The theme of learning from history so as not to repeat it being very prominent in the 1989-93 NBC cult-classic sci-fi action-adventure series "Quantum Leap" makes it aptly significant as to the Mill Creek Entertainment Blu-ray CS set of this series.
This begins with the MCE release aptly putting right what once went wrong as to the individual DVD sets of "Quantum." As hologram assistant/best friend Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) to brilliant physicist/hero Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula "Star Trek: Enterprise") would say, the earlier sets are caca. The images of this major-studio release of this modern series is painfully grainy to watch. The images and sound in the Blu-ray set conversely are "mahvelous, simply mahvelous."
The comparable shelf space required of the DVD and the BD sets also favor the latter. MCE, which separately packages each season of "Quantum" in this set, makes it compact while still leaving ample room to take each individual season out of the stylish cardboard box in which they are contained.
The final comment regarding physical media relates to a major annoyance regarding streaming services. The real possibility that any service will pull the plug on any series before you can "catch them all" favors being able to pull a marathon (rather than binge) worthy show off the shelf.
One of many notable elements of "Quantum" is that it learns from history by paying homage to '60s TV scifi god Irwin Allen of "Lost in Space" fame. Allen follows up "Space" with the 1966-67 ABC series "Time Tunnel." That one centers around a secret government time-travel project in the desert going horribly awry in a manner that (mostly) throws the two heroes around in history as their guys (and girls) in the chair try to pull them back home. Their adventures include being on the Titanic and having an unforgettable adventure at the Alamo.
The variation in "Quantum" is that Beckett heads up the titular research project in the desert in the not-to-distant future; an amusing aspect of this is that the "Quantum" team visualizes a '90s that is even more bright, neon-infused, and futuristic than the '80s.
As the voice-over narration that opens every "Quantum" episode explains, Beckett (who is an Indiana farm boy with an August 8, 1953 birth date) theorizes that one can time travel within his or her own lifetime. The glitch this time is an unknown entity (perhaps God) or force hijacks Sam on his inaugural leap.
This abduction establishes the pattern of Sam "leaping" into the body of an innocent or not-so- innocent in order to put right what once went wrong. This may involve preventing a murder, stopping someone from making a decision that greatly negatively impacts his or her life, etc.
A handful of these episodes center around real-life incidents, such as the death of Marilyn Munroe and the assassination of JFK. Related good fun comes ala Sam inadvertently putting ideas in the heads of younger versions of future real-life celebrities. A prime (pun) intended example leads to a classic "Rocky" scene.
The rest of this lore is that the future tech. allows Al to use a research-center imaging chamber in his present to appear as a hologram that "only Dr. Beckett can see or hear." This state also prevents this resource regarding emergencies, medical or otherwise, from physically making contact with anyone or anything.
The typical episode pattern is that a disoriented Sam "leaps" into the body of the current person of interest sometime in the period of the aforementioned lifetime. Al then fairly literally pops in with at least at little information about the owner of the meatsuit that Sam currently occupies. Regarding this, it can be someone of any age or gender and once is a chimp. This exposition includes at least some speculation regarding why the powers-that-be have thrust Sam into that situation.
Much of the relatable fun comes from Al sharing changeable statistics regarding the outcomes in response to action and non-action by Sam. A purely hypothetical example is an 75.8 percent chance that an actor will be cast in the role of a lifetime increasing to 88.1 percent after middle-aged Sam in the guise of a 20-year old studio page sneaks the headshot of the actor into the file of the producer of the film.
Watching most of the fan-favorite episodes of "Quantum" for this post has made this "mission" especially fun. These include the JFK one, which is a two-parter that has Sam "leaping" into the body of Lee Harvey Oswald at several significant times in the life of that historic figure. A bonus this time is the psyche of Oswald repeatedly taking dominance over that of Sam, who almost always remains in the driver's seat while "possessing" someone.
The S3 season premiere is a two-parter that has Sam first "leaping" into his teen-age self just before Thanksgiving. Although his mission is to correct his own mistake and win the big game so that his high-school coach goes onto bigger and better things, Sam is the hijacker this time. The wrongs that he tries to put right include three tragedies that will befall his family in the next few years. This adventure continues when Sam "leaps" in the body of a man who is a member of the band of brothers of the older brother of Sam.
An especially fun one aptly has Brooke Shields play a literal debutante heiress in an episode that is a mash-up of "Blue Lagoon" and "Swept Away." The Shields character is about to enter an essentially arranged marriage when the ship on which she is travelling sinks. This "princess" finds herself being one of two stranded castaways with a Greek greasy dirty sailor who worked in the engine room of the ship and currently has a physicist controlling his life. The rest of this story is that Sam must put the life of the pretty baby in his charge back on track.
The series finale hits the trifecta of including big reveals, bringing back old friends, and providing closure while leaving the door open for more adventures. The conclusion this time does scream for five seasons and a movie. The irony here is that the wrong of "Quantum" missing the milestone of 100 episodes by three never gets righted,
Warner Archive once more shows awesome follow-through in releasing "Popeye the Sailor: The 1940s V3' on September 17, 2019. These theatrical shorts from 1948-49 follow (reviewed) 1940s V1 and (reveiwed) 1940s V2 from earlier in the titular decade. All three (to the extent possible) pristinely remastered sets are among the 1,000s of examples of Archive showing classic films, cartoons, and television their due respect.
The many spectacular aspects of these cartoons as both separate units and as a whole includes seeing how new technology and styles guide the evolution of the literal and the figurative themes of these timeless treasures.
The back-cover notes remind us of the prime example of the technology. A paramount (pun) intended effort to make a three-strip technique (Beta) an alternative to Technicolor (VHS) is fully on display. Archive delves into this in a preface to "A Wolf in Sheik's Clothing." That one has Popeye come to the rescue when the titular predator makes Bedouin eyes at Olive.
This set of 17 cartoons from the adolescence of Popeye begins with the self-explanatory prophetic outing "Olive Oyl for President," This best gal of our squid taking offense at his scoffing at the idea of a female president sets the stage for the extended "If I Were President" musical number.
Sexist hilarity ensues as Olive describes a '40s women's Utopia. This includes the men staying home while female executives dictate correspondence to hunky male secretaries. Another aspect of this Great Society is a tax system that greatly favors getting married over being a bachelor.
The first historical adventure is "Wigwam Whoppee" in which Pilgrim Popeye woos Indian maiden Olive to the great distress of the chief who has both eyes on that squaw; a highlight is Popeye making his foe look like a real turkey.
Our soulmates also attend the first Olympics in a self-explanatory adventure titled "Popeye Meets Hercules." This one has the competitors vying for gold in the form of Olive.
The arguably most ambitious short also is the longest; much of the additional three minutes in the highly meta and surreal "Popeye's Premiere" is devoted to Popeye and Olive attending the titular first screening of the Popeye version of the story of "Aladdin." Popeye is an embarrassingly excitable boy throughout that evening that proves to be enchanted.
The handful of times that arch-nemesis Bluto shows up includes the (sadly) relevant "Snow Place Like Home." Popeye and Olive are enjoying the beach of the city that's got style Miami when a sudden freak storm whisks them (ala "The Wizard of Oz") to the Great White North, which they find is not a beauty way to go.
It is par for the course when mountain man Bluto, sans any siblings or spouses, tortures Popeye in ways that include giving him a fur coat that a bear still is using. Of course, the rest of this story is that our #metoo offender succeeds in wooing Olive until it no longer is fun. This requires that Popeye 'roid up on spinach and put right what once went wrong.
The rest of these animated adventures are equally true to form and entertaining. They literally can't make 'em like that any more in this era in which killjoys have sapped much of the fun out of cartoons by forcing the removal of most of the surreal (and ABSOLUTELY harmless) violence.
The Warner Archive September 24, 2019 DVD release of the 1939 B-movie "The Man Who Dared" is among the latest proof that many titles in the Archive catalog are both universal and timeless. This tale of a typical middle-class American family facing the choice of being witnesses for the prosecution or playing it safe by having selective amnesia is almost identical to the (reviewed) 1931 Walter Huston film "The Star Witness."
Our "Man" story begins with the standard Golden-Age exposition device of newspaper front-pages reporting wide-spread corruption in a typical mid-sized American city. The action soon shifts to the office of crusading DA Palmer, who is on the cusp of finally bringing down the crooked mayor.
Meanwhile, Hizzoner is meeting with his goon squad to discuss how to silence McCrary, an investigator who is a not-so-easily intimidated star witness.
These worlds collide when corrupt police official Nick Bartel and his man-in-blue group pay McCrary a home visit with extreme prejudice. This trio breaking into the garage of McCrary to "Pintoize" his ride interrupts the dinner of the three-generation Carters, who gather at the window to watch what is going on.
McCrary and his wife inadvertently escalating the timetable creates a desperate time for the malfeasors that leads to the desperate measure of again preventing the Carters from chowing down.
The ensuing dilemma relates to the Carters paying a heavy price for doing the right thing. The self-important middle-class middle-manager head-of-the-family is duped into going with the bad guys, who then use escalating means of persuasion to convince him to change his story. This failing leads to to kidnapping all-American boy Billy Carter as an effort to silence his family.
One fly in this ointment is a rebel without a cause who does not recognize the irony of strongly speaking out against capitalism while enjoying a good lifestyle courtesy of a father who is happy to play his role in that system.
This leads to building tension as the central trial commences while patriotic Spanish-American War veteran Ulysses "Grandpa" Potterfield demonstrates the wisdom of the old fool. The clear message on many levels is that the old ways are the best ways.
The larger messages that remain depressingly relevant today are that absolute power corrupts absolutely and that the one with the gold makes the rules. This is even more true today when "tyrants" on all levels have well-stocked propaganda arsenals and extreme defamation laws that silence many whistleblowers even more effectively than a physical beatdown.
An increased sense that speaking out will only end in devastating tears and recriminations is a further nail in the twin coffins of free speech and promoting what should be American values.
Mill Creek Entertainment continues displaying diversity and a love of modern cult classics as to the August 13, 2019 additions to the MCE "Retro VHS" Blu-ray series that evokes thoughts of the pre-digital days of Blockbuster. The subject du jour is the "retro" release of the 1989 James Woods/Robert Downey, Jr. legal thriller "True Believer." The MCE section of this site includes MANY posts on "retro" releases and numerous other items in the MCE catalog.
An inadvertently amusing aspect of "Believer" is that then former teen idol/current box-office king Downey is largely extraneous. He plays idealistic recent law-school grad, Roger Baron, who gives up fortune (and perhaps fame) at a white-shoes law firm to be a first-year associate for faded civil-rights attorney Eddie Dodd (Woods), who now (barely) pays his bills making Constitutional rights arguments to keep drug-dealers out of jail. Dodds noting that he charges cocaine dealers and represents pot dealers pro bono is one of a few funny moments in this drama.
The pair makes a good low-key dynamic duo. Dodd is the battle-weary dark knight still fighting the good fight, and Baron being the naive boy wonder who is eager to learn from the master.
Meanwhile, guest-of-the-state Shu Kai Kim is eight years into a stay at Sing Sing for a murder conviction when he is coerced into killing a fellow inmate as a gang initiation. This prompts the mother of Kim to frankly ask Dodd if he will defend her son. Her response when asked "why him?" is another amusing moment.
This leads to Baron having one of his few significant scenes in "Believer;" he convinces Dodd to take the case.
The rest of this story is that this litigation once again pits Dodd against prosecutor Robert Reynard, who has a tough entry in the loss column thanks to Dodd. Kurtwood Smith of "That '70s Show" playing tough foul-tempered Reynard is sure to prompt many viewers to mentally insert the name "Dumbass" at the end of most lines of Reynard.
The intrigue comes ala Dodd uncovering increasingly compelling evidence that Kim is doing the time without having done the crime, A facially neo-Nazi attack on Dodd for defending Kim on the most recent murder charge fully thickens the plot. Our legal eagle (and his eaglet) soon learn how this is tied to the earlier crime; of course, these events also involve Reynard.
