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Archives for : Documentary

Quick Review: “Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of”

Before One Direction, before The Jonas Brothers, and even before N’Sync there was The Backstreet Boys.  We all remember them because, whether you liked their music or not, you knew their songs.  The group had a debut international album, Backstreet Boys (1996).  In the following year they released their second international album Backstreet’s Back (1997), and their U.S. debut album which continued the group’s success worldwide.  They rose to superstardom with their third studio album Millennium (1999) and its follow-up album, Black & Blue (2000).

The legendary 90’s boy band finally gets a chance to tell their whole story, the good and the bad.  For BSB fanatics, most of what is revealed will come as no shock.  But, for those who aren’t Backstreet savvy, it may be surprising and intriguing to learn of their struggles with health, drugs, alcohol, and even a shocking betrayal.

The film follows the reunited boy band as they prepare for their 20th anniversary world tour in 2013.  Along the way, the boys take a stroll down memory lane back to where it all began.  Nearly half the film is told through older video footage from the 90’s, back when the boys were only performing in High School gyms.  Meanwhile in present day, Nick, Brian, AJ, Kevin, and Howie re-visit their hometowns, old rehearsal studios, and a few influential people from their lives.

Other film highlights to look forward to–The Backstreet Boys’ react when they first learn of N’Sync.  The members re-tell funny embarrassing stories.  Nick loses his cool and goes off on Brian in a raw, intense scene.  But what’s most enjoyable to see is how much these guys mean to each other.  Their bond is only solidified in the film when Kevin emotionally tells the group, “Not only are we group members and business partners, but we’re family.”

Director Stephen Kijak does such a fantastic job presenting the Backstreet Boys’ rise from a group of small town boys to the sensation of a decade, that it makes Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of worth a watch whether you’re a fan or not.

Rating: 4/5

Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of  is playing in select theaters and is available on VOD.

“Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of” Official Trailer HD

Movie Review: “Divorce Corp” Reveals Shocking Villains in the Justice System

Although this documentary begins with the deceit and manipulation of lawyers, it ends with a much more powerful scoundrel.

Narrated by Dr. Drew Pinksy, Divorce Corp is a surprising exposé of the inner workings of the $50 billion a year U.S. family law industry.  Yes, that’s right $50 billion!  The film sheds light on how divorce lawyers are ripping off their clients by charging ridiculous amounts of money, ranging from $400-$900 per hour.  Which proves to be quite a profit, when the lawyers are spending years on one case.  Often times the divorce lasts longer than the marriage.  But the deception doesn’t stop there.   Throughout the film we are shown how everyone involved in the family court justice system partakes in extortion, bias judgment, and appalling scandals.

Director, Joe Sorge provides interviews by the nation’s top divorce lawyers, mediators, judges, politicians, litigants, and journalists.  And might I say these lawyers have no problem admitting the shady way they do business.  Clients seem to believe the more money a lawyer charges, the more “skilled” they are.  When in fact, the name of the game for these divorce lawyers is, “How much money can we make off these people?  That’s the standard.”

About halfway through the film, the lawyers start looking like puppets getting their strings pulled by the true villain of the film.  The ever so controlling judge!  Taking actions as if they were God, the portrayal of every judge publicized is unspeakable and quite frankly, terrifying.  You are completely helpless once a judge has your life in their hands, and it is best not to rub them the wrong way.

In comparison to the recent documentary I reviewed over the same topic, Romeo Misses A Payment, this one fell a little short for me.  Divorce Corp is better in a technical aspect- professionally shot, well prepared interviews, dramatizations with decent actors, and a celebrity voice over (i.e. Dr. Drew).  Yet, somehow this documentary lacked the immediate emotional connection I felt with Romeo Misses A Payment.  The film starts out a bit slow and repetitive.  As it picks up with personal stories of affected parents, you just become angry at how messed up the family court is; and how when it really comes down to it, there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do to fix it.

A glimmer of hope is shined when we see the comparison of how much simpler and cheaper it is to get a divorce in other countries like Scandinavia.  A country that views men and women as equals, therefore their divorce system is easy and free.

Divorce Corp is an astonishing documentary that leaves the question “Is anyone actually getting a fair trial in family court?”  Feelings of hope and happiness may not occur after watching this film, but this is a must see for anyone who is considering marriage or a divorce.

Divorce Corp hits theaters January 10th.

