The holiday engagement season openly including same-sex couples makes November 13, 2018 an apt release date for the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD of the 2018 comedy "My Big Gay Italian Wedding." The truth bombs and overall fun of this one make it a good gift for the boys in your life who either have tied the knot or who plan to go to the Chapel of Love where they're gonna get married,
This neo-modern rom-com begins with dreamy 20-something actor/Berliner Antonio narrating how he meets live-in boyfriend Paolo. This recap quickly leads to Antonio popping the question and an excited Paolo saying yes. The ritual of putting a ring on it is one of the first of many highly amusing moments.
The honeymoon period ends on Antonio discussing he and Bohemian landlady/roommate/fag hag Benedetta taking an Easter vacation to the small mountaintop Italian village where his parents live. This also is when Antonio learns that resistance is futile regarding not wanting Paolo to tag along. This relates to Antonio never actually telling that his parents that he is gay or that Paolo even exists.
Many gay men can relate to Antonia not being ashamed of his sexuality but not being particularly "proud" in that he does not have a rainbow flag outside his house or march in a pride parade. His comfort zone encompasses being out among gay and straight friends but not being ready to bring Mr. Right home to meet the parents.
Textbook comic relief enters the picture on middle-aged cross-dressing suicidal bus-driver Donato moving in with Benedetta and the boys. He soon becomes a pity addition to the trip.
Roberto the dad being the liberal mayor of the small community introduces an interesting twist. He is battling his council over his advocacy of 15 refugees who are living there. However, the tolerance of Roberto does not encompass his son being gay.
Momma Anna is much more supportive; her acceptance of Paolo and pushing him to invite his estranged mother to the ceremony reflects the brand of love of mothers-in-laws across the entire Kinsey Scale. This also makes those of us whose mothers have passed away happy about that in this particular context.
Anna asserts her motherly love to the extent of drawing a line in the sand regarding Roberto; suffice it it to say that he does not step up. Surprisingly stronger support by the local clergy is much nicer.
This leads to the typical hilarity that occurs in any film that centers around planning any wedding. We get the crazy ex booty call, a problem occurring with the venue, the whole party-planning going out of bounds, etc. Gay-themed obstacles include affirmative efforts to prevent the boys from walking down the aisle.
All of this (of course) climaxes with the big gay day. Genuine hilarity in these final few moments include a psychotic "I object" moment and Paolo attempting a "Three's Company" caliber ruse. All of this concludes with a scene that triggers PTSD memories of Katherine Heigl movies.
Breaking continues its solid track record by supplementing this comedy for our times with good extras. We see the actress who portrays Benedetta steal the show from her co-star who plays Antonio at a Q&A session following an opening-night screening at the 2018 Out Shine Film Festival in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.
We also get an "making-of" feature that shows the actual filming of scenes interspersed with comments by cast and crew.
The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1956 CinemaScope scifi film "World Without End" once again proves the Archive commitment to releasing DVDs and Blu-rays that fit in awesome leitmotifs. In this case, it is bright and bold CinemaScope scifi B flicks.
The recently reviewed Archive Blu-ray release of "The Queen of Outer Space" starring Zsa Zsa Gabor is another member of the low-budget sci-fi movies section of the seemingly endless Archive catalog. Of course, these releases make a great double-feature gift for fans of good bad '50s scifi movies. A related note is that the back-cover liner notes for "World" state that it is the first CinemaScope scifi thriller.
Warner does its usual excellent job remastering both "World" and "Queen" for Blu-ray. The flawless images are crystal clear and incredibly vivid; the audio literally would allow hearing a pin drop.
The numerous similarities between "World" and "Queen" are attributable to Edward Bernds directing both; he pulls double duty as writer on "World." A synopsis of the films is that red-blooded American astronauts crash their ship and get tangled up with space babes. This screams for a book on the psyche of Bernds.
One difference is that "World" has more of an Irwin Allen feel than "Queen." This begins with a strong lost in space vibe, continues with stronger camaraderie among the macho men leads, and includes the stronger cheesy creature element.
The four astronauts in "World" are on a data-collecting mission when a freak storm near Mars causes their ship to go wildly out-of-control. They awaken to find their vehicle stuck in the mother of all snow banks.
The formulaic fun begins with the quartet discovering a massive spider web and soon wrangling with the not-so-sweet Charlotte who is its creator. The manner in which the group fends off this comical mutant establishes their approach to defending themselves from every savage foe.
The next adventure is straight out of "Queen." The men in both cases pay the price for lacking the foresight to assign someone to stand watch while the others sleep in their alien environment. The rude awakening in "World" comes courtesy of mutated cavemen.
The ensuing cat-and-mouse game results in the astronauts seeking refuge in a cave; that temporary refuge becomes more permanent on this tactic leading to the group entering the fortified underground world of the civilized inhabitants. This leads to reveals regarding where the space travelers have landed in time and space.
The honeymoon period quickly ends on the guests learning that their very timid hosts are unwilling either to help them repair their ship or use the resources that allow establishing an outpost on the surface. The aforementioned eye candy is some consolation; the new arrivals being far more macho in mind and body than the wimps who rule the place further enhances their status.
Of course, things soon come to a head in a manner that requires that every male man up. This initially leads to a wonderfully campy power struggle. This results in which is a happy ending on the surface (pun intended) but is horribly wrong from a more enlightened 21st-century perspective.
The happy ending for us higher beings is that Archive allows us the treat of a "World" and"Queen" double feature. They truly do not make 'em like that anymore.
Mill Creek Entertainment goes above-and-beyond regarding the October 30, 2018 "Can't Hardly Wait: 20-Year Reunion Edition." Merely releasing this 1998 John Hughes style summer teencom allows many of us who passed on this under-rated semi-precious gem in the theater, premium cable, and (most-likely) the DVD bargain bin at Wal-Mart to experience it. Second, Creek beautifully remasters the film and provides fun extras that include a 2008 10-year reunion in which writer-director team/work spouses Deborah Kaplan and Harrry Elfont, the casting director, and stars and supporting characters discuss the fun and love associated with making the film.
"Wait," which roughly runs in real-time, begins with the graduation ceremony at upskcale suburban Huntington Hills High. A panning camera eavesdrops on the typical gossip among the graduates. The main topics are the seemingly inevitable guy who is completely naked under his graduation robe and cheerleader/homecoming queen Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love-Hewitt) breaking up with long-term football-stud boyfriend Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli). The graduating seniors also discuss the upcoming evening gathering at the home of "Girl Whose Party It Is."
Love Hewitt and Facinelli provide a sense of the Hughes-caliber stable of current and future young stars. We also get Ethan Embry of personal '90s fave teencom "Empire Records" as moderate achiever/everyteen Preston Meyers; he attends the party that quickly goes out of bounds with best platonic friend/cynical bitch Denise Fleming (Lauren Ambrose).
Preston wants to kiss the girl in the form of declaring his unrequited love for Amanda and at least get to first base before leaving the next day. Of course, many obstacles stand in his way.
Ambrose "Six Feet Under" co-star Freddy Rodriguez plays Jock #3. Like most supporting characters, he gets his hilarious moment to shine. In this case, it is wonderful exuberance regarding upcoming sex with his girlfriend. We also get duped "Exchange Student" having an equally hilarious conversation with Preston.
Seth Green plays wigger Kenny "Special K" Fisher, who is a pale red-head acting as if he is straight outta Compton. Kenny adds a particularly strong "American Pie" vibe in the form of desperately trying to lose his cherry that night. Sadly, there is no cougar on site to help out in that regard.
Genius bullied nerd William Lichter (Charlie Korsmo) rounds out the group. He and his two "X-philes" buddies attend the party for the sole purpose of getting epic revenge on Mike for four years of intense physical and emotional bullying. William undergoing the rite of passage of having his first beer is his hilarious moment. A story in the reunion special about Korsmo being cast as Charlie is particularly interesting and shows how "Wait" may have been an entirely different movie.
William is one of the more interesting characters in that a mutual lack of interest often prevents even those of us with above-average academic records from getting to know the Sheldon Coopers in our class. William letting himself be a teen does wonders in that regard. A related lesson is that the excitement of graduation and the party that eventually ends re-introduces an element of the reality that bites.
The Hughes element begins with the teen stereotypes, which include "Reminiscing Guy" and "Yearbook Girl" (Melissa Joan Hart) , that are funny because they are true; it continues with a look at the impact of high-school graduation and the entertainment value of a completely bonkers teen party. We also get the aforementioned epilogues in the form of the day after those festivities.
Giving Hughes his due requires commenting that Kaplan and Elfont do not deliver the same level of depth; nothing approaches the essay and other insights of "The Breakfast Club," but we are reminded of our younger days in which we knowingly and unknowingly make fools out of ourselves and in which the nature of a relationship can dramatically change during a drunken evening only to have that magic quickly fade. The better news is that that bonding does have a residual effect.
The other special features include "Life of the Party," which has the cast discuss the appeal of teen movies. We additionally get deleted scenes and a "I Can't Get Enough of You Baby" music video that includes scenes from the film.
The Film Movement November 13, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2017 Japanese courtroom drama "The Third Murder" provides particularly strong proof that the best modern films come from overseas. This is not to mention that New York Times Critic's Pick "Murder" meets the Movement standard of being a film that can be remade word-for-word and shot-for-shot in the U.S. and still make perfect sense.
