The Film Movement DVD release of the 2016 Israeli DVD "Harmonia" makes a well-orchestrated tale of Biblical proportions more accessible to North American audiences. The clever concept is that demanding conductor Abraham and his harpist wife Sarah enlist French horn player/Sarah bff to be the surrogate parent of their child.
The official accolades for "Harmonia" include three wins at the 2016 Jerusalem Film Festival.
The following Movement trailer for "Harmonia" shows how writer/director Ori Sivan masterfully blends the Bible story, the behind-the-scenes look at an orchestra, and the operatic melodrama of the movie.
Our story begins with the advocacy of Sarah playing a big role as to independent spirit Hagar getting hired. The former soon subsequently takes the new girl under her wing to the extent of bringing that essentially lost puppy home.
Hagar learning of the near impossibility of Sarah having a baby leads to the aforementioned surrogacy. This leads to the birth of Ben, whose teen years provide some of the best entertainment in the film. This rebellious excitable boy literally and figuratively dances to a tune that differs from the one that his father selects for him. Even when obeying, Ben insists on doing things his own way.
An oblivious Ben bonding with Hagar and proving like mother, like son adds another interesting element. Meeting another member of the family provides special delight.
Adding a baby brother to the mix further complicates things; Ben reasonably believes that the younger child is the favored one and reacts accordingly; one of many telling scenes is Ben blowing his horn into the crib of his sibling.
Sivan expertly brings all this to a satisfying conclusion that shows that the kids (and the parents) are alright. The lesson this time is that families have faced the same issues since Biblical time (and before) and that things only are getting more complicated.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2009 Argentinian drama "La Boyita" (nee "The Last Summer of La Boyita") awesomely enlighten as it entertains, The tale of tween girl Jorgelina checks all the boxes regarding this game of adolescence Bingo.
The nine festival wins for this well-produced movie with a truly unique perspective include well deserved Best Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Supporting Actress awards at the 2010 Cartagena Film Festival.
The following Movement trailer for "Boyita" expertly does its job of enticing the viewer without revealing any major spoilers.
The summer of growth around which "Boyita" is centered begins with Jorgelina living with her mother and her older sister; finding an anatomy book at the same time that the elder sibling is becoming a woman triggers new thoughts in Jorgelina. Thoughts that include feeling like a tag-a-long prompt Jorgelina to travel to the ranch that her father owns as a side business of his medical practice.
This trip reunites Jorgelina with sweet and sensitive peer Mario, who is a ranch hand. His growing pains include a rite of passage in the form of an upcoming horse race that is intended to prove his manhood. The obstacles include cruel taunting from local boys who are more mature in mind but not body.
Meanwhile Mario is experiencing embarrassing unexplained bleeding that coincides with his concern as to his physical development that is important to every man over the age of 12. His confiding in Jorgelina creates angst as to her wanting to honor the wish of her friend to not tell anyone in contrast to her desire to have her father help the boy.
The final reveal is a revelation for both the characters and the audience. It provides an excellent study as to the role of gender in society and the challenges that can result as to that sometimes delicate subject.
All of this amounts to "Boyita," like most Movement films, showing that a charming story with good talent behind and in-front of the camera makes for a better movie than one that caters to the lowest common denominator.
Due to being released when the prolonged quarantine is causing many of us to consider the others in our lives decreasingly significant, the central concept of the 2015 drama "Time Zone Inn," which is an DVD release from Indiepix Films, is considered more of a dream come true than a dreaded effort to adjust to a new normal. This relates to the titular BnB offering couples that are facing living in different time zones a trial run.
More specifically, one member of a couple stays in a room that simulates where he or she will be living in the near future; his or her mate stays in a room that does the same for him or her. The man in one such relationship staying in the Berlin room while his girlfriend occupies the Beijing accommodation is an example of this.
All of this relates to the nature of a matriarch society and the awful truth about love.
The following short but sweet Indiepix trailer for "Inn" concisely states the concept of the film and the rules that the guests are asked to obey; the latter amusingly does involve lighting and not eating after midnight in addition to learning the harsh consequences of violating the rules.
Our story begins with Mina and Enzo arriving. He is checking into the London room; she is checking into Paris. One spoiler is that we do not see either of them in their underpants. The aforementioned failure to do as they are told leads to this couple meeting fellow guests Marco and Catia. Resident free spirit/troublemaker Gaia soon joins the group,
This gathering triggers conflicts that trigger thoughts of a more dramatic version of the Neil Simon "Suite" comedies that essentially are "The Love Boat" episodes set at landmark hotels.
All of this results in our young lovers being a little wiser, but not necessarily more happy, at the end of the film. The first bigger picture regarding this are that we see what happens when people stop being polite and start being real. The related message is that most of us do not show out crazy until after we have put a ring on it.
The most apt commentary on the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD of the 2018 drama "Sex Weather" relates to a "technical difficulties." This insight into the mating habits of a hipster Millennial is good enough to have held attention up to the DVD freezing roughly 15 minutes before the conclusion. Interest as to whether the "crazy kids" would make it was strong enough to try to get the disc to play in the current player; it was not adequately high to try to use an alternate machine.
In this case, the fault lies within the stars. Leading man Al'Jaleel McGhee has the looks and the charm to pull off the role of filmmaker Darrel; he simply lacks chemistry with strange bedfellow/former crew member Sydney (Amber Stonebreaker). Sydney (and presumably Stonebreaker) is a typical BORING hipster Millennial down to her t-shirt with a photo of the "Friends" cast.
The fact that Amber lives in a funky basement studio apartment in Portland, Oregon (aka Brooklyn West) says a great deal about both her character in both senses of that word. A scene in which Darrel and Sydney (who are channeling John and Yoko by spending the entire day in bed) make origami swans says a great deal about "Weather."
Filmmaker Jon Garcia sticks to a tried-and-true formula in telling the tale of his quasi star-crossed lovers. Our story begins with the couple waking up the "morning after" the premieres of the latest film of Darrel and of the carnal aspect of his relationship with his former employee. This sticking to what works continues with using scenes of Portland at different hours to communicate the passing of time.
A touch of irony enters this less-than-perfect film in a scene in which Sydney requires a less-than-enthusiastic Darrel to listen to her read less-than-glowing reviews of his latest work.
The Monday morning quarterbacking of the night-in-question begins with committee member Amber making it clear that it was not good for her. Darrel, who clearly has the right tool for the job, offering a do-over may play a role as to whether Amber ever goes back.
This unmet expectation relates to false advertising in the form of the desirable person on the movie set not being the same individual in bed. This is comparable to the well-known phenomenon of both persons in a marriage not revealing his or her "crazy" until the "man" puts a ring on it.
Related insight is in the context of love, Darrel speaks for many people in stating that he does not want to go on any more first dates. In other words, finding Ms. Good Enough would provide adequate bliss.
The aptly analogous second bite at the apple smooths the waters; this leads to an essential "kiss my grits" moment. A discussion of moving to LA reflects both the honeymoon stage of a relationship and vacation euphoria in the form of wanting to relocate to a place that you are thoroughly enjoying.
The inarguably best scene involves a delivery guy having awkward intercourse with the couple. The analogy this time is being the only sober person in the room.
The bigger "Weather" picture relates to a hazard of casual sex; not really knowing someone before making the beast with two backs enhances the risk of discovering the truth as to the Chinese proverb regarding being careful as to that for which you wish.