Divorce Corp Movie Trailer

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Movie Review/Interview: “Romeo Misses A Payment” Hits An Important Issue

When it comes to child support, the courts and movies usually villainize parents as someone who wants nothing to do with their child’s life. Romeo Misses a Payment shows an eye-opening discovery of how unjustly the family courts are in handling divorces, and how the monthly check is far from an easy way out.

Director, Angelo Lobo, is a twice divorced single father who is struggling with his own finances and issues dealing with the family law court system.  Upon his own experience, he has decided to take a deeper look into how other parents just like him have been unfairly treated through the American divorce system.  Lobo travels to multiple cities, including Dallas, for in-depth interviews explaining how distressing of a situation it is for the children, parents, and extended families involved.  The film also features the expert testimonies of attorneys, judges, and law officers who are caught up in the business of divorce.

This is a simple documentary.   Shot with one camera, Lobo pretty much interviews whoever he could get that would best impact his message.  He does throw in some old black and white movie clips for transition as they relate to the topics at hand.  Though the documentary may not be filmed in the highest quality (weak lighting, low budget), it makes the film more personable.  This is a documentary with an objective.  Lobo cares about his subject, and the people he is interviewing.  He is hoping that after people watch his movie, there is an affect, and steps are taken for the system to finally be rightly handled.

This may not have been an issue that most people would think needs concern, but as shown in the documentary, parental suicides have gone up five times for fit parents that are removed from their children.  Arrests have been made to parents who simply can not afford to pay their child support.  They are treated like criminals, and there is nothing they can do about it.  “If you have money, the courts listen to you; if you don’t have money, the family system really sucks.”

Romeo Misses a Payment is shocking and emotional.  The upsetting revelations that surface throughout the film will leave audiences truly appalled, and quite possibly ready to take action for a much needed change in the system.

I also got a chance to have an e-mail interview with Angelo Lobo to talk about the movie.

Angelo Lobo-Picture

Were there any specific interviews in this film that was particularly hard for you to shoot? If so whose and why?

Yes, mostly all made a difference in the direction of the film. The interview that stood out the most to me was of Kenneth from New York. Here was a man who invented MRI equipment to save lives and help people. In his interview you could feel his pain and standing there it was almost like he was not present because he was recalling everything that was being done to him. After the interview he went into the restroom so I waited outside to say goodbye and thank him, and I could see the tears in his eyes- an knew then as I walked out that I had to keep this film alive.

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After the interview he went into the restroom so I waited outside to say goodbye- thank you for what seemed to be 30 minutes then I went into the rest room and he was just standing there- all alone in tears with blood shot eyes- I just turned around and as I walked out I knew I had to keep this film alive.


It was frustrating to see you not able to film in the family court houses in the beginning of the film, how did you finally get the footage in court?

After trying unsuccessfully, we finally got a lead and we begged the Dallas George Allen Court because they had the most cases of support incarcerations. Once we got the permits and started interviewing, everyone was kind, cooperative until we started asking questions regarding money, their collections, and the federal tax incentives they were getting. We were then asked to call the attorney general to explain what we really filming and we were quickly escorted out of the property. I was told that day off the record “the court has obtained more than 100,000 families and exceeds that each year”. Another turning point for the film because some of the parents were telling the judges right in front of us they did not want to bring the other parent to court and the court would persuade them to do it. Very bizarre.


How was your experience filming in Dallas in comparison to other cities you visited?

I believe all the cities run in parallel because the system seems broken all around except for states that have 50/50 shared custody bills and mandatory paternity tests are in place. Dallas – at the time of filming, the parents that were incarcerated and begging for release had no proper legal representation they seemed to be belittled and forced to agree to terms that seemed unrealistic for their release. Dallas – At the time of filming the parents that were incarcerated and begging for release had no proper legal representation they seemed to be belittle and forced to agree to terms that seemed unrealistic for their release.


Anything you enjoyed about our city?

I like Dallas a lot, been there few times and have good friends there. Overall it is a great city.

What steps do you think need to be taken to improve the divorce system?

I hope and pray that once the film is released parents,judges, and the overall system itself can see from the stories that deny basic human rights to our children will hurt the children and “battling” will not solve anything.

What did you enjoy most about making this documentary?

I really enjoyed meeting so many great people that were working towards positive changes not only in the court systems, but also to strength they way we think about marriage and teaching our children how important that is.

