Native directors share their binge-worthy entertainment

Who could be better to recommend binge-worthy entertainment than filmmakers?

Ticket asked some local independent filmmakers what they’ve been bingeing during the stay-at-home orders following the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Here are some of their suggestions along with how readers can see their films.

Travis Bowen

The Warren filmmaker has made several low-budget horror films, including a 2005 video called “2020: An American Nightmare” about a deadly virus. Trailers for his films can be found on YouTube (search Travis Bowen Eerie Frequency), and the movies will be available later this year on a new streaming service called Vidaddle (www.vidaddle. com)

l “Star Trek Picard” (CBS All Access) — The story takes place 20 years after we last saw Jean Luc Picard and crew. It is one of the best science fiction based shows that I’ve seen in a very long time. Picard is a bit of a broken man now as he sets out on a final adventure to save the life of the daughter of the one who saved his life many years before.

l “The Mandalorian” (Disney Plus) — If you’re like me and grew up in the 1980s, then the original “Star Wars” trilogy is top notch, and the fact that this television show has a similar feel to it is a must see in my book.

l “The Rain” (Netflix) — Two younger siblings emerge after years of hiding in a bunker and join with others to search for their father, who may hold the answers to finding a cure to a deadly virus that spreads through rainfall.

l “Cobra Kai” (YouTube) — The first two episodes are free, which was enough to reel me in. The story rejoins “Karate Kid” characters Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso, both portrayed by the original actors, now both in their 50s, and revolves around their inability to move beyond the past.

l “Ozark” (Netflix) — This is the best TV series I have seen in years. It stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, who are forced to move their family from the city life of Chicago to the Ozarks to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel. It has so many twists and turns that it will keep you entertained for hours.

Johnny Chechitelli

The Youngstown filmmaker will premiere his dark comedy “Worst. Christmas. Ever.” later this year, and it is the 10th anniversary of his documentary “Youngstown: Still Standing.” He’s currently raising funds for a horror movie called “The Domovoy.”

l “The Outsider” (HBO GO) — Stephen King gets the “True Detective” treatment in this tale of a killer with a familiar face. A slow-burning but juicy crime thriller with a great cast and King’s trademark supernatural touch.

l “Mindhunter” (Netflix) — Another slow burn, this time focusing on the creation of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. Director David Fincher masterfully sets a perfect tone to match lead actors Holt McCallany and Jonathan Groff’s subtle depictions of federal agents profiling real serial killers.

l “Show Me a Hero” (HBO Go) — Few people can write human drama as well as David Simon (“The Wire”). Oscar Isaac ditches a galaxy far, far away for this tragically underrated and absolutely gripping true saga of a Yonkers mayor stuck in the middle of his city’s 1987 public housing crisis.

l “Dolemite Is My Name” (Netflix) — Eddie Murphy brings a lot of heart to this true tale of indie filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore, who tries desperately to make a movie and then to get people to watch it. You’ll walk away with a smile on your face and hopefully a deeper appreciation for those of us who choose to chase our hard-to-reach dreams.

l “Monty Python’s The Life of Brian” (Netflix) — Following the life of a baby born one manger down from the Lord himself, this irreverent satire remains comedy gold even over 40 years after it was released. And today more than ever, it serves as a great reminder that even in our darkest hours, we should always look at the bright side of life.

Jim Fogarty

Creator of Two Ticks & the Dog Productions, this Warren native is the director of the 2001 feature “Waxing Gibbous” and award-winning commercials. “Gibbous” isn’t available currently, but Fogarty’s short film “Coffee & Donuts” is available on YouTube.

l The Humphrey Bogart Essential Collection (DVD) — Before Harrison Ford’s Han Solo or Indiana Jones, Bogart set the archetype for the noir-ish, reluctant hero. This collection is 24 of his films, including the classics. My son and I started it out by watching “Dark Passage,” shot almost entirely in first person. My son wanted to watch it because Bogart’s face is wrapped in gauze most of the film.

l Anything “Star Wars” (On Demand / DVD). My son is 7 years old. They are go-tos. We skip the prequels and instead focus on the classics or the newer stuff.

l “Tiger King” (Netflix) — At first I thought this was going to be about the great Gunther Gebel of Ringling Bros. fame. Then I thought maybe it was about H.B Haggerty, who played Princess Ardala’s bodyguard Tiger Man in the ’80s classic “Buck Rogers.” Sadly it’s about neither, but oh, what hot mess it is. My wife and I are eager to finish it together, but only after my son has gone to bed for the night.

l “Peaky Blinders” (Netflix) — Although this past season I viewed as rather luckluster until the final two episodes, I may take the time to go back and run through this gritty post-WWI English gangster masterpiece again.

l EPIX and Showtime free on Spectrum until April 19 — I’m already a showtime subscriber because of boxing, but getting EPIX for a month for free due to COVID may be a double-edged sword if I start to watch their series. Right now, though, I’m planning some ’80s kung -fu viewing throwbacks like “Enter the Invisible Hero” and the Shaoilin Fighter series flicks. KI-YA!!!

