DID YOU READ

The Wizard of Ozploitation

The Wizard of Ozploitation (photo)

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We had someone else in mind for the role, and she elected not to do it because her mother thought BMX riding was a working-class fad, and she didn’t want her nice middle-class daughter in such a film. So we were auditioning others, and then Nicole came in, did a magnificent reading, and one of the producers said to me, “But you can’t cast her, she’s taller than the two guys.” Who cares? Just look at her, she’s luminous! You see the size of that hair in the picture on the blog! Now that hair, which looks like some sort of enormous Afro, that’s the size it is because there’s a backdraft blowing. Her hair wasn’t really that large and poofy. The two improv comics I cast as the crooks — John Ley and David Argue — would refer to her as “The Mop” or “The Beanpole.” [laughs] We all loved her.

Which of your movies would you say are the most undervalued?

I’d certainly say “The Siege of Firebase Gloria” is the most neglected. It’s highly valued by those who have seen it. It’s Quentin’s favorite film of mine. It’s even appreciated by Vietnam veterans who say it really captured a lot of their experience in the ’68 Tet Offensive. “Dead End Drive-In” was totally dismissed critically in Australia at the time of its release, and given a premiere at a theater that was still under construction. It got critical acclaim in America, but then, naturally, like a lot of New World [Pictures] pickups, it vanished. Luckily, it’s been rediscovered with a new DVD transfer from Anchor Bay. So those are two.

I’ve made 38 crimes against cinema, and I’m about to do 39. It really depends on your viewpoint. People either get the wry underbelly of my genre work, which is not necessarily just self-referential, [or they don’t]. For those who do, there’s maybe a few more nuggets of gold [among] the formulaic movies that others might be able to see. I also have an affection for “Tyrannosaurus Azteca,” which is a camp dinosaur picture that the SciFi Channel repeated 20 times since its premiere last year.

You’ve directed sequels based on films you had no involvement in, such as the upcoming “Porky’s: The College Years.” Is it challenging or liberating to work with previously established properties?

I always put my own spin on things. When I was asked to make “Night of the Demons 2,” I wanted to make it more outrageously funny than number one. I’m a little peeved that no one asked me to make the recent remake of “Night of the Demons.” Maybe I could’ve brought a certain something to that with $5 million dollars instead of, like, $1.4 million, which is what I had to make “Night of the Demons 2.” It had, amongst its stars, Christine Taylor, who was unknown at the time, but then developed a nice career and is now married to Ben Stiller. She’s a great comedienne.

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The “Leprechaun” pictures, that’s an interesting story. Basically, the producers] had a disappointment with number two. It hadn’t done the numbers that they wanted, so they were just going to make a three-part franchise, and that would be it. They said, “Look, set it in Vegas, shoot it at the Ambassador Hotel in L.A.,” and we ended up [shooting part of the film] without permits in Vegas to pepper it with the leprechaun in real Vegas backgrounds. We tried to do 14 days, plus our one guerrilla day, with seven people, avoiding the cops in Vegas. It turned out to be the bestselling direct-to-video of 1995. So they said, “You gotta make another one,” so we made “Leprechaun in Space,” which is an even broader, wilder pastiche than number three. I don’t know which of the two you prefer — opinion divides.

“Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!” opens in New York and Los Angeles on July 31st.

[Additional photos: “BMX Bandits,” Nilsen Premiere, 1983; “Leprechaun 3,” Trimark Pictures, 1995]

Carol Cate Blanchett

Spirit Guide

Check Out the Spirit Awards Nominees for Best Male and Female Leads

Catch the 2016 Spirit Awards live Feb. 27th at 5P ET/2P PT on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Wilson Webb/©Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett Collection

From Jason Segel’s somber character study of author David Foster Wallace, to Brie Larson’s devastating portrayal of a mother in captivity, the 2016 Spirit Awards nominees for Best Male and Female Leads represent the finest in the year of film acting. Take a look at the Best Male and Female Leads in action, presented by Jaguar.

Best Male Lead 

Christopher Abbott, James White
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea

Watch more Male Lead nominee videos here.

Best Female Lead 

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Bel Powley, The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Tangerine

Watch more Female Lead nominee videos here.

