[Stopped Buttons] Day 8 | February 27

Eleanor Parker and Robert Mitchum star in HOME FROM THE HILL, directed by Vincente Minnelli for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Home from the Hill (1960, Vincente Minnelli)

HOME FROM THE HILL was one of the first Eleanor Parker moves I saw, mostly because it was available on VHS. Though I might not have seen it on VHS, but bought it on laserdisc right off. I can’t remember. Pan and scan must ruin it, of course. The laserdisc was a decent MGM/UA transfer, really nice packaging. I think it opened up (instead of two discs in one jacket). As far as the post’s readership, HOME FROM THE HILL does okay. Hopefully someone read about it after Eleanor Parker passed, saw it.

A scene from THE SEVEN-UPS, starring Roy Scheider and directed by Philip D’Antoni for 20th Century Fox.

The Seven-Ups (1973, Philip D’Antoni)

I vaguely remember (mis-remember) the Maltin guide connecting THE SEVEN-UPS to THE FRENCH CONNECTION. I don’t know why I never got around to seeing it. I know the video store had it (on VHS); one of those distinct CBS/FOX Home Videos. When I was a kid, the CBS/FOX thing always confused me. Wasn’t CBS a TV network? What did they have to do with 20th Century Fox? The post actually gets a lot of readers (compared to other seventies American films). That famous car chase must still be famous.

Robert Mitchum stars in CAPE FEAR, directed by J. Lee Thompson for Universal Pictures.

Cape Fear (1962, J. Lee Thompson)

I can’t remember my viewing order on CAPE FEAR. If it was remake or the original. Used to marathon them. I think my mom had seen ’62 CAPE FEAR pre-children and was excited to watch it again around the remake. But was it before or after… I can’t remember why I didn’t go back to the original–maybe because it was from a weird period of high school movies–until so late. The CAPE FEAR post hasn’t really found a level year-to-year; there are wide changes up and down almost every year. But the low’s low.

Taylor Nichols and Chris Eigeman star in BARCELONA, directed by Whit Stillman for Fine Line Features.

Barcelona (1994, Whit Stillman)

I didn’t see BARCELONA until college. I didn’t discover Whit Stillman until then (after LAST DAYS OF DISCO). On a second viewing, I was rather unimpressed with BARCELONA. I can’t remember the specific problems but I had quite a few of them. This viewing–post a couple METROPOLITAN viewings–was nice because I was more measured in my reaction to BARCELONA and less extreme. Over the years, the BARCELONA post has lost readers—by over half. But it still gets nearly decent readership. Very close to decent.

Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake appear in THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN, directed by Abby Epstein for Red Envelope Entertainment.

The Business of Being Born (2008, Abby Epstein)

At the time I made the post, I think THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN was the only documentary on The Stop Button. THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN post had an unexpected side effect–my best friend emailed immediately, curious if the wife was pregnant. I had hoped director Abby Epstein would go on to more but I do not remember what it was about her filmmaking I liked so much. Not many readers for the BUSINESS OF BEING BORN post. Shockingly few, given it was in the news again with a sequel release lately.

Luke Goss stars in INTERVIEW WITH A HITMAN, directed by Perry Bhandal for Kaleidoscope Film Distribution.

Interview with a Hitman (2012, Perry Bhandal)

I watched INTERVIEW WITH A HITMAN because it was a screener, back when I tried to watch lots of screeners. INTERVIEW WITH A HITMAN isn’t terrible. Or at least it isn’t entirely terrible. It’s fairly well-made, especially for DTV action. I was also shocked to learn it was filmed entirely in the UK, because the crew did a great job of cheaply mimicking Eastern Europe. The INTERVIEW WITH A HITMAN post does well. It does really, really well with readers. It’s fallen off, but to still good numbers.

Blue Dream (2014, Gergö Elekes)

Blue Dream runs just under five minutes. Until the end, I didn’t realize the protagonist isn’t a protagonist in a fictional story; rather Blue Dream is a very stylish documentary short.

Elekes’s direction is fantastic; great Panavision-aspect composition. Great photography, great editing. And music. Elekes does almost all of it and the stuff he doesn’t do on his own, József Gallai helps with.

