The Dekkoo Films August 28, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 gay-themed thriller "The Year I Lost My Mind" (nee "Jahr des Tigers" from writer-director Tor Iben provides a good chance to add a mildly erotic Hitchcockian thriller to your Halloween season viewing schedule.
"Mind" is the first (but definitely will not be the last) feature film for Alexander Tsypilev who plays a literal peeping Tom. We meet this excitable 20ish boy buying a mask for a presumably nefarious purpose and soon learn that his preliminary objective is freaking out his sister on returning to the home that they share with their mother. We almost as soon discover that Mom is indulgent of Tom largely based on her understanding that he is not like other boys.
The real fun (and Hitchcockian element) begins when Tom and his partner-in-crime commit a daytime break-in of the apartment of studly 20-something gay-studies professor Lars. The kicker is that Lars (who apparently is a comatose sleeper) is taking a cat nap during this homo invasion and never wakes up. This encounter immediately triggers an obsession for Tom.
The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Mind" provides a strong sense of the character study aspect, obsession, and overall suspense of the film.
The Hitchcockian vibe begins with the threat hitting close to home rather than the spooky isolated house. That setting and the related sense that someone has been in your home contribute to the familiar angst. We also get the element of fixation/obsession for which Hitch is famous. This is not to mention the building suspense that leads to the climax (no pun intended). One spoiler is that the outcome is not one that would ever enter the mind of notorious (pun intended) womanizer Hitchcock.
Another twist on Hitchcock is that Tom regularly returns to the scene of the crime both when sound-sleeper Lars is home and is away. Meanwhile, Lars gets direct and indirect evidence that a Goldilocks comes into his home while he is away. Those of us who have had a sniff-freak roommate can relate to Lars being perplexed regarding his underwear disappearing.
Ala Hitchcock and filmmmakers who emulate him, Iben has Lars almost catch Tom red handed. One twist is that it Tom likely fantasizes about being caught with his pants down but is unsure how Lars would react to finding him in that state.
One of a handful of inevitable outcomes commences with Lars literally and figuratively waking up and Tom being the one who gets away. This leads to Lars commencing a manhunt that concludes with deliverance. The lesson here is that boys will be boys.
An equally compelling portent revolves around Tom haunting a very busy wooded gay cruising area where he alternates between being the hunter and the prey; this setting also is one of two in which he acts on his deepest desire. The surreal elements of the trips into the woods are a highlight.
Much of the depth comes from the symbolic aspect of the masks, other psychological elements, and Lars providing gay-history tidbits. This is not to mention the depiction of male aggression being tied into sexual desire.
All of this amounts to a film that supports the theory that the erotic aspects of any movie typically have a converse relationship with the quality and depth of the film. "Mind" additionally successfully fuels paranoia related to losing intimate apparel and being sure that a personal item is someplace other than its prior location.
'To Auschwitz & Back: The Joe Engel Story' DVD: Holocaust Survivor Shows Importance of 'Never Forget'
Dreamscape Media and the Holocaust Education Film Foundation teaming up to release the documentary "To Auschwitz and Back: The Joe Engel Story" demonstrates an admirable commitment to record the stories of Holocaust survivors before even more of them pass away. Engel is a 90 year-old long-time resident of Charleston, South Carolina.
"Auschwitz” opens on the surprisingly upbeat note of photos of a ceremony marking the naming of a Charleston Street for Engel. The focus then shifts to Engel and his nephew/surrogate son beginning the narration of the story of Engel during the World War II era. This story begins with the early childhood of Engel, his life in the Warsw ghetto, and his subsequent time in a concentration camp. We also learn how he comes to live in Charleston.
An amazing aspect of this is the archival footage that it is difficult to believe that Hitler considers positive propaganda. These images from the camps and of Nazi soldiers enjoying their work are among the worst that have been released.
The stories that Engel shares from his time in the camps includes an incident in which the guards are cruel just to be mean; we also get stomach-turning stories regarding the overcrowding.
Engel further tells us of his contributions to the war effort in the period after leaving the camp. Learning of a sanctioned "Purge" style night of wilding is very surprising.
Seeing the dedication of the nephew to his uncle is very nice; this includes a highly symbolic act that is virtually irreversible,
The entire film goes beyond putting a personal face on the Holocaust. We get detailed insight that literally goes from the beginning of the genocide to the present.
The bonus material includes two separate films that solely consist of distressing archival footage of Auschwitz and of the Warsaw ghetto.
The Breaking Glass Pictures August 14, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 coming-of-age drama "Porcupine Lake" honors the spirit of equal time. This tale of big-city awkward tween Bea spending the summer near the titular body of water in rural Canada and entering an "its complicated" relationship with local girl Kate is a variation of the coming-of-age of a questioning boy bonding with a guy who is more sure about himself.
The following YouTube video of the Breaking trailer for "Lake" fully conveys the indie spirit and the new love vibe of the film.
