Friend to lovers of retro and neo-retro television series, CBS Home Entertainment provides more reason to rejoice by releasing the awesomely unique second season of the CBS All-Access reboot of 60s sci-fi classic "The Twilight Zone" on DVD on Jan. 12, 2021., The better news is that this 2-disc set reinforces the All-Access cred. as to updating classic '60s sci-fi. This streaming service also is home to the "Trek" series (reviewed) "Discovery" and the even-better (reviewed) "Picard."
The cred. of "Zone" begins with OS guiding light Rod Serling (now deceased) widow/"Zone" producer Carolyn Serling helping to keep the family franchise going strong ala "Trek" god Gene Roddenberry widow Majel Barrett doing so with "Trek" series. Carolyn chooses wisely in partnering with "Zone" '19 creator/host/Oscar winner Jordan Peele in bringing the series to life and paying the OS proper homage.
This aptly 10-episode season commences with "Meet in the Middle," which sets the S2 precedence of particularly honoring the OS tradition of a "left-field" twist in the final minutes. This one starts with an quasi (HILARIOUS Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin comedy) "All of Me" style seemingly random telepathic link between looking-for-love in too many faces Phil and looking-for-love in all the wrong places married Annie.
Shock-and-awe soon turns to friendship, which turns to love, and then to plans for far more than a booty call. The BRILLIANT manner in which Phil learns that femme fatales ain't nothin' but trouble shows that this is your grandfather's "Twilight Zone."
"Among the Downtrodden" is another stand-out episode in a season that verifies the UK theory that producing 10 exceptional offerings in a season is preferable to churning out 22 mediocre ones. This variation of "Heathers," "Mean Girls" and similar Queen "B" high-school girl movies and television fare begins with slightly awkward transfer student Irene immediately coming under fire by the cool kids at her new all-girls' boarding school.
Irene gradually has a positive reversal of fortune when she schools popular classmate Madison in the facts of life by telling the latter that she is the girl with something extra. The "Harry Potter" vibe continues with these unlikely friends experimenting with the powers of Madison in an abandoned bathroom.
The totally unpredictable twist this time proves that Irene is the salt of the earth and that mean girls are mean for a reason.
"A Human Face" earns the award for the most creepy offering. A not-so-happily married couple is in the final stages of closing up their home that is associated with one of the worst tragedies that can befall a bonded pair when they discover something far worse than a rat in their basement. This leads to a "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opening of old wounds and a related need to decide the acceptable level of a suspension of disbelief.
The underlying S2 moral is that it is never too late to return to old school.
The DVD special features include a gag reel and a plethora of deleted and extended scenes. The latter show that babies sometimes are thrown out with the bathwater.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 drama "Martyr" has the live-stage vibe that separates the wheat from the chaff. This tale of an aimless failure-to-launch 20-something additionally can be considered a neo-modern fable,
The official accolades for "Martyr" include "Best Artistic Achievement" for writer/director Mazen Khaled at the 2018 Alexandria International Film Festival.
This wonderfully surreal film begins with titular post-adolescent Hassane dreaming about drowning and other things to come. His literal and figurative awakening from his slumber on a mattress in the dining area of his parents' apartment comes on his mother demanding that he get up and find gainful employment. This also involves a few of the most telling moments in the film. Suffice it to say that Hassane has virtually no shame and is very reluctant to engage in employment that is appropriate for his background.
Breaking the Fifth Commandment, Hassane heads out for an afternoon by the sea with his band of beach brothers. This turns out to be more fatal than being welcomed to the working week.
This leads to a procession that evokes Christ being taken down off the cross. The aforementioned friends bring Hassane home, and we witness both the rituals associated with preparing the body and the funeral itself,
All of this provides a glimpse of the global mind of a Millennial who lacks a bright future. We further learn more about the nature of the titular sacrifice.
Breaking supplements this with the Khaled short film "A Very Dangerous Man" about intrigue in 2012 Beirut.
The Film Movements Classics division of Film Movement pristine Blu-ray release of the 1993 slice-of-of-life comedy "Caro Diario" is the latest example of introducing audiences to one of the greatest movies that many of us never knew existed. The awesome Classic (reviewed) release of the Salma Hayek film "Midaq Alley" also perfectly illustrates this aspect of Classic titles.
The 13 wins for "Diario" include writer/director/star Nanni Moretti scoring the 1994 Cannes Best Director award.
The following "Diario" trailer highlights the three-chapter format of the film and the quirky charm of Moretti.
"Diario" follows the apparent dual tradition of introspective Euro films of having much of the exposition come in the form of an ongoing inner-monologue of the central character in blocks. In this case, we get the wit and wisdom of real-life filmmaker Moretti in three distinct chapters of the titular journal. The manner in which this all ties together at the end of the movie validates the theory that Hollywood (and Portland) has a great deal to learn from the film capitals across the pond.
The first chapter finds Moretti having a "Roman Holiday" by cruising around his home turf on his scooter. His adventures include watching matinees at movie theaters, pontificating about film locations, and expressing his "oh what a feeling" exuberance as to the '80s mainstream hit "Flashdance." This relatively youthful exuberance includes an amusing encounter with a principal as to that no-reason-to-feel guilty pleasure.
The next chapter easily is the most amusing; Moretti goes island hopping in the context of meeting with a collaborator. The highlights include "Trip To" style teasing regarding a (presumably real) pan of a film.
We also see our (presumably childless) lead endure a visit to an island on which toddlers and tweens call all the shots. A few segments in which adults must try to make their way past prepubescent gatekeepers in order to speak to a 'rent on the telephone ring very true. Many of us who are old enough to remember landlines being the only option have had to endure the "little angel" who answers then puts down the receiver before going about his or her overheard business without telling Mommy or Daddy about the call.
The apt final chapter finds Moretti very frustrated as to getting medical professionals to adequately focus on a health problem to actually do him some good; the analogy of giving a patient a Tylenol for a brain tumor sadly is not very far off.
As indicated above, this (presumably directly consecutive) several weeks in the life of Moretti comes down to his finding comfort in a variation of the talking cure. By that time, the audience likes him as much as the "professional friend" who directly has the being Nanni Moretti experience.
As usual, the Classics extras prove that that distributor more than holds its own as to a company that has self-proclaimed itself as setting the criterion for these types of releases. These bonus features include a making-of featurette, a deleted scene, and a written essay on the film.
A recent NPR review of a television series provides a perfect perspective as to the Corinth Films DVD release of the 2012 indie film "Two Hundred Thousand Dirty." The NPR personality expresses confusion as to if the show is a comedy or a drama; the conclusion is that that uncertainty means that the program is like real life. The same is true as to "Dirty."
The following "Dirty" trailer illustrates how writer/director/cast member Timothy L, Anderson successfully combines the slacker working-class slob style of Kevin Smith with the wonderfully perverse dark humor of the Coen Brothers.
The opening scenes of mattress store "clerk" Rob wearing a dingy bunny suit while sitting on the toilet in a no-tell-motel perfectly sets the tone for the film. The Smithesque dialogue consists of Rob speaking with fellow employee/future-partner-in-crime Manny (Coolio) about that pair deviating from their practice of working kids' event by booking a plushie fetish session.
The rest of this story is that the suspicion of Rob that he knows the woman who is dominating the session turns out to be accurate; this commences the series of events that introduce the Coen Brothers element.
The action then shifts to Manny, Rob, their manager Preston, and fellow strip-mall rat Martin keeping up with the Smiths. Their day job consists of hanging out inside and in front of the comically failing Affordable Mattress store where Manny and Rob disparage everything that Preston says. The very few customers show that one man's pain is another man's fall-on-the-floor hilarity.
The illogical decision to add Isabelle to the already bloated staff allows for the introduction of the femme fatale. She seduces Rob into agreeing to kill her estranged husband from an arranged shotgun marriage of convenience. Although Rob agrees to go to the mattresses for love and money, Manny and Martin only have the latter motive.
The ensuing Coenesque twists include Rob essentially agreeing to being a double agent, a foul deed going bad, and a body dump becoming absolute rubbish.
The final scene is not surprising but still entertains in a take-the-money-and-run manner. It also proves that dames ain't nothin' but trouble.
The numerous special features include the original "Martin" audition video, a crowdfunding video featuring Anderson, and a music video.
This article on the Imagicomm Entertainment and Insp Films joint joint "Christmas on the Coast" wraps up a not-so-ghostly trio of posts on collaborative holiday fare from those Santa's helpers. "Coast" has the same strong humor as the (reviewed) "Christmas in the Smokies" and camp drama as the (reviewed) "Christmas on the Range."
This take on the Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner "Romancing the Stone" franchise has Julie Ann Emery playing New York-based lovelorn romance novelist Dru Casssadine, who is neither looking for love in all the wrong places nor in too many faces when she returns to the titular South Carolina small town from whence she immediately escaped after graduating high school 20 years earlier. Her motivation for this sort of a homecoming is a desperate measure in response to a desperate publish-or-perish time,
On arrival, Dru is meet by exuberant mother Ellie, whom Bonnie Bedelia plays with the same elan that she puts in performances in a similar role in the Del Shores "Sordid Lives" franchise.
Interacting with the locals inspires Dru to choose an unflattering perspective of them as the subject of her do-or-die book; this coincides with a budding romance with new boy in town Brysen Flynn. This one does win the award for the cutest meet; in this case, New Yorker Dru tries to bully Brysen into handing over the last bag of marshmallows that he just bought at the local grocery store.
Anyone who has seen any holiday fare of this ilk knows that animosity dissipates to the point of warm and fuzzy feelings all around until the inevitable December freeze. In this case, once (and future?) friends and family learn that you can take the girl out of New York but not the New York out of the girl until maybe you can. A related theme is that the "Daria" of the high school often is a jaded teen outcast because the nicest kids in town do not think that she wants to play their reindeer games,
A semi-spoiler is that the obligatory Christmas Eve miracle shows that you can go home so long as you are willing to be work and play well with others.
The Olive Signature division of Olive Films once more shows a business rival who's your daddy as to the Nov. 17, 2020 Signature release of "Rio Grande" that features John Wayne reuniting with the teen son that the Wayne character has not seen for 15 years. The copious bonus features, including a 20-minute Leonard Maltin documentary, are must-see as the Signature pristine restoration of the film.
This one is a perfect gift for anyone who likes Wayne or appreciates classic cinema.
The only downside as to "Rio Grande" being such a classic that is far more than a Western is an inability to do this final installment in the director John Ford Cavalry Trilogy justice. The behind-the-scenes tidbits include Ford and Wayne only agreeing to make this film in exchange for a promise for the studio to make (reviewed) "The Quiet Man," which also has a Signature release. A more modern example of this is Bill Murray conditioning starring in "Ghostbusters" on being able to make "The Razor's Edge."
Our story begins with Army post commander Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke (Wayne) leading a "mission accomplished" parade home to the cheers of the women and the children at that facility near the titular body of water. His celebration is short-lived on learning that estranged son/West Point washout Jeff Yorke (Claude Jarman, Jr. of "The Yearling,") is among the new recruits. Although many film historians likely consider this heresy and The Duke probably is spinning in his grave, "Rio Grande" arguably is more Jarman's movie than Wayne's.
One of the best scenes in the film has Kirby calling Jeff into his tent to make it clear that their relationship is a hinderance, rather than a help. Jarman holding his own against Wayne and ultimately besting him is one of many ways that that young turk pioneer bests that member of the old guard.
A similar (even more amusing scene) has Jeff show that he is in one of the boys when he takes on the toughest "con" in the yard. An endearing "morning after" scene perfectly conveys that Jeff has passed an initiation that his peers are spared.
The plot thickens on Yorke's estranged wife Kathleen Yorke (Maureen O'Hara) showing up to bring her boy home. The masterful gradual reveal as to that conflict is very era apt.
The dignity and stoicism of Kathleen perfectly showcase the talents of O'Hara. This includes this former Southern belle becoming a laundress for the men in order to stay around long enough to convince her boy to come home.
An element of frontier justice enters the picture as to Trooper Travis Tyree (Ben Johnson) having the law catch up to him as to a crime with which he is charged. The manner in which Kirby resolves the conflict between upholding the law and supporting justice is a prime example of "Rio Grande" having much more substance than saloon fights and cattle stampedes. The end result of all this shows that the Hays Code also has a heart.
"Rio Grande" shows the other side of this coin as to the pursuit of marauders who successfully make a run for the border after killing a few good men. Kirby understandably would like to take off in lukewarm pursuit but knows that he is obliged to respect the sovereignty of our neighbor to the South.
All the elements of "Rio Grande" converge as to an event that shows Kirby that no good deed goes unpunished. He, ala Picard when The Enterprise faces a massive threat, orders the evacuation of the women and the children. This leads those innocents directly into an ambush in a scene that is pure Ford. A 2020 perspective must be expressed as to distress on seeing soldiers using a horse as a barrier; fortunately, that magnificent beast lives to trot another day.
This leads to a rescue mission that is equal parts heart and heroics; this also brings peace to the Kirby clan.
In addition to the aforementioned Maltin feature, Signature provides a bonus in which Jarman discusses the amazing story of how he is discovered. The icing on the cake this time is learning of the Jarman memoir "My Life and the Final Days of Hollywood."
Signature additionally has a feature in which Wayne real-life son Patrick discusses his late father; a documentary on the treatment of Native Americans in the film; the theatrical trailer; a written essay, and much more.
Olive Films further cements its place in the hearts of Unreal TV and other classic film lovers with the Olive Signature October 25, 2016 Blu-ray of the 1952 amusing change-of-pace John Wayne/Maureen O'Hara romantic dramedy "The Quiet Man." This story of retired boxer with a past Sean Thornton returning to the sod and experiencing love at first sight on laying eyes on feisty local lass Mary Kate Danaher is also a change-of-pace for Westerns director/frequent Wayne collaborator John Ford.
Olive expressing well-deserved favoritism for "Quiet" shows that that company awesomely is in the home-video business for the art, rather than the commerce. An upcoming releases of Orson Welles' "MacBeth" provide additional proof that Olive chooses wisely regarding adding films to its catalog.
The Best Director Oscar for Ford of the so much more than an oater Wayne/Jimmy Stewart classic "The Man Who Shoot Liberty Valance" further illustrates that his range extends miles beyond stampedes and shootouts. The Best Cinematography Oscar reflect the beauty of "Quiet," which looks and sounds spectacular in Blu-ray, shot in Ireland. It will make you want to hop the first flight to the Emerald Isle.
