The recent Warner Archive Blu-ray of 1941 Hitchcock film "Suspicion" reinforces that The Home Video King of Classic Movies and The Master of Suspense is a match made in cinephile heaven. This tale of the rushed courtship of sheltered heiress Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) and shillingless playboy Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) joins the growing listing of Blu-ray Hitchcock titles in the Archive catalog. The loving restorations alone justify adding these releases to your collection.
A personal cool aspect of this release is noting the same points that Robert Osborne and other film historians state in the documentary "Before the Fact" Suspicious Hitchcock" that is a Blu-ray extra. This feature also tells about the member of the Hitchcock family who plays a supporting role in "Suspicion."
"Suspicion" comes on the heels of the reviewed Archive release of the aptly titled Jane Wyman film "Stage Fright" in which Hitch has director's remorse regarding a Moby-Dick sized red herring. Other notable Hitchcock films that Archive has adopted include the (reviewed) "ripped-from-the-headlines" Henry Fonda film "The Wrong Man," and the (also-reviewed) "I Confess" that has Montgomery Clift playing a priest who is facing the prospect of letting a murderer escape the earthly consequences of his act. Whether God will get either man for that remains unknown.
Our leads are strangers on a train when they meet; steerage passenger Johnnie sneaks into the first-class carriage in which Lina is riding. Learning that he lacks the funds for the upgrade is the first of several red flags in their relationship.
The paths of Johnnie and Lina cross again during a hunt; the latter soon getting a wake-up call regarding her spinsterhood causes her to latch onto the first gigolo that crosses her path.
The honeymoon period ends on the couple moving into their showplace on returning from their post-wedding trip, Lina learns that Johnnie plans to live large on her nickel. One challenge is that the family fisc is smaller than assumed.
Johnnie continues to show his true colors in ways that include digging his debt hole deeper, continuing to gamble, and getting caught with his hand in the company til. Lina discovering all this on her own does not help matters.
Mounting evidence that includes a friendship between Johnnie and murder-mystery writer Isobel Sedbusk is pure Hitchccok in that it increases the titular response in Lina regarding her belief that Johnnie intends to get a divorce by poison. This element of the film puts an amusing spin on the adage about not buying the cow when you can get the milk for free.
Another fun aspect of "Suspicion" involves having Nigel Bruce of the "Sherlock Holmes" films of the era play long-time Johnnie friend Gordon "Binky" Cochran Thwaite. Bruce does his usual good job playing the good-natured sidekick; he also holds himself very well regarding Grant.
All of the action climaxes with Lina reasonably believing that she is facing imminent mortal danger; This scene with Johnnie shows why he and Fontaine get the big bucks. In true Hitchcock style, the plausible conclusion will surprise you.
The combination of quality source material, a skilled director behind the camera, and a talented ensemble easily earn allay any suspicions that this movie is an outdated production that is not worthy your time in 2019.
Mill Creek Entertainment goes fully old school regarding the January 8, 2018 2-disc DVD release "The Laurel & Hardy Comedy Collection." This extensive set of team and solo shorts and feature films illustrates how these film pioneers influence many duos who follow on the large and small screen.
A recent post on the fantabulous theatrical film "Stan & Ollie" expands on this theme of the legacy of the duo.
The scope of these 24 classic performances include the first pairing that has a sinister-looking Hardy appear in the 1921 Laurel short "The Lucky Dog." This early silent has Laurel starring as a recently evicted tenant who soon becomes the companion of the best friend of man; pure vaudeville ensues in the form of the character whom Laurel portrays inadvertently thwarting the hold-up by the Hardy character. Further hilarity ensues as the Hardy character attempts to recover his ill-gotten gain.
The 1943 color short "The Tree in a Test Tube" is an amusing pulp non-fiction PSA in which Laurel and Hardy discover that a surprising number of household goods are made of wood. We get another alternative format in home movies that show the pair clowning around with the children of Laurel.
A highlight is the classic feature-length film "The Flying Deuces." This one has a lovelorn Hardy get his buddy Laurel to join the French Foreign Legion to help the rotund Romeo forget a broken heart. The boys soon realize the reality of their situation and that walking away is less easy than expected. Of course, hilarity ensues in manners that include making authority figures look foolish.
The lesser-known feature "Utopia" from 1951 is darker and more cynical than "Deuces." This arguably reflects a belief that the fans of the team are a little older and interested in a story line that reflects that maturity.
"Utopia" commences with Laurel and Hardy travelling to London to collect an inheritance of Laurel; the pile of cash quickly diminishing because of taxes and fees is the first bit of "adult content" and recurs during the film.
Hilarity fully ensues as the team and two disenfranchised men hit the high seas en route to the tropical island that is part of the aforementioned legacy. A series of unfortunate circumstances lead to a shipwreck that reminds us that the legacy of the team includes Gilligan and the Skipper.
As oft is the case, a dame who is seeking her own escape from the civilized world coming on the scene creates mayhem. The quartet of men vie for her affections in oft desperate manners. Subsequent arrivals create more complications and hilarity.
The best part of all this is that this MCE release reflects the original mission of Unreal TV; this objective is keeping classic films and television programs in the public consciousness. It sadly is likely that this review is the first that those of the generation that reserve actually making a telephone call to dire emergencies have ever heard of the guys who set the standard for team comedy.
The numerous delights associated with the 2018 BBC Films biopic "Stan & Ollie" that is enjoying a current limited run in North America makes it tough to select an apt starting point. The strongest endorsement for this film is that this tough audience who likely never laughs at a movie and only occasionally smiles laughed out loud at least three times during this one.
An early detour is calling attention to a post on the very funny Mill Creek Entertainment DVD set "The Laurel and Hardy Collection."
One "Point A" is that this tale of the desperate times of the titular comedy team leading to the desperate measure of a 1950s stage-tour of the U.K. evokes strong memories of the "Trip" films of Laurel portayor Steve Coogan with fellow funny guy/actor Rob Brydon. That comic documentary series has Coogan and Brydon entertaining each other and the audience as they take restaurantcentric extended road trips through places such as Italy and Spain. Their dueling Connerys in what is recalled to be during the "Italy" film is hilarious.
Coogan trades in Brydon for Hardy portrayor John C. Reilly this time around. The strong performance of Reilly and his mastery of the comedy style of Hardy makes up for his recent film pairings with Will Ferrell.
The starting point for "Stan" is a dressing-room conversation during the filming of the 1937 Laurel and Hardy film comic western "Way Out West," This figurative form of pillow talk immediately verifies that a comedy team is like a married couple. Stan is expressing concern regarding both the romantic life and the heavy gambling of Ollie. This exchange includes the very Cooganesque line in which Stan advocates not bothering to marry and simply giving someone whom he hates a house.
A more serious topic sets the stage (no pun intended) for the rest of the film. Stan expresses a centuries' old criticism of capitalism in complaining that producer Hal Roach is horribly exploiting the team by making a fortune off of their films and not paying them very much. This leads to learning about the personal politics of Roach.
A confrontation with Roach prompts the first of many "TV Land" thoughts. Stan walks out on Roach and expects that Ollie will follow suit. However, Ollie stays behind and works with an ersatz Stan.
This development evokes thoughts of an episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Head writer Rob Petrie (Van Dyke) walks out over a conflict regarding his work. Although Rob expects that his team/close friends Buddy and Sally will join him, they stay behind. Comic anger ensues.
A related note regarding Van Dyke is that he befriends Laurel in the early '60s and studies under him.
The action in "Stan" then shifts to the aforementioned tour around which most of the film revolves. The objectives of this venture include giving Ollie much needed money and helping the team revive its popularity in order to make a planned "Robin Hood" parody film a reality for these men in tight spots.
This portion of the film strongly relates to the "Happy Days" empire of super-producer Garry Marshall. On the broader level, the genius of Marshall includes his reasoning that a show that is made in the '70s but set in the '50s never looks dated. This is one way that "Stan," like its subject, is eternal.
A narrower perspective relates to the failed "Days" spin-off "Joanie Loves Chachi." Referring to the well-publicized romance and subsequent break-up of stars Erin Moran and Scott Baio, Marshall notes that making the show is tough when Joanie no longer loves Chachi. The same principle clearly applies regarding the comeback tour of Laurel and Hardy.
The first laugh-out-loud moment comes when our boys do a bit with the bell on the front desk of a hotel. This reinforces the principle that something unexpected is funny and the recent comment by comedy legend Carol Burnett (who currently is touring) that funny always be funny. The more narrow focus this time is the HILARIOUS YouTube video of the two cats sitting side-by-side and using their paws to ring a bell so that they will get a treat,
The pure genius of both the source material and Coogan really comes out in a scene in which the unexpected truly is not anticipated. We see our Balki and Cousin Larry dragging a heavy trunk up a long stairway at a rail station. We instantly know that the trunk is going to fall back down the stairs; Ollie asking Stan for the time at the top of the stairs tells us how the trunk will fall.
Stan sadly looking down at the trunk on the platform below and essentially saying fuck it in a much kinder and gentler manner is where the genius enters the picture.
We additionally see the boys onstage doing a bit in which Stan accidentally puts on the hat of Ollie; a moment in which Ollie shows great exasperation but switches the hats himself makes you feel as if you are watching the '60s versions of Laurel and Hardy Gilligan and the Skipper doing their thing.
A moment in which a dejected Stan is reminded that Abbott and Costello have absconded with his career is not worth more mention than that. A scene in which Stan comments to Ollie outside a hotel that "the girls" are due to arrive is noteworthy for evoking thoughts of Art Carney and Jackie Gleason in "The Honeymooners." A bit of wife swapping occurs in the form of lanky funnyman Stan having a tough and flinty Russian wife and rotund straight man Ollie having the more ditzy and mousy spouse.
All of this climaxes as Stan picks the wrong time and place to vent long-restrained resentment. This threatens the previously successful detente between the men. One could fully expect that to be the end of Laurel and Hardy.
The nature of the subject requires that the show goes on. The enhanced manner in which the guys take more than one for the team further enhances the sense that a comedy team is analogous to a married couple. You may not always like your strange bedfellow, but you always love him or her.
The nature of the 2018 first season of the Showtime dramedy "Kidding" makes this multi-level post on the CBS Home Entertainment January 29, 2019 S1 DVD release apt. On the surface, Jim Carrey stars as Jeff Piccirillo, who has spent 30 years playing beloved PBS children's show host Mr. Pickles. Also on the surface, Pickles of "Mr. Pickles Puppet Time" is a manic-depressive version of Mister Rogers.
