Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (TV Movie 2004) Poster

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7/10
Influence meets Tragedy
GRMacE22 June 2004
First things first. I LOVED THE Z CHANNEL!

For those of you reading this who are not from Los Angeles or are not yet 30, you do not know what you missed. Imagine a late 60's, early 70's FM eclectic station that mixed Marvin Gaye, Frank Zappa, Charlie Parker, Parisian Ballads, The Rolling Stones and Parliment Funkadelic into their play list. Now, imagine the same kind of eclectic mix applied to movies. Oh yeah, add to that some late night Euro soft-core sex movies and a monthly magazine that provided the kind of insight you now find on IMDb with full cast lists and turkey alerts, 20 years before the internet.

The Z Channel got behind previously unheralded directors, actors and screenwriters and presented them to Hollywood power brokers in their Hollywood Hills living rooms. As much as any other factor, Z is responsible for the development of independent cinema in the USA. I know, I know, the Sundance festival is where it broke out. However, the Z Channel took the Raging Bulls of New York and Hollywood, mixed them with the best of world cinema, and presented them all in a single place where all the people responsible for making movies could watch them. Often times before or during their theatrical run! The imaginations ignited.

Nowadays, you have the segregation of radio and movies into distinct market niches (HBO = top 40; Black Starz = R&B; IFC = Alt rock; etc.) Z Channel broke the mold because the rules weren't in place. The credit for this diversity hangs on a cinephile programmer named Jerry Harvey.

And therein lies the tragedy. Much like an artist who borders on madness, Mr. Harvey's demons were almost always with him. The only escape he seemed to find was in a screening room and obsessively chasing down obscure, forgotten, interesting films. He must have been quite a character. Even the people who felt his wrath stand up for him in this film and accept his cruelness for what it was; a mental illness.

That is a long way to get around to an opinion but here goes:

The interviews are great. The film clips are terrific. The story is worth telling to a wider audience. (Though, as much as I would like to believe there is a theatrical market for this film, its subject may be too narrow.)

However, the film is not completely successful merging the parallel stories presented. The first story is the rise and eventual collapse of Z Channel itself. The second is the life of Mr. Harvey and his eventual crimes. The documentary drops hints that the fall of Z Channel parallels the demise of Mr. Harvey. The financial machinations that went on in the boardroom (five owners in ten years) probably had more to do with it than is presented. I suppose it is too much to ask that back room financing be presented as an interesting story arc but there you are.

Overall, the documentary works. The story presented is not one where all the pieces fall into place like a script. Instead it is a Hollywood tragedy played played out with all the blemishes. If it comes your way, do yourself a favor and see what we have lost.
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Bittersweet paean to "The Greatest Channel on Earth"
gortx19 October 2004
I always tell people that I went to Film School TWICE - First, at Boston University. The second time watching Z CHANNEL after moving to L.A.. Or, I'd simply say, "Z CHANNEL is the Greatest Channel on Earth!"

It's that kind of worship that obviously inspired Directer Xan Cassavetes to make "Z CHANNEL - A Magnificent Obsession". And, through the dozens of interviews included in the film, you can see how a relatively small local cable outlet (it never even reached 100,000 subscribers) could still burn in the memory 15 years after its untimely and much lamented demise. But, the film is also bittersweet, because the main creative force behind the channel during it's 80's heydey, Jerry Harvey, was a hugely tormented man whose own murder-suicide closely paralleled the channel's rapid demise.

As a documentary, Z CHANNEL, is somewhat lacking. I find it daunting to imagine very many viewers who didn't subscribe to the channel to either enjoy the movie, or even figure out exactly why it was made. Even a hardcore partisan like myself found it somewhat lacking in context or in giving a clear, lucid description of exactly WHAT Z CHANNEL was or what they showed. Yes, there are some wonderful interviews with Robert Altman, Vilmos Zsigmond and Quentin Tarantino (who, ironically, lived OUTSIDE its subscription area and could only experience it vicariously through a friend's VHS dubs!) as well as some scattershot clips from various movies that were carried on the station. But, why, for instance, do we never get a sample listing of all the films that played during a particular week or a particular month? And, why do we NEVER see actual FOOTAGE from the channel? (The movie clips are Presented as FILM which is certainly aesthetically pleasing when viewed in a theater but not representative of how they were watched on early 80's TV's). Were there rights issues? Certainly, testimony from Tarantino, Alexander Payne and others proves that people have tapes where excerpts could have been culled from. I still have dozens of recordings if they need it for the DVD! Not even a still frame of the station logo? Odd.

What can't be denied is the passion for movies that breathes in every word that is spoken by the interviewees. Careers were made (James Woods, Theresa Russell) or re-discovered for a new generation (Richard Brooks, Sam Peckinpah) simply because of the fact that an inordinately large percentage of the Hollywood community was hooked up to Z CHANNEL (it even aired movies for Academy Awards Consideration long before screener tapes). Some of the same forces that began to coalesce to crush Z CHANNEL (HBO, Cable & Satellite growth, STUDIO mergers with multi-national corporations) are even more in effect now, so it's impossible to imagine such a network existing again.

Long live Z CHANNEL - at least in the memories of those who knew it.
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9/10
All I Ever Wanted to Do Was Work For the Z Channel
lambiepie-227 April 2006
What anyone looking at this documentary needs to know first is .... although the "Z" channel was a Los Angeles based subscription service, almost everything you see now on premium cable and on DVD benefited from this channel's existence.

I came to Los Angeles actually in the late middle to the end of Z's reign. Who knew at that time how important a little channel like this would be and what an impact it would make on the film industry actors, actresses, directors, producers careers?!?! I had no idea it began in the 70's. I had no idea how many films got Academy Award notice because of the showings...but most importantly, I never knew exactly what kind of a person Jerry Harvey was....except I thought he was brilliant.

This film was made by the daughter of a man who's films were shown on this channel - and honestly if I never saw "Z", I NEVER would have known John Cassevettes was one heck of a director as well as actor. That's the beauty of this documentary. That's what Zan wants everyone to understand and she does get that across.

But, as a subscriber of "Z" and not in the "inner workings" of "Z", I have quite the romanticism toward the channel, I've written many reviews on IMDb for foreign films I saw on "Z" and never anywhere else...and in many cases have never seen these films again. I can't even REMEMBER who did what film or the name of them and I wish I could...and I wish there was a running listing in this documentary so folks could see just how influential this channel was. You see, when I arrived in Los Angeles there were only a few cable networks: "ON", "Select" "HBO" "Showtime" and "Z". I HAD to have "Z". I was a "Z" junkie.

