The Breaking Glass Pictures February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 supernatural mystery "Beyond the Night" shows that there sometimes is much more below the surface regarding himbos. Adrian Grenier of the hilariously rude, crude, and socially unacceptable HBO comedy series "Entourage" produces this small-town drama about a cold case heating up.
The bigger picture is that "Night" is part of a supernatural subgenre in which a youngish member of the military experiences eerie angst on returning to his or her rural working-class town. The review of the Breaking film "Lost Child" on this site describes it as a Gothic tale from the trailer park.
The seemingly obligatory dialogue-free opening scenes of "Night" has 30-ish soldier Ray Marrow rushing through hospital hallways to the bedside of his recently deceased wife. The copious deleted scenes that Breaking provides as a bonus feature puts this in perspective,
Ray next goes into the hospital room of his young son Lawrence; the first sense of the large red discoloration on the face of the boy is that it relates to the incident that lands him and his mother in the hospital. We quickly learn that this feature is a birthmark. Writer/director Jason Noto reveals much later that that distinction may be the source of Lawrence being the boy with something extra,
The first challenges that Ray faces on returning to the declining coal-mining town where he was born and raised are reconnecting with his son whom he barely knows and helping the boy deal with the loss of his mother. A kids say the darnedest thing moment provides further drama that drives much of the film.
Despite the pressures on Ray, a scene in which he fails to pick up a small mess that Lawrence makes in a grocery store is bothersome. Particularly a member of the military should have the courtesy to conduct the clean up in Aisle Four.
Strike one against Lawrence occurs during the graveside "party for Mommy." The lad persistently tugs on the dress blues of his father during the funeral.
Strike two occurs during the reception following the service. On being introduced to the mother of a 15 year-old girl who went missing several years earlier, Lawrence spontaneously says the name of that gone girl. This is despite the boy never having met June Rain or being told about her disappearance.
Those of us who have been on either or both sides of an "out of the mouths of babes" situation can relate to the "stuff" that hits the fan in the immediate wake (pun intended) of Lawrence invoking the name of she of whom one should never speak.
The plot thickens on indications that Lawrence may be the incarnation of June Rain. This greatly distresses folks with a horse in the race and locals who simply do not want to relive the unpleasant past. Meanwhile, Ray is trying to be a supportive parent in the face of his already "original" son calling even more attention to himself and making Dad the focus of the aforementioned scorn.
In the grand decades-long tradition of Lifetime movies, the powers-that-be with a role in June Rain evaporating already are nervous before Lawrence fingers one of them. The fact that the father of June Rain is well connected does not help matters.
All of this leads to a climax that begins with a western staple. The sheriff takes the person-of-interest into protective custody only to have a lynch mob attack the local jail, This leads to a revealing trip to the scene of the crime.
The bigger picture is that the truth reflects a few shameful tales as old as time about beauties and beasts. We see that the nature of man is not so respectable, that many wrongdoers would get away with it but for one or more meddling kids, and that those in whom we place out trust often deserve the level of trust bestowed on Rodney Dangerfield.
Breaking supplements this intriguing film with wonderful bonus features that extend beyond the aforementioned deleted scenes. We see Noto and a couple of stars interviewed on the red carpet at the Los Angeles red carper premiere of the film. This not including Grenier and his entourage is disappointing..
The Gravitas Ventures February 26, 2019 DVD and VOD releases of the Mr. Pictures 2018 dark dramedy "Bullitt County" provides a chance to see a highly entertaining indie film that is set in 1977. The accolades for it include the Best Narrative Feature Award at the 2018 Arizona Underground Film Festival and several wins at the 2018 Hoboken International Film Festival.
The following YouTube clip of the official "Bullitt" trailer perfectly conveys the themes and the tone of this well-produced atmospheric film. The omitted element is the numerous twists that writer/director/star David McCracken delivers. This is not to mention an overall sixth sense regarding the movie,
This film with equally strong live-stage and Coen brothers vibes opens with ghostly pale Wayne sitting in a diner staring into space. Meanwhile, Scott (No stated middle initial) Keaton (McCracken) and accomplice Robin are pulling up to a dark house that they are going to enter for an apparently nefarious purpose.
These partners-in-crime roust the nearly naked sleeping resident of the home, knock him out, and lock him in the trunk of their car. They then drive to their preliminary destination before releasing him.
We soon find that the fairly literally poor slob who is taken for a ride is Gordie, and that his captors are college friends who are throwing him a surprise bachelor party. The rest of this tale with shades of the 2013 Simon Pegg and Nick Frost bar-crawl horror-comedy "The World's End" is that the group (including Wayne) are recreating the journey that they took down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail a decade earlier. The desired final destination of this adventure is the Arcadia distillery. All of this is despite the group knowing that Gordie is an alcoholic with an extended period of sobriety.
The group having to quickly adapt in a manner that reflects the 21st century more than the 20th is one of the most amusing of several funny and clever moments in "Bullitt." Other notable humor relates to the arguably excessive frugality of Scott.
This stop also leads to Gordie reuniting with his first fiancee, whose age a decade earlier reflects a proud Southern tradition. The fruits of this reunion include this woman telling Gordie the story of a buried treasure in the nearby woods.
Things aptly go south on our gang looking for the loot; true darkness enters the picture on the landowner (character actor Richard Riehle) and his wife (Dorothy Lyman of "Mama's Family") finding the trespassers and inviting them into what effectively is a cabin in the woods.
Like all good films of this nature, one moment notches everything up a level. Of course, Gordie is the loose cannon in all this, It is equally predictable that his friends must literally and figuratively help him clean up his mess.
The gang then goes back into the woods, where things go from horrific to worse. There is the expected betrayal, the equally predictable response to that violation of trust, and a further descent into madness.
Also like all good movies with a wonderfully perverse sensibility, the final 15 minutes are the best. This is when the twists kicks into high gear in terms of both frequency and intensity. You often will not expect what is coming next. One aspect of this will be a desire to rewatch the film after knowing the whole story,
The apt epilogue to this post is that "Bullitt" shows that art sometimes still triumphs over commerce in filmmaking. We also see what a talented guy with just a few bucks can produce,
The recent pristinely remastered Warner Archive DVD release of the 1932 crime melodrama "Unashamed" allows folks who think that Golden Age films lack any real salacious edge to see how terribly wrong they are regarding that belief. This pre-Code shouldabeen a classic has plenty of illicit sex, bloodshed, and reprehensible behavior to satisfy the most prurient interest.
The slightly bigger picture this time is that this release roughly coincides with Archive bringing the similar (reviewed) 1931 William Wellman crime melodrama "The Star Witness" out on March 12, 2019. That tale of a typical American family having their lives turned upside down on witnessing a blatant murder has even more social commentary than "Unashamed."
"Unashamed" opens with titular heiress Joan Ogden having a joyous reunion with polo playing playboy beau Harry Swift, who unbeknownst to that loose woman is born Harry Schmidt. The first of many creepy moments involving Joan sibling Dick Ogden (Robert Young of "Father Knows Best" and "Marcus Welby") has the lovebirds joke about the brother and the sister relationship being a source of jealousy.
The audience soon is let on the scheme of Swift; he is after a $3 million inheritance that Joan will receive on whatever comes first regarding her father releasing that money or her having an impending milestone birthday. This lad conning his (apparently very successful) old-world style grocer father out of the seed money reinforces that he deserves the fate that he experiences.
Swift steps up his game by (apparently easily) seducing Joan into spending the night at a hotel with him; the idea is that Mr. Ogden will release the inheritance to facilitate avoiding a scandal by having Joan marry Harry. This is not the premise of the '50s sitcom "I Married Joan."
The existing melodrama amps on the morning after the walk of little if any shame; excitable boy Dick defends his own honor and that of his sister by killing Harry.
This transitions "Unashamed" to a wonderfully Depression-era courtroom drama. A highlight is having Lewis Stone of the "Andy Hardy" film series play defense attorney/family friend Henry Trask. The loyalty of Joan to her dead boyfriend is behind her failure to cooperate regarding the plan of Trask to present an "unwritten law" defense on behalf of Dick.
An uneasy truce results in Joan moving from the family home to a hotel; she agrees to attend the trial of Dick, but not to actively advocate on his behalf, Meanwhile, the prosecutor is asserting that there is not such thing as unwritten law. He further mercilessly grills Dick on the stand.
Things looking dire for Dick leads to arguably the best scene in the film. Joan is seated in an armchair with her hands firmly clasped against the arms of the chair and her legs pressed against the legs of the chair as Trask graphically describes the process of being fried in Old Sparky.
This wake-up call presents a dilemma for Joan in a manner that shows that chops of actress Helen Twelvetrees. Our lady effectively of at least one evening must resolve how to credibly change her story from asserting that Harry did not nothing to provoke the killing and to maintain what she considers her integrity while avoiding becoming an only child.
The 11th-hour solution is a good believable twist that somewhat reflects that the court system delivers justice, It also reflects the impending Hays Code by showing that no sin goes unpunished,
'The Last Ship' S5 DVD & Blu-ray: Tom Clancy Style 'Battlestar Galactica' With Shades of 'Moby Dick'
As they say, you can bring home all the action and adventure when Warner Brothers Home Entertainment releases separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2018 fifth-and-final season of the TNT drama series "The Last Ship" on March 12, 2018. This also is the date that WBHE releases separate DVD and BD CS series sets of "Ship." WBHE does the fictional fighting men and women of the titular Nathan James proud with the copious bonus features in each release,
The proper perspective regarding "Ship" is to not allow any prejudice regarding the overall military theme to deter you from enjoying this well-produced program from action-adventure film legend Michael Bay. A comparable personal bias against westerns and sports-oriented films and television series has prevented seeing "Rocky" and many other quality productions. The setting of "Ship" largely is incidental to the compelling season-long story arc that has heavy shades of both incarnations of the scifi series "Battlestar Galactica."
Just like the opening minutes of the "Galactica" series, everything generally is shipshape and Bristol fashion at the beginning of "Ship" S5. Modern naval legend Admiral Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) happily is teaching at the Naval Academy; his Number One Mike Slattery (Adam Baldwin) still is active-duty but is living a life free of trauma and drama. The rest of their former crew is equally as happy as can be expected after their professional and personal ordeals of the prior seasons,
A celebration of normalcy complete with (ala "Galactica") the Nathan James now being a museum brings the band back together. Meanwhile, a small group of our heroes is trying to persuade a truly duly-elected South American leader to increase his security,
The lighter mood of S5 E1 provides for awesome humor; one of the best scenes in the entire season has tourists asking Chandler to take their photo with a life-size cardboard cutout of him. A real-life equivalent is celeb friends who no longer resemble their characters often sharing tales of fans ignoring them in favor of actors who play supporting roles when the two are out-and-about together,
Two closely-related events change everything for our heroes and everyone else in their world. Colombian terrorist/S5 nemesis Gustavo "Tavo" Barros escalates his rhetoric regarding United States domination of Central and South America to the level of killing the aforementioned South American leader and executing a Pearl Harbor-style attack on the aforementioned festivities that the U.S. naval fleet is attending. The scenes of the latter make excellent use of the skills of "Pearl Harbor" producer Bay.
The attack using an insidious in every sense computer virus that plays a role in knocking our military tech. back to the WWII-era while the enemy enjoys all the modern conveniences adds several interesting elements to S5. We see how the keyboard kids of today are modern heroes and how the old salts use human brainpower to adapt when tech. fails. In other words, everyone brings something to the table.
S5 goes even more old school by having the 19th-century novel Moby Dick play a prominent role; this begins with the Melville prose being a favorite read of Chandler. We also see this text help the squids adapt to the new normal, This is not to mention things being very personal for both Barros and Chandler and the latter facing an enemy that more closely resembles a whale.
A more modern element enters the picture in the form of Chandler rejecting his desk-jockey role to repeatedly throw himself in the midst of the action ala Jack Bauer of "24." This also is a akin to a "Star Trek" captain ignoring the desire of his or her crew to participate in a dangerous away mission.
Much of the action centers around the Trump scenario of very bad hombres marching el norte to add territory to Gran Colombia and ultimately invade the United States. The threat is very real this time, and a wall will not be a significant deterrent.
This war game also involves both Mexico and Cuba having high strategic importance, This requires that Chandler use diplomacy to get the leaders of these two countries with animosity toward each other to kiss and make-up.
Meanwhile back at home, the "24" element is very strong. An aforementioned guy in the chair has identified both the aforementioned virus and the means by which it cripples the Navy. This is only part of the story.
The rest of the tale is that the person who creates the harm does so inadvertently and is the victim of a "24" style betrayal. Although this aspect of "Ship" is as well-written and executed as the rest of the story, it arguably reflects a disliked stereotype of the past that portrays a certain demographic as psychotic.
The discovery of the truth leads to a manhunt that culminates in events that show that the military strategists forget the lesson of the Trojan Horse, This leads to some of wonderfully "Die Hard" style mayhem that includes handling a hostage situation with extreme prejudice.
Devastating losses on both sides have particularly brought Barros to the edge of madness and have taken a heavy toll on Chandler by the season and series finale. Their final showdown is reminiscent of Kirk v. Khan. One lesson here for both sides is to not allow your emotions to take control.
The final adventure also has Chandler take his boldest action ever; this leads to an incredibly surreal sequence that pays homage both to naval tradition and to Charles Dickens. It being the end of a five-year mission makes it equally probable that our hero will experience a fitting death and will return to his teaching duties until the next global crises requires that he once again cowboys up.
As indicated above, "Ship" S5 is a typically compelling Bay thrill ride. It easily passes the "one more" test and will leave you desiring further adventures.
The Warner Archive March 12, 2019 DVD release of the Oscar-nominated 1931 crime melodrama film "The Star Witness" is part of an awesome recent series of Archive releases of this niche genre. Upcoming posts on "Unashamed" and "Woman Wanted" reinforces the star power and the entertainment value of movies with this theme.
"Witness" has the best pedigree and the related most depth of the three films. William Wellman of "The Public Enemy" and the 1937 version of "A Star is Born" directs. The cast includes Walter Huston and vaudeville legend Charles "Chic" Sale.
Written narration at the beginning of "Witness" sets the stage for the story and the theme of the morals by stating that the action occurs in every American city.
The plot thickens a few minutes into the film as the Leeds family settles down to dinner. Father George is a middle-aged middle-management bean counter; spouse Abby is a typical housewife who tries to keep everyone well-fed and clean and also tries to maintain domestic tranquility.
Eldest son Jackie is a cautionary tale; he is an unemployed high-school dropout who spends his days at the pool hall and has unrealistically grand expectations. He also has very little respect for George despite that man providing him a comfortable standard of living in those very rough economic times. Daughter Sue is a modern woman with a job and a boyfriend with whom she openly gets affectionate in his car while parked outside the Leeds family home.
Little Rascal Donny is a tough-talking little-league loving everyboy; he deals with his low position on the family totem by bullying baby of the family Ned. This does not prevent Ned from idolizing his slightly older brother.
The "Grandpa Simpson" of the family is feisty Battle of Bull Run veteran "Private Summerhill." This feisty old codger barges in uninvited playing his fife as the family is eating dinner. The added insult to the injury is his announcement that he staying for a couple of days.
Relative calm has descended when the clan hears a ruckus in the street below; this prompts the group to rush to the window in time to see a wild chase complete with gunfire; this culminates in an essentially front-row seat for a man fatally shooting two others.
The plot further thickens on the gunman rushing into the Leeds home and terrorizing the family before taking a powder.
The cops soon show up and conduct what may be the most laughably suggestive identification process in film history; this leads to arresting gangster Maxey Campo.
The resolve of the Leeds family is tested as Team Campo puts on the heat to get them to change their story; this includes an entertaining beatdown of a gullible George, Meanwhile District Attorney Whitlock (Huston) is trying to get the titular smoking gun to not waiver from fingering the perp. at his trial.
Eleventh hour pressure creates drama as both sides strive for a favorable outcome. A sign of the times that represents a generation gap has Jackie balking at sticking his neck out for the greater good and his grandfather advocating fulfilling a patriotic duty.
The moral of this tribute to truth, justice, and the American way is not let bullies prevent you from doing the right thing despite the cost of standing up to tyranny.
The expertly remastered Warner Archive February 26, 2109 DVD release of the innovative 1947 noir film "Lady in the Lake" provides a chance to watch a well-produced film that is unlike anything that you previously seen. This version provides the sharp visual contrasts between dark and light that enhance the enjoyment of this genre.
The general concept of this film version of the titular novel by pulp-fiction god Raymond Chandler is boilerplate (pun intended); the execution sets it apart from the better-known fare that particularly showcases the talents of Humphrey Bogart.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Lady" both explains and illustrates the aforementioned innovation. This predecessor to the 1996-2007 children's program "Blue's Clues" has Marlowe (Robert Montgomery) lead the viewer through the investigation around which the film is centered. Additionally, the POV entirely shifts to the perspective of Marlowe after he clues (pun intended) us in on the concept of the film.
The manner in which Marlowe gets embroiled in the latest adventure that proves that dames ain't nothin' but trouble and that no one can be trusted also deviates from the norm. Rather than reading a newspaper article about a nefarious act or having a damsel in distress or other asserted innocent come to his office, Marlowe proves to be his own worst enemy from the outset.
Setting the film in the days leading up to Christmas and having it conclude on that special day adds a wonderful touch of cynicism; we learn that death, deceit. and betrayal do not take holidays.
Our adventure begins with the private dick expressing his creativity by writing a short story; this prose catching the eye of pulp-fiction magazine editor A (for Adrienne) Fromsett brings him to her office, On arriving, he learns that the lady doth prevaricate too much.
Fromsett uses the story as a pretense to sell Marlowe on locating the wife/object of monetary-based affection Derace Kinmgsby. The rest of the known story is that Mrs. Kingsby is a runaway spouse purported to run for the border to get a quickie divorce.
The trail stops at the same place that the plot thickens. Fromsett steers Marlowe to a vacation cabin of the Kingsburys. A report of the drowning of the wife of the caretaker validly triggers the spidey sense of Marlowe.
An interview with a local playboy putting Marlowe on the radar of the police, and a cop that Andy Sipowicz of "N.Y.P.D. Blue" would describe as having a hard-on for Marlowe in a not-good way having an interest in the aforementioned death well outside his jurisdiction further prompts potentially fatal curiosity of that cool cat Marlowe.
Marlowe discovering a body and finding himself both repeatedly knocked out and set up for falls keeps things traditional for the noir genre. This climaxes in two gunpoint confrontations that reflect the Bond villain flaw of boasting about your success merely when you have the upper-hand over your pursuer.
The bigger picture is that the experimental nature of "Lake" exceeds the interactive and "through-the-eyes" of perspective, Montgomery is a relatively mild-mannered and light-drinking Marlowe, His quips and Chandleresque imagery is much more subdued than recalled in the novels and definitely in pure classic and neo-noir. All this makes "Lady" more of a traditional murder mystery than a detective novel; thus, it is not your grandfather's Marlowe film.
The recent Warner Archive DVD of the Oscar-winning 1943 Bette Davis anti-fascist drama "Watch on the Rhine" provides a good chance to watch a film with a still highly relevant message, This story beginning life as a play helps explain the live-stage vibe. The thoroughly delightful "Warner Night at the Movies," which includes a newsreel and a HILARIOUS Daffy Duck cartoon, greatly enhances the WWII-era experience of watching "Rhine."
The screen cred. this time extends well beyond Davis; Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman collaborate on the screenplay, We also get Davis co-star Paul Lukas winning a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar. The supporting cast including Geraldine Fitzgerald, Beulah Bondi, and Lucille Watcon reinforces that this is one to add to your home-video library.
Watson and Hammett only being nominated for Oscars shows that "Rhine" don't get nearly the deserved respect. The New York Film Critics awarding "Rhine" Best Picture honors in 1943 and the USA National Board of Review similarly lauding the movie and Lukas is solid compensation.
The following YouTube clip of a "Rhine" trailer highlights all of the elements touched on above; it also shows why the peepers of Bette Davis warrant an '80s pop song.
Our story begins with expat heiress Sara Mueller (nee Farrelly), her German born-and-raised husband Kurt Mueller (Lukas), and their three children heading El Norte across a wall-free border from Mexico to the United States in 1940. They are going to the Virginia family estate of Sara. Widowed Fanny Farrelly (Wilson) still rules the roost with an white-glove-clad iron fist,
One can easily imagine the reactions of the Von Trapp children on landing in Vermont being akin (pun intended) to that of the Mueller kinder on arriving at the home of their grandmother. This would be especially so if the Von Trapps had lived an impoverished nomadic existence for the prior several years.
The action soon shifts to breakfast time at Chez Farrelly. Ala Southfork, the adult kids and extended houseguests call the showplace home. Son David has a respectable job befitting the offspring of a former U.S. Supreme Court justice. However, his personal life is not quite as above reproach, His misdeeds include borderline inappropriate behavior with long-time family friend/houseguest Marthe de Brancovis (Fitzgerald).
The loathsome Count Teck de Brancovis is enjoying a life of luxurious leisure SOLELY courtesy of his marriage. His numerous sins include amassing debt that he has no prayer of repaying and gambling the cash that he acquires. His lenient attitude toward the Nazis displays another of his many characters flaws.
Worlds collide when anti-fascist Kurt moves into the same house as Teck; the political views of the former and suspicions that he raises prompt the latter to develop thoughts of profiting from his poker-playing Aryan brothers at the German Embassy.
The aforementioned suspicions include Sara and Kurt being cagey regarding their life during much of the '30s. They clearly have something to hide, particularly from Teck.
Much of the mastery of "Rhine" relates to the manner in which it depicts the rapidly increasing turmoil in Europe proportionately affecting American families. Our central household goes from daily life and Fanny excitedly preparing for the arrival of her daughter and her grandchildren to the tension that must be seen to be understood,
Things fully come to a head when overseas news equally emboldens Teck and causes Kurt justifiable angst. Anyone familiar with Golden and Silver Age Hollywood fare know that both men react in manners that are very true to their characters. At the same time, the resolution is shocking.
Hammett and Hellman additionally deliver regarding penning a conclusion that is far from a "happily ever after" Hollywood ending. We fully see that war is Hell.
Warner Archive misses it by that much regarding releasing the beautifully remastered Blu-ray of the 1985 crime drama "Year of the Dragon' on February 19 2019, which is a few weeks after Chinese New Year. Although it is is unknown if traditional Chinese culture considers the number 21919 lucky, it is certain that that sequence of digits is lucky for fans of quality neo-noir.
The street creed. of "Dragon" begins with Mickey Rourke doing his unhinged outsider bit very well as crusading police captain/Vietnam vet Stanley White, who changes his name to conceal his Polish ancestry. The pedigree continues with director Michael Cimino, whose credits include "The Deer Hunter;" we do not discuss "Heaven;s Gate." Cimino also provides audio commentary for this release.
The man who needs no introduction Oliver Stone co-writes the sceenplayer. Super-producer Dino De Laurentis oversees the entire project.
The overall theme of "Dragon" is that there is big trouble in Little China (a.k.a. the Manhattan Chinatown). Gangs of young punks are moving in on the territory of the established crime bosses; this largely takes the form of muscling in on the protection rackets and enforcing the "or else" aspect of this with extreme prejudice, For their part, the caught-in-the-middle respectable Italian businessmen are upset with the old bosses for not keeping the kids in line.
Stereotypical son-in-law Joey Tai (John Lone of "The Last Emperor)) also is a man in the middle. His impatience regarding waiting for his father-in-law to retire prompts Joey to commit his own act of extreme prejudice. The consequences of this include the seemingly age-old pattern of a family business suffering each time that the next generation assumes leadership of the enterprise,
The civilian with a horse in the race is Asian television reporter Tracy Tzu, who is investigating the increased violence in Chinatown. The good news is Tzu represents a positive image of a well-educated Asian woman with a success story that begins with a great-grandfather whose life in America consists of difficult menial work under very difficult circumstances.
The bad news is that many folks who are familiar with the long-running crude animated sitcom "Family Guy" will think of the character whose on-air reports always begin with "this is Asian reporter Tricia Takanawa" when they see Tzu on the job. The better news is that such a reprehensible connection prompts deep feelings of shame.
Our oft-transferred White knight, who does not work or play well with others, enters the picture in the midst of all this, Irony appears in the form of the same police officials who look the other way in exchange for the Old Guard keeping the peace in Chinatown calling in White knowing that he does not play that way.
On the homefront, Mrs. Connie White is fully frustrated regarding the prices that she pays regarding the efforts of her husband to protect and serve the general population with doing either her. His teaming up with Tzu does not help matters.
The rest of the story is that a hilarious noir version of divine intervention is helping White with his effort to disrupt a massive drug deal with which Tai is involved. Other humor enters the picture in the form of a rookie being the only reliable option regarding using an undercover cop.
Our team of experts in-front-of and behind-the-camera particularly deliver as events build to the inevitable showdown between White and Tai. The collateral damage is high and more violent than expected, and White learns that no good deed goes unpunished. The lack of a sequel is the real crime.
As the disclaimers (and the reference to Takanawa) regarding the depiction of Chinese culture reflect, "Dragon" sadly is a film that likely would not be made in 2019. The backlash against the stereotypes despite the sympathy expressed toward the treatment of Asian immigrants would be the tip of the iceberg. The violence against women and the lack of female police officials would seal the deal regarding "Dragon" not even seeing the light-of-day as a direct-to-video release in the Wal-Mart bargain bin.
The same right-thinking people who do not judge people based on stereotypes and who find abuse of anyone abhorrent should realize that fictional depictions of those ills are PURELY for entertainment purposes and do not necessarily reflect the views of those associated with the production. It does not seem that depicting a female who ultimately must obey her man and allow him to imprison her in a bottle for merely asserting her views stops anyone from loving "I Dream of Jeannie,"
Context, people. Context.
The recent Film Movement Classics triple feature Blu-ray release of '60s and '70s films by Joe "Chekov of Soft Core" Sarno is the latest addition to Classic's "Joseph W. Sarno Retrospect Series." The Unreal TV post on the most recent double feature of "All the Sins of Sodom" and Vibrations" includes links to the separate posts on the first Classics Blu-ray double feature of Sarno films and on the documentary "My Life in Dirty Movies" about Sarno.
This latest collection of Sarno films begins with That '70s Skin Flick in the form of the early '70s movie "Confessions of a Young American Housewife," This one is notable both for being the only color one in "Retrospect" and for being highly amusing, The humor includes a middle-aged woman actually named Mrs. Robinson who seduces the grocery delivery boy. This enticement is pure porn from the first knock at the door to the final bang in the bed,
The title refers to the aforementioned Jennifer Robinson winning a 1963 "Young American Housewife" award; this is one basis for daughter Carole believing that her now-single mother is living a chaste and celibate life. The audience soon learns that carpets and the drapes of this happy homemaker clash.
Carole also initially thinks that her visiting mother (who enjoys making tasty cream pies) is not cool enough to accept her and the girl-next-door swinging in every possible combination of coupling. Carole learning that her nymphomania is hereditary allows the game to fully get afoot. The modern variations of the Oedipal Complex contribute to the fun.
"Sin in the Suburbs" is an NC-17 version of wonderfully cheesy films about unfulfilled '60s and '70s housewives. The residents of this Peyton Place include the nymphomaniac wife of a young executive, the MILF of a teen daughter with a horny boyfriend, and the grass widow whose divorcee status makes her an outcast. Although her brother is the new man of the house, the fallen woman takes charge of persuading a creditor to not repossess the furniture.
The scandalous secrets extend beyond the aforementioned boyfriend trying to keep it in the family; the copious other action includes a workman who lays down on the job.
All this inspires "Bro" to start a special club for the neighbors. The first two rules of this organization with a strict dress code are that you do not talk about it. Suffice it to say that every member pays his or her dues.
"Warm Nights, Hit Pleasures" can be considered "The Facts of Life After Dark." A freshman coed at an upstate New York college makes a connection that inspires her to persuade her friends to drop out and to move to Manhattan to find fame and fortune. Of course, they end learning the price of fame.
The fun extends beyond nude dancing to showing an out-of-towner a good time. One of the girls also bonds with their landlady, who is a "calendar" model.
Like the other Sarno joints, each of these three movies combine porn-movie acting with good production values and stories with reasonable depth. The set up go well beyond a UPS guy telling a housewife in a negligee that he has a big package for her. Additionally, the artistry of the films leaves a little bit to the imagination.
Several deleted scenes from "Housewife " are a highlight of the DVD extras. Classics saves the best for last by finishing the reel with an orgy scene that seems too hot for Sarno. That one clearly shows that cast loves their work.
The readily-available vintage Warner Archive DVD of the 1955 action-adventure period-piece "Moonfleet" (1955) is a wonderful Band-aid for what ails most of us during our winter of extreme discontent. The bright and wide CinemaScope format greatly enhances this atmospheric piece set in the titular community on the moors of Dorsetshire.
Fritz Lang ("Metropolis") utilizes his off-beat style very well in this Dickens/Stevenson tale of orphaned boy John Mohune going to Moonfleet to start a beautiful friendship with Jeremy Fox (Stewart Granger), who has a history with the mother of the boy. Although not explicitly stated in this '50s film, there is little doubt that the fox made his way into the hen house and that John is the product of that welcome incursion.
The opening scenes have John walking the moors in search of his new life; a fright for both him and the audience leads to his waking up in a tavern surrounded by a motley crew. The dashing upper-class Fox soon arrives on the scene and takes control.
We soon see that the road that is Hell on which to ride on is paved with good intentions as Fox has the lad shoved into a carriage and shipped back to civilization, The manner in which Fox describes the intended schooling of John is hilarious. Our excitable boy will have none of that and escapes.
The journey continues as John arrives at his ancestral house that Fox now owns. The debauchery that the once heir to the manor witnesses furthers his education. Suffice it to say, Fox is not pleased to see this minor inconvenience.
The Robert Louis Stevenson vibe is particularly strong as an eerie night-time wandering by John leads to his literally stumbling into the lair of a group of smugglers. Learning the extent to which this activity hits home is the first shock for our boy; finding himself without an immediate exit strategy is the next.
Additional harrowing events lead to a father-figure and son treasure hunt that they hope will go well. This involves bonding that extends beyond the divorced dad staple of a round of mini-golf. Nothing strengthens family ties more than fleeing from Redcoats.
Fox subsequently taking a powder is slightly surprising; his return is not, but does lead to another surprise. The two lessons are that a leopard cannot change his spots and that you sometimes must be cruel to be kind in the right measure.
The recent Warner Archive Blu-ray of 1941 Hitchcock film "Suspicion" reinforces that The Home Video King of Classic Movies and The Master of Suspense is a match made in cinephile heaven. This tale of the rushed courtship of sheltered heiress Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) and shillingless playboy Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) joins the growing listing of Blu-ray Hitchcock titles in the Archive catalog. The loving restorations alone justify adding these releases to your collection.
A personal cool aspect of this release is noting the same points that Robert Osborne and other film historians state in the documentary "Before the Fact" Suspicious Hitchcock" that is a Blu-ray extra. This feature also tells about the member of the Hitchcock family who plays a supporting role in "Suspicion."
"Suspicion" comes on the heels of the reviewed Archive release of the aptly titled Jane Wyman film "Stage Fright" in which Hitch has director's remorse regarding a Moby-Dick sized red herring. Other notable Hitchcock films that Archive has adopted include the (reviewed) "ripped-from-the-headlines" Henry Fonda film "The Wrong Man," and the (also-reviewed) "I Confess" that has Montgomery Clift playing a priest who is facing the prospect of letting a murderer escape the earthly consequences of his act. Whether God will get either man for that remains unknown.
Our leads are strangers on a train when they meet; steerage passenger Johnnie sneaks into the first-class carriage in which Lina is riding. Learning that he lacks the funds for the upgrade is the first of several red flags in their relationship.
The paths of Johnnie and Lina cross again during a hunt; the latter soon getting a wake-up call regarding her spinsterhood causes her to latch onto the first gigolo that crosses her path.
The honeymoon period ends on the couple moving into their showplace on returning from their post-wedding trip, Lina learns that Johnnie plans to live large on her nickel. One challenge is that the family fisc is smaller than assumed.
Johnnie continues to show his true colors in ways that include digging his debt hole deeper, continuing to gamble, and getting caught with his hand in the company til. Lina discovering all this on her own does not help matters.
Mounting evidence that includes a friendship between Johnnie and murder-mystery writer Isobel Sedbusk is pure Hitchccok in that it increases the titular response in Lina regarding her belief that Johnnie intends to get a divorce by poison. This element of the film puts an amusing spin on the adage about not buying the cow when you can get the milk for free.
Another fun aspect of "Suspicion" involves having Nigel Bruce of the "Sherlock Holmes" films of the era play long-time Johnnie friend Gordon "Binky" Cochran Thwaite. Bruce does his usual good job playing the good-natured sidekick; he also holds himself very well regarding Grant.
All of the action climaxes with Lina reasonably believing that she is facing imminent mortal danger; This scene with Johnnie shows why he and Fontaine get the big bucks. In true Hitchcock style, the plausible conclusion will surprise you.
The combination of quality source material, a skilled director behind the camera, and a talented ensemble easily earn allay any suspicions that this movie is an outdated production that is not worthy your time in 2019.
The numerous delights associated with the 2018 BBC Films biopic "Stan & Ollie" that is enjoying a current limited run in North America makes it tough to select an apt starting point. The strongest endorsement for this film is that this tough audience who likely never laughs at a movie and only occasionally smiles laughed out loud at least three times during this one.
An early detour is calling attention to a post on the very funny Mill Creek Entertainment DVD set "The Laurel and Hardy Collection."
One "Point A" is that this tale of the desperate times of the titular comedy team leading to the desperate measure of a 1950s stage-tour of the U.K. evokes strong memories of the "Trip" films of Laurel portayor Steve Coogan with fellow funny guy/actor Rob Brydon. That comic documentary series has Coogan and Brydon entertaining each other and the audience as they take restaurantcentric extended road trips through places such as Italy and Spain. Their dueling Connerys in what is recalled to be during the "Italy" film is hilarious.
Coogan trades in Brydon for Hardy portrayor John C. Reilly this time around. The strong performance of Reilly and his mastery of the comedy style of Hardy makes up for his recent film pairings with Will Ferrell.
The starting point for "Stan" is a dressing-room conversation during the filming of the 1937 Laurel and Hardy film comic western "Way Out West," This figurative form of pillow talk immediately verifies that a comedy team is like a married couple. Stan is expressing concern regarding both the romantic life and the heavy gambling of Ollie. This exchange includes the very Cooganesque line in which Stan advocates not bothering to marry and simply giving someone whom he hates a house.
A more serious topic sets the stage (no pun intended) for the rest of the film. Stan expresses a centuries' old criticism of capitalism in complaining that producer Hal Roach is horribly exploiting the team by making a fortune off of their films and not paying them very much. This leads to learning about the personal politics of Roach.
A confrontation with Roach prompts the first of many "TV Land" thoughts. Stan walks out on Roach and expects that Ollie will follow suit. However, Ollie stays behind and works with an ersatz Stan.
This development evokes thoughts of an episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Head writer Rob Petrie (Van Dyke) walks out over a conflict regarding his work. Although Rob expects that his team/close friends Buddy and Sally will join him, they stay behind. Comic anger ensues.
A related note regarding Van Dyke is that he befriends Laurel in the early '60s and studies under him.
The action in "Stan" then shifts to the aforementioned tour around which most of the film revolves. The objectives of this venture include giving Ollie much needed money and helping the team revive its popularity in order to make a planned "Robin Hood" parody film a reality for these men in tight spots.
This portion of the film strongly relates to the "Happy Days" empire of super-producer Garry Marshall. On the broader level, the genius of Marshall includes his reasoning that a show that is made in the '70s but set in the '50s never looks dated. This is one way that "Stan," like its subject, is eternal.
A narrower perspective relates to the failed "Days" spin-off "Joanie Loves Chachi." Referring to the well-publicized romance and subsequent break-up of stars Erin Moran and Scott Baio, Marshall notes that making the show is tough when Joanie no longer loves Chachi. The same principle clearly applies regarding the comeback tour of Laurel and Hardy.
The first laugh-out-loud moment comes when our boys do a bit with the bell on the front desk of a hotel. This reinforces the principle that something unexpected is funny and the recent comment by comedy legend Carol Burnett (who currently is touring) that funny always be funny. The more narrow focus this time is the HILARIOUS YouTube video of the two cats sitting side-by-side and using their paws to ring a bell so that they will get a treat,
The pure genius of both the source material and Coogan really comes out in a scene in which the unexpected truly is not anticipated. We see our Balki and Cousin Larry dragging a heavy trunk up a long stairway at a rail station. We instantly know that the trunk is going to fall back down the stairs; Ollie asking Stan for the time at the top of the stairs tells us how the trunk will fall.
Stan sadly looking down at the trunk on the platform below and essentially saying fuck it in a much kinder and gentler manner is where the genius enters the picture.
We additionally see the boys onstage doing a bit in which Stan accidentally puts on the hat of Ollie; a moment in which Ollie shows great exasperation but switches the hats himself makes you feel as if you are watching the '60s versions of Laurel and Hardy Gilligan and the Skipper doing their thing.
A moment in which a dejected Stan is reminded that Abbott and Costello have absconded with his career is not worth more mention than that. A scene in which Stan comments to Ollie outside a hotel that "the girls" are due to arrive is noteworthy for evoking thoughts of Art Carney and Jackie Gleason in "The Honeymooners." A bit of wife swapping occurs in the form of lanky funnyman Stan having a tough and flinty Russian wife and rotund straight man Ollie having the more ditzy and mousy spouse.
All of this climaxes as Stan picks the wrong time and place to vent long-restrained resentment. This threatens the previously successful detente between the men. One could fully expect that to be the end of Laurel and Hardy.
The nature of the subject requires that the show goes on. The enhanced manner in which the guys take more than one for the team further enhances the sense that a comedy team is analogous to a married couple. You may not always like your strange bedfellow, but you always love him or her.
The awesomeness of the beautifully remastered Warner Archive January 15, 2019 Blu-ray of the 1963 Paul Newman drama "The Prize" begins with this release adding another Newman film to the Archive catalog. This inventory includes the (reviewed) "Harper" and the (also reviewed) "Drowning Pool" series in which the salad-dressing king plays gumshoe Lew Harper.
This film based on an Irving Wallace novel also is a perfect example of a Hitchcockian Cold War era movie. This comparison begins with Newman playing rugged everyman/Nobel Prize winning novelist Andrew Craig getting in over his head (pun intended) due to a series of unfortunate circumstances.
60s sex-kitten Elke Sommer fills the role of a Hitchcockian blonde who becomes the partner-in-crime-solving of the leading man. The credits of screenwriter Ernest Lehman including the 1958 Hitchcock film "North by Northwest" further contributes to the Hitch cred. of "Prize." You will want to keep your eyes on this one.
The Cold War element comes courtesy of fellow Nobel winner German physicist Dr. Max Stratman (Edward G. Robinson) not seeming to be himself during the festivities related to the Nobel ceremony. The plot thickeners include current American Max having worked in his native country (for a stated good reason) during WWII. His clandestine meeting with a former colleague and other indications of nefarious doings contribute to the sense that something is rotten in the state of Sweden.
The "Grand Hotel" vibe begins with "Prize" centering around the stays of Andrew, Max, their fellow Nobel winners, and the companions of those folks who are the top members of their professions, The Grand Hotel hosting this group seals the deal even more than an amusing Greta Garbo joke with which Newman runs.
The following YouTube clip of the '60stastic trailer for "Prize" highlights all the above elements in a manner that screams for watching the film.
Sommer plays local handler Inger Lisa Andersson, who finds "problem child" Andrew far more than a handful. This hard-drinking womanizing cynic makes it clear that the cash award is the only prize that interests him.
Andrew divides his romantic pursuits between Inger and Max niece Emily (Diane Baker). Emily almost literally is the girl-next-door but may be far less pure than she seems.
The rest of the gang includes married French scientists Denise and Claude Marceau, who amusingly lack any chemistry between them. Claude keeping his beautiful "secretary" in an adjoining room prompts Denise to dictate to Andrew.
The game fully gets afoot when a puzzling remark by Max triggers the spidey sense of Andrew; this soon leads to our hero obtaining solid proof of an evil plot. Of course, no one believes him.
The lukewarm pursuit sends Andrew to a private sanitarium and then hilariously seeking cover at a meeting of a nudist group; this being a '60s Hollywood film precludes getting a glimpse of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids.
This leads to Inger Lisa fully becoming a pawn in the intrigue; the ensuing rescue attempt involves a good mix of cunning and brute strength, This leads to a wonderful scene in which it is clear that Andrew does not have a gun in his pocket but is glad to see Inger Lisa.
Of course, the Nobel ceremony provides the setting for the climax of "Prize." Andrew predictably saves the day, but the truly surprising twists at the end deserve a revered place in Hollywood history. This verifies that "Prize" is much more original "Manchurian Candidate" then "White House Down."
The recent Cinema Libre Studio Blu-ray release of the 2016 biopic docudrama "Nelly" contributes to the pile of proof that truth often is more entertaining than fiction, One also wonders why this tale of titular call girl Nelly Arcan is not as large of an international phenomenon as her inaugural novel Whore. One further speculates about the preparation of star Mylene Mackay, who does a superb job,
The following CLS trailer for "Nelly" nicely illustrates the "Hannah Montana" aspect of the life of Nelly; we further see that she would be happy to be Jackie. A personal bonus is the final line in this trailer providing an awesome elevator speech.
In typical docudrama/biopic fashion, we meet Nelly as an awkward teen performing at a school talent show before watching her show off skills that she develops later in life. A "losin' it" scene is one of the best in the film and drives much of the action.
We also see Nelly sitting at (as opposed to laying on) a desk as she works on the aforementioned book. Her inner monologue shows that the theme of a blurred line between truth and fiction extends to her work.
Nelly experiences a dream-come-true for every aspiring writer when a publisher enthusiastically responds to Whore. That book subsequently becoming one of the hottest pieces of prose out there brings things to the next level.
The emotional issues with which Nelly is dealing explains why she does not quit her day job. Her increasingly playful therapy sessions are highlights in the film.
Witnessing the occupational hazards that Nelly experiences reminds us that working girls do not have it easy. Even finding a man, who may no longer be paying for the milk, wanting to put a ring on it has complications., This is not to mention the guy who likes to play rough.
The trauma related to the oldest profession takes its toll on the writing career of Nelly; the public not being as eager to buy what she is selling is an apt metaphor for her other career,
The conclusion is not surprising, but the manner in which it occurs is unexpected. This further puts a human face on practitioners of a trade on which society frowns, Very few of us even think that these pros can form a coherent sentence.
The bigger picture is that "Nelly" reminds us that we really do not know the "stuff" with which one must deal with in his or her life and what is going on in their head. The grass (or ass) may seem greener on the other side but usually is not.
Random Media reinforces its love for the offbeat regarding the January 15, 2019 VOD & DVD releases of the 2018 musical dramedy "Tommy Battles the Silver Sea Dragon." This tale of a 20-something (director/writer Luke Shirock) Walter Mitty with more issues than The New Yorker pulls off the tough trick of making a highly experimental film a delight. An even more notable aspect of "Tommy" is that it proves the merits of filmmaking that honors the tradition of valuing art over commerce.
Personal appreciation of "Tommy" relates to its similarities to all-time fave "Colma The Musical." That one has recent high-school grads in the titular working-class suburb of San Francisco sing and dance as they deal with poseurs and other harsh realities.
The following YouTube clip of a "Tommy" trailer highlights the surreal vibe that runs throughout the film; this promo. also demonstrates how this movie can be considered "Law and Order Rock." This is not to mention the glimpse of a hilarious scene in which Tommy turns a thrift store into his playground.
The symbolism in this mostly sung flick begins with the opening images of a full-frontal Tommy walking out of the ocean; his clothes magically fly to him and perform a reverse Full Monty.
The action takes off a few minutes later when a sleeping Tommy is awoken and quickly dragged Gestapo-style out of his home. He then is thrown into the stereotypical black sedan where he is driven to a court building for a perp. walk followed by the commencement of a trial for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Carolyn. The singing prosecutor, the warbling defense attorney, and the jury being a literal chorus provide the smoking gun that we are in for a wild ride.
Conflicting evidence regarding Tommy having accidentally shot his brother several years early provides solid proof both that we cannot believe everything that we see and that the subconscious mind of our main man drives much of the action, Subsequently learning about the real life of this reel character explains the confusion.
The presentation of evidence rehashes the course of the Tommy/Carolyn relationship from their cute meeting at the prom, through their impromptu "Young Hearts" fleeing from their childhood home, to their honeymoon period, and then to the stage between love and goodbye. This leads to the final exit that is the center of the judicial proceedings.
The nature of this nightmare dreamscape makes the heavy psychological elements very apt. It also reminds of the extent to which our childhoods shape us.
The narrative technique of making this a musical is equally appropriate. As folks who are familiar with the genre know, this form of expression typically expresses strong emotions such as the ones that Carolyn heading out into the city triggers in the man who is not deaf, dumb, or blind regarding this development.
As stated above, Shirock hits all the right notes in presenting this story in this manner. It is unlikely that you will find another quite like it and definitely not one that succeeds any better.
The good news is that anyone reading this post on the recent Warner Archive DVD release of the Gary Cooper/Patricia Neal 1949 drama "The Fountainhead" is at least a potential juror regarding the unusual level of preaching regarding the philosophies of your not-so-humble reviewer and of controversial author/screenwriter Ayn Rand. A related note is that the following takes a much more bloggy approach to the topic than is typical for this site. However, better understanding the relevant concepts requires the personal touch.
The bad news is that Archive shows a limited lack of integrity in not releasing this well remastered black-and-white film in Blu-ray. Director King Vidor ("Stella Dallas") tremendously channels Orson Welles in the use of contrasts, shadows, grand sets, and other Kafkaesque elements. This screams for a format that fully showcases this artistry.
Rand being the GOP elephant in the room requires dealing with her first; many people dislike her harsh personality and hard line regarding standing strong and independent; the rest of the story is that she merely calls for a valiant effort to support yourself before relying on the kindness of strangers. Regarding her stern personality, she simply can be considered a right-wing Hillary Clinton or Notorious RBG.
A related note that segues into "Fountainhead" is that central character architect Howard Roark (Cooper) takes self-reliance to an degree that exceeds the requirements of Rand. This man of integrity is down to his last $14.67 when a successful "sell-out" colleague offers a loan that is absolutely no sacrifice to that creditor. Roark declines that offer and subsequently takes a hot and grueling job in a granite quarry.
Roark (and Rand) strongly speak to me because this talented architect finds himself below the poverty level only because he refuses to compromise his integrity. I would not continue writing about "Fountainhead" and other limited-interest releases if the cost of that work included banging away in a quarry (or working at Wal-Mart), but I pay a price both for what I review and how I operate my site.
Just as Roark openly admits his desire for earning a good living, I would love to have more top releases interspersed among the art-house fare about which I write. I also would like to have my very respectable (and valued) readership grow to the point that equally respectable (sorry, Bezos) companies would advertise on my site. However, I feel very strongly about not directly or indirectly buying readers. I think that my posts are informative and entertaining and remain hopeful that more people will discover them and come on board simply because they value my content.
The many woes regarding the corporate site that recruited me in 2006 to write about my field of graduate study and then allowed me to start a section that "examines" TV on DVD developments includes the blatant way that that site inflates numbers. Writers are constantly told to have social media followers simply click on a post and to tell those followers that they do not need to read the content.
A little closer to home, I have a nice online friendship with an intelligent and well-educated guy who is a true blogger. Like me, he writes well and has an interesting perspective. Unlike me, he essentially prostitutes himself in recognition that sex sells.
The social media activity of my peer heavily focuses on his sexual adventures. He also regularly either posts about plans to upload revealing photos of himself or actually shares those images with the world. A recent example is a selfie in which this man is nude and standing in front of a bathroom mirror; the sink blocks everything right below his trimmed short and curlies. Just the other day finds him groping himself inside his designer unmentionables.
For the record, such a revealing photo of your not-so-humble reviewer would drive away the relatively small population of current supporters. Similarly, it is irrelevant 9.9 times out of ten what I am doing or wearing while watching a review DVD; the same is true regarding with whom I am watching the program or film. Such information is shared only in cases such as "Fountainhead" in which it is highly relevant to the topic.
Finally getting down to the film itself, the philosophy of a friend puts the story in perfect context. This belief is that arrogance is not arrogant if adequate talent supports this 'tude.
The opening scene has Roark being ousted from architecture school for refusing to conform to the norm; we then see him receiving similar treatment in the office of eccentric innovative architect Henry Cameron. Cameron does relent and provide Roark (hopefully) gainful employment.
We then catch up with a struggling Roark several years later with the aforementioned pittance in his pocket and colleague Peter Keating offering the loan. This coincides with Roark being offered a job that provides fame and fortune. His refusal to agree to demanded design changes leads to his pulling a Flintstone.
Meanwhile, socialite/newspaper columnist/Keating fiancee Dominque Franchon (Neal) is fending off the civilized advances of boss/tabloid New York Banner publisher Gail Wynand (Raymond Massey). The stresses in her life drive her to the country estate of her father.
It is lust at first site when Franchon finds a sweaty and muscular Roarke in the quarry near the estate; her intentions and clumsy ruse to get him in her bedroom being transparent do not prevent the pair delivering a very steamy love scene by 1949 standards.
Franchon and Roark ultimately return to the real world. Their lives become fully entangled when a series of circumstances lead to Franchon marrying Wynand, who is oblivious to the history of his wife and his architect when he hires the latter to design a house that is a tribute to the tribute.
Another source of drama relates to prissy Banner architecture columnist Ellsworth M. Toohey having a figurative (if not literal) hard-on for Roark. The nature of this animosity is the film-long theme of the refusals of Roark to conform to the norm and to compromise his integrity for the common good. His designing a luxury apartment building at a time that many people struggle to find decent affordable housing is one pretext for this smear campaign, In other words, Toohey is asserting that the needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the individual.
The extended climax awesomely includes Toohey admitting his covert evil scheme. These concepts that you should not believe everything that you read and that even propaganda that supports your side still is propaganda is highly relevant in 2018.
Meanwhile, Roark agrees to be the ghost architect for Keating on an affordable housing project. Anyone capable of deducing who is the villain in a "Scooby-Doo" episode can predict Keating caving regarding a demand to change the design. This leads to a highly symbolic well-known scene in which Roark demonstrates the extent to which he will protect his integrity.
This turmoil leads to an apt Mexican standoff that is comparable to the current government shutdown; Wynand essentially must decide whether is on Team Roark or Team Keating. An element of this is facing the consequences of creating a monster in a couple of senses of that word.
In what seemingly is obligatory for most movies of the '30s and '40s, the climax includes a highly charged courtroom scene. Of course, Roark makes an impassioned speech, The possibility that the integrity of Rand wins out over the demanded norm of a Hollywood ending leaves the conclusion in doubt until the judge declares the judgment.
The Warner Archive November 20, 2018 DVD release of the 1965 Natalie Wood drama "Inside Daisy Clover" evokes memories of the gritty "tell it like it is" films, such as "Easy Rider" (1969) and "Five Easy Pieces" (1970). of the era. The larger picture is that "Daisy" arguably is a brutal semi-fictionalized portrait of Judy Garland and of Wood herself to a lesser extent. Wood being 26 when she makes this film about America's 15 year-old "little Valentine" is the smoking gun regarding this theory.
Although Ruth Gordon only receives an Oscar nomination for her perfect portrayal of the senile mother of Clover, that role nets her a Golden Globe. Cast member Robert Redford gets a Golden Globe for "Most Promising Newcomer - Male" for his role as macho man movie star Wade Lewis, who is fond of beards. It is interesting that Redford is two years older than Wood but plays a character who is roughly a decade older than Clover.
The following YouTube clip of a '60stastic trailer for "Daisy" uses an entertaining apt newsreel tone to convey the "True Hollywood Story" aspect of the film.
"Daisy" opens in August 1936 with Angel Beach, California tough street kid Clover telling the audience that it is her 15th birthday; the graffiti that she adds to the wall against which she is slouching reflects her disdain for her older sister Gloria; a latter scene establishes that marrying up is the chosen route of Gloria to escape the trailer-trash existence of Clover and their mother.
Other glimpses of the "before she was a star" life of Daisy include her hilarious fending off the advances of her horny teen boy friend. We also see Gordon just now reporting the disappearance of her long-absent husband. The rationale for this delay is one of the best lines in this well-written film by Alan J. Pakula ("To Kill A Mockingbird") and Robert Mulligan ("Mockingbird" and "Summer of '42".)
Stardom literally arrives on the doorstep of the double-wide that Daisy and her mother share when Hollywood producer Raymond Swan (Christopher Plummer) sends a limousine to deliver Daisy to a screen test in response to a record of herself that she submits as an entry in a talent contest.
The realities of fame soon set in for Daisy. Gloria swoops in to get a piece of the action; Ma gets shipped off to Shady Pines, and Swan invents a new life story for his latest discovery. This is not to mention coercing Daisy into adapting her private life to conform with her public image. A notable scene in which the studio goes well beyond having Daisy wearing a Kansas farm girl outfit and toting (pun intended) a terrier is one of the most memorable in this exceptional film,
Redford showing up at just the right place and time leads to sweeping away Daisy; sadly, in true Hollywood style, the honeymoon period is cut short. Additional trauma and drama pushes our starlet closer to the edge.
All of this climaxes with the dam breaking; the final scenes truly show the price of fame.
The appeal of all this is that both Daisy and the audience learn a moral. Resenting a celebrity for earning far more in a few months than most of us earn in a lifetime is reasonable. We must remember that, especially in this Internet Age and #MeToo era, that that compensation includes payment for sacrificing any privacy and for never dropping a facade, Tom Cruise deserves tremendous credit for never responding to a cry of "show me the money" by showing that moron the finger.
Archive lightens the mood by including the 1964 Road Runner cartoon "War and Pieces" as a DVD extra. The epic name for this outing is apt based on it being the last Chuck Jones cartoon for Warner Bros until the '80s. The cleverness of the variations on the theme of traps backfiring on Wile E. Coyote are too amusing to spoil. Suffice it to say that Jones goes way beyond our villain holding a stick of dynamite when it explodes.
A year-end rush is behind a criminal delay in requesting a copy of the Mill Creek Entertainment award-worthy December 18, 2018 complete-series Blu-ray release of "The Shield." Not getting a set in time to declare this set the top release of 2018 elevates the delay-related offense from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Stating that MCE greatly outshines itself and hits almost every Unreal TV criteria for an exceptional home-video release is not hyperbole. The lack of a play-all feature is the non-fatal flaw that prevents declaring that this CS set is perfect. The serial nature of the series makes this sin a little worse than it would be in other cases; requiring a little extra navigation in the main menu adds insult to injury.
The near-perfection begins with the design-award worthy packaging. The sturdy outer-cardboard box is the first indication of love of product and attention to detail. This opens and folds out to an image of tough-as-nail rogue L.A. police detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and his strike team around which "Shield" centers. This motley crew is accompanied by their colleagues who play by the rules to varying degrees.
The solidly bound book (complete with embossed shield) is encased in a holster that feature the very apt tag line "The road to justice is twisted." This reflects the Mackey philosophy that just about any means justify a proper end that includes savings his own flank. His not blinking as he brutally exterminates a rat with extreme prejudice in the pilot hits that point home.
The first page in the book is a love letter to fans by creator/producer/ "Angel" veteran Shawn Ryan, who bears a passing resemblance to Mackey. This correspondence nicely confirms that Ryan and viewers share the same high regard for the series; the answer to the question of whether "Shield" survives the test of time is a resounding yes despite the mentioned outdated tech. and references.
On a general level, having a rough average of 13 episodes in each of the seven seasons reflects the "less is more" philosophy of British series. The idea is that a handful of high-quality episodes is better than presenting 20-or-more mediocre outings,
Each subsequent well-secured page in the book includes a detailed episode synopsis and puts the corresponding BD disc in a slot that allows removing and replacing it without risk of scratching. We also get a description of the Bonus Features on the disc.
The two discs of Bonus Features are the icing on the cake. a 2018 reunion that includes Ryan, Chiklis, and other cast members that include CCH Pounder provides something to which to look forward when time permits. Theses copious extras also include an ATX Television Festival Writer's Room Panel in which Ryan also participates.
Another voluntary confession regarding this 2002-08 FX series is that an ongoing struggle to clear enough space on my two Tivos and to otherwise keep up with the many strong programs of that era are behind not watching "Shield" during its initial run; the current chance to remedy that sin of omission is another valued attribute of the MCE release.
The strongest accolade for "Shield" is IMDb users ranking it as #86 on the list of top-rated shows of all time. The series has an additional 15 wins and 58 more nominations that must include "they waz robbed" losses. One can only fantasize about putting the people responsible for those slights alone in a room with Mackey.
"Shield," which is a perfect companion to (reviewed) overlapping FX hit "Rescue Me," tells the tales of the men and women who wok out of "The Barn" in the inner-city Farmington (a.k.a. Farm) District of Los Angeles. As indicated above, Mackey and his team are more concerned with taking gaping and bleeding bites out of crime than following either police procedures or Constitutional requirements.
This theme requires a brief aside, The philosophy of Mackey reflects the dilemma that plagues law enforcement personnel. Prohibiting things such as beating a subject and many warrantless searches are in response to those tactics despite their solid results. Tying the hands of the police validly protects important rights of suspects at the expense of allowing many criminals to go free.
Another way of looking at this is that most people would say what is required to make a beating stop; we also would not want the police to knock down our front door, subject us to an extensive body search, or rip apart our car without an assurance that they have valid cause for doing so,
The cowboy tactics of Team Mackey at best earn them tacit approval; it also gets them the animosity of two colleagues who object to this coloring outside the lines.
Police Captain David Acevada is a competent Col. Klink in that he gets the corner office without spending any time in the trenches and in that his efforts to hold Mackey accountable for his misconduct (at least in S1) prove fruitless. Mackey is more like the Road Runner than Col. Hogan in that it seems that Acevada is destined to succeed until his plan explodes in his face at the last minute.
Partner-in-crime-solving Detective Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach is another thorn in the side of Team Mackey. This nerd who seems to have a night stick shoved up his butt is in constant conflict with the jocks whom he hates for their Dartmouth frat boy approach to their jobs. Good hilarity related to Wagenbach comes in the form of comeuppance that he receives. Revealing the perpetrator of that prank is icing on the cake.
Wagenbach often getting his man and showing that he has game in bringing down a particularly elusive bad hombre shows that this honor student has chops and can school the cool kids.
The central crime in the pilot perfectly illustrates both the tone of "Shield" and the arguable merits of Mackey. Initially discovering that the young daughter of a murder victim is missing leads to learning that the girl ends up in the hands of one pedophile, who transfers her to an even more twisted child molester. These desperate times lead to the desperate measure of calling in Mackey with full knowledge of how he will interrogate a suspect. It is ironic that he does not phone it in.
The pilot further establishes the pattern of snitches getting stitches. A later "student" further learns of the collateral damage regarding such well-intentioned efforts.
What starts as essentially aside comments regarding plumbing problems developing into a hilarious disaster further demonstrates the genius of "Shield." The show is like a box of chocolates in that you never know what you will get.
One S1 episode that also proves the unpredictability of "Shield" has an almost literal smoking gun leading to breaking up the strike team. This disbanding the brothers leads to pairing them up with other "Barn" animals.
The most amusing reassignment gives loose cannon team member Shane Vendrell a dutch treat in the form of working with Wagenbach. As "The Breakfast Club" shows us, the hall monitor and the QB do not need to be at the throats of each other.
Mackey teams up with pragmatic detective Claudette Wyms (Pounder). His scene-stealing moment consists of proposing that they first do things her way and then his way. He notes that the order is based on the chivalrous principle of ladies first.
Chickens aptly come home to roost in a phenomenal S1-ending story arc. The numerous hilarious cock jokes greatly contribute to the fun.
The already extensive length of this post precludes delving into the interesting private lives of our men and women in plain clothes or even into the many more cases that provide them continuing on-the-job training, The overall message is that you should trust Ryan; he knows what he is doing.
'The Karate Kid Part III' / 'The Next Karate Kid' Blu-ray Double Feature: Further Adventures of Daniel-San & Mr. Miyagi
The Mill Creek Entertainment January 8, 2019 Blu-ray double feature release of "The Karate Kid Part III" and "The Next Karate Kid" offers a chance for a fun escapist evening during the dark and cold weather that is settling in for most of us. The bright sunshine and corny plots full of teen angst and earnestness is the perfect cure for what ails us.
The best news is that rewatching the original 1984 "Kid" reinforces that it has many merits. The concept is that (somewhat ala the '70scom "Alice") teen Jersey boy Daniel Russo (Ralph Macchio) is uprooted when his mother takes a job in Los Angeles. Like "Alice," the family station wagon barely makes the trip. The other similarity that the family ends up living in a shabby apartment.
Ala '70scom "One Day at a Time," building superintendent Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) becomes a father figure. This handyman transform Daniel into the titular martial arts teen sans shell in response to that new kid in town being the victim of vicious bullying.
The quality of the first film and the cuteness and the charm of Macchio in it make it worth watching.
"Karate Kid II" commences in the immediate wake of the tournament that provides the climax of "Kid." Daniel and his sensei soon travel to the Miyagi birthplace of Okinawa where adventure and romance once again ensue for these friends.
"III" begins with flashbacks that briefly recap "I" and "II" before joining Daniel and Miyagi landing at LAX from their Asian trip, The context for the following thoughts on "III" are that it is so absurdly bad that it is good. The first problem is that Macchio is much less cute, charming, and naive than in the first film.
The comic-book nature of "III" relates to over-the-top villain Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith). This grown-ass one-percenter has a ridiculous vendetta against Daniel and Miyagi for their provoked humiliation of John Kreese and the Cobra Kai "gang" of that once-respected karate master. Much of the unintended humor relates to our heroes having no idea about that animus.
A concurrent series of unfortunate circumstances lead to a premise for a sitcom in the form of Daniel moving in with Miyagi and becoming his partner in a bonsai tree store. The love interest is Jessica (Robyn Lively), who owns and operates a nearby pottery shop.
Silver recruits Cobra Kai student Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan) to goad a still-oblivious Daniel into entering the tournament that he won at the end of "Kid." The idea is that Daniel will lose to Barnes and restore the "honor" of Cobra Kai.
This not-so-subtle persuasion leads to a cliffhanger that results in Daniel registering for the contest; Miyagi refusing to train him and pulling an inarguably dick move drives our still-clueless post-adolescent into the web of Silver. The "grand reveal" arguably is the best bad moment in "III."
"III" winds up with a deja-vu all over again moment; Daniel is getting badly pummeled in his championship match with Barnes; it seems that all is lost until (of course) Daniel rallies and (perhaps literally) kicks the ass of the larger and stronger Barnes. Of course, this sends Silver and Kreese into hysterical in both senses of the word tailspins.
"The Next Karate Kid" is a kinder and gentler movie that attempts to reboot the franchise. It opens with Miyagi attending a ceremony honoring his WWII Army unit; meeting the widow of his Anglo commanding officer leads to Miyagi visiting that woman, who is raising orphaned granddaughter Julie Pierce (Hilary Swank).
A series of unfortunate circumstances this time leads to Miyagi becoming the caretaker of troubled teen Julie. The love interest is hunky blond-boy Eric, who is not put off by the hostility of Julie,
The Cobra Kai element this time is the ROTC/Hitler Youth style school group the Alpha Elite, which counts a reluctant Eric among its members. The dual catalysts for conflict are Alpha Elite teen leader Ned wanting to get in the pants of a reluctant Julie and related defiance by Eric getting him ousted from the group.
The rest of the story is that Miyagi takes Julie to a Buddhist monastery for karate training that is designed to teach her discipline and to improve her 'tude..They return home only to find that things have not changed much.
Excitable boy Ned ultimately pushes Eric too far in a manner that leads to a late-night rumble. We learn whether boys do cry and the extent to which a girl must be brought in to do the job of a man.
As mentioned above, the appeal of "III" and "Next" is the escapist fun of this continuation of a franchise that has a solid base.
The Film Movement division Film Movement Classics January 8, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1997 drama "Bent" continues what Classics describes as an effort to rescue (often largely forgotten) notable films from the vault. The awesomeness of these releases extends well beyond the pristine remasters of these art-house gems and the exceptional bonus features to releasing them without the arrogance associated with a competitor (which Classics regularly outshines) that claims to set the criterion for such films.
Like all classics, the value of "Bent "includes the relatability of the movie. The broadest level is the extent to which many of us have been persecuted for what someone "bigger and stronger" considers a flaw; another aspect of this is the ongoing storm trooper tactic of dragging innocent people out of their homes regardless of the legitimacy of that act. A lighter note is that "Bent" is a darker and better-quality version of the 1993 Robert Sean Leonard and Christian Bale film "Swing Kids," which depicts a Disneyfied image of Nazi oppression.
