Friday, May 27, 2011

Phil sees KUNG FU PANDA 2 in 3-D at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-May 25, 2011

For those who may not know me too well, I'm a big kid at heart. I love watching the old Saturday Morning Cartoons of my youth, as well as the kids movies I use to see at the theaters and drive-ins. However I've noticed that recent children films have been a hit or a miss lately. It makes me feel like the kids today are getting cheated out of seeing a good film that really sparks their young imagination while entertaining them simultaneously. Today's film fulfills both requirements, while bringing out the kid in you. Dreamworks' film KUNG FU PANDA 2 is a worthy entry to the series, and gives families something to enjoy together.

 Jack Black returns to voice the Dragon Warrior Po, who is now leader of The Furious Five: Tigress (Angeline Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Crane (David Cross), and Viper (Lucy Liu). When their master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) informs them that the evil Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) has invented a secret and destructive weapon that he plans to use to conquer China and eradicate Kung Fu, Po and the Five spring into action. To help them on their quest, the team is joined by two new characters: Master Oxen (Dennis Haysbert) and Master Croc (Jean-Claude Van Damme). Along the way, Po befriends a seerer named Soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh), who holds the secrets of Po's origin and of his long lost parents.

 It was great to see that the filmmakers were able to reunite the original cast again, while introducing some new ones to the mix. Black once again gives his all as Po, our wonderful, funny, energetic, and always hungry star. However Oldman's Lord Shen is equally impressive, bringing both drama with a dash of humor to the character as well as dignity and just pure evil. We the audience are supposed to dislike Lord Shen, and Oldman makes sure that we boo the villain and cheer for our furry heroes.

What also makes this film a worthy sequel is that we learn more about our main character, which is something that most sequels fail to do. Not only do we get kung fu action up the wazoo, but we get to travel along with Po on his road of self-discovery, by learning who he is and where does he come from. This alone is a plus for the film. Of course, the story is solid, and while new characters are introduced, it doesn't feel forced. All the characters have their moment in the spotlight, which is a good thing to have, since everyone has their favorite character they like to root for. Also the 3-D effects were fantastic, which will get the audiences even more fired up.

KUNG FU PANDA 2 just reeks of awesomeness, and it's the perfect family summer film. While you're busy with BBQing, family trips, ball games, and hanging out by the pool, remember to take your family to see this film. Your kids will think your just the most awesomeness parent in the world.

KUNG FU PANDA 2 in now playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas in San Jose. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Phil sees EVERYTHING MUST GO at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-May 25, 2011

Once again, I frequented the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell to see a film that my good friend Brad recommended to me last week. He said he really enjoyed it and it's a must see. Brad is like me, a film buff who loves going to the movies. So today I saw EVERYTHING MUST GO, and I have to admit, my friend picked a really good movie for me to see.

Will Ferrell portrays alcoholic executive Nick Halsey, who unfortunately is having a really bad day. He gets fired from his job, only to come home to find out that his wife has left him and locked him out of the house, with all his belongings left outside on the front yard. His car also gets repossessed and his bank accounts are frozen. While trying to make sense of his life, he holds a yard sale so he can start over anew. Joining him on his trip are his new neighbor Samantha (Rebecca Hall), a kid named Kenny (Christopher Jordon Wallace), and his AA sponsor Frank Garcia (Michael Pena).

Ferrell does a phenomenal job playing Nick, who numbs his pain and loneliness with beer after beer after beer. Seeing Farrell cast against type was a stroke of genius, and the payoff of seeing him barely holding on to his sanity was brilliant. It's a soft spoken, black comedic role for Ferrell. Not the type of roles he's known for playing, but he nails Nick perfectly, creating pathos and a sense of vulnerability.

This was the feature film debut by writer/director Dan Rush, who based the film from the short story "Why Don't You Dance?" by author Richard Carver. Rush's style of directing is very laid back; it feels like the film was improvised and he was there with a camera. I personally enjoyed the scenes when we see Nick up early at dawn and later at dusk, the golden sun gleaming almost like a beacon of hope for Nick to cling to.

EVERYTHING MUST GO is a wonderful, splendid, film that really captures that moment in time when your life transitions to something you weren't expecting. And at the end, you come out of it a better person. A solid script, fantastic acting, and great directing makes this film an enjoyable experience. So I say two big thumbs up!

EVERYTHING MUST GO is now playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in San Jose and Campbell. To view showtimes visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Phil sees BATTLE OF THE BRIDES at the Camera 12-May 25, 2011

So I was thinking that it would be fun to keep the chick flick theme going for one more blog. Last week I reviewed the film BRIDESMAIDS, which I mentioned that it was hilarious. So tonight's film plays along the same lines (a wedding theme) but with a very funny, Vietnamese twist. The film I saw tonight is called BATTLE OF THE BRIDES (CO DAI DAU CHEIN) and I went in without any idea of what the film was about, and I came out of the theater smiling from ear to ear.

