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Interview: Steve Mitchell, Writer & Director Of ‘King Cohen’
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Dr. Zaius   |  @   |  
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Interview with Steve Mitchell

King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen is a fantastic new documentary written and directed by Steve Mitchell that covers the life and career of maverick filmmaker Larry Cohen and it opened in NYC this week. Larry Cohen began his career writing TV noir and westerns in the late 1950s and early 1960s before building up a filmography in the 1970s, writing, directing, and producing such genre classics as Black Caesar (1973), It’s Alive (1974), Q: The Winged Serpent (1982), and The Stuff (1985). While Cohen hasn’t directed a feature film since 1996, he has written some popular genre films such as Phone Booth (2002) and Cellular (2004). His IMDb page features over 80 writing credits with over 20 in the director’s chair. I recently got to speak with Mr. Mitchell, who co-wrote the 1980s horror film Chopping Mall, about his new documentary, his goals for the project, and his relationship with the film’s subject.

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Movie Review: King Cohen: The Wild World Of Filmmaker Larry Cohen
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Dr. Zaius   |  @   |  
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King Cohen movie poster banner

King Cohen
The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen
Written and Directed by Steve Mitchell
Featuring Larry Cohen, Martin Scorsese, J.J Abrams, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, John Landis, Fred Williamson
Dark Star Pictures
Release date: August 3, 2018 (NYC premiere)

Who is Larry Cohen? If you don’t recognize his name, I promise you’ll recognize his films. The now 77-year old has been working in the industry since the late 1950s and evolved from writing noir and western television to become a prolific genre filmmaker. His most prominent works include Black Caesar (1973), It’s Alive (1974), God Told Me To (1976), Q (1982), The Stuff (1985), and Phone Booth (2002). In all he has over 80 writing credits and 20+ directorial efforts. But more than his films was his renegade and rogue filmmaking style. A writer who became a director and producer, Larry Cohen was the consummate hustler and true triple threat. His life and career are now the subject of a phenomenal documentary, King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen, written and directed by Steve Mitchell and put out by Dark Star Pictures.

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Movie Review: Finders Keepers
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Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers
Amazon Instant Video
Directed by Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel
Starring Shannon Whisnant and John Wood
The Orchard
Running Time: 82 minutes
Release Date: October 2, 2015

I used to hear the saying “finders keepers” quite much when I was a kid. It was usually followed by “losers weepers.” You know the deal; a friend of yours finds something really cool lying around and gets excited about it as if were a glorious treasure, that is until you see it and realize that it actually belongs to you and you have been looking for it for what seems like the longest time. You tell your friend this, ask them if you can have it back, but unfortunately…

“Finders keepers, losers weepers!” The little creep’s mocking tone doesn’t help matters one bit. You hear that less as you mature into adulthood because that just isn’t the kind of thing grown-ups say to each other. At least you would think that. A new documentary aptly titled Finders Keepers begs to differ with an unusual but quintessentially American tale of two men, a barbecue grill, and the severed limb said grill happened to contain that they battled over in full view of the nation and its media that always becomes instantly enthralled by such insanity.

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Movie Review: Code Black
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Code Black film review
Code Black
Director: Ryan McGarry
Writers: Joshua Altman, Ryan McGarry
Cast: Danny Cheng, Andrew Eads, Jamie Eng, Luis Enriquez, Dave Pomeranz, William Mallon
Hammer Film Productions
Rated PG | 93 Minutes
Release Date: June 2014 (Select cities)

In Code Black, physician Ryan McGarry gives us unprecedented access to America’s busiest emergency department. Amidst real life-and-death situations, McGarry follows a dedicated team of young doctors-in-training in C-Booth, Los Angeles County Hospital’s legendary trauma bay.

The birthplace of emergency medicine, L.A. County Hospital’s “C-Booth” – the critical booth – is a 20-square-foot resuscitation area where more people have died (and lived) than in any other square footage in the United States. Directed by McGarry, the feature-length documentary is a first-person reflection of his own experiences inside America’s busiest emergency department.

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SXSW 2014 Review: Take Me To The River
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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take-me-to-the-river-still-sxsw

Take Me to the River
Directed by Martin Shore
Cast: Terrence Howard, Mavis Staples, William Bell, Snoop Dogg, Otis Clay, Lil P-Nut, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Booker T. Jones, Yo Gotti, Frayser Boy
EGBA Entertainment

Directed by Martin Shore, Take Me to the River is a documentary celebrating the inter-generational and inter-racial influence of the Memphis sound in the face of pervasive discrimination and segregation.

Take Me to the River brings multiple generations of Memphis and Mississippi Delta musicians together, documenting the creative process of recording a new album. This historic album, which features artists like Snoop Dogg, Mavis Staples, and Charlie Musselwhite, re-imagine the utopia of racial and generational collaboration of Memphis in its heyday.

Narrated by Terrence Howard, the film features performances from William Bell, Otis Clay, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Yo Gotti, Bobby Rush, Frayser Boy, The North Mississippi All-Stars, and many more.

