The Film Movement Classics division of Film Movement pairing the recent Blu-ray releases of the 1953 British comedy "The Titfield Thunderbolt" with a Blu-ray of the (reviewed) 1949 Ealing social-commentary-dripping comedy "Passport to Pimlico" provides an excellent chance for a taste of what the "Titfield" back cover aptly describes as the strong contribution of Ealing to the golden age of British cinema. The numerous comment elements of "Titfield" and "Pimlico" include legendary Britwit T.E.B. Clarke being the scribe of both.
"Titfield" being the first Ealing film shot in Technicolor makes it especially apt for Blu-ray. The British countryside truly looks idyllic.
Fans of '60scom "Petticoat Junction" will recognize many elements of "Titfield." A primary premise of both comedies is quirky good-natured small-town folk heavily relying on a rail line that operates between their community and a nearby town. Although the Hooterville Cannonball of "Petticoat" fame survives numerous attempts to shut it down, the effort to cease the operation of Titfield rail service succeeds. The rest of the story is that eliminating this competition profits a local bus company.
The Titfield populace demonstrates their "keep calm and carry on" fortitude by deciding to run the rail service themselves. Getting the initial provisional approval is only the tip of the iceberg as to this titanic endeavor.
The numerous obstacles as to actually running the train include a lack of necessary experience with the exception of a man who clearly does not work and play well with others. This is not to mention the opposition of those wanting to derail this effort.
Hilarity soon ensues as to things such as first building up an adequate head of steam and subsequently preventing an overheating that threatens to turn a potential figurative train wreck into an actual one.
In classic film fashion, it seems that a combination of sabotage and ineptitude is leading to an inevitable bad end for the good guys. The ensuing hilarity begins with taking a page out of both incarnations of classic scifi series "Battlestar Galactica."
This is the beginning of an extended climax in which the train being allowed to continue operating is conditioned on it making a monitored run on time. Of course, hilarity with a heavy dose of keeping "the suit" oblivious to the actual situation ensues. Suffice it to say that Clarke shows his awareness of a Hollywood ending.
The copious "Titfield" BD extras shows the same love for the film that Classic demonstrates for "Pimlico." A written essay provides great insight into the film, the bonus feature "Making 'The Titfiled Thunderbolt'" expands on that. We also get a handful of other "behind-the-scenes' features and the original trailer.
The Film Movement Classics division of Film Movement December 31, 2019 pristine Blu-ray release of the 1949 Ealing Studios Oscar and BAFTA-nominated classic comedy "Passport to Pimlico" (paired with a (soon-to-be-reviewed) Blu-ray of the 1953 Ealing comedy "The Titfield Thunderbolt") adds to the mountain of evidence that British fare kicks the arse of American movies.
The scope of this post allows sharing that "Pimlico" is an esteemed member of the genre of brilliant mid-century British political satires. Although not as well known as films such as "Dr. Strangelove" or the cult classic "The Mouse That Roared," "Pimlico" offers the same quality witty subversive social commentary. Suffice it to say that 10 Downing Street gets the royal treatment.
The "go to your local library to learn more" endorsement in this space is in the form of encouraging anyone who enjoys quality comedy based on strong material and quality performances to read the essay and to watch the bonus features in this set.
Highlights of the latter include the insightful and entertaining video interview with BFI curator Mark Duguid. His discussion of "Pimlico" includes its inclusion in the Ealing trilogy that consists of that film, "Whiskey Galore, and the Alec Guinness classic "Kind Heats and Coronets." Duguid also touches on the notable career of "Pimlico" screenwriter T.E.B. Clarke, which includes the Guinness film "The Lavender Hill Mob." Another extra "You Are There" tour of the on-location shooting shooting of the film.
From a more modern perspective, "Pimlico" plays out like an early-season "Simpsons" episode in that surprising increasing hilarity/mayhem ensures from an everyday occurrence gone comically awry.
The excavation of "the last unexploded bomb in England" (until another "last exploded bomb" is found) largely is a non-event in 1947 for this middle-class London community that has a Springfield-quality cast of quirky characters from every walk of life. This literal bombshell named Pamela becomes more newsworthy when a post-Blitz Bart Simpson and his pals engage in shenanigans that cause Pamela essentially to go nuclear.
The first twist is that the explosion reveals an 500 year-old treasure chamber. The "special guest star" that plays a major role in things getting out of hand is Margaret Rutherford of "Miss Marple" fame. Lumpy Rutherford plays the academic historian called in to investigate the discovery; Professor Hatton-Jones indisputably determines that both the treasure and the surrounding environs are the property of Burgundy.
The ensuing hilarity largely revolves around the once (and future?) Londoners in the community embracing living in Burgundy. Much of this glee revolves around these reverse-Brexit individuals determining that they no longer are subject to post-war rationing and other restrictions that the British government is imposing on them. This escalates to "border town" residents rushing to get in on the act in the same manner that Americans flees to Canada and Mexico for similar advantages.
A memorable moment in the interview with Duguid relates to his mentioning a scene in "Pimlico" in which a character comments that the community is defying the British government because that group believes in British principles.
This revolting (pun intended) development triggers a hazy memory of Springfield and/or Homer Simpson declaring sovereignty either separately or in the same episode sometime in the 31 seasons of "The Simpsons."
In true diplomatic fashion, each move by either the new residents of France or their British enemies prompts escalation on either side; this culminates in a siege in which the Brits try to isolate and starve out their former subjects. This culminates in a highly symbolic London ending that reflect the British attitude that many uproars ultimately turn out to be much ado about nothing.
In this case, the play especially is the scene and all's well that ends well. Adding that where there's a will, there's a way is mandatory.
Indiepix Films fully lives up to its name as to its December 17, 2017 DVD release of the 2017 dark comedy film "A Feast of Man." This low-budget film that literally provides food for thought is textbook arthouse fare.
"Feast" centers around four childhood friends gathering at the upstate New York vacation house of a family friend. This quartet reunites with a hope of profiting in the wake of the announced death of peer/stereotypical trust fund baby Gallagher. The other members of this rogue's gallery are fiance Ted (aka have you met my friend Ted), quirky loyal butler James, and French trophy girlfriend Arletty,
Attorney/executor/nepotism hire Wolf, Jr. is thrown back on arriving at the house to learn that Gallagher recorded a video will after making a traditional one. The shock and awe extends to conditioning Wolf and all the rest each inheriting roughly $1M on literally eating the deceased.
"The rest" are former flame/current Ted fiancee Judy and stereotypical wimpy TFB Dickie.
The concept and the look of "Feast" evoke strong thoughts of the highly similar '90s cult film "The Last Supper." That one has a group of intellectuals who share a home invite people whom they agree have no right to live to the titular meal for the purpose of killing them.
The "Feast" beneficiaries accept the terms of the will to varying degrees as they relive their past and consider their presents in both senses of that word. This, including unwarranted extreme cruelty to a "townie," shows that all of our gang fully stays true to type.
This leads to a wonderful perverse climax that includes a totally out-of-the-blue twist that proves that the rich are different.
An element of this reflects the class divide. One million dollars is not chump change but is not enough to prompt many high-net-worth folks to seriously considering cannibalism, would likely prompt many middle-class people to consider expanding their diet, and would almost certainly prompt folks with McJobs who live paycheck-to-paycheck to ask where's the beefcake.
Indiepix supplements this with a clever main menu that labels the scene selection option "ala carte" and ironically title a fauxmmercial" "A Touch of Luxury."
A 'del'athon of posts on home-video releases of the films and performances of genuine wit Del Shores continues with the Mama of all his films; "Sordid Lives" (2000) is the one that makes Shores a household name in WeHo, SoHo, and many other Hos. The franchise includes the (reviewed) "A Very Sordid Wedding" and "Sordid Lives: The Series."
An amazing surprise as to the blu-ray version of "Lives" is that the pristine video and audio and the depth of the images when watched in 4K greatly enhance the "live-stage" vibe of watching this film based on the play of the same name.
This tale of a working-class family in a fly-over county aptly has 10 festival wins under its enormous silver belt buckle. These include the Best Feature honor at the 2000 Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival, "best in show" honors for both Shores and the film at the 2000 Memphis International Film Festival, and "Best Feature" and Best Actor (Leslie Jordan) wins at the 2000 New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.
The following SPOILER-LADEN aptly titled trailer for "Lives" shows how this film is a wonderfully raunchier and darker version of the southern-fried '80scom "Mama's Family (nee "The Family" on "The Carol Burnett Show.")
This sordid tale centers around Sissy Hickey (Beth Grant), who is forced into the overlapping roles of therapist and far-from-teenage diplomat in the wake (no pun intended) of the recent death of her sister Peggy under highly scandalous circumstances. Suffice it to say that the man who plays a role in that demise lacks a leg on which to stand as to escaping culpability.
Shores deftly orchestrates the inter-related (pun intended) action between four arenas of action before gathering at least most of the usual suspects for the climatic main event that is relatable to people of every socioeconomic group.
The abode of Sissy literally provides the "meanwhile" at the ranch element of this two days in the valley of the dolts. Even more epic hilarity ensues as her sibling Earl "Brother Boy" Ingram (Jordan) is enduring a decades' long unfortunate incarceration in a mental hospital. He is being treated for the twin "diseases" of being a homosexual and for a strong urge to go Full Minnie in impersonating Tammy Wynette and other first ladies of country music.
The conversion therapy session between Brother Boy and "Mommie Dearest" style psychiatrist Dr. Eve Bollinger proves that Shores is the lover child of Tennessee Williams and John Waters. The battle of wills between doctor and patient is classic for reasons that extend well beyond an argument as to a failed masturbation experiment.
Delta Burke of the classic southcom "Designing Women" steals the show as woman scorned Noleta Nethercott, who tracks down husband GW (Beau Bridges) at the local dive bar. Burke fully channels loose cannon Suzanne Sugarbaker in finding felonious inspiration from "Thelma and Louise." Although Bridges is well cast as a good ole boy forced to humiliating pay a litany of sins, armchair casting suggests that real-life Burke spouse Gerald "Major Dad" McRaney would have been a better choice. The appearances of McRaney on "Designing Women" show that he has wonderful on-screen chemistry with his equal half.
The final piece of the puzzle is the most autobiographical part for Shores. The death of his grandmother forces successful and dreamy gay actor Ty Williamson (Kirk Geiger) to confront several conflicting emotions. He is happy and well-adjusted as to his life in Los Angeles but closeted and unhappy as to his relationship with the folks back home.
Most of the scenes with Ty occur during a session with a therapist who is much more compassionate and skilled than Dr. Eve (of destruction). Even many gay men who are coming-of-age in our overall more enlightened era of marriage equality and of being able to both ask and tell (not to mention show and tell) can relate to his family not fully embracing this adorable boy whom anyone would love to have live next door.
All of this amounts to a film that, in addition to the similarities with "Family," can be thought of as a toned-down David Lynch movie about Mayberry. Shores provides needed warmth as to this nostalgia regarding a small town in which everyone knows each other, and whose own "quirks" allow finding amusement in the eccentricities of his or her fellow man and woman.
The bigger picture is that Shores shows that excellent writing and a strong cast that fully embraces his or her role are important elements for a film that remains funny and does not look dated nearly 20 years after its release.
Deity to lovers of classic and/or obscure movies, The Film Detective fully puts the turkey back into Turkey Day with a pristine 4K restoration (complete with "Mystery Science Theater 3000" version) of the 1962 scifi cult classic "Eegah" on November 26, 2019. The Turkey Day tie-in dates back to '90s-era MST3K Thanksgiving marathons of the best episodes of this series that hilariously and relentlessly riffs on movies that are "the worst we can find."
An unintentionally amusing element of "Eegah" is that its 1955 Mexican release date is April 1.
The true MST3K gems are the ones such as "Eegah" in which the roasted fowl itself is highly entertaining and creator/head writer/host Joel Hodgson (later Mike Nelson, no relation) and the "bots" that join him in watching B-movies are fully on their game both in their riffing and the bumper skits. The voice of experience advises to not eat cereal while watching these frequent trifecta offerings; Apple Jacks will become airborne.
The ONLY complaints about "Eegah" are that the MST3K gang NEVER mentions the '70s cartoon "Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels" or the 1992 Pauly Shore teencom "Encino Man" and misses a chance for a PERFECT reference as to wannabe teen idol Arch Hall, Jr. commenting in "Eegah" that he is taking his beloved dune buggy off road. Even moderate MST3K fans are sure to yell out "Roads?! Where we're going, we don't need roads." Lesser sins of omission are not referencing Kristin Shepard or Joe Gillis in a climatic scene,
The MANY ways in which the almost non-stop clever quips more than compensates for the omissions include a clever reference to the 1963 star-laden comedy "Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World."
The "True Palm Springs Story" behind "Eegah" is just as entertaining as the action in this film about the titular caveman (Richard "Jaws" Kiel) looking for love in all the wrong places. As blonde surfer dude star Arch Hall, Jr. tells it in an interview for the blu-ray, he and his father simply decide to run a low-budget scifi film up the flagpole and see if any teens salute.
As Hodgson states in a separate DVD extra, the pandering to the target audience includes giving the kids all they love in the form of numerous elements that include rock-and-roll and a character who wants to be a Flintstone (a little baby Flintstone). Hearing about when Joel meets Arch years after brutally verbally bashing the latter is another interview highlight.
Our story fully begins after roughly 10 minutes of (sometimes comically obvious) exposition. Love interest Roxy is driving her two-seater convertible down a desert road when she runs into Eegah (name written in blood). She lives at least another day to tell her tale to father Mr. Miller (Arch, Sr.) and boyfriend Tom (Arch Jr.).
This soon leads to the "watch out for snakes" reference that is an all-time Misties favorite. Mr. Miller then makes a desert crossing that initially gives Tom glee in the form of getting to show off his speed buggy. Subsequent events show that a father and daughter reunion is only a booty call away.
Their unfortunate incarceration in the land of the lost allows the Millers to meet the parents and to ponce on the origin story of their host. (The missed opportunity here is the Sherwood Schwartz failedcom "It's About Time" that has two astronauts time travel to prehistoric times.)
It is equally predictable that a successful escape is not the end of the story; Our brother from another era fully finds himself in the modern world on coming in search of his bride. Needless to say that this blast from the past with a variation of a shotgun wedding does not lead to happily ever after.
The broadest appeal of this pleasure that does not provide any cause to feel guilty is that it is a strong example of the Saturday afternoon matinee fare that delights and amuses in a manner that keeps MST3K initially on the air for 11 years and has it find new life on Netflix. The next layer is that Arch Jr. has infectious youthful exuberance for his role. He literally is born to play an an OC everydude.
On a related note, this "lost episode" release comes two years after the final DVD release of every MST3K episode for which licensing is not a fatal obstacle. (Owning the quickly recalled due to licensing issues Volume 10 is a point of personal pride.) This makes "Eegah" comparable to fans of the classic '50scom "The Honeymooners" getting to own rare episodes of that series that are not part of "the original 39."
It is highly advised to pre-order two copies of the 1,500 copies of this limited-edition release. This allows keeping one for yourself and watching it on Turkey Day and giving the fanboy in your life the second one for a holiday gift.
The only proper way to end these musings is to say "push the button, Frank."
The coincidentally timely aspects of these musings on the 2014 DVD of the live-stage performance "Del Shores: Naked. Sordid. Reality." make it an especially good place to start a "del"athon of posts on Shores films and performances. This begins with watching "Naked" overlapping with belatedly beginning to read the May 2018 David Sedaris collection of memoirs Calypso.
The film and the auto-biography make it clear that these brilliant minor gay celebrities storytellers do not hesitate to rip the band-aids from scabbed over and fresh emotional wounds for the enjoyment of their fellow friends of Dorothy as well as the general populace. The overlap extends to Shores discussing his painful divorce and Sedaris writing about his highly significant other telling Sedaris out of the blue that he has not loved him since 2002,
The other coincidence is that particularly personal kindness and compassion by Shores comes at a time of announcing plans to shut down this site in late 2020 after more than 10 years trying to promote independent film and to prevent Millennials and Gen Zers from not knowing about Lucy Ricardo and Raph Kramden. This scheme to cease this genuine labor of love would not occur if not but for a Hall of Shame that includes arrogant young punks who should be grateful that they do not have to stand half-naked outside an Abercrombie and Fitch and a major studio that ironically knows Jack about not biting the hand that feeds its rapidly dying home-video businesses that should follow the Gospel According to Del.
The rest of this story is that much can change in a year and that the credible rumors as the upcoming death of Matt Nelson may be premature.
As indicated above, Shores gets much more personal in "Naked" than he does in his similar even more hilarious (reviewed) performance DVD "My Sordid Life." That one focuses more on tales from the set as to "Queer as Folk" and the Debra Messing Foxcom "Ned and Stacey." Further, a hazy memory is that Shores does not engage the "Life" audience nearly to the degree to which he makes the more intimate "Naked" fans part of the conversation, His very recent (reviewed) performance film "Six Characters in Search of a Play" falls in the middle of this Kinsey Scale,
An early stop in this journey into the mind of Shores is the typical reminiscing about his "sordid" chldhood as the son of a Southern Baptist preacherman. In this case, we hear about eccentric elderly members of the congregation that include an otherwise loyal widow woman who is dragged kicking and screaming to her final service. The lesson in Southern justice is the perfect climax to this segment.
We also get a story about the real aunt who inspires the HILARIOUS chain-smoking Sissy of the "Sordid" franchise. This one, which involves our favorite friend of Dorothy and his little dog too, is highly relatable to anyone with an elderly relative.
Dishing about a Hollywood lunch with a successful producer/friend of Shores and two Silver Age (female) movie queens fills the quota for the gossip portion of this performance. In true Shores style, the climax is a sordid detail that is close to a page out of "Lives."
Shores follows up with tales of two cities that perfectly illustrate the sordid scope of reality TV. Our host literally takes center stage to perform a one righteous dude show of an intervention of a hoarder who is a Mama June type; Shores particularly shines in his portrayals of the adult sons (and most likely nephews) of this woman whose riches are embarrassment.
Shores wraps all of this with the aforementioned baring of his soul; this logically leads to a noteworthy (pun intended) musical performance that reasonably can be considered a song by A"del"e.
The bittersweet conclusion to this that Shores leaves us wanting more; prior posts on his work and the remainder of this "Del"athon shows that he partially meets the bottomless demand for his wit and wisdom. Baby, you'r e the best.
Warner Archive once more proves that B-movies can have "a"ppeal with the recent DVD release of the 1934 musical-comedy "Harold Teen," which is based on the comic strip of the same name. This delightful romp also illustrates the cross-pollination that is prevalent in the first half of the 20th century and is still alive today.
Early 20th-century comic strips, as is the case regarding "Harold," have a proud history of getting films. radio shows, (sometimes hit Broadway musicals), and television series. "Harold" does fairly well as to getting two of these. In addition to two film adaptations, "Harold" gets a radio show.
A VERY cool thing about the silver screen Harolds is that a 1928 silent version stars Arthur Lake of "Blondie" fame. That strip gets a a radio show, a one-season wonder television series in which Pamela Britten of "My Favorite Martian," plays the lady of the lake, AND a plethora of films. One can only hope that Archive releases the earlier "Harold" film someday.
The following Archive trailer, which the DVD includes, of "Harold" perfectly conveys the entertainingly wholesome (with a pinch of innuendo) all singing and all dancing fun of this nostalgic treat for all ages,
The general vibe of "Harold" aptly is like fellow comic strip "Archie," which still is going strong in comic and television form today. Our titular approaching post-adolescent is an Olsen twin in that, like Jimmy Olsen of "Superman" fame, he is a goofy and clumsy recent high school graduate working at a newspaper.
In this case, Harold primarily writes witty snippets for the local rag of his hometown of Covina.
Returning to the Archie parallels, Harold rides around in a jalopy and follows the pattern of guys who peak in high school by still spending much of his free time at the local teen hangout. In this case, it is the Sugar Bowl ice cream shop that, like "Archie," is owned and operated by a man known as "Pops."
