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.
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.
The September 17, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 documentary "The Kids' Table" provides a good chance to watch an amusing old-school style film. This chronicle of four 20-somethings competing in the national bridge championship does for that dying card game what the 2002 documentary "Spellbound" does for the national spelling bee.
A fun aspect of the below trailer for this film about an activity that is tedious to watch and to play except for those who thoroughly enjoy it is that this promo hits most of the best moments in this film that achieves the documentary ideal of being equally entertaining and educational. Director/team captain (and player) Edd Benda makes a great poster boy for this past-its-prime pastime.
"Borrowing" the well-written and concise summary of "Table" from the press materials for the film is in the spirit of one theme of "Table" that younger people do not want to take the time to learn how to play bridge. This seems akin to the adage that chess takes a moment to learn and a lifetime to master. That aspect takes the fun out of playing with the "horsie" and the "castle."
The 25-words-or-more take of the official synopsis is "four millennial friends - filmmaker Benda, comedian Monique Thomas, Twitch host Stefanie Woodburn and actor Paul Stanko - bridge novices all, train and compete for a year on the National Bridge Circuit, going behind-the-scenes to better understand the game and its waning popularity. And as the millennials explore the world of competitive Bridge -- where the average age of their opponents is 73 - they discover the highs and lows of card-play, competition, and community while, hopefully, helping to build a strong foundation for the future of the game."
Benda shares his story of learning to play bridge as a child; the others largely seem to be along for the ride. Stanko is the scene-stealer in that he is the weakest link and has limited youthful exuberance for the game. All this makes him the one who seemingly needs the most coaching.
This quartet further entertains as we get caught up in the thrill of their victories and the agonies of their defeats. A high point for the players and the at-home spectators is the nicest kids in town scoring a highly coveted endorsement deal.
Another highlight is a figurative and literal tutorial on the rules of the game; this includes a frustrating electoral-college aspect that relates to the possibility that the team that wins the majority of the 13 rounds in a game still are branded the losers.
Benda additionally introduces us to two young teen boys, who literally are playing with the big boys. These lads charmingly admit their love of the game does not make them BMOCs.
Benda makes going along for the ride great fun and leaves us wanting more for our stars; it also prompts a desire to break out the bridge mix and help revive the game.
The most important point to consider regarding the Film Movement DVD release of the 2018 documentary (which plays like a docudrama) "Over the Limit" is that the appeal of this telling of the tale of Olympic Gold medalist Margarita Mamun extends well beyond sports fans. Pointing out that Variety aptly compares "Limit" to "Black Swan" does not help this case much but illustrates that this is another overcoming adversity story in the same style as "Rocky."
"Limit" being a New York Times Critic's Pick and figuratively earning the Gold at the 2018 Krakow Film Festival further documents the quality of this film for the masses.
The following Movement clip of the official US trailer for "Limit" highlights the intensity of the film and of the central relationship between Magmun and coach Irina Viner. There is NO doubt that a docudrama of this story would NEED to be titled "The Devil Wore Talbots."
Much of "Limit" centers around Magmun either training for competitions leading up to the main event or actually competing. Viner literally is there every step of the way mercilessly berating the gymnast and almost as diligently ensuring that this athlete always stays on her toes. This aspect of "Limit" should make it mandatory reviewing for any parent or "participant" who thinks that a recreation league or school coach is too hard on the kids.
One interesting dynamic is watching the mother of Magmum be good cop to bad cop Viner. This plays out in one of the most notable scenes in "Limit." The two parental figures argue about the allowable level of support that actual Mom can show her little girl.
We also see a friendly rivalry between Magmun and a fellow gymnast; the conflict here is that only one can be the best. This kinder and gentler version of the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan dynamic warrants kneecapping jokes.
Although folks who already are familiar with the tale of Magmun know the end of "Limit" before it begins, seeing how she gets there truly is all the fun. Everyone will cheer for her and feel her agony and her ecstasy.
Movement supplements "Limit" with the bonus 11-minute short "Iron Hands." This "Rocky" story tells the tale of a plucky 12 year-old girl bonding with a groundskeeper with a "history" while the girl does her final training for her tryout for the prestigious traditionally all-boys Chinese youth Olympic weightlifting team. The twice-told moral here is to not judge a book by its cover.
The final commentary regarding this sports-oriented double-feature is that they make particularly good viewing for a quiet weekend afternoon.
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 Film Movement DVD release of the 2013 drama "An Afghan Love Story" is one of the more thought-provoking titles in the extensive Movement catalog of foreign and domestic art-house movies. "Story" being based on actual events enhances this tale of modern woman Wajma running afoul of the old-school standards in her country.
The accolades for "Story" include a 2103 Sundance award for screenwriting and Best Film honors at the 2013 Amazonas Film Festival.
The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN Movement trailer for "Story" provides a synopsis of this movie about a wedding hook-up gone terribly wrong.
Wajma and Mustafa know from the outset that they experience the lust that dare not speak its name; this newly accepted law student and her waiter lover literally and figuratively go to great lengths to avoid her being seen entering his apartment for their afternoon delight.
The skyrockets take flight when Wajma learns that she has a nan in the oven; Mustafa informing her that he will not put a ring on it or otherwise do the right thing by that cow who has given away the milk for free because she is damaged goods enhances the drama. Abortion being illegal in Afghanistan is another complication. Presenting India as a liberal country in the context of abortion being legal there provides further context.
The zinc lining in all this is that mother and the grandmother of Wajma are sympathetic and compassionate; the bad news is that the "wait 'til your father comes home" element of the story makes things far worse.
Father Haji constantly is away because of his job detecting and removing landmines; no pun is intended in stating that he goes ballistic in learning of what he considers a major disgrace to his family. The manner is which he takes Wajma to the woodshed is horrific.
Filmmaker Barmak Aktam does an excellent job first introducing the characters, and then presenting the flirting and the resulting "courtship" of Wajma and Mustafa. This leads to the pregnancy that results in the aforementioned building drama and the trauma for the mother-to-be. Akram next provides a perfect payoff regarding the desperate measures that the desperate circumstances require. This climax shows that things are not so different in traditional and "civilized" countries.
The good acting, the drama rarely straying in "melo" territory, and this somewhat true story being relatable to many make "Story" one to add to your collection and for parents to rewatch when even adult offspring commit a blunder that prompts thoughts of wanting to make them drop trou and bend themselves over your knee.
'The Beatles: Made on Merseyside' DVD: Fab Career-Spanning Documentary on Four Generals in British Invasion
The Omnibus division of indie and foreign-film god Film Movement properly marks the 60th anniversary of the formation of "The Beatles" with the August 20, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 documentary "The Beatles: Made on Merseyside."
This soup-to-nuts film covers the Fab Four from their childhoods through the onset of Beatlemania, The extensive original and archive footage of those (including original drummer Randolph Peter Best) who know the band members best (no pun intended) provides The True Liverpool Story as to John Lennon et al.
Learning so much about these true music-industry pioneers is fascinating, The fairly well-known story of their playing always small and often disgusting clubs in England and Germany before making significant professional progress is highly relevant today.
The assertion that a post-adolescent who makes it through a few rounds of auditions and then wins a contest that lasts another few weeks is an "American Idol" is absurd. Properly achieving that status requires many years of much harder work; sob stories that have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with musical talent are COMPLETELY irrelevant,
Paul McCartney inadvertently provides the most amusing moment in this film that achieves the genre ideal of being highly entertaining and educational. His recently revealing an intimate moment with John Lennon early in their careers puts his telling of a "you show me yours, and I'll show you mine" moment with that bandmate in a different perspective.