The "Marvel"ous history of Downey makes it ironic (no pun intended) that truth, justice, and the American way ultimately prevail.
Warner Archive aptly co-ordinates the September 3, 2019 Blu-ray release of the "Big Bang Theory" prequel sitcom "Young Sheldon" with going back-to-school ahead of the Sep. 26, 2019 S3 season premiere. This tale of titular 10 year-old boy-genius Sheldon Cooper (Iain Armitage) facing the daunting challenges of being the smallest (and smartest) member of his high-school sophomore class in his '80s era not-so-enlightened East Texas community is relatable to many of us who excel more at academics than other aspect of school life.
Archive earning its good name by releasing what broadly can be considered the prequels of corporate sibling Warner Bros. Home Entertainment makes Entertainment the apt one to release the epic "Theory" BD CS limited-edition collector's set on November 12, 2019 in time for the holidays.
The other historical note as to "Sheldon" is that it aptly is reminiscent of cult-classic '80scom "Sledge Hammer" about the titular cop who is a blend of Dirty Harry and Rambo.
Like the best brains behind "Sheldon," real-life boy genius Alan Spencer of "Hammer" does not include a laugh track. Spencer aptly concludes that viewers do not need to be told when something is funny. The comparison extends to Sheldon being justified if he ever adopts the "Hammer" catchphrase "trust me; I know what I'm doing."
The following CBS promo for "Sheldon" S2 features a few S2 highlights sans inarguably the funnest scene in the entire season; this has loving grandmother Connie "Meemaw" Tucker (Annie Potts) frantically waving the flag and otherwise enthusiastically showing her patriotism in her front yard in the wake of Sheldon innocently advocating communism in the heartland of the Bible Belt.
This follow up season to the (reviewed) S1 of "Sheldon" commences with a story line that is relatable to both the highly attuned and those who must endure a boy with something extra. Our lead is convinced that the refrigerator is broken because it sounds differently than usual. His family of "muggles" is equally certain that there is nothing wrong with that appliance.
Presumably equally motivated to fix the problem and to prove that he is right, Sheldon takes the refrigerator apart. A "sit" that adds to the "com" related to this is that Sheldon experiences the Humpty Dumpty Syndrome (which would have made an awesome "Theory" episode title). This requires his high-school football coach father George (Lance Barber) to "shell" (pun intended, i.e. Bazinga) $200 in 1988 dollars for someone who is smarter than all the king's horses and all the king's men to put "Humpty" back together again.
The aforementioned episode in which Meemaw "flags" down the neighbors revolves around a similar theme as the season premiere. Sheldon notices that the bread that mother Mary (Zoe Perry) uses to make his school lunch has a different taste than before. Of course, no one initially believes Sheldon. It is equally predictable that he is proven correct. It is not expected that this leads to a logical but naive comment by Sheldon getting his family branded Cold War era "reds" deep in the heart of Texas.
One of numerous personal we are "Sheldon" aspects of these episodes begins with a three-year battle with a particular Starbucks. The chain was responsive to consistent reports that the frappuccinos at that branch did not taste right; they also made repeated efforts to address the issue, including having regional managers taste the drinks, only to insist that there was nothing wrong. They further repeatedly stated that no one else was complaining about the drinks.
The store ultimately disassembled the pump used to make frappuccinos. They discovered a thin crack that reduced the amount of syrup that made it into the drink. It is recalled that someone fairly high up in the Starbucks food chain (pun intended) called to apologize.
A generally amusing element of S2 is Sheldon making a comment in class only to have a teen classmate named Derek tease him; this leads to Sheldon responding in a manner to make Derek look foolish,
The personal anecdote this time is getting up in a high-school US history class to make a peer-graded presentation. A friend called out that he was going to give me an F; I immediately responded "f you, Peter." The entire class laughed, and the teacher quickly made us move on.
Another notable episode is similar to an S1 outing in which Sheldon tries living with the head of a school for gifted children. The S2 variation has recruiting by colleges prompting Sheldon trying the experiment of staying overnight with his absent-minded professor/mentor/friend/potential new grandfather Dr. John Sturgis (Wallace Shawn).
Hilarity fully ensues in the evening that young and elderly Sheldon spend together; the best line in the episode has John suggesting that girlfriend MeeMaw move into his apartment so that she can take care of both him and Sheldon.
The lesson here is that someone has to be an adult; although not totally relevant, this is the same observation that a friend makes after I match a seven year-old girl move-for-move when she starts sticking out her tongue at me during a Christmas concert.
An episode in watch Sheldon is hospitalized a few weeks after a real-life "incarceration" hit especially close to home. Concern about germs and HATING having a roommate were ripped from-the-headlines.
Wanting to go home to rest in my king-sized bed, be with my cat, and getting to watch some of 1,000s of DVD and Blu-rays was a variation of the whining of Sheldon. Ordering a few meal items in (failed) efforts to combine some of their elements into one edible entree outsheldoned Sheldon. The observation here was that my jeans somehow expanded at least two inches during this period.
The "Sheldon" season finale that airs on the same night as the "Theory" series finale nicely ties the two shows together and helps bridge the generation gap. The "Theory" two-parter revolves around adult Sheldon winning (and accepting) the Nobel Prize for physics; "Sheldon" has the younger version of that character planning a 5:00 a.m. party to listen to the Nobel winners 31 years earlier. A "Theory" babies bonus is a special treat for fans of both programs.
The big (no pun intended) picture relatability of this is several years during the early 2000s in which I would go to the home of friends virtually every Friday night to eat take-out and watch "Stagate" series and other shows in the Sci-Fi Channel line up. This was a nice era that ended when neither side arguably was an adult.
The first conclusion to draw from all this is that "Sheldon" is one of the most cute and amusing sitcoms that currently grace the airways until CBS All Access makes it a streaming exclusive. The second takeaway is to trust someone who is smarter than the average bear; the odds are forever in his favor that he knows what he is doing.
The voice of experience requires advising folks who are skeptical about the CBS All Access streaming service "The Good Fight" to check your prejudices regarding "parent" series "The Good Wife" at the door. The wit and wisdom of "Fight" further suggests that those of us guilty of labeling "Wife" as a "scoccer mom series" without ever watching it may pay for judging Amy by her cover.
The draw for many of us doubting Clarence Thomases is '90s CBS sitcom "Cybill" star Christine Baranski (Maryann Thorpe) starring in "Fight." It is almost guaranteed that fans of that absolutely fabulous hard-drinking scorned first wife still revel in chances to spit out "Doctor Dick" more than 20 years after the broadcast of the unresolved "Cybill" series-ending cliffhanger.
The rest of this story is liking, really liking a series that leaves expectations in the dust makes that program even more enjoyable than one that is approached with a more positive 'tude.
The CBS Home Entertainment September 17, 2019 DVD release of "Fight" S3 provides a good chance for the aforementioned enlightenment. The equally good news is that a recap at the start of the season premiere and exposition throughout the series allows legal eaglets to follow the action.
The following Access trailer for "Fight" S3 reinforces that this unique series has a special voice and stylized look. You also will see a few familiar faces in addition to Baranski; those usual suspects are only the tip of the iceberg as to the lives of the "Titanic" passengers whose lives and loves provide ample fodder.
An online description that seems to come from CBS.com provides a good primer on "Fight." That synopsis states the following.
"The CBS All Access series picks up one year after the events in the final episode of 'The Good Wife.' After a financial scam destroys the reputation of young lawyer Maia Rindell and wipes out her mentor and godmother Diane Lockhart's [Baranski] savings, the two are forced out of Lockhart & Lee and join forces with Lucca Quinn at one of Chicago's pre-eminent law firms. At Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad, Diane finds familiar faces, including Colin Morrello, who is a rising star in the state's attorney's office, and Marissa Gold. Though starting at the bottom, Diane and Maia are determined to rebuild their careers and lives at the new firm."
Show runners Robert and Michelle King avoid a single dull moment in any of the 10 S3 episodes. The animated "Schoolhouse Rocks" segments aptly titled "The Good Fight Shorts" enhance the entertainment value. The first one titled "NDA" is a song (but not dance) number about legally binding contracts known as "non-disclosure agreements" that prevent someone from divulging cover information about the person who is paying the hush money.
The firm partners trying to get a secretary with a dirty little secret to not ruin the posthumous reputation of her boss/civil rights icon prompts the short, Meanwhile back at the ranch, an NDA drives a wedge between highly liberal Diane and her conservative husband Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole). A Dick Cheney element of this makes it highly entertaining.
A second element that drives much of the S3 action enters in the second episode in the form of rude, crude, and not-at-all socially acceptable sole practitioner Roland Blum (Michael Sheen), who makes Al Pacino seem like Shirley Temple. This legal lizard gets his foot in the door by representing the co-defendant of a man who is being jointly tried with a man whom Maia is defending against a murder charge.
This emboldens Blum to make himself an odd (and highly unwelcome) bedfellow of the partners in a multi-million-dollar class-action lawsuit. This leads to an offer that is too good to refuse that requires bringing Blum a temporary full-time fixture at the firm.
Maia making the mistake of f**king with Blum, who has attended several rodeos, sets off a chain of events that derails her career. This, in turn, teaches the "suits" that Hell hath no fury like an attorney scorned.
Meanwhile, a promotion and a leaked salary list ignite smoldering fires as to perceptions of racial and gender inequities at the firm. Hilarity is the best thing that ensues from resulting efforts at sensitivity training and other "reforms."
We also an extreme effort to convince new head of the matrimonial department/new single mother Lucca Quinn (Cush Gumbo) that Melania Trump is consulting her as a prelude to getting a divorce, The truth awesomely reflects a desperate measure in a desperate time even before the recent initiation of a proceeding to divorce the country from the president.
When not having a hand to a varying extent in all this (as well as other firm-related) trauma and drama, Diane divides her time between throwing axes in a bar and plotting with a secret group of fellow female executives who are fighting covertly planted fake news with more of the same. This is not to mention an effort to hack a voting machine to offset election interference.
Aside from this "hobby" often overlapping in not good ways with the work of Diane, the S3 cliffhanger suggests that she and Kurt are going to be on the receiving end of poetic justice.
CBS supplements this with deleted scenes and a gag reel.
This opening argument for adding "Fight" to you DVD library warrants a summary judgment without allowing the "cons" their day in court.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2013 drama "An Afghan Love Story" is one of the more thought-provoking titles in the extensive Movement catalog of foreign and domestic art-house movies. "Story" being based on actual events enhances this tale of modern woman Wajma running afoul of the old-school standards in her country.
The accolades for "Story" include a 2103 Sundance award for screenwriting and Best Film honors at the 2013 Amazonas Film Festival.
The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN Movement trailer for "Story" provides a synopsis of this movie about a wedding hook-up gone terribly wrong.
Wajma and Mustafa know from the outset that they experience the lust that dare not speak its name; this newly accepted law student and her waiter lover literally and figuratively go to great lengths to avoid her being seen entering his apartment for their afternoon delight.
The skyrockets take flight when Wajma learns that she has a nan in the oven; Mustafa informing her that he will not put a ring on it or otherwise do the right thing by that cow who has given away the milk for free because she is damaged goods enhances the drama. Abortion being illegal in Afghanistan is another complication. Presenting India as a liberal country in the context of abortion being legal there provides further context.
The zinc lining in all this is that mother and the grandmother of Wajma are sympathetic and compassionate; the bad news is that the "wait 'til your father comes home" element of the story makes things far worse.
Father Haji constantly is away because of his job detecting and removing landmines; no pun is intended in stating that he goes ballistic in learning of what he considers a major disgrace to his family. The manner is which he takes Wajma to the woodshed is horrific.
Filmmaker Barmak Aktam does an excellent job first introducing the characters, and then presenting the flirting and the resulting "courtship" of Wajma and Mustafa. This leads to the pregnancy that results in the aforementioned building drama and the trauma for the mother-to-be. Akram next provides a perfect payoff regarding the desperate measures that the desperate circumstances require. This climax shows that things are not so different in traditional and "civilized" countries.
The good acting, the drama rarely straying in "melo" territory, and this somewhat true story being relatable to many make "Story" one to add to your collection and for parents to rewatch when even adult offspring commit a blunder that prompts thoughts of wanting to make them drop trou and bend themselves over your knee.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment September 17, 2019 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Supergirl" S4 brings us 3/4 of the way toward completing these releases of the 2018-19 seasons of the CW Arrowverse series ahead of their (mostly) October 2019 season premieres. "Supergirl" S4 follows the (reviewed) sets of "The Flash" S5 and (reviewed) "Arrow" S7. The September 24, 2019 releases of "Legends of Tomorrow" S4 completes this run.
The reasons for springing for the BD sets extend (except as to "Legends") beyond those versions including the epic three-part "Elseworlds" episode that introduces Batwoman to the Arrowverse ahead of her 2019-20 series. Past lack of buyer's remorse validates that spending a few extra bucks to get the deeper and richer color and sound of BD is well worth it; this is not to mention BD being less prone to the ravages of time and repeated viewings than DVD.
"Supergirl" always has been more closely aligned in lore and tone with "Flash." On-screen, this relates to Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) of the latter introducing Superman cousin/reporter/covert government operative Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) to the Arrowverse. Further, both series skew younger in cast and target demographic than "Arrow." Off-screen, Gustin and Benoist (who have sung separately and together in their current series) are former Gleeks,
Further, "Flash" and "Supergirl" both revolve around boys and girls with something extra on both sides of the law. These problems and solutions mostly are aliens on "Supergirl," and mostly Spider-man style meta-humans who accidentally acquire special abilities on "Flash."
Conversely, most of Team Arrow and their foes are more like Batman in that they use advanced tech. in their efforts to put their well-honed skills to good (or bad) use.
The underlying debate on whether aliens, most of whom can easily send us muggles crying home to our mommies, in "Supergirl" S4 parallels the underlying theme in "Flash" S5 regarding how to handle a "cure" that makes a meta like other boys, The options there are to completely suppress the cure, make it mandatory, or give metas the freedom of choice.
As a side note, both "Supergirl" and "Flash" also have an annoyingly cartoonish "Scrappy-Doo" style/outcast character who fails in his mission to provide comic relief, "Flash" compounds the error as to acrebic scientist Harrsion Wells by making the current incarnation of him stereotypically French,
"Supergirl" has a kinder and gentler version of Brainiac, whose voice and misunderstanding of life on that alternate earth are inconsistent with his supposed intelligence, The writers mercifully limit a quirk as to referring to classic films to a few episodes To expand on a reference to the game of three in the "Flash" post, neither Wells nor "Brainy" would fare well regarding that diversion.
A real-world analogy in these series by openly homosexual executive-producer Greg Berlanti is gay rights. One aspect of this real-world non-issue is the "threat" that LGBTQ folks pose to "normal" people. An element of this in the entire Arrowverse and our reality is that most of the "villains" can "pass" for "normal."
Everything regarding this in "Supergirl" S4 ties to the Children of Liberty, lead by Agent Liberty (a.k.a. former US history professor Ben Lockwood) which loosely can be described of as a human-rights organization. The analogy as to this group that aggressively supports a "send her back" policy is to the related issues of immigration and refugees. This encompasses "them" coming to "our" country where they take jobs from "real" Americans and cause extensive physical destruction. We further see how these negative experiences can radicalize folks who previously largely avoid the maddening crowd.
The Children's campaign to repeal the federal Alien Amnesty Act does mirror a theme in "Arrow" S7. The legislative effort there is to outlaw vigilante activities of Team Arrow that supplement formal law-enforcement work.
An early "Supergirl" S4 episode begins to eliminate confusion as to that season seemingly not addressing the S3 cliffhanger. The final scene in the season finale has our heroine landing in what seems to be eastern Europe. The additional S4 exposition is that this individual can be considered a version of a bizarro Supergirl.
More exposition regarding all this comes roughly 3/4 into S4 with the heavily anticipated first appearance of Jon Cryer as "Super" nemesis Lex Luthor, Fanboys will remember Cryer as gonzo Lex Luthor nephew Lenny in "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace."
Aside from this introduction of a major DCU character into the Arrowverse series, the coolest thing about having Lex Luthor join the party is seeing late in the game how he orchestrates so much from the sidelines throughout the season. His "great escape" is another highlight.
All of this leads to season finale that includes an extended thrill-a-minute climax. The cliffhanger hits a high note by (ala "Arrow") bringing back a central "Elseworlds" element and keeping fanboys on the edge of their futons until the October 6, 2019 S5 season premiere.
The bigger picture is that S4 arguably is the best "Supergirl" season. It has streamlined characters, made Kara far less awkward and geeky "Ugly Betty" like, and has stronger story arcs.
The biggest picture is that the latest batch of Arrowverse seasons supports what fanboys have known for decades; comic books are about much more than men (and women) flying around in Spandex.
The plethora of S4 extras include a presentation of highlights from 2018 Comic-Con panels of Arrowverse series, a (Blu-ray exclusive) feature on "Elseworlds," a look at DCU super villains, deleted scenes, and a gag reel. The deleted scenes run from the sublime to the ridiculous, and the gag reel shows which cast member is most prone to cursing.
The blessing and the curse related to the August 2019 Del Shores film "Six Characters in Search of a Play is that there is so much good in it that knowing where to begin is tough. Starting from a highly macro level (and to borrow from another "minor gay celebrity") the real-life Shores is one of the most kind and compassionate people in "this filthy world."
"Play" is the lucky seventh performance of the titular one-man show of Shores. The comparison to fellow (deceased) highly literate storyteller Spaulding Gray begins with Shores explaining the classic work to which he is paying homage.
The meta concept of "Play" is that six real-persons in the life of Shores inspire a desire to insert them in work that will join this impressive body of work that includes (reviewed) "A Very Sordid Wedding" that is part of the hilarious "Sordid Lives" franchise of Shores, the MUST-SEE (reviewed) "Southern Baptist Sissies," and the (reviewed) Shores performance film "My Sordid Life" that ties the aforementioned (and much more) together.
This concept evokes thoughts of the reasoning of a summer-camp co-worker who made a big deal about not owning a television when such a s statement was considered a lifestyle. The conclusion of this woman was that the people in her life were more interesting than television characters.
The rest of this interlocking story is that the married middle-aged woman who co-owned the camp with her temporarily absent husband spent the summer openly having an affair with the gregarious hunky blond farm boy who ran the satellite camp.
The taking of liberties with the help proves the point of the counselor AND validates the long history of Shores including the "characters" in his life in his films and plays.
The extension of this is that "Characters" is funny because it true sans any exaggeration or other embellishment. Spoilers regarding these unique individuals. including one who blurs the line between fact and fiction, is mostly limited to discussing the first one. Hearing about the "loud-mouthed lower-middle-class Republican with a heart of gold" (and how a chihuahua upstages her) will require watching the film.
The truly enchanting evening that ends too soon begins with Shores reminiscing about chain-smoking character actress Sarah Hunley, who plays Juanita Bartlett in the "Sordid" films and the television series. Much of this centers around Hunley setting a highly relatable "send her back" style deadline as to filming "Wedding."
Our Gayrisson Keillor especially shines during this portion of the film when describing a frequently repeated ritual in which Hunley engages when he visits her Studio City apartment, Many of us who have called on older people can relate to strict routines greatly prolonging achieving an objective (not to mention an exit strategy).
The stories of Hunley and of the other five people who are varying degrees of near and dear to Shores prove yet another couple of points as to comedy. Carol Burnett is well known for saying that her classic skits work because truly funny material is timeless. Similarly, Burnett notes that she gets big laughs without resorting to blue humor.
NOTHING in "Play" is an more raunchy than Burnett coming out of stage with comically large breasts or Tim Conway silently expressing great pain from straddling a door knob.
Shores further emulates Burnett by presenting material that appeals to everyone from teens just starting to develop secondary sexual characteristics to folks who have reverted to wearing diapers and going to bed at 7.
All of us have these characters, including the guy who finds it necessary to hurl homophobic slurs based on a gas-station encounter, in our lives. Further, everyone in this demographic at least must smile on hearing about the Kum and Go; yes. they do sell Big Gulps.
Mill Creek Entertainment once more proves itself to be the champion of sofa spuds everywhere as to the August 13, 2019 DVD release of "Hart to Hart: Movies and Murder Collection." This four-disc set includes all 8 1993-96 made-for-TV reunion movies of the 1979-84 ABC light-hearted mystery series.
Having a handful of "B-listers" guest in each movie provides a wonderful hybrid vibe of "Murder, She Wrote," which gets its own set of made-for-TV reunions, and "The Love Boat." These celebrities include Joan Collins, George Hamilton, Alan Young, Mike Farrell, and Jason Bateman. The roster truly goes on and on and on from there.
MCE follows this up with a Halloween treat in the form of an October 2019 Blu-ray complete-series release of "Charlie's Angels."
The titular couple is an '80riffic "lifestyles of the rich and famous" version of one-percenter silver-screen amateur sleuths Nick and Nora Desmond of "The Thin Man" fame.
As the voice-over narration in the "Hart" series and movies reminds us, Jonathan Hart (Robert Wagner) is a self-made millionaire. This exposition includes that "it was murder" when Jonathan met "gorgeous" spouse/free-lance journalist Jennifer Hart (Stefanie Powers). The rest of this part of the story is that gruff but loving live-in servant Max (Lionel Stander) "takes care of them, which ain't easy."
A typical "Hart" episode finds a series of unfortunate circumstances embroiling the soulmates in a crime that often involves murder. It is just as likely that someone embezzling funds from a charity for which Jennifer is organizing a fashion show kills an assistant who discovers that crime as it is that Jonathan must clear his name as to Hart Industries being accused of nefarious business dealings.
The aptly titled first movie in the series is "Hart to Hart Returns." This one stays the closest to the spirit of the series while including a notable development that is too momentous to the lore to even remotely spoil. The central plot involves a pending business deal of Jonathan with an old friend prompting the corporate villains of the week to take desperate measures in response to the desperate times as to the aforementioned pursuit of profit.
The next one, "Home is Where the Hart is" arguably is the best one in that it virtually is a live-action "Scooby-Doo" mystery. The death of the mentor/first boss of then cub-reporter Jennifer brings our heroes to the small town where Mrs. H. begins her career.
The list of usual suspects and the spooky subterfuge that is concealing covert activity make one long to see family pet Freeway, Jr. speak English and Jonathan to pull a rubber mask off the villain. An "I would have gotten away with it except for you meddling millionaires" would have made this one purely sublime.
"Old Friends Never Die" is another memorable one due to both its campy fun and its homage to another genre; this time Agatha Christie books are taken to Hart. A publisher tells the couple that wanting to add Jennifer to his stable of writers is why he is inviting them to a weekend party at his lavish estate. The rest of the guests are eccentric scribes.
The plot thickens on Jennifer overhearing a detailed murder plot; the explanation that the conversation relates to a novel concept wears thin on life imitating alleged art. This culminates in the truth ultimately coming out, and the Harts finding themselves playing the most dangerous game.
More of the same occurs in the other films, which culminate in the aptly titled "Til Death Do Us Part." An early scene in this one indicates that Jonathan may be dyslexic in that Dog is his co-pilot.
The rest of this story is that the Harts travel to Germany so that Jennifer can donate bone marrow to a young cancer patient. The intrigue this time relates to our dynamic duo encountering a French woman who is a doppelganger of Jennifer. Of course, Powers plays this crazy pair.
"Death" ends on the same concept as the last several films in the series in that the epilogue involves the Harts in a fantastic or fantasy situation. These include this pair magically transforming into a couple performing a song-and-dance number on a stage or being transformed into lovers in a cuckoo clock.
Old and new fans should take all this to hart; the series and the movies are good cheesy fun that show that entertainment need not be edgy.
These thoughts regarding the breaking glass pictures April 2012 DVD release of "Del Shores My Sordid Life" is a perfect inaugural topic for an ongoing series of "evergreen" reviews of pre-2016 breaking releases.
Any friend of Dorothy (Zbornak or Gale) or fan of good campy humor knows Shores as the writer of the "Sordid Lives" play, film, and Logo television series about a young gay man and his hilariously "shameless" white trash family. Shores is lesser known as the writer of the (fave) play "Southern Baptist Sissies," which is as autobiographical as "Life" and "Lives." Fans of all three will delight in the charming insight that "Life" provides regarding the aforementioned true labors of love by Shores.
"Life" further is appropriate for this new group of reviews because it it is consistent with glass beginning to give another Philadelphia-based home-entertainment company a run for its money regarding releases of indie art-house gay-themed films. Upcoming Unreal TV posts are on "People You May Know," which features a 30something gay man looking for love, and the documentary "Seed Money" about the founder of the gay porn film company Falcon Studios.
"Life" is the one-man show of Shores in which he discusses "Lives," "Sissies," and several other projects. He nicely sets the tone by discussing his work on the '90s Foxcom "Ned and Stacey" that stars a pre- "Will and Grace" Debra Messing and a post "Wings" Thomas Haden Church. Shores admits that dissing "Lowell" by literally calling him an asshole distresses fans of Church but states in his terrifically sweet Southern voice that that actor is one.
A similar story relates to Shores working on the groundbreaking Showtime series "Queer as Folk." The surprising bad guy this time is dreamy young blond boy Randy Harrison, who plays dreamy young blond Justin. Shores discussing the revenge of the writers for the scorn that Harrison expresses regarding the program surprisingly is not a memorable episode that literally puts the ass of Justin in a sling. The lesson to not make the writers your enemy is much more poetic and clever.
Other shocking moments include Shores amusingly discussing sharing explicit information about the mechanics of gay sex with his mother. This segment includes not telling her absolutely everything in order to not overwhelm her.
Hearing about the play "Daddy's Dyin ... Who's Got the Will" beginning life in a 64-seat theater before going on to become a Shores thing hit (and hilarious) film is very entertaining. The best part of this story is the outrage of an aunt regarding the portrayal of her in the film and the surprising reason for that anger.
Shores additionally addresses marriage equality in that era before every state recognizes that right. This includes Shores discussing his daughter posting a YouTube video, which is a DVD extra, on California Proposition 8. That video demonstrates that Shores raised his girl right.
Many of the more personal stories relate to tales that are funny because they happen to someone else surrounding truly southern-friend family gatherings of the Shores clan. These include a family reunion and a funeral.
The appeal of the performance itself relates to Shores, who awesomely engages the audience throughout the show, being as shameless as the rest of his kin regarding the perverse nature of their past and the harmful anti-gay attitude that stems from being a practicing Southern Baptist. Regarding the latter, Shores takes a page from the playbook of fellow skilled storyteller Mel Brooks as to the Nazis. Our favorite "sissy" robs his ignorant relatives of their power by showing the foolishness of their beliefs on the subject of sexuality. He is a boy of whom any momma and daddy should be proud.
The copious truly special extras extend well beyond the aforementioned Proposition 8 video. We see fans and Shores actors, who include "Lives" star Beau Bridges, share their thoughts as they leave the theater. We additionally get three deleted monologues, which include Shores sharing a powerful deleted speech from Sissies, from "Life."
Other features include behind-the-scenes looks and the theatrical trailer for the film.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The WBHE September 10, 2019 separate DVD & BD releases of "Supernatural" S14 help keep the CW joy going strong ahead of the October 2019 season premieres of these fun-for-all-ages series. This run begins with the August 2019 releases of (reviewed) "Arrow" S7 and (reviewed) "Flash" S5.
The September 17, 2019 releases of "Supergirl" S4, and the September 24, 2019 releases of "Legends of Tomorrow" round out this run,
The blessing and the curse related to "Supernatural" S14 is that premature rumors of the death of this series result in episodes that awesomely cover all bases and leave fanboys wanting more but being content about where things stands in the season finale. The same is true as "Arrow" and "Flash." It is known that S15 will be the end for "Supernatural" and that Team Arrow has decided that eight is enough.
The following trailer for S14 shows that "Supernatural" has not lost any of its creepy edge in its adolescence. This promo being in perfectly clear standard def. reinforces that spending a few more bucks for the enhanced images and sound of Blu-ray is WELL worth that extra cost.
The last hurrah elements of S14 begins with grim brothers/expert monster hunters Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester back in our world after an S13 adventure in an alternate universe known as "Apocalypse World." One change is that their core group of the siblings and long-term literal angel Castiel (Misha Collins) now includes "Little Nicky"/"Cousin Oliver" Jack (Alexander Calvert). This new kid on the block is the two year-old son of Lucifer in the body of a late-teens boy.
"Mom" Mary Winchester and mentor/father figure Bobby Singer also are back with the band after extended death-related absences from the series.
Everything old is new again in that S14 commences with the "surviving" sibling dealing with the sacrifice of his brother at the end of the prior season. In this case, Sam has the aforementioned inner circle and his army of hunters desperately seeking Dean, who is the new meat suit for archangel Michael. This brings things back to the primary S5 story arc in which Michael and Lucifer want to respectively possess Dean and Sam in order to hold a death match.
S5 further rears its ugly head as to former Lucifer vessel Nick also being on Team Winchester. Subsequent events indicate that that former tenant has a lingering effect on his prior landlord.
The standard murder and mayhem result as to Michael having Dean do his bidding, Sam and Dean teaming up to evict that squatter, and the standard demons and numerous other creatures of the night preying on innocent and not-so-innocent humans. All of this occurs in the background of the latest plan of Michael to turn earth into his idea of paradise.
Meanwhile at the fortified bunker that the Winchesters call home, Jack faces his own personal crises. S13 events have robbed him of his grace that makes him different than other boys. He also faces a comparable crisis to one in which "cousin" Sam struggles in S6.
Staying alive requires that Jack sacrifice a portion of his soul; a few subsequent desperate times require that he resort to the desperate measure of giving up a little more of his soul to defeat a foe with extreme prejudice,
Team "Supernatural" does the series proud as to the milestone 300th episode "Lebanon" (a.k.a. "Winchester Family Reunion.") This one starts strong with our boys on a scavenger hunt that goes awry when a trio of slacker teens who at least suspect what goes on in the bunker temporarily (and hilariously) gets the better of their elders.
After dealing with the meddling kids, the Winchesters try black magic that does not work as intended. The compensation for not getting the desired wish fulfillment is the return of deceased family patriarch John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). This resurrection allows the Winchester clan to once again be a relatively happy nuclear family. This also arguably is the happiest periods for the boys in the entire series.
The writers remain true to the entertainingly cynical nature of the series by not allowing the bros to be happy for long and by showing that magic has its price. Learning of the negative consequences of Dad coming back forces the boy to once again try to find a quick fix while contemplating a major sacrifice for the greater good.
"Leabanon" also is notable for providing INARGUABLY the best fodder for the gag reel that is a special feature. The Winchesters are having a very serious moment when a prop malfunction has Padalecki and Ackles literally rolling on the floor in laughter.
The aptly named "Mint Condition" Halloween episode is another season highlight; often angry and/or morose Dean is ecstatic as to a Shocker network marathon of classic slasher films and a real "job" that involves action figures and other memorabilia coming to life to attack a comic-book store employee. Usually more cheerful Sam is experiencing annual depression regarding this holiday.
This outing perfectly blends the well-produced horror and the dark humor that contributes to "Supernatural" being able to celebrate its Quincenera.
Humor fully takes center stage in a "Pleasantville" style outing in which a "job" brings Sam and Castiel to a real-life town that is straight out of a TV Land sitcom. All of us living through our current dystopian times can relate to the desire of the power-that-be behind this Utopia to want a more cheerful existence than our winter (and spring, summer, and fall) of discontent,
All of this culminates in a truly epic season-finale story-arc that involves the end of the world as we know it, Jack becoming an especially excitable boy leads to teen angst that leads to a "we need to talk about Jack" moment.
The inability of the Winchesters to properly parent their jinx of a ward leads to the "Dad" coming downstairs to put the kids in line. The climax to all this proves that the boss may not always be right but always is the boss. The other moral is that Hell literally has no fury like a powerful entity scorned; suffice to say that our existence is chucked.
Although the gag reel shows that boys just wanna have fun, the other special features demonstrate the love of the game that comes through in each episode. You will not believe in angels, demons, and the stuff of "Scooby-doo" episodes but will believe that the folks in front of and behind the camera do believe in spooks.
All involved share their perspectives and devotion in "Exploring Episode 300," the even more series-encompassing "The Choices We Make," and the 2018 Comic-Con panel that will make you mourn the 2019 panel likely being the end times for that event at that Con.
Mill Creek Entertainment releasing a crystal-clear Blu-ray of the 1963 Marlon Brandon Cold War classic "The Ugly American" on August 13, 2019 along with an eclectic assortment of other titles shows that MCE can be considered the "man" for all seasons,
Fellow August titles include the (reviewed) Steve Martin/Darryl Hannah romcom "Roxanne," the (reviewed) ABC period primetime soap "Pan Am," the (soon-to-be reviewed) James Woods/Robert Downey, Jr. drama "True Believer," and the (soon-to-be-reviewed) collection of all eight made-for-TV reunion films of the vintage ABC mysedy series "Hart to Hart."
MCE will further earn the devotion of fanboys with an October 2019 bonanza of "Ultraman" fare,
"American" easily is the most substantive of the highly entertaining group of releases of which it is a member. Marlon Brando stars as rookie ambassador Harrison Carter MacWhite in this ripped-from- the-headlines tale of "fictional" Southeast Asian country Sarkhan.
The arrival of MacWhite coincides with a strong anti-American sentiment that a communist organization from the north is exploiting; this timely evokes thoughts of the similar 1935 Sinclair Lewis novel "It Can't Happen Here" about an American president who exploits fear to become a not-so-benevolent dictator.
Our story begins with the locals executing a well-planned sabotage of a highly symbolic American-back road project in Sarkhan. The propaganda of this rebellious act far outpaces the loss of life and property that it causes.
Meanwhile back home. MacWhite is the victim of other propaganda in the form of a contentious conformation hearing for his new job. His prior time in Sarkhan both qualifies him for his new post and raises potentially disqualifying concerns.
An aspect of both aforementioned arenas is the once-and-future association of MacWhite with Sarkhan native son/influencer Deong. The latter is very vocal regarding his anti-American views but cannot be proven to be a communist; MacWhite fully vouching for the guys has strong implications later in the film.
MacWhite and wife get far from a warm welcome on landing in Sarkhan on what is anticipated to be a quiet Sunday morning; stating that they encounter a mob scene is a gross understatement.
Virtually every person over the age of 30 can relate to what occurs when MacWhite and Deong reunite soon after the diplomat comes back to town. Just as the wild and crazy guy from college become a completely different person in the decade since not wearing anything under his robe at graduation, Deong and MacWhite soon conclude that the years have not been kind to the other.
The aforementioned road becomes one of many bones of contention between the men; this animosity reaches a boiling point when they find themselves the opposing heads of a violent "Yankee, go home" campaign. "American" being an early '60s major studio film requires that the conflict and the resolution strongly reflect a massive anti-communist sentiment.
The broader nature of the film requires that both of the friends turned foes be wiser but not happier at the end of "American."
The good news for audiences of 2019 is that this engrossing movie truly is one that they don't make 'em like anymore. This extends beyond skillfully telling an intelligent and thought-provoking tale, It reflects the type of strong political view that used to prompt people on both sides of the aisle to check it out, rather than incite the folks who find it offensive to (sometimes literally) get up in arms and vigorously rally for a boycott and an exile of all involved in bringing in to the (now tarnished) silver screen,
The clear homage to quintessential New Yorker Woody Allen adds awesome irony to the studio named Gravitas Ventures separately releasing the 2017 Quincy Rose afternoon-in-the-life-of urban comedy "The Narcissists" on Blu-ray and DVD on September 3, 2019. The BD format adds a great deal to the travelogue quality of the cinematography of what looks to be late October footage of Manhattan.
Folks who savor the "video killed the radio star" aspects of home video also can watch "Narcissists" on Prime Video or iTunes.
The following "Narcissists" trailer provides equally strong senses of the Allen and the related "its funny because its true (and because it is happening to the other guy)" aspects of the film. The scenes of 30-something NYC friends discussing "nothing" additionally will evoke Seinfeldian thoughts; not that there is anything wrong with that.
The aptness of the film title begins with the I bet you think this movie is about you (don't you, don't you) vibe of it, A personal example of this is having a friend whose financial status requires continuing to share an apartment (and a bed) with an ex-partner after a break up,
Hitting closer to home, "Narcissists" seemingly reflects the real life of Rose (Oliver), whose other "joints" include the (reviewed) "Miles to Go" and (reviewed) "Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends." Interviews with Rose and his castmates that blur the line between fact and fiction at the end of "Narcissists" reinforces that Rose personally knows that of which he writes.
As an aside, concluding "Narcissists" with the interviews is highly reminiscent of use of that technique in some episodes of the '60s musical kidcom "The Monkees" and the '80s Cybill Shepherd/Bruce Willis dramedy series "Moonlighting."
Rose fully shows his genius by putting a spin on a seemingly compulsory expository technique for modern films. The opening scenes include Oliver standing on a subway platform opposite whom we soon learn is live-in (ambiguously on-a-break ala a classic sitcom NYC couple) girlfriend Cassi (Jessica DiGiovanni). The Rose variation on the common theme is only discovered at the end of the film.
The action then shifts to a voice-over of a meta-conversation in which Oliver and best bud Max (Zack Tiegen) are discussing the next film of Oliver. Their topics include confusion of Max as to the extent to which Oliver wants him to play himself or his character in the film within the film.
Although there is no direct reference to Rose muse Woody Allen, conversing about specific considered elements of the fictional project unambiguously refer to borrowing from the master of New York-based films. Good laughs come later as Oliver consciously adopts a do as I say, not as I do attitude.
All of this leads to Oliver and Max and Casi and her best friend Letty (Augie Duke) spending the next hour separately wandering the streets of New York hashing out whether Oliver and Casi should stay together.
Rose, who wears Allen-esque horn-rimmed glasses in real and reel-life, particularly shines in a scene in which he slouches and stammers in a heavy New York Jewish accent in response to what he considers an offensive remark by Max. This should make the real-life '70s-era employer of the father of Rose very proud.
The voice of Rose comes through more clearly in Cassi and Letty discussing a man who apparently is from Nantucket sustaining an equally embarrassing and painful injury while teasing a cat. Every male viewer is defied to not cringe at this (mercifully off-screen) image.
The impetus for the soul-searching accompanied by copious witty banter and wry observations is that the lease on the apartment that Oliver and Casi share is expiring. They must decide if their love is adequately strong to commit to staying in a place that neither can independently afford. This analysis includes a very close-to-home (no pun intended) observation (recalled as being by Max) about never living in a place that requires pooling financial resources.
As both Oliver and Rose observe, love in one's 30s is observed from a more practical perspective than in one's 20s.
The oft-mentioned realistic aspects of "Narcissists" ensure that the ending is neither especially happy nor unhappy. Both Oliver and Cassi will get on with their lives either way.
The bigger picture is that the strongest appeal of "Narcissists" is (ala his other films) the talent and the integrity of Rose. His aforementioned interview emphasizes that he values art over commerce and chooses making a quality (seemingly largely improvised) film with his own limited funds over potentially having to sell his artistic soul in exchange for being touched by an angel.
The most apt final thought is one can only hope that Rose continues the grand tradition of the late '70s Woody Allen comedies that include "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan." This relates to a scene in the brilliant semi-autobiographical 1980 Allen film "Stardust Memories" in which a fan tells the fictionalized version of himself that Allen plays that that admirer likes his older funnier movies than his more recent serious fare.
The Icarus Films September 3, 2019 DVD release of the 2001 documentary "Ghosts of Attica" does the Icarus history of releasing thought-provoking documentaries proud. Every DVD in this portion of the Icarus catalog achieves the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and educational.
In this case, narrator Susan Sarandon has the guards and the prisoners who were there tell the story of the September 1971 Attica uprising. We also learn of the decades-long effort of the prisoners to receive compensation for the harm that they sustained during that event.
Much of the film revolves around self-described Frank "Big Black" Smith, who is drafted into being a leader of the prisoners when (still highly relevant) demands for things such as religious freedom and being paid minimum wage escalates into the inmates temporarily taking over the asylum. The vintage photos and film footage of the prisoners when order is being restored perfectly illustrates why they are pursuing monetary damages.
We also meet Smith employer Liz Frank, who is the lead attorney for the prisoners. This stems from intense empathy for those guests of the state dating to the aftermath of the aforementioned events.
On the surface, a $12 million award to the prisoners seems to be a major victory. One-third of that going to the attorneys is an accurately cynical example of the United States legal system. On top of that, this award understandably prompts resentment among the guards who endured "troubles" during the uprising. A talking head properly notes that asserting that the workers' compensation system provides the guards an adequate remedy is absurd.
This is not to mention the inevitable appeal by New York.
The rest of the story that makes this incident documentary-worthy is that the then-Governor Rockefeller ordering the retaking of the prison with extreme prejudice comes back to bite him as to his bid for the vice-presidency. Suffice it to say that a cover-up is at least attempted.
These inter-related elements are intriguing in that they start with one of many cases in which the disenfranchised aggressively act to become enfranchised, the powers-that-be come down hard, both sides try to win the hearts and minds of the American public, and all feel that they have a right to compensation.
The underlying theme is the highly adversarial tone of interactions between the "haves" and the "have nots" that is becoming deafening during what may be an even more divisive era that the Civil War and the highly contentious late '60s. Clearly, we cannot all just get along and cannot rely on the folks who control the message to tell it like it is.
The DVD bonus features are and audio recording of Frank and more archival images from the uprising.
The Warner Archive August 20, 2019 DVD release of the 1965 Steve McQueen drama "The Cincinnati Kid" provides another chance to watch the PERFECT example of McQueen and his fellow young turks displacing Gold Age Hollywood royalty at various stages to becoming box-office poison. This largely is attributable to blond-hair piercing blue-eyed with bod from God McQueen oozing sexuality to which every man and woman all along the Kinsey Scale are vulnerable, NO ONE would choose the "kill" option in the game of three as to this macho man,
The back-cover liner notes for "Kid" include a review quote that aptly compares this film in which McQueen plays the titular card sharp with the 1961 Paul Newman film "The Hustler" in which that future real-life condiments king portrays pool shark Eddie Felson, who is out to dethrone Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). Tom Cruise co-starring with Newman in the 1986 "Hustler" sequel "The Color of Money" continues this "video killed the radio star" pattern.
The following trailer for "Kid" showcases all off the above (and more) while demonstrating the gritty look of mid-60s drama that leads to even more urban elements of this genre in the '70s.
Director Norman Jewison of "The Heat of the Night" and "Moonstruck" maintains a good pace as we see The Kid clean up both at the poker table and in the bath tub; the latter centers around a notable scene in which McQueen and sex kitten extraordnaire Tuesday Weld (who plays good country girl blossoming into liberated womanhood Christian) surely makes some original audience members glad that they can smoke in movie theaters in 1965.
The third member of this triangle is sultry red-head Melba (Ann-Margaret); she clearly views The Kid as an upgrade from husband Shooter (Karl Malden), who is work friend of The Kid.
All this occurs in the background of The Kid being invited to join the big boys as to playing a game hosted by legendary (but aging) professional poker player Lancey Howard (Edward G. Robinson). The on- and off-screen symbolism of this could not be any more obvious.
Some of the rest of this story is that The Kid is facing a damned-if-he-does and damned-if he-doesn't dilemma. Losing to Howard blows a big chance; winning makes him a target for the next rising star looking to take down the king of the table, This is not to mention villain of the film Slade (Rip Torn) covertly having his own horse in this contest between thoroughbreds.
Joan Blondell deservedly wins a 1966 USA National Board of Review best-supporting actress award for her portrayal of tough old broad Lady Fingers, who has earned her place at the table,
All those in front of and behind the camera do award-worthy work as to the filming of the climatic final game. You will live the tension and smell the sweat. This is partially due to getting caught up in seeing the spectators become engrossed in the game.
The genius of "Kid" continues with the "win. lose, or draw" conclusions being equally plausible and satisfying. As mentioned above, The Kid cannot fully win regardless of whether he is instrument of Howard's end or proves that he currently lacks the right stuff of which true legends are made,
The bonus features include audio commentary throughout by Jewison and scene-specific commentary by "kid in the hall" Dave Foley and his "Celebrity Poker Showdown" co-host Phil Gordon.
We also get a highly entertaining behind-the-scenes extra that teaches cast members the art of the deal.
CBS Home Entertainment continues to prove itself to be a leading citizen of TV Land by releasing the epic 31-disc "Brady Bunch: 50th Anniversary TV & Movie Collection" on June 4, 2019. This coincides with CBS separately releasing V1 and V2 of S3 of the classic '60scom "My Three Sons." The CBS section of this site includes posts on other beloved sitcoms, such as "The Love Boat" and "The Beverly Hillbillies," in the catalog of that company.
The almost universal familiarity with "Brady" OS, which presumably is universal among folks with enough interest in the titular blended clan to read this article, is behind a decision to skip much of the typical exposition as to these posts and addresses many of the elephants in the room regarding this release,
As a starting point, this set includes every "unreal" "Brady" series with the exception of the 1976-77 ABC Friday night series "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour" that shows the titutlar family both hosting that titular program (complete with synchronized swimmers) and living their daily lives. Of course, the Nelson video library includes the now-discontinued 2000 DVD with a few episodes of that series.
The OS discs in "Collection" seems to be the same as the ones in prior DVD releases of that series. Personal history here is both buying the groovy shag-carpet CS set of "Bunch" and purchasing a replacement set when a basement flood ruins the first one. A word to the wise as to folks looking for the discontinued shag set is that third-party sellers tend to be not be very trustworthy as to delivering undamaged goods.
This brings us to the wonderfully odd 1972-73 Saturday morning cartoon "The Brady Kids" from an era in which virtually every kidcom has an animated series. This one has the titular youths (sans the 'rents and Alice) having adventures that often relate to the magic of myna bird Merlin (voiced by Larry Storch of "F Troop") going awry. These episodes also feature trippy animated music videos by The Brady Six,
Yes, your not-so-humble reviewer has the (seemingly discontinued) CS DVD set of "Kids." The same is true as to the two big-screen '90s "Brady" movies and the made-for-TV movie "The Brady Bunch in the White House." "Collection" includes all these productions.
"Collection" also has the gleefully "behind-the-scenes" 2000 made-for-TV movie "Growing Up Brady" based on the memoir of the same name by Barry "Greg" Williams. A special surprise guest at the very end is one of many highlights this time. The DVD of this one slipped through the cracks as to buying it before it was discontinued,
"Collection" breaks new ground by including the made-for-TV movie "The Brady Girls Get Married," which is the pilot for the 1981 sitcom spin-off "The Brady Brides." That series centers around newlyweds laid-back Marsha and her goofy husband Wally sharing a house that often is too close for comfort with equally newly wed uptight Jan and her blue-blood spouse Phillip.
The first note regarding this movie and series is that there are false online reports regarding them. "Married" is presented in its original format as a film, rather than as a series of "Brides" episodes have some have asserted.
These same haters have claimed that the picture quality of "Brides" is abysmal; it looks perfectly fine and is at least as good as standard-def DVD releases of shows from the same era.
The shag-carpet set includes the 1988 made-for-TV dramedy "A Very Brady Christmas," which finds all six kids, the grandkids, and assorted in-laws and common-law-in-laws returning to the iconic abode for the holidays. A common theme is that each kid (and Dad) has a secret shame that (of course) is resolved by the end of the film.
