'The Men Who Built America: Frontiersman' DVD: Compelling Leo DiCaprio Produced Historic Figure Based Recap of 1775 - 1836
The Lionsgate July 31, 2018 DVD release of the History Channel docuseries "The Men Who Built America: Frontiersmen," which is a prequel of the series "The Men Who Built America," aptly honors the spirit of summer school.
This Leonardo DiCaprio produced program communicates the material in an entertainingly informal manner. Much of this is attributable to the academics and numerous other talking heads who share their knowledge. The most recognizable contributors are former CIA Director David Petraeus and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.
The opening scenes of fur trapper Daniel Boone being chased by native Americans in the region beyond the Appalachian Mountains that serve as a border of 1770s America strikes a good balance between exposition and getting right down to action. This sets the stage for Boone returning to civilization after saving his hide by leaving those of the animals that he had captured behind.
This leads to forming the type of unlikely (and often uneasy) collaboration that is a theme of "Frontiersmen." Boone avoids debtors prison by heading back into the wilderness to figuratively pave the way for further American expansion. This leads to establishing Boonesborough.
This episode of "Frontiersmen" also introduces the "before they were stars" element of the series. This extends beyond Boone not yet being a legend to discussing the early career of future President William Henry Harrison. Fellow future POTUS Andrew Jackson similarly shows up early in the series.
The third regular element of "Frontiersmen" that dates back to the first episode is the aspect of showing how the portrayed incidents have an important role in more prominent events of the day. In this case, it is the strategic and symbolic importance of this particular wilderness to the British army during the American Revolution.
The next focus is on the events leading to the Louisiana Purchase that leads to the Lewis and Clark expedition. Cool aspects of this portion of "Frontiersmen" include copious personal information about the expedition leaders and their preparations for the trip, the full impact of their heading into literally uncharted territory, how they come to discover that there are no shortcuts regarding their venture, and the "True Hollywood Story" of native American guide Sacagawea. The bigger picture this time relates to the Brits still trying to restrain the Americans.
The strongest conflict comes during the final portion of "Frontiersmen," which focuses on "King of the Wild Frontier" Davy Crocket. We see how he literally holds his ground on learning that his views regarding the native American "problem" greatly differ from those of his masters. This leads to an even more heated confrontation with his former leader.
This dispute also provides context for the early days of the ugly political races that seem perpetual.
History fully repeats itself when Crocket joins the 1,000s of other Americans who move to Mexico-owned Texas for a combination of cheap land and freedom from what they consider the oppressive rule of the American government. Discovering that the new boss is the same old as the old boss prompts a mission statement in the form of the preparations to defend the Alamo that provide the final moments of "Frontiersmen."
One can only hope that History does not makes us wait long for episodes that bridge the gap between "Frontiersmen" and "Built." Eagerness to learn more about the exploits of Wilton Parmenter alone creates great expectations.
The Lionsgate July 31, 2018 separate DVD and enhanced Blu-ray releases of the first season of the Starz original series "Counterpart" provides a good chance to see the best current show that you have never seen. An initial endorsement is planning to subscribe to Starz when S2 episodes premiere in early 2019; an initial note is that the Dolby HD Blu-ray looks spectacular using a 4K player to watch it on a Sony 4K set.
The exceptional special features include a video for each of the 10 S1 episodes in which creator/writer/producer Justin Marks ("The Jungle Book") shares his insider perspective on that offering. His enthusiasm and insight prove his great love and regard for his creation.
The following YouTube clip of the official "Counterpart" S1 trailer introduces the lore of the show and awesomely proves that sadistic Schillinger of the 1997 - 2003 HBO prison drama "Oz" still lives in J.K. Simmons. A different fanbase knows Simmons from numerous roles that include his Oscar-winning performance in "Whiplash."
"Counterpart pulls off the neat trick of combining quality Cold War drama, the 1963-66 sitcom "The Patty Duke Show" in which the eponymous young star plays an everyteen all-American girl and more worldly English cousin, and the 2008-13 Fox scifi drama "Fringe" that shifts the action between our reality and a more totalitarian version of our world.
The "Counterpart" and "Fringe" parallel (pun intended) is especially close. Having equivalents of Walternate and Fauxlivia from the Fox series is the tip of the iceberg.
In both cases, the link to the Bizarro world is the result of a science experiment gone awry. The alternate dimension this time is the product of Cold War research in Berlin that creates a separate but equal reality. Restricted access between what can be considered East and West Berlin is via a heavily guarded subterranean tunnel.
The other primary element of the lore is that the general populace on both sides of the tunnel is completely oblivious to even the existence of the tunnel. The extensive symbolism begins with the lore that only person at a time can walk through the tunnel.
The larger (and more fascinating) theme is that the responses of our counterparts to the same incidents that we experience here shapes the personalities of both persons. An example is the differences between a woman who embraces a highly violent lifestyle and her other who better blends into society.
The rare occasions on which one encounters his or her mirror image are series highlights. They often make both persons wonder what might have been and prompt introspection by viewers.
Our story begins with the balance between action and introductory exposition that marks good series. The idea is that modern ADD audiences want to know what is going on but have little patience for being introduced to the setting.
The aforementioned opening scenes show the police in our reality in hot pursuit of Baldwin, an assassin from the other side. The manner in which this hired gun escapes sets a good (and sustained) precedence for the series.
We then move on to a day in the life of mild-mannered middle-aged UN spy agency desk jockey Howard Silk (Simmons). Boss (and personal fave) Peter Quayle (Harry LLoyd) has just passed him over for a promotion. On finishing his really boring job as an office clerk, Silk follows his evening routine of bringing his comatose wife Emily and the nurses at her hospital flowers and then reading to his spouse.
The proverbial game-changer comes on Silk arriving at work one morning to have Quayle let him in on the secret and introduce him to the titular Silk Prime (Simmons). Of course, the mousy wimp Silk disgusts the tough and stoic Prime. The only disappointment is that "evil" Silk does not have a goatee.
The rest of the story is that Prime is here because the Emily on this side is a target of Baldwin. The bigger picture is that a covert group on the other side is planning a coup.
The related efforts to save Emily and to capture Baldwin are the beginning of collaboration and a beautiful unlikely friendship between Silk and Prime. Seeing this pair interact and Prime slowly but surely mellow while Silk learns to man up provides great entertainment. A poker game between these studs arguably is the best scene in the entire season.
For his part, Quayle is the son-in-law of the big boss but is not a model husband. The rude awakening of this spy-master-in-training wonderfully reflects the themes of "Counterpart." Suffice it to say that Lloyd plays his role particularly well.
Additional entertainment comes as we learn more about the specific basis for the other side resenting us; this relates to a wonderfully complex conspiracy in which virtually everyone becomes a suspect. The manner in which people with whom a character has a close bond often does not hesitate to throw that person under a bus is awesome vicarious fun.
The Cold War elements also include prisoner exchange negotiations, such swaps going horribly wrong, the luxury on our side seducing tunnel commuters, the other side brainwashing children and preparing them to serve the cause, moles, etc.
All of this culminates in a season finale that wraps up the S1 drama and sets the stage for S2. The tightening of the noose prompts drastic action by infiltrators, friends getting trapped in hostile territory, and diplomacy failing. In other words, just like the real Cold War era Berlin.
Lionsgate also gives us the bonus feature "Season Outlook" in which cast and crew discuss the series and favorite moments.
The awesomeness of the seven-room Long Dell Inn B & B in Centerville, Mass. on Cape Cod extends beyond its perfection. The nature of that home run reflects the principles of the Inn Credible New England section of this website that determine if such a place hits one out of the park or is a swing and a miss.
Inn Credible Hosts
Innkeepers Marc and Donna are the rare breed that makes getting things right look easy, pass the test of vacation friends with flying colors, and manage to run the business together without tears or recriminations. Being there on their 15th wedding anniversary made things a little more special.
Former financial industry compliance guy Marc shares that the secret of the success of his partnership with former defense attorney with a heart of platinum Donna (who has a history of almost literally giving clients suits off of the back of Marc) is that each has individual areas of responsibility. Having their own on-site living space on the property is another cited basis for the personal and professional tranquility.
The story of how this couple comes to own this mid-century house with a roughly 120-year history of hosting guests is somewhat typical. A Goldilocks-style search for the right second-career after years of a bridge and/or tunnel commute from New Jersey to Manhattan ends with discovering this place that is just right for this couple and all those who discover it. This leads to the desired fairy tale endings.
Their hospitality begins with the telephone call inquiring about the inn. This includes ensuring that all dietary requirements and preferences will be met and that the breakfast that the rate includes will be to the liking of the guest. Marc bending over backward to please a particularly persnickety guest during our stay further illustrates this incredible service,
Finding what is behind the lime-green door on arriving reinforces the choice of hotel. Marc provides a brief welcome that includes an offer of the snacks and hot and cold beverages that are available 24/7. Fortunate guests get face time with shy puppy-mill rescue inn dog Lucky the coton de Tulear.
Marc next provides the best of both worlds that addresses the gripes of rookies who do not realize that virtually no B & B has someone to carry bags to your room. He politely insists on helping with the luggage and taking the heaviest items. He may rethink the latter offer after carrying the perpetually packed Inn Credible New England duffel. The "just in case" items in it include a power strip, snacks, toiletries, and surf shoes.
Inn Credible Rooms
The "just right" theme includes the Long Dell guestrooms. The nicest thing about the beachy chic Cape Cod vibe of the individually decorated rooms (all of which have private bathrooms) is that it lacks the cookie-cutter feel of large hotels. A personal peeve is staying in a room that looks as if it is as likely to be in any other city as the one in which you are staying.