Seemingly lifelong friends Len Garry and Colin Hanton, who play in the pre-"Beatles" band "The Quarrymen," are the most entertaining of the seemingly cast of 100s of talking heads in "Beatles." They discuss Lennon having a more privileged childhood than he presents to the world. This is only the tip of the iceberg as to their tales of the man behind the myth.
Much of the fun of this portion of the film relates to stories about the antics of Lennon during the salad days of the band. Suffice it to say that his mooning a German audience for a prolonged period is not his most offensive behavior during that stage of his career,
Best (and his mother Mona Best) offers detailed insight on how he comes to join the band; this literally seems to come down to Ringo Starr working and playing better with the other lads than his predecessor. This is not to mention Starr also having a more compatible look.
A more amusing aspect of this is the stories that stage mother Mona Best is a pre-Yoko Yoko as to the boys.
Along the lines of appearance, the secretary of the group tells of preserving and labeling the hair of the boys to send to fans.
The liner notes of these musing on this film is that the story of how "The Beatles" come to be is as interesting as their music. It is equally awesome that the film captures and assembles the memories of those who were there before they no longer are here.
The Film Movement Classics division of foreign-film god Film Movement fully embraces the spirit of summer action-adventure films with the spectacular June 25, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1986 John Woo film "Heroes Shed No Tears." It is the precursor to the Woo film "A Better Tomorrow," which likely will be a future Classics Blu-ray release.
Although Woo reasonably considers this 90-minute big-screen video game a gangster film, it bears comparison to the literally banned-in-Boston cult-classic film "The Warriors" (1979) about members of a New York street gang spending a night battling several other gangs to make it back to their home turf.
This fully shot in the natural beauty of rural Thailand looks incredible in Blu-ray; choosing the well-dubbed (but still amusing) English audio version over the subtitled Cantonese and Mandarin options is part of the fun of this Asian bloodbath.
The following YouTube clip of the Movement restored original trailer for "Heroes" includes some of the best ultra-violent moments in this never a dull moment film.
The opening narration provides the exposition that the Thai government war on drugs includes hiring the Chinese commando team of Chan Chung (Eddy Ko) to capture Golden Triangle drug lord General Samton. The payment includes a new life in America for Samton and his immediate family. This aspect is at the center of a highly notable scene in which an American soldier-of-little-fortune offers his perspective on American life only to have Chung put him in his place.
The aforementioned mayhem commences with the aforementioned attack. Team Chung disrupts the operation and gets their man. However, Team Samton takes off in hot pursuit as our titular good guy makes a run for the Thai border.
The mission becomes a family affair when Chung comes home to find his baby momma and his son under attack from his new enemy. An agrarian buying the farm provides unintentional humor. This requires an impromptu bring your son to work day.
The plot fully thickens on Team Chung further running afoul of another power broker when they interrupt an attack on a pair of French journalists. Suffice it to say that the colonel whom Chung bests fully embraces the philosophy of an eye for an eye. This dynamic also plays a role in a pivotal scene that adds a dimension to the title of the film.
An essay by highly humorous screenwriter Grady Hendrix states that hands-down the funniest scene in "Heroes" likely is the work of a director who steps in after Woo finishes his work. A gambler literally cannot lose despite facing a heavy price for his winnings; the twist at the end is a highlight.
All of this culminates in a variation of classic epic style, a heavily bruised and bloodied Chung reaches the end of his mission but is not quite home free. The added insult to the multiple injuries is discovering that all might have been for naught.
The additional social commentary of this film includes the related truism that the real golden rule is that the guy with the gold makes the rules and that "waste" rolls downhill.
Classics supplements this bloody good film with a video interview with Ko. A time constraint required having to postponing hearing what must be his entertaining insights until a better tomorrow.
Omnibus Entertainment does parent company Film Movement very proud regarding the June 4, 2019 DVD release of the literally simple and sweet fable "All You Ever Wished For." The cred of this tale of the Roman holiday of young Manhattanite Tyler Hutton includes Darren Criss portraying Tyler in this production by Barry Morrow, who is the Oscar winning writer of "Rain Man." One spoiler is that Tyler, who probably does not know who Wapner is but likely thinks that Wal-Mart sucks, does not fly Qantas to Italy.
Another spoiler is that the combination of a modern fairy tale and a pure-at-heart romantic reluctantly working in the New York-based fashion company of his domineering father makes "Wished" more like "Princess Ugly Betty Bride" than "Rain Man."
Although "Wished" is entertaining and charming, Criss no longer having his youthful exuberance and related appeal evokes thoughts that his "Glee" co-star Grant Gustin or another guy who still knows how to play the boy-next-door may have been a better casting choice.
The very Grimm opening scenes set the stage for the main events of the film centuries later. Newly heart-broken Tyler is ordered to travel to Rome to represent the family business. His antics on arriving illustrate why the probability of such enterprises failing increases with each new generation that takes over. A variation of the "ugly American" stereotype also does not bode well for the future.
The stereotypes continue with not-so-bright wiseguys snatching Tyler up off the street with an eye toward holding him for ransom on behalf of their mob boss. This surprisingly well-executed plan goes off the rails when the group gets lost after going into the woods.
This not-so-biblical adventure fully kicks off when the crooks and their captive audience awaken in a barn the next morning. The underlying events that set things in motion result in Tyler cutting his not-so-great escape short when her literally experiences unrequited love at first sight with local woman Rosalia. His not-so-longtime companions also meet their soulmates; much of the comedy relates to one pairing being a case of each person both being the same but also different; not that there is anything wrong with that. Another infatuation is creepy and does involve giving away the milk for free but fortunately is (presumably) never consummated.
The strong motive to stay prompt our boys to do their best to be productive members of the small community with very amusing results. We further see that Tyler has virtually no game.
In true farce style, everything comes to a head during a festival. There is a game-changer just as the sins of the son are more fully bringing the father into the picture. This leads to good potential for our boys to get their happy endings. The rest of the story is that there is one heartbreak and a fable that shows that one ultimately is true to thine self.
The Film Movement May 14, 2019 DVD release of the 2016 documentary "Bosch The Garden of Dreams" provides a well-produced equally entertaining and educational art-history lesson before many of us turn off our brains for the summer on Memorial Day weekend. As often is the case, the life story of Early Netherlandish painter Hieronymous Bosch is as interesting as the tale of his work "The Garden of Earthly Delights,"
The following YouTube clip of a "Bosch" trailer illustrates (pun intended) the complexity of the man, and the work. You also get a sense of the art world notables, including author Salman Rushdie, who participate in making the film.
The titular artwork is a massive three-panel painting that presents an intentionally strong "And there was light" vibe when the two side panels are opened to reveal the work. The Prado Museum in Madrid opens its doors to allow "Bosch" to be made.
Many of the seemingly countless aforementioned talking heads use the life of Bosch to provide context for their comments on one of the seeming countless scenes in the painting. The larger context is that Bosch, if that is his real name, belongs to a religious order for which he creates "Garden." This aspect of the art reflecting the artist includes a scene in which a film participant points out that a "Garden" image of Jesus speaking with Adam and Eve has the son of God looking at the painting viewer.
