The Breaking Glass Pictures May 7, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 mockumentary "Strawberry Flavored Plastic" again shows the Breaking talent for finding art-house films with mainstream appeal. A combination of "Strawberry" broadly following the formula of "The Blair Witch Project" and being set in real-life upstate New York town Peekskill, which is the setting of the sitcom "The Facts of Life," allows dusting off the 20 year-old joke "The Blair Warner Project." That humor relates to the name of a "Facts" character.
"Facts" also inspires a joke that sums ups a theme of "Strawberry." Fictional documentarians Errol and Ells do not think of a their film subject as a serial killer; they think of their film subject as Noel.
The following YouTube clip of the Breaking trailer for "Strawberry" shows how well that the mockumentary genre can succeed in the right hands.
Errol and Ellis initially think that Noel is a one-trick-pony as to a murder of passion for which his debt to society is paid. By the time that they realize that their subject is a natural-born serial killer who still actively pursues his hobby, they are in very deep. They ultimately put both art and commerce forefront by continuing to make the movie.
Aidan Bristow does a wonderful job playing Noel as a guy who seems a little off but adequately harmless. This performance partially makes it believable that Errol and Ellis continue to hang around even after learning the awful truth.
A "bad dog" moment is a game-changer in that the filming of the show goes on in a revised manner. This rude awakening also increases tension that real-life writer/director Colin Bemis portrays so well that digging up his basement and checking out his refrigerator is not entirely unwarranted.
In true 21st-century film style, the beginning of the end is relatively anti-climatic. The best is yet to come in the final few scenes. This reinforces the "peace, love, and understanding" principle that everyone has something to offer and touches the lives of everyone with whom he or she makes a connection. We also get a sense of imitation being the most sincere form of flattery.
The special features include deleted scenes.
Warner Archive continues making the best movies of which you never heard available by releasing the 1932 thriller with social commentary "Roadhouse Murder" on DVD on June 11, 2019. Archive using the term "the deadly Dykes" in the back-cover synopsis enhances this joy.
The following YouTube clip of an Archive promo., for "Roadhouse" is of a pivotal sequence that wonderfully illustrates the vintage early talkie feel of this highly theatrical film. The flawed picture quality of this clip also highlights the much better images and sounds of the Archive DVD.
Like a full gamut of '30s films, our story begins in the bullpen of a newspaper; in this case, a disgruntled veteran reporter is expressing his job dissatisfaction in strong language for films of that era, We soon see the basis for those sentiments.
The toxic editor who inspires the ill will subsequently turns his wrath on cub reporter Charles "Chick" Brian. Chick does good by catching a loose woman red-handed with hot ice and by getting a photo of her in literal hot water. This dame having a friend in a high place kills both the story and the immediate potential for Chick to advance his career.
This blow prompts Chick to take secret girlfriend Mary Agnew, who is the daughter of homicide Inspector William Agnew, for a ride in the country, Things take a combined "It Happened One Night" and "Scooby-Doo" turn when a sudden deluge requires that this unmarried couple without any physical baggage take shelter at The Lame Dog Inn. The manner in which the innkeeper takes advantage of the assumed vulnerability of these guests is a "Roadhouse" highlight.
Things going bump in the night lead to our nice young people discovering the titular crime and knowing whodunit.
Rather than immediately finger the perps, Chick decides to frame himself with the idea that his story literally will be front-page news. The rest of this career-advancement plan involves entrusting Mary, whose name literally is kept out of the papers, with a figurative smoking gun. The rest of her job is to produce this compelling evidence before Chick becomes a permanent guest of the state.
"Roadhouse" then uses a technically advanced method for the era in a variation of using shots of newspaper headlines as an exposition device. This clearly shows Chick is both the story and the author of his tale.
The honeymoon ends on Chick being caught in the worst place at the worst time. This leads to the climatic courtroom scene that seems mandatory for most Golden Age films of every genre. A nice twist ensues courtesy of a chain-of-custody issue requiring that Mary (with help from Dad) does more than just stand by her man.
More fun comes via the cynicism that pervades "Roadhouse" creating the possibility that truth, justice, and the American way will not prevail.
The scoop regarding all this is that "Roadhouse" reminds us of the era in which even B-movies have strong merits.
Mill Creek Entertainment continues to celebrate the spirit of summer camp by adding a spectacularly remastered Blu-ray release of the 2003 made-for-TV movie "The Stranger Beside Me: The Ted Bundy Story" to a plethora of cheesetastic recent home-video releases. The "I Heart the '90s" offshoot of the equally good "Retro VHS" series from MCE is a prime example of this.
The only fault in "Stranger" is not in stars Billy Campbell and Barbara Hershey ("Beaches") or the good production. The not-so-fatal flaw is with the source material in the form of the 1980 true-crime bestseller of the same name by Ann Rule. The fact that the full name of "Strangers" begins with "Ann Rule Presents" further illustrates this annoying (and arguably unprofessional) approach to the subject. Bundy (Campbell), not Rule (Hershey), is the real star, This is especially so considering that Rule is slow on the uptake regarding the hobby of her pal.