Huy Khank portrays Thai, a selfish, womanizing playboy who has FIVE relationships going on simultaneously. In the end he chooses good girl Linh (Ngoc Deip) to be his bride. However the wedding ceremony is interrupted when all FOUR of his ex-girlfriends show up in wedding gowns! The exes Quyen (Le Khanh), Mai Chau (Van Trang), Phuong (Phi Thanh Van), and Trang (Ngan Khanh) are not too happy with Thai, as they chase him across town, armed to the teeth and threatening to kill him. During the chase Thai himself explains to the audience how this catastrophic mess happened in the first place. The film's climax was fantastic, featuring a surprise twist ending that was totally unexpected.

What a fantastic film that came out of left field and it really took me by surprise. Huy Knanh performance as Thai was just hysterical, blending comedic timing with that playboy swagger perfectly. Le Khanh's performance as the somewhat unstable doctor Quyen enforces the lesson of never dating a woman who knows how to do amputees, while the same lesson can be applied to Ngan Knanh's portrayal of master chef Trang, who loves throwing very sharp kitchen items to get her point across. Phi Thanh Van is perfect as the cunning, deceiving, up-and-coming actress Phuong, who pulls a fast one on Thai. It was funny to watch Van Trabg's Mai ,who's a flight attendant by day and likes to break into Thai's place and look for clues to see if he's cheating on her at night. And last, but certainly not least, Ngoc Diep's portrayal of Linh was magnificent! Displaying such beauty, love and devotion that it made me want to marry her!

One must also give praise to the film's director Victor Vu, who carefully crafted one of the best romantic comedies in recent cinematic history. Vu's directing was so simple, and yet very effective. His use of colors was very interesting as well. Thai's apartment is decorated with the color brown, from his couches and tables to his front door. Whenever Linh appears in her scenes, the color pallet is showcased in its full glory: the green trees and lawns along with her paintings are so vibrant, her pure white dress and her red flower that dances in her long, light brown hair. Basically Linh just shines throughout the film. Vu brings out the best in his cast, as they bring some amazing characters to life on the big screen.

According to the film's poster, BATTLE OF THE BRIDES has become Vietnam's biggest box office hit of all time, and it's very easy to see way. This film is a shining example of what a romantic comedy should be, and American film companies should take careful notes on this film. I cannot overstate just how great this film is, so stop whatever it is that you're doing, and go see it right now. Ladies, tell you men that I said for them to take you! And then ask them to marry you, before they go ask one of their other girlfriends by mistake.

BATTLE OF THE BRIDES is only playing for one more day at the Camera Cinema 12 in Downtown San Jose!! To view showtimes visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Phil attends COMEDY SHORTS NIGHT at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-May 21, 2011

It's that time of the month again, when at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, things gets a little crazy. That's because tonight's Comedy Shorts Night at the museum. As with tradition, I stopped over at Bronco Billy's Pizza Palace to have some delicious pizza and say hi to my good friend Heather, then back to the Edison Theatre for some classic silent comedy. Once again Frederick Hodges provided the music for tonight's show.

Original Movie Poster (1916)
 The first short of the night was THE RINK, starring the famous Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin works as a waiter in a restaurant, where some humorous shenanigans take place. Later on his lunch break, the little Tramp heads for the rink to do some rollerskating, which really must be seen to believe. Chaplin is just amazing on rollerskates, and are some of the funniest scenes of the film. Both Edna Purviance and Eddie Campbell appear in the film as well.

The film was released by the Mutual Film Company on December 4, 1916. Also known as Rolling Around, the film is yet another example of Chaplin's comedic genius, and it also adds to his rich legacy. One of my all-time favorites, this is a short that should be required viewing for all Chaplin fans. Very, very funny film!!

The second film up was MOVIE NIGHT, starring funnyman Charley Chase. Chase takes his family out for their weekly movie night, only to have one disaster after another happen to poor 'ol Charley. Look for Spec O'Donnell as Charley's brother-in-law in the film. O'Donnell appeared in numerous Hal Roach films.

Charley Chase
The film was produced by Hal Roach Studios and released in theaters on May 11, 1929. This was the last silent film that Charley Chase made. By this time, sound films or "talkies" were now being made. He made some remarkable appearances in talkies, especially in Laurel and Hardy's classic SONS OF THE DESERT. Despite this, he never was offered any more work in features. He continued to make shorts as well as directed some of the Three Stooges' early movies. He passed away on June 14, 1940, barley 47 years old. As a result, the name Charley Chase faded into obscurity. However, our friends at Kino International released two volumes of Chase's funniest films on DVD. Now everyone can enjoy the comedic legacy of the great Charley Chase.