The "Betty" of Harold "Teenzy" Teens is graduating senior Lillian "Lillums" Lovewell; his "Reggie" is romantic rival "Lilacs."
This clearly Depression-era tale has the father of Lillums being unable to afford to send his daughter to college; he also is very concerned about a mortgage foreclosure.
Further, the real villain of the piece is aptly named new banker in town H.H, Snatcher. His relatively benign evil is in the form of duping cub (in two senses of that term) reporter Harold., This older man first takes advantage of that rube by handing him a statement asserting the "good" intentions of this newcomer. This executive further pretends to befriend the lad to ensure that the local press is positive.
A very creepy "Child Bride" element enters the picture when H.H. starts courting Lillums to the extent of buying her a wedding dress. Meanwhile, his partner-in-cradle robbing comes to town and is charged with getting Harold out of the way.
An interesting casting note is that Eddie Tamblyn, father of "West Side Story" star Russ Tamblyn, plays aptly named four-years and counting high-school freshman Shadow, Russ stars in the excellent (reviewed) "Son of a Gunfighter," which is in the Archive catalog.
Also in true Depression-era style, all this leads to the nicest kids in town planning (and performing as a grand finale) an elaborate "collegiate" musical, An amusing aspect of this is that none of these teens are enrolled in college.
Of course, the boy gets the girl and everyone who deserves a happy ending gets one. This Hollywood ending is desperately needed in a period in which our chief executive likely will find himself ousted without a golden parachute and that those who bring about his demise likely will learn the wisdom of the Chinese proverb about being careful about for which you wish, These days, it is likely that the new boss will be same as the old boss. BILL GATES IN 2020!!!
Although this may incur the wrath of Judy the Time-Life operator, this post on the Time-Life October 1, 2019 release of the five-disc condensed version of "Robin Williams" Comic Genius" has an excellent reason for advises forging this set of all five Williams HBO specials (plus a plethora of rare performance footage and other truly special features).
This rationale is that vast personal experience shows the wisdom of not making the mistake of buying a bargain version of something only to end up purchasing the more deluxe choice in the end. In this case, the mother lode is the (reviewed) deluxe collector's edition of "Genius."
The 25-words-or-less reason for this recommendation is that the five specials in the set that is the topic du jour will stir up such strong fond memories of Williams for current fans. New fans will get equally hooked and want the complete set as well,
The following channeling of Williams is a blessing to those of us who still mourn his August 11, 2014 death and is a curse to folks too young to remember when people put edgy comedy in context. Perhaps the problem is that no one currently around can present this "offensive" material as well as Williams.
The first response on seeing this 5-disc set is imagining Williams riffing on it being the Asian cousin of the massive 22-disc Negro collection. He then would likely do a bit about a DVD player asking if the smaller set was in yet and telling the larger set that it is too big too handle. Of course, Williams would incorporate the appropriate ethnic voices in this performance.
All of this shows the unparalleled appeal of Williams; he is a real-life (and equally frenetic) Bugs Bunny who is so zany and lovable that you cannot help but laugh as he engages in antics and makes outrageous statements that would earn virtually anyone else a punch in the nose.
The Olive Films May 29, 2018 DVD release of the 1959 film "A Bucket of Blood" that Olive describes as a "black-comedy-beatnik-culture-horror film" by a man that Olive shares is known as "The Pop of Pop Culture" is a wonderfully perverse cult classic with great significance.
This film enhances the Corman films in the Olive catalog by joining "Gas-s-s-s," "The Wild Angels," and the recent Olive release of "The Trip" starring Peter Fonda. The bigger picture is that "Bucket" is a precursor to the better known 1969 Corman black comedy "The Little Shop of Horrors."
Both "Bucket" and "Shop" feature a total nerd giving into an awesomely dark bloodlust in a bid to win the hot chick at work. "Shop" florist employee Seymour Krelborn provides carnivorous plant Audrey II the desired sustenance in a bid to win the heart of the babe for whom he names the plant.
Walter Paisley is a used and abused busboy at The Yellow Door coffeehouse, which is a beatnik hangout, at the beginning of "Blood." The object of his affection is cool cat Carla.
The same type of accident that is happy for the born loser and unhappy from the perspective of society that sets Seymour on the path to success in "Shop" involves a sacrificial cat in "Bucket." The poor kitty who uses up his ninth life is the beloved pet of the landlady of Walter.
Walter stupidly but accidentally killing the pussy leads him to conclude that making art is the best course of action when life gives you a dead mouser. The very avant-garde sculpture "Dead Cat" brings Walter instant fame (and an unfair portion of fortune) at the coffee shop.
Undercover narc Lou Raby (Bert Convy) making the rookie mistake of bringing a gun to a skillet fight inspires the second (and more grotesque) work "Murdered Man." The neighborhood whore subsequent learns not to tease any repressed psycho even if he is not one in Mom's clothing. We further get a local resident paying for what he saw.
The overall beatnik culture contributes much of the fun in "Bucket." The king of the scene embracing Walter to the extent of literally placing him on a throne provides further good period-piece entertainment. This is not to mention seeing the extent to which greed and an equal lust for celebrity outweighs morality.
Corman does even better presenting the truth literally beginning to reveal itself and the surface-thin cool composure of Walter melting away until the mob wants him in an undesirable manner. This leads to enacting the Corman form of justice.
The bigger Corman picture is that this genius fully embraces every element of the B-movies of which he is a master. This includes (such as in "Shop" and "Blood") shooting in black-and-white when not opting for lurid vivid color, using low-budget effects, and figuratively sticking to the script each time. He further is set apart from the makers of other guilty pleasures in that he sets out to create trashlicious garbage each time and greatly succeeds. This (along with the obvious drug influences) makes him the one-man Sid and Marty Krofft of the silver screen.
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.
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 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.
[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,
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 film "Pinsky" provides a chance to see the best movie about a hipster Boston 20-something lesbian with a domineering Russian immigrant grandmother having a quarter-life crisis that you will see this year. The accolades for this quirky indiecom include the Best Narrative Feature at the 2017 Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.
Much of the appeal of this dysfunctional Jewish family film relates (pun intended) to it evoking thoughts of the Neil Simon semi-autobiopic "Brighton Beach Memoirs." That one tells the tale of an adolescent Simon living in a full house with his parents, his brother, and the rest.
"Pinsky" opens on a terrible, horrible, no good day for titular Millennial Sophia Pinsky (producer/writer Rebecca Karpovsky). Her grandfather drops dead in the street within hours of the live-in girlfriend of Sophia leaving her a Dear Jane letter. All of this is on top of Sophia still working at the Jewish grocery store that is her college-era employer.
These worlds initially collide due to the death prompting Sophia to attending Shiva at the apartment of her grandmother (a.k.a. Bubbie). This is the first interaction of these women in several years after Bubbie cuts Sophia out of her life for moving in with her girlfriend.