Like many other successful biopics, "Stranger" acknowledges that most viewers already know the story and are interested in supplementing our knowledge. Thus, rather than starting at the beginning, "Stranger" commences with Bundy being pulled over in a 1978 traffic stop in Florida that both he and the majority of the viewers know will not end well for him,
Bundy then uses his one telephone call to phone a friend by reaching out and touching Rule, who is in Seattle. The action then shifts back to 1971 and Bundy and Rule working together on a suicide-prevention hotline. The good part of that scene relates to it illustrating the charm of Bundy that is an asset regarding his hobby; the bad part is that this also is used to provide exposition regarding former cop Rule being an insightful and talented true-crime reporter.
Worlds soon collide as a series of girls going missing and/or being found dead prompts Rule to take a hard-line with her teen daughter. We also see Rule offhandedly note that the evidence could point to Ted as the perpetrator.
The rest of this part of the story is that Bundy is involved in a serious romantic relationship and is preparing to move to Utah to attend law school. The lesson here is the common one that we and our significant others do not show our crazy until a ring is put on it.
This narrative continues with Bundy putting his intellect and his aforementioned charm to good use in luring his victims via a variation on the perverse tactic of child molesters getting their victims to look for a non-existent lost puppy. Another difference is that big girls are the ones in peril in this case.
We ultimately catch up with the present as law-enforcement co-operation leads to connecting Bundy with several murders in multiple states. Highlight in this portion of "Stranger" include Bundy aptly using the cunning of a zoo animal in an effort to no longer be a guest of the State.
Watching Bundy present his own defense at his murder trial provides reason to doubt the validity of the Twain expression that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client. The related admiration of the judge for the courtroom skill of Bundy is another good twist.
This portion of the film further focuses on the cult-style celebrity status that Bundy achieves. It seems that the popularity of this guy is not so far from the level of fandom that the Beatles achieve in their prime.
"Stranger" further is due credit for pulling one more rabbit out of the hat near the end. We learn that there was cause for early intervention that might have produced a more favorable outcome for all than how things worked out,
The bigger picture is that "Stranger" provides especially good hot-weather fun by reminding us that stories that show that truth is stranger than fiction provide excellent fodder for broadcast and basic-cable networks.
The Breaking Glass Pictures June 18, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 "coming-of-age age war musical" period piece "Kanarie" fully demonstrates the regard of Breaking for the spirits of both Pride and the '80s. The film also shows that not learning the lessons of apartheid and government-condoned homophobia back them are condemning us to repeat aspects of both 35 years later.
The following YouTube clip of a "Kanarie" trailer does just as well highlighting all of the three seemingly incompatible elements of the film as writer/director Christiaan Olwagen does blending them.
"Kanarie" opens on a high note; 18 year-old Johan is having great fun wearing a wedding gown and clowning around with his sister. This glee leads to a dare for Johan to walk down the street of his small conservative town in that garb. The rest of the story is that the parents of that excitable boy/fan of Boy George and Depeche Mode are prominent pillars of the community.
All starts out well and leads to one of a few fantasy musical numbers that are straight out of the MTV of the era. Things come crashing down in a way to which all of us who have shed off our repressions and expressed pure joy only to have the real world provide an abrupt rude awakening can relate.
The expression "out the frying pan, into the fire" is very apt regarding the news that awaits Johan on his return from his walk-of-shame. He learns that his number has come up and that he must enter the South African army for his two years of service. The rest of the story is that this is an era in which the actual battle regarding apartheid is at a peak.
Johan receives less-than-anticipated relief when his musical talents earn him a spot in the titular South African Defense Forces Church Choir. That group travels around performing for the folks back home. The rude awakening this time is that the military is very effective at reminding the songbirds that they still are soldiers.
The next scenes evoke strong thoughts of the 1988 Neil Simon semi-autobiographical non-musical war movie "Biloxi Blues." That film has Brooklyn draftee Jerome (Matthew Broderick) traveling to the titular Southern city for basic training before being shipped off to show Mr. Hitler that the nephews of Uncle Sam have something to say about how The Little Corporal is running things.
Like Jerome, Johan boards a train for his first military home away from home. Both boys also travel with those who at least will be near (if not dear) to them for the foreseeable future. In the case of Jerome, this is rotund high-voiced hyper-active (queen?) Ludolf and their (not-so-little) corporal, whose behavior screams for him to become a victim of friendly fire.
One difference is that Johan and his band (pun intended) of brothers is headed to the Valhalla Air Force Base in Swartkop.
Beyond that, the similarities between "Biloxi" and "Kanarie" are so strong that one must think about whether come elements are from the former or the latter. An example of this is a white soldier in "Biloxi" concealing that one of his parents is black. Another "Biloxi" scene has two gay soldiers getting caught in the act prompting a witch hunt.
Johan and Ludolf soon meet and bond with Wolfgang Muller, who shares the enthusiasm of Johan for the pop music of the day.
Much of the good humor of "Kanarie" comes courtesy of scenes with the stereotypical host families with whom they stay while on tour. These include a motherly type and a Mrs. Robinson who clumsily tries to seduce the lads.
It is during this period that Johan and Wolfgang truly become brothers at arms. The problem is that Johan is uncomfortable about even accepting (let alone embracing) that he is gay. He puts this in the context that Boy George is keeping at least one foot in the closet.