Although this documentary seemed heavy on the life of troubled programmer Jerry Harvey, I watched it to see the impact of "Z" on many directors, films, edit and film releases to the masses. This was the beginning of what we have today on DVD's "Directors Cuts" and "Extra Footage Not Seen in Theaters" and "Interview/Extras". Yes, it was Jerry Harvey who started the ball rolling with HIS love and support for film, non cut, non edited,RAW...on the "Z" Channel.

You could not help but fall in love with "Z". I've admitted may times in many reviews, "I matured to life watching the Z Channel". Nowadays, its different. But back in the 80's...before "Brokeback Mountain"...there were SEVERAL films made that would make "Brokeback Mountain" look like Sesame Street. I know, I own a few - and these films were made for a heterosexual audience.

The star actors and actresses and directors to me of the "Z" Channel were Sonja Braga, Rutger Hauer, Renée Soutendijk....Director Pedro Almodovar who introduced a little known actor that oozed screen charisma named Antonio Banderas - too many to name here....too many memories of films that shocked me, made me laugh, made me cry - that were NOT widely released in America if not released at all.

Yes, I saw the 99 hour version of "Heaven's Gate" (it really wasn't 99 hours, but the way the studio slammed it made it seem like it was!) and thought "Ya know, it ain't that bad." I watched through the 5 hour version of "Fanny and Alexander" and understood Bergman. The Tin Drum, Beau Pere, Asparagas, Mondo Trasho ...you name it, they were shown. Versions from R to what is now known as NC-17 and even...X (not porno, but very adult situations.) The programming was genius and yes, that was due to Jerry Harvey and his team. The schedule changed weekly, so you had several chances during that week to see what was programmed. You had "Night Owl Theater" which was very popular for obvious reasons and themes/director showcases. I loved the Director's Showcase which connected Directors from films early in their careers to the most recent. This is where I loved Paul Verhooven Pre Robo Cop. You learned what kind of risks these male AND female producers and directors took.

And the documentary talks about the "Z" magazine. Maybe today folks don't see a big deal about a movie magazine because there are so many of them. But The "Z" Channel magazine that came with your subscription was THE history lesson that went with the film. The Magazine and the Channel were one. A unique thing at the time. As was the interviews with with Chaplain. I have one with him speaking to Tom Hanks and the film "Nothing in Common". I even liked those little breaks.

The documentary misses much...(like the surprise New Years Eve Midnight Movie, etc.) but again, I am more inclined to write and think about the brilliance of the channel and not about the demons of the programmer and the hell the staff went through. Zan's documentary put as much as she could in the little time she had and bless her for it. If I knew, I would have done everything to support the effort. "Z"'s place in history is in its programming while the "juicy" story was in its Programmer.

The ironic thing? Yes, Jerry Harvey would have shown this documentary on the "Z" Channel.

I was a long time subscriber, and the documentary did enlighten me about the man and staff behind a channel I'll never forget. This channel will have many perspectives told, this is one of them, and one that gives you quite an overview.

I am hoping that the next "Z" perspective told ...is told through the eyes of someone like me who learned to love film from every walk of life, every voice and vision, every language, every political side, Women in Film, African Americans in film, Hispanics in Film, Asians in Film...every country because of "Z"'s existence.
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9/10
One of Cable TV's Finest Achievement was One of its First!
lionheartlev16 April 2005
This fascinating documentary portrays the work and life of early cable-TV programming genius, Gerry Harvey, whose Z Channel had attracted a substantial 'cult' following in metro LA at the dawn of the cable TV era into the late '80s. It is also a re-view/revue of many of the finest films of Z Channel's generation and earlier. The finest, often augmented by the weirdest too (e.g., Russ Meyer festivals and the 'soft porn' of those earlier times).

The biographical portions of the documentary -- Harvey's rise from ultra geek to film aficionado, then exhibitor/promoter, all amidst emotional chaos -- are all very interesting, and also tragic. Even more interesting is the history of how The Z Channel was launched, built, ... and eventually lost.

This documentary presents fascinating stories about movies and filmmakers. Michael Cimino's story is a good example. A good friend of Harvey's, Cimino had earned financial support and a free hand by making the incomparable Best Picture, "The Deer Hunter", and then destroyed his credibility & career by his excesses in filming the underrated Heaven's Gate. Through that time, his life was intertwined with Harvey's, presenting unique perspective on the unfolding events.

Harvey not only knew films, and had exceptional taste; he also had the courage and ingenuity to discover and present films (often 'director's cuts) in relentlessly creative, compelling programming. Excellent and important films that have otherwise been overlooked -- like Bertolucci's '1900' and Cimino's Heaven's Gate -- were shown with success by Harvey. One weekend there might be a Truffaut festival, the next perhaps Spaghetti Westerns or the Marx Brothers. Seemingly no genre was ignored; Harvey trusted his audience to watch with open minds and receptive hearts, to respond to great and quirky films, ...and to spread the word and keep the fledgling channel alive and growing. After his death (portrayed compellingly in interviews within the documentary), the station went into decline -- including the desperate step of incongruently showing sporting events (!) in alongside the great film programming. After all, wasn't that part of HBO's success?! Yikes. So sad.

Yet, the greatest joy of this documentary is neither the biography nor the story of Z -- it is the extraordinary range of film clips from the huge range of programming that the Z Channel broadcast.

