The Film Movement DVD release of the 2013 Italian Gothic psychological thriller "Ritual: A Psychomagic Story" awesomely takes the concept of "50 Shades of Gray" to an exceptional level and celebrates the true spirit of feminism.
Vulnerable Lia is catnip to controlling manipulative Viktor from the moment that they meet; one spoiler is that both display their crazy long before there are any thoughts of putting a ring on it.
Viktor supplementing his compliment of the self-designed dress that Lia is wearing by suggesting that she complement it with the shackle-like bling that he apparently carries around for such chance meetings is the first of many warning signs.
Things "progress" to insanely jealous Viktor exerting increasing control over Lia to the point that she literally drops her panties as his command. Further kink comes courtesy of Viktor blindfolding his willing victim.
Lia finding herself with bastard introduces further drama in the relationship. Viktor insisting that Lia terminate the pregnancy does not help matters.
The audience being a fly on the wall during therapy sessions that earn Lia portrayor Desiree Giorgetti at least a festival award provides further context for the dynamics of her relationship with Viktor. This relates to her premature introduction to womanhood being horrific for her.
A rude awakening convinces Viktor to reverse his denial of a request by Lia for a therapeutic visit with her aunt Agata, who lovingly raised Lia after the death of her mother. The icing on the cake is that Agata lives in the beautiful old family villa, The fly in the ointment is Viktor crashing the family reunion.
The rest of this portion of the story is that Agata is either a new-age healer or a witch depending on the mindset of the beholder, No one can dispute that she gets wonderful results for those who consult her.
The Shakespearean magic of this idyllic locale includes the nicest kids in town taking Lia under their wings. This offsets an highly psychological haunting.
All of this culminates in a titular rite that reinforces the girl power theme of the film.
The appeal of this character study is that Lia is a character well worth studying.
Olive Films truly earns the superlative awesome regarding following up the Olive BD release of the previously suppressed 1946 John Huston documentary on WWII PTSD "Let There Be Light" with the BD release of the 1955 Oscar-nominated semi-docupic "Strategic Air Command." "Light" includes a real-life Army fly boy Jimmy Stewart hosted WWII-era recruiting film for pilots. "Strategic" stars Stewart as fictional retired Army WWII pilot/current baseball phenom Robert "Dutch" Holland, who gets called back into service.
The blu-ray enhancements to the then-state-of-the-art VistaVision that is used to film "Strategic" greatly adds to watching the epic scenes in this film that centers around aviation.
The following YouTube clip of the "Strategic" theatrical trailer nicely illustrates (pun intended) the aforementioned good cinematography and the apt dramatic style of the film.
Dutch is living the American dream at the beginning of "Strategic;" he is a star with the St. Louis Cardinals, is married to the lovely and loving Sally (June Allyson), and even has a wonderful relationship with his in-laws. All this changes when his former commander/Army buddy shows up with the bad news that Holland is being called into active duty.
The rationale is that maintaining the Cold War era peace requires that the titular branch of the Air Force constantly patrols the skies for the unstated (but clearly implied) red menace that threatens the American way of life. This logic includes that this program requires the skills of Stewart and others who flew during "The Big One."
The awesomeness of "Strategic" extends beyond building on the earlier Stewart film. Holland accepts his fate and does not make run for the Canadian border but also does not start waving the flag or otherwise exhibit an ounce of enthusiasm for his new career. The realism continues with Holland getting a less-than-warm-welcome at the front gate of his new base and soon learning that rank does not always have its privileges when it comes to military housing,
For her part, Sally is a dedicated military wife to a point. She contentedly uproots herself to live in the aforementioned fixer-upper accommodation and is supportive regarding the demands of the new job of her husband. However, she has her limits and reaches them.
Great behind-the-scenes insight in "Strategic," which is made with the cooperation of the actual SAC, include a scene surrounding a security drill and a separate segment that provides a detailed tour of the then-state-of-the-art B-36 bomber.
The B-36 additionally has a prominent role in the climatic final scene. Stewart suffers a disabling (and mission-threatening) relapse of a physical problem while commanding a rigorous mission on a B-36, and Sally is not a content spouse.
The effectiveness of "Strategic" extends well beyond the aforementioned realistic tone of the film; the filmmakers pull off a Hollywood ending that does not make your teeth ache.
The Cinema Libre separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the aptly titled 2018 highly realistic French drama "At War" once again proves that Euro cinema surpasses Hollywood in both substance and style. This timely and relevant portrayal of an white-hot labor dispute at a French auto plant hits close to home in both Europe and North America. Candor requires 'fessing up to thinking the film is "live," rather than "Memorex," on watching it.
The accolades for this clever mockumentary include the Best Screenplay award at the 2018 Chicago International Film Festival and the Best Film honor at the 2018 Palic Film Festival.
This "ripped from international headlines" fictional tale centers around Perrin Industries closing down its auto plant in a small French community two years after agreeing with the 1,100 workers to not close down the plant for five years in exchange for major concessions that include working some hours without pay and for forgoing traditional hours. The stated justifications for the closure include that the minimally profitable plant does not allow Perrin to remain competitive.
The ensuing battle in which plant union official Laurent Amedeo leads the campaign to get the attention (and the support) of the French government and of German CEO Martin Hauser is reminiscent of the Michael Moore documentary "Roger and Me" about the closure of a Michigan auto plant.
The similarities between "War" and "Roger" extend to footage of the "hero" effectively staging a sit-in after stonewalled efforts to meet with the big boss. We also get the ensuing strong-arm tactics to oust the interloper.
The comparisons extend to truths that relate to life in general. The first one is that even propaganda that supports your side still is propaganda. The other is that there is your story, the story of the other guy, and the truth.
Both Moore and "War" filmmaker Stephane Brize are highly biased as to portraying the workers as the good guy victims; no reasonable person can deny that they are sympathetic and face a tough immediate future.
The presentation of Brize (possibly purposefully) provides some sympathy for the devil; this compassion is inadequate.
The hypothetical "reasonable man" (or woman) should realize that no rational company disregards the impact of a plant closure on the employees. Further, very few could argue that any manufacturing industry in Europe or North America is thriving. Perrin additionally deserves the benefit of the doubt as to having good faith when entering the underlying bargain two years earlier.
Our hypothetical analytical thinker also should feel the pain of management when labor fails to grasp that more than 10 million Euros in concessions by the workers during the past two years did not go in the pockets of the executives; those saving went toward keeping prices competitive for the buyers of the goods that the plant produced.
The same figuratively blind anger behind the waived income prevents the workers from understanding the duty of the management to the shareholders. The bottom line is that poor profits and reduced stock prices harm management and labor alike by lowering the amount of invested capital in the corporation.
The workers have a slightly stronger case as to the high salaries of executives and those chats grosse getting raises while the workers are on the brink of poverty. Although one must understand that the demand for a world-class CEO keeps salaries in the stratosphere, it is hard to grasp that the expertise and the management skills of any individual are worth compensation that translates to $100s (if not $1,000s) an hour.
An extreme (but relatable) example of obscene CEO compensation is a Google search while writing this post revealing that Jeff Bezos earns $1.5 billion a WEEK while subjecting the customers who foot that bill to horrific overseas customer-service centers and arguably underpaying his warehouse staff. This is not to mention indirectly shaking down taxpayers by demanding major concessions to open new Amazon facilities in communities.
Another aspect of "War" is the striking workers not comprehending the role of the national government as to their plight. The sincere statements of a high-level official that the president of France feels their pain and is their advocate largely falls on deaf ears. The same is true as to that civil servant trying to get Team Laurent to understand that even the guy sitting in the French equivalent of the Oval Office cannot force Perrin to keep the plant open, a French court to reverse a decision for the corporation, or Hauser to meet with them.
All of this occurs among confrontations with outside groups, the "suits," and among the union officials.
All of the above shows that documentary vibe of "War" includes provoking as much thought and debate as well-produced films from the non-fiction genre. One can argue that artificially high labor costs and the related expense of complying with possibly undue government regulation is at the root of the problem; on the other hand, no one can deny that maximizing profits is a high priority for most businesses.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2011 Danish drama "Room 304" facilitates North American cinephiles watching a recent (and great) addition to the drama (and comedy) subgenre of movies and television series that center around the lives and loves of hotel guests and staff, These range from the Greta Garbo film "Grand Hotel" to the Aaron Spelling '80s series "Hotel."
The following YouTube clip of the Movement trailer for "Room" aptly showcases the haunting atmospheric tone of the film.
The opening narration sets the proper mood for this engrossing dark drama by noting that the guests who laugh in a room may be staying in the same space where someone cried the previous night. "Room" further demonstrates its art-house cred. by following the modern indie film practice of often shifting the action between the present and the past in a manner that leads to a present climax.
The film centers around Kasper the adulterous hotel manager. We know early on that he uses his place of employment for nooners and that his partner-in-crime is Nina. We learn throughout "Room" that Kasper is dipping his pen in company ink and later discover the extent to which his relationship with Nina is complicated. An aspect of this is the depth to which we get in the mind of Kasper.
We also get Spanish stewardess Teresa, who takes a personal impromptu layover at the hotel in an effort to get her groove back. The manner in which her booty call with Mr. Right Now goes south provides one of the more alarming and compelling scenes in "Room." This encounter also provides a cautionary tale for those of us who fantasize about a hotel bar pick-up.
Sour and socially awkward but efficient desk clerk Martin is the most interesting member of this cast of characters. His response to being directed to smile more is hilarious.
We additionally get an Albanian couple who work at the hotel; their story involves the standard tale of the arrival of a guest with whom they have a past.
The two Filipino maids who serve as a Greek chorus round out the group. These young women additionally make frequent and infrequent travelers think about who cleans their rooms.
The filmmakers do an excellent job connecting all the dots in this maze; the audience further gets the delight of discovering how the glimpses of "Christmas yet to be" relate to visions of "Christmas present" that come later in the film.
As mentioned above, Kasper provides the common thread throughout these varying degrees of separation. This tortured soul further drives the complex web.
Although "Room' succeeds regarding its objective to prompt hotel guests to think about the history of their chamber, the film also touches on the larger picture of general privacy at hotels. You should assume that you are being filmed in public areas, but there is a history of real and reel reports of things such as cameras in hotel room televisions.
A personal philosophy regarding the latter is that adults know what goes on behind closed doors, and that someone who is watched engaging in any form of that activity should be comfortable in knowing that he or she is not acting in a shameful manner. The same cannot be said if the closed door is part of an elevator or a hotel linen closet.
Former "The Young and the Restless" hunk/rocker/notable sitcom guest star Michael "Flyman" Damian once more puts his diverse background to good use in producing/writing/directing "High Strung Free Dance." This sequel to the (reviewed) 2016 Damian joint "High Strung" opens theatrically on October 11, 2019. The ONLY "complaints" about this sequel are that it lacks the term "Electric Boogaloo" and does not recreate the awesome violin bow duel from the original.
On a serious note, Damian also takes advantage of his decades of show business experience by following the general rule of making a sequel more grand than the original, He does buck the trend of a first sequel being horrible only to have the franchise rebound with the third entry. This creates great expectations as to a third "High Strung" movie.
Damian (perhaps inadvertently) also reflects the wisdom of the mid-70s Saturday-morning series "The New Scooby-Doo Movies" that a fan base can handle a more mature offering than the series that brings them to the table. The post on "High Strung" notes that it seems to be geared to a tween girl audience but appeals to a broad age group,
The final aside before fully discussing "Free Dance" is that the "cast of 1,000s" listed as producers of this crowdfunded movie shows that it would be cool to see your name on the silver screen. These contributions to indie films that value art over commerce also help talented folks such as Damian continue to "rock on."
The following trailer for "Free Dance" highlights how it is brighter, grander, and more adult than its excellent predecessor.
"Free Dance" takes its name from the epic Broadway show around which the film revolves. The link with "High Strung" is that both films feature Jane Seymour as highly demanding dance instructor (ala Lydia Grant of "Fame" fame) Oksana in both films. One difference this time is that Oksana has a highly personal interest (and rocky relationship) as to central dancer Barlow (Juliet Doherty).
The asides this time are that we know that Seymour is not an ex-wife of Henry VIII but do not know whether Oksana considers Anna Karenina her favorite author.
Damian pays a wonderful homage to the past by bringing the epic '30s musicals back in a much bolder and brighter fashion in the 21st century. The choreography and cinematography require a Blu-ray when "Free Dance" is released on physical media.
This ode to yesteryear includes Barlow initially not making the cut as a background dancer for the titular extravaganza of fabled choreographer Zander Raines (Thomas "Harry Hook" Doherty of the "Descendants" franchise). Barlow not taking "no" for an answer puts right what once went wrong.
Our classic tale continues with deli delivery boy/aspiring pianist Charlie (Harry "Vampire Boy" Jarvis) getting his first lucky break in terms of one chance encounter connecting him with a reclusive retired famous pianist. A subsequent series of fortunate (and one seemingly not-so-fortunate) circumstances leads to Charlie getting the gig as the on-stage pianist for the show, Barlow being his muse helps the production while contributing to backstage drama.
Related asides this time are that casting Thomas and Harry reinforce that Michael (who casts "handsome devil "Nicholas Galitizine in the first film) has a good eye for talented British pretty boys and that Jarvis shares in an interview for another outlet that "Free Dance" prompts him to resume his piano studies after a long absence. His exceptional playing proves that he is an apt pupil.
Much of "Free Dane" centers around the trauma and drama of rehearsing for the show, The vintage-style shifting fortunes of Barlow drive much of the action.
All of this leads to the epic opening night; a twist during this frantic period will cause many viewers of this compelling film to yell out a word that rhymes with "witch" when it seems that nice guys once again finish last.
Damian fully delivers as to the final performances that include an truly grand finale. This fully leading to a classic Hollywood ending removes any doubt that Damian honors the past.
The epilogue to all this is that the post on "High Strung" encourages folks to disregard embarrassment related to seeing a very good film that is geared to tween girls; there is ABSOLUTELY no cause for such concern as to "Free Dance."
CBS Home Entertainment aptly shows that it has absolutely no intention to get out of Dodge by separately releasing "Gunsmoke" S15 V1 and V2 on October 1, 2019. This leaves only five more seasons to go as to being able to own this series that spans the period from the '50s to the '70s.
Comparable to the love that CBSHE shows a plethora of other "TV Land" shows, such as the (reviewed) "The Beverly Hillbillies" and the (reviewed) "The Love Boat" DVD sets, this studio expertly remasters ORIGINAL BROADCAST versions of "Gunsmoke" and includes episode promos.
Of course, the (reviewed) recent CBS massive epic "Brady Bunch" 50th anniversary set deserves a very special mention. This one includes EVERY "Brady" series and films sans the variety show and the reality series.
"Gunsmoke" is a prime example of the exceptional shows on which many of us miss out due to an unwarranted prejudice against westerns, The ignorant aspect of ignoramous fully applies to folks, which includes your previously unenlightened reviewer, who write off these dramas as not much more than excuses for saloon fights and high noon showdowns.
Much of the entertainment relates to comic relief part-time deputy Festus Haggen, who clearly is the Bany Fife to Marshal Matt Dillion. Dillion amusingly getting out of Dodge for several episodes allows his right-hand man to take the lead as to maintaining law and order.
The "Andy Griffith Show" vibe extends to a coming-of-age S15 episode in which Ron "Opie" Howard plays a teen boy coming to grips with his relationship with the indian woman who is the second wife of his father. The catalyst for this drama truly is a case of my boyfriend's back, and there's gonna be trouble.
Howard also is connected to "Gunsmoke" in that setting the series in the Old West reflects the wisdom of "Happy Days" creator Garry Marshall. Marshall recognizes that setting a '70scom in the '50s and the '60s prevents it from ever looking dated.
Of the 14 episodes watched for this post, there was only one showdown. That one was an element of an old west mashup of the Hatfields and the McCoys. This time, the offspring of two feuding families in Dodge City planning to get hitched coincides with the arrival of a man who has gun, will travel.
The rest of this story is that an assumption as to who is going to be the newest resident of Boot Hill leads to twist that takes the episode in a new direction. All of us can relate to someone faster and overall better threatening our way of life.
We also get a still relevant life lesson in an episode in which three prisoners come to Dodge to work as as an alternative to remaining a guest of the territorial governor. Two end on the farm of a couple that seem to be Quakers. and the third gets his last-minute second-chance at the Long Branch saloon run by Miss. Kitty. The ensuing rehabilitation efforts show that some men can be saved and that others are irreparably born bad.
We further get social commentary in an episode in which an indian scout in both senses of that word makes a valiant effort at a mother and child reunion while on a mission from Grant. This surprisingly
candid adventure relates to the brutality that the woman experienced while being held captive by the tribe of her offspring.
One of the more intriguing episodes is a "what if" outing, Dillon is summoned to intervene in a kangaroo court murder trial occurring in a town that is a bizarro version of Dodge. The buildings and many of the townfoks are virtually the same. The primary difference is that the absence of a dedicated lawman such as Dillon allows a rich widow to run the community with an iron fist. Her comeuppance awesomely is a mix of frontier and poetic justice,
A more universal theme is that an actual or assumed stranger comes to Dodge City with a chip (but not a Chippewa) on his shoulder. This new kid in town may be gunning for Dillion based on their personal history, seeking vengeance against a former partner-in-crime who shows that there is no honor among thieves, or merely is there to deal with a family issue, One of the latter involves a scheme to compensate for a lack of alimony before heading for the border.
The only fitting way to conclude this tribute that easily could be of epic length to this timeless classic is to state "I told you so." The value of "Gunsmoke" clearly extends well beyond the stereotypes of its genre.
The pristinely remastered Warner Archive September 24, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1940 Bette Davis drama "The Letter" educates as well as entertains in that it provides a very basic primer on Criminal Law 101. This is in addition to a pedigree that extends beyond Davis to having this seven-Oscar nominated William Wyler joint being based on a W. Somerset Maugham play.
The peek inside a law school classroom begins within a few minutes of the opening scenes. The workers at the Chinese rubber plantation that Robert Crosbie (Herbert Marshall) operates are awakened by gun shots coming from the big house.
These men next witness visitor Geoffrey Hammond scurrying out the front door as Robert spouse Leslie (Davis) is emptying her revolver into him. This is quickly followed by the clouds clearing and Davis looking up at the moon with her signature crazed look that makes wonderful use of her fabled eyes that literally are the thing of song.
This is a prime example of an early lesson in the criminal law class that every new student must take. The professor tells the class that there is a dead body on the floor and asks the scholars what are the legal consequences. The correct answer, as is the case regarding every question about legal interpretation, is "it depends."
The plot thickens on Robert, attorney/close friend Howard Joyce, and the equally friendly local law-enforcement official gathering to hear the story.
Davis shows why she is an actress, rather than a movie star, in telling about how Geoffrey shows up unannounced and forces himself on her in a manner that requires fending him off with extreme prejudice,
Public and police sympathy being on the side of Leslie does not prevent her from being a guest of the state. The surprising thing is that she does not mind her temporary surroundings.
The titular correspondence comes to the attention of Howard before the aforementioned proceeding; this evidence that directly contradicts much of the story of Leslie in a manner that increases the chances of her taking a seat in Old Sparky.
The circumstances of the appearance of this "smoking gun" represents poetic justice in that scorned woman Leslie meets her match. Their showdown is a film highlight that perfectly portrays cultural conflicts that continue today.
Even including Geoffrey, Robert is whom comes out the worst for wear. He gets a rude awakening that also ruins his dreams. This is in the form of learning that the woman whom he thinks is his soulmate is a femme fatale,
This being a Golden Age film, no crime goes unpunished. However, full restitution is not made.
Archive further delivers by including an alternative ending to "Letter" as a Blu-ray bonus.