Movement is giving American audiences another treat by theatrically releasing "Shoplifters" by "Murder" director Hirokazu Koreeda in the not-too-distant future. IMDb describes that one as "a family of small-time crooks take in a child they find in the cold." That story makes that film more representative of the family dramas for which Koreeda is best known.
The six Japanese Academy Award wins for "Murder" further reflect the quality of the film. These versions of Oscars are for Best Film, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing.
The following YouTube clip of the official U.S. trailer for "Murder" provides a good sense of the compelling drama and the stellar performances that warrant the hype for the film. This promo. additionally provides a sense of the exceptional cinematography of the movie that REQUIRES buying the Blu-ray version.
The mastery of "Murder" begins at the outset. Although the opening scenes seem to leave no doubt that ex-con/factory worker Misumi is guilty of the slaying for which he is awaiting trial, the facts that emerge throughout the film show that things are not as they seem.
High-powered criminal-defense attorney Shigemori soon figuratively and literally enters the picture to help prepare for the trial of Misumi. The defendant has already pleaded guilty to a charge of robbery-murder related to killing the victim in the course of stealing his wallet. The frustration of the defense counsel relates to Misumi changing his story a few times in the course of the proceedings against him.
The rest of the backstory is that the father of Shigemori is the son of the judge who makes Misumi a guest of the state regarding a 30 year-old murder. The nature of that crime is increasingly shown to have relevance regarding the current charges.
The direct and indirect evidence that emerges in the weeks before the trial gives Shigemori increasing reasons to have reasonable doubt regarding the nature of the killing and the culpability of his client. These new facts including indications of collusion to an undetermined extent between Misumi and the wife of the factory owner. Even then, the proverbial smoking guns may lack the believed importance.
Things are further kept in the family when the teen daughter of the factory owner states that she has relevant information. This ties into the relationship between Misumi and his largely estranged adult daughter and the impact of the career of Shigemori on his 14 year-old daughter.
Doubt further relates to "Kung Fu" style wisdom that Misumi shares with his dream team. This includes his statement that some people never should have been born; that declaration not having the assumed importance is very consistent with the spirit of "Murder."
All of this builds to the climax of the trial, which provides plenty of courtroom drama. The pragmatic outcome validates the impression of traditional court system that is presented throughout "Murder." The impact of this includes providing good reason to not trust what even seems to be an entirely voluntary confession.
The literally bigger picture relates to "Murder" presenting a variation of arguably the most famous Japanese movie other than "Godzilla." "Rashomon" centers around four conflicting accounts of an incident. Just as is the case in "Murder," each of these tales has an element of truth.
All of this amounts to "Murder" being a compelling film with strong doses of social commentary and thought-provoking philosophy.
As is the case with every selection in the Movement Film of the Month Club (which are available to the general public), "Murder" is well paired with a short film. Movement aptly describes "A Gentle Night," which as the Best Short Film winner at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, as follows. "In a nameless Chinese city, a mother with he daughter missing refuses to go gentle into this good night."
The extras are a making-of "Murder" feature and "Messages From the Cast" of that film.
Old Lime Productions shows the big boys how it is done regarding the 2016 documentary "Ghostheads," which IMDb perfectly describes as "a look at the intense fandom for the ("Ghostbusters") media franchise." An interview with producer Tommy Avallone regarding his related film "Bill Murray Stories" reinforces that the guys behind the camera put their heart and soul into this film about folks who devote a great deal of their time and income celebrating the 1984 comedy and its sequel.
A personal perspective is owning all three films on Blu-ray. a long-discontinued deluxe collector's edition of the complete animated series being a desert island set, and recently buying a toy model of the Ecto-1 vehicle from the franchise. This is on top of regularly referring to not crossing streams, to dogs and cats living in harmony, and to telling a powerful evil entity who thinks that you are a god that you are one.
Additionally, a visit to the New York Public Library was a required destination during a Manhattan visit. Telling the lions out front to stay did not elicit any response from the jaded locals.
The high-quality of the Blu-ray version of "Heads" and the plethora of extras (including a HILARIOUS interview with "Ghostbusters II" star Kurt Fuller) screams for buying this release, rather than watching it on a streaming service that may drop it at any time. Taking shameless commerce one level further, a "Ghostbusters" fan WILL delight in getting this documentary along with the 4K releases of the original films.
The following YouTube clip of the Kickstarter promo; for "Ghostheads" PERFECTLY captures the spirit and the tone of the documentary. It will make you want to join your local chapter.
One of the nicest things about the profiled heads is that they keep their active fandom in check; none of therm are obsessed with "Ghostbusters" and do not wear their jumpsuits and proton packs on a daily basis. The furthest that some folks take things is to use their replica of Ecto-1 vehicle as their primary car.
The sense of moderation continues with one participant commenting that he is in the game for the sense of community, rather than out of love for the films. A man at the other extreme discusses the films helping him during a very emotional period.
The charitable aspect of the activity is another great aspect of this fandom; we see the local chapters suit and gear up to bring joy to folks who need it,
It additionally is awesome hearing from director Ivan Reitman, Dan Akyroyd, Harold Ramis daughter Violet, and others involved in the original films share their perspectives and memories.
The best segments have William Atherton, who plays the uptight bureaucrat in "Ghostbusters," and Fuller from "Ghostbusters II" tell their stories. Atherton shares the public still tormenting him based on that role; his successor Fuller tells a great Bill Murray story in the form of Fuller assuring Murray that Fuller does not mind a particular directed insult and Murray refusing to deliver that line because he wants to spare Fuller the abuse being heaped on Atherton.
The recent Paul Feig "Ghostbusters" movie gets its due; we see mutual love that extends to Feig flying Ghostheads to Los Angeles for a special event. Feig additionally goes above and beyond regarding helping two fans take their relationship to the next level.
All of this makes "Ghostheads" a genuine feel-good movie that achieves the documentary ideal of being equally educating and entertaining. You may not be ready to shell out big bucks for a proton pack but definitely will want to join those who do for a party-sized Twinkee. You also will receive confirmation that everyone connected with making the films have enormous regard and fondness for the projects.
The numerous extras extend well beyond the aforementioned Fuller interview. We get a tribute to a kind and sweet Ghosthead to whom the documentary is dedicated, a music video of the "Ghostheads" theme, and so much more.
Warner Archive goes all-out Nightmare Before Christmas in releasing a series of Christopher Lee Dracula horror films from Hammer Studios on Blu-ray in this period of Santa and candy canes. These include "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" and "Horror of Dracula."
The Archive Blu-ray release of "Dracula A.D. 1972" from 1972 is our current topic. The moderately well-known spectacular film chemistry between Lee and co-star Peter Cushing in all their joint projects is the tip of the wooden stake regarding the quality of this one.
Virgins in the context of "1972" are in for an exceptional treat regarding this film far exceeding all expectations. Anticipating an entertaining low-budget production that is equal parts cheese and camp leads to sheer delight in finding a well-crafted film with performances that range from good to excellent and a compelling story that makes sense in the context of Dracula lore. The one exception regarding the production values is a spurting blood scene that is reminiscent of a volcano that is a school science-fair project.
The jazzy soundtrack adds an element of unintended humor; this fast-paced music and the strong early '70s vibe of the film create an expectation of the words "A Quinn Martin Production" appearing on the screen.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that the usual expert Archive resurrection of classic and cult-classic films for Blu-ray releases makes "1972" seem as if it has risen from the grave and been entirely reborn. It truly looks and sounds mahvelous, simply mahvelous.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "1972" is notable for the opposite reason that the film is must-see. This promo. inexplicably underplays the quality of the movie. The narration is thoroughly cheesy and does not properly showcase the production values; it does include a good sense of the plot and the "Clockwork Orange" aspect of the production.
Our story begins in 1872 as a spokesperson narrates a battle between Dracula (Lee) and Lawrence Van Helsing; this high-stakes confrontation concludes with the defeat of Dracula.
We quickly jump ahead a century as a group of uninvited hippies are throwing a wild party in the home of a wealthy woman in London; the planning and the execution of the exit strategy of the young people provides good humor.
The plot begins to thicken on group leader/minor league Manson Johnny Alucard convincing the group to participate in a Satanic ritual at an abandoned church. The naivety of the gang prompts them to go along with this plan for what they think is innocent fun.
Young unwitting Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham of "Dynasty") is unaware both that the rite of passage is intended to raise Dracula and that she is his bride in an arranged marriage courtesy of Johnny. Her rude awakening comes when everything gets very real.
Other good humor enters the picture when Dracula acts like an ungrateful genie freed from a bottle; Johnny expects a major pat on the head and barely avoids a kick in the pants. Dracula finding that his fiancee is not his intended does not help matters.
Current Van Helsing patriarch Lorrimer (Peter Cushing) enters the picture on Jessica acting oddly and expressing an interest in the occult. The police soon coming knocking after finding the mangled body of the most recent Countess Dracula provides the final piece of the puzzle.
Hilarity and horror ensue as Lorrimer confirms to Johnny that you cannot trust anyone over 30. The relentless manner in which the man attacks the boy is highly cathartic for all of us who must deal with Millennials. We also a "Batman '66" style battle as Jessica is lured into a fiendish trap that is designed to get her to the church on time.
