Fans of '80s teencoms have reason to rejoice regarding the Warner Archive DVD release of the 1987 cult-classic "My Demon Lover." This "Mannequin" like tale of the titular "monster" is a prime example of '80s films that are vehicles for the top-billed popular TV stars. "Demon" features the offbeat comedy of Scott Valentine, whose breakout role is lovable figurative space-cadet Nick Moore on the '80scom "Family Ties," which features "Back to the Future" star Michael J. Fox. The lasting legacy of Nick is using two syllables to pronounce the name "Alex."
The following original trailer for "Demon" provides a good sense of this film that can be considered a PG-13 version of the Robin Williams sitcom "Mork and Mindy."
The fantasy begins with setting "Demon" in New York, which represents Utopia for many Gen Xers. Many of these children of the '70s and '80s are drawn there with dreams of a combination of fame or fortune. Other simply want the freedom to love a counter-culture lifestyle that reflects their inner spoiled child. Films, such as "Demon," that idealize life in The Big Apple to various degrees sadistically fuel that fire.
Valentine plays street saxophonist Kaz, who is in remarkably good shape for someone who lives well below the poverty level, Character actress Michelle Little plays wholesome girl Deny, whose trusting nature consistently gets her in trouble. This includes her most recent boyfriend stealing most of her meager worldly goods right in front of her at the beginning of the film.
The rest of the story is that a supernatural beast dubbed "The Mangler" is preying on the babes of New York. It is equally obvious that the audience is supposed to believe that Kaz is that malfeasor and that he is proven innocent in the final reel.
All of these elements converge when Kaz, who already made a hilariously bad first impression on Denny, comes to her rescue when The Mangler attacks her. This leads to Kaz couch surfing at the apartment of sweet and naive Denny.
Another obvious element is this review referring to Kaz as a horny devil regarding his transforming to his horrific primal state whenever he gets aroused. The flashback that serves as the origin story of Kaz is a "Demon" highlight that will help protect the "virtue" of teen girls.
Additional predictable fun comes courtesy of the obligatory montage of Kaz and Denny frolicking around New York to the accompaniment of an '80s rock ballad. This one strongly suggests that the good folks at Warner Prime had a "My Demon Lover" sitcom in mind when making the film.
This honeymoon period is interrupted wihen The Mangler takes another bite at The Big Apple as to having Denny for dinner. This abduction with shades of "King Kong" leads to requiring Kaz to "wolf out" in order to save his girl. Getting that savior to that state requires that the best friend of Denny take one for the team.
The inevitable good vs. evil showdown mines humor from The Mangler and Kaz being more alike than they could have guessed. Of course, the boy gets the girl in the end.
The delight this time involves watching Valentine take his impish charm to a slightly more adult level; we also have the fun in the form of this reminder about how they made 'em 30 years ago.
The Icarus Films August 6, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 mystery thriller "The Girl in the Fog" adds to the mountain of proof that Euro cinema greatly outshines Hollywood fare. This tale of a 16 year-old gone girl is based on the novel of the same name by Donato Carrisi, who writes the screenplay and directs the film.
The formal accolades for "Girl" include a 2018 Italian Golden Globe for Carrisi for his screenplay and an even more deserved Best Actor Golden Globe for Toni Servillo for his perfect portrayal of police Detective Vogel.
Carrisi achieves an ideal balance of action, exposition, and tone by having the opening scene portray the title of the film. We see a shadowy village teen walk out of her Avechot home in the Italian ALps and disappear into the night. This little wander is outwardly good-girl Anna Lou Kastner, who never makes it to her stated destination of her fundamentalist church.
The quality of this film with frequent narrative time shifts is reinforced by following a variation of the modern movie staple of immediately moving us to the beginning of the end of the story without insulting our intelligence by including an intertitle that explains that jump,
This leap begins with a literal rude awakening for town shrink Dr. Augusto Flores (Jean Reno). He is called into his hospital office in the middle of the night due to an emergency related to a car accident.
On arriving, Flores is dually (and duly) surprised to see that his patient is unscathed physically (and seemingly mentally intact) and is Vogel, who is a local celebrity due to both the Kastner case and an earlier (and even more bizarre) crime spree known as "The Mutilator Case." The latter involves a mad bomber hiding explosives in containers for everyday items and putting them on grocery-store shelves.
This discussion between these two weary veterans of their professions provides exposition for the rest of the film, which mostly shifts among the events following the disappearance and the "whodunit" scene at the end of "Girl." These men further talk about the theme of connectivity that is a major element of the film.
All of this relates to Vogel being more interested in media relations and providing a resolution that satisfies the masses, rather than bringing the actual killer to justice. Ambiguity exists regarding the extent to which Vogel will go to achieve his objective. This is not to mention a television reporter showing that she can play the game as well as the boys.
New high-school teacher Prof. Loris Martini is at the center of much of the primary action. One lesson here is that just because you find yourself in a Kafkaesque nightmare does not necessarily mean that your are innocent; the second-part of this moral is that the guilty and the innocent alike face intense media persecution.
An "incident" has prompted Loris to move his (now unemployed) attorney wife and his (now sullen) teen daughter to the village. A media-whore girl does not help matters when she first persuades Loris to give her acting lessons and then distorts the nature of their extra-curricular relationship when he becomes the prime suspect in the Kastner case.
Circumstantial evidence of varying degrees of credibility creates a strong possibility that Loris will spend the rest of his life as a guest of the state regardless of his guilt. The important thing for some with a horse in the race is that Loris is an attractive suspect.
This initially culminates in revealing the full story behind the"accident" of Vogel and then what becomes of Anna Lou, who is a pet with her own secret life.
All of this amounts to "Girl" proving that quality intelligent thrillers still are out there and just require a little investigating to find,
Breaking Glass Pictures goes wonderfully old school regarding the May 2019 DVD release of the 2019 thriller "Dark Sense." The well-executed tried-and-true premise is that 22 year-old Scottish psychic Simon is on the trail of a serial killer, who has extreme prejudice against folks with the sixth sense. "Sense" further shows that Breaking remains committed to making edgy films (be it thrillers or artfully erotic gay-themed movies) that makes it so awesome.
The reason that the concept of "Sense" seems familiar to some folks who still read books is that it is based on the best-seller First and Only by Peter Flannery. Flannery presumably discusses his book in his DVD audio commentary.
On a broad level, "Sense" evokes thoughts of the tried-and-true joke that someone who is psychic should have seen something coming. This applies both to the peers of Simon who run afoul of our villain and to Simon, who should have foreseen the negative response that he received on contacting MI-5 to join forces.
The following YouTube clip of the "Sense" trailer offers a good glimpse of the story and the UK style narrative,
We meet Simon as an eight year-old lad trying to save the family priest/friend from a fate equal to death. Although Simon arrives in time and states the nature of the threat, he does not prevent the crime. The nature of the killing and of the presence of Simon is part of the copious religious symbolism in "Sense." We also see throughout the film that everything is relative,
The action shifts 14 years into the future, Simon knows both that the killer is out there and that Simon has big bullseye on his back. He does not know the identity of that psycho.
The extreme extent to which Steve connects with both the killer and his victims sets "Sense" above less creative psychic amateur-detective films. This aspect also perfectly ties into the other themes of the film.
Humor related to Simon making a senior MI5 official look foolish is a highlight of "Sense." Less humor relates to Simon first-hand learning that one of the three big lies is that I'm from the government; I'm here to help you. We do not learn if Simon has had experience with someone falsely telling him that the check is in the mail or asserting the third big lie.
Simon hiring a private contractor in the form of former soldier-of-little-fortune Steve also is very true to form regarding government activities. The job of Steve is to protect Simon from experiencing a fate equal to death.
It is predictable that Steve and sympathetic MI5 agent Sonia Chatham team up to come to the rescue when Simon finds himself in a perilous situation. How things ultimately unfold provide wonderful twists that provide a nice bonus in the form of social commentary.
The best part of all this is that "Sense" and SO MANY indie films prove time and time again that art and commerce need not be mutually exclusive. Hollywood MUST recognize that an audience exists for a film that is not part of a franchise, is not a vanity project that allows the inner-circle of an actor whose looks surpass his or her talent to play dress up, or that resorts to cheap thrills, gore, or broad humor to get butts in the seats at the multiplex.
The Warner Archive July 30, 2019 DVD release of the noir romcom "Double Danger" (1938) makes it great fun to figuratively go back to the movies. This glee begins with true-crime novelist/perpetrator Bob Crane sharing the name of the actor who plays titular undercover POW Robert Hogan in the '60scom "Hogan's Heroes." The "Hogan" analogy continues with the reel Crane reveling in an ongoing cat-and-mouse game with friend/police Inspector David Theron.
The doll who provides the "rom" is jewel-thief Caroline Martin; she is another mouse with whom Crane can play.
Our story begins with a cocky Theron telling angsty jeweler Gordon Ainsley "trust me; I know what I'm doing" as to especially precious diamonds. Thus begins our tale in which this ice is a hot potato throughout the film.
Martin begins the game via a successful ruse that gets her custody of the loot until Crane pulls a trick that results in his adding a new link to the chain of custody. One lesson here is that there is no honor among thieves.
The plot thickens on Martin and Crane unexpectedly reuniting at a weekend house party at the stately home of Theron. The ruse here is that Theron strongly suspects that one of his guests is the jewel thief known as "The Gentleman" but must obtain direct evidence before bestowing a pair of bracelets on that malfeasor.
Comic relief is provided in the form of flighty teen daughter "Babs" Thornton and her would-be suitor Roy West (Arthur Lake of the "Blondie" film and television series). The complication there is that Babs only has eyes for sophisticated older man Bob.
The final piece of the puzzle this time is that Theron has Ainsley essentially literally crash the party with a duplicate set of the diamonds that provide one meaning to the title of "Danger."
The bedroom farce in this Code-era film comes in the form of Crane and Martin rotating the two sets of diamonds between themselves in an effort to implicate the other. This leads to a classic drawing-room confrontation that does not go as Theron plans. The lesson here is the one that every thief knows; part of a plan is the plan going awry.
More hilarity ensues until everyone gets what amounts to a happy ending in this film that expertly keeps several plates spinning in a tale that expertly blends comedy and pulp fiction.
The Film Movement Classics division of foreign-film god Film Movement fully embraces the spirit of summer action-adventure films with the spectacular June 25, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1986 John Woo film "Heroes Shed No Tears." It is the precursor to the Woo film "A Better Tomorrow," which likely will be a future Classics Blu-ray release.
Although Woo reasonably considers this 90-minute big-screen video game a gangster film, it bears comparison to the literally banned-in-Boston cult-classic film "The Warriors" (1979) about members of a New York street gang spending a night battling several other gangs to make it back to their home turf.
This fully shot in the natural beauty of rural Thailand looks incredible in Blu-ray; choosing the well-dubbed (but still amusing) English audio version over the subtitled Cantonese and Mandarin options is part of the fun of this Asian bloodbath.
The following YouTube clip of the Movement restored original trailer for "Heroes" includes some of the best ultra-violent moments in this never a dull moment film.
The opening narration provides the exposition that the Thai government war on drugs includes hiring the Chinese commando team of Chan Chung (Eddy Ko) to capture Golden Triangle drug lord General Samton. The payment includes a new life in America for Samton and his immediate family. This aspect is at the center of a highly notable scene in which an American soldier-of-little-fortune offers his perspective on American life only to have Chung put him in his place.
The aforementioned mayhem commences with the aforementioned attack. Team Chung disrupts the operation and gets their man. However, Team Samton takes off in hot pursuit as our titular good guy makes a run for the Thai border.
The mission becomes a family affair when Chung comes home to find his baby momma and his son under attack from his new enemy. An agrarian buying the farm provides unintentional humor. This requires an impromptu bring your son to work day.
The plot fully thickens on Team Chung further running afoul of another power broker when they interrupt an attack on a pair of French journalists. Suffice it to say that the colonel whom Chung bests fully embraces the philosophy of an eye for an eye. This dynamic also plays a role in a pivotal scene that adds a dimension to the title of the film.
An essay by highly humorous screenwriter Grady Hendrix states that hands-down the funniest scene in "Heroes" likely is the work of a director who steps in after Woo finishes his work. A gambler literally cannot lose despite facing a heavy price for his winnings; the twist at the end is a highlight.
All of this culminates in a variation of classic epic style, a heavily bruised and bloodied Chung reaches the end of his mission but is not quite home free. The added insult to the multiple injuries is discovering that all might have been for naught.
The additional social commentary of this film includes the related truism that the real golden rule is that the guy with the gold makes the rules and that "waste" rolls downhill.
Classics supplements this bloody good film with a video interview with Ko. A time constraint required having to postponing hearing what must be his entertaining insights until a better tomorrow.
Warner Archive digs particularly deep into its figurative Vault of the Obscure to release the July 30, 2019 four-disc CS DVD set of ""Johnny Cypher in Dimension Zero." (1967). It seems that many of us who grow up on the '60s and '70s Hanna-Barbera fare that is fueling the current Archive Animation Domination first learn of this "Speed Racer" caliber Nipponese anime cousin of fellow '60s action-adventure cartoon "Space Ghost" through this release.
This release roughly coincides with its unwarranted inclusion in a 2019 Comic-Con panel in which animation historian Jerry Beck labels "Cypher" as one of the worst cartoons of all time. The highly catchy theme song and the expression "evil dwarf scientist" in the opening narration of the pilot (no pun intended) alone earn this entertaining space camp more respect than that.
A major problem with "Cypher" relates to the lesson of the cult-classic scifi series "Firefly" a few decades later; that MUST-SEE show suffers from a CONSCIOUS decision to get right down to business without providing any exposition. That is a remedied misdemeanor in the case of "Firely" and a felony as to "Cypher."
The following description of "Cypher" is "borrowed" from the DVD back cover. This review is based on watching roughly 20 of the shorts in the set, and roughly 1/4 of the lore that the liner notes discuss is not covered in any of those episodes.
Archive shares "Johnny Cypher, brilliant scientist of the future, becomes humanity's greatest hope for survival when he discovers the incalciulable power of Dimension Zero, an indestructible force which enables him to travel through time and space in superhuman form. Hovering above Earth in his space satellite, Johnny maintains his space vigil with the aid of his beautiful assistant, Zena, and a friendly Martian named Rhom."
The liner notes do not mention that the hyperactive annoyingly voiced Rhom surpasses Scrappy-Doo in the Hall of Fame for Toxic Cartoon Characters, A little bit of Rhom goes a painfully long way.
The fun begins in "The Vulatarian" with the aforementioned evil little green man essentially using a dirty bomb containing a powerful sleeping gas that knocks out the population of the "Jetsons" like urban center "Sky City." He Cosbys these folks to facilitate his minions stealing all of the community wealth.
Our titular hero uses his titular power to travel a great distance to bring truth, justice, and the American way.
The aside this time is that the Archive August 2019 Blu-ray release of "The Jetsons" OS already has the aforementioned men (and women) children drooling in anticipation.
"The Doll Invaders" is an early "Cypher" highlight. Johnny investigating weird goings-on at a stately home that already attracts attention by virtue of being in a wasteland leads to the best-ever plot involving modern Trojan Horses. Ala many series (including "The Simpsons") in which an infectiously endearing doll is brought into every home for an evil purpose, Johnny discovers that the cargo that is being beamed into the house is far from what it seems.
"Gravity Belt Mystery" is particularly fun and includes a strong "Superman" vibe. (The Archive catalog includes A DVD set of the vintage "Superman serials.) Zena is a passenger on a skyjacked routine run of the Mars and Earth shuttle. As the title suggests, the plot revolves around why the skyjackers only take the titular "Jetsons" esque devices.
Ala Superman, Johnny initially flies in to rescue his best girl. His then tracking down the crooks reveals the real gravity of the situation that does not make any sense, This episode also is notable for Johnny using a clever means to access the dial on his belt that allows him to access the titular dimension, It is predicted that one of the unwatched episodes is the one in which the mad scientist du jour adequately subdues Johnny to remove his belt and store it beyond his reach.
As mentioned above "Cypher" is great nostalgic fun for veterans of classic after-school and Saturday morning cartoons. They also are short enough and filled with enough action to appeal to Millennials and Gen Zers who have been glued to their screens their entire lives. You "kids" are invited to say that you like "Cypher" ironically.
Breaking Glass Pictures provides the best of two of its worlds in releasing the 2017 drama "Good Favour." This movie with eerie overtones is set in the modern era and centers around an Amish-style farming community in the woods of central Europe. Having these folks speak English while outsiders speak the mother tongue is one of many unexpected touches.
"Favour" opens with clearly in distress teen Tom wandering into the aforementioned community. A local family takes him in long enough to nurse him back to health. This leads to the community needing to decide the fate of this outsider. The terms for his continued presence include fully accepting the governing beliefs and the way of life.
Tom already is a mystery before his involvement in local intrigue. All that is known about him is that he does not have any family. His performing a seeming miracle in his new home further shines a spotlight on him. Physical evidence that he is the boy with something extra enhances the sense that he is the second coming. A highly symbolic scene provides another indication that the buck stops with this doe-eyed lad.
All of this transpires at a time that an elderly woman seems on the edge of dying; this prompts a debate regarding whether to leave things in the hands of God or to commit what many consider the dual sins of bringing her to the outside world and putting her in a hospital. Some believing that Tom offers a third option that involves a form of divine intervention creates more drama.
The eyes of the world being on the community for reasons that have nothing to do with the new kid on the block is another source of tension, This centers around an indication that the children of the corn are being mistreated.
The underlying story itself is compelling and warrants watching "Favour." The related issues of conformity, religious belief, and integrating outsiders provide good food for thought. This is not to mention the element of raising children in a rigid closed community both tending to make them creepy and creating potential for tragedy.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.]
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releasing the first season of #1 NBC show "Manifest" from film god Robert Zemeckis ("Back to the Future," "Forrest Gump," etc) on July 23, 2019 is notable for a couple of reasons.
First, this is the beginning of a SLEW of awesome WBHE home-video releases of Arrowverse and other series that demonstrate that broadcast networks have plenty of life in them. Second, this release-date of this traditional-season serialized drama evokes thoughts of sublime-to-ridiculous summer fare, such as "Under the Dome" and "Zoo," that networks broadcast during the extended school vacation. Fortunately, "Manifest" falls on the "sublime" end of the curve on the Paley Scale.
"Manifest" centering around the passengers of otherwise-routine Flight 828 from Jamaica to New York taking off in 2013 and landing 5.5 years later also evokes thoughts of the JJ Abrams series "Lost" and the lesser-known program "FlashForward." The latter centers around a mysterious global incident in which virtually everyone on earth loses consciousness for just over two minutes.
The following clip of the official trailer for "Manifest" S1 provides a solid overview of the concept of this series that easily passes the "one more" test while watching episodes on DVD.
The abundant feast of food for thought commences with unmarried NYPD cop Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh of "Valor" and "Supernatural") waiting for her flight in Jamaica. She is with her parents, her brother Ben Stone (Josh Dallas of "Once Upon A Time"), his 10 year-old twins Cal and Olive, and his wife Grace.
A "Sliding Doors" moment occurs when a desire for a break from her mother motivates Michaela to accept an offer to be bumped from her original flight and put on 828. Ben and Cal join her.
Although sudden extreme turbulence disrupts 828, the rest of the flight goes smoothly. The first sign of trouble is the New York flight tower seeming to be surprised to hear from the flight and diverting it to a regional airport.
These not-so-weary travelers soon learn that their roughly three-hour tour lasted much longer. None of them look or feel any older than when they boarded in Jamaica. This leads to a mix of reunions with loved one who gave them up for dead long ago and/or finding the things have radically changed.
The first aside this time is that this gap evokes strong thoughts of the MCU Thanos storyline as to that villain sending 1/2 of the global population into oblivion for a five-year period known as "The Blip." Like the 828 passengers, no time has passed for the MCU folks who return to earth.
The second aside relates more closely to the "Sliding Doors" aspect of choosing one path over another sometimes having immense consequences. The "what if" factor as to relinquishing a sure thing in the form of a booked seat on a flight in exchange for the more speculative promise of taking a future flight precludes many of us of from taking that chance.
Michaela discovering that she no longer has an apartment prompts her to temporarily move in with Ben and his family. Her other trauma relates to her best friend's husband used to being her beau. The lesson here is if you love it, quickly put a ring on it,
The rest of S1 follows a theme of connectivity that pervades the series to varying degrees. The broadest aspect of this is that it seems that at least some of the passengers are telepathically linked.
The less broad aspect of this is God or a reasonably facsimile of Him sends the adult Stone siblings and some fellow passengers on missions by putting voices, images, and other clues in their heads. Staying true to this concept in other fiction, the minion typically initially does not know how to respond to the message and first gets it wrong once or twice before putting things right.
Meanwhile, the feds are dividing their time between trying to figure out what caused the longest flight delay in history and using vulnerable passengers to fulfill an evil purpose. Along a similar line, the Stones and the other interested parties soon learn that they cannot trust anyone.
All of this culminates in an action-packed season finale with high stakes and a sense that the mystery extends beyond the passengers. We all learn of an assumed five-year plan that would produce enough episodes to syndicate "Manifest." Those of us invested in this show will only need to wait until at least January 2021 for more immediate closure as to the classic cliffhanger in S1.
Truly indie theatrical/home video company Uncork'd Entertainment commences a beautiful friendship with Unreal TV by releasing the 2015 documentary "Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four." The DVD and Blu-ray versions of this one hit real and virtual retail shelves on November 15, 2016.
The following YouTube clip of a "Doomed!" trailer provides a surprisingly thorough look at the participants and the theme in roughly two minutes.
The 1994 "Four" film which the documentary discusses can be considered 'The Day the (Roger) Corman Cried' because it (like the notoriously bad Jerry Lewis Holocaust drama "The Day the Clown Cried") is unlikely to ever officially see the light of day for the simple reason that "Doomed!" documents. This explanation is that a strict deadline and equally tight budget is behind the film being one that Stan Lee and fellow Marvel "suit" Avi Arad deem unworthy of their quartet of superheroes. Never has the catchphrase "its clobberin' time" been more apt than regarding that pair.
An awesome difference between "Clown" and "Four" is that watching a bootleg copy of the latter shows that it deserves the adjective fantastic. As "Doomed!" notes, most of the main cast consists of working actors with good credits to their name. Additionally, the script is well written and the production values are very respectable for the early '90s. This all begins with opening credits that are at least as professional as those of the blockbusters of the era.
Returning to "Doomed!," writer/director Marty Langford awesomely reunites C-movie god Corman and the band to discuss "Four" itself and the story regarding it either languishing in the Marvel vaults or becoming a melted pile of gunk. The comprehensiveness of this clear labor of love includes getting the "Four" casting agent and the on-set journalist to share their two cents along with virtually all the cast and the behind-the-camera crew.
In true superhero movie fashion, Dr. Doom portrayor Joseph Culp (son of the late Robert Culp) steals the show regarding sharing how he gets the part and subsequently plays his role. His clear love for his maniacal laugh proves that he is the right man for the job. One of his colleagues affirms this in stating that he cannot imagine anyone else playing Doom.
Langford supplements all this with entertaining clips of "Four" that make it look much more cheesy than it is. He further shares various quotes, which include a flat-out lie by Lee, regarding the film.
As an aside, Johnny Storm (played by '80s teen star Jay Underwood) gets the best line in "Four." Storm exclaims "Holy Freud Batman!" on hearing team leader Dr. Reed Richards explain the psychological element to the group getting their powers. Other inadvertent Cormanastic humor comes from Reed exclusively referring to Storm as "Danny" in one scene.
Some of the most humorous segments in "Doomed!" involve the cast discussing being approached by people who have seen "Four." despite it never being released. An aforementioned behind-the-camera guy provides a plausible reason for the movie seeing some daylight despite the effort of Marvel to suppress it. (On a similar note, your not-so-humble reviewer LOVES the similarly suppressed "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story." That one uses an entire Barbie dolls cast to tell the story of the tough family life and related anorexia of the titular '70s pop star.)
On a more general level, the "Doomed!" audience gets a brief history of the early days of superhero movies and is informed that this version of "Four" is the first one filmed built around that franchise. This discussion includes the marketing of such flicks absent having a matinee idol as the star.
This element of "Doomed!" is particularly interesting in the modern context of the Disney ownership of some Marvel characters. This includes the desire of Disney to cash in via the far inferior "Spider-man" films a few years after the Tobey Maguire versions and (MUCH more directly) the fact that "Deadpool" or any other Marvel film from any studio can include every Marvel character.
On an even larger level, Langford stays exceptionally true to the principles of documentaries. He lets his subjects fully speak for themselves regarding their stories, and he presents his topic in a manner that is equally entertaining and educational.
The copious DVD and Blu-ray extras include a panel discussion on the film, additional footage of Corman, and the theatrical trailer for Doomed!"
The Warner Archive July 9, 2019 2-disc DVD release of the complete series "Lippy the Lion and "Hardy Har Har" (1962) awesomely contributes to the ecstasy that is the Archive continuous and seemingly endless revival of its classic Animation Domination. This Renaissance arguably begins with the MUST-OWN (reviewed) June 2019 Blu-ray release of "Jonny Quest" OS and continues at least through an August 2019 BD release of "The Jetsons" OS.
The temporary agony as to this domination relates to "Lippy," along with the recent (reviewed) Archive release of "Wally Gator" only bringing literal and figurative children of the '60s and '70s 2/3 of the way toward owning all three series that make up the syndicated "The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series."
Pure instinct and youthful exuberance indicate that Archive will release "Touche Turtle and Dum Dum" before the end of September 2019. Buying "Lippy" and "Gator" will help make that a reality sooner rather than later. The bigger picture regarding this is that two out of three ain't bad, but a trifecta is much better.
The release of "Touche" also would allow Saturday-morning sofa spuds with three DVD players to recreate each episode of "Series."
Folks who are interested in learning more about the era of "talking animal" shows in this Golden Age of Hanna-Barbera are asked to please read the "Gator" review. That post provides some insight into the productions that begat the action-adventure fare that begat "Scooby" and his clones, and it all was good.
"Lippy" is notable for having two HB all-stars voice the titular king of the jungle and his ironically named hyena sidekick, Daws Butler voices Lippy, and Mel Blanc voices Hardy. The rest of the story is that Butler uses the same voice for Lippy as he does for time-travelling Peter Potamus, whose '60s series also is in the Archive DVD catalog.
Lippy is an always annoyingly gleeful optimist who almost certainly wears rose-colored contacts. His primary challenge is to get his equally always incredibly glum chum, who literally thinks that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train and often is correct, to be positive and to laugh. A semi-spoiler is that an episode in which Hardy laughs is the best moment in the series,
The concept of "Lippy" is a little broader than most HB shows from any era and arguably is one that is closest to the spirit of "Looney Toons." Rather than rely on a single concept, such as the Scooby gang stumbling on an X-File or Gator escaping from the zoo only to find that there is no place like home, "Lippy" shows a bit more variety and is even more rife with vaudeville-style slapstick.
Each "Lippy" starts the same with our animated George and Lennie travelling the globe. The variety comes in the form of the reason for their wandering and the catalyst for their action. It often is survival, but may be part of get-rich scheme that Lippy is just as confident will succeed as Hardy is that it will fail. The latter always is expressed by the catchphrase "oh dear, oh my." There also are times that the pair simply find adventure while on the road Kerouac style.
The "Lippy" pilot "See Saw" sticks to the basics. Our pair is stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean. Hardy is lamenting their imminent demise when Lipppy uses spotting an island as a reason for Hardy to be optimistic. The combined bad news is that this arrival coincides with a pirate burying his booty and leads to Lippy and Hardy being Shanghaied.
An especially notable cluster of episode air early in the "Lippy" run. "Smile the Wild" finds the desperate time in the form of extreme hunger lead to the desperate measure of Lippy passing off Hardy as an escaped wildman from a circus in order to claim a reward. Of course, the real McCoy shows up and imperils the jungle boys.
"Film Flam" finds Lippy and Hardy vacationing in Hollywood. A cartoon-staple form of misunderstanding finds a film director mistaking Lippy for an actor in a lion suit. Hilarity truly ensues this time.
"Gunflighter," which directly follows "Film," has Lippy passing Hardy off as the titular quick draw. The figuratively real McGraw showing up leads to an exceptional conclusion that highlights what Hardy brings to the table.
The "Hick Hikers," which is especially is especially looney toons in tone, finds Lippy climbing a previously unconquered mountain merely to accomplish that feat; Hardy is dead weight in tow and characteristically constantly bitching.
Our mountain-climbing lion achieves his objective only to find that a welcoming committee in the form of a ram is not at all sheepish about protecting his turf from interlopers. This leads to a hilarious game of king of the hill.
As virtually every post on animated and live-action Archive releases state, the fact that they do not (and will not) make 'em like that anymore provides reason enough to add "Lippy" to your DVD collection. This wonderful reminder of the era before killjoys take the highly entertaining violence out of cartoons is sorely needed in this era in which watching almost constant consequence-free knocks on the noggin is just what Dr. Patch Adams ordered.
Birthday trips to places such as The Shire Woodstock in Vermont are more than making for being a July baby precluding the large parties that the kids whose special days occurred during the school year enjoyed. An exceptional in every way dinner at the Red Rooster restaurant at the nearby Woodstock Inn provided the almost literal icing on the figurative birthday cake. An article on that meal is planned for next month.
A less positive role of the Woodstock Inn led both to the stay at Shire and added to the knowledge bank that continually enhances the Inn Credible New England section of this site.
