Monday, September 12, 2016

Phil reminisces and says goodbye to the Camera 12 Cinemas Downtown San Jose - September 8, 2016

Having been born and raised in San Jose, over the years I have watched the South Bay transform into the Silicon Valley. During this time, I also watched Downtown San Jose change as well. But for the past 12 years, I would frequent the Camera 12 Cinemas, one of my favorite movie theaters in town. I saw a plethora of films from all genres here. It was also the home for the Cinequest Film Festival, the then called San Francisco Asian American Film Festival (now CAAMFest at the Camera 3), the Camera Cinema Club, the Midnight Movie series which I hosted, special advance screenings and so forth. It was my home away from home. When I moved to the Sacramento area about a year ago, I thought that I'd come back to visit one day and see a movie there. However, I read the terrible news on Facebook this morning: The Camera 12 Cinemas was closing on September 9, 2016.

I visited the Camera Cinemas' website, looking for more information about the closing. Here is what Jack NyBlom, co-founder of the Camera Cinemas, wrote on the website:

"A message to our Camera 12 family,

It is with much sadness that, in spite of our best efforts, we cannot keep Camera 12 open any longer. A decade’s loss of revenue from a promised growing downtown residential market, that’s just now coming online, coupled with the staggering costs of maintaining a large, aging, poorly designed building has led us to this decision to close.

This closure does not affect our thriving Camera 3 and Camera 7 cineplexes.

I’m proud to say that Camera Cinemas is one of the oldest continuously operating businesses in the downtown. In 1975, my partners, fellow San Jose State University students and incurable film buffs Jim Zuur and Dennis Skaggs, and I rehabbed a former South First Street shoe store and turned it into Camera One. We were tired of driving to Berkeley or San Francisco for art, foreign and independent films. A few years later, we opened Camera 3 in downtown San Jose. In 1989, nationally renowned Cinequest Film Festival debuted at Camera 3 and grew into Camera 12 over the years.

In 2004, Camera Cinemas reopened the failed United Artists 8-screen cineplex at Paseo de San Antonio as Camera 12 Cinemas, finally bringing first-run movies on a regular basis to downtown for the first time in 40 years. It’s estimated we’ve drawn an estimated 20 million moviegoers to downtown San Jose, contributing more than $200,000,000 to its economy.

On behalf of my partners and investors, I wish to thank our staff for their dedicated service, and the community leaders and tens of thousands of patrons who’ve kept the Cameras rolling for so many years.

To customers holding Camera Cinemas gift and discount cards they will be honored at Camera 3 and Camera 7.

In time, I’m confident that downtown San Jose will be home to a new cinema experience. Thank you for your understanding and support.

Jack NyBlom" 

I can't explain to you all just how devastating this news means to not only me, but to those who work there, the patrons who've been coming there for years, the film festivals and events, this changes the downtown landscape drastically. The Camera 12 Cinemas was a place that people that people would gather to see extraordinary films, commerce with friends, meet local and independent filmmakers and just celebrate life through art. 

It is now Monday, September 12, 2016 and the Camera 12 is now closed forever. If I was still living in San Jose, I would've left work early on that Friday, went to the first mantine show and stayed till the very last frame of film went through their projector. Then I would've made sure I was the last patrons there, walked around the theater, taken a few pictures of the place, said goodbye to the people working there, and then stood out front and waited till they turned off the lights. I didn't do that though, but over the years I've done just that. Plus I was smart enough to take a plethora of pictures of the theater and all the festivals I attended. Below are some of my favorite pictures I took.

The Camera 12 Cinemas (2012)
Upstairs lobby during the Cinequest 22 Film Festival (2012)
My friend Nate at the 27th Annual SFIAFF (2009)
The Camera 12 Box Office for Cinequest 22 (2012)
The cast of ETERNITY: THE MOVIE at Cinequest 24 (2014)
The upstairs lobby during Cinequest 23 (2013)
The Camera 12 Cinemas Marquee (2012)
It's sad to think that the landscape of Downtown San Jose will never look the same. The Camera 12 will forever hold a special place in my heart, as well as everybody else who paid for a ticket to see some of the greatest films ever screened there. However, like NyBlom said, there's still the Camera 3 on the corner of San Carlos and 2nd Street and the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell (visit their website at But the Camera 12 leaves a big hole in the downtown area. Maybe someday it will re-open again, and if it does, I'll definitely be back for that. But right now I just want to say thank you for the memories, for all the fun times, for all the friends I made there, and last but not least, thanks for all the wonderful movies that I got to see. Goodbye my old friend!! 

Thanks for reading, and long live the Camera 12 Cinemas!!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Phil's Top Five Adult Film Recommendations for the National Film Registry - August 25, 2016

The National Film Registry is a selection of films chosen by the United States National Film Preservation Board for preservation in the Library of Congress. The criteria for a movie to be selected is that it must have been made here in America, released over ten years ago and must be a "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant film." The NFBP selects 25 titles each year for the registry that showcases, "the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation." As of today, there are at least 700 films on the registry with more to be added in the upcoming years. I mention all this is because back on April 17, 2011, while I was still living in San Jose, I attended a special screening of the documentary THE AMAZING SHADOWS at the Camera 12 with the film's directors Paul Marino and Kurt Norton in attendance. During their Q&A session they informed the audience that one of the unwritten rules of the NFR is that adult movies were not eligible for consideration. I found their statement to be discriminating, grotesque and appalling.