Original Movie Poster (1921)
After the intermission, the third film of the night shown was THE GOAT, starring the great Buster Keaton. Keaton is hounded by the police when he is mistakenly photographed for escaped murderer "Dead Shot" Dan. Along the way he helps out and befriends the lovely Virginia Fox, who's father is none other than police chief.

The film was released on May 15, 1921, and showcases Keaton's physical talents, which are amazing. Keaton started off in vaudeville with his family before moving on to making films. His real name is Joe Keaton, named after his father. When Buster was a small child, he fell down a flight of stairs. When he reached the bottom, he stood up, dusted himself off, and the then walked away. Standing there watching this was his parents, as well as the great magician Harry Houdini, who said to his parents, "That's some buster your son just took." The name stuck and he was to be "Buster" Keaton for the rest of his life, becoming a legend in the silent film world.

The last film of the night starred Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. In their film TWO TARS (which is another word for sailor), the boys play sailors who rent a car to pick up their dates (Thelma Hill and Ruby Blaine) and take them on a nice drive. However they get caught up in a severe traffic jam with a bunch of ill-tempered motorists. Soon our boys are causing havoc to the other motorists and some fun mayhem ensues. Also look for special appearances by Edgar Kennedy, Charlie Hall, and Henry Bernard.

Originally entitled Two Tough Tars during production, the film was produced by the famous Hal Roach Studios, and distributed by MGM on November 3, 1928. The film was written by Leo McCarey, who directed several of Charley Chase's films, and was directed by James Parrot, who just also happens to be Charley Chase's younger brother!

Another sold out crowd attended the show tonight! People just love coming to the museum for their Saturday night shows. To learn more about the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, how to become a member, and to view their film schedule, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Phil's Overlooked Film Picks: Entry One: BOTTLE SHOCK (2008)-May 21, 2011

In August of 2008, I was housesitting for my best friend Dave out in beautiful Monterey. Nine days of pure bliss, and I had the place all to myself. During my stay, a little movie opened that Friday at the Osio Theater, which is THE place to see great independent, foreign, and documentary films in Monterey. I read a review about the the film in the Monterey County Weekly paper, and it sounded like a winner. I went to see the film on Sunday, and I immediately told everybody about it. Three years later, it is still one of my all time favorites. Trust me when I say that BOTTLE SHOCK is simply a great film that you have probably never seen, or heard of before. But after reading this, you will want to see it.

Original Movie Poster (2008)
The film is about the Blind French Wine Tasting of 1976 that put California Napa Valley wines, more specifically Chateau Montelana winery, on the map. Alan Rickman portrays wine connoisseur Steven Spurrier, who travels to California to find the best wines to compete against the French's best of the best. During his travel he meets Jim Barret (Bill Pullman) who owns Chateau Montelena. His son Bo (Chris Pine) and their intern Sam (Rachael Taylor) gives Steven a tour of Napa Valley, where he begins to realize that these California wines are "so good." In the end, Steven chooses his favorites, including Montelena, and travels back to Paris, where he holds the "Judgement of Paris" blind taste competition. On that day in 1976, history was made, and the wine industry has never been the same since.

What I loved about the movie that it stayed pretty faithful to the actual events that had transpired. As a result, Chateau Montelena is now regarded as one of the pioneers of wine industry, an elder statesman to be more specific. Now we have wine from all over the world, and we have to thank the Barrets, as well as Spurrier for transforming the worlds' pallets and shattering the myth of the French wine.

The entire cast did a phenomenal job at bringing these characters to the big screen. Pullman's performance as Jim Barret was amazing, showcasing the actor's range, from sheer joy to painful failure. It's interesting to see Chris Pine star in this film. Fast forward a year later, Pine is cast as the new Captain James T. Kirk in JJ Abram's 2009 relaunch of  STAR TREK, and is now a major Hollywood star. Of course, Akerman is just hilarious to watch. His facial expressions from realizing the California wines are incredible, to trying Kentucky Fried Chicken and guacamole for the first time, is just priceless. Rachel Taylor would also become famous, starring in Michael Bay's 2009 mega-hit TRANSFORMERS. Both Freddie Rodriguez (Gustavo) and Eliza Dushku (Jo) also turn in some great performances as well.

BOTTLE SHOCK is a film that some people might compare to that other wine film SIDEWAYS. This comparison is completely unfair, as they are two totally different types of film.This is a classic underdog movie, one that showcases a lot heart and soul, with some fun and humor thrown in for good measure. This really is just a great film to enjoy with others. So make sure you have plenty bottles of Chateau Montelena chardonnay on hand, because by the end of the film, you will be celebrating as well.

If you would like to learn more about Chateau Montelena, or take a tour of their beautiful winery and try some of their wines, visit their website

BOTTLE SHOCK is now available on DVD. Check your local retailer to purchase a copy for yourself, or visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Phil sees BRIDESMAIDS at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-May 15, 2011

Just looking at the film's poster makes me laugh. Five bridesmaids looking tough and sexy in the tight, form-fitting, frilly pink dresses, while the the bride radiates attitude, with a look that screams, "touch me and I'm gonna kick your ass!" Yes, it's one of my favorite posters so far this year. And it's also one of my favorite comedies so far this year as well. With the most outrageous comedic scenes ever captured on film, BRIDESMAIDS is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best anti-chick flick I have ever seen!

The film stars Saturday Night Live cast member Kristen Wiig as Annie, who's life has become an absolute mess. However, when her best friend Lillian (former SNL cast member Mya Rudolph) becomes engaged, she must pull herself together and bluff her way through the job as her friend's maid of honor. However, Annie is flat broke and cannot afford anything for the wedding, even her dress. Things get worse when Lillian's new friend Helen (Rose Byrne) attempts to upstage Annie to become Lillian's maid of honor. Throw in a motley crew of bridesmaids (Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Ellie Kemper) and you have one helluva trainwreck just waiting to happen.

The entire cast is hilarious! I could go into detail on how all these ladies are funny, but then I would risk exposing all the funny, gross out, unbeliebable, touching, hysterical scenes of the film. Best if I don't go into detail, but I will see say this: when you see Lillian squating down and taking a crap in the middle of a busy street in her bridal gown, you know that you're in for a good time.

Kristen Wiig's performance of Annie really is stupendious. She's funny, and yet sympathetic. We all at one point in our lives hit rock bottom, and sometimes it feel s like we can't get out of that hole. But Annie transitions throughout the film, making the mistakes so she can correct them later. Along the way, she realizes that life does have its fair share of disappointments, but that doesn't mean that you can't take chances and start living again. I loved Wiig's performance in this film. Also, major thumbs up for the rest of our ladies! Mya is perfect as Wigg's best friend, Byrne's Helen is a snooty, rich bitch that we all love to hate, and McCarthy's Megan is so out there that I can't even think of an adjective to desribe her!

Overall BRIDESMAIDS is simply one of the best comedies that is made for women, but fellas, you will get a kick out of this film too. The film was produced by Judd Aptow, the same man who brought us KNOCKED UP, THE 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, and FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL. Aptow brings that kind of over the top humor over to the ladies, and they take it and run with it! Look, just do all yourselves a favor, and go see this film. Afterwards ladies, make sure your man isn't tramatized of getting married. Remind him that it's only a movie. Then tell him you want to see the movie again.

BRIDESMAIDS is currently playing nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in San Jose. To view showtimes, visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Phil attends the Cult Movie Series screening of BATTLE ROYALE at the Camera 3-May 14, 2011

For years I was a big fan and supporter of the Camera Cinemas' Midnight Movie series. From May til the end of September, they would show popular, cult and horror films at midnight every week at two locations: The Camera 7 Pruneyard on Friday night and the Camera 12 on Saturday night. For over six years I would be there, winning prizes and watching some true film classics such as EVIL DEAD 2, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, THE PROFESSIONAL, and REPO:THE GENETIC OPERA. This past February it was reformatted and rechristened as the Cult Movie series. Now they show films once a month at the Camera 3 in downtown San Jose, and it now continues until November. For month number four, they screened the most controversial film ever made. A film that still, to this day, has not been released theatrically here in this country. That film is none other than the Japanese cult classic BATORO ROWAIARU, better known here as BATTLE ROYALE.

Original Japanese Movie Poster (2000)
The film (based on the novel by Koushun Takami) was directed by Kinji Kukasaku and released in Japan on December 16, 2000. However upon its release, the film immediately caused an avalanche of controversy. Now I don't want to explain the whole movie to you all, so I will just state the synopsis: In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary "Battle Royale" act.

Yes, you read that right. And no, I am not kidding.

The film's graphic depiction of students killing off one another hit a little to close to home here in the states. Just a little over a year and a half prior to the film's release, on Tuesday, April 20, 1999, the Columbine Massacre accured. This tragic event left 12 students and one teacher dead, and 21 others injured. The massacre lead to debates about stricter gun control laws, the availability of fire arms (especially in the Wal-Mart superstores), and gun violence involving students. Of course, there was no way that BATTLE ROYALE would get to be imported here, especially in the Post Columbine United States. But over the years, the film has been available for the DVD consumers, in numerous versions and variations. Most recently, the UK based Arrow Video made it available on both Blu-Ray and DVD as a Special Edition 3-Disc set, but only as an import. From the American fans' point of view, they believed that they would never see the film released here in theatres. However, that might be changing very, very soon.

Despite the rumors, the film was never officially banned here in the states. Rather there's never been a distribution deal for the film to be shown theatrically. On November 20, 2010, the film was re-released to theaters in Japan in 3D!! Unbelieable as it may seem, but it's this version that will be released here in America sometime this year, thanks in large part to the film's disrtibutor Anchor Bay Entertainment!!

