Monday, February 24, 2014

Phil sees THE PORNOGRAPHER'S DAUGHTER at the Z Space-February 16, 2014

Last Sunday night I had the opportunity of attending a live stage production of a play that sounded very interesting to me. Every now and then I like to take a break for seeing movies and watching some terrific plays. However, the subject of this particular production has its roots in the San Francisco porno scene and, more specifically, to the most infamous filmmaking duos of all time. The show I saw was THE PORNOGRAPHER'S DAUGHTER: THE TRUE TALE OF GROWING UP WITH THE MITCHELL BROTHERS, which was playing over at the Z Spot up in San Francisco. And to make the event even more special, the Sunday night show was the last show here before moving on to Los Angeles!

The show was written and performed by Liberty Bradford Mitchell, the daughter of the late pornographer Artie Mitchell. Along with his older brother Jim, they became known as the Mitchell Brothers, who first became popular with their series of pornographic loops they use to make. However the brothers made history (and changed history) with their full length debut BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR, the film that put the west coast on the XXX map.

Liberty's show consisted of her father's and Jim's childhood days growing up, how Artie met her mom, the breakthrough smash of BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR, and all the drama that was having Artie Mitchell as your father, but also having Jim Mitchell as your uncle.

Liberty's performance was exquisite, heartfelt, funny, sad, and tragic. Dealing with these accounts first hand, I sat there knowing only the history of the Mitchel Brothers from what I read in books and in films. But Liberty had the distinct advantage of growing up a Mitchell, and to have her tell us, in her own words, the good, the bad, and the ugly that transpired was nothing short of amazing! I can't imagine how difficult it must have been growing up in this environment, especially since at the time that the Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre was being raided on a weekly basis and Artie and Jim were constantly being hauled away to jail. But the true travesty of them all has to be the events that transpired on February 27, 1991, when Jim shot and killed Artie. To see Liberty tell us about what happened that day sent shivers up and down my spine. Loss, grief, and anger filled her eyes, her voice, her body.

Liberty Bradford Mitchell & Myself.
Helping Liberty to bring her story to life was director Michael T. Weis, who's famous for portraying the character Jared on NBC’s television The Pretender. Also contributing to the show was Liberty's house band The Fluffers, which is one of the best band names of all time! And the Z Space was the perfect venue to hold this production. It was small and quaint, but intimate and wonderful.

THE PORNOGRAPHER'S DAUGHTER is a slice of local history that we were only told half of. Thanks to Liberty Bradford Mitchell, she comes forward and tells us the complete story about San Francisco's Mitchell Brothers, the sexual revolution, and how it has changed her life. This was a fantastic play that I encourage you all to see. Whether you are a fan of the Mitchell Brothers or not, Liberty's story is an inspiring one. 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

THE PORNOGRAPHER'S DAUGHTER: THE TRUE TALE OF GROWING UP WITH THE MITCHELL BROTHERS just wrapped up its run in San Francisco, but it will be heading down to the LA area. To learn more about the show, Liberty Bradford Mitchell, and where it will be playing at, visit the official website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Phil hosts the Camera Cinema's Cult Movie Screening of THE BIG LEBOWSKI at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose-Feb. 13, 2014

Hello again everybody and welcome to the 2014 Cult Movie series at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose! Now for those of you who are late to the game, let me explain this cool series. In 2011 the Camera Cinemas started up the Cult Movie series (which for years had been called the Midnight Movie series). They would show one cult film twice a month (Thursday nights at 9:30 and Saturday nights at midnight) from February through November. This past Thursday night was Opening Night and once again yours truly was back as the host! The series was kicked off into high gear with the screening of the 1998 Coen Brother's film THE BIG LEBOWSKI! Prizes were donated by Streetlight Records and by Time Tunnel Toys, both located here in San Jose. There were also yummy donuts to eat, courtesy of Psycho Donuts located in the lobby.