All of this culminates in the predicted battle royale between Lorrimer and Dracula that brings the film full circle back to the beginning.
All of the aforementioned aspects of this unexpectedly good film provide a good reminder that horror need not be unduly graphic, exploitive, or otherwise excessively perverse. You simply need good source material and adequate talent on both sides of the camera that can make the story seem plausible.
CBS Home Entertainment awesomely celebrates the best of the '80s with the recent DVD release of "The Love Boat: Season 4 Volume 2." This coincides with CBS releasing the (reviewed) S4 V1 set of "Boat." The broad appeal of this "TV Land" classic about the titular cruise ship (typically) making round-trip voyages between Los Angeles and Mexico include the A-to-Z list celebrities that guest-star each week. Watching the sun and fun while suffering through a polar winter is another strong benefit of the series.
A special two-hour outing that centers around a fashion show is the most notable episode among the truly strong offerings in this collection from the second half of the fourth season of "Boat." This begins with having virtually every top designer of the '80s (Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein apparently miss the boat) appear and have models show their creations. The A-List includes Halston, Geoffrey Beene, and Gloria Vanderbilt. We further get a cameo by celebrity pianist Bobby Short.
This episode additionally may be the only one that exceeds the three vignettes (four in the frequent 90-minute and two-hour episodes) format. We get a whopping five stories, which overlap to a greater extent than most plots in a "Boat" voyage.
These wonderfully silly stories are exceptionally true to the "Boat" spirit. They include McLean Stevenson (M*A*S*H) as the husband/co-owner of a modeling agency who is clashing with his wife/business partner (Anne Baxter) regarding an age-based decision to have firing a model walk the plank. The rest of the story is that the former "It" girl is romantically involved with Captain Merrill Stubing (Gavin MacLoed).
We also get Robert Vaughan ("The Man From U.N.C.L.E.") as a cosmetics company owner who may or may not be looking to hire the current object of his affection. This is not to mention the corporate spy who falls in love with a fictional designer whose sketches he is trying to steal. The fun continues with the daughter and the assistant of another fictional designer striving to prevent Dad from discovering numerous secrets that include their marriage.
But for the epic quality (including a grand fashion show) of the very-special episode described above, another S4 V2 offering would earn top honors for this collection. This one reunites Jane Powell and Howard Keel ("Dallas") of the 1954 musical "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." Powell plays the formerly ultra-wealthy aunt of assistant purser Burl "Gopher" Smith; Keel plays a self-made businessman. The ensuing hilarity relates to the Powell character trying to hide her current position as maid to a nasty old woman (Mary Wickes) from both her nephew and current beau. A cute scene in which Gopher and his aunt have a heart-to-heart is an episode highlight.
The second episode in S4 V2 is notable for including regular guest-star Charo, who (like Florence Henderson) boards "Boat" 10 times. Each time, Charo plays April Lopez, who embodies the professional persona of her portrayor. The broken-English speaking April makes her debut as a stowaway who becomes a professional lounge singer.
The S4 story "April the Ninny" has this Mexican jumping bean hanging up her guitar to become the governess of the two rambunctious children who are on the ship with their negligent father (Larry Linville of "M*A*S*H). "Return of the Ninny" a few weeks later revisits the root of the Lopez lore. April and the kids come aboard to say goodbye to Dad but end up getting stuck on the ship.
The S4 season-finale is notable for setting the stage for one of the biggest real and reel events in "Boat" history. A romance for a crew member is the beginning of the end for the actor who plays that individual; this relates to a very '80s-style scandal. All of this leads to the very-special S5 season premiere that has the crew sailing to Australia.
Folks who are old enough to remember the incredible impact of "Boat" on the cruise-ship industry and the personal glee of coming inside from the dark and the cold to watch beautiful people enjoy the good life under bright skies do not need to be sold on these sets; Millennials who spend most of their time inside should trust their elders and believe that this is an ultimate entertaining series and that the S4 V2 episodes are especially good.
The anticipated response of fans to the aptly titled Time Life 22-disc release "Robin Williams: Comic Genius" perfectly reflects the spirit of Williams and the set. Said reaction relates to a classic "Mork and Mindy" episode that is not among the equally memorable (including the two-part pilot) offerings in "Genius."
The omitted episode centers around naive alien Mork (Williams) becoming a home shopping addict. A hilarious scene has him frantic to purchase more junk from that service. Straight woman Mindy (Pam Dawber) asks her roomie from another planet if he really needs the item. Williams responds by transforming into his hilariously manic persona and states that he does not "need" it but really really wants it. That is a very valid reaction to "Genius." The larger picture is that the collectibles in the home page photo of this site reflect the lifelong influence of the episode (and Williams) on your not-so-humble reviewer.
A personal memories post a few days after the August 11, 2014 passing of Williams further reflects high regard for that performer. An aspect of this relates to another classic sitcom. A scene from "Chuckles Bites the Dust" in the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" has the minister who is eulogizing the titular clown state that that performer would have hated people to cry and would have wanted them to laugh.
Having a clear (but not delusional) image of Williams telling fans to not be sad about his passing and then going into an improved bit about having his way with 72 virgins in Heaven both provides solace and makes "Genius" very special.
A still "too soon" aspect of the passing of Williams prevents watching the 2018 documentary "Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind" that "Genius" includes. The excellent hype regarding that film indicates that it is must-see for Williams fans who can handle hearing about his life.
A "Mork" episode in "Genius" relates to the above. While "Mork Meets Robin Williams" could have been fully played for laughs (and is a bit sappy), it reflects the psyche of Williams that is an early warning of things to come.
Much of the humor of "Meets" relates to Mork being mobbed because fans think that he is Williams. The meeting of the reel and real Williams has a more serious note in that the actor tells the alien that giving so much exhausts him but that he hates disappointing people. Hilarity soon awesomely ensues when Mork then immediately asks Williams to give. Williams agreeing to do so reflects his character (no pun intended).
The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Genius" further reinforces the value of the set. The good folks at Time Life amazingly include clips that reflect most of the range of Williams. We see him go off script and off-the-rails during talk-show performances, do his HYSTERICAL cat marking territory monologue from his 2002 "Live on Broadway" special, gleefully add his own spin on the Bob Newhart telephone conversation bit, liven up award shows, etc.
We also get glimpses of the many celebrity interviews (including Dawber) who express their love for that wild and crazy guy.
The highlights of "Genius" begin with the 24-page "Robin Williams: Uncensored" book that almost is worth the price of the set. In includes publicity and candid photos interspersed with jokes and insights from Williams. We additionally get quotes from his fellow comedians and from Barack Obama.
The greatness of "Genius" continues with never-released material; examples are a 2007 stand-up performance at the MGM Grand Garden and a Montreal show on the final tour of Williams. We further get a meeting of comic titans in the form of Williams talking with David Steinberg.
The ONLY criticism regarding "Genius" relates to an omission; the seemingly countless clips of Williams making guest spots on television programs includes a special feature on a guest spot on "SCTV." This extra consists of a handful of skits in which Williams performs. We sadly do not get the hilarious "Bowery Boys in the Band" segment that is available on YouTube. The following clip fills that gap.
A clip of Jay Leno in the aforementioned trailer perfectly conveys the appeal of Williams; Leno essentially states that that genius has a charm that allows him to get away with being outrageous. A prime example of this is an interview for a German television program in which the host asks Williams why he thinks that Germany does not have any humor and he responds that it is because they killed all the funny people. This shows that Williams understood context in a manner that sadly is lacking in 2018.
This is not to mention the unparalleled improv. skill of Williams arguably making him the funniest man of the 20th century. Many others can skillfully deliver their own material or that of their writers; it is hard to think of anyone who both can think as quickly on his feet as Williams and is brave enough to say what comes to mind.
'Rescue Me: The Complete Series' Blu-ray: Hilarious Rude & Crude Dramedy About Lives and Loves of the Men of NYFD
The Mill Creek Entertainment October 23, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 2004-11 Denis Leary dramedy "Rescue Me" continues the solid Creek track record of producing complete-series sets of 21st-century cult classic television series on Blu-ray in time for the holidays. These collector's editions are notable proof of the "you've come a long way, Baby" evolution of Creek from producing basic DVD releases of public-domain content to becoming a first-class distributor of the best fare from this Streaming Age of Television.
The vivid colors and crystal-clear audio of the Blu-ray release does American Film Institute "TV Program of the Year" for 2006 "Rescue" very proud; the serial format, entertaining candidness, and lack of a single dull moment call for a marathon (rather than binge) viewing during the holidays.
The aforementioned cult classics included the (reviewed) release of the edgy Showtime docudrama "Masters of Sex" and the (also reviewed) criminally under-rated ABC neo-modern "Friends" sitcom "Happy Endings." A review of the complete series of the Daddy of all cult-classic sitcoms "Community" is scheduled for the not-too-distant future. Creek is releasing a deluxe Blu-ray complete series set of "The Shield" on December 11, 2018.
Anyone who wants to seem cool is encouraged to give the special offbeat Millennial or Gen Xer in his or her life one or more of these sets this holiday season.
