The Film Movement DVD of the 2018 drama "Nina" presents a compelling portrait of a woman contending with a perfect storm of conflicting emotions. This angst is particularly relatable during our seemingly never ending pandemic.
The film about the titular 30-something teacher facing professional and personal crises has five festival wins to its credit. These accolades include The Big Screen Award at the 2016 Rotterdam International Film Festival.
The following trailer provides a tantalizing tease as to the stylized eroticism of this film about love that is forbidden on a few levels.
In typical style for this type of film, writer/director Olga Chajdas initially divides the screen time in "Nina" between our unhappily married straight woman and younger free-spirited lesbian Magda. These worlds collide on the two women literally running into each other.
Magda arguably both is at the right place at the right time and could not have come along at a worse time as to her chance encounter with Nina. Magda and husband Wojtek are actively seeking a surrogate to help this inconceivable couple have a child.
The attraction that Nina feels toward Magda reflects the grass being greener on the other side in many senses. The latter is younger, cuter, freer, and embraces her attraction to women.
The honeymoon period for our central couple involves equal parts love and lust. The rude awakening includes Nina learning the awful truth, Magda experiencing heartache, and Wotjek getting a chance for what he considers apt revenge. One of the most insightful lines in the film relates to Nina expressing the nature of her love for Magda in the midst of all this trauma and drama.
The bigger picture this time is that a compulsion to conceal, don't feel can result in that repression erupting in ways that have a tremendous ripple effect. The lesson is to thine own self be true before incurring slings and arrows of mass destruction,
Movement pairs "Nina" with the equally good and similarly themed short "Social Butterfly."
The TLA Releasing DVD of the 2020 gay-themed romdram "Are We Lost Forever" has two characteristics that distinguish arthouse films about boys who like other boys from Logo dreck. "Forever" has a strong live-stage vibe and keeps nudity to an (overall) tasteful minimum.
The underlying theme of "Forever" is that the accelerated pace of gay relationships often contributes to them progressing from love at first sight, to domestic harmony, to indifference, to animosity, to a break-up that ultimately leads to trauma and drama within roughly the period that a solid hetero relationship reaches the stage of annoying unmarried friends with constant photos of "the baby." A relationship in "Forever" that goes from locking eyes to locking lips within five minutes perfectly illustrates this.
Our story begins with central engaged couple Adrian and Hampus lounging in their bed that drips with symbolism. This begins with the role that a "have" being in a relationship with a "have not" plays when it comes to dividing up what once was considered mutual property.
Past and present issues result in Adrian being sure that Hampus, who already took one break from the relationship, is planning another run for the border. This is soon confirmed. This encounter introduces an element of the best viciously bickering couple film ever "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." Adrian subsequently sniping that Hampus never expresses an opinion and Hampus replying that doing so when your opinion always is criticized does not make sense amps up the "Woolf" vibe.
The rest of "Forever" chronicles the aftermath of the end of the relationship. This involves our leads coupling a couple of times for a couple of reasons, separately looking for love in all the wrong (and some of the right) places, and hoping to put right what once went wrong.
One of the most honest scenes has Adrian hooking up for what he knows is a wham. bam, thank your sir but his "dump" thinking that giving it up earns him at least a little pillow talk. We get additional keen insight regarding the extent to which Adrian is willing to take one for the team. This wonderfully channels the cheesy Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabara" in which the boy of the titular closet case comments as to the circumstances under which the relevant act is repugnant,
We also see the "Forever" boys try to move on, which predictably works better for one of them than for the other. An equally universal aspect of this is the mixture of learning from the past and repeating some of the same mistakes that put them back on the market. A blatant example of this is Adrian prompting his latest at least Mr. Right Now to change his shirt.
Writer/director David Fardmar continues to keep things true to the end in that our main boys are a little older and wiser at a time that they enjoy relative serenity regarding their pasts and their presents.
The Indiepix Films DVD release of the 2012 drama "The Whirlpool" shows that that neo-modern French New Wave cinema stays true to its roots. The torrid eroticism and stylistic scenes still are there.
20-something disenfranchised Parisians Agathe and Victor soon begin a sex-fueled adventure after randomly meeting in Niagara Falls. Of course, these extroverts engage in more than ample introspection.
Many of the best scenes involve our young lusters engaging in pillow talk in their hotel. Their discussion of favorite foods and comparing the cuisines of France and America is a highlight; Victor hilariously is not shy about particularly expressing his opinion about Denny's restaurants.
The bonding includes a discussion of travel, which leads to Agathe joining her new friend on a road trip to the community to which seemingly his entire family immigrated from France. This sort of a homecoming does not go as well as expected but is better than it might have been. It also provides a context for Pierre to further bear his soul to Agathe and the audience.
Subtle and not-so-subtle religious symbolism then enters the picture in a manner that fully allows Victor portrayor Pierre Pierrier to fully display his boyish charm and other assets. The primary theme as to this is forgiveness and rebirth.
All of this wraps up with our couple getting closure and generally being more happy and stable than they are when they first hook up.
The DVD bonuses consist of a "Whirlpool" trailer and "making-of" interviews with the two stars who carry virtually all of the film.
The Amazon Original movie "Coming 2 America," which is an unnecessary sequel to the forgettable 1988 Eddie Murphy film Coming to America" aptly proves Murphy's Law. That theory is that anything that can wrong will go wrong.
Getting a sequel to the more successful (and entertaining) Murphy "Beverly Hills Cop" franchise would have been more exciting and (hopefully) more amusing. Fans would have loved seeing Murphy as a police "suit" now tormented in the same manner that he harassed his superiors back in the day. Alternatively, we could have gotten the titular Axerl Foley as a bounty hunter or a private investigator,
"2" follows the tried-and-rarely true pattern of sequels to "stranger in a strange land" movies. Murphy's African Prince Akeem, who spends much of the first film looking for a bride in the titular country, now lives in a beautiful house with his beautiful wife and their three daughters in his native land of Zamunda. Omma, the eldest offspring, would be line to inherit the throne if her reproductive organs were not on the inside.
History is repeating itself in the form of Omma facing an arranged marriage of inconvenience. The element of being doomed to repeat a forgotten past extend to the groom of the probable runaway bride being the son of General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), who is the not-so-benevolent ruler of the neighboring nation.
A solution presents itself in the form of Akeem learning that his adventures in Queens resulted in bastard son Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). Akeem persuading the newly discovered fruit of his loins to move to Zamunda introduces a strong "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" vibe to "2" Homegirl/Baby Momma Mary (Leslie Jones) comes along in a failed attempt to contribute hilarity to this predictable and mostly humorous production.
History further repeats itself as Lavelle falls in love with the commoner who is charged with physically grooming his guy for the role that Akem is trying to prepare his to play.
Much of the fault of this lies within the stars. A surprisingly lackluster Murphy has none of the humor or energy on which his career is based.
Fowler deserves credit for not playing Lavelle as the homebody stereotype that is a big part of the persona of his leading man, but he does not get the audience to care about him any more than we care for the elderish statesman version of Akeem. The fact that the same was true in the original makes one wonder why they even bothered to make Murphy "Face the Music."
"2" further suffers from a lack of consistent tone. One does not know if Team Murphy is trying for a raucous comedy, a timely romcomdram about the caste system in a royal family, or even a musical extravaganza as the few bizarre Bollywood-style numbers indicate.
