Breaking Glass Pictures and filmmaker Michael Fisher team up for the sugar daddy of films that embrace the Pride spirit regarding the 2018 Fire Island documentary "Cherry Grove Stories." Queer as folk cinephiles and other friends of Dorothy who missed this movie on the pink film-festival circuit can get it on DVD.
The broadest relatable bit of this film is the recognition that Pride is about much more than hairless anorexic 18 year-olds only wearing Speedos and roller blades and hirsute far-from-anorexic middle-age men in drag that makes clownesque Mimi from "The Drew Carey Show" look like a natural beauty. Pride primarily is about community and showing that guys who connect with Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now are just as respectable as breeders.
A similar note that is even more in tune with the theme of "Cherry" is it evoking memories of hearing stories of regulars at JRs Bar in Washington, DC fully toning it down to watch "The Golden Girls" on the bar TV every Saturday night. To those guys at that time, friends as flawed as you in their own way somehow forming a family presents an ideal that endures 30 years later.
A related tale of the capital city is even the '90s being a time that hearing your named called out in a gay bar can cause angst, especially when the performers provide entertainment that prompts recent crackdowns. The rest of that story that involves a surprising impromptu high-school reunion is not fit for this family friendlish forum.
The following YouTube clip of the "Cherry" trailer barely scratches the surface as to the copious vintage clips and titular boys-to-men tales by the guys who enjoyed the heyday of the scene.
The opening scenes consist of the scores of talking heads, who share the dates of their first trip to Cherry Grove. These begin in the post-war years and span to the recent past.
Our panel of experts also speculate about the origins of the name of the island; one theory is that pirates would set fires to attract prey. Although there does not seem to be definite proof of buccaneers ever calling the island home, it is indisputable that a certain form of pirate favors that locale and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
The titular lore closely reflects societal attitudes toward gay men. The early days especially were a period of liberation during which the guys could more easily socialize, dance together, and do everything else that gay men do together mostly free of legal repression and almost universal disapproval of friends, family, and employers. This is akin to the next generation who could enjoy the community and the celebration of the early days of Pride parades. The classic Lisa Simpson quote "we are used to it" shows that all of us have come a long way, Baby,
Speaking of repression, the folks who were there tell of the distressing ways in which the real world invaded one of the few places that men could openly express their friendship (with or without benefits), love. and lust for each other. Milder forms of this included quickly having to change to a dance partner of the opposite sex when the cops came by.
Worse tactics relate to an aspect of Cherry Grove that be considered the best of times and the worst of times. Men who wanted to hook up in the pre-Grindr era would cruise the Meat Rack just off the beach. (Tales of the lesbian equivalent the Doughnut Rack seem to merely be rural legends.) That cruising area dying off in the Internet Age is one of the many examples of Cherry Grove reflecting the times.
The cops would go beyond well-orchestrated raids. They would handcuff the arrested man (some of whom presumably still were in various states of undress) by the dock for early risers to see. The humiliation would continue with publishing the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of theses boy who just wanted to have fun in the newspaper in an effort to ruin their personal and professional lives.
On a lighter note, an amusing story that involves the perspective of two persons with a role in a "blocking" incident at the Meat Rack is a "Cherry" highlight. This one comes very close to literally being a case of biting the hand that feeds you.
The award for best story essentially involves the raconteur discussing essentially having a monkey whom he shocks on his back. The rest of the story involves a form of trauma and drama that is typical of most gay friendships. The pattern is offense provided, offense taken, and then adequately forgiving to maintain the relationship but never forgetting.
The relate bigger picture is that this labor of love by Fisher helps ensure that this important aspect of gay history never will be forgotten.
A pink film-festival Q & A with Fisher is a highlight of the always special Breaking bonus features. This includes discussing the very apt genesis of the project.
Olive Film once again simultaneously lives up to its guiding principle "cinema lives here" and proves that we're not worthy with the separate Blu-ray and DVDs releases of two cult classics on June 25, 2019. The 1965 beach-musical "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" is the topic du jour.
The equally good (and equally they don't make 'em like that anymore) occult thriller "The Believers" (1987) is a topic for early next week. Blu-ray does films justice, but the bright and sunny musical "Bikini" particularly looks and sounds spectacular in that format.
Doing "Bikini" any justice at all (pun intended) requires much more space than this forum can provide. Suffice it to so that it has every element (and more) of the beach movies of the '60s. You cannot help but feel good while watching it. This is not to mention the star-studded cast of A- and B-Listers that rivals the ensemble of the 1963 "Cannonball Run" style comedy "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."
Comparing "Bikini" to an episode of the wonderfully, zany, madcap kidcom "The Monkees" of the same era provides additional context. Both shows feature the nicest kids in town enjoying the sun and surf of California as they rock out at the drop of a hat while contending with comical villains and square adults. Yes, they are too busy singing to put anybody down.
The closest modern equivalent is the way-cool movie-within-a-movie "Wet Side Story" that is a major element in the Disney Channel "Teen Beach Movie" franchise starring "Austin and Ally" star/real-life rocker Ross Lynch. The inexcusable delay in releasing the long-promised "Teen Beach Movie 3" is disappointing.,
Veteran beach movie and "Bewitched" director (as well as real-life husband of "Bewitched" star Elizabeth Montgomery) William Asher provides "Stuffed" additional '60scom cred. Further, "Stuffed" centering around the work of Tahitian witch doctor Bwana (Buster Keaton) is only one way that Asher pays homage to his day job. The other connection is too awesome to spoil.
We further get "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" star Dwayne Hickman keeping the TV Land spirit alive. The occasions on which Hickman, as literal man in the gray flannel suit Ricky, breaks the fourth wall evokes wonderful memories of "Gillis."