Leary puts his textbook caustic wit and love/hate feelings regarding his Irish heritage to good use in playing veteran New York firefighter Tommy Gavin. An amusing related aspect of this is that Worcester, Massachusetts native/graduate of Emerson College in Boston Leary regularly inserts subtle and not-subtle references to his home turf in this Gotham-based series,
Fellow Massachusetts native Peter Tolan reunites with Leary after their work on the HILARIOUS shorter-run series "The Job," which stars Leary as an NYPD detective who essentially is Gavin with authority to have a gun. Tolan writes all 93 "Rescue" scripts. "Job" star Lenny Clarke also transitions to this series.
Giving the equally witty and compelling "Rescue" a portion of its due is well beyond the scope of a review that strives to remain below novella length; the series is a genuine original that most likely will never have an equal. This is ENTIRELY due to the genius-level dark humor and other quirks that make Leary a god.
The best mainstream comparison is to think of "Rescue" as a working-class version of "Seinfeld" that has the edge associated with being a 10:00 p.m. basic cable show. Thinking of Jerry as a foul-mouthed chain-smoking alcoholic with a fraction of his already limited morals is a good start. A ripped from "Rescue" example would be purposefully setting up George with a transvestite despite that good friend not knowing that she is the girl with something extra.
Centering "Rescue" around a fire station without glamorizing that profession provides insight into a world that is foreign to the general population; setting it in the post-911 era in which life is back-to-normal for most of us provides rich material for an ideal blend of humor and drama. This relates to Gavin and his crew seeing that indisputably tragic event as a figurative get out of jail free card and payment for anything that they desire for a seeming endless period perfectly illustrates this.
A hate-hate relationship with the NYPD is another entertaining theme. Watching Gavin wrangle with the boys in blue until he has a compelling reason to play nice is must-see TV.
The "Rescue" crew is populated with every working-class stereotype; the skill of Leary and Tolan avoids them becoming caricatures.
We have middle-aged Irish middle-manager Jerry Reilly; he is just as profane and dark as the younger guys. His at-home drama includes a gambling addiction and a wife suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.
We also get young dim-witted stud Sean Garrity; he shines early in the season regarding a waxing of his naughty bits going hysterically wrong. It also is recalled that his is the firefighter who gets caught in a compromising situation regarding a cancer scare related to his pride and joy.
One of the more interesting characters is female firefighter Laura, who must endure more than her share of abuse from her peers. Watching her evolve from showing that she can take anything that they can dish out and is not afraid to assert her rights when necessary, to showing that she can dish it out as well, and finally becoming one of the boys is awesome.
Sweet and naive Mike Silletti is a personal fave. His joining the crew at the beginning of the series earns him the name "Probie" and requires that he do all the grunt work. His early shining moments including having to build a deck and provide the beer as his co-workers sit around and give him intense grief. His asserting his rights nicely illustrates how this puppy becomes a full-grown Dalmatian.
The aforementioned naivete also lands Silletti in the most amusing and/or interesting sexual situations. These begin with his initially being clueless about the motive of a man who is strongly pressuring him to go to dinner and even gets him to move in with him after unwanted sexual contact. Our boy then deals with dating an overweight woman with bulimia. A later relationship confirms the thoughts of some viewers and fulfills a fantasy of a subgroup of those fans.
The incestuous home life of Gavin is just as darkly amusing as his work life. His oft on-again-off-again relationship with wife Janet seems to perfectly reflect the lives of literal and figurative firefighter widows, who struggle to maintain the same level of intimacy that their men share with their co-workers.
The incest extends beyond the merging of work and home life via Gavin not allowing his desire to reconnect with Janet stopping him from "dating" Sheila, who is the actual widow of Cousin Jimmy. This intercourse provides the main context for informing the audience of a Bro Code that prohibits a relationship with the woman of a fellow firefighter.
For her part, Sheila alternates between man and women; her personal drama includes an emotionally and physically abusive relationship.
Teen Gavin daughter Colleen seems to take a cue from Sheila; she also has both boy and girl trouble.
Clarke steals the show as "Uncle Teddy," who provides Gavin plenty of angst. This three-hundred pound senior citizen with the mentality and the energy of a 12 year-old boy has no sense of moderation. Dragging his brother Michael (Charles Durning) (a.k.a. Dad) into his misadventures only fuels the fire from the perspective of Gavin.
Tatum O'Neal adds star power as quasi-estranged Gavin sister Maggie; many of us can relate to this sibling only showing up when she believes that doing so is in her best interest.
The copious special features provide additional reasons to buy the set; the blooper reels are predictably hysterical. We also get behind-the-scenes looks and hear from actual New York firefighters. All of this wraps up with "The Creators' Last Call."
The apt final note to this lengthy discussion of this once-in-a-lifetime (if not longer) series is that is from the last days of the American public having some form of sense of humor. It is very sad that scenes such as one in which dumb Mick Gavin and his crew gleefully hurl rapid-fire ethnic insults at each other to show that it does not mean anything likely would not even be allowed on premium channel series. The best way to put this in context is to predict that the current attitude of Denis Leary is to say get a fucking sense of humor assholes.
A delay posting this review of the Shout! Factory November 6, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "The Sound of Music Live" (SOM) is collateral damage from circumstances beyond the control of Unreal TV. Your not-so-humble reviewer ached to honor the spirit of NBC airing the Julie Andrews film every Thanksgiving, Speaking of NBC, a nice surprise regarding this production is that it is NOT the Carrie Underwood version that that network aired in 2013. This one far outshines that noble experiment.
The bottom line regarding this SOM is that it provides a good chance to compare it to the Andrews version and to compare the film and stage variations of the story. Of course, the movie having Penny Robinson and Spider-Man in it gives it a big leg up.
The better news regarding timing is that ample opportunity remains to give your favorite theater geek or child the the Shout! release for Christmas or merely to play it on an endless loop to keep the kids out of your hair. The FLAWLESS picture and sound (which look very 3Dish when played on a 4K machine and watched on a 4K set) screams to buy the Blu-ray version.
British television network ITV aired this SOM on December 20, 2015; the twofer aspect is the broadcast being part of both the holiday programming of the network and a desire to air "event" specials. It is reported that the objectives of creative director Corky Giedroyc include this version being closer to the original stage production than to emulate the movie. An aspect of this is maintaining the political aspects that center around the Nazis increasingly taking over Austria.
The following YouTube clip of an ITV promo. for SOM nicely conveys the spirit of both the production and the literally behind-the-scenes feature on the Shout! release.
The newer version is entertaining from stem to stern and maintains a perfect pace. Further, hearing all the classic songs provides a warm and fuzzy sense of nostalgia. "How Can Love Survive" is not in the film, but is in stage productions.
The infamous "you can't face" line in a scene in which Maria receives a reality check continues to amuse those of us who embrace our inner 12-year-old boy. It is a near certainty that EVERY actress who portrays Mother Abess focuses on very carefully enunciating that dialogue,
Two songs stand out in SOM. The "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" duet of eldest Von Trapp daughter Liesl and current delivery boy/future fascist pig Rolf has good charm and humor. It seems that the affection between those all Austrian kids is genuine.
All the kids steal the show in the first presentation of "So Long, Farewell." They are being sent packing during a party at Von Trapp Haus and perform the song as their exit strategy. The choreography and the performances of the Von Trapp Singers this time actually outshines the film version. It is a bit more lively and amusing.
Describing SOM as understated is only intended to put it in context regarding the film. Kara Tointon ("Mr Selfridge" and "EastEnders") projects the same level of "Keep Calm and Carry On" emotion throughout; she also has a wonderful voice and seems to literally hit every note but does not put her heart and soul into the songs ala Andrews.
Similarly, Julian Ovendon (Downton Abbey) plays Captain Von Trapp with far less emotion and passion than Christopher Plummer. This sadly prevents feeling any connection with this central character.
As mentioned above, the bigger picture is the rise of Nazism in Austria. Watching this production as an adult in 2018 puts a whole new perspective on the story.
Being an adult in 2018 also screams for escaping the increasing level of fascism and dystopia in the world by watching a new version of a childhood favorite. Keeping the flame alive by watching it with a keyboard kid provides hope that memories of a kinder and gentler period will persist.
The Icarus Films DVD release of the 2015 French drama "In the Shadow of Women" proves that this home-video distributor with a strong history of releasing compelling documentaries looks for "innovative and provocative" titles regarding its fictional titles as well. The strong documentary elements of "Woman" make it a particularly apt addition to the Icarus catalog.
The festival love for this future art-house classic include the Best Film honor at the 2015 Athens Panorama of European Cinema and the Best Actress win at the 2015 Seville European Film Festival.
The most overt documentary element in "Women" is central character Pierre being a documentarian whose spouse Manon fills several roles that include researcher and film editor. Additionally, filmmaker Philippe Garrel regularly provides exposition via voice-over narration. Having the camera largely follow the characters around and simply record their conversations and reactions to events further contributes to the cinema verite vibe of the film.
The film being in black-and-white enhances the French New Wave aspects of "Women."
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Women" nicely highlights the artistry and overall Frenchness of the film.
The early scenes establish that Mannon working with Pierre is a holdover sacrifice from his days of struggling to establish his career. One reason that the couple still works together is that Mannon sees this as an opportunity to spend time with her husband.
The proverbial fateful encounter that jeopardizes many reel (and real) couples occurs when Pierre stops to help intern/grad. student Elisabeth carry several film canisters. This leads to an affair that soon leads to indifference and boredom by Pierre, who believes that being a man entitles him to have an affair.
