REVIEW: WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND: LOOKING BACK AT DEEP SPACE NINE

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine (2018)

Starring

Max Grodénchik (Rocketeer)
Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: TVS)
Nana Visitor (Dark Angel)
Colm Meaney (Layer Cake)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
Aron Eisenberg (Puppet Master III)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Alexander Siddig (Gotham)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Terry Farrell (Hellraiser III)
Penny Johnson Jerald (The Orville)
Avery Brooks (American Hsitory X)
Chase Masterson (Yesterday Was a Lie)
Michael Dorn (Arrow)
Wallace Shawn (Young Sheldon)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Bill Mumy (Lost In Space)
J.G. Hertzler (Zorro)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Cirroc Lofton (Beethoven)
Nicole de Boer (Cube)

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine (2018)Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the fourth television series in the Star Trek franchise. It ran for seven seasons and a hundred and seventy-six episodes in syndication. The finale, “What You Leave Behind”, aired on June 2nd, 1999. DS9 was markedly different from Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. The show setting was a recovered enemy space station near the planet Bajor. A grieving Starfleet commander, Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), assigned to help the Bajorans recover from a devastating occupation; discovers a wormhole to a distant region of the galaxy, the Gamma Quadrant. What followed was a thrilling, slow-burn escalation to the epic, Dominion War; a conflict against powerful Gamma Quadrant adversaries that threatened the United Federation of Planets.What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine is a wonderful retrospective and coda to the beloved series. The documentary is produced and directed by Ira Steven Behr, DS9’s showrunner/executive producer, and filmmaker/Star Trek enthusiast David Zappone; who produced The Captains and For the Love of Spock. Originally crowdfunded to celebrate DS9’s twenty-fifth anniversary, Behr was astonished by the legions of fans that contributed money. It changed the scale of the documentary, and provided an opportunity to pursue fandom’s dream scenario; a look at the story for a possible season eight of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.ds9-cast-1200x786What We Left Behind reunites the original cast, writers, filmmakers, and studio executives for interviews. DS9, though it ran for seven seasons, was pilloried by critics at the time. The show was too dark, political, and not adventurous enough. The sci-fi mainstream decried a Star Trek series that was serialized, not episodic. They wanted each week to be a new adventure on a different planet, mimicking the format of the incredibly popular Star Trek: The Next Generation. DS9 had elaborate storylines that stretched over multiple seasons and embraced controversy. From racial and ethnic issues, religious strife, to television’s first lesbian kiss, it was a Star Trek series that obliterated boundaries. Ira Steven Behr has frank discussions with the Paramount studio executive who didn’t understand his vision for the show. Luckily, his persistence and a cult following allowed DS9 to continue its risque path; albeit with some major changes forced by the suits.what-we-left-behind-looking-back-at-star-trek-deep-space-nine-still-1-1160x480Without delving too deep into the details of the interviews, two pivotal events are explored. The first was the addition of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s bad-ass Klingon, Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn), in season four. The cast, Behr, Rick Berman (overall Star Trek TV producer), and several Paramount execs discuss bringing the popular character to the struggling show. What was already a tight-knit crew had doubts, but welcomed Dorn into the fold. The decision turned out to be exactly as hoped; a shot in the arm that revitalized DS9. The same cannot be said for the killing of Worf’s wife and series regular from the start, Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell). What We Left Behind takes a frank look at the turmoil caused by firing her. Terry Farrell’s treatment and decision to leave was a blow to all. Behr also shows the professionalism and resilience of the core players. Nicole de Boer’s Lt. Ezri Dax, who replaced Terry Farrell, was a key character during the final season. Seeing the players and producers discuss this tumultuous time is riveting. They developed lifelong bonds from their time on DS9. The show profoundly impacted them on a personal level. Defining the acting careers for many of the cast members.1266412299-What-We-Left-Behind-Looking-Back-At-StarIn true DS9 fashion, What We Left Behind gets political. The doc explores the casting of Avery Brooks as Star Trek’s first black captain and series lead. We see how Brooks, who unfortunately is only interviewed through archival footage, steered the path of DS9. Captain Sisko was a father foremost. DS9 had an incredible story arc with his son, Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton), growing up on the space station. Brooks wanted the show to portray a positive black male role model as a parent and leader. DS9 was filmed during the LA riots of 1992. Anyone who watched DS9 knows how thoughtfully the series tackled such heady issues. Fandom will also be quite surprised what Behr has to say about the relationship between Garak (Andrew J. Robinson) and Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig).what-we-left-behind-terry-farrell-nana-visitorWhat We Left Behind does not forget the talented production designers, effects teams, and make-up artists that made DS9 so realistic. Some of the funnier scenes have Armin Shimerman, who played Quark the Ferengi bartender, and René Auberjonois, who played the shape-shifting security chief Odo, cursing the other cast members, particularly Colm Meaney (Chief O’Brien). They had to sit for hours in make-up, and then work in the uncomfortable prosthetics; while the “human” actors had mere touch-ups. It’s all in good humor, but illustrates the physical toll of playing DS9’s alien characters.armin-shimmerman-what-we-left-behind-star-trek-deep-space-nine-1170189-1280x0The most thrilling aspect of What We Left Behind is the plotting for a potential season eight. Behr gathered the original writers, including Robert Hewitt Wolfe, for a storyboard session. The breakdown is accompanied by CGI animation and pre-vis sketches. Prepare to be blown off your couches. Set twenty years after Captain Sisko defeated the Dominion and vanished into the wormhole, the season eight storyline is jaw-dropping. It’s loaded with surprises that will melt the minds of every DS9 fan. Behr and the writers acknowledge this is pure fantasy, but does it have to be? CBS and Paramount allows fan made Star Trek, as long as it’s not for profit. I would shell out in a heartbeat to have a crowdfunded, CGI adaptation of DS9 season eight. Voiced by the original cast of course. Behr raised the money for What We Left Behind in a weekend. I’m pretty sure fandom can make that happen… What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine is a must see for fans, and anyone who appreciates great science fiction. DS9 is the perfect series for the binge-watching, streaming audiences of today. It’s remarkable that a show which ended two decades ago, and was misunderstood by the masses, has found a new generation of ardent supporters. I think Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is not only the best Star Trek series, but arguably, the best sci-fi series. Seasons five through seven were masterful, exhilarating and engrossing television. We need to see season eight. What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is available now on DVD/Blu-Ray from Shout! Factory.