The short follows swimmer Kinga Galambos, who’s actually a real person. It makes a difference. It changes how Blue Dream plays; it goes from a short where the narration is way, way, way too much to a short where the narration is a little off, but can’t hurt the whole product.

It’s really impressive filmmaking from Elekes. It’s a little inaccessible if you’re not from Hungary, since familiarity with Galambos would help a lot. Or maybe you just have to watch it twice, which isn’t bad.



Photographed and directed by Gergö Elekes; screenplay by József Gallai, based on a story by Elekes, Kinga Galambos and Kitti Galambos; edited by Elekes and Gallai; music by Elekes; produced by Elekes and Kinga Galambos.

Bullets Over Broadway (1994, Woody Allen)

Bullets Over Broadway has a lot going for it. Between Chazz Palminteri, Jennifer Tilly and Dianne Wiest, there’s a lot of great acting and great moments. There are a decided lack of great scenes, however, thanks to director Allen’s choice of John Cusack as leading man. Cusack doesn’t so much give a performance as imitate Woody Allen, though not all of the time. Occasionally he gives an overly affected performance and comes off as mocking the material. As opposed to Wiest, who gives an overly affected performance and embraces the material.

There are also some big writing problems, like the narration. For whatever reason, Allen and co-writer Douglas McGrath go with some useless narration from Cusack to show time progressing. There are a half dozen better devices they could have used, but if Cusack’s performance of the narration weren’t terrible, it might work a little better. But a lot of it is on Allen, especially the moronic ending, which relies entirely on the nonexistent chemistry between Cusack and girlfriend Mary-Louise Parker.

There’s some really nice supporting work from Jim Broadbent. Some okay support from Joe Viterelli and Tracey Ullman. Not so good supporting work from Jack Warden. He and Cusack’s scenes together are particularly bad.

The best thing about Bullets is Allen’s matter-of-fact presentation of violence. It’s simultaneously shocking and mundane, as opposed to the film itself, which oscillates between mundane and annoying. It does move pretty well though. The good acting moves it right along.



Directed by Woody Allen; written by Allen and Douglas McGrath; director of photography, Carlo Di Palma; edited by Susan E. Morse; production designer, Santo Loquasto; produced by Robert Greenhut; released by Miramax Films.

Starring John Cusack (David Shayne), Chazz Palminteri (Cheech), Dianne Wiest (Helen Sinclair), Jennifer Tilly (Olive Neal), Tracey Ullman (Eden Brent), Jim Broadbent (Warner Purcell), Jack Warden (Julian Marx), Joe Viterelli (Nick Valenti), Mary-Louise Parker (Ellen), Harvey Fierstein (Sid Loomis) and Rob Reiner (Sheldon Flender).

[Stopped Buttons] Day 7 | February 26

Evelyn Ankers and Paul Kelly star in SPOILERS OF THE NORTH, directed by Richard Sale for Republic Pictures.

Spoilers of the North (1947, Richard Sale)

I found SPOILERS OF THE NORTH on archive.org; I discovered their PD movies in the mid-aughts. I’ve never kept good bookmarks; I went through the movie section of archive many times. Back when they it was full-size DVD images. SPOILERS I wanted to see because it was Evelyn Ankers, after she was out of her Universal contract, doing 40s poverty row stuff. For an obscure, poverty row movie set in Alaska without any notable stars, the SPOILERS post actually doesn’t do too bad at all.

Annette Bening, Harvey Keitel and Warren Beatty star in BUGSY, directed by Barry Levinson for Columbia Pictures.

Bugsy (1991, Barry Levinson), the extended cut

I first saw BUGSY in college. A friend and I would rent (on VHS) various things we hadn’t seen. So BUGSY. I liked it so much from that first viewing, I think I bought the theatrical release on DVD but never got around to watching it. Instead, I watched the extended cut back when Sony was releasing everything in an extended edition (usually without director input). The BUGSY post gets a steady, in unimpressive, amount of readers year-to-year. Very few people seem to remember the film these days.

Samy Naceri and Frédéric Diefenthal star in TAXI 3, directed by Gérard Krawczyk for ARP Sélection.

