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Friday, February 27, 2015


Film Comment Selects 2015
2015, 108 minutes
Not Rated

Review by Joshua Handler

Film Comment Selects runs through March 5 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Mark Hartley’s Elecrtic Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is a wildly entertaining documentary about the making and unmaking of Cannon Films, as told from all of the people who worked with them.  In the 1970s, cousins Menaham Golan and Yoram Globus made a few hit films in Israel and decided to move to the United States to make it big in Hollywood.  They bought a company named Cannon Films and garnered a fair amount of success making cheap, schlocky movies.  As time wore on and Cannon became increasingly successful, Golan and Globus expanded the company exponentially and made more and more films until the inevitable happened.

In an introduction to the film, Hartley said that he wanted the players in this crazy story to tell it themselves. What's most admirable about the film, is that Hartley actually lets them do just that.  There's no outside perspectives on this story, only the ones of those who lived through it, making this story as authentic as possible.

Hartley's interviews are illuminating and frequently jaw-dropping.  The access that Hartley had to his interviewees is remarkable.  As the Cannon Films saga goes on, it becomes increasingly surreal.  Sitting in a quiet movie theater is in ways one of the worst places to see a film like Electric Boogaloo because you'll feel the urge to pause the movie, take a moment to process what you've just seen and heard, then comment in disbelief at what you're watching.

What's most admirable about Electric Boogaloo is that it is both a loving and critical portrait of Cannon Films.  It's obvious that Hartley is in awe of Golan and Globus but is also appalled at some of their more questionable decisions.  He isn't afraid to cast a less-than-flattering light on them, which makes the film more balanced and complex.  Most other filmmakers would have been too nostalgic about Cannon Films' releases to even look at the less than savory aspects of their makings, but Hartley is too smart to let the nostalgia cloud his vision.

Overall, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is a rich, rewarding, and very well-researched documentary about two of the craziest men to have ever created films.  This film will be especially appealing to film lovers, particularly those who love Cannon Films, but it will also be entertaining for those who know nothing about Cannon Films going into the movie like myself.  It's a shame that this film doesn't yet have U.S. distribution, as it's far better than most other documentaries that get released.


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