Our story begins with Bea and her school-teacher mother arriving at the gas-station/diner that her father is running in the wake of inheriting it from his father. It seems that the family is reunited for the summer several months after Dad moves from Toronto to fulfill his family duty. Ambiguity regarding the level of estrangement between Mom and Dad is an intriguing element of the film.
Middle-class Bea literally soon catches the eye of upper-lower-middle-class Kate, who quickly makes a move on her future summer friend with possible benefits. Kate definitely is the aggressor in this relationship. It is equally clear that she is more developed on every level than Kate.
The primary focus is on this vacation romance in which Bea sells cheap trinkets outside the diner and Kate deals with her somewhat shameless family that includes aptly named teen stud Romeo. This playah does not let being a baby daddy affect his dating life.
Although the girls dream of a life together, Bea is more realistic than Kate. It is interesting that the fantasy of the local girl essentially includes a life of luxury in Westchester with her math teacher.
Writer/director Ingrid Venninger shows throughout "Lake" that she knows of which she writes; this is particularly true in separate scenes in which Bea expresses the extent to which she will go to be with Kate and Kate makes a heart-breaking breaking effort to escape her environment.
As indicated above, one of the nicest things about "Lake" is that is shows that both boys and girls do cry. One apparent difference is that boys who like other other dudes are much less comfortable acting on it and definitely are more reticent about activity that indicates that the opposite sex does not interest them.
The feature-length "making-of" documentary "The Other Side of Porcupine Lake" shows the love of Venniger for the project and the support of Breaking for the production. Getting to see every aspect of making this shot-on-location film that features locals with no acting experience is fascinating.
It is equally interesting to see multiple thespians audition for the primary roles. Although most hopefuls do a good job, one can easily understand the casting decisions. Seeing the actor who plays "Dad" with a significantly different look provides further entertainment.
One highlight is watching Veninger first find and then arrange to use one building for "Lake." The most fun comes on seeing a presumable prod. ass. literally strip down and take one for the team as Veninger puts him through his paces.
The other extras consist of additional audition footage and separate cast and crew interviews. The enthusiasm of the kids is fun.
The Monarch Home Entertainment October 9, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 horror film "3rd Night" provides a good chance to add diversity to your horror films collection. One notable element is aptly named writer/director Adam Gravely engaging in laudable nepotism regarding casting. This is not to mention Gravely putting his skill as a master of shadows to good use.
The underlying concept succeeds because it reflects relatable fears and stereotypes. This includes reflecting how anyone who has bought or sold a house feels about realtors. One hint is that this scum-of-the-earth makes used-car dealers seem like model citizens.
"Night" opens with (presumably) urban transplants Meagan and Jonathan Reid moving to an apple orchard in rural Australia. Their relationship already being strained meets one prerequisite for this type of film. Their beloved cat Nook quickly going missing checks another box.
Veterans of this type of horror film (and of "Scooby-Doo") can deduce that creepy local Cambo is not the one actively menacing the outwardly nice young couple. Abused young-teen Cambo son Rex adds an interesting element to the film.
As typically is the case, Meagan recognizes the danger that the couple is facing more quickly than Jonathan. This includes repeatedly believing that someone is watching them from their yard. The first creepy (and prophetic) note help make the man of the house a believer.
As the title suggests, all Hell breaks loose on the third night that the Reids are in their new home. Of course, this involves Cambo getting the worst of it in a few ways and at least one Reid being knocked unconscious. The surprises come with nice variations on the old psycho killer in the back seat trick. We also get good humor related to the tech. in the SUV of the couple.
As indicated above, the effectiveness of "Night" includes centering the movie around real fears. This starts with rarely knowing the history of your new home when you buy a house. An aspect of this is having little (if any) way of knowing the extent to which someone is obsessed with the property or (in rarer cases) is still living there,
Currently owning a house that the seller still drives by to check out things years later and repeatedly refers to a "time capsule" that he states that I will never find provides personal perspective regarding this. A spoiler is that needing to replace a drop-down ceiling in the basement revealed the family papers (now landfill) that comprise the capsule.
Graveley ups his game by including the element of the conflict associated with city slickers invading the territory of hicks; this concept is the stuff of which countless television and film comedies and dramas are made. Putting people from vastly different environments in the same space has plenty of potential minimally for tears and recriminations.
The third element of this concept is anyone living in an isolated environment. Once again, reel and real-life repeatedly prove that folks whom no one would hear scream are particularly easy prey who literally or figuratively kill people just to see them die.
Also as mentioned above, this blending of horror elements makes it a good choice for inclusion of an indie psychological thriller to your scary movie marathon.
The rarity regarding Breaking Glass Pictures breaking from an awesome tradition of releasing DVDs of (oft gay-themed and regularly explicit) edgy fare greatly adds to the enjoyment of these forays into Disney Channel Land. A prior example of this is the (reviewed) DVD release of "In the Doghouse" about two Disney Channel central-casting kids sabotaging a relationship of their divorced mother.