Of course, all this leads to final act drama as Johan faces the dual pressures of being in the military and singing in a church choir. The means by which he receives at least a quantum of solace shows that there was more enlightenment than generally considered in the mid-80s.
The bigger (and highly relatable) picture this time is that virtually all of us experience a first or second coming-of-age on concluding our high-school career. We experience the larger world by entering college, enlisting in the military, or immediately becoming a wage slave. The common lessons that come with these experiences is that we must adapt or perish and that that does not always come with the luxury of to thine own selves be true.
Olwagen nicely expresses the times that are a changing in the South African in the '70s and '80s and what makes his characters from that era tick in an insightful DVD extra, This feature also provides good behind-the-scenes secrets.
The Mill Creek Entertainment June 4, 2019 "I Heart '90s" BD release of the 1997 Jean-Claude Van Damme action-adventure film "Double Team" reminds us that the multiplex fare of that decade extends beyond bright-and-bold teencoms, such as the "Heart" releases of "Excess Baggage" and "Opportunity Knocks." This also is the era in which musclemen, such as Van Damme and Schwarzenegger, revel much more in kicking ass than taking down names. These studs also make it clear that even not running out of bubble gum would have changed anything.
Dennis Rodman co-starring in "Team" further reminds us that several NBA stars tried their hand at acting in the '90s.
The following YouTube clip of a "Team" trailer provides a good sense of why the film appeals to the 12 year-old boy or tomboy in all of us. There potentially will be plenty of blood.
Our story begins with a cold open in which secret-agent man Jack Quinn (Van Damme) is recovering a massive amount of plutonium that criminal mastermind Stavros (Mickey Rourke) has sold to the highest bidder. These elements (along with other aspects of "Team") will evoke thoughts of the even-more guilty pleasure 1986 film "Never Too Young to Die" starring rockers John Stamos and Gene Simmons.
Quinn shows that his mission is not impossible, and the action shifts ahead three years as Quinn, Jack Quinn is living a quiet life of luxury with pregnant wife Kathryn at their "cottage" in the South of France. Just when Quinn thinks that he is out, "they" pull him back in to finish off Stavros once and for all.
The prep. for this new mission includes a visit to highly-Q flamboyant arms dealer Yaz (Rodman) to stock up on needed supplies. Of course, the pair clashes and trade barbs.
This leads to Quinn not taking full advantage of his second bite at the apple. His "punishment" consists of exile at the paradise of "The Colony," which ala "The Village" of the classic British series "The Prisoner," is where agents who have outlived their usefulness but are too dangerous to roam free are sent to live out the rest of their lives. "Team" even has a "Rover" like massive inflatable bubble, which aptly look more like a basketball in this film.
The rest of this part of the story is that Kathryn and most of the rest of the world think that Quinn is dead.
General tenaciousness and a strong motive prompt Quinn to plot a successful elaborate great escape. Of course, Stavros and Kathryn play prominent roles regarding this.
Quinn once again calls on Yaz to outfit him; one difference is that the latter tags along this time.
It is equally predictable (and fun) that the confrontations amp up as the opposing forces clash; this leads an awesomely old-school showdown in the coliseum. Of course, three men enter and two men leave. This leads to an effort to clean up a remaining loose end.
The appeal of all this is that the tried-and-true elements provide 90 minutes of escapist cathartic fun in which larger-than-life characters let us see their somewhat idealized world in which the hero bounces back at least until he has fully outlived his usefulness.
The accolades for the remastering of the Warner Archive June 25, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1944 Oscar-winning Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer classic "Gaslight" is that it goes beyond looking and sounding pristine to having visual depth that rivals that of 4K. Praise for this masterful production of a live-stage hit is that even cinephiles/veteran Blu-ray reviewers can mistakenly recall this George Cukor as being a Hitchcock film.
Hitchcock blonde Ingrid Bergman EARNS her first of three Oscars for her spot-on portrayal of naive and vulnerable newlywed Paula, who falls victim to the long-game plan of scoundrel Gregory (Charles Boyer) if that is his real name.
Other notable casting includes a 17 going on 18 Angela Lansbury playing cheeky maid Nancy, the thoroughly delightful Dame May Whitty playing daffy elderly neighbor Miss Thwaites, and Orson Welles entourage member Joseph Cotten playing Scotland Yard detective Brian Cameron with at least one form of personal interest in the perils of Paula.
The following YouTube clip of a "Gaslight" trailer PERFECTLY captures the 1895 goth vibe of the film,. This promo. strongly suggests that the film could be titled "The Bride of Jack the Ripper,"
As real-life (and equally attractive) Ingrid Bergman daughter Pia Lindstrom reminds us in a MUST-SEE modern behind-the-scenes BD onus feature, the legacy of "Gaslight" includes that term still being used to refer to someone trying to make us think that we are crazy. Minimally, all of us have had someone insist that they repaid an unsatisfied debt or that the now-gone last can of a highly desired beverage in the refrigerator was never there,
The bigger picture is that studies and anecdotes prove that we and the highly significant others in our lives do not fully show our crazy until a ring has been put on it.