Only "Collection" includes the 1990 CBS Friday night dramedy "The Bradys" for which "Christmas" is a pilot. The brief discussion of this one channels the corny insights of family patriarch Mike Brady. Highly relevant real-life wisdom from a member of the greatest generation is "little people, little problems; big people, big problems."
An aspect of all this is understandable ill-will regarding facing either repurchasing previously released "Brady" fare or forgoing adding the new-to-DVD stuff to your home-video collection until and unless CBS releases or re-releases missing links. The rest of this story is that the $85 IPO price is very fair for all the content but arguably a little steep for Bradyphiles who already own many of the series and films..
Fortunately, having a little patience pays off. I jam very glad that I umped on a deal to buy "Collection" for $45 roughly a month after the release. The current standard price seems to be roughly $50, which is a reasonable price to pay for completing a"Brady" video library,
The epilogue to all this is that every "Brady" incarnation is amusingly dated; however, the guilty pleasure goofy antics and consistent message of peace, love, and understanding is timeless.
Warner Archive makes one giant leap forward for fanboykind in releasing the 1962-63 ready-for-primetime first season of "The Jetsons" on Blu-ray on Sept. 10, 2019. The futuristic aspects regarding this extend beyond this enhanced format that brings the animation of the series up a couple of notches; "Jetsons" is the first series that ABC broadcasts in color.
This release is part of an awesome (and seemingly endless) animation domination by Archive. One Summer of Love addition to this homage to classic cartoons includes a (reviewed) Blu-ray release of fellow primetime series "Jonny Quest,"
Other highlights include putting right what once went wrong as to undue delays in releases of Golden Age of Hanna-Barbera series that include (reviewed) "Wally Gator" and (reviewed) "Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har" DVD sets. Hope remains high as to a "Touche Turtle" release before Columbus Day,
As an aside, your not-so-humble reviewer is among the first to have pre-ordered the epic collectible 50th anniversary CS BD set of (thankfully Scrappy-free) "Scooby-Doo Where Are You" from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. That back-to-school treat comes out on September 10.
"Jetsons," which uses the formula of wholesome family sitcoms as the template for an animated sitcom set in 2062, is one of many examples of the brilliance of Hanna and Barbera. They build on a winning format to create new fare for our fun and their profit.
In this case, fellow primetime series "The Flintstones" begats our titular space-age family of the future. A lesser known example is the (reviewed) '70s Saturday morning series "The Roman Holidays," which is set in the days of chariot races.
Of course, HB takes this business model to an even greater extreme as to the numerous "Scooby" series and variations on that theme of four teens and lovable mascot solving mysteries. Mystery, Inc. teaming up with Josie and the Pussycats to solve the mystery of the haunted showboat in an episode of "The New Scooby-Doo Movies" that also is fairly new to DVD is even more of a dream come true than the (also on DVD) made-for-TV movie "The Jetsons Meet The Flinststones."
The "Jetsons" Blu-ray proves that that series remains timeless at roughly the half-way mark between the original broadcast run and the era in which the family of the future resides.
The regular theme of that family being unduly lazy is now funny because it is true. This is coming from a guy who avoids even the minimal effort of Googling the spelling of words by asking his Amazon Echo Dot for that information; this is not to mention the nightly routine of spending more time repeatedly shouting to the Google nest in the other room to turn a light on and off than it would to get up and walk across the room to flip the switch.
This aspect of "Jetsons" is apparent from the first episode. The burden of highly advanced technology that includes a food preparation system comparable to replicators in "Trek" lore and Roomba vacuums in our own lives is fully stressing out typical housewife Jane Jetson (Penny Singleton of "Blondie" fame). Jane continues following this classic sitcom model by calling her mother for advice.
Our stereotypical TV Land mother-in-law suggests that Jane get a robot maid. The rest ironically is history in that this how Rosie (a.k.a. Rosey) the robot (Jean "Wilma" Vander Pyl) becomes a member of the family. The fun of that character extends to HB basing Rosie on uber-popular live-action sitcom domestic servant Hazel; these similarities extend to Rosie calling head-of-household George Jetson (George O'Hanlon) Mr. J.
HB doubles down regarding sitcom staples in this one by having the arrival of Rosie coinciding with boss Mr. Spacely (Mel Blanc) coming over for dinner. ANYONE who has seen ANY sitcom knows both that that evening does not go smoothly and that all works out in the end,
Another still-relevant aspect of modern life that "Jetsons" introduces in the first episode and continues throughout the series is George feeling beleaguered as to having to do his job of pushing the same button over and over for the grueling schedule of three hours a day three days of week. Of course, this evokes memories of the scene in the pilot of "Downton Abbey" that mines humor from the then-new concept of a weekend.
Similarly, many current college students likely are unaware that Saturday classes were common up through the '60s. Your not-so-humble reviewer is dismayed that his alma mater now does not hold any Friday classes or even open the cafeteria on that day.
This TV Land fun continues right to the 24th and final episode until the series is revived in the '80s. Innocent six yer-old everykid Elroy (Daws "Yogi" Butler) hooks up with some bad influences after a domestic crisis. This follows episodes in which George and Mr. Spcacely make strong efforts to sneak off to a football game, Jane comically tries to learn how to drive, George thinks that he is about to die, etc.
The truly special Blu-ray bonus features begin with cartoon-voice legend Janet "Judy" Waldo providing audio commentary on two episodes. A related backstory is replacing Waldo with then teen superstar/mall singer Tiffany in "The Jetsons Movie" and no treating Waldo very well regarding that entire matter.
We also get the aptly animated short doumentaries "The Jetsons: The Family of the Future" and "Space Age Gadgets." The latter compares the 1962 vision of the future with the reality of the early 21st century.
The Mill Creek Entertainment August 13, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1987 Steve Martin/Darryl Hannnh comedy "Roxanne" is among the latest (mostly '80s and '90s) cult classics in the MCE "Retro VHS" catalog with fun videotape-style packaging. The (review pending) James Woods/Robert Downey, Jr. drama "True Believer" is a fellow August 2019 addition to this series.
"Roxanne" is a perfect example of the glee associated with another bite of the apple as to those of who saw it in the theater and is a chance for younger folks to see what they missed the first time around, The second bite refers to the '80s and '90s being an era of so many movies that either are so good that they are good or that are bad but have an appeal that makes them good. The curse as to this embarrassment of riches is that "Roxanne" and similar fare in the middle of the bell curve either does not make the cut for a cineplex visit or is not fully appreciated on a first viewing.
The following "retro" trailer for "Roxanne" does not provide much insight into the film but does highlight the talent of Martin and the '80ness of the film.
The titular astronomer (Hannah) is the new girl in the Pacific Northwest town of Nelson, Washington. Unlike source material "Cyrano de Bergerac," comically large-nosed fire chief C.D, Bales is not the cousin of this object of affection. Handsome dim-witted new firefighter Chris (Rick Rossovich) is the subordinate with no play who (at least temporarily) gets the girl.
The rest of the initial premise is that C.D. is a martial arts master who dos not gladly suffer fools who make fun of his huge schnoz. One of the best scenes has C.D. making a long series of self-deprecating jokes before the inevitable flattening of a barroom bully.
Roxanne and C.D. meet in a typically romcom-style manner. She is in an embarrassing state when she comes to the firehouse seeking aid. Martin being Martin mines great comedic potential from this vulnerability. The bonding continues when Roxanne takes asking for help moving a couch up a notch.
A comedy of errors leads to Roxanne believing that Chris has brawn and brains; Chris wanting to maintain the misperception as to the latter leads to C.D. putting words in his mouth and on paper.
The funny because it is happening to someone else trauma and drama amps up when the "Roxanne" variation of the handsome suitor wooing the girl while the ugly guy feeds him his line gets Chris in the bed of Roxanne. The lack of callousness relates to these young lovers not knowing about the romantic feelings that C.D, has toward Roxanne.
Of course, the truth ultimately comes out despite the frantic efforts of C.D. to maintain the charade. It is equally predictable that Roxanne is irate as to being duped, The outcome drives the remainder of the film.
The appeal of the film itself extends beyond improving with age now that it is not competing with a flock of competing fare. It is a cute, charming, amusing film that reminds viewers of a better time in which "adult" comedies did not heavily rely on being crude and rude.
Warner Archive has absolutely no 'splainin to do as to recently releasing the 1963 Bob Hope/Lucille Ball comedy "Critic's Choice" on DVD. This awesome follow-up to the (reviewed) Archive Blu-ray release of the 1974 Ball/Bea Arthur comedy "Mame" is highly evocative of '70s-era Sunday afternoon movie marathons on local independent stations.
This strong entry in the numerous film collaborations between real-life friends with comedic benefits Ball and Hope slightly falters only in showcasing the former in favor of the latter. This "fault" is not in the stars, but in the focus of this Ira Levin ("Deathtrap") screenplay based on his play of the same name.
Behind-the-scenes irony as to the uneven spotlight relates to real-life Ball spouse Desi Arnaz helping make "I Love Lucy" a beloved classic by allowing his better half to universally upstage him in that series. Irony as to "Choice" itself is addressed below.
The following HILARIOUS MUST-SEE theatrical trailer of "Choice" has Hope and Ball stepping out of their roles to ham it up equally for the enjoyment of the audience and themselves. One spoiler is that Ball never looked so glamorous as she does in this promo.
The simple but brilliant premise of "Choice" is that highly esteemed New York theater critic Parker Ballantine (Hope) proves that he is his own worst enemy when his arguably unduly harsh criticism of Broadway fare strongly contributes to second wife Angela Ballantine (Ball) trying her hand at writing a play. The rest of this story is that Parker and his audience delights in his witty negative take on virtually everything that he watches.
The aforementioned on-screen irony commences very early in "Choice." The opening scenes are of a play starring Parker ex-wife Ivy London (former sex kitten Mailyn Maxwell) that Parker and Angela are watching. Stating that he has seen and heard it many times before, Parker soon accurately predicts dialogue from the production.
Irony enters the picture (pun intended) as to "Choice" being environmentally conscious by regularly recycling Hope jokes. The most obvious example is Parker encountering an annoying small boy wearing a space helmet and asking which planet he is from. Not that there is anything wrong with that. (That irony is fully intentional.)
The tried-and-sometimes-true concept of the prose of Angela is a comedic take on "Mildred Pierce" as to Angela growing up with her interior-designer single mother of Angela and the equally off-beat sisters of Angela. An aside regarding this is that Ball and guest-star Joan Crawford fully extend their claws while filming a "Lucy Show" episode in which Crawford guest stars.
Angela is pure Lucy as she literally and figuratively looks over the shoulder of Parker while he reads her finished product. This comfort-food feast continues with Parker following up his cynical prediction that Angela cannot finish the play with the assessment that the end result is lousy.
Karma further catches up Parker as to Broadway producer/friend S.P. Champlain (John Dehner of "The Doris Day Show") agreeing to bring the play to the stage. The obvious intent here is to make Parker face raking his future ex-wife over the coals.
Champlain amps up this red-hot revenge by hiring playboy director Dion Kapakos (Rip Torn of "Men in Black" and "The Larry Sanders Show") to collaborate with Angela.
All of this triggers an existential crisis that involves Parker becoming an awesome hybrid between a Hope and a Jack Lemmon character. Fortunately for Parker, the doctor is in the house in the form of highly respected psychiatrist Dr. William Von Hagedorn (Jim Backus) being his downstairs neighbor. It is less fortunate that Von Hagedorn is an aspiring playwright with a finished product.
Things predictably heat up when Parker follows the pattern in films of this nature by surprising Angela during an out-of-town preview of her play. He catches her involved in what may be behavior that is banned in Boston. Ivy, who is in a league of her own, does not help matters by giving Parker possibly fake news that is part of her Lover come back strategy.
"Choice" continues staying true to form by centering the climax around the night of the Broadway premiere of "Sisters Three." The Parker/Angela relationship is a marriage on the rocks, Parker is a heartbeat away from ending up back in the bed of Ivy, and Angela seems ready to fully go Greek.
