Monday, October 15, 2018

Film Review: Brotherhood of the Popcorn (2015)

Brotherhood of the Popcorn (2015) is a nostalgic, touching, and often warmly humorous portrait of "The Cliffhangers", a group of senior citizen film buffs who meet twice a month to screen their favorite classic films -- especially serials, Westerns and Film Noirs. A lively and entertaining documentary about a group of film buffs and their love of cinema, it has all the elements of a good film itself.

The film conveys the real sense of friendship that exists between the members of "The Clffhangers" themselves: Woody Wise, Eric Harrison, Bill Exter, Rocky Sportelli, Richard Mottern, Dennis Penna, Jack Tuerk, and Tim Walker. Over the course of the documentary, we learn about each of the men, about their lives and their passions, and what draws each of them to their love of cinema.

Watching how much film means to each of them, and how it has served as a driving force in their friendship over so many years, it is really a testament to cinema's power to convey timeless stories and larger-than-life images that stick in our memories over the years, and how much they mean to us in our lives.

Anyone who loves movies knows that a big part of the fun is watching them with other people and sharing that experience together, and that's why movie buffs will enjoy watching "The Cliffhangers" come together at Woody Wise's house, catching up over donuts and coffee, paging through classic movie magazines and reminiscing about their favorite films and stars, before settling in to Woody's screening room, with its own projector and big screen, and the walls decorated with vintage movie posters. It's hard to think of a better way to enjoy a movie then with your friends in your own private cinema.

Highlights of the documentary include an appearance by the late, great Peter O'Toole at the TCM Film Festival in Hollywood, and a visit to the Lone Pine Film Festival, where Woody Wise volunteers each year as projectionist. This is probably my favorite segment of the film, showing off the unique landscape and breathtaking vistas of the Alabama Hills in the area, which have been used as a filming location in countless Hollywood Westerns over the years. Watching that segment of the film makes me want to visit Lone Pine myself someday!

I should mention that although Brotherhood of the Popcorn was released back in 2015, it took me a while to catch up with this film. I'm glad that I finally did. I rented it to stream on Vimeo a few months ago and recently found myself wanting to watch it again. It still captivates on repeat viewings.

Ultimately, Brotherhood of the Popcorn succeeds as a beautiful tribute to the magic of movies.

Brotherhood of the Popcorn was produced by Predator Productions, directed by Inda Reid and executive produced by Woody Wise. Visit the official website here. You can buy the movie digitally to stream on Vimeo here.

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