The visual quality of the documentary is variable, from great to low-grade. But for me, at least, this technical 'weakness' could not undercut a fascinating tour of movies and a devotee who made his taste count. (Indeed, sometimes the "degraded" video imagery was itself a point of interest and beauty.) With apologies to the pretty good Independent Film Channel and the sometimes delightful Turner Classic Movies, the Z Channel appears far better than any station I have seen. I was oblivious to it at the time, so this film was a revelation to me.
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My Idea of Heaven
Zen Bones19 June 2004
I was a Z Channel subscriber for over eleven years, and it is supremely responsible for my passion for great movies. It shaped my view of the world by showing me movies from every culture, every era, every genre, and every aspect of humankind, real or imagined. There was no hierarchy on the Z Channel. In one week, one could see everything from "Cries and Whispers" to "Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia" to "Kiss Me Kate" to "Star Trek; The Motion Picture". It wasn't just so everyone in the household could have something to enjoy. It was a gesture of loving permission to open your heart and mind to all kinds of movies, and we grateful Z fans did. Xan Cassavetes' excellent film celebrates the diversity and passion that was the Z Channel by weaving countless interviews with filmmakers and writers, with breathtaking clips of dozens of great movies. Many of those great movies are films very few people have ever even heard of, in fact there were even a few movies that I've never heard of and I've seen around 5,500 movies in my lifetime. How thrilling it was to find out that there still are some great movies out there that I've yet to discover (I was beginning to lose hope)! But that was the legacy that Z's creator/programmer Jerry Harvey gave us: a key to a vast kingdom of treasure. The magnificent obsession of this film's title is that of Jerry Harvey's. His was an artist/poet's mentality, and like most of the great ones, he was unable to cope with the mediocrity of society, or with the imperfections he saw in himself and in others. This film covers his inevitable fall from grace, but in context of what happened to his brilliant dream, one can see that he was pushed a little. HBO, Showtime et al, pushed the Z Channel off the airwaves in 1988, and I can safely vouch for all of us former subscribers, that we all died a bit ourselves when that happened. There never will be anything like the Z Channel again, but with any luck, a new generation will discover Xan Cassavetes' film, and be inspired enough by the clips to seek out some of these films and discover an amazing world that they've yet to even imagine.

NOTE: I just caught this tonight at the LA Film Festival, so I don't know if it will have a theatrical release but if it does, GO SEE IT!!!! I know it will eventually be airing on IFC, but seeing clips from such classics as "The Wild Bunch", "Heaven's Gate" and "The Leopard" on a big screen is INCREDIBLE!
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8/10
I wish I was then and there:
G_a_l_i_n_a11 September 2006
Watching this extremely interesting, informative and captivating documentary made me jealous of what films were available to LA viewers back in 70s and 80s on the Z Channel, the first American pay-cable station before HBO or Showtime: from Altman's "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and "Images" to Fellini, to Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublyov", to Kurosawa's films, to Antonioni's festival, to the full 15 1/2 hours Fassbinder's "Berlin Alexanderplatz", to the restored full version of Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate", to the director's cut of Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America", to Bertolucci's "1900", the 5 hours version. The man behind it, Jerry Harvey was a visionary and a great lover of the European and Independent movies and many famous filmmakers (Robert Altman, Jacqueline Bisset , Jim Jarmusch, Theresa Russell and many more), critics, and former co-workers as well as his first wife and his long-time girlfriend pay their tribute to him and his legacy in the documentary. They share the memories of a channel that had brought the great and unavailable anywhere else films that influenced the new generation of filmmakers, Alexander Payne and Quentin Tarantino are just two names among many. The stories of Jerry Harvey are inter-cut by the clips from the great movies that were first available to the lucky subscribers of the Z Channel. I can't resist in naming few more: "Les Enfants du paradis" (1945) aka "Children of Paradise", "Il Gattopardo" (1963) aka "The Leopard", "Fitccarraldo" (1982) , "Path of Glory", "Turkish Delight" (1973), L'Avventura, (1960), "Professione: reporter" (1975), "La Notte" (1961), "Les Quatre cents coups" (1959) aka "400 Blows" , "Tystnaden" (1963) aka "The Silence", "Le Magnifique" (1973) aka "The Magnificent".

James Woods remembers how much he enjoyed working with Oliver Stone on the movie "Salvador" (1986) and he thinks of the role of Richard Boyle, the journalist whose book the films was based on as his best acting achievement. The film was a flop and was pulled from the theaters in two weeks. Jerry Harvey offered to show it on the Z Channel and it ran there for over a month. The next thing, Woods recalls - the movie received two Academy Awards nominations – for the Best Actor in a Leading Role for him and for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen –for Stone and Boyle. Woods is sure that it would not have been possible without Z Channel because nobody would see "Salvador".

Thanks to the documentary, I was able to recognize the movie that I saw many years ago in Moscow and still remember well, I could not only recall the title. I remember that the movie was Dutch, very erotic – in the raw, brutal, twisted yet beautiful and passionate way. Watching "Z Channel.." last night, I was happy to instantly recognize "Turks fruit" (1973) aka "Turkish Delight" made by Paul Verhoeven in 1973. There are not very many directors in the world that can create the atmosphere of raw sensuality as well as Verhoeven (of his Dutch period, especially). I am going to try to find "Turkish Delight" and see it again.

The film does not hide the dark side of Harvey who with two sisters was raised by the fundamental catholic father in a strict house. One of his sisters has committed suicide and the other vanished (more likely she took her own life, also). Harvey described his childhood as a cross between "American Graffiti" and "Two Lane Blacktop". For many years, Harvey had fought his mental conditions but in the end, he could not cope with the problems, external - pertaining to selling Z Channel to a company that tried to combine films with sports programming and mental that had always been the part of his life. In April 1988 , Harvey shot to death his second wife Deri Rudolf with the gun who was presented to him by his long time friend, Sam Pekinpah. Then, he killed himself.

Controversial and disturbed, fiercely intelligent, madly in love with the films but sadly having lost the battle to the demons of depression, Harvey's will be remembered for bringing to the viewers the films in their "Director's Cut" and the best foreign and independent films.

In the conclusion I want to mention that the movie was made by Alexandra ("Xan") Cassavetes, the daughter of John Cassavetes, the Godfather of American Independent film-making and his muse Gena Rowlands.
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8/10
"Like a film festival in your house every night"
mcnally17 September 2004
I saw this film at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival. The daughter of the late filmmaker John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands, Xan (Alexandra) Cassavetes grew up surrounded by the culture of film. But in her teens, she began to form her own taste, thanks in part to an innovative Los Angeles area cable channel. Z Channel began in 1974, long before there was a Blockbuster Video on every block, and it showed both neglected American films as well as the greats of European cinema. Xan set out to make a straight documentary about the channel, and in the process found a whole other story.

Jerry Harvey was a film geek's film geek. He joined Z Channel in 1980 after programming films for a local art-house cinema. Under Harvey's direction, Z Channel really took off, competing against heavyweights like HBO. While remaining a local treasure, Z Channel's influence was disproportionate to its subscriber base, since so many filmmakers lived in the LA area. Harvey was a friend and champion of such filmmakers as Sam Peckinpah, Henry Jaglom, Michael Cimino, Robert Altman, and Paul Verhoeven, and was one of the first to show "director's cuts" of such misunderstood films as Heaven's Gate, Once Upon A Time In America, and The Wild Bunch. But he was also a deeply troubled man. His obsessive nature fuelled his work, but it often led to bouts of crushing depression. His mood swings culminated in a terrible tragedy in 1988 when he killed his wife and then took his own life. Remembrances from his friends are still fraught with grief and anger, more than fifteen years later.

While at first, I wondered if I were seeing two films (a portrait of Jerry Harvey, and an appreciation of overlooked films), I realized that the beauty of Cassavetes' film is that she's celebrating the life and achievements of Jerry Harvey by talking about some of the films that he brought to her attention through Z Channel. Not his tragic end, but what came before. So often, when a life ends in tragedy or violence, we only remember that part. Sure, you could call Harvey a murderer. But he was also an incredible film lover and filmmaker's advocate, someone who had a wide ranging influence as well as a group of loyal friends who are still reeling from his loss.

Z Channel only lasted about a year after Harvey's death, and the many people interviewed (Quentin Tarantino, James Woods, Theresa Russell, Paul Verhoeven, Robert Altman, and Jacqueline Bisset among them) seem almost as wistful about the death of a certain era in cable television as of their friend Jerry Harvey.

P.S. It seems fitting that I should end my 2004 Toronto International Film Festival experience with a film about a TV channel that director Henry Jaglom described as "like a film festival in your house every night."
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8/10
For the love of cinema
FilmOtaku25 June 2005
For any of us who grew up with cable being a basic amenity and movies at our disposal with the dozens of premium movie channels, Blockbusters on every corner and now DVDs on our doorstep with the click of a mouse button, it is hard to imagine that there was a time when movie lovers were limited to seeing edited versions of commercial films on network television, blank VHS tapes cost $20 apiece (true story – my Dad used to have to choose the films he taped very wisely) and the only easy way to see a film was when it came to the local movie theater. In 1974, however, the first pay-channel appeared on West Coast cable boxes, with a programming director who had a genuine love of films and filmmakers; this channel was called the Z Channel, and very fittingly, Alexandra Cassevetes (daughter of John and Gena Rowlands) created an incredibly fascinating film documenting its rise and fall.

Jerry Harvey was a college dropout who intensely loved film and film studies, making him the ideal choice for deciding what films would appear on Z Channel. Various former co-workers, critics, directors and actors, mostly independents, offer their fond memories of a channel that had the power to make or break a film or filmmaker. (Cassavetes includes a story about how one of Hollywood's most infamous film debacles, "Heaven's Gate" ended up being ridiculed because of terrible editing; when Z Channel ran the director's cut it was heralded by the public and critics alike.) The vision that Harvey had for the channel and the output it had is envious even by today's standards. They would have Bergman film festivals, uncut versions of films that had only been seen in their edited format, cult and avant garde films; and directors like Alexander Payne (sporting an old Z Channel t-shirt) and Quentin Tarantino share their memories of having tapes of old Z channel broadcasts.

Unfortunately, personal demons and a family history of psychological issues ended Jerry Harvey's life and the life of his wife when he first killed her then killed himself. This was shortly after the eventual demise of the Z channel itself, which first sold out and shared programming with ESPN, and then was dissolved altogether. Despite its unceremonious demise, Z channel is remembered fondly by those that experienced its programming and were involved in its broadcasting, and is looked upon with reverence by anyone who considers themselves, like Jerry Harvey, a life-long student of film. This is an excellent documentary and really is a must-see for film buffs. 8/10 --Shelly
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8/10
Documentary about one man's passion for film
Chris_Docker28 August 2004
Z Channel was a Los Angeles pay-tv channel run by one Jerry Harvey. His devotion to cinema as art, broadcasting uncut (directors' versions) of films or other worthy efforts sidelined by the studios or TV channels that interspersed them with advertising, earned him the enduring respect of a multitude of Hollywood greats, many of whom are interviewed in this touching movie. One wonders if he had lived in France or even Latin America perhaps their might have been a public outcry to defend an institution he created, rather than lawsuits. In USA and Britain there is a lethargy, an apathy for cinema as art – art is viewed as almost a luxury item, something that is nice but hardly necessary. What do we need to do to ignite a fire in the hearts of students and film aficionados? What do we need to do to bring about a cultural revolution where the people who appreciate art can nurture and control it, rather than those that make money from it, or government ministers of ‘culture' who, lacking sufficient conviction themselves, are also unable to effectively encourage art. During the French New Wave, students took to the streets to defend a cinema. In Rio de Janeiro, the main arthouse cinema bookshop sells two kinds of books – those on cinema and those on philosophy. These examples show a different kind of cinema-going public: a thinking, educated viewer who probably sees cinema firstly as art, as a source of ideas and inspiration. This film shows that such people exist even in the USA. It is a valuable document and perhaps shows the way forward in consumer-orientated cultures where the jaded palates of the citizens have little collective desire for good cinema.
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7/10
The IFC of the 80s
No_Miss12 June 2005
It's doesn't take a genius to see why the Independent Film Channel would finance this documentary. Basically the Z Channel was the first movie channel to play independent, little seen, and foreign films. Featuring interviews with directors Quentin Tarantino, Robert Altman, and Alexander Pane, "Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession" focuses on the effect the channel had on the film industry.

The station had among it's subscribers some of the biggest names in Hollywood. What I found fascinating about this film is the power a cable channel can have. For example James Woods credits his Oscar nomination to the Z Channel's constant playing of the little seen movie "Salvador" to the right people.

As a film geek I also enjoyed the generous amount of film clips by director Cassavetes. The film turned me on to movies like "Bad Timing" and "F is for Fake".
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Z CHANNEL wins Best Documentary at Caribbean Festival
williamsbros29 November 2004
Xan Cassavetes' great documentary won the Audience Award for Best Documentary film at the first Turks & Caicos International Film Festival, held in the Caribbean from Nov. 13-20, 2004.

Z CHANNEL beat out SLASHER, another IFC doc, by ANIMAL HOUSE's John Landis, and the acclaimed DIVAN, by Pearl Gluck, among others.