The big picture this time is that "2" shows that direct-to-VOD films essentially are one step above the broadcast network made-for-TV movies of the '70s and '80s. This is very apt as to this next chapter in a story that should have been left to collect dust on the shelf.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2016 Israeli DVD "Harmonia" makes a well-orchestrated tale of Biblical proportions more accessible to North American audiences. The clever concept is that demanding conductor Abraham and his harpist wife Sarah enlist French horn player/Sarah bff to be the surrogate parent of their child.
The official accolades for "Harmonia" include three wins at the 2016 Jerusalem Film Festival.
The following Movement trailer for "Harmonia" shows how writer/director Ori Sivan masterfully blends the Bible story, the behind-the-scenes look at an orchestra, and the operatic melodrama of the movie.
Our story begins with the advocacy of Sarah playing a big role as to independent spirit Hagar getting hired. The former soon subsequently takes the new girl under her wing to the extent of bringing that essentially lost puppy home.
Hagar learning of the near impossibility of Sarah having a baby leads to the aforementioned surrogacy. This leads to the birth of Ben, whose teen years provide some of the best entertainment in the film. This rebellious excitable boy literally and figuratively dances to a tune that differs from the one that his father selects for him. Even when obeying, Ben insists on doing things his own way.
An oblivious Ben bonding with Hagar and proving like mother, like son adds another interesting element. Meeting another member of the family provides special delight.
Adding a baby brother to the mix further complicates things; Ben reasonably believes that the younger child is the favored one and reacts accordingly; one of many telling scenes is Ben blowing his horn into the crib of his sibling.
Sivan expertly brings all this to a satisfying conclusion that shows that the kids (and the parents) are alright. The lesson this time is that families have faced the same issues since Biblical time (and before) and that things only are getting more complicated.
The October 6, 2020 Indiepix Films DVD release of the 2019 documentary "The Harvest" reaps plenty of food for thought as to Eastern European country Georgia both being a largely rural country with a history and a present of faulty infrastructure and a center of bitcoin manufacturing.
The intertitles that open this beautifully shot film explain that Georgia has moved on from a history of daily power failures to becoming a leader of "farms" that consist of computers that solve mathematical algorithms for seemingly not much fun but for great profit in the form of bitcoins. This form of contrast is a common theme that the contrasting images of simple rural living are contrasted with operations great and small that produce the titular bounty.
One of the more striking images is of the locals hanging out in a pasture that a mini-tower of satellite dishes dominates. These folks are discussing their tech. work. We also see a drone travel across this largely unspoiled landscape.
The following excerpt from the Indiepix press release does an excellent job providing the big picture this time.
In the ancient countryside, Georgia is softly making its way into the 21st century as the second largest exporter of bitcoins. In the region of Kakheti, just east of the capital city of Tbilisi, some 15% of the world's cryptocurrency is mined, or "harvested" in a country that not long ago suffered daily power outages. And while bees still buzz in the flowery fields of the Gombori Pass, a louder buzzing is heard from the space-age machines that crackle and whir from their neon lit hives housed in empty villas, ushering in a new and thriving form of capitalism. [Director Misho] Antadze also pulls back the curtain on the computer banks, in which so many of the rapid-fire, complex algorithms are solved. A hitherto hidden industry is fully visualized, with the motherboards, cooling fans and luminescent cabling of these noisy hives of virtual activity getting their big screen debut.
Once only home to vines and fruit, the rural Kakheti wine region sees the boundary between the natural and the virtual virtually eradicated. Cows placidly graze alongside satellite dishes in a bizarrely bucolic lunar-like landscape and dairy farms and server farms coexist. And as ruminations both droll and profound emerge among the intersections of pastoral rhythms and algorithms, fluid camerawork deftly dices the old and the new in long takes that picture placid protagonists working on the countryside or on computers, unaware that the landscape is changing - both literally and figuratively.
The bottom line regarding all this is the long-standing wisdom to never underestimate anyone without full knowledge of the relevant facts.
A cursory glance at the section of this site that is dedicated to Icarus Films releases shows that that distributor of mostly foreign films rocks. The bad news is that this post on the Icarus February 23, 2021 DVD release of the 2020 film "Yiddish" shows that even the best among us have a bad day.
The awesome news is that the aptly titled short "Egg Cream" more than makes up for the failings of the feature presentation. The first amusing aspect of this is that the contrasts between the two films illustrates that dessert often is more tasty than the main course. An entertaining "Freaky Friday" element is that the 15-minute "Egg Cream" warrants the roughly hour length of "Yiddish," which would have made for a delightful and informative 15-minute tidbit.
The fault of "Yiddish" equally lies in the stars and in writer/director Nurith Aviv. A lesser flaw is the style and the substance of this documentary not even trying to reflect either the wit or the wisdom of the language around which it is centered. A more positive element is that "Yiddish" contributes to the important campaign to keep lesser-known languages alive.
The seven 20- and early 30-something interviewees each get roughly 10 minutes to share tidbits as to the titular hybrid of Hebrew and German. These not-ready-for-primetime players also discuss the personal importance of Yiddish in their lives.
The best story before giving up on this film was of a Yiddish scholar whose "conversion" leads to bonding with his grandmother; we also hear from a woman whose linguistic studies result in meeting her future husband.
Your not-so-humble reviewer repeatedly yelling "shut up" at the screen during the third interview and adding a word that warrants gargling with body wash during the next one before stopping the film provides a sense of the monotony of the VERY fast-talking and humorless presenters. Better editing of these segments and providing more variety that is the spice of life would have greatly enhanced this documentary.
Moving on, "Egg Cream" by Nora Miller is EVERYTHING that "Yiddish" is not. This begins with "Cream" achieving the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and informative. As indicated above, this film by Nora Miller leaves the audience wanting MUCH more.
Miller opens the film with a charming anecdote about her childhood love of the titular treat that leads to her adult effort to learn more about that beverage. The most amusing reveal is that this taste sensation does not have eggs or cream. (Personal ignorance as to that is behind never trying this drink; this WILL be remedied once it is safe to go back in the water.)
The (perhaps untrue) origin story of egg creams involving opposites is very apt considering the contrasts between "Cream" and "Yiddish." On a more general (pun intended) level, it is amazing to learn how long ago the purported events occurred.
The true delight of "Cream" commences with a trip to a young-at-heart senior who is an expert egg cream maker. His delighting children with both the treat and the story behind it will bring a smile to your face.
We subsequently meet the Jewish owner of a business that sells the titular item; the humor here goes beyond this man being unable to prepare this classic to the guy who is pro not being one of the chosen people.
The bottom line is that "Cream" and its subject provide the joy that both "Yiddish" and its subject should have delivered.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2009 Argentinian drama "La Boyita" (nee "The Last Summer of La Boyita") awesomely enlighten as it entertains, The tale of tween girl Jorgelina checks all the boxes regarding this game of adolescence Bingo.
The nine festival wins for this well-produced movie with a truly unique perspective include well deserved Best Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Supporting Actress awards at the 2010 Cartagena Film Festival.
The following Movement trailer for "Boyita" expertly does its job of enticing the viewer without revealing any major spoilers.
The summer of growth around which "Boyita" is centered begins with Jorgelina living with her mother and her older sister; finding an anatomy book at the same time that the elder sibling is becoming a woman triggers new thoughts in Jorgelina. Thoughts that include feeling like a tag-a-long prompt Jorgelina to travel to the ranch that her father owns as a side business of his medical practice.