A shamelessly shilled 1946 radio broadcast in which Bergman and Boyer reprise their roles provides yet another compelling reason to add this release to your home-video library.
Our prologue consists of the sensationalism in the immediate wake of the brutal murder of the opera-star aunt/guardian of Paula in her London home. The conclusion is that this killing is collateral damage in a failed burglary to purloin exceptionally valuable jewels.
The rocks remain unaccounted for when we catch up with our Victorian-era Patrick Dennis a decade later. Paula is in Italy studying with a maestro, but her new romance with Gregory is creating a sour note.
The audience is much more woke than Paula regarding her new husband soon manipulating her into moving into the long-shuttered scene of the crime that she fled 10 years earlier. An early bit of gaslighting involves a smoking gun that is very obvious even by "Scooby-Doo" standards.
The gaslighting and associated emotional abuse quickly escalate to the point that Paula is convinced that the gaslight in the fixtures lowering and raising and the things going bump in the night are all in her head. Lindstrom shares the lengths to which Mom goes to make that aspect of the performance convincing.
EVERY cat who has fallen on the floor while rolling over during a nap and every human who has had his or her stupidity thrown in his or her face can relate to the feelings of Paula when Gregory viciously berates her for the mishaps that befall her.
Meanwhile, Brian is monitoring developments and protecting Paula to the legally allowed limit. Nancy is becoming increasingly brazen in a manner that suggests that she soon will be the harlot of the house.
All of this climaxes in true Hitchcock fashion as every loose end is expertly wrapped up. However, this being a British film creates the possibility that there will not be a Hollywood ending.
An "Eureka" moment perfectly reflects the movie-going public service that Olive Films, which fully embraces its 'Cinema Lives Here' motto, provides. Frequent distress regarding the lack of any desirable options at the multiplex led to thoughts that well-produced thrillers were a dead art form.
Lamenting the loss of quality mysteries coincided with the arrival of the Olive Blu-ray of the 1987 John Schlesinger (MUST-SEE "Marathon Man") thriller "The Believers," which is being released on June 25.
Olive pairing this release with a (reviewed) Blu-ray of the cult-classic '60s beach movie "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" led to recognizing the Olive commitment to keeping discarded subgeenres alive. Those of us familiar with these perfect blends of art and commerce are infinitely grateful to Olive. "Virgins" literally do not know what they are missing,
The exceptional Blu-ray masters of every Olive release are a special treat to "sluts" who have only seen these films in more grainy versions both on the not-so-silver screen and on even HDTVs. You definitely will get immersed like you never have before.
Olive reminds us that the behind-the-scenes cred. of this tale of wonderfully creepy tale of Santeria in the Big Apple extends beyond Schlesinger. Screenwriter Mark Frost is a co-creator of "Twin Peaks." Aptly, a damn-fine cup of coffee is a major plot point in "Believers."
In front of the camera, Martin Sheen delivers a perfect performance as newly widowed and relocated psychologist Cal Jamison.
EVERYTHING about "Believers" screams Hitchcock. This begins with setting the eerie scares in everyday settings and centering the film around an everyman initially thrown into an somewhat unusual circumstance that develops into a terrifying new normal.
Our story begins with a typical morning for Minneapolis residents Cal, his wife, and their young son Chris. A common (and typically minor) household accident leads to a horrific death for the wife that Cal and Chris witness.
The need for change prompts Cal to relocate Chris to New York. The common Hollywood magic as to this is that Cal finds a large, bright, and immaculate two-story apartment on a clean and quiet street. On top of this, pretty and nice landlord Jessica lives across the street. It is difficult to imagine such a place existing and any one that does not costing far more even a psychologist can afford, This is aside from having a landlord so close who also perfectly maintains the place,
The opening scenes also include a very primitive Santeria ritual and a practitioner of that religion playing the Jedi mind-trick on a JFK customs agent.
The worlds first collide when Chris runs off during a Central Park outing. He scurries behind some rocks and stumbles upon the remains of a ritual sacrifice. The subtext of this scene is amusing to viewers who are woke regarding the ritual in which some young men engage in that area of the park.
Cal fully joins the party on police Lieutenant McTaggert consulting him as to the detective investigating a series of murders of boys. That investigator is convinced that the cult committing the crimes has a supernatural hold on him and is out to get him. Stating that the theory that just because you are paranoid does not mean that no one is out to get you applies is not much of a spoiler.
Meanwhile, Cal entering a (perhaps bewitching) relationship with Jessica greatly upsets Chris, who also may be under a spell of his own. Ambiguity regarding both the incident that brings Cal back to New York and as to the reaction of Chris to his father becoming closer to Jessica is part of what makes "Believers" so awesome.
The final piece of the puzzle comes courtesy of the elderly academics who taught the dead wife of Cal; back in the day. ANYONE who has watched the MUST-SEE "Rosemary's Baby" or other similar films knows that any (particularly motherly) New Yorker who seems too good to be true probably is not so nice.
In true Hitchcock style, a perceived threat turns out to be a thwarted savior. We also get the common Hitchcockian element of the all-American boy in the film finding himself in peril and Dad rushing to the rescue. In this case. Chris becomes the chosen one in an unpredictable fashion.
