The Virgil Films DVD release of the 2018 documentary "The Coolest Guy Movie Ever: Return to the Scene of 'The Great Escape'" continues the Virgil celebration of Bro Cinema.
This "True Hollywood Story" presentation of "Escape" is filmed at the German locations of the 1963 John Sturges directed tale of Steve "King of Cool" McQueen and other A-List macho men of the era planning a massive escape from the P.O.W. camp where they are guests of der Fuhrer.
The other aforementioned documentaries about guy flicks include the Virgil 2016 DVD of (the reviewed) "Outatime" about volunteers restoring the DeLorean from the "Back to the Future." The (also reviewed) 2018 Virgil title "I Am Paul Walker" celebrates the life of that deceased "Fast and Furious" franchise star. That one shows how Walker can be considered the modern McQueen.
The following YouTube clip of a promo. for "Coolest" honors the bro code of the film by taking less than two minutes to provide a strong sense of the theme and the style of the documentary.
Our host is Haynes portrayor Lawrence Montaigne; he explains early on that creating diversions is the raison d'etre of his character.
The quest to relive the past begins with a search for the location of the camp; the leave only footprints philosophy of the shoot hinders this in that permission to cut down hundreds of trees in The Black Forest is conditioned on a fulfilled promise to plant two trees for each that is removed. The current trees and vintage production photos help pinpoint this setting,
Other pictures and memories of locals help identify background locations. Prominent ones include the spot where the McQueen character strings a wire across a road to cause a German soldier to crash a motorcycle. Hearing from the stuntman who takes that fall contributes a nice perspective to "Coolest." We also see the field where McQueen makes his iconic jump and the train station where the Nazis obtain a small victory.
The copious "behind-the-scenes" stories extend beyond modern recollections to archival interviews with McQueen and co-stars James Coburn and James Garner. We learn from locals which of these men embraces the fandom and who is more aloof. A man who runs the former barbershop of his father tells the best tale of that contrast.
The keeping it in the family theme includes the current owner of a hotel sharing the registration forms of the stars and Sturges during the ownership of the parents of the man. This tour includes the actual rooms of the Hollywood royalty.
Having a film crew recreate elements of Nazi Germany during a "too soon" period is a particularly interesting aspect of the documentary. One can relate to anger on seeing reminders of that era in an area that does not find any element of The Third Reich at all amusing.
More general information relates to improvisation that limitations require. One of the most amusing stories regarding this is the need for McQueen to play dual roles.
The bigger picture is that "Coolest" speaks to hard-core fans of "Escape" in the way that "Outatime" resonates with dedicated "Future" fans. Both films compensate for the inability of those folks to witness the making of the delectable sausage.
The September 17, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 documentary "The Kids' Table" provides a good chance to watch an amusing old-school style film. This chronicle of four 20-somethings competing in the national bridge championship does for that dying card game what the 2002 documentary "Spellbound" does for the national spelling bee.
A fun aspect of the below trailer for this film about an activity that is tedious to watch and to play except for those who thoroughly enjoy it is that this promo hits most of the best moments in this film that achieves the documentary ideal of being equally entertaining and educational. Director/team captain (and player) Edd Benda makes a great poster boy for this past-its-prime pastime.
"Borrowing" the well-written and concise summary of "Table" from the press materials for the film is in the spirit of one theme of "Table" that younger people do not want to take the time to learn how to play bridge. This seems akin to the adage that chess takes a moment to learn and a lifetime to master. That aspect takes the fun out of playing with the "horsie" and the "castle."
The 25-words-or-more take of the official synopsis is "four millennial friends - filmmaker Benda, comedian Monique Thomas, Twitch host Stefanie Woodburn and actor Paul Stanko - bridge novices all, train and compete for a year on the National Bridge Circuit, going behind-the-scenes to better understand the game and its waning popularity. And as the millennials explore the world of competitive Bridge -- where the average age of their opponents is 73 - they discover the highs and lows of card-play, competition, and community while, hopefully, helping to build a strong foundation for the future of the game."
Benda shares his story of learning to play bridge as a child; the others largely seem to be along for the ride. Stanko is the scene-stealer in that he is the weakest link and has limited youthful exuberance for the game. All this makes him the one who seemingly needs the most coaching.
This quartet further entertains as we get caught up in the thrill of their victories and the agonies of their defeats. A high point for the players and the at-home spectators is the nicest kids in town scoring a highly coveted endorsement deal.
Another highlight is a figurative and literal tutorial on the rules of the game; this includes a frustrating electoral-college aspect that relates to the possibility that the team that wins the majority of the 13 rounds in a game still are branded the losers.
Benda additionally introduces us to two young teen boys, who literally are playing with the big boys. These lads charmingly admit their love of the game does not make them BMOCs.
Benda makes going along for the ride great fun and leaves us wanting more for our stars; it also prompts a desire to break out the bridge mix and help revive the game.
Godsend to cult-film fans and pop-culture enthusiasts Virgil Films awesomely provides a glimpse into the world of "anonymous" Internet pranksters by releasing the 2017 documentary "Troll Inc." on DVD. This film looks at the community that does everything from telling the general population most things that the feds try to keep secret, to creating and exposing data breaches, to pulling online pranks simply because they can and because they are hilarious.
The following YouTube clip of a "Troll" trailer provides a glimpse of the equally amusing and (mostly) societally important escapades of central anti-hero Andrew "weev" Auernheimer. We also get a brief sense of his raison d'etre.
Auerheimer being the primary talking head allows obtaining much of the "Troll" information directly from the mouth of the equine. An early gleefully shared tale is of this prankster using a low-tech method to distort the story behind the scandal involving International Monetary Fund executive Dominique Strauss-Khan and a hotel housekeeper.
Even more hilarity relates to the involvement of Auerheimer in the subversive site goatse.cx. This "shock site" delights in containing content that is so sick and perverse that even John Waters likely cringes. A cited (but not shown) example is a man pleasuring himself while seated on a pile of feces,
Much of the focus is on the 2010 data-security issue related to iPad users having 3G service through then-sole provider AT&T. Auerheimer hacking into the Apple system and obtaining the e-mail addresses of the rich and powerful with those devices and that service is behind the feds saying enough regarding this man who already has person-of-interest status. The tale of his prosecution and unfortunate incarceration is the thing of which Hollywood blockbusters are made. One can imagine Zach Galifianakis playing the lead.
We also learn the tale of an exploit that thematically is between the Strauss-Khan incident and the Apple matter. Auerheimer being told of Amazon discriminating against gay-themed material prompts amusing action that ultimately shines light on this policy. The presumed connection between this and a fluctuation in the price of Apple stock demonstrates the potential impact of trolling.
We also extensively hear about a member of The IT Crowd who becomes a good friend of Auerheimer after learning about his activities. Self-described gay-Jewish man Mike Behr shows great loyalty toward his buddy and proves that some people still have a sense of humor in the 2010s. Our boys have an especially funny WTF moment when Auerheimer semi-jokingly accuses his friend of a serious betrayal.
The larger context is that "Troll" conveys the blessing and the curse of the Internet; the convenience of easily getting stuff that we want and being able to largely manage our lives from the couch comes at the price of our private information being vulnerable to folks whose intents are less than pure. Apple god Steve Jobs states it best in saying that there is nothing wrong with providing our information so long as it is done with informed consent.
The Icarus Films September 3, 2019 DVD release of the 2001 documentary "Ghosts of Attica" does the Icarus history of releasing thought-provoking documentaries proud. Every DVD in this portion of the Icarus catalog achieves the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and educational.
In this case, narrator Susan Sarandon has the guards and the prisoners who were there tell the story of the September 1971 Attica uprising. We also learn of the decades-long effort of the prisoners to receive compensation for the harm that they sustained during that event.
Much of the film revolves around self-described Frank "Big Black" Smith, who is drafted into being a leader of the prisoners when (still highly relevant) demands for things such as religious freedom and being paid minimum wage escalates into the inmates temporarily taking over the asylum. The vintage photos and film footage of the prisoners when order is being restored perfectly illustrates why they are pursuing monetary damages.
We also meet Smith employer Liz Frank, who is the lead attorney for the prisoners. This stems from intense empathy for those guests of the state dating to the aftermath of the aforementioned events.
On the surface, a $12 million award to the prisoners seems to be a major victory. One-third of that going to the attorneys is an accurately cynical example of the United States legal system. On top of that, this award understandably prompts resentment among the guards who endured "troubles" during the uprising. A talking head properly notes that asserting that the workers' compensation system provides the guards an adequate remedy is absurd.
This is not to mention the inevitable appeal by New York.
The rest of the story that makes this incident documentary-worthy is that the then-Governor Rockefeller ordering the retaking of the prison with extreme prejudice comes back to bite him as to his bid for the vice-presidency. Suffice it to say that a cover-up is at least attempted.
These inter-related elements are intriguing in that they start with one of many cases in which the disenfranchised aggressively act to become enfranchised, the powers-that-be come down hard, both sides try to win the hearts and minds of the American public, and all feel that they have a right to compensation.
The underlying theme is the highly adversarial tone of interactions between the "haves" and the "have nots" that is becoming deafening during what may be an even more divisive era that the Civil War and the highly contentious late '60s. Clearly, we cannot all just get along and cannot rely on the folks who control the message to tell it like it is.