Brian K. West

This Youngstown filmmaker, who has written and directed several films released through his Method 8 Corporation (method8inc.com), kept his list short and sweet, suggesting some classics that might not be available on streaming services but are available for rental online and may be gathering dust on readers’ DVD shelf — “Rush Hour” and its sequels, “Coming to America,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

“If it makes you laugh or feel good, watch it,” he said.

Eric Murphy

This Warren native now lives and works in southern California. His documentary, “Traficant: The Congressman of Crimetown,” can be viewed for free at vimeo.com.

l “Tiger King” (Netflix) — Like everyone else, I binged this series in one day. It’s the most bizarre collection of characters I’ve ever watched. I’m not sure if I love it or hate it, but “Tiger King” is riveting.

l “Cheers” (Netflix, Hulu) — It’s still so funny! Such a familiar and comfortable distraction from the daily news.

l “The Wire” (Amazon Prime, HBO Go) — It’s been on my must-watch list for a decade. My wife and I finally started it… there’s 60 episodes, but it looks like we’ll be on house arrest for a while.

l “Paths of Glory” and “Spartacus” (available for rental through Amazon, iTunes, etc.) — Two of Kirk Douglas’ best performances. It was fun to re-visit these classic Stanley Kubrick films, both widely different in tone and theme. But, as we are all locked down working towards a common goal, the famous line is more relevant than ever — “I am Spartacus!”

l “Ancient Aliens” (History Channel) — More of a shameless plug. I was a writer / producer on season 15, which is currently airing on History.

William Schotten

These days Schotten works primarily as a cinematographer, but the Hubbard resident has directed several features, including “Below Ground,” “Bloodlock” and “Dead Life.” His latest film, “Dead Life: Wormwood’s End,” will be available in July at MakeFlix.com.

l “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (Netflix) — This show has been a favorite of mine for 20 years. Robots riffing on bad movies, what’s not to love? Both the classic series and the reboot.

l “King Of The Hill” (Hulu) — Arguably the best of Mike Judge’s catalogue.

l “Doomed: The Untold Story Of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four”(free with ads on Vudu) — This is an amazing documentary about how film producers spent a million dollars on something that was never meant to be seen.

l “Horse Girl” (Netflix) — A feature film that really takes you down some rabbit holes. Beautifully written, acted and photographed.

l “The Midnight Movie” — A weekly horror host out of Cleveland. Airs at midnight Saturday and is free for anyone with Spectrum on channel 180.

Chris Rutushin

In addition to fronting the band Radio Lark, the Youngstown filmmaker and videographer directed the 2008 feature “Fine-Tune,” which now is available to watch on YouTube.

l “Spaced” and “The Cornetto Trilogy” (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz,” “The World’s End”) (all are on Hulu, except for “World’s End,” which can be rented at Amazon, iTunes, etc.) — Whenever I’m feeling out of sorts or blue, I like to revisit “Spaced” (Edgar Wright’s 2 season BBC series), which paved the way for the movies. Brilliantly constructed / written and superb comedic timing blended with action / horror / drama and excellent production / editing. I ADORE Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

l “The Letter for the King” (Netflix) — I absolutely love adventure / fantasy, especially set during medieval England. Good character arcs, diverse cast, love the locations / set design / wardrobe and most importantly … it’s fun!

l “Black Lightning” — A nice modern twist on the ’70s comic book! Great cast, fun action sequences, poignant moments with some camp but clever … don’t we need a superhero right about now?!

l “The English Game” (Netflix) — If you love football / soccer and history, this is for you! This period piece / series is based on the founding of the game in England… great locations, excellent set design, fab wardrobe, solid acting and who doesn’t love a story about a working class / underdog mill team rising up against the wealthy elites?

l “Derry Girls” (Netflix) — Set in Northern Ireland during the 1990s, it’s hilarious yet poignant. Great comedic timing / acting, stellar ensemble and quirky. Woven throughout is the underlying theme of unity.


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