The response of Manon to the changes in Pierre include her starting an affair. The response of Pierre to learning about that extra-marital activity is resentment and rage despite knowing that Manon knows of his relationship with Elisabeth.
The "B Story" in the film revolves around Pierre and Manon interviewing a man about his experiences with the WWII French resistance for a film that Pierre is making on that topic. The drama related to that extends well beyond the subject being particularly personal to Pierre.
All of this leads to a somewhat surprise ending that shows the need for reflection and the related value of deciding what you will sacrifice for something that you think will more than offset that consideration,
The recent Warner Archive DVD release of the 1950 Hitchcock melodrama "Stage Fright" allows adding the film that generally-unrepentant Hitch acknowledges betrays the trust of the viewing public to your video library. This is on top of newly-former Mrs. Reagan (and future "Falcon Crest" matriarch) Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, and Alastair Sim perfectly playing their parts in the flick that the National Board of Review, USA includes in its list of the Top 10 Films of 1950.
"Fright" also is notable for joining Archive Blu-rays of two Hitchcock films for Warner. The aptly titled (and reviewed) based on a true story "The Wrong Man" has Henry Fonda portraying a musician who pays a heavy price for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The also reviewed "I Confess" has Montgomery Clift playing a priest with a past who agonizes over letting someone get away with murder. Any cinephile will delight in finding a bundle of these three releases under the Christmas tree or the Hanukkah bush.
The amusingly labeled curtain literally going up at the end of the opening credits sets the stage for Hitchcock to particularly show that he and Orson Welles are cousins in filmmaking; "Fright" being in black-and-white and making good use of shadows and other contrasts is another indication that Hitchcock and Welles influence each other.
Our story begins with Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd) making a run for the border with the assistance of once (and future?) girlfriend Eve Gill (Wyman). An amusing ancedote by Hitchcock daughter/"Fright" actress Pat Hitchcock in a Robert Osborne-hosted "making-of" feature on the Archive release discusses Dad protecting Wyman by having Pat literally sit in for her in the scenes of Cooper wildly driving through the London streets.
Flashbacks establish that this adventure begins with stage star/current object of affection Charlotte Inwood (Dietrich) showing up at Chez Cooper in a blood-stained dress with a tale of accidentally killing her husband.
The tale continues with Jonathan going to the Inwood home to get Charlotte a clean dress. This leads to a series of mistakes that lead to the police showing up at his door. Our excitable boy rabbiting even before confirming that he is a suspect does not help things and leads to heading out of town with Eve to avoid his destruction..
After safely delivering Jonathan to her roguish and quirky father (Sim) with an eye toward Dad smuggling him to Ireland, Eve figuratively and literally returns to the scene of the crime with an intent to convince Charlotte (a.k.a. Lady MacBeth) to clear the name of Jonathan.
An ideal blend of comedy, melodrama, and meta-references ensue as Eve goes undercover as a maid/theatrical dresser. This coincides with her developing a friendship with potential benefits with "Ordinary" Smith (Michael Wilding), whom Eve subsequently learns is a police detective.
Hilarity and suspense fully erupt when Eve struggles to maintain her cover as Smith escorts her among her theatrical colleagues, a "Gaslight" style plot designed to prompt Charlotte to confess hatches, and Jonathan proves that he is his own worst enemy.
Hitch masterfully keeps several plates spinning in the air throughout the climax until the curtain literally falls on our story. We have Eve confronting not-so-sweet Charlotte and Jonathan wreaking havoc; this culminates in the reveal on which the regret of Hitch is based. It is interesting to see that this man who delights in defying conventions and expectations discover that there are some rules that should not be broken and some lines that should not be crossed.
The first big picture is that "Fright" aptly provides a story that centers around the theatrical world with a strong live-stage vibe. The second big picture is that this movie is a prime example of the more artistic and substantive Hitchcock films.
The Mill Creek Entertainment November 6, 2018 perfectly remastered Blu-ray + DVD + Digital widescreen release of the Emmy-nominated December 1978 television special "Benji's Very Own Christmas Story" provides a great reminder that cute and charming holiday specials outshine darker modern fare. "Story," which does not involve the titular dog desperately wanting a BB gun for Christmas, also continues the solid run of Creek releasing "Benji" fare.
A shameless commerce note is that any child or child-at-heart is sure to love finding a bundle of the four Creek "Benji" releases, three of which nicely tie together, under the Christmas tree or the Hanukkah bush. The reviewed "Benji" has our hero rescuing two children from kidnappers. The also reviewed "For the Love of Benji" has the dog star travelling to Greece with the former abductees. The (review pending) "Benji Off The Leash" moves things in a "Touched By A Pooch" direction by having our shaggy star help people who face proverbially daunting challenges.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Story" describes the concept of the special and offers a glimpse of the rollicking fun of the story.
Our story begins with Benji and his human co-stars Cindy Smith and Patsy Garrett from "Benji" and "Love" on a European publicity tour. We catch up with them in a charming Swiss village (which looks spectacular in Blu-ray) where Benji is scheduled to be the grand marshal of a Christmas Eve parade. The action commences when the trio meets the Kris Kringle (Ron "Fagin" Moody) who is going to drive the one-horse open sleigh in which they are going to ride. One fully expects that everyone will be laughing all the way.
Kringle tells a portion of the story in asking his passengers to visit some fans who cannot attend the parade because they are working. The group agrees under the condition that they are back in time for the parade.
The grand tradition of abducting innocents (e.g., "The Polar Express") to visit the workshop of Santa continues with Kringle escorting his guests through a Narnia-style portal that transports them to where he and his elves make the magic happen.
This portion of "Story" includes an equally entertaining and educational segment in which Kringle utilizes clever exposition to show Benji et al. the images that many countries have of the man whom whom Americans call Santa. This ends with a truly delightful surprise.
The aforementioned rest of the story is that the Santa alleges that an injury prevents him from going on his appointed rounds. He already is preparing the elves to fill in but asks his new friends to help out as well. This portion of the program provides a reasonable believable explanation for Santa being able to deliver so many toys on Christmas Eve.
The inevitable happy ending comes via a clever twist at the end of a rousing musical number that puts the talents of Moody to good use. He is wrapping up an energetic song-and-dance routine when the final piece of the puzzle falls into place. This leads to the characters (and the audience) being in a better place than they were when the "Story"commences.
The special features include the cute "Benji at Work" television special. This one has '70s child-star Adam Rich host a behind-the-scenes look at our star making a movie. We additionally get a photo gallery of our pin-up pooch.
The bigger picture this time is that "Story" is the perfect holiday treat for what ails us. It reminds us of a kinder and gentler time in which reel and real people were pleasant and smiling; this was an era in which speaking your mind did not prompt counter-protests, scorn, and ridicule.
The world was not especially harmonious, but people at least were mostly courteous and did not declare war following even minor offenses. It even was a time that anyone could eat at any desired restaurants with confidence that he or she would not be ousted and/or harangued by fellow diners.
The final comparison is that the term "whatever happened to peace, love, and understanding" is a lyric from an awesome song in the era of "Story" and a modern sense of what did happen to our regard for those who views clash with our own. Few can argue that this is one case in which the past is superior to the Christmas present.
The Film Movement October 2, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 drama "La Familia" provides a twofer regarding the always excellent foreign movies in the Movement catalog. This winner of two "Best Film" awards at the 2018 Miami Film Festival both presents a globally related story and provides American audiences a look at a world about which they know very little if anything.
The following YouTube clip of the official U.S. trailer for "Familia" illustrates the aforementioned aspects of the movie.
The early scenes center around the shockingly brutal life of 12 year-old Pedro in the slums of Caracas. The interactions between him and his fellow almost feral friends are brutal and shockingly crude.. A sadly relatable aspect of this is that it mirrors the life of inner-city kids in the United States. This is down to young kids recklessly playing with guns.
An especially violent and emotionally disturbing confrontation ends in the accidental death of the malfeasor. Pedro catches a break in the form of his single father Andres discovering the fatally injured boy.
Immediately realizing that the incident puts an almost literal target on the back of Pedro prompts Andres to rush home and to just as quickly get his son to grab a few things and run. Typically of 12 year-olds everywhere, Pedro does not grasp the gravity of the situation. He properly notes that the victim is the aggressor but does not understand that that is irrelevant.
Most of the rest of "Familia" introduces Pedro to the life of his father. The real wake-up call comes when the the boy learns about the daily life of this man. The first stop is at the abode of a woman who seems to be a regular booty call., The not-so-warm welcome shows Pedro that adults have it rough,
The next stop is the home of the wealthy woman who is having Andres doing painting. This lady of the house is perfectly represents the stereotype of the rich and/or famous. She and Andres discuss the work, and they haggle over his compensation.
Our pair then literally gets down to work. It is clear that Pedro dislikes this taste of the real world. The boy makes matters worse by generally whining and by nagging Andres about bringing him home. The dual frustration related to the haranguing involves Pedro creating the situation that requires staying on the run and his not understanding why he must be nomadic.
The subsequent events that further establish how hard Andres works to support Pedro also shows the rough life of working-class people in Venezuela. This involves working multiple service-industry jobs for little pay and less stability.