On the other end of the spectrum, each room is so meticulously decorated yet homey, immaculate, and sunny that you need not fear the bait-and-switch that some B&Bs pull. Paying $200/night or more for a shabby broom closet when you have an expectation of a charming quaint room that does not require one person to jump on the bed to allow the other to pass (been there, done that) is worse than feeling that you are staying in the bedroom department of a mid-price furniture store.
The highly individualized art and other special touches by Donna in each room further enhance the warmth of the Long Dell.
Marc and Donna further provide the best of both world regarding bathroom amenities. Their desire to do their part for Mother Earth prompts having sparkling clean spa-quality body wash, shampoo, and conditioner dispensers. The cucumber body wash is a highlight.
This system supports the efforts of environmentally-conscious folks and allows the rest of us to avoid "please. sir, I want some more" moments. This relates to the desire to either rinse off the dust of the road or remove yeti-caliber stench on arriving at a hotel often requiring requesting a second bar of soap for the next morning. Of course, the aforementioned duffel bag has two bars of soap.
Inn Credible Happy Days
Having seen every room at the Long Dell allows ensuring readers that none of them remotely resemble a shabby broom closet. This includes the especially well-appointed Tradewinds Room, which was the reserved accommodation. Fortune smiled on us in the form of a last-minute cancellation for the coveted and particularly aptly named "The Nest." The following photos (which includes the oft-mentioned duffel) do not come close to doing this oasis justice.
The partner of your not-so-humble reviewer describing this suite (which includes a private deck) as an upscale Fonzie apartment nicely provides a sense of this room. The private entrance to this spacious option over two guestrooms in an addition at the back of the inn is one of many senses of isolation. Having a small refrigerator, counter-top microwave, and kitchen sink is further conducive to private relaxation.
This easily is the quietest room at a very peaceful property, and the sitting area is a great spot to relax after a busy day in the area.
Inn Credible Area
Speaking of the area, this Centerville property is centrally located to all that makes Cape Cod the destination choice of presidents who do not own golf resorts or family compounds. The general store and area-favorite Four Seas ice cream shop that are town highlights are a short walk away.
Large and sandy Craigsville Beach also is a fairly easy stroll, but driving facilitates bringing beach gear. A tip that Marc shares is that parking in the HUGE lot is free after the college kids who staff it go home in the late afternoon. The downside is that these scholars lock the bathrooms and the outdoor showers when they close up.
An amazing aspect of this is proving to this Northern New England boy that ocean water can be warm; this is adequately great to warrant the comment that the Pilgrims are dopes for not staying put on landing in Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod, rather than the almost universally accepted location of Plymouth. The note here is that the famed rock is not worth crossing the street to see.
The larger town of Osterville is roughly five minutes away. This is a haven for folks who enjoy boutique-style shopping. Those who are so inclined easily can go home with a stylish summer clothes, tasteful sea-themed decorations. nice drinking glasses, and gourmet cheese.
Fans of hamburgers are warned that the well-known Wimpy's restaurant in Osterville does not do especially well with that entree despite the eatery name indicating otherwise. They seem to do better with seafood. As in all things, the better bet is to heed the advice of Marc and dine at the mid-range flatbread restaurant Crisp.
The inn also is roughly a 15-minute drive to Kennedycentric Hyannis, which has a JFK museum next to the post office, The several blocks-long downtown has the basic restaurants. souvenir shops, and other businesses that one expects in a touristy beach town.
Inn Credible Advice
This trip reinforces the belief that personalized hotels generally outshine cookie-cutter properties. The ones, such as the Long Dell, that survives more than four years, are run by folks that know the business and value art over commerce. (The perspective this time was having to convince a hotel owner at a $175/night place to unlock a cabinet to take out a second fun-sized box of Rice Krispies.)
The best places feel like visiting relatives whom you like; in this case, Marc and Donna seem like the cousins who are the kids of the nice aunt. This also makes returning fun.
'Streets of Vengeance' Blu-ray: Awesome Homage to Trashy Fare of USA Up All Night & Debbie Rochon Films
Olive Films aptly takes us to camp with the July 24, 2018 Blu-ray release of "Streets of Vengeance." Olive captures the tone of of "Vengeance" in describing it as "a throwback to the gritty action-thrillers of the '80s." The bonus fun comes via this Slasher//video joint being presented in the format of a fictional basic cable show that is just as cheesy and tawdry as the real "USA Up All Night" that gave trashy films new life on weekend nights from 1989 to 1998. One difference is that the graphic sexual and violent content remains intact this time.
A more modern modern reference is to the oft-hilarious and always perverse films of 21st-century scream queen Debbie Rochon.
The brilliance of "Vengeance" is that ipurposefully making a twisted bad film elevates otherwise pure trash into an awesome guilty pleasure. An example of this is the phrase "choke on your own cock" not just being an expression this time. The only surprise is that the central vigilantes do not have a targeted misogynist suck a bag of dicks.
The larger reference thus time is to the mother of all bad movie showcases "Mystery Science Theater 3000." The best brains behind that '90s basic cable series spare intentional garbage by limiting their selections to movies that the filmmakers believe to be good.
"Vengeance" opens with porn star Mila on the verge of hanging up her G string at the same time that the San Francisco slasher is killing women who use their sex appeal to pay the bills,
A retirement party (sans gold garter belt) for Mila ends badly when a cult member grabs her outside the venue and brings her to his lair. This male chauvinist pig makes the common mistake of film villains by telling Mila of the cult objective of ridding the world of women who tease and otherwise abuse men with their slutty behavior. Suffice to say two damaged individuals enter, one porn actress leaves.
Mila subsequently initially teams up with muscle, who essentially acts as the pimp of the all party-girl army that Mila assembles to take back the street corner. In true revenge-film style, this battle of hos v. bros amps up in a manner that puts Mila on the radar of the cult leader, who is connected with a man for whom the battle is particularly personal.
This leads to the inevitable battle royale that leads to the inevitable mano-a-womano showdown between the cult leader and Mila. Suffice it to say this time, Mila shows that her stiletto-heel boots are made for more than walking.
Olive further enhances the "Vengeance" experience with a feature-length making-of film and a bushel of other Blu-ray extras. These include cast interviews, a blooper reel, a music video, and several trailers.
The concept of the Margin Films documentary "Gay Hollywood Dad," which premieres August 2 2018 at the New York Asian-American Film Festival a day before debuting on Amazon Instant Video, is laudable and has great potential. The sad truth is that 29 year-old filmmaker/titular single parent Quentin Lee sacrifices the opportunity to share his unusual experience to promote his career. "Dad" also suffers from being produced with eye toward being a reality web series.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Dad" shows how the film starts strong before becoming standard reality show fare. One can only fear Lee creating a series titled "The Real Toddlers of Los Angeles" featuring his son Casper.
The central concept of "Dad" is strong. As Lee states at the beginning of the film, his desire for a child that is biologically his prompts choosing surrogacy., We remain on course as we meet gestational carrier Crystal Primavera as she prepares to give birth in her home state of West Virginia.
The veering into reality TV territory roughly 5 minutes later is where things start taking a turn for the worse. The cast of stock characters include aptly named Adrian Ho, whom Lee identifies as his partner. The apparent reality is that Ho is not figuratively or literally prominently in the picture. His conspicuous absences include not accompanying Lee to witness the birth of the baby or on separate trips to meet the grandparents.
Further, Lee comments that Ho is more comfortable than him regarding going home with Mr. Right Now. All of this points to Ho being more fuck buddy than life companion.
The "plot" when the gang gathers at Chez Lee is that Lee wants a 100-day celebration of the birth of Casper. The explanation of the reason that Chinese people celebrate that milestone is interesting. The drama begins with debates regarding the venue and the budget for the event.
One uncomfortable TMI moment during the party involves Lee telling the group that his sperm was used in the process of that lead to the birth of Casper. This is contrast to the more appropriate option of stating that he is the biological father.
Lee comes across much worse minutes later as we see him in the back seat of a car sharing that he is too drunk to drive; he adds insult to injury by joking that he looks forward to Casper being old enough to be a designated driver. It also is presumed that this too polluted to operate a motor vehicle father of an infant does not have anyone staying at his home that night to help care for the baby.
The popularity of Lee further falls when he discusses not having as much time as desired to film babies on a prior film project. This creates an impression that his motives for having Casper include having as much time as needed with this "prop" for the upcoming horror short "In Halloween" that Lee heavily promotes to the extent of including most of that film in "Dad."
Things calm down from there as Lee brings Casper to Hong Kong to meet the grandmother of the child and celebrate her birthday. Not much drama ensues during that trip.
More drama ensues during a Christmas week Vancouver trip to meet the generally grumpy Grandpa. It is clear that this man is overdue for a visit from four ghosts.
Lee wraps up "Dad" with a discussion of taking Casper on the red carpet during a film festival. This ties into discussing the infant liking some restaurants better than others. Speaking as one who often comes close to grabbing a loudly beeping game console or a streaming device playing a children;s video from the hands of a toddler and smashing it on the floor at a restaurant, Lee should not drag his son to dinners as if the boy is a chihuahua in a Louis Vuitton purse. The general rule should be that no one under 10 should eat anyplace that does not advertise on Nickelodeon.
The bigger picture is that "Dad" is squandered on an affable man who clearly loves his son but seems to not have properly adapted to his new reality. An average 'mo with a 9-to-5 job and actually must let his bundle du joie greatly disrupt his life seems to be a better subject for this theme.
The Warner Archive crystal-clear July 10, 2018 Blu-ray release of the social-commentary laden 1962 period-piece drama "Billy Budd" fills the summer film void of an epic film with depth (no pun intended.) This adaptation of the Herman Melville novel of the same name tells the 1797 tale of the titular Shanghaied young sailor.