What do you hope all of your audiences will do after watching this documentary?

I would hope that if they or others that are going through those issues see the hope in unity and feel that they are not alone. They can go to our website for resources and get involved. We hope that this can help and hopefully things will get better for them and their families.

Join Angelo for a Q&A at the Magic Johnson Theater AMC on December 14th. And at the Regent Theater in LA on December 16th.

Originally posted on

Movie Review: “MOMO: The Sam Giancana Story” Reveals more than you Expect

Out of all the documentaries I have seen this year, Momo: The Sam Gianca Story, would not be my top recommendation. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic documentary and absolutely worth the watch for the shocking details alone. The film tends to drag bit, and is more informative than emotionally impacting. It’s a documentary about the infamous Chicago mob boss, Sam Giancana.  The narration is done by two of Sam’s loving daughters, Bonnie Giancana and Fran Giancana, who are now both in their sixties.  They are speaking about their father publicly for the first time in 30 years, and present audiences with never-before-revealed insight into Sam when he was at home.

Sam ran the Chicago Outfit from the late 50’s to the early sixties. He had a long running relationship with famous singer, Phyllis McGuire, from the McGuire Sisters.  He had three daughters that he raised and adored very much.  He was also best friends with Frank Sinatra.

Given his abusive background from his own father, Sam proved to be nothing like his old man when raising his little girls. Sam’s daughters loved their father, which is shocking that this man could be two totally different guys at once.  Half the time he was a loving dad, while the other half he was one of the coldest hearted bosses ever to run Chicago.

Director, Dimitri Logothetis (Champions Forever, The Lost Angel), does a great job of not only showing us the two sides to Sam, but also revealing secrets about his life that I would have never known.  Including how Sam helped John F. Kennedy get elected President by swinging several Midwest and eastern states.  He was also hired by the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Just from the batch of documentaries this year, if you want an informative and gripping documentary that will literally haunt you even after it is over, watch God Love Uganda.  However, you will still be pleased with Momo: The Sam Giancana Story.

Available on DVD and Streaming on November 19th

Originally posted on

Movie Review: “Bridegroom” A Heartbreaking Story Of True Love Lost

For anyone who thinks, “Why would getting married make a difference for gay couples?” This documentary is for you.  Inspired by the viral YouTube video posted by Shane Bitney Crone, director Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (Designing Women) takes a deeper look into the life of an unmarried gay couple and what happens when one of them dies after a tragic accident.

Shane and his partner, Tom Bridegroom, both grew up in small conservative towns.  While a vibrant Tom, from Indiana, was popular among his classmates, a quiet Shane was constantly bullied at his Montana high school. Tom’s parents would choose to ignore the thought of their son being gay, while on the other hand Shane’s parents accepted their son for who he was. Shane planned to head straight to Los Angeles after graduation, where the two would eventually meet.   Once they met, they became inseparable.  Tom and Shane were together for six years.  They were living together and were described by others as “the kind of couple that makes you believe in love.”  Tom had even given Shane a ring, but only wanted to get married when California legalized gay marriage. Sadly, in 2011, while taking pictures of a friend, Tom fell four stories to his death.  He was 29.

At this point, you are already broken hearted and can barely watch as Shane and their friends and family discuss his death.  But you are filled with sympathy and disgust when you hear about the lengths Tom’s family took to prevent Shane from attending the funeral or having anything to do with Tom after his death.  The two were not married, so Shane had no legal standing in the relationship. After his passing, it was as if Shane never existed in Tom’s life.

Tom’s parents never responded to a request from the filmmakers to take part in the documentary.  And with out their comments we are presented with a clearly one-sided story.  However, this film isn’t trying to bad mouth anyone or even trying to promote gay marriage. For the most part it is celebrating Tom’s life, and we are shown how he was loved by everyone he met.  Bloodworth-Thomason is able to send a message and prove a point by simply telling the audience what happened through personal interviews, photographs, and an abundant amount of video diaries Shane had made.

Though I was sobbing through most of the film, I did enjoy the documentary.  I like that I never felt like I was being forced to believe a certain way on the topic.  Not once during the movie does someone say “gay marriage needs to be legalized”.  It is through the struggles that Shane went through that we are able to see the after affect that the death of a partner has on you when you are not married.

Virgil Films will release BRIDEGROOM in theaters in Los Angeles on October 18.

Bridegroom Official Trailer HD

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