REVIEW: THE GUV’NOR

Not a documentary about footballer Paul Ince, but a colourful and revealing portrait of bare-knuckle fighter and bona fide hardman Lenny The Guv’nor McLean presented by his son, Jamie. McLean Jr has a personable approach, not only exploring his father’s troubled early life (domestic abuse, borstal, boozing) and rise to fame as “the toughest man in Britain”, but also going in search of the man behind the fearsomely violent reputation.the guv'norIt’s a journey that takes Jamie into unexpected territory. On the one hand, Hoxton-born Lenny was a loving family man but horrifying anecdotes about the brutality he could dish out prove he had a dark side (“I like hitting people. Helps me to forget.”). His three fights with vicious rival Roy “Pretty Boy” Shaw are given the full archive treatment – arguably they were the Ali-Frazier of the unlicensed boxing game in the 1970s. Jamie’s genuine desire to get behind his dad’s persona drives the film. It’s not a casual flick glamourising East End geezers and villains, despite the presence of Guy Ritchie who brought the Guv’nor to a wider audience when he featured him in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

 

REVIEW: MY DATE WITH DREW

CAST
Brian Herzlinger (Baby on Board)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Corey Feldman (The Goonies)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
My_Date_with_Drew3

“If you don’t take risks, you’ll have a wasted soul.” – Drew Barrymore. Ever since the second grade when he first saw her in E.T. The Extraterrestrial, Brian Herzlinger has had a crush on Drew Barrymore. Now, 20 years later he’s decided to try to fulfill his lifelong dream by asking her for a date. There’s one small problem: She’s Drew Barrymore and he’s, well, Brian Herzlinger, a broke 27-year-old aspiring filmmaker from New Jersey. But that doesn’t stop Brian and his film school pals from doing everything they can think of to convince Barrymore to go out with him – and documenting their quest along the way. Equipped with a video camera they have to return to Circuit City in 30 days and the $1,100 Brian won on a game show (where the winning answer was, prophetically, “Drew Barrymore”), they’ve got one month to accomplish their mission. To succeed, they’ll need to negotiate an army of publicists, agents, producers and assistants who surround the tar so Brian can pop the question.