The DVD bonus features are and audio recording of Frank and more archival images from the uprising.
The Virgil Films August 27, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 documentary "Tasteless" shines a spotlight on a grossly overlooked societal issue; baseless outrage regarding crude and offensive humor, As many of the comedians and comedy writers who participate in the film observe, merely saying a trigger word can prompt outrage before even telling the joke.
This relates to a post on beloved documentary "That's Not Funny," which focuses even more sharply on the issue of comedians and others having their lives ruined merely for telling a joke.
Similarly, this current post would be much more funny but for fear of incurring this wrath. An example is wanting to convey the theme of "Tasteless" by using the expression that essentially refers to calling a shovel a shovel as the subtitle of this article. Death threats and other stress is not worth that bit of humor.
On a related note, one topic that "Tasteless" does not discuss is the exclusive license of members of a minority group to make the jokes that have the rest of us viewed as monsters. A personal example is a one-time close Chinese-American friend dressing up like a knight for Halloween. He does this so that he can say that he is a chink in the armor.
The following official trailer for "Tasteless" expands on the above themes and touches on the '80s joke books Truly Tasteless Jokes that give the film its name.
Some of the best entertainment in "Tasteless" relates to folks 40ish and under who are introduced to the books through the documentary; the responses of these folks from an increasingly PC era relate both to the sick humor and someone publishing a book that almost certainly would not get published today.
Comedian Helen Hong fully embraces the spirit of "Tasteless" in a must-see deleted scene during the closing credits. She makes a hilarious mistake as to the number of books in the series and makes this moment sublime by stating on realizing that she made an error that she must be Polish.
We further get the fun of Dennis"Mr. Belding" Haskins refusing to read any of the jokes. He fully plays up his public image.
Filmmakers Jeff Cerulli and Matt Ritter provide an even bigger payoff both by revealing the true identity of author "Blanche Knott" and interviewing that person for "Tasteless." It is fascinating both to hear from that person and to learn how water-cooler jokes lead to extreme wealth.
Although a few cases of grossly disproportionate backlash get brief attention, the story of Canadian comedian Mike Ward receives several "Tasteless" minutes. This scandal begins with Ward joking as to a sick young Canadian boy who sings at the Vatican that many people make fun of the performance.
Ward then says that he defended the boy because he had a fatal disease. The public anger stems from Ward then expressing outrage as to the boy lacking the decency to die after Ward is kind enough to support him.
Ward subsequently faces a hefty fine for his witticism and still is fighting it at the time of the filming of the documentary,
The same buzzkills who are succeeding in taking away freedom of choice as to plastic bags and regarding speakers that are intended to promote the college ideal of provoking thought are not going to be easily persuaded that expressing humor that offends them should not be a figurative or literal death sentence. They should open their minds at least a little by considering an analogy to which they can relate.
Traditionally, restaurant customers have been advised to not complain about minor service issues because that usually would lead to the server being fired. The message here is that you should not comment on waiting five extra minutes for your food or the server forgetting to bring ketchup because that could cost someone his or her job.
The analogy here is that a comedian should not have a career ruined merely for a misfired joke or a slip of the tongue, Thinking about how you would feel as to getting canned for a minor error in your work or for not remaking the coffee after making the last cup.
'The Beatles: Made on Merseyside' DVD: Fab Career-Spanning Documentary on Four Generals in British Invasion
The Omnibus division of indie and foreign-film god Film Movement properly marks the 60th anniversary of the formation of "The Beatles" with the August 20, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 documentary "The Beatles: Made on Merseyside."
This soup-to-nuts film covers the Fab Four from their childhoods through the onset of Beatlemania, The extensive original and archive footage of those (including original drummer Randolph Peter Best) who know the band members best (no pun intended) provides The True Liverpool Story as to John Lennon et al.
Learning so much about these true music-industry pioneers is fascinating, The fairly well-known story of their playing always small and often disgusting clubs in England and Germany before making significant professional progress is highly relevant today.
The assertion that a post-adolescent who makes it through a few rounds of auditions and then wins a contest that lasts another few weeks is an "American Idol" is absurd. Properly achieving that status requires many years of much harder work; sob stories that have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with musical talent are COMPLETELY irrelevant,
Paul McCartney inadvertently provides the most amusing moment in this film that achieves the genre ideal of being highly entertaining and educational. His recently revealing an intimate moment with John Lennon early in their careers puts his telling of a "you show me yours, and I'll show you mine" moment with that bandmate in a different perspective.
Seemingly lifelong friends Len Garry and Colin Hanton, who play in the pre-"Beatles" band "The Quarrymen," are the most entertaining of the seemingly cast of 100s of talking heads in "Beatles." They discuss Lennon having a more privileged childhood than he presents to the world. This is only the tip of the iceberg as to their tales of the man behind the myth.
Much of the fun of this portion of the film relates to stories about the antics of Lennon during the salad days of the band. Suffice it to say that his mooning a German audience for a prolonged period is not his most offensive behavior during that stage of his career,
Best (and his mother Mona Best) offers detailed insight on how he comes to join the band; this literally seems to come down to Ringo Starr working and playing better with the other lads than his predecessor. This is not to mention Starr also having a more compatible look.
A more amusing aspect of this is the stories that stage mother Mona Best is a pre-Yoko Yoko as to the boys.
Along the lines of appearance, the secretary of the group tells of preserving and labeling the hair of the boys to send to fans.
The liner notes of these musing on this film is that the story of how "The Beatles" come to be is as interesting as their music. It is equally awesome that the film captures and assembles the memories of those who were there before they no longer are here.
The Virgil Films August 20, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 documentary "I Am Patrick Swayze" is a perfect summer-time addition to the Paramount Network "I Am" series. Reviews of many of these films are posted in the Virgil section of this site.
A common element of all these films is that the friends, relatives, and colleagues who participate clearly greatly love and miss the subject.
"Swayze" stands out from the rest because it reminds us of the broad range of talent of this triple threat who can sing, dance, and act. A glaring (and missed) omission is his hilarious SNL appearance in which this buff stud appears along grossly overweight cast member Chris Farley.
Brother Don Swayze and widow Lisa Niemi are the primary talking heads in this deserving tribute to one of the nicest kids in town. We also get several charming insights from "Outsiders" co-star Rob Lowe and "Road House" love interest Kelly Lynch.
Our story begins in Houston, Texas where Patrick's mother, who operates a dance company, starts his ballet training. This also leads to his meeting Lisa.
Lisa discusses the events that bring her and Patrick to Los Angeles; suffice it to say that Patrick is not an overnight sensation.
Lowe discussing both the casting and the filming process of "Outisders" provides great insight as to that classic film that either starred every top actor in his 20s at that time or was one in which a member of the actual and extended brat packs wanted a role.
"Road House" baddie Marshall R. Teague tells a great story of the mano-a-mano aspects of his big fight scene with Swayze. He also recounted how anyone who teased Swayze about his ballet training learned to regret doing so.
We further hear from Demi Moore as to filming "Ghost." Hearing how Swayze almost was not cast is the highlight this time.
Sadly, we are deprived of the wit and wisdom of Keanu Reeves as to filming "Point Break." We do hear from Don about how his skydiving experience helps his brother with that film.
Other topics include the impact of filming "Red Dawn" on Patrick and his response to the diagnosis of his fatal cancer.
This eavesdropping on personal reminiscing is as characteristic of the "I Am" films as is the deceased subject always being someone with whom you mourn never having any chance of joining for a beverage of your choice.
One can only hope that Paramount and Virgil keep 'em comin'.
Truly indie theatrical/home video company Uncork'd Entertainment commences a beautiful friendship with Unreal TV by releasing the 2015 documentary "Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four." The DVD and Blu-ray versions of this one hit real and virtual retail shelves on November 15, 2016.
The following YouTube clip of a "Doomed!" trailer provides a surprisingly thorough look at the participants and the theme in roughly two minutes.
The 1994 "Four" film which the documentary discusses can be considered 'The Day the (Roger) Corman Cried' because it (like the notoriously bad Jerry Lewis Holocaust drama "The Day the Clown Cried") is unlikely to ever officially see the light of day for the simple reason that "Doomed!" documents. This explanation is that a strict deadline and equally tight budget is behind the film being one that Stan Lee and fellow Marvel "suit" Avi Arad deem unworthy of their quartet of superheroes. Never has the catchphrase "its clobberin' time" been more apt than regarding that pair.
An awesome difference between "Clown" and "Four" is that watching a bootleg copy of the latter shows that it deserves the adjective fantastic. As "Doomed!" notes, most of the main cast consists of working actors with good credits to their name. Additionally, the script is well written and the production values are very respectable for the early '90s. This all begins with opening credits that are at least as professional as those of the blockbusters of the era.
Returning to "Doomed!," writer/director Marty Langford awesomely reunites C-movie god Corman and the band to discuss "Four" itself and the story regarding it either languishing in the Marvel vaults or becoming a melted pile of gunk. The comprehensiveness of this clear labor of love includes getting the "Four" casting agent and the on-set journalist to share their two cents along with virtually all the cast and the behind-the-camera crew.