Peter Ustinov does yeoman's work in this Cinemascope film in that he directs and co-produces it in addition to playing Captain Edwin Fairfax Vere. The exceptional look of this shot-at-sea film and the perfect portrayal of Vere as a man who keeps his head under very trying circumstances prove that Ustinov is a genuine triple threat.
Budd (future General Zod AND Jor-El portrayor Terence Stamp) is a happy sailor aboard the merchant ship The Rights of Man to the extent of gleefully leading the crew in a rousing song when the British Navy ship the HMS Avenger shows up and asserts an effective right of scavenge in forcing Budd to literally jump ship and join Team Vere,
"Budd" then projects a mild vibe of a modern workplace in that Budd is the slightly annoying enthusiastic newbie who is immune to the cynicism of the "veterans" We also get strong Dickensian overtones that are particularly prevelant in separate scenes in which Budd puts a positive spin on the swill that the crew eats and casually discusses being a foundling.
The good nature of Budd puts him on the radar of gruff and tough Master-of-Arms John Claggart (Robert Ryan), who rebuffs the sweet and caring offer of friendship by Budd. The sense of a modern workplace enters the picture again on Vere granting Budd a fast-track promotion prompting Claggart to feel additional animus toward our teen seaman.
Things further escalate on Claggart maliciously making a false accusation against Budd that leads to Vere giving the lad a chance to defend himself. Expected shock and awe leads to a tragic accident regarding which the captain aptly expresses the flaw of most legal systems that requires basing a decision on the law rather than on justice.
This in turn leads to arguably the most powerful scene in the film in which the crew experiences one of the harshest realities of both life at sea and being in the military. The "but wait there's more" surprise comes just as things seem destined to reach a conclusion that is preordained from the beginning.
The bonus impact this time is the sad truth that things have not changed much since the 18th century setting of "Budd" or the 1962 premiere of the film. Further, the same likely will be true 56 years from now.
The special feature is commentary by Stamp and Steven Soderbergh.
Warner Archive makes July 24, 2018 a day that will live in infinity (and beyond) with the (reviewed) separate but equal Blu-ray release of the universal cut (with bonus DVD of the director's cut) of "Supergirl" and the DVD release of the 1943 Errol Flynn WWII drama "Edge of Darkness." This nail-biter stars the dashing Flynn as Norwegian fisherman Gunnar Brogge who leads the resistance effort of his small town against the Nazi occupation. The depth this time comes in the form of the character studies of the townfolks.
"Darkness" opens in a thoroughly modern manner in that German aviators flying over the aforementioned burg make an observation that prompts a closer look. That leads to an investigation in which it is discovered that streets literally are littered with dead German soldiers and that the same is true regarding a hotel that we soon learn is the former local German army headquarters,
The 21st-century movie aspect comes next when the action shifts backwards several weeks. Gunnar, and Karen Stensgard (Ann Sheridan), who is the main squeeze of Gunnar and the daughter of town doctor Martin Stensgard (Walter Huston), are keeping a low profile while waiting for news of a shipment of guns from the British army.
Martin Stensgard is not so fond of the Nazis but is staying neutral, his wife Anna (Ruth Gordon) is dazed and confused, and son Johann (John Beale) is a low-level collaborator who arrives home from Oslo in the middle of the film. Cannery owner Kaspar Torgerson (Charles Dingle) is the friendly collaborator who also is the brother of Anna.
An amusing element of "Darkness" is a connection with the sequel to the '*80s comedy film "Mannequin." "Mannequin on the Move" (1987). The titular store display in "Move" is from the Bavarian kingdom of Hauptmann Koening, which is the name of the German commander in the "Darkness" town.
The prelude to the primary action in "Darkness" is a nearby town getting the aforementioned allied support. The resulting armed conflict with the Nazis not ending well for the villagers provides some neighbors of Gunnar to believe that resistance is futile.
The tension mounts as the Germans amp up their defenses against an anticipated attack by the occupied. Things fully come to a head when the occupiers make an example of a local who stands up to them.
Oscar-winning director Lewis Milestone ("All Quiet on the Western Front") superbly orchestrates the ensuing melee in which the Germans figuratively (and presumably literally) lose their feces in direct proportion to the villagers becoming emboldened. These events also reignite feels of revulsion regarding a report of a particular atrocity that supports the understated observation that Nazis are not nice.
The first larger perspective this time is the fascinating look at where the villagers fall along the Kinsey Scale of collaboration, One can understand how folks such as Gunnar and Karen feel obliged to mount active resistance and others such as Martin Stensgard choose to simply wait things out. It even is understandable that folks like Johann present an appearance of cooperation. Full-on collaborators such as Kaspar have more 'splainin' to do.
A cooler larger perspective is the parallel with the American Revolution. The patriot militia is like that of the villagers in that they are an informally organized covert group literally outgunned by a larger and formally organized and trained occupying enemy.
Archive further excels in outdoing itself regarding the always exceptional special features in its releases. The treat this time is a plethora of vintage shorts grouped under "Warner Night at the Movies." We get two cartoons, the theatrical trailer for "Darkness" and "The Hard Way," a newsreel, and other equally good retro fare.
Film Movement celebrates Bastille Day Month with separate but equal July 24, 2018 DVD releases of French films with modern sensibilities. An upcoming post on "You Will Be Mine" discusses that film about a lesbian love affair between reunited childhood friends.
Our subject du jour is the more comedic 2010 film "The Three-Way Wedding." The attributes of this one include a strong live-stage vibe.
The following YouTube clip of a PG-13 trailer for "Wedding" showcases the midsummer-style comedy and eroticism of the film.
This homage to Woody Allen and all the greats whom he honors in his "Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" and numerous other adult comedies occurs during an eventful day at the country estate of blocked playwright Auguste. His day commences with an intimate moment with young law student Fanny, who is his assistant/confidante. The real fun begins with the arrival of visitors from Paris who are there to replenish the well of creative juices.
The source of much of the trouble is leading lady/Auguste ex Harriet being the current object of affection of leading man Theo, who accompanies her. Discovering this French connection enrages Auguste and prompts le fit hissy by the much younger Theo. Harriet taking off after her current beau does not help matters much.
Meanwhile, Fanny is the young innocent caught up in all this. These developments stir up feelings of ardor by all concerned, This is turn triggers thoughts of various unconventional options that reflect the title of the film. Fanny also is the center of a plan to literally upstage Harriet.
The absurdity of all this is that the plans to make Fanny a woman will rob her of the innocence that makes her appealing. It further seems that she is becoming "New Harriet."
Theo portrayor Louis Garrel steals the show as he pursues Fanny with varying degrees of enthusiasm, plays young stud moving in on the territory of aging lion August, and regularly displays his emo side. Highlight includes his role in a reverse shotgun wedding and his clumsy attempt to seduce Fanny in her car.
Writer-director Jacques Doillon wraps things up in an apt but surprising manner that creates tantalizing ambiguity regarding which combination (if any) of our characters will walk down the aisle and how that will work out. Either way, it seems sure that the finished play will reflect the outcome.
The fun of "Wedding" for Americans is the incredibly strong French feel of the film. Everyone is sophisticated regarding the sexual tensions and related overlapping relationships. We also get heavy emoting that seems par for the course for the affected folks.
'Supergirl' ('84) BD & DVD International & Director's Cuts: Saga of Kal-El Shows Everything's Relative
The Warner Archive July 24, 2018 Blu-ray release of the international cut of "Supergirl" (1984) that includes the director's cut on a separate DVD offers a good chance to glimpse in the mind of a film reviewer. Class acts focus on fairness and keeping expectations in check when evaluating Hollywood fare.
As a starting point, the incredible track record of Archive regarding both titles and quality of remasters is even better when it comes to releases tied into San Diego Comic Con. The must-see (reviewed) 2017 Blu-ray of "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" is a prime example of this trend that sets the bar a bit high for "Supergirl."
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that "Supergirl" rides the coat-tails of the phenomenal (reviewed) 1978 "Superman" movie that is the cornerstone of the Man of Steel film franchise of that era. This connection creates its own expectations regarding "Supergirl."
A combined aspect of the above is the exceptional (reviewed) Archive October 27, 2017 Blu-ray of the extended cut of "Superman." This release is desert island worthy.
The purpose of this lengthy prelude to a review is to provide proper perspective regarding the Archive release of "Supergirl," which tells the tale of the first earth-based adventure of Kal-El younger cousin Kara.
As mentioned above, the Archive release provides a Sophie's choice regarding whether to watch the international cut (which adds roughly 15 minutes to the 1 hour and 45 minute theatrical version) or the director's cut that adds roughly 15 minutes to the international cut. The main reason for choosing the director's cut is to see the film as the maker intends. The sad truth is that one can see the reasons for the theatrical version presumably cutting down some sequences.
The overall narrative of "Supergirl" is solid and the largely A-List cast plays its parts well, but the devil mostly is in the limited production values that literally pale in comparison to those of "Superman." This is obvious from the start in that the advanced civilization of the survivors of the destruction of Krypton in "Superman" does not look nearly as grand as the pre-apocalypse Krypton in "Superman." A similar flaw runs throughout "Supergirl" in that the effects either are a direct rehash of those in the earlier film or are the caliber of a sweeps-month made-for-TV movie, rather than a major feature film.
The trouble begins when wizard Zaltar (Peter O'Toole) "borrows" an orb that is equivalent to the Zed Point Module (ZPM) of "Stargate" lore in that it helps power the "Atlantis" in which mot of the last sons and daughters of Krypton reside. Kara subsequently taking a bite of this apple leads to it hurtling into space before landing on earth. A self-imposed exile from her Garden of Eden ends here in contrast to Zaltar voluntarily being cast out to a much less pleasant location.
