modern interviews with any of the creative forces on the film but again, in diving into archived footage, the documentary exposes how Verhoeven and Berkeley in particular have decided over time to try and sell that they knew all along that their film was camp. As one of the speakers in the doc says, camp is “failed seriousness,” so I don’t really buy their attempt to control that narrative but as a storyline in the documentary, it’s very amusing.

Despite the box office flopping, Showgirls found a second life in midnight screenings, drag shows and an off-broadway musical. For me, Nomi hits its stride by zeroing in on the experience that the actress who played Nomi in the musical parody had and the difference it made in her life. Watching her account, as well as those of the drag hosts of sold out midnight showings I kept thinking about that speech from Pixar’s Ratatouille where critic Anton Ego says “the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.” -Hey if McHale can take a campy stripper movie seriously, I can defer to the wisdom of the cartoon rat movie. Even though I couldn’t relate to their obsession, I can certainly pinpoint pop culture hills I will die on and on that level I enjoyed hearing from such a well researched niche.

You Don’t Nomi is now streaming On Demand and digital, an additional review by Mike Gencarelli was posted earlier here

TFF 2020 Shorts: Animated

Note: Though the 2020 Festival was officially postponed due to ongoing pandemic precautions, online screeners and the fest’s press library meant we could still offer coverage of this year’s selections. Tribeca is also participating in the We Are One global film festival, whose streams are being uploaded through June 7th.

Every year the Tribeca Film Festival showcases a wealth of short films from across the globe in all different mediums. Where animation is concerned, the fest turns to acting legend Whoopi Goldberg to curate their lineup. Due to the unprecedented postponement of the festival in New York, I screened this collection from the comfort of my home and would like to highlight my favorites of Goldberg’s picks.

Personal Favorite: Beyond Noh

Beyond Noh

Patrick Smith’s 4 minute foray into every mask you could think of is mesmerizing. The setup is a simple black space with masks from every culture and time around the world rapid-fire shuffling through to a rhythmic drum beat. It’s so simple but so deftly made. This short doesn’t stick to just the fine arts either with detours through American Halloween masks, and the quite topical medical field to boot, it covers all the faces–err, bases.

Award Winner: Friends

Friends

Florian Grolig’s deceptively simple Friends took home the prize for Best Animated Short from the Tribeca Film Festival’s jury and it was well-deserved. It’s just two characters–one very small and one so large we only see its massive hand or foot for most of the runtime– interacting despite the challenges of their massive gap in size. For me, it’s the one that most celebrates the medium of animation. With its simplistic line work morphing through a blank white void accompanied by perfectly pitched breathing from its giant, the scope is clearly conveyed.

Most Star-Studded: The Tiger Who Came to Tea

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Clocking in at 24 mins, Robin Shaw’s adaptation of Judith Kerr’s story is the longest of the program and starts very slow before evolving into something much more fanciful. We watch the cute morning routine of a British family ending with sending the father (Benedict Cumberbatch) off to work for the day while mother (Tamsin Grieg) and daughter (Clara Ross) are home to receive an unusual visitor. The titular tiger voiced by David Oyelowo politely invites himself to their afternoon tea and proceeds to scarf down the whole pantry. The animation on the tiger is utterly charming.

Historic and Beautiful: Kapaemahu

Directors Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hame and Joe Wilson delve deep into Hawaiian history to tell the tale of transgender healing spirits that are behind a landmark often passed by in Waikiki Beach. The use of native voices and music bolsters some gorgeous and warm animation as the tale transcends across time.

Kapaemahu

Additional program titles included “Umbrella” and “Grandad was a Romantic”, which both mine true stories for some lovely animation, and “Bathwell in Clerkentime” which is third in a series whose bouncy black and white animation couples with a soundtrack that may drive you as cuckoo as the birds it follows. (Note: “To Gerard” from Dreamworks artist Taylor Meacham was also selected however was not available to me in the press library at the time of the festival)

Television/Streaming Review: ESPN 30 for 30: BE WATER

I’m old enough to remember watching Bruce Lee as Kato on television’s “The Green Hornet” when it originally aired on ABC. T o me he was just a cool guy who wore a mask and kicked ass. But there was a lot more to Lee, as both an actor and a person, and those remarkable qualities are revealed in the latest ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, BE WATER.

We first meet Lee as he is completing a screen test in 1964. He is quite and soft spoken but, when he is asked to demonstrate some of his martial arts skills, he is a tornado. Even in these few minutes of film, you can see the legend that lie ahead.