I initially approached the Inn about a media stay. Suffice it to say that this luxury hotel, which has non-profit status despite charging what must be a highly profitable rate for its accommodations, predictably passed me off to its Manhattan PR firm. That firm equally predictably determined that my site was inadequately trendy to warrant any consideration. Being told no did not prompt resentment; the Inn itself not even looking at my site or considering my proposal did,
On a related note, I was charged a resort fee on a prior trip to the Inn despite the Inn lacking resort facilities. (Guests can use the facilities at a not-so-close recreation center). I also was deprived use of the steam room in the spa because I did not book a spa treatment; the spa was empty at that time.
A subsequent tip to contact Shire quickly led to the first of several greatly exceeded expectations. That interaction created a strongly validated sense that I was dealing with a place that embraced a Vermont, rather than a New York, state of mind.
Veteran Shire manager Barbara Sheehan was extremely friendly and said "we love travel writers." She booked us in the GINORMOUS Riverhouse Suite and fully comped us. All this was without accepting an invitation to check out this site.
The below photos are of that deluxe two-bedroom accommodation, complete with a Jacuzzi that provides shoulder massages that will make you never want to get out of the tub.
Front-desk clerk Shannon provided a Vermont-quality welcome on our arrival at the main building, which is a motel that has been renovated into a upscale place to stay that combines the best elements of a B and B and a nice hotel without a 'tude. After checking us in, Shannon directed us to the adjacent Riverhouse. This two-story building is the home of the former owners that has been beautifully renovated to having the suite on the ground floor and guest-rooms upstairs.
Entering the suite provides the desired "wow" factor. There is a spacious entry hall that leads to the rest of this palace. The enormous master bedroom, complete with gas fireplace and a door to the river-front wrap-around porch of the suite, has a walk-in closet that is almost as large as the "shabby broom closet" that Inn Credible articles often mention.,
This space, which easily qualifies as a mini-suite by itself, has a large en-suite bathroom with the aforementioned tub. Other highlights are the honey-based BeeKind amenities and a shower large enough for you and two of your closest friends.
Putting the shower gel in the Jacuzzi produced silky smooth skin; using two tubes of it evoked thoughts of Bobby Brady putting a box of detergent in the washing machine. Fortunately, the mountain of suds in the Jacuzzi did not overflow onto the floor.
The second bedroom is larger than most upgraded accommodations in cookie-cutter hotels. It, like the master bedroom, has a roomy seating area that is a treat for those of us who dislike having a bed being the only sitting option in a hotel room.
The bathroom for this bedroom is across the hall; however, doors at each end of that hall allow the person staying there complete privacy.
An aside related to this is that even the happiest of couples can be even happier when having the option of separate bedrooms. Snoring, restlessness, nocturnal bathroom breaks, and late-night use of electronic devices all can disrupt the sleep of each better half. The suite bedrooms having their own highly effective climate-controlled systems is the bonus regarding this.
The rest of the story is that this layout is PERFECTLY conducive to visits to the Woodstock area. Like most Inn Credible New England trips, the agenda involved heading out relatively early each day and spending much of the evening relaxing in the room.
Our days started with eating bakery muffins and having coffee (complete with real cream) and following the Inn Credible habit of watching a little "Kelly and Ryan" before heading to nearby Hanover, NH (home of Dartmouth College) on our first full day and not so nearby Brattleboro, Vermont on our second day. We also took advantage of Shire literally being on the edge of the quaint business district of Woodstock to tour the shops and the galleries there,
We took moderate advantage of having a full kitchen (complete with a table that seats eight) and a large living room by having dinner in the night after feasting at the Red Rooster. Grad school-era memories of the era elicited repeated chants of PIZZA CHEF PIZZA CHEF PIZZA CHEF throughout the trip that succeeded in getting our food there,
The good news is that Chef still puts only a moderate amount of its tangy sauce and an equally well-proportioned amount of its equally good toppings on its pizzas. The amusing news is that New York entered the picture in the form of being behind tourists relentlessly grilling the friendly 11-year veteran behind the counter about gluten-free crust, the type of cheese, and everything else. This prolonged absurd exchange almost prompted a Bronx cheer.
A post-pizza chant of ROADHOUSE ROADHOUSE ROADHOUSE prompted watching that Patrick Swayze classic on Netflix on the 4K smart-TV over the gas fireplace in the living room.
In other words, a good time was had by all, and Shire has well-earned most-favored nation status.
The bigger picture this time is this stay validating the invalidity of a bias against former motels that have been upgraded to good getaway hotels. A prior stay at a similar place (with a forgotten name) in the Berkshires of Massachusetts involved unwarranted trepidation. No such concerns existed regarding Shire, which has expertly renovated and improved the rooms in the main building. That place provides a solid option to the other options in town and greatly outshines every off-ramp palace anywhere in the US.
Final thoughts reflect simple Vermont wisdom in that Shire shows that you should not judge a book by its cover; passing up a place because it looks like a motel can cause you to miss out on something good.
The IndiePix Films April 23, 2019 DVD release of the documentary "Target: St. Louis" illustrates the funny because it is true aspect of the joke that the expression "I'm from the government; I'm here to help you is one of the three biggest lies in history. In this case, the deplorable misconduct of the folks literally sworn to act in the best interest of the general public relates to covert testing of aerosol radiation in a predominantly black low-income neighborhood of the titular city in the post-war/Cold War era.
Indiepix describes this activity differently; that slant is "environmental racism in the Cold War Jim Crow era."
The following clip of a "Target" trailer provides a good overview of how the testing reflects the worst of the era in which it occurs.
The perfect storm elements of the documented atrocity both make this a tale worth telling and greatly enhance the impact of the film. This begins with another city being the first choice for this experimentation of this early version of a dirty bomb; Plan B is enacted after realizing that the affected Missourians are more vulnerable to this activity under the guise of spraying for mosquitoes.
We also get the literal added insult to injury in the form of the victims of the spraying being at Ground Zero because of an allegedly altruistic program to provide quality low-income housing. This sadly is not far off from putting out a roach motel.
The broader perspective of "Target" is the parallels that are made between the testing and the Nuremberg trials. A related prevalent themes include the point at which "research" must be considered human testing. Another aspect is that many documentarians compare relatively harmless sins, such as using plastic bags, to Nazism. In the case of "Target," the talking heads show that the analogy directly is apt.
Another difference between "Target" and other cinema-verite films is that there is much less ambiguity. The spraying is well-documented, and the asserted impact on the population is highly credible,
The relevance to viewers extends beyond prompting thoughts of modern racism; most of us doubt that the government is here to help us and is transparent regarding its efforts to maintain what the big boys consider truth, justice, and the American way. The icing on the cake is the exposure of most of us to what we blindly accept is spraying for insects.
The bigger picture is that seeming endless battles over what seem to be perpetual disputes show that global leaders do not learn from history and are condemned to repeat it,
The CBS Home Entertainment July 16, 2019 pristine DVD release of the 2019-20 14th (and penultimate) season of the procedural series "Criminal Minds" provides a good chance to either revisit this long-running program or to discover what you have been missing. The nice surprise for folks in the latter category is that "Minds" shows that ageist prejudice regarding these broadcast-network mysteries is unwarranted in this case.
A very cool aspect of this is that "Minds" warrants comparison to the CW paranormal investigation series "Supernatural." Episodes of both shows, which each just wrapped up their 14th seasons ahead of their 15th and final ones, typically begin in the same manner. The cold open consists of a combination of the most recent trauma and drama in the lives of the central characters and the initially unrelated events around which the action of the week centers.
The compelling nature of both series largely involves how the personal and professional lives of our heroes overlap.
The similarities continue with the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) springing into action in a more upscale manner than the creature-hunting Winchester brothers of "Supernatural;" the civil servants go "wheels up" in their private jet to bring their "monster" to justice as opposed to the siblings jumping in their in their 67 Chevy to do their best to put right what once went wrong.
Our best "minds" use their brains to figure out "whydunit" as the first step to figuring out "whodunit" and go on to prevent it from happening again. The brawn primarily in the form of two hunks is there to ensure that the bad guys are subdued with a minimum of harm to all interested parties.
Another parallel is that programs celebrate their 300th episode in their 14th season. In the case of "Minds," we get a threefer in the form of this one also being the season premiere and the conclusion to the 13th-season season-ending cliffhanger. The basic plot is that quirky computer genius (a.k.a. girl in the chair) Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) and adorakble boy genius Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) get taken hostage by the already identified psycho of the story.
Much of this one revolves around fully bringing the band back together before Reid becomes a highly symbolic 300th victim. Tying all this into an earlier (and largely forgotten) case in which recently deceased in real-life Luke Perry guest stars is way cool.
"Minds" actually dips its toes into "Supernatural" territory in two episodes. "The Tall Man" is more than a sort of a homecoming for team-member Jennifer "JJ" Jareau (AJ Cook). She learns that you cannot go home again when a report of the local bogeyman brings her back to her hometown, where the past essentially returns to haunt her. A more positive aspect of this is that learning from history prevents it from repeating.
"Sick and Evil" has the BAU group investigating murders at documented haunted houses in a small town. This one has an especially offbeat charm.
More mundane cases involve a "Village of the Damned" outing involving hypnotized children, several cases of self-justified vigilante justice with extreme prejudice, and two feds separately pursuing their own unauthorized agendas.
The final episode hits all the right notes in that it is a perfect season finale that also serves as a solid last hurrah for "Minds" in the event of there not being a 15th season. The team starts out doing its usual expert job determining the method to the madness that prompts their latest road trip. This wraps up in plenty of time for an event that is more than a season in the making and that involves a very special guest star. In other words, we see that our "friends" get to live as happily ever after as is possible considering their jobs that often reflect their highly troubled pasts.
One final regarding this finale is the DVD-included deleted scene makes one wish that it made the cut in favor of some of the frivolity in the final scenes.
CBS Home Entertainment deserves kudos merely for including DVD special features this late in the game. Going above-and beyond both regarding these extras and their placement in the set warrants a figurative pat on the back.