Filmmaker Gustavo Rondon Cordova literally and figuratively brings things home when Pedro returns to the scene of the crime. The news of the events since the unfortunate incident equally shock Pedro and the audience.
Movement supplement "Familia" with the always well-paired bonus short that accompanies Film Club selections. The connection between "Les Miserables" and author Victor Hugo extends well beyond sharing the name of his arguably best-known novel.
The common elements between"Familia" and "Miserables" begin with a street altercation in a rough part of town quickly going south. The 21st-century aspects of this tale of a rogue cop who exceeds the limits of his not-so-ethical partners include a drone capturing the incident.
The strong dystopian notes of both films reflect modern poverty and the street justice that prevails. Th additional message in "Miserables" is the well-known 21st-century truth that a policeman no longer is your friend.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2016 drama "Play the Devil" combines the two best genres in the Breaking catalogs; edgy indie films and gay-themed movies about mutual objects of affection facing strong internal and external pressures. The copious symbolism and social commentary are icing on the cake.
The accolades for this one include major wins at the Nashville and Woodstock film festivals.
The following YouTube clip of a festival trailer shows how tone and style perfectly convey the nature of the central relationship.
"Devil" begins with the mother of all non-sequiturs that writer-director Maria Goven artfully ties into the final moments of the movie, which qualifies as the mother of all symbolism in films. These opening scenes are of two young guys apparently engaged in a rite.
The action then shifts to teenage prodigy/thespian Gregory stealing the show with his starring role in a high school non-musical with an aptly strong "Equus" vibe. This leads to successful middle-aged businessman James (who has a daughter in the cast) coming backstage after the performance to nag (pun intended) James to attend a party at his house. The combination of the overture and this being a Breaking release makes it abundantly clear that James wants to get Gregory on his casting couch and that that effort will succeed.
The early scenes further establish that Gregory fits several stereotypes in both his impoverished community on Trinidad and in inner-cities in the United States. He is a bright, ambitious, likable teen living with his loving grandmother because his parents are not equipped to raise a child. Gregory also has an older brother with a drug habit and a live-in girlfriend.
The pure methods of James regarding his relationship with Gregory include a desire to mentor him and to use his resources to help him pursue his dreams, which clash with the aspirations that his grandmother has for him. The impurity comes via desiring benefits from the unlikely friendship.
The not-so-subtle seduction escalates to James luring Gregory to his luxury beach house for a sleepover. The more subtle response of our boy clearly shows that he accepts with full knowledge that the older man wants something other than gas or grass for that ride.
Getting Gregory into bed does not require plying him with wine (drugged or otherwise). At the same time, our innocent seems to be acting mostly out of obligation and has serious regrets the next morning.
Gregory wanting to end things, but James wanting more relatively free milk drives much of the conflict in the remaining portion of "Devil." Multiple desperate times leading to desperate measures in the form of accepting further assistance from James does not help.
All of this occurs in the period leading up to the annual Carnival festival, which centers around a confrontation with a symbolic devil. The nature of the event this year is particularly personal for Gregory.
The drama this time begins with the two worlds of James colliding in a manner that may end him up in divorce court and estranged from his daughter. We also see that he once again makes a misdirected civic-minded gesture.
This leads to the inevitable final confrontation between James and Gregory. Even folks who are unfamiliar with the nature of Breaking releases know that this conversation will either end with a kiss, bloodshed, angry words, or some combination of the three. The final outcome is more surprising.
The appeal of "Devil" is the aforementioned substance of the film. Most of us want someone younger and cuter; many upstanding members of the community with an outwardly ideal life that includes a loving wife and offspring feel repressed in one or more ways, and help always comes at least with a sense a obligation. The almost impossible challenge relates to achieving a measure of joy in a manner that does not leave scars.
The DVD bonus features include a "making-of" film and a separate extra that has interviews with Gowan and producer Abigail Hadeed.
The Olive Films November 6, 2018 separate Blu-ray and DVD releases of the 2004 "based on a true story" Spanish film "The 7th Day" perfectly illustrates the art-house spirit of Olive; a gift from the catalog of this global film god is sure to delight the cinephile on your shopping list. It is worth mentioning as well that the beautiful cinematography of "Day" REQUIRES buying it in BD.
A related plug for Olive before discussing the many merits of "Day" is that this release coincides with a (soon-to-be-reviewed) Blu-ray release of WWII-era documentaries by Frank Capra. This one also is available on DVD.
The distinctiveness of multi-award-winning "Day" that earns a place in the Olive Films Hall of Fame begins with this art-house classic having relatable depth. It uses a highly symbolic narrative to chronicle a decades-long feud between the Fuentes and Jimenez families. The quirky edge of the film further illustrates that Olive values art over commerce.
The root of the difficulties around which "Day" centers is Amadeo Jimenez abruptly breaking off his relationship with Luciana Fuentes. This triggers Luciaana going fully Havisham with consequences that include her brother responding to the break-up with extreme prejudice. This in turn, leads to the Fuentes family home burning while the matriarch is inside.
The action then shifts forward several years to focus on the next generation of Jimenezs. The specific focus is on the three daughters of Jose the butcher. All of this is in the wake of an exodus resulting from shame and guilt. We additionally witness the ongoing impact of Amadeo determining decades earlier that he just is not that into Luciana.
A combination of the past returning and history threatening to repeat itself leads to a climax that puts the title of the film in PERFECT context; the cynical nature of the message regarding the nature of humankind is a notable twist.
The moderate-sized picture this time is that the shock value of "Day" includes the aforementioned aspect of being based on a true story. The bigger picture is that micro and macro events sadly demonstrate that this is not an isolated incident; the sins of the father (and of the mother) truly have enormous half-lives.
Truly independent and innovative documentary DVD company Bullfrog Films picks a subject near and dear to the heart of millions regarding the release of "The Search for General Tso." This non-fiction movie provides an entertaining overview of the history of Chinese food in America in the larger context of the equally delightful study of the titular sweet and tangy dish that is the fave of so many people.
The following YouTube clip of the trailer for the film is so delightful by itself that you almost definitely will not say "Tso what" in response to this introduction to the production.
This behind-the-scenes look (complete with a tour of a fortune cookie factory) at the Chinese restaurant industry begins with a photo shoot that shows the origin of the pictures of food on the wall menus of many Chinese places. This alone should create a craving for the titular entree.
We soon meet the Guinness World Book record holder for the largest collection of Chinese food menus; this collection is from more countries than there are in the U.N. This aspect of this segment provides the element of "entertainment" that is part of any good documentary; the educational aspect includes learning of a method for determining the best meals in a Chinese restaurant.
Filmmaker Ian Cheney also takes us to the Hunan Province in China to learn more about the real-life general for whom the dish is named. The response of the locals on learning about the American concept of Chinese food is hilarious.
The history of Chinese food restaurants in America is almost as amusing; we learn about origins that include chop suey joints. A fascinating aspect of this is the huge disparity between the Chinese population in our country and the proliferation of restaurants that serve food from their nation, Other perspective comes via comparing the popularity of that cuisine to that of pizza.
The largest context of all this is that Cheney and Bullfrog focus on a subject that is of interest to the general public but receives little thought. The payoff comes when we realize our ignorance regarding a fascinating topic. This is comparable to learning the process for manufacturing shoe laces is worthy of a big-budget film.
The November 13, 2018 Lionsgate DVD release of the 2017 Investigation Discovery docudrama "Dating Game Killer" offers awesomely nostalgic not-so-guilty-pleasure fun. The titular murderer/excitable boy Rodney Alcala (Guillermo Diaz) interrupts his at least decade-long killing spree to compete on the titular game show in the late '70s. It is estimated that his total body count is approximately 130.
Diaz ("Scandal") does such a good job playing a seducer/lurer of girls and women who range roughly from 8 through mid-20s that the audience gets a strong sense of watching Alcala himself. The impact of this performance includes Alcala fitting the pattern of being quirky but not not so outwardly creepy to raise suspicions.
The victim who changes everything for Alcala is a young girl in the late '60s. Police detective Jim Hamell (Robert Knepper of "Prison Break") is at the right place at the right time in that he sees Alcala zero in on the girl when Hamell stops to use a pay phone. The spidey sense of Hamell results in hot pursuit that still is too late to save the girl.
The narrative shifts ahead 10 years; photographer Alcala (of course) lives with his blissfully ignorant mother and is fresh off his national television debut. This also coincides with Alcala perving on two teen girls at the beach.
The audience (and a not-so-good Samaritan) know that Alcala is keeping one of the teens at a wilderness area; we also know that the girl suffers her inevitable fate. The rest of the world only knows that the girl is missing and that a sketch of the man at the beach is a good likeness of that individual.
This incident ties "Killer" together, The circumstances of the case adequately mirror the modus operandi of Alcala to prompt Hamell to come on the scene and impose his services on investigating officer Detective Ryan (Matt Barr). Hamell briefing his new partner-in-crime-solving on the activities of Alcala in the interim between the cold case and the warm one is an effective exposition tool. A primary aspect of this is the legal system repeatedly setting Alcala free to keep preying on women. A '70s element is the clear message that you do not want to get Alcala angry (or scorned).
