'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.
'Antonio Lopez 1970 Sex Fashion & Disco' DVD: Documentary on Clothing Artist Drawn to Models & Designers
The Film Movement February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 documentary "Antonio Lopez 1970 Sex Fashion & Disco' gives the general populace a chance to catch this groovy flick that is the January 2019 selection of the exceptional Movement Film of the Month Club. Learning about the lives, loves, and lusts of the fashion world elites of the '70s is only the beginning of the fun.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for this 2017 Doc NYC Grand Jury Prize winner clearly conveys the love by the numerous talking heads for Lopez. You also will see his bright and vibrant art that is sure to warm the hearts of those of us trapped in the polar vortex.
Filmmaker James Crump goes well above-and-beyond assembling the team of some that you recognize and some that you hardly even heard of to share their stories of Lopez. A sad aspect of this is that many notables in that group do not participate for reasons that include falling victim to what is known as the plague of the '80s. This film reminds us of the heavy toll that the early days of AIDS takes on the creative community.
Much of the film centers around recently deceased photographer Bill Cunningham, whose love for Lopez is especially strong. His narration provides a great deal of context that includes reminding us that artists such as Lopez transform the clothing industry from merely providing a means to hide our shame to haute couture.
At the heart of it, young Puerto Rican immigrant Lopez taking New York by storm is proof of the American dream. Current make-up artist Corey Tippin telling the tale of a being a student in a college course of Lopez and quickly being singled out to come to the front of the room to model is one of the more interesting stories in the movie that is bursting with fascinating accounts.
Tippin immediately becoming an intimate of his professor in every sense of both terms illustrates a prime theme of "Antonio." This era of free love allows everyone to express physical desire for anyone else regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or consenting student/teacher relationship. A talking head aptly notes that this period is more liberated than our currently enlightened society.
Lopez himself is worthy of a Hollywood biopic; his individual exploits include finding a cross-dressing male street-corner prostitute to step in when a dress does not fit a model. We also learn that his charm and drive allow him to literally simultaneously "make love to" men and women and leave all emotionally and physically satisfied. This includes boyfriends who can be considered life partners by multiplying the length of the relationship by the magic number of seven that applies to both forms of dogs.
The discussion of the group actually known as "Antonio's Girls" further reflects the broad (no pun intended) taste of Lopez. These women include then-models and subsequent actresses Grace Jones and Warhol discovery Patti D'Arbanville. We also hear from Jessica Lange, who immediately captivated Lopez and can thank him for setting her on the path to fame.
One of the more interesting stories is that of 17 year-old Texan Jerry Hall bursting on the scene, Hearing her peers discuss her exuberance and her embracing her new-found wealth and celebrity is very interesting. All of this occurs before Hall marries Mick Jagger and then moves on to her current status as the trophy wife of Silver Fox Rupert Murdoch.
Speaking of Warhol, we learn about his relationship with Lopez; hearing about these men dividing up the counter-culture elites of New York is hilarious,
The subsequent pairing of Karl Lagerfeld when Lopez et al move to France is equally interesting, Learning about the phallic manner in which Lagerfeld subsequently treats Lopez is not surprising but is distressing, The principle here is that particular intimate acts especially entitle you to reasonable consideration regardless of the degree of love associated with said activity.
The biggest lesson in all this is that some people truly lead extraordinary lives that warrant documentaries and biopics. This is a good perspective for folks who think that starting a fast-food chain or inventing a mop warrants a movie.
This is not to mention all the people who think that starting a recycling program at their high school qualifies them for a Nobel Prize. Those with exceptional talent, a strong work ethic, and genuinely noteworthy experiences are our true American Idols.
Having stated that, Crump is invited to reach out to me if he wants to make a documentary about a guy who has not made a penny writing about vintage movies and TV shows, indie films, and boutique hotels for 13 years. :-)
A happy coincidence regarding writing this review of the Icarus Films February 5, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 Bullfrog Films documentary "Free Lunch Society" the day after Martin Luther King Day is finding a quote from King on the DVD back cover, This statement is that "the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income."
Filmmaker Christian Tod clearly is on Team MLK; Tod entertains and educates as he shows how a few communities have taken the concept of money for nothing (but not chicks for free) to heart to varying degrees.
The blanket tax refunds during the George W. Bush years provide the proverbial bigger picture here. it is difficult to imagine someone not liking getting a check in the mail, and having a little money either to help with the bills or simply to "treat yo self" always is a good thing. On the other hand, these handouts are a factor regarding the current huge federal deficit.
Going back further in time, advocating teaching someone to fish rather than giving him or her a trout has merit, Aptly going deeper, this works best when all have equal access to the fishing hole.
The first general caveat that must be considered before learning more about this social experiment is that even propaganda that supports your view still is propaganda. A related truism is that there is your side, my side, and the truth.
Much of the focus of the film is on the efforts in Germany to literally share the wealth. A very high-profile advocate of this is drugstore king Gotz Werner. We also meet Michael Bohmeyer, who uses a combination of crowdfunding and Oprah to distribute 1,000 Euros each month for a year to folks who literally get it for being at exactly the right place at the right time.
Moving closer to home, Tod discusses the Alaska state government distributing pipeline profits to the people, The rationale here extends beyond spreading the wealth to compensating the victims of the collateral damage from the project.
The scope of the "Society" also encompasses the history of consideration of widespread handouts by the U.S. federal government.
The numerous talking heads provide copious data regarding the extent to which these programs trigger sloth by recipients of the oft-mentioned bounty. A look at how hitting a jackpot affects lottery workers provides a good indication of the impact of streets paved with bronze.
Although Tod does not address this point in-depth, a classic sitcom once again provides particularly apt insight. A scene in an episode of the '60s fantasycom "I Dream of Jeannie" has master Tony Nelson finishing what he thinks is the latest in an eternal string of free lunches. This astronaut crashes back to earth on learning that the titular genie does not conjure up all of his delicacies out of thin air; she buys some of the gourmet goodies from the local grocery store, and the bill has just come due.
Fans of companion show "Bewitched" likely recall many occasions on which Madman Darrin Stephens must take money from the household budget to remedy harm from witch wife Samantha irresponsibly twitching her nose, Having to buy an electric garage door is only the tip of that iceberg.
A much latter episode of "Jeannie" makes another relevant point. The newly wed sprite is very proud to present her husband with a roomful of items purchased on credit, The lesson here is that you do not pay for such luxuries today but do pay tomorrow.
The DVD bonuses include "Free Lunch Society" hosted by Christian Tod and promo. videos.
The prominent aspect of time travel in the Virgil Films documentary "Outatime: Saving the DeLorean Time Machine" excuses writing about the July 2016 DVD release of this film in February 2019. The starting point (no pun intended) is the Unreal TV post on the FANTABULOUS limited-edition Flux Capacitor Blu-ray set of the "Back to the Future" Trilogy.
The below YouTube clip of a trailer for "Outatime" wonderfully expresses the infectious and/or highly relatable elan of the restoration team. This is especially true regarding those of us adequately ancient to get hooked on the "Future" franchise during the initial releases of the films.
The relevant detour into Blogland begins with being relatively bored when a friend invites me to see "Future" at a second-run theater. The exceeded expectations are indescribable.
The noteworthy memory regarding "II" relates to needing roads where I am going to see it on the premiere date. Said driving surfaces being very snowy and icy to the point of still going despite repeatedly skidding out and getting stuck in snowbanks greatly speaks to the love of the franchise. The strong reaction (complete with a hand gesture) to the cliffhanger at the end also reflects the extent of the obsession with the adventures of the original "Rick and Morty."
This equally entertaining and educational documentary begins with a behind-the-scenes look at the role of the car/time machine in the films; this goes on to the tragic tale of Universal Studios initially leaving the flagship "A" car completely exposed to the elements for years and then not doing much better by merely putting it under a carport. This mistreatment exposes the car to weather-related harm and pilfering by fans. Literally leaving the key in the ignition is a Biff move.
The most interesting talking head from this portion of "Outatime" is the '90s-era studio portrayor of time-machine inventor Doc Brown. This eye witness provides an awesome "you are there" perspective; this is not to mention his perfect impression of the unique voice of that character.
This background information sets the stage for the central story of the film; Project head/compulsive taskmaster Joe Walser and his volunteers have one year to restore what is beyond a s**tbox to perfect working condition. Walser DEMANDING even that screws that no one will see and that aluminum tubing that hugs the car be 100-percent authentic illustrates his virtually impossible standards and the incredible tolerance of his crew. One can be certain that no strawberries are pilfered in the course of this project.
Much of the humor of the film relates to a strong sense that Walser should surrender regarding some battles. This includes having the team strip black paint off a once-silver piece of the car. Using the original paint to restore the "factory" appearance of the part is within the realm of reasonableness; having the unpaid workers with a challenging deadline remove the black paint is one of many instances in which one wonders if Walser constantly washes his hands and regularly worries if he has turned off the lights and unplugged the iron before leaving home.
Fanboys also will rejoice regarding the active involvement of "Future" co-writer and producer Bob Gale; his important contributions include using his star power to persuade fans with "borrowed" parts to donate them to the cause. Though the "owner" of a critically important component of the DeLorean pulls the phallic move of making Team Walser literally bid on that part, a not-so-guilty confession is that the group would have been SOL if your not-so-humble reviewer had anything from the car.
One of the more insightful segments relates to the fan favorite "Mr. Fusion" component. We learn about the legacy of Universal sloppily improvising after the original prop goes missing. The rest of the story is the amusing manner in which the team improvises after the fan who has this piece of film history does not return it.
The suspense throughout "Outatime" extends well beyond whether our band of brothers can recover the original components or perfectly replicate them; we get caught up in them meeting their deadline just as much as we root for Marty McFly to get the DeLorean up to the magic 88 m.p.h. in time, The modern quest being a real story creates a possibility of a lack of a Hollywood ending.
The copious DVD bonuses include filmmaker Steve Concotelli hosting the world premiere of "Outatime" at a place with a strong connection to the "Future" franchise. We also get deleted scenes and an epilogue to the restoration story.
'And the Award Goes To .... : 80 Years of The Academy Awards' Doc Series Shows How Films Stretch the Envelope
Mill Creek Entertainment shows good timing regarding releasing the three-DVD set of the 11-episode documentary series "And the Award Goes to ...: 80 Years of the Academy Awards" on November 6, 2018. This coincides with the informal start of Oscar Season during which studios release what they consider "Best Picture" contenders. The logic is that releasing these films at the end of the year keeps them fresh in the minds of Academy voters when they select those nominees.
The title of "Award" alone reflects the subject matter; as an episode likely addresses, announcing who receives confirmation that Academy voters like him or her; they really like him or her evolves from the titular phrase of the series to "And the winner is ..." sometime in the '80s or '90s.
The series commences with the aptly titled episode "Birth of an Icon." Before getting down to the business of discussing the May 1929 private event that honors the best films of 1927 and 1928, the documentary presents a prologue that summarizes Hollywood history from the beginning until the '70s. This includes mentions of the relationship between films and society.
The episode then discusses how the first ceremony is an intimate affair with media coverage that is limited to local outlets. We further get images of the Hollywood royalty that attends and the films that they consider.
This episode also covers topics that include the transition from silents to talkies. The most fun subjects are the celebrities and their egos/feuds.
The titles and focuses of the next several episodes reflect the nature of the films of their eras. They begin with "The Golden Era" and move on the more enlightened and candid "Hollywood Comes of Age" period of the late '60s and early '70s.
The third disc, which is titled "Thirty Years of Winners," consists of six episodes that each cover four years periods starting with 1972. This arguably is when the ceremonies themselves become more entertaining. We get the man who streaks across the stage in the '70s, the 1989 train wreck in which Snow White and Rob Lowe rock out to "Proud Mary," and Jack Palance showing off his physical strength at the 1991 ceremony.
As the aforementioned prologue states, every actor wants to win an Oscar; those who do are the elite few among the relatively small population of thespians who make a working living as a film actor. These folks who typically work their way up the ranks, endure grueling production schedules, and experience public ridicule regarding both even (previously) private embarrassing moments and involvement with any film with less-than-perfect execution are the true American idols.
This is not to mention these folks smiling through fans yelling out the names and catchphrases related to roles regarding which they have not received a penny for years every time they step out their front door. It is amazing that Tom Cruise has not punched out some moron who has shouted "show me the money." I truly believe that I at least would have shown the moviegoer the finger and dearly paid for that indulgence for decades.
Fasten your seatbelts, Readers. Its going to be a bumpy night. The infuriating vanity-project that is "Becoming Iconic," which is recently out on DVD and streaming from Random Media, requires diverging from the usual modus operandi at this site. Believe it or not, this post holds punches.
Your not-so-humble reviewer prides himself on being as kind as possible regarding films; largely staying out of Blogland is another source of self-esteem. Sadly, "Iconic" is not conducive to either policy.
The standard for claiming a Mulligan regarding a review copy of a movie or a television program is to only request a pass based on being unable to write anything nice about that production. "Iconic" does have several good points. The concept of some of the best (but not necessarily iconic) living directors discussing entering that field is interesting; further, those talking heads do not disappoint regarding their insights and anecdotes.
Hearing one director compare a first-time directing job with losing your actual virginity is an apt and amusing analogy. Hearing how young child-actor Jodie Foster learns that an thespian also can be a director is another highlight. This is similar to "Happy Days" producer Garry Marshall setting Ron Howard, who does not participate in "Iconic," on the path to his directing career.
The primary subject is the problem. Jonathan Baker is so obnoxious and has the arrogance to make himself a more prominent topic than the Hollywood successes that he recruits for his project that he literally becomes unwatchable. This is not mention hyping the hobby business of his wife and his sporting a dye job that does not seem to meet the standard of a bargain chain salon. It looks as if his stylist uses Thom McCan Black.
A related note that requires noting that referring to Baker as "that guy" reflects the aforementioned restraint. The same irresistible urge to fast-forward through much of "Iconic" at the 45-minute mark relates to commenting a variation of "not that fornicating orifice again" whenever Baker subsequently appears on the screen. The footage of the other directors from that point on remains solid. They all continue to present themselves well.
The following YouTube clip of the "Iconic" trailer perfectly illustrates the agony and the ecstasy of the film. We see Foster, Taylor Hackford, Adrian Lyne and their peers discuss losing their directing cherry. Baker largely is o.k. regarding discussing his 2017 film "Inconceivable." Describing this project about which many people do not know and that has a 5.2 rating on IMDb and 3i-percent Tomatometer status as iconic really pushes the envelope.
This discussion of that promo. further is a good point for sharing a major peeve with "Iconic." Many of the interviews provides a sense that they are not filmed for "Iconic," and that the directors are only discussing their directing careers and the general topic of their craft, Footage of Baker "coming out" to Foster and another director near the end of the film essentially verifies that impression The talking heads express great surprise that the interviews are for a film about Baker.
This is not to mention that Baker produced "Iconic." It seems that a true wunderkind does not need to finance a film about his rising fame.