Continuing the true-to-life elements as to our real housewife of Park Avenue, the numerous moving parts of "Choice" come down to Angela deciding if she is happier with Parker than she would be without him. A nice aspect of this is that all our star players are assured at least a temporary happy ending regardless of the outcome.
Archive continues the focus on Hope by including one of his shorts, but no Ball fare, in the DVD extras. The Popeyeesque "Calling All Tars" (1936) has Hope playing small-town man Bobby on the town in New York on vacation with his buddy.
These aspiring wild-and-crazy guys having absolutely no game with the dames prompts renting sailor uniforms in an effort to get some play. This leads to being Shanghaied under the command of a CPO with whom they have a brief but negative history. Suffice it to say that "McHale's Navy" style hilarity ensues,
Archive supplements this with the highly stylized 1962 Looney Tunes cartoon "Now Hear This, which most likely is the theatrical opening act for "Choices." This very early '60s avant-garde short is a surreal adventure full of surreal images and accompanying sounds.
Writer/director Autumn McAlpin fully embraces the modern-woman girl-power of the 2016 "Ghostbusters" reboot with the July 12, 2019 theatrical/VOD/digital release of "Miss Arizona." Also, like "Ghostbusters," McAlpin pays wonderful homage to the past in a very woke fashion.
[Update: "Arizona" was released on DVD on August 27, 2019.]
The first of a few asides is that the title of "Arizona" relates to a classic riddle. The question is "why was the Miss America pageant short a contestant?" The answer is "because no one wanted to be Miss Ida Ho."
The "elevator speech" recap of the ""Arizona" concept is that a former beauty queen turned trophy wife forms a sisterhood of the travelling misfits and learns the value of hos before bros.
The following YouTube clip of an "Arizona" trailer follows the same principle as the above synopsis. This promo. rapidly takes us through the entire movie and even briefly provides the life story of each major character.
The second aside in this post is that the always-amusing and often hilarious "Arizona" coming attraction honors the humor of the HILARIOUS nine-minute indie film "Trailer: The Movie" (2001). IMDb PERFECTLY describes that one as "when two filmmakers discover their blockbuster is really just a bust, they cut together every half-decent shot into a misleading trailer to dupe audiences and save their careers."
The traditional aspects of "Arizona" begin with this almost literally "day in the life of" film commencing with titular American beauty Rose (Johanna Braddy) waking up in bed next to negligent power-agent husband Rick (Kyle Howard). She then wakes up growing boy 10 year-old Sawyer and serves her men a delicious nutritious breakfast because their maid has the day off.
Rick heading off to New York to attend the Tonys, and Sawyer going to school ahead of a sleepover leaves Rose with an empty nest.
Our lady of leisure becomes a lady who lunches on Rick calling her to demand that she perform her corporate spouse duty. The aside this time is that your not-so-humble reviewer refers to this as Samantha Stephens duty without the fun of being able to turn the client into a monkey when asked to attend a corporate event.
Rose gathering with her fellow real housewives of Beverly Hills leads to her volunteering to teach a life-skills class at a women's shelter that afternoon. The ensuing unfortunate circumstances lead to the hilarity with a touch of "Orange is the New Black" that ensues in the film.
Rose arises to find male shelter manager Bigs largely indifferent to her presence. He offers this rich white lady (avec sash and tiara) who has always lead a privileged life minimal support in her effort to reach the down-and-out shelter residents. These folks on whom enlightenment is being forced are even less receptive.
The imminent arrival of an uninvited guest requires that the shelter residents run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. Car trouble leads to Rose becoming their chauffeur.
A chance encounter drives (no pun intended) the rest of the action. Shelter resident Leslie (Robyn Lively of "Teen Witch") sees the car of her husband at the home of his cousin. This is of particular interest because the husband is guilty of parental kidnapping, and Leslie does not know where he is keeping their offspring.
Subsequent subterfuge results in the group learning where the kids are stashed; the gig being up leads to a frantic car chase.
The type of treat that makes indie films so special follows when the women go to a police station for assistance. A cop played by master of deadpan Tom McLaren ("Expelled" and "All American Bikini Car Wash") is surprised to find a former acquaintance in the station waiting room. He gets good mileage from merely saying "You again? Keep you nose clean." and walking out before the woman can respond.
Rose discovering that she cannot rely on her friends and family leads to the closest homage of the entire film. She and her new friends find themselves in West Hollywood (aka WeHo) in desperate need of money.
Discovering a drag-queen contest leads to the Lucy and Ethel caliber crazy scheme of having the former Miss America contestant compete. One character aptly refers to the classic Julie Andrews cross-dressing period-piece comedy film "Victor"/"Victoria."
It seems that McAlpin has a "Must See" show in mind when taking the film in that direction. An episode of the '90scom "Wings," which revolves around two brothers operating a struggling commuter airline on Nantucket, finds one of the brothers and the "girl" to the "two guys" stranded in New York. Their solution is to have the woman compete in a drag contest so that they can get enough money to return to their island.
Personal experience shows that McAlpin is well-tuned into the drag-queen mentality. They generally are a vicious lot that equally steal the clothes almost literally off the back of the others and get very upset when that occurs. At the same time, some of these boys who put so much into their art can be the nicest people in the world.
Suffice it to say that a permed "Cher" out there does not take kindly to being mistaken for Fran Drescher, and that anyone should be cool with adoration that includes a kiss on the cheek from a nice queen.
Worlds collide and revelations are achieved during the contest. Finding out about the secret life of an acquaintance is another true-life aspect of this portion of "Arizona."
This long strange day and night ends with a neo-Hollywood ending that involves the standard unexpected angel as well as Rose getting her groove back.
Although largely presented as a feminist fable, the message of this movie that should appeal to everyone from their teens to their 80s comes from another classic film. Everyone of every gender and sexual orientation should be excellent to each other.
Warner Archive's recent DVD release of the 1972-73 Saturday morning cartoon series "The Roman Holidays" should remove any doubt regarding Hanna-Barbera (H-B) earning the title of "All-time King of Saturday Mornings." Like the similar recently released DVD set of "Help!...It's The Hair Bear Bunch," "Holidays" is even better than remembered.
Greater "Holiday" cheer is likely attributed to its primary target audience of Gen Xers having a much better understanding of the humor of this "Flintstonesesque" series set in 63 A.D. Rome than they did 40 years ago.
Many of these children of the '70s did not understand the joke "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" back in the day. The same is true as to the humor regarding a Centurion traffic cop asking "Where's the fire, Nero" when pulling over a speeder.
The great humor and lack of a laugh track in "Holidays" evokes memories of Alan Spencer of the hilarious '80s cop show spoof sitcom "Sledge Hammer!," successfully lobbying for removing the laugh track from the episodes in the DVD release of "Sledge." Spencer plainly stated that the audience did not need to be told when something was funny. Trust him; he knows what he's doing.
"Holidays" followed the highly successful "historical context" formula that H-B utilizes in "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons."
In the case of "Holidays," the middle-class nuclear Holiday family live an early '70s American style life in ancient Rome. Dad Gus mows the lawn and watches football, mom Laurie keeps house and guides Gus and the couples' two children through life. Teen son Happius (a.k.a. Happy) plays in a band and has a steady girl; tween daughter Precocia is the golden child who begs Laurie to allow her to wear a mini-toga.
Rather than a lovable dinosaur ala "The Flintsones" or a wonderfully dopey dog ala "The Jetsons," the Holiday family pet is a tame accident-prone lion named Brutus who loves Gus as much as Dino and Astro adore their "daddies."
"Holidays" also supports the theory that Hanna and/or Barbera have a thing for Gingers that may rival Alfred Hitchcock's preference for blondes. Laurie Holiday, Wilma Flintstone, Jane Jetson, Josie of "Josie and the Pussycats," Tina of "Goober and the Ghost Chasers," and Daphne of "Scooby-Doo" are all red-heads. This percentage of women in the H-B universe with that hair color far exceeds the norm in the general real-world population.
Just as the Flintsone family put a stone age spin on their vernacular and household possessions and the Jetson clan transforms everything into a space motif, the Holidays gear everything to the society of their days. This often takes the form of adding "ius" to celebrity names. Stefano McQueenius is a popular star, and Naderius is a consumer advocate.
Examples of tricking out everyday items Roman style include sundial and hour-glass watches, televisions that display numbers in Roman numerals, and newspapers coming in scroll form.
Similar to Fred Flintsone and George Jetson, construction worker Gus Holiday toils for a hot-tempered boss who regularly threatens to fire him and withdraws awarded raises and promotions. Gus has the additional woe of appropriately named Mr. Evictus, who is as tempermental as Gus' boss and often threatens the family with eviction from their home in the amusingly named Venus De Milo Arms apartment building.
Evictus' threats prompt one of the series' most amusing moments. Precocia asks during a ride in the family's chariot if they can take a detour through the park so that she can see where they will be living.
Like "Bear," "Holidays" also benefits from an awesome group voice cast.
Stanley Livingston, who provides the voice of Happy right after finishing a phenomenonal 12-year run as middle-son Chip Douglas on the sitcom "My Three Sons," is tied with veteran comedian Dom DeLuise for most recognizable name to Gen Xers. DeLuise does the same awesome job portraying Mr. Evictus as he does with his better-known roles.
H-B voice god Daws Butler, who brings Brutus to life, is almost as well known as Livingston and DeLuise. Butler makes this scene-stealing character a cross between "The Wizard of Oz's" cowardly lion and Butler's portrayal of classic H-B character pink mountain lion Snagglepuss.
Character actor Dave Willock provides Gus' voice; his other high-profile H-B gig is as the narrator of the hilarious late-60s series "Wacky Races." "Races" is notably for leading to the equally good spinoffs "Dastardley and Muttley in their Flying Machines" , which has the very catchy theme song with the lyrics "Stop that pigeon; stop that pigeon; stop that pigeon now, and "The Perils of Penelope Pitstop."
[EDITOR' NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment separate August 27, 2019 DVD and Blu-ray releases of "The Flash" S5 keeps the fun coming after the August 20. 2019 (reviewed) parallel releases of S7 of fellow DCU Arrowverse series "The Arrow." CW reverses this order by having "Flash" S6 premiere on October 8, 2019 and "Arrow" S7 premiere exactly one week later.
The first aside is that the high production values and bright comic look of"Flash" is behind buying S1-3 on Blu-ray; buying S4 on DVD still provided hours of enjoyment but reinforced the belief that saving $5 was not worth losing the enhanced BD experience.
The second aside is that this 'verse helps keep comic-book characters fresh decades after their births. This contribution to pop culture is important in an era in which virtually no one 25 or younger knows about Lucy Ricardo and even fewer have heard of Ralph Kramden or Dobie Gillis.
The third aside is that adorkable Team Flash both provides good fodder for the marry, "mate," or kill game and earns their series the distinction of being the most highly rated one on CW. One note regarding the game is that each of the almost infinite variations of brilliant scientist Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanauhgh) is most likely to suffer the most unpleasant fate.
On a more positive note, the odds are forever in the favor of quirky emo tech. whiz Cisco Ramon/Vibe (Carlos Valdes) as to the game of three.
The numerous tie-ins between "Arrow" and "Flash" extend well beyond titular hero/CSI forensics expert Barry Allen in the latter first appearing in an episode of the former. They even surpass the (always-awesome) cross-over episode this time centering around a "Freaky Friday" body switch between our masked avengers (if you pardon the expression).
The fourth and final aside is that a full presentation of the cross-over is an exclusive feature of the BD sets of each series. Both the DVD and Blu-ray sets of those shows includes a bonus feature on that epic that is a backdoor pilot for the new Arrowverse "Batwoman" series. That one premieres on October 6, 2019 and is part of an upcoming 5-EPISODE cross-over.
The recently completed seasons of "Flash" and "Arrow" also include MUST-SEE milestone episodes. It is number 150 for "Arrow" and 100 for "Flash." The latter involves a grand mission that has our hero (adorkable Grant Gustin) and his fellow speedster/adult daughter Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) go on a time-travelling scavenger hunt that has them revisit some of the many critical battle royales of the past four seasons; that is not to mention going back to the big bang that starts everything.