Beach-movie goddess Annette Funicello rounds out our top three as virtuous beach bunny Dee Dee. This character supports the theory that dames ain't nothin' but trouble.
Our story begins with Dee Dee beau Frankie (Frankie Avalon) serving naval reserve duty in Tahiti; his getting restless with a native girl triggers thoughts that the girl back home may conclude that what is good for the goose may be worth a gander.
The island girl then brings Frankie to Bwana; the two men strike a not-so-gentlemanly deal whereby Bwana will provide the titular bikini, babe Casandra with which to stuff it as a decoy for the Moondoggies back in Cali, and a deep undercover spy to both keep tabs on Dee Dee and to serve as a rooster blocker. The other side of the bargain is that Frankie makes a daily payment for the rendered services.
Some of the rest of the story is that Ricky and madman Peachy Keane (Mickey Rooney) make the scene in the quest to find the girl and the boy next door to be the wholesome image of a motorcycle company. This honor goes to the couple that wins a motorcycle race. Their competition includes reformed biker Eric Von Zipper (beach-movie veteran Harvey Lembeck), who zeros in on Casandra as the one whom he wants.
Hilarity ensues as Ricky pursues Dee Dee, the beach boys (including Bonehead) woo Casandra, and Von Zipper and his gang enact their evil scheme.
All of this culminates in the titular contest with strong elements of the cartoon of the era "The Wacky Races." Dirty tricks galore keep the fun going. This leads to the related bestowing of the modeling contract and the right boy getting the girl. One should keep in mind that Frankie getting Annette is not set in stone.
The new teencom "Extracurricular Activities," which hit Blu-ray, DVD and VOD on June 4, shows that the spirit of mainstream '80s comedy at least is not totally extinguished. The bigger picture (no pun intended) is that people of all ages DESPERATELY need a fun and silly summer movie like this in this worst of times that lack any sense of the best of time.
The following YouTube clip of an "Activities' trailer validates that if you only see one comedy about a boy-next-door hitman this year you should see this one.
Colin Ford, who looks like a typical Disney Channel tweencom star and has amassed 52 IMDb credicts in his 17-year career, is perfectly cast as perfect teen Reagan Collins.
Outwardly, Reagan is an honors student who adequately works and plays well with others. His dark side consists of arranging fatal accidents for particularly onerous parents of his classmates. The two-birds-one-stone principle of this for-profit enterprise is that the offsprings are rid of a toxic 'rent and Reagan earns more for a less than an hour of work than he would bank flipping burgers for a year,
The especially awesome aspects of this concept extend well beyond the peers of Reagan condoning his titular activity and virtually every adult aptly being clueless regarding this "hobby." Reagan (sometimes literally) goes the extra mile to make his justice poetic, This begins with the opening scenes of the despicable parents who fat shame their "chunky" daughter and also are cruel to her gay brother driving their Hummer with a "SIX MPG" license plate off a mountain road as a calm Reagan rides past in his family car.
A statistically improbable "accidental" death of the father of another classmate of Reagan triggers the spidey sense of comically obsessed father of a Reagan classmate/police detective Cliff Dawkins. Extra humor comes courtesy of Dawkins milking beyond dry his apparently sole professional success in his relatively long career.
The fun fully begins as Dawkins futilely tries to connect a figurative smoking gun to Reagan, who deftly not only evades his prey but repeatedly sets him up to make himself look foolish. This is on top of the bulls eye being on Reagan not slowing down his work as a contractor.
The climax begins to build as Dawkins thinks that he has an ally in cheerleader/Reagan friend (perhaps with benefits) Mary Alice. Discovering the horse that Mary Alice has in the race is a film highlight.
The fun fully begins when a completely unhinged Dawkins literally takes the law into his own hands. This only proves that some people are too stupid to live.
The amusing dark-humor concept, strong performance by Ford, and good jobs by his more stock-character portraying cast mates alone provides reasons to add "Activities" to your home-video collection. The highly relatable dynamics are the icing on the cake.
Adults will enjoy the stereotypical (but not caricature) teens and the mostly buffoonish (and universally clueless) parents and teachers. Kids will love the highly embarrassing grown-ups and should see themselves in the teens. This evokes thoughts of Matt Stone and Trey Parker stating in the early days of their creation "South Park" that they at one time or another were the fat kid, the poor kid, the Jewish kid, etc.
The two lessons from all this are to never embarrass your kids and to get while the getting is good as to rare genuinely funny modern films such as "Activities."
Warner Archive's recent DVD release of the 23-episode third and final season of the 1969 - 1972 sitcom "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" allows completing a collection of this sweet and gentle show. Prior reviews offer a recap of the first season and musings on the second season.
One warning regarding this set is that regular references to "Mr. Eddie's Father" do not amuse casual fans nearly as much as it entertains true devotees.
This show about "nothing" predates "Seinfeld" by roughly 20 years and merely tells the tales of youngish widowed dad Tom Corbett, played by Bill Bixby, and his elementary-school aged son Eddie, played by Brandon Cruz. Although the first season places a great deal of emphasis on the titular courtship, the focus shifts almost entirely to the "father" aspect by the third season.
Another change is that the "musical interlude" gimmick of earlier seasons is abandoned. A hypothetical example of this is a scene in which Tom asks Eddie to take dirty dinner dishes into the kitchen might prompt audio of the singer of the memorable theme song singing "have to clear the table."
Much of the appeal of "Father" relates to the incredible chemistry between Bixby and Cruz; they truly seem like a loving father and son. Additionally, Eddie comes across as a typical kid, rather than a sickly sweet or overly sarcastic sitcom brat.