Brian Herzlinger’s quest for a date with childhood crush Drew Barrymore is, appropriately enough, a great movie. It’s funny, inspiring and very sweet. The fact that this was shot on a miniscule budget is part of its charm, but it doesn’t play as cheaply made. In fact, it’s more polished and fast-paced than many other modern documentaries. And Herzlinger is a winning presence. He knows how outrageous his mission is, but he attacks it with an admirable can-do zeal. This movie will have special resonance with movie geeks, especially those who grew up around the same time as Herzlinger. But dreamers from all walks of life are certain to enjoy it. You’ll understand why it’s won audience-favorite awards at film festivals. Highly recommended.

REVIEW: MY AMITYVILLE HORROR

For the first time in 35 years, Daniel Lutz has agreed to revisit his version of the infamous Amityville haunting that occurred in 1975. His mother, Kathleen Lutz, and stepfather, George, inspired a novel and appeared on talk shows to speak about their paranormal experiences. This documentary displays the horror that occurred growing up as part of the world famous haunting. Daniel Lutz was too young at the time to speak about the events to the media, but he’s had these memories stuck in his mind for all of these years. He’s finally ready to speak about what happened behind the closed doors of the Amityville house. Documentary filmmaker, Eric Walter, has combined years of research along with investigative reporters in order to enhance the personal testimony of Daniel Lutz.

Going into this film, I thought that it would be about Daniel’s personal experiences in the house and some family interactions that haven’t been shared previously. To my surprise, this documentary focuses on Daniel’s psychological state growing up in such a terrifyingly chaotic environment. Director Eric Walters assumes that you already have knowledge on the subject, as he barely explores the hauntings themselves. Daniel Lutz spends the entire running time speaking about all of the frustrations and difficulties he’s been forced to face throughout his life. People recognized him as the “Amityville kid” instead of an ordinary individual, which ultimately robbed him of a normal childhood. He makes an interesting statement that despite his age, he’s still trying to protect that young child within. It’s during these moments of the film that his story becomes worthwhile. Lutz allows himself to become vulnerable and express his emotions, which is a side of the family we haven’t been able to see. Unfortunately, this is an extremely small portion of the documentary. The majority is spent spouting previously known information and watching Daniel throw hissy fits.

Since Walter wishes to explore the psychological state of Daniel Lutz, it’s rather irritating that he speaks to such a small number of people. I’m surprised he didn’t record the opinions of a variety of credible sources. Those that are present are solid, but there should have been more. With Daniel Lutz being the center of it all, he gets increasingly irritated throughout the running time. He ultimately becomes unlikable, making the audience begin to tune out. Each time Eric Walter asks a question, Lutz often replies arrogantly, and often ignores what was asked. Once this portion of the film has passed, it’s difficult to think of Lutz the same way we did earlier in the documentary. He’s no longer a man we can feel sympathetic towards.

The second half of this feature pays a little bit attention to whether the entire Amityville story was real or if it was all just a hoax. Unfortunately, this topic is only glazed over during a few quick conversations. Eric Walter should have probably realized that even mentioning a lie detector test or questioning the stories would drive Daniel Lutz mad. This portion of the movie is quickly dropped, when Walter should have explored this further by interviewing more sources. At the end of the day, whether or not you believe Lutz’s stories is dependent upon the individual, even if we aren’t provided with much proof from this film alone. However, Daniel Lutz is rather compelling and confident when he tells his stories. When he decides to become vulnerable, this becomes an incredibly intriguing documentary. Unfortunately, that doesn’t occur very often.

My Amityville Horror’s idea to inform audiences what it was like to grow up in this chaos is undeniably interesting. However, it could have been done a lot better than this. The film begins with a sympathetic Daniel Lutz, but it ends with an unlikable and stubborn one. If Eric Walter truly wanted to explore the psychological aspects of this story, he should have consulted with a wider variety of sources. The film offers some interesting insight, but there’s a lot missing. My Amityville Horror has its moments, but it only covers the tip of the iceberg.