Digging a little deeper, "Kidding" can be considered an unofficial sequel to the 1998 Carrey film "The Truman Show." That film centers around Carrey character Truman Burbank, who has an existential crisis on obtaining increasingly convincing evidence that he literally is living in a controlled environment. The smoking gun that proves that just because you are paranoid does not mean that no one is watching comes in the form of Truman unknowingly having spent virtually all of his life on a huge sound stage where his literal life story is filmed and used to entertain the viewing public.
A deeper level is Jeff and Truman both being modern versions of the Peter Sellers character Chauncey Gardener in the MUST-SEE 1979 comedy "Being There." Like the post-show Truman, Gardener (nee Chance the gardener) gets thrust in the real world. The rest of the story is that the cultured and educated members of society unwittingly embrace the wisdom of a fool.
One can easily imagine the naive and naturally cheerful and upbeat Jeff being the man whom Truman becomes on joining society. It is equally plausible that the tragedy around which "Kidding" S1 centers would affect Truman in the same manner that it impacts Jeff.
Another deeper layer relates to the issues of preserving a valuable image and the need for all concerned to realize that a celebrity has a public self and a separate private self. The analogy this time comes courtesy of a wonderfully cheesy television movie about the making of the '70scom "The Partridge Family." The suits get upset when a cover of Rolling Stone magazine shows a little skin below the waist of series star David Cassidy. The execs comment that Keith Partridge does not have pubic hair, and the actor playing Cassidy responds that Cassidy does.
The following YouTube clip of a "Kidding" trailer reinforces the above impressions. It also highlights the wonderful trademark quirkiness of this latest addition to premium channel dramedies.
The Showtime/quirky cred. of "Kidding" begins with it being from the mind of Dave Holstein of "Weeds" and "Raising Hope." The indie cred. includes executive-producer Michael Gondry once again teaming with "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" star Carrey. In front of the camera, Judy Greer plays separated spouse Jill and Catherine Keener plays beard/ Jeff sister/puppet creator Deidre. Justin Kirk of "Weeds" plays Jill love interest Peter.
Although the narrative begins with Jeff and beloved puppet Uke Larry appearing on "Conan" to discuss "Puppet Time," our story commences with events that occur exactly one year earlier. A distracted Jill is driving squabbling 11 year-old twins Will and Phil when a truck broadsides their mini-van. Phil dies in this accident.
Jeff separating from Jill is the primary outward collateral damage from the death. The plot thickens in the present as the increasing angst of Jeff prompts him to proportionately advocate for a "Puppet Time" episode on death. Father/producer Seb Piccirillo (Frank Langella) strongly opposes that idea. His motives extend beyond freaking out kids to having concern about the ongoing financial viability of the series.
The rest of the story is that Seb is recruiting Deidre to work with him on plans both to further profit from the current incarnation of "Pickle Time" and to phase Jeff out from the production. A hilarious sub-plot has skater Tara Lipinski playing Mr. Pickles in an ice show. Suffice it to say that someone goes for her jugular regarding that venture.
We also get Will becoming part of a bad crowd and Diedre daughter Maddy regressing, The latter largely is due to the deterioration of the marriage of Diedre after she learns that her husband has been tickling the ivories with the male neighborhood piano teacher. A clarinet v. piano conversation regarding this story line is a hilarious version of the oysters and snails exchange in "Spartacus."
All of this comes to a head when Jeff uses a live-TV opportunity to state just about everything that has been restrained since the accident. The manner in which the tension is immediately broken arguably is the best moment in any of the 10 S1 episodes.
Suffice it to say that everyone is wiser and understands the people in his or her life better at the end of S1. The problems are that no one seems much happier and at least one character bounces before the S2 premiere later this year.
The DVD bonuses begin with separate segments on Jeff and his family. CBS saves the best for last in presenting the hysterical "How "Kidding" Came to Be" in the stop-motion animation style of the opening credits and a few scenes.
The awesomeness of the beautifully remastered Warner Archive January 15, 2019 Blu-ray of the 1963 Paul Newman drama "The Prize" begins with this release adding another Newman film to the Archive catalog. This inventory includes the (reviewed) "Harper" and the (also reviewed) "Drowning Pool" series in which the salad-dressing king plays gumshoe Lew Harper.
This film based on an Irving Wallace novel also is a perfect example of a Hitchcockian Cold War era movie. This comparison begins with Newman playing rugged everyman/Nobel Prize winning novelist Andrew Craig getting in over his head (pun intended) due to a series of unfortunate circumstances.
60s sex-kitten Elke Sommer fills the role of a Hitchcockian blonde who becomes the partner-in-crime-solving of the leading man. The credits of screenwriter Ernest Lehman including the 1958 Hitchcock film "North by Northwest" further contributes to the Hitch cred. of "Prize." You will want to keep your eyes on this one.
The Cold War element comes courtesy of fellow Nobel winner German physicist Dr. Max Stratman (Edward G. Robinson) not seeming to be himself during the festivities related to the Nobel ceremony. The plot thickeners include current American Max having worked in his native country (for a stated good reason) during WWII. His clandestine meeting with a former colleague and other indications of nefarious doings contribute to the sense that something is rotten in the state of Sweden.
The "Grand Hotel" vibe begins with "Prize" centering around the stays of Andrew, Max, their fellow Nobel winners, and the companions of those folks who are the top members of their professions, The Grand Hotel hosting this group seals the deal even more than an amusing Greta Garbo joke with which Newman runs.
The following YouTube clip of the '60stastic trailer for "Prize" highlights all the above elements in a manner that screams for watching the film.
Sommer plays local handler Inger Lisa Andersson, who finds "problem child" Andrew far more than a handful. This hard-drinking womanizing cynic makes it clear that the cash award is the only prize that interests him.
Andrew divides his romantic pursuits between Inger and Max niece Emily (Diane Baker). Emily almost literally is the girl-next-door but may be far less pure than she seems.
The rest of the gang includes married French scientists Denise and Claude Marceau, who amusingly lack any chemistry between them. Claude keeping his beautiful "secretary" in an adjoining room prompts Denise to dictate to Andrew.
The game fully gets afoot when a puzzling remark by Max triggers the spidey sense of Andrew; this soon leads to our hero obtaining solid proof of an evil plot. Of course, no one believes him.
The lukewarm pursuit sends Andrew to a private sanitarium and then hilariously seeking cover at a meeting of a nudist group; this being a '60s Hollywood film precludes getting a glimpse of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids.
This leads to Inger Lisa fully becoming a pawn in the intrigue; the ensuing rescue attempt involves a good mix of cunning and brute strength, This leads to a wonderful scene in which it is clear that Andrew does not have a gun in his pocket but is glad to see Inger Lisa.
Of course, the Nobel ceremony provides the setting for the climax of "Prize." Andrew predictably saves the day, but the truly surprising twists at the end deserve a revered place in Hollywood history. This verifies that "Prize" is much more original "Manchurian Candidate" then "White House Down."
CBS Home Entertainment scores a touchdown regarding releasing the complete-series DVD-set of "The Game" on January 29, which is the same week as the Super Bowl. This multi Image Awards winning series that features aging San Diego Sabers team captain Jason Pitts is very apt at a time that real-life New England Patriots QB Tom Brady may be putting his soft balls in his locker for the last time.
The disclaimers regarding the following thoughts on this release begin with not having previously watched this series or "Girlfriends," of which it is a spin-off. Further ignorance relates to only having time to watch roughly 40 or the 147 episodes in this set and also having virtually no knowledge of football. The better news is that none of this is a handicap regarding enjoying the hilarity and associated trauma and drama of "Game."
A related perspective is this New Hampshire boy initially hearing the term "homes" as "Holmes" and believing that the term refers to an intelligent person. He is not very fly even for a white guy.
Knowledge does include executive-producer Kelsey Grammer having extensive familiarity with one popular series leading to another success.
This American version of the British series "Footballers Wives" centers around three women and their men. The "Girlfriends" tie-in relates to Melanie "Med School" Barnett (Tia D. Mowry) of that series sacrificing studying at Johns Hopkins to attend a San Diego university. Her motive is standing by her man Derwin Davis, who is a Sabers rookie.
The S1 and S2 drama of this couple largely centers on the challenge of taking one for the team. Derwin initially struggles to find his place on the Sabers in every sense of that term; he then must deal with all the temptations associated with fame and fortune as well as regularly preserving his male pride.
Much unintended humor relates to first-year med. student Melanie almost always looking well groomed and rarely looking tired. This is not to mention that numerous times that she ditches studying to party with Derwin or even fly to an away game. The impact of the demand to keep up with the other wives and girlfriends is a regular source of conflict.
Bi-racial player Jason (Coby Bell) is married to white former cheerleader/current heavy social drinker Kelly Pitts. The charm and humor of Bell makes Jason the most appealing character of the primary sextet.
Conflict in this marriage that is due for a seven-year itch includes multi-multi-millionaire Jason being comically frugal. We also see the strain that this and other demands place of Kelly, who becomes a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
A "Meet the Parents" episode that explains the income insecurity of Jason nicely makes that character more human. Less sympathy relates to his concern regarding his days on the gridiron being numbered. It seems that retired star players easily transition into a combination of coaching jobs, acting careers, sportscaster gigs, and/or lucrative endorsement deals,
The least likable couple is star QB Malik Wright and his mother/manager Tasha Mack (Wendy Raquel Robinson). Malik is a stereotypical fool who considers himself a playah, but whose game is limited to the one on the actual field. This portrayal evokes thoughts of the performance of Jimmie "J.J." Walker on the '70s sitcom "Good Times" causing fellow cast member John Amos to quit that hit series.
Tasha is a stereotypical sassy woman who works her way up from the streets after becoming an unwed mother at 16.
An S2 episode in which Malik continues digging his hole deeper after making an offensive joke about inner-city teens selling drugs is a good example of his personality; for her part, Tasha is ready for a fight at the drop of a feather.
Armchair quarterbacking begins with stating that the concept of "Game" is solid. It gives the general public insight regarding a world that is foreign to many of us. Focusing on the wives and girlfriends allows us to meet the women behind the high-profile men. It is nice to think that the highly significant others of real-life players support each other as much as the Sunbeams help the Sabers women.
Further, the first few S1 episodes particularly avoid standard sitcom plots; no one needs to keep a dinner for the boss from becoming a catastrophe or must work through a wacky misunderstanding. An amusing aspect of this is that this observation comes just before watching an episode in which Jason and Kelly fight regarding whether to throw their young daughter a lavish birthday party.
