UPS, rather than ET, is behind this post on the Lionsgate S11 V2 DVD of the History Channel series "Ancient Aliens" coming after a review of the S12 V1 DVD set; the first S11 V2 DVD set got lost in transit.
The primary concept of the "Ancient" documentary series is that brothers from other planets visited Earth during the dawns of numerous civilizations. More recent incidents, such as the Roswell crash, supplement the speculation as the events from the era of pyramids and cave drawings.
The S11 V2 set starts out strong with a "very special" 90-minute episode titled "Earth Station Egypt." Excitable manchild/"Ancient" co-executive producer/believer Giergio Tsoukalos avidly goes where very few modern men have gone before to share evidence that the Egyptian gods and pharaohs either are aliens or are the result of visitors from other planets who score while visiting here. This, along with theories regarding the building and the purpose of the pyramids. closely parallels the lore of the cult classic "Stargate" sci-fi television franchise.
Egypt even more closely channels "Stargate" in specifically arguing that the aliens from that era used wormholes (aka stargates) for their commute.
S11 V2 E2 "Island of the Giants" (aka Sardinia) is a crossover; Marty Lagina of the (reviewed) History series "The Curse of Oak Island" takes a break from his years' long Canadian treasure hunt to join Tsoukalos for a European vacation. The common elements of their series extend beyond sharing a network; Emmy-winner Kevin Burns is an executive producer for both programs.
Tsoukalos and Lagina visit enormous tombs, discuss why no one has found the bones of behemoths, and otherwise offer proof as to Cyclopi once inhabiting the island for the benefits of the human inhabitants.
S11 V2 E6 "They Came From the Sky" focuses on terrestrials and extra-terrestrials using asteroids to transport tech. and organic manner. An aspect of this is terra-forming and the possibility that man evolves from Uncle Martin, rather than from Bonzo.
The next episode "The Artificial Human" more fully brings us back to "Stargate" themes. This study of artificial intelligence includes speculation as to the existence of self-replicating robots that are capable of duplicating at will. Speaking of Will, "Artificial" includes several clips of the current Netflix remake of the '60s sci-fi classic series "Lost in Space."
Things are taken further as to theorizing that humans are very life-like robots.
Other notable episodes in the S11 V2 set include one on alien abductions and one "Stargate" themed one that speculates as to the US and Russia colluding regarding preparing for first contact; that one looks like a job for the Space Force.
As the handful of posts on "Ancient" sets state, the credibility of this series includes the odds being against Earth being the only advanced planet in the universe. Believing that ancient structures and images are closely connected to aliens and that octipi are aquamen from another planet requires even more faith.
The Film Movement DVD release of the documentary "Coby" provides teen girls who are at any stage of transitioning to male a good guide for what to expect. This film also offers a helpful perspective for parents who are having trouble accepting this desire.
The title refers to the name by which rural Ohio teen Suzanna wants to be known during the period in which she is transitioning from female to male. She later becomes early-20s paramedic Jacob.
The starting point regarding this film is that it serves the documentary purpose of enhancing the knowledge of the general population about a topic of interest. As mentioned above, "Coby" also presents a relatable story to folks dealing with the issue at the heart of the movie.
French filmmaker Christian Sonderegger alternates the focus of "Coby" between the transition period and the present in which Coby and life-in girlfriend Sara share their home with a couple of dogs and a flock of chickens. This footage consists of both interviews for the film and YouTube posts by Coby and Jacob.
Our story begins with Coby chronicling the early days of ingesting testosterone. His excitement regarding his voice getting deeper and the first hair appearing on his chin mirrors the glee of most people who are born male on achieving those milestones. The discussion of the impact of testosterone on personality helps everyone with that substance in his body understand personal forms of aggressive tendencies,
We also hear directly from Coby and his mother about her difficulty related to accepting this child changing genders. This includes discussing a conversation when this pair first talks about then-Suzanna being attracted to girls.
The issue of legal identity is an especially interesting topic. Most of us who do not change gender never think about the name on our license or our credit card not reflecting our outward appearance. This is not to mention the issue of having to present a birth certificate as a form of proof.
The only criticism of "Coby" is the larger issue of online fame. A teen transitioning is relatively rare, and the film provides plenty of food for thought on the topic. However, maintaining a vlog on YouTube or other social media is annoyingly narcissistic. Coby admits in one such video to providing TMI; another post on the removal of his breasts is a little gory.
The bottom line this time is that "Coby" shows that even the kid next door may desire to transition and that he or she has the potential for a full and happy life in a body that is more comfortable than the one in which that person is born.
The Lionsgate December 10, 2109 massive DVD set of S1-6 of the History Channel phenom "The Curse of Oak Island." does that series proud. As the promotional materials for this collectible collection state, you will be there from the very beginning. You also will fully understand the concept of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
One spoiler is that the fact that S7 of "Curse" currently is airing on History shows that the saga continues; you can count on Lionsgate releasing a DVD set of that season in 2020.
The simple but brilliant concept of "Curse" is that 60-something brothers Rick and Marty Lagina are investing millions of actual equity and gallons of sweat equity (no actual blood or tears as of the first few S3 episodes) in their epic search for the fabled treasures of the titular landmass. Analogous to the efforts of the seven stranded castaways on Gilligan's Island to say aloha to that isle, Team Lagina constantly has defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. Their "trash" is "treasure" to viewers akin to something that is tragic to the person who experiences if being "treasure" to every else.
A highly condensed synopsis of the lore of the island right off the Nova Scotia coast is that it begins in 1795 when hardy teen boys discover what still is known as the money pit, which is an apt description as to the two common meanings of that term. Elaborate bobby traps thwart the subsequent excavation of those lads and their successors up to the present day.
The rest of the story is that the fabled riches of the island are stashed away at the bottom of the pit, a nearby swamp that very well be man-made for that purpose, and numerous other "hot spots" on the island. The rumored booty includes traditional buried treasure, the original Shakespeare folios, and religious artifacts that include the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant.
The first aside is that it will be way cool if our central fortune seekers discover the Ark only to have their faces melt off when they open it. The second aside is that it does not seem that anyone is speculating that the body of Jimmy Hoffa is concealed on the island.
The rest of the basic lore story is that the titular curse includes the requirement that (ala sins and castaways) seven men die before the island will give up its loot. The pre-series body count is six, and Team Lagina has not had any fallen brothers as of the early part of S3.
The more specific lore is that a 1965 Reader's Digest article on the island intrigues les freres Lagina. Roughly 50 years later Marty is a semi-retired down-to-earth one-percenter oil-and-gas tycoon, and Rick is a retired mailman. A spoiler is that Rick never goes postal in the early seasons.
It is not a spoiler to share that the series revolves around the physically and fiscally draining battle with the "white whale" for the (pardon the expression) money shot. Small victories, such as finding coins and other tangible evidence of the veracity of the legends, keep our heroes fighting the good fight.
We witness the crew explore tunnels old and new and use the expression "drain the swamp" so frequently that it indicates that the brothers want are Trump supporters; this is not to mention that expression being a valid basis for a drinking game.
We also get frequent "guest-stars," who (ala the almost weekly visitors to Gilligan's Island) show up to frequently contribute their figurative two cents. These include a man who believes that Shakespeare has provided all the necessary clues, a cipher expert whose theory prompts a valid reference to "The DaVinci Code," and a woman whose father and brother are two of the six men who lost their lives in literal pursuit of fame and fortune.
The rest of this story is complex. The Laginas having invested a great deal of time and money in their quest obviously gives them a horse in the race. One also suspects that they make a pretty penny from "Cursed," This warrants skepticism as to the veracity of some finds; part of this is the undetermined probability that someone who concealed a treasure left a coin or other valuable lying around. The analogy this time is that there is a long history of folks salting gold mines to entice investors.
An element of this that Team Lagina discusses is the apparent decision of the folks who concealed the treasure hundreds of years ago to make it virtually impossible to unearthed. A related issue is why the key to accessing the loot apparently has not been passed down to future generations.
The strongest endorsement of the quality of "Curse" is that it is very well-produced by Emmy winner Kevin Burns of fellow (reviewed) History series "Ancient Aliens" to the extent of easily passing the "one more" test. This extends to the rarity of your not-so-humble reviewer staying up past his bedtime to watch one.
Context, which more than justifies adding "Cursed" to your home-video library, discussed below greatly tempers frustrating flaws of "Curse" that relate to a general dislike of reality shows that it behind this site having the secondary title of "Unreal TV." Early episodes avoid flashbacks and maddening repetition such as several principals opining on the same development. One blessing in "Curse" is that (at least through early S3) there are no "coming up on" segments just before commercial breaks,
The bad news is that the repetition seemingly increases as the series progresses; the good news is that an easy workaround shows the benefit of physical media over streaming. One or two scenes each episode has the group discussing an aspect of their endeavor only to have the narrator chime in with "previously on...". This flashback being in a variation of a sepia tone facilitates merely fast-forwarding on.
The solution to the (seemingly increasing) slightly more annoying practice of increasingly "well duh" narration is to laugh at it and/or make that a drinking game. A prime example of this is an S3 E2 scene in which one of many hired experts is presenting evidence of a body at the bottom of one of the many explored holes.
The announcement as to the corpse is old news both to the crew and the viewers. Members of the team discussing that discovery is valid. The narrator IMMEDIATELY repeating that development in an amazed tone is laughable.
The final observation before sharing the promised context is that "Cursed" has a bad habit of including non-issues in some episode, One example of this is a quickly resolved speculative obstacle. Another is Marty sharing with a devastated Rick that Marty must miss one week in their years'-long treasure hunt to do his day job. The reality is that even actual parents always risk being away when baby takes his or her first step or utters his or her first words.
Lionsgate timely released "Ancient Aliens" S12 V1 on November 19, 2019 less than a week after the November 15, 2019 broadcast of the final episode of that season of that still-going-strong History Channel documentary series. This release also is the latest "Aliens" one (including a reviewed epic 10th anniversary set) from Lionsgate.
As prior posts on these releases note, the best broad perspective with which to view these episodes is that no one has proven that aliens capable of visiting Earth do not exist. Narrowing in, an inquiring mind that wants to know should consider that the odds are not in our favor as to our blue marble being the only planet in the universe (or even our galaxy) regarding factors converging in a way that an "advanced" civilization develops.
The final perspective is the importance of remembering that there is your side, the side of the other guy, and the truth.
This set starts out very strong with the season-premiere "Return to Antarctica" episode. The experts and the witnesses who discuss theories as to what lies beneath the thick ice layer that encases the ground of that continent evoke strong thoughts of both the equally intriguing sci-fi television franchise "Stargate" and the cult-classic John Carpenter film "The Thing."
Much of theme of this one is that the brothers from another planet use concealed artificial caverns for ingress and egress to secret bases. A Navy veteran shares his accounts of seeing UFOs and of rescuing a petrified research team ala the chum in "Thing."
One of the more entertaining recounts in "Antarctica" is of a three-way dogfight between Allied, Axis, and alien flying machines. This is part of a segment on Hitler looking to the stars for an edge.
"The Badlands Guardian" centers around the titular Canadian geoglyph and has a similar theme of exploring below the surface as "Antarctica." The idea is that this huge image of a what may be an indigenous person, an alien, or a love child of the two is intended for use by spacecraft. This ties into the regular "Aliens" theme that all humans may be descendants of beings from other planets.
"Element 115" is another strong entry; this one largely focuses on the Roswell crashes. The main expert this time is a scientist who asserts that the titular element is of alien origin and allows for space travel. The rest of the story is that the US is working to adapt that technology. Engaging analysis of footage from the US military supports the theory that such a craft exists.
"The Star Gods of Sirius" focuses on beings from the "B" star making contact in ancient times to help us advance. Once again, artifacts are shared for the purpose of supporting that theory.
Further entertainment comes in the form of exploring under the sea, asserting that there is more to the Mayans than meets the eye, and showing similarities between Druids and Mormons as to the origins of their beliefs. This evolves to episodes that assert that aliens are skilled geneticists.
The good news for believers regarding all this is that it supports their beliefs; the good news for agnostics is that it is acknowledged that somethings are tough to explain; the good news for everyone else is that "Aliens" is highly entertaining and is well-produced.
The Icarus Films DVD release of the 2015 documentary within a documentary "A Quest for Meaning" aptly is off a nature that makes writing about it a challenge for unenlightened souls. Fully appreciating the film that is the latest in a strong Icarus collaboration with Bullfrog Films requires abandoning a cynical view of the world that results from the "stinking thinking" that largely is responsible for most of us not being at peace with the real real world.
The following YouTube clip of the Icarus trailer for "Meaning" creates a strong hunger for more of the abundant food for thought in the film.
The aforementioned cynicism quickly enters the picture on learning about the tellers of the tale; the intent of 20-something narrator Nathanael Coste in sharing that he and his partner-in-filmmaking Marc de la Menardiere are wealthy Manhattan party monsters who are seeking deeper knowledge likely resonates with other Millennials. Gen Xers likely will be as turned off regarding this self-indulgent exercise in the same manner that this demographic responds to the college kid who works at Starbucks providing a greeting of Namaste.
Cynicism remaining regarding the messengers soon takes a backseat to the copious insightful messages that the film contains. The inconvenient truth is that many of us will not take those messages to heart.
These hardy boys begin our journey in India before going off to pick the best brains in France and other countries and then literally and figuratively bringing things home. A highly satisfying aspect of this is that the aforementioned more highly evolved individuals shame the "namaste" poseurs for not practicing what they preach.
A personal highlight is a talking head calling out people who meditate or practice yoga every day only to be nasty to his or her fellow man or woman the rest of the day. We also hear from someone who states that shelling out big bucks for yoga and meditation classes is a huge waste of money.
The valid but incredibly challenging concepts that seek to put right what once went wrong center around a few guiding principles. Achieving the ideal of only using what we need (rather than acquiring wants as well) is very tough in this highly consumer-oriented society.
A truth bomb regarding what we consider happiness and other emotions is especially eye-opening. This makes the strongest case for striving to live a life of peace, love, and understanding. At the same time, some people should avoid peeling back layers of the onion.
We additionally learn that true enlightenment requires a strong connection with both the earth and everything else in our macro and micro universe. Hearing a theory about the actual origin of man brings this home. Another aspect of this is taking recycling to the nth degree.
One of the most thought-provoking aspects of "Meaning" relates to an urban farmer who has incredibly cute and friendly goats. This man notes that his farm is now the envy of the neighborhood. There also are many stories of urbanites (ala attorney Oliver Wendell Douglas) growing vegetables in pots. All of these folks put those of us who do not plant gardens in our large yards to shame.
The big picture shows how we got to our present place. Most Americans grew up in households in which we wanted to show up the Joneses and in which we were not even encouraged to literally or figuratively get our hands dirty. It is hard to persuade us to strain our muscles growing our food when we can go online and get it delivered either for free or for a relatively low price.
The DVD extras include "Ego Not Bad," which is an extension of "Meaning." The narrowed focus this time is enhancing self-awareness.
The bottom line regarding all this is "Meaning" shows that fully embracing the concept of namaste when you say it and the other person being receptive to that message are good first steps toward being truly shiny happy people,
Breaking Glass Pictures once more goes where many men fail to measure up as to supplementing its DVD release of the (reviewed) 2017 Gerald McCullouch documentary "All Male All Nude" with the recent DVD release of the "exclusive uncensored version" of the 2019 McCulloch documentary "All Male All Nude Johnsons." One spoiler regarding the sequel is that the Johnsons club in Fort Lauderdale adjacent Wilton Manors is all male but only mostly nude; McCulloch compensates with copious footage from "Nude" and with scenes that show some Johnsons boys completely out of their Levis.
The following aptly named Breaking "teaser trailer" for "Johnsons" offers a glimpse of the nice boys who work hard for the money that dispel the stereotypes of male strippers; we also get several looks at the packages that they deliver. Not much may come between them and their Calvins, but many patrons make their best effort.
The common elements of "Nude" and "Johnsons" extend beyond the general subject matter. Both films center around professional bodybuilder Matt Colunga, who asserts that he requires a knee-high "sock" when required to stop just short of going Full Monty.
We meet male strip-club veteran Colunga in "Nude." This man who has done (and shown) it all at "Nude" subject Swinging Richards in Atlanta now is the owner/manager/public face/mentor of Johnsons. He truly looks out for the boys on the stage and in the audience. The former fully comes through in requiring dancers to pass a breathalyzer before leaving work.
We hear from plenty of the performers as to their financial motivations to put their money makers to work; no one can argue that those who have it would rather make as much flaunting it for a few hours than earn the same amount in one week at a McJob.
The rude awakening as to the aforementioned spectators is that the boys are just doing their job. They only pretend to be interested in our lives in hopes of liberating our bills from our pants; folks who hope to pull something else from their jeans will be disappointed. An amusing aspect of this is a scene in which we see how a boy who looks as if he may have a roll of quarters in his working clothes uses that state as a "seduction" technique.
The real star of "Johnsons" is 26 year-old Alexander, who spends his days entertaining at children's parties dressed as fanboy characters and his nights entertaining the dads at Johnsons. It is highly likely that watching Alexander make superhero-style costume changes in parking lots in broad daylight and do back flips in a skintight Spider-man suit will cause some viewers to shoot a sticky white substance out of their personal web slingers.
A more generally amusing aspect of this is the "Z Rock" pattern of some wannabe American Idols playing toddler events during the day and dive bars at night. Former Del Fuego (and Kitchenette) Dan Zanes now being a kiddie singer is a prime example of having the best of both worlds.
We also get a look at the business end of things that include the bureaucratic battle that Colunga endures just to open his club. We also see that no good deed goes unpunished and that some people can be not-so swinging Richards. It is reasonable to speculate that some naysyaers have left Johnsons blue in a part of their anatomy other than their faces.
