Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. United Kingdom/Israel/Australia/USA, 2014. Fury Productions, RatPac Documentary Films, XYZ Films. Screenplay by Mark Hartley. Cinematography by Garry Richards. Produced by Veronica Fury, James Packer, Brett Ratner. Music by Jamie Blanks. Film Editing by Jamie Blanks, Sara Edwards, Mark Hartley. Toronto International Film Festival 2014.
They’re described as the Weinstein Brothers except without any taste, which should sum it up nicely, but going over the filmography of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, Israeli filmmakers who partnered up, left home and came to Hollywood in the spirit of conquering it outright, one wonders if tasteless really such a bad thing when you’re this good at keeping busy and getting people’s attention. This incredibly watchable, endlessly fun documentary charts the rise to power of Cannon Films as the place where schlock goes to find its truest self, with Golan and Globus putting out, by any means necessary, an amazing quantity of work with no apologies for some of the craziest ideas for movies you’ve ever seen (and then, even more shocking, backing some very respectable ones as well). Among their accomplishments are launching Chuck Norris, taking over (and, let’s face it, killing) the Superman franchise, giving us Masters of the Universe, Lifeforce (Tobe Hooper says he was never happier than working with them) and the Allan Quartermain films, and that’s after having produced countless movies in Israel (including a few that earned Oscar nominations like I Love You Rosa and Operation Thunderbolt). A parade of actors, including Marina Sirtis and Robert Forster, appear on camera to talk about working with this dynamic duo, giving insight into the atmosphere they frequently created by their insistence on ridiculous levels of violence and nudity in their films whether the project called for it or not (most fun: a lovely Bo Derek relating how Bolero was just never dirty enough for these guys). It may well be, as some believe, that Golan and Globus are terrible people who have done little to advance the art of great cinema, but seeing as how everyone interviewed has a twinkle in their eye while talking about their worst experiences working with them, it’s possible they were also worth the story they left you with (or, as is also likely, those who genuinely loathed them simply refused to appear here). Whatever your reasons for watching this documentary, whether it be nostalgia or curiousity, this team is responsible for practically creating a sub-A-sur-B genre of their own, and seeing both their ignored bombs and their surprise hits charted in so streamlined and entertaining a manner makes this one a must-see for film lovers of any kind.