I am a big fan of the work of this director and have read several of his New York Times columns on photography in depth and have the complete series of his TV series First Person.
While I have not seen the documentary Standard Operating Procedure or Tabloid that proceeded this one, I still want to see them. Ever present in the background is the Fog of War, but it is never really going to go away and its impact has not diminished over time.
In many ways this feels like a semi-sequel to the Fog of War with Donald Rumsfeld facing questions about a major war that is still having consequences today.
Unlike the Vietnam War, the situation in Iraq is still playing out and it caused many laughs based on bitter irony as the reverse of what Donald Rumsfeld was hoping to happen with the invasion of Iraq has happened.
Much to Donald Rumsfeld’s credit that he does not try to dodge any of the questions and his demeanor does not change throughout even though he is well aware the way the director is going to try and spin his answers to make them sound worse than they are.
The success of the documentary is also in letting Rumsfeld explain himself fully so that you can see his point of view and understand his reasoning even if you do not agree with the decisions he made of the foreign policy of the George W Bush presidency from the period.
I look forward to seeing this again on DVD or on TV where it is sure to find a wider audience amongst recent history buffs or those interested in geopolitics.
Director: Mark Hartley
Featuring: A. Martin Zweiback, Adolfo Quinones, Al Ruban, Alain Jakubowicz, Alan Roderick-Jones, Albert Pyun, Alex Winter, Allen DeBevoise, Andrew Stevens, Avi Lerner, Barbet Schroeder, Bo Derek, Boaz Davidson, Cassandra Peterson, Catherine Mary Stewart, Charles Matthau, Christopher C. Dewey, Christopher Pearce, Cynthia Hargrave, Daniel Loewenthal, Danny Dimbort, David Del Valle, David Engelbach, David Paulsen, David Womark, Diane Franklin, Dolph Lundgren, Edward R. Pressman, Elliott Gould, Franco Nero, Franco Zeffirelli, Frank Yablans, Gary Goddard, Gary Nelson, Gideon Porath, Greydon Clark, Harrison Ellenshaw, James Bruner, Jan Gan Boyd, Jerry Schatzberg, Jim Shooter, John A. Amicarella, John G. Avildsen, John Grover, John Platt, John Thompson, Just Jaeckin, Lance Hool, Laurene Landon, Lucinda Dickey, Luigi Cozzi, Malcolm J. Christopher, Marina Sirtis, Mark Goldblatt, Mark Helfrich, Mark Rosenthal, Martine Beswick, Melody Anderson, Michael Armstrong, Michael Chambers, Michael Dudikoff, Michael Hartman, Mimi Rogers, Molly Ringwald, Oliver Tobias, Olivia d’Abo, Pete Walker, Pieter Jan Brugge, Quentin Falk, Richard Chamberlain, Richard Edlund, Richard Kraft, Rick Nathanson, Robert Forster, Robert Gosnell, Robin Sherwood, Ron Purdie, Roni Ya’ackov, Roy Langsdon, Rusty Lemorande, Sam Firstenberg, Sharon Kahn, Sheldon Lettich, Sheldon Renan, Stephen Tolkin, Sybil Danning, Ted Newsom, Tobe Hooper, Todd Roberts, Tom Luddy, Vernon Messenger, William Sachs, William Stout, Wings Hauser, Yftach Katzur
Tagline: “Would you fuck that monkey?”
Covering the rise and fall of film outsiders Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus from their beginnings making films in Israel through to the bitter end when financial problems saw the end of their studio and the termination of their partnership, this documentary is a wild ride through many highlights and lowlights of their films and the people who worked on them.
It is not a secret that the company released a lot of films that were not regarded as high quality at the time, but the thing is that looking at them today they are still very entertaining and I cheered seeing some of them on the big screen.
Films as product may be the normal thing today, but back then it was seen as tacky to treat films this way and the subject of the films themselves where not treated as seriously back then. There are people these days who watch nothing but cult and action films non ironically and talk seriously about them (shout out to Cult of Muscle podcast), so many of these films now are getting bluray releases or being made available on video on demand for a new audience.