The rest of the story in this regarding is that family rabbi Bob Stern (Alan Blumenfeld of the Marion Ross Jewcom "Brooklyn Bridge"). We subsequently learn that Bob has a very personal interest in the activities of the Pinskys.
Bubbie first exerts her Yenta side in coercing newly single Sophia to move back into Temple Beth Pinksy. The fellow members of the congregation are Sophia's father, who is obsessed with his ballroom-dance partner, and aimless sibling Victor, who has delusions of qualifying for the Boston police force. One can give Victor credit for realizing that he lacks the right stuff for the BFD.
The unavailability of an eligible Jewish doctor prompts Bubbie to aggressively promote the next best thing. She coerces Sophia into dating long-time family friend/medical researcher Trevor. Trevor agrees to play along despite having no romantic interest in Sophia and knowing that she prefers her phallic items to be of the plastic variety.
The final piece of the puzzle comes in the form of Sophia beginning a friendship that she apparently hopes reaps benefits. This object of her affection is Jessica Elliott, whose black skin is one of a few characteristics that distinguish her from the other patrons at the aforementioned Jewish market.
Jessica being an open-mic night regular introduces Sophia to the world; that leads to her aspiring to become a hipster lesbian version of Jerry Seinfeld; not that there is anything wrong with that.
Families of every religion and nationality can relate to the developments in the wake (pun intended) of the death of the grandfather leading to comically extreme trauma and drama at a Shabbat (a.k.a. Friday Night) dinner. The Mogen David freely flowing may be a factor regarding the gefilte fish hitting the fan.
Part of the gist of the listing of grievances is Bubbie laying the mother of all Jewish maternal figure guilt trips regarding her heavy sacrifices for her ungrateful family; we also learn that Trevor has his limits.
The biggest picture is that "Pinsky" illustrates the truth of the expression that you can pick your friends but not your relatives. It also brings to mind a foreign film from a few years ago in which a nice young Parisian Jewish man is planning to move to Israel; his sister reminds him that his planned destination is full of people who are like their parents. A third perspective is the Seinfeld joke that Jewish men marry shiksas because they want a wife who does not remind them of their mother.
The always excellent Breaking DVD extras this time are an interview with Blumenfeld and a short clip of Karpovsky doing stand-up.
Best friend of edgy off-beat films Breaking Glass Pictures embraces the spirit of the 2018 quirky indie comedy "Wobble Palace" by releasing the DVD of it on October 30, 2018. This praise relates to "Palace" occurring over the October 30-31, 2016 weekend just ahead of the presidential election that year.
Breaking does another solid by providing a spot-on synopsis of "Palace" in the press materials. This makes life easier for over-worked reviewers everywhere who welcome any chance to half-ass it. This brilliant prose that aptly begins with the phrases "auteur-driven," "hyper-independent," and "Millennial anti-rom-com" is below.
"WOBBLE PALACE takes place on the eve of America's most traumatic election, where a couple on the verge of a nervous break-up decide to split their house up over the weekend. Desperate to make new connections, Jane and Eugene find themselves in a series of unpredictable misadventures, sexual escapades and emotional traumas. From this simple premise we delve into a manic and hilarious world of lust and mistrust, revealing the identity crises and narcissistic self-loathing at the core of the millennial experience."
This adventure begins with easily the most divisive narrative technique in modern film. A series of texts establish the context for Eugene (producer/director/writer Eugene Kotlyarenko) and Jane to divide their shared abode that artist Jane has decorated in early Pee Wee's Playhouse for the Halloween weekend. Folks who have good eyesight and embrace all innovations apparently love this popular exposition tool. Those of us whose eyes are less-than-perfect and who are less fond of copycat gimmicks do not embrace this method as much.
The real action begins on the morning of Saturday, October 30. This is the day that Eugene has the house. Seeing more of his morning routine than we need to includes watching him create the worst comb-over in a LONG history of cinematic bad efforts to hide a receding hairline,
The day of Eugene starts well before rapidly picking up momentum that leads to an epic crash-and-burn that deprives him of every last shred of dignity. This nottie surprisingly gets a hottie blonde photographer that he meets through a dating app. to come by. It is even more surprising that she sticks around after uncovering the truth about his relationship with his "roommate."
Eugene soon putting himself in a literally and figuratively compromising position proves that all men are stupid. His learning the extent to which an angry woman hath fury provides the audience great entertainment and our boy intense anguish. His relationship with Jane being much closer to hate than love at this point does not help matters.
The primary action then shifts to Jane, whom we join on Sunday morning after a wild Saturday night party. This starving artist trying to hold her own with one who lives in an expensive loft is very amusing.
For her part, Jane is spending her day at the house with a member of the Millionaire Boys' Club who is a regular booty call. Watching this horny pair have a room but needing to wait for a bed is both relatable and hilarious. This two-pump chump making an ill-advised dump adds more comic drama to their intercourse.
Kotlyarenko augments this study of the mating habits of Millennials with apt flashbacks that establish how they get to where they are at the present of the film. This includes the more traditional rom-com style segment that can be considered when Eugene met Jane. These scenes not only depict the joy of new (if not true) love but the cyclical nature of everything.
All of this wraps up with Jane and Eugene reuniting after their weekends of freedom. This leads to them determining if their flame is reignited, has burned out, or simply is a Hanukkah light that adequately is keeping the relationship going until they either fall back in love or experience enough hate to call it quits. Real and reel life allow accurately predicting which of these is the outcome.
The special features include a separate audio commentary by Kotlyarenko and his entertaining four-minute introduction to 15 minutes of deleted scenes. The elan with which this aforementioned auteur describes his film, the support of Breaking, and the context of the footage that ends up on the editing room floor communicates his tremendous love for the art for which he bares all.
The breaking news regarding all this is that "Palace" presents a compelling portrait of a modern man-child clown who receives a harsh wake-up call on starting his day alone in bed.
The Mill Creek Entertainment August 2019 DVD release of the 2011-12 ABC period piece dramedy "Pan Am" provides another bite at the apple regarding this show that reminds us that flying was not always the horrendous nightmare that it is today. This series also is notable for launching the career of Margot Robbie.
"Pan Am" must be put in context that is apt for its "Love Boat" style format of each episode centering around a flight that has passengers whom guest stars of varying calibers play. It is fluffy fun with a relatively strong prime-time soap vibe.
The following YouTube clip of an ABC promo. for "Pan Am" provides a good sense of the strong production values and the related style of this series set in the mid-60s. The network further reminds us that the cred. of the series includes "West Wing" and "ER" veterans.
On the broadest level, "Pan Am" follows the "Marshall Plan" that reflects the wisdom of "Happy Days" creator Garry Marshall. Marshall notes that setting a '70s sitcom in the '50s prevents it from looking dated.
The opening scenes of the pilot (no pun intended) demonstrate the good balance between exposition and getting down to action that indicates that a show has good potential; fanboys think of this as "The Firefly Lesson."
We see our four central "stews" in their morning routines ahead of their inaugural flight on the maiden voyage of the brand-new Clipper jet of their titular employer. This montage helps establish the personalities of this '60s version of the "Sex and the City" quartet.
The Robbie character Laura "Charlotte" Cameron represents the mix of plausible and absurd that makes the 14-episode "Pan Am" the best of shows and the average of shows. It simply seems that the producers want to provide a little something for everyone in a show, with a strong girl-power vibe.
The closest to sublime element of Laura is that she is a bright, intelligent, and charming recent college graduate. The spring of her discontent relates (no pun intended) to seeing that rebellious black-sheep Pam Am flight attendant sister Kate "Miranda" Cameron (Kelli Garner) is enjoying the freedom and adventure that increasingly is available to their generation,
The gradual descent toward ridiculous begins with Kate showing up at the last-minute for the wedding of Laura to a nice clean-cut young man and facilitating the "Thelma and Louise" style prison break of the runaway bride.
This lead to the more improbable developments of rookie flight attendant Laura being at the right place at the right time in that a Life magazine photographer snaps an impromptu photo that ends up on the cover of that publication, This ultimately leads to an increasingly liberated Laura posing for "art photos" that end up getting very public exposure (pun intended) that catches the eye of a "pop" idol of the era.
The pilot adventure of Kate revolves around the CIA recruiting her to be a Cold War courier. This leads to increasingly dangerous adventures that ultimately involve aiding assets from behind the Iron Curtain, engaging in gun play, and helping expose a double agent all while maintaining the on-the-job poise, grace, and femininity that her day job requires.
French-born Collette "Carrie" Valois (Karine Vanasse) largely provides the perspective of someone who spent a childhood under Nazi occupation; this is especially prominent in which the flight crew attend the Kennedy "Ich nin ein Berliner" speech in Germany.
The entertaining absurdity of the Collettte story arc relates to a romance that becomes a royal disaster. A background check regarding her suitability for the relationship reveals both a surprise regarding her heritage and the existence of a relative about whom she lacks prior knowledge.
Last but not least is Maggie "Samanatha" Ryan, who is portrayed by Christina Ricci of "The Addams Family" movies. Maggie represents the liberated Bohemian woman of the era. She is a very feisty problem child who seems even more sexually liberated than European Collette.
The absurdity of Maggie relates to her radical (as in subversive, rather than awesome) boyfriend Max essentially throwing her in the arms of a Congressman, who essentially is a poster-child for the Republican party. We also see Maggie not hesitating very much as to throwing a co-worker under the jet when her wanton ways seriously jeopardize her job.
As is the case in every series that centers around a fantastic four group of women, the men are all deeply flawed and mostly are window dressing. Largely hairless WASPy pale farm boy Dean Lowrey lacks much personality and emotes so much about runaway fiancee/flight attendant Bridget that even men who eat quiche everyday likely want him to man up at least a little.
Co-pilot who considers himself a god Ted Vanderway resents his privileged background not providing enough pull to have him sit in the "right seat" has more of a personality. He has the same Daddy issues as many sons of a wealthy "master of the universe" type father. Ted also is a former "Top Gun" Navy test pilot who has a past "incident" that is why he no longer in the service.
All of this occurs in the context of the times that are a changin' in the mid-60s. We see prejudice against a black sailor who enters a friendship with potential benefits with one of the stews, get a lesbian woman who is looking to enter an open marriage of convenience, and even get a side trip to Haiti during great unrest on that island.
The broadest appeal of all this is showing they folks who think of the mid-60s as the beginning of the end regarding true style in America and others who consider that period as one in which the oppressed begin overthrowing the oppressors and the general population begins to get woke that the truth lies in the middle.
'The Best of the Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition' DVD: Timeless Tribute to True American Idol
The Time Life August 6, 2019 release of its best ever DVD tribute to "The Carol Burnett Show" awesomely provides a good reason to stay inside during the hazy, hot, and humid summer of our discontent. The gift-worthy. "The Best of the Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition" shows that Time Life is not a three-trick pony as to similar deluxe massive sets to Burnett pals (and guest stars) Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, and Jackie Gleason. This is not to mention giving "Burnett" admirer Robin Williams similar (reviewed) royal treatment.
"Burnett" show by the numbers is 11 seasons, 279 episodes, 8 Golden Globes, 25 Emmys, and numerous other awards and nominations. A very incomplete list of the pop-culture contributions of "Burnett" begins with the "Family" sketches, which get their due in the "Burnett" set, that beget the sitcom "Mama's Family" that has its own deluxe (reviewed) Time Life CS set. A cool tie-in with the "Burnett" set is an included modern interview in which Burnett discusses how a combination of her perfect comedic instincts and her childhood tweak the concept of "Family" in a manner that shows that Mama Burnett knows best.
Other "Burnett" memories that remain fresh in the minds of fans several decades include the "Gone With the Wind" and "Sunset Boulevard" sketches, which this set includes, that show that parody IS the sincerest form of flattery. Other highlights include Burnett playing a dim-witted bimbo secretary in the "Mrs. Wiggins" sketches and improv. master Tim Conway claiming to have gotten PEER Harvey Korman to laugh so hard that he pees his pants in the "Dentist" sketch.
The "Burnett" set by the numbers is 60 hand-picked episodes (including the two-hour series finale) that span all 11 years and 21 discs. The three sets that comprise these discs in a literal box set include the (reviewed) "The Best of the Carol Burnett Show."
We also get a truly collectible booklet (avec photos) that includes a timeline of the series and a paragraph by Burnett as to each season. The icing this time is a partial listing of the notable guests each season.
The series-finale aptly gets its own set; Time Life further gives this Golden Age classic its dues by presenting it in its original broadcast version avec bumpers but sans commercials. Stating too much would spoil sharing in the glee of Burnett on discovering the surprises that Conway et al have planned for her.
Things start out strong with Burnett introducing audience member First Lady of American Cinema Lillian Gish during the final of so many truly iconic show openings that are notable for (often hilarious) Q&A sessions. Commenting that Gish looks as if she is a resident of Grey Gardens is fully in the spirit of Burnett good-naturedly spoofing the greats.
Watching numerous clips that remind audiences of the '70s and of 2019 of the loss as to the series ending is a highlight. We also get an apt good-bye as to Wiggins and a (temporary) equally good send-off for Mama and her family.
Burnett letting Conway steal the show as they and co-star Vicki Lawrence demonstrates the class and the wisdom as to Burnett allowing herself to be upstaged for the good of the show, Conway returns this love by blindsiding Burnett with a very special guest star who leaves her speechless. This expression of fandom for this Hollywood royalty who NEVER becomes box-office poison expresses the love of the greats that allows Burnett to honor them so well.
The next big surprise comes at the end as the (yes again) iconic charwoman character of Burnett cleans up backstage one last time. This again is too special to spoil and REQUIRES paying attention.
This leads to Burnett providing the best-ever final scene in any television series. Still dressed as the charwoman, she explains her decision to head up before the lights go up for last call., Her subsequent exit is far from a walk-of-shame, and she leaves all of us wanting far much more.
The most apt final word regarding all this is that Burnett points out in the aforementioned interview that funny always is funny and that making people laugh does not require going "blue." Sadly, very few realize and achieve this.
The plethora of special features in the Warner Archive July 16, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1933 James Cagney musical-comedy "Footlight Parade" is the most obvious bonus regarding this highly enhanced film. This movie-industry history lesson in this film ala the theme in "Singin' in the Rain" of the transition from silents to talkies is the icing on the cake as to "Footlight."
The overall quality of the all-star "Footlight" earns it inclusion in the National Film Registry in 1992.
The following clip of a "Footlight" trailer does the film justice. This begins with including a cat fight that unarguably is the best moment in the whole movie. We further get a sense of the grand-scale of this let's put on three shows extravaganza courtesy of Busby Berkeley complete with an Esther Williamsesque water ballet number years before she begins her career.
One relevant context for "Footlight" is that the central story reflects the increasingly popular film industry being the video that kills the "radio star" in the form of live-stage productions that cost Depression-era audiences much more to attend. Another driving force is making and setting "Footlight" in the period in which the 1930 Hays Code is beginning to be enforced.
We meet musical-comedy producer Chester Kent (Cagney) as he is beginning to realize that he is facing obsolescence. His first saving grace is forming a partnership with a couple of shrewd businessmen. The brilliant idea behind making these men unlikely bedfellows is making live-stage prologues a lagniappe to help fill movie theaters.
Things first get amped up when an Eureka moment causes Kent to realize the benefits of economy-of-scale. A series of unfortunate circumstances related to corporate espionage leads to a do-or-die effort to produce three lavish numbers in as many days and to prevent "Gimbel's" from discovering what "Macys" is up to. The tactic of Kent includes a literal lock-down to prevent any loose lips from sinking his ship.
Other backstage drama includes the same form of creative accounting that has made headlines in the modern era, Ruby Keeler playing stenographer turned star/love interest Bea Thorm to crooner with his own backstory Scotty Blair whom Dick Powell portrays, Joan Blondell as Gal Friday/potential love interest to Kent, and Claire Dodd as tough broad/gold-digger Vivian Rich.
It is equally amusing that Code commentary includes objection to a wholesome (but thoroughly silly) alley-cat number of Keeler and Powell but not a peep as to a bit involving Powell and comic-relief Francis (Frank McHugh) demonstrating a number intended for Thorn and Blair.
All of this culminates in the aforementioned lavish number. "Honeymoon Hotel" is the most entertaining in that it is the most racy and perverse. The overall theme is that the titular lodging establishment facilitates extra-marital activity. The fun includes a troupe of "brides," and much of the perversion comes ala Krofft lttle person Billy Barty playing an odd child whose frantic antics include scurrying away after accidentally ending up in bed with Thorn,
"By a Waterfall" is an elaborate water ballet that provides the aforementioned Williams vibe; this easily has the most precise and impressive choreography of the three.
The grande finale "Shanghai Lil" plays very true to the "show must go on" spirit of both "Footlight" and the era. This one has the leading man singing and dancing his way through a dive bar in search of the titular soulmate. It is highly suggested that the other women in the joint have plenty of two bits for their brews. This leads to a "Coyote Ugly" style dance number on top of the bar.
Considering many of the themes of "Footlight," it is highly apt that the audience is exhausted and satisfied at the end of this never-a-dull-moment film.
The Blu-ray extras start out strong with a 15-minute documentary titled "Footlight Parade: Music for the Decades." Gleeful King of Raunch John Waters and others share their perspectives, which largely mirror those in this post. We also get several highly relevant interesting factoids.
A quartet of vintage Warner cartoons ties into the documentary by illustrating the comment that that studio gets good use from songs created for musicals by also centering animated shorts around them. Archive providing the standard disclaimer regarding the racist nature of older cartoons does not prepare the audience for the scene in the highly offensive "One Step Ahead of My Shadow" in which two of the Orientals (my people call them Asians) that populate most of this one double down by doing an Amos and Andy impression; they do stop short of using blackface.
"Vaudeville Reel #1" includes the standard acrobats, child star, etc of this form of entertainment. The absence of the act titled "The Aristocrats" is an obvious omission.
An amusing aspect of all this is that Archive honors a major theme of "Footlight" by making this masterfully restored release a bargain for movie lovers or simply anyone who is seeking roughly 2.5 hours of escapist fun that includes an epilogue.
An introduction to the wit and wisdom of producer/writer/director Quincy Rose regarding his hilarious and insightful (reviewed) indie flick "Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends" led to nice online communication with him. This led to a recent chance to watch the DVD release of his 2012 romantic drama "Miles to Go," which Indiewire states is "one of the 12 indie films to watch."
The following YouTube clip of the "Miles" trailer nicely informs without hyping. The wry low-key style of this promo. provides an excellent sense of the film with minimal spoilers.
Rose, who is producer/director/writer, shines as the titular nerdish 30-something Los Angeles writer. His black plastic rimmed glasses and poster for the vintage Woody Allen film "Take the Money and Run" in his reel-life living room reinforce the strong vibe from "Miles" and "Friends" that Rose is the rightful heir to the kingdom of Woody Allen. Much of this relates to Rose wisely emulating (but not parodying) Allen. This homage includes opening and closing credits that are simple white letters against a black background.
The oozing symbolism in "Miles" extends well beyond the title referring to our hero being neurotically pessimistic regarding any relationship passing the test of time. This is in the context of Miles frequently frequenting massage parlors and engaging in other unhealthy pursuits of a happy ending in the five months since a break-up with long-time repeatedly on-again off-again girlfriend Julia.
Other symbolism relates to this relationship-impaired man creating permanency in the form of several tattoos. The ink that he receives during the film is the most meaningful one of all.
The current state of Milia is that a combination of loneliness, horniness, and attraction has them alternatively reaching out to the other in ways that more often then not lead to sex. The only thing keeping those crazy kids apart is both of them wanting a commitment to a long-term relationship but Miles being unsure of his ability to provide that stability.
The aforementioned wit and wisdom includes the inner high-school boy comments regarding which Rose is a master. A hilarious bit in "Friends" relates to a character sharing that the nature of his penis warrants giving that love muscle the name of a well-known supermodel. "Miles" has similar commentary regarding the (briefly glimpsed) love organ of our hero.