We start with "300: A Celebration" just ahead of the season premiere. This one has Executive Producer Erica Messer, the aforementioned cast members, and the rest of the ensemble (including veterans Paget Brewster and Joe Mantegna) entertainingly discuss how they have come a long way, Baby, and show that they still are going strong.
The amusingly titles bonus after the season finale discusses that milestone, and the aptly titled "Season 14: The Truth of the Matter" that follows all this takes a broader perspective that also demonstrates that cast and crew still enjoy going to work everyday. Even not-so-astute viewers of the episodes can sense that love of the game.
A gag reel and "The Actors on Directing," in which several cast members discuss working behind the camera round out these additional reasons for buying the DVDs, rather than streaming episodes.
The Virgil Films DVD of the 2017 Ralph "Daniel San" Macchio day-in-the-life film "Lost Cat Corona" is a textbook example of a fun quirky indie comedy; it has faded stars playing oddball characters, urban on-site shooting, and a bizarre set-up that provides ample "sits" for good "com."
The aforementioned former Karate Kid plays King of Queens Dominic, whose wife Connie (Gina Gershon) is an even more formidable opponent than the evil Coba Kai (COBRA KAI!) group of martial-arts experts that torment the kid.
Our story begins with Dominic happily starting his day off when Hurricane Connie blasts him for allowing family cat Leonard to run away. The arguments with which Connie browbeats Dominic include that she must spend the day at the hospital with her mother, who is having minor surgery.
Dominic initially enlists the aid of morally-challenged buddy Ponce to find the kitty. Their adventures include finding money that seems ear-marked for a very specific purpose, We also learn that Dominic has a near-obsession for maps and later find out the reason for that strong interest. This is not to mention going fairly deep into the mind of Dominic by the end of the film.
Dominic subsequently interrupts the search for the cat to attend the wake for the father of cop friend Sal (Adam Ferrara). For his part, desperate times in the form of an immediate need for a significant amount of money drives Sal to the separate but equally desperate measures of selling merchandise that "fell off the truck" and of effectively seeking a rebate of a funeral-related expense,
Timid Dominic gets involved in the sale of the hot goods to the extent of unwillingly becoming the contact of the buyer. The scene in which the deal goes down is one of several that demonstrate the talent of Macchio for comedy.
Meanwhile, Connie is enduring constant complaining by her mother; This does not deter the younger woman from regularly haranguing Dominic over the telephone. Another character letting the air out the balloon of Connie is cathartic for the audience.
Dominic truly is an everyman when his encounter with two delinquent truant teen boys finally pushes him over the edge; watching this guy who just wants to find his cat and salvage the rest of his day off put the punks in their place is beyond awesome. Dominic soon setting the adolescents up for another fall further adds to the perfection.
Like all good things, "Cat" comes to an end. This is special in that it reinforces that all of us are connected and must endure our own personal Hells. We additionally are reminded that we are lucky to not be cats, who must live nine lives.
The Breaking Glass Pictures May 7, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 mockumentary "Strawberry Flavored Plastic" again shows the Breaking talent for finding art-house films with mainstream appeal. A combination of "Strawberry" broadly following the formula of "The Blair Witch Project" and being set in real-life upstate New York town Peekskill, which is the setting of the sitcom "The Facts of Life," allows dusting off the 20 year-old joke "The Blair Warner Project." That humor relates to the name of a "Facts" character.
"Facts" also inspires a joke that sums ups a theme of "Strawberry." Fictional documentarians Errol and Ells do not think of a their film subject as a serial killer; they think of their film subject as Noel.
The following YouTube clip of the Breaking trailer for "Strawberry" shows how well that the mockumentary genre can succeed in the right hands.
Errol and Ellis initially think that Noel is a one-trick-pony as to a murder of passion for which his debt to society is paid. By the time that they realize that their subject is a natural-born serial killer who still actively pursues his hobby, they are in very deep. They ultimately put both art and commerce forefront by continuing to make the movie.
Aidan Bristow does a wonderful job playing Noel as a guy who seems a little off but adequately harmless. This performance partially makes it believable that Errol and Ellis continue to hang around even after learning the awful truth.
A "bad dog" moment is a game-changer in that the filming of the show goes on in a revised manner. This rude awakening also increases tension that real-life writer/director Colin Bemis portrays so well that digging up his basement and checking out his refrigerator is not entirely unwarranted.
In true 21st-century film style, the beginning of the end is relatively anti-climatic. The best is yet to come in the final few scenes. This reinforces the "peace, love, and understanding" principle that everyone has something to offer and touches the lives of everyone with whom he or she makes a connection. We also get a sense of imitation being the most sincere form of flattery.
The special features include deleted scenes.
The most important takeaway regarding this inaugural product-review post is that APC makes excellent battery back-up products. Your not-so-humble reviewer has used them for far more years than he would like to admit and ALWAYS has been satisfied.
The second most important aspect of this post on the new 1000 VA/600 watts APC model BR100MS is that a mishap (which is due to no fault by APC) allows tying this article into a classic sitcom. Please stay tuned for that important message.
The real starting point is that the aging and increasingly unreliable US power grid is behind the aforementioned heavy reliance on APC products; this also is the impetus for a back-up generator that was a figurative life-saver for a several days' outage in October 2017 and a major convenience as to several shorter power failures. The rest of the story is that actual computers and electronic devices, such as televisions and 4K players, that heavily rely on computer components do not handle abrupt power surges and outages well.
A related note is that the predecessor of the current APC unit provided especially important backup that the new unit has undertaken. Trying to make a long story short, the battery in a then two-year-old HP laptop losing its ability to recharge resulted in that device frequently shutting down even when operating off of electricity. Efforts to bypass the battery were highly impractical.
Rather than give HP the satisfaction of spending $100 to replace a battery in an a laptop that was going to be mothballed in a couple of years, I pulled out the bad battery and plugged the laptop into the APC. That saved me during one brief outage,
The set up of the BR1000MS was very easy and improved on far-from-fatal flaws in older models. Connecting the battery itself was very intuitive, and literally making the connection was very smooth. MUCH older models sometimes required a bit of wrestling to connect that battery, and one made a very dramatic spark. APC customer service did its usual excellent job regarding that one.
Other peace-of-mind comes from a 3-year warranty on the device itself and a lifetime $250,000 warranty on the connected electronic products.
The way-cool front display has easy-to-see and understand status reports that include the charge level of the battery and the estimated remaining time that you can run your device (or devices) off the battery. The maximum stated time is 92 minutes. As of this writing, this feature remains untested. It would be VERY helpful in case of not getting right back to my desk during a power failure.
There also are two USB charging ports that allow simultaneously using and charging a cell phone or tablet. This feature also is untested.
An easily resolved mishap roughly a week after setting up the BR1000MS relates to the aforementioned sitcom connection. It also is relevant regarding a non-fatal pet peeve with many APC products.
When setting up the BR1000MS, I plugged the laptop and a few other office items into some of the six combination battery and surge-protection outlets. These included a rarely used laser printer.
I was nearing the end of a long and frustrating day when I wanted to print something. I turned on the printer and almost immediately had my laptop, my monitor, and the printer shut down. I also experienced the BR1000MS beeping loudly, the status light going from green to red, and an "F02" error display.
Trying to restore the BR1000MS after unplugging it likely would have been easier had I followed the wise principle of RTFM. Instead, I simply disconnected the battery and then reconnected it.
I called APC tech. support, which has never failed me. The very nice and patient technician was extremely helpful and NEVER made me feel stupid.
He initially explained to me that my device was a 600-watt one that limited the total wattage of devices plugged into a battery/surge outlet to that amount. We determined that my laptop likely drew roughly 200 watts of power, and the tech. went above-and-beyond in looking up the specs. of my laser printer online. He stated that that device drew 525 watts when initially powered up.
We discussed that I incorrectly assumed that the physical size of a UPS always corresponded with its capability. The tech. noted that the next APC model up was an 810-watt UPS, which is the same physical size as the BR1000MS. He also stated that that one would better meet my needs.
Our conversation included the fact that most consumers are not adequately savvy to know the wattage of devices or which UPS best meets their needs.
This discussion evoked thoughts of a scene in an early episode of the '60scom "Green Acres," which revolves around transplanted (pun intended) New York lawyer Oliver Wendell Douglas and his not-so-bright socialite wife Lisa moving to the farming community of Hooterville.
The relevant "sit" that provides the "com" is that Oliver is explaining to Lisa that the generator that provides their dilapidated farmhouse electricity has a limit of seven. He then tells her the number of each kitchen appliance and states that she cannot simultaneously use any combination of these devices that exceeds seven. This leads to a comedic bit involving things such as being able to use the toaster and the coffee pot at the same time but not the dishwasher and the coffee pot, This culminates in an image of the generator harmlessly exploding.
This leads to the pet peeve related to APC; the not-so-fatal flaw of many devices from that company is that the number of battery/surge outlets often create a false expectation regarding the number of devices that you can plug into those outlets. In this case, the six such outlets in the BR1000MS would not allow for plugging in my laptop, my printer, and my monitor. This is not to mention the other four low-wattage items in my work area.
It seems that the BR1000MS back-up outlets can handle my laptop and monitor. That leaves four other outlets for five devices. Another perspective is that four battery/surge outlets are as useful as mammaries on a male bovine. HOWEVER, that imperfection should not preclude purchasing an APC device. It only requires being a little bit more savvy than you would be regarding most other purchases.
It sincerely is hoped that these thoughts are helpful. PLEASE leave any comments or questions below.
'That's Not Funny' Documentary: Study of Societal Shift From F**k 'Em If They Can't Take A Joke to F**ked If You Tell 'Em a Joke
The awesome recent award-winning documentary "That's Not Funny" by charming and highly knowledgeable die-hard comedy fan Mike Celestino is the perfect film for those of us who remember when people reasonably reacted to humor based on properly understanding the context of jokes. Simply using "blue" language in a controversial manner or mining humor from a subject that is very personal to some was inadequate to make you Public Enemy Number One in those good old days.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, expertly conveys the theme of "Funny" and provides a sense of the astonishing plethora of hilarious clips of comedy bits in the film.
The fact that your (occasionally) humble reviewer feels compelled to use asterisks regarding a word that every reader f**king well knows that he is using in the subheading of this post nicely illustrates the point of Celsetino in the film that he expertly narrates, writes, and directs and that he aptly describes as "a dead serious documentary about comedy."
As shown below, an even more relevant prediction from someone other than Celestino during the mid-90s is that the efforts in that era to unduly regulate Internet content included speculating that online references to a classic '60s sitcom would be to "The D**k Van D**e Show." This further illustrates the view of Celestino regarding the importance of understanding context.
Celestino nicely covers this form of undue censorship both with an overview of the uproar regarding the must-see Geoge Carlin "seven words you can't say on television" routine and the modern trend of using the term the "n word" in lieu of the word to which it refers.
The discussion of the former includes a clip of a wonderful early SNL skit from the good old days in which an interviewer whom Chevy Chase plays increasingly angers an interviewee whom Richard Pryor plays by using increasingly offensive racial terms.
A personal interest in "Funny" also extends to the sense of humor of your reviewer. One relevant example is stating on talking to friend within MINUTES of learning of the kidnapping of the school girls in Nigeria that a Nigerian prince had just emailed an offer to repay me with interest if I sent him money to pay the kidnappers ransom. I then added "too soon?" in making this joke.
My friend, who laughed and awesomely replied "its never too soon" understood one of the main points in "Funny;" humor must be understood in the context of the intent of the joke. It was clear in this case that the humor related to the flood of scam emails allegedly from African royalty, rather than the abduction of girls.
This example further demonstrates another well-presented point of Celestino; one must understand the REASONABLE sensitivities of the audience. I would not have told the joke to a friend or relative of a current or past captured girl.
Celestino starts this well-organized analysis of how comedy has reached the stage that folks with unduly sensitive natures regarding some topics are ruining it for the rest of us with a discussion of vaudeville and early films. This segment awesomely includes a hilarious skit from "The Dick Van Dyke Show" in which the titular star performs a bit in which he derives huge laughs from repeatedly injuring himself while presenting a lecture that praises modern audiences for evolving to the point of not laughing at the physical pain of others. Oh, Rob!
A portion of the extensive look at the broad range of humor directed at Adolph Hitler that is designed to make that record-breaking mass-murdering maniac (of course, that is just one opinion) seem less menacing illustrates that aspect of the power of laughter. (Celestino earns extra points for knowing of the one-episode Britcom "Heil Honey; I'm Home" that did not go further for obvious reasons. The annoying Jewish neighbors are heilarious.)
The personal note this time relates to making jokes in the wake of watching a documentary on Hitler relatives in the United States. One example of this is a wife in New Jersey telling an irate man who wants to call the Hitlers down the street after their dog poops in his yard that he must let it go.
A more "ripped from the headlines" topic in "Funny" is the deadly violent manner in which some Muslims react to someone merely depicting Muhammad in even a non-offensive manner. This "chapter" in the film focuses on the "South Park" treatment of this subject several years ago and includes the hilarious manner in which Trey Parker and Matt Stone ultimately end the story arc.
The scope of "Funny" also includes specific high-profile scandals related to comedians such as Michael Richards and Daniel Tosh who find themselves the subject of public scorn.
The most satisfying clip has the late great Joan Rivers expressing justifiable indignation in response to a heckler. Her stating that the offensive joke is funny and that an assumption of the audience member is inaccurate makes one watching "Funny" want to stand up and cheer.
Celestino ends all of this with a wonderful sitcom-style "this is what we learned" statement that is truly insightful and not at all sappy. One can only hope that this can lead to being able to joke about reporting a burned out light bulb in a Warsaw hotel to see how many people come to replace it without ultimately having to apologize for that remark.
The special features include interviews with Greg Proops and other notable comedians on the topics in "Funny." The following clip, again courtesy of YouTube, of an alternate trailer for the film is full of terrific segments from these discussions.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Funny" is strongly encouraged to emailme. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy. The message to offended readers who drop this site based on my humor is that I am sincerely sorry that I unintentionally offended you but do not apologize for what I wrote. I (and many others) consider it amusing and (presumably like Celestino) understand the intent and context regarding it
Writer/director Autumn McAlpin fully embraces the modern-woman girl-power of the 2016 "Ghostbusters" reboot with the July 12, 2019 theatrical/VOD/digital release of "Miss Arizona." Also, like "Ghostbusters," McAlpin pays wonderful homage to the past in a very woke fashion.
The first of a few asides is that the title of "Arizona" relates to a classic riddle. The question is "why was the Miss America pageant short a contestant?" The answer is "because no one wanted to be Miss Ida Ho."
The "elevator speech" recap of the ""Arizona" concept is that a former beauty queen turned trophy wife forms a sisterhood of the travelling misfits and learns the value of hos before bros.
The following YouTube clip of an "Arizona" trailer follows the same principle as the above synopsis. This promo. rapidly takes us through the entire movie and even briefly provides the life story of each major character.
The second aside in this post is that the always-amusing and often hilarious "Arizona" coming attraction honors the humor of the HILARIOUS nine-minute indie film "Trailer: The Movie" (2001). IMDb PERFECTLY describes that one as "when two filmmakers discover their blockbuster is really just a bust, they cut together every half-decent shot into a misleading trailer to dupe audiences and save their careers."
The traditional aspects of "Arizona" begin with this almost literally "day in the life of" film commencing with titular American beauty Rose (Johanna Braddy) waking up in bed next to negligent power-agent husband Rick (Kyle Howard). She then wakes up growing boy 10 year-old Sawyer and serves her men a delicious nutritious breakfast because their maid has the day off.
Rick heading off to New York to attend the Tonys, and Sawyer going to school ahead of a sleepover leaves Rose with an empty nest.
Our lady of leisure becomes a lady who lunches on Rick calling her to demand that she perform her corporate spouse duty. The aside this time is that your not-so-humble reviewer refers to this as Samantha Stephens duty without the fun of being able to turn the client into a monkey when asked to attend a corporate event.
Rose gathering with her fellow real housewives of Beverly Hills leads to her volunteering to teach a life-skills class at a women's shelter that afternoon. The ensuing unfortunate circumstances lead to the hilarity with a touch of "Orange is the New Black" that ensues in the film.
Rose arises to find male shelter manager Bigs largely indifferent to her presence. He offers this rich white lady (avec sash and tiara) who has always lead a privileged life minimal support in her effort to reach the down-and-out shelter residents. These folks on whom enlightenment is being forced are even less receptive.
The imminent arrival of an uninvited guest requires that the shelter residents run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. Car trouble leads to Rose becoming their chauffeur.
A chance encounter drives (no pun intended) the rest of the action. Shelter resident Leslie (Robyn Lively of "Teen Witch") sees the car of her husband at the home of his cousin. This is of particular interest because the husband is guilty of parental kidnapping, and Leslie does not know where he is keeping their offspring.
Subsequent subterfuge results in the group learning where the kids are stashed; the gig being up leads to a frantic car chase.
The type of treat that makes indie films so special follows when the women go to a police station for assistance. A cop played by master of deadpan Tom McLaren ("Expelled" and "All American Bikini Car Wash") is surprised to find a former acquaintance in the station waiting room. He gets good mileage from merely saying "You again? Keep you nose clean." and walking out before the woman can respond.
Rose discovering that she cannot rely on her friends and family leads to the closest homage of the entire film. She and her new friends find themselves in West Hollywood (aka WeHo) in desperate need of money.
Discovering a drag-queen contest leads to the Lucy and Ethel caliber crazy scheme of having the former Miss America contestant compete. One character aptly refers to the classic Julie Andrews cross-dressing period-piece comedy film "Victor"/"Victoria."
It seems that McAlpin has a "Must See" show in mind when taking the film in that direction. An episode of the '90scom "Wings," which revolves around two brothers operating a struggling commuter airline on Nantucket, finds one of the brothers and the "girl" to the "two guys" stranded in New York. Their solution is to have the woman compete in a drag contest so that they can get enough money to return to their island.
Personal experience shows that McAlpin is well-tuned into the drag-queen mentality. They generally are a vicious lot that equally steal the clothes almost literally off the back of the others and get very upset when that occurs. At the same time, some of these boys who put so much into their art can be the nicest people in the world.
Suffice it to say that a permed "Cher" out there does not take kindly to being mistaken for Fran Drescher, and that anyone should be cool with adoration that includes a kiss on the cheek from a nice queen.
Worlds collide and revelations are achieved during the contest. Finding out about the secret life of an acquaintance is another true-life aspect of this portion of "Arizona."
This long strange day and night ends with a neo-Hollywood ending that involves the standard unexpected angel as well as Rose getting her groove back.
Although largely presented as a feminist fable, the message of this movie that should appeal to everyone from their teens to their 80s comes from another classic film. Everyone of every gender and sexual orientation should be excellent to each other.
Warner Archive continues making the best movies of which you never heard available by releasing the 1932 thriller with social commentary "Roadhouse Murder" on DVD on June 11, 2019. Archive using the term "the deadly Dykes" in the back-cover synopsis enhances this joy.
The following YouTube clip of an Archive promo., for "Roadhouse" is of a pivotal sequence that wonderfully illustrates the vintage early talkie feel of this highly theatrical film. The flawed picture quality of this clip also highlights the much better images and sounds of the Archive DVD.
Like a full gamut of '30s films, our story begins in the bullpen of a newspaper; in this case, a disgruntled veteran reporter is expressing his job dissatisfaction in strong language for films of that era, We soon see the basis for those sentiments.
The toxic editor who inspires the ill will subsequently turns his wrath on cub reporter Charles "Chick" Brian. Chick does good by catching a loose woman red-handed with hot ice and by getting a photo of her in literal hot water. This dame having a friend in a high place kills both the story and the immediate potential for Chick to advance his career.
This blow prompts Chick to take secret girlfriend Mary Agnew, who is the daughter of homicide Inspector William Agnew, for a ride in the country, Things take a combined "It Happened One Night" and "Scooby-Doo" turn when a sudden deluge requires that this unmarried couple without any physical baggage take shelter at The Lame Dog Inn. The manner in which the innkeeper takes advantage of the assumed vulnerability of these guests is a "Roadhouse" highlight.
Things going bump in the night lead to our nice young people discovering the titular crime and knowing whodunit.
Rather than immediately finger the perps, Chick decides to frame himself with the idea that his story literally will be front-page news. The rest of this career-advancement plan involves entrusting Mary, whose name literally is kept out of the papers, with a figurative smoking gun. The rest of her job is to produce this compelling evidence before Chick becomes a permanent guest of the state.
"Roadhouse" then uses a technically advanced method for the era in a variation of using shots of newspaper headlines as an exposition device. This clearly shows Chick is both the story and the author of his tale.
The honeymoon ends on Chick being caught in the worst place at the worst time. This leads to the climatic courtroom scene that seems mandatory for most Golden Age films of every genre. A nice twist ensues courtesy of a chain-of-custody issue requiring that Mary (with help from Dad) does more than just stand by her man.
More fun comes via the cynicism that pervades "Roadhouse" creating the possibility that truth, justice, and the American way will not prevail.
The scoop regarding all this is that "Roadhouse" reminds us of the era in which even B-movies have strong merits.
Aside from the awesomely juvenile premise, the greatest thing about the book "The Finger: A Comprehensive Guide to Flipping Off" is that it is a reality after a presumably drunken evening during which the co-authors think to document the history and every other aspect of an act in which most of us engage to varying degrees. The best way to describe the appeal of the book is that those of us in 90 percent in the general population who have extended said digit in the face of an offensive individual say that we find it immensely satisfying; the other 10 percent are liars.
This tome with a nifty lenticular image of the titular act presumably graces the shelves of some Spencer's Gifts; it definitely is available through a Seattle-based online retailer that both shall remain nameless and deserves to be the frequent recipient of the gesture around which the book is centered.
One can further speculate that real-life Greendale College (or Grant College for children of the '80s) Evergreen State College either has or will offer a course based on this book. If so, attending the final exam is worth flying to Washington state.
The heavily (and hilariously) illustrated book begins with an overview of the subject and goes on to discuss the centuries-old origin of the gesture that modern society knows and loves. This portion of the book also dispels a long-standing myth regarding the topic.
One of many notable elements of "The Finger" is documentation of covert use of this form of communication; this includes a photo of a 19th century team photo and a propaganda image that demonstrates that POWs remain loyal to truth, justice, and the American way.
We further see photographic proof that puttin' on the Ritz is not the only activity of Rockefellers and other household names. The context of the latter often involves paparazzi or the heat of a sports competition.
Wonderful humor relates to an extensive section on foreign variations of hand gestures that express great disdain; beyond being informative and entertaining, this provides a chance to enhance travel experiences with plausible deniability in the form of being a stupid American who alleges that he (or she) knows not of which he (or she) expresses.
A related portion of "Finger" addresses variations of the American method for indicating that someone is "Number One." This extends well beyond the "I'll turn up the volume" technique that the book reminds us that the '80s film "The Breakfast Club" highlights. (A personal variation from high school days is the quilt-o-gram in which the gesturer is shrouded in a blanket and tells the offensive peer that he or she has a special message before turning to that individual and delivering the communication.)
The authors add genuine substance regarding covering legal proceedings surrounding the making of the gesture (almost always involving a driving incident and often having an element of interaction with a law-enforcement official.) The gist of this is that said gesture MOSTLY does not violate obscenity laws and OFTEN receives protection under freedom-of-expression principles. However the wisdom related to an abundance of caution suggests not doing the crime unless you are willing to do the time.
A desire to not further run the risk of a reader vigorously extending his or her offensive digit at his or her screen regarding spoilers as to this book is prompting concluding this review with a hearty endorsement of it.
Warner Archive once again shows its perfect instincts by releasing the crystal-clear (bordering on 4K quality) Blu-ray of the 1980 Clint Eastwood comedy "Bronco Billy" on July 9, 2019. Summertime is the season of tacky lowest-common-denominator attractions such as the failing Wild West Show that the titular urban cowboy (Eastwood) is hoping to keep afloat.
The bigger picture this time is that "Billy" perfectly reflects the films of Eastwood before he turns auteur by directing films such as "Bird" and "The Bridges of Madison County." "Billy" comes in the era in which Eastwood moves from the spaghetti westerns that solidify him as a household name to the time in which he makes the Dirty Harry films and the lowest of the low-brow comedies "Every Which Way You Can" franchise. All this is decades before he talks to the invisible man at the Republican Convention.
The final piece of this puzzle is that reel- and real-life Eastwood leading lady Sondra Locke plays "Billy" love interest heiress experiencing a reversal-of-fortune Antoinette Lily (a.k.a. Miss Ida Ho).
The following standard-def. '70slicious trailer of "Billy" highlights the almost literal night-and-day difference between the theatrical presentation of the film and the Blu-ray. The contrast between the washed-up red of the convertible of Billy and the bright and shiny showroom red of the one in the Archive version is incredible. This is not to mention the numerous era-specific elements that include this promo. featuring Scatman Crothers ("Chico and the Man" and "Hong Kong Phooey") as sidekick/sage Doc Lynch.
The melange of westerns and "Loose" relates to Billy struggling to keep his oh-so-cheesy wild west show going. The early scenes of acts such as Chief Big Eagle (Dan Vadis) doing a rattle-snake dance and a seemingly all-American boy doing rope trips while dressed as an insurance salesman on vacation at a dude ranch provide the picture.
The rest of this part of the story is that we see Billy showing off his riding, shooting, and knife-throwing skills. He does this with the help of the latest in a long string of lovely assistants/bimbos.
Meanwhile off the reservation, Antoinette crosses paths with Billy at an Idaho city hall. He is buying a permit so the show can go, and she is about to marry wimpy John Arlington (Geoffrey Lewis) so that she can inherit a fortune and he can be a kept (but sexually frustrated) man. John indisputable gets the best line in the film as to his being denied any semblance of marital bliss.
A very light "Harry" element enters the picture when Antoinette discovers on awakening the morning after her nuptials that the honeymoon is over. John and all of her money are gone. This ultimately leads to the evil stepmother and the family attorney conspiring to convince John to confess to murdering Antoinette. The compensation for this unfortunate incarceration is $500,000.
Worlds collide when the desperate but not serious status of Antoinette leads to this New York socialite joining the motley crew of Billy. Her rude awakening this time involves quickly learning the variation of the ass, gas, or grass principle that Billy enforces as to the caravan that brings his group from town to town. It does take awhile for the kisses of Billy to drive Antoinette delirious.
"Harry" also enters the picture when a night out at a redneck bar goes Big Dan's with respect to Antoinette and leads to Billy also having to rescue the aforementioned boy-next-door on learning that he is on the run from the law. This leads s to a "Smokey and the Bandit" style showdown that it is a "Billy" highlight.
A subsequent surprise family reunion leads to more trauma and drama; this leads to a celebration of truth, justice, and the American way.
The strong appeal of all this begins with Eastwood obviously fully embracing this role that perfectly reflects his career. We also see how this spirit (and the associated '70s "free to be you and me" philosophy) permeates the film that we badly need in our hostile dystopian present.
Mill Creek Entertainment continues to celebrate the spirit of summer camp by adding a spectacularly remastered Blu-ray release of the 2003 made-for-TV movie "The Stranger Beside Me: The Ted Bundy Story" to a plethora of cheesetastic recent home-video releases. The "I Heart the '90s" offshoot of the equally good "Retro VHS" series from MCE is a prime example of this.
The only fault in "Stranger" is not in stars Billy Campbell and Barbara Hershey ("Beaches") or the good production. The not-so-fatal flaw is with the source material in the form of the 1980 true-crime bestseller of the same name by Ann Rule. The fact that the full name of "Strangers" begins with "Ann Rule Presents" further illustrates this annoying (and arguably unprofessional) approach to the subject. Bundy (Campbell), not Rule (Hershey), is the real star, This is especially so considering that Rule is slow on the uptake regarding the hobby of her pal.
Like many other successful biopics, "Stranger" acknowledges that most viewers already know the story and are interested in supplementing our knowledge. Thus, rather than starting at the beginning, "Stranger" commences with Bundy being pulled over in a 1978 traffic stop in Florida that both he and the majority of the viewers know will not end well for him,
Bundy then uses his one telephone call to phone a friend by reaching out and touching Rule, who is in Seattle. The action then shifts back to 1971 and Bundy and Rule working together on a suicide-prevention hotline. The good part of that scene relates to it illustrating the charm of Bundy that is an asset regarding his hobby; the bad part is that this also is used to provide exposition regarding former cop Rule being an insightful and talented true-crime reporter.
Worlds soon collide as a series of girls going missing and/or being found dead prompts Rule to take a hard-line with her teen daughter. We also see Rule offhandedly note that the evidence could point to Ted as the perpetrator.
The rest of this part of the story is that Bundy is involved in a serious romantic relationship and is preparing to move to Utah to attend law school. The lesson here is the common one that we and our significant others do not show our crazy until a ring is put on it.
This narrative continues with Bundy putting his intellect and his aforementioned charm to good use in luring his victims via a variation on the perverse tactic of child molesters getting their victims to look for a non-existent lost puppy. Another difference is that big girls are the ones in peril in this case.
We ultimately catch up with the present as law-enforcement co-operation leads to connecting Bundy with several murders in multiple states. Highlight in this portion of "Stranger" include Bundy aptly using the cunning of a zoo animal in an effort to no longer be a guest of the State.
Watching Bundy present his own defense at his murder trial provides reason to doubt the validity of the Twain expression that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client. The related admiration of the judge for the courtroom skill of Bundy is another good twist.
This portion of the film further focuses on the cult-style celebrity status that Bundy achieves. It seems that the popularity of this guy is not so far from the level of fandom that the Beatles achieve in their prime.
"Stranger" further is due credit for pulling one more rabbit out of the hat near the end. We learn that there was cause for early intervention that might have produced a more favorable outcome for all than how things worked out,
The bigger picture is that "Stranger" provides especially good hot-weather fun by reminding us that stories that show that truth is stranger than fiction provide excellent fodder for broadcast and basic-cable networks.
The devotion of Warner Archive to the full gamut of films and television from the sublime to the ridiculous (and the ridiculously sublime) makes its June 25, 2019 DVD release of the 2015 documentary "The Madness of Max" a perfect addition to the Archive catalog. This epic 157-minute film is a raucous detailed homage to the 1979 cult-classic "Mad Max." As "Madness" states a few times, several have tried to emulated that post-apocalyptic action-adventure film but have not matched it.
Much of the fun of "Madness" includes filmmakers Gary McFeat and Tim Ridge bringing "Max" star Mel Gibson and the rest of the band back together. This includes the "roadies" including writer/director George Miller. Writer/producer Byron Kennedy died in an accident on July 17, 1983 but is represented in archival interviews and by his parents.
A related note is that McFeat effectively takes an almost pure cinema-verite approach to his subject. He lets his "cast of thousands" directly tell their stories, interspersed with film clips and behind-the-scenes footage. The overall effective is of an exceptionally detailed audio-commentary of "Max."
The bigger picture this time is that "Madness" chronicles the making of a film from concept, to revised concept, to production, to release, to the response of critics and the general public, to the legacy of the movie.
Both of our stories begin with Miller and Kenendy telling how personal experience inspires the original concept of a film about things getting personal for a present-day cop; this leads to the idea of enhancing the story and setting in an not-too-distant post-apocalyptic future. Ironically, the rest is history.
Although Gibson offers a significant amount of insight. "Madness" shares the wealth regarding the focus on the cast. One of the more interesting stories is the strong cred. of Hugh Kaays-Byrne (who appears in "Madness"), who plays crazed nemesis Toecutter.
Much of "Madness" focuses on the Dartmouth fratboy attitude that permeates the actual making of the film; we see how Byrne and the actors who play his biker gang fully go method to a scary extent. Highlight (no pun intended) include pinning real human hair to threatening notes and using blood as an ink to express their feelings about "The Bronze," aka the pigs.
One of the most insightful comments refers to the tremendous fun of watching the cast and the crew create exhilarating special effects on a high-school musical budget. The relevant remark is that most movies get to do 32 takes when filming a scene, and that "Max" gets one bite at the apple. This relates to the memory of the 32 takes coming while writing the script, which includes every camera angle.
One of the best stories in "Madness" ties together every great element of both that documentary and its subject. We hear the full story of the filming of a scene involving a rocket car. This includes both the lesson that it never hurts to ask and insight regarding the fallout from a stunt gone wrong.
We subsequently hear about how an angel at Warner International helps "Max" reach a wide audience; this leads to an awesome reminder that spreading the word about the latest cool thing does not require social media. A related note is the amusing reminder that a restrictive film rating can be interpreted as a guarantee of the true gen.
The fun wraps up with the supporting cast telling of fans still approaching them about "Max." Their embracing such contacts reinforces that they had the time of their lives making the film.
The fun for fans of "Max" and even folks who have never seen it extends beyond sharing in the glee of the product of guys gone wild; we get a great reminder of what can happen when actors fully check their egos at the door and will VOLUNTEER to do everything necessary to make the movie. This is not to mention that producing good effects requires more brains than bucks and is possible without the benefit of CGI. Old-school folks know that live always is better than Memorex.
Mill Creek Entertainment chooses well in releasing the phenomenal 4K version of the spectacular 2002 IMAX documentary "Space Station" on July 9, 2019. This celebration of the American ideal is very apt for the July 4 period. Having American idol "Born on the Fourth of July" star Tom Cruise narrate the film is the icing on the cake.
MCE kindly includes a Blu-ray version of "Station" for folks who do not have a 4K player.
Additionally, "Station" is a perfect follow-up to the (reviewed) December 2018 MCE 4K+Blu-Ray+Digital release of the equally epic documentary "Beautiful Planet," which shows earth from the perspective of the ISS. Both films are from highly talented director Toni Myers.
The following YouTube clip of a "Station" trailer offers a good sense of the film achieving the documentary ideal of being equally entertaining and educational.
The expectations exceeding elements begin with the opening scenes and continue to the final seconds. The first images are of a CGI operation on the space station; this technology being standard for IMAX films such as "Station" does not make this segment surprising, The twist comes on learning that we are watching an astronaut on earth using a highly advanced simulator.
Cruise and Myers then fully collaborate in showing us how future ISS residents use an enormous water tank on earth to simulate the conditions under which they will need to join two large key components of the station way up in the atmosphere before they try to get back to here, We clearly see regarding this that practice must make perfect,
The indisputably best shot of "Station" soon follows. Myers gets a very dramatic shot of the lift-off of the rocket that transports the construction crew to the partially completed ISS. Although the entire film makes you feel as if "you are there," these images and sounds particularly provide a sense of being front-and-center for the action.
The action then shifts to the ISS, where we see the men and women at work. We witness some of the construction for which we saw the crew prepare on earth. We also see the related fun and challenges associated with brushing your teeth and performing other daily activities in a zero-gravity environment. Those of us with TMI regarding the water supply on the station have a bonus ick factor. Suffice it to say that the ISS engineers seem to be fans of the Kevin Costner film "Waterworld."
An especially cute scene shows both ends of the conversation in which the crew uses a ham radio to answer questions from a group of elementary school students. The kids do not say the darnedst things but still entertain.
One of the biggest takeaways from this depiction of this successful international project is the observation that one does not see countries from space. All of us should take that message to heart.
The special features maintain the same high standards as those of "Station."
"Adventures in Space" is a delightful short in which Myers, the ISS crew, and representatives from NASA and Lockheed Martin discuss the fun and the challenges of this labor of love. These include the crew using the ingenuity for which they get the mediocre bucks to overcome obstacles related to filming in space.
"Expedition 7" has the titular crew host an open house at their home away from home; this tour awesomely expands on "Station"and "Adventures." The new information includes the challenge of sleeping in an environment in which your hand floats unless tethered down.
The appeal of every film mentioned here is that they put life on earth in perspective and show what we can accomplish when we opt to all just get along.
The Breaking Glass Pictures June 18, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 "coming-of-age age war musical" period piece "Kanarie" fully demonstrates the regard of Breaking for the spirits of both Pride and the '80s. The film also shows that not learning the lessons of apartheid and government-condoned homophobia back them are condemning us to repeat aspects of both 35 years later.
The following YouTube clip of a "Kanarie" trailer does just as well highlighting all of the three seemingly incompatible elements of the film as writer/director Christiaan Olwagen does blending them.
"Kanarie" opens on a high note; 18 year-old Johan is having great fun wearing a wedding gown and clowning around with his sister. This glee leads to a dare for Johan to walk down the street of his small conservative town in that garb. The rest of the story is that the parents of that excitable boy/fan of Boy George and Depeche Mode are prominent pillars of the community.
All starts out well and leads to one of a few fantasy musical numbers that are straight out of the MTV of the era. Things come crashing down in a way to which all of us who have shed off our repressions and expressed pure joy only to have the real world provide an abrupt rude awakening can relate.
The expression "out the frying pan, into the fire" is very apt regarding the news that awaits Johan on his return from his walk-of-shame. He learns that his number has come up and that he must enter the South African army for his two years of service. The rest of the story is that this is an era in which the actual battle regarding apartheid is at a peak.
Johan receives less-than-anticipated relief when his musical talents earn him a spot in the titular South African Defense Forces Church Choir. That group travels around performing for the folks back home. The rude awakening this time is that the military is very effective at reminding the songbirds that they still are soldiers.
The next scenes evoke strong thoughts of the 1988 Neil Simon semi-autobiographical non-musical war movie "Biloxi Blues." That film has Brooklyn draftee Jerome (Matthew Broderick) traveling to the titular Southern city for basic training before being shipped off to show Mr. Hitler that the nephews of Uncle Sam have something to say about how The Little Corporal is running things.
Like Jerome, Johan boards a train for his first military home away from home. Both boys also travel with those who at least will be near (if not dear) to them for the foreseeable future. In the case of Jerome, this is rotund high-voiced hyper-active (queen?) Ludolf and their (not-so-little) corporal, whose behavior screams for him to become a victim of friendly fire.
One difference is that Johan and his band (pun intended) of brothers is headed to the Valhalla Air Force Base in Swartkop.
Beyond that, the similarities between "Biloxi" and "Kanarie" are so strong that one must think about whether come elements are from the former or the latter. An example of this is a white soldier in "Biloxi" concealing that one of his parents is black. Another "Biloxi" scene has two gay soldiers getting caught in the act prompting a witch hunt.
Johan and Ludolf soon meet and bond with Wolfgang Muller, who shares the enthusiasm of Johan for the pop music of the day.
Much of the good humor of "Kanarie" comes courtesy of scenes with the stereotypical host families with whom they stay while on tour. These include a motherly type and a Mrs. Robinson who clumsily tries to seduce the lads.
It is during this period that Johan and Wolfgang truly become brothers at arms. The problem is that Johan is uncomfortable about even accepting (let alone embracing) that he is gay. He puts this in the context that Boy George is keeping at least one foot in the closet.
Of course, all this leads to final act drama as Johan faces the dual pressures of being in the military and singing in a church choir. The means by which he receives at least a quantum of solace shows that there was more enlightenment than generally considered in the mid-80s.
The bigger (and highly relatable) picture this time is that virtually all of us experience a first or second coming-of-age on concluding our high-school career. We experience the larger world by entering college, enlisting in the military, or immediately becoming a wage slave. The common lessons that come with these experiences is that we must adapt or perish and that that does not always come with the luxury of to thine own selves be true.
Olwagen nicely expresses the times that are a changing in the South African in the '70s and '80s and what makes his characters from that era tick in an insightful DVD extra, This feature also provides good behind-the-scenes secrets.