The thrilling extended climax is pure Schlesinger. The unexpected twists galore are a treat in this era in which the conclusion of most movies is obvious in the first 15 minutes. Team Schlesinger goes above and beyond in upsetting the apple cart one more time in the final minutes.
The most important takeaway from "Believers" is that it is scary because it mostly could be true.
The Lionsgate June 11, 2019 separate DVD & BD release of S6 (a.k.a. "To the Max") of the Netflix women behind bars dramedy "Orange is the New Black" provides a good chance to watch this reformatting of this multi-Emmy winning series from the beginning, It additionally is a good chance to see all the action ahead of the July 27, 2019 release of the S7 episodes.
Also. aside from not having to worry about Netflix dropping episodes from its service, the enhanced BD images look and sound far better than the streaming versions. This is not to mention the awesome home-video special features that include "Litchfield to the Max" and a gag reel.
The following YouTube clip of the official S6 trailer introduces many of the copious primary themes of the never-a-dull-minute 13 episodes. It also shows why this series warrants comparison to the former Showtime boys behind bars dramedy "Oz."
Our (mostly) season-long story arcs begin one week after the quelling of the S5 riot. Our girls in orange aptly find that they are not in Oz anymore. This involves them facing the challenge of adapting or perishing in their new environments,
Said different worlds from the ones from which they come are the C, D, and "Florida" cell blocks at their new home. The Jets versus the Sharks mentality as to C & D begins with the C Block girls initially getting all the relatively good perks and privileges while the D girls are the low women on the totem pole.
The "Florida" residents mostly are the older inmates and include others whose mental states are adequately impaired to get them a spot in this coveted area. The rubs as to this include that some outsiders are willing to kill to create a vacancy in the Sunshine State. "Orange" fans should not be surprised to learn that popular character Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren ends up in Florida and constantly irks the Golden Girls.
A long-standing violent sibling rivalry between C and D block residents Carol and Barbara (Mackenzie Phillips) brings the aforementioned simmering bad blood to a boil. Flashback scenes of the joint crime that gets the sisters labelled "The Little Debbie Killers" and that lands them in the joint are season highlights. They also shine in all their ruthlessly violent interaction and hilarious dispute regarding an incident at a restaurant where they both worked during high school.
Other drama relates to investigations and related proceedings as to holding prisoners culpable for their actions during the riot and for holding folks on the other side of the bars accountable for what they did and did not do during those events. This is not to mention a hilarious run for the border by one inmate who gets away with a little help from her friend,
One spoiler is that the search for closure regarding the riot is just as likely to involve being satisfied with a convenient truth as it is to strive to meet the ideal of truth, justice, and the American way.
This is not to mention central "Orange" character Piper Chapman contending with the absence of her fellow inmate/fiancee Alex "Boss" Vause, addict convict Nikki facing renewed Daddy issues, and the guards creating a fantasy league that involves proportionately profiting from convict misbehavior of various degrees of seriousness.
All of this occurs in the context of season-finale kickball tournament that sets the stage for an epic rumble between the C and the D block inmates. In true "Orange" style, this does not occur as expected.
All of this amounts to "Orange" further fulfilling the theatrical ideal by leaving the audience wanting more; fortunately, S7 provides the payoff regarding that.
Getting over disappointment regarding the sadistically misleading title of the 1943 WWII propaganda film "The Gorilla Man" allows thoroughly enjoying the recent Warner Archive DVD release of this B movie. The titular primate is wounded warrior Capt. Craig Killian, who earns that nickname for climbing skills that he demonstrates in our story.
The textbook fun begins with Nazi agent Dr. Dorn, who uses his private sanitarium on the English coast as a cover, learning through his literal spy network that the ship carrying Killian's Heroes back to Mother England from a commando raid was sunk. The rest of the story is that that band of brothers is expected to come ashore near the aforementioned medical facility.
A series of seemingly fortunate events leads to an oblivious Killian becoming a guest of Dorn and the even madder Dr. Ferris. A subsequent reveal that Dorn has a stranglehold on his associate turns out to be very apt. The coercion of Nurse Kruger is more despicable.
The plot thickens on Dorn learning that Killian is desperate to give British General Devon important information about a Nazi incursion. This leads to a collateral damage scheme to discredit Killian so that his superiors literally will not take him at his word.
The insidious Nazi manipulation leads to Killian having his credibility increasingly impaired, trying to stay one step ahead of the London police, and racing to try to keep the body count low. His inadvertently repeatedly acting as his puppetmaster desires does not help things.
Director of 101 projects D. Ross Lederman and writer of 154 scripts Anthony Coldeway earn their filler feature an A with a perfect climax. The usual suspects all convene at the scene of the crime where Ferris does his thing for his fun and for the profit of Dorn. Meanwhile, Killian is on site thanks to his aforementioned talent. The general and his senior staff meeting to discuss the now-imminent threat from the Jerrys provide the final piece of the puzzle.