Keep an eye out on IFC to catch Z CHANNEL, a film that is as much about the tortured man behind the long-defunct pay-cable channel as it is about the historic channel itself.

The Turks & Caicos International Film Festival attracted over 1,000 moviegoers, as well as luminaries such as Oscar nominated director Jim Sheridan (MY LEFT FOOT), Oscar-nominated screenwriter Richard Price (THE COLOR OF MONEY), Tony-nominated actor Delroy Lindo (GET SHORTY), and renowned film critic Rex Reed (THE NEW YORK OBSERVER).

Lindo served on the festival's Jury with Oscar-nominated screenwriter Naomi Sheridan (IN America) and culture editor Marvin Siegel (THE NEW YORK TIMES).
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7/10
You ask what you should watch. I ask how I should live. It's the same thing
m-vinteuil26 January 2009
There were a slew of "films" (read "DV documentaries") about the movies of the 1970's released around the time of Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession. One patting Francis Coppola, William Friedkin etc on the back repeatedly before insisting "Hey dude, have you seen The Godfather, or Taxi Driver?" Whilst I forget the name of said "documentary", it was pointless and made me bored and angry. Z Channel on t'other hand, is a genuinely interesting and insightful documentary which was lost amongst the dirge. How ironic.

The daughter of John Cassavetes interviews both over-enthusiastic notables (Tarantino), notable bores (Jim Jarmusch) and people you've never heard of in front of her DV video camera. Each explains the significance of a regional cable channel in LA, and how one man's complaint about the quality of programming led to the modern age of DVD audio commentaries on Italian art films which wouldn't been seen in the English speaking world otherwise.

Alexandra Cassavetes charts the rise and fall of a channel which filled the gap before Criterion Collection DVDs. Treating subscribers to a potpourri of exploitation, documentary and classic art films they had never seen before. To quote one interviewee, films "which people wouldn't have gone to see if they were free!" were beaming direct to people's living rooms, commercial free. And one obsessive film fan is to thank. A Mr. Jerry Harvey.

Because the cutting and pace of this doco is full speed ahead, it quickly glosses over the pre-Jerry years of the channel (it had been active since the '70s as one of the first cable channels, Jerry became programmer in 1980) to run the parallel story of the troubled mind of this largely self-taught film "genius". Considering he was only one man, he was able to do a hell of a lot in a very short space of time. As chief programmer for THE cable channel in THE entertainment hub of THE universe, he brought films which had been overlooked to the Academy's attention (aiding directly in the Oscar recognition for Salvador), and in other instances changed the reputation of films from 'flop' to 'classic' by running them at their original length, effectively inventing the "Director's Cut", and giving the kiss of life to films like The Wild Bunch, Heaven's Gate, Once upon a Time in America, 1900 and The Leopard.

Alexandra walks us through his many marriages and his troubled family life by use of a radio interview and slow 8mm scenes of Hollywood, which will either work or won't depending on your disposition. She makes sophomoric mistakes along the way, an interview with Penelope Spheeris about the punk classic, The Decline of Western Civilization, has little to do with Z Channel. They did screen it, but the discussion fails to shed light on either the film or Z Channel's involvement, and along with the many nude scenes from other films, seems in place only to break up all the talking.

Admittedly hearing Jim Jarmusch discuss L'avventura left ejaculate on the hem of my panties, and I wished the entire film could have been like that - More Paul Verhoeven, please - but this is a split between film buffery and the sober Jerry Harvey allegory. Z Channel it seems, died with Jerry. After successfully fighting off competition from HBO and Showtime, Jerry succumbed to personal demons, as the channel introduced sport, and thus commercial, content. As one interviewee has it, during a screening of The Silence, a film about the quest for God ("what's at the end, is it God or silence") the climax was ruined by a promo for an upcoming sporting event.
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10/10
One very powerful documentary
bob.decker30 January 2007
This is a documentary for people who like documentaries done from an insider point of view. It is a documentary for people who love movies. It is a documentary for people who love Los Angeles. When you sit down to watch it, you might wonder whether the biography of the program director for an early "pay TV" station would be sufficiently interesting to span two hours. You won't be wondering when it's over. From any point of view, the subject matter is extraordinarily difficult. No one under 40 (and no one from anywhere but L.A.) will remember what Z-Channel was. The life of the story's hero came to an end in a murder-suicide. It is notoriously difficult to put across in a movie ideas about taste and aesthetics. In fact it is quite easy to become annoyed at listening to other people talk about the cinema and what it means to them. But in this documentary Alexandra Cassevetes has succeeded admirably on all counts and delivers one heck of an emotional wallop besides.
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9/10
Murder Most Foul
busterbuff6110 January 2013
It's a bit disconcerting when you personally know the subject of a documentary. It's even stranger when that subject was a murder victim.

"Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession" chronicles the ups and (many) downs of a deceased Los Angeles film buff named Jerry Harvey. If you think you're obsessed with movies, you have nothing on Harvey. In the movie, Harvey's ex-wife tells how he once literally spoke of nothing but Stanley Kubrick's movie "Dr. Strangelove" for 24 hours.

Harvey began as a programmer for a movie theater but made L.A. history when he joined The Z Channel, an independent cable-TV channel that began broadcasting in 1974. In the prehistoric days of cable before HBO, Z gained its reputation and cache by showing uncut movies of all kinds, 24 hours a day.

After Harvey wrote several letters of complaint to Z about their informational errors and lack of range, Z decided to hire him as a full-time programmer. Harvey went to town on movies, showing everything from obscure European art films to "Star Wars." In the movie, several major filmmakers and stars, including Robert Altman and James Woods, rave about how their more obscure movies received a second life via broadcast on Z. (Although Woody Allen's long-time producer Charles Joffe is interviewed, strangely unmentioned is how it's believed that Z's frequent broadcasts of "Annie Hall" helped to win the unsung comedy several Oscars, including Best Picture.) Along with Harvey's successes, the movie chronicles his checkered family history and his life-long battle with depression. When cable channels such as HBO muscled in on Z's territory, Z's owners looked more to the bottom line and decided to run sports events along with movies. The movie's final half-hour covers the sad decline of both Z and Harvey, whose depression finally moved him to shoot and kill his second wife and then himself.

The documentary is well-done and extremely engrossing. Yet it almost serves as a cautionary tale, a "Taxi Driver" for movie buffs, showing how a singular obsession–-even with something as artistically worthwhile as film–-can have negative consequences.

