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Not only for Creature Fans, but fans of the Universal Monsters AND Classic Hollywood History
I remember seeing the original incarnation of this film at the FANEX maybe eight years back? After getting my DVD in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised at the similarities to the original version I viewed - a work in progress, it seems - but also how they stepped up their game.
The interviews have been covered with so many new photos - some that I hadn't seen before. And, there are plenty of clips from all three Creature films, as well as other Universal Monster films and monster films in general.
The project also seems to be brighter and more vivid in color.
Still, I really enjoyed the narration by Keith David (who we all remember from "They Live,") that was written by Sam Borowski. Borowski's script not only weaves the story, but moves it along nicely. As does the direction and apparent camera work of Matt Crick.
The interviews really tell this story, as if it was dialogue from characters in a feature film. I particularly enjoyed the interviews with Oscar-Winner Benicio Del Toro and Arthur Ross, one of the original screenwriters from Creature From the Black Lagoon. And, it's always great seeing - and hearing - Ben Chapman. Hard to believe it's been 7 years since he passed. Ben loved meeting his fans at conventions, and I think this project is a great tribute to him.
So, if you're a fan of the Gill-Man, give this a watch! You can see the original appearance of the green guy on the NBC Colgate Comedy Hour with Abbott and Costello(and more of this episode is contained as an extra on the wonderful DVD)or the clip of Marilyn Monroe going to see CFTBL with Tom Ewell in "The Seven Year Itch!" So much Gill-Man memorabilia AND memories! And, again, plenty of Special Features!
Thank You Sam Borowski and Matt Crick for bringing this wonderful project to light. It may have took 10 years to complete and get out there to the world, BUT it was definitely worth the wait!
The Discoverers (2012)
Wonderfully-woven tale by First-Timer Justin Schwarz
Writer-Director Justin Schwarz gives us a wonderful gift for his first feature in "The Discoverers." The movie follows the plight of Lewis Birch (played wonderfully by Oscar-Nominee Griffin Dunne), a recently separated father of two, trying to recapture his past literary and scholarly glory.
A road trip with his new-age, vegetarian daughter (Madeleine Martin) and his rebellious son Jack (Devon Graye) to a major literary conference to promote the release of his upcoming book - that he is still struggling to finish - is put on hold after he received a distressed phone-call from his brother Bill Birch (a nice cameo by John C. McGinley) relaying that his mother is very ill.
It is revealed very early on that his mother had indeed passed, and it is up to Lewis to make all the arrangements. Shortly thereafter, the doctor relays to him that his father Stanley Birch (Stuart Margolin) is in no mental condition to be alone.
Soon, Lewis and his two children are following Stanley on a Lewis and Clark re-enactment trek. You can imagine the drama that ensues from there. Emmy-Nominee Cara Buono is absolutely charming as Nell, one of the re-en-actors, who seems to fancy Lewis. Dreama Walker also gives a notable performance as Abigail, a daughter of one of the re-en-actor's, who takes up a romance with Jack.
But, Schwarz - along with Dunne's fine performance - are the glue that holds this interesting and entertaining movie together. It's a wonderful first-time feature for Schwarz, and I would highly recommend it. It's currently in a plat-formed select theatrical release, and if it hits your city, it's well worth the price of admission.
MANIAC knocks 'em dead at the Rhode Island Film Festival!
Had the pleasure of attending the World Premiere of "Maniac," at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, and it was quite an experience.
The film itself was shot in an interesting fashion: Award-Winning Filmmaker Sam Borowski explained how even though it was filmed with the RED Epic camera, an old 1970s photographic lens was installed to give it that filmic seventies feel. And, it really pays off.
As does the performance of Bill Sorvino, playing the character of "The Man," a 'Travis Bickle-like' citizen who goes a little over-the-edge following a chain of tragic events that are revealed later on in the film.
Borowski's direction is evident as the film is rife with tremendous performances. While Sorvino anchors the film well, Joey D'Onofrio, who many of you remember as 'Slick' in "A Bronx Tale," and some of you will remember as the young Tommy in "Goodfellas," plays a major supporting role as a nasty, violent pimp. And, look for a special performance from David Harris playing a Deli Owner. Harris you may remember played "Cochise," in the Walter Hill film, "The Warriors." "Maniac" offers two different sides of several important social and societal issues and leaves the viewer with the ability to form their own opinion. Homages to several seventies flicks, most prominently "Taxi Driver," only serve to make the film more enjoyable, even through the violence and serious subtext.
Borowski's direction paired with the actor's performances and the music as well, seem to be a recipe for a possible future Oscar nomination in the Live-Action Short category. "Maniac" is slated to be playing at several festivals over the next few months and experience it for yourselves.
Night Club (2011)
Great Performances at this "Night Club" - some spoilers **
I've been meaning to post my long overdue review, as I met Sam Borowski at a festival 3 films ago, and have followed his work ever since. He's become a viable name on the film festival circuit, and is working his way up the Hollywood ladder, and I've been to something like 5 or 6 film screenings over the past 8 years or so to view his work.
When I first heard news about this film, I was so excited to see the cast of Hollywood greats and some talented newcomers. When you think about the cast that Sam, who not only directed, but produced, assembled wow!
You've got Oscar-Winner Ernest Borgnine and Oscar-Nominee Sally Kellerman of M*A*S*H fame! Natasha Lyonne, from the American Pie films and 4-time Oscar nominee Mickey Rooney, a living legend in his own right! Rance Howard, a veteran of over 100-something films and the father of another cinematic legend, Ron Howard. There's Paul Sorvino and Ahney Her, who was a lead in Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino, and young Zachary Abel, who was on the ABC show "Make it or Break It." But, it doesn't stop there, Daniel Roebuck, the veteran character actor, whom I've also had the pleasure of meeting and genre fave Clint Howard (Rance's son).
And, then, there are scores of cameos, too, so it just goes on and on and on ..
I can happily say that the film lived up to my expectations when I saw it at the SIFF back in June. Sam crafts a film that manages to capture the feel of several 80s comedies, most notably Ron Howard's 1982 gem, "Night Shift." There is a large homage to that film in "Night Club," though the latter stands on its own merit.
Can't speak for the few negative comments, but I was there at the SIFF, and there didn't seem to be any disappointed people on hand that night. And, I can see why there wasn't. The picture moves along at a nice pace, and it's fun to spot some recognizable actors' - not mentioned above cameos, and you may even spot the director, as well.
The movie starts out entertaining and quick, but once the three main USC students ( played by Bryan Williams, Abel and Her) are hired to work in the California Villa, the real heart of this entertaining film comes out.
Hired first for training by Natasha Lyonne (in a nice scene-stealing performance), and after an hysterical cameo by Chuck McCann, the trio finally get to work the night shift. Abel's budding friendship with Ernest Borgnine's Albert is the basis for the film's premise, the nightclub itself.
There are both some truly hysterical and cool moments, and it's clear from this performance, Borgnine, STILL has it. Perhaps that's why he went on to win BEST ACTOR in the SIFF!
As Albert and the younger trio run the illegal nightclub out of the California Villa at night, we see some things we don't expect, from several older residents doing whiskey shots, getting physically frisky with one another, enjoying a "Vegas-Style" casino night and some famous entertainers performing.
Essentially, we see these people living with as much joy as they ever have at any point in their lives.
The nightclub itself has some consequences, though I won't reveal any of them, and the last scene is both touching and humorous at the same time. Also enjoyed the end credits, which featured a great tracking shot over the L.A. night skies.
This is a legitimate Independent Film, and one that I believe will have some success. I can't speak for anyone else, but if you read the actual newspaper and web reviews, they're positive. If you read the feature articles, it describes an interesting picture.
But, see it for yourself I did. I was there that night, for the movie AND Sam's Q&A, and again, can tell you there weren't many people disappointed in what they saw.
See it for yourself, and my guess is, you won't be disappointed, either.
The Mandala Maker (2009)
A Movie that everyone can relate with **POSSIBLE SPOILERS **
While on the outside, this film might seem like it would appeal more to women - and the general Oprah crowd - Sam Borowski has made a film that everyone can relate to.
Directed and Produced by Borowski, it all starts with the source material - which in this case is a brilliant script - which was co-written by the director himself and Gregory Nissen.
Immediately we are introduced to the lead character of Naomi, played nicely by Courtney Hogan. A struggling artist, it would be a major understatement, to say she is not happy with her current life. And we realize that she has not only been struggling with finances and lack of a career, but with something from her past. That's where the crux of this story comes in.
Naomi, who has been dealing with expressionism - ala Jackson Pollack - one day decides to paint these circular designs that just seem to come right out of her. Known as 'Mandalas,' these circular patterns seem to bring her some form of inner peace. She soon searches for the origin of these paintings, taking her on both a physical and spiritual journey.
I don't want to say too much about the plot, as I think most people should experience it for themselves as I did. Fortunate enough to see it premiere at the SINY Film Festival, this film moved me in ways I won't even try to describe. I know others in the theater experienced it for themselves.
Also, Borowski's brilliant shots help set the tone for the piece as does the hypnotic music in the film. Not only did I recognize the shot sequence of one particular scene by the Verrazano Bridge - an homage to Saturday Night Fever as reported here on IMDb !! - but there were some interesting original shots and yes, indeed, I did recognize the framing of the final scene.
This movie will appeal to women everywhere, however, it will also appeal to PEOPLE everywhere. A true story of self-empowerment, spirituality and healing, The Mandala Maker truly is a film that everyone can relate with.
Creature Comfort for Genre Fans
I have to confess that when I saw this film at the Tribeca Film Center right before Christmas, I was NOT a Creature From the Black Lagoon fanatic, though I do enjoy the old Universals. Mostly, I'm a fan of both the science fiction and horror genres.
However, I was mildly surprised that this film seemed to appeal to me as much as it did some of the hardcore CFTBL fans in the audience. Similiarly, I think that this film WILL appeal to fans of those genres, in addition to the fans of the classic Universal Monster pictures.
Personally, I found the history and backstory of the film very interesting, as I did the section on International Copycat Movies such as some of the Japanese and Mexican films that have seemed to copy both the design and idea of the Gill-Man character. There were even some interesting clips that featured everyone from Abbott and Costello (in a segment from the Creature's initial appearance on The Colgate Comedy Hour) to martial arts star Sonny Chiba (in one of the Copycat Creature movies).
Naturally, as you'd expect this film featured interviews w/ cast and crew, however some of todays actors and filmmakers were included - to my delight - such as makeup wizard Tom Savini and Academy-Award Winner Benicio Del Toro, just to name a few. And the narration of actor Keith David, who sounds just like he stepped off the celluloid print of THEY LIVE also was a major asset to the film.
There's not much negative I have to say, other than the fact that some of the fans' comments may have seemed a little redundant, and a few of the major interviews could have been trimmed here and there, but then again, I was interested enough after sitting through it to actually read the end credits, and I don't always do that. So, perhaps it is fine as it is. Certainly as someone in the indie film world, I might have done some things differently.
But, that still doesn't change the fact that this film will provide Creature Comforts to any of the above Genre fans, as well as a BIG SMILE to fans of the old Universals. In closing, I would say that the movie has inspired me to go back and look at the three Creature From the Black Lagoon movies covered in the film. And if you're a genre fan like myself, it might just have the same effect on you.
Either way, I think you'll enjoy your 80-plus minute visit with the Big Green Guy!