The real fun come when Dorn overplays his hand and the general's daughter shows that she is capable of far more than lying back and thinking of England; the final shot does strongly indicates that she will be doing that later that evening.; one can only hope that she gets a chocolate bar and a pair of stockings for her trouble.,
The Virgil Films separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2018 drama "Borg v. McEnroe" is one of many examples of those of us who are not sports fans missing out on a great movie because of bias against the overall subject of a movie. A personal example from this guy who has never watched "Raging Bull," "Bull Durham," or any "Rocky" film is that getting a review of the complete series of the Aaron Sorkin dramedy "Sports Night" corrected missing out on that terrific program.
As the title indicates, "Borg" centers around the genuinely historic 1980 Wimbledon showdown between the titular tennis stars. What the title does not indicate is that the movie provides strong insight into the psyches of the competitors and presents the main event in a very compelling manner.
An amusing aspect of "Borg" is having volatile Disney Channel veteran Shia LeBeouf play McEnroe, who is best known for having a short temper that results in throwing his tennis racket and verbally abusing match officials. One such incident evokes thoughts of the "Get That Pigeon" theme from the vintage Hanna-Barbera cartoon "Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines," A scene during the heated titular showdown in which McEnroe first is entirely prone on the court and then gets on his hands and knees may prompt sadistic viewers to have "assume the position" thoughts.
The aforementioned insight comes courtesy of alternating scenes that show the competitors in the years and the days leading up to the main event. Seeing the famously cool and collected Borg lose it on the court in his early years of competitive training is surprising; seeing how he becomes the man that he is in 1980 is an interesting coming-of-age story,
For his part, we see the many quirks of McEnroe that demonstrate the pressure that he feels. We further feel sympathy regarding his valid sense that the entire world is against him. This does not stop us from laughing when he curses out the Wimbledon press corps.
The lack of interest in sports is behind fast-forwarding through roughly one-half of the climatic match. Seeing how that transpires prompts watching the rest of that compelling event with amazing shifting results. The stamina alone of the players warrants each of them getting a trophy.
The excellence continues through the "where are they now" epilogue just before the closing credits. The post-match paths of our subjects is worthy of another film.
The bonus features in the forms of separate interviews with LeBeouf, Borg portrayor Sverrir Gudnason, and director Janus Metz provide further noteworthy insights. Metz expresses the aforementioned sentiments in stating his initial lack of interest in the project because of the surface subject but then reading the entire script in one sitting.
The Warner Archive April 23, 2019 DVD release of the 1936 drama "Jailbreak" reminds us of the good old days when men talked tough and dolls stood by their guys. This is not to mention a smart mouth likely earning you a sock on the jaw or a kick in the pants.
The plot thickens from the opening scenes in which made man Ed Slayden bursts his way into the successful night club of former associate/current truly legitimate businessman Mike Eagen. Slayden is on the lam from a heist gone bad and demands help from a sheepish Eagen. Although he is no longer a baad man, Eagen slugs a copper with the idea that that the anticipated resulting 30 days in stir will keep him out of circulation long enough protect him from Slayden until the heat dies down.
The rub comes in the form of the adage related to the best-laid plans of mice and mobsters. Eagen runs afoul of a two-strikes mandatory-minimum law that results in a two-year sentence, On top of that, prison guard Dan Stone has it out for the new fish based on their prior dealings.
Things go from bad to worse when Slayden and his gang get collared, resulting in becoming fellow guests of the state with Eagen.
The better news is that loyal Girl Friday Jane Rogers and crusading reporter Ken Williams are on Team Eagen. Rogers is diligently keeping the club doors open and doing everything else that she can to help her boss; Williams is using the power-of-the-press to sway public opinion.
A combination of a prison killing and a treasure hunt further rock the institution and transform "Break" into a traditional whodunit. The latter includes adding to the body count and assaulting Williams in the course of his investigation.. This is not to mention Williams proving during a close approximation of a drawing room confrontation that he is much more than a pretty face.
The titular event barely even is a "B" story as a group of cons decide that they want a variation of an early release. They soon learn that successfully going over the wall is not always a good thing.
"Break" being a Hollywood movie from the era in which the Hays Code is enforced ensures that crime does not pay and that at least some good guys get a happy ending. Everyone else simply gets another day older and deeper in debt.
Wrapping up the four-part series of reviews on the uber-diverse Olive Films August 16, 2016 Blur-ray/DVD releases that has dominated Unreal TV this week with the very groovy psychedelic 1968 dramedy "Wild in the Streets" arguably saves the best for last. This is because this satire regarding granting the actual disenfranchised the vote is very relevant in what arguably is a satirical actual presidential campaign makes it the most relevant of the four.
"Wild," which has a wonderful LSD vibe sound track, opens with '60s style surreal scenes of the oppression/abuse and subsequent drug activity and related rebellion during the childhood and teen years of later counterculture rocker 24 year-old Max Frost. Dreamy Christopher Jones of "Ryan's Daughter" does a terrific job playing Max as someone mainstream enough to (initially) not scare parents while being enough of a rebel to be a teen idol in this era of free love.
Using what seems to be the living room set of the wholesome '50s sitcom "Leave it to Beaver" for the childhood home of Max is almost as awesome as casting top-billed Shelley Winters as his status-obsessed (and later borderline-incestuous) typical '60s housewife mother Daphne.