The copious (often terrifying) surreal images in "Garden" prompt discussing dreams in the context of the psyche of Bosch, The even more fascinating element of this is the theory of the nature of dreams. Under this theory, Bosch has a very disturbed mind,
The path of "Garden" in its early years seals the deal regarding the story of Bosch being worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. A regime change leads to a purist undergoing extreme torture to avoid having the painting fall in the wrong hands. The spoiler is that resistance proves to be futile, but "Garden" ends up in arguably a greater place of honor than one would expect.
We further get a sense of the arguably sloppy technique of Bosch. It is surprising to learn that this pro essentially does not color within the lines. However, this helps explain why this art so closely reflects the artist.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that "Bosch" addresses visiting and thinking about a painting and its artist in an era in which they vast majority of the very few of us who still look at great art only spend a few minutes looking at a reproduction of it online or in a coffee-table book. Even fewer of this small minority take the time to really study and appreciate the result of an artist pouring his or her soul into a project.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2014 Italian dramedy "Cam Girl" is an entertaining fable for our dystopian times. It also follows the pattern of Movement films presenting universal themes.
The relatability begins with 20-something aspiring Madwoman Alice successfully pitching an idea at the marketing firm where she is a freelancer with what she thinks is a reasonable dream of full-time employment. This reflects both many Millennials not wanting to pay the dues that the the job that they want requires and formerly gainfully employed Gen Xers now being white-collar day laborers.
Alice gets her reality check at the same time that friend Rossella is tiring of being exploited at her cam girl job, other friend Martina is working hard to make a women's basketball team, and waitress Gilda wants to help grease-monkey boyfriend with a personal financial crisis. This leads to Alice organizing the group into starting a cam girl site that pays above the going rate and otherwise offers a desirable work environment.
The aforementioned entertainment stems from the trauma and drama associated with the new normal. Alice has great difficulty managing her intertwined professional and personal lives. This largely comes down to the basic capitalist challenge of both having enough money to keep the business viable and paying labor fair compensation for his or her services. This is not to mention Alice not telling her Cinderella-caliber evil sister and mother how she pays her rent.
Meanwhile pretty woman "Ross" is dating a trust fund baby whom she meets on the job. The obstacles to happily ever after extend beyond whether Ross being a working girl precludes bringing her home to meet the family and the reception that she will receive if that occurs. The happy couple must decide their comfort level regarding bringing things to the next level.
The drama for Gilda revolves around the jealousy of her man. The initial suspicions of Mateo are bad enough; his reaction on learning how his girlfriend earns his money is very typical of reel and real-life ingratitude,
Of course all this comes to a head as the wolves of varying degrees of figurativeness come to the door. The spoiler is that human nature wins out over loyalty.
The overall message is that women can succeed in business so long as they are willing to pay the heavy prices for playing with the boys.
Mel Brooks provides the most important perspective regarding the Omnibus Entertainment April 2, 2019 DVD release of the well-dubbed serious-toned 2019 English-language documentary "Nazi Junkies." This genius behind "The Producers" reminds us that mocking Team Hitler robs those maniacs of their power. Further, the idea of Herr Adolph "Uber-mensch" Hitler doing more drugs than a crackhouse whore is bizarrely amusing.
The first of two other important related concepts to consider while watching "Junkies" is that even propaganda that supports your view still is propaganda. You must also remember that there is your perspective, the perspective of the other guy, and the truth. "Junkies" seems authoritative and is not unduly sensationalized but still likely only tells a portion of the story.
This two-part docuseries is based on the book Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler. The first episode focuses on the heavy use of illicit substances by Der Fuhrer. The broader scope of the second episode is on that activity by both the general German population and the members of the military.
The documentation of the drug use of Htler includes the records of personal physician/entourage member Dr. Theodore Morell, whose methodology strongly reflect a better living through chemistry philosophy. A particularly impactful scene discusses Morrell refusing to allow his patient to shoot up anymore because heavy drug use is the cause of the veins of the latter being completely scabbed over. This data and the other evidence of Hitler using every substance known to Hunter Thompson indicates that the birthday of Hitler being 420 is very apt.
The bigger picture is the discussion of Hitler being a man who does not understand the concept of just saying no relating to the turmoil in his life. He recognizes the need to present a strong image, is dealing with increasing dissension in the ranks, and knows that his 1,000-year Reich is going to fall far short of that goal. An especially interesting story is about Hitler going to extreme measures on suffering catastrophic injury hours before frienemy Mussolini is visiting.
Part II suggests that an Army travels on its Previtin, rather than its stomach. The general (no pun intended) idea is that the soldiers, the sailors, and the pilots are pushed to extreme physical limits that require them taking so many drugs that it makes "Jessie's Song" look like a Saturday-morning kids' show. A recently interviewed soldier discusses how the brass doses the chocolate of the unsuspecting grunts to achieve this. The rest of the story is records that show the extent to which the expression "The Rhine Valley of the Dolls' applies to 40s-era Germany.
Part II also includes one of the most horrific stories in this series that is rife with tales of Nazi atrocities. We learn about teen Hitler Youth members being boys sent to do a small man's job that NO ONE should do. These efforts involve being confined in an incredibly cramped space for an extended period to perform what "Junkies" describes as a Kamikaze mission.
The ways in which Parts I and II are tied include a discussion of the drug use in the military when Hitler is a young soldier. Seeing him look very youthful and sporting even odder facial hair then his best-known look is fascinating.
The even bigger picture is that "Junkies" is akin to other documentaries that focus on the human aspects (and related frailties) of Hitler. The general idea is that seeing this super-villain as a man whose reality does not live up to his self-produced hype shows that even the worst monster ultimately is a "Scooby" bad guy in a rubber mask.
'Conduct! Every Move Counts' Doc on Conducting Competition Shows Potential to Orchestrate Quality Reality Television
The Film Movement January 9, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 documentary "Conduct! Every Move Counts" should do for conducting competitions what the 2002 documentary "Spellbound" does for spelling bees. Both films make contests that most of us never think about compelling to the extent of putting us on the edge of our seats cheering for our favorites.
The even better part of "Conduct!" is that it creates hope regarding reality shows improving both their concepts and their participants. The stakes here are more honorable than marrying someone whom you know for a few months and is populated by people who are much more appealing than the folks on both sides of the judging table in series that promise instant stardom.
The manner in which the competition is presented is another breath of fresh air. There is a COMPLETE lack of prolonged hyped suspense regarding developments, a TOTAL ABSENCE of endless repetitive commentary on a trauma and drama-inducing incident, and almost no backstage turmoil.
The following YouTube clip of a "Conduct!" trailer illustrates every point made above. It additionally includes terrific music.
"Conduct!" centers around the prestigious biennial International Conductors' Competition in Frankfurt Germany. The 5 of the 24 competitors on whom filmmaker Gotz Schauder focuses seem to be selected based on a combination of what makes them good conductors and interesting people for positive reasons, rather than for being ruthless or for having a sob story.
Twenty-seven year old New Yorker Alondra de la Parra is notable for having formed her own orchestra. Her unemotional questionable assertion regarding studying her craft from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. borders on reality-style drama but is a one-time thing.
Despite conflicting reports that Aziz Skokhakimov of Uzbekistan is 19 and 20 years old, he still is the youngest competitor. Further, Skokhakimov clearly has a strong passion for both his craft and for classical music. His reality show moment includes sharing that his motivation for his career includes showing that traditional culture exists in Central Asia.