A really creepy period between the two crimes around which "Killer" centers around is a WTF stint as a photographer at girls' camp in New York state. The shock and awe commences with learning that an adult male manages to use a fake name to obtain a job that allows him largely unfettered access to underage girls. The disbelief continues with Alcala keeping that job after figuratively triggering enough red flags to be visible from space,
"Killer" provides the additional perspective of Carol Jensen (Carrie Preston of "True Blood"), who is the mother of the missing girl. Having a child suddenly vanish without a trace is adequately traumatic; not knowing the fate of that offspring greatly compounds the issue; being certain of the identity of the perpetrator but the proof being insufficient to even bring him in for questioning seems unbearable.
Hamell and Ryan subsequently and literally keep their distance as they watch Alcala to the legally allowed extent. This results in Ryan increasingly embracing the cause of making his suspect a guest of the state.
"Killer" literally saves the best for last in focusing on the legal proceedings that ultimately determine the fate of Alcala. The awesomeness of this includes virtually every entertaining aspect of the Hollywood depictions of trials, This further demonstrates that context is everything regarding whether such developments are amusing, pathetic, or tragic,
The effectiveness of "Killer" relates to the story sadly being one with which the viewing public is very aware; the distinguishing elements are the quality of the people in front of and behind the camera.
CBS Home Entertainment chooses wisely regarding releasing the 2-disc DVD set of the 2018 Sacha Baron Cohen (a.k.a. Borat and Bruno) Showtime series "Who is America" on election day (a.k.a. November 6, 2018), This return of Cohen to a premium cable network series 15 years after HBO aired "Da Ali G Show" epically combines the best of in-your-face documentarian Michael Moore and character-driven comedian Tracey Ullman by having extreme alter-egos interview well-known politicians and activists and some relative and complete unknowns.
"America" is best known for prompting the resignation of Georgia State Representative Jason Spencer after his inadvertent appearance on the second episode of the series. Cohen transforms himself into unconventional Israeli anti-terrorism expert Erran Morad to trick Spencer into figuratively and literally transforming himself into an ass regarding both identifying and repelling terrorists. The highlight of this hilariously absurd segment is Spencer dropping trou. (and boxer briefs) in an exercise that is designed to show him how to send a terrorist running for the hills.
The initial outing of Morad is even better and arguably is the best bit in the entire series. His S1E1 debut has him interview a gun-rights advocate who supports training children as young as three to use guns. The ensuing hilarity includes a video that promotes guns encased in stuffed animals. These include the Gunny Rabbit and the Uzicorn.
Two other characters who represent the polar opposites of the political spectrum do "America" just as proud as Morad. Billy Wayne Ruddick, Jr. is an scooter-bound ultra-conservative. Watching both Senator Bernie Sanders and legendary newsman Ted Koppel shoot him down is beyond awesome. These segments additionally demonstrate the astonishing cool of Sanders and Koppel.
Another memorable segment has NPR t-shirt wearing Dr. Nira Cain-N'Degocella, whom press materials for "America" describe as "a Democratic activist and far-left lecturer on gender studies," conduct a public hearing in Kingman, Arizona. The meeting announcement includes that the topic is economic development; this notice also instructs attendees to leave their guns at home. The reason for essentially requiring checking your gun at the door is that group soon learns that the proposed project is a record-setting mosque. Suffice it to say that the residents do not support the project.
Flamboyant aggressively heterosexual ultra-rich Italian fashion photographer Gio Monaldo earns mention for two segments. The girlfriend of Monaldo blatantly granting him sexual satisfaction while he discusses purchasing a huge state-of-the-art yacht is only the tip of the iceberg. (Pun intended.) The real shock and awe is in the form of the broker going along when Monaldo makes it increasingly clear that he intends to use the yacht for a horrendous criminal purpose.
A later episode has Monaldo meeting with O.J. Simpson; Monaldo is representing himself as the liaison of a wealthy third-party who wants to meet Simpson. Monaldo lightly discussing killing a significant other while Simpson laughs along is highly effective, This definitely qualifies as one of the most disturbing bonding moments in television history.
The success of "America" relates to Cohen simply giving people enough rope with which to hang themselves. He does get them on camera under false pretenses and presents outlandish premises. However, he does NOTHING to coerce their responses. The lesser foils definitely all play along because the set up supports their views. Further, they seem to revel being in the spotlight just as much as any reality-show star. It is equally awesome that Sanders and Koppel distinguish themselves by not playing along.
The copious extras include deleted scenes and extended interviews. The latter include additional footage of a discussion between Morad and Dick Cheney. Highlights of the Cheney interview include Cheney autographing a waterboard and them discussing then Vice-President Cheney shooting a friend in the face during a hunting trip.
This latest in an ongoing series of reviews on vintage Warner Archive titles further illustrates the unparalleled diversity of the seemingly bottomless Archive vault. The DVD release of the 1981 dramedy "...All the Marbles" is a prime example of the gritty films of that period that are more heavy on the "dram" then the "edy." "Marbles" further is notable as the final film by director Robert Aldrich, who is better known for "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" and "The Dirty Dozen."
"Marbles" stars Peter Falk playing Peter Falk as rumpled and crude manager of female tag-team wrestling duo "The California Dolls" Harry Sears. We meet this group in Akron during a match for promoter Eddie Cisco (Burt Young). Sears playing hardball with Cisco both leaves the team and their manager wondering where their next meal is coming from and Harry spectacularly burning a bridge.
A subsequent bout with the "Really Rottens" in the form of "The Toledo Tigers" leaves the Dolls battered, bruised, and bitter. In comparison, having to resort to the lower form of female mud wrestling where they get their tops ripped off is not much of a downfall.
The match against the Tigers leads to the mother of all grudge matches in true sports film tradition, The victory of the Dolls in the rematch sets the stage for a championship fight at the MGM Grand in Reno. The stakes regarding this event gives the film its name.
The primary depth comes in the character studies of the trio, Sears is completely untrustworthy and seems to actually revel in living in cheap motels and driving a car that is beyond beater. Meanwhile, one of the dolls is addicted to drugs and the other has a clear willingness to take one (or more) for the team. The common element is that all of them are shameless.
Additional substance is in the form of "Marbles" playing the same role as other members of its genre; it shows "respectable people" the life of folks who live and work in the underbelly of society. Most of us give little if any thought to female wrestlers and pay even less attention to their lives.
Although this is not a "grace of God" situation, we still see the realistically sympathetic side of women (and their men) who understandably often are the subject of scorn when they even are thought about. Putting a human face on them and literally seeing their pain and deprivation make them more sympathetic,
The Dekkoo Films August 28, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 gay-themed thriller "The Year I Lost My Mind" (nee "Jahr des Tigers") from writer-director Tor Iben provides a good chance to add a mildly erotic Hitchcockian thriller to your Halloween season viewing schedule.
"Mind" is the first (but definitely will not be the last) feature film for Alexander Tsypilev, who plays a literal peeping Tom. We meet this excitable 20ish boy buying a mask for a presumably nefarious purpose and soon learn that his preliminary objective is freaking out his sister on returning to the home that they share with their mother. We almost as soon discover that Mom is indulgent of Tom largely based on her understanding that he is not like other boys.
The real fun (and Hitchcockian element) begins when Tom and his partner-in-crime commit a daytime break-in of the apartment of studly 20-something gay-studies professor Lars. The kicker is that Lars (who apparently is a comatose sleeper) is taking a cat nap during this homo invasion and never wakes up. This encounter immediately triggers an obsession for Tom.
The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Mind" provides a strong sense of the character study aspect, obsession, and overall suspense of the film.
The Hitchcockian vibe begins with the threat hitting close to home rather than the spooky isolated house. That setting and the related sense that someone has been in your home contribute to the familiar angst. We also get the element of fixation/obsession for which Hitch is famous. This is not to mention the building suspense that leads to the climax (no pun intended). One spoiler is that the outcome is not one that would ever enter the mind of notorious (pun intended) womanizer Hitchcock.
Another twist on Hitchcock is that Tom regularly returns to the scene of the crime both when sound-sleeper Lars is home and is away. Meanwhile, Lars gets direct and indirect evidence that a Goldilocks comes into his home while he is away. Those of us who have had a sniff-freak roommate can relate to Lars being perplexed regarding his underwear disappearing.
Ala Hitchcock and filmmmakers who emulate him, Iben has Lars almost catch Tom red handed. One twist is that it Tom likely fantasizes about being caught with his pants down but is unsure how Lars would react to finding him in that state.
One of a handful of inevitable outcomes commences with Lars literally and figuratively waking up and Tom being the one who gets away. This leads to Lars commencing a manhunt that concludes with deliverance. The lesson here is that boys will be boys.
An equally compelling portent revolves around Tom haunting a very busy wooded gay cruising area where he alternates between being the hunter and the prey; this setting also is one of two in which he acts on his deepest desire. The surreal elements of the trips into the woods are a highlight.
Much of the depth comes from the symbolic aspect of the masks, other psychological elements, and Lars providing gay-history tidbits. This is not to mention the depiction of male aggression being tied into sexual desire.
All of this amounts to a film that supports the theory that the erotic aspects of any movie typically have a converse relationship with the quality and depth of the film. "Mind" additionally successfully fuels paranoia related to losing intimate apparel and being sure that a personal item is someplace other than its prior location.