Believe it or not, pornography has been a part of our world for as long as mankind has been alive. From the crude cave drawings to magnificent statues (Michelangelo's "David", Antioch's "Venus de Milo"), literature ("Ulysses", "Fifty Shades of Grey") to advertisements (Victoria's Secret, Calvin Klein), paintings (Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus", Manet's "Olympia") to music videos (Nikki Minaj's "Anaconda", Fergie's "M.I.L.F.$") and magazines (Playboy, Hustler), the world has always had an interest in sex. Unfortunately, there are those who see adult material as obscene rather than works of art, let alone as a First Amendment Right for free speech and freedom of expression. Politicians, conservatives and religious fanatics have been more than vocal as to eliminate the so-called smut as well as force their religious beliefs onto society. That cannot and will not happen as long as there are those who oppose this form of fascism and censorship. It is right here, ladies and gentlemen, that I am calling out the NFPB for doing the exact same thing as they are discriminating and excluding adult films just because they have sex in it. 

Despite what the population may think, adult movies have played a very important role in not only film history, but also in mainstream pop culture and society as a whole. While there are plenty of adult movies that are not on par with Hollywood classics like GONE WITH THE WIND, CASABLANCA or ON THE WATERFRONT, the adult film industry has produced some extraordinary works of art that honestly and truly deserve to be on the list. In this article I will be proving this by using the same criteria that the NFR use for their selections. These are more than just dirty pictures. These are films, period. With that being said, here are my top five adult films that need to be on the National Film Registry.

Original Theatrical Poster (1972)
Starring: Linda Lovelace, Harry Reems, Dolly Sharp, Bill Harrison, Carol Connors
Written and directed by Gerard Domiano (as Jerry Gerard)
Distributed by Bryanston Pictures
Released on June 12, 1972

Plot synopsis: The story concerns Linda (Linda Lovelace), a young woman terribly distressed because she doesn't 'hear bells' when she makes love. A visit to the doctor (Harry Reems) reveals that the cause of her woes is that her clitoris is actually located deep in her throat. Linda adjusts to this biological anomaly by practicing oral sex and working as a sexual surrogate.

Culturally, historically, or aesthetically significance: The film was a first of its kind. It was a pornographic movie with a plot. In early 1973, a news article about the film appeared in the New York Times. Written by reporter Ralph Blumenthal and using the phrase "Porno Chic" for its title, it helped usher in what has been called The Golden Age of Pornography. Because of the article, it made couples want to go porno theaters and see what the hype was all about. Celebrities also came to see the film such as Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palm, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Walters and Johnny Carson just to name a few.

The popularity of the film became part of the mainstream in a major way. William Mark Felt, the Watergate scandal's whistleblower that led to the resignation of then President Richard Nixon, was nicknamed "Deep Throat." It was talked about in the news, on late talk shows as well as variety shows. It's been referenced in books, newspapers, mainstream movies, as well as becoming part of the sexual dictionary. In 2005, the film would also become the subject matter in the documentary entitled INSIDE DEEP THROAT. Eight years later, Millennium Films released the biopic LOVELACE starring popular Hollywood actress Amanda Seyfried as well as Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, James Franco and Chloë Sevigny. The film also inspired the stage play "The Deep Throat Sex Scandel" by David Bertolino. In December 2014, the website The Rialto Report announced that they finally unearthed the true identity of Dolly Sharp (who portrayed Linda's best friend Helen in the film). Sharp was actually former Broadway actress Helen Wood, who had appeared in a number of productions including "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", "Seventeen" and "Pal Joey" before staring in the 1953 Warner Brothers musical GIVE A GIRL A BREAK. She passed away in November 1998 at age 63 from colon cancer. 

Despite its claim has having grossed over $600 million (FBI claims it to be closer to $100 million), the film remains as one of the most profitable independent films of all time, against a budget of only $25,000. It spawned six sequels, a remake by adult company giant Vivid Entertainment and was also the first film to be inducted into the XRCO Hall of Fame and is part of the AVN Hall of Fame.

On April 22, 2002, Linda Lovelace died from injuries sustained from a car accident at the young age of 53. Then Gerard Damino passed away at age 80 on October 25, 2008 following complications from a stroke he suffered. And then finally, on March 19, 2013, Harry Reems died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 65. Whether they knew it or not, these three individuals helped create the multi-billion porn industry we know today.

DEEP THROAT has left an immeasurable impact on both the film industry and the world. There is not one person who hasn't heard of the movie or its sexual reference. It's become part of our lexicon. Here we are, 44 years after the film's initial release, and we are still talking about the movie, it's actors, it's director, its influence and it's legacy. This is why DEEP THROAT deserves to be part of the National Film Registry.
Original Theatrical Poster (1972)
Starring: Marilyn Chambers, Johnnie Keyes, George S. McDonald, Elizabeth Knowles
Written by Artie Mitchell (based on an original story by Elliot Wax)
Directed by Jim & Artie Mitchell
Distributed by the Mitchell Brothers Film Group
Released on December 17, 1972

The film's synopsis: A beautiful woman named Gloria (Marilyn Chambers) is abducted and initiated into a live sex act on a private stage, participating in lesbianism, interracial sex and a public orgy.

Culturally, historically, or aesthetically significance: While New York was the capital of the adult film world for the east coast, the film established San Francisco and the west coast as its counterpart. The Mitchell Brothers were infamous as their O'Farrell Theatre was the epic center for sex, drugs and pornography. Jim and his younger brother Artie had been making loops in the city for quite some time now before embarking on making their feature length debut. Based on Elliot Wax's short story, Artie wrote the film's script that was both erotic and advant grade. Once completed, the brothers began auditioning actresses for the lead. Enter Marilyn Chambers.

