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.
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.