Taxi 3 (2003, Gérard Krawczyk)

It’s not going to be easy to talk about TAXI 3, just because I barely remember it. It was amusing? I think? It did not have Marion Cotillard–I remember her not being in it, but have no idea how they explained her absence in the film. I think Nicheflix had all the TAXI movies so I was gradually working my way through them–I might have started because of TAXI 4. I don’t think the Taxi franchise has ever gotten R1 release. I suppose I could Google. Nah. The readership is steady, very steady.

Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. star in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN, directed by Roy William Neill for Universal Pictures.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943, Roy William Neill)

So FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN was one of my favorites as a kid. Until I was in middle school, I think. I never had it on purchased VHS–we had recorded it off some airing; it might have even been from a Svengoolie (off FOX 32). This viewing was from the DVD, years after I had last seen it. I fell off the Universal monster movies in my late teens with AMC. And, even though I always think of the Universal monsters falling off in popularity, the readership is sturdy. Never outstanding.

Charlie McCarthy stars with Edgar Bergen in FREE AND EASY, directed by Roy Mack for Warner Bros.

Free and Easy (1931, Roy Mack)

FREE AND EASY is the short with the ventriloquist. I cheated and looked–had to. Title’s way too general. Warner Archive released a bunch of Vitaphone shorts–I think in multiple sets–and I assumed they’d be better than they turned out. FREE AND EASY is easily the least ambitious of the Vitaphone shorts I saw, which I wanted to fill out the site’s year deficiencies. The FREE AND EASY post barely gets any readership. I’m not sure how if people are even familiar with Charlie McCarthy’s name anymore.

Boris Karloff stars in FRANKENSTEIN, directed by James Whale for Castle Films.

Frankenstein (1931, James Whale), the digest version

I got a bunch of the Castle Films digest versions of Universal monster movies but quickly lost interest. The concept of editing a feature to short intrigues me, sort of a “licensed fan edit.” But the FRANKENSTEIN was ineptly done. It’s too bad Universal didn’t license the Castle digests for the DVDs. It’s more unfortunate Castle didn’t credit their editors. The FRANKENSTEIN digest post—not surprisingly—barely gets any readers. I guess any Castle Films digest fans already know about it.

[Stopped Buttons] Day 6 | February 25

Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid star in FLESH AND BONE, directed by Steve Kloves for Paramount Pictures.

Flesh and Bone (1993, Steve Kloves)

I don’t think I saw FLESH AND BONE in the theater, but on VHS, at the height of being a Dennis Quaid fan. I liked FLESH AND BONE well enough on VHS, but never saw it again on tape. I don’t think. Got a sale laserdisc a few years later. Paramount did a nice job with catalog DVD releases back in the early aughts and I upgraded FLESH AND BONE fairly early from laser. As far as readership—FLESH AND BONE always seems unknown (only ever met one person who knew it)—it’s actually improving, which rocks.

Ginger Rogers and David Niven star in BACHELOR MOTHER, directed by Garson Kanin for RKO Radio Pictures.

Bachelor Mother (1939, Garson Kanin)

I first saw BACHELOR MOTHER in the late 90s on AMC. I don’t think I’d seen a Ginger Rogers movie until then. I can’t remember all of them, but I’m fairly sure I saw 4 Ginger Rogers 1930s RKO releases on AMC, plus whatever else from later. I got it in a Warner Archive mass purchase; Raquel (of the Out of the Past film blog) loves the movie and had just written about it. Taking into account BACHELOR MOTHER is a fairly unknown classic, the post doesn’t do bad at all. It’s got a steady readership.

A scene from A CLOSE CALL, directed by Harry Bailey and John Foster for Pathé.

A Close Call (1929, Harry Bailey and John Foster)

A CLOSE SHAVE is from a failed cartoon studio from the late 1920s and 1930s. I came across a bunch of them. I can’t remember if I was interested in the cartoons–from Van Beuren studios or something–for any reason other than release years. As I watched more and more cartoons for the Short Stop feature, I did start appreciating and thinking about how they worked more. I seem to be the only one who rediscovered Van Beuren cartoons. While the yearly numbers are rising, they’re terrible numbers.