The film's official synopsis: When "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, two thugs urinate on his rug to coerce him into paying a debt he knows nothing about. While attempting to gain recompense for the ruined rug from his wealthy counterpart, he accepts a one-time job with high pay-off. He enlists the help of his bowling buddy, Walter (John Goodman), a gun-toting Jewish-convert with anger issues. Deception leads to more trouble, and it soon seems that everyone from porn empire tycoons to nihilists want something from The Dude.

Also appearing in the film are Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Tara Reid, Flea, John Turturro, and the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman.

When the film was released to theaters by Universal Pictures on March 6, 1998, it made a loud thud at the boxoffice. The film's budget was $15 million but it only grossed only a little over $5 million.  However, it achieved its cult status when it was released on DVD. Then a couple of years later is was booked for the midnight slot at the New Beverly in Los Angeles. Then it played over in Santa Cruz at midnight screenings for the six months. Now it's hailed as a true cult classic and a beloved Coen Brothers film!

Tonight we had over 40 people in attendance!What a great way to kick off the 2014 season! Now like I said, the Camera 3 will be showing one cult classic film twice a month from now till November. Next month we'll be screening the 1995 cult classic SHOWGIRLS on Thursday, March 13th at 9:30pm and again on Saturday, March 15th at midnight! So make plans to attend this screening folks! It's gonna be wild, crazy and sexy!! To view the full 2014 Cult Movie schedule, visit the Camera Cinemas website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!  

Phil sees THE LEGO MOVIE at the Cmaera 12 Downtown San Jose-February 9, 2014

You know, when someone says the word Lego, my mind becomes filled with all the cool things I built with them: buildings, airplanes, cars, trains, lightsabers, etc. I loved my Legos, and so did my brother. Years later when my sister was born, she became a hug Lego fanatic! She had more Legos than my brother and I had combined! Then the Legos morphed and changed; now you can make official Star Wars vehicles, or comic book action heroes and the Star Trek starship out of them. Soon after, there were awesome video games that had outstanding computer graphics! All this leads to the release of THE LEGO MOVIE, which I saw in 2D over at the Camera 12 in Downtown San Jose.

The film's official synopsis: Emmet Brickowski (voiced by Chris Pratt), an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure, is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop the evil tyrant Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell), a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.

Also contributing their vocal talents to the film are Will Arnett (Batman), Elizabeth Banks (Wyldstyle), Alison Brie (Unikitty), Nick Offerman (Metal Beard), Liam Neeson(Bad Cop / Good Cop / Pa Cop), Morgan Freeman (Vitruvius), Cobie Smulders (Wonder Woman), Channing Tatum (Superman), Will Forte (Abraham Lincoln) and Jonah Hill (Green Lantern).

Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord (CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, 21 JUMP STREET, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2) keep the film moving fast and furious, never letting up or slowing down. Right from the get-go, the film will leave you in stitches from the first joke till the last joke. But not only that, the film is action packed and captures every child's imagination at it full throttle! I remember playing with my Legos and THIS is how I imagined what I was playing with! Truly inspiring and captures the wonders of a child's mind!

Miller and Lord also wrote co-wrote the film's script along with siblings Dan and Kevin Hagema, who have experience in writing family films such as HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA and its upcoming sequel and several episodes for the children's television series Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu.

As I stated earlier, I saw the 2D version of the film and I thought it was outstanding! I am very interested in viewing the film in all its 3D glory! So look for me seeing this film again in the very near future!

Overall THE LEGO MOVIE is a smart, funny, action packed children's thrill ride of the year! The movie totally blew me away! I have never witnessed a more clever family film in all my life! Hopefully this movie will be a first in a new series of films that I would love to see. So if you're looking for something to do with the family this weekend, take them to see this movie!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

THE LEGO MOVIE is currently playing in both 2D and 3D in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends a special screening of SOMEWHERE SLOW with writer/director Jeremy O'Keefe and actor Graham Patrick Martin live in-person at the Camera 3 Downtown San Jose-Febuary 8, 2014

Last year I had the privileged of seeing the world premiere of SOMEWHERE SLOW, an amazing indie drama at the 2013 Cinequest Film Festival. Now the film had returned back home to San Jose, as the film was booked for one week only at the Camera 3. To make this event even more special, writer/director Jeremy O'Keefe and actor Graham Patrick Martin would be in attendance for the 5pm screening on Saturday, and yours truly was there to witness this event!