Many of the people who worked on the films did not have that good of a time, I felt sorry for the women who were exploited in particular. This is acknowledged and dealt with in a serious manner and it is good to see their viewpoint on the matter that is not sugar coated or looked back on with rose coloured glasses.
While many of the people interviewed are not huge stars these days, there are lots of fans of the cult movie genre who would appreciate hearing what they have to say and hearing new things about the production of these movies.
Mark Hartley said before the film that is was a tribute to his researcher Rosemary Long that they managed to find one interview subject still alive who everyone thought had died. They had to take a photo and show people so they would believe them. Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were approached to be interviewed for the documentary, but instead made their own documentary “The Go Go Boys” which beat this film to release by three months.
This documentary already has a lot of interest from other film fans and is sure to do well touring the festival circuit. I am looking forward to a DVD release and also revisiting some of the films featured in the documentary.
I had to skip out on the question and answer session after the film, but during the introduction Mark Hartley said this would be his last documentary due to now concentrating on making films himself.
Films featured in the documentary (more added as I remember):
Eskimo Limon (1979) [Lemon Popsicle]
Death Wish II (1982)
Death Wish 3 (1985)
Missing in Action (1984)
Invasion U.S.A. (1985)
Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1985)
Delta Force, The (1986)
Over the Top (1987)
American Ninja (1985)
Enter the Ninja (1981)
Ninja III: The Domination (1984)
Revenge of the Ninja (1983)
Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987)
America 3000 (1986)
Exterminator 2 (1984)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1989)
King Solomon’s Mines (1985)
Apple, The (1980)
Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984)
Forbidden Dance, The (1990)
Going Bananas (1987)
Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood, The (1980)
Last American Virgin, The (1982)
Over the Brooklyn Bridge (1984)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Invaders from Mars (1986)
Masters of the Universe (1987)
King Lear (1987)
Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1981)
Wicked Lady, The (1983)
Mata Hari (1985)
Runaway Train (1985)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, The (1986)
Movies about making a movie are so cliché now that you may as well make them out as joke from the start, which is what this film does and is not even trying to hide the fact that the entire film is a meta joke in the infinite mirror sense. It is also quite a savage backhander to the type of film makers who talk more than they make movies with the Fuck Bombers being all talk and so little action that ten years pass and they still have not made a movie despite filming every day.
The Yakuza in the movie are the standard stock characters with Muto (Jun Kunimura) in his tacky threads, Michiko (Fumi Nikaidô) his wild daughter and the rival Yakuza leader Ikegami (Shin’ichi Tsutsumi). The look on Ikegami’s face when he finally gets to meet Michiko after obsessing about her all those years is priceless.
I am being a bit light on with the plot as that is half the fun with the movie as you don’t know what it is going to do next. There is a point in the film where they decide to drop any suspension of disbelief and heads and limbs start flying and the film crew suddenly has machine guns that they use to gun down the Yakuza while filming the dolly shots.
Michiko is a terror and the broken glass kiss is one of the more intense things in the movie. I had to watch that part of the film through my fingers.
Deranged carnage has been one description of this movie, well yes, but it knows why it is doing it and it has a lot of heart. It is not like Tokyo Gore Police that was all gore and no plot, you are actually engaged with these characters and want to see how it turns out.
If you are a fan of Yakuza action movies or appreciate films that question the medium I would recommend this film. Some people may wonder what the hell is going on and are probably best to watch something else that is more straight forward.
Without meaning to I have done a bulk DVD purchase several times directly before MIFF when I will be watching lots of movies in short time. At least I have something to watch afterwards when I finish watching Skippy. Umbrella Entertainment has a special on at the moment so some of these were $5.
OZ-PLOITATION BOXSET VOL 3: Australia After Dark/The ABC of Love and Sex, Felicity, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, Mad Dog Morgan, Patrick, Les Patterson Saves the World
Kitty and the Bagman
The Last of the Knucklemen
Death in Brunswick
I had been meaning to buy some more Australian movies for a while as I have seen a few of these and want to watch them again. Also I wanted to write some more reviews for Australian movies as my focus has been overseas for a long time.
I will see how I go after this batch as I am trying not to binge on DVD purchases too much as I want to save money while I am working for the leans times ahead due to the State Election and not being able to do get website work over the Christmas/New Year Period.