Filmmakers/husband wife/dancer and former rocker/soap star respectively Janeen and Michael Damian know of what they speak in "High Strung," which hits theaters on April 8, 2016. This variation of their early performing lives focuses on Ruby, who is a Midwestern girl on her own who comes out to New York on a dance scholarship because she thinks that the change will do her good. He (a.k.a. Johnnie Blackwell) is an ordinary bloke who is in the United States illegally and pays his bills by playing his violin in subway (a.k.a Underground or Tube) stations. Their Manhattan nights adventures make for good storytelling.
The New York worlds of classical music and dance and their street counterparts collectively comprise the main supporting character in the film. The Damians casting both well-known performers and choreographers from those worlds results in dynamic performances that range from dance battles, to ballroom scenes, to classical ballet.
The following YouTube clip of the "Strung" trailer achieves its purpose of drawing the audience into the film while showcasing Jane Seymour, whose favorite author allegedly is Anna Karenina, in her cameo role as a stereotypical demanding dance instructor.
The bonus YouTube clip below showcase (still hunky) Michael Damian doing a great job with his cover of the classic song "Rock On."
The film opens with Ruby meeting many performing arts school stereotypes during her first days in the big city. Her roommate/fellow scholarship student is a young woman whose interest in partying is jeopardizing her future at the school, the power couple of the institute for higher jete are a male violinist with arrogance that is comparable to his talent and a top ballerina who would be right at home in "Black Swan."
For his part, "downtown man" Johnnie develops friendships with the dance crew "The SwitchSteps" that use the apartment below his as a studio/crib.
All of these worlds collide when Ruby is present at a subway station during a dance crew battle that results in an already down-on-his-luck Johnnie facing a major obstacle to his abilities to keep a roof over his head and avoid being shipped back across the pond . The role of Ruby regarding this additional reversal of fortune sets the stage for a typical meeting poorly but falling in love story. You will want it to work for these crazy kids.
The film then proceeds through adequately plausible ups and downs that create the conflict that make every film interesting, All this leads to a film-ending climax in which the only suspense is whether Ruby and Johnnie will succeed the easy way, will initially fail but quickly find an "angel" who facilities them following their dreams, or they simply will keep pursuing their dreams on their own either as solo acts or a couple.
As mentioned above, the Damians make all this work because they know of which they speak. They also put their extensive show biz experience to good work in casting the film.
Real-life ballerina Keenan Kampa does a good job portraying wholesome farm girl next door Ruby. Nicholas Galitizine adds wonderful leather to the lace of Kampa regarding his performance as Johnnie. Little Nicky/Beelzebloke) also stars in the aptly titled 2016 drama "Handsome Devil," which chronicles the bonding of odd-couple roommates at a British boarding school.
If all of this seems like "Strung" is a movie for 13-year-old girls, it is because it is, Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Everyone who is man (or woman) enough to not care about what the other people at the theater (whom they will never see again anyway) think is in for a well-paced and entertaining film with likable leads and some great musical numbers and what the press materials accurately describe as a fantasy New York in which it is always sunny, students and other folks near the poverty line live in large clean apartments, and pawn shop owners have a heart.
The recent Warner Archive DVD release of the 1960 light-hearted James Garner and Natalie Wood drama "Cash McCall" proves that Rock Hudson and Doris Day do not have a monopoly on films of that era that revolve around "it's complicated" romantic relationships. Speaking of monopolies, "Cash" centers on the titular mid-20th century swinging version of Mitt Romney who makes (and loses) fortunes flipping companies,
The "complication" stems from Cash being the Maine man that Lorey Austen (Wood) wants to do over her summer vacation. The audience (but not the parents of Lorey) knows what she does last summer. (What happens in Kennebunkport stays in Kennebunbkport).
Absence does make the heart grow fonder as to this master of the universe and the girl that he leaves behind. They mix business and pleasure when Cash unexpectedly shows up to buy the manufacturing business that Lorey 'rent Grant Austen (Dean Jagger) owns,
The primary disruptive force throughout is hard-nosed businessman General Andrew Danvers, who operates the company that provides Grant an almost super-majority of his business. Danvers is not asked but does repeatedly tell about a past deal in which Cash ethically and legally bests him. This adds a complication in the form of Cash learning that he can use his most recent acquisition as leverage (no pun intended) against Danvers.
All predictably hits the fan roughly halfway through "McCall" as Danvers and Cash go to war, and Avery obtains two pieces of insider information that provide good reason to believe that Cash dun him wrong despite giving Grant exactly what he requested for his company. Meanwhile, the romance with Lorey is on the right track until the arrival of a rival ironically with her flower intact.
Anyone familiar with the persona of Garner knows that he gives his best performance when he is being wrongfully accused and the odds are forever not in his favor. Being the maverick that he is, Garner exhibits a perfect degree of controlled outrages and determines the chance that he has to take.
In this case, the final climatic scene has Cash being a very unwelcome gentleman(?) caller. He tells all concerned like it is and reminds Grant that his hand are not spotless. Further, Lorey learns the truth of the saying as to assuming things.
This leads to an especially Hollywood fantasy in that resentment related to a sale of a business and as to a romance that concludes with an epic walk of shame is resolved in a manner that does not result in any tears or recriminations,
The rest of this story is that an exceptionally well-crafted film with a plethora of A-List stars makes "Cash" a very sound acquisition.
Archive supplements this with the 1960 Chuck Jones "High Note." This amusing and clever short that is equally musical and surreal tells the tale of a literal score to settle,
The Film Movement Classics August 6, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1990 Ibsnesque dark familycentric drama "The Reflecting Skin" once again provides an exceptional chance to see a high-quality film. that may of us miss the first time around. The opening scenes of the characteristic vibrant wheat fields and grotesque bullfrog of 1950s Idaho are the first of copious examples of this release being much closer to 4K than to Blu-ray,
The festival accolades includes several awards at the 1990 Locarno International Film Festival and a win at the 1990 Stockholm Film Festival.
The following Classics trailer for "Skin" release validate the universal sense that this is a haunting Gothic film; adding captivating to this list is mandatory.
Fully appreciating how this directorial debut of Philip Ridley is spot on in absolutely every regard from the script, to the direction, to the casting, to the cinematography requires watching it. It truly is not like much that you have seen before, and you never will forget it,
Our central character is 8 year-old everykid Seth Dove (Jeremy Cooper). His woes include his domineering "witch" of a mother Ruth Dove (Sheila Moore) and his beaten-down submissive father Luke Dove (Duncan Fraser), who operates the dilapidated gas station next to to the isolated farmhouse that this unhappy trio calls home.
Lindsay Duncan steals the show as British widow/next-door neighbor Dolphin Blue. This creepy lady who is the regular subject of pranks/curiosity by Seth and his pals relishes in validating the belief of Seth that she is a vampire who stays young by stealing the youth of boys and objects of her affection. This Midwestern Morticia Addams has more credibility as to her claim of finding the husband who brought her to Idaho hanging from the rafters in the barn.
The appearance of a group of young guys who have stranger danger written all over them and subsequent disappearance of a peer of Seth fully sets our story in motion.
An incident in the distant past of Luke that Ruth and the local sheriff will not let him forget makes him the prime suspect even before the boy is found in a condition that further points to Luke as the culprit. This leads to a highly symbolic act by Luke that has just as large of an impact on Seth.
This leads to much older brother Cameron (Viggo Mortensen in an early role) cutting his military service short to return home to become the man of the house. His experience with the victims of A bomb testing gives the film its most direct symbolic value. The inability of vampires to see their literal mirror images is a close second.
Worlds fully collide in this universe with similarities to that of "Twin Peaks" when Cameron begins a romance with Dolphin Blue, a.k.a. Mrs. Robinson. This triggers great concern for his brother by Seth.
All of this lead to even more intense trauma and drama that leads to a conclusion that is far from a happy ending.
A 43-minute DVD bonus feature that discusses Ridley and the film adds wonderful context to the film. A written essay provides further insights. The joys of both are too special to spoil by saying more.
We further get audio commentary by the auteur himself.
The bottom line regarding all this is that it is difficult to imagine anyone not valuing the artistry, depth, and humor of "Skin."
The Warner Archive September 24, 2019 DVD release of the 1939 B-movie "The Man Who Dared" is among the latest proof that many titles in the Archive catalog are both universal and timeless. This tale of a typical middle-class American family facing the choice of being witnesses for the prosecution or playing it safe by having selective amnesia is almost identical to the (reviewed) 1931 Walter Huston film "The Star Witness."
Our "Man" story begins with the standard Golden-Age exposition device of newspaper front-pages reporting wide-spread corruption in a typical mid-sized American city. The action soon shifts to the office of crusading DA Palmer, who is on the cusp of finally bringing down the crooked mayor.
Meanwhile, Hizzoner is meeting with his goon squad to discuss how to silence McCrary, an investigator who is a not-so-easily intimidated star witness.
These worlds collide when corrupt police official Nick Bartel and his man-in-blue group pay McCrary a home visit with extreme prejudice. This trio breaking into the garage of McCrary to "Pintoize" his ride interrupts the dinner of the three-generation Carters, who gather at the window to watch what is going on.
McCrary and his wife inadvertently escalating the timetable creates a desperate time for the malfeasors that leads to the desperate measure of again preventing the Carters from chowing down.
The ensuing dilemma relates to the Carters paying a heavy price for doing the right thing. The self-important middle-class middle-manager head-of-the-family is duped into going with the bad guys, who then use escalating means of persuasion to convince him to change his story. This failing leads to to kidnapping all-American boy Billy Carter as an effort to silence his family.
One fly in this ointment is a rebel without a cause who does not recognize the irony of strongly speaking out against capitalism while enjoying a good lifestyle courtesy of a father who is happy to play his role in that system.
This leads to building tension as the central trial commences while patriotic Spanish-American War veteran Ulysses "Grandpa" Potterfield demonstrates the wisdom of the old fool. The clear message on many levels is that the old ways are the best ways.
The larger messages that remain depressingly relevant today are that absolute power corrupts absolutely and that the one with the gold makes the rules. This is even more true today when "tyrants" on all levels have well-stocked propaganda arsenals and extreme defamation laws that silence many whistleblowers even more effectively than a physical beatdown.
An increased sense that speaking out will only end in devastating tears and recriminations is a further nail in the twin coffins of free speech and promoting what should be American values.
Mill Creek Entertainment continues displaying diversity and a love of modern cult classics as to the August 13, 2019 additions to the MCE "Retro VHS" Blu-ray series that evokes thoughts of the pre-digital days of Blockbuster. The subject du jour is the "retro" release of the 1989 James Woods/Robert Downey, Jr. legal thriller "True Believer." The MCE section of this site includes MANY posts on "retro" releases and numerous other items in the MCE catalog.
An inadvertently amusing aspect of "Believer" is that then former teen idol/current box-office king Downey is largely extraneous. He plays idealistic recent law-school grad, Roger Baron, who gives up fortune (and perhaps fame) at a white-shoes law firm to be a first-year associate for faded civil-rights attorney Eddie Dodd (Woods), who now (barely) pays his bills making Constitutional rights arguments to keep drug-dealers out of jail. Dodds noting that he charges cocaine dealers and represents pot dealers pro bono is one of a few funny moments in this drama.
The pair makes a good low-key dynamic duo. Dodd is the battle-weary dark knight still fighting the good fight, and Baron being the naive boy wonder who is eager to learn from the master.
Meanwhile, guest-of-the-state Shu Kai Kim is eight years into a stay at Sing Sing for a murder conviction when he is coerced into killing a fellow inmate as a gang initiation. This prompts the mother of Kim to frankly ask Dodd if he will defend her son. Her response when asked "why him?" is another amusing moment.
This leads to Baron having one of his few significant scenes in "Believer;" he convinces Dodd to take the case.
The rest of this story is that this litigation once again pits Dodd against prosecutor Robert Reynard, who has a tough entry in the loss column thanks to Dodd. Kurtwood Smith of "That '70s Show" playing tough foul-tempered Reynard is sure to prompt many viewers to mentally insert the name "Dumbass" at the end of most lines of Reynard.
The intrigue comes ala Dodd uncovering increasingly compelling evidence that Kim is doing the time without having done the crime, A facially neo-Nazi attack on Dodd for defending Kim on the most recent murder charge fully thickens the plot. Our legal eagle (and his eaglet) soon learn how this is tied to the earlier crime; of course, these events also involve Reynard.
The "Marvel"ous history of Downey makes it ironic (no pun intended) that truth, justice, and the American way ultimately prevail.
Mill Creek Entertainment releasing a crystal-clear Blu-ray of the 1963 Marlon Brandon Cold War classic "The Ugly American" on August 13, 2019 along with an eclectic assortment of other titles shows that MCE can be considered the "man" for all seasons,
Fellow August titles include the (reviewed) Steve Martin/Darryl Hannah romcom "Roxanne," the (reviewed) ABC period primetime soap "Pan Am," the (soon-to-be reviewed) James Woods/Robert Downey, Jr. drama "True Believer," and the (soon-to-be-reviewed) collection of all eight made-for-TV reunion films of the vintage ABC mysedy series "Hart to Hart."
MCE will further earn the devotion of fanboys with an October 2019 bonanza of "Ultraman" fare,
"American" easily is the most substantive of the highly entertaining group of releases of which it is a member. Marlon Brando stars as rookie ambassador Harrison Carter MacWhite in this ripped-from- the-headlines tale of "fictional" Southeast Asian country Sarkhan.
The arrival of MacWhite coincides with a strong anti-American sentiment that a communist organization from the north is exploiting; this timely evokes thoughts of the similar 1935 Sinclair Lewis novel "It Can't Happen Here" about an American president who exploits fear to become a not-so-benevolent dictator.
Our story begins with the locals executing a well-planned sabotage of a highly symbolic American-back road project in Sarkhan. The propaganda of this rebellious act far outpaces the loss of life and property that it causes.
Meanwhile back home. MacWhite is the victim of other propaganda in the form of a contentious conformation hearing for his new job. His prior time in Sarkhan both qualifies him for his new post and raises potentially disqualifying concerns.
An aspect of both aforementioned arenas is the once-and-future association of MacWhite with Sarkhan native son/influencer Deong. The latter is very vocal regarding his anti-American views but cannot be proven to be a communist; MacWhite fully vouching for the guys has strong implications later in the film.
MacWhite and wife get far from a warm welcome on landing in Sarkhan on what is anticipated to be a quiet Sunday morning; stating that they encounter a mob scene is a gross understatement.
Virtually every person over the age of 30 can relate to what occurs when MacWhite and Deong reunite soon after the diplomat comes back to town. Just as the wild and crazy guy from college become a completely different person in the decade since not wearing anything under his robe at graduation, Deong and MacWhite soon conclude that the years have not been kind to the other.
The aforementioned road becomes one of many bones of contention between the men; this animosity reaches a boiling point when they find themselves the opposing heads of a violent "Yankee, go home" campaign. "American" being an early '60s major studio film requires that the conflict and the resolution strongly reflect a massive anti-communist sentiment.
The broader nature of the film requires that both of the friends turned foes be wiser but not happier at the end of "American."
The good news for audiences of 2019 is that this engrossing movie truly is one that they don't make 'em like anymore. This extends beyond skillfully telling an intelligent and thought-provoking tale, It reflects the type of strong political view that used to prompt people on both sides of the aisle to check it out, rather than incite the folks who find it offensive to (sometimes literally) get up in arms and vigorously rally for a boycott and an exile of all involved in bringing in to the (now tarnished) silver screen,
The Warner Archive August 20, 2019 DVD release of the 1965 Steve McQueen drama "The Cincinnati Kid" provides another chance to watch the PERFECT example of McQueen and his fellow young turks displacing Gold Age Hollywood royalty at various stages to becoming box-office poison. This largely is attributable to blond-hair piercing blue-eyed with bod from God McQueen oozing sexuality to which every man and woman all along the Kinsey Scale are vulnerable, NO ONE would choose the "kill" option in the game of three as to this macho man,
The back-cover liner notes for "Kid" include a review quote that aptly compares this film in which McQueen plays the titular card sharp with the 1961 Paul Newman film "The Hustler" in which that future real-life condiments king portrays pool shark Eddie Felson, who is out to dethrone Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). Tom Cruise co-starring with Newman in the 1986 "Hustler" sequel "The Color of Money" continues this "video killed the radio star" pattern.
The following trailer for "Kid" showcases all off the above (and more) while demonstrating the gritty look of mid-60s drama that leads to even more urban elements of this genre in the '70s.
Director Norman Jewison of "The Heat of the Night" and "Moonstruck" maintains a good pace as we see The Kid clean up both at the poker table and in the bath tub; the latter centers around a notable scene in which McQueen and sex kitten extraordnaire Tuesday Weld (who plays good country girl blossoming into liberated womanhood Christian) surely makes some original audience members glad that they can smoke in movie theaters in 1965.
The third member of this triangle is sultry red-head Melba (Ann-Margaret); she clearly views The Kid as an upgrade from husband Shooter (Karl Malden), who is work friend of The Kid.
All this occurs in the background of The Kid being invited to join the big boys as to playing a game hosted by legendary (but aging) professional poker player Lancey Howard (Edward G. Robinson). The on- and off-screen symbolism of this could not be any more obvious.
Some of the rest of this story is that The Kid is facing a damned-if-he-does and damned-if he-doesn't dilemma. Losing to Howard blows a big chance; winning makes him a target for the next rising star looking to take down the king of the table, This is not to mention villain of the film Slade (Rip Torn) covertly having his own horse in this contest between thoroughbreds.
Joan Blondell deservedly wins a 1966 USA National Board of Review best-supporting actress award for her portrayal of tough old broad Lady Fingers, who has earned her place at the table,
All those in front of and behind the camera do award-worthy work as to the filming of the climatic final game. You will live the tension and smell the sweat. This is partially due to getting caught up in seeing the spectators become engrossed in the game.
The genius of "Kid" continues with the "win. lose, or draw" conclusions being equally plausible and satisfying. As mentioned above, The Kid cannot fully win regardless of whether he is instrument of Howard's end or proves that he currently lacks the right stuff of which true legends are made,
The bonus features include audio commentary throughout by Jewison and scene-specific commentary by "kid in the hall" Dave Foley and his "Celebrity Poker Showdown" co-host Phil Gordon.
We also get a highly entertaining behind-the-scenes extra that teaches cast members the art of the deal.
The TLA Releasing DVD release of the 2018 gay-themed surreal drama "The Skin of the Teeth" presents a well-produced compelling story that even breeders will enjoy. On a large level, "Skin" follows the pattern of a direct relationship between the quality of the film and the strength of the live-stage vibe and the small amount of nudity and/or sex.
The horrific "a night in the life of" story begins with NY hedge fund guy John Burstner preparing for a stay-in date with less successful Josef King. Their back story is that these guys are trying to transform a Mr. Right Now hook-up into a Mr. Right relationship.
Josef being the younger and the cuter of the pair predictably leads to John being unduly grabby. John also makes the valid point that Josef having quickly given it up impairs the credibility of his claim that he wants to take it slowly.
Things settle down until the party once again goes out of bounds. This leads to the end of the life of John and the beginning of a Kafkaesque nightmare for Josef. The well-staged constant blending of reality and drug-induced hallucinations make an already interesting story even more compelling.
This textbook journey down the rabbit hole commences with the cops pounding on the door of Chez Burstner. these NYPD men in blue dragging Josef down the hall in front of all the neighbors, and our lead ending up in an interrogation room. Virtually all of the rest of the film occurs in that room as Josef fully gets caught up in the system while being questioned by a detective who has a hard on for him in not the nice way.
The ensuing humiliations include being made to strip in front of this detective and his female partner, getting caught in a lie about his age, and being subjected to harsh questioning regarding his sexuality. The aggressive unwanted sexual advance is the icing on the cake.
Film virgin Pascal Arquimedes does such a good job playing an innocent man who is on trial both for the death and every aspect of his life that we feel his pain. This extends to sharing his joy when it looks as the entire ordeal is merely in his head. The reality is that the perceptions of this date gone horribly wrong likely are a blend of fact and an altered state of mind.
Similar to other tales of "innocents" in peril, the "it could happen to you" aspect provides much of the impact of this ordeal. The surface level is the leap of faith that any of us make entering the home of an absolute or relative stranger. Going just slightly deep, all of us are vulnerable to being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Plenty of prior and current guests of the state can attest to the validity of both statements.
All of this leads to an out-of-the-blue conclusion that is just as cynical as the rest of the film; pulling an ace out of a sleeve is game changer.
The Mill Creek Entertainment August 2019 DVD release of the 2011-12 ABC period piece dramedy "Pan Am" provides another bite at the apple regarding this show that reminds us that flying was not always the horrendous nightmare that it is today. This series also is notable for launching the career of Margot Robbie.
"Pan Am" must be put in context that is apt for its "Love Boat" style format of each episode centering around a flight that has passengers whom guest stars of varying calibers play. It is fluffy fun with a relatively strong prime-time soap vibe.
The following YouTube clip of an ABC promo. for "Pan Am" provides a good sense of the strong production values and the related style of this series set in the mid-60s. The network further reminds us that the cred. of the series includes "West Wing" and "ER" veterans.
On the broadest level, "Pan Am" follows the "Marshall Plan" that reflects the wisdom of "Happy Days" creator Garry Marshall. Marshall notes that setting a '70s sitcom in the '50s prevents it from looking dated.
The opening scenes of the pilot (no pun intended) demonstrate the good balance between exposition and getting down to action that indicates that a show has good potential; fanboys think of this as "The Firefly Lesson."
We see our four central "stews" in their morning routines ahead of their inaugural flight on the maiden voyage of the brand-new Clipper jet of their titular employer. This montage helps establish the personalities of this '60s version of the "Sex and the City" quartet.
The Robbie character Laura "Charlotte" Cameron represents the mix of plausible and absurd that makes the 14-episode "Pan Am" the best of shows and the average of shows. It simply seems that the producers want to provide a little something for everyone in a show, with a strong girl-power vibe.
The closest to sublime element of Laura is that she is a bright, intelligent, and charming recent college graduate. The spring of her discontent relates (no pun intended) to seeing that rebellious black-sheep Pam Am flight attendant sister Kate "Miranda" Cameron (Kelli Garner) is enjoying the freedom and adventure that increasingly is available to their generation,
The gradual descent toward ridiculous begins with Kate showing up at the last-minute for the wedding of Laura to a nice clean-cut young man and facilitating the "Thelma and Louise" style prison break of the runaway bride.
This lead to the more improbable developments of rookie flight attendant Laura being at the right place at the right time in that a Life magazine photographer snaps an impromptu photo that ends up on the cover of that publication, This ultimately leads to an increasingly liberated Laura posing for "art photos" that end up getting very public exposure (pun intended) that catches the eye of a "pop" idol of the era.
The pilot adventure of Kate revolves around the CIA recruiting her to be a Cold War courier. This leads to increasingly dangerous adventures that ultimately involve aiding assets from behind the Iron Curtain, engaging in gun play, and helping expose a double agent all while maintaining the on-the-job poise, grace, and femininity that her day job requires.
French-born Collette "Carrie" Valois (Karine Vanasse) largely provides the perspective of someone who spent a childhood under Nazi occupation; this is especially prominent in which the flight crew attend the Kennedy "Ich nin ein Berliner" speech in Germany.
The entertaining absurdity of the Collettte story arc relates to a romance that becomes a royal disaster. A background check regarding her suitability for the relationship reveals both a surprise regarding her heritage and the existence of a relative about whom she lacks prior knowledge.
Last but not least is Maggie "Samanatha" Ryan, who is portrayed by Christina Ricci of "The Addams Family" movies. Maggie represents the liberated Bohemian woman of the era. She is a very feisty problem child who seems even more sexually liberated than European Collette.
The absurdity of Maggie relates to her radical (as in subversive, rather than awesome) boyfriend Max essentially throwing her in the arms of a Congressman, who essentially is a poster-child for the Republican party. We also see Maggie not hesitating very much as to throwing a co-worker under the jet when her wanton ways seriously jeopardize her job.
As is the case in every series that centers around a fantastic four group of women, the men are all deeply flawed and mostly are window dressing. Largely hairless WASPy pale farm boy Dean Lowrey lacks much personality and emotes so much about runaway fiancee/flight attendant Bridget that even men who eat quiche everyday likely want him to man up at least a little.
Co-pilot who considers himself a god Ted Vanderway resents his privileged background not providing enough pull to have him sit in the "right seat" has more of a personality. He has the same Daddy issues as many sons of a wealthy "master of the universe" type father. Ted also is a former "Top Gun" Navy test pilot who has a past "incident" that is why he no longer in the service.
All of this occurs in the context of the times that are a changin' in the mid-60s. We see prejudice against a black sailor who enters a friendship with potential benefits with one of the stews, get a lesbian woman who is looking to enter an open marriage of convenience, and even get a side trip to Haiti during great unrest on that island.
The broadest appeal of all this is showing they folks who think of the mid-60s as the beginning of the end regarding true style in America and others who consider that period as one in which the oppressed begin overthrowing the oppressors and the general population begins to get woke that the truth lies in the middle.
The first of many wonderful surprises regarding the Lionsgate August 6, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 second-season of the History Channel period-piece drama series "Knightfall" is that not having seen S1 is not a handicap. The S2 season premiere provides a nice S1 synopsis before picking up soon after those events.
It also is nice to see that having Mark Hamill play "drill sergeant" Talus, who molds recruits into full-fledged Knights Templar, is not merely a case of stunt casting. This hardened old soldier can be considered a much less kind and gentle version of Luke Skywalker.
The following "Knightfall" S2 trailer does a good job conveying the depiction of the early 14th-century in the series; it also provides a good overview of the testosterone-fueled soap-opera elements in this variation of "The Tudors."
The misdeeds of disgraced knight Landry (Tom Cullen of "Downton Abbey") are the root cause of much of S2 trauma and drama; the "fruit" of his cuckolding former friend King Philip strongly intensifies the hatred of the latter toward the brotherhood of the former. This leads to papalcide, not- so-holy crusades, and a related campaign to turn the hearts and minds of the people of France against "God's Executioners."
Our man without a country also faces the challenge of obtaining the forgiveness of his former knights. His deviating from the program and incurring the aforementioned wrath of the monarch get him ousted from his fraternity; one spoiler is that the cost of regaining his former status requires that he repledge this boys' club.
Meanwhile back at the castle, excitable boy Prince Louis is finding the task of producing an heir with wife Margaret inconceivable. Margaret also must contend with the covert resentment of Princess Isabella, who understandably is upset about her upcoming version of a crossbow marriage to Edward II.
Isabella and Margaret have INDISPUTABLY the best scene in the entire season. The two women delight in a feast of "cock" and even comment on the taste of that meat. This sets the stage for Isabella to Cosby her sister-in-law as the first step in having her disgraced.
All of these events lead to heightened emotions that result in Philip getting his ally ensconced as pope, and the knights having a long series of very bad days.
One of the most tense moments revolves around the holy soldiers already having their ranks depleted when it seems that their remaining numbers are destined to for horrific deaths. Whether a knight in not-so-shining armor rushes in to save them remains doubtful.,
Suffice to say, as is the case regarding the end of S1, the behind-the-scenes crew of "Knightfall" leave us wanting more.
The Icarus Films August 6, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 mystery thriller "The Girl in the Fog" adds to the mountain of proof that Euro cinema greatly outshines Hollywood fare. This tale of a 16 year-old gone girl is based on the novel of the same name by Donato Carrisi, who writes the screenplay and directs the film.
The formal accolades for "Girl" include a 2018 Italian Golden Globe for Carrisi for his screenplay and an even more deserved Best Actor Golden Globe for Toni Servillo for his perfect portrayal of police Detective Vogel.
Carrisi achieves an ideal balance of action, exposition, and tone by having the opening scene portray the title of the film. We see a shadowy village teen walk out of her Avechot home in the Italian ALps and disappear into the night. This little wander is outwardly good-girl Anna Lou Kastner, who never makes it to her stated destination of her fundamentalist church.
The quality of this film with frequent narrative time shifts is reinforced by following a variation of the modern movie staple of immediately moving us to the beginning of the end of the story without insulting our intelligence by including an intertitle that explains that jump,
This leap begins with a literal rude awakening for town shrink Dr. Augusto Flores (Jean Reno). He is called into his hospital office in the middle of the night due to an emergency related to a car accident.
On arriving, Flores is dually (and duly) surprised to see that his patient is unscathed physically (and seemingly mentally intact) and is Vogel, who is a local celebrity due to both the Kastner case and an earlier (and even more bizarre) crime spree known as "The Mutilator Case." The latter involves a mad bomber hiding explosives in containers for everyday items and putting them on grocery-store shelves.
This discussion between these two weary veterans of their professions provides exposition for the rest of the film, which mostly shifts among the events following the disappearance and the "whodunit" scene at the end of "Girl." These men further talk about the theme of connectivity that is a major element of the film.
All of this relates to Vogel being more interested in media relations and providing a resolution that satisfies the masses, rather than bringing the actual killer to justice. Ambiguity exists regarding the extent to which Vogel will go to achieve his objective. This is not to mention a television reporter showing that she can play the game as well as the boys.
New high-school teacher Prof. Loris Martini is at the center of much of the primary action. One lesson here is that just because you find yourself in a Kafkaesque nightmare does not necessarily mean that your are innocent; the second-part of this moral is that the guilty and the innocent alike face intense media persecution.
An "incident" has prompted Loris to move his (now unemployed) attorney wife and his (now sullen) teen daughter to the village. A media-whore girl does not help matters when she first persuades Loris to give her acting lessons and then distorts the nature of their extra-curricular relationship when he becomes the prime suspect in the Kastner case.
Circumstantial evidence of varying degrees of credibility creates a strong possibility that Loris will spend the rest of his life as a guest of the state regardless of his guilt. The important thing for some with a horse in the race is that Loris is an attractive suspect.
This initially culminates in revealing the full story behind the"accident" of Vogel and then what becomes of Anna Lou, who is a pet with her own secret life.
All of this amounts to "Girl" proving that quality intelligent thrillers still are out there and just require a little investigating to find,
Breaking Glass Pictures goes wonderfully old school regarding the May 2019 DVD release of the 2019 thriller "Dark Sense." The well-executed tried-and-true premise is that 22 year-old Scottish psychic Simon is on the trail of a serial killer, who has extreme prejudice against folks with the sixth sense. "Sense" further shows that Breaking remains committed to making edgy films (be it thrillers or artfully erotic gay-themed movies) that makes it so awesome.
The reason that the concept of "Sense" seems familiar to some folks who still read books is that it is based on the best-seller First and Only by Peter Flannery. Flannery presumably discusses his book in his DVD audio commentary.
On a broad level, "Sense" evokes thoughts of the tried-and-true joke that someone who is psychic should have seen something coming. This applies both to the peers of Simon who run afoul of our villain and to Simon, who should have foreseen the negative response that he received on contacting MI-5 to join forces.
The following YouTube clip of the "Sense" trailer offers a good glimpse of the story and the UK style narrative,
We meet Simon as an eight year-old lad trying to save the family priest/friend from a fate equal to death. Although Simon arrives in time and states the nature of the threat, he does not prevent the crime. The nature of the killing and of the presence of Simon is part of the copious religious symbolism in "Sense." We also see throughout the film that everything is relative,
The action shifts 14 years into the future, Simon knows both that the killer is out there and that Simon has big bullseye on his back. He does not know the identity of that psycho.
The extreme extent to which Steve connects with both the killer and his victims sets "Sense" above less creative psychic amateur-detective films. This aspect also perfectly ties into the other themes of the film.
Humor related to Simon making a senior MI5 official look foolish is a highlight of "Sense." Less humor relates to Simon first-hand learning that one of the three big lies is that I'm from the government; I'm here to help you. We do not learn if Simon has had experience with someone falsely telling him that the check is in the mail or asserting the third big lie.
Simon hiring a private contractor in the form of former soldier-of-little-fortune Steve also is very true to form regarding government activities. The job of Steve is to protect Simon from experiencing a fate equal to death.
It is predictable that Steve and sympathetic MI5 agent Sonia Chatham team up to come to the rescue when Simon finds himself in a perilous situation. How things ultimately unfold provide wonderful twists that provide a nice bonus in the form of social commentary.
The best part of all this is that "Sense" and SO MANY indie films prove time and time again that art and commerce need not be mutually exclusive. Hollywood MUST recognize that an audience exists for a film that is not part of a franchise, is not a vanity project that allows the inner-circle of an actor whose looks surpass his or her talent to play dress up, or that resorts to cheap thrills, gore, or broad humor to get butts in the seats at the multiplex.
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.