Further many of us whose parents consider their jobs done if they keep us fed, clothed, and educated enjoy seeing the extent to which Tom cares for Eddie.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of two Special K cereal commercials that Bixby and Cruz filmed in character provides an excellent sense of the above-described vibe of their show.
The opening and closing credits include new sincere heart-to-heart talks that also often occur during the episodes themselves; Tom strikes a good balance between spending time with Eddie without being a helicopter parent and gives Eddie's needs and feelings far more consideration when making major (and minor) life decisions than most parents.
The season premiere is a prime example of the tone and "nothingness" of "Father." It involves Tom's recent enrollment in an art class inspiring Eddie to take up that hobby.
The "com" related to that "sit" comes in the form of Tom explaining to Eddie about the propriety of drawing a naked model leading to Eddie innocently paying a female classmate a quarter to pose nude for him; the jokes regarding that level of compensation for that service are hilarious.
Another episode from early in the season is a real treat in that it provides a look at the "mod" apartment of Tom's best friend/co-worker "Uncle" Norman Tinker. A cool aspect of this character is that "Father" producer James Komack of "Welcome Back Kotter" and "Chico and the Man" plays Norman.
Tom and Eddie having an inexplicable sleepover at that abode has Tom and Norman discussing the sense of the laid-back and free-spirited Norman of a need to act more mature. The ultimate reason for these thoughts provides a nice ending for this tale.
This early '70s-era self-examination is also a theme in which Tom hires a long-time friend, played by Pat Harrington, Jr. of "One Day at a Time," to write an article for the Sunday newspaper magazine of which Tom is the managing editor. Said friend's tales of adventures traveling the world inspire Tom and Eddie to consider that life.
Another of many episodes with a special guest star has the uber-cool Sammy Davis, Jr. playing a most heinously uncool actuary who is a weekend guest at the Corbett home. Seeing one of that character's comically neurotic precautions contribute to a genuine peril is hilarious.
The series finale goes a step further by having the married-couple comedy team of Jerry Stiller of "Seinfeld" and Anne Meara respectively play an owner and employee of a full-service telephone answering machine service. It is not believed that this apparent pilot for a spin-off ever leads to anything.
A cute scene in that episode has Tom caution Eddie about approaching an unfamiliar dog; this evokes thoughts about regularly petting domesticated wolves whom people leave tied up outside Starbucks.
Another episode requires mention in that it is both surprisingly inconsistent with the typical tone of "Father" but is consistent with the current trend of parents acting assertively on behalf of their children regardless of the impact on others.
This "controversial" offering has Eddie's horribly off-key saxophone practices greatly annoying the Corbetts' admittedly pompous upstairs neighbor. Said fellow apartment-building dweller initially comes downstairs to complain during said practice and ultimately purposefully raises a ruckus at 2:00 a.m.
It is very surprising that the usually reasonable and congenial Tom continues to have Eddie practice in the evening, rather than merely finding him an alternative rehearsal space. The better news is that this sour note is the only one in the 73 episodes in this series.
The finale to this series of reviews on "Father" is that it is an amusing show that nicely portrays an ideal (but very achievable) father-son relationship. The conservative use of a laugh track is another nice touch.
'The Courtship of Eddie's Father:' 1963 Version of 'The Bachelor (Father)' Dynamite Dad's Day Donation DVD
Staying up past my bedtime to watch the DVD of the 1963 Vincent Minnelli, Liza "The Other Lucille" Minnelli's father, film "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" was consistent with this genuinely delightful film centered around eight-year old Ron "Opie" Howard.
With all due sympathy to his fans and family, giggling this morning on learning that there was a race car driver named Dick Trickle also was in the spirit of the wonderful humor in "Father."
The simple plot of "Father" was that Howard's titular character Eddie wanted his very recently widowed pop Tom Corbett, played by Glenn Ford, to remarry so that Tom would be happy. The Bobby Bradyesque problem was that Eddie did not want a step-mother.
Watching the interaction between Ford and Howard evoked thoughts of Howard's incredible talent for interacting with his screen sires. The relationship between Tom and Eddie was very similar to that of Opie and his widowed dad Andy Taylor on "The Andy Griffith Show." The "Father" relationship also had shades of the chats between Howard as Richie Cunningham and his father Howard on the early seasons of the '50s-based '70s sitcom "Happy Days."
This terrific element of Howard's character stole the show. I laughed out loud when he tentatively told his father his theory that a woman's bust size determined her character. Howard pointed out that the evil women in comic books always had large busts and slanty eyes. This became a hilarious recurring theme.
A similar conversation later in the film revolved around Howard wanting to use a tape measure to determine the dimensions of one of the bachelorettes.
This aspect of "Father" and the film's overall awesomeness prompted a rare direct endorsement of buying this film as a Father's Day gift for the special male parental figure in your life.
"Father" is noteworthy as well for being an early example of a critically and commercially successful film that spawned a successful sitcom of the same name. Other examples include "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" and "M*A*S*H."
Complete candor requires confessing limited knowledge of the "Father" sitcom. The only reason for this was that WLVI Channel 56 in Boston ran it against all-time favorites on WSBK Channel 38 in the dark ages before even VCRs. I loved the episodes that I watched and looked forward to the epilog "man-to-man" walk on the beach scenes between the beyond awesome Bill Bixby and his TV son Brandon Cruz when I flipped to Channel 56 to watch "Father" film co-star Shirley Jones in "The Partridge Family."
The large difference between the "sleep out" housekeeper character Mrs. Livingston in the film and the series was one distinction. Additionally, Tom went from being a program manager at a radio station to being a magazine executive. Seeing the genuinely good guy cub reporter Tim O'Hara from "My Favorite Martian" stay in journalism was nice.