REVIEW: LOOK, UP IN THE SKY! THE AMAZING STORY OF SUPERMAN

look-up-in-the-sky-the-amazing-story-of-superman-tv-movie-poster-2006-1020448079

Starring

Kevin Spacey (Superman Returns)
Mark Hamill (Star wars)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Noel Neill (Atom Man vs Superman)
Jack Larson (Adventures of Superman)
Bill Mumy (Babylon 5)
Annette O’Toole (Smallville)
Adam West (Family Guy)
Margot Kidder (Superman)
Jackie Cooper (The People’s Choice)
Dean Cain (Lois & Clark)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush)
Sam Huntington (Fanboys)

Brandon Routh in Superman Returns (2006)The trick with releasing a documentary about the history of Superman a mere week before “Superman Returns” arrives in theaters: you don’t want to make it feel like one big commercial for the new movie; you need to find a healthy balance between fun and informative, being careful that you don’t wind up being fluffy or stuffy; you don’t want to make it feel like one big commercial for the new movie; you need to present enough new material so you’re not merely rehashing facts that everybody already knows and clips everybody’s already seen.George Reeves and Noel Neill in Adventures of Superman (1952)In fact, Burns goes the completely opposite route (although he does bring us Kevin Spacey, star of the New Hit Movie, for narration duties); in just under two hours, he and his crew offer up the most complete history of the character I’ve ever seen. We get it all in extreme detail, from Shuster and Siegel’s original “Super-Man” short story (the name was used to define an evil psychic) to long discussions on George Reeves and Christopher Reeve to DC Comics’ ups and downs with the character on the comics page. For the newcomer, you get a detailed examination of the Man of Steel’s many changes over the decades; for the hardcore Supes fanatic, you get ultra-rare clips of the 1950s “Superboy,” “Superpup” (in which little people wore dog costumes!), and the infamous musical comedy “It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Superman!,” seen here in a television adaptation starring David Wilson, who could not dance, as a dancing Superman. (A word of warning: Think of the worst thing you can possibly imagine. Now think of something even worse than that. Push yourself hard to think up something even worse still. Beyond that, dear reader, you will find “It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Superman!”)Kirk Alyn, Don C. Harvey, Jack Ingram, Noel Neill, and Lyle Talbot in Atom Man vs. Superman (1950)“Look, Up In the Sky!” works best in its first hour, when time is spent detailing the history of the comics, radio shows, cartoon shorts, serial, movie (“Superman and the Mole Men”), and TV series – perhaps because by the time we turn our attention to the 1978 film “Superman,” we’ve seen a lot of this stuff before, either in previous documentaries or as DVD bonus features, unlike the earlier projects, whose behind-the-scenes shenanigans have remained relatively unseen. When the movie spends plenty of time on the Reeve era, one gets the feeling that Burns is holding back, perhaps not wanting this portion of the timeline (with its ample archival material) to overshadow the rest of the story, perhaps not to repeat too much of what’s already been seen elsewhere, or perhaps to leave a little something for the supplemental sections of the forthcoming deluxe DVD releases.Christopher Reeve in Superman II (1980)Also, the documentary struggles in how to deal with the rest of the Reeve era. How to discuss Richard Donner being replaced on “Superman II” with Richard Lester without making either Donner or producer Ilya Salkind (who, after all, were both kind enough to be interviewed for this film) look bad? How to discuss the negative responses to “Superman III” and “IV” without delivering a drubbing so terrible that potential customers might not want the box set come autumn? Heck, how to discuss “Superman III” and “IV” without showing any of the behind-the-scenes material that made the look into the first movie so interesting? And what do you do with “Supergirl,” a movie for which Warner Bros. obviously declined any effort in obtaining rights, other than to brush it off with a couple sentences of narration and a few stock photos?Christopher Reeve in Superman II (1980)By the time we hit the late 1980s, it becomes obvious that Burns has become rushed for time yet is obligated to tow the company line – he glosses over such important information as John Byrne’s critical 1986 relaunching of the character, while giving plenty of extra attention to the late-80s syndicated series “Superboy,” a show nobody remembers that much, but hey, Warner Bros. just released the first season on DVD, so we better hype it up.Richard Pryor, Christopher Reeve, Larry Lamb, and Christopher Malcolm in Superman III (1983)We get an awkward potpourri, with Burns taking the time to discuss such important matters as the death (and, natch, rebirth) of Superman and the wedding of Clark and Lois, both which temporarily helped to boost comics sales, but then becoming very unsure as to how to handle the 1996 animated series and its follow-ups, concluding with the current “Justice League Unlimited” cartoon. (Both are mentioned, but in an ill-fitting obligatory tone.) “Lois & Clark” also gets a solid mention, but it again feels as if Burns is walking on tiptoes, trying to avoid anything that might wind up on a future DVD collection. (There’s also an extremely odd breakaway to discuss 9/11, which gets tied back to Superman in the flimsiest of manners, as if Burns is now simply grasping wildly in an attempt to retain some connection with the viewer, or show the relevance of a character that at the time wasn’t much in the pop culture forefront.)Annette O'Toole, Christopher Reeve, and Paul Kaethler in Superman III (1983)The last chunk is spent singing the praises of “Smallville” and “Superman Returns,” and it’s here that it becomes very clear that the movie should’ve stopped somewhere around the mid-90s mark. There’s not enough distance to properly analyze the impact of “Smallville,” and the facts get purposely fudged to make the series feel more important than future generations may believe. (Getting the largest ratings of all shows on the WB sounds more impressive than it really is.) Without any chance at hindsight, there’s no proper way to honestly gauge how the series fits into the history of the character, but instead of omitting anything, Burns merely turns on the hard sell.Brandon Routh in Superman Returns (2006)And then comes “Superman Returns,” and Burns is left with the unfortunate job of pushing it without sounding like he’s pushing it, showing clips without giving away too much, making this present-day release sound like part of history. (Most awkward moment: Spacey refers to himself in the third person.) On the plus side, you do get to see the crazed ramblings of producer Jon Peters, who admits to having had some very bad ideas in his decade-long trek in bringing Superman back to the big screen; one wonders if anybody slipped him a copy of “An Evening With Kevin Smith” as a wake-up call.