The latest addition to the virtual Family section of the Breaking catalog is the release of the 2017 scifi film "Watch the Sky." This literal day in the life story centers around a science experiment of tween aspiring astronomer Shawn. The parallels with the 1997 Jodie Foster/Matthew McConaughey scifi film "Contact" based on the Carl Sagan novel of the same name contribute additional enjoyment.
The day starts with Shawn dashing out of the (presumably) Midwest home of his father, who is the sheriff, to meet college-aged brother Michael out front. The first bit of inadvertent humor related to beyond Disney wholesome Michael is his comment that he is happily sacrificing a wild Spring Break to help Shawn. This leads to Michael indicating that a "welcome home" party in his honor will be a wild free-for-all. Hearing him then lament losing out on an opportunity to "get laid" is equally amusing.
The first sad truth is that not making the party almost certainly is no great loss. The second rude awakening is that Michael should not count on sexual release that differs from the solo activity in which he mostly likely engages when he (almost definitely mistakenly) thinks that his college roommate is asleep,
Meanwhile back at the ranch, a regularly bickering older couple arrives home to find a cow dead from what seems to be unnatural causes. The quickly revealed murder weapon pays homage to classic scifi horror; this leads to "The Tall Man" dragging the husband out into crop circle central and the wife experiencing tremendous physical and emotional distress.
Sheriff Dad, his "Barney Fife" caliber deputy, and Firefighter/EMT Uncle literally and figuratively enter the scene on the report of the incident. They soon learn that the cattle mutilation is not an isolated incident and that Tall Man most likely is not a local.
This roughly coincides with Shawn and his lab assistant/bitch Michael launching a weather balloon with an attached camera capable of broadcasting a signal. The goal is for the camera to reach the inner border of outer space and record what it sees. Post-launch the bros without hos are hanging out in and bonding in a manner that goes well beyond the interaction between Wally and Beaver Cleaver, They also literally are waiting for their balloon to land.
Initial excitement regarding the first images from the camera turns to fear as the boys well outside the 'hood discover that their tech. is in a high-use flight path. The lads referring to the threat of "butt probes" in the wake of that close encounter is further proof of the wholesome nature of "Sky."
Things rapidly escalate on all levels as the adults have a close encounter with the stereotypical military folks and the aliens step up their game, One spoiler is that the brothers are subject to a form of probing.
All of this ends on notes that leave us wanting more; the incredible promise for the next chapter in the story includes whether Shawn ends up with a seat at the table or on a plate on top of it.
The Dekkoo Films July 31, 2018 DVD release of their eponymous LGBTQ streaming service web series "Paper Boys" further proves that their boys fully understand the mind of the modern gay man (and boy). Copying reviews of past great Dekkoo reviews of their fare from Unreal TV 1.0 to this site is a summer homework assignment.
The first sign that "Boys" and (Dekkoo) is a cut above the competition is an early scene in which a random boy coming across 20-something artist Cole stripped to his designer briefs in the course of changing clothes in an airport bathroom does not lead to a wham, bam, thanks dude encounter. Cole is newly arrived in San Francisco from New York and is freshening up for a job interview.
The impetus for the trip is a party celebrating the engagement of best friend Daren to Rebecca. This "happy" couple is putting Cole up on an air mattress in the living room.
The drama begins with Daren soon confessing to Cole that the engagement is a mistake and strongly indicating that he would like an out (mostly likely in more than one way). A more direct form of fantasy soon enters the picture (pun intended) on Cole discovering that his sketchbook is enchanted. This bewitching activity is in the form of everything that Cole draws coming true. The best scenes involve he and Daren testing that power.
Additional homolicious drama is in the form Cole confessing that he is a potentially long-term house guest as part of an arguably extreme effort to avoid his New York summer boyfriend Max. Subsequently running into Max in San Francisco teaches Cole that fleeing the scene of the crime is not always the most effective exit strategy.
This leads to Coren visiting the apartment of Max and his roommate Kalvin. Kalvin and Daren spending an entire party bonding in the bedroom of Kalven provides an additional indication that Daren is realizing that he likes boys better the girls. Dekkoo further shows its quality in this regard by not having this outwardly straight guy engage in drunken or otherwise spontaneous sex with either Kalvin or Cole.
The drama amps up on the truth (if not Daren) coming out, This occurring in one of the worst possible ways is very true to a Millennial sensibility. The roughly final third of the series addresses the fall out, which includes the impact of the relationship between Cole and Daren.
Aside from having a likable and attractive cast tell an interesting story with a fun touch of magic, "Boys" is notable for its 21st century morals. One aspect of the enhanced acceptance and legal rights that gay men have is that that opens the door for men who view themselves as straight to at least take the field with the other team every so often. This relates to seeing that the grass is pretty green on that side of the fence and having greater freedom to at least discuss exploring options.
An associated theme is the greater opportunity to take a relationship with a close male friend to a more intimate level; that guy being openly gay increases the chances of an actual bromance. The potential pitfall being that what is experimentation and fun and games to the rookie often means at least a little more to the veteran pitcher or catcher.