Chambers was an aspiring actress and model. She was currently the "Ivory Snow girl" as her face were on the Proctor & Gamble boxes all over the country. Seizing the opportunity of the amount of free publicity they could attract, the brothers cast Chambers for the role, promoting her as "99 and 44/100% impure", a pun of the Ivory Snow slogan.

The movie broke a lot of the taboos of hardcore films. First, Chambers' Gloria didn't have any lines in the movie. The film's narrative and look was surreal, leaning towards more of experimental films that were being made in the city at that time. It also boasts ones of the first interracial sex scenes with Chambers and Johnnie Keyes, which most people had never seen before at that time. These was also gay and bisexual extras during the orgy scene that were captured for the whole world to see. Also, like DEEP THROAT, it was the first pornographic film to reach a mass audience.

The film became a boxoffice sensation upon its release, as of today grossing over $50 million against its meager $60,000 budget. It was also screened at that year's Cannes Film Festival. Chambers was thrusted into the spotlight, garnering fans from all over the world. She would crossover into the mainstream and starred in films like David Cronenberg's RABID. Mainstream media also gave the movie positive reviews and was the second film to be inducted in the XRCO Hall of Fame. The film's production was also featured in the Showtime biopic film X-RATED that starred brothers Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez as Artie and Jim Mitchell. In 2014, Artie's daughter Liberty Bradford Mitchell did a tour of her one woman play called "The Pornographer's Daughter: The True Tale of Growing Up with the Mitchell Brotherswith the band The Fluffers providing the musical score.

On February 27, 1991, Jim shot and killed Artie with a .22 rifle that belonged to their father. Jim was tried and convicted of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to six years in prison. Upon serving three years at San Quentin, he was released in 1997 and returned to San Francisco to manage the O'Farrell Theatre. Jim Mitchell died on July 12, 2007 from a heart attack at his ranch in Sonoma County at the age of 63. Then on April 12, 2009, Marilyn Chambers was found in dead by her daughter McKenna Taylor in her home in Santa Clarita. The cause of death was a cerebral hemorrhage. She was just 56 years old.

BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR has left a lasting legacy on pop culture and society. The film has inspired countless books, plays and one film. Chambers has gone on to become of the biggest names in the adult film world, becoming a pop culture icon and was inducted in the AVN Hall of Fame. Johnnie Keyes became the first black porn star, a living legend and was recently interviewed for The Rialto Report podcast. The O'Farrell Theatre has become a San Francisco institution, attracting tourists from all over the world to see its history and its performers on a nightly basis. The Mitchell Brothers have become synonymous with the film, their theatre and their city, becoming local heroes and advocates for First Amendment Rights. The film is a true adult classic and helped usher in the Porno Chic fad and the Golden Age of Pornography. This is why BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR deserves to be part of the National Film Registry.

Original Theatrical Poster (1973)
Starring: Georgina Spelvin, Harry Reems, John Clemens, Marc Stevens
Written and directed by Gerard Damiano
Distributed by MB Productions
Released on March 28, 1973

The film's synopsis: Justine Jones (Georgina Spelvin), a spinster in her 30's, kills herself, because NOTHING has happened in her life. Confronted by the Devil and faced with an eternity in Hell, she imposes the hypothetical premise - If I had my life to live over I would live a life consumed,engulfed, impassioned by lust! This brings about sexual behavior that transcends the norm and blooms into erotic art.

Culturally, historically, or aesthetically significance: After the financial and critical success of DEEP THROAT, Gerard Domino followed that up with what many fans and critics consider to be the his best film ever. By having the movie open with Spelvin's character committing suicide, it shocked and surprised audiences who were thinking that it would be like his previous film. Damino pulled no punches when it came to making the movie; addressing issues such as life, death, suicide, lust, greed, promiscuity and loneliness. This was not the typical porno movie that swinging 70's audiences were expecting to see. If DEEP THROAT was a slapstick comedy, then THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES was a representation of his guilt ridden Catholic side.

The film's visuals borrowed a lot from the European movies that were being release during this period. Ingmar Bergman's CRIES AND WHISPERS and Bernard Bertilicci's LAST TANGO IN PARIS often time comes into conversations. However, it is the performance of lead actress Georgina Spelvin that lifts the film to another level. Already in her late 30's, she was originally hired on as the craft services women. When the original lead actress backed out, Damiano asked her to take on the role of Miss Jones. This was Spelvin's first starring role, having been a chorus girl on a number of Broadway productions.

The film opened to acclaim almost instantaneously. It broke boxoffice records for a porno film and played as a double bill with DEEP THROAT for years. It earned $15 million and was one of the highest grossing films of 1973. Roger Ebert gave the movie three stars and was also reviewed by Variety, comparing the movie to Jean-Paul Satre's play "No Exit." William Friedkin, the director of THE EXORCIST, was quoted as saying that is was a "great film." It was also inducted into the XRCO Hall of Fame was included in AVN's Top 50 Most Important Adult Films Ever Made list. 

Georgina Splevin continued to appear in adult features as well as many exploitation and mainstream films such as CAREER BEDTARZ AND JANE AND CHEETA, BAD BLOODPOLICE ACADEMY and the sequel POLICE ACADEMY 3: BACK IN TRAINNING. In 2006, she published her autobiography entitled "The Devil Made Me Do It" and has launched her own website. She along with several other adult actresses were profiled in author Jill Nelcon's book "Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema, 1968-1985" and was interviewed by The Rialto Report in May 2013.

THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES is still causing ripple effects in the modern day world. Lead singer and guitarist of the punk band Social Distortion Mike Ness wrote a song entitled "The Devil in Miss Jones" that was featured on his solo album Cheating At Solitare. It has been written about in several film textbooks and has been marketed from T-shirts to hats to shot glasses. The film spawned five sequels from VCA Pictures, one remake and sequel from Vivid Video and was included in the recent Showtime documentary X-RATED: THE GREATEST ADULT MOVIES OF ALL TIME. It is no wonder that THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES deserves to be part of the National Film Registry.

Original Theatrical Poster (1976)
Starring: Constance Money, Jamie Gillis, Jacqueline Beudant, Gloria Leonard, Terri Hall
Written and directed by Radley Metzger (as Henry Paris)
Distributed by Quality Made Films
Released in March 1976

The film's synopsis: Follow noted sexologist Dr. Seymour Love (Jamie Gillis) as he sets himself the challenge of transforming lowly streetwalker Misty Beethoven (Constance Money) into the world's greatest lover. With the help of his beautiful friend Geraldine (Jacqueline Beudant), Love devises an erotic training program with the goal of seeing Misty crowned "Goldenrod Girl" at famed publisher Lawrence Layman's next wild party.

Culturally, historically, or aesthetically significance: Based on George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalionas well as the Hollywood adaptation MY FAIR LADY, director Radley Metzger's film has been called the greatest adult film ever made, often times refered to as the CITIZEN KANE of the porn industry. Its reputation as a cinematic classic has not waned, even after its initial release 40 years ago.

Metzger had already made a name for himself as a talented filmmaker, directing such erotica classics as THERESA AND ISABELLE, CAMILLE 2000, THE LICKERISH QUARTET and SCORE. With the release of DEEP THROAT in 1972, he switched to making hardcore films beginning with THE PRIVATE AFTERNOONS OF PAMELA MANN in 1974 and NAKED CAME THE STRANGER the following year. But in 1976, he would make the film that he would always be remembered for.

Featuring outstanding performances by Constance Money, Jamie Gillis, Jacqueline Beudant and Gloria Leonard, exotic locations such as Rome, Paris and New York City, a smart and witty script and a fantastic soundtrack, the movie was seen as more than just your typical adult film. This was something completely different and unique. When it opened in New York in 1976, it became a runaway sensation. Not only was a big hit with critics and fans but it would be nominated for several awards at The First Annual Erotica Awards in 1977, winning Best Picture, Best Director and Best Editing. Jamie Gillis would win Best Actor for the film the following year. Years later, the film would one of the firsts to be inducted into the XRCO Hall of Fame.

Over the years the film has been released in various forms on home video, such as VHS and DVD. However, the transfers were of very poor quality and reformatted to the standard 4x3 ratio for television sets during this time. Then in 2012, Steve Morowitz, owner of Distribpix Inc., took on the task of restoring the film: a new 2K scan and restoration was conducted, widescreen ratio and sound was fixed. It was released on special edition Blu-Ray and DVD, complete with several amazing special features, including the rarely seen softcore version of the movie. The film's soundtrack was also made available for the first time ever.

On February 19, 2010, Jamie Gillis died of melanoma cancer in New York City. He was 66 years old. After years of searching, on January 25, 2015 the Rialto Report released their podcast interview with Constance Money, her first since disappearing from the public eye more than 30 years ago. Journalist Tori Bentley interviewed Radley Metzger for the June 2014 issue of Playboy. The article was entitled "The Legend of Henry Paris" and was the first interview he had participated in in years. 

THE OPENING OF MISTY BEETHOVEN is an erotic film masterpiece and the pinnacle of the Porno Chic trend of the 1970's. It is an iconic movie, one that 40 years later it still continues to attract new fans while remaining a favorite with those who saw it originally in theaters. It's charm, humor and eroticism perfectly captures the height of the Golden Age and remains the benchmark of that era in adult film history. All this is why THE OPENING OF MISTY BEETHOVEN deserves to be on the National Film Registry.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1978)
Starring: Bambi Woods, Christie Ford, Robert Kerman, Robin Byrd, Herschel Savage, Eric Edwards, Arcadia Lake
Written by Maria Minestra
Directed by Jim Buckley (as Jim Clark)
Distributed by VCX
Released in October 1978

The film's synopsis: Sweet, virginal Debbie (Bambi Woods) wants to head to Texas to claim her spot on the "Texas Cowgirls" cheerleading squad. But the trip costs money and her parents aren’t willing to help. With the aid of her cheerleading girlfriends (including Arcadia Lake and Georgette Saunders), they devise a plan to raise the funds themselves. Initially, they all take odd jobs. However, they quickly discover there’s a lot more money to be made by baring their bodies and providing sexual favors for horny men.

Culturally, historically, or aesthetically significance: The title alone has made the film famous. Ask any random person on the street to name a porno film, they would automatically say DEEP THROAT and DEBBIE DOES DALLAS. It's reputation precedes the movie itself as it has became not only an adult film classic but gaining the level of a cult classic known world wide. Taking its inspiration from the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, the film was a blend of comedy and erotica that struck a chord with the American public.