"Game" does put a nice spin on the absurdly expensive kids' party plot; the drama that often enters each episode includes Kelly feeling both that she always must play the mean parent and that Jason uses this celebrity status in his campaign to be considered the nice parent.
The numerous bonus features include the "The Game" episode of "Girlfriends that is a pilot for our series. We also get two interviews with "Game" creator Mara Brockk Akil and several deleted scenes. This is not to mention a feature on the series transitioning from the CW to BET after the third season.
The recent Cinema Libre Studio Blu-ray release of the 2016 biopic docudrama "Nelly" contributes to the pile of proof that truth often is more entertaining than fiction, One also wonders why this tale of titular call girl Nelly Arcan is not as large of an international phenomenon as her inaugural novel Whore. One further speculates about the preparation of star Mylene Mackay, who does a superb job,
The following CLS trailer for "Nelly" nicely illustrates the "Hannah Montana" aspect of the life of Nelly; we further see that she would be happy to be Jackie. A personal bonus is the final line in this trailer providing an awesome elevator speech.
In typical docudrama/biopic fashion, we meet Nelly as an awkward teen performing at a school talent show before watching her show off skills that she develops later in life. A "losin' it" scene is one of the best in the film and drives much of the action.
We also see Nelly sitting at (as opposed to laying on) a desk as she works on the aforementioned book. Her inner monologue shows that the theme of a blurred line between truth and fiction extends to her work.
Nelly experiences a dream-come-true for every aspiring writer when a publisher enthusiastically responds to Whore. That book subsequently becoming one of the hottest pieces of prose out there brings things to the next level.
The emotional issues with which Nelly is dealing explains why she does not quit her day job. Her increasingly playful therapy sessions are highlights in the film.
Witnessing the occupational hazards that Nelly experiences reminds us that working girls do not have it easy. Even finding a man, who may no longer be paying for the milk, wanting to put a ring on it has complications., This is not to mention the guy who likes to play rough.
The trauma related to the oldest profession takes its toll on the writing career of Nelly; the public not being as eager to buy what she is selling is an apt metaphor for her other career,
The conclusion is not surprising, but the manner in which it occurs is unexpected. This further puts a human face on practitioners of a trade on which society frowns, Very few of us even think that these pros can form a coherent sentence.
The bigger picture is that "Nelly" reminds us that we really do not know the "stuff" with which one must deal with in his or her life and what is going on in their head. The grass (or ass) may seem greener on the other side but usually is not.
The TLA Releasing DVD of the 2018 film "Boys" once again proves that gay-themed films can have broad mainstream appeal. This mixed coming-of-age and belated quarter-life crisis tale of everyguy Jonas largely is relatable to males all along the Kinsey Scale of sexual orientation.
The timelines of "Boys" alternate between the present in which Jonas is an early-30s Grind'r slut with a long history of hooking up with Mr. Right Now that is catching up with him and his mid-teens in which he is coming to terms with liking other boys "in that way." An incident in the present often triggers a flashback that helps fill in gaps.
The true beginning of our story is the first day of high school for freshman (in both senses of the word) Jonas. Comparable to many gay-themed coming-of-age films, the ninth-graders are gathered for an opening of the academic year assembly when new boy in school Nathan makes a grand entrance. Of course, he and Jonas lock eyes.
This leads to older-man Nathan manipulating things so that he and Jonas share a desk in their history class; this involves an interesting bros before hos conflict that is relevant to the present of Jonas.
The friendship without benefits between Jonas and Nathan goes to the next level when Nathan the corrupter convinces a willing Jonas to sneak a smoke and a smooch. This leads to a very cute romance complete with at least partial parental approval.
Meanwhile in the present, Jonas is released from police custody only to find that his live-in boyfriend is less-than-pleased to see him. This leads to Jonas finding himself homeless but not himboless.
The well-crafted extended climax (no pun intended) commences with Jonas seeking shelter at a local hotel. The cute and seemingly flirty desk clerk creates expectation of a room-service scene; however, what unfolds is much more compelling.
We learn that the desk clerk is correct in stating that he and Jonas have a history; these boys heading out for an evening of fun does end up with Jonas waking in a strange bed with no idea of where he is; stating that he subsequently experiences a walk-of-shame is a tremendous understatement.
This leads to the final pieces of the puzzle coming together in a manner that fully ties together the past and the present. We learn about how Nathan becomes the one who got away and hope that Jonas gets a variation of a second chance with him, Minimally, the aforementioned "morning after" provides our boy a wake-up-call that has potential to fully transform him from boyhood to manhood.
The most awesome part of this is that the closing scene that provides the sense of redemption also symbolizes recapturing lost innocence.
Random Media reinforces its love for the offbeat regarding the January 15, 2019 VOD & DVD releases of the 2018 musical dramedy "Tommy Battles the Silver Sea Dragon." This tale of a 20-something (director/writer Luke Shirock) Walter Mitty with more issues than The New Yorker pulls off the tough trick of making a highly experimental film a delight. An even more notable aspect of "Tommy" is that it proves the merits of filmmaking that honors the tradition of valuing art over commerce.
Personal appreciation of "Tommy" relates to its similarities to all-time fave "Colma The Musical." That one has recent high-school grads in the titular working-class suburb of San Francisco sing and dance as they deal with poseurs and other harsh realities.
The following YouTube clip of a "Tommy" trailer highlights the surreal vibe that runs throughout the film; this promo. also demonstrates how this movie can be considered "Law and Order Rock." This is not to mention the glimpse of a hilarious scene in which Tommy turns a thrift store into his playground.
The symbolism in this mostly sung flick begins with the opening images of a full-frontal Tommy walking out of the ocean; his clothes magically fly to him and perform a reverse Full Monty.
The action takes off a few minutes later when a sleeping Tommy is awoken and quickly dragged Gestapo-style out of his home. He then is thrown into the stereotypical black sedan where he is driven to a court building for a perp. walk followed by the commencement of a trial for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Carolyn. The singing prosecutor, the warbling defense attorney, and the jury being a literal chorus provide the smoking gun that we are in for a wild ride.
Conflicting evidence regarding Tommy having accidentally shot his brother several years early provides solid proof both that we cannot believe everything that we see and that the subconscious mind of our main man drives much of the action, Subsequently learning about the real life of this reel character explains the confusion.
The presentation of evidence rehashes the course of the Tommy/Carolyn relationship from their cute meeting at the prom, through their impromptu "Young Hearts" fleeing from their childhood home, to their honeymoon period, and then to the stage between love and goodbye. This leads to the final exit that is the center of the judicial proceedings.
The nature of this nightmare dreamscape makes the heavy psychological elements very apt. It also reminds of the extent to which our childhoods shape us.
The narrative technique of making this a musical is equally appropriate. As folks who are familiar with the genre know, this form of expression typically expresses strong emotions such as the ones that Carolyn heading out into the city triggers in the man who is not deaf, dumb, or blind regarding this development.
As stated above, Shirock hits all the right notes in presenting this story in this manner. It is unlikely that you will find another quite like it and definitely not one that succeeds any better.
The good news is that anyone reading this post on the recent Warner Archive DVD release of the Gary Cooper/Patricia Neal 1949 drama "The Fountainhead" is at least a potential juror regarding the unusual level of preaching regarding the philosophies of your not-so-humble reviewer and of controversial author/screenwriter Ayn Rand. A related note is that the following takes a much more bloggy approach to the topic than is typical for this site. However, better understanding the relevant concepts requires the personal touch.
The bad news is that Archive shows a limited lack of integrity in not releasing this well remastered black-and-white film in Blu-ray. Director King Vidor ("Stella Dallas") tremendously channels Orson Welles in the use of contrasts, shadows, grand sets, and other Kafkaesque elements. This screams for a format that fully showcases this artistry.
Rand being the GOP elephant in the room requires dealing with her first; many people dislike her harsh personality and hard line regarding standing strong and independent; the rest of the story is that she merely calls for a valiant effort to support yourself before relying on the kindness of strangers. Regarding her stern personality, she simply can be considered a right-wing Hillary Clinton or Notorious RBG.
A related note that segues into "Fountainhead" is that central character architect Howard Roark (Cooper) takes self-reliance to an degree that exceeds the requirements of Rand. This man of integrity is down to his last $14.67 when a successful "sell-out" colleague offers a loan that is absolutely no sacrifice to that creditor. Roark declines that offer and subsequently takes a hot and grueling job in a granite quarry.
Roark (and Rand) strongly speak to me because this talented architect finds himself below the poverty level only because he refuses to compromise his integrity. I would not continue writing about "Fountainhead" and other limited-interest releases if the cost of that work included banging away in a quarry (or working at Wal-Mart), but I pay a price both for what I review and how I operate my site.
Just as Roark openly admits his desire for earning a good living, I would love to have more top releases interspersed among the art-house fare about which I write. I also would like to have my very respectable (and valued) readership grow to the point that equally respectable (sorry, Bezos) companies would advertise on my site. However, I feel very strongly about not directly or indirectly buying readers. I think that my posts are informative and entertaining and remain hopeful that more people will discover them and come on board simply because they value my content.
The many woes regarding the corporate site that recruited me in 2006 to write about my field of graduate study and then allowed me to start a section that "examines" TV on DVD developments includes the blatant way that that site inflates numbers. Writers are constantly told to have social media followers simply click on a post and to tell those followers that they do not need to read the content.
A little closer to home, I have a nice online friendship with an intelligent and well-educated guy who is a true blogger. Like me, he writes well and has an interesting perspective. Unlike me, he essentially prostitutes himself in recognition that sex sells.
The social media activity of my peer heavily focuses on his sexual adventures. He also regularly either posts about plans to upload revealing photos of himself or actually shares those images with the world. A recent example is a selfie in which this man is nude and standing in front of a bathroom mirror; the sink blocks everything right below his trimmed short and curlies. Just the other day finds him groping himself inside his designer unmentionables.
For the record, such a revealing photo of your not-so-humble reviewer would drive away the relatively small population of current supporters. Similarly, it is irrelevant 9.9 times out of ten what I am doing or wearing while watching a review DVD; the same is true regarding with whom I am watching the program or film. Such information is shared only in cases such as "Fountainhead" in which it is highly relevant to the topic.
Finally getting down to the film itself, the philosophy of a friend puts the story in perfect context. This belief is that arrogance is not arrogant if adequate talent supports this 'tude.
The opening scene has Roark being ousted from architecture school for refusing to conform to the norm; we then see him receiving similar treatment in the office of eccentric innovative architect Henry Cameron. Cameron does relent and provide Roark (hopefully) gainful employment.
We then catch up with a struggling Roark several years later with the aforementioned pittance in his pocket and colleague Peter Keating offering the loan. This coincides with Roark being offered a job that provides fame and fortune. His refusal to agree to demanded design changes leads to his pulling a Flintstone.
Meanwhile, socialite/newspaper columnist/Keating fiancee Dominque Franchon (Neal) is fending off the civilized advances of boss/tabloid New York Banner publisher Gail Wynand (Raymond Massey). The stresses in her life drive her to the country estate of her father.
It is lust at first site when Franchon finds a sweaty and muscular Roarke in the quarry near the estate; her intentions and clumsy ruse to get him in her bedroom being transparent do not prevent the pair delivering a very steamy love scene by 1949 standards.
Franchon and Roark ultimately return to the real world. Their lives become fully entangled when a series of circumstances lead to Franchon marrying Wynand, who is oblivious to the history of his wife and his architect when he hires the latter to design a house that is a tribute to the tribute.
Another source of drama relates to prissy Banner architecture columnist Ellsworth M. Toohey having a figurative (if not literal) hard-on for Roark. The nature of this animosity is the film-long theme of the refusals of Roark to conform to the norm and to compromise his integrity for the common good. His designing a luxury apartment building at a time that many people struggle to find decent affordable housing is one pretext for this smear campaign, In other words, Toohey is asserting that the needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the individual.
The extended climax awesomely includes Toohey admitting his covert evil scheme. These concepts that you should not believe everything that you read and that even propaganda that supports your side still is propaganda is highly relevant in 2018.
Meanwhile, Roark agrees to be the ghost architect for Keating on an affordable housing project. Anyone capable of deducing who is the villain in a "Scooby-Doo" episode can predict Keating caving regarding a demand to change the design. This leads to a highly symbolic well-known scene in which Roark demonstrates the extent to which he will protect his integrity.
This turmoil leads to an apt Mexican standoff that is comparable to the current government shutdown; Wynand essentially must decide whether is on Team Roark or Team Keating. An element of this is facing the consequences of creating a monster in a couple of senses of that word.
In what seemingly is obligatory for most movies of the '30s and '40s, the climax includes a highly charged courtroom scene. Of course, Roark makes an impassioned speech, The possibility that the integrity of Rand wins out over the demanded norm of a Hollywood ending leaves the conclusion in doubt until the judge declares the judgment.
The Shout! Factory DVD release of "Ernie Kovacs: The Centennial Collection" continues the long Shout! tradition of paying homage to The Golden Age of Television; this proud history includes complete-series releases of "The Goldbergs" who precede Lucy and of the hilarious "Dobie Gillis." That early sitcom about an all-American teen boy launches the careers of Warren Beatty, Tuesday Weld, and Bob Denver.
Kovacs is a true pioneer television pioneer, who can be considered an early version of a late-20th-century public-access star or an early-21st-century YouTube notable who achieves mainstream success. Shout! awesomely goes incredibly above-and-beyond to make rare material from every stage in the career of Kovacs available.
As the back-cover of this nine-disc set states, "Centennial" gathers the previously released Shout! collections of Kovacs material. This synopsis describing this material as "groundbreaking, rule-breaking, surreal and charmingly silly comedy" hits the nail squarely on the head.
The following YouTube video of a Shout! promo. for "Centennial" consists of hilarious clips that demonstrate the humor of Kovacs.
The incredible bonanza of year-end home-video releases is a primary culprit regarding only watching the "The Early Years" disc in "Centennial." The better news is that this leaves the remaining eight discs to savor on a later date.
The best news is that the wonderful bonus features on this disc including Carl Reiner posthumously inducting Kovacs into The Television Academy Hall of Fame provides a cheat-sheet in the form of a solid summary of the roughly 10-year career of a man who is truly is ahead of his time.
The Reiner tribute notes that Kovacs begins his television career at NBC Philadelphia affiliate WPTZ. Learning that writing and appearing in several television programs each day requires a 15-hour daily schedule arguably makes Kovacs the hardest working man in show biz during that era. These programs include "It's Time for Ernie" and "Kovacs on the Corner."
One difference between this work of Kovacs and the mother of all '50s comedy "I Love Lucy" is that reel Kovacs enthusiastically has real-life spouse Edie Adams appear in the act.
"Time" particularly highlights the way-out bizarre humor for which Kovacs is well known. A skit that an episode in "Centennial" includes has this man of numerous faces contort his features during a lesson on adjust the settings on a television. Another episode in either "Time" or a very similar program features Kovacs dragging a facsimile of a dead body down a city street.
"Corner" is more polished than "Time" and is of more a variety format that includes special musical guests. We also get everyday folks in what seems to be a regular segment. This consists of two persons exchanging junk with the hope that they end up ahead of the game.
The included "Corner" episode perfectly illustrates this early-age of television for reasons that extend beyond the general format. We get an epic moment in which Kovacs perfectly ad libs when a piece of scenery collapses during his broadcast.
The treats on the rest of the chronologically organized discs include an episode of the ready-for-prime-time "Kovacs on Music," episodes of his odd game-show "Take a Good Look," and five ABC specials. We further get the unaired pilot of the comedy-western "Medicine Man" in which Kovacs and Buster Keaton co-star.
As alluded to above, Kovacs is special because he is one of the first to take general humor and improv. to the next level. We arguably can thank him for folks such as Jonathan Winters and Winters devotee Robin Williams. Less thanks is due regarding the "Jackasses" who take advantage of the low-cost of public-access cable and later no-cost YouTube to inflict the same buffonery on their communities and the world that previously was limited to their buddies.
All this boils down to "Centennial" allowing modern audiences to revel in the guy who was the first (and the best) regarding not being afraid to go there,
The gay-themed Dekkoo streaming service adding the 6-episode inaugural season of the stand-up program "OUT on Stage: The Series" on January 17, 2019 is VERY refreshing because it is seemingly is the only current forum for performers are not afraid to go there. The career-ending "objectionable" humor of many performers makes it refreshing to see these comics boldly go where many men now fear to tread. This site describes this as society going from fuck 'em if they can't take a joke to fucked if you tell 'em a joke.
Host Zach Noe Towers is a queer as fuck funny man who clearly loves his job. An amusing aspect of his role is following the seemingly obligatory gesture in the gay world of greeting people with a hug. The sincerity of this ritual with each guest reflects both the regard of Towers for him and the quality of the humor from that person.
Towers supplements his hosting privilege with a good set in the second episode. He shows good instincts regarding not beating a funny bit about "do overs" to death. His time on stage also includes a hilarious "trans-ginger" joke.
The diversity and the quality of "OUT" starts strong with with the first set in the first episode. Asian-Jewish man Jared Goldstein is a gay man's Julia Roberts (whose appeal still remains puzzling decades into her career) in that he is so adorable that he can get away with saying anything. Unlike Roberts, Goldstein is actually likable and cute.
The delight of Goldstein begins with this man who clearly has Asian features sharing that he is Jewish; he goes on to mine wonderful humor from his diverse background to the extent of commenting that his father is a typical Jewish man by marrying an Asian woman.
An unexpected omission is Goldstein not making a Kevin Spacey joke when discussing being a child in an adult world while performing on Broadway at the age of 12. For the record, your not-so-humble reviewer has a long-term online friendship with Anthony Rapp and has high regard for him as a person and an actor. At the same time, one can imagine Spacey arguing in his upcoming trial for groping a bus boy on a Massachusetts island that he just wanted to see if that 18 year-old was THE man from Nantucket.
Learning just now that that the Twitter handle of second performer Ranier Pollard is @RanierstheBest assuages any bad feelings about disliking his set. The question of whom does he have to fellate to get a spot may be literal in his case.
Pollard comes out in a muscle shirt and makes an obvious "gun show" joke. He then flexes and kisses his biceps. Much (if not all) of his performance centers around white people being afraid of black people. This includes asserting to be notorious and then stating that he is partially joking. There is no memory of any gay-oriented humor.
Good ole Southern boy Kyle Shire (who does not mention the Dykes of Hazard) is the first-episode clean-up act. His message that gay men come in all shapes and sizes arguably is the most positive message in the two watched episodes.
Shire also provides amusing commentary regarding straight people simply being labelled as such and gay people not having it that easy. The breeders in the audience get educated about the wide category of animals to which gay men are assigned. This takes thing well beyond the hankie in the back pocket system of the '70s.
The second episode of "OUT" ends with hard-to-pin down Brendan Scannell, who plays Heather Duke in the "Heathers" TV series. Even in this age of gender fluidity, this guy who has an overall twink appearance wears nail polish seems to directly straddle the fence. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) He does a decent job, but Towers upstages him with a post-performance reference to a "pubes on the face" joke. A drum roll is apt in noting that Scannell should have seen that one coming (pun intended).
An entertaining bit from an unrecalled "OUT" comic about the limited fish in the gay dating sea and the clarity of that ocean perfectly describes the challenge of finding performers for "OUT." There is a limited population of gay comics. This is further narrowed by the folks who are willing to restrict their careers by being so out and proud.
The numbers shrink further when limiting the pool to folks with an amusing way of sharing an interesting perspective. The program does a good job separating this wheat from the chaff.
As mentioned above, "OUT" provides a good chance to watch edgy but inoffensive humor from the comfort of your own home. Friends of Dorothy will relate to most of the performances; folks who pride themselves on not being narrow both will have cause to feel good about themselves and enjoy enlightenment.
'Elves' DVD: Holiday Horror Combines 'Child's Play,’ 'Truth or Dare,' 'The List of Adrian Messenger’, & 'Gilligan's Island'
Uncork'd Entertainment fully embraces the spirit of holiday horror with the recent DVD release of the (reviewed) "Krampus Origins" and "Elves, which is our topic du jour. Both films provide an incentive to qualify for the nice list of Santa, Stating that there is Hell to pay for placement on the naughty list is not an exaggeration.
"Elves," which is a sequel to the Uncork'd 2017 film "The Elf," sets the tone early on with two young brothers who are snooping around in the period before Christmas leading to one boy finding one of the titular dolls. This leads to a "Hansel and Gretel" moment.
The film follows the horror tradition of quickly shifting the narrative to another setting and (presumably) years after the incidents in the cold open. A group of slackers/recent high-school graduates is gathered in an abandoned warehouse. This party starts to go out of bounds when one of the women gets her friends to play a game that involves the guilty among them putting their names on a naughty list and admitting their sins.
The explained lore is that the actual event long ago and far away is that there are seven visitors to the hay-filled maternity ward where Jesus is born; the rest of the story is that each of these admirers brings a gift that represents one of the deadly sins. This is akin to the theory that each "stranded" castaway on Gilligan's Isle represents one of these vices.
The awesome mix of humor and horror begins with an elf doll popping up in front of the first victim. A peer aptly comments that the requirement that the current occupant of the hot seat either commit the heinous act that Santa's little helper orders or die is akin to the film "Truth or Dare" that revolves around the policy that you do the dare or the dare does you.
This woman faces the dilemma of either running down a pedestrian or ending her life before life provides her a chance to appear on "Jerry Springer." She soon learns the lesson of the CW drama series "Supernatural" that evil entities are dicks.
This prompts the gang to act in a manner akin to the campaign in the classic murder-mystery film "The List of Adrian Messenger." That film revolves around a combined effort to capture a killer who is targeting the men on the titular inventory and to save the surviving members of that group from a fate equal to death. Once again, discovering that the big bad at the heart of this carnage does not play by the rules complicates matters.
All of this culminates in a North Pole standoff that does not succeed in stopping the madness.
The bonus features include two entertaining cast interviews complete with a magic show and references to the making of this one and "Elf."
The neo-modern Christmas story ending this time is that "Elves" is a movie by Millennials for Millennials and anyone else who enjoys his or her horror with a heavy dose of awesomely perverse dark humor.
Mill Creek Entertainment once again does the '90s proud regarding the January 15, 2019 Blu-ray release of "Last Action Hero" (1993) in retro VHS packaging. This release, which coincides with a MCE retro BD release of the John Candy comedy "Who's Harry Crumb," is among many examples of MCE facilitating a very worthwhile additional bite of the apple regarding these films. This is especially true as to the recent release of the (reviewed) 1998 teencom "Can't Hardly Wait."
The largest context for "Hero" is that it is from the waning days of the Silver Age of Hollywood in which art still (barely) often wins out over commerce. It also falls within the period between 1985 -95 in which proverbially emerging computer technology allows filmmaking to be especially cool.
One example of Hollywood embracing new tech. is "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," which takes blending live-action and animation beyond Disney fare, "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," and other productions that have live actors interact with 'toons. A related innovation is the expert merging of black-and-white and color in the Tobey Maguire comedy "Pleasantville."
A more widespread example of this is morphing, which allows having a character radically change his or her appearance in front of the audience. This is heavily used in "Terminator 2," which is a showcase for "Hero" star/former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Another innovation is even more relevant to "Hero." This relates to computers allowing characters in programs and films within the movie to enter each of those realities. The 1985 Woody Allen comedy "The Purple Rose of Cairo" arguably is the best-known example.
"Hero" plays homage to "Rose" by having tween fanboy Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien) enter the world of titular Dirty Harry style rogue cop Jack Slater (Schwarzenegger). This adventure is courtesy of magic that a film projectionist/grandfather figure provides in a nod to Willy Wonka.
"Hero" additionally is from an era in which Schwarzenegger begins including more humor in his action-adventure films and does flat-out comedy. Comparing "True Lies" with "Kindergarten Cop" and "Jingle ALlthe Way" demonstrates which development is more successful.
Part of the perspective related to watching "Hero" 25 years after its theatrical release is the relatability of Danny watching the Slater films in a once-grand movie palace that is now a run-down dump that is slated (no pun intended) to be converted into a multiplex. We also get a scene in which Schwarzenegger plays himself giving a red-carpet interview while future ex-wife Maria Shriver (a.k.a. Melania) stands in the background rolling her eyes.
The final general note before discussing the merits of "Hero" itself is that the film looks great in Blu-ray. This extends beyond the scenes in sunny southern California looking bright and beautiful; this enhanced format highlights the differences between the grainy and often rainy scenes and/or darkness in the real world of New York and the aforementioned beauty of the reel world Los Angeles in the film.
The action aptly starts right away ala a "Simpsons" episode that begins with Bart watching a "McBain" movie. The first images are from "Jack Slater 3" and revolve around Schwarzenegger arriving on the scene in character to deal with a maniac holding elementary school children hostages as part of a grudge against Slater. This provides additional context from a 2018 perspective. The epidemic of 21st-century school shootings likely would preclude such a scene in a modern film.
We then see Danny emerge from the theater into his hard-knock life in which he and his single mom Irene (Mercedes Ruehl) live in a slum; Dad is nowhere in the picture, and Irene must work hard at her menial dead-end job just to provide her and Danny minimal comforts. All of this establishes why Danny so highly values escaping into the world of Slater.
The action fully gets underway when especially unnerving trauma and drama compel Danny to attend a verboten screening of "Jack Slater IV." It is all fun and games until the aforementioned magic drops Danny into the backseat of the vintage convertible of Slater during a chase scene.
The real hilarity ensures after the chase concludes and Danny frantically tries to get Slater to believe him that they are inside a movie and that Slater is a Schwarzenegger character. This leads to great multiverse humor that includes satirizing buddy-cop films and includes alternative casting of a classic film role.
The aforementioned buddy-cop element leads to the stereotypical short-tempered police lieutenant (Frank McRae) assigning Slater to partner with Danny to investigate the drug kingpin (Anthony Quinn) who is making things personal for Slater.
Things largely proceed as normal after that; our team closing in on their prey provides Schwarzenegger plenty of opportunity to deliver "knife to meet you" style puns as he battles bad guys.
Things soon turn very real when the action moves to the real world of "Hero." Slater learns about what it means to be human, and Danny is taught is even more tough truths about celluloid heroes. A bizarre Death (Ian McKellan) takes a holiday aspect of this likely is a reason for the unduly harsh panning of "Hero." Folks who still scoff should put this film in the context of recent ones such as "Tag," "Sausage Party," and even the big-budget train wreck "Batman v. Superman."
Another nice thing about "Hero" is that it largely puts right what once went wrong but is not unduly absurd regarding it. Slater does not have any life-altering experience beyond his relatively literal reality check, and Danny does not inherit the chocolate factory.
The Warner Archive November 20, 2018 DVD release of the 1965 Natalie Wood drama "Inside Daisy Clover" evokes memories of the gritty "tell it like it is" films, such as "Easy Rider" (1969) and "Five Easy Pieces" (1970). of the era. The larger picture is that "Daisy" arguably is a brutal semi-fictionalized portrait of Judy Garland and of Wood herself to a lesser extent. Wood being 26 when she makes this film about America's 15 year-old "little Valentine" is the smoking gun regarding this theory.
Although Ruth Gordon only receives an Oscar nomination for her perfect portrayal of the senile mother of Clover, that role nets her a Golden Globe. Cast member Robert Redford gets a Golden Globe for "Most Promising Newcomer - Male" for his role as macho man movie star Wade Lewis, who is fond of beards. It is interesting that Redford is two years older than Wood but plays a character who is roughly a decade older than Clover.
The following YouTube clip of a '60stastic trailer for "Daisy" uses an entertaining apt newsreel tone to convey the "True Hollywood Story" aspect of the film.
"Daisy" opens in August 1936 with Angel Beach, California tough street kid Clover telling the audience that it is her 15th birthday; the graffiti that she adds to the wall against which she is slouching reflects her disdain for her older sister Gloria; a latter scene establishes that marrying up is the chosen route of Gloria to escape the trailer-trash existence of Clover and their mother.
Other glimpses of the "before she was a star" life of Daisy include her hilarious fending off the advances of her horny teen boy friend. We also see Gordon just now reporting the disappearance of her long-absent husband. The rationale for this delay is one of the best lines in this well-written film by Alan J. Pakula ("To Kill A Mockingbird") and Robert Mulligan ("Mockingbird" and "Summer of '42".)
Stardom literally arrives on the doorstep of the double-wide that Daisy and her mother share when Hollywood producer Raymond Swan (Christopher Plummer) sends a limousine to deliver Daisy to a screen test in response to a record of herself that she submits as an entry in a talent contest.
The realities of fame soon set in for Daisy. Gloria swoops in to get a piece of the action; Ma gets shipped off to Shady Pines, and Swan invents a new life story for his latest discovery. This is not to mention coercing Daisy into adapting her private life to conform with her public image. A notable scene in which the studio goes well beyond having Daisy wearing a Kansas farm girl outfit and toting (pun intended) a terrier is one of the most memorable in this exceptional film,
Redford showing up at just the right place and time leads to sweeping away Daisy; sadly, in true Hollywood style, the honeymoon period is cut short. Additional trauma and drama pushes our starlet closer to the edge.
All of this climaxes with the dam breaking; the final scenes truly show the price of fame.
The appeal of all this is that both Daisy and the audience learn a moral. Resenting a celebrity for earning far more in a few months than most of us earn in a lifetime is reasonable. We must remember that, especially in this Internet Age and #MeToo era, that that compensation includes payment for sacrificing any privacy and for never dropping a facade, Tom Cruise deserves tremendous credit for never responding to a cry of "show me the money" by showing that moron the finger.
Archive lightens the mood by including the 1964 Road Runner cartoon "War and Pieces" as a DVD extra. The epic name for this outing is apt based on it being the last Chuck Jones cartoon for Warner Bros until the '80s. The cleverness of the variations on the theme of traps backfiring on Wile E. Coyote are too amusing to spoil. Suffice it to say that Jones goes way beyond our villain holding a stick of dynamite when it explodes.
A year-end rush is behind a criminal delay in requesting a copy of the Mill Creek Entertainment award-worthy December 18, 2018 complete-series Blu-ray release of "The Shield." Not getting a set in time to declare this set the top release of 2018 elevates the delay-related offense from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Stating that MCE greatly outshines itself and hits almost every Unreal TV criteria for an exceptional home-video release is not hyperbole. The lack of a play-all feature is the non-fatal flaw that prevents declaring that this CS set is perfect. The serial nature of the series makes this sin a little worse than it would be in other cases; requiring a little extra navigation in the main menu adds insult to injury.
The near-perfection begins with the design-award worthy packaging. The sturdy outer-cardboard box is the first indication of love of product and attention to detail. This opens and folds out to an image of tough-as-nail rogue L.A. police detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and his strike team around which "Shield" centers. This motley crew is accompanied by their colleagues who play by the rules to varying degrees.
The solidly bound book (complete with embossed shield) is encased in a holster that feature the very apt tag line "The road to justice is twisted." This reflects the Mackey philosophy that just about any means justify a proper end that includes savings his own flank. His not blinking as he brutally exterminates a rat with extreme prejudice in the pilot hits that point home.
The first page in the book is a love letter to fans by creator/producer/ "Angel" veteran Shawn Ryan, who bears a passing resemblance to Mackey. This correspondence nicely confirms that Ryan and viewers share the same high regard for the series; the answer to the question of whether "Shield" survives the test of time is a resounding yes despite the mentioned outdated tech. and references.
On a general level, having a rough average of 13 episodes in each of the seven seasons reflects the "less is more" philosophy of British series. The idea is that a handful of high-quality episodes is better than presenting 20-or-more mediocre outings,
Each subsequent well-secured page in the book includes a detailed episode synopsis and puts the corresponding BD disc in a slot that allows removing and replacing it without risk of scratching. We also get a description of the Bonus Features on the disc.
The two discs of Bonus Features are the icing on the cake. a 2018 reunion that includes Ryan, Chiklis, and other cast members that include CCH Pounder provides something to which to look forward when time permits. Theses copious extras also include an ATX Television Festival Writer's Room Panel in which Ryan also participates.
Another voluntary confession regarding this 2002-08 FX series is that an ongoing struggle to clear enough space on my two Tivos and to otherwise keep up with the many strong programs of that era are behind not watching "Shield" during its initial run; the current chance to remedy that sin of omission is another valued attribute of the MCE release.
The strongest accolade for "Shield" is IMDb users ranking it as #86 on the list of top-rated shows of all time. The series has an additional 15 wins and 58 more nominations that must include "they waz robbed" losses. One can only fantasize about putting the people responsible for those slights alone in a room with Mackey.
"Shield," which is a perfect companion to (reviewed) overlapping FX hit "Rescue Me," tells the tales of the men and women who wok out of "The Barn" in the inner-city Farmington (a.k.a. Farm) District of Los Angeles. As indicated above, Mackey and his team are more concerned with taking gaping and bleeding bites out of crime than following either police procedures or Constitutional requirements.
This theme requires a brief aside, The philosophy of Mackey reflects the dilemma that plagues law enforcement personnel. Prohibiting things such as beating a subject and many warrantless searches are in response to those tactics despite their solid results. Tying the hands of the police validly protects important rights of suspects at the expense of allowing many criminals to go free.
Another way of looking at this is that most people would say what is required to make a beating stop; we also would not want the police to knock down our front door, subject us to an extensive body search, or rip apart our car without an assurance that they have valid cause for doing so,
The cowboy tactics of Team Mackey at best earn them tacit approval; it also gets them the animosity of two colleagues who object to this coloring outside the lines.
Police Captain David Acevada is a competent Col. Klink in that he gets the corner office without spending any time in the trenches and in that his efforts to hold Mackey accountable for his misconduct (at least in S1) prove fruitless. Mackey is more like the Road Runner than Col. Hogan in that it seems that Acevada is destined to succeed until his plan explodes in his face at the last minute.
Partner-in-crime-solving Detective Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach is another thorn in the side of Team Mackey. This nerd who seems to have a night stick shoved up his butt is in constant conflict with the jocks whom he hates for their Dartmouth frat boy approach to their jobs. Good hilarity related to Wagenbach comes in the form of comeuppance that he receives. Revealing the perpetrator of that prank is icing on the cake.
Wagenbach often getting his man and showing that he has game in bringing down a particularly elusive bad hombre shows that this honor student has chops and can school the cool kids.
The central crime in the pilot perfectly illustrates both the tone of "Shield" and the arguable merits of Mackey. Initially discovering that the young daughter of a murder victim is missing leads to learning that the girl ends up in the hands of one pedophile, who transfers her to an even more twisted child molester. These desperate times lead to the desperate measure of calling in Mackey with full knowledge of how he will interrogate a suspect. It is ironic that he does not phone it in.
The pilot further establishes the pattern of snitches getting stitches. A later "student" further learns of the collateral damage regarding such well-intentioned efforts.
What starts as essentially aside comments regarding plumbing problems developing into a hilarious disaster further demonstrates the genius of "Shield." The show is like a box of chocolates in that you never know what you will get.
One S1 episode that also proves the unpredictability of "Shield" has an almost literal smoking gun leading to breaking up the strike team. This disbanding the brothers leads to pairing them up with other "Barn" animals.
The most amusing reassignment gives loose cannon team member Shane Vendrell a dutch treat in the form of working with Wagenbach. As "The Breakfast Club" shows us, the hall monitor and the QB do not need to be at the throats of each other.
Mackey teams up with pragmatic detective Claudette Wyms (Pounder). His scene-stealing moment consists of proposing that they first do things her way and then his way. He notes that the order is based on the chivalrous principle of ladies first.
Chickens aptly come home to roost in a phenomenal S1-ending story arc. The numerous hilarious cock jokes greatly contribute to the fun.
The already extensive length of this post precludes delving into the interesting private lives of our men and women in plain clothes or even into the many more cases that provide them continuing on-the-job training, The overall message is that you should trust Ryan; he knows what he is doing.
The Warner Archive leitmotif to which the January 22, 2019 Archive Blu-ray release of the 1959 movie "The Giant Behmoth" belongs is '50s sci-fi. Although very entertaining based on its own merits, the so-bad-they're-good stock footage and special effects greatly add to the enjoyment of watching this one. Further, the Blu-ray remaster of this low-budget cult classic looks and sounds good.
The addition of "Behemoth" to the Archive catalog follows the (reviewed) Blu-ray release of the Howard Hawks mainstream classic "The Thing From Another World." These releases (and similar fare) facilitate recreating the awesome Saturday afternoon marathons at movie theaters. Watching the films back-to-back on the evening of a horrible day was exactly what the cinephile ordered.
The following YouTube clip of a Archive highlight video of "Behemoth" showcases the aforementioned effects that make the production values of the live-action Saturday-morning series "Land of the Lost" seem like something from a Merchant-Ivory film. A related depicted element is the cool way that "Behemoth" recreates the vibe of the WWII-era blitz.
This "Godzilla" begins with Yank Steve Karnes in King Robert's Court to lecture on little-considered fallout from A Bombs; his topic is how the radiation affects sea life but does not specifically address fish developing a third eye. This scene is particularly notable for a clever narrative technique that identifies Karnes.
Karnes is about to leave England for his home turf when a news report of sea monster who is far from lovin' and laughin' his life away prompts this science guy to head to the coastal scene of the crime. One of the coolest scenes from this portion of the film is discovering a radioactive element in a dissected fish.
Finding radiated Nemo allows narrowing the search for the titular sea monster. Rather than using a dory, our team boards a helicopter to search the targeted area of ocean. The arguably best effect ensues in the form of the Biblical beast swimming just below the surface. This scene arguably inspires similar moments in the awesome Brit series "Primeval" and "Primeval New World" that have prehistoric creatures respectively terrorizing England and Vancouver.
The same in-the-know viewers who yell "don't go in there" during horror movies surely predict that the plan to lower the helicopter to get a better look is a fatal mistake. They may as well have had Henry Blake on board.
The behemoth going on land and leaving behind physical evidence of (presumably) his presence leads to bringing in paleontologist Dr. Sampson. Sampson is a somewhat absent-minded professor who steals every scene in which he appears.
The conclusions of Samson being spot-on does not prevent mayhem that arguably is the most hilariously cheesy scene in the film. Our monster attacks a ferry full of passengers with extreme prejudice,
All of this leads to a literal plan-of-attack that finds the proper balance between ridding the U.K. of the terrible lizard and taking a scorched-earth approach. The ensuing action revolves around getting the rampaging beast to take his medicine.
Hilarity and drama ensue in equal measure as the potential saviors strive to complete their mission; consensus regarding this effort avoids any barney.
As indicated above, the silliness of "Behemoth" provides roughly 90-minutes of unreal entertainment. Ambiguity regarding whether this big guy is a teenage mutant sea creature or a long slumbering dino who is awoken provides a good discussion topic.
Icarus Films shows good timing regarding releasing the 2014 mockudramedy "Hippocratres Diary of a French Doctor" on January 15, 2019. This roughly coinciding with medical students returning to their studies provides a good chance to ease back into the rigors of these programs by watching this generally mockumentary-style story of newbie medical intern/legacy 23 year-old Benjamin Barois. Much of the sense of authenticity relates to director Thomas Lilti having trained to be a doctor.
The following YouTube clip of the "Diary" trailer provides a good sense of the drama and the humor about this look a life in a busy Parisian hospital.
Lilti sets the perfect tone for "Diary" right from the opening scenes. We see a solitary Benjamin dodging large laundry carts as he wanders the halls in the basement of the public hospital on his first day of work. His projecting an image of a lost sheep on his way to be slaughtered extends beyond the unruly mop of black hair that seems required of every male French medical intern.
Limited success in obtaining a lab coat introduces Benjamin to hospital bureaucracy and his status at that institution; this is despite his father being a senior doctor there.
The next rapid succession of wake-up calls begins with Benjamin learning about the number of patients in the ward to which he is assigned; his "its complicated" relationship with more experienced intern Abdel begins with that older man arguably being unduly assertive in how he steps in when Benjamin has difficulty with a medical procedure.
The first real doctor's life lesson comes on Benjamin losing a patient. The circumstances of that death lead to that kid throwing Abdel under le bus and giving viewers a few more reasons to avoid hospitals.
Benjamin survives to fight another day until facing his next major challenge, which also involves Abdel. The general consensus that an elderly cancer patient should be allowed to continue circling the drain becomes a bone of contention when the ICU team is called in to perform arguably heroic measures; Benjamin and Abdel stepping in to pull the plug on those efforts leads to a disciplinary proceeding with negative consequences for both men. Part of this involves Benjamin showing that he does not feel like working and playing well with others. This leads to a confrontation with even more dire consequences.
We additionally get several looks at the daily lives of the interns; this includes enthusiastic meting out of punishment for talking shop during meal times, watching reel doctors, arguing about who should work on holidays, and a New Year's dance party at which hospital staffers rock out with their docs out. A message here is that guilty feet have got no rhythm.
As mentioned above, the camera being an unobtrusive fly on the wall as all the action transpires greatly contributes to the realistic sense of "Diary." This makes this film one from which both medical students and producers of reality TV shows can learn.
Seeing truly is believing regarding the pristine Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1951 Howard Hawks sci-fi classic "The Thing From Another World." The legacy of this tale of a broccoli from another planet terrorizing a group ar the actual Santaland includes the equally classic 1982 John Carpenter film "The Thing."
As indicated above, the video of this crystal-clear remaster of this '50s flick is amahzing. The same is true regarding the audio.
Hawks clearly shows his well-known diversity by hitting a home-run with this one that goes beyond sci-fi to also be a military buddy comedy, a romcom, and a morality tale.
Our story begins with jovial Air Force Captain Patrick Hendry (character actor Kenneth Tobey) joking with his crew and with newspaperman Ned Scott (character actor Douglas Scott) at an Anchorage Air Force base. In a manner that is particularly familiar to fans of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Team Hendry soon is called in to investigate a weird occurrence at a North Pole research center; Scott convinces the crew to let him tag along.
The humor continues with the flyboys and what passes for ground control at the North Pole making light of hazardous landing conditions. One spoiler is that the plane and all souls safely land.
The "rom" element soon enters the picture in the form of awesomely named office worker Nikki Nicholson; Nicholson portrayor Margaret Sheridan is known as the equivalent of a Hitchcock blonde in the eyes of Hawks (pun intended).
The onscreen chemistry and bantering between Tobey and Sheridan help elevate "Thing" from merely being kiddee matinee fare. Sheridan receiving top billing over Tobey, Nicholson being the one to hit it and quit it (and leaving a hilarious "Dear John" letter) in the relationship, and the nature of playful light bondage clearly define that dynamic.
The sci-fi element heats up on the newcomers learning that a UFO has crashed landed and is frozen beneath the ice; discovering the titular alien (James Arness of "Gunsmoke") at the Roswell North site compensates for a glitch while recovering the craft.
The sci-fi staple of a fatal mistake this time consists of bringing this outer-space equivalent of Encino Man inside to slowly thaw him. Inadvertently expediting this process allows the accidental tourist to explore his new surroundings sooner than expected. Suffice it to say both that first contact does not go as planned and that the man with that duty may as well have been wearing a red shirt.
The most awesome thing about this new threat is that it FINALLY introduces real conflict in the film; Dr. Arthur Carrington (character actor Robert Cornthwaite) plays the dual roles of "The Professor" who by far is the smartest guy in the room and the dick who regularly clashes with Hendry. The disagreement relates to accepting the reality that you need to crack a few skulls to make a scientifically important omelet.
An early detection system provides our group an advantage in its effort to find and neutralizes this threat with a somewhat plausible basis for lacking any emotion or compassion. However, this proves to be little help regarding the final mano a mango battle.
This confrontation at the North Pole really going south at one point adds good suspense that contributes to the classic status of the film. A mix of humor and potential for peril enters in the form of speculating about a previously unconsidered advantage of the rampaging rutabaga.
The bigger picture is whether mere mortals can defeat a creature that is bigger, stronger, smarter, and lacks any regard for human life. This provides the rest of the human population reason to anticipate fairly literally becoming cattle.
The epilogue to all this is that "Things" hits all the right notes and speaks to everyone.
The current angry openly cursing villagers and the literal Mexican standoff regarding the government shutodwn make the Breaking Glass Pictures December 4, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 satirical comedy "Obamaland" particularly timely. Portraying both the right and the left as thoroughly ridiculous reflects the wisdom of Don Rickles, who escapes criticism by making nasty jokes about everyone.
The overall hipster/indie tone evokes thoughts of "Portlandia." This comparison extends to writer/director Greg Bergman playing community college Obamanomics professor Xander. One can easily imagine his students chanting "hey hey ho ho these racist teachers have got to go" with no valid provocation ala the real-life "students" at Evergreen Community Coillege.
A more personal note is that your MODERATE not-so-humble reviewer HATES Trump and is no friend of Barry. He has used the term Obamanation since 2008; a side note is disgust that afternoon talk-show host Oprah essentially is responsible for the outcome of the 2008 election by endorsing Obama at a time that his campaign is failing. The final stop on this detour to Blogland is a long-standing hope that Bill Gates will run for the office of chief EXECUTIVE of the EXECUTIVE branch,
The following YouTube clip of the Breaking trailer for "Obamaland" highlights the humor at the expense of both sides of the aisle.
The underlying concept of "Obamaland" is that assertions associated with a vast right-wing conspiracy are true, The delusional FICTIONALIZED titular president is a Kenya native and a Muslim. He also is obsessed with equality to the extent of rearranging the heavens but apparently lacks any intent regarding Uranus.
The film is set in 2040, and most of the former United States is now Obamaland. The area formerly known as Texas is part of the Borderlands. A series of incidents that either are fortunate or unfortunate depending on your perspective are behind Obama being President for Life of the country that bears his name.
Xander already has reason to be disillusioned with the Otopia that Obama has created when this community educator is assigned to cover a concert in the Borderlands. This dream-come-true becomes a nightmare when he faces a rear attack that involves taking it like a man.
Deliverance comes at the hand of a Trumpublikan, who is displeased with the state of our union. The start of this beautiful friendship continues with that conservative taking Xander to the abandoned AppleCheeez restaurant that serves as a resistance headquarters.
Xander then gets caught up in the plot to make America great again; the most amusing moment in the film comes when he remarks that every negotiation related to the plot to bring down Obama involves him having sex. A hilarious test that is designed to prevent the unworthy from entering the inner sanctum is a close second for most memorable scene.
All of this culminates in a free-for-all game changer. The lesson here is that things have gone to far for all of us to get along.
Uncork'd Entertainment puts its awesomely twisted slant on Christmas films with two recent DVD releases of holiday-themed horror films. The current topic is "Krampus Origins," which tells the tale of how Anti-Santa gets his groove back. The companion release "Elves" is a wonderful variation of "Truth or Dare" with the "Krampus" element of punishing bad post-adolescent boys and girls. A review of that one is pending.
Both films are delightfully low-budget and quirky. They also show both that there is no shame in appealing to the lowest common denominator and that trash heaps can conceal semi=precious stones.
This story that can be considered a lost tale from the crypt opens during a raging WWI battle; a German officer is attempting to summon help in the form of the titular monster who is best known for carrying off naughty children. Doughboys interrupt this ritual with extreme prejudice before the guest-of-honor fully materializes.
The action then shifts to a stateside Catholic orphanage that a nunzilla governs with an iron ruler. The early 20th-century Goth girl, a couple of horny teen boy bullies, an awkward lad, and a handful of everykids who live there show that things have not changed much in 100 years, This is not to mention the elderly alcoholic priest living out his remaining days purely as a figurehead.
The arrival of a pretty young teacher provides the catalyst for the ensuing mayhem; circumstances beyond her control put her in possession of the book that includes the ritual that frees Krampus from his unfortunate incarceration as a guest of the fairies.
This book falling in the wrong curious hands frees the beast and leads to children disappearing. Once again, a little child leads them by informing the teacher of the inconvenient truth. This leads to a surprisingly civil discourse between beauty and the beast. This conversation also reveals that the reason for taking children extends beyond not-so-divine retribution.
All of this leads to a solution that shows that the personification of evil is not the sharpest #2 in the evil pencil box.
The fun of all this is that you will laugh and may cry. You further will learn that you should not leave Satanic tomes where children can get them.
'The Karate Kid Part III' / 'The Next Karate Kid' Blu-ray Double Feature: Further Adventures of Daniel-San & Mr. Miyagi
The Mill Creek Entertainment January 8, 2019 Blu-ray double feature release of "The Karate Kid Part III" and "The Next Karate Kid" offers a chance for a fun escapist evening during the dark and cold weather that is settling in for most of us. The bright sunshine and corny plots full of teen angst and earnestness is the perfect cure for what ails us.
The best news is that rewatching the original 1984 "Kid" reinforces that it has many merits. The concept is that (somewhat ala the '70scom "Alice") teen Jersey boy Daniel Russo (Ralph Macchio) is uprooted when his mother takes a job in Los Angeles. Like "Alice," the family station wagon barely makes the trip. The other similarity that the family ends up living in a shabby apartment.
Ala '70scom "One Day at a Time," building superintendent Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) becomes a father figure. This handyman transform Daniel into the titular martial arts teen sans shell in response to that new kid in town being the victim of vicious bullying.
The quality of the first film and the cuteness and the charm of Macchio in it make it worth watching.
"Karate Kid II" commences in the immediate wake of the tournament that provides the climax of "Kid." Daniel and his sensei soon travel to the Miyagi birthplace of Okinawa where adventure and romance once again ensue for these friends.
"III" begins with flashbacks that briefly recap "I" and "II" before joining Daniel and Miyagi landing at LAX from their Asian trip, The context for the following thoughts on "III" are that it is so absurdly bad that it is good. The first problem is that Macchio is much less cute, charming, and naive than in the first film.
The comic-book nature of "III" relates to over-the-top villain Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith). This grown-ass one-percenter has a ridiculous vendetta against Daniel and Miyagi for their provoked humiliation of John Kreese and the Cobra Kai "gang" of that once-respected karate master. Much of the unintended humor relates to our heroes having no idea about that animus.
A concurrent series of unfortunate circumstances lead to a premise for a sitcom in the form of Daniel moving in with Miyagi and becoming his partner in a bonsai tree store. The love interest is Jessica (Robyn Lively), who owns and operates a nearby pottery shop.
Silver recruits Cobra Kai student Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan) to goad a still-oblivious Daniel into entering the tournament that he won at the end of "Kid." The idea is that Daniel will lose to Barnes and restore the "honor" of Cobra Kai.
This not-so-subtle persuasion leads to a cliffhanger that results in Daniel registering for the contest; Miyagi refusing to train him and pulling an inarguably dick move drives our still-clueless post-adolescent into the web of Silver. The "grand reveal" arguably is the best bad moment in "III."
"III" winds up with a deja-vu all over again moment; Daniel is getting badly pummeled in his championship match with Barnes; it seems that all is lost until (of course) Daniel rallies and (perhaps literally) kicks the ass of the larger and stronger Barnes. Of course, this sends Silver and Kreese into hysterical in both senses of the word tailspins.
"The Next Karate Kid" is a kinder and gentler movie that attempts to reboot the franchise. It opens with Miyagi attending a ceremony honoring his WWII Army unit; meeting the widow of his Anglo commanding officer leads to Miyagi visiting that woman, who is raising orphaned granddaughter Julie Pierce (Hilary Swank).