This trip reunites Jorgelina with sweet and sensitive peer Mario, who is a ranch hand. His growing pains include a rite of passage in the form of an upcoming horse race that is intended to prove his manhood. The obstacles include cruel taunting from local boys who are more mature in mind but not body.
Meanwhile Mario is experiencing embarrassing unexplained bleeding that coincides with his concern as to his physical development that is important to every man over the age of 12. His confiding in Jorgelina creates angst as to her wanting to honor the wish of her friend to not tell anyone in contrast to her desire to have her father help the boy.
The final reveal is a revelation for both the characters and the audience. It provides an excellent study as to the role of gender in society and the challenges that can result as to that sometimes delicate subject.
All of this amounts to "Boyita," like most Movement films, showing that a charming story with good talent behind and in-front of the camera makes for a better movie than one that caters to the lowest common denominator.
These thoughts regarding frustration related to dealing with realtors during a recent move wraps up a series of posts, including commentary on the depiction of Boston on television, that touch on that relocation. The underlying factor is that the de minimis requirements for obtaining a license to sell real estate place everyone who buys and/or sells a residence in harm's way. The combination of not requiring any formal education, facilitating an extremely flexible schedule, and having potential for a large income can be figuratively deadly.
Said "professional" (intense coughing) always being motivated to both cater to potential buyers even if representing the seller and further acting in self-interest in the manner of benefiting more from getting a lower price for a home early in the process than devoting a few more months to the transaction and getting a higher price that minimally increases his or her commission. A personal hit was getting a minimum of $20,000 below the fair-market value of my well-maintained home in a good neighborhood of a mid-level resort community largely to get my personal "monkey" off my back.
The funny because its true thing is that most lawyer jokes apply just as strongly to realtors. The good news regarding both members of either group is that they can swim in the ocean without fearing a shark attack.
The solution to all this is a course of action that a friend recommended early in the process and that I ended up doing. One must be resigned to figuring out the minimum that he or she can accept for a home and selling said abode for that amount.
Anyone who has undergone this Hell can easily picture a (as of yet undeveloped and randomly named) SNL character William the Monkey Realtor played by an actual blazer-clad simian whose vocalizations are subtitled. Picturing such a character responding to simple questions with a blank stare is very easy. The intelligence level of this character and his actually returning calls and emails may make folks currently trying to buy and/or sell a home want to hire him.
One can only hope for a William movie in which he teams up with an uber-arrogant billionaire orangutan real-estate developer (any resemblance to any current presidential candidate is purely coincidental) for the deal of the century. It is difficult to imagine this being any worse that 95-percent of the films based on SNL characters, A must-mention aside regarding this is Jon Stewart commenting on "The Daily Show" years ago that television characters do not make successful movie characters because they are not good enough to warrant such a project.
The "professional" who inspires the thought of adding a barely fictionalized colleague of his to the roster of SNL characters came highly recommended by several good friends. However, he committed such faux pas as not updating online listings after price reductions (and subsequently stating that said listings are not mandatory) or even updating his own site after my sale went through, immediately scaring off potential buyers with reports of "a potential lawsuit" affecting my home when no such threat existed, repeatedly referring to very basic applicable principles of law as "legal mumbo jumbo" that he could not comprehend, and saying "I can't remember all that" when asked to provide potential buyers three sentences of information regarding an issue.
An actual conversation consisted of this real-life William saying "so, I spoke to those guys." "Which guys?" "The buyers." "Which buyers?" "I don't remember." This led to my listing each of the few buyers who expressed interest in my home until the realtor remembered to whom he spoke.
A confession is that the above telephone discussion and most other conversations via that device with this idiot involved my alternatively making a highly predictable hand gesture and literally pressing tongue very firmly against cheek to express a related sentiment. This is from a generally well-mannered darling of educators and old ladies everywhere.
Asking "do you drink" while handing over a gin-and-tonic set (which also blatantly promoted his agency) as a thank you gift was a perfect final encounter with the realtor. Said bottle inevitably collecting dust on a shelf for the next several decades (I am never moving again after this Hell) will be an apt tribute to the real-life counterpart of William,
The icing on this very bitter cake related to the manager of the agency that employed my realtor. This manager disregarded every report of a violation of state law, including another realtor knowingly falsely listing the house next to mine under a virtually identical address as mine to make that older listing look more recent. A notable conversation caught the manager on a four-hour drive from our shared community to Montreal and having her state that she could not speak because she was out of the country.
For the sake of proving that this pair are not an isolated incident, the realtors with whom I worked in buying my current home were no better. My first realtor literally stood by mute while the realtor for the sellers forcibly presented modifications that were highly disadvantageous to me every two days both before and after signing a purchase-and-sale agreement.
The deal-breaker was the seller's agent cornering me at the post-purchase-and-sale home inspection to sign a paper that granted the sellers an open-ended right to condition the sale on their finding a place to buy. This document further provided for the closing to occur two weeks following the to-be-determined closing on that as of yet unidentified property. My alleged advocate merely stood by and watched this occur.
The seller's agent further asserted that I beat out two other buyers for that desirable property that produced a 227-page home-inspection report that noted things that included a very dangerous spaghetti-wire electrical system and cement sealing a leak near the chimney. That money pit remained on the market four months later.
The contribution of the realtor for my new home was essentially demanding a week before the closing that it occur at an earlier date that I had originally requested but was previously told was impossible. This changed on my realtor realizing that he had a closing scheduled for the date and time to which I agreed.
My hanging up on the realtor prompted him to call my partner, who was not a party to the transaction, and getting him to agree to the earlier date. The realtor did so immediately on my hanging up on him.
The bottom lines (pun intended) regarding all this are that William sketches would write themselves and that I would love to see any of the "professionals" with whom I dealt sit so that I could see whether they tried to put their elbow on the seat.
Due to being released when the prolonged quarantine is causing many of us to consider the others in our lives decreasingly significant, the central concept of the 2015 drama "Time Zone Inn," which is an DVD release from Indiepix Films, is considered more of a dream come true than a dreaded effort to adjust to a new normal. This relates to the titular BnB offering couples that are facing living in different time zones a trial run.
More specifically, one member of a couple stays in a room that simulates where he or she will be living in the near future; his or her mate stays in a room that does the same for him or her. The man in one such relationship staying in the Berlin room while his girlfriend occupies the Beijing accommodation is an example of this.
All of this relates to the nature of a matriarch society and the awful truth about love.
The following short but sweet Indiepix trailer for "Inn" concisely states the concept of the film and the rules that the guests are asked to obey; the latter amusingly does involve lighting and not eating after midnight in addition to learning the harsh consequences of violating the rules.
Our story begins with Mina and Enzo arriving. He is checking into the London room; she is checking into Paris. One spoiler is that we do not see either of them in their underpants. The aforementioned failure to do as they are told leads to this couple meeting fellow guests Marco and Catia. Resident free spirit/troublemaker Gaia soon joins the group,
This gathering triggers conflicts that trigger thoughts of a more dramatic version of the Neil Simon "Suite" comedies that essentially are "The Love Boat" episodes set at landmark hotels.
All of this results in our young lovers being a little wiser, but not necessarily more happy, at the end of the film. The first bigger picture regarding this are that we see what happens when people stop being polite and start being real. The related message is that most of us do not show out crazy until after we have put a ring on it.