This boy-meets-girl fable begins with Wayne's Thornton arriving at the train station five miles from the village that at least two generations of his family called home and where he spent his early childhood. The locals who operate the railroad providing conflicting and misleading directions both gets the Irish charm of "Quiet" off to a good start and is reminiscent of the humor surrounding the Cannonball train in the '60s rural sitcom "Petticoat Junction." Comparable quaintness throughout the film comes in the form of a few Irish folk songs.
Thornton seeing O'Hara's Mary Kate in the field while riding in a horse-and-buggy to his destination accelerates the film to the nice leisurely first gear pace that continues through most of the story.
One underlying conflict develops when Thornton visits the wealthy widow who owns the former Thornton homestead. In romcom style, Mary Kate sibling /Thornton land neighbor Will has been trying to buy that property for years. Their bidding war is one of the best scenes in a film that lacks any bad ones.
Thornton gets with the program better regarding agreeing to respect the local courting rituals. An early step in the process has his hiring drink-loving matchmaker Michaleen Oge Flynn (perfectly played by Hollywood royalty character actor Barry Fitzgerald) to conduct the necessary negotiations and to otherwise do things "properly." Of course, the Danaher brother does his best to show that where there's a Will, there's no way every step of the way.
Irish charm and cunning get our hope to be happy couple to the altar, but the honeymoon is over before the pair hits the wedding night sheets. The Will-induced distress regarding his unhappy bride strains the resolve of retired pugilist with a tragic past Thornton to not break his vow to engage in fisticuffs again.
All of this leads to a very satisfying climax in which both tradition, pride, and personal standards are adequately honored in a manner that is very true to the setting of the film. One can only hope that they rolled out the green carpet for the theatrical premiere of "Quiet."
The extras include a booklet with the aforementioned essay by Olive and great stills and theatrical posters. The tons of special features include commentary by a Ford expert, a Leonard Maltin "making of" documentary a tribute to Maureen O'Hara, and much more.
Personal irony as to Netflix train wreck "A New York Christmas Wedding," which owes a high viewership to hipsters watching it because it is so bad, is that my desire as to the time-travel element of the film is to go back to 5:30 last night and not suffer through this disaster. I long ago abandoned the practice of trashing movies for the joy of it and only write negative posts about projects that horrendous enough to actually enrage.
The rest of my reasoning is that filmmakers who clearly put their hearts and souls into a film deserve props in both sense of that word.
Part of this anger is not the fault of writer/director/star Otoja Abit. My highly significant other suggested watching "Wedding" knowing that its lack of quality was its appeal. I agreed to watch it based on the IMDb synopsis that the main character was magically given a chance to see what life would have been like if she had not "denied her true feelings for her childhood best friend."
I was expecting a so bad it's good Lifetime/Hallmark style film about a women reuniting with the boy who got away in the days before that potential runaway bride is set to walk down the aisle. I could have accepted the story of a repressed lesbian discovering the importance of to thine own self be true if it has been told with more heart and humor.
The first societal note as to "Wedding" is that the evil Netflix empire likely only cares that Abit is generating impressive hits; one can only dread what Obit has planned next for a more suspecting public. I truly can do better with a queer-themed holiday film and invite a producer to put his or her money where my mouth is.
Regular readers know that the appeal of this site includes providing a good sense of a film without providing spoilers. This post is the rare exception to that golden rule. Spoilers both will show why this movie prompts such strong emotions and will help readers avoid the same MilleniHell as your not-so-humble reviewer.
Our story begins with a old-looking teen Jennifer (Nia Fairweather plays the adult role) on the verge of getting busy with horndog boyfriend Vinnie when BFF Gabrielle (Adriana DeMeo is adult Gabrielle) "blocks" her by begging her to come over (and perhaps euphemistically) trim the tree. Jennifer refusing is the turning point that drives the film right off a cliff.
We fast forward 20 years to the portion of the film in which Fairweather actually gives a good performance in contrast to barley showing emotion the rest of the time. She is a Bridezilla contending with a monster-in-law months before the titular ceremony with David; Abit deserves credit for his good portrayal of this man engaged to a girl who knows that she would like kissing a girl.
The stress prompts Jennifer to pull a neo-modern George Bailey by taking an after-dark jog in Central Park. She meets her Clarence in the form of angel Azrael; part of the pain of "Wedding" is Azrael portrayor Cooper Koch alternating between playing the role as fabulous or hipster. His uneven speaking style is worse than nails on a chalkboard.
Jennifer wakes up the next morning in an alternate world in which she is living with fiancee Gabrielle. The grossly understated response to that shock event (and to all that follows) PERFECTLY illustrates the aforementioned bad performance by Fairweather and the lack of holiday spirit in "Wedding." It is clear that beyond having slept there, Jennifer lived there and loved there; she never really died there,
This also relates to a big problem with "Wedding," Gabrifer cites the October 2020 papal pronouncement on same-sex marriage in trying to convince the local priest to marry them in the church, This clearly establishes that this shot-on-location movie is filmed in the middle of the pandemic. Yet, there is no mention of postponing either wedding due to Covid or to that event at all. Further, NO ONE is wearing a mask or social distancing at all!
This leads to the wedding of Gabrifer at which Azrael is a buzzkill in the form of telling Jennifer that she must return to the real world and marry David. Spoiling the climax that Jennifer convincing Azrael to transport her back to the critical Christmas season in which she chooses her bro over her ho is important. The HUGE Millenihell issue as to this is the message that every member of that generation is so special that actions have no consequences; the "kids" can do as they please, and the "adults" will put right what once went wrong.
In contrast, the traditional basic-cable fare of this ilk has the "innocent" either run off with his or her soulmate or tell that special someone to "get on the plane" in modern times. In other words, the lead endures hardship either for the reward of happily ever after or for the warm fuzzy feeling of allowing the needs of the many to take precedence over the needs of the few. The "do-over" does not erase the past.
As if this is not enough, probable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez devotee Abit shows the same intolerance that rightfully warrants scorn by LGBTQ activists. Exposition near the end of the film reveals that Gabrielle going straight after the rejection gets her knocked up with an unwanted baby, losing that little bastard, and then becoming roadkill. This is as bad as the rightfully condemned negative portrayals of gays and lesbians for decades.
Abit does not stop there; we learn late in the film that Azrael is the unborn child of Gabrielle. Nothing says desperately needed holiday cheer than the concept that every time a fetus dies, an angel gets his wings.
The final note is that watching "Wedding" REQUIRED immediately "Disney's Magical Holiday Celebrations" on DisneyPlus to cleanse the stench of the former. A "Silkwood" shower also may be needed.
Icarus Films and Distrib Films once more joining forces by releasing the French film "My Dog Stupid" (2019) on DVD on December 8, 2020 is the latest example of those cinephiles' gods showing North American what they are missing. Stating that "Stupid" hits EVERY right note as to a film is not an understatement. The strongest endorsement is eliciting chuckles and "aws" from a not-so-humble reviewer who almost always remains totally silent during a movie.
On a broader level, "Stupid" achieves the film ideal of being highly entertaining while provoking thoughts. It additionally has the live-stage vibe that is a hallmark of a film worth savoring and pulling off the shelf every few years. This one also meets the Icarus/Distrib standard of being a foreign film that easily could be remade shot-for-short and line-for-line in the U.S.