REVIEW: CATFISH (2010)

Catfish a Documentary movie that tells the story of Yaniv “nev” Schulman and his online relationship with a girl called Megan. Nev is Photographer, He received a Painting through the post apparently from an 8 year old chold prodigy called Abby Pierce, They become facebook friends which then includes Abby’s family Including: Her Mother (Angela), Father (Vince), Andy Abby’s attractive older sister Megan. Nev’s Brother Ariel and Friend Henry Joost decide to film Nev as he begins his descent to an online relationship with Megan. Megan begins to send him MP3 songs claiming she performs the, but it is soon discovered she used recorded them from youtube videos. He later finds evidence that Abby’s art career may not be what it appears to be.

They decide to travel to Michigan in order to make impromptu appearance at the Pierces’ house and confront Megan directly. As they arrive at the house, Angela takes some time to answer the door, but is welcoming and seems happy to finally meet Nev in person. She also tells him that she has recently begun chemotherapy for uterine cancer. After leaving multiple messages while trying to call Megan, she drives Nev and Ariel to see Abby herself. While talking with Abby and her friend alone, Nev learns that Abby never sees her sister and rarely paints. Her Husband thou called Vince, is not the same Vince in the pictures.

The Next morning Nev finds a text message on his phone from Megan saying she is going to be entering rehab and will not be able to come to the house to meet him. He then finds a facebook posting from a guy called Ryan backing up the story. Nev realises It must be another one of Angela’s lies. Nev later confronts Angela bout the lies and Angela admits that the pictures of Megan were of a family friend, that her daughter Megan really is in rehab downstate and that Angela had really painted each of the paintings that she had sent to Nev. Nev thus realizes that while believing he was talking to Megan, it was really Angela posing as her with an alternate Facebook account and mobile phone.

As he sits for a drawing, Angela confesses that the various Facebook profiles were all maintained by her, but that through her friendship with Nev she had reconnected with the world of painting, which had been her passion before she sacrificed her career to marry Vince—who has two severely mentally disabled children who require constant care. Through a conversation with Vince himself, the siblings learn that Angela had told him (falsely) that Nev was paying for her paintings, and that he had encouraged her to seize the opportunity to have him as a patron. On-screen text then informs the viewer that Angela did not have cancer, there was no Megan at Dawn Farms, and she doesn’t know the girl in the pictures. Over the course of their nine-month correspondence, Angela and Nev exchanged more than 1,500 messages. It was revealed later on that the girl in the pictures was Aimee Gonzales, a professional model and photographer, who lives in Vancouver, Washington with her husband and two children. In October 2008, two years subsequent to the events, Ronald, one of Vince’s twin sons, has died.

Angela deactivated her 15 other profiles and changed her Facebook profile to a picture of herself, and now has a website to promote herself as an artist. Nev is still on Facebook and has more than 732 friends, including Angela. It’s an interesting documentary especially for someone like me who has had numerous online encounters, plus this movie led to MTV making Catfish: The TV Show which has gone to become a huge hit. It’s amazing how someone will go to that much length to deceive a person. The Blu-ray comes with secrets revealed which are 25 minutes questions being answered and you do get some more backstory and what happened after the cameras rolled. It’s a worthwhile watch and I am glad I imported the Blu-ray.