In true superhero movie fashion, Dr. Doom portrayor Joseph Culp (son of the late Robert Culp) steals the show regarding sharing how he gets the part and subsequently plays his role. His clear love for his maniacal laugh proves that he is the right man for the job. One of his colleagues affirms this in stating that he cannot imagine anyone else playing Doom.
Langford supplements all this with entertaining clips of "Four" that make it look much more cheesy than it is. He further shares various quotes, which include a flat-out lie by Lee, regarding the film.
As an aside, Johnny Storm (played by '80s teen star Jay Underwood) gets the best line in "Four." Storm exclaims "Holy Freud Batman!" on hearing team leader Dr. Reed Richards explain the psychological element to the group getting their powers. Other inadvertent Cormanastic humor comes from Reed exclusively referring to Storm as "Danny" in one scene.
Some of the most humorous segments in "Doomed!" involve the cast discussing being approached by people who have seen "Four." despite it never being released. An aforementioned behind-the-camera guy provides a plausible reason for the movie seeing some daylight despite the effort of Marvel to suppress it. (On a similar note, your not-so-humble reviewer LOVES the similarly suppressed "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story." That one uses an entire Barbie dolls cast to tell the story of the tough family life and related anorexia of the titular '70s pop star.)
On a more general level, the "Doomed!" audience gets a brief history of the early days of superhero movies and is informed that this version of "Four" is the first one filmed built around that franchise. This discussion includes the marketing of such flicks absent having a matinee idol as the star.
This element of "Doomed!" is particularly interesting in the modern context of the Disney ownership of some Marvel characters. This includes the desire of Disney to cash in via the far inferior "Spider-man" films a few years after the Tobey Maguire versions and (MUCH more directly) the fact that "Deadpool" or any other Marvel film from any studio can include every Marvel character.
On an even larger level, Langford stays exceptionally true to the principles of documentaries. He lets his subjects fully speak for themselves regarding their stories, and he presents his topic in a manner that is equally entertaining and educational.
The copious DVD and Blu-ray extras include a panel discussion on the film, additional footage of Corman, and the theatrical trailer for Doomed!"
The IndiePix Films April 23, 2019 DVD release of the documentary "Target: St. Louis" illustrates the funny because it is true aspect of the joke that the expression "I'm from the government; I'm here to help you is one of the three biggest lies in history. In this case, the deplorable misconduct of the folks literally sworn to act in the best interest of the general public relates to covert testing of aerosol radiation in a predominantly black low-income neighborhood of the titular city in the post-war/Cold War era.
Indiepix describes this activity differently; that slant is "environmental racism in the Cold War Jim Crow era."
The following clip of a "Target" trailer provides a good overview of how the testing reflects the worst of the era in which it occurs.
The perfect storm elements of the documented atrocity both make this a tale worth telling and greatly enhance the impact of the film. This begins with another city being the first choice for this experimentation of this early version of a dirty bomb; Plan B is enacted after realizing that the affected Missourians are more vulnerable to this activity under the guise of spraying for mosquitoes.
We also get the literal added insult to injury in the form of the victims of the spraying being at Ground Zero because of an allegedly altruistic program to provide quality low-income housing. This sadly is not far off from putting out a roach motel.
The broader perspective of "Target" is the parallels that are made between the testing and the Nuremberg trials. A related prevalent themes include the point at which "research" must be considered human testing. Another aspect is that many documentarians compare relatively harmless sins, such as using plastic bags, to Nazism. In the case of "Target," the talking heads show that the analogy directly is apt.
Another difference between "Target" and other cinema-verite films is that there is much less ambiguity. The spraying is well-documented, and the asserted impact on the population is highly credible,
The relevance to viewers extends beyond prompting thoughts of modern racism; most of us doubt that the government is here to help us and is transparent regarding its efforts to maintain what the big boys consider truth, justice, and the American way. The icing on the cake is the exposure of most of us to what we blindly accept is spraying for insects.
The bigger picture is that seeming endless battles over what seem to be perpetual disputes show that global leaders do not learn from history and are condemned to repeat it,
'That's Not Funny' Documentary: Study of Societal Shift From F**k 'Em If They Can't Take A Joke to F**ked If You Tell 'Em a Joke
The awesome recent award-winning documentary "That's Not Funny" by charming and highly knowledgeable die-hard comedy fan Mike Celestino is the perfect film for those of us who remember when people reasonably reacted to humor based on properly understanding the context of jokes. Simply using "blue" language in a controversial manner or mining humor from a subject that is very personal to some was inadequate to make you Public Enemy Number One in those good old days.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, expertly conveys the theme of "Funny" and provides a sense of the astonishing plethora of hilarious clips of comedy bits in the film.
The fact that your (occasionally) humble reviewer feels compelled to use asterisks regarding a word that every reader f**king well knows that he is using in the subheading of this post nicely illustrates the point of Celsetino in the film that he expertly narrates, writes, and directs and that he aptly describes as "a dead serious documentary about comedy."
As shown below, an even more relevant prediction from someone other than Celestino during the mid-90s is that the efforts in that era to unduly regulate Internet content included speculating that online references to a classic '60s sitcom would be to "The D**k Van D**e Show." This further illustrates the view of Celestino regarding the importance of understanding context.
Celestino nicely covers this form of undue censorship both with an overview of the uproar regarding the must-see Geoge Carlin "seven words you can't say on television" routine and the modern trend of using the term the "n word" in lieu of the word to which it refers.
The discussion of the former includes a clip of a wonderful early SNL skit from the good old days in which an interviewer whom Chevy Chase plays increasingly angers an interviewee whom Richard Pryor plays by using increasingly offensive racial terms.
A personal interest in "Funny" also extends to the sense of humor of your reviewer. One relevant example is stating on talking to friend within MINUTES of learning of the kidnapping of the school girls in Nigeria that a Nigerian prince had just emailed an offer to repay me with interest if I sent him money to pay the kidnappers ransom. I then added "too soon?" in making this joke.
My friend, who laughed and awesomely replied "its never too soon" understood one of the main points in "Funny;" humor must be understood in the context of the intent of the joke. It was clear in this case that the humor related to the flood of scam emails allegedly from African royalty, rather than the abduction of girls.
This example further demonstrates another well-presented point of Celestino; one must understand the REASONABLE sensitivities of the audience. I would not have told the joke to a friend or relative of a current or past captured girl.
Celestino starts this well-organized analysis of how comedy has reached the stage that folks with unduly sensitive natures regarding some topics are ruining it for the rest of us with a discussion of vaudeville and early films. This segment awesomely includes a hilarious skit from "The Dick Van Dyke Show" in which the titular star performs a bit in which he derives huge laughs from repeatedly injuring himself while presenting a lecture that praises modern audiences for evolving to the point of not laughing at the physical pain of others. Oh, Rob!
A portion of the extensive look at the broad range of humor directed at Adolph Hitler that is designed to make that record-breaking mass-murdering maniac (of course, that is just one opinion) seem less menacing illustrates that aspect of the power of laughter. (Celestino earns extra points for knowing of the one-episode Britcom "Heil Honey; I'm Home" that did not go further for obvious reasons. The annoying Jewish neighbors are heilarious.)
The personal note this time relates to making jokes in the wake of watching a documentary on Hitler relatives in the United States. One example of this is a wife in New Jersey telling an irate man who wants to call the Hitlers down the street after their dog poops in his yard that he must let it go.
A more "ripped from the headlines" topic in "Funny" is the deadly violent manner in which some Muslims react to someone merely depicting Muhammad in even a non-offensive manner. This "chapter" in the film focuses on the "South Park" treatment of this subject several years ago and includes the hilarious manner in which Trey Parker and Matt Stone ultimately end the story arc.
The scope of "Funny" also includes specific high-profile scandals related to comedians such as Michael Richards and Daniel Tosh who find themselves the subject of public scorn.
The most satisfying clip has the late great Joan Rivers expressing justifiable indignation in response to a heckler. Her stating that the offensive joke is funny and that an assumption of the audience member is inaccurate makes one watching "Funny" want to stand up and cheer.
Celestino ends all of this with a wonderful sitcom-style "this is what we learned" statement that is truly insightful and not at all sappy. One can only hope that this can lead to being able to joke about reporting a burned out light bulb in a Warsaw hotel to see how many people come to replace it without ultimately having to apologize for that remark.
The special features include interviews with Greg Proops and other notable comedians on the topics in "Funny." The following clip, again courtesy of YouTube, of an alternate trailer for the film is full of terrific segments from these discussions.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Funny" is strongly encouraged to emailme. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy. The message to offended readers who drop this site based on my humor is that I am sincerely sorry that I unintentionally offended you but do not apologize for what I wrote. I (and many others) consider it amusing and (presumably like Celestino) understand the intent and context regarding it
The devotion of Warner Archive to the full gamut of films and television from the sublime to the ridiculous (and the ridiculously sublime) makes its June 25, 2019 DVD release of the 2015 documentary "The Madness of Max" a perfect addition to the Archive catalog. This epic 157-minute film is a raucous detailed homage to the 1979 cult-classic "Mad Max." As "Madness" states a few times, several have tried to emulated that post-apocalyptic action-adventure film but have not matched it.
Much of the fun of "Madness" includes filmmakers Gary McFeat and Tim Ridge bringing "Max" star Mel Gibson and the rest of the band back together. This includes the "roadies" including writer/director George Miller. Writer/producer Byron Kennedy died in an accident on July 17, 1983 but is represented in archival interviews and by his parents.
A related note is that McFeat effectively takes an almost pure cinema-verite approach to his subject. He lets his "cast of thousands" directly tell their stories, interspersed with film clips and behind-the-scenes footage. The overall effective is of an exceptionally detailed audio-commentary of "Max."
The bigger picture this time is that "Madness" chronicles the making of a film from concept, to revised concept, to production, to release, to the response of critics and the general public, to the legacy of the movie.
Both of our stories begin with Miller and Kenendy telling how personal experience inspires the original concept of a film about things getting personal for a present-day cop; this leads to the idea of enhancing the story and setting in an not-too-distant post-apocalyptic future. Ironically, the rest is history.
Although Gibson offers a significant amount of insight. "Madness" shares the wealth regarding the focus on the cast. One of the more interesting stories is the strong cred. of Hugh Kaays-Byrne (who appears in "Madness"), who plays crazed nemesis Toecutter.
Much of "Madness" focuses on the Dartmouth fratboy attitude that permeates the actual making of the film; we see how Byrne and the actors who play his biker gang fully go method to a scary extent. Highlight (no pun intended) include pinning real human hair to threatening notes and using blood as an ink to express their feelings about "The Bronze," aka the pigs.
One of the most insightful comments refers to the tremendous fun of watching the cast and the crew create exhilarating special effects on a high-school musical budget. The relevant remark is that most movies get to do 32 takes when filming a scene, and that "Max" gets one bite at the apple. This relates to the memory of the 32 takes coming while writing the script, which includes every camera angle.
One of the best stories in "Madness" ties together every great element of both that documentary and its subject. We hear the full story of the filming of a scene involving a rocket car. This includes both the lesson that it never hurts to ask and insight regarding the fallout from a stunt gone wrong.
We subsequently hear about how an angel at Warner International helps "Max" reach a wide audience; this leads to an awesome reminder that spreading the word about the latest cool thing does not require social media. A related note is the amusing reminder that a restrictive film rating can be interpreted as a guarantee of the true gen.
The fun wraps up with the supporting cast telling of fans still approaching them about "Max." Their embracing such contacts reinforces that they had the time of their lives making the film.
The fun for fans of "Max" and even folks who have never seen it extends beyond sharing in the glee of the product of guys gone wild; we get a great reminder of what can happen when actors fully check their egos at the door and will VOLUNTEER to do everything necessary to make the movie. This is not to mention that producing good effects requires more brains than bucks and is possible without the benefit of CGI. Old-school folks know that live always is better than Memorex.
Mill Creek Entertainment chooses well in releasing the phenomenal 4K version of the spectacular 2002 IMAX documentary "Space Station" on July 9, 2019. This celebration of the American ideal is very apt for the July 4 period. Having American idol "Born on the Fourth of July" star Tom Cruise narrate the film is the icing on the cake.
MCE kindly includes a Blu-ray version of "Station" for folks who do not have a 4K player.
Additionally, "Station" is a perfect follow-up to the (reviewed) December 2018 MCE 4K+Blu-Ray+Digital release of the equally epic documentary "Beautiful Planet," which shows earth from the perspective of the ISS. Both films are from highly talented director Toni Myers.
The following YouTube clip of a "Station" trailer offers a good sense of the film achieving the documentary ideal of being equally entertaining and educational.
The expectations exceeding elements begin with the opening scenes and continue to the final seconds. The first images are of a CGI operation on the space station; this technology being standard for IMAX films such as "Station" does not make this segment surprising, The twist comes on learning that we are watching an astronaut on earth using a highly advanced simulator.
Cruise and Myers then fully collaborate in showing us how future ISS residents use an enormous water tank on earth to simulate the conditions under which they will need to join two large key components of the station way up in the atmosphere before they try to get back to here, We clearly see regarding this that practice must make perfect,
The indisputably best shot of "Station" soon follows. Myers gets a very dramatic shot of the lift-off of the rocket that transports the construction crew to the partially completed ISS. Although the entire film makes you feel as if "you are there," these images and sounds particularly provide a sense of being front-and-center for the action.
The action then shifts to the ISS, where we see the men and women at work. We witness some of the construction for which we saw the crew prepare on earth. We also see the related fun and challenges associated with brushing your teeth and performing other daily activities in a zero-gravity environment. Those of us with TMI regarding the water supply on the station have a bonus ick factor. Suffice it to say that the ISS engineers seem to be fans of the Kevin Costner film "Waterworld."
An especially cute scene shows both ends of the conversation in which the crew uses a ham radio to answer questions from a group of elementary school students. The kids do not say the darnedst things but still entertain.
One of the biggest takeaways from this depiction of this successful international project is the observation that one does not see countries from space. All of us should take that message to heart.
The special features maintain the same high standards as those of "Station."
"Adventures in Space" is a delightful short in which Myers, the ISS crew, and representatives from NASA and Lockheed Martin discuss the fun and the challenges of this labor of love. These include the crew using the ingenuity for which they get the mediocre bucks to overcome obstacles related to filming in space.
"Expedition 7" has the titular crew host an open house at their home away from home; this tour awesomely expands on "Station"and "Adventures." The new information includes the challenge of sleeping in an environment in which your hand floats unless tethered down.
The appeal of every film mentioned here is that they put life on earth in perspective and show what we can accomplish when we opt to all just get along.
The IndiePix Films June 11, 2019 DVD release of the 2013 documentary "Felix Austria!" continues the grand tradition of non-fiction films that do an excellent job chronicling the lives of equally entertaining and eccentric persons. The wonderful "Grey Gardens" about down-and-out relatives of Jackie O is the granddaddy of these films. "Felix" is more like reality showeque film "The Queen of Versailles" about a family that is equally nouveau and riche until they experience a reversal of fortune.
Additional perspective comes courtesy of the affluent '80s trend of the rich and famous purchasing the titles of less well-off and less-well-known British royals.
The following YouTube clip of the IndiePix trailer for "Felix" is a well-edited 25-words-or-less synopsis of the film. It essentially tells how Colorado native Brian Scott Pfeifle becomes the titular highly affected Modesto resident.
The life-changer associated with a pre-quarter-life crisis occurs during the college years of Brian. He receives an inherited box of 60 years of correspondence and other material from upstate New York resident Herbert Hinkel. This archive relates to extensive correspondence with Archduke Otto von Hapsburg, who is the heir to the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The rest of the story is the Brian has a 50-percent chance of inheriting horrific and fatal Huntington's Disease from his father. Both Brian and Felix wrestle with deciding whether to continue enjoying not-so-blissful ignorance or being tested and potentially discovering an awful truth.
All of this combines to prompt Brian to change his name to Felix and to give himself the royal treatment. His dual quests, each of which independently warrant a documentary, are to learn more about Hinkel and to meet the Archduke.
The journey upstate has moderate tones of the city-lawyer-turned-country-farmer '60scom "Green Acres." A dandified Felix interacts with the local yokels as he seeks to learn more about Hinkel. The outcome is the thing of which good non-fiction and fiction films are made. Suffice it to say that we see that Felix and Herbert are two peas in a pod.
We also travel with Felix to Europe where he hopes for a literal royal reception. The outcome there is fully in the spirit of "Felix."
Letting Felix and his friends and family create good cred. regarding this film that likely does not tell the whole story but presents enough to make us feel that we understand the subject and know how he got to be the man whom he is today.
The rest of the story is that a good film either centers around someone whom the viewer aspires to be, makes you sympathize with that person, or makes the voyeur feel good about himself or herself, Where a "Felix" watcher lands states a great deal about the psyche of that person.
The Virgil Films May 21, 2019 DVD release of the documentary "billion dollar Bully" is equally entertaining and educational regarding ALLEGED malfeasance by Yelp regarding sales tactics. Writer/director Kaylie Milliken hits the nail on the head in commenting on the opposing objectives regarding Yelp presenting a public image as site for objective reviews but being driven by sales revenue from having businesses advertise to have their companies more prominently displayed.
The most important context regarding "Bully" is that there is your side, the side of the other guy, and the truth. The numerous people whom Yelp is believed to have done wrong whom Milliken interviews seem sincere and mostly admit to lacking a smoking gun regarding their assertions.
At the same time, we do not hear from anyone who considers Yelp CEO/co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman a god. Personal bias enters in the form of assuming that Stoppelman being among the arrogant Millennial tech. guys who are too young to have the life experience required to properly run a country makes him a guy with whom you would like to have a cup of coffee so that you can throw it in his smug (actually) smirking face.
The above comment leads to the disclaimer that this post strays far more into Blogland than roughly 99-percent of reviews. As is the case regarding the other exceptions, this time it is personal.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Bully" illustrates the heavy propaganda element of the film. The reminder here is that even propaganda that supports your side is propaganda. This promo. supports this through a few shots of the outdated ambush technique in which the filmmaker sets up a camera in front of a corporate headquarters and either seeks a meeting with an executive or merely confronts employees as they enter and leave the building. One cannot blame a highly compensated person not wanting to interrupt his or her day to sucumb to an ambush or Yelp for not wanting someone who may be an assistant or an IT person speaking for the firm.
