Wednesday, December 24, 2014

FAN GUEST POST: Aaron Graham's Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014

Each December, we here at TV STORE ONLINE have fans of our blog write guest posts about their favorite movies or whatever is on their mind.  In this first installment, podcaster Aaron Graham shares his favorite "movie discoveries" of 2014.

 Aaron W. Graham has an extensive background in freelance film writing.  A partial list of his interview subjects include Terry Gilliam, John Landis, James Gray, Richard Franklin, Charles B. Griffith, Stuart Gordon and Richard Linklater. Graham was also selected to the Berlinale Talent Campus at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival. In addition, he is also a full member of the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) and was elected to serve on the DGC Manitoba's district council. His favorite filmmaker is John Ford. Follow Aaron at Twitter.

In alphabetical order, the best films I’ve seen for the first time in 2014.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

FAN GUEST POST: Steven Bevilacqua's Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014

Each December, we here at TV STORE ONLINE have fans of our blog write guest posts about their favorite movies or whatever is on their mind.  In this first installment, Steven Bevilacqua shares his favorite "movie discoveries" of 2014.

Here are 5 films that I saw for the first time in 2014.  This list isn’t like other year-end lists because these films are all older and most of them would never qualify for the “best” of anything.  These movies may not all be great, or even good, but each one is a real standout for one reason or another and I’m very glad that I saw all of them.  Here we go…

NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR (1985) dir. John Carr, Philip Marshak, Tom McGowan, Jay Schlossberg-Cohen, Gregg C. Tallas

Night Train to Terror has developed a legendary reputation among cult movie fans as one of the worst 80s horror movies.  Happily, it turns out that everything they say about this movie is true.  Night Train to Terror is a towering triumph of bad 80s horror.  This movie is allegedly made up of 3 unfinished horror movies, and that seems very likely.  This literal train-wreck of a movie takes place on a train that’s about to crash, while God and Satan sit in a booth, debating whether mankind can be saved, or something, which will somehow be resolved by this train being destroyed.  To illustrate their debate, God and Satan look into a window to watch insane scenarios that demonstrate absolutely nothing but are clearly culled from the unfinished films. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

FAN GUEST POST: Marco A. S. Freitas Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014

 Each December, we here at TV STORE ONLINE have fans of our blog write guest posts about their favorite movies or whatever is on their mind.  In this first installment, Marco A. S. Freitas shares his favorite "movie discoveries" of 2014.

I hail from Piau√≠, in the north eastern of Brazil, some of the first memories I have of being engrossed by film include three animals: a dancing mouse (an animated Jerry appearing opposite Gene Kelly in the classic ANCHORS AWEIGH on late-night television); a fake gorilla being beat up by a blond, Italian knock-off of jungle royalty in the unbelievable micro-budgeted, KARZAN-yes, it was spelled right-, and an elephant-sized albino ruminant battling Bronson in Jack Lee Thompson´s THE WHITE BUFFALO (the last two features in no longer-standing movie theaters). First thinking about caricature drawing that would take me somewhere other than the principal´s office in school, I migrated to the advertising field where I was able to try to extract good performances from mostly heavy machinery while directing corporate videos. After taking workshops with veteran filmmakers like Francis Coppola, George Lucas, Ruy Guerra, Giba Assis Brasil, Jack Hill, Carlos Gerbase, Jorge Furtado, etc., I went on to receive a B.A. in film from Columbia as well as complete the Screenwriting program at UCLA. Since returning to Brazil, I have interviewed film luminaries like Brian Trenchard-Smith, David Winning, Sheldon Lettich, Isaac Florentine, Albert Pyun, Guillermo Arriaga, Randal Kleiser, etc and etc for digital magazines in Belgium, Italy, France, Canada, the UK, etc., as have been a frequent guest in one of longest-running radio programs dealing with movies in Brazil (over 11 years!), Cena de Cinema on one of Brazil´s top stations.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FAN GUEST POST: STEVEN FAHRHOLZ Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014

Steven Fahrholz has an associates degree in film & video that currently collects dust. He briefly did freelance writing for the Orlando Weekly. An avid film buff, Fahrholz keep a journal on all his theater visits each year. Each of the last three years, he has made over 100 visits to movie theaters. He anxiously awaits the moment he can watch a new John Carpenter film on the big screen.

Here is my list of top 5 favorite older film discoveries I made in 2014 (in order of release date).