Further, natural progression and the nature of both seasons suggest that they are produced with a thought that both may be the final ones in each series. The "seven-year-itch" often triggers the end of a sci-fi series; moreover, the nature of the Arowverse allows members of Team Arrow to pop up on the spin-offs that "Arrow" spawns.
"Flash" reaching 100 episodes gives it enough for syndication; going out on top and freeing up Team Berlanti resources for younger "siblings" (including newborn "Batwoman") arguably makes sense. Additionally, members of Team Flash can always visit Seattle.
The indications of end times in both series include copious appearances from old friends, foes, and folks who fall in the middle of that bell curve. We also get heavy doses of soul searching in these already heavily emo programs. It seems that real men get into at least two violent fights a week and CONSTANTLY share their feelings.
In typical "Flash" style, S5 revolves around the arch-nemesis du season who triggers related personal dramas. In this case, Nora travelling back more than 20 years to join Team Flash relates to super-villain Cicada executing (pun intended) his crusade to rid the world of both good and evil meta-humans; this encompasses virtually every member of Team Flash.
The personal side of this is that Nora wants to bond with her dad and has epic mommy issues as to Barry spouse/journalist/former speedster Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton). The challenge regarding Iris is that she is being treated like Mommie Dearest years before engaging in the reported behavior that prompts the 'tude in our present day. The desire for quality time with Daddy is even more complicated.
For her part, Dr. Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) is getting an icy blast from her past that extends well beyond her massive split personality issues.
All of this leads to a development straight out of MCU; the most recent desperate times lead to the desperate measure of creating a "cure" for meta-humans that reverts them back to "normal;" the challenge this time extends beyond a Jekyll-and-Hyde side effect.
The debate that is especially emotional for the boys and the girls with something extra on Team Flash is whether the existence of the "cure" is ethical and if metas should have a pro-choice option. Another perspective is the debatable merits of this conversion therapy that makes those living an alternative lifestyle "normal."
Meanwhile, the current incarnation of Wells being a mash-up between Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Clousseau is designed to provide comic relief. The harsh reality is that this makes him even more of the Scrappy-Doo of Team Flash then ever before.
Of course, all worlds collide in the events that lead to the epic showdown with very high stakes. The ensuing new normal achieves the desired objective of working equally well as a season or a series finale.
One semi-spoiler is that the been-there-overcame-that nature of the cliffhanger leaves very little doubt other than that at least most of the kids will be alright. This relates to the primary S5 lesson that even casual "Flashphiles" know; the timeline is malleable,
WBHE provides fanboy even more joy by cramming both the DVD and BD sets with numerous extras in addition to the look at the cross-over. These include extended highlights of the 2018 ComicCon panels of the Arrowverse shows, the self-explanatory "Villains: Modes of Persuasion," deleted scenes, and a gleeful all-dancing, all-(bleeped) cursing gag reel.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions that I share are my own,]
The proper perspective regarding the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment August 27, 2019 Blu-ray/DVD combo. pack and separate DVD releases of the 2019 horredy film "The Banana Splits Show" is context. The first example is that setting a gorefest at the modern taping of a real live-action kids' show from the late '60s arguably is better suited to the '90s.
The Clinton years is when wholesome fare such as the "Splits" series and "The Brady Bunch" enjoys renewed popularity under the very flimsy guise that hipsters like such entertainment ironically, A common aspect of this is putting a dark twist on a childhood favorite ala the big-screen "Brady" films.
This is from the perspective of a guy who has had his Google home assistant repeatedly play the infectious "Splits" theme since learning of "Movie" several weeks ago. Whether this also prompts doing the spastic "Splits" dance requires pleading the Fifth.
The press materials for the film perfectly convey the above by describing "Movie" as "get nostalgic and horrified all at the same time while watching the trippy '60s characters in this all-new tale about fear, power, and an oversized puppet rock-band."
The following trailer for "Movie" further illustrates the nature of this creative take on a classic.
The next bit of context is that ANY mashing up of two disparate genres is almost certain to result in a compromise in the form of everyone getting something that he or she wants but hopes for more. A brighter aspect of this is that "Splits" fans get their first new material in decades.
"Brady" further plays into "Movie" by contributing to a more ideal premise than the one used.
Young and obliviously dorky Harley seems to literally be the biggest fan of "Splits" 50 years into their run. It is indisputable that he is in for misery (not to mention much more agony than ecstasy) when mom Beth sets him and the rest of the family on the road to Hell via her good intentions as to buying tickets to a taping of "Splits" as a birthday present for Harley.
The rest of the clan is 19 year-old slacker/loving half-brother Austin, and Harley dad/Austin step-dad Mitch. The one friend of Harley calling in sick leads to young girl Zoe being drafted to round out the group,
All of this turns out to be a textbook example of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The animatronic American Idols already are turning evil thanks to reprogramming when sudden news of an imminent cancellation of their series fully triggers their homicidal instincts and related Cylon-caliber glowing red eyes. A kinder and gentler version of this is the hilarious leaked photos of real Disney "cast members" engaged in adult behaviors while wearing the costumes of the characters whom they portray.
It seems that a "Brady" episode in which the bunch encounters the Splits and other Hanna-Barbera characters while at the King's Island amusement park in Cincinnati provides a no-brainer basis for "Movie." Even if the folks at the ironically named Blue Ribbon Content production company that makes this film could not get license right to use the Bradys, it seems that a "Westworld" tale (ala the Simpsons at Itchy and Scratchyland) of an all-American family having to flee the rampaging Splits at a theme park would provide perverse entertainment.
Although it would slightly distort "Brady" lore, many folks would perversely delight in seeing Cousin Oliver suffocate from having his head shoved in a cotton-candy machine. That, and his being why the family goes on the trip in the first place, would remove any doubt as to his being a jinx.
Returning to our actual movie, this Willy Wonka style adventure starts on a happy note both for our family and a self-proclaimed influencer and his girlfriend. Things are slightly less happy for the young daughter of the stage father, who is obsessed with using the taping to get his Honey Boo Boo discovered. Fans of "Wonka" can guess how things end for the folks who are not pure of heart and/or deed both in the audience and on the production team.
The creepy backstage area fully becomes the killing fields of our literally dead-eye murderers; highlights include an obstacle course of death and using a lollipop as a deadly weapon. This is not to mention a macabre banana split that costs an arm and a leg.
The rest of this plan involves providing a captive audience of children an endless show while the adults wait in the wings.
The most unintentionally amusing aspect of all this is that ignoring the elephant in the room allows keeping the body count from further escalating.
The DVD and Blu-ray extras include two "making-of" features; a memorable scene in those is seeing the actual guys in the costumes and hearing their tales of trying to navigate while dressed that way. An amusing fake news report can be considered a highlight reel.
The final act to all this is not a "rock out." it is a reminder that "Movie" should be judged in the context of entertainment in the form of distorting something sweet into something acidic for the sick pleasure of those who find such twists entertaining,
Another horrific experience has called for deviating from the normal (mostly) non-bloggy style of which this site is proud; your indulgence is appreciated, and we will return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow,
The micro element of this trauma and drama is a molehill of an issue with Best Buy absurdly turning into a mountain that is behind a call to boycott that company that has a virtually stranglehold on the US brick-and-mortar market for electronics.
The Best Buy media-relations department did not respond to several calls to discuss this article.
The macro view is that new Best Buy CEO Corie Barry and her fellow new breed of "suits," including Kevin Johnson of Starbucks, have rewarded customers who have helped the companies that provide them multi-million dollar compensation packages by completely throwing them under the Geek Squad van.
The straw that becomes a major pain below the back of your not-so-humble reviewer is addressed below. It comes a few months after figuratively telling Johnson, who has willfully turned a callous blind eye to his public, where he can pour his grossly over-priced (and more-often-than-not improperly prepared) beverages. (I have saved $100s and lost a few pounds in the interim.)
Even more spot on, a pledge to never contribute another cent to the income of Barry and her fellow equally insulated executives comes a month after reading a New York Tines article illustrating how corporations determine the point at which customers jump ship and how those models of capitalism come perilously close to crossing it. A cited example is a cell-phone service provider waiting until a long-time customer cancels her service before providing an incentive to not switch carriers.
Suffice it to say that I have been a very profitable customer of Best Buy for more than a decade.
Before sharing the tale of woe behind this radical move, I want to state that I have communicated it many times to people at Best Buy in telephone messages, e-mails, and even tweets to Barry (@Corie_Barry). Barry has not acknowledged these communications in any form.
The other efforts to have my concerns heard either were similarly ignored or directed to the senior customer-service rep., who has become far more of the problem than the solution. He continues taunting me as to he being the only one whom Best Buy will have address my concerns. Team Barry has ample notice of this.
This all began a few Saturdays ago when I went to a Best Buy to buy a wireless doorbell. The employee who helped me asserted that she was trained in that area. Both the outcome and a subsequent discussion with a store manager proved that that was not the case.
The next morning, I followed my Sunday routine of checking the Best Buy website for the weekly specials. I learned that the company was running a promotion in the form of giving away an Amazon Echo Dot (a.k.a. Alexa) with the purchase of the basic Ring doorbell that I had purchased. I also saw that that promotion was ending that day.
Experience during the reign of CEO (now Executive Chairman) Hubert Joly inspired confidence that Best Buy executive service quickly would make all things right with the world. I copied and pasted the product page (which included the offer) and mailed it to myself for good measure. I will add that no one has acknowledged an e-mail to Joly.
On calling executive customer service, I got the aforementioned rep. He was unresponsive from the start and stated that I could have forged the e-mailed copied-and-pasted product page from the Best Buy site.
The rest of this story was that the issue of the rep. was that I did not include a weblink in the e-mail with the product-page that I sent him. I responded that accessing a link on Monday would not document an offer that expired the prior day. The rep. responded that the link would reflect the expired deal because it would go to my computer. He would not acknowledge that that was inaccurate.
I then asked to speak to the supervisor of the rep. The rep. refused that request, stating that he was the only Best Buy employee to whom I ever would speak.
I then called the store where i bought the doorbell; an hour later, the store acknowledged the validity of the offer and pledged to send an Alexa. They did so later that day.
I called executive customer service back to report the development with the store. I got a different rep. than the first one. He told me that he would have his supervisor call me back; that never occurred. That rep. also stated that the first rep. easily could have looked up the offer that had expired the prior day.
The second rep, promised to confirm the offer and call me back; he never called back.
The first exec. rep. with whom I spoke called back two hours later and stated that the offer was to buy a doorbell that was $100 more than the one that I bought to get the free Alexa, which had gone down from $50 to $25 since Sunday. In other words, his solution was to spend $75 more than I needed to in order to get a free $25 item to which I had an undisputed right.
This time, the rep. seemed unable to grasp that the offer that existed on Monday differed from that of the day before. He again refused to have his supervisor get involved. I hung up.
All this led to the extensive aforementioned efforts to get someone at Best Buy to address both my frustration and the deplorable manner in which the first rep. handled the matter; the futility as to that led to this article.
My "demands" are a meaningful conversation with the VP of customer service for Best Buy, an equally substantive acknowledgment of the offer and the poor job of the first rep., and credible assurance that Best Buy will reasonably act in the future to put right what once went wrong.
Cutting back on customer service is understandable; murdering it is not.
Easy solutions for funding better service include a little pain "today" in the form of cutting the pay of anyone earning more than $100,000 by one-percent in exchange for an additional personal day each year to avoid having to eliminate their position "tomorrow."
Corporations also could expand tele-commuting programs by offering that option in exchange for offering eligible employees that option in exchange for a five-percent pay reduction.
On top of this, Barry and her fellow CEOs could make the gesture of a 5% pay cut to help their companies remain viable,
I likely have saved $100 in impulse purchases by not shopping at Best Buy or looking at its website in the past month. Unless and until things change, I further expect that I will save countless hours and massive levels of stress not fighting when the inevitable molehills surface.
I will splurge on a special treat if and when Best Buy announces a need to close numerous stores due to poor sales.