This mid-brow version of "Marley and Me" further evokes thought of a review by another site about another film. The writer of that piece notes that an inability to determine if that movie is a comedy or a drama makes it like real life. That quality evokes thoughts of the novels (and awesome film adaptations of those works) of literary god John Irving, who is a lighter version of his peer John Updike. The element of once (and future?) literary giant Henri Mohen ("Stupid" director Yvan Attal) experiencing a parallel midlife crisis and chronic writer's block brings "Wonder Boys" by demigod novelist Michael Chabon to mind.
The following Distrib "Stupid" trailer validates all of the above.
The aptly novel approach, which divides the film into chapters, of "Stupid" begins with voice-over exposition of Henri as he drives home through a deluge after one in a long series of distressing meetings about a new writing projects. This narration tells the viewer more about our lead, who aches for a Roman holiday, in a few minutes than he or she learns about a real or reel person in a year.
The plot thickens on Henri dreading entering Chez Mohen only to find the titular soaking wet bullmastiff lurking in the bushes. This not-so-gentle giant making himself at home allows the hilarity (and trauma-and-drama) to ensue. The overall big picture as to this is that all four adult (or soon-to-be-adult) offspring live at home with Henri and unhappy spouse Cecile (Charlotte Gainsbourg), whose marital history includes an affair to remember.
The not-so-fantastic four siblings consist of stoner/horndog Raph, Pauline who is dating "quirky" combat vet/scene stealer Hugues, surfer/below-c level student Gaspard, and rebel with a chip on his shoulder Noe. One of best chuckle-inducing exchanges has an ungrateful child remind Henri that he has not written anything of quality for 25 years and Dad commenting that that coincides with his having his first kid.
An equally symbolic scene during this portion of the film has Stupid clearly show Hugues both who is the boss and who is his daddy. This common theme includes an incident with potential to test the limits of the right of an employee to be free from unwanted sexual activity in the workplace. The apt message here is that the literature major/lackey is the office bitch in a few senses of that term.
The morning after involves the rude awakening that one of the boys harbored the fugitive canine the night before. This leads to Henri adopting Stupid to assert the place of Henri in the home in which he is the sole means of support of every inhabitant.
The subsequent events are highly relatable both to the "kids" that experience them and the parents that endure them. The only difference is the perfect storm in the form of all four dependents (not to mention Mom) having concurrent extreme turmoil in their lives.
The strongest societal message is the sad-because-it-is-true undue sense of entitlement of the parasitic Millennials. They demand, rather than request, money from their personal ATM while not giving him the respect that he would receive from a stranger on the street.
"Stupid" further stays true to life by having some of the kids turn out alright, some not so much, and every member of the Mohen family live a life of quiet desperation to one degree or another. Sharing that all this provides Henri the material for his second great French novel is not much of a spoiler.
The dynamic duo of Icarus Films and Distrib Films take a detour in terms of both location and theme as to their October 20, 2020 joint DVD release of the "based on actual events" 2019 drama "Papicha." This movie set in 1997 Algeria during the civil war in that nation is a departure from the equally good typical Icarus/Distrib release of a film set in modern-day France. Another variation is our lead Nedjma dealing with present-day strife, rather than a struggle to come to terms with past trauma-and-drama that is a regular theme of these foreign gems.
The nine awards and seven additional nominations for "Papicha" validate the quality of this story that could be an overblown melodrama in hands other than those of writer/director Mounia Meddour. The wins include 2020 Cesar Awards for Most Promising Actress for Nedjma portrayor Lyna Khourdi and Best Firm Film for Team Meddour.
Our story begins with Nedjma and two classmates at her all-girls school sneaking out to go clubbing; the party temporarily ends on the girls having to scramble into traditional Muslim garb on being pulled over by the authorities. This encounter does not prevent the single ladies from getting their groove back at the club. That dance scene is comparable to the seemingly obligatory one in Icarus films.
Getting stranded when closing time does not require going home but necessitates leaving the club finds Nedjma and a friend accepting the kindness of two studly strangers. This contributes to the theme of the male/female dynamic in Algeria that is not unique to that repressed nation. This also is relevant to the theme of women who reject the old ways seeking escape from Algeria by almost any possible means. An unplanned (and exceptionally troublesome even for Algeria) pregnancy further reflects the pitfalls of willing to do anything to emigrate.
The aching of Nedjma for personal and professional fulfillment leads to her planning a fashion show of her largely covert business that has subjected her to both hostility and exploitation. A confrontation with a herd of uber-Karens derails those plans, A school official whose understanding of the repression of her students involves only partial willful blindness does not help matters.
Every element of "Papicha" being very far from California makes it far from certain that we will get a Hollywood ending in which the girl gets it all in the form of the man of her dreams and a high-profile career. It is assured that all of our leads are disproportionately older and wiser if not more happy. Sadly, the same is true for most of use during this global pandemic.
The recent Film Movement DVD release of the 2018 Czech film "Winter Flies" proves that the theme of "Tom Sawyer" is both timeless and international. In this case, the coming-of-age occurs during a road trip in a stolen Audi.
The accolades for "Flies" include 4 major wins at the 2019 Czech Lions awards.
Fourteen year-old stud Miara is commencing his odyssey when "quirky" armed and not-so-dangerous peer Hedus pops out and comes along for the ride. It does not take long for the Lennie and George dynamic to become apparent.
An early adventure has the lads rescue a dog from a highly abusive owner; Things get more interesting when "Becky" in the form of Bara, who lacks any physical baggage but has plenty of the emotional variety, joins the group, This leads to the predictable development of Hedus making an awkward play and Mara being the one to get some action.
The inarguably best dynamic in the film is between Mara and Officer Freiwaldova, who serves as a cool mother figure. The narrative in "Flies" regularly shifts between Freiwaldova trying to piece together the relevant events and those actual incidents. She greatly succeeds in getting that kid to understand.
All of this culminates in a climax that proves that there really is no getting through to teenage boys. Mara and Hedus remove any doubt regarding these guys being young, dumb, and full of "spunk."
The well-matched bonus short film "Jackie" deals with the same theme of strained parental relations as "Winter Flies."
Savior of cult classic cinema The Film Detective chooses wisely in opting for separate 50th Anniversary DVD and BD versions of "The Other Side of Madness" (nee "The Helter Skelter Murders") to kick off a series of releases on Wade Williams films.
"Madness" is available for pre-order ahead of the November 24, 2020 releases. The incredible video and audio quality of the BD release (complete with a CD of the Charlie Manson album also titled "The Other Side of Madness") make that one worth buying the upgrade. The Manson opus "Mechanical Boy" may not have a good beat and you may not be able to dance to it, but the lyrics of this essential beat poem will stick with you.
Speaking as one who has seen all of Tate murders films (and LOATHES "Once Upon A Time in America"), it should be undisputed that Williams puts the others to shame. This film that does not seem to deviate from its court documents and interviews provides a solid "you are there" sense. A Ballyhoo Motion Pictures MUST-SEE bonus feature that consists of an audio interview with Williams over "Madness" footage provides an awesome perspective regarding both the demand for authenticity and the emphasis of art over commerce.
Detective goes directly to the source by using the original theatrical trailer for "Madness" to promote the releases. This promo. PERFECTLY highlights the black-and-white photography that successfully conveys the mixed styles of newsreel and low-budget horror film that makes "Madness" so compelling.
The aforementioned interview validates the authenticity of the opening scenes of the Manson family at work and play at the movie ranch that operates under a Charles in charge system. This leads to the first of many courtroom scenes of the murder trial for the killing of Sharon Tate and of her friends who can be considering collateral damage. The testimony in that proceeding provides the exposition method for the re-enactment of that massacre and for explaining the philosophy of Manson. One of the most visually striking scenes transitions to color in a manner that aptly shows the audience that we no longer are in Kansas.
Very timely modern relevance relates to the underlying message of the impact of a cult figure that the general public considers deluded but followers see as charismatic and literally or figurative the word of God.
One of the more powerful non-Tate scenes shows two family members who clearly want to project a militant image burst into the home of a middle-class middle-aged woman and hold a gun on her as they carry off her not-so-valuable possessions. The mastery of Williams is very apparent in one segment in which it is clear that a pet bird either is going to get killed or carted off. The manner in which this is filmed will elicit sympathy in all of us who have not partaken of the Kool-Aid.
The black-and-white photography is especially effective in the oft-depicted scene in which a female family member ghostlike strides back-and-forth in front of a bedroom door at Chez Polanski/Tate. The Williams take on this outshines that of the other productions. Blatant departures from other films about that night show that many of us have been fooled for years.
"Madness" ending with intertitles on the evils of illicit substances provides a bad end to an otherwise excellent film. Drug use is not to be celebrated and can have a high cost, but it seems that (even in the late '60s) very few folks who inhale end up in a cult and even fewer go on a killing spree.
The personal perspective this time is having "Father Knows Best" star Billy Gray, who pays a high professional cost for a "seeds and stems" arrest, once laugh and tell your not-so-humble reviewer "you don't do drugs do you."
For the record, a handful of personal college-era experiences include incidents such as once finding the kitchen witch at the home a friend hilarious and another time cleaning the kitchen at the home of my mother at 11:00 p.m. to provide an excuse to not go upstairs to talk to her after an evening out.
Returning from our Blogland detour, Detective supplements "Madness" and the aforementioned Williams interview with another Williams interview that includes how he gets to visit Manson in jail. We also get the theatrical trailers for "Madness" and "Helter Skelter Murders."
ALL of this shows that ANYONE who does not buy "Madness" genuinely does not know what he or she is missing.
This first of three posts on not-so-ghostly DVD releases of spirited holiday movies from Imagicomm Entertainment and INSP Films discusses the 2019 movie "Christmas on the Range." This tale of cowgirl Kendall Riley trying to thwart the efforts of local evil land baron Brick McCree (Soap veteran A. Martinez of "Santa Barbara") to take over her land during the month of December has every hallmark of a charming seasonal movie.
The following trailer for "Range" shows that every live stock character is in place for the trauma and drama that precedes the cocoa and cookies of the most wonderful time of the year.
Our story begins with Kendall literally up to her elbow in the middle of the delivery of a calf that is going udderly wrong. Handsome vet Clint McCree shows up and tells Kendall to not have a cow just before taking matters in his own hands. This procedure ends up with mother and daughter happy and "grandma" smitten with the perhaps literally lifesaver.
The rude awakening comes on effeminate male friend Marcus and sassy ethnic friend Memphis dropping by. This pair, which provides copious comic relief throughout the film, tells Kendall that Clint is the son of Brick. The guilt both by association and being imposed before provided a chance to prove innocence is in the form of assuming that Clint is working with his father to force Kendall off once (and future) McCree land.
The bulk of the film has the relationship of Kendall and Clint build under the watchful eye of the Greek chorus in the form of the small-town gossips. Meanwhile back at the ranch, Brick is trying to rebuild his strained relationships with ex-wife Lilian (Lindsay Wagner of "The Bionic Woman") and with Clint. This, as well as the efforts to acquire the land of Kendall, relates to the unknown circumstances under which that parcel has changed hands from the McCree clan to the Riley family.
Another big piece of this puzzle is Kendall working hard to get her cattle operation certified as organic so that the she can get a premium price for her prime beef, The final inspection regarding that is one of the best scenes in the movie.
Everything fully comes to a head on the night of one of the biggest social events in the community in which all this action occurs. Clint is a no-show for his big date with Kendall, and the absence of the former facilitates the latest sabotage of her business. Of course, suspicions turn toward Clint.
Of course, all of this culminates in a handful of Christmas miracles in which literally and figurative fences are mended and everyone lives happily ever after in their homes on the range.
The DVD extras include cast interviews and a separate behind-the-scenes feature in which the stars discuss their characters,
The Virgil Films well-produced DVD of the Sight & Sound Theatres well-staged live performance of "Moses" provides a good chance to see an entertainingly breezy two-hour cradle-to-Exodus story of the titular chosen person. The details in this telling remind us of the stutter of Moses.
The grand sets and the decent special effects are in keeping with the Biblical proportions of the story. The copious use of incredibly well-trained sheep, a camel, and other animals that include a scene-stealing parrot add even more fun.
Our story aptly begins with the birth mother of Moses and his sister Miriam setting him afloat down the Nile. Inadvertent humor comes in the form of the journey looking more like Kal-El setting off for earth from Krypton than the beginning of the destiny of the man who leads the Jews out of slavery in Egypt.
As most of us know, a royal pardon saves Moses from the fatal fate of most Jewish babies that are found in denial. This soon leads to several years of care by a very special wet nurse until Moses not longer depends on mother's milk. This apparently taking five yeas contributes an ick factor.
Adult Moses goes on to live a life of luxury and privilege until a rude awakening leads to a live of slavery and a related (pun intended) reunion with sister Miriam and brother Aaron. Trauma soon arises in the form of a "Mom liked you best" conflict with the current pharaoh. The new voice of God makes the first of several "let my people go" pleas; these fall on deaf ears regarding the brother from another mother.
The sibling rivalry leads to the well-known plagues and the related (goofily portrayed) Passover story regarding a culling of the population of Egypt. It is not much of a spoiler to state that the brother of Moses ultimately cries "Uncle" but has a change of heart.
As indicated above, our story ends with the Dumbledore-looking Moses once again putting his magic staff to good use, He uses it to part the Red Sea; however, we do not witness the fate of the pursing horde that walks like an Egyptian.
The DVD extras include features on the Sight & Sound Theatres and on recording the "Moses" album.
CBS Home Entertainment augments the copious love that it shows "TV Land" westerns with releases such as the recent (reviewed) EPIC "Gunsmoke" 65th Anniversary complete series DVD set with the October 27, 2020 DVD releases of "Bonanza" S11 (1969-70) V1 and V2. The dearth of new material, much of which lack much quality, during COVID-19 makes this an even better time to overcome prejudice regarding westerns and realizing that these entertaining shows are well-produced dramas that just happen to be roughly set in the Reconstruction Era.
"Bonanza" centers around truly benevolent one-percenter Ponderosa Ranch owner Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene). Ben, sons "Hoss" (Dan Blocker) and "Little Joe" (Michael Landon), and les freres Cartwrights' frere from another mere (no pun intend) "Candy" (David Canary). These "white hats" run the operation when they are not putting right what once went wrong in nearby Virginia City, Nevada and everywhere else that their business takes them. Those of us who come late to the hoedown do not know the third Cartwright brother from Adam.
The simple but brilliant concept of having various members of the Cartwright clan get involved with the lives of the (often "TV Land" notable) guest star of the week facilitates simultaneous filming of the pristinely upgraded S11 episodes.
S11 kicks off on a strong note with the "kids" seeing a man who is from nowhere near La Mancha rowing across a government-owned prairie that the Cartwrights lease as grazing land. This newcomer who delights in tilting at windmills is in town to highlight an absurd federal law. Getting the better of greedy locals is the icing on the cake.
