Friday, August 26, 2016

Phil's Top Five Adult Film Recommendations for 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." In January of 2017, there will be a total of 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 deserve 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 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 one 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 themes 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 was a huge hit at the boxoffice and even a bigger hit when it came out on home video, selling over 50,000 units. 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 about 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!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Phil sees JASON BOURNE from Universal Pictures - August 9, 2016

The BOURNE series was initiated back in 2002 with the release of THE BOURNE IDENTITY starring Matt Dameon. The film became a huge success and it spawned two sequels: THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (2004) and THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (2007). After the last one it looked like the series had come to its conclusion. Then, the series was revived in 2012 with THE BOURNE LEGACY starring Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, which expanded the Bourne universe. For a time it looked like Renner was taking over the franchise, but then in November of 2014 it was announces that a new film was in the works and that Damon was once again returning as well as director Paul Greengrass. All of this brings me to my review of the newest installment to the series simply entitled JASON BOURNE, based on the Robert Ludlum universe of novels.

Theatrical Movie Poster
The film's official synopsis: Jason Bourne, long absconding after his exposure of CIA's Operation Blackbriar, is traced by the CIA to be living in Greece. Officers & vested interests in the CIA try to get hold of him for contrasting reasons before he gets the truth he seeks - of which he only has a clue from his father on how he was betrayed in operation Treadstone. Their paths cross in an International Technology event in Las Vegas. Does he get to settle scores with the betrayers?

The film picked up after the events of THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, examining where Jason is and the secrets that he is trying to uncover regarding his father as well as his past. Damon once again shines as out lead protagonist. The man doesn't miss a beat as he's kicking ass and taking names during the film. Damon reminds us all that he was born to play this role. But the film has two other actors that I'd like to address. 

The first is Julia Stiles, who reprises her role as Nicky Parsons, the woman who convinces Bourne to come out of hiding. Stiles is another talented individual that is really underappreciated and underused. She is a fantastic actress, having appearing in major Hollywood films like 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, HAMLET, DOWN TO YOU, MONA LISA SMILE, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and the original BOURNE TRILOGY. Stiles is one of the best, most beautiful and talented actress out there and I think that it's a crime that she isn't appearing more major Hollywood films by some of today's biggest directors.

The other actor is Tommy Lee Jones. Now here is a living legend and one of my favorite actors of all time. In the film he plays the antagonist CIA Director Robert Dewey, who will stop at nothing to see that Bourne is finally eliminated. Jones has been in countless films, but I always envisioned him making those old classic Hollywood war films and John Ford westerns. He's got this grit, this "snarely, no-nonsense, kick ass attitude and ride off into the sunset on a horse" attitude. If he were back then, we would've seen him in films with John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Taylor and such. One of the greatest actors of modern day cinema!

As mentioned earlier, Paul Greengrass steps behind the camera to direct this latest installment to the franchise. He directed the THE BORNE SUPREMACY as well as THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM. Both he and Damon teamed up on another film titled GREEN ZONE in 2010. But Damon always said that he'd make another BOURNE film if Greengrass would direct. Which leads us to where we are today. He keeps the action tight and at a fast pace, revealing the clues that Bourne must piece together soon before CIA Director Dewey finds him. 

JASON BOURNE is another worthy entry to this already classic film franchise. However, I'd very much like to see Borne meet and team up with Cross in a future installment! Let's make this happen Greengrass!! But in the meantime, this excellent action espionage film is definitely worth your time and attention! 4 out of 5 stars!! Recommended viewing!!

JASON BOURNE is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Century Greenback 16 Theaters in Sacramento. Check your local listing to see if it is playing at a theater near you.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Phil sees LIGHTS OUT from Warner Bros. Pictures/New Line Cinema - August 6, 2016

It looks like 2016 is shaping up to being one of the best years for theatrically released horror films. So far films like THE FOREST, THE WITCH and the recently released THE CONJURING 2 have been receiving enormous amount of critical praise and boxoffice success. For myself, it's been an extremely long time since I've seen this many great horror films in my local theater. I find myself feeling like a kid again, sneaking off with my friends to see the latest horror film and getting the Holy Hell scared out of me. With all of this in mind, the new release from Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema LIGHTS OUT continues this outstanding onslaught trend of horror delights!

Theatrical Movie Poster
The film's official synopsis: When Rebecca left home, she thought she left her childhood fears behind. Growing up, she was never really sure of what was and wasn't real when the lights went out...and now her little brother, Martin, is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that had once tested her sanity and threatened her safety. A frightening entity with a mysterious attachment to their mother, Sophie, has reemerged. But this time, as Rebecca gets closer to unlocking the truth, there is no denying that all their lives are in danger...once the lights go out.

Right out of the gate, the film plays with that old childhood fear that you used to have: the fear of the dark. Who wasn't scared of the dark when they were little? It's this primal and all-to-real fear that haunts you when you're watching the film. Now take that fear and crank it up to eleven! Based on his short film, writer/director David F. Sandberg (along with co-screenwriter Eric Heisserer) deliver the goods with a script that contains relatable characters, social commentary and terrifying scares! These two men deliver the goods with a film that made the whole audience I sat with scream and jump out of their seats! Also, Sandberg's directing is sharp, precise and clean; maximizing the full screen with disturbing visuals and sounds.

Within the story, there's also this underlying theme of loneliness. Sophie is lonely cause she's lost her husband but also her daughter Rebecca, which causes her to keep her youngest son Martin as long as she can. However, due to her mental health, she's lost her mind and so he feels alone and lost as well, leading him to his estranged sister. Rebecca is alone as well, unable (or should I say reluctant) to allow her "friend" Bret to get close to her, feeling abandoned after her father left her alone with her mentally ill mother. As you can see, the feeling of loneliness can also lead to the fear of being alone: alone in life, alone in love or in the case of the film, alone in the dark. 

Bringing the film to life also requires talented people in front of the camera. Lead actress Teressa Palmer has made a name for herself in Hollywood. One of the most underrated actresses, she's appeased in films like DECEMBER BOYS, RESTRAINT, WARM BODIES, THE CHOICE and POINT BREAK. She is one of the most well-rounded actresses out there. One look at her body of work proves that she is going to be one of the biggest names in Tinseltown. Palmer's portrayal of Rebecca is one of the best performances in the horror genre! Smart, vulnerable, fragile and brave, she really brings this character to life in a way that is both believable and relatable. Maria Bello is just fantastic and can do no wrong. Look at her in PAYBACK, DUETSCOYOTE UGLY, THE COOLER, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, TOWELHEAD and BEAUTIFUL BOY. This women processes an astonishing ability to connect with the audience with each role that she takes. Maria Bello is a legendary actress in my book!

The movie was produced James Wan, one of the most important figures in modern horror history. The man has brought us films like SAW, DEAD SILENCE, THE CONJURING series and the first two INSIDIOUS films. Now Wan has expended his horizons, helming FURIOUS 7 and has been hired to direct the upcoming AQUAMAN movie for the DC Expanded Universe.

LIGHTS OUT is one of the best horror films of 2016 that will scare the hell out of you!! The film contains all the markings of a modern day horror classic! Seeing it on th big screen in a blackened theater will only heighten your fear of the dark! So make sure you don't see this film alone! 4 1/2 our of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

LIGHTS OUT is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Century Greenback 16 Theaters in Sacramento. Check your local listing to see if it is playing at a theater near you.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!