"Nude" and "Johnsons" reflect the documentary ideal of being equally entertaining and educational; the nature of the subject makes it difficult for the insights to equal the prurient enjoyment. We do learn that many male strippers are nice guys who reasonably utilize their good looks and other blessings as a shortcut to a better life. The fun that they have along the way is a bonus for both them and their biggest and more average fans.
The DVD bonus features include videos by Corey Tut.
The Icarus Films recent DVD release of the 2017 truly labor of love documentary "The Other Side of Everything" put a very personal face on the decades of turmoil that have plagued Belgrade, Filmmaker Mila Turajlic interviews her mother, who is political activist and retired professor Srbijanka Turajlic.
The accolades for this kinder and gentler version of classic shut-in documentary "Grey Gardens" include a Best Documentary award at the 2017 Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival and a Best Director win at the RiverRun International Film Festival.
The strong historical drama vibe of "Side" begins with opening scenes of Srbijanka trying to open a recently rediscovered interior door in her dated and shadowy (but very clean) Belgrade apartment. This lead to Srbijanka discussing being a child living in that space in the building that her parents owned when the Communists took over.
This woman who has seen Belgrade repeatedly experience massive changes during several decades tells of a party official knocking on the door during the adolescence of Srbijanka to announce that the family now must live in very tight quarters. We also hear the tale of an effort to get the bureaucracy to allow the family to retain a slightly larger portion of their own property,
An especially creepy aspect of this is hearing Srbijanka reminisce about hearing but not seeing the other families that are uninvited residents of her family home.
We also get a sense of the aforementioned activism of Srbijanka, which includes her reaction to Sloboban Milosevic. A heart-rending aspect of the national politics is the story of some voters being denied the option of declaring their nationality.
The climax of the film is the highly symbolic opening of the door to the past; we get a literal view of how the other half lives. For her part, Srbijanka is reminded of long forgotten aspects of her life before everything changes.
The bigger picture is that "Side" shows that life does go on and that it often does not matter who is in charge.
The Virgil Films DVD release of the 2018 documentary "The Coolest Guy Movie Ever: Return to the Scene of 'The Great Escape'" continues the Virgil celebration of Bro Cinema.
This "True Hollywood Story" presentation of "Escape" is filmed at the German locations of the 1963 John Sturges directed tale of Steve "King of Cool" McQueen and other A-List macho men of the era planning a massive escape from the P.O.W. camp where they are guests of der Fuhrer.
The other aforementioned documentaries about guy flicks include the Virgil 2016 DVD of (the reviewed) "Outatime" about volunteers restoring the DeLorean from the "Back to the Future." The (also reviewed) 2018 Virgil title "I Am Paul Walker" celebrates the life of that deceased "Fast and Furious" franchise star. That one shows how Walker can be considered the modern McQueen.
The following YouTube clip of a promo. for "Coolest" honors the bro code of the film by taking less than two minutes to provide a strong sense of the theme and the style of the documentary.
Our host is Haynes portrayor Lawrence Montaigne; he explains early on that creating diversions is the raison d'etre of his character.
The quest to relive the past begins with a search for the location of the camp; the leave only footprints philosophy of the shoot hinders this in that permission to cut down hundreds of trees in The Black Forest is conditioned on a fulfilled promise to plant two trees for each that is removed. The current trees and vintage production photos help pinpoint this setting,
Other pictures and memories of locals help identify background locations. Prominent ones include the spot where the McQueen character strings a wire across a road to cause a German soldier to crash a motorcycle. Hearing from the stuntman who takes that fall contributes a nice perspective to "Coolest." We also see the field where McQueen makes his iconic jump and the train station where the Nazis obtain a small victory.
The copious "behind-the-scenes" stories extend beyond modern recollections to archival interviews with McQueen and co-stars James Coburn and James Garner. We learn from locals which of these men embraces the fandom and who is more aloof. A man who runs the former barbershop of his father tells the best tale of that contrast.
The keeping it in the family theme includes the current owner of a hotel sharing the registration forms of the stars and Sturges during the ownership of the parents of the man. This tour includes the actual rooms of the Hollywood royalty.
Having a film crew recreate elements of Nazi Germany during a "too soon" period is a particularly interesting aspect of the documentary. One can relate to anger on seeing reminders of that era in an area that does not find any element of The Third Reich at all amusing.
More general information relates to improvisation that limitations require. One of the most amusing stories regarding this is the need for McQueen to play dual roles.
The bigger picture is that "Coolest" speaks to hard-core fans of "Escape" in the way that "Outatime" resonates with dedicated "Future" fans. Both films compensate for the inability of those folks to witness the making of the delectable sausage.
The September 17, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 documentary "The Kids' Table" provides a good chance to watch an amusing old-school style film. This chronicle of four 20-somethings competing in the national bridge championship does for that dying card game what the 2002 documentary "Spellbound" does for the national spelling bee.
A fun aspect of the below trailer for this film about an activity that is tedious to watch and to play except for those who thoroughly enjoy it is that this promo hits most of the best moments in this film that achieves the documentary ideal of being equally entertaining and educational. Director/team captain (and player) Edd Benda makes a great poster boy for this past-its-prime pastime.
"Borrowing" the well-written and concise summary of "Table" from the press materials for the film is in the spirit of one theme of "Table" that younger people do not want to take the time to learn how to play bridge. This seems akin to the adage that chess takes a moment to learn and a lifetime to master. That aspect takes the fun out of playing with the "horsie" and the "castle."
The 25-words-or-more take of the official synopsis is "four millennial friends - filmmaker Benda, comedian Monique Thomas, Twitch host Stefanie Woodburn and actor Paul Stanko - bridge novices all, train and compete for a year on the National Bridge Circuit, going behind-the-scenes to better understand the game and its waning popularity. And as the millennials explore the world of competitive Bridge -- where the average age of their opponents is 73 - they discover the highs and lows of card-play, competition, and community while, hopefully, helping to build a strong foundation for the future of the game."
Benda shares his story of learning to play bridge as a child; the others largely seem to be along for the ride. Stanko is the scene-stealer in that he is the weakest link and has limited youthful exuberance for the game. All this makes him the one who seemingly needs the most coaching.
This quartet further entertains as we get caught up in the thrill of their victories and the agonies of their defeats. A high point for the players and the at-home spectators is the nicest kids in town scoring a highly coveted endorsement deal.
Another highlight is a figurative and literal tutorial on the rules of the game; this includes a frustrating electoral-college aspect that relates to the possibility that the team that wins the majority of the 13 rounds in a game still are branded the losers.
Benda additionally introduces us to two young teen boys, who literally are playing with the big boys. These lads charmingly admit their love of the game does not make them BMOCs.
Benda makes going along for the ride great fun and leaves us wanting more for our stars; it also prompts a desire to break out the bridge mix and help revive the game.
Godsend to cult-film fans and pop-culture enthusiasts Virgil Films awesomely provides a glimpse into the world of "anonymous" Internet pranksters by releasing the 2017 documentary "Troll Inc." on DVD. This film looks at the community that does everything from telling the general population most things that the feds try to keep secret, to creating and exposing data breaches, to pulling online pranks simply because they can and because they are hilarious.
The following YouTube clip of a "Troll" trailer provides a glimpse of the equally amusing and (mostly) societally important escapades of central anti-hero Andrew "weev" Auernheimer. We also get a brief sense of his raison d'etre.
Auerheimer being the primary talking head allows obtaining much of the "Troll" information directly from the mouth of the equine. An early gleefully shared tale is of this prankster using a low-tech method to distort the story behind the scandal involving International Monetary Fund executive Dominique Strauss-Khan and a hotel housekeeper.
Even more hilarity relates to the involvement of Auerheimer in the subversive site goatse.cx. This "shock site" delights in containing content that is so sick and perverse that even John Waters likely cringes. A cited (but not shown) example is a man pleasuring himself while seated on a pile of feces,
Much of the focus is on the 2010 data-security issue related to iPad users having 3G service through then-sole provider AT&T. Auerheimer hacking into the Apple system and obtaining the e-mail addresses of the rich and powerful with those devices and that service is behind the feds saying enough regarding this man who already has person-of-interest status. The tale of his prosecution and unfortunate incarceration is the thing of which Hollywood blockbusters are made. One can imagine Zach Galifianakis playing the lead.
We also learn the tale of an exploit that thematically is between the Strauss-Khan incident and the Apple matter. Auerheimer being told of Amazon discriminating against gay-themed material prompts amusing action that ultimately shines light on this policy. The presumed connection between this and a fluctuation in the price of Apple stock demonstrates the potential impact of trolling.
We also extensively hear about a member of The IT Crowd who becomes a good friend of Auerheimer after learning about his activities. Self-described gay-Jewish man Mike Behr shows great loyalty toward his buddy and proves that some people still have a sense of humor in the 2010s. Our boys have an especially funny WTF moment when Auerheimer semi-jokingly accuses his friend of a serious betrayal.
The larger context is that "Troll" conveys the blessing and the curse of the Internet; the convenience of easily getting stuff that we want and being able to largely manage our lives from the couch comes at the price of our private information being vulnerable to folks whose intents are less than pure. Apple god Steve Jobs states it best in saying that there is nothing wrong with providing our information so long as it is done with informed consent.