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SXSW 2014 Review: Beginning With The End
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Beginning with the End SXSW banner

Beginning with the End
Directed & Produced by David Marshall
BSP Films
Release date: March 10, 2014 (SXSW)

“I wished to live deliberately, to confront only the essential facts of life… and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau

At the Harley School in Rochester, New York, a group of high school seniors enroll in an elective class called “Hospice,” where young people tend for those whose lives are ending before their very eyes – and they know it.

On the first day of class, the students share their own experiences with death. From there, the students learn practical skills such as how to fluff a pillow, how to turn a person from their back to their side, and how to assist with feeding and giving care to those who are unable to care for themselves.

Beginning with the End, directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker David Marshall, follows teacher Bob Kane (not to be confused with the creator of Batman) and a group of teenagers who are volunteering as caregivers to dying patients at local comfort care homes.

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SXSW 2014 Review: That Guy Dick Miller
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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That Guy Dick Miller at SXSW

That Guy Dick Miller
Director: Elijah Drenner
Cast: Dick Miller, Joe Dante, Roger Corman, William Sadler, Corey Feldman, John Sayles, Mary Woronov, Robert Picardo, Zach Galligan
World Premiere | End Films
Not Rated | 91 Minutes
Release Date: March 7, 2014 (SXSW)

Dick Miller is the last of the great American character actors. Whether sharing the screen with Nicholson, Hanks, Schwarzenegger, or The Ramones, Dick has been stealing scenes since his screen debut in 1955.

Miller has worked with some of the great directors: Scorsese, Corman, Dante, Cameron, Demme, and more. If you’re an avid moviegoer, you definitely know his face, but few know his name and even fewer know his story: an aspiring writer turned accidental actor.

Directed by Elijah Drenner, That Guy Dick Miller documents Miller’s funny and unexpected story, featuring interviews from the directors, producers, co-stars, and friends who have helped make him Hollywood’s leading “that guy.”

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DVD Review: The Captains Close Up
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The Captains Close UpThe Captains Close Up
DVD
Directed by William Shatner
Starring William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks
Entertainment One
Release Date: August 13, 2013

No one ever involved with the Star Trek franchise has benefited from its enduring popularity and cultural legacy as much as William Shatner. And why shouldn’t he? This is Captain James Tiberius Kirk we’re talking about here, one of the most popular and recognizable heroic figures ever created. Shatner saw his own fortunes as a struggling young actor with great talent and promise rise considerably in the 1960’s when he signed on to play Kirk after the original pilot episode of Trek with Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike was poorly received. The show may have only lasted three seasons in the first place, the third of which was made possible by one of the most effective fan letter-writing campaigns in the history of civilization, but its countless television and feature film spin-offs helped the franchise become the cornerstone of a geek nation that stretches to every corner of the planet and one day possibly to worlds yet unexplored. Shatner is one of the show’s greatest champions, its most iconic character and star, and to this day continues on as a tireless promoter for Star Trek‘s undying themes and the power of its fans and alumni to inspire greatness in themselves and others. Plus, those residual checks must be pretty nice.

Most recently Shatner wrote and directed The Captains Close Up, a 5-part series for the cable channel Epix that expanded on the intentions of his 2011 documentary feature The Captains. Each of the five episodes were devoted to interviewing and profiling the actors who played Starfleet captains in the original Trek and its four television spin-offs and multitude of big screen sci-fi adventures. The entire series has been released on DVD courtesy of Entertainment One, and with a combined running time of two-and-a-half hours on one disc makes binge watching essential and well worth the time of any Trek devotee.

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SXSW 2013 Movie Review: ‘Medora’
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Medora Film

Medora
Director: Andrew Cohn, Davy Rothbart
Cast: Dylan McSoley, Rusty Rogers, Robby Armstrong, Chaz Cowles, Justin Gilbert, Corey Hansen, Logan Farmer, Josh Deering, Rudie Crane, Dennis Pace

In the small town of Medora, Indiana, life revolves around high school basketball – but what happens to a community when their beloved team can’t win a single game?

Decades ago, Medora was a booming rural community with a thriving middle class, but the factories and farms have since closed and the population has dwindled. Medora has become something of a ghost town, riddled with trailer parks and abandoned businesses and one of the smallest schools in the nation.

Directed by Andrew Cohn and Davy Rothbart, Medora follows the down-but-not-out Medora Hornets, capturing the players’ stories on and off the court as they seek to avoid another winless season.

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SXSW 2013 Review: Ryan White’s ‘Good Ol’ Freda’
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Good Ol' Freda and Paul

Good Ol’ Freda
Director: Ryan White
Cinematographer: Austin Hargrave
Editor: Helen Kearns

On their 1963 Christmas record, The Beatles give thanks to “Good Ol’ Freda!” in Liverpool, their devoted secretary and friend. Directed by Ryan White, Good Ol’ Freda is a documentary about Freda Kelly, who was just a shy Liverpudlian teenager when she was asked to work for a local band hoping to make it big.

The Beatles were together for 10 years, but Freda worked for them for 11. She had no idea how far the band would go, but she had faith in The Beatles from the beginning, and they had faith in her. Many people came and went as they sky-rocketed to international stardom, but Freda remained a staple of the inner-circle because of her unfaltering loyalty and dedication. As the band’s devoted secretary and confidant, Freda was witness to the evolution of the greatest band in history.

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