The action soon shifts to the palatial estate where multi-millionaire commodity Frost lives with his entourage/band. These include adorable 15 year-old Yale Law graduate/accountant/guitarist Billy Gage (who looks as if he is one of My Three Sons). Richard Pryor does well in his early film career role as hilariously named drummer Stanley X.
Classic TV fans will enjoy seeing Kellie Flanagan of the '60s fantasycom "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" as the young daughter of Fergus. As a first aside, Flanagan states during a May 2015 Unreal TV interview that "Wild" star Hal Holbrook is extremely caring and nice. As a second aside, Flanagan gets one of the best lines in the film during her final scene in which she takes Frost to old school.
"Youthful" 38 year-old California Congressman/U.S. Senate candidate Johnny Fergus (played by a wonderfully youthful Holbrook) recruiting Max and the band to play at a campaign rally gets those kids thinking about the real-world issue regarding 18 year-olds being eligible to be drafted and sent to Viet Nam but not being allowed to vote until they are 21. A related thought is that the majority of the American population is 25 or younger.
These events soon lead to Fergus losing control of Max, who begins an aggressive campaign to lower the voting age to 14 as shown in an awesome video courtesy of YouTube. This, in turn, lead to other satirical reforms that take the '60s concept of not being able to trust anyone over 30 to a hilarious extreme. The expert handling of this includes every scene with Fergus and Frost having the other appear much taller than the latter and looking like father-son interaction.
The related hilarity includes what can be considered weaponized LSD, an outraged senior in every sense U.S. Senator witnessing the free-spirited debauchery at Chez Frost, and the straight-laced teen son of Fergus engaging in the cutest form of rebellion ever.
Like all great satire, this exagerated version of reality in "Wild" works because it uses a talented writer and director to determine what likable and/or absurd characters say and do. Being given power is a fantasy of the young, and absolute power corrupts absolutely regardless of who yields it.
On a larger level, "Wild" is fun nostalgia for folks old enough to remember psychedelic cinema and a great look at the "ancient" past for folks who have never seen a corded telephone.
The Warner Archive DVD release of the 1977 neo-noir with comic touches film "The Late Show" provides another chance to see that Art Carney of "The Honeymooners" is more than just another pretty face. This movie makes a great companion to the (reviewed) Archive DVD release of the 1979 Carney comedy with serious overtones "Going in Style" and his Oscar-winning performance in the 1974 film "Harry and Tonto."
The behind-the-camera cred. of "Show" includes the work of Oscar winner writer/director Robert Benton. His better known films include "Kramer vs. Kramer," "Bonnie and Clyde," and "Places in the Heart."
This change of pace for Carney and co-star Lily Tomlin gets off on the right note with the perfect balance between exposition and starting the action. Elderly private eye Ira Wells (Carney) is enjoying a quiet evening in his small shabby bachelor pad when an old friend stops by and drops dead within a minute of arriving,
The noirness of this film that showcases the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles continues with Wells reuniting with another old friend at the funeral for the dearly departed. Charlie Hatter (Bill Macy of "Maude") is an increasingly failing talent agent who introduces Wells to former client Margo Sterling (Tomlin).
The deceptively simple case this time is that Sterling wants Wells to rescue her cat Winston, whom a catnapper is holding for ransom in the amount of a debt that Sterling owes that scoundrel.
The plot thickens on Sterling literally bringing her troubles to the front door of Chez Wells by arranging a meeting with the not-so-smooth criminal; this results in gun play that fully sets the game afoot for Wells.
Discovering postage stamps on the body of the recently deceased leads to Wells investigating the theft of that loot in a robbery in which the lady of the house is killed. This investigation brings Wells to the home of fence Ron Birdwell (Eugene Roche). The "muscle" of Ron not hesitating to rough up Wells within a minute of his arrival can be considered nice commentary on a lack of age discrimination.
Wells brings Sterling along on a visit to a usual suspect with hopes of that discussion having the least possible trauma and drama. This pair discovering that someone literally and figuratively beat them to the punch draws our low-rent Remington Steele and Laura Holt deeper into the case.
More fun relates to discovering that Laura Birdwell (Joanna Cassidy) is involved in all the action to an even larger degree then her husband is pure Chandler or Spade.
Wells ultimately shows that snow on the roof does not freeze the brain when he connects the pieces in classic noir fashion. It seems that only pulp fiction can tie together a dead gumshoe, a ditzy damsel in distress, a murder-robbery that involves much more than meets the eye. an extra-marital affair, and a friend who dupes a good buddy into having to figure out all of it.
Benton shows genius in remaining true to gritty noir drama decades after the golden era of that genre, successfully showing new sides of Tomlin and Carney and getting that May-December team to click, and crafting a plot that keeps the twists coming until the end, It is hard to imagine that they can make 'em like that anymore.
Archive keeps the fun coming with a special feature that shows Tomlin bringing Ernestine the telephone operator to the party when she discusses "Show" on "Dinah" with Dinah Shore.
The recent well-remastered Warner Archive DVD release of the 1932 Kafkaesque crime melodrama "Night Court" once again shows that Archive rules regarding shining a spotlight on films that remain highly relevant more than 80 years after their premieres. The same is true regarding the Archive releases of the similar (reviewed) "The Star Witness" and the more campy but good (also reviewed) "Unashamed." These and numerous other Archive titles demonstrate that it is a crying shame that they don't male 'em like that anymore.
