Directed By: #HansiOppenheimer
Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
If you know very little (or indeed nothing at all like I did) about the prolific author Joe R. Lansdale, then the Wild West/Americana opening credits to documentary film All Hail the Popcorn King may spark some initial preconceptions about the type of man you’re about to be introduced to. Perhaps an outlaw with a certain notoriety? And while we do indeed get to meet a rather interesting individual, the word “outlaw” slowly makes way for “icon”.
All Hail the Popcorn King is the part biography, part testimonial of author and proud Texan Joe R. Lansdale, who has written countless novels, novellas, comics, graphic novels and short stories spanning several decades and a wide array of genres including Hap & Leonard, Bubba Ho-Tep, Cold in July and The Drive-In. His works have been adapted many times into television series and films, gained him a multitude of accolades and an impressive cult following that includes some impressive names from all areas of pop-culture. Oh, and he is also a sōke or Grand Master in the Martial Arts Hall of Fame and has created his own style of martial arts, if that wasn’t enough.
Lansdale has a lot to be admired for to be sure. But what is most apparent right away is that Joe is very much a no-bullshit kind of guy. What you see is what you get with him, and he is a guy that will tell it to you straight. But it’s never with any malice. Joe is simply a guy who doesn’t want to waste his time or yours. And when you look at what he has achieved over the years, its hard to argue with the results.
But he is a man who loves to tell a story. We don’t ever see or hear anything overly exciting or controversial, but Lansdale is such an adept story teller that when he relays to us about the days of his early childhood, where drive-in movies and segregation were still the norm, he manages at times to transport us someplace else, something Oppenheimer is clearly aware of as she simply lets the camera roll with his words.
Again, this is not film with a lot of dramatic revelation that’s going to leave you on the edge of your seat. While some documentaries are hard-hitting, shocking exposés or implement a wealth of vivid imagery to try and catch your attention, All Hail the Popcorn King doesn’t bother with any of that. It never completely blows you away or delivers anything ground-breaking, but that’s never even remotely its intention either. Instead, what Oppenheimer has crafted in just under an hour is film that is not just an intriguing insight into the life and mind of “the most well-known unknown author” in the business, but also a love letter penned not just by the filmmaker but by many of Lansdales avid fans from all walks of life, and we get this great sense of admiration for this man through several first-hand account from other pop-culture icons such as Bruce Campbell, Joe Hill, and James Purefoy.
It might be a bit pedestrian at times, attentions may drift in and out. But for those aspiring writers and creators out there, All Hail the Popcorn King is an endearing retrospective of an artist’s insight, wisdom and passion for his craft that will be seen as a fitting tribute by his fans and a great introduction to his work for newcomers.
Watch the trailer here: