The Film Movement Classics division of cinephile god Film Movement finds itself at the right place at the right time as to its March 31, 2020 release of "Their Finest Hour" coinciding with most of us entering at least a third week of house arrest; "The Shining" jokes stopped being funny several days ago.
"Hour" supplements a recent series of Classics Blu-ray releases of Ealing Studios comedies from the same era as the five WWII-related films that make up new releases. Posts on the comedies can be found in the Film Movement section of this site.
An important perspective as to "Hour" is comparable to an unfounded bias against westerns; just as tales of cowboys and indians typically are about much more than saloon fights and high noon showdowns, films that center around war-related events offer much more than battles.
The aforementioned cabin fever is a major (no pun intended) factor as to not reading the essay or watching most of the five-hours of special features in "Hour." There can be too much of a good thing when you spend at least eight hours a day watching movies everyday for a few weeks.
Similarly, a desire to not make this post a novella requires striking a happy medium between a 25-words-or-less synopsis of each of the five movies and writing a full review.
The collection begins with the 1958 version of "Dunkirk." Unlike the 2017 Christopher Nolan blockbuster, the Ealing version gives the events leading up to the civilian flotilla rescue of far more that seven stranded castaways on the titular shore roughly equal screen time as that exodus. We also get a much more in-depth look at the homefront aspects of those events than Nolan provides.
The Ealing short "The Young Veteran," which looks at WWII from the perspective of a post-adolescent literally and figuratively in the trenches, and a newsreel on Dunkirk are especially notable bonus features.
Classics tells us that the docudrama "The Dam Busters" (1955) inspires the central mission, aside from rescuing the princess, in the original "Star Wars." This compelling films portrays the efforts of a patriotic British engineer to develop a highly precise bomb to further the war effort; we also see the skilled RAF flyers who must meet very tough and equally specifics to allow the weapon of mass destruction to do its job.
"The Colditz Story" is a wonderful mash-up between "The Great Escape" and the '60s sitcom "Hogan's Heroes," both of which almost certainly take inspiration both from the film and the events that inspire it. The central plot this time is that the Germans convert the titular castle into a POW camp for prisoners who escaped from other places where they had unfortunate incarcerations. A series of intertitles that serve as an epilogue provide good context that an include documentary on the castle enhances.
"Ice Cold in Alex" (1958) follows a traditional action-adventure film format; the titular brew is a "carrot" in much the same way that almost all of us look forward to a meal at our favorite restaurant once our own unfortunate incarcerations end. The reel challenge is driving a run-down Army ambulance across the Nazi-infested scorching North African desert.
"Went the Day Well" (1942) arguably is the "Hour" film that is closest to the Ealing comedies. This film, which is based on Graham Greene story, is about a rural British village that is duped in literally welcoming a group of German soldiers into their homes.
In typical Ealing style. the story commences with the daily lives of the villagers, whose existence is somewhere between the central character (reviewed) "Passport to Pimlico" and (reviewed) "Whiskey Galore." The aforementioned fascists soon arrive disguised as British soldiers.
The web of lies soon unravels, and the real drama unfolds when the Nazis figuratively show their true nature. The clear message is to not f**k with the British.
Breaking Glass Pictures timely gave the viewing public a New Year's gift by releasing the 2017 Israeli drama "Scaffolding" on January 1, 2019. The delay in sharing thoughts about this coming-of-age film is attributable to Breaking Glass and other indie-film studios keeping this site very busy with the regular awesome additions to their catalogs.
The numerous accolades for "Scaffolding" include a well-deserved Israeli Film Academy Best Supporting Actor award for the man who portrays high-school literature teacher Rami. He represents the cultured side of the art versus commerce conflict with which excitable boy Asher is dealing. Tough and gruff dad Milo represents the other side.
The following YouTube clip of a "Scaffolding" trailer introduces the theme of the film and provides a strong sense of the characters.
Seventeen year-old Asher is the good son when "Scaffolding" opens; he is a strong and obedient offspring who happily is devoted to the titular company of his self-made man father, High school is a mutual nuisance regarding this highly disruptive presence and that educational institution.
The scales begin to tip in favor of book learning when Rami reaches Asher at a time that the boy also is facing his final finals. The conflict that is at the center of all films of this nature relates to Milo literally needing the help of his son more than ever. Milo directly stating that school is not very important creates more emotional turmoil.
The plot thickens on Asher experiencing the type of angst related to Rami that many of us feel when we view a high-school teacher as a parental figure. A blow to that relationship always hurts, and it is worse when we do not fully understand the cause.
The search for answers causes Asher to fully go out of bounds; of course, this merely worsens his situation.
The artistry of the "Scaffolding" relates to the understated manner in which this universal story unfolds. The actors who portray the three sides of the triangle all play their roles well. We are spared violently frenetic dancing in an empty warehouse and any other excessive demonstrations of teen angst.
We also do not get any extreme displays of adult frustration or other strong feelings. This makes the pivotal act of desperation by Rami especially surprising.
The international vibe of "Scaffolding" continues with the special features. A 20-minute making-of short is in Hebrew without subtitles; the five-minute version has subtitles.
The TLA Releasing March 10, 2020 DVD release of the cute and charming 2019 animated film "Top 3" is an amusing tale of the course of the first relationship of a young gay romantic. This amusing creatively drawn movie from Sweden with love tale clearly shows that love may not be enough to keep us together.
Anton, who is a student in his early 20s, has a habit of composing the titular short lists. These include things such as whom to tell the first time that you do not go home for Christmas, excuses for not going out on a Friday night during a low period, and the notable things to not do on your last night with your future ex-boyfriend.
Anton experiences love at first sight on meeting younger-man David at the library near the end of the undergraduate studies of our hopeless romantic. This leads to a sweet courtship despite the resentment of Anton's hag Miriam.
David turning Japanese when his mother moves to Tokyo is the first trauma that causes drama for our leading queen, This leads to a summer of love at the rural home of the grandmother of Anton. This honeymoon period ending is the second bump in the relationship of these nice young men.
Although these guys presumably have plenty of happy endings, the primary obstacle to them enjoying happily ever after is their different outlooks. Anton speaks for many of us all along the Kinsey Scale in stating that he does not want David to make a significant sacrifice today only to deeply resent his highly significant other a decade from now.
This being a Swedish film and (presumably) not being one that airs on Logo results in there not being a guarantee of a Hollywood ending. It is guaranteed that the boys (and many viewers) will be older and wiser.
The Mill Creek Entertainment February 11, 2020 "VHS Retro Style" Blu-ray of the 1986 Richard Gere/Kim Basinger neo-modern noir film "No Mercy" joins the MCE "Retro" catalog of these films that proves that they do not make 'em even like that anymore. The hardish-boiled "Mercy" is at one end of the spectrum as to the February 2020 "Retro" release; the (soon-to-be-reviewed) Cyndi Lauper/Jeff Goldblum comedy "Vibes" is at the other end; the (recently reviewed) Bruce Willis action-comedy "Hudson Hawk" falls in the middle.
"Mercy" is a blatant "homage" to the 1984 Eddie Murphy film "Beverly Hills Cop," that has Murphy playing a loose-cannon Detroit cop going to the titular city on a revenge mission. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
The similarities of "Those '80s Movies" begin with the opening scenes of "Mercy." Chicago detective EDDIE Jillette (Gere) is working undercover as a car wash attendant on his home turf; Ala "Beverly Hills," things soon go comically awry in a manner that (once more) incurs the wrath of the superior officer of Jillette.
An effort to salvage good from the botched operation leads to Gere and his partner meeting with mid-level criminal Losado, who is in the Windy City looking to hire someone to blow away a target. Losado moll Michel Duval (Basinger) is along for the ride.
Any Trekker knows that the partner of Jillette being a upstanding family guy screams for him to wear a red shirt to work every day. Sure enough, things quickly going sideways prompts Jillette to take an unauthorized trip to New Orleans to either put Losado in the pen (pun intended) or the ground.
It does not take Jillette long to run afoul of the local good ole boys or to reunite with Duval. Incurring the wrath of the NOPD takes a little longer. That involves the typical be on the next plane home or else moment that has equally predictable results.
While "Beverly Hills" largely centers around the relationship between Murphy's Axel Foley and Judge Reinhold's junior detective Rosewood, Jillette and Duval are the "Mercy" power couple.
This pair that is certain to become friends with mutual benefits start out with Jillette engaging with Duval by literally shackling her to him and dragging her through the bayou when the heat is on. This leads to discovering a business that is sleazy even by New Orleans standards and that explains the recruiting trip of Losado.
Along the way, Duval reveals the true nature of her relationship with Losado. Of course, things become very personal in a way that reflects that Losado gets angry when someone plays with his toys.
The inevitable extended mano-a-mano showdown between Jillette and Losado puts Popeye and Bluto to shame.
The "retro" appeal of all this is that "Mercy" is a prime example of film noir evolution to a stage that the femme fatale can dish it out and take just as well as the damaged hero who initially is out for her blood before (typically) having a change of heart.
These Blogland musings as to how the impact of the coronavirus isolation is exacerbating the class gap in America is comparable to a similar recent post on this site. That article discusses the challenges as to a highly significant other going from being around for a few hours a day to constantly being home for an indefinite period.
The bigger picture this time is a pre-existing understanding of the class gap in America. I am for from being a one-percenter but am very fortunate that I do not live paycheck-to-paycheck.
I am aware that my good fortune extends to being able to have bottled water delivered to my home so that I can avoid the bad taste and adverse health effects of tap water. I am even more fortunate to have a back-up generator that powers 75-percent of my home during extended electrical outages. Not having to stress about when damage will be repaired provides immense peace-of-mind.
I am very aware that at least 50-percent of the population lacks either of these luxuries.
The direct inspiration for this post is a news report on hoarding that is leaving grocery store shelves unnecessarily empty. The message in that medium is that people who can afford to stock up should not both because doing so is not needed and because it makes it that much more difficult for people who cannot afford more than a few days of food at the best of times to avoid The Old Mother Hubbard Syndrome. Finding limited dairy products but absolutely no meat, toilet paper, or cleaning products on a trip to the store two days ago perfectly illustrates this.
It is very said that a national sense of "it can't happen here" has transformed into "but it can, Blanche; it can." I confess that I would bought a year's worth of toilet paper and a chest freezer that I would have stocked with meat had I seen this coming. As it is, I have a strong lack of buyer's remorse as to not stocking up more when grocery shopping a few days before the imposition of the lock down.
A related aspect of this is feeling very lucky to have found an online source for toilet paper and paper towels; I remain skeptical regarding if the promised delivery will occur. I confess to this order including 18 rolls of toilet paper.
The triggering thought regarding this is that I am fortunate that I can stock up a little despite paying a slight premium for these items. The same is true regarding an online grocery item that I hope is not a joke as to a scheduled April 1 delivery date.
The bottom line this time is that most of the "haves" will be able to weather the financial crisis and empty store shelves; many "have nots" likely will find themselves either barely treading water or going under. I do not claim to feel their pain and realize that my sympathy does not put food on the table.
I do hope that the "haves" that read this do leave some toilet paper and some hamburger on the shelves for their fellow home-arrest prisoners.
The Mill Creek Entertainment February 25, 2020 Blu-ray release of the 2016-17 12-part mini-series "Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga" is an exceptional addition to the incredible MCE catalog (including steelbooks) of Ultraverse titles. The basis for this praise extends well-beyond the obvious influence of "Star Wars," "Star Trek," and more fundamental lore. The MCE gift of "Ultra Fight Orb," which is the "Orb" sequel, is the proverbial icing on the cake.
The "you've come a long way, Baby" production values in this decades-long Japanese sci-fi franchise are as solid as the underlying story. The only "constructive criticism" is that editing the 23-minute episodes into a two-part feature-film format would have been a nice bonus.
"Saga" is the prequel to "Ultraman Orb" (2016), which this site describes as a Nipponese "Captain Planet"/"Scooby-Doo." "Saga" opens with the titular interstellar hero (aka Gai) and his running buddy Jugglus Juggler, who inarguably is the most complex "Ultra" character and arguably is the most interesting, at Crusader's Peak on Planet 0-50.
Our excitable boys are there to see who is deemed worthy of being transformed into the titular Crusader of Light. Juggler being passed over is the game-changer that makes him such a desirable character in a 'verse mostly populated by goody-goody teens and 20-somethings and buffonish adults.
Juggler setting Gai on his path, which involves a stargate, to being a hero despite the understandable resentment of the former is one-half of the story that leads to a climatic "away game" on Earth.
These events coincide with deranged Dr. Psychi (with some help from his robot friend) taking an ends justify the means approach to making a universe a kinder and gentler place. He already has Queen Bezelves and his evil minion army of Devil Bezelves under his control. Fulfilling his plan requires prompting Empress Amate to transform into the Ultra creature The War Deity, which is a part of her royal legacy. Psychi further requires control over the Tree of Life on Amate home world Planet Kanon.
A "B-story" regarding a dedicated military officer who is wrongfully accused of betraying his Empress-In-Command contributes a wonderful narrative to the series. An unrelated epic early battle royale is a saga highlight.
Meanwhile back on Earth, dedicated 20-something Shohei and his sidekick Yui, whose romantic interest in the boss goes comically unnoticed, discovering a seed of the Tree of Life soon prompts moving the action to our neck of the woods. Shohei and Amate developing a psychic bond while still literally being worlds away is a prominent element of fighting them over there not preventing the need to fight them here.
This being an "Ultra" series, there are battles galore with monsters straight out of camp classic "Lost in Space" and wonderfully cheesy Japanese sci-fi. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
An exceptional team effort during the predictable final battle adds as nice of a note as learning how the power of the Tree of Life extends beyond making existence possible.
The MCE synopsis of "Fight" does such a good job describing that special feature that the following summary of that battle-laden sequel is copied below.
"The vengeful spirits of deceased monsters provide power to Ghost Sorcerer Relbatos, a new enemy that rises the dead to fight Ultraman Zero and Ultraman Orb! Orb mounts an incredible defense using all kinds of Fusion Up forms."
A highly personal aspect of the coronavirus isolation alone warrants this rare detour into Blogland on this review site.
I literally was laughed off the stage while reading an essay that very closely predicted our current nationwide lockdown in a college class a "significant" number of years ago. Mixed feelings as to being proven right are akin to admitted guilty pleasure regarding an abusive college roommate who currently has his 100 or so fast-food franchises shut down; I unequivocally feel badly for his workers.
Equally predictive, a few real and reel incidents are relevant to the increased amount of time that those of us in committed relationships spend with our highly significant others. This began with asking a 70-something friend when he planned to retire from the shop that he owned. He replied that he still worked because his wife had retired, and he wanted to give her an adequate break from him each day,
This conversation roughly coincided with watching a DVD episode of the sitdoc "Curb Your Enthusiasm" about the daily life of "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David; David inspired George Costanza.
Freshly separated fictional wife Cheryl tells Larry that she likes "Seinfeld" Larry better than post "Seinfeld" Larry because he was not home nearly as much when he was working on his "must see" series. That leads to a discussion of a little Larry being the right dosage of that man.
This also relates to a newspaper article several years ago about married couples buying a B n B with high hopes of happily running it together only to massively crack under the combined pressure of keeping the business viable and being together 24/7. The college-era personal experience this time is offering ad hoc help at the Notchland Inn in the New Hampshire White Mountains when the owners offered dinner theater in the form of a combination of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and "The War of the Roses." Current guests still tell the tale of hearing shouting and airborne utensils from the kitchen.
A final perspective is a friend stating years ago that he stayed home from work one day only to have his cats stare at him the entire time as if to say that he was not supposed to there at that time.
Returning things literally and figuratively close to home, I have been fortunate enough to work from home for a "significant" number of years. My highly significant other is an executive, who traditionally has worked at an office but has operated out of our kitchen for the past few days. That may last six weeks.
Living in a 2,100 SF single-family home provides good personal space even during this lockdown; my joke that one of us may end up burying the other in the basement before home arrest ends may be a reality for couples with far less living space.
When we first moved in together, I would have a few hours of alone quiet time before my highly significant other came home; a new job 90-minutes away resulted in me and our cat having the place to ourselves a few nights a week. I am considerate by nature, but not having to think about someone much of the time has become second nature. At the same time, I still am encouraged to call virtually all of the shots.
I still enjoy exceptional accommodations as to maintaining my normal routine; at the same time, I feel self conscious about things such as watching really bad On Demand fare because it provides both variety and a sense that I am not entirely throwing the payment (which would not go down if I cut the cord) for television service.
I additionally want to be a good "spouse;" Newly adopted Marlo and I were just vocally playing with the cat toy named Mr. Mousey (Mr. Elephant is way under the bed) when my highly significant other received a business call. Our literal cat-and-mouse game quickly ended without an iota of resentment.
On a related note, I would feel badly for a client calling only to hear "Gilligan's Island" in the background. I did offer to watch television in the bedroom and was told that it is not necessary.
The bottom line this time is that someone being one of the most important persons in your life does not mean that either of you want the other around all the time. Wanting "Seinfeld" Larry is understandable.
The striking images and related spectacular cinematography in the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2018 drama "Holiday" alone justify adding this film to your home-video collection. It also makes one wonder why Breaking does not spring for a Blu-ray release.
The festival love for this entertaining tale of the trophy girlfriend of an abusive drug lord includes numerous top honors. These accolades include Best Picture at the 2018 Austin Fantastic Fest and Best Director at the 2018 Nordic International Film Festival,
The following YouTube clip of a "Holiday" trailer does not do the style of the film justice but does provide a strong sense of the misogynistic elements and the counter-balancing theme of material girls with blonde ambition considering the boy with the cold hard cash to always be Mr. Right despite the cost of the relationship.
Early scenes have our heroine (pun intended) Sascha getting called out on a damsel-in-distress routine on the cusp of the extended titular vacation with aforementioned pusher Michael, This trip is to pimped-out villa in Bodrum on the Turkish Riviera, Their travel companions are the business associates of Michael and the significant others and children of those legitimate businessmen.
Although lounging in the sun, playing games at the arcade, and clubbing is fun, Sascha soon learns the same lesson as her "sisters" that anyone who "marries" for money pays a high price for enjoying the lifestyles of the rich and loathsome. This includes having to put out on demand and dealing with a man whose temper (and temperament) essentially precludes finding someone to stick around out of love.
One of the best and most telling "Holiday" scenes has a bored Michael sitting in the bitch husband chair at a jewelry store while Sascha shops. This kept woman selecting emerald earrings aptly provides her a sense that she is not in Kansas anymore. Another way of looking at this is that it shows the intersection of her grasping greed and the combination of the lust of Michael and his desire to have a status symbol other than a tattoo on his arm.
More drama enters the picture when Sascha strikes up an unsanctioned relationship with a yachting type. Handsome and kind sailor Thomas shares an intimate moment with Sascha, and both of them want more than a one evening stand. This prompts a jealous Michael to lure Thomas to the villa under false pretenses. The feral aspects of that evening show the true natures of both men.
The climax follows when Sascha plays a booty call gone wrong on Thomas; this leads to her becoming a girl interrupted who truly is dazed and confused. This adds to the morality tale aspect of this beautiful and compelling film.
The Cinema Libre Blu-ray release of the Unrated Director's Cut of the 2017 film "Trauma" both shows that grindhouse and art-house can be compatible and that buying physical media rules. Not only is this version likely more graphic than what shows up on a streaming service or premium channel, the enhanced video and audio of the award-winning cinematography helps make the film compelling.
Our story begins during the 1974 intense unrest in Chile. A man is brutally torturing his wife, who apparently has a communist lover. This horrific revenge ordeal includes an incredibly perverse rape that is an early indication that "Trauama" takes cues from the '70s cult classic "Deliverance." There additionally are some aspects, including a "hey, Mister. I've got your dog down here" element, that evoke thoughts of "Silence of the Lambs."
The action soon shifts to 2011; urbanite Julia and her lover Camila wake and quickly prepare for their trip to the country with Camila sister Andrea and cousin Magdelana. We next see these girls riding in a car without boys as they head toward their retreat. Meanwhile, a man with a connection to that '70s horror show is lurking about in his dilapidated lair that does not seem to have been cleaned since that event,
The worlds collide when the visitors quickly antagonize the local rural folks on arriving near their final destination.
The festivities really start when the women settle in and hit the wine hard; the half-naked dance is fun until someone loses much more than an eye, The prelude to this bloodbath is man-with-a-past Juan and the ill-conceived fruit of his loins crashing the party. This is akin to the locals catching up with the vacationers in "Deliverance,"
The "Trauma" team exceeds expectations by staging the morning after in the labyrinth of horrors that survivalist Juan calls home. The nearly dead woman chained to the wall is only the tip of the iceberg. Of course, not everyone walks out.
Aside from respectable production values and good acting by the central quartet, "Trauma" is notable for going above-and-beyond regarding a premise for a horror movie. Not many of this films even think about tying in carnage with world events; this is not to mention the quarter-life crises of the prey and the relatively level playing field.
The bigger picture is that "Trauma" shows that we all can get along; the art-house is large enough to provide every genre of film shelter so long as it is an appropriate guest.
The Film Movement Classics division of indie-film god Film Movement March 10, 2020 BD double-feature release of "Whiskey Galore" (1949) and "The Maggie" (1954) (aka "High and Dry") once again proves both that funny always is funny and that the Brits kick the arses of Yanks when it comes to comedy. This release also is the third Classics BD of Ealing Studios releases. This site has already covered the Blu-ray of "The Titfield Thunderbolt" (1953) and reviewed the Blu-ray of the 1949 farce "Passport to Pimlico."
These four never-a-dull-moment films make a wonderful home-based classic film festival. The copious in-depth special features that accompany these UK gems aptly give them the royal treatment and are well worth watching.
One of the many common elements of "Whiskey" and "Maggie" is that the are both from Ealing director Alexander Mackendrick, who is better known for "The Ladykillers" and "The Man in the White Suit."
The following SPOILER-LADEN Classics trailer for "Galore" highlights the award-worthy restoration. This promo also provides a strong sense of the so-near and yet-so-far aspect of a small Scottish island that has its supply of the titular libation go dry at the same time that a ship with a large supply of that nectar rounds aground just off shore. Hilarity galore ensues.
Classics does "Maggie" equally proud as to the trailer for that film. The primary "sit" that provides the "com" this time is that wily boat captain McTaggart responds to desperate times by undertaking the desperate measure of deceptively getting the job of transporting cargo that is very precious to American businessman Calvin B. Marshall. Once more, there is copious hilarity.
"Whiskey" is well-acted movie about eccentric antics of quirky residents of a small Scottish island that evokes strong thoughts of similar fare of days of yore such as "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down A Mountain" and "Waking Ned Devine." This is a nice contrast to the modern formula of placing the matinee or teen-boy idol of the week in a film that relies on crude and/or slapstick humor.
The quaint old world setting this time is the small community of Todday. Although the year is 1943, the only impact of the war is the local pub running out of whisky and not having any hope of replenishing its supply any time soon. The lack of a more serious threat is not stopping the "Dad's Army" style local Home Guard officer from maintaining road blocks and otherwise exercising undue diligence. This textbook self-righteous fool is easily frustrated by the "incompetence" of subordinates and the absurd manner in which the military operates.
The daily life of the Sam Druckeresque postmaster/shop keeper is being complicated by his youngest daughter and earnest school teacher George Campbell wanting to get married despite the strong opposition of Mrs. Campbell, who is the mother of all mothers. The engagement of the older daughter to a soldier on leave is free of similar drama.
The conflict between the cold warring factions heats up when a ship that is transporting 50,000 cases of whisky runs aground off the shore of Todday. The locals want to salvage the titular beverage for their own use, and the Home Guard wet blanket wants to obey the letter of the law. This results in highly entertaining mad dashes on the land and on the sea, as well as hilarious scenes of concealing whisky bottles.
The humor and the action in "Whisky" is so well presented throughout that the film does not climax so much as it winds down. Some characters are a little wiser, others emboldened, and most quite a bit drunker.
An especially awesome of "Whiskey" is that it is funny because it is (somewhat) true.
"The Maggie" follows a similar figurative path; McTaggart encounters numerous obstacles in trying to deliver the goods, which is needed to literally keep his business afloat. This involves literal and figurative rocky moments; the real fun commences with Marshall literally (but not figuratively) comes on board after McTaggart evades earlier attempts to get things on the right course. The ending this time literally and figuratively is far from Hollywood.
The Mill Creek Entertainment February 11, 2020 Retro VHS-Style Blu-ray of the 1991 Bruce Willis action-comedy "Hudson Hawk" awesomely once more provides a second bite at the apple regarding unfairly scorned films of the '80s and '90s. The proper perspective regarding these no-reason-to feel-guilty pleasures is that they fill their purpose of providing roughly 90-minutes of escapist fun. The MCE section of this site includes copious posts on these vintage gems.
Other February 11, 2020 Retro releases include the Cyndi Lauper/Jeff Goldblum comedy "Vibes" and the Richard Gere/Kim Basinger noir film "No Mercy." Posts on each film are scheduled for the next few weeks.
Our story begins a long time ago in a country relatively far away. It is the Italian Renaissance, and Leonardo Da Vinci is simultaneously working on commissioned statue of a horse and a personal side project that he considers a golden opportunity. This sets the stage for the amusement that ensues in our era.
The primary story commences with the titular cat burglar (Willis) ending an unfortunate incarceration for which he is a fall guy. His parole officer derails the rehabilitation of Hawk by giving him the choice of resuming his profession or finding himself once more becoming a guest of the State. A New Jersey mobster, who has the obligatory dimwitted minion, soon makes Hawk the same offer that he cannot refuse.
This prompts Hawk and partner-in-crime (and comedy) Tommy Five Tone (Danny Aiello) to steal the Da Vinci horse. This equine soon proves to be of the Trojan variety in that it contains the true objective of the heist. The fact that it resembles the odjet d'art in the "Brady" living room is a bonus.
The rest of the cast of characters join the caper at the typical upper-crust auction where a horse of the same color is put on the block. These include the highly quirky (and seemingly majorly inbred) Darwin (Richard E. Grant) and Minerva (Sandra Bernhard) Mayflower and Vatican representative Anna Baragli (Andie McDowell), who getting into the act reflects her habit.
Hawk subsequently finds himself an a form of accidental tourist on a Roman Holiday as the aforementioned "patrons" and others with a horse (no pun intended) in the race coerce him into a obtaining everything that a golden opportunity requires. Much of the ensuing fun relates to just about every character discovering that he or she has put his or her trust in the wrong person or persons.
This portion of the film fully takes off as Willis gleefully goes over the top ala Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1993 action-comedy "The Last Action Hero" that is a fellow (reviewed) MCE Retro-style BD release. Highlights include a wonderfully dark decapitation, a bad guy being the victim of textbook poetic justice, and Willis going overboard as to his use of weapon of mass destruction.
All of this concludes with a climax that admittedly is a bit over extended. It is equally predictable that the bad guys seems certain to prevail and that there is a last-minute miracle.
As this post states at the beginning, the appeal of "Hawk" is the escapist thrill ride that it provides at a time that a global plague has descended on us, a large percentage of the population is experiencing a major reversal of fortune, and our overall future does not close to needing shades. This film (and its fellow Retro releases) are excellent medicine for our increasingly (and seemingly endless) dystopian times. All we can do is keep calm and view on.
Film Movement fully celebrates the independent spirit of art-house films with the DVD release of the 2017 drama "I Am Not a Witch." Folks who prefer to download this tale of nine year-old Shula being sent to witch camp can do so through the Movement streaming service.
The sweet 16 accolades for "Witch" begin with the 2018 BAFTA award for "Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer." Many of the other 15 wins similarly honor the film itself and writer/director Rungano Nyoni.
The following YouTube clip of the Movement trailer for "Witch" casts a spell that compels you to want to see more of the guilty-pleasure absurdity and themes that earn the film so much critical love.
The fun begins with wonderful dual commentary on the nature of tourism and the treatment of the disenfranchised in any society. We see tourons (a.ka. tourists + morons) in Zambia traveling to a witch camp. Of course, a group member balks at the price of the experience.
On arriving at their destination, the visitors treat the not-so-beloved sorceresses like zoo animals. For their part, the women who endure that humiliation do so with supernatural stoicism. The education of the day trippers includes the explanation that tethering the women to white ribbons is intended to prevent them from flying away to go on a killing spree. One spoiler is that at least one witch reaches the end of her rope.
The primary commentary then commences in the village where unaccompanied minor Shula resides; our introduction to her shows the incident that leads to her being accused of witchcraft. That judicial proceeding provides a strong sense of the comparable Salem witch trials.
This leads to government official Mr. Banda bringing the girl to the aforementioned camp. A form of tiger repellent logic is used in convincing Shula that she either can consent to be tethered to a white ribbon or be turned into a goat.
Banda subsequently exploits the perception of an unenthusiastic Shula for fun and profit. This includes making her use her alleged power to catch a thief. We also see her sit quietly by as Banta and his partner-in-crime try to get her to play along with a scheme to show that she can literally be a rainmaker.
Meanwhile, the witches also profit from the perception of Shula. They additionally amusingly go about their lives as the bicker and do what is required of them. We additionally get further proof that people from "civilized" nations are clueless.
All of this shows both that every society has the same basic flaws and that all of us should be ashamed, very ashamed.
Movement supplements "Witch" with the Nyoni short-film "Mwansa the Great." We further get an interview in which Nyoni discusses visiting an actual witch camp.
Virgil Films awesomely breaks out of its comfort zone by deviating from its pattern of mostly releasing family-friendly fare on home-video to bring a DVD of "Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street" (2020) to small screen everywhere on March 3, 2020. This aptly camptastic documentary on the 1985 horror film "Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" can be considered Mark's revenge.
This film chronicles the campaign of (still studly) then-closeted "2" star Mark Patton to get screenwriter David Chaskin to acknowledge that the material, rather than the leading man, is the basis for identifying "2" as the "gayest horror movie ever made." The comma between "Scream" and "Queen" in the documentary title reinforces the related observation that Patton is a member of the same sorority as Jamie Lee Curtis.
A "Queen" scene in which Chaskin states that he directed Patton to scream but never instructed him to do it like a girl provides a good sense of the dynamic between the two. "Queen" filmmakers Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen repeatedly inserting "distracting" "2" clips of an S&M shower scene that "aptly" likely is a favorite of Bryan Singer and footage of Patton separately in his well-packed tightie-whities and doing an awesome bump and jerk dance proves that those documentarians know their target audience very well.
Sadly, "Queen" omits a "Revenge" scene in which Patton get pantsed while wearing a jock strap. This memorable moment proves that he works his ass off to take one for the team.
The following trailer for "Queen" goes beyond highlighting the aforementioned style of both "Revenge" and "Queen" to address the accompanying substantial substance of the latter. Namely, the price that Patton pays for playing such a gay character in the not-so-enlightened '80s. This is on top of his having to sacrifice being fully true to himself by taking walks of shame in WeHo in pursuit of a star on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.
"Queen" does an excellent job making Patton both the poster boy for closeted actors in the '80s and the comeback kid beginning with a 2010 "Never Sleep Again" event celebrating the "Nightmare" franchise.
Anyone with a heart will have it break on hearing Patton discuss literally and figuratively being kept out of the picture regarding a profile of his live-in partner "Dallas" stud Timothy Patrick Murphy. The "your little dog too" element of this shows that Mark is a good friend of Dorothy. "Distracting" clips of Murphy remind viewers of the extent to which Lucy Ewing love interest Mickey was so fine and blew our minds. Oh, Mickey.
The better news is that we also see Little Markie, happy at last in the present. His loving relationship is only the tip of the iceberg as to his happy life south of the border. He also is an icon among gay horror fans and is gracious as to returning their love.
The bottom (no pun intended) line as to all this is that "Queen" shows both that gay boys can deliver as well as breeders of both genders and that irrational fears and prejudices ruin careers and deprive folks all along the art versus commerce scale regarding entertainment. That is the real nightmare in this case.
The Icarus Films March 10, 2020 DVD of the 2018 documentary "Time Thieves" (not to be confused with the 1981 Terry Gilliam film "Time Bandits") aptly is a good investment of 85 minutes and will leave you wanting more.
Writer/director Cosima Dannoritzer shows a mastery of her subject in the manner in which she presents her theme on the role of time in the context of business. Each segment is the perfect length, and the overall pace is brick but far from overwhelming.
An early topic in "Thieves" inarguably is the most entertaining in a film full of highlights and lacking a single dull moment. The viewers are introduced to a Amsterdam restaurant in which the diners do all the work to put the food on their tables. The true payoff is the statement of the method behind that madness.
Another highly amusing segment centers around a married couple that were efficiency expert pioneers. Those parents manipulating their unwitting offspring into doing their literal and figurative dirty work is hilarious.
We also learn early on that rail fatalities play a big role in America fully going on the clock in the 1880s; Dannoritzer deserves minute (pun intended) criticism for not addressing how the proliferation of digital clocks and watches in the 1970s escalates the general American obsession with time.
A large focus is on the well-known Japanese work ethic. Learning about the negative economic impact of Japanese people not using all of their vacation time is amusing; the tale of employees at a Japanese electronics firm playing cat-and-mouse with their employer in order to double-down on overtime is bittersweet; learning about the karoshi, which describes overworking being a primary factor in a death is tragic.
Dannoritzer introduces us to the highly sympathetic widow of a chef/karoshi victim. We also learn of the extensive support system for folks who are in imminent danger of the same fate as the chef.
The timely lesson of all this is that the per-unit labor cost often is the most controllable expense in producing a good or service; naming the department that oversees this human RESOURCES fully reflects that.
The secondary lesson is that the general public being agreeable to (and even enjoying) self-check-out at the grocery store or checking themselves in for a flight or a hotel stay proves that there is a sucker born every minute. Anyone in the Boston area who would like a free aerobic workout is invited to do the seasonal clean-up and preparation of a 6,000 square-foot yard.