(My personal connection with the story: Harvey's murdered wife, Deri Rudulph, was my employer for the brief time that I lived in L.A. She was one of the most generous, wonderful people I've ever met. Ten days after I returned to Jacksonville, I received the sad news about her murder. I was asked to be interviewed for this movie but could not make it to L.A. in time.)
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7/10
Watch this and you'll see something that will never happen again
nomoons1113 February 2012
Unfortunately in our time of mass consumerism and where everything is widely available, the feeling of getting to see something rare or hard to find is gone. There was a time when it existed and that time was the early 1970's in southern California. The only way to see rare and forgotten films was Z channel.

Where I think this doc shines is the mentioning of so many rare films. You'll need a pen and piece of paper to write em all down cause there are so many worth seeing. You'll be searching the net to find the uncut version of "1900" or the uncut version of "Heavens Gate". There are so many foreign films mentioned you barely have time to take it all in.

On the flip side of this fascinating story we get the Zen Master of films lovers in Jerry Harvey. The basic story of his life comes down to a guy who loves film to a degree that he makes it his life. The problem is that he has an underlying mental/psychological issue that pretty much makes him a little off kilter to everyone he met/knew. Most just threw it aside and said..that's just who he is. You get to get deeper into his past and find out that he and his family have had a troubled history. The end of his life shouldn't have been a surprise because his family history foresaw what his life was gonna end up like. He just happened to be a guy who loved rare/foreign art films like some of us do but without that...he was pretty much mental hospital bound if he didn't. Right up until the end, he held it together but when Z Channel started to change, it was too much to deal with.

Only see this doc if you are a serious "film" lover. If you just like "movies', pass this one by...you just won't understand it.
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8/10
A must-see for cinephiles
MartinHafer19 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The casual viewer may have little interest in this documentary, but for true lovers of cinema, this is a must-see. Back in the 1970s, when cable was in its infancy and home videotape was unknown, movie lover Jerry Harvey contacted his local cable company to complain about the horrible programming. In an odd twist, they hired him to be a programmer! Soon after this, the new Z Channel hired him to be their head programmer. Harvey went from being a complete unknown to becoming a cult-like hero to a small group of California subscribers (where the channel was shown). This is because he was very brave in his choices--often showing art films, unknown films, extended director's cuts (a first) and unappreciated films. It seems that his biggest fans were the film makers themselves, as he helped to give exposure to many films that would have otherwise gone into oblivion.

Seeing and hearing all the accolades for this cable pioneer was really interesting, but as I said this probably would hold little interest to the casual film viewer who could care less about Truffaut, Berman or Antonioni (among others). However, what becomes fascinating for ANY viewer is the man himself. Harvey was a very disturbed man who had a lifetime of demons and personal baggage--so much that he ultimately killed his wife and then himself. The film's examination of why this occurred is interesting, but also very unsatisfying because so little is known about his childhood. His two sisters killed themselves (though there is a tiny doubt about what happened to one of them), his father is dead and his mother is very emotionally constricted. So the film chooses to spend much of its focus on the impact of this murder-suicide on those who knew him. What I appreciated was that although many voiced their sadness at his passing and talked about what a great person he was, some others (particularly in the very end of the film) were understandably angry about what he did and find it wrong to elevate this guy to sainthood--after all, he did murder his wife. As a psychology teacher and ex-psychotherapist, this reaction is by far the most fascinating part of the film.

By the way, although this is a wonderful film, the film maker Ms. Cassavetes chose a lot of clips for the documentary that are NOT family-appropriate. While there's quite a bit of nudity, most of it isn't salacious and is from art films. However, some of the scenes are borderline pornographic and the scene of Rutger Hauer masturbating makes this a film you DON'T show your kids. Too bad the film included one or two of these clips--it might alienate some in the audience and wasn't needed to tell the story.
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7/10
Z-Channel, almost A Grade
FilmFlaneur6 November 2007
There are two ways to enjoy Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession - first, as a documentary account of the tragic career and obsessive achievements of Jerry Harvey, its most famous and influential head of programming, who largely made it into the cultural force that it was; and second, as an stimulating and unpredictable run through of some cult-ish byways of cinema, offering a chance to re-evaluate or discover for yourself some titles which the channel originally helped to resurface.

Z Channel was one of the first pay cable channels in the United States. Although it only ever reached a few hundred thousand subscribers in its defined catchment area, this was never the less a significant constituency of viewers, as it took in Los Angeles, California. Z Channel's principal innovations and influence can be traced to the care and attention it took with broadcast cinema, a genuine sensibility and affection for the art form which kept it consistently ahead of a couple of jealous, larger rivals. Films on Z were typically transmitted full length, a process which was instrumental in kick-starting the current educated taste for director's cuts, and uninterrupted by adverts. The station had genuine seasons by directors whose work, both famous and obscure, was given the best possible showcase in a (still treasured) programme guide sent to subscribers.

Through his scheduling, Harvey showed he had a nose for the unworthily neglected, uncharitably reviled and too hastily forgotten, proving this by broadcasting the complete versions of such films as 1900, Heaven's Gate (1980), as well as the full TV versions of Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), and Das Boot (1981). High and low culture rubbed filmic shoulders in the schedules as equals as Z's eclectic programming combined art house classics with unexpected sleepers, as well as the less cultural delights of its 'midnight movies' which gave viewers access to the pretensions of European softcore cinema.

In short, Z channel was close to a cineaste's paradise amidst the comparative wasteland of contemporary American television, and one whose influence extended to Tinsel-town opinion-formers. One concrete example of this for instance, was Harvey's championing of the previously ignored Salvador (1986) - to which can be largely attributed actor James Woods' academy nomination for his previously ignored performance. The role call of Z Channel's influence goes on and on, as in the light of various uncut broadcasts some critics were obliged to reverse their initial judgements of films formerly butchered by the studios, as in the case of Once Upon A Time in America (1984), where the cut and uncut versions of Leone's masterpiece were shown back to back, providing something of a revelation.

Z Channel was right to give itself a pat on the back in many instances, and anoraks like myself will relish a run through some its memorable repertoire in retrospect. Some film titles, of which tantalising clips of which are shown like those from Overlord (1975) I found myself scribbling down to try and track down later. Of others, like The Sicilian (1987), it's kinder perhaps to say that the jury is still out, but at least the station's provocative and imaginative programming gave such interesting films by major directors a chance to find their own feet.