Jones played the first bachelorette in the "bachelor" competition in "Father." She was a blonde grass widow who lived across the hall from fils' et pere's envy-worthy Manhattan apartment. Jones' character Elizabeth was a good friend of the deceased Mrs. Corbett and a second mother to Eddie. Seeing Shirley Partridge nurse and counsel Opie Taylor was a real treat.
The wonderfully funny Stella Stevens played the sweet but dim redhead beauty contest loser Dollye Daly whom Howard maced on at an arcade. This country girl new to the big city was a genuine hoot.
Bachelorette number three was the frontrunner. Brunette sophsticate Dina Merrill played the Holly Golightly type character Rita Behrens. Behrens was a "chic designer" who enjoyed the glamour of New York nightlife with the elder Corbett and had a yappy poodle rather than a wonderfully wild orange tabby cat.
The feel of "Breakfast at Tiffanys," which was released two years before "Father," extended beyond the Golightly like character. Both films had the wonderful feel of live theater, revolved around the relatively glamorous life of New York City's upper-middle class in the early '60s, and had perfectly executed very revealing dramatic scenes at the end. (I still do not know if George Peppard or the cat prompted Golightly's transformation at the end of "Tiffanys.")
The cautionary note regarding "Tiffanys" is that, pop songs aside, recalling that you "kinda" liked any film does not provide a solid basis for a lasting relationship any more than a common fondness for pina coladas and getting caught in the rain but not being into yoga.
As promised in the review of the Warner Archive DVD release of the truly delightful 1963 feature film "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," I am sharing my thoughts on the 1969-70 first season of the television series of the same name.
A truly awesome part of "Father" S1 is that it meets the criteria that I established when beginning collecting DVDs of television shows in 2006. "Father" is a good but lightly syndicated show from my childhood, and the DVD set is fairly priced.
Watching the first six of the 26 episodes in the set made me wish that I had chosen reruns of that series on WLVI Channel 56 in Boston over competing fare on WSBK Channel 38 more frequently in the dark days before even VCRs.
The simple premise behind the film and television series is that widower Tom Corbett is doing an awesome job raising his young son Eddie, and the two are engaged in a ongoing search to find Tom a new wife.
The series pilot is a nice transition from the film in that both incarnations of the Corbetts' story have Eddie macing on an aspiring actress named Dollye Daly as a "wife" candidate. Eddie does so on a father-son outing to an arcade in the movie and on a father-son movie studio tour in the pilot.
It seems that series producer and co-star James Komack of "Welcome Back Kotter" and "Chico and the Man" fame chose that episode as the pilot to help attract fans of the movie. A later episode regarding Eddie's really rough first few days in the first grade seems to be a more natural pilot, especially considering that Tom dates Eddie's teacher in an early offering.
The conflict in the episodes regarding a search for the mother revolve around the effect of the romantic relationship on Eddie. For example, Tom dating the teacher gets Eddie branded "Teacher's pet."
The third episode is particularly memorable both for having Diana Muldaur play an absolutely fabulous model who is light years away from Muldaur's Dr. Pulaski character from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" in terms of looks and personality. Seeing the childless "It Girl" try to care for a sick Eddie is hilarious.
"Father" is also a perfect show for its era in which networks were transitioning from supernatural, sci-fi, and rural shows to more realistic fare. There are undertones of understated sexual content, including Eddie not understanding why his father cannot pollinate childless housekeeper Mrs. Livingston in the same manner as bees pollinate flowers, and Bixby is a perfect mix of a Tim O'Haraesque of "My Favorite Marian" overwhelmed straight man and a father who truly knows best.
The show is further notable for having some of the more creative aspects of broadcast network sitcoms; the theme song's singer provides a one-man off-screen Greek chorus in terms of commenting on the action in the episode. Examples include the chanteur singing "bless you" one time that Tom sneezes and "remember your son is in the other room" when Tom begins to escort a woman into Tom's bedroom merely to have a private conversation.
Further, episodes begin and end with Tom and Eddie having heart-to-heart talks while having a great time doing things such as horsing around on the beach, enjoying fun-park rides, or pedaling a two-person bicycle. The sad part for many of us is that those conversations and activities are just as fantastical as harboring a martian who is stranded on earth.
Reviewing the second season of the early '70s sitcom, which is based on the film of the same name, "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" for a post on the opening day of "Man of Steel" and the Friday before Father's Day is a no-brainer that even Bizarro would think of.
The parenting skills of "Father's" Tom Corbett, played by the truly awesome Bill Bixby, both earn him the title of Television Father of the 20th Century and demonstrate that son Eddie considering him a superhero is justified.
I cannot imagine any son not wanting a dad who is so devoted to him that he gets restless on the rare Saturday that they are not together and so patient that he does not prod or get angry when he knows that his offspring is up to some form of mischief. The well-known dialogues in which Tom truly listens to Eddie and guides him with complete honesty and absolutely no condescension is amazing.
Those of us who had averaged-sized rooms and shared a bathroom down the hall with at least one sibling growing up also envy Eddie's huge bedroom with a terrace and a private ensuite bathroom.
In the interest of brevity and avoiding repetition, readers who are interested in learning more about the "Father" film and the first season of the "Father" sitcom are asked to please read this site's reviews of that early Ronnie Howard movie and those episodes. The spoiler alert is that both of those productions are just as good as the second season that is being reviewed here.