Rose additionally adds a teen-boy twist to the standard Allen scene of childless yuppie friends conversing during dinner. A discussion of sexual accommodations leads to the topic of women agreeing to engage in anal sex if doing so is adequately important to their man. The spirit of Allen is most present regarding an observation that even highly straight men have a strong enough homosexual urge to want to penetrate someone anally. The Rose side comes through regarding Miles making amusing tasteless jokes on the subject.
Another scene has Miles playing his regular role of providing the male perspective to a woman to with a relationship history that rivals his own. He explains that a man who engages in pre-coitus interruptus in the form of just wanting to snuggle does so only due to embarrassment regarding covertly crossing the finish line during foreplay.
On a more respectable level, Rose further shares his thoughts regarding pretension related to keeping books that you have read on the shelf. This is in line with a real-life independent bookseller observing that Millennials buy hardcover books because that is their only affordable means of expressing their personalities.
In other words, "Miles" works because it is true. Gen Xers and Millennials are from generations in which most relationships do not endure. They further have the blessing and the curse related to casual hookups often being lauded and no dishonor being associated with not marrying until late in life if at all. This simply makes it tough for those of us who want forever after and fear the heartache associated with that not happening.
A personal note regarding the Rose take on relationships is that recently losing a greatly loved (and exceptionally loving) dog renewed always present feelings that we animal lovers fully give our hearts to canines and felines (and get just as much love back) despite knowing that we will lose them within 15 years. At the same time, we are back at the shelter looking for a new "child" no longer than a year later.
The Gravitas Ventures October 11, 2016 VOD release of the 2016 comedy "Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends" is both a good companion to the August 20216 Gravitas release of the Millennial dystopia drama "There is a New World Somewhere" and the early '70s Woody Allen films on which the father of "Friends" writer/director/voice actor Quincy Rose worked.
A personal cool element of "Friends" is finding on reading the statement of Rose in the press materials that thoughts regarding this movie coincide with his mindset while making it. Understanding the artistic vision of a film is always a good thing. This theme relates to the tangled relationships between friendship and sexual desire as well as the theory of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs that essentially shows that man (and woman) is never happy despite how good he (or she) has it.
The Millennial vibe of "Friends" begins with the opening scene in the way cool retro-style bar that looks like the hangout in the 20-soemethings-oriented Foxcom "New Girl." BFFs from childhood openly (and hilariously) discussing their pre-adolescent mutual sex play to the amusement of Steve's live-in girlfriend Laura further establishes that our leads are open-minded close friends.
The catalysts for the ensuing moderately hot drama include Laura introducing freelance editor Jacob to friend/aspiring author Sarah and Steve pushing the limits of his "don't ask/don't tell" relationship with Laura by starting an affair with a woman who is more than Ms. Right Now.
Having the proposed book by Saarh focus on the contributions of her grandfather to the "scale of sexuality" research by Kinsey is very apt for this film.
Good guy but relationship-shy Jacob quickly develops strong chemistry with Sarah but is attracted to her hot and flirty roommate Camille. The encouragement of Steve to pursue Camille does not help matters.
Roughly the next hour of "Friends" focuses on the titular activity of this group and their justifications for the associated directed and indirect betrayals. As Rose observes in the aforementioned statement, we all can justify doing what (or whom) we want to and (in true Allen style) fail to consider the impact of our actions on others. In other words, something feeling good does not always justify doing it. Said consequences adds a deeper meaning to the "effing" portion of the title of the film. It further proves that you can both "ef" 'em and tell 'em a joke.
Highlights include the very live-stage feel to all the dialogue, the brotalk between Steve an Jacob, and a very high school style discussion regarding trying to learn the extent of the sexy activity on a memorable night that three of our Gang of Five share.
This being 2016, the amusing ending reflects modern Hollywood. Everyone is a little wiser but not essentially a happier; one spoiler is that the film does not end with a wedding in which our quintet joins hands and dances or skips around accompanied by a Motown or '70s soft rock hit.
Fans of '80s teencoms have reason to rejoice regarding the Warner Archive DVD release of the 1987 cult-classic "My Demon Lover." This "Mannequin" like tale of the titular "monster" is a prime example of '80s films that are vehicles for the top-billed popular TV stars. "Demon" features the offbeat comedy of Scott Valentine, whose breakout role is lovable figurative space-cadet Nick Moore on the '80scom "Family Ties," which features "Back to the Future" star Michael J. Fox. The lasting legacy of Nick is using two syllables to pronounce the name "Alex."
The following original trailer for "Demon" provides a good sense of this film that can be considered a PG-13 version of the Robin Williams sitcom "Mork and Mindy."
The fantasy begins with setting "Demon" in New York, which represents Utopia for many Gen Xers. Many of these children of the '70s and '80s are drawn there with dreams of a combination of fame or fortune. Other simply want the freedom to love a counter-culture lifestyle that reflects their inner spoiled child. Films, such as "Demon," that idealize life in The Big Apple to various degrees sadistically fuel that fire.
Valentine plays street saxophonist Kaz, who is in remarkably good shape for someone who lives well below the poverty level, Character actress Michelle Little plays wholesome girl Deny, whose trusting nature consistently gets her in trouble. This includes her most recent boyfriend stealing most of her meager worldly goods right in front of her at the beginning of the film.
The rest of the story is that a supernatural beast dubbed "The Mangler" is preying on the babes of New York. It is equally obvious that the audience is supposed to believe that Kaz is that malfeasor and that he is proven innocent in the final reel.
All of these elements converge when Kaz, who already made a hilariously bad first impression on Denny, comes to her rescue when The Mangler attacks her. This leads to Kaz couch surfing at the apartment of sweet and naive Denny.
Another obvious element is this review referring to Kaz as a horny devil regarding his transforming to his horrific primal state whenever he gets aroused. The flashback that serves as the origin story of Kaz is a "Demon" highlight that will help protect the "virtue" of teen girls.
Additional predictable fun comes courtesy of the obligatory montage of Kaz and Denny frolicking around New York to the accompaniment of an '80s rock ballad. This one strongly suggests that the good folks at Warner Prime had a "My Demon Lover" sitcom in mind when making the film.
This honeymoon period is interrupted wihen The Mangler takes another bite at The Big Apple as to having Denny for dinner. This abduction with shades of "King Kong" leads to requiring Kaz to "wolf out" in order to save his girl. Getting that savior to that state requires that the best friend of Denny take one for the team.
The inevitable good vs. evil showdown mines humor from The Mangler and Kaz being more alike than they could have guessed. Of course, the boy gets the girl in the end.
The delight this time involves watching Valentine take his impish charm to a slightly more adult level; we also have the fun in the form of this reminder about how they made 'em 30 years ago.