The Icarus Films September 3, 2019 DVD release of the 2001 documentary "Ghosts of Attica" does the Icarus history of releasing thought-provoking documentaries proud. Every DVD in this portion of the Icarus catalog achieves the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and educational.
In this case, narrator Susan Sarandon has the guards and the prisoners who were there tell the story of the September 1971 Attica uprising. We also learn of the decades-long effort of the prisoners to receive compensation for the harm that they sustained during that event.
Much of the film revolves around self-described Frank "Big Black" Smith, who is drafted into being a leader of the prisoners when (still highly relevant) demands for things such as religious freedom and being paid minimum wage escalates into the inmates temporarily taking over the asylum. The vintage photos and film footage of the prisoners when order is being restored perfectly illustrates why they are pursuing monetary damages.
We also meet Smith employer Liz Frank, who is the lead attorney for the prisoners. This stems from intense empathy for those guests of the state dating to the aftermath of the aforementioned events.
On the surface, a $12 million award to the prisoners seems to be a major victory. One-third of that going to the attorneys is an accurately cynical example of the United States legal system. On top of that, this award understandably prompts resentment among the guards who endured "troubles" during the uprising. A talking head properly notes that asserting that the workers' compensation system provides the guards an adequate remedy is absurd.
This is not to mention the inevitable appeal by New York.
The rest of the story that makes this incident documentary-worthy is that the then-Governor Rockefeller ordering the retaking of the prison with extreme prejudice comes back to bite him as to his bid for the vice-presidency. Suffice it to say that a cover-up is at least attempted.
These inter-related elements are intriguing in that they start with one of many cases in which the disenfranchised aggressively act to become enfranchised, the powers-that-be come down hard, both sides try to win the hearts and minds of the American public, and all feel that they have a right to compensation.
The underlying theme is the highly adversarial tone of interactions between the "haves" and the "have nots" that is becoming deafening during what may be an even more divisive era that the Civil War and the highly contentious late '60s. Clearly, we cannot all just get along and cannot rely on the folks who control the message to tell it like it is.
The DVD bonus features are and audio recording of Frank and more archival images from the uprising.
The Virgil Films August 27, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 documentary "Tasteless" shines a spotlight on a grossly overlooked societal issue; baseless outrage regarding crude and offensive humor, As many of the comedians and comedy writers who participate in the film observe, merely saying a trigger word can prompt outrage before even telling the joke.
This relates to a post on beloved documentary "That's Not Funny," which focuses even more sharply on the issue of comedians and others having their lives ruined merely for telling a joke.
Similarly, this current post would be much more funny but for fear of incurring this wrath. An example is wanting to convey the theme of "Tasteless" by using the expression that essentially refers to calling a shovel a shovel as the subtitle of this article. Death threats and other stress is not worth that bit of humor.
On a related note, one topic that "Tasteless" does not discuss is the exclusive license of members of a minority group to make the jokes that have the rest of us viewed as monsters. A personal example is a one-time close Chinese-American friend dressing up like a knight for Halloween. He does this so that he can say that he is a chink in the armor.
The following official trailer for "Tasteless" expands on the above themes and touches on the '80s joke books Truly Tasteless Jokes that give the film its name.
Some of the best entertainment in "Tasteless" relates to folks 40ish and under who are introduced to the books through the documentary; the responses of these folks from an increasingly PC era relate both to the sick humor and someone publishing a book that almost certainly would not get published today.
Comedian Helen Hong fully embraces the spirit of "Tasteless" in a must-see deleted scene during the closing credits. She makes a hilarious mistake as to the number of books in the series and makes this moment sublime by stating on realizing that she made an error that she must be Polish.
We further get the fun of Dennis"Mr. Belding" Haskins refusing to read any of the jokes. He fully plays up his public image.
Filmmakers Jeff Cerulli and Matt Ritter provide an even bigger payoff both by revealing the true identity of author "Blanche Knott" and interviewing that person for "Tasteless." It is fascinating both to hear from that person and to learn how water-cooler jokes lead to extreme wealth.
Although a few cases of grossly disproportionate backlash get brief attention, the story of Canadian comedian Mike Ward receives several "Tasteless" minutes. This scandal begins with Ward joking as to a sick young Canadian boy who sings at the Vatican that many people make fun of the performance.
Ward then says that he defended the boy because he had a fatal disease. The public anger stems from Ward then expressing outrage as to the boy lacking the decency to die after Ward is kind enough to support him.
Ward subsequently faces a hefty fine for his witticism and still is fighting it at the time of the filming of the documentary,
The same buzzkills who are succeeding in taking away freedom of choice as to plastic bags and regarding speakers that are intended to promote the college ideal of provoking thought are not going to be easily persuaded that expressing humor that offends them should not be a figurative or literal death sentence. They should open their minds at least a little by considering an analogy to which they can relate.
Traditionally, restaurant customers have been advised to not complain about minor service issues because that usually would lead to the server being fired. The message here is that you should not comment on waiting five extra minutes for your food or the server forgetting to bring ketchup because that could cost someone his or her job.
The analogy here is that a comedian should not have a career ruined merely for a misfired joke or a slip of the tongue, Thinking about how you would feel as to getting canned for a minor error in your work or for not remaking the coffee after making the last cup.
'The Beatles: Made on Merseyside' DVD: Fab Career-Spanning Documentary on Four Generals in British Invasion
The Omnibus division of indie and foreign-film god Film Movement properly marks the 60th anniversary of the formation of "The Beatles" with the August 20, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 documentary "The Beatles: Made on Merseyside."
This soup-to-nuts film covers the Fab Four from their childhoods through the onset of Beatlemania, The extensive original and archive footage of those (including original drummer Randolph Peter Best) who know the band members best (no pun intended) provides The True Liverpool Story as to John Lennon et al.
Learning so much about these true music-industry pioneers is fascinating, The fairly well-known story of their playing always small and often disgusting clubs in England and Germany before making significant professional progress is highly relevant today.
The assertion that a post-adolescent who makes it through a few rounds of auditions and then wins a contest that lasts another few weeks is an "American Idol" is absurd. Properly achieving that status requires many years of much harder work; sob stories that have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with musical talent are COMPLETELY irrelevant,
Paul McCartney inadvertently provides the most amusing moment in this film that achieves the genre ideal of being highly entertaining and educational. His recently revealing an intimate moment with John Lennon early in their careers puts his telling of a "you show me yours, and I'll show you mine" moment with that bandmate in a different perspective.
Seemingly lifelong friends Len Garry and Colin Hanton, who play in the pre-"Beatles" band "The Quarrymen," are the most entertaining of the seemingly cast of 100s of talking heads in "Beatles." They discuss Lennon having a more privileged childhood than he presents to the world. This is only the tip of the iceberg as to their tales of the man behind the myth.
Much of the fun of this portion of the film relates to stories about the antics of Lennon during the salad days of the band. Suffice it to say that his mooning a German audience for a prolonged period is not his most offensive behavior during that stage of his career,
Best (and his mother Mona Best) offers detailed insight on how he comes to join the band; this literally seems to come down to Ringo Starr working and playing better with the other lads than his predecessor. This is not to mention Starr also having a more compatible look.
A more amusing aspect of this is the stories that stage mother Mona Best is a pre-Yoko Yoko as to the boys.
Along the lines of appearance, the secretary of the group tells of preserving and labeling the hair of the boys to send to fans.
The liner notes of these musing on this film is that the story of how "The Beatles" come to be is as interesting as their music. It is equally awesome that the film captures and assembles the memories of those who were there before they no longer are here.
The Virgil Films August 20, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 documentary "I Am Patrick Swayze" is a perfect summer-time addition to the Paramount Network "I Am" series. Reviews of many of these films are posted in the Virgil section of this site.
A common element of all these films is that the friends, relatives, and colleagues who participate clearly greatly love and miss the subject.
"Swayze" stands out from the rest because it reminds us of the broad range of talent of this triple threat who can sing, dance, and act. A glaring (and missed) omission is his hilarious SNL appearance in which this buff stud appears along grossly overweight cast member Chris Farley.
Brother Don Swayze and widow Lisa Niemi are the primary talking heads in this deserving tribute to one of the nicest kids in town. We also get several charming insights from "Outsiders" co-star Rob Lowe and "Road House" love interest Kelly Lynch.
Our story begins in Houston, Texas where Patrick's mother, who operates a dance company, starts his ballet training. This also leads to his meeting Lisa.
Lisa discusses the events that bring her and Patrick to Los Angeles; suffice it to say that Patrick is not an overnight sensation.
Lowe discussing both the casting and the filming process of "Outisders" provides great insight as to that classic film that either starred every top actor in his 20s at that time or was one in which a member of the actual and extended brat packs wanted a role.
"Road House" baddie Marshall R. Teague tells a great story of the mano-a-mano aspects of his big fight scene with Swayze. He also recounted how anyone who teased Swayze about his ballet training learned to regret doing so.