Another early S11 episode with even stronger (and more timely) social commentary hits very close-to-home. Moderately ala your not-so-humble reviewer in June, Candy is peacefully going about his business when the local law in the town that he is visiting hauls him in for a crime of which he is innocent. The sheriff also turns a deaf ear to the assertions of innocence by Candy. The modern twist on this story is initiating the showing of my license and being 120 miles away watching DVD episodes of "The Nanny" in the midst of the lockdown when the first of two claimed offenses occurred. The doubling-down of refusing to locate a readily available witness at the time of the second offense made things even worse. This is on top of apparently massive stupidity in the form of sitting on a bench by a police car within minutes of allegedly causing mayhem.
Being proactively cooperative and the lack of any appearance of being at all a hardened criminal and the inability of the police to prove presence at the scene of that crime were completely ignored.
Returning to our regularly scheduled programming, Hoss is the victim of a miscarriage of frontier justice in the penultimate S11 episode. He learns that no good deed goes unpunished when his friendliness to two men that he meets on the trail leads to an unfortunate incarceration for a bank robbery as to which he lacks any culpability.
"The Law and Billy Burgess" stars teen-idol David Cassidy as the titular old west excitable boy. Related woes of Billy include great disdain for the local little school on the prairie and a hard-knock life with a hard-nosed stepfather. Cassidy providing an overly dramatic reading of his line that he does not need school because he wants to be a blacksmith is an S11 highlight.
The law part enters the picture when the teacher schooling Billy prompts the boy to make a threat; the educator subsequently being murdered and Billy confessing to the crime makes a bad situation worse. The rude awakening of Billy as to this is a nice commentary on the folk lore of the old west.
John "Gomez" Astin provides another notable appearance in the role of a literal gold digger that makes excellent use of his offbeat persona. Adams plays the titular prospector in "Abner Willoughby's Return." His crossing paths with Little Joe leads to the pair teaming up for a treasure hunt that literally finds Willoughby walking across roofs and scaling fences. The true innocent this time is a sympathetic widow who unknowingly is sitting on a figurative gold mine.
CBSHE supplements the S11 fun with a plethora of extras that include some original episode promos, extensive photo galleries of on-location and behind-the-scenes images, and a rare Chevrolet sponsor commercial starring Greene.
The big picture is that, ala ALL CBSHE sets of classic series, they don't make 'em like "Bonanza" anymore despite a desperate need for quality unreal TV during our every season of discontent these days.
Icarus Films and Distrib Films adding the October 6, 2020 DVD release of the 2019 light romdram "Someone Somewhere" to the ongoing extensive list of their collaborations shows North American audiences the potential for this genre. This tale of two young Parisians who constantly miss it by that much as to making a love connection rings far more true than any dreck starring Katherine Heigl.
The highly relatable overall theme of "Someone" is that potential spouse material can be under our highly oblivious noses. A secondary theme is that those around us often deal with the same "stuff" that plagues us even aside from a global pandemic that is greatly hindering meeting anyone for any purpose.
Our likable leads are Amabot warehouse worker Remy, who is "promoted" to answering customer service calls, and research assistant Melanie. The paths of these leads who live in abutting apartments constantly cross on the subway and in the neighborhood market where everyone knows their name. The parallels extend to going to the same pharmacy at the same time to get drugs for comparable sleep disorders that drive each of them into therapy.
This is not to mention parallel job stress and angst about going home for the holidays. Melanie resorting to online dating services provides the best humor in "Someone." For his part, Remy is involved in an "its complicated" relationship with a co-worker.
The only contrived common thread involves a pet project of each urbanite.
Aside from the quarter-life crises of Remy and Melanie, the "will they or won't they" meet drives much of the action in this film in which Icarus and Distrib eschew the typical car accidents of their French films for a series of near-misses involving the main characters. However, the obligatory dance party scene remains.
The big picture this time is that "Someone" shows that the downside of the urban anonymity that is behind Remy moving to Paris can prevent people from living happily ever after.
The Film Movement Shocktober 13, 2020 DVD release of the gothic thriller "Carmilla," which is based on the 1872 novella of the same name, is a great chance to enjoy Halloween-style fun during a time that it is not safe to go back in the water. This beautifully filmed equally atmospheric and symbolic tale awesomely tells a tale of inner and outer demons. Creepy spinster governess Miss Fontaine is the icing on the cake.
This tale of an infatuation that dares not speak its name centers around 15 year-old Lara, who lives a sheltered existence at the country estate where her father and Fontaine are her only companions. Youthful exuberance as to the anticipation of fresh blood in the form of a visit from peer Charlotte turns to disappointment as to learning that an illness is requiring postponing that event.
The story gets fully underway when the titular member of the carriage trade becomes an unexpected manor house guest on getting injured in an accident involving her apt transportation. The girls soon unexpectedly meeting in a shadowy room is one of the best scenes in the film.
An equally creepy scene that centers around the luck of angels as opposed to the luck of the devil is a close runner-up for the best scene in the film.
Those of us with a 21st-century perspective quickly grasp the underlying nature of the affection of the innocent Lara for her new friend. We equally rapidly figure out that Carmilla is a skilled seductress. Fontaine subtly encouraging Lara to follow her heart is a wonderfully modern twist.
The tale soon darkens on realizing the extent to which Carmilla seduces and abandons her prey. This leads to a compelling climax (truly no pun intended) in which Fontaine plays a major role.
The artistry in all this extends beyond the spot-on performances by the entire cast; this thought-provoking tale is highly symbolic as to the evil nature of seducing someone who is pure into acting on a desire for a same-sex relationship. This is very much in keeping with commentary on sin in the gothic genre in the same manner that sexual activity determines the order of killings in slasher flicks.
Movement pairs "Carmilla" with the 2006 short "Three Towers" by "Carmilla" writer/director Emily Harris. This artistic black-and-white film takes a poignant look at 911 from the bickering perspectives of a European old farmer couple that cannot agree as to whether two or three towers were hit. The broad appeal relates to most of us relating either to the wife who constantly harps or to the husband who is the victim of this criticism. The very-strong live-stage vibe of "Towers" further enhances the appeal of this one.
Movement augments all this with an entertaining and insightful 27-minute making-of feature (complete with audition footage) in which Harris and cast members discuss the film. Learning that the first two actresses to audition for the two leads do such a good job that they are quickly hired is one of the most delightful moments in this film that makes it clear that all involved were perfectly matched as to their on-screen and behind-the-camera roles.
Leo Tolstoy provides a good perspective for the Indiepix Films DVD of the 2017 drama "Family." Tolstoy observes that all happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
The accolades for this Veronica Kedar famdram joint about 20-something Lily and her highly dysfunctional family include the Best Feature honor at the 2019 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.
The following Indiepix trailer for "Family" perfectly reflects the desperate times that lead to the desperate measures by Lily.
The action in this film with a strong live-stage centers around Lily making an unscheduled after-hours visit to the home/office of therapist Carmela in the wake of our excitable girl having done a bad bad thing. While waiting for her shrink to return, Lily raps with Carmela daughter Talia; that offspring reflects the irony of the children of a shoemaker going around barefoot.
The Ibsenesque story that comes out via flashbacks in that prolonged discussion provides portraits of each member of the family of Lily. This begins with Dad Avi,, who clearly shows that the kids get their crazy from Mom's side of the family. At the same time, Dad has literally and figuratively distanced himself from this about-to-go-nuclear family.
Mom simply is one of those women not cut out to be a mother and a wife; her level of crazy is low, but she is a toxic carrier of that disease. Her fate involves what can be considered Sarandon wrap in reference to the more comical dysfunctional family film "Igby Goes Down" that shows who in the Culkin family has the real talent.
Elder Sister Smadar, who cannot let it go, divides her time between causing chaos and being locked in her room for her own good and that of her family. Her hanging around provides a catalyst for arguably the most dark element of this deeply black tale.
Brother Adam arguably is the most interesting member of the clan; he has especially creepy incestuous desires that the attempts to satisfy for fun and profit. His ultimate fate proves the adage of like father, like son.
The "B Story" portrayal of the home life of Carmela shows that Lily is far from the only damaged soul under that roof.
The takeaway from all this is that those closest to us are the ones that are most skilled at pushing our buttons. The rest of the story is that we all have our breaking points.
Olive Films partnering with the UCLA Film and Television Archives program to restore the 1972 Samuel Fuller private eye noir film "Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street" for the April 19. 2016 Olive Blu-ray release of the film is a prime example of the Olive commitment to giving classic films a new life. On a less intellectual level, great anticipation exists regarding the May 2016 Olive release of the '80s Scott Baio/WIllie Aames teen comedy "Zapped."
"Pigeon" wonderfully starts by having the opening credits roll over a Mardi Gras style street festival in 1972 Germany and having the cast and several crew members appear as their names pop up on the screen. The film then gets right down to business with the gunning down of the titular deceased individual. This is turn leads to a wacky on-again-off-again hot pursuit that merits placing hard-boiled film auteur Fuller in a director's hall of fame.
These preliminaries in turn leads to American private detective in Berlin Sandy seeking vengeance for the killing and pursuing the related goal of solving the case associated with that incident. This effort leads to the proverbial making of strange bedfellows.
The underlying plot in both senses of the word is that Sandy is on the trail of a well-organized blackmailer who takes a revised page from the Bill Cosby playbook by drugging international power brokers and having these purely innocent individuals photographed in compromising positions. Getting his man requires that Sandy first ally himself with the woman who poses for the pictures and then adequately gain the confidence of both her and the proverbial Mr. Big to get a personal audience with the latter.
The intricate plotting, twist and turns, and hilarious capers all make for great entertainment. This culminates with one of the best ever climaxes and subsequent full-circle endings in any film.
The bonus feature in the set is a booklet with two short insightful essays on the film and its important role in film history.
The dynamic duo of Icarus Films and Distrib Films maintain their perfect track record with the September 22, 2020 DVD of the 2019 drama "The Girl With A Bracelet." This French film (complete with obligatory dance party scene but sans vehicular mayhem) depicts the murder trial of titular teen amiecide defendant Lise. The real crime is that this thought-provoking compelling drama did not get any amore de festival du film.
The following Distrib trailer for "Bracelet" highlights the related themes of Lise not being innocent even if she is not a killer and of her parents being the clueless ones in this case.
"Bracelet" bucks the trend of recent films commencing with trauma and drama only to soon shift the action to the onset of the series of unfortunate circumstances that bring us to that point. Wascally wabbit writer/director Stephane Demoustier provides a deceptive cold open in the form of neo-modern everyteen Lise, adorable younger brother Jules, and their 'rents enjoying a seaside idyll. The arrival of les gendarmes to escort Lise away shows that this is no day at the beach,
The action soon shifts to two years later. A typical sheepheaded Gallic teen chien du horn is sniffing around la maison of the family when the father of Lise tells the boy go, Diego, go, This leads to learning that a surprisingly outwardly blase Lise literally is under house arrest (as enforced by the titular ankle bling) and is about to stand trial.
Diego later showing up for a practice congenial visit is highly symbolic on a few levels. The same is true regarding the PERFECT final shot in "Bracelet."
The facts that soon emerge at the aforementioned judicial proceeding are that sleepover guest Lise apparently was the last person to see friend Flora alive before the mother of Flora discovers an especially gruesome murder scene the next afternoon. Although the murder weapon still is missing, the indirect evidence of guilt includes Flora filming and uploading a video of Lise fellating a teen boy simply because Lise is told to do so. The trial of the father of Lise includes having to watch that footage and having both the prosecution and the defense address its significance in open court.
The trial largely runs its course as expected with the exception of Lise not showing much emotion, This extends to it seeming that the death of her friend is a not a significant event even absent Lise being accused of that offense.
All of this culminates in the verdict in the trial; the cynicism as to this is that that outcome does not properly reflect the culpability of Lise as a member of society.
The bigger picture this time is that the fact that "Bracelet" could have been made word-for-word and shot-for-shot in the US shows that parents everywhere really do not know how their teens spend their days and nights. A related message is that most parents always love their kids but do not always like them.
The Film Movement DVD of the quirky 2018 French film "Ulysses & Mona" perfectly highlights the charm of Gallic art house movies and the Movement love of all things international. The awesomeness of this one extends beyond the strong live-stage vibe to being a film that literally and figuratively is easily transferable to North America word-for-word and shot-for-shot,
The following Movement trailer for "Ulysses" provides a good sense of the odd sensibility that makes it so endearing.
Writer-director Sebastien Betbeder immediately catches our attention with an opening scene that has 20 year-old art student Mona and her adorable sheep-headed classmate in a nude-drawing class that clearly is not using this year's model. These future baristas who paint on the weekends have a highly amusing exchange about Mona not using the proper proportions as to her seemingly generous portrayal of the male subject du jour.
Meanwhile back at the estate, 55 year-old former darling of the art world/current recluse Ulysses Borrelli is spending most of his days hitting tennis balls flung at him from an automated machine. We quickly learn that the demise of his marriage is tied to his retirement from highly regarded career.
The worlds of our leads collide when the younger searches out the elder. The journey into the woods initially introduces Mona to misfit child Arthur, whose eccentricities include calling Ulysses Dracula.
Although initially rebuffed, things dramatically change on Mona taking another bite at the apple. She returns to find her idol in dire straits. This ultimately leads to an epic journey of Ulysses accompanied by Mona.
The purpose of the trip is for Ulysses to mend strained relationships in his life; the purpose of Mona accompanying him is to guarantee that he will go through with it.
The first stop is at the McJob workplace of 20-something Nicolas; suffice it to say that the reunion is not a happy one. Mona does help smooth the waters.
Our pair next drops in on ex-wife Alice, who clearly has moved on.
A relatively raucous night before returning home creates more excitement before coming home to find that Ulysses is a person-of-interest in not a good way. This, in turn, leads to another trip into the woods that leads to closure for all.
As always is the case as to Film of the Month Club selections, Movement pairs "Ulysses" with an apt short film. "Wolf Carver" has the titular grumpy middle-aged artist take his Mona on a road trip through Finland; in this case, the unpacking of copious baggage is highly symbolic.
The The Film Detective separate DVD and BD July 29, 2020 releases of the pre-Code 1933 melodrama "The Sin of Nora Moran" shows what becomes Golden Age legend Zita Johann ("The Mummy") most. The cred of this release includes it being a collaboration between Detective, film historian Sam Sherman, the independent-international Pictures team, and the UCLA Film and Television Archives.
