The Mill Creek Entertainment February 11, 2020 "VHS Retro Style" Blu-ray of the 1986 Richard Gere/Kim Basinger neo-modern noir film "No Mercy" joins the MCE "Retro" catalog of these films that proves that they do not make 'em even like that anymore. The hardish-boiled "Mercy" is at one end of the spectrum as to the February 2020 "Retro" release; the (soon-to-be-reviewed) Cyndi Lauper/Jeff Goldblum comedy "Vibes" is at the other end; the (recently reviewed) Bruce Willis action-comedy "Hudson Hawk" falls in the middle.
"Mercy" is a blatant "homage" to the 1984 Eddie Murphy film "Beverly Hills Cop," that has Murphy playing a loose-cannon Detroit cop going to the titular city on a revenge mission. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
The similarities of "Those '80s Movies" begin with the opening scenes of "Mercy." Chicago detective EDDIE Jillette (Gere) is working undercover as a car wash attendant on his home turf; Ala "Beverly Hills," things soon go comically awry in a manner that (once more) incurs the wrath of the superior officer of Jillette.
An effort to salvage good from the botched operation leads to Gere and his partner meeting with mid-level criminal Losado, who is in the Windy City looking to hire someone to blow away a target. Losado moll Michel Duval (Basinger) is along for the ride.
Any Trekker knows that the partner of Jillette being a upstanding family guy screams for him to wear a red shirt to work every day. Sure enough, things quickly going sideways prompts Jillette to take an unauthorized trip to New Orleans to either put Losado in the pen (pun intended) or the ground.
It does not take Jillette long to run afoul of the local good ole boys or to reunite with Duval. Incurring the wrath of the NOPD takes a little longer. That involves the typical be on the next plane home or else moment that has equally predictable results.
While "Beverly Hills" largely centers around the relationship between Murphy's Axel Foley and Judge Reinhold's junior detective Rosewood, Jillette and Duval are the "Mercy" power couple.
This pair that is certain to become friends with mutual benefits start out with Jillette engaging with Duval by literally shackling her to him and dragging her through the bayou when the heat is on. This leads to discovering a business that is sleazy even by New Orleans standards and that explains the recruiting trip of Losado.
Along the way, Duval reveals the true nature of her relationship with Losado. Of course, things become very personal in a way that reflects that Losado gets angry when someone plays with his toys.
The inevitable extended mano-a-mano showdown between Jillette and Losado puts Popeye and Bluto to shame.
The "retro" appeal of all this is that "Mercy" is a prime example of film noir evolution to a stage that the femme fatale can dish it out and take just as well as the damaged hero who initially is out for her blood before (typically) having a change of heart.
The striking images and related spectacular cinematography in the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2018 drama "Holiday" alone justify adding this film to your home-video collection. It also makes one wonder why Breaking does not spring for a Blu-ray release.
The festival love for this entertaining tale of the trophy girlfriend of an abusive drug lord includes numerous top honors. These accolades include Best Picture at the 2018 Austin Fantastic Fest and Best Director at the 2018 Nordic International Film Festival,
The following YouTube clip of a "Holiday" trailer does not do the style of the film justice but does provide a strong sense of the misogynistic elements and the counter-balancing theme of material girls with blonde ambition considering the boy with the cold hard cash to always be Mr. Right despite the cost of the relationship.
Early scenes have our heroine (pun intended) Sascha getting called out on a damsel-in-distress routine on the cusp of the extended titular vacation with aforementioned pusher Michael, This trip is to pimped-out villa in Bodrum on the Turkish Riviera, Their travel companions are the business associates of Michael and the significant others and children of those legitimate businessmen.
Although lounging in the sun, playing games at the arcade, and clubbing is fun, Sascha soon learns the same lesson as her "sisters" that anyone who "marries" for money pays a high price for enjoying the lifestyles of the rich and loathsome. This includes having to put out on demand and dealing with a man whose temper (and temperament) essentially precludes finding someone to stick around out of love.
One of the best and most telling "Holiday" scenes has a bored Michael sitting in the bitch husband chair at a jewelry store while Sascha shops. This kept woman selecting emerald earrings aptly provides her a sense that she is not in Kansas anymore. Another way of looking at this is that it shows the intersection of her grasping greed and the combination of the lust of Michael and his desire to have a status symbol other than a tattoo on his arm.
More drama enters the picture when Sascha strikes up an unsanctioned relationship with a yachting type. Handsome and kind sailor Thomas shares an intimate moment with Sascha, and both of them want more than a one evening stand. This prompts a jealous Michael to lure Thomas to the villa under false pretenses. The feral aspects of that evening show the true natures of both men.
The climax follows when Sascha plays a booty call gone wrong on Thomas; this leads to her becoming a girl interrupted who truly is dazed and confused. This adds to the morality tale aspect of this beautiful and compelling film.
Film Movement fully celebrates the independent spirit of art-house films with the DVD release of the 2017 drama "I Am Not a Witch." Folks who prefer to download this tale of nine year-old Shula being sent to witch camp can do so through the Movement streaming service.
The sweet 16 accolades for "Witch" begin with the 2018 BAFTA award for "Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer." Many of the other 15 wins similarly honor the film itself and writer/director Rungano Nyoni.
The following YouTube clip of the Movement trailer for "Witch" casts a spell that compels you to want to see more of the guilty-pleasure absurdity and themes that earn the film so much critical love.
The fun begins with wonderful dual commentary on the nature of tourism and the treatment of the disenfranchised in any society. We see tourons (a.ka. tourists + morons) in Zambia traveling to a witch camp. Of course, a group member balks at the price of the experience.
On arriving at their destination, the visitors treat the not-so-beloved sorceresses like zoo animals. For their part, the women who endure that humiliation do so with supernatural stoicism. The education of the day trippers includes the explanation that tethering the women to white ribbons is intended to prevent them from flying away to go on a killing spree. One spoiler is that at least one witch reaches the end of her rope.
The primary commentary then commences in the village where unaccompanied minor Shula resides; our introduction to her shows the incident that leads to her being accused of witchcraft. That judicial proceeding provides a strong sense of the comparable Salem witch trials.
This leads to government official Mr. Banda bringing the girl to the aforementioned camp. A form of tiger repellent logic is used in convincing Shula that she either can consent to be tethered to a white ribbon or be turned into a goat.
Banda subsequently exploits the perception of an unenthusiastic Shula for fun and profit. This includes making her use her alleged power to catch a thief. We also see her sit quietly by as Banta and his partner-in-crime try to get her to play along with a scheme to show that she can literally be a rainmaker.
Meanwhile, the witches also profit from the perception of Shula. They additionally amusingly go about their lives as the bicker and do what is required of them. We additionally get further proof that people from "civilized" nations are clueless.
All of this shows both that every society has the same basic flaws and that all of us should be ashamed, very ashamed.
Movement supplements "Witch" with the Nyoni short-film "Mwansa the Great." We further get an interview in which Nyoni discusses visiting an actual witch camp.
Breaking Glass Pictures fully lives up to its reputation for edgy dark fare as to its its February 18, 2020 DVD release of the 2019 grindhouse-light film "Feedbacck."
This tale of a night of terror for an aging Chav who can be considered the UK answer to Howard Stern, can be thought of as a Blumhouse remake of the '70s com "WKRP in Cincinnati" about the zany staff at a struggling AM radio station. On a related note, one can only hope that Blumhouse does recreate the "WKRP" episode that revolves around a belief that turkeys can fly.
Outspoken Jarvis Dolan arrives at work bloodied but undeterred in the wake of a beatdown inspired by his strong opinions; his glee on throwing around his star status is short-lived when it soon becomes apparent that tonight is not like every other night. For on this night, some people die and others wish for that fate.
The terror for Jarvis and delight for the warped viewers who enjoy his torture begins with learning that his show has been hijacked and that the culprits are at least one step ahead of him. Things follow the standard course of Jarvis being warned against trying to get any help. He also discovers that he is his own captive audience.
Learning that the current "night in question" involves an earlier "night in question" with heavy shades of "WKRP" is far from the end of the story. Virgin feature-film writer/director Pedro C. Alonso does an excellent job keeping the twists coming in a manner that validates the theory that all memories are subjective.
Jarvis and his sidekick being forced to graphically confess their sins under incredible duress and in a highly public manner greatly contributes to the perverse fun of this one.
Alonso further shows his chops in the obligatory escape attempt scene. This one truly demonstrates sound and fury.
Of course, all this ends with the last men (if any) on both sides of the sadistic antics at the end of their ropes and thoroughly exhausted. The awesome thing this time is that all involved get exactly what they deserve,
Purveyor of awesome guilty-pleasure films Wild Eye Releasing continues stepping up its game with the recent DVD release of the smells like teen angst film "A Million Hits."
This B-movie aptly populated with characters to whom that letter can apply in a related context shines a light on the role of social media on coveted teen popularity. Even those of us whose high-school days predate the Web (dark and otherwise ) can relate to wanting to be one of the cool kids and to a literal or figurative party going out of bounds.
A broader perspective regarding all this is that any individual who hopes to profit from an online presence can relate to the less scrupulous among us using deceitful and/or lascivious means to increase hits. A personal point of pride is never "paying for it" and never sharing my naughty bits or behind-closed-door activities to attract readers. I will state that following @tvdvdguy on Twitter will give you a chance to find a chocolate bunny on your lawn on April 12, 2020.
Our story begins with Queen B Ashley administering a massive beat-down to frienemy Amy while sidekick Jess films the action. This escapade lands all three excitable girls in the office of the principal.
The first bit of humor relates to the school administrator invoking the over-blown terrorist threat policy of many K-12 institutions regarding the punishment for the incident. Watching Ashley play innocent and not-so-subtly bully Amy into verifying a claim that they were merely fooling around is hilarious.
The fallout from all this includes the '90s-era camcorder of Jess getting confiscated, and her abusive mother giving her hell for that allegedly valuable item being taken away. Jess manipulating an AV geek in an effort to recover the device also prompts smiles.
Much of the teen drama relates to Ashley responding true to character in both senses of that term on Jess having leverage over that YouTube star. For her part, Jess fairly simultaneously finds her true calling and her dream boy.
For her part, Amy represents the stereotype of a childhood best friend who is callously thrown aside for not thriving during puberty. The fallout from her sharing a video from the good-old-days is another highlight of "Hits."
All of this climaxes in a manner that solidifies that "Hits" is a neo-modern morality tale. One way of stating this it to paraphrase the Mark Twain quote that it is better to not film your misdeeds and be assumed to be a fool, rather than to post them and remove all doubt.
The IndiePix Films DVD release of the 2016 drama "Agony" is a perfect example of a neo-modern psychological drama; the social commentary on the dystopian existence of Millennials is icing on the cake.
This fact-based tale of two Millennials centers around the quarter-life crises of law student/aspiring judge Christian and recent Army vet./rapper/boxer Alex. The actual collateral damage of the post-teen angst of one of these "we need to talk about" boys is a 20-something woman whose remains get spread all over Vienna.
Alex divides much of his time between training at his gym and hanging out with his best friend with whom he not-so-secretly would like to obtain benefits. Christian studies hard, frequents the local club, and has a girlfriend/chum.
Rookie writer/director David Clay Diaz fairly evenly divides the screen time between these fine young cannibals. The few seconds of blackness between the segments devoted to them provide segues.
Being boomerang kids who essentially have trouble paying the 'rent is a common characteristic of our subjects. The lord and the lady of their respective manors express frustration regarding failing to pull their weight,
Alex has it worse; his father is a cop, who is increasingly frustrated both regarding keeping his son in protein powder and this Peter Pan lacking a viable career path. The former having to literally bail out the latter does not help matters.
For his part, Christian generally is angsty and is contending with an important test. A tense "meet the parents" aspect and his girlfriend being clingy does not help matters.
The dual climaxes of "Agony" revolves around both boys succumbing to the pressures in their lives. One takes a stab at relieving that pressure; the other decides to bag it. Both endings show that the kids are not alright.
The numerous merits of the film begin with the strong relatability regarding this movie about two 20-something guys having difficulty transitioning from being boys to fully manning up. This extends to showing that even Millennials who seem to have their lives together face the same challenges as apparent slackers. This is not to mention the ills associated with being on both sides in a relationship with unrequited love.
The underlying social commentary that includes the concept of "if it bleeds, it leads" and the fact that any similarities between our excitable boys and any persons living or dead is not purely coincidental adds good depth. These elements, along with the production quality of "Agony," elevate the movie above being an "After School Special" or a Lifetime Movie,
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." An interview with Michael spouse/partner-in-filmmkaing Janeen Damian on the theater-quality GVN Releasing February 4, 2020 Blu-ray of "Free Dance" shows the extent to which art imitates life. 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 (reviewed) original.
One can only hope that there is a "High Strung 3" and that the tag line is "this time its personal." It is very clear that Michael, whom the behind-the-scenes BD extra tells us loves to move the camera, is not close to being too old for this "stuff."
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 the aforementioned next "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. This more than justifies the physical-media release opting for Blu-ray.
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; his youthful exuberance in the behind-the-scenes feature further reflects the love for his role that his performance conveys.
Much of "Free Dance" 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.
Music videos on the Blu-ray further show the love of the art.
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."
'Dad' and 'I'm Not Rappaport' Blu-ray: Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau Grumpy Old Odd Couple Double Feature
Mill Creek Entertainment further adds to its Blu-ray library of feel-good movies with the January 14, 2020 double feature of the 1989 Jack Lemmon/Ted Danson/Ethan Hawke film "Dad" and the 1996 comedy Walter Matthau/Ossie Davis comedy "I'm Not Rappaport." This coincides with the (reviewed) MCE BD release of the 2002 JLo/Ralph Fiennes romcom "Maid in Manhattan."
As indicated by being one of a handful of '80s and '90s movies (including "Nothing In Common" with Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason) about an estranged adult son having to contend with his difficult elderly father, "Dad, " which is a Stephen Spielberg joint that Gary David Goldberg ("Family Ties") writes and directs, is the more substantive of the two films.
The figurative 25-words-or-less synopsis of the film is that literal Wall Street yuppie John Tremont (Danson) must return to his childhood middle-class LA suburban home to care for titular parent Jake Tremont (Lemmon) when mom Bette Tremont (Olympia Dukakis) has a heart attack.
Rather than a history of tears and recrimination, John and Jake merely drifted apart due to a combination of the "Cats in the Cradle" syndrome and typical generational differences. Member of "The Greatest Generation" Jake outwardly is content with his career consisting of a daily-grind job at (presumably) the same employer for decades; the career path of Baby Boomer Jake reflects a desire for more material and inner gratification, Gen X grandson Billy Tremont (Ethan Hawke) reflects the arrested development of his peers.
The reveal and impact as to the manner in which Jake has coped with a not very fulfilling adult life arguably is the most interesting aspect of this movie that easily holds the interest of the viewer throughout. This involves a fascinating twist on having a second family.
Everything aptly overall is Jake at the beginning of the film; John is agreeable to his role of temporary caregiver/home ec. instructor while Bette recovers in the hospital. The game-changer of the physical and mental health of Jake rapidly takes a massive turn for the worse is relatable to many folks with elderly parents.
The overall well-presented textbook tale involves John experiencing a mix of deep concern for his father and fully justified disdain for the health-care industry decades before it lowering the bottom to which it has sunk. The "B" story is John trying to understand Billy. This manboy is one of the more interesting characters in that part of him is a cool dude shacking up with a couple of buddies and a chick in Mexico and the other part is a dork who has much more than nothing in common with his grandfather.
The ensuing events that attempt hilarity by having the three generations of Tremont men gleefully act dumb and dumber either are highly entertaining or highly annoying. This is from the perspective of a guy who now gets along with his elderly father but considers family meals the home version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and cannot understand why relatives enjoy vacationing together.
"Dad" being a 20th-century Hollywood film by folks who do family-friendly fare right ensures that all concerned better understand each other and have closure by the end.
"I'm Not Rappaport" aptly has more of a live-stage vibe because it is based on the truly hit play of the same name. Playwright Herb Gardner directs and writes the screenplay for this adaptation.
Perfectly cast grouch/grumpy old man Matthau steals the show as Nat "Oscar" Moyer, who takes a daily break from boisterously stirring up trouble as to his advocacy for the little guy to hang out in Central Park with elderly building superintendent Midge "Felix" Carter (Davis), who merely wants to stay "invisible and not rock the boat. This relationship makes one hope that Gardner would have revised his play by making the Carter role one that would have been suitable for Lemmon.
The aforementioned activism of Moyer always involves his adopting a false persona to protect whom he considers the downtrodden; this includes causing a near-riot as the food prices at the grocery store or threatening the president of the tenants' association at the building where Carter works. One such incident has him both speak loudly and carry a big stick.
As is the case regarding friendship among people of every age, most of the interaction between Moyer and Carter involves Moyer going and on either about legendary union organizers or the role of Moyer as to those activities. For his part, Carter mostly keeps calm and carries on.
Much of the fun of Rappaport extends beyond the countless witty quips to relate to seeing Matthau stay true to his persona in a "Mom, Grandpa's doing it again" manner. Heavier substance comes in the form of the portrayal of Matthau of a character who realizes both that he is way past his prime and has not lived the life that he has desired; his coping mechanism as to that is comparable to how Lemmon's Jake has managed his daily routine for decades. Both are fortunate to have the love of a good woman ease their burdens,
The common lesson of both films is that growing old is not for the feint of heart. Carter perfectly describes the relatability of the themes by reminding the middle-aged yuppie that is pushing him out of his long-term job and home that that guy is not immune to old age,
Icarus Films once more shows the immense value of world cinema as to the DVD release of the 2017 Indonesian feminist drama "Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts." This compelling movie with a strong live-stage vibe shows that Quentin Tarantino does not have the monopoly on Amazon warrior revenge films.
The 17 wins and 25 additional nominations for "Marlina" show that director Mouly Surya has all the right stuff; these accolades include numerous honors at the 2018 Film Festival Indonesia and Best Cinematography at the 2018 Asia-Pacific Film Festival.
The following Icarus trailer for "Marlina" clearly shows the Tarantino and classic Western influences on this must-see film.
The titular felon is a relatively recent widow living in relative isolation on her farm; as is typical for good storytelling, the extent of her woes is revealed throughout the film.
The nightmare begins within the first moments of "Marlina." Bad hombre Markus shows at her door and immediately plays cat-and-mouse. The horrible truth is soon shared when the interloper matter-of-factly tells his hostess that his gang is on their way to steal all of her livestock and to rape her if they have time after that theft. He adds insult to those imminent injuries by ordering her to start cooking dinner for the group.
As the film title indicates, things do not go as planned. This leads to the second act that centers around Marlina taking the long journey to the nearest town to report the crimes and her response with extreme prejudice. This trip involves both "persuading" a bus driver to co-operate and an overdue pregnant woman with her own man troubles to join the crusade.
The response of the police is true to factual and fictional patterns; any viewer with a soul will want to smash the typewriter of the cop who takes the statement of Marlina over his head.
The long arm of the law coming up short leads to showing that you sometimes must send a woman to do the job of a man. The even more sad truth as to this is that it demonstrates the limited extent to which the phrase "you've come a long way, Baby" applies.
All of this leads to a climax that brings the action back full circle to the beginning of the film; the sad messages as to this are that things never change and that you often much take matters into your own hands.
The bonus features include behind-the-scenes coverage and an interview with Surya.
The Cinema Libre Studio January 7, 2020 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2018 Laurence Fishburne drama "Imprisoned" provides equal portions of compelling action and food for thought. This is not to mention showing that revenge is a dish best served cold.
In true modern filmmaking style, the opening scenes of "Imprisoned" begin with the end of the story and lead to 90-or-so minutes that show how we get there.
In this case, former prison warden Daniel Calvin (Fishburne) revisits his old workplace just ahead of the imminent destruction of that structure. Flashbacks to an Attica-caliber riot help fill in part of the picture.
The plot thickens on turning back the clock 20 years; newly instated warden Daniel is at a local coffee shop to learn how to solve a problem like Maria. In this case, the trouble relates to that woman calling attention to questionable practices at the prison. The dual turning points are Daniel becoming infatuated with his new acquaintance and discovering that she is the wife of an ex-con regarding whom Daniel has an (arguably reasonable) enormous chip on his shoulder.
Aforementioned former guest-of-the-state Dylan fills in the rest of the story by telling Maria of the massive impact of his crime on then-prison-guard Daniel.
The reawakening of horrific memories prompts Daniel to plot against Dylan; this leads to a truly nefarious scheme that lands Dylan back in jail and Maria in the bed of Daniel.
These events play a massive role in the aforementioned prison rebellion. This is turn leads to arguably poetic justice.
The captivating appeal of all this is a well-written and acted story that is shot on a pre-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico. That cinematography alone more than justifies shelling out a few extra bucks for the Blu-ray.
The plethora of bonus features include three deleted scenes, an interview with Edward James Olmos (who shines as the governor of the island), and an apt look at social-impact filmmaking.
Breaking Glass Pictures fully exhibits its love of perverse edge as to its DVD release of the twisted 2016 drama "Motel Mist." Although this tale of freaks and geeks at a "love motel" just outside Bangkok is adequate lurid, it being a variation of the Neil Simon "Love Boat" (complete with A and B List celebrities) '70s-era "Suite" films makes "Mist" that much more of a no-need-to-feel guilty pleasure. It also makes "Mist" more like BBC series "Hotel Babylon" than ABC '80s staple "Hotel."
The following Breaking trailer for "Mist" highlights the atmospheric and kinky tone that makes it an entertaining walk on the wild side from the safety of your own home.
Our rogue's gallery begins with typical outwardly respectable middle-aged Sopol, who maintains a lair at the titular hot-sheets Hilton; his current school girl who works in the oldest profession in the world is Laila. Their intercourse clearly shows that her pain provides his pleasure.
This encounter taking an unexpected turn literally shows Sopol that karma is a bitch in a way that provides the audience particularly dark pleasure before the tables once again turn only to shift once more thanks to an even Stevens development.
The partner-in-crime of Sopol is young hotel employee Tot, whose show business aspirations extend beyond his facilitating the real-life Bob Crane hobby of Sopol. Tot also is adequately unbalanced to fit right in with his guests.
The fictional household name of the group is former child star Tul, whose personal path is textbook for former Disney Channel kidcom stars turned super freaks that you would never consider bringing home to mother. Tul is waiting for his alien friends to beam him up (and likely probe him). His adventures in coveted Room 5 include seeing a blue room and wanting to paint it black. This excitable boy going fully psycho near the end is a film highlight.
Writer/director Prabda Yoon ends all this with an especially stylish sequence that shows that some dreams come true even for the not-so-pure at heart.
Breaking supplements this with a behind-the-scenes feature.
Indiepix Films goes wonderfully old school as to its separate DVD and BD 10th anniversary releases of the 2009 psychological neo-noir thriller "Yesterday Was a Lie." This literally stunning pristine shot-for-shot remastering of this highly stylistic and atmospheric film fully brings back the Golden Age femme fatale films. This homage extends to platinum blonde Hoyle (Kipleigh Brown) going on a mind-bending journey in concurrent searches for the truth and peace of mind.
The numerous accolades for this perfect update of a classic genre aptly includes the Feature Film honor at the 2009 Accolade Competition; the festival love also includes two wins for writer/director James Kerwin.
The inner turmoil of Hoyle relates to confusion regarding her states of consciousness; her outer demons revolve around the search for a reclusive genius, who may be able to help her achieve peace of mind. A strong timey-wimey element and the concept of the window of eternity that involves a form of mind meld introduce strong elements of "Dr. Who."
The partner-in-crime solving of Hoyle is her male peer, who outwardly is Phil Marlowe but channels Dr. Phil. A typical night of hard drinking and tough talk introduces Hoyle to a sultry lounge singer, who also is a mirror image.
This quest brings Hoyle further down the rabbit hole as various realities merge and collide. A strong aspect of this is the regular reappearance of an ex who has trouble reconciling the past despite clearly not being Mr. Right.
The final reveal for the audience is that the 21st century is not entirely devoid of films that honor art and tells an intriguing and thought-provoking story well,
The plethora of extra include an audio commentary in which Brown and Kerwin participate, insightful featurettes and interviews, and the Wondercon panel,
The Film Movement Classics division of art house god Film Movement once again digs into the vault to perfectly restore a cult classic by releasing separate DVD and Blu-ray sets of the Fritz Lang two-part 1959 Indian epic "The Tiger of Eschnapur" and "The Indian Tomb." The Panorama-style cinematography alone justifies buying the Blu-ray set.
One can only hope that Classics follows the family tradition as to "Dad" following up its epic "Sissi Collection," which is the trilogy of docudramas about the titular Austrian empress with massive mother-in-law issues, with the (reviewed) condensed version of those films "Forever, My Love." Watching the Lang films as an uninterrupted whole truly would be epic.
Classics does both Lang films proud by including a booklet with an essay by film historian David Kalat, a documentary on the epic, and a feature of epic (in both senses of the word) star Debra Paget. Your not-so-humble reviewer does readers less proud by sacrificing reading the essay and watching the documentaries in the interest of timely posting a review of the films that Lang makes on returning after a 20-year exile from Germany that relates to an colossal furor.
The aptly titled "Tiger" commences with new kid in town German engineer Harald Berger chivalrously coming to the rescue of the assistant to famed dancer Seetha (Paget). This leads to this trio going on the road to see the Maharaja of Eschnapur (Chandra), the not-so-wonderful Maharaja of Eschnapur. Seetha is going in response to an offer for a command performance that she better not refuse, and Berger is going for the purpose of performing the public good of building schools and hospitals.
The initial spark between Seetha and Berger fully ignites on his coming to her rescue during their journey.
Although Chandra is a victim of the emerald-eye monster when his (for the moment) honored guests arrive; that is the least of his problems. Older brother Ramigani and his cabal are actively plotting to ascend to the throne that Ramigani considers his birthright.
The escalating tensions culminate in a climatic scene in which Chandra seeks to impose poetic justice on his romantic rival; this involving a cat fight adds an extra layer of aptness. This leads to a dramatic run for the border that seems to be the end of the story.
"Tomb" picks up in the immediate aftermath of "Tiger." Berger effectively is out of the picture; his sister Irene and boss/brother-in-law Walter Rhode are newly arrived and not buying the paper-thin explanation for the absence of Berger. Walter is further incensed as to the insistence of Chandra that he design and construct the titular mausoleum. This relates to the person for whom that structure is being built.
For his part, Ramigani is dividing his time between the final amassing of his supporters and manipulating his younger brother.
While all of this "meanwhile back at the ranch drama is unfolding, central fugitives from injustice initially discover that the golden rule trumps the desert code of hospitality. This leads to a walk-of-shame to face final judgment (and jeopardy).
The drama this time culminates in a great escape attempt that does not go as planned. Ultimately, we get a Berlin ending that significantly differs from the conclusion of Hollywood fare.
The irony is not lost on your not-so-humble reviewer in stating that a desire to remain on the Nice List of Santa and a related hope to find an Apple watch under the tree in a couple of weeks is behind the confession that starts this post on the well-produced thought-provoking Virgil Films recent DVD release of the 2017 drama "Walden: Life in the Woods." Merely looking at the site homepage photo, which is roughly 20 collectibles out-of-date, of my home office indicates a love of stuff with no practical worth.
This admission is that, although I LOVE walking around Walden Pond, I HATE HATE HATE HATE the style and related undue complexity of the book "Walden" that Henry David Thoreau writes while in seclusion by that body of water when he does not walk into town to visit friends and family and to restock the provisions in his austere cabin. This is not to mention the unintended humor as to the Boston-area Walden site charging $15 for pahking that also has a gift shop that sells a wide variety of goods with no practical value that extol the simplicity philosophy of Thoreau.
This loathing of the source material is the root of unfounded concern that "Walden" the film would completely consist of the prose that repeatedly ended up scattered all over my 10th-grade dorm room after repeatedly being thrown against the wall of that austere accommodation. This is not to mention reprimands for using "inappropriate language" while reading that book; a certain part of the anatomy of Thoreau would be incurably sore if an oft-repeated command to him was a reality.
The good news extends beyond this solid film saving viewers that fate almost as bad as death. This movie is a relatable fable for our dsytopian times. The laudable message is to not allow the stress of career and a desire for material goods to impair your happiness and ruin your relationships; in simpler terms, do not live above your means or allow your love of material possessions to trump (pun intended) your love of your fellow man.
The following "Walden" trailer highlight both the indie film and source-material philosophy of the movie. At the very least, "Walden" provides almost two hours of intriguing drama and serenity in our highly troubled and divided times.
Our story centers around middle-aged middle-manager Ramirez (Oscar nominee Demian Bichir for "A Better Life"), whose not very good day begins with having to tell his wife that the nursing home where he works has cut both his hours and his benefits. This hits particularly close to home when Ramirez learns that the cost of the medicine that his daughter needs for a chronic condition has significantly risen. His subsequent conversation with an overseas rep. of his insurance company is frustratingly relatable to all of us who regularly are there and do that.
Soon after arriving at his job, Ramirez is confronted by boss Charlie (wonderfully offbeat T.J. Miller), who tasks him with telling the maintenance guy/Ramirez buddy that that guy must become an independent contractor and reduce his hours if he wants to keep his job. The relatability this time is the many occasions that the low person on the totem pole is forced to knowingly put an unconvincing positive spin on a callous corporate policy.
The nursing-home "guests" include Alice, who largely mentally does not live here anymore, Her role in the really rotten not-so-good day of Ramirez is her high-strung grandson Guy, who gives the guy (no pun intended) who is not paid enough to put up with this "stuff" grief about using air freshener in the room of his grandmother.
This visit occurs just as Guy and laid-back boyfriend Luke are headed out for the titular hike/camping trip. Their stress extends beyond the boys disagreeing about how to interact with Alice to Luke arguing that the stress and the greed associated with Guy selling wealthy investors on the profits associated with wind turbines outweighing the social good of helping put those turbines in operation.
The strain on the relationship escalates in the woods and fully comes to a head when Luke springs a radical lifestyle change on his partner,
Meanwhile, the post-work-period of Ramirez that is not devoted to getting his daughter her medication is divided between buying a kitchen sink and convincing a bank to refinance his mortgage. These adventures first cause Ramirez to focus on the prices of the items in the Home Depot where he is shopping and to continue that exercise at home. This is reminiscent of a scene in one of the social-commentary films that Jack Lemmon makes in the '60s. In this one, he plays a top-level executive who calculates the total expenses that he faces simply on waking up each morning.
The impact of the day causes Ramirez to execute his own radical experiment while he is home alone; the scene in which his wife arrives and Ramirez and viewers are equally anxious as to her reaction to his actions aptly ends this film about focusing on the value of the natural world.
Virgil honors the Thoreau spirit by not including special features on the DVD.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2018 Buenos Aires-based drama "We Are Thr3e" aptly can be considered the non-missing link between the Breaking tradition of releasing (often artfully arousing) gay-themed films and more mainstream world cinema fare. "Thr3e" sensitively (and mildly arousingly) explores the theme of a long-term loving male-male-female relationship. Minimally, it will give anyone near the middle of the Kinsey Scale something about which to think.
One spoiler is that any guy with an interest in having a broamce include benefits is encouraged to show his buddy this film and proceed according to his reaction.
Breaking does an especially good job communicating the theme and the tone of the film in the following trailer. It clearly shows that the cast is well selected and that writer/director Marcelo Briem Stamm is a good spokesperson for relationships that further expand boundaries in an era in which gay couples receive widespread acceptance in much of the US and beyond.
The depicted genesis of the relationship between Russian-born bartender/free-spirit Sebastian, conformist Argentinian Nacho, and divorced girl-next-door Ana reflects the truism that no one can predict when any form of relationship will develop while engaged any form of activity. The rest of this story is that love more often stems from when you are not seeking it than from when you are searching for Mr. or Ms. Right (or Right Now).
Nacho and Ana meet cute at a party; Sebastian literally and figuratively enters the picture when the other two go in search of the bar. Sebastian soon subtly seduces (but does not abandon) the latest objects of his affection. Although Sebastian calls many of the shots and largely directs the course of the relationship, a morning after scene makes it clear that he is not one of the chosen people.
A pivotal (and particularly well-played) scene is a variation of a situation that is very relatable to any dude who has been on either side of this interaction. Sebastian takes an unauthorized break to catch up with a bonding Nacho and Ana. The sense of relatability continues with Sebastian orchestrating things so that Nacho faces the test of (presumably) having his first mano a mano kiss. The hesitancy of Nacho to take this step provides an early in a series of looks at the skill of Sebastian to proceed things at the pace that Nacho and Ana can handle.
Thing fairly quickly proceed to Sebastian presenting logical arguments for the trois to form a long-term loving menage. The point of reference this time is feeling love for someone who is unable to fulfill all of your physical and/or emotional needs. All of this being out in the open at least as to the three willing participants arguably is worth trying.
One thing on which Stamm does not directly touch is the desire for male intimacy that virtually every man directly or indirectly feels as evidenced by previously largely straight Nacho not displaying much resistance as to the advances of Sebastian. This often manifests itself in the form of at least curiosity as to sex with another man regarding whom there is adequate attraction and trust to deal with the physical and emotional aspect of crossing the final frontier. Some acts are enjoyable for some of us only when you love the one with whom you are with.
The theme of love conquering all continues with Nacho especially becoming emboldened as to sharing the nature of his current relationship. The analogy here from the early days of the campaign for equal rights for gay men essentially is that the friends and family of Nacho must process not only that he now likes men but also has someone special in his life.
Stamm and his cast do a good job keeping things seemingly realistic as to the early sense of Nacho and Ana that the absence of Sebastian creates a hole. The same is true regarding Nacho and Ana inadvertently making Sebastian jealous.
We further see the complications as to our trio already contending with the practical issues that arise in any romantic relationship that further are complicated as to the nature of their arrangement. Accountant Nacho raises many of the transactional considerations, such as the law and business institutions only recognizing one spouse in a relationship.
The bigger picture (no pun intended) is to the extent to which the vision of Stamm is prophetic, The next stage as to gay relationships may be the "straight" guys who traditionally use the anonymous cruising methods of the era to be more open by getting everything that he needs at home, including a willing "beard," who actively participates in her two men mutually enjoying intimacy.
Sebastian addresses the female perspective by offering Ana husband material in the form of Nacho and boyfriend material in the form of himself. Many modern women likely would enjoy having her cake and the hunky baker as well.
The DVD bonuses include what must be an insightful interview with the cast and crew. A time constraint when watching "Thr3e" requires delayed gratification as to that feature.
The Film Movement November 19, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 coming-of-age drama "Geneses" (aka "Genesis") proves that adolescent growing pains are both timeless and universal. Movement pairing this release with that of a DVD of (reviewed) "The Demons" (2015) by "Geneses" filmmaker Philippe Lesage further shows that Movement does right by lovers of art-house cinema.
"Demons" focuses on the preadolescence of filmmaker Philippe Lesage in the form of adventures of quirky Felix, who shows moderate gay tendencies. This leads to the "Genese" all-boys private school life of quirky teen Guillaume during a time that he and his half-sister Charlotte are learning the facts of life.
The numerous festival wins for "Genese" include "Best Film" honors at the 2018 Montreal Festival of New Cinema and Locarno International Film Festival.
The following Movement trailer for "Genese" expertly conveys the agony and the ecstasy of adolescence behind the aforementioned impact of this highly notable film. The audio commentary by Lesage most likely shares the extent to which this is live and is Memorex.
As Movement observes in DVD liner notes, "Genese" starts strong with Guillaume on top of his desk leading his classmates in a rousing sing-a-long., His ensuing interactions with classmates, including a stereotypical jock, are equally relatable to anyone who has attended high school around the globe.
Guillaume seems overall average in that he mostly is well-liked and can work and play well with others; he further clearly is the class clown. The only real animosity that he inspires is as to a teacher.
All is going reasonably well with close friend Nicolas until Guillaume acts on a love that dares not speak its name. Most adolescents can relate to having romantic feelings toward a friend and struggling with repressing it, The hope that expressing love will be well received is a major aspect of this.
Nicolas is more sensitive than the average teen boy in rejecting the unwanted advance, Not knowing better than to quit when he is ahead, Guillaume expresses his love for Nicolas in a witty and charming class presentation. The aforementioned reputation for being a joker is a factor regarding the response of the peers of Guillaume.
The auto-biographical relationship between Felix and his older brother plays a role as to a deepening friendship between Guillaume and a younger student/dormmate.
Particularly guys who attend a boarding school can relate to being on both sides of a younger brother/older brother style relationship, The younger guy largely is on his own likely for the first time in his life and is surrounded by bigger and more physically mature male classmates. The older guy can remember his early days and also feels protective toward the sweet and sensitive kid who is not quite in his element.
The sad truth that Lesage shares (and likely has lived) is that ignorant societal attitudes that include homophobia often lead to hasty incorrect judgments that can punish folks for kindness and PROPER love. Suffice it to say that things do not end well for Guillaume.
Lasage repeatedly shifts the narrative between the growing pains of Guillaume with the angst of Charlotte. Her relationship with Maxime is derailed when he suggests out of the blue that they start seeing other people. The confusion as to that includes the assertion of Maxime that he is not presently interested in anyone else.
A highly memorable scene involves Charlotte, who has started dating someone else, rejecting the lustful advances of Maxime. This leads to one of them weeping on the floor only wearing briefs and the other trying to console that person.
Part of the rest of this story is that Charlotte gets her first lesson regarding the universal truth that most men are alike.
The voice of experience for all the Charlottes (and Charles) out reflects the wisdom of the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes." The "from the mouths of babes and tigers" wisdom is that you are lucky if you can find someone whom you can tolerate and they can stand you in return. The bonus advice is to ask yourself if you would be happier without the other person than you are with him or her.
Similar to "Demons," Lesage ends "Genese" with a vignette that centers around love and a big brother-little brother relationship at a summer camp. This inarguably is the most endearing tale that Lesage tells.
Movement supplements all this with the aptly titled short film "The Lesson." That one has a young woman become enamored with an outwardly desirable male motorcyclist only to learn the awful truth. A hilarious scene has the guy mansplaining only to get massively showed up. The man literally ending up in the bitch seat at the end is highly symbolic.
Olive Signature, which is the exceptional collector's edition division of Olive Films, does the 1945 Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman classic "The Bells of St. Mary's" more than proud as to the November 26, 2019 pristine Blu-ray release of that Oscar-winning classic. The typical sturdy artful sleeve, the comprehensive written essay, and the equally educational and entertaining BD bonus features are pure Signature in a manner that shows that Olive ain't just whistlin' Dixie as to its motto "cinema lives here."
Crosby reunites (and it feels so good) with legendary veteran writer/director/producer Leo McCarey to continue the story of Crosby's Oscar-winning Father Chuck O'Malley from "Going My Way." The Crosby-style charm and wit of that man of the cloth likely provides the Catholic Church with its best propaganda of the '40s. (A BD bonus feature provides copious enlightenment as to the biopic-worthy career of McCarey.)
Our story begins with O'Malley arriving at the titular House of God in his capacity as the new pastor. The circumstances regarding this change-of-command reflect the not-uncommon real-life situation in which a priest well past his prime is a figurehead, and the penguins run the aquarium. This plays a role as to the ready-for-primetime O'Malley sometimes leaving stern but loving Sister Benedict (Bergman) with egg on her face.
The aforementioned Crosby style particularly shines in early scenes in which he inadvertently rings the school bell an hour before the beginning of classes and later shows the students that there is a new Sheriff Taylor in town. Benedict particularly is not amused as to the largess of the new boss but holds her tongue, as she amazingly does throughout the film.
An early highlight is O'Malley being unaware of why the nuns validly are laughing during his introduction of himself to them; one can say that the cat has got the tongues of his audience,
An even more adorable scene come roughly halfway through the film; we see the first-graders rehearsing their version of the Nativity story. Much of this involves a very young Joseph knocking on doors only to be told to take a powder because he does not have any money.
The central conflict between O'Malley and Benedict is highly relatable in this modern era of church closings, The necessity of funds for repairs already has required selling the former playground of the property. Developer Horace P. Bogadus (Henry "Clarence" Travers) is making solid progress with his building on that site and has his eyes on the school as the location of a parking lot.
Laid-back O'Malley is accepting the strong probability that the St. Mary's students will need to be bused to St. Vincent's across town. Benedict has a perish the thought attitude regarding the closure of her home. A "God will get you for that" attitude of O'Malley plays a role.
The response of every viewer with a soul to a shock soon after an apparent resolution to this challenge is a prime example of the impact of this perfect film. You WILL respond as intended to every character and feel his or her pain.
Our leads also clash as to new girl in class Patsy. This girl entering adolescence prompts her single mother to convince O'Malley to give Patsy an education and a "proper" home. Of course, O'Malley responds with exceptional kindness and compassion.
As a BD bonus in the form of an engaging interview with a nun who is a film reviewer states, it is almost certain that the mother either practices the oldest profession in the world or relies on the kindness of strangers. This bride of Christ also shares how her own experience allows her to relate to Patsy. The rest of us will think of a "Facts of Life" episode in which Eve Plumb of "The Brady Bunch" fame plays a young nun who has a profound impact on one of the Eastland girls.
The other primary source of conflict between O'Malley and Benedict is the former making a sacrifice for the good of the latter, who incorrectly thinks that she is being punished for adhering to her principles (rather than to her principal). Once again, the real-life nun speaks for the rest of this as to her response to this.
Every thread of the "St. Mary's" story aptly comes together at the commencement ceremony, which is one of the final times that Benedict shows O'Malley who's the boss, at the end of the film. Everyone ends up where he or she belongs in true Golden Age fashion.
Hopefully as shown above, the blessing and the curse of "St Mary's" is that it reminds us of what movies can be. Neither O'Malley nor Benedict outwardly lose their tempers (or end up in bed together), and there is no violence or shock-and-awe humor.
One must believe that there still are filmmaker like McCarey out there. It is less likely that there are enough Americans who still have a soul to allow another "St. Marys" to return a reasonable profit.
Film Movement provides perfect double-feature fodder by separately releasing DVDs of teen-angst movie "Genese" (2018) and coming-of-age topic du jour "The Demons" (2015) on November 19, 2019, Both movies are semi-auto-biographical as to writer/director Philippe Lesage.
The accolades for "Demons" include a well-deserved "New Director" award for Lesage at the 2016 San Francisco International Film Festival.
The figurative titular malevolent entities plague 10 year-old suburban boy Felix. The experiences of this pre-adolescent provide the perfect context for the quirky teen boy around whom "Genese" revolves. Other numerous parallels as to this film include both opening with classroom scenes of shiny happy students. Additionally, both boys have close friends whose mothers have serious embarrassing issues.
Much of the angst in the life of Felix revolves around his parents having violent fights only to calm down and hug it out with him and his older brother and older sister. This is a factor as to the older brother being loving and protective of Felix. This relationship symbolically plays itself out in "Genese."
Felix having a sensitive nature that manifests itself in aggressive behavior makes his school days challenging. The aforementioned opening moments include a teacher outwardly being cruel by strictly enforcing a rule against lending Felix a pencil; a similar bias plays out in "Genese."
Felix spending much of his time hanging out with his older brother and the teen friends of that sibling puts a boy in the world of a man. This includes playing on his fears as to a rash of local kidnappings and killings of boys of his age. The older guys also speaking critically about one of their peers being gay also causes Felix, who is displaying blatant homosexual tendencies, equally intense angst.
Some gay men and their childhood friends will relate to a play date in which Felix literally has his buddy play the female role. Scenes that revolve around the snatching and the killing of boys will strike a stronger chord with every viewer.
The skill of Lesage as to portraying a boy nearing the cusp of adolescence and another approaching the end of that awkward period is what makes his films Movement worthy and SCREAM for watching them as a double feature. Lesage expertly straddles the line between sensitive and saccharine.
You will feel the agony and the ecstasy of the subjects but never will feel that you are watching either an "After-School Special" or a Greg Berlanti or Ryan Murphy tale of the adolescence of those Millennial gay men idols.
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.
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.