BGP supplements this with a "Behind the Scenes" special feature.
The Lionsgate separate February 9, 2021 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2020 drama "Wander Darkly" successfully tackles the issues of taking a relationship to the next level and the next stage of existence after we die. The icing on this 2020 Sundance existential cake is an award-worthy performance by Sienna Miller as woman in limbo Adrienne. Awesome character actress Beth Grant shines equally brightly in her role as Adrienne's maternal mother-in-law, who shows great restraint in straddling the line between supportive parent and monster-in-law.
The voice of experience requires strongly suggesting watching "Wander" twice. Seeing the truly surprising climax makes a second viewing far different due to knowing what you did not know the first time.
The following trailer perfectly illustrates the BD-worthy cinematography in this film that proves that writer/director Tara Miele is a genuine double threat.
Our story commences with highly relatable scenes of Adrienne and long-time companion Matteo well beyond the honeymoon stage of their relationship, A minor spoiler is that buying a house and having a baby does not lead to a happily ever after American dream. An aspect of this is that laid-back woodworker Matteo does not seem to be as good of a catch now that Adrienne is heavily relied on to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. This working mom also must never let Matteo forget that he is a man.
The night in question commences with the couple arguing ahead of going to a party. That gathering stirs up the pot in a manner that leads to an argument on the way home. That leads to the central event that drives (no pun intended) the central drama and trauma.
A series of the most surreal scenes in this highly atmospheric film leads to Adrienne and Matteo back at home. The difference this time is that Adrienne is convinced that she is dead despite the evidence to the contrary; Matteo tries very hard to be compassionate and to provide the voice of reason.
This leads to Ghost of Christmas Past style visits to significant events in the relationship of the couple. The armchair quarterbacking as to these replays discuss what went right and what did not work out so well.
Additional angst relates to maternal concern as to who will raise the baby.
As mentioned above, the final reveal shows that Miele has saved the best for last. The events of the prior 90 minutes still make sense; the twist is that the two forms of enlightenment are not what the audience expects.
The big picture shows that the art of making movies that do not rely on matinee idols, huge CGI budgets, and/or shock-and-awe is not entirely dead, The audio commentary by Miele presumably reinforces that.
The TLA Releasing DVD of the criminally under-rated 2018 gayromdram "Love Blooms" is the epitome of a film about a guy trying to figure out every aspect of his life. The anti-Logo elements include a lack of doe-eyed smooth-skinned twinks and an absence of over-emoting in response to the slight bump on the road to either Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now.
The story commences with adorkable main man Martin couch-surfing at the Parisian apartment of his cousin, the girlfriend of the cousin, and their bundle du joie. Aspiring film director Martin is on a break from his studies in a quest to rekindle the flame with former girlfriend Leah. Leah is putting her perky hip personality to good use as a tour guide.
The first speed bump that Martin encounters is not being welcome with especially open arms (or open legs) by Leah on showing up at her "office." It is very clear that the one who got away is enjoying her freedom.
One of the best scenes in this charming and entertaining film soon follows. Martin is ready to take one for the team by moving into a flophouse when he has a chance (fateful?) encounter with (presumably younger) high-school acquaintance Tristan. Tristan comes to the rescue by offering to let the clear object of his affection share his pied-a-terre.
Any viewer at any point along the Kinsey Scale who has a heart will immediately hope that these guys enjoy happy endings that last ever after.
Another memorable scene has Tristan convincing Martin to share his cozy bed. A way in which "Love" shows its quality is by not having this immediately leading to Tristan taking another one for the team. The relationship does more fully deepen (truly no pun intended) on Martin confessing to his new bedfellow that he has a history of sex with men. The endearing response of Tristan provides another reason to grant him fan-fave status.
Meanwhile, the new man in the life of Leah is old enough to be her father, The other recent addition is roomie Alicia, whom Leah is distressed to discover merely is a cash cow.
All of this, and other events, prompt Martin and Leah to ponder their pasts and to seek future happiness. Of course, this reflection prompts their paths to cross again in a manner that makes them and those in their orbits at least a little wiser if not happier.
The bigger picture this time is relevant both to those who recently graduated college and folks who have senior status at school reunions. The conflict between what the heart wants and what society expects can result in the wrong person sharing your bed and another bad fit (again, no pun intended) occupying the cubicle next to yours.
The Film Movement DVD of the 2018 Asian drama "Complicity" provides more proof that world cinema is global regarding its relativity. The theme this time is a post-adolescent man seeking a better life in a new country.
The following Movement trailer for "Complicity" offers a good primer on this story with shades of "The Karate Kid;" it also highlights the artistry in front of and behind the camera.
Our story begins with otherwise nice young Chinese man Chen Liang committing a criminal act to finance the purchase of a black-market cell-phone and a fake ID.
The ID is central to the effort of Chen to emigrate to Japan. His first obstacle to starting his new life is overcoming his inability to pay the premium associated with buying "a real fake ID" that is associated with an actual person. This resolution reflects the ass, gas, or grass philosophy that prevents anyone from riding for free.
On arriving in Japan, Chen essentially is a squatter among others living on the fringes of society. The next big development is his becoming Liu Wei the soba chef apprentice formerly known as Chen Liang. This job comes with both room and board.
The "Karate Kid" element enters in the form of the "sagely mentor," who owns the restaurant and operates it with the help of his adult daughter. It is clear early on that this master chef knows that his current employee and future mentee is not whom he claims to be.
The sweet love interest enters the picture in the form of student Hazuki, who gets more than she bargains for when ordering a delivery from the restaurant. She also innocently proves that dames ain't nothin' but trouble when she inadvertently blows the cover of the object of her affection.
A series of flashbacks and calls to Mom tell the rest of the story. Chen is escaping a repressive environment in which he is living with his not-so-well mother and his not-so-nice grandmother. These scenes additionally establish that the folks back home know that Chen is in Japan but otherwise are victims of a not-so-elaborate scheme.
Arguably the most cute scene in "Complicity" redeems Grandma. She first sneaks a wad of bills into the pocket of Chen on seeing him off and then insists that he take the money on his discovering that kind gesture,
Writer/director Kei Chikaura deserves great credit for not overdoing the climax; the highly predictable build-up to the house of cards that is Chez Chen tumbling down is done relatively gradually and without the frantic chase through the streets and/or the being dragged off in bracelets that one would expect in this type of tale. It further is nice to see that at least one person in the life of our likable lead realizes his true character.
As always is the case when Movement includes a bonus short film in a release, Movement chooses wisely. ""About Bintou" is a well-produced documentary about an African woman who is a stranger in a strange land in that she is studying in China.
The Corinth Films DVD release of the 2016 Latvian drama "Mellow Mud" presents a highly artistic reminder both that adolescence is referred to as growing pains for a good reason and that things are tough all over. The titular muck provides an apt metaphor for both.
The numerous accolades for this coming-of-age movie include a trio of top honors at the 2016 Latvian National Film Festival and a Best Feature Film win at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival .
The following trailer highlights the perfect portrayal of central 17 year-old girl Raya by Elina Vaska; the sense of the trauma and the drama that Raya must endure is the icing on the cake.
The element that sets "Mud" aside from facially similar fare is the manner in which writer/director Renars Vimba presents the same old story in a fresh new light. The series of unfortunate circumstances that have led to Raya and younger brother Robis living with not-so-loving grandmother Olga are that their father is dead and their mother abandoned them to facilitate her new life in England.