A segment on the judges selecting the competitors includes the most pure reality-show scene in the film. This is also the most amusing moment and plays a role during a performance by Skokhakimov.
Shizuo Z Kuwahara is another two-fer who has a couple of characteristics that make him fascinating. He returns to the competition after coming in second in the prior one; he also conducts with his hands for a reason that he discusses in his reality show minute.
Andreas Hotz from Germany is interesting as the hometown boy; his home field advantage extends to a strong familiarity with the orchestra that the competitors conduct.
James Lowe of Scotland is distinguishable as the nice guy in the group; this is particularly so regarding his coaching an opponent throughout the competition. This involving a cute thank-you gift is a charming moment that is absent from reality fare.
Much of the film centers around our fab five taking his or her turn rehearsing with the orchestra. All the associated dynamics and personalities are compelling. Further, many audience members will want to show a musician who cruelly berates one of the conductors that a bodily orifice can double as a sheath for a bow.
The bigger picture is that the insight that "Conduct!" provides regarding directing an orchestra is fascinating even to folks who think that Beyonce is one of the three Bs of classical music. We learn that the requirements for being a good conductor include something that seemingly is impossible to define but is known when it is displayed. This also helps explain why the best conductors of local orchestras are well-liked local celebrities.
The Film Movement release of the 2018 docudrama "un Traductor" (a.k.a. The Translator) provides further proof that truth is stranger than fiction. Fellow recent Movement release "An Afghan Love Story" is another "based on actual events" movie that reinforces the above statement.
"Traductor" also is notable as a simple movie that greatly defies expectations. Our story centers around 30ish college professor Malin, whom Rodrigo Santoro of the HBO "Westworld" series perfectly portrays. This Cuban native is a Russian literature professor at the University of Havana when the film opens; he also is happily married to an artist and has an adored young son.
Everything changes when Malin arrives at work to discover that his department is disbanded, He learns on regrouping with his colleagues that they are reassigned to the local hospital to serve as translators for Chernobyl victims and their families,
Malin initially understandably balks at being stationed in the ward that treats children; his 'tude softens on helping with a "lost in translation" problem between the Russian mother of a sick girl and a Cuban nurse.
The heart (in both senses) of "Tradacutor" centers around Malin bonding with an especially sick boy and the father of the nino; the bonding and the angst include the father being a teacher whose Chernobyl assignment was a reward.
The schedule of Malin and his becoming more involved with his work creates additional friction at home as his wife gets a good opportunity and providing child care becomes increasingly challenging. A "home alone" situation developing greatly escalates the tension.
The larger context is that the Cold War is ending in ways that include the Berlin Wall coming down; also, Cuba is experiencing an economic downturn. Needless to say, this is not a good time for Malin.
Typical hospital insensitivity and a combination of bureaucracy at that institution and the Cuban government further complicate things on the micro and macro levels. In other words, the personal and professional worlds of Malin are experiencing tremendous stress at a time that his country also is enduring game-changing struggles.
All of this leads to inevitable fish-or-cut-bait moments; Malin must choose wisely regarding the next stage in his life. The fact that the audience connects with him from the start invests in the outcome.
As indicated above, the power and the appeal of this film is the same as all good docudramas. A sympathetic personal face is put on world events about which we learn much more than we absorbed through media accounts. In this case, it includes the new knowledge about Russian patients going to Cuba.
Movement provides icing on the cake in the form of the well-paired short that accompanies every selection in the Film of the Month Club of this purveyor of global films. The selection this time is "For Dorian." This film takes a sensitive approach to a man struggling with his teen son with Down's Syndrome demanding more freedom and generally experiencing the same symptoms of adolescent as every lad his age.
The recent Film Movement Classics triple feature Blu-ray release of '60s and '70s films by Joe "Chekov of Soft Core" Sarno is the latest addition to Classic's "Joseph W. Sarno Retrospect Series." The Unreal TV post on the most recent double feature of "All the Sins of Sodom" and Vibrations" includes links to the separate posts on the first Classics Blu-ray double feature of Sarno films and on the documentary "My Life in Dirty Movies" about Sarno.
This latest collection of Sarno films begins with That '70s Skin Flick in the form of the early '70s movie "Confessions of a Young American Housewife," This one is notable both for being the only color one in "Retrospect" and for being highly amusing, The humor includes a middle-aged woman actually named Mrs. Robinson who seduces the grocery delivery boy. This enticement is pure porn from the first knock at the door to the final bang in the bed,
The title refers to the aforementioned Jennifer Robinson winning a 1963 "Young American Housewife" award; this is one basis for daughter Carole believing that her now-single mother is living a chaste and celibate life. The audience soon learns that carpets and the drapes of this happy homemaker clash.
Carole also initially thinks that her visiting mother (who enjoys making tasty cream pies) is not cool enough to accept her and the girl-next-door swinging in every possible combination of coupling. Carole learning that her nymphomania is hereditary allows the game to fully get afoot. The modern variations of the Oedipal Complex contribute to the fun.
"Sin in the Suburbs" is an NC-17 version of wonderfully cheesy films about unfulfilled '60s and '70s housewives. The residents of this Peyton Place include the nymphomaniac wife of a young executive, the MILF of a teen daughter with a horny boyfriend, and the grass widow whose divorcee status makes her an outcast. Although her brother is the new man of the house, the fallen woman takes charge of persuading a creditor to not repossess the furniture.
The scandalous secrets extend beyond the aforementioned boyfriend trying to keep it in the family; the copious other action includes a workman who lays down on the job.
All this inspires "Bro" to start a special club for the neighbors. The first two rules of this organization with a strict dress code are that you do not talk about it. Suffice it to say that every member pays his or her dues.
"Warm Nights, Hit Pleasures" can be considered "The Facts of Life After Dark." A freshman coed at an upstate New York college makes a connection that inspires her to persuade her friends to drop out and to move to Manhattan to find fame and fortune. Of course, they end learning the price of fame.
The fun extends beyond nude dancing to showing an out-of-towner a good time. One of the girls also bonds with their landlady, who is a "calendar" model.
Like the other Sarno joints, each of these three movies combine porn-movie acting with good production values and stories with reasonable depth. The set up go well beyond a UPS guy telling a housewife in a negligee that he has a big package for her. Additionally, the artistry of the films leaves a little bit to the imagination.
Several deleted scenes from "Housewife " are a highlight of the DVD extras. Classics saves the best for last by finishing the reel with an orgy scene that seems too hot for Sarno. That one clearly shows that cast loves their work.
Breaking Glass Pictures fills the need for a John Hughes style distressed teen in love with quirky outcast film in releasing the 2016 film "Honeyglue" on DVD and VOD on February 19, 2019. The scads o' festival love for this "The Fault In Our Stars" with a transvestite leading boy includes a Best Feature award at Cannes, an award at the Newport Film Festival, and the "Best Director Award" at the Orlando Film Festival.
The following SPOILER-LADEN YouTube clip of the "Honeyglue" trailer does a good job presenting the story and those who tell it.
Though Hughes films are the granddaddy of "Honeyglue," more recent (and edgier) "teens with cancer" dramedies such as "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" and "The Fault in Our Stars" are the older siblings of this story of girl develops fatal brain tumor, girl meets girl/boy, girl and girl/boy live happily ever daily.