Dekkoo enhances the experience of the show with a special feature that likable and attractive producer/director/writer Curtis Casella hosts. Among other things, Casella shows us alternative scenes and explains why they end up on the cutting room floor.
The Film Movement October 2, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Elena Ferrante on Film" is notable for bringing North America film adaptations of two of the four novels of the Neapolitan Quartet by the titular author. We do not get a movie version of My Brilliant Friend but do see The Days of Abandonment (2005) and Troubling Love (1995). Love is the first book in the quartet. and Days is the second.
The beautiful Italian scenery and vibrant colors of the city life in both "Days," which aired at the Venice Film Festival, and Cannes selection "Love" look and sound spectacular in Blu-ray. The accolades for "Days" include the 2006 Golden Globe Italy awards for Best Screenplay and for recognition of the performance of Olga portrayor Margherita Buy. The astounding 17 awards for "Love" reflect the quality of that film.
An amusing aspect of "Days" involves a pre-viewing joke about an overwrought scene involving the dialogue "Marcello you dirty bastard and your filthy whore." It turns out that this film about Mario unexpectedly and rapidly leaving wife Olga and their two children has a moment that is very close to that prediction. Olga is on the street when she sees Mario and his trophy squeeze; this leads to confronting the couple and forcibly removing a family heirloom from the aforementioned skank.
"Days" begins with Olga believing that she and Mario have a happy marriage; they are enjoying a day out with the kids and the family dog Otto. Olga also dismisses the concern of a friend that Mario is the next target of the local slut. It turns out that both women are partially correct.
People in committed relationships all over the world can relate to Mario subsequently sitting Olga down and telling her that he is immediately leaving her to develop a better understanding of self. This leads to Olga becoming a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown,
The global relatability of "Days" continues with Olga treating every rain that we all experience in life as if it is a monsoon; she is equally predictable regarding acts such as searching for the new home of Mario. The real drama and trauma enters in the form of Olga going off the rails regarding acts that include reflecting her own psyche into the latest novel that she is translating.
Olga also begins hallucinating in ways that create ambiguity regarding whether it is live or it is insanity. An example is seeing a lizard who may not be real but provides an ideal opportunity to refer to the classic "Golden Girls" "Sicilian gecko" line.
Of course, this culminates in a traumatic night that equally predictably involves the cello player who lives downstairs with whom Olga has a very "its complicated" relationship. The better news is that there at least is closure.
"Love" has more depth and intrigue than "Days." This one revolves around Delia, who is happily living in Bologna until she begins receiving odd telephone calls from her mother Amalia in Naples, These conversations revolve a man presenting a variable degree of a threat.
The plot thickens on the Naples police calling Delia to inform her of discovering her mother floating in the sea; Mom only wearing a lacy red bra is part of the mystery.
Delia returns to her childhood home to attend the funeral and to try to better understand what had recently been occurring in the life of her mother. Sepia-toned flashbacks and the results of the investigation soon reveal that neighbort Caserta is once again stirring up trouble decades after an incident that causes the father of Delia to leave his family and that prompts a decades-long rage in Filipo, who is the uncle of Delia. All this makes "Love" a melodramatic version of "Girls."
"Days" draws in the audience even more as Delia falls further down the rabbit hole as mdirect proportion to her investigation netting results that she cannot interpret. A prime example of this includes a visit to a clothing store that literally and figuratively quickly goes south.
Delia connecting with a childhood ally allows her to better understand recent events; the larger significance of this reunion is that it triggers repressed memories that reveal the truth regarding the childhood events that deeply impact the family of Delia,
The similarities between "Love" and "Days" extend beyond centering around middle-aged women in crisis; there are elements of bodies floating in water and of relationships with men not being what thy seem. We further get the message of the importance of a woman "Manning up" and not relying on a white knight.
The bonus feature is "Elena and the Boosk" in which cast and crew members discussing the film adaptations. Amusingly, a time constraint is behind not watching that featurette but reading the essay in the enclosed booklet. That analysis by College of Staten Island professor Giancarlo Lombardi provides strong insight regarding the source material, the casting of the films, and numerous nuances that most American viewers otherwise would miss. The rest of the booklet consists of correspondence by Ferrante and others regarding the making of the two films.
The Icarus Films October 23, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 French drama "A Kid" reminds us both that toxic family relationships are not limited to the United States and that the benefits of family being Hell include engrossing movies such as this one. Throwing in the titular 30 year-old man being an illegitimate child whose personality does not reflect the label attached to such individuals further enhances this film with an awesome third-act twist.
The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Kid" outlines the premise of the film; this promo. including a reference to "hunting a corpse I do not know with two psychos" reflects the wonderful comic edge that reminds us that this is a French film.
33 year-old Parisian pet-food sales rep. Matthieu gets the shock of his life when a call at wok informs him of the identity of his father; the rest of the story is that he has a gift from his previously unidentified father Jean, who is residing in the fresh water equivalent of Davy Jones' locker. This prompts Matthieu to travel to Montreal to attend the funeral and to meet his two brothers and the other woman whom those siblings call Mom. Those three individuals having no idea of the bundle du joie that is a dividend of a business trip to France.
Long-time Jean friend Pierre is the one who tracked down the not-so-prodigal son. He also provides Uber service from the airport and lodging during the stay. Matthieu defying a request to not upset the descendants during the weekend before the funeral transforms Pierre into his shadow.
Pierre next accompanies a determined Matthiieu on his mission to accompany his unsuspecting brother Ben the motorcycle shop owner and Sam the successful corporate attorney on a trip to the aforementioned body of water. It soon becomes known that the reasons for wanting to find the drowned body extend beyond a desire for a proper burial.
The impact of this section of "Kid" extends beyond Sam and Ben being unaware that their guest is their baby brother. Their relative (no pun intended) status in life reflects that the oldest sibling typically gets the most attention growing up and consequently just as frequently achieves the most career success among his siblings. The "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"caliber drinking, sniping, and dredging up past resentments and sins validate the theory that death brings out the worst in families.
Things become particularly incestuous on Pierre and Matthieu returning to Montreal after an overnight corpse hunt. The latter increasingly bonds with Pierre's daughter Bettina to the extent of representing the other gender of fowl at her hen party at a rowdy bar with friends, A run-in with Sam prompts speculation regarding his past with Bettina and a prediction regarding future conflict between the newly connected brothers.
An innocent off-hand comment provides the aforementioned twist that results in the rest of the film changing course. Anyone who has ever attended a family gathering knows that these remarks inevitably occur and just as definitely ruin the already tense mood.
This leads to the unpacking of copious emotional baggage before the family brings Matthieu to the airport for his flight home. This resolution equally satisfies the characters and the viewers. The rest of the story is that what some people do not know does not hurt them.
Wrapping up the 2018 travel season for the Inn Credible New England section of this site with an article on The Exeter Inn in Exeter, New Hampshire is very apt. This boutique hotel has become the literal and figurative go-to place for the frequent north-of-Boston trips of your not-so-humble reviewer, This article on this third stay there since June 2018 additionally provides a good chance to update statements in the prior two posts on the Exeter Inn.
The appeal of the Exeter Inn begins with combining the uniqueness and charm of a B & B with the perks of a luxury hotel. The front desk is in the living-room style lobby, and you are assured both of a friendly greeting and of not having the clerk ignore you while he or she texts on an iPhone or chats with co-workers.
A chance to visit with fresh-off-the-fishing-boat hotel manager Derek Hunt was a nice treat. This very recent transplant from managing a hotel in Kennebunkport Maine clearly meets the Inn Credible New England ideal of being born to work in the hospitality industry, Including his cell number on his business card is one of many indications that he views his work as a profession, rather than merely as a job.
Native Virginian Hunt provided a perfect response when asked how he hoped to make the spectacular Inn even better. He stated "I'm A Southerner, and I plan to bring southern hospitality to New Hampshire. "
The well-furnished rooms are New Hampshire chic with a touch of metropolitan elegance. The couches, chairs, and tables are solid wood with simple earth-tone fabrics or are made of leather, The always comfy beds have luxury-hotel white bedding that smells crisp and clean.
Staying in a King Deluxe room requires the first update to the prior posts on the Inn. Those articles (and every other travel post) advocate spending the money saved by not subjecting yourself to the high expense (and TSA abuse) of flying on an upgraded accommodation at a place that offers the benefit of not looking the same as any hotel in any U.S. city.
The Fireplace Suite at the Inn remains the favorite room; the slightly less grand Queen Suite comes a close second. Neither being available for this trip meant staying in the Deluxe room. As the below photo illustrates, the roomy seating area in this class is ample for relaxing without feeling crowded. An element of this is the flat-screen television easily allowing you to hook up your personal DVD or Blu-ray player if you choose to have a long and active day in the area and enjoy the room.
The spa-style (including high-end amenities) bathroom in the Deluxe room deserves an architectural award. It is cozy but not at all cramped and has excessive shelf space for toiletries and sundry items. Part of the genius is putting the more than ample shower stall with a massaging head and excellent water pressure along the entire back wall of the bathroom. This limited space does support getting a suite with a larger full bath and a supplemental half-bath if two people require simultaneously freshening up.
The suites being at the end of halls at the back of the Inn prompted unwarranted concern regarding the location of the King Deluxe room. Room 221 is near the center of the building. Despite proximity to the elevator and to the main staircase just off the bar, very little sound permeates the hall. The thick walls and the layout of the room make it virtually soundproof inside, This design also prevents sound drifting from the adjacent room or from the one above it.
Nice touches in every class of room include two bottles of spring water being part of the morning maid service and Pepperidge Farm cookies being a highlight of evening turn-down service.
Unusual weather that includes a hot and humid September is one of the circumstances beyond the control of the Inn. That anomaly is making late October the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end, of foliage season. There is a decent chance that leaf peeping will be fairly good through early November. Folks for whom this is a big deal are advised to check conditions online before visiting the area.
The following photo was taken outside the Inn on October 23, 2018.
Although seeing vibrant foliage was a trip objective, not making a dent in the copious non-weather-dependent activities in the area showed that the Inn truly is a hotel for all seasons.
The trip started with a few hours in nearby Portsmouth NH, which has the historic Strawberry Banke with houses ranging from colonial days through the early 20th century. Their Christmas open house in early December is well worth a trip to this region.
This led to taking advantage of the lack of sales tax in New Hampshire to purchase needed items along the Miracle Mile in adjacent Newington, NH. This included seeing an unbearably venomous film at a theater with reserved recliner seating.
A full day that began with getting up earlyish for the drive to Exeter ended with opting for the tasty pizza with tangy sauce at Pizza Academy just up the street from the Inn. Folks who want more gourmet fare have the option of the prime rib special and other treats at the Epoch restaurant at the Inn.
The next morning was devoted to the outlet malls in Kittery, Maine. Having at least 15 shirts that have been in their original packaging for a decade is a good cautionary tale. The stores there having an exceptionally good track record regarding prices and customer service does make resistance almost futile.
The activity for that afternoon requires an additional update. The first article on the Inn mentions that the walk to the downtown area is a little long; that likely reflected summer heat and not being very familiar with the area. This stroll is roughly 10 minutes and very pleasant. Browsing the gift shops, small cafes, bookshops, wonderful chocolate shop, etc. is awesome even if you are just window shopping.
Tuesday was devoted to visiting human and canine friends in Newburyport, Mass. The downtown of this waterfront destination city is roughly twice as large as Exerter and is nice despise increasingly being a boutique Miracle Mile with several upscale chains, These stores include Talbots, Fatface, and Life Is Good. An interesting aspect of this is the opening of a Starbucks roughly 20 years ago was a large local issue.
Later in the day involved strolling on the tree-lined streets of Exeter and exploring the college-caliber campus of Phillips Exeter Academy that abuts the Inn. The many friendly people and dogs whom I encountered showed that loyalty and love of that educational institution truly is life long.
The next morning was the time to leave. Activities such as visiting very charming Ogunquit Maine (complete with a top-notch summer-stock theater), getting farm-grown and raised vegetables and meats (and scratching Buddy the bull behind the ears) at Tendercrop Farm in Newbury Mass. hiking at the numerous state parks in the area, eating at loved restaurants with virtually every cuisine, etc will need to wait for an April 2019 visit, ,
'Nightwing' & 'Shadow of the Hawk' Blu-ray Double Feature: '70slicious Tales of Terror on Indian Reservations
Mill Creek Entertainment embraces the true Halloween spirit regarding the October 23, 2018 Blu-ray double-feature release "Nightwing" (1979) and "Shadow of the Hawk" (1976). The common theme of both is terror on American Indian reservations. The other shared element is both shoot-on-location films greatly benefiting from the crystal-clear BD images showcasing the beauty of the Southwest and the the Pacific Northwest respectively.
"Nightwing" awesomely melds old-school horror with social commentary that remains relevant nearly 40 years after its theatrical release. The surprisingly strong pedigree of this entertaining B-movie includes director Arthur Hiller ("Love Story"), prolific composer Henry Mancini (original "Pink Panther" films), and star NIck Mancuso. The A-list continues with the film being based on a story by well-known thriller noveilst Martin Cruz Smith, who additionally is a "Nightwing" screenwriter.
The IMDb description "killer bats plague an Indian reservation in New Mexico" reflects the traditional "animals gone wild" element of "Nightwing." Hiller and Smith stick to the script by having the horror begin with discovering mutilated horses with mysterious wounds. That brings reservation lawman Youngman Duran (Mancuso) literally and figuratively into the picture,
The tried-and-true continues with scientist Phillip Payne (David Warner) arriving on the trail of the aforementioned air-borne threat. He has been tracking the caravan of that threat to homeland security from south of the border and has dire news for the locals. The immediate potential for harm extends to two-legged animals; the bigger picture is that this swarm is using the area to fuel up before going to more populated feeding grounds.
Of course, even Duran does not initially believe Payne but changes his tune after a comically campy attack on a group of not-so-good Christians. It is equally predictable that the rest of the population remains skeptical,
The climax regarding this comes down to Duran going on a risky mission that runs the dual risks of his becoming a bride of Dracula and having his plan blow up in his face. The one certainty is that he is in deep guano.
The new-school elements revolve around issues related to tribal politics; relative traditionalist Duran already is at odds with the leader of a more prosperous neighboring tribe that our hero believes has sold out to the white man. Discovering a valuable natural resource on the land of the tribe of Duran at the same time that the bats show up further complicates matters.
The fun of "Nightwing" relates to the variation on man v. weaponized spiders, or bees, etc. These films provide plenty of thrills and chills while making us wonder if mosquitoes ever will become more of a threat than being a highly annoying insect.
"Hawk" has a more eerie feel. Jan-Michael Vincent stars as fully assimilated American Indian Mike who is enjoying an office job and good lifestyle when his grandfather Old Man Hawk (Chief Dan George) literally goes off the reservation to track down Mike and convince him to return to his roots. The rest of the story is that Hawk is tasked with keeping a legendary witch and her "monkeys" at bay; Hawk being convinced that he is about to die prompts a mission to get Mike to take his place regarding this effort.
This reunion leads to Mike abruptly leaving a swinging bash at his bachelor pad to escort his grandfather home. The aforementioned minions are in hot pursuit and drive the pair (as well as the love interest who largely is along for the ride) off the road and into the woods.
The eerie moments include Hawk and Mike each having several disturbing visions; we further get Mike engaging in a highly symbolic mission that culminates in an equally symbolic battle.
The fun of "Hawk" begins with the generation gap that the roughly 50-year age difference and greatly divergent world views exaggerates. The extra enjoyment relates to the American Indian beliefs/superstitions. This is not to mention the '70slicious fight scenes.
The bottom line is that they do not make 'em like these anymore. The cast and crew all know their stuff; the premises are entertaining, and the gore is minimally,
A telephone conversation with filmmaker Tommy Avallone the day before the October 26, 2018 VOD premiere of his (reviewed) Gravitas Ventures documentary "The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons From A Mythical Man" aptly was mythical. "Murray' and an earlier Avallone joint "I Am Santa Claus," which chronicles the off-season lives of men who play St. Nick, show that this guy has equally strong imagination and curiosity levels that he exercises in a manner that enriches audiences in the same manner that Murray popping up at a kickball game or a college party enhances the lives of those who are there.
The titular urban legends in "Murray" are seemingly purely random visits by the titular star of "Saturday Night Live" (a.k.a. "SNL") and cult-classic '80s film comedies such as "Stripes" and the original "Ghostbusters" films. Hearing about those encounters puts the idea of "Murray" in the head of Avallone; obtaining the coveted toll-free telephone number that Murray uses in lieu of an agent or a manager created hope that the man the legend would participate in the film.
Scenes throughout "Murray" depict Avallone either rehearsing a message for the voicemail of Murray or recording and deleting one. We also see his mother get into the act. This illustrated the challenge of summoning Murray; he is like a cat in that he ignores those who attempt to entice him but literally or figuratively jumps in the laps of people who ignore him.
Of course, speaking with someone who had the highly sought-after number required asking Avallone to share it, His denial of that request was less surprising than if he had divulged that information. Avallone added that "I can't tell you how I got it; it was a friend of a friend." Avallone emphasized that that friend was not a celebrity.
Avallone added that he regularly called the number for a year-and-a-half to no avail; these calls continue at less frequently.
Truth or Fiction
Avallone stated that a reported Murray sighting that he included in the cold open of "Murray" was the first one that he heard. He then speculated that it was partially true.
This tale involved Murray coming up behind a man who was using a urinal at a bar; the rest of the story was that Murray put his hands over the eyes of the man. Avalllone opined that Murray did walk up to someone at some time and put his hands over the eyes of his "victim."
This led to discussing people making up Murray stories in reliance of limited documentation of many true one. Avallone provided a perfect response in stating that "I know people who do that; I don't like that. I am a documentary filmmaker; I like the truth."
This final word on this topic was that "What's great about the Bill Murray stories is that 99-percent of them are true."
Murray on Murray
Avallone shared that he has no indication that Murray has seen the film; he added that Bill's brother Joel has seen it and likes it a great deal. The documentarian added that he likes to think that Murray would like "Murray."
Avallone expressing the fantasy that Murray would show in the back of a theater and give him a thumbs up during a post-screening discussion expresses the thoughts of Murray fans everywhere.
Another expressed desire regarding the impact of "Murray" was that viewers "start to think more like Bill Murray." he added that Murray reminded him of Santa in that "he comes in and leaves them smiling."
Waldo on Weed
Only knowing that the latest project of Avallone is titled "Waldo on Weed" prompted asking if the title character was either a cannabis expert or a stoner. It turns out that Waldo is the son of a friend of Avallone; the title refers to the boy using cannabis oil to treat cancer.
The statements that "Brian and Waldo are really fun characters," and that the film is about "what a father would do to save a son" provide to good reasons to discover where''s "Waldo" when it is released.
The similarities between Avallone and Murray extend beyond sharing a great offbeat sense of humor; they both passionately pursue their bliss and seek to provide the rest of us with the same. There is no doubt regarding the truth of the tale that they both awesomely succeed.
The long history of Shout! Factory rescuing TV Land favorites from oblivion by releasing then on DVD after their primary studios abandon that effort makes Shout! a good home for the October 30, 2018 Collector's Edition Blu-ray of the 1987 comedy film "Dragnet." The love that Shout! Select shows pop culture gems (such as the recently reviewed "City Slickers" and "Get Shorty") provides further proof that this is a match made in Heaven,
Watching the DVD version of "Dragnet" a few weeks before getting the Shout! Blu-ray allows verifying that the L.A. scenery, epic settings, and audio all are tremendously enhanced in this remastered version; it truly is like watching an entirely different film.
The bigger picture this time is that "Dragnet" reflects Hollywood bringing versions of (primarily '60s) television series to the silver screen in the mid-80s to mid-90s and to a lesser extent today. The first "Addams Family" and "Brady Bunch" films are among the greatest commercial and artistic successes. "The Beverly Hillbillies" and the live-action "The Flintstones" are at the other end of the spectrum.
The strong pedigree of "Dragnet" helps earn a slot near the top. "SNL"/"Blues Brothers"/"Ghostbusters" veteran Dan Aykroyd stars as straight-laced Los Angeles police detective Joe Friday, who is the nephew of equally rigid Friday (Jack Webb) of the series, Rising star (including "Splash") Tom Hanks plays laid-back goofball partner Streebek. Harry Morgan ("M*A*S*H) returns to his "Dragnet" role of (now) Captain Gannon.
Director Tom Mankiewicz is the son of famed director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. "SNL" and "Its Garry Shandling's Show" veteran Alan Zweibel and Aykroyd team up to write the script.
In addition to changing the tone of "Dragnet" from stoic drama to broad farce, the film plot that revolves around radical activists who identify themselves as P.A.G.A.N. diverts from the series basing episodes about real cases. All of this males the movie more "Naked Gun" than "Dirty Harry."
Friday gets new partner Streebek to literally and figuratively clean up before they are assigned to investigate the theft of the entire run of an issue of the fictional equivalent of Playboy magazine. However, this does not prevent the impish charm and immature side of Streebek from peeking out on visiting a fictional Playboy mansion where fictional version of Hugh Hefner Jerry Caesar ('80s star Dabney Coleman) resides.
The intrigue continues with a heist at a zoo and other bizarre thefts regarding which P.A.G.A.N openly admits; this coinciding with the '80s stereotype of an outrageous televangelist Rev. Whirley (Christopher Plummer) showing up helps put the pieces together.
The hilarity that ensues throughout includes Friday and Streebek crashing a P.A.G.A.N. ritual that leads to them wrestling a giant snake in an effort to rescue sacrificial virgin Connie Swall (Alexandra Paul of "Baywatch"). We also get the boys in plainclothes dressing up as leather-clad punks and a raid that disproves the theory that there is no reason to cry over spilled milk. This is not to mention Hanks putting his comedic talent to good use in a twofer "Meet the Parents" sequence,
Surprises include Friday, rather than Streebek, being the one to go rogue (and of course being proven right) to the extent of having to turn in his badge and gun. The subsequent unexpected change in Streebek shows the extent to which he wants to vindicate his partner.
Aykroyd and Zweibel particularly shine in writing a climax that nicely ties in every element of the film; centering it around a large event is predictable. Creating somewhat elaborate events that show that there is a reason for every bit of madness goes above and beyond.
The equally inevitable final showdown that pits Friday against the bad guy who evades capture during the big raid likely is sublime to younger visitors and ridiculous from the perspective of everyone of voting age. The absurdity of this is true to the spirit of the television series regarding Friday doing everything necessary to capture criminals..
The special features that make Select releases worthy buying begins with an interview with Paul that is filmed for this release; she is particularly adorable when repeatedly mentioning watching "Dragnet" for the first time in 35 years to prepare for the discussion,
Children of the '70s and '80s can relate to the awe of 23 year-old Paul being cast to star with Hanks and Aykroyd. Learning that Paul first learns of one of the best scenes in "Dragnet" on watching the film at the premiere is another highlight of the interview.
"Just the Facts!" is pure Shout! in that it is a 1987 hour-long infomercial in which Hanks and Aykroyd first show how "Dragnet" comes to be a radio program, a 1950s TV show, and a reboot in 1967. Much of the this focus is on comparing and contrasting star Jack Webb with Friday.
The second-half of "Facts" is on the making-of the film; they save the best for last in showing the stars recording the rap that serves as the theme for the film.
The final fact regarding "Dragnet" is that it perfectly illustrates the value of both '80s film comedies and the reason to add collector's edition of these films to your video library. The movie was a huge hit back in the day and gets better with age. Releases that include insights from folks who were there enhances watching a movie that merely was a diversion (and perhaps a chance to sit in a cool space for a few hours) when it was released.
Unreal TV 2.0 evolves from http://classictvdvdreviews.blogspot.com/ (which still is up.) Both sites are labors of love dedicated to preserving the golden and silver ages of television and film and celebrating new content that values art over commerce. The same principle applies regarding boutique hotels.