Things further unravel when Olga buys the farm while in the course of trying to sell it out from under the kids. This further contributes to the angst of Raya as to the only options of the siblings being enduring their current lives of quiet desperation and the alternative especially being a hard-knock life as to Robis. The personal interest of a social worker greatly contributes to this strife that requires a "Weekend at Olga's" form of subterfuge.
A school competition provides Raya hope in two forms. The finals being in London make a mother and child reunion only a prize-winning essay away. Additionally, this contest sets the stage for Raya and her young teacher, who is the subject of school-girl fantasy, to emulate the main characters in that book by Nabokov.
These aspects of the life of Raya require juggling in the form of being a mother to Robis and trying to avoid having him taken away, being the good girl that school authorities always wanted her to be, and maintaining an "its complicated" relationship. Of course, all of this increasing collides as the film progresses.
The absence of a Hollywood ending provides another strong argument for adding "Mud" to your physical-media library. All concerned being wiser but not necessarily happier just ahead of the end credits verifies that this is tale of real-life.
Icarus Films and Distrib Films once again team up to bring compelling French courtroom drama into North American living rooms. The recent "ripped-from-the-headlines" DVD release of the 2019 film "Conviction" nicely follows on the heels of the Icarus/Distrib (reviewed) DVD of "The Girl With a Bracelet."
The alleged crime du century this time is law professor Jacques Viguier committing femmecide. It is known that Mme, Viguier still is missing after vanishing on the night in question; there also is no doubt as to the essential estrangement of the not-so-happily married couple,
The circumstantial smoking guns are Jacques admitting to tossing the mattress of his wife soon after her unexplained absence and his allegedly telling his future ambulance chasers before that event that he could commit the perfect murder, An element of this is your not-so-humble reviewer being one of millions of Americans whose fondness for Hitchcock films potentially earning him a seat on Old Sparky.
Our story commences a short period ahead of Jacques facing a second trial after being acquitted in the first judicial proceeding in which he faces a lifetime as a guest of the state,
The primary twist this time is that the film revolves around single mother/chef/crusader Nora, whose persistence results in convincing celebrity defense attorney Eric Dupond-Moretti to defend Jacques. The stated intertest of Nora is the daughter of Jacques and his absent wife being the tutor of the son of Nora. The price of the representation includes Nora agreeing to listen to and summarize hundreds of hours of recorded evidence, The synopsis on the DVD back cover reveals another big twist.
Much of "Conviction" centers around the retrial; the behind-the-scenes drama being as intriguing as what occurs in court is a large part of what makes this story worthy of a feature film.
Much of the social commentary revolves around elements that contribute to a reasonable mistrust of general justice-system principles, In this case, the prosecution is trying to hold Jacque liable for the death of a woman whos is just as likely to be enjoying a new life as she is to be anchored on the bottom of the Seine. We also are reminded of the extent to which trials are personal to everyone with a cheval in the race,
Other social commentary relates to the prevalence of people in France simply disappearing without a trace. This reflects law school students learning early in the education that the answer to what are the consequences of a certain event always is "it depends." "Conviction" shows the potential for that to lead to what some consider a proper result and that others view as a miscarriage of justice,
Film Movement offers "haves" a look at the world of inner-city "have-nots" by releasing the "Precious" style 2019 drama "Goldie" on DVD. The more relatable message is showing how things can quickly fall apart for anyone,
The following Movement trailer for "Goldie" provides a good sense of the urban sense and sensibility of the film.
The day of our titular teen begins on a high note at a community center talent show. Her downward spiral commences on her mother being arrested soon after Goldie returns home. This triggers the flight of Goldie and her much younger sisters Sherrie and Supreme that is a central theme of the film. Another underlying story is the quest of Goldie for a full-length bright-yellow furry coat that proves that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
An early adventure is the only low point in this film that minimally will make viewers sympathize with the leading lady. Goldie arriving at the department store where she works only to quickly get fired and then lead security guards on an absurd chase through the aisles of the store that likely will provokes such as "is this Scooby (very bad word) Doo?"
Goldie then does her best both to find a temporary home for his sisters and to keep the family together; This effort is a major source of the aforementioned good feelings towards Goldie. This campaign leads her through the typical interconnected worlds of drugs and men sexually exploiting vulnerable women.
A related quest is starring in a hip hop video that Goldie figuratively sees as a ticket to living the good life in Westchester with her teacher.
The bigger picture this time is that even "have-nots" that have it better than Goldie will appreciate that they could have it worse.
Movement supplements this with the similar themed "We Love Moses." This coming-of-age movie tells the tale of the relationship between a young outsider teen and the friend of her older brother.
Friend to lovers of retro and neo-retro television series, CBS Home Entertainment provides more reason to rejoice by releasing the awesomely unique second season of the CBS All-Access reboot of 60s sci-fi classic "The Twilight Zone" on DVD on Jan. 12, 2021., The better news is that this 2-disc set reinforces the All-Access cred. as to updating classic '60s sci-fi. This streaming service also is home to the "Trek" series (reviewed) "Discovery" and the even-better (reviewed) "Picard."
The cred. of "Zone" begins with OS guiding light Rod Serling (now deceased) widow/"Zone" producer Carolyn Serling helping to keep the family franchise going strong ala "Trek" god Gene Roddenberry widow Majel Barrett doing so with "Trek" series. Carolyn chooses wisely in partnering with "Zone" '19 creator/host/Oscar winner Jordan Peele in bringing the series to life and paying the OS proper homage.
This aptly 10-episode season commences with "Meet in the Middle," which sets the S2 precedence of particularly honoring the OS tradition of a "left-field" twist in the final minutes. This one starts with an quasi (HILARIOUS Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin comedy) "All of Me" style seemingly random telepathic link between looking-for-love in too many faces Phil and looking-for-love in all the wrong places married Annie.
Shock-and-awe soon turns to friendship, which turns to love, and then to plans for far more than a booty call. The BRILLIANT manner in which Phil learns that femme fatales ain't nothin' but trouble shows that this is your grandfather's "Twilight Zone."
"Among the Downtrodden" is another stand-out episode in a season that verifies the UK theory that producing 10 exceptional offerings in a season is preferable to churning out 22 mediocre ones. This variation of "Heathers," "Mean Girls" and similar Queen "B" high-school girl movies and television fare begins with slightly awkward transfer student Irene immediately coming under fire by the cool kids at her new all-girls' boarding school.
Irene gradually has a positive reversal of fortune when she schools popular classmate Madison in the facts of life by telling the latter that she is the girl with something extra. The "Harry Potter" vibe continues with these unlikely friends experimenting with the powers of Madison in an abandoned bathroom.
The totally unpredictable twist this time proves that Irene is the salt of the earth and that mean girls are mean for a reason.
"A Human Face" earns the award for the most creepy offering. A not-so-happily married couple is in the final stages of closing up their home that is associated with one of the worst tragedies that can befall a bonded pair when they discover something far worse than a rat in their basement. This leads to a "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opening of old wounds and a related need to decide the acceptable level of a suspension of disbelief.
The underlying S2 moral is that it is never too late to return to old school.