The trailer including the inevitable conclusion of another scene at the end of "Iconic" relates to another bone of contention. We see photos of the aforementioned participants; these images shrink down and go off to the side as the group gets larger. This is until a much larger photo of Baker literally and figuratively appears in the middle of the screen.
Much of the offensiveness of Baker relates to over-hyping his relationship with Warren Beatty, whom it is believed does not provide an interview for the film. Baker makes it seem both that Beatty sells him his house based on the work of Baker and that he and Beatty are best buds to the extent that many viewers will scream a variation of "enough about fornicating Warren Beatty" at the screen. One can further imagine Beatty simply humoring this guy until they seal the real-estate deal.
An amusing side note is that Beatty is an inspiration for the Carly Simon hit "You're So Vain." It seems very probable that Baker would have had that honor if Simon knew him when composing that tune.
IF Beatty does not provide an interview for "Iconic," listing his name among the other participants on the movie poster is highly misleading.
Baker goes comparably overboard when discussing his independent childhood in New York; he repeats his story about being an a young accompanied minor on the subway at least four times. The same is true regarding his sharing that Marilyn Monroe (who was not a director) died the year that he was born and that he bought the burial plot next to hers.
These references to the obnoxiousness of Baker illustrate the major flaw of "Iconic." His work does not support his arrogance, and he does not display either enough likability or talent to make him a good film topic.
'Mr. Capra Goes to War: Frank Capra's World War II Documentaries' Blu-ray and DVD: Acclaimed Director Tells GIs Why We Fight
The Olive Films separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Mr. Capra Goes to War: Frank Capra's World War II Documentaries" make November 6, 2018 a date that will live in infinite joy. These beautifully remastered "Why We Fight" films that include entertaining in-depth insights by film historian and Capra biographer Joseph McBride are equally entertaining and educational. Watch your back, Maltin.
"Capra' stands very well on its own and is a PERFECT companion to the (reviewed) Olive release "Let There Be Light." Light" features the contributions of equally legendary film director John Huston to the war effort.
The McBride-hosted half-hour special feature "Frank Capra: Why We Fight" is must-see to fully understand and enjoy the propaganda-laden documentaries that comprise the bulk of this collection. We learn about the military service of Capra and the ways in which his public image is inaccurate. We further see how he comes to work for Uncle Sam and manages to produce films for a small fraction of the cost of his Hollywood productions.
McBride shares additional film-specific information in his introductions to each film; this context is just as fascinating as "Fight."
"Prelude to War" focuses on the event leading to WWII and on explaining the importance of red-blooded American boys joining the fight. A nice aspect of "Prelude" is that it does not dumb-down the material; the only animation is Disney-produced footage that illustrates (no pun intended) the incursion of Axis forces into other countries.
The scope of this one encompasses a discussion of WWI and the resulting international pact prohibiting waging war to settle dispute. This includes showing America reducing its military resources in reliance on that agreement,
The introduction to the two-part "The Battle of Russia" is especially interesting. McBride reminds us of the basis for the U.S.-Soviet alliance and tells us that Russia supplies Capra all of the footage for the film. That source material perfectly reflects Soviet propaganda.
The main theme this time is that the Nazis can be stopped from advancing and can actually be driven back. We also see a favored Nazi tactic used against the Germans. The symbolic value of Moscow is another theme.
It is indisputable that the propaganda level in this one is particularly strong. We see the vast resources of Mother Russia and her happy people working in the fields and the factories. We also hear about their heroic natures. The gruesome footage of dead German soldiers is less appealing.
McBride further shares that the purpose of "The Negro Soldier" extends beyond encouraging black men to join the fight. This film also is intended to have white soldiers feel proper regard for the black brothers-in-arms.
A "and the rest" film is "Tunisian Victory about the joint American and British effort in North Africa. The last but not least has Capra and Theodore Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) team up to help maintain the moral of folks who remain in Germany as occupiers after the war.
Watching these films both greatly expands an understanding of Capra and demonstrates the nature of propaganda. A perfect example of this "Soldier" omitting inconvenient truths. Chances to watch these films is rare enough; watching them accompanied by the comments of McBride is a unique opportunity that should not be squandered.
'A Beautiful Planet' 4K + Blu-ray + Digital: NASA & Jennifer Lawrence Team Up for IMAX-Enhanced Footage From ISS
Mill Creek Entertainment figuratively and literally goes above-and-beyond regarding the 4K + Blu=ray + Digital December 11, 2018 release of the IMAX film "A Beautiful Planet." Saying that you will not believe your eyes is not an exaggeration.
Having the upgraded Sony 4K television is a nice luxury; paying a Blu-ray price for a basic LG 4K player is a good bargain. Combining them to watch "Planet" is priceless.
The enhanced experience begins with a sample of the upgraded audio that actually sounds light-years better than the standard version even for 4K discs. The incredible initial panoramic views of space are awe-inspiring images that make the opening credits of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" look like footage from cheesy '50s scifi films.
MCE includes a Blu-ray player for folks who do not have 4K players. .
The following YouTube clip of the standard-def trailer for "Planet" provides a sense of the fantastic footage and a better indication of the themes of the film.
A special earth-bound aspect of "Planet" is that Academy Award winning actress Jennifer Lawrence who narrates the film has another 114 wins and 176 nominations. She puts that talent to good use in setting the ideal tone for the film; her soothing voice sets the perfect mood.
Director Toni Myers, whose IMAX credits also include "Blue Planet" and "Space Station 3D," divides her focus between the titular big blue marble and the bonding and other aspects of daily life on the International Space Station (ISS). The latter begins with three astronauts en route to the ISS and getting a very warm welcome on their arrival. The bonding further strengthening during that tour of duty provides hope for the future.
We then see how the astronauts perform daily functions in a zero-gravity environment. Highlights include learning how they sleep and conduct the equally critical exercise. We further experience Christmas in space and get a look at genuine international co-operation. Footage of a crew member bathing is the least sexy shower scene ever.
Scenes of the crew are work are even more compelling. We see them perform indoor chores and "yard work" alike. Hearing about the extreme conditions of the latter should be required viewing for every child who complains about mowing the lawn in 80-degree heat.
The literal and figurative bigger picture is the aforementioned incredible footage of space and earth. We see nature in all its glory and its sadly deteriorating state. The contrast between night and day is even more fascinating. As a crew member states, it is easy to imagine that the lights are out and that no one is home from 9-to-5.
"Planet" additionally sends numerous messages without preaching. An example of the images speaking for themselves is South Korea being brightly lit and North Korea being dark beyond the clearly defined border between those countries.
Nice elements of "Trek" expand beyond the mini-Federation that operates out of the tin can in space. We get a strong sense of earth being a spaceship on which all of us are passengers. An aspect of that is the need to keep this organic vessel healthy if we want to continue living.
We further hear the astronauts thoughts regarding the final frontier and the plans of space programs to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Two of the special features center around the astronauts. The more entertaining of the two discusses them learning to operate the cameras that are used to make the planet. The third bonus has Myers hosting a visit to a way-cool research facility that capture many of the images in the film.
The universal truth regarding all this is that is difficult to imagine any other film matching "Planet" in production and narrative quality. You will be amazed and amused.
Old Lime Productions shows the big boys how it is done regarding the 2016 documentary "Ghostheads," which IMDb perfectly describes as "a look at the intense fandom for the ("Ghostbusters") media franchise." An interview with producer Tommy Avallone regarding his related film "Bill Murray Stories" reinforces that the guys behind the camera put their heart and soul into this film about folks who devote a great deal of their time and income celebrating the 1984 comedy and its sequel.
A personal perspective is owning all three films on Blu-ray. a long-discontinued deluxe collector's edition of the complete animated series being a desert island set, and recently buying a toy model of the Ecto-1 vehicle from the franchise. This is on top of regularly referring to not crossing streams, to dogs and cats living in harmony, and to telling a powerful evil entity who thinks that you are a god that you are one.
Additionally, a visit to the New York Public Library was a required destination during a Manhattan visit. Telling the lions out front to stay did not elicit any response from the jaded locals.
The high-quality of the Blu-ray version of "Heads" and the plethora of extras (including a HILARIOUS interview with "Ghostbusters II" star Kurt Fuller) screams for buying this release, rather than watching it on a streaming service that may drop it at any time. Taking shameless commerce one level further, a "Ghostbusters" fan WILL delight in getting this documentary along with the 4K releases of the original films.
The following YouTube clip of the Kickstarter promo; for "Ghostheads" PERFECTLY captures the spirit and the tone of the documentary. It will make you want to join your local chapter.
One of the nicest things about the profiled heads is that they keep their active fandom in check; none of therm are obsessed with "Ghostbusters" and do not wear their jumpsuits and proton packs on a daily basis. The furthest that some folks take things is to use their replica of Ecto-1 vehicle as their primary car.
The sense of moderation continues with one participant commenting that he is in the game for the sense of community, rather than out of love for the films. A man at the other extreme discusses the films helping him during a very emotional period.
The charitable aspect of the activity is another great aspect of this fandom; we see the local chapters suit and gear up to bring joy to folks who need it,
It additionally is awesome hearing from director Ivan Reitman, Dan Akyroyd, Harold Ramis daughter Violet, and others involved in the original films share their perspectives and memories.
The best segments have William Atherton, who plays the uptight bureaucrat in "Ghostbusters," and Fuller from "Ghostbusters II" tell their stories. Atherton shares the public still tormenting him based on that role; his successor Fuller tells a great Bill Murray story in the form of Fuller assuring Murray that Fuller does not mind a particular directed insult and Murray refusing to deliver that line because he wants to spare Fuller the abuse being heaped on Atherton.
The recent Paul Feig "Ghostbusters" movie gets its due; we see mutual love that extends to Feig flying Ghostheads to Los Angeles for a special event. Feig additionally goes above and beyond regarding helping two fans take their relationship to the next level.
All of this makes "Ghostheads" a genuine feel-good movie that achieves the documentary ideal of being equally educating and entertaining. You may not be ready to shell out big bucks for a proton pack but definitely will want to join those who do for a party-sized Twinkee. You also will receive confirmation that everyone connected with making the films have enormous regard and fondness for the projects.
The numerous extras extend well beyond the aforementioned Fuller interview. We get a tribute to a kind and sweet Ghosthead to whom the documentary is dedicated, a music video of the "Ghostheads" theme, and so much more.
Truly independent and innovative documentary DVD company Bullfrog Films picks a subject near and dear to the heart of millions regarding the release of "The Search for General Tso." This non-fiction movie provides an entertaining overview of the history of Chinese food in America in the larger context of the equally delightful study of the titular sweet and tangy dish that is the fave of so many people.
The following YouTube clip of the trailer for the film is so delightful by itself that you almost definitely will not say "Tso what" in response to this introduction to the production.
This behind-the-scenes look (complete with a tour of a fortune cookie factory) at the Chinese restaurant industry begins with a photo shoot that shows the origin of the pictures of food on the wall menus of many Chinese places. This alone should create a craving for the titular entree.
We soon meet the Guinness World Book record holder for the largest collection of Chinese food menus; this collection is from more countries than there are in the U.N. This aspect of this segment provides the element of "entertainment" that is part of any good documentary; the educational aspect includes learning of a method for determining the best meals in a Chinese restaurant.
Filmmaker Ian Cheney also takes us to the Hunan Province in China to learn more about the real-life general for whom the dish is named. The response of the locals on learning about the American concept of Chinese food is hilarious.
The history of Chinese food restaurants in America is almost as amusing; we learn about origins that include chop suey joints. A fascinating aspect of this is the huge disparity between the Chinese population in our country and the proliferation of restaurants that serve food from their nation, Other perspective comes via comparing the popularity of that cuisine to that of pizza.
The largest context of all this is that Cheney and Bullfrog focus on a subject that is of interest to the general public but receives little thought. The payoff comes when we realize our ignorance regarding a fascinating topic. This is comparable to learning the process for manufacturing shoe laces is worthy of a big-budget film.
A telephone conversation with filmmaker Tommy Avallone the day before the October 26, 2018 VOD premiere of his (reviewed) Gravitas Ventures documentary "The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons From A Mythical Man" aptly was mythical. "Murray' and an earlier Avallone joint "I Am Santa Claus," which chronicles the off-season lives of men who play St. Nick, show that this guy has equally strong imagination and curiosity levels that he exercises in a manner that enriches audiences in the same manner that Murray popping up at a kickball game or a college party enhances the lives of those who are there.
The titular urban legends in "Murray" are seemingly purely random visits by the titular star of "Saturday Night Live" (a.k.a. "SNL") and cult-classic '80s film comedies such as "Stripes" and the original "Ghostbusters" films. Hearing about those encounters puts the idea of "Murray" in the head of Avallone; obtaining the coveted toll-free telephone number that Murray uses in lieu of an agent or a manager created hope that the man the legend would participate in the film.
Scenes throughout "Murray" depict Avallone either rehearsing a message for the voicemail of Murray or recording and deleting one. We also see his mother get into the act. This illustrated the challenge of summoning Murray; he is like a cat in that he ignores those who attempt to entice him but literally or figuratively jumps in the laps of people who ignore him.
Of course, speaking with someone who had the highly sought-after number required asking Avallone to share it, His denial of that request was less surprising than if he had divulged that information. Avallone added that "I can't tell you how I got it; it was a friend of a friend." Avallone emphasized that that friend was not a celebrity.
Avallone added that he regularly called the number for a year-and-a-half to no avail; these calls continue at less frequently.
Truth or Fiction
Avallone stated that a reported Murray sighting that he included in the cold open of "Murray" was the first one that he heard. He then speculated that it was partially true.
This tale involved Murray coming up behind a man who was using a urinal at a bar; the rest of the story was that Murray put his hands over the eyes of the man. Avalllone opined that Murray did walk up to someone at some time and put his hands over the eyes of his "victim."
This led to discussing people making up Murray stories in reliance of limited documentation of many true one. Avallone provided a perfect response in stating that "I know people who do that; I don't like that. I am a documentary filmmaker; I like the truth."
This final word on this topic was that "What's great about the Bill Murray stories is that 99-percent of them are true."
Murray on Murray
Avallone shared that he has no indication that Murray has seen the film; he added that Bill's brother Joel has seen it and likes it a great deal. The documentarian added that he likes to think that Murray would like "Murray."
Avallone expressing the fantasy that Murray would show in the back of a theater and give him a thumbs up during a post-screening discussion expresses the thoughts of Murray fans everywhere.
Another expressed desire regarding the impact of "Murray" was that viewers "start to think more like Bill Murray." he added that Murray reminded him of Santa in that "he comes in and leaves them smiling."
Waldo on Weed
Only knowing that the latest project of Avallone is titled "Waldo on Weed" prompted asking if the title character was either a cannabis expert or a stoner. It turns out that Waldo is the son of a friend of Avallone; the title refers to the boy using cannabis oil to treat cancer.
The statements that "Brian and Waldo are really fun characters," and that the film is about "what a father would do to save a son" provide to good reasons to discover where''s "Waldo" when it is released.
The similarities between Avallone and Murray extend beyond sharing a great offbeat sense of humor; they both passionately pursue their bliss and seek to provide the rest of us with the same. There is no doubt regarding the truth of the tale that they both awesomely succeed.
'Cinemability: The Art of Inclusion' DVD & VOD: Everything You Always Were Embarrassed to Ask About Disabled People in TV & Film
The fact that virtually no one knows that October is National Disability Employment Month makes the October 5, 2018 VOD & DVD releases of the Gold Pictures documentary "Cinemability: The Art of Inclusion" to celebrate that recognition that much more important. This film being full of movie and TV clips and A-List participants (such as narrator Jane Seymour) meeting the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and educational is the icing on the cake.
The following YouTube clip of the official trailer for this movie by wheelchair-user producer/director Jenni Gold provides a strong sense of the comprehensive scope of the film in terms of the aforementioned clips and celebrity participants. This promo. having clips from "Freaks" and "South Park" shows that Gold does not pull any punches regarding telling how it is and how is was.
The overall theme of "Cinemability" is that the portrayal of disabled people in films and television series greatly influences how the general movie-going public perceives people who are different. It is believed that Jamie Foxx, who is well-known for playing blind music-legend Ray Charles, is the talking head who notes that using the media to depict people with a particular disability in a certain way is the first step toward obtaining support for legislation to address an issue that affects that population. Foxx also is the center of a notable scene in which he discusses allowing himself to be temporarily blinded for his Oscar-winning portrayal of Charles; "Ray" director/writer Taylor Hackford provides further insights regarding that film.
Oscar-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin provides many of the most relatable and amusing ancedotres in "Cinemability." She discusses the positive impact of seeing a deaf character on the sitcom "Happy Days." Matlin further shares many other memories that include her hilarious portrayal of a deaf attorney on the sitcom "My Name is Earl."
A related aspect of this is watching Peter Farrelly and other filmmakers talk about simply not making a disability an aspect of a character. An even more controversial topic that Gold tackles is the practice of using an able-bodied actor to play a disabled character. Beloved producer/director/writer the late Garry Marshall perfectly addresses this by commenting that he solely bases his casting choices on the acting ability of the person auditioning for the role.
The tremendous time that Gold devotes to finding and incorporating the clips and getting the hardest-working people in show business demonstrates the love associated with this documentary; the degree to which it makes viewers think about disabled people in reel and real-life shows that it pays off.
'The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man' Theatrical and VOD: When Legendary Comedian Crashes Your Party, You Tell Him He's A God
Gravitas Ventures fully embraces its awesome pop culture documentary side with the current theatrical run of "The Bill Murray Stories" Life Lessons From a Mythical Man" This film additionally hits VOD platforms on October 26, 2018. "Murray" perfectly represents similar fare that currently is reviewed on Unreal TV 1.0 and will make its way to Unreal TV 2.0 in November 2018.
Writer/director Tommy Avallone investigating reports of Murray being a modern-day Mary Poppins who shows up completely unexpected and spreads joy before vanishing into the night or the afternoon perfectly blends old and new school.
Tweens and teens of the '70s and '80s have fond memories of first watching Murray display his comedic nerdy and swarmy sides in the early days of "SNL" (Nee "Saturday Night Live.") We then see him join Tom Hanks in playing oddball goofballs in '80s comedy films that make us long for that Silver Age of big screen humor.
ANY boy born between 1960 and 1970 who does not include "Ghostbusters," "Stripes," "Meatballs," "Caddyshack," and "Groundhog Day" ("What About Bob" is optional) on his list of 100 favorite movies deserves to have his lunch money taken away and being given an atomic nudgie in 2018.
The new school element enters the picture (pun intended) regarding the manner in which the tales of Murray spread. Social media reports and online videos of Murray jamming with a band at a house party, reading poetry at a construction site, thrilling fans at a baseball game, etc. spread these urban legends faster than tales that involve a friend of a friend at camp or a guy who lives in the same college dorm as an older sibling. Canadian girlfriends from camp are an especially rich source of this lore.
The similarities between the Murray stories and the '70s and '80s sitcom "Alice" contribute another old school element. An occasional plot in that series revolves around a waitress being alone in the diner in which the show is set when a celebrity playing himself or herself unexpectedly stops by. The "com" related to this "sit" centers around the server trying to convince co-workers that the tale of the encounter is true,
A new school aspect is the current weekly NPR news quiz "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." The central concept of this series is having contestants try to determine which of three news reports on a particular subject is true,
The Murray stories may have been a topic on "Wait Wait," If so, the following reports may have been the options. Murray appeared on a street in Cleveland on Halloween night and joined a family for trick-or-treating; Murray showed up at an Austin watering hole and began tending bar; Murray appeared at a Safeway in Bethesda, Maryland and began bagging groceries. The awesomeness of the Murray stories is that even the two that are not the intended correct answer may be true as well
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Murray" perfectly highlights the equally good entertaining and educational aspects of this documentary.
The good news is that most of "Murray" does the legendary subject justice; the bad news is that the painfully bad cold opens may want you to walk out of the theater or to stop watching at home. Candor requires sharing a strong desire to personally do exactly that and subsequent glee regarding sticking with the film. The neutral news is that throwing Avallone just a little shade is designed to encourage people to keep watching. The best news is that the stinger after the closing credits is MUST SEE. It reflects EVERY great aspect of the stories and leaves us wanting more.
The narrative that warrants scorn relates to "Murray" opening with a couple of groups discussing mysterious sightings that we soon learn involve Murray. These tales include the subject of the shock and awe showing up at a college party and doing the dishes and reading poetry at a building site. The one that prompted stopping the video was the story of a guy coming up behind someone at a urinal and placing his hands over the eyes of the man with his hands full. This leads to an image of grotesque looking Murray leering in the doorway of the men's room.
The armchair director advice is to COMPLETELY cut out the cold open and to start the film with images of the Woody Allen character Zelig, who pops up among historic figures. A "Forrest Gump" theme is an alternative. That would segue into the contrasting nature of the Murray stories.
"Murray" VASTLY improves after the opening credits, Avallone discusses the urban legends of the sightings and tantalizes viewers by sharing that he has the toll-free number that people use to contact this actor. Sadly, he blurs the digits.
We do see Avallone record and delete several voice mail messages that are designed to entice Murray to participate in the film. We also learn that Charleston, South Carolina being Ground Zero regarding Murray sightings prompts our host to take us there,
The first Charleston story is one of the best in "Murray." In true "Wait, Wait" fashion, we directly hear from someone with direct knowledge of the story. A wedding photographer discusses taking location photos of a happy couple when the future groom starts making odd faces. It turns out that Murray is behind the photographer and accepts his invitation to pose with the couple, Avallone shares one such photo.
Much of the rest of the film centers around stories in which Murray more fully literally and figuratively joins the party. This includes chipping in for a beer run.
Avallone presents all of this in the context of the philosophy that Murray espouses in his comedic and dramatic film roles. Although "Murray" does not address this, these clips further remind us that Murray agrees to do "Ghostbusters" in exchange for being allowed to star in the WWI period piece "The Razor's Edge."
We also get treated to insight by talking heads who know Murray; the icing on the cake is footage of the man of the hour doing improv. at Second City in Chicago. The context this time is how the improv. training shapes the psyche of Murray in ways that his visits reflect.