Monday, December 15, 2014

FAN GUEST POST: Moviocrity's Scott Davis on his favorite movie discoveries of 2014

Each December, we here at TV STORE ONLINE have fans of our blog write guest posts about their favorite movies or whatever is on their mind.  In this first installment, podcaster Scott Davis shares his favorite "movie discoveries" of 2014.

2014 was one rollercoaster of a year. Personal examination led to some parts of my life coming to a close while new opportunities opened up. I saw my old site of Film Geek Central slowly close up shop, at least for now. I guested on several podcasts and wondered if I would even feel like writing again. I did, and came back in full force with my own site, While I was continually disappointed by the films of 2014, I also discovered quite a few gems. What follows are the best of several film discoveries from 2014. 

VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS  (1970) – It all starts with a pair of earrings. Before it is over, we will explore feelings of love, lust, terror and abandonment. There will be vampires and other fantastic creatures. Themes of incest, religion, repression and murder will shatter the facade of an idyllic estate. Young Valerie is indeed having quite the week.

Probably the weirdest flick on this list, VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS is a Swedish film that blends fairy tale imagery with deep, dark family secrets and  a young girl experiencing the first stirrings of her sexual awakening. For this latter reason, the film is justifiably controversial. Instead of casting older for the role, Valerie is played (quite well in fact) by 13 year-old Jaroslava Schallerov√°. This can make some of the more lascivious sequences uncomfortable to watch. But the film winds up being so haunting and beautiful on its own that it’s nearly impossible not to get wrapped up in Valerie’s labyrinthine odyssey.

Is what happens in VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS the strange daydreams of a young girl? Is it real? What is real? Your mind will reel while watching this film, because you instinctively know that no interpretation is too out there, nothing is off limits. Gothic horror, fantasy, your most sensual dreaming and your most terrifying nightmares all intersect in this wild flick from Jaromil Jires. The film makes for an intriguing companion piece to Neil Jordan’s THE COMPANY OF WOLVES.

PUNISHMENT PARK (1971) – In Peter Watkin’s mockumentary, an executive order is enforced and groups of anti-government “extremists” are rounded up. Their crimes range from non-violent protests, controversial song lyrics, draft dodging and legitimately violent acts against the state. After being put through a kangaroo court, they are given the choice of harsh prison sentences or a few days in Punishment Park. Choosing the park, the hippies and revolutionaries are expected to walk across over fifty miles of desert with no water. The event serves as a training exercise for law enforcement that chases the lab rats and insists there will be no problem, provided no one resists arrest. A deputy is supposedly killed, which makes the already aggravated police ready to step things up. That we never met the deputy, never saw him being assaulted and only have a prop body and the word of the police spurs some important questions. Did one of the radicals kill a police officer? Did the police stage the event? Or are government officials playing law enforcement against the citizenry in an attempt to retain their power and exterminate society’s so-called problem elements?

2014 is ending with images of protests in the streets. My country is becoming involved in conflicts halfway across the world, while at home, poverty and allegations of police brutality dominate the public consciousness. Hence, this film does not feel like a time capsule from more than forty years ago. Take out references to Indochina, and it feels as though it could have been made this afternoon. Shots of police opening fire on unarmed civilians and an African-American being deprived of oxygen while a half dozen men subdue him recall the very real images that have sparked so much outrage. Peter Watkins film about the widening divide between government bodies and the people they are sworn to serve is both tragic and terrifying.

SKATETOWN U.S.A. (1979) – For years, I have had fuzzy memories of watching SKATETOWN U.S.A. on the Movie Channel back in 1981. I remembered a guy with big glasses and hair of tinsel that shot lasers. I remembered Scott Baio disappearing into the background (which is the best way to treat Scott Baio). I remembered an evil roller disco gang, if that’s even possible. I remembered a plot that went from one inane thing to the next without making a lick of sense, all to the pulsing beat of a never-ending soundtrack of disco, funk and soul. Surely, this must have been the inaccurate, cobbled together memories from childhood. Surely, none of that could have been real.

It was. All of this happens and so much more. Young stars of the day (Patrick Swayze! Ron Palillo! Maureen McCormack!) join forces with confused relics of vaudeville and television (Flip Wilson! Ruth Buzzi! Billy Barty!) for 98 minutes of glitter-soaked nonsense that I loved from beginning to end. It will likely never see a legitimate DVD or Blu-ray release thanks to soundtrack issues, at least not unless someone takes a major interest.