The pedigree of "Bent" begins with screenwriter Martin Sherman basing this period piece on his play of the same name. The merits continue with Clive Owen doing an exceptional job in the lead and Sir Ian McKellen having a very memorable cameo. This is not to mention Mick Jagger dressing in drag to perform in a gay cabaret.
The opening scenes of "Bent" present additional relatable elements of the film. Openly gay Max (Owen) is waking up in 1934 Berlin with thoughts that include the prior night of decadence at the aforementioned night club in his head. His first rude awakening is in the form of partner Rudy (Brian Webber) being displeased about the presence of the younger and cuter man who spent the night.
The persistent pounding on the door turning out not to be the landlord seeking back rent is the second wake-up-call. The interlopers are Nazi soldiers that are there as part of the Night of the Long Knives that is designed to strengthen the power of Hitler. Max and Rudy get caught up in that because the twink hook-up is a particular target of that campaign.
The first bit of context is that "swing kids," gay men, and other folks who enjoy partying, boogieing, and getting down in early '30s Berlin are like those who embrace The Jazz Age of '20s America. They live in a bubble and either are oblivious to or do not care about the coming storm. This leads to their worlds immediately crashing down on them. The increasing evidence that most of us are in for a very rough period shows that these reversals of fortune are not a thing of the past.
An even more personal aspect is the price that the vast majority of us have paid for youthful mistakes in the form of bringing the wrong person home. Although this often does not involve armed invaders, we learn to deeply regret our bad judgment,
The raid ends very badly for the cute young thing and forces Max and Rudy to go on the run; Max seeking the assistance of partially closeted respectable family man Uncle Freddie (McKellen) conveys another aspect of gay life that continues today.
The Nazis catching up with our boys while they are living rough leads to the couple being put on a train to Dachau. The relatable aspect this time is Max having his loyalty to his partner tested. This leads to additional cruelty that is COMPLETELY designed to humiliate Max and another passenger for the entertainment of the soldiers.
Max continuing his pattern of cutting a deal meets moderate success at Dachau; he gets the coveted job of moving rocks from one pile to another that is designed to trigger insanity. Fellow prisoner Horst (Lotharie Bluteau) gets the same assignment.
The interaction between Max and Horst provides the most compelling moments of "Bent." It is clear that Horst has more pride and integrity than Max. The icing on the cake is the highly erotic manner in which the men get to experience intimacy under intensely close scrutiny by the guards, The skill during these scenes makes us believe that Horst feels pain despite a lack of physical contact.
This bonding makes us believe that Max feels true love for the first time and experiences a related evolution. His paying a heavy price out of that love leads to an intense scene with a tragic end. These events further demonstrate the human capacity for cruelty.
The most apt final thought regarding Bent" is the one that this post and many other articles on this film note; it reminds us that Jewish people are not the only Holocaust victims and that the persecution that it depicts is not limited to Nazi Germany.
The aforementioned extras begin with a booklet that includes essays by "Bent" director Sean Mathias on his approach to the project and by film historian Steven Alan Carr on the historical context of the film. Both writings confirm that this film is brave and bold.
The bonus features largely consist of presentations of clips from interviews with the stars. We also get Mick Jagger discussing his uncertainty regarding his ability to adapt to the style of the music in the film. A highlight is the Jagger "Streets of Berlin" music video.
The recent Warner Archive 6-disc DVD set of the 1963-64 S1 of "Mr. Novak" provides a good chance to start 2019 on the right note. This Peabody Award winning anthology drama about the challenges of the titular newbie English teacher shows us what good television drams used to be and can be again.
We meet titular idealistic young educator John Novak on his first day as an English teacher at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. Fellow newbies include once-and-future teacher (Ed Asner), who is returning to the blackboard jungle after leaving that profession to earn a more lucrative living. The very frank orientation that these rookie faculty members receive provides viewers an education regarding the perspective of the folks who try to cram knowledge into the heads of kids. These pearls of wisdom include observing that every teacher has at least one student whom he or she detests but still must instruct.
This pilot also establishes the mentor/mentee relationship that handsome young blond Novak has with older and wiser principal Albert Vane (Dean Jagger). This is comparable to the relationship between fresh-faced Dr. Kildare and crusty Dr. Gillespie in the film franchise and television series that feature that pair.
Speaking of Vane, we also get insight into the life of a principal. Not many of us think about how these men and women juggle the heavy demands on their time that largely involve meting out discipline that meets the best needs of the malfeasor, refereeing disputes, attending meetings, and ensuring that his ship stays afloat.
The aforementioned first day starts badly before Novak even enters the school; his car is the victim of a hit-and-run by a student seconds after Novak parks that vehicle. The plot thickens on the guilty literal honors student being on the verge of dropping out and his father supporting that decision.
Another early episode creates great expectations of a "Jessie's Song" episode; Novak catching an over-achieving science whiz cheating on an English assignment creates angst regarding whether to follow a procedure that will be very detrimental to the student. Although it is discovered that this model student is greatly over extended, it is disappointing that he does not turn to caffeine pills for relief,
A particularly timely episode has national treasure Lillian Gish playing veteran biology/sex ed teacher Miss Phipps. She is coming under fire for telling the kids the facts of life. A student whom it is highly suggested is the wife in a shotgun elopement helps hit the point home this time. A "do stand so close to me" outing has a young teacher who is the object of a schoolboy fantasy share the affections of that lad.
The first-half of S1 also has a twofer episode that includes the worst nightmare of any teacher. A student who already has a bad relationship with Novak gets injured while the teacher is breaking up a fight. The first part of the story is dealing with the school-related fallout associated with a faulty member using bodily force on a student. The second "fer" relates to the legal system tradition of taking the easy way out by paying a settlement without much thought to actual culpability. A reference to an attorney named Arnie Becker at an L.A. law firm adds to the fun.
The "Novak" writers especially torment Novak with a Friday from Hell that begins with parents (including a father played by Edward Platt of "Get Smart") getting very belligerent and that ends with this newbie getting schooled in the pitfalls of being tardy for committee meetings. A change of pace for Novak and the series occurs when he then accepts a last-minute invitation to a weekend party at the family estate of a wealthy former girlfriend.
Hours of abuse by the rich and powerful finally prompts Novak to give a speech to those privileged elite. This conveys exactly the right message to folks who do not think that teachers deserve much regard.
On the other side of the coin, another episode has Novak challenging the easy life of a teacher who gets by with jokes and helping students cheat. The fun in this one includes watching our fair-haired boy embrace the dark side,
Larger social issues include intense harassment of black students despite ABSOLUTELY no provocation, a problem child from a disadvantaged background, and mainstreaming blind students. We also get looks at teachers battling alcoholism and otherwise contending with the stress of their profession, The message each time is that Novak is committed to putting right what once went wrong.
The value of series such as "Novak" is that they provoke thought and discussion in ways that largely stay away from being preachy. Our hero mostly strikes the proper balance between being a crusader and a realist.
Warner Archive releasing "The 13th Chair Double Feature" on November 13, 2018 continues the grand Archive tradition of releasing two (or more) versions of the same film. In this case, the titular double-bill is two very different approaches to the titular British murder mystery.
Folks who are familiar with "Freaks" and/or other Tod Browning films can accurately predict that his 1929 production is more atmospheric and lurid than the 1937 film by George B. Seitz, whose credits include "Andy Hardy" films. The latter is lighter in tone and gives this work originally presented as play more of a live-stage vibe than Browning.
This post will respect the assumed Archive intent of wanting viewers to get the full impact of the differences in the film. A modern example of this contrast is having Tim Burton and '90s-era Ben Affleck separately direct the same story. Part of this full enjoyment relates to not spoiling the very different casting.
Both films are set in Calcutta and occur in the aftermath of the murder of an expat Brit. who is no gentleman.
The usual suspects for this type of film begins with John Wales, who is the best friend of the deceased. His literally fatally flawed plan to obtain justice for his chum includes staging a seance. Like a good Englishman, Wales hopes that stacking the deck in his favor will result in the culprit becoming a guest of the king.
We also get a royal family in the form of the Crosbys. The secretary of Mrs. Crosby planning to marry into the family contributes to the angst among the group.
The portrayals of medium Mme. LaGrange in the two films are among the most significant differences in the versions. Both are highly entertaining in that this is a very broad character. Additionally, this quirky individual shares some tricks of the trade.
The subsequent seance that inspires the title of the play and the films produces drama that greatly thickens the plot. This results in deduction that leads to the typical drawing-room scene that results in revealing whodunit. A partial spoiler is that the final scene of the Browning film greatly outshines the conclusion of the later version.
The broadest appeal of this release is the aforementioned demonstration of how the same source material can produce radically different results. The narrower focus is that this is another example of Archive facilitating modern audiences getting to see how movies should be made.
'Forever My Love' DVD: Cliff Notes Dubbed Version of Epic Trilogy Docudrama Trilogy on Life of Austrian Empress Sissi
The Film Movement November 13, 2018 DVD release of the classic 1962 period-piece romdram "Forever My L:ove" is an awesome present to both the general movie-going public and to your not-so-humble reviewer. This release of this English-dubbed condensed version of the trilogy of films known as "The Sissi Collection" allows folks who only have 2.5 hours to experience this epic to watch the version that is a holiday favorite.
This release also allows a holiday treat in the form of allowing regifting an edited version of a review of the Movement October 2017 Blu-ray release of "Collection," which includes "Forever." One disclaimer is that our topic du jour does not include every scene to which this post refers. Please consider these mentions a bonus regarding "Forever."
Folks whom this real-life fairy tale with strong elements of the Princess Diana story greatly intrigues are encouraged to purchase "Collection." The "Trekkies" (rather than "Trekkers") regarding this epic likely will be content with "Forever."
The highly significant other of your not-so-humble reviewer sharing that images of the real-life Sissi still prominently appear throughout Vienna provides a sense of the significance of both "Forever" and the trilogy.
"Sissi" from 1955 is a Cinderella story in a few senses of the word. The film opens with jocular Duke Max in Bavaria fishing with a few of his eight children in the idyllic wilderness around their castle. The group returns home to dine and is subdued by Duchess Ludovika (a.k.a. Mom).
An excited Ludovika (a.k.a. Vicki) soon summons daughter Helene (a.k.a. Nene) to privately share that Archduchess Sophie is summoning Nene to marry cousin/newly coronated Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph. A desire to conceal the purpose of this family reunion prompts bringing oblivious teen tomboy Sissi along.
The Cliff Notes of what follows is that an amusing wacky misunderstanding causes a bumbling security officer to mistake Sissi for an enemy of the state, Sissi and Franz meet and fall in love without fully realizing whom the other is, Nene and Sissi experience sibling rivalry, and our fairy-tale couple have a storybook wedding complete with fireworks but sans animated woodland creatures.