Jena Malone and Zach Gilford star in IN OUR NATURE, directed by Brian Savelson for Cinedigm.

In Our Nature (2012, Brian Savelson)

I started watching IN OUR NATURE with no expectations (or previous knowledge of the film) and it stunned me. I think IN OUR NATURE went straight to DVD/VOD, which has always seemed like a black mark against a film to me. But no more. IN OUR NATURE was one of the few films I’ve seen in the last five or, maybe londer, years where I immediately text someone to see it. There doesn’t seem to be much interest in IN OUR NATURE, which is too bad. It’s got terrible numbers for a post on a feature film.

Brute Wanted (1934, Charles Barrois)

Quite a bit of Brute Wanted is rather funny. The whole idea is funny–dimwitted, failing actor (Jacques Tati) goes for an audition and it turns out he’s agreeing to wrestle a musclebound Russian grotesque. Tati’s got a nagging wife (Hélène Pépée) who also manages him.

A lot of the short is spent on the fight promoters. Tati and co-writer Alfred Sauvy exercise brevity with their exposition when it comes to Pépée and Tati’s situation so the fight promotion scenes just go too long. And so does the wrestling match, with Tati hilariously trying to avoid his opponent.

Barrois’s direction is never on par with the script’s humor, but it’s usually adequate. In the wrestling match, not so much. Barrois loses track of Tati, who’s holding Brute together, and spends it on his scheming friend, played by Rhum.

These problems are tolerable. But the final joke? Cruel and unfunny.

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Charles Barrois; written by Jacques Tati and Alfred Sauvy; music by Marcel Landowski.

Starring Jacques Tati (Mr. Roustabat), Hélène Pépée (Mrs. Roustabat), Rhum (Mr. Mérandol) and Kola Kwariani (Krotov the Tartar).

Power/Rangers (2015, Joseph Kahn)

Just from the concept, Power/Rangers should be a lot better. Or maybe not. The concept–a gritty action movie “Power Rangers” adaptation, done as a short with a professional cast, professional effects–sounds really amusing.

The result, however, is way too mired in continuity to be amusing for its fourteen minute run time. Or eleven and change, minus the end credits. It’s funny to rely so much on continuity from a kids show without a cult following, but it doesn’t make for a good narrative. Not even an eleven minute one.

The short has bad grown-up Power Ranger James Van Der Beek interrogating good grown-up Power Ranger Katee Sackhoff. Both actors are game, but Van Der Beek has too much material, Sackhoff not enough.

It’s a funny idea and an unsuccessful short. Director Kahn does okay with Power/Rangers, he just doesn’t know how to execute it.

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Joseph Kahn; written by Kahn, James Van Der Beek and Dutch Southern; director of photography, Christopher Probst; music by Brian and Melissa; production designer, Brett Hess; produced by Adi Shankar and Jil Hardin.

Starring Katee Sackhoff (Kimberly/Pink), James Van Der Beek (Rocky), Russ Bain (Tommy/Green), Will Yun Lee (General Klank) and Gichi Gamba (Zack/Black).

[Stopped Buttons] Day 5 | February 24

A scene from TRANSPORTER 2, directed by Louis Leterrier for 20th Century Fox.

Transporter 2 (2005, Louis Leterrier)

By 2005 or so, I pretty much only rented from Nicheflix, Greencine, Netflix. No more brick and mortar. We house sat for some family friends and I always would see action movies over there because they rented them from the video store. Even though the TRANSPORTER 2 post is before the TRANSPORTER 1 post, I saw the first before the second. I just didn’t write about it. The post barely gets any readers anymore, which isn’t surprising. I can’t believe there’d be any interest in the TRANSPORTER movies.

Karen Black and Jack Nicholson star in FIVE EASY PIECES, directed by Bob Rafelson for Columbia Pictures.

Five Easy Pieces (1970, Bob Rafelson)

I saw FIVE EASY PIECES in 1995, because I had read about BLOOD AND WINE and Rafelson and Nicholson reuniting. I argued there was a misstep in the handling of humor in the road trip section. It led to a conversation in the comments about that. I’m actually surprised, as late as 2009, I was still thinking about whether or not a 4 star response meant something was pristine. Given I perceive a disinterest in early seventies American film these days, the post’s strong numbers are rather reassuring.