The DVD special features include a gag reel and a plethora of deleted and extended scenes. The latter show that babies sometimes are thrown out with the bathwater.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 drama "Martyr" has the live-stage vibe that separates the wheat from the chaff. This tale of an aimless failure-to-launch 20-something additionally can be considered a neo-modern fable,
The official accolades for "Martyr" include "Best Artistic Achievement" for writer/director Mazen Khaled at the 2018 Alexandria International Film Festival.
This wonderfully surreal film begins with titular post-adolescent Hassane dreaming about drowning and other things to come. His literal and figurative awakening from his slumber on a mattress in the dining area of his parents' apartment comes on his mother demanding that he get up and find gainful employment. This also involves a few of the most telling moments in the film. Suffice it to say that Hassane has virtually no shame and is very reluctant to engage in employment that is appropriate for his background.
Breaking the Fifth Commandment, Hassane heads out for an afternoon by the sea with his band of beach brothers. This turns out to be more fatal than being welcomed to the working week.
This leads to a procession that evokes Christ being taken down off the cross. The aforementioned friends bring Hassane home, and we witness both the rituals associated with preparing the body and the funeral itself,
All of this provides a glimpse of the global mind of a Millennial who lacks a bright future. We further learn more about the nature of the titular sacrifice.
Breaking supplements this with the Khaled short film "A Very Dangerous Man" about intrigue in 2012 Beirut.
The Film Movements Classics division of Film Movement pristine Blu-ray release of the 1993 slice-of-of-life comedy "Caro Diario" is the latest example of introducing audiences to one of the greatest movies that many of us never knew existed. The awesome Classic (reviewed) release of the Salma Hayek film "Midaq Alley" also perfectly illustrates this aspect of Classic titles.
The 13 wins for "Diario" include writer/director/star Nanni Moretti scoring the 1994 Cannes Best Director award.
The following "Diario" trailer highlights the three-chapter format of the film and the quirky charm of Moretti.
"Diario" follows the apparent dual tradition of introspective Euro films of having much of the exposition come in the form of an ongoing inner-monologue of the central character in blocks. In this case, we get the wit and wisdom of real-life filmmaker Moretti in three distinct chapters of the titular journal. The manner in which this all ties together at the end of the movie validates the theory that Hollywood (and Portland) has a great deal to learn from the film capitals across the pond.
The first chapter finds Moretti having a "Roman Holiday" by cruising around his home turf on his scooter. His adventures include watching matinees at movie theaters, pontificating about film locations, and expressing his "oh what a feeling" exuberance as to the '80s mainstream hit "Flashdance." This relatively youthful exuberance includes an amusing encounter with a principal as to that no-reason-to-feel guilty pleasure.
The next chapter easily is the most amusing; Moretti goes island hopping in the context of meeting with a collaborator. The highlights include "Trip To" style teasing regarding a (presumably real) pan of a film.
We also see our (presumably childless) lead endure a visit to an island on which toddlers and tweens call all the shots. A few segments in which adults must try to make their way past prepubescent gatekeepers in order to speak to a 'rent on the telephone ring very true. Many of us who are old enough to remember landlines being the only option have had to endure the "little angel" who answers then puts down the receiver before going about his or her overheard business without telling Mommy or Daddy about the call.
The apt final chapter finds Moretti very frustrated as to getting medical professionals to adequately focus on a health problem to actually do him some good; the analogy of giving a patient a Tylenol for a brain tumor sadly is not very far off.
As indicated above, this (presumably directly consecutive) several weeks in the life of Moretti comes down to his finding comfort in a variation of the talking cure. By that time, the audience likes him as much as the "professional friend" who directly has the being Nanni Moretti experience.
As usual, the Classics extras prove that that distributor more than holds its own as to a company that has self-proclaimed itself as setting the criterion for these types of releases. These bonus features include a making-of featurette, a deleted scene, and a written essay on the film.
A recent NPR review of a television series provides a perfect perspective as to the Corinth Films DVD release of the 2012 indie film "Two Hundred Thousand Dirty." The NPR personality expresses confusion as to if the show is a comedy or a drama; the conclusion is that that uncertainty means that the program is like real life. The same is true as to "Dirty."
The following "Dirty" trailer illustrates how writer/director/cast member Timothy L, Anderson successfully combines the slacker working-class slob style of Kevin Smith with the wonderfully perverse dark humor of the Coen Brothers.
The opening scenes of mattress store "clerk" Rob wearing a dingy bunny suit while sitting on the toilet in a no-tell-motel perfectly sets the tone for the film. The Smithesque dialogue consists of Rob speaking with fellow employee/future-partner-in-crime Manny (Coolio) about that pair deviating from their practice of working kids' event by booking a plushie fetish session.
The rest of this story is that the suspicion of Rob that he knows the woman who is dominating the session turns out to be accurate; this commences the series of events that introduce the Coen Brothers element.
The action then shifts to Manny, Rob, their manager Preston, and fellow strip-mall rat Martin keeping up with the Smiths. Their day job consists of hanging out inside and in front of the comically failing Affordable Mattress store where Manny and Rob disparage everything that Preston says. The very few customers show that one man's pain is another man's fall-on-the-floor hilarity.
The illogical decision to add Isabelle to the already bloated staff allows for the introduction of the femme fatale. She seduces Rob into agreeing to kill her estranged husband from an arranged shotgun marriage of convenience. Although Rob agrees to go to the mattresses for love and money, Manny and Martin only have the latter motive.
The ensuing Coenesque twists include Rob essentially agreeing to being a double agent, a foul deed going bad, and a body dump becoming absolute rubbish.
The final scene is not surprising but still entertains in a take-the-money-and-run manner. It also proves that dames ain't nothin' but trouble.
The numerous special features include the original "Martin" audition video, a crowdfunding video featuring Anderson, and a music video.
This article on the Imagicomm Entertainment and Insp Films joint joint "Christmas on the Coast" wraps up a not-so-ghostly trio of posts on collaborative holiday fare from those Santa's helpers. "Coast" has the same strong humor as the (reviewed) "Christmas in the Smokies" and camp drama as the (reviewed) "Christmas on the Range."
This take on the Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner "Romancing the Stone" franchise has Julie Ann Emery playing New York-based lovelorn romance novelist Dru Casssadine, who is neither looking for love in all the wrong places nor in too many faces when she returns to the titular South Carolina small town from whence she immediately escaped after graduating high school 20 years earlier. Her motivation for this sort of a homecoming is a desperate measure in response to a desperate publish-or-perish time,
On arrival, Dru is meet by exuberant mother Ellie, whom Bonnie Bedelia plays with the same elan that she puts in performances in a similar role in the Del Shores "Sordid Lives" franchise.
Interacting with the locals inspires Dru to choose an unflattering perspective of them as the subject of her do-or-die book; this coincides with a budding romance with new boy in town Brysen Flynn. This one does win the award for the cutest meet; in this case, New Yorker Dru tries to bully Brysen into handing over the last bag of marshmallows that he just bought at the local grocery store.
Anyone who has seen any holiday fare of this ilk knows that animosity dissipates to the point of warm and fuzzy feelings all around until the inevitable December freeze. In this case, once (and future?) friends and family learn that you can take the girl out of New York but not the New York out of the girl until maybe you can. A related theme is that the "Daria" of the high school often is a jaded teen outcast because the nicest kids in town do not think that she wants to play their reindeer games,
A semi-spoiler is that the obligatory Christmas Eve miracle shows that you can go home so long as you are willing to be work and play well with others.