The movie a huge hit at the boxoffice and even a bigger hit when it came out on home video. It was the inspiration for the Off-Broadway play "Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical" by Susan L. Schwart, was referenced from books to television shows (Robot Chicken, Family Guy), was the subject for the 2005 documentary DEBBIE DOES DALLAS UNCOVEREDcreated a plethora of merchandise (T-shirts, posters, hats, mugs) and spawned no less than nine sequels, four spin-offs, and a remake from Vivid Entertainment. Author and journalist David Slayden wrote in his  2013 book "Pornography and Seriality: The Culture of Producing Pleasure" that, "No other pornographic film has been remade more often than DEBBIE DOES DALLAS."

There isn't much I can say the movie that hasn't already been said, let alone written about for that matter. The film has gone on to become one of the most popular and well known adult film in cinema history, becoming inducted into both the XRCO and AVN Hall of Fame. It's taken on a life of its own and has become part of our society and its influence on the world of pop culture is unmistakablely felt. This is why DEBBIE DOES DALLAS deserves to placed on the National Film Registry. 

As you can see, ladies and gentlemen, I have proven without a shadow of doubt that these five films are worthy candidates for film preservation. As I stated earlier, these are more than just dirty pictures. These are films, period. Actually, I stand corrected. They're more than just films. Movie are like time capsules: they capture a specific moment of time, forever saving a piece history so we can learn from them. These five films capture the 1970's in detail: what was happening at the time, the sexual revolution, styles, fashions, language, attitudes about the world to which they were living in, buildings and landmarks that are no longer there, political and social commentary and so forth.

The Golden Age of Pornography was a term used to describe a trend, a movement of erotic films that made individuals and couples go out to theaters and to watch them. In the aftermath of it all, the trend left us some of the greatest movies ever made in the annals of adult film history as well as film history itself. DEEP THROAT, BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR, THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES, THE OPENING OF MISTY BEETHOVEN and DEBBIE DOES DALLAS have left their mark on the world and, as a result, became a part of our history. That is why these five films deserves to be part of the National Film Registry.

To learn more about the National Film Registry and to nominate your film considerations, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Phil sees SUICIDE SQUAD in 2D from Warner Bros. Pictures - August 20, 2016

It looks like the fight between the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and DC Expanded Universe (DCEU) is staring to heat up. When DC Comics and Warner Brothers released MAN OF STEEL back in 2014, it kicked off the own cinematic universe to rival Marvel's. Earlier this year, the second film of that shared universe was released in the form of BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. The film received mixed reviews, but this guy right here thought it was cool! Now they have released film number three to movie goers everywhere. Also receiving some resistance, SUICIDE SQUAD is a damn good villain movie that I think caught people by surprise.

Theatrical Movie Poster
The film's official synopsis: It feels good to be bad...Assemble a team of the world's most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government's disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren't picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it's every man for himself?

This was an amazing and fun movie to watch! It has a lot of action, facinating characters and great story. It's a story that's been told numerous times before but the execution of it that makes the movie so much fun to watch. All these ingredients plus some added new ones creates this amalgam of a movie. 

Actress Margot Robbie shines as our favorite cute and crazy Harley Quinn! Her performance was incredible as she really captured the personality, the charm and the essence that made the character so popular when she first appeared on the beloved 1990's cartoon show Batman: The Animated Series. Will Smith's interpretation of Deadshot was actually really well done. The filmmakers added some new aspects to this legendary character's mythos. Smith adds humor to the assassin's arsenal while dishing out some outstanding violence. Then there's Jai Courtney as the Australian bad guy Boomer. Ok, I've said numerous times in other reviews that Jai Courtney couldn't act his way out of a paperbag and that Hollywood should stop trying to make him a star. Yes, I can be pretty mean sometimes. But I have to admit, he was super cool and funny as this villain. Hell, I didn't even knew it was him till about halfway through the damn movie that it was him! So yeah, good job Jai! Good job mate! Oh, look for a cameo by Ben Affleck as Batman as well. The man looks good in that suit!

Now it's time to address the white elephant in the room. Yes, I'm talking about Jared Leto performance as the Joker. This is the most radical interpretation of the iconic villain. Where as Jack Nicholson's Joker from Tim Burton's 1989 BATMAN was pretty straightforward, and Heath Ledger's Joker from Christopher Nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT is just amazingly powerful and original, this version is by far the biggest departure from its comic book origins. This new Joker is still psychotic but he's all tattooed up, sports a mean grill and is a big time gangster! Yup, major changes with the Joker. But somehow, it all works! Leto's portrayal of The Clown Prince of Crime is criminally fantastic!! (Yes, pun intended) He throws himself into the role, and as I might add, was well documented from the cast and crew that he stated in character during filming. Now that's what I call commitment to your craft!!

As for the film's director David Ayer, his style fits the look, the tone and the pace of the movie perfectly. It's a fast-paced movie with great camera angles, compositions and set-ups. There's a fine balance between practical sets and special effects and the CGI and the results look awesome on the big screen. The version I saw was the standard 2D very but I am very curious to see it in 3D. 

SUICIDE SQUAD is this summer's most evil, villainous, action packed, spectacular blockbuster! Despite all the negative reviews from fans and critics, I feel that it was undeserving. I know everyone's a critic. I mean c'mon, I'm a film blogger for crying out loud. But I'm so sick and tired of people bad mouthing movies and then putting it out on social media for all to read. Granted that is your opinion and you have a right to have one, but I feel that this movie doesn't deserve all this bad press. My opinion is this: go see the movie for yourself and form your own opinion. But at least give the movie a chance. 4 out of 5 stars!!  Recommended viewing!!