The first few episodes of the second season of this series about a widowed magazine executive raising his young son with the help of his full-time, but "sleep-out," housekeeper Mrs. Livingston and his wonderfully sweet but slightly ditzy secretary Tina indicate that the focus has shifted from the titular courtship to the antics of the titular Eddie. This reflects that Eddie portrayor Brandon Cruz is a little older and can assume a slightly larger role in the series.
The season premiere revolves around Eddie teaming up with "Uncle Norman," who is a quasi-parental figure but is essentially Roger Healey to "I Dream of Jeannie's" Tony Nelson, to make a home movie as an "unbirthday" present for Tom. Eddie's logic is that people expect presents on their birthday and that surprising them with a gift on a random date shows that you really love them.
The subdued hilarity that ensues involves the subterfuge related to Eddie and Norman shooting the film without Tom finding out; a scene in which Tina frantically looks to see where Norman and Eddie are hiding when Tom unexpectedly arrives on the scene is hilarious.
The second episode of the season is truer to the show's concept in that it involves Eddie's nemesis turned buddy Joey, played by series semi-regular Jodie Foster, preparing to run away because her widowed father is planning to remarry. Joey feels that that marriage would upset her deceased mother.
Bill Bixby does his usual outstanding job reacting to the indications that Eddie is up to something and in being a model dad in counseling Joey. This situation also requires that Tom and Eddie actively think about feelings associated with the possibility that Tom will remarry at some point. His "Super Dad" ethics will ensure that said second wife will be a good mother for Eddie.
Only one of the first eight episodes in "Father's" second season involve the titular courtship. Eddie's friendship with caring but self-absorbed socialite neighbor Valerie Bessinger, played by "The Bob Newhart Show's" Suzanne Pleshette, leads to Valerie and Tom seriously dating.
A surprising line in which Tom states in reference to Valerie's gardening that she is good at making certain things grow is out of character for Tom and is one of the series' rare double entendres. One theory regarding this is that it is designed to show that this romance is so serious that it prompts Tom to act like a true adult.
The episode is special as well because the contrast between Tom's respectable and "old-fashioned" lifestyle and Valerie's more free-spirited and modern outlook call attention to Tom's commitment to "traditional family values" without the narrow-mindedness that often accompanies that way of living. Tom really does stand for "truth, justice, and the American way."
These early episodes further reinforce Tom's superhero qualities by having him face some tough foes. Any Superman fan knows that the tales of this Kryptonian would not be exciting if he could easily defeat every obstacle.
Early season two challenges include Tom having to decide whether to take an important business trip or see Eddie in his first ever school play, achieving the proper balance between firmness and leniency regarding Eddie shamelessly procrastinating on a school project, and making a foster son feel welcome without making Eddie jealous.
As trivial as these plots may seem, it is important to understand that making Eddie unhappy is almost as powerful as a chunk o' kryptonite to the heart for devoted dad Tom.
The bottom line is that "Father" shows what a father-son relationship can be if a former properly expresses the love that he feels toward the latter.
The Icarus Films May 14, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 period-piece comedy "Return of the Hero" fills the void left by Hollywood no longer producing amusing and clever (or at least adequately creative) summer movies. Subtitles aside, "Hero" is so good that you will not even want to look at your phone or other devices while watching it.
Another awesome aspect of "Hero" is that it shows that writer/director Laurent Tirard is more than a un trick cheval regarding the even more delightful (reviewed) "Nicholas on Holiday" (nee "Petit Nicholas") about the family summer vacation of the titular French school boy. Other "Hero" cred. relates to Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin delivering another award-worthy performance as the titular soldier who is not at Waterloo when Napoleon did surrender.
This presumably shot-on-location beautiful film begins in 1809 Burgundy. Captaine Charles-Gregoire Neuville seemingly employs his entire personal staff in preparation for froggy goin' a courtin'. The object of his affection is sweet and innocent girl next door Pauline. She lives on a lavish estate with her adoring parents and her less sweet and innocent older sister Elisabeth (Melanie Laurent).
Neuville seals a chaste deal with Pauline just ahead of being called on to defend emperor and country. Like many soldiers before and since, Neuville makes an empty promise to faithfully correspond with Pauline.
A combination of motives prompt Elisabeth to forge letters from Neuville to Pauline; the responses to that correspondence shows Elisabeth that her little sister is all grown up.
In true farce/classic sitcom style, the scheme of Elisabeth gets out of hand. Circumstances and her creativity result in increasing elaborate and contrived fictional adventures of Neuville that enrapture both Pauline and the rest of the local elite.
All goes well until the inevitable titular appearance of a filthy and disgraced Neuville in 1812; Elisabeth being the only one to initially know that that boy is back in town helps move the story forward; this plot thickens on Neuville returning after a brief absence and presenting himself as the man in the aforementioned letters. His objectives include wooing a now-married with children Pauline.
Dujardin and Laurent wonderfully play off each other as she must watch him make fools out of those nearest and dearest to her. Neuville further shows that he is no gentleman in using the vulnerability of Elisabeth for his own fun and profit,
One of many notable moments involves Elisabeth seeming to get the upper-hand on her frienemy. The manner in which Neuville turns that tactic around to his advantage proves that you cannot con a con man.
The aptly surprising climax that begins with a desperate act leads to a final scene that is very true to the spirit of the film and that is one of the best endings in any film ever. This lesson this time is that we all remain true to our nature.
The crystal-clear video and audio of the Mill Creek Entertainment June 4, 2019 B;u-ray release of thje 1990 Dana Carvey comedy "Opportunity Knocks" is a perfect addition to the MCE "I Heart 90s" series" that is a companion to the MCE "Retro VHS" DVD and Blu-ray releases. Other June 4 "90s" releases include the recently reviewed Paul Shore comedy "Jury Duty" and the soon-to-be-reviewed Alicia Silverstone action-adventure comedy "Excess Baggage."
Just as "Duty" showcases the weasel persona of Shore, "Opportunity" highlights the impish charm of Carvey. The film providing a chance for Carvey to perform his well-known George HW Bush impression is highly predictable.
The good news regarding both "Duty" and "Opportunity" is that they put entertaining spins on decent tried-and-trued comic concepts. The better news regarding "Opportunity" is that Carvey is extremely likable.
The figurative 25-words-or-less premise of "Opportunity" is that Carvey plays small-time con-man Eddie Farrell, whose quasi-youthful exuberance earns him both the wrath of a mobster and a belief that Eddie owes that dangerous criminal a great deal of money. In true teencom tradition, this requires that Eddie lay low until the heat is off. His literal insider information that the owner of a luxurious house is on an extended trip.
Eddie soon makes himself at home until the mother of the homeowner pays a surprise visit. This leads to a wacky misunderstanding in the form of Mom (a.k.a. Mona of Milt and Mona) assuming that Eddie is housesitter Jonathan Albertson. The rest of the story is that Albertson is a business whiz kid who is the former college roommate of the homeowner.
The first film homage is to the 1983 Eddie Murphy comedy "Trading Places." The opening scenes in "Opportunity" are of Eddie pulling off the same low level con as the Murphy character. The similarities continue with both characters soon living at least some semblance of the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
The other homage is more central to "Opportunity." Ala the Tom Hanks character in the 1988 classic "Big," Carvey is a man-child learning to play with the grown-ups. The similarities continue with Robert Loggia playing the big-hearted mentor to the quirky guy with the unique perspective, In this case, Loggia is bathroom hand-dryer king Milt,
Milt brings potential son-in-law (no relation (pun intended) to the Shore film of the same name) in the company and his heart. Of course, a pivotal scene involves Eddie bringing the dryer company executives out of their comfort zone and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
It is equally predictable that nooses start to tighten in on Eddie on both sides. The mob boss tracks him down just as he starts to think that he can permanently enjoy his new life. This pressures Eddie to massively betray the trust of his new family just ahead of the exposure of his scam.
The fact that everyone is wiser and happier and order is restored to the universe in the end is especially appealing in our wildly unpredictably dystopian times. This is so awesome that it alone warrants buying the Blu-ray.
The Lionsgate June 11, 2019 separate DVD & BD release of S6 (a.k.a. "To the Max") of the Netflix women behind bars dramedy "Orange is the New Black" provides a good chance to watch this reformatting of this multi-Emmy winning series from the beginning, It additionally is a good chance to see all the action ahead of the July 27, 2019 release of the S7 episodes.
Also. aside from not having to worry about Netflix dropping episodes from its service, the enhanced BD images look and sound far better than the streaming versions. This is not to mention the awesome home-video special features that include "Litchfield to the Max" and a gag reel.
The following YouTube clip of the official S6 trailer introduces many of the copious primary themes of the never-a-dull-minute 13 episodes. It also shows why this series warrants comparison to the former Showtime boys behind bars dramedy "Oz."
Our (mostly) season-long story arcs begin one week after the quelling of the S5 riot. Our girls in orange aptly find that they are not in Oz anymore. This involves them facing the challenge of adapting or perishing in their new environments,
Said different worlds from the ones from which they come are the C, D, and "Florida" cell blocks at their new home. The Jets versus the Sharks mentality as to C & D begins with the C Block girls initially getting all the relatively good perks and privileges while the D girls are the low women on the totem pole.
The "Florida" residents mostly are the older inmates and include others whose mental states are adequately impaired to get them a spot in this coveted area. The rubs as to this include that some outsiders are willing to kill to create a vacancy in the Sunshine State. "Orange" fans should not be surprised to learn that popular character Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren ends up in Florida and constantly irks the Golden Girls.
A long-standing violent sibling rivalry between C and D block residents Carol and Barbara (Mackenzie Phillips) brings the aforementioned simmering bad blood to a boil. Flashback scenes of the joint crime that gets the sisters labelled "The Little Debbie Killers" and that lands them in the joint are season highlights. They also shine in all their ruthlessly violent interaction and hilarious dispute regarding an incident at a restaurant where they both worked during high school.
Other drama relates to investigations and related proceedings as to holding prisoners culpable for their actions during the riot and for holding folks on the other side of the bars accountable for what they did and did not do during those events. This is not to mention a hilarious run for the border by one inmate who gets away with a little help from her friend,
One spoiler is that the search for closure regarding the riot is just as likely to involve being satisfied with a convenient truth as it is to strive to meet the ideal of truth, justice, and the American way.
This is not to mention central "Orange" character Piper Chapman contending with the absence of her fellow inmate/fiancee Alex "Boss" Vause, addict convict Nikki facing renewed Daddy issues, and the guards creating a fantasy league that involves proportionately profiting from convict misbehavior of various degrees of seriousness.
All of this occurs in the context of season-finale kickball tournament that sets the stage for an epic rumble between the C and the D block inmates. In true "Orange" style, this does not occur as expected.
All of this amounts to "Orange" further fulfilling the theatrical ideal by leaving the audience wanting more; fortunately, S7 provides the payoff regarding that.
The recent Dekkoo Films DVD release of the 2019 surreal drama "How to Get From Here to There" shows that a shoestring budget movie that blends a gay-theme, scifi, and an existential crisis can succeed.
IMDb states it best in describing this largely silent movie starring filmmaker Kevin James Thornton as follows. "Upon the death of his mother, a gay man in blue collar America returns to his childhood home. There he discovers a cardboard time machine that he made when he was a boy. As he uses it to get glimpses of his future, he ponders the weight of his life's choices."