NIGHT OF THE JUGGLER (1980) – Here it is. If I had to narrow this list down to one film, one film I consider the most amazing discovery of the year, it would be NIGHT OF THE JUGGLER.  Sean (James Brolin) is an ex-cop and divorced father trying to raise his daughter in New York City. He drops her off at school and watches in horror as a lunatic snatches her and drives off. Sean immediately starts chasing after the two on a daylong, citywide trek to get his daughter back. Even when he encounters demons from his own past and the distance between him and his little girl seems to be widening, he never falters.

NIGHT OF THE JUGGLER is non-stop. No big special effects or lousy comic relief. It's an exciting, dramatically-charged film from beginning to end. The film is a time capsule of a dangerous but nostalgic time. Sean may race across the city, but there was no way NIGHT OF THE JUGGLER made it into any NYC tourist packages. New York is presented as a sprawling hell on Earth. We get an up close look at the genuine 42nd Street grindhouses and sex palaces. We get dangerous neighborhoods where certain people shouldn’t venture; unheard of today, but not in 1980. We see miles of abandoned buildings, an important plot point it turns out. The film shows the most disgusting worm-infested crevices of the Big Apple while also celebrating the city as a living, breathing, vibrant part of the American landscape.  Be sure to look for adult film icon Sharon Mitchell in a bit role.

FINDING BLISS (2009) – Speaking of adult stars, now we speed ahead nearly thirty years to this overlooked but completely charming comedy. Jody (Leelee Sobieski) has won a prestigious award for her student film, but she finds the realities of Hollywood are stacked against women. The only job she can get in the industry is as an editor for Grind, an adult film company. The sexually repressed young filmmaker is shocked by the graphic nature of the videos she cuts, and wonders if she is somehow sacrificing her feminist ideals by taking part in such a venture. So, why does she do it? Because Grind has their own studio and top of the line equipment. Jody can’t get any of the studios to bite on her dream film. But she figures she can always shoot the film on the Grind set when no one is looking.

It would be easy to simply poke fun at the porn industry and drag it through the mud, but FINDING BLISS doesn’t do that. In fact, the more time Jody spends with Grind, the more she starts to respect some of the cast and crew at the studio. Jody starts to question everything she once believed as she is not only aroused by some of the material, but surprised at the thoughtfulness of those she works with. This is further solidified when she realizes that Grind’s star director Jeff Drake (Matthew Davis) was the previous recipient of her film school’s award. At first confused by conflicting emotions of idolization and betrayal, she realizes she is developing feelings for this unlikely kindred spirit.

Why doesn’t FINDING BLISS judge like so many of its critics would have liked? Perhaps because it is a romanticized yet semi-autobiographical film. Director Julie Davis – a truly underrated talent – was also a blazing talent from AFI. Like Sobieski’s character of Jody, she raised money for her own film, I LOVE YOU DON’T TOUCH ME while editing promos for the Playboy Channel and even directing the horror flick, WITCHCRAFT 6. Whatever the case, FINDING BLISS is a funny, sweet film with plenty of eye-opening and touching moments, no pun intended.

Please check out Scott's video series of Moviocrity on Vimeo here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hope Holiday on Jerry Lewis and the shooting of The Ladies' Man (1961)

 Actress Hope Holiday "Miss Anxious" from Jerry Lewis's comedy masterpiece THE LADIES' MAN (1961) talks with TV Store Online.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did the role of "Miss Anxious" come to you in THE LADIES' MAN (1961)?

  Well, I did the film THE APARTMENT.  It was directed by Billy Wilder and it featured Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lennon. I played the drunken barfly in it named "Margie MacDougall".   

 Jerry Lewis, had been a long-time friend of my parents.  My dad used to produce stage shows at the Capital Theatre in New York City and Martin & Lewis had played there.   So I met Jerry went I was a kid.  After I did THE APARTMENT, my parents decided to move from New York to Los Angeles.   

Jerry Lewis was preparing for something at Paramount and he spoke to my dad one day and asked him if he'd like to have lunch.   He said, "Why don't you bring Hope along... I'd like to give her a screen test."   It wasn't for THE LADIES' MAN though.   He was doing a television pilot.  It was called Permanent Waves.   He wanted a girl for the lead; who could play a lady barber in the Navy Waves. He would say things like, "Well, we're not ready to start rolling yet, but why don't you tell me a little bit about yourself and what you've been up to."  But I knew that the camera was rolling.  He told me that so that I wouldn't be nervous.   