Milliken chooses wisely in opening her film with interview footage of an Italian man who owns a pizzeria and is to "Bully" what the quirky little boy who makes Young Sheldon look like Zac Morris is to the 2002 spelling bee documentary "Spellbound."
The restauranteur discusses the old country pattern of a "legitimate businessman" calling attention to the potential for "accidents," the business subsequently experiencing relatively small incidents such as thrown rock through the window, the "insurance" agent showing up again to offer protection against future harm, and the harm either escalating or stopping depending on the answer of the entrepreneur.
The asserted Yelp variation is the company making repeated solicitations and the Yelp ratings of the targeted business either rising or falling depending on the response to that unsolicited pitch.
Man (and woman) on the street interviews reflect the thoughts of many of us. Most comments relate to being sincere when writing online reviews and having faith that everyone else is doing the same. A personal filter is the consistency of both negative and positive reviews and if they jibe with personal experience at places that I have frequented.
Milliken does not address the other side of the coin. There have been numerous times that a business has gone on the attack in responding to a sincere negative Trip Advisor or Yelp review. That has risen to the level of one business threatening severe legal action if I did not remove a Trip Advisor review and the hotel that put me in the "shabby broom closet" that posts in the "Inn Credible New England" section of this site often mention not being far behind.
The true life personal perspective this time is a now-former friend commenting one night that he has not been charged for cable for years; the news the very next day is that his cable is turned off. I had not given the comment any thought and did not call the cable company. I fully suspect that the guy whose free ride abruptly ended will go to his grave thinking that I ratted him out.
Returning to our main story, the alleged manipulation of Yelp reviews begins with having Yelp employees barrage a listing with many negative reviews. That company also is charged with putting positive reviews in a hard-to-find filtered section of a listing. A personal search for a link to filtered reviews for several businesses failed. One advertised site has several posts that comment that the writer cannot understand the basis for the negative reviews.
Perhaps more importantly, we learn that any business cannot opt out of being listed on Yelp. An even more egregious claim is that Yelp must give an advertising company permission to alter the hours of operation or other basic information on a listing on that site.
Milliken adds highly relevant good humor via numerous clips from an episode of the social-commentary-laden animated series "South Park." This outing has citizens of the titular small Colorado town constantly shakedown local businesses for absurd preferential treatment. The direct threat is that a bad Yelp review is the price for non-compliance with an unreasonable request.
The big picture personal perspective regarding all this begins with my reaction on learning about Trip Advisor many years ago. I asked a techie friend what stopped someone from maliciously posting an unfairly negative review; his response of "nothing" said all that needed to be stated,
On another note, I accurately predict regarding my negative business reviews on any site triggers someone who has never written a review posting a glowing review that directly contradicts my post. A prime example of this is my fair review of a pricey B n B that states among other things that the only hanging space is two cloakroom style hooks and that the only hangers are two beat-up wire ones. A review that went up the day after mine was posted was from a virgin reviewer who praised the copious hanging space and commented about the nice hangers. The tone was EXACTLY the same as that of the inn keeper.
The dump which got those two reviews subsequently closing supports the thesis of Milliken that negative reviews (regardless of their sincerity) can break a place, The lesson for these Main Street moguls is to treat your customers right.
I am never malicious in a review (or in a post on this site), but often refrain from dipping my pen in any poison regarding a bad experience if there is a reasonable effort to make an experience pleasant. Trying to put right what once went wrong often earns a positive review,
The Film Movement May 14, 2019 DVD release of the 2016 documentary "Bosch The Garden of Dreams" provides a well-produced equally entertaining and educational art-history lesson before many of us turn off our brains for the summer on Memorial Day weekend. As often is the case, the life story of Early Netherlandish painter Hieronymous Bosch is as interesting as the tale of his work "The Garden of Earthly Delights,"
The following YouTube clip of a "Bosch" trailer illustrates (pun intended) the complexity of the man, and the work. You also get a sense of the art world notables, including author Salman Rushdie, who participate in making the film.
The titular artwork is a massive three-panel painting that presents an intentionally strong "And there was light" vibe when the two side panels are opened to reveal the work. The Prado Museum in Madrid opens its doors to allow "Bosch" to be made.
Many of the seemingly countless aforementioned talking heads use the life of Bosch to provide context for their comments on one of the seeming countless scenes in the painting. The larger context is that Bosch, if that is his real name, belongs to a religious order for which he creates "Garden." This aspect of the art reflecting the artist includes a scene in which a film participant points out that a "Garden" image of Jesus speaking with Adam and Eve has the son of God looking at the painting viewer.
The copious (often terrifying) surreal images in "Garden" prompt discussing dreams in the context of the psyche of Bosch, The even more fascinating element of this is the theory of the nature of dreams. Under this theory, Bosch has a very disturbed mind,
The path of "Garden" in its early years seals the deal regarding the story of Bosch being worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. A regime change leads to a purist undergoing extreme torture to avoid having the painting fall in the wrong hands. The spoiler is that resistance proves to be futile, but "Garden" ends up in arguably a greater place of honor than one would expect.
We further get a sense of the arguably sloppy technique of Bosch. It is surprising to learn that this pro essentially does not color within the lines. However, this helps explain why this art so closely reflects the artist.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that "Bosch" addresses visiting and thinking about a painting and its artist in an era in which they vast majority of the very few of us who still look at great art only spend a few minutes looking at a reproduction of it online or in a coffee-table book. Even fewer of this small minority take the time to really study and appreciate the result of an artist pouring his or her soul into a project.
Mel Brooks provides the most important perspective regarding the Omnibus Entertainment April 2, 2019 DVD release of the well-dubbed serious-toned 2019 English-language documentary "Nazi Junkies." This genius behind "The Producers" reminds us that mocking Team Hitler robs those maniacs of their power. Further, the idea of Herr Adolph "Uber-mensch" Hitler doing more drugs than a crackhouse whore is bizarrely amusing.
The first of two other important related concepts to consider while watching "Junkies" is that even propaganda that supports your view still is propaganda. You must also remember that there is your perspective, the perspective of the other guy, and the truth. "Junkies" seems authoritative and is not unduly sensationalized but still likely only tells a portion of the story.
This two-part docuseries is based on the book Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler. The first episode focuses on the heavy use of illicit substances by Der Fuhrer. The broader scope of the second episode is on that activity by both the general German population and the members of the military.
The documentation of the drug use of Htler includes the records of personal physician/entourage member Dr. Theodore Morell, whose methodology strongly reflect a better living through chemistry philosophy. A particularly impactful scene discusses Morrell refusing to allow his patient to shoot up anymore because heavy drug use is the cause of the veins of the latter being completely scabbed over. This data and the other evidence of Hitler using every substance known to Hunter Thompson indicates that the birthday of Hitler being 420 is very apt.
The bigger picture is the discussion of Hitler being a man who does not understand the concept of just saying no relating to the turmoil in his life. He recognizes the need to present a strong image, is dealing with increasing dissension in the ranks, and knows that his 1,000-year Reich is going to fall far short of that goal. An especially interesting story is about Hitler going to extreme measures on suffering catastrophic injury hours before frienemy Mussolini is visiting.
Part II suggests that an Army travels on its Previtin, rather than its stomach. The general (no pun intended) idea is that the soldiers, the sailors, and the pilots are pushed to extreme physical limits that require them taking so many drugs that it makes "Jessie's Song" look like a Saturday-morning kids' show. A recently interviewed soldier discusses how the brass doses the chocolate of the unsuspecting grunts to achieve this. The rest of the story is records that show the extent to which the expression "The Rhine Valley of the Dolls' applies to 40s-era Germany.
Part II also includes one of the most horrific stories in this series that is rife with tales of Nazi atrocities. We learn about teen Hitler Youth members being boys sent to do a small man's job that NO ONE should do. These efforts involve being confined in an incredibly cramped space for an extended period to perform what "Junkies" describes as a Kamikaze mission.
The ways in which Parts I and II are tied include a discussion of the drug use in the military when Hitler is a young soldier. Seeing him look very youthful and sporting even odder facial hair then his best-known look is fascinating.
The even bigger picture is that "Junkies" is akin to other documentaries that focus on the human aspects (and related frailties) of Hitler. The general idea is that seeing this super-villain as a man whose reality does not live up to his self-produced hype shows that even the worst monster ultimately is a "Scooby" bad guy in a rubber mask.
KBreaking Glass Pictures continues its limited dickumentary series with the April 9, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 non-fiction film "Bigger Like Me." This self-described extended director's cut of the 2014 film "Big Like Me" further chronicles the efforts of comedian Greg Bergman to remedy endowment-based angst.
"Bigger" is most akin to the (reviewed) 2013 Breaking DVD release "Unhung Hero." That one involves actor Patrick Moote dealing with the same anxiety as Bergman and taking comparable remedies to improve the Marco Rubio-sized hand that he is dealt. Comparing the two films is akin to the decades-long "Bewitched" v. "Jeannie" and "Munsters" v. "Addams Family" debate, One thing that can be stated with certainty is that Moote is much safer than Bergman in the f**k, marry, or kill game.
Although Moote is less crude and explicit in discussing his endowment and in showing what he is packing than Bergman, it seems clear that the latter has a couple of inches in both length and width than his "little buddy" at the start of their journey.
Another difference is that a size-related humiliating rejection of a marriage proposal motivates the desire of Moote to transform his earth worm into a water moccasin. Bergman being in an overall happy marriage at the beginning of "Bigger" shows that he is packing enough heat to adequately satisfy his wife. That relationship becoming rocky later in the film reflects the wisdom of gay columnist Dan Savage in "Unhung." He states that angst about not measuring up can harm a relationship more than falling on the lower end of the bell-end curve.
We also see that 32 year-old Bergman is his own worst enemy; he explicitly states that his natural endowment respectably falls in the "average bear" category regarding both length and width. This guy who spends much of the film naked or only wearing tiny briefs never addresses that losing 50 pounds both would make his junk look proportionately bigger and make him overall more attractive. This is not to mention how manscaping would benefit him. His aforementioned unduly assertive personality is another matter.
Noting the SPOILER that Bergman succeeds in becoming a bigger man is done to show that this prompts him to fully embrace the "if you got it, flaunt it" philosophy. He repeatedly drops trou to his ankles in very public settings without receiving any encouragement to do so. A silly aspect of this is that having to artificially enhance size is not a point of pride. This sincerely is not to say that the chosen people should go around showing passers-by and new acquaintances how either God or heredity has blessed them.
Another way of thinking about this is that most men whose endowment is a valid point of pride generally follow the "speak softly and carry a big stick" philosophy. There is something to be said for providing Mr. or Ms. Right (or Mr. or Ms. Right Now) a (hopefully pleasant) surprise during an initial unveiling in the boudoir.
On a similar note, Bergman shows very poor taste regarding repeated displays of dildos. Having one frequently sticking out of his backpack is bad enough. Numerous woman on the street interviews in which he uses three of these devices in a "Goldilocks" style survey is more creepy than funny.
A DVD bonus deleted scene in which Bergman engages in the above poll in an interview with a surprisingly willing and candid 16 year-old Mennonite girl clearly shows why this exchange does not make the cut even in the extended version.
Scenes in which Bergman and his college-aged little brother openly discuss their endowments and repeatedly wave around the aforementioned marital aids is only slight less creepy than the aforementioned exchanges.
A bigger pet peeve relates to statistics. Early in the film, Bergman joins an organized group of men who formally identify themselves as being among the 55 percent of the male population that is unhappy with their penis size. Bergman goes on to state the goal of every man becoming a one-percenter. The obvious flaw regarding that statement is that virtually every man packing a Magnum would make that size the norm, rather than the except to the rule.
The bottom line regarding all this is that Bergman is sure to entertain fans of Howard Stern and other abrasive raunchy humor. He is a cautionary tale to the rest of us in the form of showing the perils of obsessing about a perceived physical flaw. Our "average Joe" would have been much better off accepting his lot in life and understanding the concept of "TMI."
Briefly returning to "Hero," Moote succeeds where Bergman fails because this presumed member of the "Fantastic Four" has a more legitimate issue than his fellow comedian. Further, Moote displays better humor and perspective. As the aforementioned reference to the game of three indicates, size is not the only thing that matters.
The irony regarding abandoning the typical non-bloggy nature of reviews in this forum to get very bloggy regarding the Bullfrog Films production "Celling Your Soul: No App for Life" is that that film advocates inter-personal communication, rather than expressing yourself through digital forms that include online publications. More specifically, "Celling" writer/director Joni Siani (who is a Boston-area Media and Communication professor) instructs her students to conduct a digital cleanse that includes going cold turkey regarding online activity and texting. Candor requires being unable to not play online games, check Twitter, and conduct Google searches even while watching "Celling."
An amusing aspect of this is that the full-length version of "Celling" is 48 minutes, and the condensed version is 26 minutes. This reflects the text and vine-oriented short attention span of today. A two-hour movie is considered the general outer limit for length in the Nelson household; an agreement to watch a rare three-hour film often requires a pre-viewing agreement in which your not-so-humble reviewer consents to a mid-film break.
The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Celling" proves the adage about wisdom coming from the mouths of babes.
The root of this work by Siani is her realization that Millennials only know how to communicate via cell phones and the Internet. Her objectives include teaching the importance of face-to-face communication.
The spot-on analysis of Siani explains all this; the root of this evil largely relates to the need for community and for the instant gratification that online communication provides; I am confident that she will not "like" or "retweet" the 280-character online message related to this review and that her reason for doing is the pure one that she addresses in the film.
The next bloggy part of this post is a tale from roughly 2006. I had created a (subsequently deleted) Facebook account due to coercion by a techie friend. As he was inclined to do, this keyboard kid called my landline (which I still actively use) from his cell phone to say that he had posted an annual open-house style party that I attended every year and that he knew that I would attend that year. We went a few rounds of my telling him that I would attend and his demanding that I RSVP on Facebook. I ultimately relented but still believe that requiring that formal online response was absurd.
Of more relevance was hearing the college students of Siani and their literal or figurative high-school age siblings discuss texting being the highly dominant form of communication. An aspect of this was that making a call even on a cell phone was viewed as being limited to an emergency or other very rare circumstances.
Your not-so-humble reviewer feels that largely giving into the prohibition against making calls is losing one of the final battles to maintain civilization; the price of that was going from what once was a practice of short calls to what can be a seemingly endless round of "no, you hang up first" texts in which no one wants to be the rude dude who does not respond to a message.
A cautionary tale in "Celling" was one of the pure definitions of comedy in that it will forever be hilarious to every guy who sees the film and embarrassing to the one to whom it happened. This former high school soccer star/current college student started his story by stating that his former classmates would always know him as the guy who was expelled for sexting.
The brief story was that this guy was in high school when he sent his girlfriend an explicit photo of himself. The aforementioned humor related to the photo being sent to everyone, including under-age schoolmates, in his contact list. A hilarious aspect of this was this guy using the phone of his mother when the photo appeared on that device. The recipients also included his grandmother.
A more relateable story is of a guy who accidentally texted an unkind statement regarding someone to that person while in visual contact with that individual.
Happier stories include the success of the cleanse; being one who almost always succumbs to the temptation of going online on waking up at 3:00 a.m. envies the cleansers who report feeling more rested and having more free time than when tethered to their devices. The tragic story is that Siani will need to pry the Iphone from the cold dead hand of this online journalist
'Conduct! Every Move Counts' Doc on Conducting Competition Shows Potential to Orchestrate Quality Reality Television
The Film Movement January 9, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 documentary "Conduct! Every Move Counts" should do for conducting competitions what the 2002 documentary "Spellbound" does for spelling bees. Both films make contests that most of us never think about compelling to the extent of putting us on the edge of our seats cheering for our favorites.
The even better part of "Conduct!" is that it creates hope regarding reality shows improving both their concepts and their participants. The stakes here are more honorable than marrying someone whom you know for a few months and is populated by people who are much more appealing than the folks on both sides of the judging table in series that promise instant stardom.
The manner in which the competition is presented is another breath of fresh air. There is a COMPLETE lack of prolonged hyped suspense regarding developments, a TOTAL ABSENCE of endless repetitive commentary on a trauma and drama-inducing incident, and almost no backstage turmoil.
The following YouTube clip of a "Conduct!" trailer illustrates every point made above. It additionally includes terrific music.
"Conduct!" centers around the prestigious biennial International Conductors' Competition in Frankfurt Germany. The 5 of the 24 competitors on whom filmmaker Gotz Schauder focuses seem to be selected based on a combination of what makes them good conductors and interesting people for positive reasons, rather than for being ruthless or for having a sob story.
Twenty-seven year old New Yorker Alondra de la Parra is notable for having formed her own orchestra. Her unemotional questionable assertion regarding studying her craft from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. borders on reality-style drama but is a one-time thing.
Despite conflicting reports that Aziz Skokhakimov of Uzbekistan is 19 and 20 years old, he still is the youngest competitor. Further, Skokhakimov clearly has a strong passion for both his craft and for classical music. His reality show moment includes sharing that his motivation for his career includes showing that traditional culture exists in Central Asia.
A segment on the judges selecting the competitors includes the most pure reality-show scene in the film. This is also the most amusing moment and plays a role during a performance by Skokhakimov.
Shizuo Z Kuwahara is another two-fer who has a couple of characteristics that make him fascinating. He returns to the competition after coming in second in the prior one; he also conducts with his hands for a reason that he discusses in his reality show minute.
Andreas Hotz from Germany is interesting as the hometown boy; his home field advantage extends to a strong familiarity with the orchestra that the competitors conduct.
James Lowe of Scotland is distinguishable as the nice guy in the group; this is particularly so regarding his coaching an opponent throughout the competition. This involving a cute thank-you gift is a charming moment that is absent from reality fare.
Much of the film centers around our fab five taking his or her turn rehearsing with the orchestra. All the associated dynamics and personalities are compelling. Further, many audience members will want to show a musician who cruelly berates one of the conductors that a bodily orifice can double as a sheath for a bow.
The bigger picture is that the insight that "Conduct!" provides regarding directing an orchestra is fascinating even to folks who think that Beyonce is one of the three Bs of classical music. We learn that the requirements for being a good conductor include something that seemingly is impossible to define but is known when it is displayed. This also helps explain why the best conductors of local orchestras are well-liked local celebrities.
The Cinema Libre Studios DVD of the 2010 Peter Gallagher narrated documentary "GasHole" is must-see for anyone who drives a car. Filmmakers Scott Roberts and Jeremy Wagener document the many alternatives to passenger vehicles that get roughly 25 MPG; this analysis also shows how the oil industry acts to prevent the innovations from reaching the general public.
The unexpected reveal at the end of the film regarding the title of the movie is the most amusing moment; it also shows the importance of keeping our gasholes closed.
The following YouTube clip of a "GasHole" trailer conveys the primary themes of the film in the proverbial 25-words-or-less.
Our story begins with presidents going back to Nixon expressing concern about the oil supply; this leads to a rural legend that dates back to the '40s. A living witness tells of being on a race track in the mid-40s when a man pulls up in a Buick Roadmaster.
The Doc Brown of the Post-War era shows off his car getting 100 miles from a gallon of water; he also brags about becoming a millionaire from selling his invention to Shell. The rest of the story is that this man ultimately is found dead in the desert.
We hear a similar story in every regard as to the inventor of the Oglemobile. An aspect of both tales is the common-sense theory that operating a car engine requires heating a liquid to a vapor state; there is no discussion of the viability of a Mr. Fusion.
Joshua "Pacey" Jackson is the most famous talking head among the college professors, the literal rocket scientist, and the industry experts who participate in the film. Jackson appears throughout "Gashole" in segments that include showing off his big pickup that runs on biodiesel fuel.
The oil industry and Congress are presented as the villains throughout. The concise statement regarding that is that corporations are supposed to pursue profits, but our elected leaders are obliged to ensure that increasing the bottom line does not impair the public interest.
Actively repressing technology that reduces profits is only part of the story regarding Big Oil. We see how that industry blatantly manipulates both actual supply and the perception of the supply to artificially raise prices.
At the same time, one must remember that even propaganda that supports your side still is propaganda. "Gashole" does not allow close to equal time and engages in its own manipulation. An example of this is referring to the increase in the average price for gas during the presidency of George H.W. Bush. Describing that period as two terms, rather than as eight years, puts it in the most negative light possible, Further, it is unknown if gas prices would have been lower under a Gore presidency.
A related pet peeve is people always talking about the roughly 3-percent unemployment rate, rather than the roughly 62-percent employment participation rate. The latter figure reflects that roughly 40-percent of the work-age population does not earn a reported income or collect unemployment benefits.
Despite who presents the data, it is undisputed that the supply is oil is finite and that the countries and the companies that determine how much of the good stuff hits the streets have us where they want us. Unless and until viable alternatives hit the market, the best solution is to just say no. Walk or bike most places within a mile of your home; combine errands and consider using a grocery delivery service, and do not run your car as you text and email in the driveway. On a more extreme level, think about whether your household can get by with fewer cars.
The Virgil Films March 26, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 documentary "I Am Richard Pryor" provides the latest proof that this distributor is the Rodney Dangerfield of film companies in that it don't get no respect, A review of the similar (and equally good) Virgil documentary "I Am Paul Walker" and a post on the highly entertaining "Outatime,” which documents the restoration of the "The Back to the Future" DeLorean, illustrate the awesomeness of the pop-culture documentary section of the broad Virgil catalog.
The following YouTube clip of a "Pryor" trailer provides a strong sense of the candidness of the titular comedian and of the numerous talking heads who participate in the film, The entire documentary providing the unvarnished truth is refreshing.
Opening scenes in "Pryor" of an early stand-up performance of Pryor for a white audience establish the contrasts in the life of this man that make his life so interesting. A recent assertion of a sexual history with Marlon Brando shows that our subject still can make headlines. (Yes, I have made several jokes along the lines of Brando making Pryor an offer that he cannot refuse the past few days; the ones involving the anatomy of a horse are inappropriate for this forum.)
The aforementioned stand-up routine revolves around Pryor discussing growing up in a black family living in a Jewish building in an Italian neighborhood. Folks who are familiar with the Pryor film "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling" (which "Pryor" discusses) knows that the truth is that Pryor grew up in the Peoria brothel that his grandmother owned and in which his mother was one of the working girls; his father was a pimp. A Pryor joke in which he discusses his early interaction with white men consisting of greeting customers of his mother shows that truth is funnier than fiction,
The larger theme is the need of Pryor to lighten up his material to appeal to white audiences of the '60s. "Pryor" properly points out that even those of us who are not particularly woke in 2019 both cannot relate to the real childhood of Pryor and do not want to hear the awful truth.
Comedy legend Lily Tomlin discusses her own personal and professional relationships with Pryor. Her story of accepting a '70s-era invitation by Pryor to go to a porn theater is one of the most amusing moments in the film and verifies that Tomlin is one of the coolest people ever.
Tomlin also is featured in a memorable clip of a skit that she and Pryor perform during a network special that she hosts. This is an edgy production in which Tomlin plays a diner owner and Pryor portrays a junkie/friend who is a regular and trusted customer. A poignant conclusion is one of many examples of the integrity of Pryor.
Tomlin additionally triggers a childhood memory of a controversy involving Pryor. He is appearing at a gay-rights benefit at the behest of Tomlin when he essentially tells the audience that they have it much easier than black people. He then essentially moons them and tells them to kiss his rich black ass.
A clip of a Pryor appearance on "The Dinah Shore Show" better illustrates the two worlds of Pryor, Folks familiar with Shore know that her image is as wholesome as they come. We see Pryor play with her regarding her discomfort with the word "nigger" and have the treat of Shore going along with the joke. The better message regarding this is the importance of understanding the context in which that word is used.
On-again-off-again wife Jennifer-Lee Pryor takes the lead regarding the dirty secrets and the not-so-secret scandals of Pryor. This includes his strong and varied sex life and better-known heavy drug use. The latter obviously includes his lighting himself on fire while freebasing; seeing Pryor tell a hilarious joke about that during a stand-up routine makes that witticism even more funny,
As mentioned throughout, the complex blend of Pryor shifting back-and-forth between playing it straight (no pun) intended to first pursue and then maintain stardom and remaining true to himself by allowing his real voice to be heard makes his story one well worth telling; Writer/director Jesse James Miller does this so well to the extent that he leaves the audience wanting much more.
The even larger truth is that most of the best comedy is born from pain. A popular theory is that every gay man has a "mother." Pryor, Jerry Seinfeld, and Ray Romano are three of many examples of the same being true of successful comedians,
One can imagine that (deceased) director Chris Marker would enjoy the discussion that the recent Icarus Films DVD release of his 1989 documentary "The Owl's Legacy" will prompt. Folks who prefer streaming over physical media can watch the series on Amazon Video,
The concept of this series is that great thinkers use a Greek word as the starting point for discussing the modern influence of Greek culture.. The following is based on watching the first four of the thirteen episodes.
"Legacy" will make you think. You also will enjoy the insights of most of the participants and find a few laughably haughty. I'm talkin' to you American-hating Frenchie. Your not-so-humble reviewer is not one to wave the flag or to assert that the average American even reads books these days but does not see the need to refer to us as if we are something stepped in at the dog park.
The most amusing statement in "Legacy" is the first utterance in the series premiere. which is on the word "symposium." The narrator declares that the series provides information that intelligent people already know and that morons cannot understand. This likely reflects the French sense of humor but expresses that "Legacy" lacks an audience.
Writing from the perspective of a pretty bright guy, the presented material seems digestible by the average person; you also likely will learn new things.
The other three watched episodes are on "Olympics," "Democracy," and "Nostalgia." Like "Symposium," the origin of the word is the starting point.
An interesting aspect of "Olympics" is discussing the connections between some of the modern games and the lives of notables, such as "Legacy" participant filmmaker Elia Kazan. We also learn of the important role of the first Olympics in European history.
"Democracy" is the most entertaining and educational of the watched episodes; the highlights include seeing how the earliest form of this system resembles the manner in which a condo. association operates. A primary difference is that the last owner to arrive at the clubhouse does not literally get branded.
This episode further discusses the conflict between Athens and Sparta. The description of this dispute is dumbed down to a level that even the aforementioned drooling idiots can understand it.
"Nostalgia" discusses the reasons that we prefer the past to the present; the general idea is selective memory. An aspect of this is the phenomenon of our childhood homes seeming to be smaller then remembered when we revisit them as adults. Similarly, best friends from high school often lose their luster in their 30s. Take that Gregory William.
The remaining nine topics include Mythology, Misogyn , and Tragedy.
The accompanying comprehensive booklet is a wonderful CliffNotes companion to the series. A couple of essays provide good perspectives regarding the production and Marker. We also get detailed episode synopses and blurbs about the numerous "best brains" who host the 13 smarty parties.
'Sharkwater Extinction' VOD & Theatrical: Great White Hope for Finny Friends Brings Issues to Surface
The February 1st VOD premiere of the 2019 Sharkwater Films documentary "Sharkwater Extinction" shows that filmmaker/conservationist Rob Stewart channels the spirit of "Aquaman." The incredible underwater and tropical paradise cinematography support seeing the film on the big screen either when it opens in New York and Los Angeles on March 1 2019 or when it hits an art-house theater near you.