The effort of Kara to put right what once went wrong leads to her donning the dual alter egos of the titular heroine and mild-mannered prep, school girl Linda Lee rooming with Los Lane wild child younger sister Lucy. Rather than copying her cousin in donning identity-concealing eyewear, Kara changes her hair color to prevent folks from suspecting that Linda Lee and Supergirl are the same person.
The quest of Kara also puts her on the radar of apprentice with Selena (Faye Dunaway), who is much more Wicked Witch of the West than Sabrina. Master warlock Nigel (Peter Cook) also being a teacher at the aforementioned "kids' jail" provides another connection.
In the grand tradition of comic book villains, Dunaway channels her portrayal of Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest" to steal all her scenes ala Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor in "Superman." The only disappointment is Selena never orders dim-witted henchwoman Bianca (Brenda Vaccaro), who is the equivalent of the Ned Beatty character in "Superman," to bring her the axe.
The similarities between Luthor and Selena extend to having cool lairs. The literal funhouse of Selena is just as awesome as the subterranean headquarters of Luthor. A difference between the two nemeses of the Kryptonian cousins is that the justice that is imposed on Selena is much more apt than the punishment of Luthor.
Girl power similar to "Xanadu" of the same era (and of the '60s fantasycoms "I Dream of Jeannie" and "Bewitched") enters in the form of hunky but not-so-bright landscaper/love interest Ethan (Hart Bochner). Much of the film has Supergirl either trying to prevent Selena from capturing this stud or rescuing him from her clutches. The moderate bondage regarding this contributes an element of fun.
The special features include the theatrical trailer and a vintage 49-minute Dunaway-hosted making-of special that bring the band back together to discuss the film.
The good news regarding all this is that 2018 being in the eras of reboots and super hero films provides hopes for a remake that does one of the few female members of the DCU proud. Warner Prime certainly has the deep pockets and artistic talent to make it so.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 French drama "Hidden Kisses" awesomely puts the Breaking edge on an otherwise light story of two high school boys in love. "Kisses" being a TV-Movie both explains the slight "After School Special" vibe oand further proves that the French are much more progressive and cool than Americans.
The 21st-century centric drama begins when "new boy in town" 15 year-old everyteen Nate meets a mystery boy for the titular buss in a dark greenhouse during a large party. An unknown person takes and uploads a photo in which only Nate is identifiable. The picture going viral among students, parents, and faculty simultaneously forces Nate out of the closet into a hostile environment and triggers speculation regarding the identity of the other boy.
The fallout extends to straining the previously close relationship between Nate and his widowed police chief father Stephane. Stephane still loves the sinner but is not fond of the sin and has difficulty accepting his new normal.
Meanwhile, Nate is subject to increasingly vicious bullying at school and is experiencing the heartbreak of his secret boyfriend ignoring him. This culminates in a brutal beating with an equally horrific emotional element. The latter reflects the same insecurities behind real-life gay boys and men yelling "fag" om the mere sight of an effeminate man and throwing the first punch in a dark alley behind a gay bar.
The next round of drama occurs when the rookie mistake of not clearing a browsing history results in identifying the other boy in the photo. This both forces him to come to terms with his sexuality and to contend with his enraged father, who believes both that he literally can beat the gay out of his son and that conversion therapy is effective. The related emotional abuse is equally painful to watch.
The film not being a product of Hollywood (or Logo) and this not being the '90s allow for "Kisses" to not conclude with a fairy tale (no pun intended) ending with our princes slow dancing at the prom while their smiling peers, teachers, and parents circle around them. However, both boys survive the traumatic aftermath of being outed and get a quantum of solace; they additionally get one adorable scene that provides some hope for greater societal enlightenment.
"Kisses" addresses the good news regarding this issue; boys coming to terms with liking other boys should be spared the scorn and torture of the generation before them. The bad news is that the reality is that coming out as a teen (and often as an adult) still likely comes at least with the price of nasty looks and comments behind your back.
The Icarus Films July 24, 2018 DVD release of the 2015 political thriller "The Great Game" (a.k.a. "Le Grand Jeu"") indicates that corrupt power-brokers from every country utilize the same playbook. A similar universal truth exists regarding the bedfellows with whom our elected officials and their staff find themselves.
The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-HEAVY trailer for "Game" achieves its goal of accurately conveying the tone and the themes of the film.
"Game" fully gets afoot when one-book-wonder novelist Pierre Blum and self-proclaimed problem-solver Joseph Paskin meet at a casino. Pierre is attending the same wedding as his ex-wife with whom he has a much more successful divorce than marriage; Paskin is there to gamble.
The entertaining odd tone of the film begins with Paskin asking Blum whether he is an alcoholic and numerous equally personal questions within seconds of the start of their less-than-beautiful friendship. This conversation including Blum being the author of a well-received book several years earlier but not writing anything since leads to the proverbial seemingly innocent offer that turns out to be a Satanic bargain.
The deal is that Paskin pays Blum to ghost write a subversive book that advocates civil (and less-than-civil) disobedience in exchange for a large sum of money and total anonymity. The rest of the disclosed story is that the manifesto is part of a larger plan of Paskin to turn the hearts and minds of the French people against the current Minster of the Interior for the fun and profit of Paskin.
Paskin apparently making a great effort (and demonstrating tremendous skill) in tracking down Blum after their purportedly chance encounter is the first development that triggers the spidey sense of Blum. Learning the rest of the story provides more reason to run, not walk, away,
Like all good thrillers, the suspense escalates as the audience learns more about the horse that Paskin has in the race to pull off a coup. This coincides with being a ghost writer coming back to haunt Blum to the extent that he must hide at a farm to avoid buying one.,
Blum coming under attack from the left and the right understandably raises the stakes for him; loves past and present creating additional drama further leaves the audience guessing regarding the outcome.,
Writer-director Nicolas Pariser shows additional good basic instincts regarding an apt epilogue to this film that presents itself as a fiction or non-fiction book on its subject. A scene seconds before the end credits begin rolling provides an awesome final aha moment.
The bigger picture thus time is the verification of the depths to which government officials sink to manipulate those whom thee individuals are elected to serve. The lesson here is that turning 30 does not preclude trusting you but getting your paycheck from a political entity does.
The shifting (and alternate) timelines that are one of several elements that make the 2016 dramedy "When the Starlight Ends" entertainingly odd also makes this facially tardy review of the Cinedigm March 2018 DVD release of the film timely. Writer-director Adam Sigal channels the best of indie fantasy films in telling the story of heavily fantasizing office drone Jacob (Sam Heughan of "Outlander") turned published author, turned angst-ridden basket case.
The quirkiness of "Starlight" commences with the opening narration by Jacob that runs throughout the film. He tells us that love of his life Carli left him one month and 14 days ago after meeting him an equally specific period ago. The circumstances of their meeting also help set the tone for "Starlight."
The well-intentioned catalyst for most of the action in "Starlight" is Carli convincing Jacob to trade in his cubicle for an attempt at writing something that at least approaches the level of the great American novel. This leads to the moderate success that leads to the heavy drama that leads to the aforementioned departure of Carli.
In this case, the journey is far more than half the fun as we see the manifestations of the daydreams that often feature putting Jacob and Carli in the shoes of the folks with whom Jacob interacts in real life. Much of this entertainment relates to not knowing if it is live or Memorex.
A prime example of this altered reality is Jacob writing in a diner when the current "It" girl strolls in. The scenarios that play out include an increasingly intimate chat and our hero taking a bullet for her.
The wacky neighbors provide additional fodder for the imagination of Jacob and related entertainment for us. Clueless Ralph (Sean Patrick Flanery) suspects that his wife is cheating on him and adds stupidity to ignorance by hiring the culprit to spy on her.
Jacob also bonds with his aging beach bum neighbor who has a different dog each week. The circumstances surrounding one theory regarding this regular swapping of pets is darkly hilarious.
Sigal extends the concept of the film to the "one who got away" post break-up period, We get a full sense both of what might have been and of the degree to which Jacob desires to control the lives of those around him.
The first bigger picture this time is pulling back the curtain on the desire of all of us to control our relationships with others and have them lives their lives as we see fit. The second big picture is the conflict than can exist between pursuing our dreams and hurting the ones whom we love. We further see that writers awesomely can at least have their cake and eat it too.
The TLA Releasing May 29, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 gay-themed psychological thriller "Boy Undone" is adequately freaky to earn the "guerrilla" label with which it is associated.
The following YouTube clip of the official "Undone" trailer highlights the dreamlike tone of this highly stylized largely silent film.
The real action begins with the titular young man waking up dazed and confused naked in a strange bed in a strange home. His success in getting himself together is thwarted when his cunrecognized host feels free to strip and top this guy who simply goes along with the program.
The portion of the story that comes out fairly quickly is that "Host" found "Boy" unconscious on the bathroom floor of a wild gay club with entertainment that includes nearly naked go-go dancers. On a related note, the edge of "Undone" includes our stars frequently in every stage of arousal and explicitly engaged in the full range of homosexual activity.
The rest of the story is that "Boy" has complete amnesia regarding his name and every aspect of his life; this includes how he ends up naked in the home of "Host." The strong assumption among this newly formed couple is that a severe trauma is the root of the problem.
Despite the aforementioned regular nudity, there is no doubt that "Host" wears the pants in the relationship and that "Boy" remains a confused puppy even weeks after being picked up (presumably) in a puddle of urine, A blatant example of the metaphor is "Boy" curling up on the floor beside the bed of "Host."
Surreal images that are a mix of the known and unknown and that are accurate to an undetermined extent trigger some sparks of memory; sleuthing of "Host" further helps solve the mystery.
Ultimately finding the missing link triggers further drama and does not explain everything. Men who watch the interrogation scene that elicits that information are dared to not look away.