Vincent Gallo and Christina Ricci star in BUFFALO '66, directed by Vincent Gallo for Lionsgate.

Buffalo ’66 (1998, Vincent Gallo)

I had heard of BUFFALO ’66 when I was discovering the later career of Mickey Rourke. But I hadn’t seen it. My wife–back since we started dating–had talked about it; I think she might have even had the VHS, but it was (of course) P&S. So it took a while for me to see BUFFALO ’66, which I think has a good DVD release. The transfer, at least, is good. I like the film. The BUFFALO ’66 post had a bunch of readers for a while. Not year-to-year, but for a couple months. Wonder what the hubbub was.

Jewel Staite stars in THE PACT, directed by Nicholas McCarthy for The Farmer Company.

The Pact (2011, Nicholas McCarthy)

I probably watched THE PACT because it was linked to on some horror film blog. Maybe twitch, maybe not. After I started the Short Stop feature, I quickly lost track of any programming list for the shorts. I kept adding more and more. If a modern short isn’t indie angst, it tends to be horror. But THE PACT is creepy and uncanny without being explicit. It’s great. Like a lot of the contemporary horror short film posts… THE PACT did phenomenally well for the first two years. Then dropped 92%.

George P. Wilbur stars in HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS, directed by Dwight H. Little for Galaxy Releasing International.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988, Dwight H. Little)

Even though I had never seen HALLOWEEN 4, I knew a lot about it from growing up and hearing about it. I vaguely remember the TV ads from when HALLOWEEN 4 came out. It was hyped as a big deal. And I remember seeing the newspaper ads. I can’t remember why I decided to watch HALLOWEEN 4. I think I was trying to finish up the series, which I still haven’t done. Readership for the HALLOWEEN 4 post has been uneven, but got a boost when Shout! released their awesome blu-ray Halloween boxset.

Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, and Don Taylor star in FATHER OF THE BRIDE, directed by Vincente Minnelli for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Father of the Bride (1950, Vincente Minnelli)

So, to some degree, I had been meaning to see FATHER OF THE BRIDE since I was 13 and the remake came out. My mom talked about how Elizabeth Taylor was in the original (when talking about the remake). Liz Taylor was still everywhere in ‘9

I think the wife and I were just looking for a Spencer Tracy movie to watch (she’s a big Spencer Tracy fan) so we settled on it. Readership for FATHER OF THE BRIDE has been pretty bad. While it’s a recent post, it has visibly gotten very little interest.

A scene from GIGANTIS, THE FIRE MONSTER, directed by Oda Motoyoshi and Hugo Grimaldi for Warner Bros.

Gigantis, The Fire Monster (1959, Oda Motoyoshi and Hugo Grimaldi)

I didn’t know about GIGANTIS, THE FIRE MONSTER, until I was eight or so. I never looked up GODZILLA in Maltin. I had seen GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN pretty soon after high school (I got it subbed at a con) and then on the Media Blasters DVD. But someone had painfully reconstructed the American version so I watched it again. I probably hadn’t seen it since 1990 or so. Based on the readership, there’s not a lot of interest in GIGANTIS. In fact, there’s a decided lack of interest in the film.

[Stopped Buttons] Day 4 | February 23

Kevin Costner stars in FIELD OF DREAMS, directed by Phil Alden Robinson for Universal Pictures.

Field of Dreams (1988, Phil Alden Robinson)

I don’t remember being a big FIELD OF DREAMS fan when I was a kid. Probably thought it was too upbeat. I rediscovered it in high school or later with the Signature Collection laserdisc from Universal. I can’t remember why I bought it. The DVD release I watched this time I had gotten when I sold off the laserdisc. I remember I was worried it wouldn’t be as good. Not a lot of readership for FIELD OF DREAMS, which doesn’t surprise me. Non-genre eighties movies seem of little interest anymore.

Eleanor Parker, Sally Field, and Jill Haworth star in HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, directed by John Llewellyn Moxey for ABC.