Icarus Films and Distrib Films take a Spring Break rest from their typical joint releases of "ripped from the headlines" French crime dramas to release the fun-for-all-ages family comedy "10 Days With Dad." The only fault as to this charming and witty movie is that the title translates more closely to "10 Days Without Mom."
The following trailer accurately shows how this joy that all of us badly need during the never ending pandemic combines the stay-at-home Dad theme of "Mr. Mom" with the more specific concept of parents trying to manage a houseful of rambunctious and quirky kids around which the HILARIOUS 2007-14 Britcom "Outnumbered" is centered. This chaos is particularly relatable to Covid-era parents who have not gotten a break from their offspring for a year and counting.
Our story begins with the seemingly mandatory 21st century opening scenes of chaos followed by the beginning of the end that shows how the characters come to experience that series of unfortunate circumstances. In this case, we see temporarily single father Antoine walking away from a scene of mass destruction ala James Bond and just about every other action hero and parody thereof.
The fateful moment occurs roughly two weeks earlier. Stay-at-home mom Isabelle is at the end of a particularly tough day on which she feels especially stressed and old when HR manager Antoine adds the straw that breaks the back of that beast of burden. He soon learns that that is not the time for his pillow talk to include his opinion that Isabelle is living the good life.
The variation of the tried-and-true "trading places" sitcom trope is Mom is taking a solo vacation for the titular time period. The scene in which that warning goes unheeded is one of the best in this movie that literally does not have a dull moment.
Fairly literally turning a deaf ear to his wife results in Antoine having a comparable rude awakening on Isabelle having her bags packed, being ready to go, and the taxi outside blowing its horn. She does know when she is coming back and is very happy to go.
The hilarity commences with the kids making the first in a series of awesome changes to the i-Phone profile name of Dad. This is ahead of Dad leaving to drop the kids off at school only to realize that he and the youngsters do not know how to get to that educational institution.
This relates to the appeal of the everykids in the family. Fourteen year-old Arthur, who is responsible for Isabelle abandoning her career as an attorney, is a nice young man with a healthy interest in his peers of the opposite sex. Roughly 12 year-old Chloe plays soccer.
Rambunctious 10 year-old Maxime is the most entertaining child; his antics include snorkeling in the living-room aquarium and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by being caught playing a video game after convincing Mom that he is too sick to go to school.
The humor that baby-of-the-family Jojo contributes mostly is in the form of babbling that usually refers to the substance that currently is in his diaper. Jojo contributes to a hard truth in that the baby sitter tells Antoine that a good father knows what his two-year old is saying. For the record, your not-so-humble reviewer understands the message behind every utterance of his cat.
Of course, the house soon becomes a shambles and the work of Dad suffers at a time that he up for a promotion and finds himself in competition with a younger and more charming co-worker who also is the cousin of a Hollywood star. This makes the growing pains of our family very apt.
Concern as the extent to which Isabelle will go Greek while trying to get her groove back further drives the story.
The build-up to the aforementioned fireworks begin with the baby sitter dramatically quitting amping up the resentment of the kids at a time that Dad needs them to be good team players at a corporate event. Personal relatability this time is considering corporate spouse duty as channeling Samantha Stephens of "Bewitched" without the fun of being able to turn clients into monkeys.
All of this leads to a near-Hollywood ending in which the family does not fully live happily ever after but the kids are alright. The even bigger is that the audience is left desperately wanting more.
The CBS Home Entertainment February 23, 2021 complete-series DVD set of the 2013-16 Comedy Central series "Inside Amy Schumer" provides the second bite at the apple that makes physical media so awesome. This convert to the comedic stylings of the titular foul-mouthed darling of the Comedy Central roasts was not adequately grabbed by the Schumer pilot to grant it a season-pass on a near-capacity Tivo; watching the DVDs of this three Emmys winner showed the error as to that hasty judgment.
The tried-and-true formula of "Inside" is a series of sketches, stand-up that takes a page from the "Seinfeld" playbook, person-on-the-street interviews, and "Amy Goes Deep" segments. These episodes often loosely revolves around an amusingly "adult" theme, such as STDs and penis size.
Schumer additionally treats us to parodies of television commercials. The award for the best faux ad goes to a short about "Finger Blasters" which are chicken tenders that are designed for dipping.
Presenting a twisted version of the trope of "the nicest kids in town" descending on Mom's kitchen in search of an after-school treat is hilarious. A scene-stealing teen boy, whose stand-out moments including trying to persuade a girl to a triple-finger blast only then to sniff the finger, is a sketch highlight.
The following YouTube clip of the "Finger Blasters" sketch allows you to judge Amy for yourself.
"Deep" often provides insight into a world about which viewers have limited knowledge. These include a former telephone sex line operator, a well-endowed man, and a porn producer. A highlight of the talk with the filmmaker is the tale of the consequences of getting too close to the action. Schumer being Schumer even manages to make a chat with a young boy a little edgy,
The broad (pun intended) appeal of the Schumer humor is that it is funny because it true. On a related note, Comedy Central deserves praise for airing content that definitely offends people who cannot take a joke. There is NO doubt that Schumer tells such prudes to "pleasure" themselves.
The self-involved callous disregard persona of Schumer is one of her best sides. A highlight of this is a sketch in which she plays a woman obsessed with her sandwich order while having lunch with a man talking about being near the World Trade Center on 911. A similar bit has Schumer reliving the "trauma" of an objectively not-so-unpleasant flight in a segment on a television series about surviving great hardship.
A related look at whiners is a hilarious sketch in which Schumer faces an intervention for being addicted to buying a round for the house. Suffice it to say that this is not limited to nights of drinking.
We also get copious material as to Schumer essentially being a man with his reproductive organs on the inside. This includes a sketch in which a group of guys at the local bar get worked up seeing the Schumer character prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is one of the boys.
The best example of all the Schumor (and her many guest stars) is a sketch in which Zach Braff ("Scrubs") plays the husband of the Schumer character. A poker night with with the boys includes crude tales of sleazy hook-ups.. The Braff character getting shot down every time that he tries to share encounters with the Schumer character provides plenty of laughs. Schumer providing a wonderful raunchy climax ends this social commentary on a perfect note.
CBSHE supplements all this with unaired sketches and interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. We also get outtakes that supplement the bloopers that leave us wanting more at the end of each "Inside" episode.
The most apt commentary on the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD of the 2018 drama "Sex Weather" relates to a "technical difficulties." This insight into the mating habits of a hipster Millennial is good enough to have held attention up to the DVD freezing roughly 15 minutes before the conclusion. Interest as to whether the "crazy kids" would make it was strong enough to try to get the disc to play in the current player; it was not adequately high to try to use an alternate machine.
In this case, the fault lies within the stars. Leading man Al'Jaleel McGhee has the looks and the charm to pull off the role of filmmaker Darrel; he simply lacks chemistry with strange bedfellow/former crew member Sydney (Amber Stonebreaker). Sydney (and presumably Stonebreaker) is a typical BORING hipster Millennial down to her t-shirt with a photo of the "Friends" cast.
The fact that Amber lives in a funky basement studio apartment in Portland, Oregon (aka Brooklyn West) says a great deal about both her character in both senses of that word. A scene in which Darrel and Sydney (who are channeling John and Yoko by spending the entire day in bed) make origami swans says a great deal about "Weather."
Filmmaker Jon Garcia sticks to a tried-and-true formula in telling the tale of his quasi star-crossed lovers. Our story begins with the couple waking up the "morning after" the premieres of the latest film of Darrel and of the carnal aspect of his relationship with his former employee. This sticking to what works continues with using scenes of Portland at different hours to communicate the passing of time.