This copious psychological trauma and drama illustrates how our past shapes our future and that we sometimes must completely break down to become the person whom we want to be. It further shows the aspect regarding some of us being wolves and others lambs that lambs sometimes lead themselves to slaughter and cannot resist coming back for more.
The Icarus Films July 10, 2018 DVD release of the 2015 French romdram "In Harmony" once again shows how the viewing public benefits from that company filling its catalog with "films from independent producers worldwide." This tale of unmarried recently paraplegic horse trainer/equestrian Marc and married insurance company rep. Florence charged with having Marc accept a low-ball settlement shows that films about relationships in which loathe turns to love can be much more than an unwatchable chick flick.
A related big takeaway for straight dudes is that "Harmony" can score you twofer points in terms of it being a romdram and a French film. The best part is that you will like this movie that lacks any overblown angst and melodramatic declarations of love.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Harmony" achieves its purpose of accurately conveying the tones of the film.
Florence literally and figuratively comes on the scene in the wake of her colleague failing to get Marc to accept what he considers an inadequate amount for the harm from falling off his symbolically named horse Othello while doing a stunt for a film. Writer-director Denis Dercourt uses clever exposition by having Florence view a DVD with relevant footage of the circumstances of the accident.
Marc giving Florence the same "and the horse you rode in on" message that he gave her colleague sends her back empty-handed to her not-so-pleased employer, The gist of the matter is that the company is facing heavy liability regarding the accident,
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Marc is contending with the dual challenges of his personally designed rehab. and the insurance company essentially trying to starve him out.
The impact of the events on Florence include Mark doing what he loves best and being determined to return to it reminding her of abandoning her dreams in favor of a a steady paycheck. She further is reminded of the ruthless nature of the insurance industry.
This leads to the initial betrayal of the insurance company by Florence that is typical in this type of film. This leads to the also standard true test of loyalty regarding her having to make a strong stand on one side or the other.
All this occurs in the background of our couple developing a more stable relationship and Florence helping Marc get back in the saddle. The nice thing this time is that both people are nice and lack the extreme personalities that characterize the lesser fare of this type that Hollywood produces.
Decourt also handles the inevitable meeting between Marc and the husband of Florence well. One spoiler is that no punches are thrown. This good track record continues to the end with Dercourt providing a somewhat unexpected but happy ending for all that makes the audience want to see the Chapter Three of the leads.
The summer movie season void that the Film Movement July 10, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 drama "Hotel Salvation" fills is for a beautifully shot foreign film with relatabale substance, This film additionally is part of the always-awesome Movement Film of the Month Club.
The following YouTube clip of a "Salvation" trailer focuses on the equal heart and humor of the film in this synopsis of the film.
The primary theme in this film about middle-aged Indian businessman Rajiv (Adil Hussain of "Life of Pi") granting a dyingish wish of his elderly father Daya is of adult children and their parents belatedly coming to understand each other ala fare such as the 1989 Ted Danson and Jack Lemmon film "Dad." The bonus concept is senior citizens making the titular Asian lodging establishment their home ala "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."
"Salvation" opens with Daya having a particularly surreal highly symbolic dream. His interpretation of that nocturnal event includes a message that it is his time to die. This prompts him to plan an exit strategy in the form of checking into Hotel Salvation in the holy city of Varansi. The applicable policy of this property near the Ganges river is that guests have 15 days in which to either fish or cut bait.
Daya asking Rajiv to accompany him coincides with the boss of the latter literally breathing down his neck regarding his productivity. Other stress relates to the wedding plans of the daughter of Rajiv.
A combination of guilt and familial obligations prompts Rajiv to agree to take Daya on the trip. The grumpy manager and the seedy accommodations provide the pair angst in equal measure to the audience being entertained.
Daily life at the hotel is more akin to conditions at a low-quality nursing home than a resort, The highlight of the day seems to be watching a television program titled "Flying Saucer" in the common room.
The 15-day deadline approaching creates additional stress, It seems unlikely that Daya is going to die anytime soon, and the increasing pressures on the homefront are making it very difficult for Rajiv to stay away.
Writer director Shubhashish Bhutiani stays true to the spirit of his subject by ending things with each character better understanding the generation before him or her and achieving the desired personal salvation.
The always well-paired Club bonus short film this time is the adorable Swiss movie "May the Night Be Sweet." This charmer tells the tale of eight-year old Alice and her younger brother Lucas sneaking out to provide their ailing grandfather comfort and joy.
As mentioned above, both films are notable for depicting themes that are highly relevant to families all over the world.
The Lionsgate July 17, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray DVD releases of the 2017 drama "You Were Never Really Here" proves that sensitive character studies and blood-drenched vengeance flicks are not mutually exclusive. The film additionally makes good use of the talent of Joaquin Phoenix ("Walk the Line") for playing a sullen brooding tortured soul of little words in this work based on a novel by Jonathan Ames of "Bored to Death" fame.
The accolades this time include Phoenix winning a Best Actor award and writer/director Lynne Ramsay bringing home a Best Screenplay honor from the 2017 Cannes festival.
The following YouTube clip of the "Here" trailer perfectly conveys the spirit of the film.
"Here" is almost pure noir in that virtually every event occurs after dark on gritty New York streets. This highly silent film that largely has Joe go about his dirty business without being seen by those around him opens in typical fashion for this sub-genre. This pitch-dark knight finishes up work before going on to his second job as the caretaker to senile and difficult "Joe's Mother" (Judith Roberts).
It is equally typical that we see Joe collect payment for his most recent project and get word of a new job from the intermediary between our hero and his employer. An incident during this visit provides foreshadowing that Joe regrets ignoring.
The mission that Joe chooses to accept involves rescuing the mid-teen daughter of a state senator, who is the middle-aged son of a wealthy man.
The real fun begins when Joe intercepts the poor pervert who is leaving the location of the icky business where the daughter is white slave labor. These leads to a violent rescue that does not phase the "seen it all before" Joe.
More creepiness ensues when the desk clerk at a hot-sheets hotel does not seem to even literally blink when Joe checks in with a clearly shell-shocked tween girl, It is equally clear that the reason for that visit is of absolutely no concern to this guy who merely collects the money and hands out room keys.
Our unlikely friends learning of shocking events starts the final roller coaster ride of "Here." Joe next opens the hotel room door to be greeted with here's blood in your eye. He then makes his established and new rounds only to find that someone always is one step ahead of him.
The final showdown occurs when the cylinders fully start clicking in the brain of Joe. This bloodshed seemingly leads to more normalcy only to find that Ramsay and Ames have one more dark-humor trick up their sleeves. Suffice it to say that the final minutes pay homage to "Death" fellow HBO series "The Sopranos."
The third time truly was the charm at the Wentworth By The Sea Hotel on the small island of New Castle near genuinely historic (and New England trendy) Portsmouth New Hampshire. The only guilt related to taking all of the "just right" things from Baby Bear; the only flaw was not following personal advice regarding a fully rejuvenating trip there requiring at least five nights. The better news is that three nights at the hotel still does a great deal of good.
Two other highlights were wearing "indoor shoes" the whole time despite the snowy ground outside and the equally valued ability to charge items to the room allowing leaving my wallet in the room safe. These small luxuries greatly contributed to relaxing.
A year-old post on the first of three visits to the Wentworth provides a good sense of this hotel that dates back to 1874 but has reliable WiFi and several charging options in each room. A perfect example of both the service and the modern technology is the front desk providing a spare charger on your not-so-humble reviewer discovering that his no longer works. Being told to keep the charger was the icing on the cake.
Reading the aforementioned article provided memories of deja vu all over again in the form of severe winter storms being factors regarding both the desire to decompress at the hotel and travelling there between nor'easters. Fortunately, the weather behaved better than expected this year. Additionally, general manager Jason Bartlett and his fantastic crew (a.k.a. Argonauts) are magnificiently accommodating regarding weather-related reservation changes.
A relevant tale regarding the service and the weather is that the Wentworth was booked (and accordingly staffed) at 10-percent occupancy when one of the four-easters this March caused wide-spread power outages that led to last-minute 100-percent occupancy. On asking Bartlett in an interview for this article if he both cleaned rooms and worked at the front desk that night, he stated that he did not do either. He then praised his staff for meeting the challenge as he was confident that they would.
The sense of "been there, done that" also exists regarding the praise for the King Suite in the 2017 article. Repetitive thoughts regarding the comfort and modern luxury in that accommodation reinforce that it is the perfect spot to recover from anxiety related to weather and the many other ills of life. One difference is that the most recent watched Disney Channel fare was "Bizaardvark," rather than "Liv and Maddie."
The following photo of the suite living room provides a good sense of the Utopia there and of the joy of making the space your own. (Alas, the well-written rare book on the history of the Wentworth is a personal item; the better news is that there is SOME hope that the hotel will reprint it and make it available to guests.)
As spectacular as the suite is, going for a misleadingly named standard room only sacrifices the living room. You still get the posh and very comfortable bedroom and high-end bathroom.
An endorsement of the bed is the stay at the hotel being the first time sleeping through the night since an August 2017 visit to the Wentworth. Sadly, the king mattress and soft bedding are too large to smuggle out in a suitcase.
Salt of the Earth
The desire to follow the "I ain't goin' nowhere" pledge of the current trip contributed to eating every breakfast and dinner in the Salt Restaurant off the Wentworth lobby. The perfection regarding every aspect of every meal hardly made this a sacrifice. This reflects the pride and the work of restaurant manager Joshua, who wears the awarded hotel pin that recognizes his exceptionalness as an actual badge of honor.
The beef tenderloin with the whipped potatoes and the charred broccolini was so tender and perfectly seasoned to require getting it two of the three nights. The four-cheese tortellini with guzzle-worthy cream sauce the third night was equally good and only slightly less decadent. The wood-fired pizzas are planned meals for the next visit.