Born in San Francisco (his father was a popular Chinese actor and opera performer), Lee’s family returned to Hong Kong shortly after his birth. Like most children, Lee had a mischievous side and his father allowed him to begin acting in films as a child in hopes of curbing his rambunctious attitudes. Finding his idea unsuccessful, his father sends him to Seattle to attend college. It is there that he begins the journey that most fans know. But there is also a lot they don’t and that is revealed here in Lee’s own words. Using archival interviews and quoting his letters, read by his daughter, Shannon, we learn that Lee was a very philosophical man who yearned to bridge the racial prejudice felt in America. He wanted to be able to share and express his culture and was tired of seeing such actors as Mickey Rooney, Marlon Brando and John Wayne portraying Asian characters on screen, usually in ridiculous make up.

Lee’s short-lived small screen stardom begins to fade and he is hopeful for the lead in an upcoming program to be called “Kung Fu.” When he is passed over for the role in favor of David Carradine – we hear the show’s producer proclaim that he could not find an Asian actor he felt could handle the role, he takes his family to Hong Kong,, where he will soon make film history.

BE WATER gets it’s title from a philosophy that Lee often shared in interviews. Water, he notes, is the softest substance on Earth, yet it is strong enough to penetrate rock. It takes the shape of whatever vessel it finds itself in. The film is full of amazing archival footage and the story is told through conversations with not only Lee’s daughter and widow, Linda, but various friends and former students, including Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

On July 20, 1973, Bruce Lee died. 10 days later, “Enter the Dragon” was released, making him an international superstar, ironically a term Lee disliked. His impact on pop culture and racial acceptance is still being felt today. With the current situation the nation, and the world, finds itself in, we could use a man like him today.

BE WATER airs this Sunday night at 9:00 pm EST on ESPN. It will stream afterwards on ESPN+. Don’t miss it!

Lia Beldam aka The Women from Room 237 talks about her role in “The Shining” and reflects on the films 40th Anniversary

You may not know Lia Beldam by name but she is forever the Woman from Room 237 in “The Shining” and also recently reprised in “Ready Player One”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Lia about her role and the legacy of the film celebrating it’s 40th anniversary.

Also be sure to check out our first interview with Lia back in 2013 – https://mediamikes.com/2013/04/lia-beldam-reflects-on-her-role-as-room-237s-guest-in-stanley-kubricks-the-shining/

Film Review “Becky”

“Becky” is a film I normally would have never thought to watch but with the stunning cast, I figured it would be worth a try. Lulu Wilson (The Haunting of Hill House) delivers a kick-ass brutal performance. Kevin James plays a Neo-Nazi villain…yes! He plays the villain and really knocks it out the park. James is one nasty son-bitch and his is performance is fantastic. We even have a dramatic take from funnyman Joel McHale. This film is mega gory, fast paced and is a blast to watch.

Official Premise: Spunky and rebellious, Becky (Lulu Wilson) is brought to a weekend getaway at a lake house by her father Jeff (Joel McHale) in an effort to try to reconnect. The trip immediately takes a turn for the worse when a group of convicts on the run, led by the merciless Dominick (Kevin James), suddenly invade the lake house.

You can call this film an ultra-violent take on Home Alone. That is all I kept thinking when watching. Becky is one tough and creative girl in the film. The kills in the film are so creative and wicked gory that you will have to turn and look the other way. Literally, I was blown away by this film. I can’t wait to watch it again. The film will be released in select theater, drive-in, on demand and digital on June 5th. “Becky” is definitely a film to see with an audience, I would love to hear the reactions from others while watching it.

BECKY WILL SCREEN AT THE BELOW THEATERS & DRIVE-INS ON JUNE 5TH:

IOWA: Superior 71 Drive-In, Blue Grass Drive-In
INDIANA: Garrett Drive-In, Tri Way 4 Drive-In
KENTUCKY: Regency 8
MASSACHUSETTS: Mendon Twin Drive-In
MINNESOTA: Long Drive-In
NORTH CAROLINA: Hounds Drive-In, Raleigh Road Drive-In, Badin Road Drive-In, Eden Drive-In
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Milford Drive-In 2
NEW JERSEY: Delsea Drive-In
NEW YORK: Transit Drive-In, Silver Lakes Drive-In, Sunset 3 Drive-In, Vintage Drive-In, Delevan Twin Drive-In
OHIO: Mayfield Road Drive-In, Skyway Drive-In, South Drive-In Twin, Tiffin Drive-In, Starview Drive-In, Springmill Drive-In, Magic City Twin Drive-In, Van-Del Drive-In, Dixie Drive-In, Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-In, Elm Road Triple Drive-In, Field of Dreams Drive-In
OKLAHOMA: Tower Drive-In
PENNSYLVANIA: Garden Drive-In, Circle Drive-In, Comet Twin Drive-In, Kane Family Drive-In, Riverside Drive-In, Silver Drive-In, Skyview Twin Drive-In
SOUTH CAROLINA: Hi-Way 21 Drive-In
TENNESSEE: Stardust Drive-In
WISCONSIN: Stardust Drive-In

Film Review “You Don’t Nomi”

I remember wanting to see “Showgirls” back in 1995 but since it was rated NC-17, I couldn’t get in. I was only 13 years old at the time. But I do remember renting it at Blockbuster once it was on video and I remember falling in love. Yes, I know how bad the movie is but at the same time it is also so good. That is what this documentary, YOU DON’T NOMI, is about. It focuses on the legacy of “Showgirls” and how it has become a cult classic over the last 25 years. Yes, it’s crazy to think that it is 25 years old already.

Official Premise: In YOU DONT NOMI, a chorus of film critics and fervent devotees explore the complicated afterlife of 1995s biggest film flop, Paul Verhoeven’s SHOWGIRLS, from disastrous release to cult adoration and extraordinary redemption. The films features Adam Nayman (Vice Guide to Film), April Kidwell (I, Nomi) and Peaches Christ (Milk). 

Even though the main topic of “You Don’t Nomi” is “Showgirls”, the film is also a retrospective of Verhoeven’s directing career from “RoboCop”, “Total Recall”, “Basic Instinct”, “Starship Troopers” and “Elle”, among others. It showcases the themes that unite his films. Verhoeven definitely is a unique director as well as a controversial figure all at the same time. All of Verhoeven’s films have pushed the limits with sexuality and violence.

The documentary is extremely interesting to watch whether you are a fan of “Showgirls” and Verhoeven or not. It features great interviews discusses the fandom around “Showgirls” and how people love this film so much. What is cool about this documentary is that you don’t even need to be a fan of this film to enjoy it. It talks about how people actually have hated it but it grew on them over the years. Whether you believe it or no, this film despite being called trash during it’s release is a piece of art.

“You Don’t Nomi” will be available On Demand and Digital on June 9. I highly recommend checking it out to get an in depth look at the film that was a box office bomb but has since become a huge cult classic.

MediaMikes posted an additional review for the streaming release here!

Television/Streaming Review: ESPN 30 for 30 – LANCE

In 2008 I was driving through downtown Kansas City when I was amazed at the sight of a seven-story banner of Lance Armstrong hanging from the building where my wife worked.  I called her and asked about it and she informed me that her company – an investment management firm – had partnered with Armstrong to promote his LIVESTRONG investments.  Hearing this, I asked her “and what happens when it finally comes out that he was a cheater?”  “Hopefully that isn’t true,” she replied.

LANCE, the latest episode in ESPN’s brilliant “30 for 30” documentary series, is a two part look at the rise and the fall of one of the most celebrated athletes in American history.  Episode one begins with Armstrong telling director Marina Zenovich how he knows there are many people that, upon seeing him, just want to scream out “F**k you, Lance,” but seldom do.  He also recounts how, once when a group heading into a restaurant did just that, he called the restaurant, informed the manager that he would pay for their dinner and asked the manager to inform the party that “Lance loves you.”  Unfortunately, Lance also loves himself.

We are introduced to the young man that would go on to “win” seven consecutive Tour de France bicycle races, the most prestigious race in the world.  He played several sports as a kid but didn’t excel in any of them.  He tried swimming and developed a passion.  Entering triathlons introduced him to competitive cycling, which is where he found his calling.  Then, his life was dealt a blow when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.  Beating major odds, Armstrong not only survived his ordeal but returned to competitive cycling.  He also returned to a dark secret he had been hiding – taking performance enhancing doses of such banned (in competitive sports) substances as EPO and Andrial.  He admits this rather non-chalantly, falling back often on the old “everyone else was doing it” excuse.