A touch of irony enters this less-than-perfect film in a scene in which Sydney requires a less-than-enthusiastic Darrel to listen to her read less-than-glowing reviews of his latest work.
The Monday morning quarterbacking of the night-in-question begins with committee member Amber making it clear that it was not good for her. Darrel, who clearly has the right tool for the job, offering a do-over may play a role as to whether Amber ever goes back.
This unmet expectation relates to false advertising in the form of the desirable person on the movie set not being the same individual in bed. This is comparable to the well-known phenomenon of both persons in a marriage not revealing his or her "crazy" until the "man" puts a ring on it.
Related insight is in the context of love, Darrel speaks for many people in stating that he does not want to go on any more first dates. In other words, finding Ms. Good Enough would provide adequate bliss.
The aptly analogous second bite at the apple smooths the waters; this leads to an essential "kiss my grits" moment. A discussion of moving to LA reflects both the honeymoon stage of a relationship and vacation euphoria in the form of wanting to relocate to a place that you are thoroughly enjoying.
The inarguably best scene involves a delivery guy having awkward intercourse with the couple. The analogy this time is being the only sober person in the room.
The bigger "Weather" picture relates to a hazard of casual sex; not really knowing someone before making the beast with two backs enhances the risk of discovering the truth as to the Chinese proverb regarding being careful as to that for which you wish.
BGP supplements this with a "Behind the Scenes" special feature.
The latest in a long. ongoing series of joint DVD releases from Icarus Films and Distrib Films provides a twofer in the form of character studies with strong social commentary. The February 2, 2021 release of the French drama "Night Shift" provides insight into the hearts, minds, and souls of the titular cops who learn that a tough moral dilemma is the price for breaking the cardinal rule against volunteering for anything.
The following trailer perfectly conveys the tone and the style of this tale about the human side of boys (and girls) in blue whose jobs require following orders without question.
Roughly the first half of "Shift" depicts the trauma and the drama that leads to the more intense central angst of the film. Showing the same events from different perspectives helps sets the stage for the main event,
Virginie is a not-so-happily married cop, who has a not-so-pleasant "morning after" medical procedure scheduled for when her shift ends. The role of fellow law-enforcement officer Aristide as to that influences much of the action throughout the film.
Erik is the hardened veteran of the group; his backstory includes his own marital woes and his struggles with his "conceal, don't feel" approach to his job. He additionally clearly is the most by-the-book member of the group.
The nightly "be careful out there" meeting for our unlikely bedfellows includes an announcement that a fire at a prison requires requesting volunteers to escort illegal immigrant Asomidin to a flight back to his native land. As previously mentioned, the three aforementioned cops are the saps who offer to give this guy who may be a terrorist or a refugee a ride to the airport.
"Shift" takes on a particularly strong live-stage vibe when the cops begin their Uber duty. Virginie is the first one to get insight that makes her want to let their passenger take a powder. Of course, Erik is fully on the other side of that Kinsey Scale.
Further discussion wears down Erik, who seems to be more interested in getting Virginie to shut up then to do the right thing. It seems that Aristide is willing to abide by the decision of the group; the aforementioned character study shows that this "keep calm and carry on" 'tude is very consistent as to this man literally and figuratively in the middle on a few levels.
One of the best scenes also is the most insightful; Asomidin having excellent reason to not trust mankind jeopardizes taking advantage of a get-out-of-jail free card.
The true genius of the film comes near the end when it is shown that it ain't over until the blonde lady sings. This leads to "morning-after" events for all concerned; the most symbolic of these in a highly thoughtful films comes at the end.
The big picture this time is interesting but not especially insightful; we show how the range of experiences of cops is behind the roulette wheel as to (as personal experience has shown) whether a guy who does not do threatening at all will be cornered and aggressively grilled after proving beyond any doubt whatsoever that he merely was walking down the street or will be treated in a reasonable manner.
Film Movement Classics once more makes indie-god parent Film Movement particularly proud as to the meticulously pristine DVD of the 1976 Italian melodrama "L'Innocente." This wonderfully highly emotive film epitomizes the dilemma regarding whether to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
The following Movement trailer highlights the artistry in this grande finale for filmmaker Luchino Visconti; we also get a strong taste of the sordid lifestyles of the rich and famous theme that permeates the film.
Our story begins on what essentially is a night at the opera. Philandering husband Tullio (Giancarlo Giannini) is attending a form of pay-for-play event with his lady-who-lunches spouse Giuliana when mistress Countess Teressa Raffo (in a spot-on performance by Jennifer O'Neill) provides the ultimatum of either leaving early with her or forfeiting any future nights of illicit passion. The ensuing events clearly shows who wears the period-piece pants in these overlapping relationships.
A very true dat moment follows on Tullio and Giuliana having not quite pillow talk the morning after, Tullio saying that love transforms into things such as respect and affection over time especially hits home after many of us have had significant others around essentially 24/7 seven months and eternally counting.
The game changer comes on Tullio brother Federico bringing author Filippo d'Arborio along for a family visit. Meeting this new friend prompts Giuliana to take a gander at what is good for the goose. Borrowing a page from the tale of another tumultuous relationship, Tullio decides that the perceived act in question is only repulsive when it is done to him. The other woman also asserting herself does not help matters.
Giuliana subsequently finding herself with child creates drama of Biblical proportions; the clear lack of fatherly-to-be regard by Tullio provides some of the best moments in the film. This extends to a directive to take not even very drastic measures as to a hiccup in the pregnancy.
Visconti saves the best for last as to his depiction of the shock-and-awe that dominate roughly the final 30 minutes of the film. This begins with a particularly dastardly act followed by a highly dramatic act of contrition.
The morals this time are that everyone who marries for money dearly pays for that decision and that karma is not the only bitch that can ruin the life of a dirty rotten scoundrel.
The bonus feature "Reframing L'Innocente" has author Ivo Bloom sharing his expertise as to Visconti filming the movie in a manner that optimizes the symbolism and the related impact on the audience. The 16-page booklet by writer Dan Callahan provides additional perspective.
The Lionsgate separate February 9, 2021 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2020 drama "Wander Darkly" successfully tackles the issues of taking a relationship to the next level and the next stage of existence after we die. The icing on this 2020 Sundance existential cake is an award-worthy performance by Sienna Miller as woman in limbo Adrienne. Awesome character actress Beth Grant shines equally brightly in her role as Adrienne's maternal mother-in-law, who shows great restraint in straddling the line between supportive parent and monster-in-law.
The voice of experience requires strongly suggesting watching "Wander" twice. Seeing the truly surprising climax makes a second viewing far different due to knowing what you did not know the first time.
The following trailer perfectly illustrates the BD-worthy cinematography in this film that proves that writer/director Tara Miele is a genuine double threat.
Our story commences with highly relatable scenes of Adrienne and long-time companion Matteo well beyond the honeymoon stage of their relationship, A minor spoiler is that buying a house and having a baby does not lead to a happily ever after American dream. An aspect of this is that laid-back woodworker Matteo does not seem to be as good of a catch now that Adrienne is heavily relied on to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. This working mom also must never let Matteo forget that he is a man.
The night in question commences with the couple arguing ahead of going to a party. That gathering stirs up the pot in a manner that leads to an argument on the way home. That leads to the central event that drives (no pun intended) the central drama and trauma.