The hook this time is that the girl is a conservative suburbanite presumably with grades that are as good as her manners. The bad boy is a drifter with an incredibly troubled past and a desire to express himself that is as strong as the forces that seek to repress it.
Our modern-day Frankie and Annette Morgan and Jordan meet at a not-so-wholesome night club where they strike up a conversation. On Morgan asking a made-up-in-drag Jordan about his sexuality, he grabs a seemingly random guy to kiss full on the lips only to turn around and do the same to Morgan. Other symbolism
This quickly leads to Morgan unexpectedly meeting the parents sans wig and with minimal makeup but clad in a kilt. One spoiler is that Jordan portrayor Zach Villa, who aptly is starring in the stage production "For the Record: Dear John Hughes," is more appealing as a very pretty boy than a not-so-pretty girl. He can be considered a feminine and darker cousin to "Austin and Ally" star Ross Lynch.
On the same subject, Adrianna Mather plays Morgan. She does a good job playing a quirky "All Grown Up" Ally to Villa's Austin. Mather is also a Zombot co-owner and a producer on "Honeyglue."
The courtship of Morgan begins with a "winner-take-all" bet; this in turn leads to a wonderfully awkward 'za feast with the 'rents and hilariously hyper and goof bro Bailey. "Twilight" veteran BooBoo Stewart excels at stealing scenes in this role.
Discovering the advanced stage of the brain tumor in the noggin of Morgan prompts our lovers to accelerate said courtship despite the opposition to said plans. This leads to the cliched road trip (very much ala "Earl") that has enough twists and humor to make it interesting. Suffice it to say that Morgan is a particularly bonnie lass during this leg of her adventure with the kilt-wearing Jordan.
Like all films of this nature, reality crashes down on our pair near the end. The nice twist this time is that it reflects the truly fantastical nature of the soul of Jordan.
This being a film largely geared to teen girls, the symbolism of the title is blatant but effective. It relates to a wonderfully illustrated children's book that Jordan is writing. This tale tells of a very cute dragonfly boy who literally and figuratively goes to great lengths to woo the bee princess whom he loves. Both the tale and the drawings create a strong desire for a copy of this book.
Bird injects more subtle symbolism in manners that include other cliches in modern "cancer" films. One example of this is Jordan shaving his head in solidarity meaning more than support for Morgan losing hers.
On a more personal note, the quality of the film overcomes pre-viewing negative feelings regarding the transgender element in it. This aspect of society seems done to death and does not appeal to your not-so-humble reviewer. Instincts that "Honeyglue" is far more than a boy in a dress or a desire to fully become a girl enormously pay off.
'Antonio Lopez 1970 Sex Fashion & Disco' DVD: Documentary on Clothing Artist Drawn to Models & Designers
The Film Movement February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 documentary "Antonio Lopez 1970 Sex Fashion & Disco' gives the general populace a chance to catch this groovy flick that is the January 2019 selection of the exceptional Movement Film of the Month Club. Learning about the lives, loves, and lusts of the fashion world elites of the '70s is only the beginning of the fun.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for this 2017 Doc NYC Grand Jury Prize winner clearly conveys the love by the numerous talking heads for Lopez. You also will see his bright and vibrant art that is sure to warm the hearts of those of us trapped in the polar vortex.
Filmmaker James Crump goes well above-and-beyond assembling the team of some that you recognize and some that you hardly even heard of to share their stories of Lopez. A sad aspect of this is that many notables in that group do not participate for reasons that include falling victim to what is known as the plague of the '80s. This film reminds us of the heavy toll that the early days of AIDS takes on the creative community.
Much of the film centers around recently deceased photographer Bill Cunningham, whose love for Lopez is especially strong. His narration provides a great deal of context that includes reminding us that artists such as Lopez transform the clothing industry from merely providing a means to hide our shame to haute couture.
At the heart of it, young Puerto Rican immigrant Lopez taking New York by storm is proof of the American dream. Current make-up artist Corey Tippin telling the tale of a being a student in a college course of Lopez and quickly being singled out to come to the front of the room to model is one of the more interesting stories in the movie that is bursting with fascinating accounts.
Tippin immediately becoming an intimate of his professor in every sense of both terms illustrates a prime theme of "Antonio." This era of free love allows everyone to express physical desire for anyone else regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or consenting student/teacher relationship. A talking head aptly notes that this period is more liberated than our currently enlightened society.
Lopez himself is worthy of a Hollywood biopic; his individual exploits include finding a cross-dressing male street-corner prostitute to step in when a dress does not fit a model. We also learn that his charm and drive allow him to literally simultaneously "make love to" men and women and leave all emotionally and physically satisfied. This includes boyfriends who can be considered life partners by multiplying the length of the relationship by the magic number of seven that applies to both forms of dogs.
The discussion of the group actually known as "Antonio's Girls" further reflects the broad (no pun intended) taste of Lopez. These women include then-models and subsequent actresses Grace Jones and Warhol discovery Patti D'Arbanville. We also hear from Jessica Lange, who immediately captivated Lopez and can thank him for setting her on the path to fame.
One of the more interesting stories is that of 17 year-old Texan Jerry Hall bursting on the scene, Hearing her peers discuss her exuberance and her embracing her new-found wealth and celebrity is very interesting. All of this occurs before Hall marries Mick Jagger and then moves on to her current status as the trophy wife of Silver Fox Rupert Murdoch.
Speaking of Warhol, we learn about his relationship with Lopez; hearing about these men dividing up the counter-culture elites of New York is hilarious,
The subsequent pairing of Karl Lagerfeld when Lopez et al move to France is equally interesting, Learning about the phallic manner in which Lagerfeld subsequently treats Lopez is not surprising but is distressing, The principle here is that particular intimate acts especially entitle you to reasonable consideration regardless of the degree of love associated with said activity.
The biggest lesson in all this is that some people truly lead extraordinary lives that warrant documentaries and biopics. This is a good perspective for folks who think that starting a fast-food chain or inventing a mop warrants a movie.
This is not to mention all the people who think that starting a recycling program at their high school qualifies them for a Nobel Prize. Those with exceptional talent, a strong work ethic, and genuinely noteworthy experiences are our true American Idols.
Having stated that, Crump is invited to reach out to me if he wants to make a documentary about a guy who has not made a penny writing about vintage movies and TV shows, indie films, and boutique hotels for 13 years. :-)
The Film Movement division Film Movement Classics January 8, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1997 drama "Bent" continues what Classics describes as an effort to rescue (often largely forgotten) notable films from the vault. The awesomeness of these releases extends well beyond the pristine remasters of these art-house gems and the exceptional bonus features to releasing them without the arrogance associated with a competitor (which Classics regularly outshines) that claims to set the criterion for such films.
Like all classics, the value of "Bent "includes the relatability of the movie. The broadest level is the extent to which many of us have been persecuted for what someone "bigger and stronger" considers a flaw; another aspect of this is the ongoing storm trooper tactic of dragging innocent people out of their homes regardless of the legitimacy of that act. A lighter note is that "Bent" is a darker and better-quality version of the 1993 Robert Sean Leonard and Christian Bale film "Swing Kids," which depicts a Disneyfied image of Nazi oppression.
The pedigree of "Bent" begins with screenwriter Martin Sherman basing this period piece on his play of the same name. The merits continue with Clive Owen doing an exceptional job in the lead and Sir Ian McKellen having a very memorable cameo. This is not to mention Mick Jagger dressing in drag to perform in a gay cabaret.