The Olive Signature division of Olive Films once more shows a business rival who's your daddy as to the Nov. 17, 2020 Signature release of "Rio Grande" that features John Wayne reuniting with the teen son that the Wayne character has not seen for 15 years. The copious bonus features, including a 20-minute Leonard Maltin documentary, are must-see as the Signature pristine restoration of the film.
This one is a perfect gift for anyone who likes Wayne or appreciates classic cinema.
The only downside as to "Rio Grande" being such a classic that is far more than a Western is an inability to do this final installment in the director John Ford Cavalry Trilogy justice. The behind-the-scenes tidbits include Ford and Wayne only agreeing to make this film in exchange for a promise for the studio to make (reviewed) "The Quiet Man," which also has a Signature release. A more modern example of this is Bill Murray conditioning starring in "Ghostbusters" on being able to make "The Razor's Edge."
Our story begins with Army post commander Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke (Wayne) leading a "mission accomplished" parade home to the cheers of the women and the children at that facility near the titular body of water. His celebration is short-lived on learning that estranged son/West Point washout Jeff Yorke (Claude Jarman, Jr. of "The Yearling,") is among the new recruits. Although many film historians likely consider this heresy and The Duke probably is spinning in his grave, "Rio Grande" arguably is more Jarman's movie than Wayne's.
One of the best scenes in the film has Kirby calling Jeff into his tent to make it clear that their relationship is a hinderance, rather than a help. Jarman holding his own against Wayne and ultimately besting him is one of many ways that that young turk pioneer bests that member of the old guard.
A similar (even more amusing scene) has Jeff show that he is in one of the boys when he takes on the toughest "con" in the yard. An endearing "morning after" scene perfectly conveys that Jeff has passed an initiation that his peers are spared.
The plot thickens on Yorke's estranged wife Kathleen Yorke (Maureen O'Hara) showing up to bring her boy home. The masterful gradual reveal as to that conflict is very era apt.
The dignity and stoicism of Kathleen perfectly showcase the talents of O'Hara. This includes this former Southern belle becoming a laundress for the men in order to stay around long enough to convince her boy to come home.
An element of frontier justice enters the picture as to Trooper Travis Tyree (Ben Johnson) having the law catch up to him as to a crime with which he is charged. The manner in which Kirby resolves the conflict between upholding the law and supporting justice is a prime example of "Rio Grande" having much more substance than saloon fights and cattle stampedes. The end result of all this shows that the Hays Code also has a heart.
"Rio Grande" shows the other side of this coin as to the pursuit of marauders who successfully make a run for the border after killing a few good men. Kirby understandably would like to take off in lukewarm pursuit but knows that he is obliged to respect the sovereignty of our neighbor to the South.
All the elements of "Rio Grande" converge as to an event that shows Kirby that no good deed goes unpunished. He, ala Picard when The Enterprise faces a massive threat, orders the evacuation of the women and the children. This leads those innocents directly into an ambush in a scene that is pure Ford. A 2020 perspective must be expressed as to distress on seeing soldiers using a horse as a barrier; fortunately, that magnificent beast lives to trot another day.
This leads to a rescue mission that is equal parts heart and heroics; this also brings peace to the Kirby clan.
In addition to the aforementioned Maltin feature, Signature provides a bonus in which Jarman discusses the amazing story of how he is discovered. The icing on the cake this time is learning of the Jarman memoir "My Life and the Final Days of Hollywood."
Signature additionally has a feature in which Wayne real-life son Patrick discusses his late father; a documentary on the treatment of Native Americans in the film; the theatrical trailer; a written essay, and much more.
Olive Films further cements its place in the hearts of Unreal TV and other classic film lovers with the Olive Signature October 25, 2016 Blu-ray of the 1952 amusing change-of-pace John Wayne/Maureen O'Hara romantic dramedy "The Quiet Man." This story of retired boxer with a past Sean Thornton returning to the sod and experiencing love at first sight on laying eyes on feisty local lass Mary Kate Danaher is also a change-of-pace for Westerns director/frequent Wayne collaborator John Ford.
Olive expressing well-deserved favoritism for "Quiet" shows that that company awesomely is in the home-video business for the art, rather than the commerce. An upcoming releases of Orson Welles' "MacBeth" provide additional proof that Olive chooses wisely regarding adding films to its catalog.
The Best Director Oscar for Ford of the so much more than an oater Wayne/Jimmy Stewart classic "The Man Who Shoot Liberty Valance" further illustrates that his range extends miles beyond stampedes and shootouts. The Best Cinematography Oscar reflect the beauty of "Quiet," which looks and sounds spectacular in Blu-ray, shot in Ireland. It will make you want to hop the first flight to the Emerald Isle.
This boy-meets-girl fable begins with Wayne's Thornton arriving at the train station five miles from the village that at least two generations of his family called home and where he spent his early childhood. The locals who operate the railroad providing conflicting and misleading directions both gets the Irish charm of "Quiet" off to a good start and is reminiscent of the humor surrounding the Cannonball train in the '60s rural sitcom "Petticoat Junction." Comparable quaintness throughout the film comes in the form of a few Irish folk songs.
Thornton seeing O'Hara's Mary Kate in the field while riding in a horse-and-buggy to his destination accelerates the film to the nice leisurely first gear pace that continues through most of the story.
One underlying conflict develops when Thornton visits the wealthy widow who owns the former Thornton homestead. In romcom style, Mary Kate sibling /Thornton land neighbor Will has been trying to buy that property for years. Their bidding war is one of the best scenes in a film that lacks any bad ones.
Thornton gets with the program better regarding agreeing to respect the local courting rituals. An early step in the process has his hiring drink-loving matchmaker Michaleen Oge Flynn (perfectly played by Hollywood royalty character actor Barry Fitzgerald) to conduct the necessary negotiations and to otherwise do things "properly." Of course, the Danaher brother does his best to show that where there's a Will, there's no way every step of the way.
Irish charm and cunning get our hope to be happy couple to the altar, but the honeymoon is over before the pair hits the wedding night sheets. The Will-induced distress regarding his unhappy bride strains the resolve of retired pugilist with a tragic past Thornton to not break his vow to engage in fisticuffs again.
All of this leads to a very satisfying climax in which both tradition, pride, and personal standards are adequately honored in a manner that is very true to the setting of the film. One can only hope that they rolled out the green carpet for the theatrical premiere of "Quiet."
The extras include a booklet with the aforementioned essay by Olive and great stills and theatrical posters. The tons of special features include commentary by a Ford expert, a Leonard Maltin "making of" documentary a tribute to Maureen O'Hara, and much more.
Personal irony as to Netflix train wreck "A New York Christmas Wedding," which owes a high viewership to hipsters watching it because it is so bad, is that my desire as to the time-travel element of the film is to go back to 5:30 last night and not suffer through this disaster. I long ago abandoned the practice of trashing movies for the joy of it and only write negative posts about projects that horrendous enough to actually enrage.
The rest of my reasoning is that filmmakers who clearly put their hearts and souls into a film deserve props in both sense of that word.
Part of this anger is not the fault of writer/director/star Otoja Abit. My highly significant other suggested watching "Wedding" knowing that its lack of quality was its appeal. I agreed to watch it based on the IMDb synopsis that the main character was magically given a chance to see what life would have been like if she had not "denied her true feelings for her childhood best friend."