In many ways the jury is still out on Jerry Harvey too, although there would be no doubt as to its verdict as least as far as his final hours are concerned as, suffering from drug abuse, professional stress and mental instability, the illustrious head of programming shot his wife and then himself in 1988. By all accounts an obsessive workaholic, this son of a cold, fundamentalist father, eccentric, confidant to major directors and, finally, murderer, would have made a good subject for a film himself. Z Channel does a reasonable good task of reconstructing such a striking character as a man, although the lack of diaries, and more than a single interview source, used sparingly but tellingly, is a handicap. Despite his final acts - and one suspects that Harvey was far crueller to his intimates on a personal level than is made of here - it is a documentary understandably full of praise for his achievements, and from such luminaries as the late Robert Altman, Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino, and the like. It creates an interesting account of a man who still remains largely unknown, at least outside the US, bit whose legacy is always going to be less that of a man than of a cultural arbiter.

If there's a weakness to Z Channel, then it stems from a lack of focus at its centre, not entirely surprising given the range of disparate programming the station carried, one which gives a lot of ground to cover even in close to two hours. Harvey was particularly close to two major directors, Michael Cimino and Sam Peckinpah (the latter to the extent that Harvey quoted from Ride The High Country during his wedding ceremony). In fact his association with Peckinpah, whom he knew closely towards the end of his career and saw him almost as 'family', would make up a study in itself; one wishes that the documentary could have included more detailed information of the terms of their relationship. Peckinpah is dead of course, and so could add nothing to the account. But Cimino is alive and well, and his absence from an extended consideration of his friend's career is to be regretted. A contribution by someone who had known Harvey so well, and had experienced his support and mentorship at first hand would have brought a welcome, further dimension to the film. Its absence is peculiar and makes one wonder if, somewhere, there is an unspoken element of bitterness glossed over in the telling. But even so its well worth catching if you are at all interested in the cinema of the 1980s, and especially in those films that had to struggle to find their reputation at the time.
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8/10
A film lover that made a difference
strat-84 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It's true. The question can be asked: Is it a film about an early cable TV mad genius impresario, or the station's impact on the film & cable industry, or simply an exposure and homage to the kind of films that brought the man and his Channel Z their well deserved success.

Of course it is all of the above and thank god for it.

Probably about as good a treatment of the subjects as you could ask for. Studios & "suits" are the bad guys. Film critics are almost as bad. But for those that love the art of film, like these people do, we can join in the celebration. I was never that impressed with the films of Sam Peckinpaw, but now I must take another look. Six hours of Das Boot? Now I know why.

It's also an instructional story of marketing. How to find a niche. How to defy conventional wisdom and find the "uncommon denominator" that brings success. Is there a market for this or that? There is always a market for things that are produced by people simply following their passion.
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8/10
Required viewing for aspiring film connoisseurs
dugwyler27 September 2006
Even from the perspective of a young film enthusiast (which this review holds most in mind), the well-known name of the director's father is enough of a draw to justify gambling on this unusual documentary. The focal point is not Channel Z, the LA-based pay-channel started in the 70's, or the life of Jerry Harvey, the half-crazed mastermind behind its incredible programming. Instead these are touched on and used as a sort of backbone to hold up its main intent: a grand introduction into a wide array of marvelous and often-overlooked films.

For some it may serve primarily as memorabilia of a past age; for the younger generation whose only concept of a pay movie channel is HBO or Showtime, it's an education. Again and again, the documentary tactfully exposes the viewer to countless films and directors that otherwise would be lost amid the fanfare din of movies now calculated for the appeal of trailers and catch-phrases alone. For any who have been disenchanted by modern cinema, Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession offers a comforting return to a more ideologically experimental time in the history of film.

Working something like a subtle lecture wrapped in a semi-biopic, this documentary has its share of small problems, running occasionally along the mundane -- even the surprising resolution of Jerry's problem leaves one far less affected than circumstances would seem to call for -- yet in the end, the exposure to the brilliant content of the channel and all those touched by it renders the viewer with a renewed sense of vigorous interest in the art of film as a whole.
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8/10
Showbiz
chahn-112 October 2005
I wanted to ask if anyone knew anything about another small channel.

This channel was called "Showbiz" and we got it in rural San Diego county because cable did not reach us back then. Showbiz was available as a pay service but it was broadcast locally.

It reminds me of Z channel because it showed odd little films and felt like there was a "DJ" picking out films to show me that I would never have thought to see.

This channel's programing introduced me to Austrailian films, which in the late 70's and early 80's were very interesting.

If someone can respond with a URL or other data I would be most appreciative.
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9/10
stop the channel and keep this on if you find this on TV, or on DVD
Quinoa198415 August 2005
For the movie buff in us all, whether casual or die-hard, the story of Jerry Harvey, who pioneered independent pay-TV services, is the story of the tragic hero, whom for the people who subscribed to his Z channel got the best of the best in international cinema, and then some. He started out booking films into theaters, usually obscure titles and films people should (but don't) seem to care about. Then he moved his ambitions to television, where he and a small office of support created the Z Channel, a kind of dark horse alongside the up and coming HBO and Showtime and Cinemax. All they showed were movies, mostly foreign films or westerns or crime films (Harvey, we learn, was a great friend of Sam Peckinpah, as well as Michael Cimino), and were also profitable in showing the 'Night Owl' films (which today over-run Cinemax). He brought films like Once Upon a Time in America, Heaven's Gate, and the Leopard in their fully uncut, realized glory, helped usher in films that got over-looked, and for his time until the end of Z channel in 1989, he had his own underground dominion.

But the film doesn't shy away from personal details either, details I dare not go into here. He had a troubled childhood, which spread as we learn in the film into his adult years. In between his movie deals and such he had peaks and valleys of depression and anxiety and anger issues, finally coming to a head when he murdered his wife, then himself. Though the film doesn't sugar-coat the details, some more surprising than others, it doesn't make him out to be a bad person. More than anything, director "Xan" Cassavetes (daughter of the director John) gives a fully realized human dimension to this man, at times a little eccentric, but very intelligent, and at the core someone who sought his salvation, entertainment, and enlightenment in great cinema. As other filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino, and Alexander Payne recant their recollections of what the channel had to offer them, the memories of discovering movies for the first time thanks to Harvey and the channel, it brings to mind something crucial that is a part of cinema.