The opening scenes of "Bent" present additional relatable elements of the film. Openly gay Max (Owen) is waking up in 1934 Berlin with thoughts that include the prior night of decadence at the aforementioned night club in his head. His first rude awakening is in the form of partner Rudy (Brian Webber) being displeased about the presence of the younger and cuter man who spent the night.
The persistent pounding on the door turning out not to be the landlord seeking back rent is the second wake-up-call. The interlopers are Nazi soldiers that are there as part of the Night of the Long Knives that is designed to strengthen the power of Hitler. Max and Rudy get caught up in that because the twink hook-up is a particular target of that campaign.
The first bit of context is that "swing kids," gay men, and other folks who enjoy partying, boogieing, and getting down in early '30s Berlin are like those who embrace The Jazz Age of '20s America. They live in a bubble and either are oblivious to or do not care about the coming storm. This leads to their worlds immediately crashing down on them. The increasing evidence that most of us are in for a very rough period shows that these reversals of fortune are not a thing of the past.
An even more personal aspect is the price that the vast majority of us have paid for youthful mistakes in the form of bringing the wrong person home. Although this often does not involve armed invaders, we learn to deeply regret our bad judgment,
The raid ends very badly for the cute young thing and forces Max and Rudy to go on the run; Max seeking the assistance of partially closeted respectable family man Uncle Freddie (McKellen) conveys another aspect of gay life that continues today.
The Nazis catching up with our boys while they are living rough leads to the couple being put on a train to Dachau. The relatable aspect this time is Max having his loyalty to his partner tested. This leads to additional cruelty that is COMPLETELY designed to humiliate Max and another passenger for the entertainment of the soldiers.
Max continuing his pattern of cutting a deal meets moderate success at Dachau; he gets the coveted job of moving rocks from one pile to another that is designed to trigger insanity. Fellow prisoner Horst (Lotharie Bluteau) gets the same assignment.
The interaction between Max and Horst provides the most compelling moments of "Bent." It is clear that Horst has more pride and integrity than Max. The icing on the cake is the highly erotic manner in which the men get to experience intimacy under intensely close scrutiny by the guards, The skill during these scenes makes us believe that Horst feels pain despite a lack of physical contact.
This bonding makes us believe that Max feels true love for the first time and experiences a related evolution. His paying a heavy price out of that love leads to an intense scene with a tragic end. These events further demonstrate the human capacity for cruelty.
The most apt final thought regarding Bent" is the one that this post and many other articles on this film note; it reminds us that Jewish people are not the only Holocaust victims and that the persecution that it depicts is not limited to Nazi Germany.
The aforementioned extras begin with a booklet that includes essays by "Bent" director Sean Mathias on his approach to the project and by film historian Steven Alan Carr on the historical context of the film. Both writings confirm that this film is brave and bold.
The bonus features largely consist of presentations of clips from interviews with the stars. We also get Mick Jagger discussing his uncertainty regarding his ability to adapt to the style of the music in the film. A highlight is the Jagger "Streets of Berlin" music video.
'Forever My Love' DVD: Cliff Notes Dubbed Version of Epic Trilogy Docudrama Trilogy on Life of Austrian Empress Sissi
The Film Movement November 13, 2018 DVD release of the classic 1962 period-piece romdram "Forever My L:ove" is an awesome present to both the general movie-going public and to your not-so-humble reviewer. This release of this English-dubbed condensed version of the trilogy of films known as "The Sissi Collection" allows folks who only have 2.5 hours to experience this epic to watch the version that is a holiday favorite.
This release also allows a holiday treat in the form of allowing regifting an edited version of a review of the Movement October 2017 Blu-ray release of "Collection," which includes "Forever." One disclaimer is that our topic du jour does not include every scene to which this post refers. Please consider these mentions a bonus regarding "Forever."
Folks whom this real-life fairy tale with strong elements of the Princess Diana story greatly intrigues are encouraged to purchase "Collection." The "Trekkies" (rather than "Trekkers") regarding this epic likely will be content with "Forever."
The highly significant other of your not-so-humble reviewer sharing that images of the real-life Sissi still prominently appear throughout Vienna provides a sense of the significance of both "Forever" and the trilogy.
"Sissi" from 1955 is a Cinderella story in a few senses of the word. The film opens with jocular Duke Max in Bavaria fishing with a few of his eight children in the idyllic wilderness around their castle. The group returns home to dine and is subdued by Duchess Ludovika (a.k.a. Mom).
An excited Ludovika (a.k.a. Vicki) soon summons daughter Helene (a.k.a. Nene) to privately share that Archduchess Sophie is summoning Nene to marry cousin/newly coronated Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph. A desire to conceal the purpose of this family reunion prompts bringing oblivious teen tomboy Sissi along.
The Cliff Notes of what follows is that an amusing wacky misunderstanding causes a bumbling security officer to mistake Sissi for an enemy of the state, Sissi and Franz meet and fall in love without fully realizing whom the other is, Nene and Sissi experience sibling rivalry, and our fairy-tale couple have a storybook wedding complete with fireworks but sans animated woodland creatures.
"Sissi: the Young Empress" amusingly foreshadows the Princess Di story in that newly wed Empress Sissi is highly popular with her subjects and is at war with her mother-in-law. Two particularly large bones of contention relate to Sissi having a more lenient and supportive attitude towards Hungarian malcontents than Archduchess Sophie, and Sophie literally taking the infant heir to the throne away from Sissi.
The "incognito" element is particularly strong in "Empress." A spontaneous undercover second honeymoon soon after the (presumably) first one finds our couple staying at a small rustic mountain inn. Watching these young lovers freely frolic and literally spit shine boots is great fun.
Another particularly cute scene has Franz Joseph giving homesick Sissi a literal taste of Bavaria and distressing his mother (who comes across as the party pooper) in the process. Despite the grandness of this gesture, Sissi equally literally runs home to mother to escape the trauma and the drama of palace life.
Of course, this fairy tale epic reunites Sissi and Franz Joseph and ends with the grand spectacle that is a trademark of this trilogy. These final scenes additionally incorporate the nature scenes that enhance the films and make viewers want to visit the region.
The 1957 film "Sissi: The Fateful Years" maintains the style and the quality of the other two films in the trilogy. The Di thread continues with mother-in-law problems and rumors of infidelity.
The "Forever" extras include a making-of featurette and an excerpt from the documentary "Elisabeth [a.k.a. Sissi] Enigma of an Empress."
All of this shows that either "Collection" or "Forever" provide hours of beautiful scenery, a love for the ages, and a lesson in 19th-century European history.
The Film Movement November 13, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2017 Japanese courtroom drama "The Third Murder" provides particularly strong proof that the best modern films come from overseas. This is not to mention that New York Times Critic's Pick "Murder" meets the Movement standard of being a film that can be remade word-for-word and shot-for-shot in the U.S. and still make perfect sense.
Movement is giving American audiences another treat by theatrically releasing "Shoplifters" by "Murder" director Hirokazu Koreeda in the not-too-distant future. IMDb describes that one as "a family of small-time crooks take in a child they find in the cold." That story makes that film more representative of the family dramas for which Koreeda is best known.
The six Japanese Academy Award wins for "Murder" further reflect the quality of the film. These versions of Oscars are for Best Film, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing.