The following YouTube clip of a "There" trailer highlights the art-house creativity of the film.
Our main man, only known as Commander, essentially is rattling around in the aforementioned abode in the aftermath of the aforementioned death of his mother. The despair that extends beyond his immediate loss is written all over his face.
This leads to pulling out the aforementioned Calvin and Hobbes caliber time machine to see what the future holds. The voice in the head of Commander is that of the Queen of the Continuum. The obstacles include a shadowy menace that is threatening their power supply.
This journey leads to an "its complicated" relationship with Future Boy. The lesson here is that even connecting with someone who may be Mr. Right is tough enough, the emotional baggage that we being to that (or any) relationship makes us wonder how anyone manages to get beyond the honeymoon stage. Calvin and Hobbes expresses this well by stating that finding someone whom you can tolerate is a very rare and that person being able to stomach you is almost impossible.
All of this concludes with our Major Tom not being much older but being much wise at the end of "There,"
As is the case regarding most diversions into Blogland, an upsetting situation is prompting an op-ed post. Distress regarding a COMPLETELY unfounded “save your ass” claim of racism has created your not-so-humble reviewer great angst. The fact that many readers likely already are calling “nonsense” regarding my assertion of innocence proved my point.
This post is intended to be the first in a series on this topic. The primary of several main themes as to this ticking A bomb is to remind readers that there is your side, my side, and the truth.
Another theme, which is an element of a recent post on the.documentary “billion dollar Bully” about the alleged horrific sales techniques of Yelp, is that ubiquitous access to social media puts s smoking gun in the hands of everyone, Fear of intense (and possibly violent) public backlash is behind choosing words in this post VERY carefully. Fear of legal action by the retailer at issue is behind not naming any names.
Our story begins with my being frustrated about a matter related to the store. A black guy, with whom I had very friendly prior interaction, happened to be the manager on duty. I left the store much less annoyed and called the white general manager, with whom I also had a good relationship, on his cell phone at his invitation during his conversation with the black manager while I was in the store.
My conversation with the general manage occurred in the store parking lot; it was a hot day, and the general manager told me to bring my phone in the store so that he could tell the assistant manager on duty to give me a soda of my choice, The general manager ended up conveying that to another employee.
I had the soda in hand and was ready to happily walk out of the store when the assistant manager told me that he knew that the general manager had offered me the soda but that that was against store policy and that I would have to pay for this $2 soda, which I easily could have afforded. I tossed that sealed 20-ounce plastic bottle in a stack of shopping baskets a few inches from me and stormed out without saying a word.
I called the general manager the next day about cashing in on the store promotion at the heart of all this. I was shocked to hear that the assistant manager had reported that I was racist and that I committed the violent act of throwing the soda at him. I also was told that the employees backed up that story. Objectively, this was a ploy by the assistant manager to avoid discipline both for overriding his boss and for not making a reasonable $2 concession to a customer.
The general manager added that he was not present for the incident but was banning me based on the report; this is despite his having spoken to me at the time and being the one to send me back in the store.
Aside from the sting of any false accusation, I remain very upset about being labeled in a very toxic manner. I hardly am a civil-rights activist but race has NEVER been an issue for me.
Contrasting experiences further set the foundation for this series of posts. I grew up in a nice neighborhood of a small northern New England city and was a kid for whom prep school was “kid jail.”
A black inner-city kid, who did go on to be an NBA star, in my dorm used to greet me in the hall with what I heard as “Holmes.” I was a smart (but not woke) kid and thought that he was calling me Sherlock.
After a few months of these exchanges, I asked the guy about this. He heartily laughed and said that he had been calling me “homes.” He further explained the meaning of the term. I started calling him homes after that.
I fully expected that this guy told all his buddies back home about the stupid little white preppie in his dorm.
Conversely, a white classmate was best friends with another inner-city black guy, who now coaches basketball on the college level. The white guy regularly would put a white pillow case on his head and pretend to threaten the black guy, who outwardly laughed at this, Even at 15, I knew that this was very wrong despite the context. I did not intervene but never laughed and always walked away when these antics began.
Fast-forwarding 15 years, I was working in a fully integrated office in which all of us got along exceptionally well, The two black women who were the managers were the best bosses I ever had.
One of the black guys CONSTANTLY joked about being black. This included a broad comedy routine on the many occasions on which he brought fried chicken.
Even the two managers took public transportation to and from work. The black guy ALWAYS took cabs. Purely out of curiosity, I asked him about that one day.
The guy told me all of the things that he disliked about the bus. Reasoning that he and I were friends who knew each other fairly well and that he CONSTANTLY joked about being black, I JOKINGLY responded that it also is unpleasant to have to ride in the back of the bus.
The guy immediately got very upset. I admittedly feared for my job but equally did (and still do) felt extremely sad that I hurt my friend. Fortunately, the guy never reported the incident.
The workplace incident also related to broader context. Rosa Parks is famous for stating that she merely was tired and was not trying to make a statement when she sat in the front of the bus, For the record, your not-so-humble reviewer does not care where anyone sits on a bus or a diner.
Having stated all this, there are racists people among every group, Their biased acts warrant a proportional response. At the same time, claims of that mistreatment is a FIGURATIVE loaded gun that can badly damage the psyche and the standing of the accused, That trigger should not be pulled without cause.
The Mill Creek Entertainment well-remastered "I Heart '90s" slate of June 4, 2019 Blu-ray releases of films from that era adds memorable ones to that collection. This additionally nicely builds on the even-better "Retro VHS" MCE line of Blu-ray and DVD releases that the MCE section of this site prominently features.