Some saw the film as a violent abomination; a vile and disturbing piece of celliloid that should have never been made in the first place. Some saw it as work of genius; commenting on the social and politcal climate of that time and forshadowing future events. Either way, BATTLE ROYALE still ignites debate, even 11 years after the film's initial release. Soon, American movie goers will finally be able to see it theaters, however, it'll be interesting to see if it will be played at the local mall's googleplex theater. It probably wont, but it would be interesting to see the look on the faces of the masses after they've seen it. Now I'd buy that for a dollar!

To learn more about Camera Cinemas' Cult Movie series, upcoming films, showtimes, etc, visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Phil sees THE NUT at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-May 14, 2011

Saturday nights mean taking a trip up to the Edison Theater, home of the world famous Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Tonight's film was the romantic comedy THE NUT, and along with the main feature, two shorts were shown. The amazing Frederick Hodges was on the piano tonight, bring these films to life. So ladies and gentlemen, let's get this show underway!

Mabel Normand
The first short was MABEL'S NEW HERO, starring Mabel Normand and Rossco "Fatty" Arbuckle. The film was directed by Mack Sennett and was released by the Keystone Film Company on August 28, 1913. Also known as Fatty And The Bathing Beauties, the film has Fatty rescuing Mabel twice in it: once from the sleazy Handsome Harry (Charles Inslee) and then from a runaway observation balloon.

Normand first started out as a model before becoming an actress. She went on to appear in over 100 films for Keystone. She also directed a couple of films starring Arbuckle, as well was an up and coming comedian, Charlie Chaplin.

Charley Chase
The second short of the night was BE YOUR AGE, starring the great comedian Charley Chase. The film was directed by Leo McCarey, who directed numerous Charley Chase films, and was released by Hal Roach Studios on November 14, 1926. The plot is quite simple: Chase needs $10,000 right away to help his family out. His boss Mr. Blaylock (Frank Brownlee) agrees to give him the money on one condition: Charley must marry recent widower Mrs. Schwartzkopple (Lillian Leighton) so he can get his hands on her $2 million dollar inheritance. Also look for a young Oliver Hardy in a small role as Mrs. Schwartskopple's son.

Chase had a brief career in vaudeville before becoming a film comedian. He first worked at Keystone, where he appeared in films with both Arbuckle and Chaplin. He later signed with Hal Roach Studios as a director first, then he became an actor. Between 1924-1929 Chase appeared in nearly a hundred two-reel comedy shorts for Hal Roach. A very funny comedian and a very funny short.

Original Movie Poster (1921)
After a brief intermission, the show continued with THE NUT, starring Douglas Fairbanks as eccentric inventor Charlie Jackson.  Charlie is in love with his upstairs neighbor Estrell Wynn (Marguerite De La Motte). He tries to win her heart by trying to get wealthy investors interested in her plan to help children who live in poor neighborhoods. This was to be one of the last romantic comedies that Fairbanks made. After starring in THE MARK OF ZORRO, he reinvented himself as an action/adventure superstar, appearing in such silent film classics like ROBIN HOOD, THE THREE MUSKETEERS, THE BLACK PIRATE, and THE IRON MASK.

The film also demonstrates the physical feats of Fairbanks. From leaping off of high walls, flying through windows, climbing up vents and fences, it never ceases to amaze me just how athletic Fairbanks was. The film was directed by Theodore Reed (who later become the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1933 to 1934) and was released on March 6, 1921.

Another fun-filled night at the museum! To learn more about the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, how to become a member, and to view their film schedule, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends the Midnites for Maniacs "Whitey Can Rock" Triple Feature at the Castro Theatre-May 13, 2011

Before I begin tonight's reviews, I just wanted to say to all of you Happy Friday the 13th! Hope you had a fun day today. I sure did, and it only got better! After a long day at work, I traveled to the city by the bay, San Francisco, where at the historic Castro Theatre, they were showing a titanic-sized triple feature. The series is called Midnites for Maniacs, which is hosted by Jesse Hawthorne Ficks. Tonight's theme was "Whitey Can Rock." and featured two of my all-time favorite films, while the third film is a lost classic that really does beg to be rediscovered. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Original Movie Poster (1979)
The first movie of the night was the B-Movie classic ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL. Directed by Allan Arkush and produced by the legendary Roger Corman, the film was released by New World Pictures in 1979. The film stars P.J. Soles, Dey Young, Vincent Van Patten, Clint Howard, Mary Woronov, and the greatest punk band of all time, the Ramones.

