King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen
king cohen | king cohen: the wild world of filmmaker larry cohen | steve mitchell | j.j. abrams | rick baker | eric bogosian | documentary | united states | richard j. brewer | jon burlingame | barbara carrera | larry cohen | joe dante | robert forster | mick garris
Film: King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen
Director: Steve Mitchell
Writer: Steve Mitchell
Starring: J.J. Abrams, Rick Baker and Eric Bogosian
This was a film that I was immediately intrigued by when some of the podcasts I listen to had the chance to see this when it was making its festival rounds. I knew who Larry Cohen was, because my father had his film The Stuff on VHS. It was a film I didn’t fully grasp as a child, but still one that I have nostalgia for having it seen it all those years ago. The official synopsis for this is a feature length documentary acclaimed work and eclectic career of maverick filmmaker Larry Cohen.
As the synopsis states, this film follows the career of Cohen. We learn about where he grew up and how he got his start in the movie industry. At the time of watching this film, I had seen some of his works and some of them I had seen without realizing it, so it is fun to learn more about a guy that I’m a fan of.
What I like about the structure of this documentary is that we learn about his early career as a writer and how that was his break into the industry through television shows. It was amazing to me how nice of a guy Cohen is, even thought the executives were screwing him out of money he probably was entitled to. It really inspires me to see a guy who despite things not necessarily going his way, his hard work still paying off.
This really picks up for me when Cohen decides to shift to directing. He is really one of the original guerilla filmmakers. Things that he did and got away with when not having permits and shooting in New York had me in awe as well as laughing. This works even more for me since I have worked on an independent feature length film and some shorts. Seeing what he could do with such small budgets is quite amazing.
Even more than that, I’m a big fan of seeing interviews and learning about the making of films. Many of the ones in this film I haven’t seen yet, but after watching this they are going on my ‘To See List’ I have going. I knew that Cohen had done horror films, but I had no idea about the spy/crime thrillers or the blacksxploitation films he did. Having such a range of what he could produce is crazy to me as an inspiring writer. The film does interview and give the background story of pretty much every film he directed. It also does this for films that he produced or wrote as well. They brought in as many cast and crew member as they could. Not everything that he says meshes with what others say, but I do like the film got both perspectives.
The documentary really does focus on his works, but what I liked as well is that we got to really learn about Cohen as a man. Those he worked with pretty much only had good things to say about him and his works are lower in budget, but what he could pull off was great. Hearing about the great things he would do for those around him and trying to help those he could was what really touched about Cohen. Even his ex-wife is a part of the documentary and she really only had good things to say about him as well. As a cinephile, what he produced in the films is great, but knowing the true story behind it and how great a person he is makes it even better for me.
I would say this documentary is very well done. They got so many people from his films and those he worked with to appear in this documentary. That is part of a testament to how great of a person he is that they would be willing. I also like that we get film historians and experts as well to give some idea of the significance of some things to add just another layer to this film.
Now with that said, this is a shorter review as documentaries are a little bit harder to talk about it. This is very well made and the stories that are shared in this are interesting. It runs almost two hours long, but I had to admit, it doesn’t feel like it. There is so much knowledge and information that it flies past. I would definitely say that if you are a fan of Cohen, his films or just interested in hearing stories behind the scenes of how films are made, I would recommend this. It is even more interesting that he did most of his work outside of the Hollywood model, which is even more interesting for independent filmmakers. I would say this is a good documentary and worth a viewing.
My Rating: 8 out of 10