In case you missed it, here is my original review of the film when I saw it during Cinequest 23:

Written and directed by Jeremy O'Keefe, the movie's about Anna Thompson (Jessalyn Gilsig), a Forty-something, bulimic, chain smoking woman who suffers from very low self-esteem. When she gets mixed-up in a convenience store robbery, she makes a decision to walk out of her life, not knowing where she's going. Along the way she meets teen runaway named Travis (Graham Patrick Martin), who's also on his own journey of self-discovery. The two form an unlikely bond which develops into something much more, but eventually Anna realizes that she can't runaway from her old life.

All I can say is wow! What a powerful and amazing film that tackles the topic of a female mid-life crisis, which we don't see too often. But a closer examination of the film tells us that we cannot run away from our problems. However, sometimes you need to step out of your life and see what's wrong with it and how you can fix it. Anna steps out of her normal routine and begins a journey to which she doesn't set out intentionally, but along the way, she learns about herself and discovers that you need to go back home to remind yourself of who you are. After the screening, most of the cast and crew (including Jeremy, Jessalyn, and Graham) participated in an informative Q&A. Highly recommended!

It has been a year since I've seen the film and it was incredible to see it on the big screen once again! It still hasn't lost any of its power to make the audience laugh, cry, and enchant! After the screening, O'Keefe and Martin participated in a Q&A with the audience. O'Keefe informed the audience that the film has gone one to win rave reviews from other film festivals, including the 2013 Brooklyn Film Festival where it won Best Narrative Feature. It has garnered positive reviews from publications such as the LA Times, The Village Voice, The NY Times, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. But the big news that O'Keefe shared was that the film is now available to watch as a VOD via Amazon!!

SOMEWHERE SLOW was one of my favorite films from Cinequest 2013!! This is what I love about independent films! They don't follow the trends or tired out conventions that Hollywood relies on! Here is s film that makes you think while falling in love with it! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

SOMEWHERE SLOW is currently playing in select theaters nationwide. To see if it's playing in a theater near you, make sure you check out the film's official Facebook page. The film is now available to download to rent or to buy on the Amazon website.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees HER at the Camera 7 Pruneyard Campbell-February 2, 2014

Independent films take a lot more chances than their Hollywood counterparts. It is these chances that can make or break a film, but I applaud the filmmakers for taking that chance anyway. Originality is something that we are sorely missing in modern day cinemas. Thankfully, we have auteur Spike Jonez, who has cleverly combines several genres to create the science fiction, romantic comedy drama entitled HER, an interesting examination of what happens when loneliness and technology meet.

The film's official synopsis: Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) composes heartfelt missives for lovers, family members and others with whom his clients have a soulful connection, but his own emotions have remained a mystery to him since breaking up with his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara). Then he develops an unlikely new virtual relationship with Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), an artificially-intelligent computer operating system that has a curiosity about the world and the joy over quotidian details that have been missing for so long in his life.

Here is a very interesting take on what the meaning of love and relationships in the 21st century where technology rules our lives. Have we become so disenchanted with other people that we would rather communicate with one another via email? Have we as a society have forgotten how to communicate and so we rely on technologies or apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr? To show love or some kind of emotions are we now forced to call 1-800- FLOWERS and send roses to express ourselves? To try to make plans with family or friends as become cumbersome, so we now just use Skype to converse.

Here we have Theodore having  difficulty with being among people, especially after his bitter divorce from his wife. Joaquin Phoenix demonstrates that pain, as well as anxiety and how uncomfortable it is for him to be among people. Suddenly, even the near future, we will still suffer from being withdrawn and apathetic. But what is it with the human race being unable to express ourselves with words? Are we that scared of what other people will say or think? Nowadays people use dating websites to meet and maybe find their "special someone." In the film, Theodore finds love in the last place he was expecting.