The following YouTube clip of the official U.S. trailer for "Murder" provides a good sense of the compelling drama and the stellar performances that warrant the hype for the film. This promo. additionally provides a sense of the exceptional cinematography of the movie that REQUIRES buying the Blu-ray version.
The mastery of "Murder" begins at the outset. Although the opening scenes seem to leave no doubt that ex-con/factory worker Misumi is guilty of the slaying for which he is awaiting trial, the facts that emerge throughout the film show that things are not as they seem.
High-powered criminal-defense attorney Shigemori soon figuratively and literally enters the picture to help prepare for the trial of Misumi. The defendant has already pleaded guilty to a charge of robbery-murder related to killing the victim in the course of stealing his wallet. The frustration of the defense counsel relates to Misumi changing his story a few times in the course of the proceedings against him.
The rest of the backstory is that the father of Shigemori is the son of the judge who makes Misumi a guest of the state regarding a 30 year-old murder. The nature of that crime is increasingly shown to have relevance regarding the current charges.
The direct and indirect evidence that emerges in the weeks before the trial gives Shigemori increasing reasons to have reasonable doubt regarding the nature of the killing and the culpability of his client. These new facts including indications of collusion to an undetermined extent between Misumi and the wife of the factory owner. Even then, the proverbial smoking guns may lack the believed importance.
Things are further kept in the family when the teen daughter of the factory owner states that she has relevant information. This ties into the relationship between Misumi and his largely estranged adult daughter and the impact of the career of Shigemori on his 14 year-old daughter.
Doubt further relates to "Kung Fu" style wisdom that Misumi shares with his dream team. This includes his statement that some people never should have been born; that declaration not having the assumed importance is very consistent with the spirit of "Murder."
All of this builds to the climax of the trial, which provides plenty of courtroom drama. The pragmatic outcome validates the impression of traditional court system that is presented throughout "Murder." The impact of this includes providing good reason to not trust what even seems to be an entirely voluntary confession.
The literally bigger picture relates to "Murder" presenting a variation of arguably the most famous Japanese movie other than "Godzilla." "Rashomon" centers around four conflicting accounts of an incident. Just as is the case in "Murder," each of these tales has an element of truth.
All of this amounts to "Murder" being a compelling film with strong doses of social commentary and thought-provoking philosophy.
As is the case with every selection in the Movement Film of the Month Club (which are available to the general public), "Murder" is well paired with a short film. Movement aptly describes "A Gentle Night," which as the Best Short Film winner at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, as follows. "In a nameless Chinese city, a mother with he daughter missing refuses to go gentle into this good night."
The extras are a making-of "Murder" feature and "Messages From the Cast" of that film.
The Film Movement October 2, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 drama "La Familia" provides a twofer regarding the always excellent foreign movies in the Movement catalog. This winner of two "Best Film" awards at the 2018 Miami Film Festival both presents a globally related story and provides American audiences a look at a world about which they know very little if anything.
The following YouTube clip of the official U.S. trailer for "Familia" illustrates the aforementioned aspects of the movie.
The early scenes center around the shockingly brutal life of 12 year-old Pedro in the slums of Caracas. The interactions between him and his fellow almost feral friends are brutal and shockingly crude.. A sadly relatable aspect of this is that it mirrors the life of inner-city kids in the United States. This is down to young kids recklessly playing with guns.
An especially violent and emotionally disturbing confrontation ends in the accidental death of the malfeasor. Pedro catches a break in the form of his single father Andres discovering the fatally injured boy.
Immediately realizing that the incident puts an almost literal target on the back of Pedro prompts Andres to rush home and to just as quickly get his son to grab a few things and run. Typically of 12 year-olds everywhere, Pedro does not grasp the gravity of the situation. He properly notes that the victim is the aggressor but does not understand that that is irrelevant.
Most of the rest of "Familia" introduces Pedro to the life of his father. The real wake-up call comes when the the boy learns about the daily life of this man. The first stop is at the abode of a woman who seems to be a regular booty call., The not-so-warm welcome shows Pedro that adults have it rough,
The next stop is the home of the wealthy woman who is having Andres doing painting. This lady of the house is perfectly represents the stereotype of the rich and/or famous. She and Andres discuss the work, and they haggle over his compensation.
Our pair then literally gets down to work. It is clear that Pedro dislikes this taste of the real world. The boy makes matters worse by generally whining and by nagging Andres about bringing him home. The dual frustration related to the haranguing involves Pedro creating the situation that requires staying on the run and his not understanding why he must be nomadic.
The subsequent events that further establish how hard Andres works to support Pedro also shows the rough life of working-class people in Venezuela. This involves working multiple service-industry jobs for little pay and less stability.
Filmmaker Gustavo Rondon Cordova literally and figuratively brings things home when Pedro returns to the scene of the crime. The news of the events since the unfortunate incident equally shock Pedro and the audience.
Movement supplement "Familia" with the always well-paired bonus short that accompanies Film Club selections. The connection between "Les Miserables" and author Victor Hugo extends well beyond sharing the name of his arguably best-known novel.
The common elements between"Familia" and "Miserables" begin with a street altercation in a rough part of town quickly going south. The 21st-century aspects of this tale of a rogue cop who exceeds the limits of his not-so-ethical partners include a drone capturing the incident.
The strong dystopian notes of both films reflect modern poverty and the street justice that prevails. Th additional message in "Miserables" is the well-known 21st-century truth that a policeman no longer is your friend.
The Film Movement October 9, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 Austrian biopic "Egon Schiele: Death and The Maiden" is particularly special for many reasons. The first accolade relates to this DVD being released a couple of weeks before the centennial of a notable date in the life of early 20th-century Viennese artist/Bohemian Schiele.
Another basis for praise is that Film of the Month Club selection "Egon" represents two elements that make Movement spectacular. It is right at home with the other biopics of European figures in the Movement catalog; the bigger picture is that it is one of the compelling foreign films that makes Movement a leader in releasing such films in North America. The ongoing copying of reviews of Movement releases from Unreal TV 1.0 and new posts such as the one to the Movement section of this site illustrate this grand tradition.
The several 2017 Austrian Roma Gala awards generally speak to the quality of "Egon." The two Best Actress awards that Valerie Pachner wins for portraying Wally Neuzil, who is a muse/lover of Egon and is the model for the titular painting, reflects the quality of the performances by the entire cast.
The well-executed contrasting time shifts are another element that makes "Egon" effective. The narrative begins on a gray and dreary 1918 day in Vienna. Gerti finds her brother Egon and his wife Edith extraordinarily ill in his stereotypical run-down artist's garret. A doctor is sent for just ahead of the action moving back eight years.
The incredible contrast between the appearance and circumstances between Egon in 1910 and 1918 makes one want to find out what occurs in the intervening 8 years; writer/director Dieter Berner does an excellent job filling in that gap. We meet younger Egon shockingly painting a gleeful nude 16 year-old Gerti. The bad touching that this sibling revelry includes is completely playful.
The circumstances of the conversation introduce an odd element to Egon that she is too young to join him and his artist friends for an evening at a club at which naked performers stage tableaus. This outing introduces the audience to exotic (and erotic) Moa Mandu, who the first in the string of models that Eqon seduces into his studio and his bed.