In addition to a decades' long love of Murray, a personal experience makes "Murray" special to your not-so-humble reviewer. A friend had coerced me into helping build a chicken coop at his hobby farm in a ruralish Boston suburb a few years ago. A lumber company had dumped all of the wood in the front yard.
I did not want to be there in the first place, and my friend would not get off his phone. I soon grabbed a big heavy piece of wood and started dragging it to the back of the house in an effort to move along the project. I could feel someone pick up the other end behind me a few minutes later.
Utilizing language that is inappropriate for this family friendlyish forum, I used just about every word previously banned on broadcast television in commenting on my friend finally hanging up and helping build HIS coop. The person behind me did not say a word.
I turned around after dropping the wood and saw Murray standing there, He had his trademark goofy grin on his face and asked "do you kiss your mother with that mouth?" I was equally shocked and embarrassed and profusely apologized. Murray soon put me at ease and helped us move the rest of the wood.
I turned around when we moved all the wood; I wanted to invite Murray to join us for soda and cookies, but he was gone. He said a few times that afternoon that no one would believe me if I told them about our encounter. I did not want to take video of it out of concern of offending Murray, and I got my friend to also refrain from doing so.
The bottom line regarding all this is that Murray is out there making our days. It clearly adequately delights him enough to keep him doing so. "Murray" helps skeptics believe us when we share our story.
The Lionsgate September 25, 2018 S11 V1 DVD release of the History Channel docuseries "Ancient Aliens" amazingly adds more credible evidence to the mountains of proof that "Aliens" uncovers regarding humans (and household pets) not being the only highly sentient beings in our universe and that visitors from other planets (and perhaps Pluto) are among us. The Unreal TV review on the recent MASSIVE S1-10 DVD set discusses the prior seasons of this popular program.
The overall theme of "Aliens" is that there is ample direct and indirect evidence of aliens coming here and helping us at least since King Tut was born in Arizona and moved to Babylonia. This extends well beyond sonogram-quality images of fuzzy glowing objects in the sky. The "Aliens" teams present their findings in a manner that makes anyone whose mind is at least ajar wonder about the existence of brothers from other planets. The bigger picture is the validity of the theory that it is unlikely that earth is the only planet on which a perfect storm makes a developed civilization possible.
The first of six episodes in the S11 V1 set is titled "UFO Conspiracy;" it opens with dramatic POV footage from a fighter jet. The small blurry object is relatively clear, and we hear the excited utterances of the pilot regarding this odd sight. The focus shifts to the history of the federal government funding investigations into UFOs; one can see the humor of the honesty related to using tax dollars to probe Uranus.
We soon getting a smoking gun in the form of a report on a 2017 New York Times article on the federal Advanced Aviation Threat Identification (AATI) program. Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, military brass, and MANY other talking heads discuss AATI,predecessors that go back decades before that program.
The analysis expands in a manner that evokes thoughts of the "Stargate" scifi franchise. That 'verse centers around the titular U.S. Air Force team that explores strange new worlds and that seeks out new life and new civilizations. That group often finds itself allied with or battling a private aerospace firm that helps create space-worthy tech. or utilizes or abuses the tech. of proverbial little green men.
An "Aliens" segment discusses the UFO-oriented work of Bigelow Aerospace. The scope of this coverage includes head honcho Robert Bigelow fully going on the record to assert that UFOS exist.
The second episode speculates about aliens influencing the work of Leonardo Da Vinci. The scope extends beyond the oft-discussed topic of Da Vinci being ahead of his time regarding modern inventions that include the helicopter. We get looks at his paintings from the perspective of an alien influence. This includes one work that speculates about the origin of Christ,
We additionally get a study of the "Last Supper" painting by Da Vinci. Tying this masterpiece into a Spielberg film is great fun.
The self-explanatory title of the third S11 V1 episode is "The Alien Protocols" This one studies the preparedness of the U.S. and the rest of the world for formal first contact. The spoiler is that we are not very prepared.
The other central focus is on close encounters that range from the region of the moon to the side of a rural highway, One of the more compelling tales is that of an Apollo astronaut reporting an odd craft accompanying him on solo lunar orbits.
The titles of the remaining three episodes in this set are almost as self-explanatory as the third. We get "Earth's Black Hole," The Desert Codes," and "Area 52." "Area" most likely expands on the segment on Area 51 in "Protocols."
As mentioned at the beginning of our program, "Aliens" makes a good case for "visitors" interacting with humans. Assuming that the films and other evidence is accurate, the rest of the story is that we simply do not know the truth about aliens and likely will not until a thoroughly independently verified "E.T." goes public.
A not-so-absurd alternate explanation for at least modern encounters is that hush-hush military or private projects literally or figuratively come on the radar or that scientists crack the pesky time-travel problem in the future and come back to check us out. The good news either way is that the tech, and/or help from the stars is a good thing until otherwise proven.
All you Moondoggies (or dudes who like duck diving during the day) and Gidgets (or regular-size wahines) should be totally stoked regarding the Film Movement September 11, 2018 release of the 2016 documentary "Between Land and Sea." Righteous dude Ross Whitaker, who is not a Barney or a Jake, shows us the year in the life of Irish surf town Lahinch.
Although the tubular vernacular above suggests otherwise, "Sea" entertains without depicting a California style surf scene; this film is much more "Waking Ned Devine" than '60s beach movies that include the totally awesome "Wet Side Story" about a romance between a biker chick and a surfer dude, A prime example of this is mood-apt instrumental music filling in for more rousing Beach Boys tunes regarding the copious footage of the surf.
The following YouTube video of the Movement trailer for "Sea" perfectly captures the charming and mellow vibe of this equal parts documentary, travelogue, and character study.
The concept that Ireland has a thriving surf culture alone is adequately surprising and compelling to warrant a film; the characters who are the subjects of the aforementioned studies not being airhead slackers contributes additional depth.
The stereotype of the California surfer is of a guy who fully embraces a dude lifestyle to the extent of only working hard enough to keep a minimal roof over his head and tacos in his stomach. He also usually does not have a steady Betty and even more rarely has rugrats.
The first man to whom Whitaker introduces us is a married mining engineer, who admits to practicing that profession just enough to provide his family a good life; he devotes much of the rest of his time to his passion for surfing. His English-transplant wife makes soap to contribute to the family fisc.
We also meet a farmer/surfer with a good sense of humor; his comment regarding the relative status between him and a English farm worker provides the only political commentary in the film.
We additionally get a look at a surf camp that allows a quimby to try to learn to shoot curls. Related fun comes via watching our subjects prepare their kids to hit the waves. A shoot of the face of a young girl when her 'rent tells her how her life jacket will activate if she goes under the water is priceless.
The bigger picture is the aspect of a tourist town that at least partially relies on a weather-dependent activity to bolster the local economy. Another aspect of this is working like a surf dog during the high season (no pun intended) and living a slower pace of life the rest of the year.
Whitaker encompasses all of the above by beginning "Sea" at the start of the calendar year as our Kens and Barbies prepare for (and otherwise anticipate) the upcoming summer; he concludes things with a wonderful community-oriented Christmas celebration.
The aloha regarding all this is that "Sea" indicates that surfers generally are the same the world over. Riding waves seems to keep their temperaments at an even keel regardless of what life throws at them. Further, these guys seem equally open minded and accepting of all.
The concept of the Margin Films documentary "Gay Hollywood Dad," which premieres August 2 2018 at the New York Asian-American Film Festival a day before debuting on Amazon Instant Video, is laudable and has great potential. The sad truth is that 29 year-old filmmaker/titular single parent Quentin Lee sacrifices the opportunity to share his unusual experience to promote his career. "Dad" also suffers from being produced with eye toward being a reality web series.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Dad" shows how the film starts strong before becoming standard reality show fare. One can only fear Lee creating a series titled "The Real Toddlers of Los Angeles" featuring his son Casper.