We further hear from Demi Moore as to filming "Ghost." Hearing how Swayze almost was not cast is the highlight this time.
Sadly, we are deprived of the wit and wisdom of Keanu Reeves as to filming "Point Break." We do hear from Don about how his skydiving experience helps his brother with that film.
Other topics include the impact of filming "Red Dawn" on Patrick and his response to the diagnosis of his fatal cancer.
This eavesdropping on personal reminiscing is as characteristic of the "I Am" films as is the deceased subject always being someone with whom you mourn never having any chance of joining for a beverage of your choice.
One can only hope that Paramount and Virgil keep 'em comin'.
Truly indie theatrical/home video company Uncork'd Entertainment commences a beautiful friendship with Unreal TV by releasing the 2015 documentary "Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four." The DVD and Blu-ray versions of this one hit real and virtual retail shelves on November 15, 2016.
The following YouTube clip of a "Doomed!" trailer provides a surprisingly thorough look at the participants and the theme in roughly two minutes.
The 1994 "Four" film which the documentary discusses can be considered 'The Day the (Roger) Corman Cried' because it (like the notoriously bad Jerry Lewis Holocaust drama "The Day the Clown Cried") is unlikely to ever officially see the light of day for the simple reason that "Doomed!" documents. This explanation is that a strict deadline and equally tight budget is behind the film being one that Stan Lee and fellow Marvel "suit" Avi Arad deem unworthy of their quartet of superheroes. Never has the catchphrase "its clobberin' time" been more apt than regarding that pair.
An awesome difference between "Clown" and "Four" is that watching a bootleg copy of the latter shows that it deserves the adjective fantastic. As "Doomed!" notes, most of the main cast consists of working actors with good credits to their name. Additionally, the script is well written and the production values are very respectable for the early '90s. This all begins with opening credits that are at least as professional as those of the blockbusters of the era.
Returning to "Doomed!," writer/director Marty Langford awesomely reunites C-movie god Corman and the band to discuss "Four" itself and the story regarding it either languishing in the Marvel vaults or becoming a melted pile of gunk. The comprehensiveness of this clear labor of love includes getting the "Four" casting agent and the on-set journalist to share their two cents along with virtually all the cast and the behind-the-camera crew.
In true superhero movie fashion, Dr. Doom portrayor Joseph Culp (son of the late Robert Culp) steals the show regarding sharing how he gets the part and subsequently plays his role. His clear love for his maniacal laugh proves that he is the right man for the job. One of his colleagues affirms this in stating that he cannot imagine anyone else playing Doom.
Langford supplements all this with entertaining clips of "Four" that make it look much more cheesy than it is. He further shares various quotes, which include a flat-out lie by Lee, regarding the film.
As an aside, Johnny Storm (played by '80s teen star Jay Underwood) gets the best line in "Four." Storm exclaims "Holy Freud Batman!" on hearing team leader Dr. Reed Richards explain the psychological element to the group getting their powers. Other inadvertent Cormanastic humor comes from Reed exclusively referring to Storm as "Danny" in one scene.
Some of the most humorous segments in "Doomed!" involve the cast discussing being approached by people who have seen "Four." despite it never being released. An aforementioned behind-the-camera guy provides a plausible reason for the movie seeing some daylight despite the effort of Marvel to suppress it. (On a similar note, your not-so-humble reviewer LOVES the similarly suppressed "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story." That one uses an entire Barbie dolls cast to tell the story of the tough family life and related anorexia of the titular '70s pop star.)
On a more general level, the "Doomed!" audience gets a brief history of the early days of superhero movies and is informed that this version of "Four" is the first one filmed built around that franchise. This discussion includes the marketing of such flicks absent having a matinee idol as the star.
This element of "Doomed!" is particularly interesting in the modern context of the Disney ownership of some Marvel characters. This includes the desire of Disney to cash in via the far inferior "Spider-man" films a few years after the Tobey Maguire versions and (MUCH more directly) the fact that "Deadpool" or any other Marvel film from any studio can include every Marvel character.
On an even larger level, Langford stays exceptionally true to the principles of documentaries. He lets his subjects fully speak for themselves regarding their stories, and he presents his topic in a manner that is equally entertaining and educational.
The copious DVD and Blu-ray extras include a panel discussion on the film, additional footage of Corman, and the theatrical trailer for Doomed!"
The IndiePix Films April 23, 2019 DVD release of the documentary "Target: St. Louis" illustrates the funny because it is true aspect of the joke that the expression "I'm from the government; I'm here to help you is one of the three biggest lies in history. In this case, the deplorable misconduct of the folks literally sworn to act in the best interest of the general public relates to covert testing of aerosol radiation in a predominantly black low-income neighborhood of the titular city in the post-war/Cold War era.
Indiepix describes this activity differently; that slant is "environmental racism in the Cold War Jim Crow era."
The following clip of a "Target" trailer provides a good overview of how the testing reflects the worst of the era in which it occurs.
The perfect storm elements of the documented atrocity both make this a tale worth telling and greatly enhance the impact of the film. This begins with another city being the first choice for this experimentation of this early version of a dirty bomb; Plan B is enacted after realizing that the affected Missourians are more vulnerable to this activity under the guise of spraying for mosquitoes.
We also get the literal added insult to injury in the form of the victims of the spraying being at Ground Zero because of an allegedly altruistic program to provide quality low-income housing. This sadly is not far off from putting out a roach motel.
The broader perspective of "Target" is the parallels that are made between the testing and the Nuremberg trials. A related prevalent themes include the point at which "research" must be considered human testing. Another aspect is that many documentarians compare relatively harmless sins, such as using plastic bags, to Nazism. In the case of "Target," the talking heads show that the analogy directly is apt.
Another difference between "Target" and other cinema-verite films is that there is much less ambiguity. The spraying is well-documented, and the asserted impact on the population is highly credible,
The relevance to viewers extends beyond prompting thoughts of modern racism; most of us doubt that the government is here to help us and is transparent regarding its efforts to maintain what the big boys consider truth, justice, and the American way. The icing on the cake is the exposure of most of us to what we blindly accept is spraying for insects.
The bigger picture is that seeming endless battles over what seem to be perpetual disputes show that global leaders do not learn from history and are condemned to repeat it,
'That's Not Funny' Documentary: Study of Societal Shift From F**k 'Em If They Can't Take A Joke to F**ked If You Tell 'Em a Joke
The awesome recent award-winning documentary "That's Not Funny" by charming and highly knowledgeable die-hard comedy fan Mike Celestino is the perfect film for those of us who remember when people reasonably reacted to humor based on properly understanding the context of jokes. Simply using "blue" language in a controversial manner or mining humor from a subject that is very personal to some was inadequate to make you Public Enemy Number One in those good old days.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, expertly conveys the theme of "Funny" and provides a sense of the astonishing plethora of hilarious clips of comedy bits in the film.
The fact that your (occasionally) humble reviewer feels compelled to use asterisks regarding a word that every reader f**king well knows that he is using in the subheading of this post nicely illustrates the point of Celsetino in the film that he expertly narrates, writes, and directs and that he aptly describes as "a dead serious documentary about comedy."
As shown below, an even more relevant prediction from someone other than Celestino during the mid-90s is that the efforts in that era to unduly regulate Internet content included speculating that online references to a classic '60s sitcom would be to "The D**k Van D**e Show." This further illustrates the view of Celestino regarding the importance of understanding context.
Celestino nicely covers this form of undue censorship both with an overview of the uproar regarding the must-see Geoge Carlin "seven words you can't say on television" routine and the modern trend of using the term the "n word" in lieu of the word to which it refers.
The discussion of the former includes a clip of a wonderful early SNL skit from the good old days in which an interviewer whom Chevy Chase plays increasingly angers an interviewee whom Richard Pryor plays by using increasingly offensive racial terms.
A personal interest in "Funny" also extends to the sense of humor of your reviewer. One relevant example is stating on talking to friend within MINUTES of learning of the kidnapping of the school girls in Nigeria that a Nigerian prince had just emailed an offer to repay me with interest if I sent him money to pay the kidnappers ransom. I then added "too soon?" in making this joke.
My friend, who laughed and awesomely replied "its never too soon" understood one of the main points in "Funny;" humor must be understood in the context of the intent of the joke. It was clear in this case that the humor related to the flood of scam emails allegedly from African royalty, rather than the abduction of girls.
This example further demonstrates another well-presented point of Celestino; one must understand the REASONABLE sensitivities of the audience. I would not have told the joke to a friend or relative of a current or past captured girl.
Celestino starts this well-organized analysis of how comedy has reached the stage that folks with unduly sensitive natures regarding some topics are ruining it for the rest of us with a discussion of vaudeville and early films. This segment awesomely includes a hilarious skit from "The Dick Van Dyke Show" in which the titular star performs a bit in which he derives huge laughs from repeatedly injuring himself while presenting a lecture that praises modern audiences for evolving to the point of not laughing at the physical pain of others. Oh, Rob!