In a way, Harvey, in his limited resources (unfortunately, after Harvey's death Z channel went nowhere, never making it to the reputable, corporate heights of HBO and Showtime), did something that every movie buff needs- a friend to bring good, or great films to light, to recommend and turn people on to art that may not get shown on the Sunday afternoon movie. Through all of his flaws, mostly not of his fault to start with, he was a kind of independent pioneer in Pay-TV television, paving the way for a channel like IFC (which premiered the film, by the way), and for a larger group, that films should be seen without studio's censors and scissors, that the director's vision is paramount for a film fan. This documentary brings to light that, and as an extra bonus shows numerous, beautiful, and strange clips from films. Only thing missing are some archival clips from the actual Z channel itself, or Harvey in a TV interview.
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4/10
500 channels and nothing on.
juliankennedy2318 November 2006
Z Channel A Magnificent Obsession: 4 out of 10: Well they got the obsession part right. Jerry Harvey was the programming genius behind Z channel an independent LA cable channel that did help revolutionize the way pay cable shows film.

He was famous for finding obscure films and directors and showcasing them to the Hollywood elite. He was also a troubled soul with a horrible family history who murdered his wife then took his own life. The documentary attempts to tell the two tales intertwined.

The latter of the tales seems unfulfilling. Reminisces from former friends and colleagues are quite frank. (Some, 20 years later, clearly don't forgive him) but there is virtually no insight into causation.

What the latter lacks in drama and insight the former lacks in scope. Jerry actually became programming director in 1980 at the death scene of big studio director driven independent Hollywood film of the seventies. (His pal Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate was the film that inspired the studio coup d'etat.) So his influence on independent film was more of a eulogizer than influential promoter. (Cimino, Peckinpah and others in his independent circle simply couldn't get work Z channel marathon or no Z channel marathon. Only James Woods (whose Salvador performance was highlighted during Oscar season) and Paul Verhooeven (who claims he got his Robocop job after a Z channel marathon of his films) show a career boost from Jerry.

So Jerry plucked tons of virtually unseen studio films of the seventies as well as foreign films for his channel and used these movies to help fill the twenty four hours a day.

The documentary avoids one reason for this (These films were cheap if not outright free to show) and barely acknowledges the other reason (These films had plenty of nudity making them the perfect cable only product).

The film also avoids answering some simple questions such as if it was so popular why didn't Z channel expand to San Francisco or New York? Jerry does deserve credit for introducing the now ubiquitous director's cut. (Though Heaven's Gate was a really bad movie to start that trend on) and his love of the obscure can be felt from Sundance to Netflix.

The film does highlight some great obscure films I still haven't seen but surprising shows no footage whatsoever from the Z channel itself. Long and talky Z Channel is a great place to find some obscure films it just isn't that great a story.
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2/10
Great Story, Poorly Told
curtis-814 July 2005
The makers of "Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession" take a potentially fascinating subject and completely botch it. I have to admit that I only got through about a half hour of the thing, but I can only wait so long for a film to let me know it's going somewhere.

I'd never heard of Z-Channel before and was very interested to find out about it, but the filmmakers refused to present me with a clear context or history of their subject. Too much was assumed before any solid groundwork was laid. All I was getting was just a bunch of vaguely connected quotes about a vaguely defined subject and wild praise of someone I had been told nothing significant about who had apparently done something amazing, though what exactly that something was remained foggy. It's confusing and annoying to be repeatedly told of the significance and importance of something before that thing is fully explained. Maybe say it once, to peak my interest, but not over and over from different people time and again. Get to the point! Tell the story!

Now, I admit that I could tell that this was supposed to be the story of a movie fan named Jerry Harvey who was involved with the first pay movie channel, but that was about it--and I think I should have known more after half an hour! I'm pretty sure that other people like me, people who had never heard of Z-channel before, were similarly bored or confused. This film was obviously not created for us, but for people already "in the know." And that kind of seems to defeats the purpose if you ask me.
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5/10
"Everyone wants to know 'Why?'...but 'Why?' doesn't matter because it happened."
moonspinner5525 July 2009
A young movie theater manager near Los Angeles, a lover of obscure titles and cult films, writes an angry letter regarding programming to a pay-TV outlet and arouses enough curiosity about his knowledge of cinema to land himself a job; soon, Jerry Harvey is on the move from Select-TV to Z Channel as programming director. Z Channel, an L.A.-area based station showing both old and newer movies uncut and commercial-free, creates a buzz in the Hollywood community, turning its bearded, manic programmer into an underground celebrity. In the years prior to the burgeoning cable conglomerates Home Box Office and Showtime, Z Channel provided the heart of show business with diverse and stimulating programming, a virtual olive branch to overlooked movies, their directors and stars. This documentary by Xan Cassavetes includes clips of many of the pictures aided financially or otherwise by Harvey, as well as interviews with filmmakers, co-workers, friends and exes involved with Harvey prior to and during his most successful years. The story ends on a sad, puzzling note--with lives unraveled and business affairs in disarray--but for awhile there, Harvey seemed to have it pretty good. Unfortunately however, Jerry Harvey was never able to enjoy his own success, being the product of a very mixed-up family with mental illness the dominant gene--and apparently, there isn't anyone left who can fully explain his devastating ups and downs. Cassavetes doesn't recognize or underline the fact that Z Channel appears to have been a rowdy boys' club for film-geeks, with she herself contributing to the misogyny (lots of naked women and/or overt feminine sexuality in nearly every picture spotlighted). I found myself at the finish-line with a litany of unanswered questions, and there's very little attempt to get into the backgrounds of the cast of characters presented here. Still, "Z Channel" whets the appetite for a film-festival of hidden gems and unrealized genius, and it showcases a pointed yearning many of us have for personal redemption through movies.
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8/10
somewhere in cinema
PIST-OFF30 October 2005
a pretty straight forward documentary about an early pay cable movie channel, yet this movie itself serves if anything to pique an interest in the thousands of movie that disappear year after year into the oblivion of forgotten film. as a lover of film and viewer of far too few i find it fascinating that even with all the cable options now available there are so few willing to take the types of risk involved in old film, foreign films, crass films, art films, short films and combine them in the manner that doesn't insult the viewers intelligence. this movie in and of itself may not be terribly interesting, but it will perhaps stir the imagination towards other movies that you may never forget.
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