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MIFF 2014 Review: Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (2013) — Mike Myers Presents Talent Agent, Womaniser, Buddhist.

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Shep Gordon is a Hollywood icon, he’s just one you’ve never heard of. The manager of an eclectic range of musicians and actors such as Alice Cooper, Anne Murray, and Groucho Marx, Gordon is the focus of Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, the directorial debut of Mike Myers (Austin Powers, Shrek).

The cute couple.

The cute couple.

Gordon has lived a crazy, whirlwind life: a young man who happened to break into the music industry by a happenstance encounter with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. This encounter led to a meeting with the band Alice Cooper, with the struggling musicians instantly taking him on as their manager. Through savvy business sense and networking, Gordon took Alice Cooper from obscurity to the shock-rockers that the music world was craving. His success with Cooper led to successful partnerships with a wide range of acts such as Luther Vandross, Blondie, and Teddy Pendergrass. Gordon will also go on to create one of the first independent film studios, and is also credited with creating the ‘celebrity chef’ concept, which is now a billion dollar industry.
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MIFF 2014 Review: Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014) — A Schlock-Till-You-Drop Insight Into One of the Great Bad Studios

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Director Mark Hartley has a terrific track record producing documentaries about sub-genres of cult cinema; his first, Not Quite Hollywood, was a fascinating look at the low-budget Australian New Wave films (“Ozploitation”) of the 70’s and 80’s, and that was followed up by Machete Maidens Unleashed!, a look at exploitation films coming out of the Philippines in the 70’s and 80’s. He makes it a trilogy of cult film documentaries with Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, which focuses on the films produced by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, together putting together the Cannon Films production company — a production company famous for their cheap, but cult-favourite exploitation films.

A symbol of excellence.

A symbol of excellence.

Cannon was known for churning out low-budget films at a rapid rate, with a distinct company ethos of quantity over quality. Although universally panned by critics, Golan-Globus stayed in business throughout the 80’s through savvy marketing and by taking advantage of the booming home video market. They produced a large number of popular genre films featuring action (Chuck Norris films Invasion USA and Delta Force), science fiction (Lifeforce, Invaders From Mars), and sequels to pre-existing films (Death Wish, Texas Chainsaw Massacre). They also produced many horror, dance (the titular Electric Boogaloo), and adventure movies. If anything was in the popular zeitgeist of the moment, Cannon was sure to take advantage of it, at minimal cost.

To attain legitimacy, Cannon then began to partake in risky bookkeeping; financing films off the profits of the previous release, which was a haphazard process and ultimately led to them biting off more than they could chew. Those larger risks involved enticing Hollywood stars with larger payouts, with the hope of a larger financial reward for the bigger outlay of production costs. This never came to be; failed, expensive productions such as Sylvester Stallone’s arm-wrestling ‘epic’ Over The Top, Masters of the Universe, and Superman IV (allowing Christopher Reeve creative freedom to return to his iconic role was another mistake), led to Cannon straying from their low-budget business model and would be the eventual death of the company.

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