A portion of the extensive look at the broad range of humor directed at Adolph Hitler that is designed to make that record-breaking mass-murdering maniac (of course, that is just one opinion) seem less menacing illustrates that aspect of the power of laughter. (Celestino earns extra points for knowing of the one-episode Britcom "Heil Honey; I'm Home" that did not go further for obvious reasons. The annoying Jewish neighbors are heilarious.)
The personal note this time relates to making jokes in the wake of watching a documentary on Hitler relatives in the United States. One example of this is a wife in New Jersey telling an irate man who wants to call the Hitlers down the street after their dog poops in his yard that he must let it go.
A more "ripped from the headlines" topic in "Funny" is the deadly violent manner in which some Muslims react to someone merely depicting Muhammad in even a non-offensive manner. This "chapter" in the film focuses on the "South Park" treatment of this subject several years ago and includes the hilarious manner in which Trey Parker and Matt Stone ultimately end the story arc.
The scope of "Funny" also includes specific high-profile scandals related to comedians such as Michael Richards and Daniel Tosh who find themselves the subject of public scorn.
The most satisfying clip has the late great Joan Rivers expressing justifiable indignation in response to a heckler. Her stating that the offensive joke is funny and that an assumption of the audience member is inaccurate makes one watching "Funny" want to stand up and cheer.
Celestino ends all of this with a wonderful sitcom-style "this is what we learned" statement that is truly insightful and not at all sappy. One can only hope that this can lead to being able to joke about reporting a burned out light bulb in a Warsaw hotel to see how many people come to replace it without ultimately having to apologize for that remark.
The special features include interviews with Greg Proops and other notable comedians on the topics in "Funny." The following clip, again courtesy of YouTube, of an alternate trailer for the film is full of terrific segments from these discussions.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Funny" is strongly encouraged to emailme. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy. The message to offended readers who drop this site based on my humor is that I am sincerely sorry that I unintentionally offended you but do not apologize for what I wrote. I (and many others) consider it amusing and (presumably like Celestino) understand the intent and context regarding it
The devotion of Warner Archive to the full gamut of films and television from the sublime to the ridiculous (and the ridiculously sublime) makes its June 25, 2019 DVD release of the 2015 documentary "The Madness of Max" a perfect addition to the Archive catalog. This epic 157-minute film is a raucous detailed homage to the 1979 cult-classic "Mad Max." As "Madness" states a few times, several have tried to emulated that post-apocalyptic action-adventure film but have not matched it.
Much of the fun of "Madness" includes filmmakers Gary McFeat and Tim Ridge bringing "Max" star Mel Gibson and the rest of the band back together. This includes the "roadies" including writer/director George Miller. Writer/producer Byron Kennedy died in an accident on July 17, 1983 but is represented in archival interviews and by his parents.
A related note is that McFeat effectively takes an almost pure cinema-verite approach to his subject. He lets his "cast of thousands" directly tell their stories, interspersed with film clips and behind-the-scenes footage. The overall effective is of an exceptionally detailed audio-commentary of "Max."
The bigger picture this time is that "Madness" chronicles the making of a film from concept, to revised concept, to production, to release, to the response of critics and the general public, to the legacy of the movie.
Both of our stories begin with Miller and Kenendy telling how personal experience inspires the original concept of a film about things getting personal for a present-day cop; this leads to the idea of enhancing the story and setting in an not-too-distant post-apocalyptic future. Ironically, the rest is history.
Although Gibson offers a significant amount of insight. "Madness" shares the wealth regarding the focus on the cast. One of the more interesting stories is the strong cred. of Hugh Kaays-Byrne (who appears in "Madness"), who plays crazed nemesis Toecutter.
Much of "Madness" focuses on the Dartmouth fratboy attitude that permeates the actual making of the film; we see how Byrne and the actors who play his biker gang fully go method to a scary extent. Highlight (no pun intended) include pinning real human hair to threatening notes and using blood as an ink to express their feelings about "The Bronze," aka the pigs.
One of the most insightful comments refers to the tremendous fun of watching the cast and the crew create exhilarating special effects on a high-school musical budget. The relevant remark is that most movies get to do 32 takes when filming a scene, and that "Max" gets one bite at the apple. This relates to the memory of the 32 takes coming while writing the script, which includes every camera angle.
One of the best stories in "Madness" ties together every great element of both that documentary and its subject. We hear the full story of the filming of a scene involving a rocket car. This includes both the lesson that it never hurts to ask and insight regarding the fallout from a stunt gone wrong.
We subsequently hear about how an angel at Warner International helps "Max" reach a wide audience; this leads to an awesome reminder that spreading the word about the latest cool thing does not require social media. A related note is the amusing reminder that a restrictive film rating can be interpreted as a guarantee of the true gen.
The fun wraps up with the supporting cast telling of fans still approaching them about "Max." Their embracing such contacts reinforces that they had the time of their lives making the film.
The fun for fans of "Max" and even folks who have never seen it extends beyond sharing in the glee of the product of guys gone wild; we get a great reminder of what can happen when actors fully check their egos at the door and will VOLUNTEER to do everything necessary to make the movie. This is not to mention that producing good effects requires more brains than bucks and is possible without the benefit of CGI. Old-school folks know that live always is better than Memorex.
Mill Creek Entertainment chooses well in releasing the phenomenal 4K version of the spectacular 2002 IMAX documentary "Space Station" on July 9, 2019. This celebration of the American ideal is very apt for the July 4 period. Having American idol "Born on the Fourth of July" star Tom Cruise narrate the film is the icing on the cake.
MCE kindly includes a Blu-ray version of "Station" for folks who do not have a 4K player.
Additionally, "Station" is a perfect follow-up to the (reviewed) December 2018 MCE 4K+Blu-Ray+Digital release of the equally epic documentary "Beautiful Planet," which shows earth from the perspective of the ISS. Both films are from highly talented director Toni Myers.
The following YouTube clip of a "Station" trailer offers a good sense of the film achieving the documentary ideal of being equally entertaining and educational.
The expectations exceeding elements begin with the opening scenes and continue to the final seconds. The first images are of a CGI operation on the space station; this technology being standard for IMAX films such as "Station" does not make this segment surprising, The twist comes on learning that we are watching an astronaut on earth using a highly advanced simulator.
Cruise and Myers then fully collaborate in showing us how future ISS residents use an enormous water tank on earth to simulate the conditions under which they will need to join two large key components of the station way up in the atmosphere before they try to get back to here, We clearly see regarding this that practice must make perfect,
The indisputably best shot of "Station" soon follows. Myers gets a very dramatic shot of the lift-off of the rocket that transports the construction crew to the partially completed ISS. Although the entire film makes you feel as if "you are there," these images and sounds particularly provide a sense of being front-and-center for the action.
The action then shifts to the ISS, where we see the men and women at work. We witness some of the construction for which we saw the crew prepare on earth. We also see the related fun and challenges associated with brushing your teeth and performing other daily activities in a zero-gravity environment. Those of us with TMI regarding the water supply on the station have a bonus ick factor. Suffice it to say that the ISS engineers seem to be fans of the Kevin Costner film "Waterworld."
An especially cute scene shows both ends of the conversation in which the crew uses a ham radio to answer questions from a group of elementary school students. The kids do not say the darnedst things but still entertain.
One of the biggest takeaways from this depiction of this successful international project is the observation that one does not see countries from space. All of us should take that message to heart.
The special features maintain the same high standards as those of "Station."
"Adventures in Space" is a delightful short in which Myers, the ISS crew, and representatives from NASA and Lockheed Martin discuss the fun and the challenges of this labor of love. These include the crew using the ingenuity for which they get the mediocre bucks to overcome obstacles related to filming in space.
"Expedition 7" has the titular crew host an open house at their home away from home; this tour awesomely expands on "Station"and "Adventures." The new information includes the challenge of sleeping in an environment in which your hand floats unless tethered down.
The appeal of every film mentioned here is that they put life on earth in perspective and show what we can accomplish when we opt to all just get along.
The IndiePix Films June 11, 2019 DVD release of the 2013 documentary "Felix Austria!" continues the grand tradition of non-fiction films that do an excellent job chronicling the lives of equally entertaining and eccentric persons. The wonderful "Grey Gardens" about down-and-out relatives of Jackie O is the granddaddy of these films. "Felix" is more like reality showeque film "The Queen of Versailles" about a family that is equally nouveau and riche until they experience a reversal of fortune.
Additional perspective comes courtesy of the affluent '80s trend of the rich and famous purchasing the titles of less well-off and less-well-known British royals.
The following YouTube clip of the IndiePix trailer for "Felix" is a well-edited 25-words-or-less synopsis of the film. It essentially tells how Colorado native Brian Scott Pfeifle becomes the titular highly affected Modesto resident.
The life-changer associated with a pre-quarter-life crisis occurs during the college years of Brian. He receives an inherited box of 60 years of correspondence and other material from upstate New York resident Herbert Hinkel. This archive relates to extensive correspondence with Archduke Otto von Hapsburg, who is the heir to the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The rest of the story is the Brian has a 50-percent chance of inheriting horrific and fatal Huntington's Disease from his father. Both Brian and Felix wrestle with deciding whether to continue enjoying not-so-blissful ignorance or being tested and potentially discovering an awful truth.