The central concept of "Dad" is strong. As Lee states at the beginning of the film, his desire for a child that is biologically his prompts choosing surrogacy., We remain on course as we meet gestational carrier Crystal Primavera as she prepares to give birth in her home state of West Virginia.
The veering into reality TV territory roughly 5 minutes later is where things start taking a turn for the worse. The cast of stock characters include aptly named Adrian Ho, whom Lee identifies as his partner. The apparent reality is that Ho is not figuratively or literally prominently in the picture. His conspicuous absences include not accompanying Lee to witness the birth of the baby or on separate trips to meet the grandparents.
Further, Lee comments that Ho is more comfortable than him regarding going home with Mr. Right Now. All of this points to Ho being more fuck buddy than life companion.
The "plot" when the gang gathers at Chez Lee is that Lee wants a 100-day celebration of the birth of Casper. The explanation of the reason that Chinese people celebrate that milestone is interesting. The drama begins with debates regarding the venue and the budget for the event.
One uncomfortable TMI moment during the party involves Lee telling the group that his sperm was used in the process of that lead to the birth of Casper. This is contrast to the more appropriate option of stating that he is the biological father.
Lee comes across much worse minutes later as we see him in the back seat of a car sharing that he is too drunk to drive; he adds insult to injury by joking that he looks forward to Casper being old enough to be a designated driver. It also is presumed that this too polluted to operate a motor vehicle father of an infant does not have anyone staying at his home that night to help care for the baby.
The popularity of Lee further falls when he discusses not having as much time as desired to film babies on a prior film project. This creates an impression that his motives for having Casper include having as much time as needed with this "prop" for the upcoming horror short "In Halloween" that Lee heavily promotes to the extent of including most of that film in "Dad."
Things calm down from there as Lee brings Casper to Hong Kong to meet the grandmother of the child and celebrate her birthday. Not much drama ensues during that trip.
More drama ensues during a Christmas week Vancouver trip to meet the generally grumpy Grandpa. It is clear that this man is overdue for a visit from four ghosts.
Lee wraps up "Dad" with a discussion of taking Casper on the red carpet during a film festival. This ties into discussing the infant liking some restaurants better than others. Speaking as one who often comes close to grabbing a loudly beeping game console or a streaming device playing a children;s video from the hands of a toddler and smashing it on the floor at a restaurant, Lee should not drag his son to dinners as if the boy is a chihuahua in a Louis Vuitton purse. The general rule should be that no one under 10 should eat anyplace that does not advertise on Nickelodeon.
The bigger picture is that "Dad" is squandered on an affable man who clearly loves his son but seems to not have properly adapted to his new reality. An average 'mo with a 9-to-5 job and actually must let his bundle du joie greatly disrupt his life seems to be a better subject for this theme.
Lionsgate provides Father's Day procrastinators a gift in releasing "Ancient Aliens: 10th Anniversary Edition" on June 12, 2018. This mega-set of that History Channel docuseries is PERFECT for aficionados of ancient history, aliens. all forms of scifi, and conspiracy theories. The best news for everyone is that "Aliens" is a well-produced show that lacks the repetition, cheesy effects, and sensationalism of lesser offerings.
This aptly massive set contains all 135 episodes from the first 10 seasons of the series of literally Biblical proportions that recently wrapped up Season 13. The scope of the "bunking" extends from the dawn of civilization to modern efforts to prevent the hoi polloi from learning the truth. Presenting talking heads who seem sane and knowledgeable is a good thing; the only criticism based on the first two episodes of the series is that "Aliens" seems to exclude opposing views.
"The Evidence" starts things off with a primary focus on ancient Egypt. This episode is very reminiscent of the "Stargate" franchise on Showtime and Syfy. The concept of that show is that the Egyptian gods are hostile aliens who enslave humans to further their evil plans.
The "Evidence" topics include artifacts that strongly indicate that brothers from another planet share their flying technology, discussion of masonry work that seemingly requires advanced stone-cutting methods, and a way-cool segment that suggests that E.T. is to whom the wandering Jews owe thanks for manna.
We further see evidence of an early public airport system and that flying carpets are more than a thing of The Arabian Nights.
"The Visitors" is not a tale of hostile reptilian aliens in meat suits intent on conquering earth; it is a study of how genetic abnormalities and voluntary mutilation respectively reflect ancestors of ALF having terra fever and members of primitive culture worshiping aliens. This includes speculation that ancestors of King Tut are from much further away than either Arizona or Babylonia.
We further get a look at possible ancient forms of geothermal and microwave energy, as well what may be a wireless form of transmitting energy. The evidence this time includes possible explanations for structures that still are standing. We additionally see how language limitations may explain why the proof of inter-planetary interaction in that era is not better documented.
Of course, no discussion of visitors from other planets is complete without a segment on the Roswell crash; the main takeaway is that this may be the first use of an explanation that is comparable to "the dog ate my homework."
The strong parallels between religion and aliens is a highly interesting aspect of these episodes and the rest of the series. A belief in one or more god is the basis for explaining much of what seems to be beyond our capabilities at the time, and believing that a divine entity calls the shots requires as much faith as concluding the existence of advanced life on other planets. From that perspective, "Aliens" can be considered a video bible. This analogy extends to episodes being sure to convert non-believers.
The analogy extends to speculation regarding some Bible stories involving literal aliens.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The recent DVD release of this entertaining and educational documentary makes this holiday season a particularly apt time to repost the following review of the February 2015 theatrical release of the film. The story of involuntary martyr Matthew Shepard is a true Christmas fable. This nice young man inarguably did nada to deserve his brutal fatal beating, and the incident prompted an almost literal world of good.]
"Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine," which begins the jump from film festivals to mainstream theaters with a February 6 2015 opening at the New York AMC Empire Theater and a February 13 2105 opening at the Laemmle Noho Theater in Los Angeles, nicely achieves the dual documentary objectives of being educational and informative. The well-executed premise of this Run Rabit Run Media production is that filmmaker Michelle Josue offers an intimate portrait in the best sense of that term of a close friend, who is well known as the innocent victim of an especially brutal hate crime.
Josue stating at the beginning of the film that she wants to share how her friend Matt Shepard becomes Matthew Shepard for whom most of us weep appropriately sets the tone for the movie. A spoiler is that Josue nicely achieves this objective to the extent that she makes this reviewer mourn not having the opportunity to spend an afternoon drinking coffee with Matt (rather than Matthew) and having a wonderfully quirky conversation.
"Shepard," which has won numerous festival awards, is a true labor of love in which Josue gives us a look at the 20-something guy who is a textbook victim of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. For the benefit of folks who do not know this story, Shepard was a sweet young gay guy who approached two not-so-sweet (or so gay) young guys at a Wyoming bar one night and ended up brutally beaten and left to die while tied to a fence for the offense of trying to befriend them.
Josue does her job well in not making any bias regarding her subject apparent; she merely documents the life of this all-American kid through sharing her own memories of this high school friend, home movies of our subject, and interviews with his parents and friends.
We also see still photos of Shepard and hear Josue read writings of his that include a wonderfully goofy list of his favorite things. One spoiler is that said inventory does not include raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, or brown paper packages tied up with string. A related spoiler is that we learn of periods of disabling sadness in the life of Shepard.