Fortunately, the ideal temperature and chlorine-level pool allows swimming enough to work off these gourmet feasts.
The below photos show various seating areas in Salt. The snowy weather made the window tables with the club chairs and the fireside space equally desirable. The domed ceiling is original to the hotel and allows the same form of eavesdropping as the Capitol dome.
Time in the hotel spa was a significant part of the plan and did not disappoint. This facility has the low lighting, soothing music, and subtly scented air that make these places great. There also are well-appointed locker rooms (complete with dry-heat saunas) that more than meet your needs in transitioning between this safe space and the real world.
Scott the masseur exceeded expectations regarding the two massages during this stay; he provided the ideal pressure and literally hit all the right buttons regarding tension points.
As nice as the current spa is, Bartlett shared that it is going to improve in the near future. He stated that the spa is going to be expanded regarding both space and services and further sound-proofed. Thought not promised, one can only hope for Jacuzzis and steam rooms in the locker rooms.
The Captain Speaks
Visiting with Bartett and touring the two-story suites that occupy the three observation towers was another highlight. The frosting this time was Bartlett stating with his gracious smile that I would need to try one of those accommodations sometime. This graciousness further proves that he makes head honcho Peter McDermott in the (reviewed) ABC soapy "Love Boat" style anthology drama "Hotel" look like the manager of a hot-sheets motel.
The manner in which Bartlett responds to Trip Advisor reviews is a general manifestation of his good work. He writes specific responses to every five and one-star review, and NEVER turns criticism onto the guests as is the case regarding many counterparts at other properties.
He further noted that he and his staff "make every effort to accommodate guests' needs" and that they "try to be fluid." The final highly reasonable note on this subject was that "if a guest is genuine, we do what we can." An element of this is a guest being much less prone to get angry when something goes awry if the service provider is pleasant and friendly from the first interaction. This clearly is so at the Wentworth.
This discussion of hospitality included asking about the Wentworth getting a hotel dog; Bartlett responded that there were no plans to do so but that his dog might fill that role if he adopted one. He added that dogs up to 35 pounds were welcome but required paying a $75 fee. There are additional thoughts of creating a package of treats for canine guests.
A funny coincidence was meeting Bear the Schipperke as he was checking in that evening. We quickly established who was a good boy and who wanted a belly rub.
Wentworth history that is relevant to the talk with Bartlett is that current owner Ocean Properties purchased the (then dilapidated) property in the late '90s and completed a massive three-year restoration. Current Properties Director of Operations Tom Varley was the first GM. Although this hotel is a Marriott franchise, that corporation did not invest one cent in enhancing it beyond its former glory.
The Marriott role also relates to the reply of Bartlett when asked to provide general information about his most challenging guest. He replied that visitors with Marriott elite status "expect a lot" and sometimes negatively commented about the closet size and other aspects of the room. He added in a very friendly manner that "we are not a cookie-cutter Marriott."
The above comment reflects a strong preference of your not-so-humble reviewer. Historic hotels and B and Bs are favored because they are not cookie-cutter properties. Many Unreal TV hotel reviews refer to an episode of an ABC '90s "Seinfeld" clone with a forgotten name in which an ongoing joke is that the quartet of misfits discover on visiting several hotels in a chain that they are the same down to the staff and the guests. A personal pet peeve is staying in a hotel that could be in any city.
Additionally, I brought at least five days' worth of clothing in two large suitcases and two large tote bags on the recent trip to the Wentworth; the several folks who offered help with this load included the housekeeping inspector who saw me outside my suite.
I did not even fill half the closet, that closet had more than enough room for my luggage, and the dresser had a great deal of empty space. (Darn you "Modern Family" for making me notice the whisper-quiet gliding drawers.) On top of that, most of toiletries fit in the bathroom drawers; the counter space was ample for the rest of it.
The final individual note regarding Marriott v. Wentworth relates to general customer service. Sheer stupidity by a third party ultimately led to accidentally debiting credit in one loyalty program and crediting my Marriott loyalty program with 70,000 points. The resolution included a statement that those Marriott points were mine to use.
A very aggravating subsequent effort to utilize the points resulted in learning that Marriott allowed them to essentially be stolen. Marriott refused to do anything to make this right. Bartlett personally strongly advocated for me.
Now returning to our primary topic, Bartlett managed the Properties-owned Sable Oaks complex before coming to the Wentworth roughly one year ago,. That resort near Portland, Maine has two hotels and a gold course. Proving himself in that role earned him the privilege of stepping in when the former manager resigned.
The aforementioned book on the Wentworth prompted asking Bartlett about his background. That tome noted that the strong appeal of the hotel included its history of having owners and managers that either were raised in the hospitality industry or had a natural talent for it. Current guests get the twofer of Bartlett having uncles in the "business" and his belief that "ultimately hospitality is just in my blood." He added that he "loves working with and talking to people."
Bartlett further enforced the vibe associated with the Wentworth in stating that the owners maintain the historic integrity of the hotel while "seamlessly incorporating modern style and amenities."
Shared enhancement plans in addition to expanding the spa largely focused on the summer season. Bartlett stated that the hotel planned to offer croquet and other family-oriented outdoor activity. This is in addition to plans to build a fire pit and otherwise increase the amenities at the marina suites.
As this lengthy article indicates, the Wentworth literally and figuratively is a personal "go to" place for breaks from the real world. Part of this reasoning is that visiting there avoids the high price and sense of being a prisoner getting processed in the big house associated with flying these days.
It also is nice to have flexibility associated with not having to catch a flight. On top of this, you can bring a great deal of luggage without paying a high fee for the privilege of waiting 30 minutes for it to show up battered and bruised while you get jostled at baggage claim.
The most apt way to wind up all this is a highly relevant happy note by Bartlett. He states that he "wants guests to leave happy, and want to return, and want to spread the word."
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a perfect inaugural post for the Inn Credible New England section of Unreal TV 2.0. The experience at the Exeter Inn reflects the benefits of unique hotels that these articles share. Vintage posts of this type from Unreal TV 1.0 will make their way here by the end of August 2018.]
Returning to the Exeter Inn in Exeter, New Hampshire for a birthday celebration a month after a (reviewed) spectacular stay shows that you can go home again if the homies treat you like visiting dignitaries. A related takeaway is that the benefits of boutique hotels over cookie-cutter monstrosities greatly improves the odds that the staff will exceed expectations regarding putting right what once went wrong.
An amusing aspect of this is that it evokes thoughts of hotels beginning responses to negative Trip Advisor reviews with the phrase "This does not reflect our usual level of service" as frequently as letters published in a particular magazine start with "I never thought that this would happen to me." In the case of the Exeter Inn,, this statement is very credible regarding the "hiccups" that occur even in the best of places.
Readers are requested to please refer to the prior post on the Exeter Inn to learn more specifics regarding the awesome accommodations.
The overall vibe of staying in this 1932 Georgian mansion on the edge of the campus of Philips Exeter Academy is of a weekend stay at Downton Abbey absent valet service and any drama or trauma.
The emotional rescue that led to wonderful satisfaction commenced with the failure of an ill-advised last-minute effort to book a night in Bush country in coastal Maine prompting the wildly successful Plan B of staying at the Exeter Inn. Although the greatly loved Jacuzzi Suite from the prior stay was booked, the "downgrade" to the Queen Suite did not diminish the enjoyment of the visit beyond lacking a tub in which to remove Yeti-caliber stench. (The shower was a great substitute.)
The tradition continued with watching Disney Channel fare despite checking in hours before Trump was scheduled to announce his choice to take over for Tony Kennedy. The benefits of Disney while travelling are that you can watch amusing tweencoms and only be subject to advertising in the form of promos for the fare on that network. The watched shows this time were "Jessie" and the "Jessie" spin-off "Bunk'd."
The exasperation to which the title of this post refers begins with arriving at 1:30 despite a known 3:00 check-in time; arriving early always creates a possibility of not getting in the room. That alone being the case was not bothersome.
Learning that the guest from the night before had told (rather than asked) the front desk that they were leaving at 2:00 p.m. (despite 11:00 being the check-out time) was annoying mostly because it created the possibility that they would prolong their stay beyond that.
Director of Rooms extraordinaire Julie St. Pierre was staffing the front desk and had the good grace to smile when asked "is there some point that you tell them to get the Hell out of there?" Her response was "We won't phrase it that way, but yeah." She also offered us vouchers for drinks at the bar.
There was really neither harm nor foul because I and my highly significant other merely put our luggage in the back office and leisurely walked the 1/2 mile to the business district. Julie had my cell number and promised to text as soon as the room was ready.
Although the 11th hour had passed with the squatters still occupying the suite, we got to check in at the allotted time. The added insult to this injury was that the room hogs now COMPLETELY commandeered the lobby area by bringing over relatives staying at other properties.
The suite had been cleaned well but several details that otherwise would have been caught were overlooked. These included finding a clothes hanger on a curtain rod, only having one wash cloth in the bathroom, and not everything being replenished. The self-help portion of the solution included raiding the hotel linen closet. The rest consisted of asking very responsive evening desk clerk Cindy to please have the fabulous turndown service (including tasty evening treats) include the items that needed attention.
An amusing aspect of this was returning from a tasty dinner in nearby Portsmouth, New Hampshire to find a pile of towels and a comic amount of amenities. The funniest part of this was that a couple of items still were missing. Cindy was unduly apologetic and equally responsive on learning of this,
Before moving on to the "ecstasy" portion of this article, it is CRUCIAL to remember that the inn has ABSOLUTELY no fault regarding the unfortunate aspects of an overall wonderful stay at a place that will be the destination of many future trips, Very few circumstances allow for booting paying guests from a room, Further, the housekeepers were being forced to stay late after several hours cleaning on a 90+ degree day. This was on top of knowing that guests were waiting for the suite.
I further learned that the housekeeping supervisor (who had started her day early that morning) was the only person doing turndown service that night. The bigger picture is that not having drinking glasses in a hotel room falls well within the category of (insert your own adjective here) people problems.
The ecstasy began with the aforementioned post-dinner return to a room well stocked with towels and small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel. This led to "Big City Greens" on the Disney Channel and a restful night that would not have occurred but for the grand hospitality.
The real kicker came the next morning on stopping by the desk to share plans of checking out at 9:30. The response was an invitation to have breakfast courtesy of the hotel. The reply to that was a smile and a revised announcement of a 10:30 departure.
Further ecstasy came on enjoying freshly squeezed orange juice and a very tasty $8 Belgian waffle with REAL maple syrup and a side of crispy bacon at the Epoch restaurant that otherwise would have been missed out on. Better amusement came on playing "I Love Lucy" while sitting in the banquette in the classic style dining room. Commenting that "I hear that William Holden always come here" was especially fun.
The bigger picture this time is the truth of two cliches that hold true for any business. Being nice before a challenging situation arises prevents tears and recriminations that include words that you never heard in the Bible. The related principle is that the trademark of a good company is not so much that nothing ever goes wrong but that they quickly go above-and-beyond in response to an unhappy customer. Experiences both with a large chain operated by a self-declared saint and with other small hotels in northern New England show that they could learn a great deal from the Exeter Inn.
The Visual Entertainment Inc. DVD release (under a contract with CBS Home Entertainment) of the complete series of the 1993-94 version of "The Untouchables" further establishes VEI as the go-to source for vintage cult-classic TV series. The historic context of these reel adventures about the battles between real-life gangster Al Capone and golden boy fed Eliot Ness goes beyond it being set in the Prohibition era; it is a strong example of remakes of classic series to meet the need for content in the era of expanding cable service.
The two-part pilot provides exposition in a manner that gets right down to the action; the story of imposing Prohibition allowing Capone to greatly enhance his criminal empire and the proportional response of forming the titular task force to bring him down is interspersed with scenes from the parallel childhoods and early adult lives of Capone and Ness. The clear preachy message is that raising a boy (or girl) right makes a huge difference.
Another early two-parter with the wonderfully pulpy title "Murder Ink" has every great element of an "Untouchables" episode. Ness feeds an untrusted reporter false information regarding a raid to see that fake news reaches Ness. It does, and the subsequent killing of the news hound creates more drama that includes an innocent person willing to take the fall.
Even better pulp exists regarding an episode in which the pure and innocent in every sense sister of a member of Team Ness moves to the big city of Chicago to pursue a career and to be near her brother. Things quickly go wrong when allowing herself to be duped ends up with the out-of-towner being heavily and repeatedly drugged and raped until she comes to like the former so much that she willingly becomes a prostitute. The focus of her brother on rescuing her greatly works to the advantage of Capone.
Another "ripped from the '30s headlines" change-of-pace morality play has pathetic boxer "Pretty Boy Tommy Irish" buying the hype that that Capone organization feeds him and enjoy the lavish lifestyle that it provides. The scam is to make this pugilist believe that he can be a contender only to set him up to lose big in many senses so that Capone can make a fortune betting on the underdog opponent. The role of Ness this time mostly is to help the nice kid avoid what may be the final beating of his young life.
A strong contender for most creepy episode of this two-season series goes to another early two-parter that largely focuses on the separate campaigns of Capone and Ness to capture a (presumably) man who is preying on young children. This plot goes beyond the two nemeses cooperating toward a shared goal to a frantic rush by Ness to prevent Capone from delivering vigilante justice.
The cat-and-mouse game that is central to the series continues throughout the run of the program as Ness typically becomes aware of a scheme by Capone and typically foils to it at least to some degree; much of the drama relates to the collateral damage on both sides.
The audience and the artistic successes of "Untouchables" relate to the folks in front of and behind the camera taking the proper tone; there is no exaggerated humor regarding the historic elements of the series or overacting regarding the central casting characters of the ruthless gangster, the stoic fed, or the typical '30s era women and other stock types in their world. Everyone playing their roles as if they are real nicely draws the audience into the action.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Untouchables" is encouraged to email me. You alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,
The summer blues cure that the Warner Archive July 10, 2018 DVD release of the 1982-83 third season of the CBS hitcom "Alice" provides is roughly 20-minute morsels of "unreal" entertainment until the fare that passes for 21st-century network sitcoms return in September. The integrity of Archive extends to including a few episodes produced for S7 that air in other seasons.
This workplace comedy set in greasy spoon Mel's Diner aptly serves up tasty "junk food" that still satisfies after so many visits to the same joint. The quality is consistent and enjoyable to the extent that you look forward to returning for another meal the next week.
The titular waitress is Jersey girl Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin) on an extend detour from her move to La La Land to seek fame and fortune as a singer. Alice being an actual (rather than a grass) widow is one nod of this '80scom to the sitcoms from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
One big S7 change for Alice is that teen son Tommy (Philip McKeaon) is making her a quasi-empty nester by being a freshman at nearby Arizona State University. The proximity of that school to Phoenix facilitates Tommy keeping up his "Hi Mom," "Hi Mel," etc. routine as he strolls into the diner with his most recent adolescent problem.
The owner of thew eponymous eatery is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable cheapskate Mel Sharples (Vic Tayback). Things do not change much for him in S7. He still faces losing the diner for one reason or another, He additionally continues snatching defeat from the jaws of victory regarding opportunities for an improved lifestyle. These include an executive position with a catering company and a treasure hunt in the diner.
Fan favorite "dinghy" waitress Vera Louise Gorman ("Beth Howland") largely is in the background this season. Her big adventures include getting her own hope for a better life and having her "radical" past come back to haunt her. Of course, she gets through her difficulties with a little help from her friends.
Sassy hillbilly Jolene Hunnicutt (Celia Weston) continues her efforts to fill the shoes of uberfan fave Texan Flo, who leaves earlier in the series for a spinoff. Jolene has her own variation of Flo catchphrase "when donkeys fly" and further channels Flo in directing unprovoked zingers at Mel.
The regular "A Listers" who appear as themselves and other household names who show up in character greatly distinguishes "Alice" from the competition. This begins with the S7 premiere in which Debbie Reynolds plays Golden Age film star Felicia Blake. The "sit" this time is that Mel believes that he is the man to whom Felicia refers in her recent memoir that includes the story of a highly memorable kiss. "Com" fully ensues when Felicia comes to the diner to reunite with the one who got away.
An oddly dazed-looking Joel Grey appears as himself in a special two-part episode about Alice appearing in a local music revue. The "com" this time relates to Mel outdoing "The Producers" in his sabotage of the production., Springtime for Sharples truly is winter for Hyatt and Grey.
We also get former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon to give Tommy a pep talk.
The "B Listers" include Richard Deacon of "Leave it to Beaver" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" as the owner of aforementioned catering company and future "Star Trek: Voyager" doctor Robert Picardo in an increasingly regular role as a local cop. We further get a cameo by "Night Court" star Richard Moll.
The nicest thing about this set is that it shows that "Alice" has not jumped the shark. No cute young Cousin Oliver joins the cast to offset McKeaon aging, we do not get a stunts wedding, and any upward mobility becomes a reversal of fortune before the final credits commence,
Warner Archive once again provides an interesting film history lesson with the May 8, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1950 noir "Gun Crazy." This entertaining morality tale on gun violence is a prime example of pulp fiction sociology tales, such as "Blackboard Jungle," from early Baby Boomer days,
The central victim of society this time is problem child Bart Tare (John Dall). The awesome opening scenes have a crazed teen Tare (Russ Tamblyn of "West Side Story" and the reviewed "Son of a Gunfghter") being drenched in the rain when his eyes glaze over on seeing a revolver in a hardware store window. This leads to one of the clumsiest reel-life burglary attempts ever.
The action then shifts to one of the most inadvertently amusing judicial proceedings in film history. A kindly judge is responding to the need to talk about Bart by conducting a trial in which there apparently is no prosecutor, no defense attorney, and no guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of this orphan who is living with roughly 18 year-old engaged sister Ruby.
It is equally amusing that the judge allows Ruby, buddies of Tare, and his kindly teacher to testify without any prior notice and without taking any form of oath. The gist of all their statements is that Bart is obsessed with guns but that a traumatic experience picking off a chick eliminates any possibility of his being a threat to himself or others.
Bittersweet humor comes via the testimony of the teacher, She shares the story of entering the classroom to find the students surrounding Tare because of the revolver that he brought for show-and-tell. Her confrontation of him is calm, and the incident concludes without any mayhem or bloodshed. This illustrates one way that things have deteriorated in the 68 years since the debut of "Crazy," which looks and sounds brand-new in Blu-ray.
Particularly blatant sociology enters the picture on the judge carefully explaining to Bart that a reform school sentence is intend to be for his own good, rather than to punish him. The unspoken aspect of this is that the rationale for the decision is completely irrelevant regarding the wisdom of quiet and quirky Bart accepting the inevitable by showing up at juvie with a Catholic school skirt and a large supply of lipstick and other makeup. There is no doubt that he will end up in the bottom bunk.
The action quickly moves forward 10 years to a happy and well-adjusted Tare testing the theory that you cannot go home again. The aforementioned chums, who respectively are a respected newspaper journalist and the new sheriff in town, welcome him with open arms.
The friends inviting Tare to a carnival turns out to be as ill-advised as unwittingly handing an alcoholic a Jager Bomb. This outing leads to attending a sharpshooting demonstration by modern-day Annie Oakley Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins). The primary problem is that this femme fatale is more of a natural-born killer than a Wrangler Jane.