A series of the most surreal scenes in this highly atmospheric film leads to Adrienne and Matteo back at home. The difference this time is that Adrienne is convinced that she is dead despite the evidence to the contrary; Matteo tries very hard to be compassionate and to provide the voice of reason.
This leads to Ghost of Christmas Past style visits to significant events in the relationship of the couple. The armchair quarterbacking as to these replays discuss what went right and what did not work out so well.
Additional angst relates to maternal concern as to who will raise the baby.
As mentioned above, the final reveal shows that Miele has saved the best for last. The events of the prior 90 minutes still make sense; the twist is that the two forms of enlightenment are not what the audience expects.
The big picture shows that the art of making movies that do not rely on matinee idols, huge CGI budgets, and/or shock-and-awe is not entirely dead, The audio commentary by Miele presumably reinforces that.
The Film Movement DVD of the 2019 drama "A Girl Missing" is a prime (no pun intended) example of an easily overlooked movie that fills the need for quality viewing at a time that Covid has badly impacted the film industry and that most of us have exhausted streaming services fare. The separate social commentary in the form of the impact of guilt by association and tabloid journalism add substance to the style of this intriguing story.
The artistry of "Girl" commences with the title referring to both an "innocent" and a woman who longs for a mutually meaningful connection.
Our story centers around private-home nurse Ichiko, who largely has become one of the family regarding an elderly female patient. The moral as to not mixing business with pleasure relates (no pun intended) to Ichiko striking up a friendship/mentorship with her employer's teen granddaughter Saki. This leads to a study session in a restaurant. Ichiko's nephew Tatsuo showing up leads to the central drama.
Saki not returning from the girls' night out leads to a search that ultimately leads to discovering that Tatsuo abducted and raped her. Initially, the family does not blame Ichiko for those events.
The apparent desire of clearly desperate for attention Ichiko for 15 minutes of fame leads to her granting a scandal sheet an interview that changes everything. This lesson as to being careful about what you wish for begins with the paparazzi hounding Ichiko at work and at home. Her bizarre confession that she clearly considers confidential making the television news is a prime example of adding fuel to the fire. The ambiguity as to the evilness of that admitted offense contributes additional substance to the story.
All of this leads to an overall expected conclusion that reflects the concepts of the sins of the father and the principle that the "help" truly never becomes a member of the family.
Movement supplements "Girl" with the short film "Loves Comes Later" that is described as an undocumented motel employee making a life-changing decision. That one slipping through the cracks requires relying on the perfect Movement track record by assuming that it is must-see.
The TLA Releasing DVD of the criminally under-rated 2018 gayromdram "Love Blooms" is the epitome of a film about a guy trying to figure out every aspect of his life. The anti-Logo elements include a lack of doe-eyed smooth-skinned twinks and an absence of over-emoting in response to the slight bump on the road to either Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now.
The story commences with adorkable main man Martin couch-surfing at the Parisian apartment of his cousin, the girlfriend of the cousin, and their bundle du joie. Aspiring film director Martin is on a break from his studies in a quest to rekindle the flame with former girlfriend Leah. Leah is putting her perky hip personality to good use as a tour guide.
The first speed bump that Martin encounters is not being welcome with especially open arms (or open legs) by Leah on showing up at her "office." It is very clear that the one who got away is enjoying her freedom.
One of the best scenes in this charming and entertaining film soon follows. Martin is ready to take one for the team by moving into a flophouse when he has a chance (fateful?) encounter with (presumably younger) high-school acquaintance Tristan. Tristan comes to the rescue by offering to let the clear object of his affection share his pied-a-terre.
Any viewer at any point along the Kinsey Scale who has a heart will immediately hope that these guys enjoy happy endings that last ever after.
Another memorable scene has Tristan convincing Martin to share his cozy bed. A way in which "Love" shows its quality is by not having this immediately leading to Tristan taking another one for the team. The relationship does more fully deepen (truly no pun intended) on Martin confessing to his new bedfellow that he has a history of sex with men. The endearing response of Tristan provides another reason to grant him fan-fave status.
Meanwhile, the new man in the life of Leah is old enough to be her father, The other recent addition is roomie Alicia, whom Leah is distressed to discover merely is a cash cow.
All of this, and other events, prompt Martin and Leah to ponder their pasts and to seek future happiness. Of course, this reflection prompts their paths to cross again in a manner that makes them and those in their orbits at least a little wiser if not happier.
The bigger picture this time is relevant both to those who recently graduated college and folks who have senior status at school reunions. The conflict between what the heart wants and what society expects can result in the wrong person sharing your bed and another bad fit (again, no pun intended) occupying the cubicle next to yours.
The Film Movement DVD of the 2018 Asian drama "Complicity" provides more proof that world cinema is global regarding its relativity. The theme this time is a post-adolescent man seeking a better life in a new country.
The following Movement trailer for "Complicity" offers a good primer on this story with shades of "The Karate Kid;" it also highlights the artistry in front of and behind the camera.
Our story begins with otherwise nice young Chinese man Chen Liang committing a criminal act to finance the purchase of a black-market cell-phone and a fake ID.
The ID is central to the effort of Chen to emigrate to Japan. His first obstacle to starting his new life is overcoming his inability to pay the premium associated with buying "a real fake ID" that is associated with an actual person. This resolution reflects the ass, gas, or grass philosophy that prevents anyone from riding for free.
On arriving in Japan, Chen essentially is a squatter among others living on the fringes of society. The next big development is his becoming Liu Wei the soba chef apprentice formerly known as Chen Liang. This job comes with both room and board.
The "Karate Kid" element enters in the form of the "sagely mentor," who owns the restaurant and operates it with the help of his adult daughter. It is clear early on that this master chef knows that his current employee and future mentee is not whom he claims to be.
The sweet love interest enters the picture in the form of student Hazuki, who gets more than she bargains for when ordering a delivery from the restaurant. She also innocently proves that dames ain't nothin' but trouble when she inadvertently blows the cover of the object of her affection.
A series of flashbacks and calls to Mom tell the rest of the story. Chen is escaping a repressive environment in which he is living with his not-so-well mother and his not-so-nice grandmother. These scenes additionally establish that the folks back home know that Chen is in Japan but otherwise are victims of a not-so-elaborate scheme.
Arguably the most cute scene in "Complicity" redeems Grandma. She first sneaks a wad of bills into the pocket of Chen on seeing him off and then insists that he take the money on his discovering that kind gesture,
Writer/director Kei Chikaura deserves great credit for not overdoing the climax; the highly predictable build-up to the house of cards that is Chez Chen tumbling down is done relatively gradually and without the frantic chase through the streets and/or the being dragged off in bracelets that one would expect in this type of tale. It further is nice to see that at least one person in the life of our likable lead realizes his true character.
As always is the case when Movement includes a bonus short film in a release, Movement chooses wisely. ""About Bintou" is a well-produced documentary about an African woman who is a stranger in a strange land in that she is studying in China.
These belated thoughts on the Pixar film "Soul" streaming on Disney+ commence with sharing the joy as to this film exceeding every expectation. The starting point is the film looking visually stunning viewed on a Sony 4K television; this is compared to the meh video quality of (reviewed) "Wonder Woman 1984" on HBO Max.
A related note is that "Soul" is the COVID-19 era equivalent of appointment TV from the era before widespread VCR ownership. A personal coping mechanism as to a virtual lockdown is to anticipate a special movie and watch it while eating a favored theater-style snack. Not having to smuggle such treats in a cineplex is a bonus.