A Bolt From the Blue

A Bolt From the Blue (photo)

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“Import/Export”
Noted for his unashamedly bleak characterizations of his homeland, Austrian novelist and filmmaker Ulrich Seidl shines a sobering light on the grotesque realities of the former Soviet Block and the tide of damaged souls drifting westward into Central Europe. A dual story of dispirited migration, “Import/Export” centers on Olga (Ekateryna Rak), a Ukrainian nurse who hopes to find steady work in Austria, and Paul (Paul Hofmann), a laid-off, debt-ridden security guard who heads across the border in the opposite direction. In German, Slovak, Russian, and English with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Lorna’s Silence”
The latest from Belgian brothers and two-time Palme d’Or winners Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, “Lorna’s Silence” picked up a Best Screenplay prize at last year’s Cannes. Lorna (Arta Dobroshi), an Albanian immigrant trapped in a marriage of convenience with serially relapsing junkie Claudy (Jérémie Renier), finds more trouble when a mobbed-up “fixer” plans an accident for Claudy so that Lorna might assist one of his shady connections in obtaining citizenship of his own. In Belgian and Albanian with subtitles.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Love Aaj Kal”
Essentially translating to “Love, Present, Past,” the latest from “Jab We Met” helmer Imtiaz Ali is an unapologetically traditional Bollywood song-and-dance romancei. Two parallel narratives separated by the generational divide depict the change in attitude towards love as Jai and Meera (Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone) finds themselves at a crossroads in contemporary London, while back in 1965, Delhi Veer Singh pursues his dream woman Harleen Kaur (also Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone). In Hindi with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!”
Aussie writer/director Mark Hartley’s latest offers a candid tour of Down Under’s cinematic basement, where fresh young talent took advantage of recently relaxed censorship laws to do it dirtier, sexier and cheaper than their mainstream rivals. Shining a light on the forgotten and the obscure films from the ‘70s and ‘80s, combined with testimony from frazzled directors and rabid fans (Quentin Tarantino among them), Hartley showcases the films and the filmmakers that reflected a culture riding a wave of revolution.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Sergio”
Putting an all-too-literal spin on the life-or-death stakes of international conflict mediation, “Frontline” investigative journalist Greg Barker blends eulogy with harrowing archival footage and elements of a cinematic thriller for the story of U.N. special peace envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. Barker celebrates his subject’s many remarkable achievements prior to the 2003 bombing of the Baghdad U.N. headquarters that buried him and his colleagues under a mountain of rubble.
Opens in Los Angeles.

“Thirst”
South Korean sensation Park Chan-Wook, director of “The Vengeance Trilogy,” picked up a Jury Prize at Cannes for his latest, a slow-burning, farcical chiller taken from French horror scribe Émile Zola’s 19th century grubby page-turner “Therese Raquin.” “The Host”‘s Song Kang-ho stars as Sang-hyeon, a priest struck down by a deadly virus and reanimated in the form of a vampire. Kim Ok-vin co-stars as Tae-joo, a childhood friend who indulges him in his newfound bloodlust. In Korean with subtitles.
Opens in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

“You, The Living”
If you’ve never seen a Roy Andersson film, try to imagine the deadpan introspection of Wes Anderson, but directed by someone who recently received irrefutable proof that there is no God and acted out by a cast all of whom have just that second been informed of the death of a close friend. Continuing his fascination with all things morose, thr Swedish helmer tours a series of dingy urban locales, peering in on the unfulfilled lives of their inhabitants, employing a playful, bouncy score to offer an almost rhythmic quality to the surreal miserablism at hand. In Swedish with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

Ghostbusters Stay Puft

Movies That Never Sleep

10 Comedies That Perfectly Capture New York City

Catch Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Mary Evans/Columbia Pictures/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

They say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. And since the early days of cinema, The Big Apple has seen all sorts of dreamers and schemers depicted on the big screen. Before you catch Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II this month on IFC, here are ten of the best comedy films that show what it’s like to live in the city so nice, you don’t even mind being mugged leaving the packed subway train each morning.

10. The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975)

Melvin Frank’s adaptation of Neil Simon’s play captures the “screw this city” feeling that every New Yorker eventually experiences at some point. Jack Lemmon is the perfect harried Simon protagonist, a middle-aged everyman who feels like the city has conspired against him. A fed-up Lemmon chasing a mugger (a pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone) through the streets of Manhattan is just one in a series of classic New York moments depicted in this roller coaster ride of urban agita.


9. Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

Madonna’s first major film role captures the grit and coolness of New York City’s East Village in the ‘80s. Through the wonders of amnesia, Rosanna Arquette’s Roberta Glass ditches her dull New Jersey life to dance in cool bars with club kids with poofy ’80s hair, wear an awesome pyramid jacket (at the now defunct East Village thrift shop Love Saves the Day ) and, of course, live The Material Girl’s life. We imagine the plot point about the classified section will be updated to Craigslist Missed Connections for the inevitable remake starring Lady Gaga.