Josue shares the characteristically quirky way that Shepard introduces himself to her while they are at a Swiss boarding school for American students. Anyone familiar with a prep. school knows that living with your peers often creates life-long bonds; the element of being several thousand miles from your native country can only enhance that connection.
Highlights of the film include learning of Shepard having a particularly treasured stuffed animal, watching a home video in which a roughly 13 year-old Shepard playfully expresses annoyance at his younger brother filming him, and hearing the father of Shepard discuss his surprisingly loving response to Shepard coming out. It is incredibly sad that the elder Shepard will never get a chance to be an awesome father-in-law to the sweet and kind man whom Matt seems destined to have married if not prevented from reaching that stage in his life.
Josue further redirects public attention to a prior brutal attack on Shepard that is eerily similar to the fatal one and that arguably leads to circumstances that contribute to his death.
At the risk of this review becoming bloggy, a personal experience a few years before the attack on Shepard further shows how easily this type of thing can occur.
A group of us who were in the Dallas area for a business conference were walking back from a Rangers game when a very straight and ultra-conservative colleague completely innocently put his arm across my shoulder. Not knowing the rules, I returned the gesture without comment from anyone in our group. Apparently one guy making this gesture is a show of friendship but returning it is gay.
A few minutes later, a couple of guys driving past in a pick-up yelled "FAGS!" This prompted me to instinctively respond "it takes one to know one." ("I know that you are, but what am I?" would have been equally apt.)
The driver then immediately slammed on his brakes and put the truck in reverse. We ran across a field and fortunately were not pursued.
It is worth noting as well that the story of Shepard is comparable to that of civil rights icon Rosa Parks; it is well known that a compelling desire to sit (rather than any intent to buck the system) is the only reason for the famous act of Parks. Similarly, a desire to be social seems to be the only reason for the incident that makes Shepard an international figure. Another common characteristic is that both individuals are someone who would likely give up their seat on a bus to someone who needs it.
A recent telephone conversation with '50s-era actor/singer Tab Hunter in conjunction with his recent (Unreal TV reviewed) documentary "Tab Hunter Confidential" positively (and aptly) proves the Chinese adage regarding being careful what you wish for.
Hunter is as friendly and endearing as many of his roles convey, and that sincerity and warmth makes one want to respect his wish to treat him as an ordinary bloke. Such a desire requires tremendous restraint regarding wanting to portray him as the golden boy whom we all know and love from his films before meeting the awesome real man who detests labels.
The clear and understandable position of Hunter on the subject is "People always want to label people; I hate labels." In this case, this sentiment extends beyond the non-issue 60-year discussion of the sexual orientation of Hunter to early promotional nicknames that include "The Sigh Guy."
This respect also is behind our conversation focusing on the interesting life of a man whose own blessings and curses included natural movie star looks and charm combined with incredible shyness and being born gay at a time that knowledge of that orientation ruins the lives of most people who fall on that end of the Kinsey scale. This is in contrast with discussing those who dun him wrong.
A respect for folks who enduere the world-at-large identifying them as fictional characters and feeling free to accost them every time that they step out of the door always prompts asking if they prefer being addressed by their birth (rather than studio-given) name. The awesome response "The only people who call me Art know me as Art" this time got things off to a great start.
Hunter showed his further exceptional nature in politely expressing a desire to not discuss the highly public circumstances regarding the death of his former co-star Natalie Wood. He went on to express gratitude for Wood's widower Robert Wagner participating in the "Confidential" film and described that pair as a "fabulous couple" then stated that he felt "fortunate to work with exceptional people" throughout his career.
Hunter was equally sincere in discussing his shy nature and (well-compensated) discomfort in being thrust into the limelight based on (with sincere apologies for the label) being dreamy, The extension of this was his discussing being far outside his "comfort zone" regarding discussing such intimate aspects of his life.
The reason for his coming-out is discussed below and does not involve a desire for either fame or fortune. Like fellow (more apologies for the label) Hollywood royalty Greta Garbo, Hunter largely just wanted to be left alone.
A shared love of horses prompted asking Hunter about his filly Harlow, who appears in the "Confidential" film. Hunter responded she's fabulous" and shared that she's a new mother. Hunter added that he named this foal Skylark because he heard Hoagie Carmichael singing the song "Skylark" on the car radio when Hunter was was driving to meet the new arrival.
A question regarding whether the appearance of Hunter's mare Swizzlestick in three of his early films earned the horse a SAG card lead to learning that she was better on screen than performing as a show jumper. The sad reason behind the latter was that she had an ovarian cyst.
The horse talk continued with asking Hunter if he had wanted to guest-star on the talking horse sitcom "Mister Ed." He replied that he did not but that he called a mare whose mouth went a mile a minute while eating her mid-day treat "Mrs. Ed."
The subject of horses also provide the first of several opportunities for Hunter to share a philosophy that can be considered horse sense. He noted that he thinks of working with a horse as "educating," rather than "training," him or her. He added that "shoveling shit" and doing other horse-related chores "was where I got a touch of reality in the unreal world" in which he found himself regarding his acting career.
The conversation turning to the mid-50s article in Confidential magazine that gave the documentary and the autobiography their name started with asking Hunter if he thought that the magazine would have written a completely false story about him if it had not learned of his arrest essentially for the "crime" of associating with homosexuals at a "limp-wristed pajama party." Hunter responded that he did not know.
Hunter then shared a little of the enormous amount of wisdom that his mother had imparted to him. That advice noted the importance of "accepting things as they are, not as I want them to be." Related wisdom was "don't pay attention to that, remember the masses are useless" in the context of tabloid journalism.
Reason for Coming Out When He Did
Asking Hunter about deciding the timing of deciding in the mid-2000s to write "Confidential" prompted more wonderful wisdom. He shared that Ellen DeGeneres told him during appearing on "Ellen" that someone else was planning to write a book outing him. The awesome Hunter response (which presumably he did not share on the air) was that he preferred that the public got the story "from the horse's mouth, not some horse's ass."
Hunter further stated that "what you are as a person (rather than as a label) is the most important thing.
The private nature of Hunter appeared again when asked for the secret of maintaining a more-than-30 year business and life partnership with "Confidential" producer Allan Glaser. He did not share information regarding their personal relationship and stated "I leave the film work to Allan," whom Hunter described as "a damn good filmmaker."
Hunter amended his answer in stating that he and Glaser worked together on the HILARIOUS 1985 Hunter film "Lust in the Dust." A very proud Hunter further volunteering that Glaser single-handed raised the money for "Dust" provided a clue regarding the love that remains strong much longer than most straight marriages.
Pure speculation that the dislike of Hunter both for labels and the despicable treatment (including a horrendously maliciously false report of animal lover Hunter beating his dog in the late '50s or early '60s) of him by the press is the reason for Hunter not marrying Glaser.
The response of Hunter to the question "what's next" prompted the Huntersque response "I don't know."
Hunter next shared his interest in making a film about the "beautiful love story" regarding blind Irish harpist Turlough O'Carolan. The Wikipedia entry on O'Carolan supports the conclusion of Hunter.
Great Knight Hunter
Hunter concluded our conversation only after the publicist who coordinated the interview validly pointed out that we had run quite a bit over time.
The concluding portion of this conversation with this (final apologies for one last label) chivalrous horseman involved Hunter thanking your humble reviewer to speaking with an actor he has adored since seeing him in the 1981 John Waters film "Polyester" and who considers the Hunter musical "Damn Yankees" one of his favorite films.
The natural response to the thanks of Hunter was that he had no reason to thank me and that I had every reason to be grateful to him. This reply (almost certainly with his trademark smile) was that "We should all be thankful.