The bigger picture (no pun intended) is that the tale of frustrated middle-aged jazz pianist Joe (Jamie Foxx) facing enormous obstacles as to fulfilling his life's ambition truly appeals to kids of all ages. If anything, the existential issues are a little over the heads of toddlers and tweens.
The too-numerous to individually mention accolades for "Soul" include 45 awards.
The following "Soul" trailer provides a good sense of the concept of the film while highlighting the superb animation that shames the other exceptional Pixar titles.
The "fun-for-all-ages" concept commences with the opening scenes of middle-school band teacher Joe, who is an exception to the rule that those who can't do teach, trying to get his untalented, and/or/lazy, and/or unmotivated students to develop a "you're in the band" proficiency. The insult that is added to this injury is that Joe has never made it as a working musician.
The game-changer comes in the form of a former student getting Joe an audition as the fill-in pianist for the renowned Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett) Quartet. Although this is music to the ears of Joe, his running to tell Mama is a letdown in that she feels that never having made it as a musician supports sticking with the security of the stability of the teaching gig.
Joy on being selected to join the Fantastic Four leads to a distracted Joe emulating '20s silent classics in the form of obliviously narrowly avoiding fatal accidents until dropping in on the workplace of Ed Norton of "The Honeymooners." This leads to an out-of-body experience on a moving stairway to Heaven.
Believing that Heaven can wait, Joe attempts a great escape. This results in his ending up in the Great Before.
This limbo has elements of the MUST-SEE 1991 Meryl Streep comedy "Defending Your Life" in which the recently departed face a hearing that determines that whether the place from which they can check out any time but can never leave will be Heaven or Hell, Pixar borrows from its literal emotion-laden tween angst film "Inside Out" by having Before be the place that adorable blob-like souls are prepared for entering the bodies of newborns.
The process begins with a blob seemingly randomly assigned to a hive that establishes a general personality. Folks who recall the pre-VCR era will find particular humor in an observation that an undue number of these future essences end up in the self-absorbed community. The final stage before sending a soul to inhabit an infant is a deceased person serving as a mentor to a soul to provide the spark that drives that future meat suit.
Fugitive Joe is assigned problem-child 22 (Tina Fey), who has defeated Mother Teresa and many other historic figures in her quest to avoid going to earth. Not-quite hilarity ensues in a manner that leads to emulating the MUST-SEE Carl Reiner 1984 comedy "All of Me" in which the soul of the character whom Lily Tomlin plays possesses the body of the character whom Steve Martin portrays.
In typical Disney fashion, both Joe and 22 receive enlightenment and figuratively if not literally live happily ever after. The "Kobayashi Maru" style cheating to thwart an anal bureaucrat greatly adds to the joy of the conclusion. The final film homage is a stinger that directly pays homage to the end-of-credits clips in "The Muppet Movie" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
The appeal of "Soul" extends beyond candy-coating deep thoughts in an entertaining story. This film, like "Inside Out" and the Pixar film "Coco," aptly shows that its audience is maturing to a point that it can handle (and savor) more vegetable with its fluffy confections.
The Corinth Films DVD release of the 2016 Latvian drama "Mellow Mud" presents a highly artistic reminder both that adolescence is referred to as growing pains for a good reason and that things are tough all over. The titular muck provides an apt metaphor for both.
The numerous accolades for this coming-of-age movie include a trio of top honors at the 2016 Latvian National Film Festival and a Best Feature Film win at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival .
The following trailer highlights the perfect portrayal of central 17 year-old girl Raya by Elina Vaska; the sense of the trauma and the drama that Raya must endure is the icing on the cake.
The element that sets "Mud" aside from facially similar fare is the manner in which writer/director Renars Vimba presents the same old story in a fresh new light. The series of unfortunate circumstances that have led to Raya and younger brother Robis living with not-so-loving grandmother Olga are that their father is dead and their mother abandoned them to facilitate her new life in England.
Things further unravel when Olga buys the farm while in the course of trying to sell it out from under the kids. This further contributes to the angst of Raya as to the only options of the siblings being enduring their current lives of quiet desperation and the alternative especially being a hard-knock life as to Robis. The personal interest of a social worker greatly contributes to this strife that requires a "Weekend at Olga's" form of subterfuge.
A school competition provides Raya hope in two forms. The finals being in London make a mother and child reunion only a prize-winning essay away. Additionally, this contest sets the stage for Raya and her young teacher, who is the subject of school-girl fantasy, to emulate the main characters in that book by Nabokov.
These aspects of the life of Raya require juggling in the form of being a mother to Robis and trying to avoid having him taken away, being the good girl that school authorities always wanted her to be, and maintaining an "its complicated" relationship. Of course, all of this increasing collides as the film progresses.
The absence of a Hollywood ending provides another strong argument for adding "Mud" to your physical-media library. All concerned being wiser but not necessarily happier just ahead of the end credits verifies that this is tale of real-life.
An upcoming DVD release from aptly named Indican Pictures shows that two films that are awesome in their own right can form a righteous unlikely friendship. "Zombie Bro," which is available on streaming platforms and that has a January 26, 2021 DVD release, successfully unites two very different worlds.
Non-musical "Bro" combines the best of the all-singing all-dancing Disney "Zombies" franchise that reflects "ARGH v. Board of Education" and (personal fave) 1995 dark-comedy "Welcome to the Dollhouse."
"Dollhouse" centers on the trials and tribulations of hysterically awkward (aptly named) seventh-grader Dawn Wiener. Dawn having to contend with a "little princess" younger sister is one of several common elements as to "Bro."
The fantastic four festival wins for "Bro" include a Best Feature Film award at the 2019 Indie Gathering International Film Festival and "Best Young Actors" honors at the 2019 Shart International Comedy Film Festival.
The following "Bro" trailer PERFECTLY conveys the dark humor as to the dysfunctional nuclear family dynamics that are at the center of arthouse Blumhouse film.
The opening scenes show that writer/director May Grehan strikes the ideal balance between exposition and getting down to business. Tween Francine (aka Frankenstein) provides voice-over narration to accompany crayon drawings of her family that clearly is not the Cleavers.
The action shifting to a family dinner at which Francine is considered the problem child despite comically gory evidence that titular sibling Teddie is not like other boys. The blissful ignorance that is characteristic regarding the golden child in a family includes that Teddie merely has a form of virus. This pretense extends to having to throw a dog chew toy to lure him into the garage where he must be locked when he is home alone. An apt aside is that dogs love chew toys because the squeak sounds like the crushing of the bones of prey.
Another piece of this puzzle is that Francine is a loner/loser at school, where she is the regular victim of scene-stealing bullies. These boys being blatantly selective as to their offensive remarks is a film highlight.
A series of seemingly fortunate events lead to Francine and a fellow outcast attending a school dance; The 'rents granting the wish of Teddie to tag along fully sets things in motion. The "dancing" of Teddy is another memorable scene in this never-a-dull-minute movie.
The inevitable climax as to Teddie fully showing that he is an excitable boy further proves that the low kid on the family totem pole don't get no respect. Learning whether this extends to Teddie hating Francine's guts requires watching the film.
The appeal of this well-told tale extends beyond the aforementioned blending of genres. Most of us with siblings either are the Teddie or the Francine in the family. Grehan, who presumably is the Francine of her clan, shows that this directly reflects how the 'rents treat each kid. The "King Lear" element at the end of "Bro" is the icing on the cake.