If you have never seen this film, for crying out loud! Where have you been living in? A cave? Under a very large rock? C'mon people, it doesn't get any better than this! Teenage rebellion, high school pranks, P.J. Soles in lingerie, and of course, an amazing soundtrack by the Ramones. When the film was originally released, it bombed at the box office, but then it gained a new lease on life when it was shown as a midnight show. Soon it became a cult classic, and is now a tribute to Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee Ramone, which all of them have passed away since the release of the film. The print that was shown was an 32 year-old print, complete with scathes, hisses, and pops. It was awesome!!

Before the screening, Ficks invited the film's screenwriter Joseph McBride onstage for a quick interview. Afterwards McBride signed copies of his various books that he has written over the years. This reviewer was able to get Mr. McBride to sign my Blu-Ray copy of ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL!! Thanks again Joseph!! I'll be seeing you again in July!!

Original Movie Poster (1980)
After a very brief intermission, the show continued with the night's second feature THE BLUES BROTHERS. Directed by John Landis and starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi as Elwood and Jake Blues repectivly. Jake is just released from prison, and plans on putting his old band back together to save the Catholic home that he and his brother Elwood were raised at. They're "on a mission from God" as Elwood likes to say throughout the movie.The film also boasts some of the best performances ever captured: James Brown, John Lee Hooker, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway, and Ray Charles are fantastic. The film is also well known for having one the best car chase scenes ever, which you must see to believe! Trust me, it's that damn cool!!

One of the very first Saturday Night Live scetches to be translated for the big screen, the film was DOA at the box office, but it's now regarded as a classic. The film print shown was flawless; crisp, clean with hardly any scratches. Pretty impressive, especially for a print that is now 31 years old!

Original Movie Poster (1982)
The last film of the night was OUT OF THE BLUE, which is really a lost film. I had never even heard of the film, and I take pride in researching long, lost, overlooked, and forgotten films. I don't know how I missed this one, but I'm very happy to have seen this. This was the most beautiful, gut-wrenching, thoughtful, cynical, depressing, nihilistic film I have ever seen!

Directed by Dennis Hopper, this film just blew me away with it's raw and unflinching look at the life of our main character Cebe (portrayed by the amazing Linda Manz), who's world revolves around Elvis Presley, punk rock, and teenage rebellion. Cebe's father Don (Hopper) is being released from prison after serving five years for crashing his truck into a school bus and killing several children. But Don once again climbs into the bottom of the bottle to drown his troubles. Her mother Kathy (Sharon Farrel) is a junkie who has an affair with her drug dealer, who just happens to be Don's good friend. Cebe is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most punk character to ever grace the silver screen. Manz's performance is so powerful and riviting, you cannot take your eyes of her. Just an incredible film, and the perfect ending to tonight's festivites.

What an evening this was! Three amazing films, so diverse from one another, yet similar in certain aspects. I cannot wait for next month's triple feature event. To learn more about Midnites for Maniacs and to see upcoming shows, visit their website at To view upcoming shows at the Castro Theatre visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Phil sees NEVADA at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-May 7, 2011

It's Saturday night, and you know what that means? Yup, it's silent movie night! So once again I traveled to Niles, home of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Today was actor Gary Cooper's birthday, so to celebrate this special occasion, the museum showed one of Cooper's earliest silent films entitled NEVADA, as well as two shorts.

Original Movie Poster 1927
The first short screened was THE NARROW ROAD, directed by legendary filmmaker D.W. Griffith and starring America's Sweetheart Mary Pickford. In the film Mary awaits the arrival of her husband Jim (Elmer Booth), who was just released from prison and plans to stay on the straight and narrow. However, his former partner (Charles Hill Mailes) plans to launch his counterfeiting scheme and tries to lure Jim back to a life of crime. This was a fun and interesting film, which was released by the Biograph Company on August 1, 1912. Another interesting fact; look for comedian actor Max Davidson, who has a bit part in the film. Davidson would appear in several of Hal Roach films, including the Thanksgiving classic PASS THE GRAVY

The second short for the evening was MANY SCRAPPY RETURNS, and featured the fantastic and forgotten comedian Charley Chase. Chase and his wife are happily married, but his brother and his wife are a different story. Tired of them fighting constantly, Chase and his wife stage a mock fight to teach them a lesson. This of course leads to some hilarious hijinks, which leads to a very funny room chase scene that is priceless. The film was made by Hal Roach Studios and released on January 9, 1927.

After a brief intermission, the show continued, with the night's musical accompanist Jon Mirsalis explaining the fundamentals of how to score music for a silent film, which he demonstrated on his amazing Kurzweil electric organ. After wowing the audience with his fine examples, and explaining that only a handful of musical sheets for silent films still exist, the show resumed with NEVADA. Starring Cooper, William Powell and Thelma Todd (before all three became big movie stars), this quaint little B-movie western was surprisingly good. Cooper is Nevada, who is wanted for killing a man in Lineville, assumes a new life and a new identity in the charming little town. He gets a new job and falls in love with the daughter Hettie (Todd). Soon Nevada is accused of cow hustling, so he must prove his innocence by exposing the real culprit, Clan Dillion (Powell). This was a fun and entertaining lost silent film. Fans of Copper should really check this film out. 