This dream team shows both that the Sherman-owned print of "Moran" is in the right hands and that the pristine BD restoration, which looks and sounds crystal clear. is a labor of love. The BD being limited to a run of 1,500 copies screams to order yours today. One lucky cinephile will find a golden ticket that can be redeemed for a lithograph of the original theatrical poster.
As the bonus must-see Sherman-narrated original documentary "The Mysterious Life of Zita Johann" states, the elements that set "Moran" apart from its peers include the performance of the star, the numerous surreal techniques, and the noteworthy orchestration. This documentary also includes the tales of how "Moran" gets on the radar (and in the collection of) Sherman and how he coaches his friend Johann through her final film performance.
The BD has the additional treat of a booklet that provides further insight as to the film and the star.
The following Detective promo for the home-video releases of "Moran" provides a good sense of the classic melodrama noir style of the film.
The clever exposition begins with a highly distraught Edith Crawford coming to brother/DA John Grant with love letters from the titular tart to Edith spouse/governor Dick Crawford. A clalm and collected John enlightens his sibling on the special relationship between her husband and the former circus performer/current death-row inmate.
For her part, Nora is dazed and confused in her cell ahead of her impending execution for what inarguably is a crime of love. Her life flashing before her eyes and John telling his sister of the role of her husband in the events leading up to the imposition of the death penalty provide the framework for the film.
A series of unfortunate circumstances leads to a relatively content Nora knowingly becoming the other woman as to her relationship with Dick. The past of the former coming crashing in on her ends her honeymoon period with the latter. For his part, John both wants to fulfill his family duty and to not lose his political investment in his brother-in-law.
For his part, the feelings of guilt that John is experiencing extend well beyond his adultery. He knows all the facts regarding the crime for which Nora is about to pay the ultimate price and must decide the extent to which he is going to stand by his woman. A last-minute visit essentially from the Ghost of Christmas Past combined with a disconnect seals the fate of all concerned.
As touched on above, the surreal elements that depict the angst of the players are part of what make all this special. The aforementioned "haunting" evokes especially strong thoughts of the highly stylistic Shakespearean films of the era.
The bottom line this time is that "Moran" reminds us of the dividends that audiences reaped when studios did not place commerce above art. Further, Johann illustrates the difference between an actor and a movie star.
The Icarus Films DVD of the 2106 "ripped-from-the-headlines" French film "Down By Love" is a perfect example of the beautiful friendship between Icarus and Distrib Films from which North American audiences benefit. Like most Icarus/Distrib Films, this tale of the illicit affair between post-adolescent inmate Anna Amari and married middle-aged prison director Jean Firmino could be made word-for-word and shot-for-shot in the US.
The following Distrib trailer for "Love" offers a good sense of the apt level of drama that conveys the tale of this unusual triangle.
Our story begins with Anna en route to the facility run by Jean as the next stage of her unfortunate incarceration ahead of her trial for the offense of this young offender. She soon catches the eye of Jean, and they experience a form of love that dare not speak its name if they know what is good for them, An especially precious moment has Anna creating a fantasy world in which she and her "teacher" essentially move to Westchester together. The ambiguity as to the extent to which Anna looks to Jean for the forms of escape that should be higher priorities is part of what makes "Love" special.,
In true fashion as to this type of story. the truth comes out roughly halfway through the film. The surprising twist is the extent to which Jean risks his career and his family life to be with "the other woman."
One of the mot memorable scenes begins with Jean providing a form of wish fulfillment by taking Anna away during a weekend furlough; the ensuing awkwardness and tension illustrate the principle of being careful for what you wish.
All of this culminates in a not-so-grande finale with a neo-modern twist on a Golden Age trope. If nothing else, it shows that equality has been achieved.
The Indiepix Films DVD of the 2018 Mexican drama "Hypnosis to Be Happy" aptly centers around a standoff between the central characters, who equally aptly figuratively are the last two people on earth. As almost always is the case, the live-stage vibe of "Hypnosis" contributes to the enjoyment of the film. Dividing the scenes into chapters is apt as to protagonist Felipe being a rare-book dealer.
The following Indiepix trailer for "Hypnosis" highlights the aforementioned "You Are There" feeling. It also conveys the nature of the relationship that dominates the film.
The opening scenes of "Hypnosis" are very reminiscent of traditional Calvin Klein ads in that they are stylistic black-and-white images of Felipe and his object of adequate affection Pilar touring an art museum as voice-over narration tells of both of them seeking someone with whom to spend the rest of their lives.
Things become even more personal and philosophical when the action shifts to a restaurant where Felipe proposes after four dates. This predictably triggers a conversation about how well each of the not-so-significant others know each other and what makes them happy.
Felipe demonstrates his surprising power of persuasion in convincing Pilar to accompany him to the warehouse-like building from which he operates his business. The apprehension that Pilar feels on Felipe locking her is a valid reaction. This leads to inarguably the best segment of the film in that Felipe increasingly bares his soul to his intended and she softens regarding her arguable captor. This also involves a notable line as to no book being in the store that does not want to be there.
The action then shifts to a modified walk-of-shame. Despite looking a little shell shocked and still not being engaged, Pilar agrees to drive in the country with Felipe. The ride and a related discovery of a relic prompts Felipe to open up about his childhood and his relationship with his parents in a way that further thaws the heart of Pilar. This includes exposition as to the meaning of the title of the film.
All this lead to the tale of Felipe and Pilar ending on an ambiguous note that reinforces the modern sense that "happily ever after" is as much of a fiction in the real world as it is on the silver screen.
The Film Movement Classics division of Film Movement Blu-ray of the 1995 Salma Hayek film "Midaq Alley" has EVERY element that makes it a perfect film. This begins with a young attractive cast that has someone for everyone, a telenovela vibe that provides no-reason-to-feel-guilty pleasure, and high-concept in the form of being based on a novel by Nobel laurete Naguib Mahfouz. The IDEAL blend of humor and drama of both the melo and regular varieties is the topping on the fried ice cream. There truly is not a dull moment.
The crystal-clear images and audio (not to mention a behind-the-scenes feature and a written essay) in this restoration further make this one well worthy adding to your video library.
The impressive 27 festival wins for "Midaq" include several awards at the 1995 Ariel Awards in Mexico.
The below Movement trailer for Midaq Alley highlights the exceptional quality of every aspect of the film.
In addition to an awesome live-stage vibe, "Midaq" evokes strong thoughts of the similarly themed 2006-09 BBC serial series "The Street" that tells the inter-connected stories of the residents of a London neighborhood. Both productions do an excellent job keeping all the players in play and showing how their lives overlap.
"Midaq" centers around the neighborhood bar that Don Ru owns and operates. This watering hole truly is a place where everyone knows your name (and your business).
A brief glimpse of the life of Ru and of his 20-something son Chava is the tip of the iceberg that provides a good sense of the "Midaq" style. The blatant Freudian aspects of that relationship begin with Ru being disappointed with the poor work ethic of Chava, who obsessively dreams of moving El Norte.
The disappointment of Ru regarding his offspring is an element as to developing a friendship with benefits with a young clothing store clerk whom is closer to what Ru considers an ideal son. The extent to which Ru and this post-adolescent express their mutual affection contributes an ick factor on a couple of levels.
The desired traveling buddy of Chava is Abel, who is a local barber obsessed with local beauty Alma (Hayek). Of course, Alma drives plenty of drama herself.
The ripples extend from there to the opportunistic bartender, the horny spinster, the tarot card reader, etc.
The big picture this time it that "Midaq" is both compelling and funny because it is true.