SUICIDE SQUAD is playing in 2D, Real 3D and in IMAX theaters nationwide, including the Century Greenback 16 in Sacramento. Check your local listing to see if it is playing at a theater near you.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Phil sees X-MEN: APOCALYPSE in 2D from 20th Century Fox - August 20, 2016

It's been interesting to see the X-MEN franchise grow to its current popularity. With five films, two WOLVERINE entries (with a third movie currently in production) and this year's R-rated hit DEADPOOL, the series has garnered worldwide acclaim, legions of fans as well as a little bit of criticism. Now director Bryan Singer has revealed the latest chapter in the mutant saga. Based on the story that comic book fans have been waiting a long time to see, X-MEN: APOCALYPSE unleashes one of the most popular and powerful villains ever.

Theatrical Movie Poster
The film's official synopsis: Since the dawn of civilization, he was worshiped as a God. Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel's X-Men universe, amassed the powers of many other mutants, becoming immortal and invincible. Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto, to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Raven with the help of Professor X must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction.

Created by writer Louise Simonson and artist Jackson Guice, Apocalypse made his appearance in X-Factor #5 in 1986 and since has gone one to become one of the most feared villains in the Marvel Universe. Malevolent, unmerciful, relentless, he is the stuff that nightmares are made of. I've lost track how many times he has wrecked havoc among the X-Men in the comics that I read in my youth. To see him on the big screen was amazing! Actor Oscar Isaac turns in an awesome performance as our antagonist, however, I have one gripe that I need to get off my chest. I didn't like Apocalypse's face design. Yup, I said it. I went there. Now I've seen the original face and make up design when it was leaked online and it looked damn good! It looked just like the comic! But for some reason the studio went in another direction and the end results weren't that great. Still a great performance!!

And speaking of performance, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jenifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult all come back to portray their respected characters once again (and if you don't know by now who they play in the movie then you need to go watch the previous installments). Actress Rose Byrne returns as Moira Mactaggert, who we last saw in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. I was very happy to see her return to the series as her character was very important into the development of both the X-Men group as well as the franchise. And let's not forget Evan Peters as Quicksilver, whose scene was even better than in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST! Seriously, it is freaking outstandingly cool!! Oh, and look for the expected cameo by Stan Lee and one from that Hugh Jackman guy.

Seeing how I just talked about all the returning actors and actresses, let me talk about the newbies in the film. Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones) shows a lot of believability as Jean Grey. She proves that she was born to play this character. Tye Sheridan (SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, DARK PLACES & MUD) is the best Cyclops/Scott Summers ever!! He should've played this role since the beginning of the relaunch! Olivia Munn (ZOOLANDER 2, RIDE ALONG 2 & MAGIC MIKE) looks identical to her comic book counterpart Psylocke! Her casting for this part was spot on perfect!! Kodi Smit-McPhee brings both vulnerability and raw anger to his portrayal as Nightcrawler. Really outstanding job from all the mutant newbies!

Singer's directing style has really changed over the years. He made his directorial debut with 1993's PUBLIC ACCESS but he gained notoriety the next year with THE USUAL SUSPECTS and 1998's APT PUPIL. Then in 2000 he made X-MEN which really took him to a whole other level. He directed X2 but then he jumped ship to make the DC Comics and Warner Brothers 2006 flop SUPERMAN RETURNS (which wasn't that bad of a film people). He made a couple more films before returning the franchise with 2014's X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. When you compare his first film to this one, his style has become much more dynamic, much more visually grand, much more elaborate; basically, he's a major Hollywood director now who's got the budget to make major Hollywood blockbusters. Which is totally fine and dandy, but I'd like to see home make a small, character driven film that he excelled at originally.

Overall X-MEN: APOCALYPSE is another superhero summer extravaganza that will surely thrill you and make you wave your fist in the air wishing that Wolverine claws would come out! It totally satisfies your need for Marvel based mutant heroes until the next DEADPOOL movie comes out but this deserves your time of seeing it on the big screen!! 4 out of 5 stars!! Recommended viewing!!

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE is playing in 2D, Real 3D and in IMAX theaters nationwide, including the Century Greenback 16 in Sacramento. Check your local listing to see if it is playing at a theater near you.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Phil sees GHOSTBUSTERS in 2D from Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures - August 18, 2016

In 1984, filmmaker Ivan Reitman directed the movie GHOSTBUSTERS, which is now regarded as one of the all-time comedy classics. Starring Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, the late Harold Ramis, Sigoirney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts, the film garnered an enormous legion of fans over the past several decades. Then in 1989, GHOSTBUSTERS 2 came out and killed the franchise. There were talks about a sequel for years but nothing ever came to fruition. Fast forward to 2015 and filmmaker Paul Feig announced that he was teaming up with Sony and Columbia Pictures to make an all-new film, but this time it would feature an all female cast. The controversy surrounding this decision was deafening. Fans were outraged, they were protesting, bowing up social media outlets, the backlash was deafening but also very misogynistic. The film's trailer holds the recors for the most dislikes in YouTube history. Depite all the negative press and whatnot, I saw the new GHOSTBUSTERS movie and I really enjoyed it!

Theatrical Movie Poster
The film's official synopsis: Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) band together to stop the otherworldly threat.

These four funny ladies have fantastic on-screen chemistry with one another (of course it doesn't hurt that both McKinnon and Jones are on Saturday Night Live and so was Wiig at one time). All of these talented actresses are funny, intelligent, strong and courageous in the film. It's interesting to see Wiig portray such a conservative character, however, she does get silly though whenever hunky Chris Hemsworth's character Kevin is around. McCarthy and Jones have some of the best lines but McKinnon's Jillian is by far my favorite character in the movie. She is just hysterical and proved without a shadow of a doubt that women can be as funny, or funnier, than there male counterparts!

Another fun aspect is all the cameos from the original cast. Murray,Potts, Aykroyd , Hudson and Weaver all appear in the film. At the very end of the credits, there is a dedicated to the late Harold Ramis. That part of the movie made me a bit teary-eyed a bit. 

Feig not only directed the film, he also co-wrote the script with Katie Dippold, who also co-wrote THE HEAT with him as well. I think that's what a lot of people who saw the movie are complaining about. It was like the original because it's being told from a female perspective. With Feig and Dippold, there is this feminist realism to the characters; the sound like real women who happen to catch ghosts. When you don't compare it to the 1984 classic, the movie stands up on its own. It's a really cool, action filled comedy! So people everywhere, stop your damn complaining, will you?!?

As I'm writing this review, it was just announced that Sony has officially scrapped the sequel that they were planning to do. It is predicted that the film is set to lose over $70 million, which caused the studio to make this decision. This is really sad news because after the credits there's a post credits scene and (SPOILER ALERT!) it was set up for for the ladies to take on Zuul!! C'mon Sony!! That sounds so bloody cool!! I would pay money to see that movie!! But, alas, it looks like the franchise is back on ice again.

GHOSTBUSTERS is this summer's surprise action comedy joy ride of the season!! It's got action, laughs, funny characters and enough ghost to fill up a containment unit!! I saw the film in standard 2D but it is avaibable to see in Real 3D and IMAX 3D but no matter which way you watch it, just go and watch it!! 4 out of 5 stars!! Recommended viewing!!

GHOSTBUSTERS is playing in 2D, Real 3D and in IMAX theaters nationwide, including the Century Greenback 16 in Sacramento. Check your local listing to see if it is playing at a theater near you.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil sees STAR TREK BEYOND in 2D from Paramount Pictures - August 17, 2016

In 2009, director J.J. Adams relaunched creator Gene Roddenberry's beloved sci-fi franchise with his rebooted film STAR TREK. While it divides Trekkies worldwide, it nonetheless scored huge with audiences and became the biggest summer blockbuster of that year. In 2013, Abrams returned with STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, a film that I enjoyed so much I saw the film twice on opening day! Now in 2016, Abrams has stayed on producer as he's passed the director's chair to Justin Lin (FAST AND FURIOUS fame) for the newest installment of the rebooted series STAR TREK BEYOND.

Theatrical Movie Poster
The film's official synopsis: The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

Before I review the movie, there are two things that I would like to address real quick. Both have to do with movie, but more importantly, it's about two of the series' actors.

On February 27, 2015 legendary actor Leonard Nimoy passed away at the age of 83. For fans all over the world, this was such a shock and tragic loss. Not only was he everybody's favorite Vulcan Spock, but he was also Leonard Nimoy: actor, father, husband and artist. The outpouring from the masses was overwhelming. From hardcore fans, people in Hollywood, even President Obama mentioned the loss of this man. When the franchise was rebooted in 2009, Abrams brought back Nimoy's Spock and made him the catalyst for the new timeline that was established in the new films. This Spock Prime character was the bridge between the classic STAR TREK series and this new series. With his death, there is now a big hole in the franchise that will never, ever be filled.

This past June 19, 2016, actor Anton Yelchin was tragically killed in a freak accident when he was pinned between his jeep vehicle and the brick mailbox. He was only 27 years old. The STAR TREK community and movie fans alike began an outpour of shock, sadness and disbelief. At the time of his death STAR TREK BEYOND was only a month away for its release date. Now, audiences would see him in this, the last STAR TREK film that the young actor would appear in. Shortly after his death, J.J. Abrams told the media that he would not recast the role of Chekov, out of respect for Yelchin. The entire cast of the film posted their griefs via several media outlets, saying that he was just an talented actor but they had all lost a good friend.

With these two sad passings still fresh in our subconscience, STAR TREK BEYOND serves as a fitting tribute to these two actors. In fact, Nimoy's death is actually worked into the script, which was written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung. Zachary Quinto's Spock learns of Spock Prime's death and now must come to terms with what this means to him. At the same time, the crew of the Enterprise led by Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), now on its "996th day of it's five-year mission" encounter a new villain in the form of Krall (played by the brilliant Idris Elba). With a skeleton crew and their new ally Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), Kirk must free the rest of his crew and stop Krall from destroy the Federation space station Starbase Yorktown.

Justin Lin does an amazing job of continuing the film's visual look and tone from Abrams, but manages to make it in his own vision as well. The only main difference between these two men can be boiled down to two words: lens flares. Yup, there are no lens flares to be found anywhere in the movie. Now I'm perfectly fine with or without them but I will admit that you can really see more of the movie without them. And Lin's framing and set-ups are action packed awesomeness!!