I was expecting a so bad it's good Lifetime/Hallmark style film about a women reuniting with the boy who got away in the days before that potential runaway bride is set to walk down the aisle. I could have accepted the story of a repressed lesbian discovering the importance of to thine own self be true if it has been told with more heart and humor.
The first societal note as to "Wedding" is that the evil Netflix empire likely only cares that Abit is generating impressive hits; one can only dread what Obit has planned next for a more suspecting public. I truly can do better with a queer-themed holiday film and invite a producer to put his or her money where my mouth is.
Regular readers know that the appeal of this site includes providing a good sense of a film without providing spoilers. This post is the rare exception to that golden rule. Spoilers both will show why this movie prompts such strong emotions and will help readers avoid the same MilleniHell as your not-so-humble reviewer.
Our story begins with a old-looking teen Jennifer (Nia Fairweather plays the adult role) on the verge of getting busy with horndog boyfriend Vinnie when BFF Gabrielle (Adriana DeMeo is adult Gabrielle) "blocks" her by begging her to come over (and perhaps euphemistically) trim the tree. Jennifer refusing is the turning point that drives the film right off a cliff.
We fast forward 20 years to the portion of the film in which Fairweather actually gives a good performance in contrast to barley showing emotion the rest of the time. She is a Bridezilla contending with a monster-in-law months before the titular ceremony with David; Abit deserves credit for his good portrayal of this man engaged to a girl who knows that she would like kissing a girl.
The stress prompts Jennifer to pull a neo-modern George Bailey by taking an after-dark jog in Central Park. She meets her Clarence in the form of angel Azrael; part of the pain of "Wedding" is Azrael portrayor Cooper Koch alternating between playing the role as fabulous or hipster. His uneven speaking style is worse than nails on a chalkboard.
Jennifer wakes up the next morning in an alternate world in which she is living with fiancee Gabrielle. The grossly understated response to that shock event (and to all that follows) PERFECTLY illustrates the aforementioned bad performance by Fairweather and the lack of holiday spirit in "Wedding." It is clear that beyond having slept there, Jennifer lived there and loved there; she never really died there,
This also relates to a big problem with "Wedding," Gabrifer cites the October 2020 papal pronouncement on same-sex marriage in trying to convince the local priest to marry them in the church, This clearly establishes that this shot-on-location movie is filmed in the middle of the pandemic. Yet, there is no mention of postponing either wedding due to Covid or to that event at all. Further, NO ONE is wearing a mask or social distancing at all!
This leads to the wedding of Gabrifer at which Azrael is a buzzkill in the form of telling Jennifer that she must return to the real world and marry David. Spoiling the climax that Jennifer convincing Azrael to transport her back to the critical Christmas season in which she chooses her bro over her ho is important. The HUGE Millenihell issue as to this is the message that every member of that generation is so special that actions have no consequences; the "kids" can do as they please, and the "adults" will put right what once went wrong.
In contrast, the traditional basic-cable fare of this ilk has the "innocent" either run off with his or her soulmate or tell that special someone to "get on the plane" in modern times. In other words, the lead endures hardship either for the reward of happily ever after or for the warm fuzzy feeling of allowing the needs of the many to take precedence over the needs of the few. The "do-over" does not erase the past.
As if this is not enough, probable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez devotee Abit shows the same intolerance that rightfully warrants scorn by LGBTQ activists. Exposition near the end of the film reveals that Gabrielle going straight after the rejection gets her knocked up with an unwanted baby, losing that little bastard, and then becoming roadkill. This is as bad as the rightfully condemned negative portrayals of gays and lesbians for decades.
Abit does not stop there; we learn late in the film that Azrael is the unborn child of Gabrielle. Nothing says desperately needed holiday cheer than the concept that every time a fetus dies, an angel gets his wings.
The final note is that watching "Wedding" REQUIRED immediately "Disney's Magical Holiday Celebrations" on DisneyPlus to cleanse the stench of the former. A "Silkwood" shower also may be needed.
Icarus Films and Distrib Films once more joining forces by releasing the French film "My Dog Stupid" (2019) on DVD on December 8, 2020 is the latest example of those cinephiles' gods showing North American what they are missing. Stating that "Stupid" hits EVERY right note as to a film is not an understatement. The strongest endorsement is eliciting chuckles and "aws" from a not-so-humble reviewer who almost always remains totally silent during a movie.
On a broader level, "Stupid" achieves the film ideal of being highly entertaining while provoking thoughts. It additionally has the live-stage vibe that is a hallmark of a film worth savoring and pulling off the shelf every few years. This one also meets the Icarus/Distrib standard of being a foreign film that easily could be remade shot-for-short and line-for-line in the U.S.
This mid-brow version of "Marley and Me" further evokes thought of a review by another site about another film. The writer of that piece notes that an inability to determine if that movie is a comedy or a drama makes it like real life. That quality evokes thoughts of the novels (and awesome film adaptations of those works) of literary god John Irving, who is a lighter version of his peer John Updike. The element of once (and future?) literary giant Henri Mohen ("Stupid" director Yvan Attal) experiencing a parallel midlife crisis and chronic writer's block brings "Wonder Boys" by demigod novelist Michael Chabon to mind.
The following Distrib "Stupid" trailer validates all of the above.
The aptly novel approach, which divides the film into chapters, of "Stupid" begins with voice-over exposition of Henri as he drives home through a deluge after one in a long series of distressing meetings about a new writing projects. This narration tells the viewer more about our lead, who aches for a Roman holiday, in a few minutes than he or she learns about a real or reel person in a year.
The plot thickens on Henri dreading entering Chez Mohen only to find the titular soaking wet bullmastiff lurking in the bushes. This not-so-gentle giant making himself at home allows the hilarity (and trauma-and-drama) to ensue. The overall big picture as to this is that all four adult (or soon-to-be-adult) offspring live at home with Henri and unhappy spouse Cecile (Charlotte Gainsbourg), whose marital history includes an affair to remember.
The not-so-fantastic four siblings consist of stoner/horndog Raph, Pauline who is dating "quirky" combat vet/scene stealer Hugues, surfer/below-c level student Gaspard, and rebel with a chip on his shoulder Noe. One of best chuckle-inducing exchanges has an ungrateful child remind Henri that he has not written anything of quality for 25 years and Dad commenting that that coincides with his having his first kid.
An equally symbolic scene during this portion of the film has Stupid clearly show Hugues both who is the boss and who is his daddy. This common theme includes an incident with potential to test the limits of the right of an employee to be free from unwanted sexual activity in the workplace. The apt message here is that the literature major/lackey is the office bitch in a few senses of that term.
The morning after involves the rude awakening that one of the boys harbored the fugitive canine the night before. This leads to Henri adopting Stupid to assert the place of Henri in the home in which he is the sole means of support of every inhabitant.
The subsequent events are highly relatable both to the "kids" that experience them and the parents that endure them. The only difference is the perfect storm in the form of all four dependents (not to mention Mom) having concurrent extreme turmoil in their lives.
The strongest societal message is the sad-because-it-is-true undue sense of entitlement of the parasitic Millennials. They demand, rather than request, money from their personal ATM while not giving him the respect that he would receive from a stranger on the street.
"Stupid" further stays true to life by having some of the kids turn out alright, some not so much, and every member of the Mohen family live a life of quiet desperation to one degree or another. Sharing that all this provides Henri the material for his second great French novel is not much of a spoiler.
The dynamic duo of Icarus Films and Distrib Films take a detour in terms of both location and theme as to their October 20, 2020 joint DVD release of the "based on actual events" 2019 drama "Papicha." This movie set in 1997 Algeria during the civil war in that nation is a departure from the equally good typical Icarus/Distrib release of a film set in modern-day France. Another variation is our lead Nedjma dealing with present-day strife, rather than a struggle to come to terms with past trauma-and-drama that is a regular theme of these foreign gems.
The nine awards and seven additional nominations for "Papicha" validate the quality of this story that could be an overblown melodrama in hands other than those of writer/director Mounia Meddour. The wins include 2020 Cesar Awards for Most Promising Actress for Nedjma portrayor Lyna Khourdi and Best Firm Film for Team Meddour.
Our story begins with Nedjma and two classmates at her all-girls school sneaking out to go clubbing; the party temporarily ends on the girls having to scramble into traditional Muslim garb on being pulled over by the authorities. This encounter does not prevent the single ladies from getting their groove back at the club. That dance scene is comparable to the seemingly obligatory one in Icarus films.
Getting stranded when closing time does not require going home but necessitates leaving the club finds Nedjma and a friend accepting the kindness of two studly strangers. This contributes to the theme of the male/female dynamic in Algeria that is not unique to that repressed nation. This also is relevant to the theme of women who reject the old ways seeking escape from Algeria by almost any possible means. An unplanned (and exceptionally troublesome even for Algeria) pregnancy further reflects the pitfalls of willing to do anything to emigrate.
The aching of Nedjma for personal and professional fulfillment leads to her planning a fashion show of her largely covert business that has subjected her to both hostility and exploitation. A confrontation with a herd of uber-Karens derails those plans, A school official whose understanding of the repression of her students involves only partial willful blindness does not help matters.
Every element of "Papicha" being very far from California makes it far from certain that we will get a Hollywood ending in which the girl gets it all in the form of the man of her dreams and a high-profile career. It is assured that all of our leads are disproportionately older and wiser if not more happy. Sadly, the same is true for most of use during this global pandemic.
The recent Film Movement DVD release of the 2018 Czech film "Winter Flies" proves that the theme of "Tom Sawyer" is both timeless and international. In this case, the coming-of-age occurs during a road trip in a stolen Audi.
The accolades for "Flies" include 4 major wins at the 2019 Czech Lions awards.
Fourteen year-old stud Miara is commencing his odyssey when "quirky" armed and not-so-dangerous peer Hedus pops out and comes along for the ride. It does not take long for the Lennie and George dynamic to become apparent.
An early adventure has the lads rescue a dog from a highly abusive owner; Things get more interesting when "Becky" in the form of Bara, who lacks any physical baggage but has plenty of the emotional variety, joins the group, This leads to the predictable development of Hedus making an awkward play and Mara being the one to get some action.
The inarguably best dynamic in the film is between Mara and Officer Freiwaldova, who serves as a cool mother figure. The narrative in "Flies" regularly shifts between Freiwaldova trying to piece together the relevant events and those actual incidents. She greatly succeeds in getting that kid to understand.
All of this culminates in a climax that proves that there really is no getting through to teenage boys. Mara and Hedus remove any doubt regarding these guys being young, dumb, and full of "spunk."
The well-matched bonus short film "Jackie" deals with the same theme of strained parental relations as "Winter Flies."
Savior of cult classic cinema The Film Detective chooses wisely in opting for separate 50th Anniversary DVD and BD versions of "The Other Side of Madness" (nee "The Helter Skelter Murders") to kick off a series of releases on Wade Williams films.
"Madness" is available for pre-order ahead of the November 24, 2020 releases. The incredible video and audio quality of the BD release (complete with a CD of the Charlie Manson album also titled "The Other Side of Madness") make that one worth buying the upgrade. The Manson opus "Mechanical Boy" may not have a good beat and you may not be able to dance to it, but the lyrics of this essential beat poem will stick with you.
Speaking as one who has seen all of Tate murders films (and LOATHES "Once Upon A Time in America"), it should be undisputed that Williams puts the others to shame. This film that does not seem to deviate from its court documents and interviews provides a solid "you are there" sense. A Ballyhoo Motion Pictures MUST-SEE bonus feature that consists of an audio interview with Williams over "Madness" footage provides an awesome perspective regarding both the demand for authenticity and the emphasis of art over commerce.
Detective goes directly to the source by using the original theatrical trailer for "Madness" to promote the releases. This promo. PERFECTLY highlights the black-and-white photography that successfully conveys the mixed styles of newsreel and low-budget horror film that makes "Madness" so compelling.
The aforementioned interview validates the authenticity of the opening scenes of the Manson family at work and play at the movie ranch that operates under a Charles in charge system. This leads to the first of many courtroom scenes of the murder trial for the killing of Sharon Tate and of her friends who can be considering collateral damage. The testimony in that proceeding provides the exposition method for the re-enactment of that massacre and for explaining the philosophy of Manson. One of the most visually striking scenes transitions to color in a manner that aptly shows the audience that we no longer are in Kansas.
Very timely modern relevance relates to the underlying message of the impact of a cult figure that the general public considers deluded but followers see as charismatic and literally or figurative the word of God.
One of the more powerful non-Tate scenes shows two family members who clearly want to project a militant image burst into the home of a middle-class middle-aged woman and hold a gun on her as they carry off her not-so-valuable possessions. The mastery of Williams is very apparent in one segment in which it is clear that a pet bird either is going to get killed or carted off. The manner in which this is filmed will elicit sympathy in all of us who have not partaken of the Kool-Aid.
The black-and-white photography is especially effective in the oft-depicted scene in which a female family member ghostlike strides back-and-forth in front of a bedroom door at Chez Polanski/Tate. The Williams take on this outshines that of the other productions. Blatant departures from other films about that night show that many of us have been fooled for years.
"Madness" ending with intertitles on the evils of illicit substances provides a bad end to an otherwise excellent film. Drug use is not to be celebrated and can have a high cost, but it seems that (even in the late '60s) very few folks who inhale end up in a cult and even fewer go on a killing spree.
The personal perspective this time is having "Father Knows Best" star Billy Gray, who pays a high professional cost for a "seeds and stems" arrest, once laugh and tell your not-so-humble reviewer "you don't do drugs do you."
For the record, a handful of personal college-era experiences include incidents such as once finding the kitchen witch at the home a friend hilarious and another time cleaning the kitchen at the home of my mother at 11:00 p.m. to provide an excuse to not go upstairs to talk to her after an evening out.
Returning from our Blogland detour, Detective supplements "Madness" and the aforementioned Williams interview with another Williams interview that includes how he gets to visit Manson in jail. We also get the theatrical trailers for "Madness" and "Helter Skelter Murders."
ALL of this shows that ANYONE who does not buy "Madness" genuinely does not know what he or she is missing.
This first of three posts on not-so-ghostly DVD releases of spirited holiday movies from Imagicomm Entertainment and INSP Films discusses the 2019 movie "Christmas on the Range." This tale of cowgirl Kendall Riley trying to thwart the efforts of local evil land baron Brick McCree (Soap veteran A. Martinez of "Santa Barbara") to take over her land during the month of December has every hallmark of a charming seasonal movie.
The following trailer for "Range" shows that every live stock character is in place for the trauma and drama that precedes the cocoa and cookies of the most wonderful time of the year.
