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The Bootleg Files: Anderson’s Own Gang Comedy

BOOTLEG FILES 654: “Anderson’s Own Gang Comedy” (1926 fan film inspired on the Our Gang series).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO:
None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Partially-lost film with no perceived commercial value.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

For every Hollywood franchise that gets screen time at the multiplex, it seems there are an endless number of fan films created by overenthusiastic movie lovers who want to be part of cinematic fun. But fans films are not a recent phenomenon. Indeed, the earliest known fan film was made back in 1926, and it was also part of a strange trend that brought a mix of filmmaking and hucksterism to small town America.
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Monsoon (2018)

Writer-Director Miguel Duran’s “Monsoon” is one of the most beautiful dramas I’ve seen all year. In a sub-genre that’s often either overly exploitative or tends to be silly, “Monsoon” is a restrained and very subtle tale about loss, love, and trying to find the need to move on with your life. I knew very little about “Monsoon” going in, so suffice it to say I was taken completely by surprise. Miguel Duran really delivers a gem that audiences confronting the death of a loved one would be wise to see. “Monsoon” is a riveting and just downright heavy drama about death and the beauty of life, and I was sucked in from minute one.

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The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

Eli Roth has always been a better horror fan and film lover than actual filmmaker, and he’s proven it time and time again. After the embarrassing bomb that was “Death Wish,” I had hope that “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” would be a win and Roth would kind of re-invent himself. While not as awful as “Death Wish,” Roth proves once again he’s not too good at handling tone, pacing, and general direction. Without the thick icing of blood, grue, and torture to cover up the thinly layered cake that is “The House with a Clock in Its Walls,” Roth once again proves he’s a filmmaker that has so much to learn, and so much evolving to do.

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Beauty Shop (2005) [Blu-Ray]

The spin off for the “Barbershop” movie is a good idea on paper. On paper. I mean Queen Latifah is better at acting than Ice Cube, so it seemed like a slam dunk. The attempted launch of a new series within the “Barbershop” franchise is not only one big misfire, but it’s dead on arrival from minute one. “Beauty Shop” isn’t a prequel, or a sequel, but mainly just a movie that’s set in the universe of “Barbershop.” When we see Gina Norris from “Barbershop 2” again, she’s working at an upscale salon in Atlanta and she has a picture of the gang from Calvin’s shop hanging on her mirror. Beyond that there isn’t much at all to “Beauty Shop.”

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Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004): Special Edition [Blu-Ray]

The original “Barbershop” from Tim Story and Ice Cube was a very good and entertaining albeit imperfect drama comedy about family, and community. It had a lot more going for it than didn’t, thankfully proving to be anything but a fluke. Kevin Sullivan carries on the down to earth tone with “Barbershop 2.” While it is just as imperfect as the original, it’s also a very good extension of the first film, continuing the storylines of the characters we grew to know and engage with. Thankfully everyone pretty much returns for the second go around, and they’re all about the same people we remember, except older.

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Tag (2018) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

People are often surprised when they learn that “Tag” was one of my most anticipated movies of 2018, mainly because the premise looked so creative. The comedy genre is pretty much a wasteland as it is, but the movie seemed to have a ton of potential. Plus the fact that it was inspired by a true story is also a plus that kept me anticipating its release. “Tag” ends up being a fun comedy about friendship, tradition, and life, and while it doesn’t fully realize the concept, I had a good time with it, and I don’t mind adding it to my collection. “Tag” brings with it a pretty stellar ensemble cast, all of whom manages to bring their A game and also seem to be having a good time.

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Luciferina (2018) [Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival 2018]

A trainee nun, Natalia, goes home after an accident kills her mother and leaves her father dying. Once home, she discovers family secrets and goes on a self-discovery trip with friends. There she learns even more and puts her own soul at stake.

Writer/director Gonzalo Calzada takes the concepts of good versus bad, god versus evil, Catholic versus pagan, family, legacy, and destiny and plays with them in a dark realm tinged by demonic forces and curiosity. The story here is done in a way that works for its characters, letting them get exposed and built before throwing in the evil/demonic elements. Most of everything here works and goes towards creating a cohesive story and world. Some of the timeline and exposure may feel a bit off as it foes, but it all makes sense by the end. Calzada has a story here that he knows how to tell and he gets it out here on the screen in a way the viewer can easily watch, connect with, and be entertained by.

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