Home for the Holidays (1972, John Llewellyn Moxey)

Tracking down Eleanor Parker’s made for TV movies was actually easier before big Internet than after. My copy was an eighties VHS release of HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS—probably off eBay. It had one of those huge, thin black clamshell cases. I was probably waiting and hoping someone would release a DVD (even gray market) like a couple other Eleanor Parker TV movies. Given it’s about a seventies TVM, the post gets a decent amount of readership, with some substantial fluctuation from year-to-year.

William Powell and Myrna Loy star in LOVE CRAZY, directed by Jack Conway for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Love Crazy (1941, Jack Conway)

I sometimes forget the titles of the Myrna Loy and William Powell romantic comedies. Like LOVE CRAZY. I thought LOVE CRAZY might be one of the good but not great ones they did together. It is not. It’s a terrible motion picture. I had never heard of it as a kid (and THIN MAN fan) or as a teenager. Maybe in my late teens, before TCM. I didn’t see it until DVD. The LOVE CRAZY post does okay as far as readership. Could be a lot “better.” There’s no interest in bad Loy/Powell, it seems.

David Niven, Peter Ustinov, and Bette Davis star in DEATH ON THE NILE, directed by John Guillermin for Paramount Pictures.

Death on the Nile (1978, John Guillermin)

I’m pretty sure DEATH ON THE NILE was my first Hercule Poirot movie. As a kid I loved Egyptian history. I don’t think I remembered my Egypt connection to the film on this viewing. I think I found the long Egyptian scenery walks boring. I also forgot John Guillermin directed it. I was (and am) a big fan of his KING KONG but haven’t seen much of his other work. The post gets a rather decent readership—as usual, I assume it’s people looking for the other Poirot—the TV Poirot. But who knows?

Charles Chaplin and Mack Swain star in HIS PREHISTORIC PAST, directed by Charles Chaplin for Mutual Film.

His Prehistoric Past (1914, Charles Chaplin)

During my AMC period, I saw a couple Chaplin movies–GREAT DICTATOR, MODERN TIMES–then fell off in college. Since I was still trying to bring up the average posts for movies from each year, the Chaplin shorts were able to fill in some gaps. I watched a handful of Chaplin shorts; I can’t remember if HIS PREHISTORIC PAST was because I had interest or for the release year. The post has really low readership. The lack of interest in the slapstick posts greatly contributed to me scaling back Short Stop.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948, John Huston)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre often comes as a complete surprise, even though director Huston carefully foreshadows certain events. He’s playing with viewer expectations–both of having Humphrey Bogart as his lead and Walter Huston in a supporting role. Sierra Madre is a thriller, but a thriller set during an adventure movie.

Bogart and Tim Holt play a couple down on their luck Americans who manage to get out a little ahead and throw in with Huston to go gold prospecting. This development comes at the end of the first act–Huston’s very deliberate with the screenplay, very careful about how he positions the audience’s relationship with the characters. The audience isn’t along for the adventure, the audience is kept back a bit. Huston is also deliberate with the shot composition; he and cinematographer Ted D. McCord fill the first half of the film with these exceptional group shots of the actors.

All three are fantastic. Huston has what seems like it’s going to be the showiest role, but it calms down soon into the second act. Bogart’s a combination of against type and in exaggerated type. He’s got some amazing scenes. Holt’s something of the straight man; Huston gives him the quietest character development and, in some ways, the quietest arc.

Max Steiner’s music is also crucial. Huston uses it to help guide the audience’s relationship with the film..

Sierra Madre is small, contained, expansive, elaborate. Huston and his actors do some truly exceptional work in the film.



Directed by John Huston; screenplay by Huston, based on the novel by B. Traven; director of photography, Ted D. McCord; edited by Owen Marks; music by Max Steiner; produced by Henry Blanke; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Humphrey Bogart (Dobbs), Walter Huston (Howard), Tim Holt (Curtin), Bruce Bennett (Cody), Barton MacLane (McCormick), Alfonso Bedoya (Gold Hat), Arturo Soto Rangel (Presidente), Manuel Dondé (El Jefe), José Torvay (Pablo) and Margarito Luna (Pancho).


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