'To Auschwitz & Back: The Joe Engel Story' DVD: Holocaust Survivor Shows Importance of 'Never Forget'
Dreamscape Media and the Holocaust Education Film Foundation teaming up to release the documentary "To Auschwitz and Back: The Joe Engel Story" demonstrates an admirable commitment to record the stories of Holocaust survivors before even more of them pass away. Engel is a 90 year-old long-time resident of Charleston, South Carolina.
"Auschwitz” opens on the surprisingly upbeat note of photos of a ceremony marking the naming of a Charleston Street for Engel. The focus then shifts to Engel and his nephew/surrogate son beginning the narration of the story of Engel during the World War II era. This story begins with the early childhood of Engel, his life in the Warsw ghetto, and his subsequent time in a concentration camp. We also learn how he comes to live in Charleston.
An amazing aspect of this is the archival footage that it is difficult to believe that Hitler considers positive propaganda. These images from the camps and of Nazi soldiers enjoying their work are among the worst that have been released.
The stories that Engel shares from his time in the camps includes an incident in which the guards are cruel just to be mean; we also get stomach-turning stories regarding the overcrowding.
Engel further tells us of his contributions to the war effort in the period after leaving the camp. Learning of a sanctioned "Purge" style night of wilding is very surprising.
Seeing the dedication of the nephew to his uncle is very nice; this includes a highly symbolic act that is virtually irreversible,
The entire film goes beyond putting a personal face on the Holocaust. We get detailed insight that literally goes from the beginning of the genocide to the present.
The bonus material includes two separate films that solely consist of distressing archival footage of Auschwitz and of the Warsaw ghetto.
The Breaking Glass Pictures August 14, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 coming-of-age drama "Porcupine Lake" honors the spirit of equal time. This tale of big-city awkward tween Bea spending the summer near the titular body of water in rural Canada and entering an "its complicated" relationship with local girl Kate is a variation of the coming-of-age of a questioning boy bonding with a guy who is more sure about himself.
The following YouTube video of the Breaking trailer for "Lake" fully conveys the indie spirit and the new love vibe of the film.
Our story begins with Bea and her school-teacher mother arriving at the gas-station/diner that her father is running in the wake of inheriting it from his father. It seems that the family is reunited for the summer several months after Dad moves from Toronto to fulfill his family duty. Ambiguity regarding the level of estrangement between Mom and Dad is an intriguing element of the film.
Middle-class Bea literally soon catches the eye of upper-lower-middle-class Kate, who quickly makes a move on her future summer friend with possible benefits. Kate definitely is the aggressor in this relationship. It is equally clear that she is more developed on every level than Kate.
The primary focus is on this vacation romance in which Bea sells cheap trinkets outside the diner and Kate deals with her somewhat shameless family that includes aptly named teen stud Romeo. This playah does not let being a baby daddy affect his dating life.
Although the girls dream of a life together, Bea is more realistic than Kate. It is interesting that the fantasy of the local girl essentially includes a life of luxury in Westchester with her math teacher.
Writer/director Ingrid Venninger shows throughout "Lake" that she knows of which she writes; this is particularly true in separate scenes in which Bea expresses the extent to which she will go to be with Kate and Kate makes a heart-breaking breaking effort to escape her environment.
As indicated above, one of the nicest things about "Lake" is that is shows that both boys and girls do cry. One apparent difference is that boys who like other other dudes are much less comfortable acting on it and definitely are more reticent about activity that indicates that the opposite sex does not interest them.
The feature-length "making-of" documentary "The Other Side of Porcupine Lake" shows the love of Venniger for the project and the support of Breaking for the production. Getting to see every aspect of making this shot-on-location film that features locals with no acting experience is fascinating.
It is equally interesting to see multiple thespians audition for the primary roles. Although most hopefuls do a good job, one can easily understand the casting decisions. Seeing the actor who plays "Dad" with a significantly different look provides further entertainment.
One highlight is watching Veninger first find and then arrange to use one building for "Lake." The most fun comes on seeing a presumable prod. ass. literally strip down and take one for the team as Veninger puts him through his paces.
The other extras consist of additional audition footage and separate cast and crew interviews. The enthusiasm of the kids is fun.
The Monarch Home Entertainment October 9, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 horror film "3rd Night" provides a good chance to add diversity to your horror films collection. One notable element is aptly named writer/director Adam Gravely engaging in laudable nepotism regarding casting. This is not to mention Gravely putting his skill as a master of shadows to good use.
The underlying concept succeeds because it reflects relatable fears and stereotypes. This includes reflecting how anyone who has bought or sold a house feels about realtors. One hint is that this scum-of-the-earth makes used-car dealers seem like model citizens.
"Night" opens with (presumably) urban transplants Meagan and Jonathan Reid moving to an apple orchard in rural Australia. Their relationship already being strained meets one prerequisite for this type of film. Their beloved cat Nook quickly going missing checks another box.
Veterans of this type of horror film (and of "Scooby-Doo") can deduce that creepy local Cambo is not the one actively menacing the outwardly nice young couple. Abused young-teen Cambo son Rex adds an interesting element to the film.
As typically is the case, Meagan recognizes the danger that the couple is facing more quickly than Jonathan. This includes repeatedly believing that someone is watching them from their yard. The first creepy (and prophetic) note help make the man of the house a believer.
As the title suggests, all Hell breaks loose on the third night that the Reids are in their new home. Of course, this involves Cambo getting the worst of it in a few ways and at least one Reid being knocked unconscious. The surprises come with nice variations on the old psycho killer in the back seat trick. We also get good humor related to the tech. in the SUV of the couple.
As indicated above, the effectiveness of "Night" includes centering the movie around real fears. This starts with rarely knowing the history of your new home when you buy a house. An aspect of this is having little (if any) way of knowing the extent to which someone is obsessed with the property or (in rarer cases) is still living there,
Currently owning a house that the seller still drives by to check out things years later and repeatedly refers to a "time capsule" that he states that I will never find provides personal perspective regarding this. A spoiler is that needing to replace a drop-down ceiling in the basement revealed the family papers (now landfill) that comprise the capsule.
Graveley ups his game by including the element of the conflict associated with city slickers invading the territory of hicks; this concept is the stuff of which countless television and film comedies and dramas are made. Putting people from vastly different environments in the same space has plenty of potential minimally for tears and recriminations.
The third element of this concept is anyone living in an isolated environment. Once again, reel and real-life repeatedly prove that folks whom no one would hear scream are particularly easy prey who literally or figuratively kill people just to see them die.
Also as mentioned above, this blending of horror elements makes it a good choice for inclusion of an indie psychological thriller to your scary movie marathon.
The rarity regarding Breaking Glass Pictures breaking from an awesome tradition of releasing DVDs of (oft gay-themed and regularly explicit) edgy fare greatly adds to the enjoyment of these forays into Disney Channel Land. A prior example of this is the (reviewed) DVD release of "In the Doghouse" about two Disney Channel central-casting kids sabotaging a relationship of their divorced mother.
The latest addition to the virtual Family section of the Breaking catalog is the release of the 2017 scifi film "Watch the Sky." This literal day in the life story centers around a science experiment of tween aspiring astronomer Shawn. The parallels with the 1997 Jodie Foster/Matthew McConaughey scifi film "Contact" based on the Carl Sagan novel of the same name contribute additional enjoyment.
The day starts with Shawn dashing out of the (presumably) Midwest home of his father, who is the sheriff, to meet college-aged brother Michael out front. The first bit of inadvertent humor related to beyond Disney wholesome Michael is his comment that he is happily sacrificing a wild Spring Break to help Shawn. This leads to Michael indicating that a "welcome home" party in his honor will be a wild free-for-all. Hearing him then lament losing out on an opportunity to "get laid" is equally amusing.
The first sad truth is that not making the party almost certainly is no great loss. The second rude awakening is that Michael should not count on sexual release that differs from the solo activity in which he mostly likely engages when he (almost definitely mistakenly) thinks that his college roommate is asleep,
Meanwhile back at the ranch, a regularly bickering older couple arrives home to find a cow dead from what seems to be unnatural causes. The quickly revealed murder weapon pays homage to classic scifi horror; this leads to "The Tall Man" dragging the husband out into crop circle central and the wife experiencing tremendous physical and emotional distress.
Sheriff Dad, his "Barney Fife" caliber deputy, and Firefighter/EMT Uncle literally and figuratively enter the scene on the report of the incident. They soon learn that the cattle mutilation is not an isolated incident and that Tall Man most likely is not a local.
This roughly coincides with Shawn and his lab assistant/bitch Michael launching a weather balloon with an attached camera capable of broadcasting a signal. The goal is for the camera to reach the inner border of outer space and record what it sees. Post-launch the bros without hos are hanging out in and bonding in a manner that goes well beyond the interaction between Wally and Beaver Cleaver, They also literally are waiting for their balloon to land.
Initial excitement regarding the first images from the camera turns to fear as the boys well outside the 'hood discover that their tech. is in a high-use flight path. The lads referring to the threat of "butt probes" in the wake of that close encounter is further proof of the wholesome nature of "Sky."
Things rapidly escalate on all levels as the adults have a close encounter with the stereotypical military folks and the aliens step up their game, One spoiler is that the brothers are subject to a form of probing.
All of this ends on notes that leave us wanting more; the incredible promise for the next chapter in the story includes whether Shawn ends up with a seat at the table or on a plate on top of it.
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