8. Night Shift (1982)

A comedy classic for anyone who watched too much HBO back in the ’80s, Night Shift launched the feature film directing career of Ron Howard and unleashed the frantic comic energy of Michael Keaton into the world. Henry Winkler ditches The Fonz to play a bookish nighttime morgue attendant who starts an escort, er, “love broker” service with Keaton’s hyper-energetic “idea man.” With Cheers‘ resident nice gal Shelley Long playing a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold, this is a film that could only exist during the good old seedy days of the city that never sleeps.


7. After Hours (1985)

New York City is filled with characters, many of which Martin Scorsese sheds a light on in this cult favorite dark comedy. A bored office drone (Griffin Dunne) heads to the (at the time) bohemian and sketchy neighborhood of Soho to see a girl he met at a coffee shop and encounters a series of oddballs during his late night quest to get back to his apartment. Dunne is kind of like the “Dorothy” of After Hours as he tries all night to make it back home from the whacked out “Oz” known as pre-gentrification downtown Manhattan. Sculpters, bouncers and punk rockers, Oh My!


6. Arthur (1981)

To crib a line from the film’s theme song (performed by falsetto-voiced crooner Christopher Cross): “If you get caught between the moon and New York City, the best that you can do is fall in love.” Although, it has to be easier to meet someone if you have a few hundred million or so in the bank, even if you are a drunken layabout. In this classic comedy, Dudley Moore’s spoiled man child falls in love with Linda (Liza Minnelli), a girl from Queens who he helps get away from a life of shoplifting at high-end department stores. Between the drunken laughs, there are some poignant moments between Arthur and his butler/father figure Hobson (Sir John Gielgud, in an Oscar-winning role). Arthur’s New York doesn’t include taking cabs or the subway, but he does love a nice drive through Central Park.


5. Coming To America (1988)

Where does the prince of Zamunda go when he wants to find a wife? To Queens, of course and that’s where the hilarity begins for Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem and his trusted servant Semmi (Arsenio Hall). Akeem falls in love with Lisa (Shari Headley) after taking a job at her father’s local fast food restaurant, McDowell’s, home of the “Big Mic.” The barbershop scenes showcase Murphy’s skills for playing multiple characters and add to the film’s vibrant NYC flavor. (Look for Samuel L. Jackson in an early role as the would-be robber who Akeem takes down with his trusty mop.)


4. Quick Change (1990)

Before Bill Murray was crashing random house parties in Williamsburg, he co-directed and starred in this underrated comedy. Donning clown make-up, Bill plays a bank robber trying to escape the city along with Geena Davis and Randy Quaid (hilarious as the dim-witted Loomis). Of course, their only real obstacle to paradise is getting stuck in the everyday quagmire and craziness of New York City and pre-gentrified Brooklyn as they attempt to make it to JFK. Along the way, they encounter a gangster (Stanley Tucci), a confused cab driver (Tony Shalhoub) and a by-the-rules bus driver played by Philip Bosco. Quick Change is a hidden gem in Murray’s filmography, and the perfect film for anyone who has had it with the big city grind.


3. When Harry Met Sally (1989)

The movie that asks and answers the question “Can men and women just be friends?,” When Harry Met Sally is also one of the great New York City romantic comedies. Making use of iconic locations like Washington Square Park and Katz’s Deli (yes, you can actually sit and eat where Meg Ryan had her “I’ll have what she’s having” moment), Rob Reiner’s comedy captures the romance of the Big Apple with its tale of two friends dancing around the inevitable over a series of encounters.


2. Annie Hall (1977)

While Manhattan has the gorgeous shots of New York City landmarks set to Gershwin music, Annie Hall is the Woody Allen classic that captures the city in all its neurotic glory. It’s fitting that the seeds for the film were planted while Allen and co-writer Marshall Brickman were walking around Manhattan — the city is as much a character as Allen’s kvetching and Diane Keaton’s trend-setting neckties. The scenes with Alvy being miserable among the shiny happy West Coast people started the LA vs. NYC debate that still rages on today. Like a lot of New Yorkers, Alvy is bound to the city that he doesn’t just love, he lurves.


1. Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters isn’t just one of the best comedies ever made. It’s also, hands down, one of the best New York City films of all time. From Venkman, Egon and Ray hunting a poltergeist in the New York Public Library, to Rick Moranis’ Louis getting cornered by a hellhound outside of Tavern on the Green, the city comes to life (literally in the sequel) whenever the Ghostbusters are on the job. You don’t get more New York than Annie Potts as Janine answering the phone with, “Ghostbusters. Whaddya want?!” Click here to see all airings of Ghostbusters on IFC.

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