STAR TREK BEYOND is one of the best sci-fi summer blockbusters of the year!! It's got action, thrills, humor and also humanity. It's hard to watch this film without thinking of Nimoy and Yelchin. The movie is a fitting tribute to these two men as well as all of those who have left us over the years. So make sure you see this epic motion picture on the big screen!! 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

STAR TREK BEYOND is playing in 2D, Real 3D and in IMAX theaters nationwide, including the Century Greenback 16 in Sacramento. Check your local listing to see if it is playing at a theater near you.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Phil celebrates the 13th Anniversary of FREDDY VS. JASON from New Line Cinema - August 15, 2016

In the 1980's there were two titans of horror that fans rallied behind and cheered for. In one corner there was the unstoppable killing machine Jason Vorhees from the FRIDAY THE 13th franchise from Paramount Pictures. Directed by Sean S. Cunningham, Mrs. Vorehees' special little boy from Camp Crystal Lake had been slaughtering teenagers and camp counselors since 1980. Then in 1984, a new player entered the arena. Created by the late, great filmmaker Wes Craven, 1984's A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET unleashed the sadistic Springwood Slasher himself, Freddy Krueger onto an unexpected audience who were ready for a new kind of slasher film. Throughout the decade, these two icons were the topic of every horror fans conversation. Who would in a fight between them? In 2003, fans got their answer in the New Line Cinema film FREDDY VS. JASON, which was released back on August 15, 2003.

Original Movie Poster (2003)
The film's official synopsis: It's been nearly ten years since Freddy Krueger terrorized people in the dreams, and the towns folk want to keep him erased from their memory. Freddy still has one more plan on getting back to Elm Street. He resurrects Jason Voorhees and sends him off to kill. The more bodies which fall to the ground, the stronger in which Freddy becomes. This is until, Freddy realizes that Jason isn't going to step aside easily, and must be taken down himself.

With the release of 1989's FRIDAY THE 13th PART VII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN, Paramount Pictures no longer saw the series as a profitable asset due to its declining returns after each sequel. As a result, the studio released the rights back to its creator Sean S. Cunningham, who then brought it over to New Line Cinema, now known as "The House that Freddy Built." With both franchises under one roof, it seemed like fans' prayers were finally going to be answered, as everyone eagerly awaited the fight of the century between Freddy and Jason. However, the film then entered what Hollywood likes to call "Development Hell" as there were several issues plaguing the project, namely finding the right script. For over twelve years, there were numerous scripts submitted to New Line but none of them were right. Then, the unthinkable finally happened.

Screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift turned in a script that perfectly combined both franchises' mythos and their respected villains. The next step was finding a director to helm the project. Enter Hong Kong born filmmaker Ronny Yu, whose previous films include LEGACY OF RAGE, CHINA WHITE and his 1993 masterpiece THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR. After successfully rebooting the CHILD'S PLAY series with THE BRIDE OF CHUCKY for the company in 1998, Yu was brought on board to direct the film.

Kwan Hodder had portrayed Jason Vorheees in the last four films: FRIDAY THE 13th PART VI: THE NEW BLOODFRIDAY THE 13th PART VII: JASON TAKES MANHATTANJASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY and JASON X. By this time Hodder had become synonymous with the character and fans couldn't wait for him to star with Robert England's Freddy. However, there was a casting change and Hodder was out as Jason. Whether it was Yu or New Line that wanted to recast Jason remains unknown (there's still debate about today), but this move outraged fans immensely. A decision was made and Ken Kirzinger was cast as Jason for the film. Kirzinger already had experience portraying Jason having been Hodder's double on FRIDAY THE 13th PART VII. With the rest of cast that included Monica Kenna, Jason Ritter, Kelly Rowland from the R&B group Destiny's Child, Katherine Isabella, Chris Marquette and Brendan Fletcher in place, production on the movie finally became a reality! 

The film became a huge hit at the boxoffice. On its opening weekend it grossed $36.4 million dollars and become the number one film in the country for that week. In the end of its theatrical run, the film grossed a total of $114.9 million against its $30 million budget. Eventually the film was released on both Blu-Ray and on DVD.

For myself, it was a long overdue dream come true. The movie lived up to my standards and was everything I wanted it to be: scary, bloody, funny, gory, but more importantly, it was highly entertaining! I loved every minute of the film and I thought the cast was great. Robert was fantastic as always as Freddy. Now I might get some flake for this but I thought Ken was awesome as Jason. He was the old school Jason: extremely tall, slow, brooding personification that we saw in the older FRIDAY THE 13th films. Both Kenna and Ritter has great on-screen chemistry and the overall product was stupendous! In fact, I saw the movie twice on opening day! I saw at my local theater with my best friend and then I saw it again with a bunch of my friends at the drive-in! Like I said, I'm a huge horror movie fan!!

FREDDY VS. JASON was and remains one of the greatest horror movie crossovers of all time!! It's hard to believe that it's been 13 years since the movie was released! The acting, the story, the directing, the gore, it all still holds up well and continues to attract new fans to the genre who may have of Freddy and Jason, but maybe never saw them before. Or maybe they know the remakes but never saw the original films. What's great is that it'll get the younger generation to watch these classic slasher icons and learn more about these legendary franchises and then go watch them like I did when I was younger. Both Jason Vorhees and Freddy Krueger are two old friends of mine and I wanted a very long time for them to battle it out on the big screen! And you know what? It was freaking awesome!! 5 out 5 stars!! Highly recommended viewing!!

FREDDY VS. JASON is currently available on both Blu-Ray and DVD at your local retailer. The film is available on the FRIDAY THE 13th: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION Blu-Ray Boxset as well as on THE NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET COLLECTION DVD Boxset. The movie is also available on Netflix, iTunes, On Demand and Digital Download.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!