A series of seemingly fortunate incidents leads to Tare and Starr hitting the road and his quickly agreeing that he should make an honest woman of her. The problem is that (akin to the presumed hierarchy while Tare is a guest of the state) Starr clearly wears the pants in the family.
This dominance extends to Starr coercing Tare into a Bonnie and Clyde style travelling crime spree. Although she keeps up that end of the bargain, Starr soon breaks the vow to not kill anyone in the line of booty. One such death involving Starr literally wearing pants has strong symbolic value.
The Bonnie and Clyde vibe extends to our couple hiding out with family; the symbolism here relates to clearly showing that Tare cannot be pulled back from the darkside and to the extent to which Starr is ruthless.
Of course, this leads to a dramatic chase and subsequent shootout. The morality tale aspect continues with Tare and Starr facing the inevitable fate of all those who live by the gun,. They ether end up behind bars or six-feet under.
The Blu-ray special features include the documentary "Film-Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light" and commentary by noir expert Glenn Erickson.
The Warner Archive June 6, 2018 DVD release of the 1935 vaudeville-style comedy "Baby Face Harrington" provides another chance to discover a B-movie with main-feature caliber social commentary. Like the recently reviewed 1932 comedy "The Fabulous Ferguson Case," the targets include yellow journalism.
The titular dangerous criminal is pathologically mild-mannered henpecked husband Willie Harrington. The pecker is socially ambitious wife Millicent Harrington, who desire to keep up appearances extend well beyond essentially a demand for a Mercedes. She also is very frustrated that Willie can not provide her a swimming pool and a house with a yard that is large enough for a pony.
Charatcer actor Charles Butterworth does a great job playing Willie as cross between Pa Kettle and Jerry Lewis on massive doses of Valium. Fellow trouper Una Merkel does just as well portraying Millicent as a cross between Gracie Allen and Joan Crawford. Together, they prove themselves very capable portrayers of a film or radio middle-class married couple,
The hilarity begins from the start when Millicent literally and figuratively takes Willie outside his comfort zone. She literally drags him to a party and adds insult to that injury by pressuring him to perform in front of the group. He essentially ends up with egg on his face despite bringing home the bacon.
This taste of the good life (including a still-interested former suitor) prompts a passive-aggressive attempt to persuade Willie to request a raise. This leads to the sits of cashing in his life insurance and having his boss seize an opportunity that sets the stage for the rest of the com in the film.
A wacky misunderstanding that comically escalates ultimately leads to an unfortunate incarceration; This occurring during a slow news period is responsible for out poor dope literally becoming front-page news. This, of course, leads to events that culminate in a wild chase that ends with liberty for some and justice for all.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2016 drama "Santa & Andres" perfectly illustrates the Breaking edge and the wave of period-piece films that depict outsiders in the context of recent historic events. The outsiders this time are the titular Cuban dissident gay writer and the loyal party member who is assigned to babysit him at a time that some of the eyes of the world are on their island nation. That event is a 1983 forum, and the assignment of Andres includes ensuring that Santa does not disrupt the proceedings.
The larger context that the written narrative prologue provides is that the immediate "reforms" include establishing camps for gay people, artists and others whose lifestyles are determined to be inconsistent with the principles of the new ruling class.. The rest of the story is the impact of the camps lingers after the release of their residents.
This awesomely quirky film begins with (presumably) farmer's daughter Andres carrying a wooden kitchen chair up a mountain to the shack that Santa inhabits. She brusquely introduces herself, equally hostilely announces that she is going to sit guard during the aforementioned forum, and makes it clear that neither of them ain't goin' nowhere until the event ends. All this apparently is despite Santa not expressing any desire to crash the party (pun intended),
Of course, Stockholm Syndrome sets in on both sides as Santa makes overtures that are designed to alleviate physical discomfort of Andres, and she begins to believe that he does not pose any threat of rocking the boat.
A true turning point comes when Andres figuratively pulls a thorn from the paw of the lion. This rapidly speeds up the thawing out process and more fully shows the pair that neither is the enemy.
This leads to an evening of drinking at which Santa and Andres provide the other support when they experience separate traumatic moments. This empathy includes each person truly feeling the pain of the other.
That evening is even more fateful in that it sets the stage for the proverbial moment at which Andres must prove where her loyalties lie. The spoiler is that the outcome ensures that one of leads will end up with egg on his or her face. The better news is that "Santa" concludes with our newly enlightened where each of them seems destined to continue their lives.
The bonus feature this time is an insightful "Making of" documentary.,
Time Life awesomely socks it to us one more time regarding the July 10, 2018 (POSSIBLY delayed a couple of weeks) DVD release of the 1971-72 S5 of genuine pop culture phenom "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In." The legacy of this music-variety show includes recruiting the biggest stars of past, present, and future and launching the careers of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin. This is not to mention topical humor that makes the Smother Brothers ask "did they just say that?"
The episodes remain very strong and look and sound perfect better on DVD than as originally aired on NBC. However, one glaring omission earns Time Life The Fickle Finger of Fate award that "Laugh-in" bestows for onerous acts. Time Life does so exceptionally well with extras that include new interviews with cast members on the S1 through S4 sets that the absence of any extras on the S5 set is moderately disappointing. At least give us a "Best of" S5 clips or a blooper reel Judy.
The myriad S5 changes begin with a cast member other than hilariously flamboyant Alan Sues showing up with a beard. We also see the sad departure of Arte Johnson and the fun arrival of Richard Dawson and Larry Hovis of the '60scom "Hogan's Heroes." We additionally get the debut of a new bit in which double-coyote-ugly spinster Gladys Ormphby (Ruth Buzzi) dreams that she is married to historical and fictional men. Tarzan is first up.
The very special guest star is '60s sex kitten Raquel Werlch, who fully embraces the spirit of the series as enthusiastically as other A-Listers who appear. A highlight is Welch teaching Gladys how to sexy only to have things take a rip-roaring twist.
The season premiere further is notable for having Martha "the Mouth" Mitchell make numerous outrageous comments of the variety that keep husband Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell awake at night. Vice-President Spiro Agnew is the her primary target.
This premiere also begins a "must-see" ongoing bit in which "Adam-12" stars Martin Milner and Kent McCord appear in character. These leads of that early "CHiPs" series showing their comedy chops is wonderful fun.
The highly sports-oriented second S5 episode features numerous top (and past) athletes. Football player Roman Gabriel is the headliner. ("Broadway" Joe Namath shows up later in the season.) The rooster includes jockey Willie Shoemaker and boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.
The epic 100th episode brings back former "Laugh-In" stars Judy Carne, Henry Gibson, Arte Johnson, and Jo Anne Worley. John Wayne and Tiny Tim also join in on the fun. A highlight includes precious five-year-old Edith Ann meeting her elders in a two senses of that word.
A snarktastic episode has Paul Lynde join fellow Friend of Dorothy Alan Sues; pairing Lynde with macho man John Wayne makes things even better. Sadly, Charles Nelson Reilly appearing in another episode prevent the one with Lynde achieving a trifecta.
Giving all the other guest stars his or her due is an almost impossible task. The best way to provide a sense of this is to share that dropping the names Liza Minnelli, Carl Reiner. Rita Hayworth, and Debbie Reynolds barely scratches the surface.
The bigger picture this time is that "Laugh-in" perfectly captures the spirit of Unreal TV. It achieves its objective of providing a break from the harsh realities of the late '60s and early '70s just as well as it does regarding out own challenging times. It further avoids the toxic lethalness of the 21st century by following the equally insult everyone philosophy of Don Rickles; the show seems to give Richard Nixon and LBJ equal time.
This ongoing series of reviews of vintage Warner Archive DVD releases continues with the 2009 release of the 1966 Jane Fonda/Jason Robards romcom "Any Wednesday." This tale of a kept woman who sees her married man on the titular day of the week is based on the play of the same name by Julius J. Epstein of "Casablanca" and "Arsenic and Old Lace" fame.
The basic premise of "Wednesday" is enough to draw comparisons to the 1960 Billy Wilder film "The Apartment," which stars Hollywood royalty Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Robards playing ruthless in the boardroom and the bedroom middle-aged business tycoon John Cleves (who has nothing in common with the Python member of the same name), Fonda playing quirky 30 year-old art gallery worker Ellen Gordon, and Dean Jones of Disney live-action films fame playing kind and loving visiting "out-of-towner" businessman Cass Henderson proverbially seals the deal.
The aforementioned free love set-up, star power, mix of com and dram, and the '60slicious decor of the apartment additionally provide a sense of watching the late '60s - early '70s "Love Boat" style ABC anthology sitcom "Love American Style."
The manner in which Ellen leads John on only to toss him out on their first meeting is the stuff of which classic farce is made. A gradual erosion of hostility coinciding with Ellen facing the loss of her groovy eclectic apartment due to an impending co-op conversion transforms that abode into the "executive suite" of the company of John and Ellen into the "Wednesday" girl of John, who always takes a "business trip" on that day of the week.
The twigs begin unraveling in the love nest of John and Ellen when the ditzy secretary of John offers Cass use of what the secretary believes to actually be an executive suite. This causes Cass to be an invader in the home of a surprised and angered Ellen.
The secretary also sending John spouse Dorothy Cleves to the apartment raises both the stakes and the hilarity. This prompts Ellen and Cass to pose as a married couple and increases the leverage of Cass in his adversarial business dealings with John.
Of course, an initially figuratively and later literally in the dark Dorothy invites "the Hendersons" to join her and John for dinner. This, also of course, leads to ensuing hilarity.
The final act of this film that retains a live-stage feel throughout largely consists of a series of awakenings (rude and otherwise) for Ellen; like many of us, she realizes the reality of her situation at a stage (pun intended) at which changing things is very difficult.