Another fun-filled night of silent films at the 'ol Edison Theater. To learn more about the Niles Essanay Silent film Museum, how to become a member, and to view their movie schedule, visit their website at 

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Phil sees THOR at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-May 7, 2011

Summer is almost here, but it has already been kicked off into high gear. The arrival of the summer blockbusters has been christened by one of the most anticipated films of the season. Marvel Studios' movie release schedule will dominate the summer with three film adaptations of three of their most popular comic book characters. And they call upon the God of Thunder to answer the call, and he will do it in stunning 3-D. With their latest film, Marvels' THOR ignites the summer heat.

The story of the mighty Thor is literally the stuff of legends. The eldest son born to Asgard's king Odin (played be the amazing Anthony Hopkins), Thor is cast out of his realm because of his arrogance and reckless actions which reignites an ancient war. Banished to Earth, he befriends and falls in love with a young scientist named Jane Foster (the always beautiful and talented Natalie Portman). But when Thor's younger brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) assumes the throne, he sets in motion a series of events that could destroy both Asgard and Earth, and only the mighty Thor can save both worlds from utter destruction.

The film is just simply amazing, from top to bottom, from the cast to the final frame, this is what a summer blockbuster should be. Fantastic performances by Hopkins, Portman, Hiddleston, and the rest of the cast. But most impressive is Chris Hemsworth, who brings Thor to life on the big screen. What makes his performance so great is that the character evolves and, as a result of learning from his mistakes and shortcomings, becomes a better person, thus becoming a better superhero. Hemsworth does a great job of taking Thor to the next level of realism. Hemsworth will return as the God of Thunder in the upcoming AVENGERS movie, slated for release in 2012.

However, the true hero of the film is none other than the film's director Kenneth Branagh. Best known for making Shakespearean films such as MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, OTHELLO, and HAMLET, Branagh does the impossible, by combining the theatrics of Shakespeare, Norse mythology, and superhero action and creating an entertaining movie that fans of the comic book will sure to enjoy.

THOR was created by comic book legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and first published by Marvel Comics back in 1962. Since his debut, he has been part of pop culture, being seen in cartoons, lunch boxes, trading cards, and so forth. Now THOR has become the latest comic book character to graduate to the big screen, and as I stated earlier, he will defiantly will not be the last.

THOR is now playing nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas. To view showtimes, visit their website at 

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Phil sees POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-May 6, 2011

In the past couple of decades, product placements have pretty much dominated Hollywood, whether it's on television or up on the big screen. Quite frankly, it's now become grotesque and cliched. Overly-priced actors and actresses have now become overly-priced prostitutes, hawking items from cars and designer clothes to hotels and cologne. But is it possible to make a film nowadays without product placement? And can small independent filmmakers maintain their artistic vision without being labeled as a sellout? These questions, and so many others, are explored in what perhaps, maybe, one of the best documentaries I've seen so far this year. Once again, documentarian filmmaker Morgan Spurlock returns to the big screen with his best film yet, POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD.

Spurlock's new documentary about branding, advertising, and product placement was actually funded and made because of brands, advertising, and product placement. The genius of the film is that it shows us, first hand, Spurlock's journey as he travels to meetings with potential sponsors. From jetBlue to Hyatt to, of course, Pom Wonderful, Spurlock pitches for advertising money to help make his film. Along the way he interviews celebrities, filmmakers, and others who are involved in the product placement world. From Quentin Tarantino to Ralph Nader, Spurlock's interviews are intelligent, funny, witty, and honest.

Spurlock made a name for himself with his first film, 2004's SUPERSIZE ME, a documentary that focused on him eating nothing but McDonald's for an entire month, and the effects that it had on him. The film garnered him with an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature. He followed that film up with 2008's WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN which, unfortunately, didn't do too well at the box office. Now with this fantastic, funny, and enlightening film, Spurlock returns to show us that he is a talented documentarian filmmaker, ranking with his peers, such as Errol Morris, Michael Moore, Barbara Kopple, and Robert Epstein. POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD is a solid, hilarious, entertaining, yet educational documentary about the ups and downs of branding, product placements, and advertising in Hollywood films. Highly recommended!

POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD is currently playing nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas. To see showtimes, visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Phil reviews HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN-May 1, 2011

In 2007, Canadian filmmaker Jason Eisener made Hobo With A Shotgun, a fake trailer for a contest that was held by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino to help promote their big double feature film GRINDHOUSE. Eisener's trailer won, and it went on to be screened in some areas of Canada as part of the actual film. Three years later, Eisener's contest winner becomes a full length feature, and now HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN is unleashed onto an unsuspecting audience. And audiences will be cheering all the way through the film.