Our story begins with Kendall literally up to her elbow in the middle of the delivery of a calf that is going udderly wrong. Handsome vet Clint McCree shows up and tells Kendall to not have a cow just before taking matters in his own hands. This procedure ends up with mother and daughter happy and "grandma" smitten with the perhaps literally lifesaver.
The rude awakening comes on effeminate male friend Marcus and sassy ethnic friend Memphis dropping by. This pair, which provides copious comic relief throughout the film, tells Kendall that Clint is the son of Brick. The guilt both by association and being imposed before provided a chance to prove innocence is in the form of assuming that Clint is working with his father to force Kendall off once (and future) McCree land.
The bulk of the film has the relationship of Kendall and Clint build under the watchful eye of the Greek chorus in the form of the small-town gossips. Meanwhile back at the ranch, Brick is trying to rebuild his strained relationships with ex-wife Lilian (Lindsay Wagner of "The Bionic Woman") and with Clint. This, as well as the efforts to acquire the land of Kendall, relates to the unknown circumstances under which that parcel has changed hands from the McCree clan to the Riley family.
Another big piece of this puzzle is Kendall working hard to get her cattle operation certified as organic so that the she can get a premium price for her prime beef, The final inspection regarding that is one of the best scenes in the movie.
Everything fully comes to a head on the night of one of the biggest social events in the community in which all this action occurs. Clint is a no-show for his big date with Kendall, and the absence of the former facilitates the latest sabotage of her business. Of course, suspicions turn toward Clint.
Of course, all of this culminates in a handful of Christmas miracles in which literally and figurative fences are mended and everyone lives happily ever after in their homes on the range.
The DVD extras include cast interviews and a separate behind-the-scenes feature in which the stars discuss their characters,
The Virgil Films well-produced DVD of the Sight & Sound Theatres well-staged live performance of "Moses" provides a good chance to see an entertainingly breezy two-hour cradle-to-Exodus story of the titular chosen person. The details in this telling remind us of the stutter of Moses.
The grand sets and the decent special effects are in keeping with the Biblical proportions of the story. The copious use of incredibly well-trained sheep, a camel, and other animals that include a scene-stealing parrot add even more fun.
Our story aptly begins with the birth mother of Moses and his sister Miriam setting him afloat down the Nile. Inadvertent humor comes in the form of the journey looking more like Kal-El setting off for earth from Krypton than the beginning of the destiny of the man who leads the Jews out of slavery in Egypt.
As most of us know, a royal pardon saves Moses from the fatal fate of most Jewish babies that are found in denial. This soon leads to several years of care by a very special wet nurse until Moses not longer depends on mother's milk. This apparently taking five yeas contributes an ick factor.
Adult Moses goes on to live a life of luxury and privilege until a rude awakening leads to a live of slavery and a related (pun intended) reunion with sister Miriam and brother Aaron. Trauma soon arises in the form of a "Mom liked you best" conflict with the current pharaoh. The new voice of God makes the first of several "let my people go" pleas; these fall on deaf ears regarding the brother from another mother.
The sibling rivalry leads to the well-known plagues and the related (goofily portrayed) Passover story regarding a culling of the population of Egypt. It is not much of a spoiler to state that the brother of Moses ultimately cries "Uncle" but has a change of heart.
As indicated above, our story ends with the Dumbledore-looking Moses once again putting his magic staff to good use, He uses it to part the Red Sea; however, we do not witness the fate of the pursing horde that walks like an Egyptian.
The DVD extras include features on the Sight & Sound Theatres and on recording the "Moses" album.
CBS Home Entertainment augments the copious love that it shows "TV Land" westerns with releases such as the recent (reviewed) EPIC "Gunsmoke" 65th Anniversary complete series DVD set with the October 27, 2020 DVD releases of "Bonanza" S11 (1969-70) V1 and V2. The dearth of new material, much of which lack much quality, during COVID-19 makes this an even better time to overcome prejudice regarding westerns and realizing that these entertaining shows are well-produced dramas that just happen to be roughly set in the Reconstruction Era.
"Bonanza" centers around truly benevolent one-percenter Ponderosa Ranch owner Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene). Ben, sons "Hoss" (Dan Blocker) and "Little Joe" (Michael Landon), and les freres Cartwrights' frere from another mere (no pun intend) "Candy" (David Canary). These "white hats" run the operation when they are not putting right what once went wrong in nearby Virginia City, Nevada and everywhere else that their business takes them. Those of us who come late to the hoedown do not know the third Cartwright brother from Adam.
The simple but brilliant concept of having various members of the Cartwright clan get involved with the lives of the (often "TV Land" notable) guest star of the week facilitates simultaneous filming of the pristinely upgraded S11 episodes.
S11 kicks off on a strong note with the "kids" seeing a man who is from nowhere near La Mancha rowing across a government-owned prairie that the Cartwrights lease as grazing land. This newcomer who delights in tilting at windmills is in town to highlight an absurd federal law. Getting the better of greedy locals is the icing on the cake.
Another early S11 episode with even stronger (and more timely) social commentary hits very close-to-home. Moderately ala your not-so-humble reviewer in June, Candy is peacefully going about his business when the local law in the town that he is visiting hauls him in for a crime of which he is innocent. The sheriff also turns a deaf ear to the assertions of innocence by Candy. The modern twist on this story is initiating the showing of my license and being 120 miles away watching DVD episodes of "The Nanny" in the midst of the lockdown when the first of two claimed offenses occurred. The doubling-down of refusing to locate a readily available witness at the time of the second offense made things even worse. This is on top of apparently massive stupidity in the form of sitting on a bench by a police car within minutes of allegedly causing mayhem.
Being proactively cooperative and the lack of any appearance of being at all a hardened criminal and the inability of the police to prove presence at the scene of that crime were completely ignored.
Returning to our regularly scheduled programming, Hoss is the victim of a miscarriage of frontier justice in the penultimate S11 episode. He learns that no good deed goes unpunished when his friendliness to two men that he meets on the trail leads to an unfortunate incarceration for a bank robbery as to which he lacks any culpability.
"The Law and Billy Burgess" stars teen-idol David Cassidy as the titular old west excitable boy. Related woes of Billy include great disdain for the local little school on the prairie and a hard-knock life with a hard-nosed stepfather. Cassidy providing an overly dramatic reading of his line that he does not need school because he wants to be a blacksmith is an S11 highlight.
The law part enters the picture when the teacher schooling Billy prompts the boy to make a threat; the educator subsequently being murdered and Billy confessing to the crime makes a bad situation worse. The rude awakening of Billy as to this is a nice commentary on the folk lore of the old west.
John "Gomez" Astin provides another notable appearance in the role of a literal gold digger that makes excellent use of his offbeat persona. Adams plays the titular prospector in "Abner Willoughby's Return." His crossing paths with Little Joe leads to the pair teaming up for a treasure hunt that literally finds Willoughby walking across roofs and scaling fences. The true innocent this time is a sympathetic widow who unknowingly is sitting on a figurative gold mine.
CBSHE supplements the S11 fun with a plethora of extras that include some original episode promos, extensive photo galleries of on-location and behind-the-scenes images, and a rare Chevrolet sponsor commercial starring Greene.
The big picture is that, ala ALL CBSHE sets of classic series, they don't make 'em like "Bonanza" anymore despite a desperate need for quality unreal TV during our every season of discontent these days.