All of this combines to prompt Brian to change his name to Felix and to give himself the royal treatment. His dual quests, each of which independently warrant a documentary, are to learn more about Hinkel and to meet the Archduke.
The journey upstate has moderate tones of the city-lawyer-turned-country-farmer '60scom "Green Acres." A dandified Felix interacts with the local yokels as he seeks to learn more about Hinkel. The outcome is the thing of which good non-fiction and fiction films are made. Suffice it to say that we see that Felix and Herbert are two peas in a pod.
We also travel with Felix to Europe where he hopes for a literal royal reception. The outcome there is fully in the spirit of "Felix."
Letting Felix and his friends and family create good cred. regarding this film that likely does not tell the whole story but presents enough to make us feel that we understand the subject and know how he got to be the man whom he is today.
The rest of the story is that a good film either centers around someone whom the viewer aspires to be, makes you sympathize with that person, or makes the voyeur feel good about himself or herself, Where a "Felix" watcher lands states a great deal about the psyche of that person.
The Virgil Films May 21, 2019 DVD release of the documentary "billion dollar Bully" is equally entertaining and educational regarding ALLEGED malfeasance by Yelp regarding sales tactics. Writer/director Kaylie Milliken hits the nail on the head in commenting on the opposing objectives regarding Yelp presenting a public image as site for objective reviews but being driven by sales revenue from having businesses advertise to have their companies more prominently displayed.
The most important context regarding "Bully" is that there is your side, the side of the other guy, and the truth. The numerous people whom Yelp is believed to have done wrong whom Milliken interviews seem sincere and mostly admit to lacking a smoking gun regarding their assertions.
At the same time, we do not hear from anyone who considers Yelp CEO/co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman a god. Personal bias enters in the form of assuming that Stoppelman being among the arrogant Millennial tech. guys who are too young to have the life experience required to properly run a country makes him a guy with whom you would like to have a cup of coffee so that you can throw it in his smug (actually) smirking face.
The above comment leads to the disclaimer that this post strays far more into Blogland than roughly 99-percent of reviews. As is the case regarding the other exceptions, this time it is personal.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Bully" illustrates the heavy propaganda element of the film. The reminder here is that even propaganda that supports your side is propaganda. This promo. supports this through a few shots of the outdated ambush technique in which the filmmaker sets up a camera in front of a corporate headquarters and either seeks a meeting with an executive or merely confronts employees as they enter and leave the building. One cannot blame a highly compensated person not wanting to interrupt his or her day to sucumb to an ambush or Yelp for not wanting someone who may be an assistant or an IT person speaking for the firm.
Milliken chooses wisely in opening her film with interview footage of an Italian man who owns a pizzeria and is to "Bully" what the quirky little boy who makes Young Sheldon look like Zac Morris is to the 2002 spelling bee documentary "Spellbound."
The restauranteur discusses the old country pattern of a "legitimate businessman" calling attention to the potential for "accidents," the business subsequently experiencing relatively small incidents such as thrown rock through the window, the "insurance" agent showing up again to offer protection against future harm, and the harm either escalating or stopping depending on the answer of the entrepreneur.
The asserted Yelp variation is the company making repeated solicitations and the Yelp ratings of the targeted business either rising or falling depending on the response to that unsolicited pitch.
Man (and woman) on the street interviews reflect the thoughts of many of us. Most comments relate to being sincere when writing online reviews and having faith that everyone else is doing the same. A personal filter is the consistency of both negative and positive reviews and if they jibe with personal experience at places that I have frequented.
Milliken does not address the other side of the coin. There have been numerous times that a business has gone on the attack in responding to a sincere negative Trip Advisor or Yelp review. That has risen to the level of one business threatening severe legal action if I did not remove a Trip Advisor review and the hotel that put me in the "shabby broom closet" that posts in the "Inn Credible New England" section of this site often mention not being far behind.
The true life personal perspective this time is a now-former friend commenting one night that he has not been charged for cable for years; the news the very next day is that his cable is turned off. I had not given the comment any thought and did not call the cable company. I fully suspect that the guy whose free ride abruptly ended will go to his grave thinking that I ratted him out.
Returning to our main story, the alleged manipulation of Yelp reviews begins with having Yelp employees barrage a listing with many negative reviews. That company also is charged with putting positive reviews in a hard-to-find filtered section of a listing. A personal search for a link to filtered reviews for several businesses failed. One advertised site has several posts that comment that the writer cannot understand the basis for the negative reviews.
Perhaps more importantly, we learn that any business cannot opt out of being listed on Yelp. An even more egregious claim is that Yelp must give an advertising company permission to alter the hours of operation or other basic information on a listing on that site.
Milliken adds highly relevant good humor via numerous clips from an episode of the social-commentary-laden animated series "South Park." This outing has citizens of the titular small Colorado town constantly shakedown local businesses for absurd preferential treatment. The direct threat is that a bad Yelp review is the price for non-compliance with an unreasonable request.
The big picture personal perspective regarding all this begins with my reaction on learning about Trip Advisor many years ago. I asked a techie friend what stopped someone from maliciously posting an unfairly negative review; his response of "nothing" said all that needed to be stated,
On another note, I accurately predict regarding my negative business reviews on any site triggers someone who has never written a review posting a glowing review that directly contradicts my post. A prime example of this is my fair review of a pricey B n B that states among other things that the only hanging space is two cloakroom style hooks and that the only hangers are two beat-up wire ones. A review that went up the day after mine was posted was from a virgin reviewer who praised the copious hanging space and commented about the nice hangers. The tone was EXACTLY the same as that of the inn keeper.
The dump which got those two reviews subsequently closing supports the thesis of Milliken that negative reviews (regardless of their sincerity) can break a place, The lesson for these Main Street moguls is to treat your customers right.
I am never malicious in a review (or in a post on this site), but often refrain from dipping my pen in any poison regarding a bad experience if there is a reasonable effort to make an experience pleasant. Trying to put right what once went wrong often earns a positive review,
The Film Movement May 14, 2019 DVD release of the 2016 documentary "Bosch The Garden of Dreams" provides a well-produced equally entertaining and educational art-history lesson before many of us turn off our brains for the summer on Memorial Day weekend. As often is the case, the life story of Early Netherlandish painter Hieronymous Bosch is as interesting as the tale of his work "The Garden of Earthly Delights,"
The following YouTube clip of a "Bosch" trailer illustrates (pun intended) the complexity of the man, and the work. You also get a sense of the art world notables, including author Salman Rushdie, who participate in making the film.
The titular artwork is a massive three-panel painting that presents an intentionally strong "And there was light" vibe when the two side panels are opened to reveal the work. The Prado Museum in Madrid opens its doors to allow "Bosch" to be made.
Many of the seemingly countless aforementioned talking heads use the life of Bosch to provide context for their comments on one of the seeming countless scenes in the painting. The larger context is that Bosch, if that is his real name, belongs to a religious order for which he creates "Garden." This aspect of the art reflecting the artist includes a scene in which a film participant points out that a "Garden" image of Jesus speaking with Adam and Eve has the son of God looking at the painting viewer.
The copious (often terrifying) surreal images in "Garden" prompt discussing dreams in the context of the psyche of Bosch, The even more fascinating element of this is the theory of the nature of dreams. Under this theory, Bosch has a very disturbed mind,
The path of "Garden" in its early years seals the deal regarding the story of Bosch being worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. A regime change leads to a purist undergoing extreme torture to avoid having the painting fall in the wrong hands. The spoiler is that resistance proves to be futile, but "Garden" ends up in arguably a greater place of honor than one would expect.
We further get a sense of the arguably sloppy technique of Bosch. It is surprising to learn that this pro essentially does not color within the lines. However, this helps explain why this art so closely reflects the artist.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that "Bosch" addresses visiting and thinking about a painting and its artist in an era in which they vast majority of the very few of us who still look at great art only spend a few minutes looking at a reproduction of it online or in a coffee-table book. Even fewer of this small minority take the time to really study and appreciate the result of an artist pouring his or her soul into a project.
Mel Brooks provides the most important perspective regarding the Omnibus Entertainment April 2, 2019 DVD release of the well-dubbed serious-toned 2019 English-language documentary "Nazi Junkies." This genius behind "The Producers" reminds us that mocking Team Hitler robs those maniacs of their power. Further, the idea of Herr Adolph "Uber-mensch" Hitler doing more drugs than a crackhouse whore is bizarrely amusing.
The first of two other important related concepts to consider while watching "Junkies" is that even propaganda that supports your view still is propaganda. You must also remember that there is your perspective, the perspective of the other guy, and the truth. "Junkies" seems authoritative and is not unduly sensationalized but still likely only tells a portion of the story.
This two-part docuseries is based on the book Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler. The first episode focuses on the heavy use of illicit substances by Der Fuhrer. The broader scope of the second episode is on that activity by both the general German population and the members of the military.
