By Tom Christie | Thompson on Hollywood May 17, 2014 at 1:18PM
There's nothing particularly special about Hilla Medalia's
documentary, "The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films,"
other than its subjects, Menahem Golan and Yorum Globus. The eponymous Israeli
cousins are well known to anyone over the age of -- well, never mind. Arriving
on Hollywood shores in the early 80s, this filmmaking team -- Golan was the
filmmaker, Globus the moneyman -- had ambitions to make it big and despite lacking
certain obvious traits (such as taste) that is exactly what they did.
Getting their break in 1984 with a dance film fittingly called "Breakin," only two years later their Cannon Films was making 40-plus films, paying Sylvester Stallone $10-plus million, and bankrolling not only low-brow stars Charles Bronson ("Death Wish II"), Chuck Norris ("Delta Force") and Jean-Claude Van Damme ("Bloodsport") but the likes of John Cassavettes ("Love Streams"), Norman Mailer ("Tough Guys Don't Dance"), Franco Zefferelli ("Othello") and Jean-Luc Godard ("King Lear"). Cannon was, in other words, the biggest independent film company in the world and the Cannes Film Festival, as Golan reminded folks Friday night, was jokingly known as the Cannon Film Festival. But by the end of the decade, after a series of bad investments and out-of-control, bad filmmaking by the "unstoppable" Golan, it had all collapsed and the cousins had "divorced."
Both would eventually return to Israel, where Golan continued to make movies, or try to, while Globus, after a disastrous pairing at MGM with Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti, created a movie studio. They remained divorced, as becomes clear in the film, when Globus walks up to Golan mid-interview. A moment clearly manipulated by Medalia, it works nevertheless, leaving the emotional Golan, who had previously refused to discuss negative aspects of their careers on camera, teary-eyed. They both express regrets on screen, the irrepressible Golan wishing they had simply kept it going until they made it really big (whatever that means), Globus wondering why Golan hadn't just stopped. Although the men appeared together at the initial Cannes screening Friday night, it's doubtful the relationship can be fully repaired, given the nature of the film's discussions.
The primary skill of this straightforward, unaggressive documentary is in the editing of now-vintage Go-Go footage. Medalia managed to interview former Universal chairman Tom Pollock, whose analysis, both pro and con, is invaluable, as is that of a former Cannon Group lawyer. Others interviewees include the directors Boaz Davidson and Andrey Konchalovskiy -- the film would have benefitted from a greater selection -- but the heart of it is the Go-Go boys, whose early success and brashness is balanced by their later failure and sadness. They might not appreciate hearing it, but they are more interesting for their epic fall. Maybe they could even sign Godard to make their story. In the meantime, Medalia is here to tell it, and she deserves credit for realizing its value.