The film stars legendary actor Rutger Hauer (THE HITCHER, BLADE RUNNER, LADYHAWKE) as a hobo who rides the freight train into the town called Hope Town. However, there is no hope to be found anywhere. Also called Scum Town, it's ruled with a iron grip by a crime lord called The Drake (Brian Downy), and his two mischievous sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman). When push comes to shove, this hobo fights back. Armed with a 20-gauge shotgun, he goes on a killing spree, blowing away corrupt cops, armed robbers, drug dealers, and even a pedophile Santa. Along with his only ally, former prostitute Abby (Molly Dunsworth), they go after The Drake, who doesn't plan to go down without a fight. With the future of Scum Town hanging in the balance, there can only be one winner.

Eisener's tribute to 1980's grindhouse films is done perfectly, with shameless brutality, violence, gore and blood to satisfy even the most diehard exploitation fan. Eisener's directing was fantastic, blending humor, violence, and action to create one helluva visual nirvana. Also worth noting was the use of color lighting in the film. Reds, blues, oranges, and purples are set up in each scene to either create the mood or to reflect the personality of a particular character's emotional or psychological presence. Not since Dario Argento's classic SUSPIRIA have we seen a colorful pallet like this splashed across the big screen. Also as a treat for fans, look for David Brunt, who starred as the hobo in the original trailer, in a bit part in the film.

HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN doesn't pretend to be anything more than a fun-filled throwback ride to a time when exploitation films ruled New York's 42nd Street district. Eisener, Hauer, and the rest of the cast and crew pay tribute to exploitation's rich history by creating a film that could've played alongside films like THRILLER: THEY CALL HER ONE EYE, STREET TRASH, and SAVAGE STREETS. This reviewer praises Eisener for making the perfect grindhouse film, and looks forward to see what type of film he will do next. Hopefully, it'll be a bloody good time!

HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN opens May 6th in select cities nationwide. To see if it's coming to a theatre near you, visit The film is also currently available OnDemand. Check your local provider for more information.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's recommendations for the National Film Registry: Pick # 1: THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK (1984)-May 1, 2011

Hello, and welcome to a first in a series of film recommendations that I'm planning to submit to the National Film Registry. After viewing the amazing documentary THESE AMAZING SHADOWS a couple of weekends ago, I went to the Registry's website and noticed there were films that the Library of Congress should look into adding. As a result of this discovery, I decided to pick my own film recommendations that fulfills the criteria of the registry of being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," while at the same time choosing films that might have been overlooked due to oversight, or of ignorance of the film's impact on culture and society.

For my first recommendation, I chose one of my favorite documentaries that still, to this day, continues to influence, educate, and enlighten those who view it. A documentary about an extraordinary individual who made history for the gay rights movement, only to be assassinated eleven months after being the first openly gay man to be elected into public office. The documentary I'm talking about is 1984's THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK.

Original Movie Poster 1984
Directed by Robert Epstein, produced by Richard Schmiechen,  and narrated by Harvey Fierstein, the film chronicles the life and death of Harvey Milk. Born in New York and transplanted to San Francisco in the late 60's, he ran for public office three times before becoming elected onto the Board of Supervisors in 1977. While on the board, he fought for several issues, such as rent control, senior citizens, but the issue he fought for the most were Gay rights. In 1978, he fought against Proposition 6, which would ban all gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools. Shortly after defeating Prop 6, both Milk and Mayor George Miscone were assassinated by Dan White, a fellow Board member who had recently resigned, but was seeking reinstatement. The ramifications of White's actions are still being felt today.

The interviews in the film from Milk's friends and former employees are very effective. The film was made less than six years after his death, and all who participated were still stunned, shocked, and saddened that their friend was no longer around. White, who only served five and a half years in prison, committed suicide less than two years after being released.

Cover for Criterion's DVD Release 2011
The impact this film has had on society and culture is unmeasurable. It's lasting legacy has influenced the Gay Rights Movement, Gay Activism, on civil rights in general, and on Hollywood. The film won the Oscar for Best Documentary at the Academy Awards in 1984. In the fall of 2008, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and director Gus Van Sant brought Harvey's story back to the big screen with MILK, starring Sean Penn, whose performance as Harvey would garner him the Best Actor award at the Oscars in 2009. The documentary was also just re-released on DVD and Blu-Ray by the Criterion Collection this year.

THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK is a film that will forever be remembered as a testimony of how one individual helped make history, and changed the world for the better. Harvey Milk, thanks in large part to the film, will continue inspire people for generations to come. His life, his story, and his contributions will live on forever. This is why the film should be part of the National Film Registry.

To purchase a copy of THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK on DVD or Blu-Ray, visit the Criterion Collection's website at

To learn more about the National Film Registry, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!