The documentation of the drug use of Htler includes the records of personal physician/entourage member Dr. Theodore Morell, whose methodology strongly reflect a better living through chemistry philosophy. A particularly impactful scene discusses Morrell refusing to allow his patient to shoot up anymore because heavy drug use is the cause of the veins of the latter being completely scabbed over. This data and the other evidence of Hitler using every substance known to Hunter Thompson indicates that the birthday of Hitler being 420 is very apt.
The bigger picture is the discussion of Hitler being a man who does not understand the concept of just saying no relating to the turmoil in his life. He recognizes the need to present a strong image, is dealing with increasing dissension in the ranks, and knows that his 1,000-year Reich is going to fall far short of that goal. An especially interesting story is about Hitler going to extreme measures on suffering catastrophic injury hours before frienemy Mussolini is visiting.
Part II suggests that an Army travels on its Previtin, rather than its stomach. The general (no pun intended) idea is that the soldiers, the sailors, and the pilots are pushed to extreme physical limits that require them taking so many drugs that it makes "Jessie's Song" look like a Saturday-morning kids' show. A recently interviewed soldier discusses how the brass doses the chocolate of the unsuspecting grunts to achieve this. The rest of the story is records that show the extent to which the expression "The Rhine Valley of the Dolls' applies to 40s-era Germany.
Part II also includes one of the most horrific stories in this series that is rife with tales of Nazi atrocities. We learn about teen Hitler Youth members being boys sent to do a small man's job that NO ONE should do. These efforts involve being confined in an incredibly cramped space for an extended period to perform what "Junkies" describes as a Kamikaze mission.
The ways in which Parts I and II are tied include a discussion of the drug use in the military when Hitler is a young soldier. Seeing him look very youthful and sporting even odder facial hair then his best-known look is fascinating.
The even bigger picture is that "Junkies" is akin to other documentaries that focus on the human aspects (and related frailties) of Hitler. The general idea is that seeing this super-villain as a man whose reality does not live up to his self-produced hype shows that even the worst monster ultimately is a "Scooby" bad guy in a rubber mask.
KBreaking Glass Pictures continues its limited dickumentary series with the April 9, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 non-fiction film "Bigger Like Me." This self-described extended director's cut of the 2014 film "Big Like Me" further chronicles the efforts of comedian Greg Bergman to remedy endowment-based angst.
"Bigger" is most akin to the (reviewed) 2013 Breaking DVD release "Unhung Hero." That one involves actor Patrick Moote dealing with the same anxiety as Bergman and taking comparable remedies to improve the Marco Rubio-sized hand that he is dealt. Comparing the two films is akin to the decades-long "Bewitched" v. "Jeannie" and "Munsters" v. "Addams Family" debate, One thing that can be stated with certainty is that Moote is much safer than Bergman in the f**k, marry, or kill game.
Although Moote is less crude and explicit in discussing his endowment and in showing what he is packing than Bergman, it seems clear that the latter has a couple of inches in both length and width than his "little buddy" at the start of their journey.
Another difference is that a size-related humiliating rejection of a marriage proposal motivates the desire of Moote to transform his earth worm into a water moccasin. Bergman being in an overall happy marriage at the beginning of "Bigger" shows that he is packing enough heat to adequately satisfy his wife. That relationship becoming rocky later in the film reflects the wisdom of gay columnist Dan Savage in "Unhung." He states that angst about not measuring up can harm a relationship more than falling on the lower end of the bell-end curve.
We also see that 32 year-old Bergman is his own worst enemy; he explicitly states that his natural endowment respectably falls in the "average bear" category regarding both length and width. This guy who spends much of the film naked or only wearing tiny briefs never addresses that losing 50 pounds both would make his junk look proportionately bigger and make him overall more attractive. This is not to mention how manscaping would benefit him. His aforementioned unduly assertive personality is another matter.
Noting the SPOILER that Bergman succeeds in becoming a bigger man is done to show that this prompts him to fully embrace the "if you got it, flaunt it" philosophy. He repeatedly drops trou to his ankles in very public settings without receiving any encouragement to do so. A silly aspect of this is that having to artificially enhance size is not a point of pride. This sincerely is not to say that the chosen people should go around showing passers-by and new acquaintances how either God or heredity has blessed them.
Another way of thinking about this is that most men whose endowment is a valid point of pride generally follow the "speak softly and carry a big stick" philosophy. There is something to be said for providing Mr. or Ms. Right (or Mr. or Ms. Right Now) a (hopefully pleasant) surprise during an initial unveiling in the boudoir.
On a similar note, Bergman shows very poor taste regarding repeated displays of dildos. Having one frequently sticking out of his backpack is bad enough. Numerous woman on the street interviews in which he uses three of these devices in a "Goldilocks" style survey is more creepy than funny.
A DVD bonus deleted scene in which Bergman engages in the above poll in an interview with a surprisingly willing and candid 16 year-old Mennonite girl clearly shows why this exchange does not make the cut even in the extended version.
Scenes in which Bergman and his college-aged little brother openly discuss their endowments and repeatedly wave around the aforementioned marital aids is only slight less creepy than the aforementioned exchanges.
A bigger pet peeve relates to statistics. Early in the film, Bergman joins an organized group of men who formally identify themselves as being among the 55 percent of the male population that is unhappy with their penis size. Bergman goes on to state the goal of every man becoming a one-percenter. The obvious flaw regarding that statement is that virtually every man packing a Magnum would make that size the norm, rather than the except to the rule.
The bottom line regarding all this is that Bergman is sure to entertain fans of Howard Stern and other abrasive raunchy humor. He is a cautionary tale to the rest of us in the form of showing the perils of obsessing about a perceived physical flaw. Our "average Joe" would have been much better off accepting his lot in life and understanding the concept of "TMI."
Briefly returning to "Hero," Moote succeeds where Bergman fails because this presumed member of the "Fantastic Four" has a more legitimate issue than his fellow comedian. Further, Moote displays better humor and perspective. As the aforementioned reference to the game of three indicates, size is not the only thing that matters.
The irony regarding abandoning the typical non-bloggy nature of reviews in this forum to get very bloggy regarding the Bullfrog Films production "Celling Your Soul: No App for Life" is that that film advocates inter-personal communication, rather than expressing yourself through digital forms that include online publications. More specifically, "Celling" writer/director Joni Siani (who is a Boston-area Media and Communication professor) instructs her students to conduct a digital cleanse that includes going cold turkey regarding online activity and texting. Candor requires being unable to not play online games, check Twitter, and conduct Google searches even while watching "Celling."
An amusing aspect of this is that the full-length version of "Celling" is 48 minutes, and the condensed version is 26 minutes. This reflects the text and vine-oriented short attention span of today. A two-hour movie is considered the general outer limit for length in the Nelson household; an agreement to watch a rare three-hour film often requires a pre-viewing agreement in which your not-so-humble reviewer consents to a mid-film break.
The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Celling" proves the adage about wisdom coming from the mouths of babes.
The root of this work by Siani is her realization that Millennials only know how to communicate via cell phones and the Internet. Her objectives include teaching the importance of face-to-face communication.
The spot-on analysis of Siani explains all this; the root of this evil largely relates to the need for community and for the instant gratification that online communication provides; I am confident that she will not "like" or "retweet" the 280-character online message related to this review and that her reason for doing is the pure one that she addresses in the film.
The next bloggy part of this post is a tale from roughly 2006. I had created a (subsequently deleted) Facebook account due to coercion by a techie friend. As he was inclined to do, this keyboard kid called my landline (which I still actively use) from his cell phone to say that he had posted an annual open-house style party that I attended every year and that he knew that I would attend that year. We went a few rounds of my telling him that I would attend and his demanding that I RSVP on Facebook. I ultimately relented but still believe that requiring that formal online response was absurd.
Of more relevance was hearing the college students of Siani and their literal or figurative high-school age siblings discuss texting being the highly dominant form of communication. An aspect of this was that making a call even on a cell phone was viewed as being limited to an emergency or other very rare circumstances.
Your not-so-humble reviewer feels that largely giving into the prohibition against making calls is losing one of the final battles to maintain civilization; the price of that was going from what once was a practice of short calls to what can be a seemingly endless round of "no, you hang up first" texts in which no one wants to be the rude dude who does not respond to a message.
A cautionary tale in "Celling" was one of the pure definitions of comedy in that it will forever be hilarious to every guy who sees the film and embarrassing to the one to whom it happened. This former high school soccer star/current college student started his story by stating that his former classmates would always know him as the guy who was expelled for sexting.
The brief story was that this guy was in high school when he sent his girlfriend an explicit photo of himself. The aforementioned humor related to the photo being sent to everyone, including under-age schoolmates, in his contact list. A hilarious aspect of this was this guy using the phone of his mother when the photo appeared on that device. The recipients also included his grandmother.
A more relateable story is of a guy who accidentally texted an unkind statement regarding someone to that person while in visual contact with that individual.
Happier stories include the success of the cleanse; being one who almost always succumbs to the temptation of going online on waking up at 3:00 a.m. envies the cleansers who report feeling more rested and having more free time than when tethered to their devices. The tragic story is that Siani will need to pry the Iphone from the cold dead hand of this online journalist