Not releasing "Extinction" in 4K if and when it become available in physical media is a misdemeanor; having watched a Blu-ray screener allows declaring that not releasing it in that format is a felony.
"Sharkwater" effectively communicates its message that sharks desperately need our help; the out-of-the-blue (no pun intended) ending is as shocking as the surprise last-minute-reveal in the best-made blockbuster,
Charming and articulate Stewart has the right stuff if only due to his Australian heritage and Canadian background. This alone makes him a great spokesperson for the titular creatures whom most us of view as vicious killers, and whom our host considers the bunnies of the sea. The mid-70s cartoon "Jabberjaw" with a friendly animated shark also promotes that image.
The following YouTube clip of a nearly five-minute Kickstarter video for "Extinction" fairly comprehensively lays out the film and the related literal life's work of Stewart. This short alone will make you a convert to the cause,
Stewart achieves the ideal documentary blend of entertainment and education from the opening minutes of "Extinction." We see him underwater accompanied by narration about a prior diving mishap. We next learn about his encounter with a shark when he is nine that sets him on his life quest, Images during the closing credits show him and his aquatic childhood pets.
Stewart then discusses his 2008 film "Sharkwater" that makes great strides outlawing a particularly brutal practice involving sharks. We learn that shark-fin soup being a delicacy in China is behind capturing sharks, cutting their fins off, and dumping the rest of their dead bodies in the sea.
Moving forward to September 2016, Stewart presents evidence that the then-new president of Colombia tacitly allows the aforementioned killing of sharks. This sets the stage for low-key sensationalism; we see Stewart and a colleague covertly film a crew with a large quantity of shark fins. We further learn that a "respectable businessman" owns that operation.
The "bunny element" largely enters the picture in the form of footage depicting Stewart swimming with docile sharks and of him petting one that presses against him. We also see our host befriend a rare-breed of shark. The context in which these images are presented include that the human population would be much smaller if public opinion about sharks was accurate.
The scene leading up to the aforementioned climax has Stewart excitedly discussing a new diving system that allows staying underwater for hours and that does not generate bubbles that alarm sharks. We next see the Coast Guard descend on the boat of Stewart in a manner that suggests that his filming has attracted negative attention, This leads to the surprising reveal,
The broad impact of all this relates to Stewart not only having a strong passion for protecting sharks but his ability to effectively promote his cause. Any sensationalism is minimal, and he does not seem to edit his footage in a misleading manner. Very few of us will test the theory that sharks enjoy snuggling, but we have a heightened awareness that will prompt advocacy.
The recent Virgil Films DVD release of the 2018 documentary "I Am Paul Walker" further solidifies the role of Virgil in the hearts and minds of pop culture fans. This love begins with the (recently reviewed) documentary "Outatime" about restoring the "Back to the Future" DeLorean and continues with Virgil titles that are subjects of upcoming posts. These include a modern indie film starring Ralph "Daniel San" Macchio and a documentary on "The Great Escape" featuring many people who participated in making that film.
The aptly titled "Walker" tells the tale of the personal and the professional lives of the titular star of the "The Fast and the Furious" franchise, The following YouTube clip of a trailer for this film shows how the folks who knew either or both incarnations of this guy who was equal parts stud and righteous dude always will mourn his death that occurred two months after he turned 40.
We first meet this All-American Midwest boy via home-movie footage of a childhood birthday party. This sets that stage for mother Cheryl Walker, father Paul Walker III, and siblings Cody and Ashlie to share stories of the man whom most of us only know through his television and film work. This guy always smiling for the camera, looking cute in his younger days, and being muy caliente even during puberty helps explain his decades of extraordinary success regarding auditions.
We also hear from two childhood friends who remained close to Walker until the end of his life. The talking heads who share memories from the professional side include a couple of directors, a manager, and "Fast" co-star Tyrese Gibson. A clip from a "Fast" movie showed that the stars were not acting regarding their on-screen relationship.
Everything indicated that Walker had a good heart and would give you the shirt off his back or the expensive racing car off his driveway so long as you exhibited what once was common courtesy. Learning that this guy best known for a film franchise that catered to teen boys also had a strong intellect and desire to use his star power for good, rather than for evil, fully ensured his place in the top two choices in the "or kill" game.
Hearing about the hair-trigger temper of Walker reflected his tough-guy heritage that included a paternal grandfather who boxed professionally and a father who was a Vietnam combat veteran. Arguably the most funny story in "Walker" began with our subject holding the door open for a man leaving a store with an armful of merchandise. That guy saying "Thanks, Bitch" earned him an epic beat-down.
We also learn that the similarities between Walker and fellow macho-man Steve McQueen extended beyond their ruggedness. Both men remained very handsome as they aged and had addict-level needs for speed. These attributes and the particular affinity for race cars earned Walker a comparison to James Dean.
The Dean parallel also extended to the death of both men while driving. The shared circumstances of the death of Walker within minutes of leaving a charity event was particularly shocking. One can only hope for the sake of St. Peter that that doorman of Heaven did not give Walker any grief on his arrival.
The bigger picture is that many of us to whom the "Fast" movies did not appeal got the treat of learning about one of the good guys in Hollywood who remained comically laid-back and was a contender for Father of the Year even after becoming Hollywood royalty.
The Mill Creek Entertainment January 8, 2019 DVD release "Secret Stories of Hitler" boldly goes where few have gone before. This 2-disc set includes a documentary that presents the titular leader as someone other than the most despised man of the 20th century.
A message that viewers MUST take away from the three films in this set is that even propaganda that supports your side is propaganda. Depicting Hitler as a nice and rational man who is kind to animals and small children should convince everyone to not believe everything that they see without checking out the facts from a source without a horse in the race. A related aspect is the even the most evil human has some redeeming qualities.
The highly controversial 1974 documentary "Swastika" is the highlight of "Hitler." This movie largely consists of footage from Nazi propaganda films and from home movies that First Frau of Nazi Germany Eva Braun shoots. A modern introduction by a former Harvard teaching assistant provides a good background on the film.
As MCE notes on the back cover of "Stories," the written prologue of "Swastika" clearly reflects the theme of this film. This prose partially states that "If Hitler is dehumanized and shown only as a devil, any future Hitler may not be recognized, simply because he is a human being."
"Swastika" opens with footage of shiny, happy urban newspaper delivery guys loading up their bicycles and pedaling their way through city streets; the images soon shift to arguably ironic footage of trains headed into the beautiful German countryside.
The rural folks include smiling milk maids and similar positive stereotypes.
One of the most surprising things about the subsequent footage by Braun that is interspersed throughout the film is that it is in color. It also is shocking to see Hitler always looking relaxed and mostly smiling; further, he almost always is in civilian garb.
This footage largely looks like any other home movie of that era and the decades that follow. Hitler is a jovial host at his country retreat. He is laughing and joking with the likes of Goering and Himmler. We also see Hitler seeming to enjoy talking with small children and playing with his dogs.
For her part, Braun looks and acts like any other woman of the era. She seemingly equally adores her dogs and Clark Gable and is very at ease among her notorious company.
It is even more shocking to see Hitler calmly delivering a rational speech to an assembled masses. There is none of the shouting, frantic gestures, and frenzied responses that characterize all Hitler speeches that probably every viewer has seen in archival footage.
A telling scene has Hitler criticizing Goering to other guests. However, he is cool and collected and is not ordering punishment.
Two segments in "Swastika" are the most blatant propaganda in the film. An interview with an American radio commentator has that man assuring German officials that folks over here do not believe the fake news about Hitler; this man goes on to pledge to set the record straight by broadcasting to America from Germany.
The scenes from "The Eternal Jew" are even more unsettling than the interview with the American. We first see heavily bearded men looking alien and menacing; we then see the same group seeming ill-at-ease after losing their beards and changing into mainstream clothes. The message is that Jews cannot be assimilated into the dominant culture. A similar scene issues a defiant challenge to prove that a single Jew has died during the rule of Hitler.
Horrific footage that will cause anyone with a soul to turn away from the screen at the end of the film both is more objective and puts the prior 90 minutes of "Swastika" in proper perspective, That brings things full circle back to the opening message that genuinely bad hombres can be difficult to identify until it is too late.
The bonus features also enhance understanding of "Swastika." One extra has the filmmakers discuss the nature of Nazi propaganda; this conversation includes noting the great extent of the censorship of that era. A highlight is footage that amazingly slips through a very narrow crack.
Another extra discusses Nazi propaganda expert Leni Riefenstahl. We first learn that this filmmaker gets more than a little uncredited help from her friends. We subsequently see that her claims of denial are far from plausible.
As other posts in the Mill Creek Entertainment section of this site does (and will) show, this month being a particularly busy one for MCE releases requires that a timely review of "Hitler" come at the expense of not watching the other documentaries in the set.
"Hitler: The Untold Story" seems particularly fascinating. This six-part series pulls the curtain back on the fairly well known progression of the rise to power by der Fuhrer. Similar to "Swastika," we see how maintaining a deceiving public image is critical to Hitler maintaining his status.
"U-Boats: Hitler's Sharks" focuses on the importance of the ocean in WWII. The intriguing perspective this time is speculation regarding the impact of an alternate history in which Hitler grants requests for additional submarines.
The importance of these documentaries and the materials that accompany them is a well-known adage that provides the best perspective of all; those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.