We do not see Scarlett Johansson at all in the film. We only hear her voice: her soft, sexy, sweet, curious, happy, loving voice. It really surprised me that she has so much acting range in just her voice. Here the audience become sympathetic with  Samantha, even though she's just a computer program. Be we witness her grow more and more, and with each passing day, we see something magical happen: we witness the miracle of falling in love.

Now I want to put my stamp on this subject, which has been in huge debate since the release of the film. I want to say, on record, that Theodore and Samantha's relationship was indeed very real! Yes I know what you're thinking: What the hell are you talking about? He's real! She's a computer program! They relationship can't be real because she isn't real!!

Now who are we to judge what is real or not? Or better yet, if their love was real? Their love is real because it was real to them! Period! He is a frail, lonely man who cannot connect with people. She is a program who is capable of growing into something more than just original design. Together, these two misfits discover something about themselves that transcends into something the is very real to them. Because they feel it, and they are able to express it, that makes their love and relationship real!

HER is one of the most original love stories ever told in the world of cinema!! This is a different kind of date film you will ever see! Take my advise and go see this enchanting love story on the big screen as it was meant to be seen! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

HER is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Phil sees NEBRASKA at the Camera 7 Pruneyard Campbell-February 1, 2014

I recently had the pleasure of finally going out and seeing some movies in the theaters, which has been long overdue! Yes, I've been spending a lot of time down in Hollywood, but as the old saying goes, "There's no place like home." So I headed back to the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell to see the indie film drama NEBRASKA.

The film stars acting legend Bruce Dern as Woody Grant; an old, cantankerous alcoholic father who thinks he's a millionaire after receiving a sweepstakes letter in the mail. Instead of mailing the letter back and risk losing his fortune, he swindles his youngest son David (Will Forte) in driving him from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska. Along the way they stop in Woody's hometown for a family reunion, where both father and son learn a little more about each other.

Directed by Alexander Payne (ELECTION, ABOUT SCHMIDT, SIDEWAYS, THE DESCENDANTS) and written by newcomer Bob Nelson, the film takes the traditional road trip scenario and turns it completely on its own head. While most road trip films are comedic, predictable, and somewhat juvenile, this takes it to a whole different level; it's sincere, honest, funny, and showcases a father/son bonding that is touching and real.

Bruce Dern gives what has been called his best performance ever on film! His Woody reminded me a lot of my grandfather when he was still alive, and it hit really close to home for me. He brings a lot of stubbornness (which brings in the comedy factor) and as the film unfolds, we get to know more about Woody, his life, his choices, and his mistakes. His vulnerability anchors the film and brings it

It's about time that Dern finally get his recognition he deserves. Here is an actor who has appeared in movies sine the 1960s. Acting in a couple of Roger Corman cult classics like THE WILD ANGELS and THE TRIP, we went on to act in films such as SILENT RUNNING, THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS, THE 'BURBS, MONSTER, and DJANGO UNCHAINED. Dern has payed his dues for years, and it's so gratifying to see him finally get his spotlight.

Another amazing aspect of the film comes from Will Forte, who is more famous for his comedy sketches from his time on Saturday Night Live. His role as David shows that Forte can also to more than just comedic roles. He has the acting chops to be in dramatic roles and I hope to see him stretch more as an actor.

The movie was shot in black and white, mush to the dismay from distributor Paramount Vantage's wishes. It gives the film a beautiful and poetic look; creating a bleak landscape that captures the bleak of nothingness of Middle America. At times it's almost hard to watch because there is nothing. Nothing to do but getting drunk at the local bar. Local businesses are closed, farms are dried out, the townsfolk walk around town almost aimlessly. Truly a bleak existence that is captured in glorious black and white.

NEBRASKA is one of my favorite films that I have seen thus far this year! It is one of the best indie dramatic films that I have the pleasure of viewing! This is Americana at its finest! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

NEBRASKA is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!