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Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014)

R | | Documentary | 5 June 2015 (UK)
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The history of the independent film company, The Cannon Film Group, Inc..

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David Paulsen ...
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Alain Jakubowicz ...
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Itzik Kol ...
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Michael Hartman ...
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Quentin Falk ...
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William Stout ...
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Roni Ya'ackov ...
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Dan Wolman ...
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A documentary about Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus - two movie-obsessed cousins whose passion for cinema changed the way movies were made and marketed - and the tale of how this passion ultimately led to the demise of the company they built together. Written by Anonymous

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Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, violence including rape, language and some drug use | See all certifications »

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Michael Winner was going to be interviewed for the documentary, but he died before production started. See more »

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Features Any Which Way You Can (1980) See more »

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Written by Andy Scott (as Andrea Scott), Steve Priest (as Stephen Priest), Brian Connolly, and Mick Tucker (as Michael Tucker)
Sweet Publishing Ltd.
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A throwback to a vision of the future
1 July 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In Tim Burton's Ed Wood, a cheapshot movie producer snorts at Ed's desire to create art on a shoestring. The irony is, of course, that however artistically credible he imagined himself, Ed Wood made junk anyway. There's a sweet spot where good intentions, lack of talent, and thriftiness meet, and Cannon Films regularly found it. The Asylum's mockbusters might be keeping the bad movie dream alive, but can you imagine a modern mini-studio greenlighting the likes of Superman, alongside Death Wish, alongside Shakespeare?

Cannon was set up in the 1960s but rose to prominence/notoriety in 1980 when it was sold to Israeli cousins Yoram Globus (the money man) Menahem Golan (the would-be moviemaker). This is where Mark Hartley's breakneck documentary joins the sordid story. Talking heads – directors, editors, and actors – provide snappy anecdotes and bitesized insights into the passion and incompetence of two upstarts who, for a time, upset the Hollywood establishment. And then spent $25m on an arm-wrestling movie.

Though remembered for Chuck Norris nonsense and some seriously ropey fantasy and sci-fi (Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce will make you question the value of cinema), at their peak Cannon were bashing out nearly 50 films a year. This left room for 'proper' movies from the likes of Franco Zeffirelli and Godfrey Reggio; Cannon even bagged an Oscar for Best Foreign Film at their mid-eighties peak. But for every Company of Wolves or Barfly there were five Charles Bronson Z-movies, so Cannon will always be remembered for the balderdash, churned out chiefly to take advantage of the burgeoning home video market.

Indeed, this is the perfect Eighties trash story, beginning with The Happy Hooker, the strangely apt story of a European prostitute coming to the US and sticking two fingers up to the Hollywood elite. The party ended with Cyborg in 1989, a Van Damme oddity which has little to do with cyborgs and whose creative failure rests partly on the shoulders of Albert Pyun, who would later find cinema's comic book nadir with his mouth-dryingly terrible Captain America. Cyborg was built with bits of Masters of the Universe, which gives us a clue as to the state of Cannon's finances at the turn of the decade. A brief 90s relaunch provided nothing of interest.

Perhaps there's a three-hour version of this documentary which delves into more depth and supposition about the essential culture clash that meant Globus and Golan failed spectacularly, time and time again, to grasp the mood of the nation they adored. But then the film would lose its briskness and humour, and Hartley's superb Uzi-editing would go to waste. It's a shallow documentary about men with shallow dreams, and it's enthralling for it.

The only real art to emerge from Cannon were exceptions that proved the rule. That rule being: Make 'em quick and make 'em cheap. By the time the bloated excess of Masters of the Universe was vomited into the multiplex (I recall that particular disappointment sorely) audiences expected more. Hartley's film may ultimately overstate the influence of Cannon – although with a new Terminator movie potentially about to join Jurassic World, Avengers, and Furious 7 at the top of the year's box office, the business model that spawned five Death Wishes and three Delta Forces does seem disturbingly prescient.


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