"Sissi: the Young Empress" amusingly foreshadows the Princess Di story in that newly wed Empress Sissi is highly popular with her subjects and is at war with her mother-in-law. Two particularly large bones of contention relate to Sissi having a more lenient and supportive attitude towards Hungarian malcontents than Archduchess Sophie, and Sophie literally taking the infant heir to the throne away from Sissi.
The "incognito" element is particularly strong in "Empress." A spontaneous undercover second honeymoon soon after the (presumably) first one finds our couple staying at a small rustic mountain inn. Watching these young lovers freely frolic and literally spit shine boots is great fun.
Another particularly cute scene has Franz Joseph giving homesick Sissi a literal taste of Bavaria and distressing his mother (who comes across as the party pooper) in the process. Despite the grandness of this gesture, Sissi equally literally runs home to mother to escape the trauma and the drama of palace life.
Of course, this fairy tale epic reunites Sissi and Franz Joseph and ends with the grand spectacle that is a trademark of this trilogy. These final scenes additionally incorporate the nature scenes that enhance the films and make viewers want to visit the region.
The 1957 film "Sissi: The Fateful Years" maintains the style and the quality of the other two films in the trilogy. The Di thread continues with mother-in-law problems and rumors of infidelity.
The "Forever" extras include a making-of featurette and an excerpt from the documentary "Elisabeth [a.k.a. Sissi] Enigma of an Empress."
All of this shows that either "Collection" or "Forever" provide hours of beautiful scenery, a love for the ages, and a lesson in 19th-century European history.
The recent Warner Archive DVD release of the 1950 Hitchcock melodrama "Stage Fright" allows adding the film that generally-unrepentant Hitch acknowledges betrays the trust of the viewing public to your video library. This is on top of newly-former Mrs. Reagan (and future "Falcon Crest" matriarch) Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, and Alastair Sim perfectly playing their parts in the flick that the National Board of Review, USA includes in its list of the Top 10 Films of 1950.
"Fright" also is notable for joining Archive Blu-rays of two Hitchcock films for Warner. The aptly titled (and reviewed) based on a true story "The Wrong Man" has Henry Fonda portraying a musician who pays a heavy price for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The also reviewed "I Confess" has Montgomery Clift playing a priest with a past who agonizes over letting someone get away with murder. Any cinephile will delight in finding a bundle of these three releases under the Christmas tree or the Hanukkah bush.
The amusingly labeled curtain literally going up at the end of the opening credits sets the stage for Hitchcock to particularly show that he and Orson Welles are cousins in filmmaking; "Fright" being in black-and-white and making good use of shadows and other contrasts is another indication that Hitchcock and Welles influence each other.
Our story begins with Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd) making a run for the border with the assistance of once (and future?) girlfriend Eve Gill (Wyman). An amusing ancedote by Hitchcock daughter/"Fright" actress Pat Hitchcock in a Robert Osborne-hosted "making-of" feature on the Archive release discusses Dad protecting Wyman by having Pat literally sit in for her in the scenes of Cooper wildly driving through the London streets.
Flashbacks establish that this adventure begins with stage star/current object of affection Charlotte Inwood (Dietrich) showing up at Chez Cooper in a blood-stained dress with a tale of accidentally killing her husband.
The tale continues with Jonathan going to the Inwood home to get Charlotte a clean dress. This leads to a series of mistakes that lead to the police showing up at his door. Our excitable boy rabbiting even before confirming that he is a suspect does not help things and leads to heading out of town with Eve to avoid his destruction..
After safely delivering Jonathan to her roguish and quirky father (Sim) with an eye toward Dad smuggling him to Ireland, Eve figuratively and literally returns to the scene of the crime with an intent to convince Charlotte (a.k.a. Lady MacBeth) to clear the name of Jonathan.
An ideal blend of comedy, melodrama, and meta-references ensue as Eve goes undercover as a maid/theatrical dresser. This coincides with her developing a friendship with potential benefits with "Ordinary" Smith (Michael Wilding), whom Eve subsequently learns is a police detective.
Hilarity and suspense fully erupt when Eve struggles to maintain her cover as Smith escorts her among her theatrical colleagues, a "Gaslight" style plot designed to prompt Charlotte to confess hatches, and Jonathan proves that he is his own worst enemy.
Hitch masterfully keeps several plates spinning in the air throughout the climax until the curtain literally falls on our story. We have Eve confronting not-so-sweet Charlotte and Jonathan wreaking havoc; this culminates in the reveal on which the regret of Hitch is based. It is interesting to see that this man who delights in defying conventions and expectations discover that there are some rules that should not be broken and some lines that should not be crossed.
The first big picture is that "Fright" aptly provides a story that centers around the theatrical world with a strong live-stage vibe. The second big picture is that this movie is a prime example of the more artistic and substantive Hitchcock films.
The Lionsgate October 16, 2018 complete-series Blu-ray release of the lush and lavish 2014-17 Starz series "Black Sails" is the perfect way to get in the mood for lush and lavish Oscar contenders that are sure to hit the big screen in December. A related note is that the beauty and the well-orchestrated complexity of the 38 episodes in this four-season series require savoring it as much as "binging" on a gourmet meal ruins the experience and makes you feel unwell after the experience.
The two Sound Editing and one Special and Visual Effects Emmys that "Sails" wins illustrates that executive producer Michael Bay puts his talents for grandeur and explosions to good use. Shooting the series on location further enhances the episodes.
The first bit of shameful commerce is that the incredible audio and video of the Blu-rays and the copious truly special features (more below) make choosing this set over watching it on Starz or streaming it a no-brainer. A related note is that these attributes make this roughly $50 set a perfect gift for anyone who likes period pieces, pirates, and/or the Caribbean. Although stealing it from a brick-and-mortar store honors the theme of "Sails," such behavior is completely unacceptable in 2018.
The first confession is admitting to never having read the source material of this prequel to the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel Treasure Island. The only recognized name in "Sails" is that of a pre-Long John Silver, whose fame extends to having a descendant with a successful film career. The second confession is that "Sails" not being conducive to binging limits the scope of this review to the first two seasons; the final two will be watched in the next several weeks.
Our tale of the courage of the fearless crew that pirate captain leads begins in 1715, which is roughly 20 years before the time period of Island. The "civilized" world allows pirates to rule New Providence Island and the capital of Nassau. There is prosperity and more peace than can be expected in a place that operates in this manner.
The pilot episode perfectly sets the tone and hooks the audience; Silver soon shows himself to be the Dr. Smith of the merchant ship on which he is a crew member. Rather than help his fellow seamen fend off an attack by dread pirate Captain Flint and his pirates of the Caribbean, Silver hides in a locked room. While there, Silver obtains paper with the information that Flint is seeking.
Silver subsequently further keeps up with the Smiths in falsely asserting to the pirates that he is the cook, which is a valued position on any ship. This leads to Silver literally jumping ship to join the crew of Flint. A later incident shows why Jewish people label pork as trayf.
The pilot also educates viewers about the rules of law that govern pirates; Flint soon learns the harsh reality of any pirate captain being like a prime minster in that he serves at the pleasure of the crew and can be voted out anytime. A related aspect of this is that pirates are compensated in the form of a percentage of the booty that they plunder. Raids such as the one in which Silver is the catch-of-the-day that do not net any treasure result in Flint facing a challenge to his leadership.
This law of the sea is fascinating because it illustrates both that not much has changed in 300 years and that the means by which formal governments operate is not much different than the rules that pirate ships follow. The response to the new candidate for captain include below-decks politics that are equivalent to back-room deals. The more entertaining part is the false accusations and a confrontation that many politicians clearly would relish.
After surviving the challenge to his leadership, Flint once again devotes most of his attention to pursuing his personal white whale. The object of his obsession is the Urca de Lima, which is a ship that Flint believes is heavily laden with gold. The contribution that Silver can make regarding that quest is the only thing that has him avoid walking the plank.
Meanwhile back in Nassau, 18th-century Ivanka Trump Eleanor Guthrie is operating the brokerage business of her absent father, The basic system is that Eleanor buys the cargoes that the pirates liberate from their former owners; Guthrie then sells the goods. The risks to her continued good fortune include the sins of her father and a push to terminate the rule of the pirates.
A whorehouse with relatively liberated employees is the third side of the commerce triangle in Nassau; the first season shows how all three elements inter-relate and make strange bedfellows.
Speaking of prostitution, one of the best S1 scenes involves a negotiation for a recreational facility during the 18th-century equivalent of dry dock. One spoiler is that this discussion prompts the fun of chanting "Fuck Tent! Fuck Tent! Fuck Tent!" This also involves a cute scene in which an invitation for a "quick fuck" clearly involves pup tents but does not necessarily include the filthy whore.
We additionally get flashbacks to the aforementioned civilized world; these provide context that include showing how becoming a pirate makes Flint an entirely new person in more ways than one; this insight includes other members of the "Sails" crew.
The pursuit of the Urca is central to much of the S1 action; we also see how the related issues of maintaining peace and conducting commerce in Nassau create strange and shifting bedfellows; a notable aspect of this is a pirate crew learning the true meaning of the expression "don't fuck with me, boys." Another scoundrel who cannot produce a strong and sturdy mast discovers that Hell hath no fury like a prostitute left unsatisfied.
S1 ends on a terrific note that demonstrates the true meaning of the expression "so close, yet so far away."
As other reviewers note, "Sails" fully finds its sea legs in S2; it seems like deja vu all over again when we see pirate captain Charles Vane raid a merchant ship. The defeated crew peacefully surrendering creates an expectation that Vane is going to do things the easy way. We soon learn that Homie the pirate don't play that. This leads to Vane even more aggressively seeking dominance over the pirate community.
S2 additionally provides the second chapter in the pursuit of the Urca treasure, which aptly becomes a bargaining chip in pursuits of happiness. The S2 finale aspect of that aptly is pure gold and heightens excitement regarding S3.
The new girl in town also becomes a bargaining chip on a few levels, She is being held hostage for ransom but also is a valuable peace offering in events that determine the future of Nassau. This prompts a sort of a homecoming in which more secrets are revealed and regarding which it seems that thieves are the only one with any honor. All of this (and several other developments) offer Bay a chance to stage the epic battles for which he is so well known. Other mayhem comes in the form of slit throats and orchestrated "accidents."
Students of history and folks who use a Google search as a half-assed form of cheating know the outcome of the power struggle for New Providence Island; "Sails" shows that getting there is all the fun.
The bigger picture this time is Bay putting a more realistic spin on "The Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise and "The Pirates of Penzance" operetta sparks interest in early 18th-century world history. Everything is even more connected in that era than it is now, and we see how things evolve. We further learn that there are at least 50 shades of gray between the titular canvases under which the pirates sail and the white sails of the "good" guys.
The Blu-ray for each season has copious spectacular special features that demonstrate the love of the cast and crew. The S1 bonuses focus on creating the series and the oft-mentioned historical context. This culminates in several S4 roundtable features on topics that include "The Legends of Treasure Island" and "Fearless Fans."
This incomplete discussion of "Sails" proves that there is more than enough reason to get on board regarding the series; it truly is a unique series with feature-film quality acting and cinematography.