The strongest sense of the Bohemian lifestyle soon follows as Egon, Gerti, Moa, and the artists with whom Egon has formed a cooperative go on an extended vacation at a rented home. Folks who have tried a comparable social experiment can relate to the jealousies and other resentments that ensue. This is not to mention the additional elements of siblings testing the limits of their modern relationship and Egon not realizing that being a kept man is a privilege, rather than a right.
The ongoing pattern of shifting between the 1918 present of the film and the past continues with the narrative returning to badly bed-ridden Egon. The audience learning the tragic news garners tremendous sympathy.
The story advances to Egon meeting the very independent and modern Wally, who truly is his match. This coincides with the rising fame of the latter, It also is the beginning of the end in many ways as The Great War becomes an increasing strong presence in the lives of our characters.
Seeing how the war affects Egon both provides fascinating insight into his character in both senses of that term and highlights the contrasts of the impact of the war among those with some form of elite status and ordinary boys who become cannon fodder. One aspect of this is the degree to which a man who can avoid many of the horrors of war decides to do his duty.
The war years also are among the most interesting in the personal life of Egon. By this time, the audience knows how the relationship between him and the sisters who obtain great entertainment from living across the street from his studio. This also puts a seemingly harsh attitude in 1918 in perspective,
The roughly final 15-minutes of "Schiele" occurs in 1918; the excellent instincts regarding this extend beyond allowing the audience to see how the principals get there and the bases for their principles. This alone makes the film particularly powerful; the epilogue really drive the point home.
The broadest perspective regarding all this that makes Egon a perfect subject for a film set in the 1910s is that those eight years of his life perfectly reflects the times. This includes seeing how a radical move by his father shapes his psyche for better and for worse.
Movement enhances the "Schiele" experience by choosing particularly wisely regarding the short film that accompanies every Club selection. The artistic sketches that comprise the animation in the 2017 "Nothing Happens" tell the tale of townfolks who gather for no apparent reason other than a desire to go along with the crowd.
Film Movement aptly chooses the beginning of the academic year to take us back to school; art school that is. The September 11, 2018 release of the documentary "Revolution: New Art for a New World" by BAFTA winning filmmaker Margy Kinmonth puts the century-long Russian Avant-Garde movement in the perspective of the Russian Revolution. The first aside is that the incredible cinematography of the grand Russian buildings and of the copious bright paintings SCREAMS for a Blu-ray release. The second aside is that the wonderful art that indirectly comes from the revolution includes the awesome full-length "Anastasia" cartoon that is worthy of its Blu-ray edition.
The final aside is that the "Revolution" release coincides with the Movement DVD of the reviewed "Between Land and Sea." That one documents the year in the life of an Irish surf town.
Kinmonth opens "Revolution" with archival footage of the coup accompanied by narration that explains the basis for the regime change. She soon combines her themes with an image of a famous photo of a literal corpse-lined street, Graphic images of equally literal skin-and-bones corpses is far more disturbing. An equally symbolic look at the black square paintings of Kazimir Malevich accompanied by exposition on them is a less distressing look at the art of the era,.
The copious talking heads who put all this is in perspective include the usual suspects in the form of art experts; we also hear from the descendants of the artists who create the studied work. The story of Chagall is especially interesting in that the revolution literally and figuratively allows this Jewish man previously denied broad freedom.
The underlying aspect of propaganda equally contributes to the entertainment and educational aspects of "Revolution." The aforementioned colorful works depict the new Utopia that the Bolsheviks assert as the new reality of the Russian people. Thus ultimately evolves to the better known blatantly propaganda posters that Kinmonth gives equal time.
A particularly fascinating aspect of this is the sculptures that Lenin commissions to honor revolutionary heroes. Special fun comes via learning both how Lenin adapts to a limitation and why these works literally fail the test of time.
We get an equally rare look at the master works that surprisingly pass the test of time thanks to archivists who recognize their value. The interesting broader perspective is that this shows that the Soviet Union shares the Nazi view that preserving art is a priority.
We also learn about the game changing aspect of Stalin coming to power. A spoiler is that last year's national hero is this year's Gulag resident; the overall theme is that the average Ivan is the new ideal. The special perspective this time comes from an elderly woman with a personal memory of an artist becoming a guest of the state.
The roughly 20 minutes of bonus footage consists of segments from the editing-room floor. These include separate coverage of women artists and avant-garde architecture.
The biggest picture (no pun intended) is that the subject of "Revolution" illustrates (pun intended) how the art of an era reflect the politics of the day. Kinmonth deserves thanks both for valuing art over commerce in presenting this and for succeeding so well in doing so.
'Scarlet Diva' Blu-ray: 2000 Autobiopic of Bourdain Girlfriend Asia Argento Includes Attempted Rape by Harvey Weinstein
The Film Movement Classics division of global cinema god Film Movement releasing the 2000 Italian autobiopic "Scarlet Diva" on Blu-ray on September 25, 2018 proves that movies with a strong message never get stale. This film by writer/director/producer/daughter of famed horror director Dario Argento/girlfriend of late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain Asia Argento aptly is right on the money regarding both the experience of women in the film industry and victims of Harvey Weinstein. The Blu-ray by Movement awesomely captures the bright lights, big city, and surreal aspects of this at times gritty masterwork.
This very meta movie has Argento playing highly sexed rising young actress Anna Battista. Anna both wants to expand her work to behind the camera and dislikes the exploitation of women in film that she considers to especially prevalent in her native land.
The opening scenes perfectly set the tone of "Diva;" Anna literally is getting royally fucked in her trailer on a movie set when a prod. ass. comes a knockin' despite that van a rockin'. The shock value of the film continues as the interruptus of the coitus prompts a frustrated Anna to try to hastily take things in her own hands.
This effort to finish herself off prompts the first of a few flashbacks to the childhood of Anna. In this case, it revolves around her mother essentially catching Anna with her hand in the cookie jar. We get additionally scenes of the disturbingly close relationship between Anna and her older brother. Freud literally enters the picture in the form of the real-life mother of Argento portraying her screen mama as a version of Asia.
The aforementioned Weinstein scene is upsetting independent of the well-publicized despicable acts of that lowlife. The two converge in the form of the depicted interaction in 2000 being very close to the reported tactics of Weinstein. It is equally fascinating that producer Barry Paar portrayor Joe Coleman (who videotapes an interview for the Classics release) looks and acts very much like Weinstein. Although this scene alone fully illustrates the spirit of the #MeToo Movement, Paar aggressively and shamefully trying for a second round on seeing Anna a few months after their first encounter truly drives home the point.
We also get "absolutely fabulous" interaction between Anna and her hard-partying good friend. Our introduction to this Patsy aptly comes when Anna discovers her hogtied naked and deserted for two days by her drug-dealer boyfriend. One spoiler is that it does not seem that any man is positively portrayed in the film; this includes the rock star boyfriend of Anna who leaves her in a bad state.
Even considering the Weinstein element, the brutal honesty is the most striking aspect of "Diva." Few of us who would get the chance to tell our life story on the silver screen would include the time that we did Special K during a photo shoot or our disastrous audition for a film that is destined for the bargain DVD bin at WalMart.
The copious extras extend beyond the twist-ending interview with Coleman. We get a candid 2000 interview with Argento and her 2000 and 2008 audio commentaries, We further get a "Making-of" feature. An insightful in-depth written essay on Argento and "Diva" rounds out this bounty. There is not doubt that all this will prompt declaring "show me the argento."