However, in Episode two, which airs this Sunday night on ESPN (and will be available afterwards on ESPN+) the true Armstrong comes through.  Like many athletes, Armstrong was set on winning at any cost, allegedly going so far as to inform the anti-doping agency that a rival cyclist was juicing.  Like many people in denial, Armstrong was like a pit bull in his defense of his reputation.  Whether using his cancer as a sympathy ploy or slandering his accusers (while testifying in an inquiry he calls one woman who filed a deposition alleging his cheating a whore) or using his status and power to destroy other riders, he comes off as a man who still feels that he’s done nothing wrong.

Part two also looks at Armstrong’s effect on those close to him.  His son, who played college football, is asked if he would ever use performance drugs.  His reply – that he only wants to succeed through his own hard work – is heartfelt and honest.  That’s what all athletes want to do.  Asked if he still considers himself relevant, Armstrong declares, “I AM relevant.”  He also refers to former U.S. Postal Service team mate Floyd Landis – who was the rider that finally outed Armstrong’s doping – as a “piece of s**t.”  Other team members relate that Lance was fine with them as long as they kept his secret but, at the slightest hint of disloyalty they were gone.

On the positive side, the film also takes a look at the magnificent work that the Lance Armstrong Foundation and LIVESTRONG have done in support of cancer patients everywhere.  Thanks to Armstrong’s popularity hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised for these organizations (I’ll admit that I bought a LIVESTRONG bracelet when they came out).  And this achievement allows Armstrong to ask if the ends justify the means.  Would this money have been raised if not for him?

In the end, you come away with a man who still doesn’t accept responsibility for anything (except his divorce).  He also laments the hardship he endured having to date such celebrities as Cheryl Crow and Kate Hudson.  Wahh!

I’m not sure if I’ll ever run into Lance Armstrong on the street so let me just say here, for the record, “Hey Lance – F**k you!”

TFF 2020 Shorts: LOL

Among the sections I most look forward to each year at the Tribeca Film Festival are the comedy shorts. This year the lineup, titled collectively under “LOL” were presented online in lieu of the postponed festival. Here are my thoughts on this year’s program:

Personal Favorite: I Can Change!

Jim Jenkins’s plays with time travel creatively and with perfect deployment of brief special effects. John Hoogenakker stars as a groom who is gifted the ability to stop time and uses it ostensibly to “better” himself for his bride-to-bride. How? Well he freezes his bride and their friends in time at their wedding chapel while he disappears to the outside world for a blink of an eye and returns a whole new man having spent the time, for example, training to be a doctor. The simplistic way the “time travel” is achieved recalls some of the clever shortcuts something like Bill & Ted used–ie just stating their time travel intent means we immediately get to the consequences, sparing us the time trip. The pacing of the escalation in Hoogenakker’s jumps until the film taps into a big sci-fi finale is really fun.

Second Fave: Query

Jay and Alex spend nine minutes mulling over sexuality–both their own and its larger place in society–as they hang out. It’s nothing Earth shattering, but the natural rapport between the two leads (Justice Smith and Graham Patrick Martin) is really charming and it’s nice to see a pair of young guys just delving into their thoughts on the matter not in some overwrought or homophobic manner, but just chilling, and with enough friendly mocking to keep things funny. And to bolster this strong duo, you also get a brief run in with Call Me By Your Name’s Armie Hammer!

Overlong: John Bronco

Walton Goggins stars as a disgraced cowboy car pitchman John Bronco in a star-studded, but overlong mockumentary. I was excited for this one, generally always glad to see Goggins get to play over the top, but the film gets to the core of what the joke is with John Bronco relatively early and hammers on it over and over instead of advancing the plot. It’s 36 minute runtime could have been halved and achieve the same beats, though I understand why the filmmakers may have been reticent to cut any of the big cameos they got. Kudos for getting the MicroMachines pitchman (John Moschitta Jr) back on screen with his rapid-fire speech patterns though!

Additional program titles included the clever meet cute of One Last Heist–a romcom wrapped in a robbery from Canada, A Piece of Cake starring “Glow’s” Rich Sommer as a desperate dad and Egg which takes viewers from a simple diner and spirals it into a grand adventure.

Note: Though the 2020 Festival was officially postponed due to ongoing pandemic precautions, online screeners and the fest’s press library mean we can still offer coverage of this year’s selections while looking forward to getting back to the fest in the future!
Check out all our TFF 2020 coverage HERE

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