A series of unfortunate circumstances this time leads to Miyagi becoming the caretaker of troubled teen Julie. The love interest is hunky blond-boy Eric, who is not put off by the hostility of Julie,
The Cobra Kai element this time is the ROTC/Hitler Youth style school group the Alpha Elite, which counts a reluctant Eric among its members. The dual catalysts for conflict are Alpha Elite teen leader Ned wanting to get in the pants of a reluctant Julie and related defiance by Eric getting him ousted from the group.
The rest of the story is that Miyagi takes Julie to a Buddhist monastery for karate training that is designed to teach her discipline and to improve her 'tude..They return home only to find that things have not changed much.
Excitable boy Ned ultimately pushes Eric too far in a manner that leads to a late-night rumble. We learn whether boys do cry and the extent to which a girl must be brought in to do the job of a man.
As mentioned above, the appeal of "III" and "Next" is the escapist fun of this continuation of a franchise that has a solid base.
The Film Movement division Film Movement Classics January 8, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1997 drama "Bent" continues what Classics describes as an effort to rescue (often largely forgotten) notable films from the vault. The awesomeness of these releases extends well beyond the pristine remasters of these art-house gems and the exceptional bonus features to releasing them without the arrogance associated with a competitor (which Classics regularly outshines) that claims to set the criterion for such films.
Like all classics, the value of "Bent "includes the relatability of the movie. The broadest level is the extent to which many of us have been persecuted for what someone "bigger and stronger" considers a flaw; another aspect of this is the ongoing storm trooper tactic of dragging innocent people out of their homes regardless of the legitimacy of that act. A lighter note is that "Bent" is a darker and better-quality version of the 1993 Robert Sean Leonard and Christian Bale film "Swing Kids," which depicts a Disneyfied image of Nazi oppression.
The pedigree of "Bent" begins with screenwriter Martin Sherman basing this period piece on his play of the same name. The merits continue with Clive Owen doing an exceptional job in the lead and Sir Ian McKellen having a very memorable cameo. This is not to mention Mick Jagger dressing in drag to perform in a gay cabaret.
The opening scenes of "Bent" present additional relatable elements of the film. Openly gay Max (Owen) is waking up in 1934 Berlin with thoughts that include the prior night of decadence at the aforementioned night club in his head. His first rude awakening is in the form of partner Rudy (Brian Webber) being displeased about the presence of the younger and cuter man who spent the night.
The persistent pounding on the door turning out not to be the landlord seeking back rent is the second wake-up-call. The interlopers are Nazi soldiers that are there as part of the Night of the Long Knives that is designed to strengthen the power of Hitler. Max and Rudy get caught up in that because the twink hook-up is a particular target of that campaign.
The first bit of context is that "swing kids," gay men, and other folks who enjoy partying, boogieing, and getting down in early '30s Berlin are like those who embrace The Jazz Age of '20s America. They live in a bubble and either are oblivious to or do not care about the coming storm. This leads to their worlds immediately crashing down on them. The increasing evidence that most of us are in for a very rough period shows that these reversals of fortune are not a thing of the past.
An even more personal aspect is the price that the vast majority of us have paid for youthful mistakes in the form of bringing the wrong person home. Although this often does not involve armed invaders, we learn to deeply regret our bad judgment,
The raid ends very badly for the cute young thing and forces Max and Rudy to go on the run; Max seeking the assistance of partially closeted respectable family man Uncle Freddie (McKellen) conveys another aspect of gay life that continues today.
The Nazis catching up with our boys while they are living rough leads to the couple being put on a train to Dachau. The relatable aspect this time is Max having his loyalty to his partner tested. This leads to additional cruelty that is COMPLETELY designed to humiliate Max and another passenger for the entertainment of the soldiers.
Max continuing his pattern of cutting a deal meets moderate success at Dachau; he gets the coveted job of moving rocks from one pile to another that is designed to trigger insanity. Fellow prisoner Horst (Lotharie Bluteau) gets the same assignment.
The interaction between Max and Horst provides the most compelling moments of "Bent." It is clear that Horst has more pride and integrity than Max. The icing on the cake is the highly erotic manner in which the men get to experience intimacy under intensely close scrutiny by the guards, The skill during these scenes makes us believe that Horst feels pain despite a lack of physical contact.
This bonding makes us believe that Max feels true love for the first time and experiences a related evolution. His paying a heavy price out of that love leads to an intense scene with a tragic end. These events further demonstrate the human capacity for cruelty.
The most apt final thought regarding Bent" is the one that this post and many other articles on this film note; it reminds us that Jewish people are not the only Holocaust victims and that the persecution that it depicts is not limited to Nazi Germany.
The aforementioned extras begin with a booklet that includes essays by "Bent" director Sean Mathias on his approach to the project and by film historian Steven Alan Carr on the historical context of the film. Both writings confirm that this film is brave and bold.
The bonus features largely consist of presentations of clips from interviews with the stars. We also get Mick Jagger discussing his uncertainty regarding his ability to adapt to the style of the music in the film. A highlight is the Jagger "Streets of Berlin" music video.
'And the Award Goes To .... : 80 Years of The Academy Awards' Doc Series Shows How Films Stretch the Envelope
Mill Creek Entertainment shows good timing regarding releasing the three-DVD set of the 11-episode documentary series "And the Award Goes to ...: 80 Years of the Academy Awards" on November 6, 2018. This coincides with the informal start of Oscar Season during which studios release what they consider "Best Picture" contenders. The logic is that releasing these films at the end of the year keeps them fresh in the minds of Academy voters when they select those nominees.
The title of "Award" alone reflects the subject matter; as an episode likely addresses, announcing who receives confirmation that Academy voters like him or her; they really like him or her evolves from the titular phrase of the series to "And the winner is ..." sometime in the '80s or '90s.
The series commences with the aptly titled episode "Birth of an Icon." Before getting down to the business of discussing the May 1929 private event that honors the best films of 1927 and 1928, the documentary presents a prologue that summarizes Hollywood history from the beginning until the '70s. This includes mentions of the relationship between films and society.
The episode then discusses how the first ceremony is an intimate affair with media coverage that is limited to local outlets. We further get images of the Hollywood royalty that attends and the films that they consider.
This episode also covers topics that include the transition from silents to talkies. The most fun subjects are the celebrities and their egos/feuds.
The titles and focuses of the next several episodes reflect the nature of the films of their eras. They begin with "The Golden Era" and move on the more enlightened and candid "Hollywood Comes of Age" period of the late '60s and early '70s.
The third disc, which is titled "Thirty Years of Winners," consists of six episodes that each cover four years periods starting with 1972. This arguably is when the ceremonies themselves become more entertaining. We get the man who streaks across the stage in the '70s, the 1989 train wreck in which Snow White and Rob Lowe rock out to "Proud Mary," and Jack Palance showing off his physical strength at the 1991 ceremony.
As the aforementioned prologue states, every actor wants to win an Oscar; those who do are the elite few among the relatively small population of thespians who make a working living as a film actor. These folks who typically work their way up the ranks, endure grueling production schedules, and experience public ridicule regarding both even (previously) private embarrassing moments and involvement with any film with less-than-perfect execution are the true American idols.
This is not to mention these folks smiling through fans yelling out the names and catchphrases related to roles regarding which they have not received a penny for years every time they step out their front door. It is amazing that Tom Cruise has not punched out some moron who has shouted "show me the money." I truly believe that I at least would have shown the moviegoer the finger and dearly paid for that indulgence for decades.
The Warner Archive December 4, 2018 DVD release of the 1996-97 S6 of the ABC TGIF sitcom "Perfect Strangers" brings us close to the finish line for this 8-season classic and allows Millennials another chance to see a sitcom done right.
This set, which comes relatively close on the heels of the (reviewed) Archive release of "Strangers" S5, chronicles (pun intended) the further misadventures of uptight Chicago Chronicle reporter Larry Appleton (Mark Linn Baker) and his freshish off the boat cousin Balki Bartokomous. Don't be ridiculous, of course they follow in the grand tradition of Oscar and Felix and Laverne and Shirley.
The sitcom veterans, whose numerous prior credits include "Mork and Mindy" and the "Strangers" esque "Bosom Buddies" with Tom Hanks, behind "Strangers" take a nice "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to the series. These pros begin with standard sitcom plots and amp things up to comic degrees that provide entertaining freshness.
We also get related "Easter egg" references throughout "Strangers." Earlier seasons include mentions of Cunningham Hardware of "Happy Days" fame. The S6 "very-special" two-part episode involving especially serious danger includes a "Laverne and Shirley" mention and a quick shot of the exterior of the Burbank apartment complex where those girls live in latter seasons. The boys go to La La Land on a newspaper assignment, and the encounters include meeting an ice-cream truck driver who claims to be a movie producer.
The validation of the ability of Linn Baker and Pinchot to deliver the goods include Lucille Ball being a fan. The Ball dynamic includes Larry and Balki often including their respective significant others Jennifer and Mary Anne in the fun. An S6 example is the girls working as waitresses when Balki greatly overextends himself regarding catering jobs.
The fun this season begins with Larry behaving in character (pun intended) on overreacting to a relatively minor burglary. He gets a bank-quality security system installed in the mid-sized apartment that he shares with Balki. Yes, that leads to the boys getting trapped and facing punishment with extreme prejudice regarding being considered intruders,
The show runners straddle the line between jumping the shark and having events follow their natural course by having Larry and Jennifer get engaged in response to a serious threat to their relationship. Largely keeping the engagement in the background throughout the season keeps things on the side of natural progression. Limiting the appearance of a rambunctious moppet to one episode shows the same restraint.
Additional restraint is shown regarding the seemingly obligatory episode in which a lead become a star. Creating rapper "Fresh Young Balki B" does not lead to fame going to the head of Balki; instead, we learn once again that you can take the boy out of Mypos but not the Mypos out of the boy.
S6 wraps up with arguably the most predictable episode of the season; Balki administers a compatibility test to nervous Larry and Jennifer. Although the test results and the responses of the loving couple are predictable, the journey to that point is a true joy ride. The bigger picture is equally pure sitcom in that a nottie without any fame or wealth almost never lands a hottie. The perseverance that almost always pays off in TV Land almost always end with a restraining order in the real world.
As oft stated in these posts but never meant more than in this instance, they don't make 'em like "Strangers" anymore. Modern sitcoms either have edge, cruelty, or simply no humor. Conversely, old-school series find decent to good "com" in a slightly exaggerated "sit" to the delight of most.