Icarus Films and Distrib Films once again team up to bring compelling French courtroom drama into North American living rooms. The recent "ripped-from-the-headlines" DVD release of the 2019 film "Conviction" nicely follows on the heels of the Icarus/Distrib (reviewed) DVD of "The Girl With a Bracelet."
The alleged crime du century this time is law professor Jacques Viguier committing femmecide. It is known that Mme, Viguier still is missing after vanishing on the night in question; there also is no doubt as to the essential estrangement of the not-so-happily married couple,
The circumstantial smoking guns are Jacques admitting to tossing the mattress of his wife soon after her unexplained absence and his allegedly telling his future ambulance chasers before that event that he could commit the perfect murder, An element of this is your not-so-humble reviewer being one of millions of Americans whose fondness for Hitchcock films potentially earning him a seat on Old Sparky.
Our story commences a short period ahead of Jacques facing a second trial after being acquitted in the first judicial proceeding in which he faces a lifetime as a guest of the state,
The primary twist this time is that the film revolves around single mother/chef/crusader Nora, whose persistence results in convincing celebrity defense attorney Eric Dupond-Moretti to defend Jacques. The stated intertest of Nora is the daughter of Jacques and his absent wife being the tutor of the son of Nora. The price of the representation includes Nora agreeing to listen to and summarize hundreds of hours of recorded evidence, The synopsis on the DVD back cover reveals another big twist.
Much of "Conviction" centers around the retrial; the behind-the-scenes drama being as intriguing as what occurs in court is a large part of what makes this story worthy of a feature film.
Much of the social commentary revolves around elements that contribute to a reasonable mistrust of general justice-system principles, In this case, the prosecution is trying to hold Jacque liable for the death of a woman whos is just as likely to be enjoying a new life as she is to be anchored on the bottom of the Seine. We also are reminded of the extent to which trials are personal to everyone with a cheval in the race,
Other social commentary relates to the prevalence of people in France simply disappearing without a trace. This reflects law school students learning early in the education that the answer to what are the consequences of a certain event always is "it depends." "Conviction" shows the potential for that to lead to what some consider a proper result and that others view as a miscarriage of justice,
Film Movement offers "haves" a look at the world of inner-city "have-nots" by releasing the "Precious" style 2019 drama "Goldie" on DVD. The more relatable message is showing how things can quickly fall apart for anyone,
The following Movement trailer for "Goldie" provides a good sense of the urban sense and sensibility of the film.
The day of our titular teen begins on a high note at a community center talent show. Her downward spiral commences on her mother being arrested soon after Goldie returns home. This triggers the flight of Goldie and her much younger sisters Sherrie and Supreme that is a central theme of the film. Another underlying story is the quest of Goldie for a full-length bright-yellow furry coat that proves that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
An early adventure is the only low point in this film that minimally will make viewers sympathize with the leading lady. Goldie arriving at the department store where she works only to quickly get fired and then lead security guards on an absurd chase through the aisles of the store that likely will provokes such as "is this Scooby (very bad word) Doo?"
Goldie then does her best both to find a temporary home for his sisters and to keep the family together; This effort is a major source of the aforementioned good feelings towards Goldie. This campaign leads her through the typical interconnected worlds of drugs and men sexually exploiting vulnerable women.
A related quest is starring in a hip hop video that Goldie figuratively sees as a ticket to living the good life in Westchester with her teacher.
The bigger picture this time is that even "have-nots" that have it better than Goldie will appreciate that they could have it worse.
Movement supplements this with the similar themed "We Love Moses." This coming-of-age movie tells the tale of the relationship between a young outsider teen and the friend of her older brother.
Olive Films continues establishing itself as a spectacular source of the best cult films out there with the Blu-ray release of the 1984 comedy "The Ratings Game" 30 years after this directorial debut of Danny DeVito has seen the light of day. This film is notable as well as the first made-for-pay-TV movie to air on Showtime.
The essay that is part of the awesome booklet on "Game" that the BD includes explains that Showtime effectively takes an "its not TV" approach in selecting its first original movie. The primary criteria is that this be one that the broadcast networks would not air. This is two years before Showtime brings us the hysterically creative "It's Garry Shandling Show."
"Ratings" further reflects the expansion in quantity (and proportional decrease in quality) as the fledgling cable industry scrambles for content; "Ratings" gives rise to theatrical films, such as the John Ritter/Pam Dawber movie "Stay Tuned" and the Weird Al project "UHF," that center around parodies of television genres.
The subversive premise of "Game" is that New Jersey trucking magnate turned aspiring Hollywood television producer Vic DeSalvo (deVito) is hysterically peddling horrendous ideas for television shows, such as the "Three's Company" rip-off "Sittin' Pretty," around the established networks only to universally be escorted out by security.
Not accepting that resistance is futile regarding all this rejection, DeSalvo cons his way into the office of an executive at the blackpoltation UPN-caliber (a.k.a. Underpaid N) MBC network. (MBC even has a 'Diff'rent Strokes"/"Webster" clone series.) The perfect timing of that meeting results in the MBC executive buying "Pretty" for a hysterical reason.
In typical DeVito fashion, DeSalvo finds a way to counter the tactic of the network president to limit the airing of "Pretty" to a pilot. MBC scheduling said pilot to air opposite a World Series game prompts DeSalvo to successfully rig the television ratings so that his show beats the baseball game.
The cynicism behind that successful ploy and the resulting "success" of "Pretty" and orders for several other DeSalvo shows reflects the desire of Showtime for a "not TV" movie. Two of the "best" DeSalvo shows are "Nunzio's Girls" about a pimp and his three hos and the even more offensive "Goombas" cartoon series about a stereotypical working-class Italian family.
Long-time DeVito spouse (and "Cheers" star) Rhea Perlman costars as Francine, the abused ratings company employee who facilitates the scam. As she points out, the reality in the pre-streaming and DVR '80s is that a relatively miniscule number of ratings families essentially dictates what the networks air. Actual quality is completely irrelevant.
The audience additionally gets the treat of seeing a plethora of current and future (mostly NBC) television stars in cameo roles. The earliest notable one is Jerry Seinfeld as a network executive who hilariously tells DeSalvo which concepts are selling that season. One spoiler is that this list does not include shows about "nothing."
We also get "Seinfeld" costar Michael Richards as DeSalvo's chauffeur/henchman, "Cheers" costar George Wendt as the father of a ratings family. "Night Court" star Selma Diamond as the mother of Francine, etc.
The award for most special cameo goes to "Bowery Boys" veteran Huntz Hall as an elderly legendary comedy film star.
Aside from "Ratings" very belatedly escaping from the vault, one of the most awesome aspects of the film is that it reflects the period before a change in national attitude from "f**k 'em if they can't take a joke" to "f**ked if you tell 'em a joke. (The reviewed documentary "That's Not Funny" wonderfully documents this.) The satirical portrayals of Italians alone may well have kept Showtime away in 2016.
Olive further shines regarding the plethora of special features on the "Ratings" BD. The highlight of these are the four "Ratings" era comedy shorts that DeVito directs. The standout of these is "The Selling of Vince D'Angelo."
"D'Angelo," which provides the basis for "Ratings" is a mockumentary on a sleazy New Jersey mayoral candidate who is a clone of DeSalvo. The "funny because its true" aspect of this one is that that campaign has a great deal in common with the 2016 presidential race.