The prevalent social commentary in "Witness" and "Unashamed" is even more copious in "Court," which should not be confused with the "Must See" sitcom of the same name. This one based on a play co-written by syndicated columnist and film-producer Mark Hellinger has judicial corruption, a loose woman, and class warfare.
The pedigree of "Court" extends beyond Hellinger to include Oscar-nominated W.S. Van Dyke, whose 91 directing credits include the "Thin Man" films. The equally good cast includes Walter Huston as corrupt night-court judge Andrew J. Moffett and Lewis Stone as crusading member of the judiciary Judge William Osgood.
Our story begins with Moffett essentially having his pre-Code-enforcement kept floozy Lil Baker examining his briefs in his office before his version of a kangaroo court begins its session. A wonderful skeleton in the closet metaphor is a "Court" highlight.
These opening scenes establish both the blatant nature in which Moffett can be bought and the degree to which Osgood is targeting this man. Good humor from the swift administration of "justice" in the titular judicial venue stems from women being arrested for loitering on street corners. Poetic justice would result in fining them two bits.
Osgood closing in on Moffett prompts the latter to sentence Baker to hard-time in an apartment in a working-class neighborhood as part of a plan to hinder the investigation. Her role includes keeping a bank book for a secret account from falling into the right hands.
Both the melodrama and Kafkaesque portion of the film begin on Baker meeting her new neighbors. Mike Thomas is a blue-collar everyman who drives his hack all night while his loving wife Mary stays home with their bouncing baby boy.
Junior innocently taking a "smoking gun" from Lil and Mary inadvertently seeing that evidence puts a target on her back. Moffett initially sets her up for an unfair fall and seals the deal by having her appear in his courtroom. A proceeding that greatly exceeds the constitutional requirement for a speedy trial results in Mary becoming a guest of the state on the same day of her arrest. All of this occurs while Mike is driving his cab.
After approaching a grief-fueled approach to rock bottom, Mike learns the truth and begins to fight back. His lesson regarding the reach of the long arm of the law leads to him taking the law in his own hands.
This excessive trauma and drama culminates in the courtroom climax that particularly is a staple of Golden Age films. An unusual amount of dramatics result in proof that truth, justice, and the American way ultimately prevail. The reality helps explain why Hollywood is known as La La Land.
The Icarus Films February 5, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 Iranian drama "No Date, No Signature" adds more proof to the pile of evidence that world cinema eclipses even indie productions in the United States.
This release comes a few weeks after the announcement of the eight "Best Picture" nominees for the 2019 Oscars. Of this octet. having only seen "Black Panther" and solely doing so to keep up with the "Avengers" franchise reinforces that something is rotten in the state of California (and Wakanda).
On a lighter note, fans of the many (oft-reviewed) Icarus films will recognize the theme of a car striking a pedestrian that is an element of several movies in that catalog. It seems that a filmmaker who wants to increase the odds of Icarus releasing his or her production should have a character take one for the team.
Many of the 13 wins and additional 15 nominations being for rookie writer/director Vahid Jalilvand reinforces that that artist has excellent instincts. The fests that bestow that accolade range from the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival to the Fajr Film Festival the same year.
The following YouTube clip of the official U.S. trailer for "Date" further illustrate the merits of the film. It is a quality production of a compelling story. There is no reliance on the star power of the lead, and the story (mostly) avoids melodrama.
The opening scenes reflect Jalilvand striking a good balance between exposition and getting down to business. We see forensic pathologist Dr. Kaveh Nariman going about his business before getting in his car for the drive that changes everything.
Many of us can relate to the circumstances that lead to to Kaveh striking the motorcycle that Moosa is driving, These events also establish the theme of shared (and arguably ambiguous) culpability that runs throughout "Date."
Kaveh immediately does the right thing by offering medical care and monetary compensation; he also repeatedly urges Moosa to bring his injured young son to a nearby medical clinic. Moosa refuses the offered care and cash but indicates an intent to take his son to the clinic.
Anyone (i.e., all of us) who has experienced thinking that an unpleasant incident is resolved only to have it resurface can relate to Kaveh learning soon after the accident that the injured boy is DOA on arriving at the hospital where that medical professional works. The autopsy form listing the cause of death as unknown does not help matters.
The mystery for the co-workers of our Iranian version of Quincy is why he is so upset regarding the treatment of a boy that he merely identifies as the son of an acquaintance. The first part of the puzzle for Kaveh is whether the injuries from the hit without a run or the diagnosed botulism is the cause of the death of the deceased. A related issue is whether the boy would have fatally succumbed to the disease in a few days regardless of whether the accident occurred.
The survivor's guilt of Moosa manifests itself in his probable role in his child getting botulism. This prompts the distraught parent to confront a man with a role in those events. Suffice it to say that that exchange takes a heavy toll on both men.
All of this leads to resolutions that provide one-and-all realistic but not happy endings. The lessons are that many people can contribute to bad outcomes and that karma is the mother of all bitches.
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.