At the end of that, he said that he'd like me to be in the pilot episode of Permanent Waves.  It was myself, Kathy Freeman, Dee Arlen and Beverly Wills.   Jerry tried to make a female Jerry Lewis out of me, and that's not what I am.  So it was very difficult for me to do that type of schtick.  I could only do what I knew worked for me.   The pilot didn't sell.   Once that happened he asked me if I'd like to be THE LADIES' MAN.

The shooting of THE LADIES' MAN was a lot of fun.  It was almost like being in a boarding school.  We had a lot of laughs.   

TV STORE ONLINE:  Could you talk a bit about the size and scope of the set for THE LADIES' MAN?

  It was like a doll house. It was so big.  The stairway and the hallway, the rooms--my bedroom set was unbelievable.  It was like an actual real room. When I was in there I never felt like I was on a movie set.   I felt like I was actually in my bedroom.   All of the rooms were wired for sound and lights.  When I did the scene where Jerry comes to my door and knocks--he was in a hallway.  It wasn't like we were working on a set.   When he knocked on the door, and I opened it--it didn't feel like a set.   The dinning room, the living rooms felt the same way.   It all felt totally real.

TV STORE ONLINE:  That scene is such a wonderful and strange moment in the film...Was any aspect of that improvisation between the two of you?

HOLIDAY:  That was scripted out I believe.   But we did do a lot of improvisation during the shooting of the film.  I remember, actress Peggy Cass stopped by the set one day for a visit and Jerry invited her to come back the following day to do a scene.     He didn't have anything written for her.  She showed up at 7 a.m the next day, and Jerry said, "Okay, here is what we're gonna do.  Hope you go and stand over there behind the sofa..."     The scene never made the picture.

TV STORE ONLINE:   There was quite a bit that was cut out of the movie...

Right, because so much of it was just schtick.    The scene with Jerry and Buddy Lester and the hat was improvised as was the scene with Jerry dancing with George Raft.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Going back to that scene with you and Jerry at the door...How many takes did you do with Jerry on something like that?

HOLIDAY:  A lot! I'm tell you why.  Every time that I slapped him--I really gave it all my energy.  I never meant to hurt him.   But after it was over--his face was all red, and he went back to his dressing room to sulk.  He was really upset with me.    There's a photograph of Jerry and myself from the shooting of the scene in THE LADIES' MAN where he had a paddle that reads "The Not Listening Stick".  He hit me on the fanny with that and he hit me hard.  I think he did it to get back at me.  He was annoyed with me.   Afterward, he pulled me aside and said, "Do you not like me?"  I said, "Jerry, of course I do. I'm acting. I'm not trying to hurt you."  While we were shooting the scene--the second time we did it, I hit him so hard that when I slapped him I swung myself around.  

When we shot the scene of the Ballet, which comes close to the end of the film...That was all improvised.  It was myself, Pat Stanley and Lynn Ross.  I had a tutu on and toe-shoes.  I was put up on a pedestal to pose.  The others were sitting.  We were to pose and then get up and start to dance around.  Before we started, Jerry came out and started to sprinkle Talcum Powder all over the floor.   He wanted us to slip and fall on our butts.  It was really something else.

I know you don't want to hear it, but Jerry was almost like a dictator on the set of THE LADIES' MAN.   He did what he wanted to do.  He had a lot of power at the studio.   I had been invited by the studio to attend the premiere of EXODUS (1960) and they lent me a mink coat to wear.  I went into the ladies' room at the end of the day of shooting to get cleaned up.  I put on my regular make-up.   A friend helped me get dressed up. I looked nice.  I went back out to say goodbye to everyone because there was a car waiting for me.  Jerry looked at me and said, "Okay, get Hope Holiday ready for the scene with George Raft."   I said, "WHAT?" and in front of everyone:  "Who do you have to #### to get off of this picture!?!"   I stormed out and went to the premiere.   I was tired and when I arrived there, not long after sitting down I fell asleep and missed EXODUS.

There was a whole section of the scene that Jerry and I shot that was cut out.   As it is now, my character shuts the door after she has slapped him several times.  We did shoot a whole other section which was to come right after--where he goes down the hallway and does something else, only to return, and knock on her door again.   She opens the door and Jerry is wearing a deep-sea diver's helmet because he is afraid of her.   He comes into her room, and she opens the little hatch in front and then pokes him in the eyes and pinches his nose.
Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung