'Rescue Me: The Complete Series' Blu-ray: Hilarious Rude & Crude Dramedy About Lives and Loves of the Men of NYFD
The Mill Creek Entertainment October 23, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 2004-11 Denis Leary dramedy "Rescue Me" continues the solid Creek track record of producing complete-series sets of 21st-century cult classic television series on Blu-ray in time for the holidays. These collector's editions are notable proof of the "you've come a long way, Baby" evolution of Creek from producing basic DVD releases of public-domain content to becoming a first-class distributor of the best fare from this Streaming Age of Television.
The vivid colors and crystal-clear audio of the Blu-ray release does American Film Institute "TV Program of the Year" for 2006 "Rescue" very proud; the serial format, entertaining candidness, and lack of a single dull moment call for a marathon (rather than binge) viewing during the holidays.
The aforementioned cult classics included the (reviewed) release of the edgy Showtime docudrama "Masters of Sex" and the (also reviewed) criminally under-rated ABC neo-modern "Friends" sitcom "Happy Endings." A review of the complete series of the Daddy of all cult-classic sitcoms "Community" is scheduled for the not-too-distant future. Creek is releasing a deluxe Blu-ray complete series set of "The Shield" on December 11, 2018.
Anyone who wants to seem cool is encouraged to give the special offbeat Millennial or Gen Xer in his or her life one or more of these sets this holiday season.
Leary puts his textbook caustic wit and love/hate feelings regarding his Irish heritage to good use in playing veteran New York firefighter Tommy Gavin. An amusing related aspect of this is that Worcester, Massachusetts native/graduate of Emerson College in Boston Leary regularly inserts subtle and not-subtle references to his home turf in this Gotham-based series,
Fellow Massachusetts native Peter Tolan reunites with Leary after their work on the HILARIOUS shorter-run series "The Job," which stars Leary as an NYPD detective who essentially is Gavin with authority to have a gun. Tolan writes all 93 "Rescue" scripts. "Job" star Lenny Clarke also transitions to this series.
Giving the equally witty and compelling "Rescue" a portion of its due is well beyond the scope of a review that strives to remain below novella length; the series is a genuine original that most likely will never have an equal. This is ENTIRELY due to the genius-level dark humor and other quirks that make Leary a god.
The best mainstream comparison is to think of "Rescue" as a working-class version of "Seinfeld" that has the edge associated with being a 10:00 p.m. basic cable show. Thinking of Jerry as a foul-mouthed chain-smoking alcoholic with a fraction of his already limited morals is a good start. A ripped from "Rescue" example would be purposefully setting up George with a transvestite despite that good friend not knowing that she is the girl with something extra.
Centering "Rescue" around a fire station without glamorizing that profession provides insight into a world that is foreign to the general population; setting it in the post-911 era in which life is back-to-normal for most of us provides rich material for an ideal blend of humor and drama. This relates to Gavin and his crew seeing that indisputably tragic event as a figurative get out of jail free card and payment for anything that they desire for a seeming endless period perfectly illustrates this.
A hate-hate relationship with the NYPD is another entertaining theme. Watching Gavin wrangle with the boys in blue until he has a compelling reason to play nice is must-see TV.
The "Rescue" crew is populated with every working-class stereotype; the skill of Leary and Tolan avoids them becoming caricatures.
We have middle-aged Irish middle-manager Jerry Reilly; he is just as profane and dark as the younger guys. His at-home drama includes a gambling addiction and a wife suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.
We also get young dim-witted stud Sean Garrity; he shines early in the season regarding a waxing of his naughty bits going hysterically wrong. It also is recalled that his is the firefighter who gets caught in a compromising situation regarding a cancer scare related to his pride and joy.
One of the more interesting characters is female firefighter Laura, who must endure more than her share of abuse from her peers. Watching her evolve from showing that she can take anything that they can dish out and is not afraid to assert her rights when necessary, to showing that she can dish it out as well, and finally becoming one of the boys is awesome.
Sweet and naive Mike Silletti is a personal fave. His joining the crew at the beginning of the series earns him the name "Probie" and requires that he do all the grunt work. His early shining moments including having to build a deck and provide the beer as his co-workers sit around and give him intense grief. His asserting his rights nicely illustrates how this puppy becomes a full-grown Dalmatian.
The aforementioned naivete also lands Silletti in the most amusing and/or interesting sexual situations. These begin with his initially being clueless about the motive of a man who is strongly pressuring him to go to dinner and even gets him to move in with him after unwanted sexual contact. Our boy then deals with dating an overweight woman with bulimia. A later relationship confirms the thoughts of some viewers and fulfills a fantasy of a subgroup of those fans.
The incestuous home life of Gavin is just as darkly amusing as his work life. His oft on-again-off-again relationship with wife Janet seems to perfectly reflect the lives of literal and figurative firefighter widows, who struggle to maintain the same level of intimacy that their men share with their co-workers.
The incest extends beyond the merging of work and home life via Gavin not allowing his desire to reconnect with Janet stopping him from "dating" Sheila, who is the actual widow of Cousin Jimmy. This intercourse provides the main context for informing the audience of a Bro Code that prohibits a relationship with the woman of a fellow firefighter.
For her part, Sheila alternates between man and women; her personal drama includes an emotionally and physically abusive relationship.
Teen Gavin daughter Colleen seems to take a cue from Sheila; she also has both boy and girl trouble.
Clarke steals the show as "Uncle Teddy," who provides Gavin plenty of angst. This three-hundred pound senior citizen with the mentality and the energy of a 12 year-old boy has no sense of moderation. Dragging his brother Michael (Charles Durning) (a.k.a. Dad) into his misadventures only fuels the fire from the perspective of Gavin.
Tatum O'Neal adds star power as quasi-estranged Gavin sister Maggie; many of us can relate to this sibling only showing up when she believes that doing so is in her best interest.
The copious special features provide additional reasons to buy the set; the blooper reels are predictably hysterical. We also get behind-the-scenes looks and hear from actual New York firefighters. All of this wraps up with "The Creators' Last Call."
The apt final note to this lengthy discussion of this once-in-a-lifetime (if not longer) series is that is from the last days of the American public having some form of sense of humor. It is very sad that scenes such as one in which dumb Mick Gavin and his crew gleefully hurl rapid-fire ethnic insults at each other to show that it does not mean anything likely would not even be allowed on premium channel series. The best way to put this in context is to predict that the current attitude of Denis Leary is to say get a fucking sense of humor assholes.
A delay posting this review of the Shout! Factory November 6, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "The Sound of Music Live" (SOM) is collateral damage from circumstances beyond the control of Unreal TV. Your not-so-humble reviewer ached to honor the spirit of NBC airing the Julie Andrews film every Thanksgiving, Speaking of NBC, a nice surprise regarding this production is that it is NOT the Carrie Underwood version that that network aired in 2013. This one far outshines that noble experiment.
The bottom line regarding this SOM is that it provides a good chance to compare it to the Andrews version and to compare the film and stage variations of the story. Of course, the movie having Penny Robinson and Spider-Man in it gives it a big leg up.
The better news regarding timing is that ample opportunity remains to give your favorite theater geek or child the the Shout! release for Christmas or merely to play it on an endless loop to keep the kids out of your hair. The FLAWLESS picture and sound (which look very 3Dish when played on a 4K machine and watched on a 4K set) screams to buy the Blu-ray version.
British television network ITV aired this SOM on December 20, 2015; the twofer aspect is the broadcast being part of both the holiday programming of the network and a desire to air "event" specials. It is reported that the objectives of creative director Corky Giedroyc include this version being closer to the original stage production than to emulate the movie. An aspect of this is maintaining the political aspects that center around the Nazis increasingly taking over Austria.
The following YouTube clip of an ITV promo. for SOM nicely conveys the spirit of both the production and the literally behind-the-scenes feature on the Shout! release.
The newer version is entertaining from stem to stern and maintains a perfect pace. Further, hearing all the classic songs provides a warm and fuzzy sense of nostalgia. "How Can Love Survive" is not in the film, but is in stage productions.
The infamous "you can't face" line in a scene in which Maria receives a reality check continues to amuse those of us who embrace our inner 12-year-old boy. It is a near certainty that EVERY actress who portrays Mother Abess focuses on very carefully enunciating that dialogue,
Two songs stand out in SOM. The "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" duet of eldest Von Trapp daughter Liesl and current delivery boy/future fascist pig Rolf has good charm and humor. It seems that the affection between those all Austrian kids is genuine.
All the kids steal the show in the first presentation of "So Long, Farewell." They are being sent packing during a party at Von Trapp Haus and perform the song as their exit strategy. The choreography and the performances of the Von Trapp Singers this time actually outshines the film version. It is a bit more lively and amusing.
Describing SOM as understated is only intended to put it in context regarding the film. Kara Tointon ("Mr Selfridge" and "EastEnders") projects the same level of "Keep Calm and Carry On" emotion throughout; she also has a wonderful voice and seems to literally hit every note but does not put her heart and soul into the songs ala Andrews.
Similarly, Julian Ovendon (Downton Abbey) plays Captain Von Trapp with far less emotion and passion than Christopher Plummer. This sadly prevents feeling any connection with this central character.
As mentioned above, the bigger picture is the rise of Nazism in Austria. Watching this production as an adult in 2018 puts a whole new perspective on the story.
Being an adult in 2018 also screams for escaping the increasing level of fascism and dystopia in the world by watching a new version of a childhood favorite. Keeping the flame alive by watching it with a keyboard kid provides hope that memories of a kinder and gentler period will persist.
The Icarus Films DVD release of the 2015 French drama "In the Shadow of Women" proves that this home-video distributor with a strong history of releasing compelling documentaries looks for "innovative and provocative" titles regarding its fictional titles as well. The strong documentary elements of "Woman" make it a particularly apt addition to the Icarus catalog.
The festival love for this future art-house classic include the Best Film honor at the 2015 Athens Panorama of European Cinema and the Best Actress win at the 2015 Seville European Film Festival.
The most overt documentary element in "Women" is central character Pierre being a documentarian whose spouse Manon fills several roles that include researcher and film editor. Additionally, filmmaker Philippe Garrel regularly provides exposition via voice-over narration. Having the camera largely follow the characters around and simply record their conversations and reactions to events further contributes to the cinema verite vibe of the film.
The film being in black-and-white enhances the French New Wave aspects of "Women."
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Women" nicely highlights the artistry and overall Frenchness of the film.
The early scenes establish that Mannon working with Pierre is a holdover sacrifice from his days of struggling to establish his career. One reason that the couple still works together is that Mannon sees this as an opportunity to spend time with her husband.
The proverbial fateful encounter that jeopardizes many reel (and real) couples occurs when Pierre stops to help intern/grad. student Elisabeth carry several film canisters. This leads to an affair that soon leads to indifference and boredom by Pierre, who believes that being a man entitles him to have an affair.
The response of Manon to the changes in Pierre include her starting an affair. The response of Pierre to learning about that extra-marital activity is resentment and rage despite knowing that Manon knows of his relationship with Elisabeth.
The "B Story" in the film revolves around Pierre and Manon interviewing a man about his experiences with the WWII French resistance for a film that Pierre is making on that topic. The drama related to that extends well beyond the subject being particularly personal to Pierre.
All of this leads to a somewhat surprise ending that shows the need for reflection and the related value of deciding what you will sacrifice for something that you think will more than offset that consideration,
The recent Warner Archive DVD release of the 1950 Hitchcock melodrama "Stage Fright" allows adding the film that generally-unrepentant Hitch acknowledges betrays the trust of the viewing public to your video library. This is on top of newly-former Mrs. Reagan (and future "Falcon Crest" matriarch) Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, and Alastair Sim perfectly playing their parts in the flick that the National Board of Review, USA includes in its list of the Top 10 Films of 1950.
"Fright" also is notable for joining Archive Blu-rays of two Hitchcock films for Warner. The aptly titled (and reviewed) based on a true story "The Wrong Man" has Henry Fonda portraying a musician who pays a heavy price for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The also reviewed "I Confess" has Montgomery Clift playing a priest with a past who agonizes over letting someone get away with murder. Any cinephile will delight in finding a bundle of these three releases under the Christmas tree or the Hanukkah bush.
The amusingly labeled curtain literally going up at the end of the opening credits sets the stage for Hitchcock to particularly show that he and Orson Welles are cousins in filmmaking; "Fright" being in black-and-white and making good use of shadows and other contrasts is another indication that Hitchcock and Welles influence each other.
Our story begins with Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd) making a run for the border with the assistance of once (and future?) girlfriend Eve Gill (Wyman). An amusing ancedote by Hitchcock daughter/"Fright" actress Pat Hitchcock in a Robert Osborne-hosted "making-of" feature on the Archive release discusses Dad protecting Wyman by having Pat literally sit in for her in the scenes of Cooper wildly driving through the London streets.
Flashbacks establish that this adventure begins with stage star/current object of affection Charlotte Inwood (Dietrich) showing up at Chez Cooper in a blood-stained dress with a tale of accidentally killing her husband.
The tale continues with Jonathan going to the Inwood home to get Charlotte a clean dress. This leads to a series of mistakes that lead to the police showing up at his door. Our excitable boy rabbiting even before confirming that he is a suspect does not help things and leads to heading out of town with Eve to avoid his destruction..
After safely delivering Jonathan to her roguish and quirky father (Sim) with an eye toward Dad smuggling him to Ireland, Eve figuratively and literally returns to the scene of the crime with an intent to convince Charlotte (a.k.a. Lady MacBeth) to clear the name of Jonathan.
An ideal blend of comedy, melodrama, and meta-references ensue as Eve goes undercover as a maid/theatrical dresser. This coincides with her developing a friendship with potential benefits with "Ordinary" Smith (Michael Wilding), whom Eve subsequently learns is a police detective.
Hilarity and suspense fully erupt when Eve struggles to maintain her cover as Smith escorts her among her theatrical colleagues, a "Gaslight" style plot designed to prompt Charlotte to confess hatches, and Jonathan proves that he is his own worst enemy.
Hitch masterfully keeps several plates spinning in the air throughout the climax until the curtain literally falls on our story. We have Eve confronting not-so-sweet Charlotte and Jonathan wreaking havoc; this culminates in the reveal on which the regret of Hitch is based. It is interesting to see that this man who delights in defying conventions and expectations discover that there are some rules that should not be broken and some lines that should not be crossed.
The first big picture is that "Fright" aptly provides a story that centers around the theatrical world with a strong live-stage vibe. The second big picture is that this movie is a prime example of the more artistic and substantive Hitchcock films.
The Mill Creek Entertainment November 6, 2018 perfectly remastered Blu-ray + DVD + Digital widescreen release of the Emmy-nominated December 1978 television special "Benji's Very Own Christmas Story" provides a great reminder that cute and charming holiday specials outshine darker modern fare. "Story," which does not involve the titular dog desperately wanting a BB gun for Christmas, also continues the solid run of Creek releasing "Benji" fare.
A shameless commerce note is that any child or child-at-heart is sure to love finding a bundle of the four Creek "Benji" releases, three of which nicely tie together, under the Christmas tree or the Hanukkah bush. The reviewed "Benji" has our hero rescuing two children from kidnappers. The also reviewed "For the Love of Benji" has the dog star travelling to Greece with the former abductees. The (review pending) "Benji Off The Leash" moves things in a "Touched By A Pooch" direction by having our shaggy star help people who face proverbially daunting challenges.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Story" describes the concept of the special and offers a glimpse of the rollicking fun of the story.
Our story begins with Benji and his human co-stars Cindy Smith and Patsy Garrett from "Benji" and "Love" on a European publicity tour. We catch up with them in a charming Swiss village (which looks spectacular in Blu-ray) where Benji is scheduled to be the grand marshal of a Christmas Eve parade. The action commences when the trio meets the Kris Kringle (Ron "Fagin" Moody) who is going to drive the one-horse open sleigh in which they are going to ride. One fully expects that everyone will be laughing all the way.
Kringle tells a portion of the story in asking his passengers to visit some fans who cannot attend the parade because they are working. The group agrees under the condition that they are back in time for the parade.
The grand tradition of abducting innocents (e.g., "The Polar Express") to visit the workshop of Santa continues with Kringle escorting his guests through a Narnia-style portal that transports them to where he and his elves make the magic happen.
This portion of "Story" includes an equally entertaining and educational segment in which Kringle utilizes clever exposition to show Benji et al. the images that many countries have of the man whom whom Americans call Santa. This ends with a truly delightful surprise.
The aforementioned rest of the story is that the Santa alleges that an injury prevents him from going on his appointed rounds. He already is preparing the elves to fill in but asks his new friends to help out as well. This portion of the program provides a reasonable believable explanation for Santa being able to deliver so many toys on Christmas Eve.
The inevitable happy ending comes via a clever twist at the end of a rousing musical number that puts the talents of Moody to good use. He is wrapping up an energetic song-and-dance routine when the final piece of the puzzle falls into place. This leads to the characters (and the audience) being in a better place than they were when the "Story"commences.
The special features include the cute "Benji at Work" television special. This one has '70s child-star Adam Rich host a behind-the-scenes look at our star making a movie. We additionally get a photo gallery of our pin-up pooch.
The bigger picture this time is that "Story" is the perfect holiday treat for what ails us. It reminds us of a kinder and gentler time in which reel and real people were pleasant and smiling; this was an era in which speaking your mind did not prompt counter-protests, scorn, and ridicule.
The world was not especially harmonious, but people at least were mostly courteous and did not declare war following even minor offenses. It even was a time that anyone could eat at any desired restaurants with confidence that he or she would not be ousted and/or harangued by fellow diners.
The final comparison is that the term "whatever happened to peace, love, and understanding" is a lyric from an awesome song in the era of "Story" and a modern sense of what did happen to our regard for those who views clash with our own. Few can argue that this is one case in which the past is superior to the Christmas present.
The Film Movement October 2, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 drama "La Familia" provides a twofer regarding the always excellent foreign movies in the Movement catalog. This winner of two "Best Film" awards at the 2018 Miami Film Festival both presents a globally related story and provides American audiences a look at a world about which they know very little if anything.
The following YouTube clip of the official U.S. trailer for "Familia" illustrates the aforementioned aspects of the movie.
The early scenes center around the shockingly brutal life of 12 year-old Pedro in the slums of Caracas. The interactions between him and his fellow almost feral friends are brutal and shockingly crude.. A sadly relatable aspect of this is that it mirrors the life of inner-city kids in the United States. This is down to young kids recklessly playing with guns.
An especially violent and emotionally disturbing confrontation ends in the accidental death of the malfeasor. Pedro catches a break in the form of his single father Andres discovering the fatally injured boy.
Immediately realizing that the incident puts an almost literal target on the back of Pedro prompts Andres to rush home and to just as quickly get his son to grab a few things and run. Typically of 12 year-olds everywhere, Pedro does not grasp the gravity of the situation. He properly notes that the victim is the aggressor but does not understand that that is irrelevant.
Most of the rest of "Familia" introduces Pedro to the life of his father. The real wake-up call comes when the the boy learns about the daily life of this man. The first stop is at the abode of a woman who seems to be a regular booty call., The not-so-warm welcome shows Pedro that adults have it rough,
The next stop is the home of the wealthy woman who is having Andres doing painting. This lady of the house is perfectly represents the stereotype of the rich and/or famous. She and Andres discuss the work, and they haggle over his compensation.
Our pair then literally gets down to work. It is clear that Pedro dislikes this taste of the real world. The boy makes matters worse by generally whining and by nagging Andres about bringing him home. The dual frustration related to the haranguing involves Pedro creating the situation that requires staying on the run and his not understanding why he must be nomadic.
The subsequent events that further establish how hard Andres works to support Pedro also shows the rough life of working-class people in Venezuela. This involves working multiple service-industry jobs for little pay and less stability.
Filmmaker Gustavo Rondon Cordova literally and figuratively brings things home when Pedro returns to the scene of the crime. The news of the events since the unfortunate incident equally shock Pedro and the audience.
Movement supplement "Familia" with the always well-paired bonus short that accompanies Film Club selections. The connection between "Les Miserables" and author Victor Hugo extends well beyond sharing the name of his arguably best-known novel.
The common elements between"Familia" and "Miserables" begin with a street altercation in a rough part of town quickly going south. The 21st-century aspects of this tale of a rogue cop who exceeds the limits of his not-so-ethical partners include a drone capturing the incident.
The strong dystopian notes of both films reflect modern poverty and the street justice that prevails. Th additional message in "Miserables" is the well-known 21st-century truth that a policeman no longer is your friend.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2016 drama "Play the Devil" combines the two best genres in the Breaking catalogs; edgy indie films and gay-themed movies about mutual objects of affection facing strong internal and external pressures. The copious symbolism and social commentary are icing on the cake.
The accolades for this one include major wins at the Nashville and Woodstock film festivals.
The following YouTube clip of a festival trailer shows how tone and style perfectly convey the nature of the central relationship.
"Devil" begins with the mother of all non-sequiturs that writer-director Maria Goven artfully ties into the final moments of the movie, which qualifies as the mother of all symbolism in films. These opening scenes are of two young guys apparently engaged in a rite.
The action then shifts to teenage prodigy/thespian Gregory stealing the show with his starring role in a high school non-musical with an aptly strong "Equus" vibe. This leads to successful middle-aged businessman James (who has a daughter in the cast) coming backstage after the performance to nag (pun intended) James to attend a party at his house. The combination of the overture and this being a Breaking release makes it abundantly clear that James wants to get Gregory on his casting couch and that that effort will succeed.
The early scenes further establish that Gregory fits several stereotypes in both his impoverished community on Trinidad and in inner-cities in the United States. He is a bright, ambitious, likable teen living with his loving grandmother because his parents are not equipped to raise a child. Gregory also has an older brother with a drug habit and a live-in girlfriend.
The pure methods of James regarding his relationship with Gregory include a desire to mentor him and to use his resources to help him pursue his dreams, which clash with the aspirations that his grandmother has for him. The impurity comes via desiring benefits from the unlikely friendship.
The not-so-subtle seduction escalates to James luring Gregory to his luxury beach house for a sleepover. The more subtle response of our boy clearly shows that he accepts with full knowledge that the older man wants something other than gas or grass for that ride.
Getting Gregory into bed does not require plying him with wine (drugged or otherwise). At the same time, our innocent seems to be acting mostly out of obligation and has serious regrets the next morning.
Gregory wanting to end things, but James wanting more relatively free milk drives much of the conflict in the remaining portion of "Devil." Multiple desperate times leading to desperate measures in the form of accepting further assistance from James does not help.
All of this occurs in the period leading up to the annual Carnival festival, which centers around a confrontation with a symbolic devil. The nature of the event this year is particularly personal for Gregory.
The drama this time begins with the two worlds of James colliding in a manner that may end him up in divorce court and estranged from his daughter. We also see that he once again makes a misdirected civic-minded gesture.
This leads to the inevitable final confrontation between James and Gregory. Even folks who are unfamiliar with the nature of Breaking releases know that this conversation will either end with a kiss, bloodshed, angry words, or some combination of the three. The final outcome is more surprising.
The appeal of "Devil" is the aforementioned substance of the film. Most of us want someone younger and cuter; many upstanding members of the community with an outwardly ideal life that includes a loving wife and offspring feel repressed in one or more ways, and help always comes at least with a sense a obligation. The almost impossible challenge relates to achieving a measure of joy in a manner that does not leave scars.
The DVD bonus features include a "making-of" film and a separate extra that has interviews with Gowan and producer Abigail Hadeed.
The Olive Films November 6, 2018 separate Blu-ray and DVD releases of the 2004 "based on a true story" Spanish film "The 7th Day" perfectly illustrates the art-house spirit of Olive; a gift from the catalog of this global film god is sure to delight the cinephile on your shopping list. It is worth mentioning as well that the beautiful cinematography of "Day" REQUIRES buying it in BD.
A related plug for Olive before discussing the many merits of "Day" is that this release coincides with a (soon-to-be-reviewed) Blu-ray release of WWII-era documentaries by Frank Capra. This one also is available on DVD.
The distinctiveness of multi-award-winning "Day" that earns a place in the Olive Films Hall of Fame begins with this art-house classic having relatable depth. It uses a highly symbolic narrative to chronicle a decades-long feud between the Fuentes and Jimenez families. The quirky edge of the film further illustrates that Olive values art over commerce.
The root of the difficulties around which "Day" centers is Amadeo Jimenez abruptly breaking off his relationship with Luciana Fuentes. This triggers Luciaana going fully Havisham with consequences that include her brother responding to the break-up with extreme prejudice. This in turn, leads to the Fuentes family home burning while the matriarch is inside.
The action then shifts forward several years to focus on the next generation of Jimenezs. The specific focus is on the three daughters of Jose the butcher. All of this is in the wake of an exodus resulting from shame and guilt. We additionally witness the ongoing impact of Amadeo determining decades earlier that he just is not that into Luciana.
A combination of the past returning and history threatening to repeat itself leads to a climax that puts the title of the film in PERFECT context; the cynical nature of the message regarding the nature of humankind is a notable twist.
The moderate-sized picture this time is that the shock value of "Day" includes the aforementioned aspect of being based on a true story. The bigger picture is that micro and macro events sadly demonstrate that this is not an isolated incident; the sins of the father (and of the mother) truly have enormous half-lives.
Truly independent and innovative documentary DVD company Bullfrog Films picks a subject near and dear to the heart of millions regarding the release of "The Search for General Tso." This non-fiction movie provides an entertaining overview of the history of Chinese food in America in the larger context of the equally delightful study of the titular sweet and tangy dish that is the fave of so many people.
The following YouTube clip of the trailer for the film is so delightful by itself that you almost definitely will not say "Tso what" in response to this introduction to the production.
This behind-the-scenes look (complete with a tour of a fortune cookie factory) at the Chinese restaurant industry begins with a photo shoot that shows the origin of the pictures of food on the wall menus of many Chinese places. This alone should create a craving for the titular entree.
We soon meet the Guinness World Book record holder for the largest collection of Chinese food menus; this collection is from more countries than there are in the U.N. This aspect of this segment provides the element of "entertainment" that is part of any good documentary; the educational aspect includes learning of a method for determining the best meals in a Chinese restaurant.
Filmmaker Ian Cheney also takes us to the Hunan Province in China to learn more about the real-life general for whom the dish is named. The response of the locals on learning about the American concept of Chinese food is hilarious.
The history of Chinese food restaurants in America is almost as amusing; we learn about origins that include chop suey joints. A fascinating aspect of this is the huge disparity between the Chinese population in our country and the proliferation of restaurants that serve food from their nation, Other perspective comes via comparing the popularity of that cuisine to that of pizza.
The largest context of all this is that Cheney and Bullfrog focus on a subject that is of interest to the general public but receives little thought. The payoff comes when we realize our ignorance regarding a fascinating topic. This is comparable to learning the process for manufacturing shoe laces is worthy of a big-budget film.
The November 13, 2018 Lionsgate DVD release of the 2017 Investigation Discovery docudrama "Dating Game Killer" offers awesomely nostalgic not-so-guilty-pleasure fun. The titular murderer/excitable boy Rodney Alcala (Guillermo Diaz) interrupts his at least decade-long killing spree to compete on the titular game show in the late '70s. It is estimated that his total body count is approximately 130.
Diaz ("Scandal") does such a good job playing a seducer/lurer of girls and women who range roughly from 8 through mid-20s that the audience gets a strong sense of watching Alcala himself. The impact of this performance includes Alcala fitting the pattern of being quirky but not not so outwardly creepy to raise suspicions.
The victim who changes everything for Alcala is a young girl in the late '60s. Police detective Jim Hamell (Robert Knepper of "Prison Break") is at the right place at the right time in that he sees Alcala zero in on the girl when Hamell stops to use a pay phone. The spidey sense of Hamell results in hot pursuit that still is too late to save the girl.
The narrative shifts ahead 10 years; photographer Alcala (of course) lives with his blissfully ignorant mother and is fresh off his national television debut. This also coincides with Alcala perving on two teen girls at the beach.
The audience (and a not-so-good Samaritan) know that Alcala is keeping one of the teens at a wilderness area; we also know that the girl suffers her inevitable fate. The rest of the world only knows that the girl is missing and that a sketch of the man at the beach is a good likeness of that individual.
This incident ties "Killer" together, The circumstances of the case adequately mirror the modus operandi of Alcala to prompt Hamell to come on the scene and impose his services on investigating officer Detective Ryan (Matt Barr). Hamell briefing his new partner-in-crime-solving on the activities of Alcala in the interim between the cold case and the warm one is an effective exposition tool. A primary aspect of this is the legal system repeatedly setting Alcala free to keep preying on women. A '70s element is the clear message that you do not want to get Alcala angry (or scorned).
A really creepy period between the two crimes around which "Killer" centers around is a WTF stint as a photographer at girls' camp in New York state. The shock and awe commences with learning that an adult male manages to use a fake name to obtain a job that allows him largely unfettered access to underage girls. The disbelief continues with Alcala keeping that job after figuratively triggering enough red flags to be visible from space,
"Killer" provides the additional perspective of Carol Jensen (Carrie Preston of "True Blood"), who is the mother of the missing girl. Having a child suddenly vanish without a trace is adequately traumatic; not knowing the fate of that offspring greatly compounds the issue; being certain of the identity of the perpetrator but the proof being insufficient to even bring him in for questioning seems unbearable.
Hamell and Ryan subsequently and literally keep their distance as they watch Alcala to the legally allowed extent. This results in Ryan increasingly embracing the cause of making his suspect a guest of the state.
"Killer" literally saves the best for last in focusing on the legal proceedings that ultimately determine the fate of Alcala. The awesomeness of this includes virtually every entertaining aspect of the Hollywood depictions of trials, This further demonstrates that context is everything regarding whether such developments are amusing, pathetic, or tragic,
The effectiveness of "Killer" relates to the story sadly being one with which the viewing public is very aware; the distinguishing elements are the quality of the people in front of and behind the camera.
CBS Home Entertainment chooses wisely regarding releasing the 2-disc DVD set of the 2018 Sacha Baron Cohen (a.k.a. Borat and Bruno) Showtime series "Who is America" on election day (a.k.a. November 6, 2018), This return of Cohen to a premium cable network series 15 years after HBO aired "Da Ali G Show" epically combines the best of in-your-face documentarian Michael Moore and character-driven comedian Tracey Ullman by having extreme alter-egos interview well-known politicians and activists and some relative and complete unknowns.
"America" is best known for prompting the resignation of Georgia State Representative Jason Spencer after his inadvertent appearance on the second episode of the series. Cohen transforms himself into unconventional Israeli anti-terrorism expert Erran Morad to trick Spencer into figuratively and literally transforming himself into an ass regarding both identifying and repelling terrorists. The highlight of this hilariously absurd segment is Spencer dropping trou. (and boxer briefs) in an exercise that is designed to show him how to send a terrorist running for the hills.
The initial outing of Morad is even better and arguably is the best bit in the entire series. His S1E1 debut has him interview a gun-rights advocate who supports training children as young as three to use guns. The ensuing hilarity includes a video that promotes guns encased in stuffed animals. These include the Gunny Rabbit and the Uzicorn.
Two other characters who represent the polar opposites of the political spectrum do "America" just as proud as Morad. Billy Wayne Ruddick, Jr. is an scooter-bound ultra-conservative. Watching both Senator Bernie Sanders and legendary newsman Ted Koppel shoot him down is beyond awesome. These segments additionally demonstrate the astonishing cool of Sanders and Koppel.
Another memorable segment has NPR t-shirt wearing Dr. Nira Cain-N'Degocella, whom press materials for "America" describe as "a Democratic activist and far-left lecturer on gender studies," conduct a public hearing in Kingman, Arizona. The meeting announcement includes that the topic is economic development; this notice also instructs attendees to leave their guns at home. The reason for essentially requiring checking your gun at the door is that group soon learns that the proposed project is a record-setting mosque. Suffice it to say that the residents do not support the project.
Flamboyant aggressively heterosexual ultra-rich Italian fashion photographer Gio Monaldo earns mention for two segments. The girlfriend of Monaldo blatantly granting him sexual satisfaction while he discusses purchasing a huge state-of-the-art yacht is only the tip of the iceberg. (Pun intended.) The real shock and awe is in the form of the broker going along when Monaldo makes it increasingly clear that he intends to use the yacht for a horrendous criminal purpose.
A later episode has Monaldo meeting with O.J. Simpson; Monaldo is representing himself as the liaison of a wealthy third-party who wants to meet Simpson. Monaldo lightly discussing killing a significant other while Simpson laughs along is highly effective, This definitely qualifies as one of the most disturbing bonding moments in television history.
The success of "America" relates to Cohen simply giving people enough rope with which to hang themselves. He does get them on camera under false pretenses and presents outlandish premises. However, he does NOTHING to coerce their responses. The lesser foils definitely all play along because the set up supports their views. Further, they seem to revel being in the spotlight just as much as any reality-show star. It is equally awesome that Sanders and Koppel distinguish themselves by not playing along.
The copious extras include deleted scenes and extended interviews. The latter include additional footage of a discussion between Morad and Dick Cheney. Highlights of the Cheney interview include Cheney autographing a waterboard and them discussing then Vice-President Cheney shooting a friend in the face during a hunting trip.
This latest in an ongoing series of reviews on vintage Warner Archive titles further illustrates the unparalleled diversity of the seemingly bottomless Archive vault. The DVD release of the 1981 dramedy "...All the Marbles" is a prime example of the gritty films of that period that are more heavy on the "dram" then the "edy." "Marbles" further is notable as the final film by director Robert Aldrich, who is better known for "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" and "The Dirty Dozen."
"Marbles" stars Peter Falk playing Peter Falk as rumpled and crude manager of female tag-team wrestling duo "The California Dolls" Harry Sears. We meet this group in Akron during a match for promoter Eddie Cisco (Burt Young). Sears playing hardball with Cisco both leaves the team and their manager wondering where their next meal is coming from and Harry spectacularly burning a bridge.
A subsequent bout with the "Really Rottens" in the form of "The Toledo Tigers" leaves the Dolls battered, bruised, and bitter. In comparison, having to resort to the lower form of female mud wrestling where they get their tops ripped off is not much of a downfall.
The match against the Tigers leads to the mother of all grudge matches in true sports film tradition, The victory of the Dolls in the rematch sets the stage for a championship fight at the MGM Grand in Reno. The stakes regarding this event gives the film its name.
The primary depth comes in the character studies of the trio, Sears is completely untrustworthy and seems to actually revel in living in cheap motels and driving a car that is beyond beater. Meanwhile, one of the dolls is addicted to drugs and the other has a clear willingness to take one (or more) for the team. The common element is that all of them are shameless.
Additional substance is in the form of "Marbles" playing the same role as other members of its genre; it shows "respectable people" the life of folks who live and work in the underbelly of society. Most of us give little if any thought to female wrestlers and pay even less attention to their lives.
Although this is not a "grace of God" situation, we still see the realistically sympathetic side of women (and their men) who understandably often are the subject of scorn when they even are thought about. Putting a human face on them and literally seeing their pain and deprivation make them more sympathetic,
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 current 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 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 the artist 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 Darren spending an entire party bonding in the bedroom of Kalvin provides an additional indication that Darren 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 Darren) 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 Darren. .
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 stillis 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.