Here’s a good story: Two Israeli cousins start producing films here, back in the 1960s when there wasn’t much of a film industry in the country, and are very successful.
Eventually, they move abroad and create the largest independent production company in Hollywood.
They overextend themselves, lose everything, fall out with each other and ultimately move back home and start again.
That’s the stranger-than-fiction narrative of the documentary The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films, directed by Hilla Medalia. It was just shown at the Jerusalem Film Festival and will be broadcast on YES Docu on July 30 at 9 p.m. and on August 2 at 10:35 p.m. It will also be available on YES VOD.
You may not have heard the names Cannon Films, Menahem Golan or Yoram Globus, but there’s no doubt that you’ve seen some of their work. They produced some of the most popular Israeli films of the 1960s and ‘70s, such as Sallah Shabati, the Eskimo Limon series and Operation Thunderbolt. But then they went to Hollywood, making blockbuster films with lots of action (mostly schlock), often starring such beefcake actors as Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sylvester Stallone.
They jumped at every trend and ran with it, making their first big hit about the breakdance craze of the mid-1980s, Breakin’, which, for the record, was the best of all the many breakdance films of the period.
The extraordinarily prolific Globus directed and produced, often selling movies based on a story idea and a poster. He pressed his cousin, Golan, the money man, to make more and higher-budget films, and they employed some of the most critically acclaimed directors, among them John Cassavetes, Robert Altman and Jean-Luc Godard.
But at a certain point, as stars began to draw bigger salaries, their formula for success no longer added up, and they went through a period of debt and failure. They also “divorced” each other, and a famous partnership that had been like a marriage disintegrated. They have never reconciled, although in the documentary they do speak to each other and, in the most touching scene, they watch some of their old movies together, gobbling popcorn.
What’s interesting about The Go-Go Boys is that it demonstrates how far sheer determination and chutzpah can get you in Hollywood. Golan and Globus’s rise and fall demonstrate screenwriter William Goldman’s famous saying about Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.”
ALTHOUGH IT didn’t get great reviews or Oscar nods in important categories, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, which will air on HOT Gold on August 15 at 10 p.m., was quite good. There has never been a perfect movie of a book that is extraordinarily close to perfection, but this Gatsby is an improvement over the 1974 Robert Redford-Mia Farrow version in several ways.
First, and most important, Leonardo DiCaprio is a livelier, more natural Gatsby than Redford was. You can see him scamming all kinds of people to get where he is, and you can also believe he is driven by passion for Daisy.
Luhrmann infuses the story with the over-the-top spectacle that is his trademark but which very much suits the story. It will lose a bit on the small screen, but you will still hear F. Scott Fitzgerald’s incomparable writing in the dialogue and narration.
FEW NEW series are premiering in August, but some old ones are coming back. The star-studded Israeli series New York is back for a third season on YES VOD, starting on August 3. It will also be shown on YES Action and YES Base starting on August 10.
The series, which is about a very attractive group of young Israelis who get involved in high-level drug dealing in the US, stars two of Israel’s most gorgeous actors: Oshri Cohen as an unlikely junior kingpin and Yuval Scharf as one of his ruthless associates. Tali Sharon, whom you may remember as Hodaya on Srugim, plays one of the new characters this season, an ambitious journalist.