Our topic du jour is the 1995 Pauly Shore comedy "Jury Duty." Posts in the not-too-distant future will discuss the Dana Carvey comedy "Opportunity Knocks" and the Alicia Silverstone action-adventure comedy "Excess Baggage," which are fellow June 4, 2019 MCE "90s" BD releases. Even more surprises will come in the next few weeks.
Shore, who looks like the test-tube baby of flamboyant fitness guru Richard Simmons, puts his outrageous weasel persona, which can be considered the junior-high version of Matthew McConaughey, to good use in this tale of not-so-lovable loser Tommy Collins embracing the titular civic responsibility.
The larger picture is that "Jury" semi-successfully blatantly parodies the American obsession with the trial of the century in the "O.J." era. This context, combined with "Jury" being a showcase for Shore during his heyday, make the movie the entertaining guilty pleasure that MCE intends.
The following YouTube clip of a "Jury" trailer highlights the classic teenboycom elements of the film. We get a glimpse of the silly pranks, the innocent homophobic humor, and the overall non-stop silliness.
As indicated above, the appeal of "Jury" relates to the film playing it safe. This begins with joining the ranks of several TV Land sitcoms that parody the theme of one hold-out juror that is a central element of the STAR-STUDDED MUST-SEE 1957 Henry Fonda courtroom drama "12 Angry Men." "Jury" looks to Hollywood royalty Shelly Winters to be the real-life A-lister who appears in such movies well past his or her prime. We also get grumpy old man Abe Vigoda playing the judge presiding in the "Jury" trial.
The amusing central twist in "Jury" gives rise to the funniest segment in the film. Tommy very abruptly finding himself evicted from the double-wide of Mom embraces the coincidental call to duty by the State of California. His motive is securing a place to stay until he once again can put a tin roof over his head.
The aforementioned laughs come during the montage in which Tommy sabotages his chances for being selected as a juror on a trial that is expected to be short and sweet. These antics include claiming to know a bewildered defendant,
Our lead finds a Shore thing in the murder trial of suspected serial killer Carl Wayne Bishop, who allegedly has an extreme prejudice against fast-food joint managers. A conjugal visit between Tommy and Bishop is a highlight. It seems that Bishop gets to do to Tommy what many cinephiles would like to inflict on Shore.
Attempted hilarity ensues as Tommy goes to great lengths to prolong the outwardly wham, bam, fry 'em Sir case. Having Tommy bunk with his former high-school principal/current co-juror contributes more humor.
Anyone who has seen "Men" or ANY of the aforementioned classic shows that pay homage to it know that Tommy ultimately sees that justice is served. It is equally predictable that he gets the babe; the rest of the story opens itself up to a parody of the teencom "Legally Blonde."
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 Breaking Glass Pictures October 17, 2017 DVD release of the 2017 gay-themed thriller "B&B" provides thrills and copious candy corn for thought ahead of the gay Christmas known as Halloween. It also is notable for being a film that truly warrants the subtitle "Ginger Snaps."
The accolades this time include a special mention Award of Excellence at the amusingly titled 2017 Accolade Competition. Other honors including a Best Actor and a Best Director win at the 2017 Horrible Imaginings Film Festival.
The following You Tube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "B&B" does a good job summarizing the plot; it also provides a good look at the related suspense.
The central story/catalyst in "B&B" is that recently wed couple Marc and Fred return to the scene of the crime a year after seeking lodging at the titular inn. Homophobic innkeeper Josh (Paul "The Doctor" McGann) refusing to give the then-unmarried couple a room with a double bed leads to a lawsuit that leads to a legal victory for the boys.
The underlying dispute seems to be a factor in the decision of Marc to make an honest man out of Fred; it definitely motivates that couple to return to the inn and to taunt Josh. Although the sentiment is putrid, one must give Josh his due for asserting his beliefs by placing only twin beds in every guestroom.
These early scenes provide strong indications that Marc is the top in the relationship; Fred being sympathetic regarding (allegedly pure) red-headed 16 year-old gay son Paul of Josh provides further proof of the nature of the Marc-Fred dynamic. This good heart apparently is an additional factor regarding the seeming sexual interest of Paul in Marc.
The arrival of large menacing Russian Alexie provides the newlyweds further fodder for debate. Cynical Marc is convinced that this newcomer is a neo-Nazi gay-basher, and Fred is equally sure that Alexie is focusing on taking any remaining innocence that Paul possesses. The discoveries that these amateur sleuths make on investigating their fellow guest remove any doubt that he is not there for the scenery.
The tone of "B&B" fully shifts from gay drama to Hitchcockian thriller on Marc and Fred seeing Paul and Alexie head to the local gay cruising area; this ultimately leads to Fred pursuing them to protect Paul.
The ensuing confrontation leads to a death that leads to twists galore that sadly reflect on society and slightly less so on the extent to which a father will go for the love of a child. The scarier part is the realistic risk that any of us face regarding running afoul of the legal system even if we are have not committed a crime.
Writer/director Joe Ahearne particularly shines as things fully spiral out-of-control as the surprise villain shows his true colors in a manner that makes anyone who challenges him at chess a fool. The bottom line is that our central couple pay a high price for the satisfaction of rubbing their legal victory in the face of Josh.
The epilogue provides (not necessarily) full-circle closure; the cynicism that Ahearne expresses regarding public perception is distressing because it is true.
The special features include highly entertaining cast-and-crew interviews that validate the excellent choices all around and that make viewers wish that they were on set for the filming.
The good news is that the root of the conflict that provides this follow-up to the August 2018 "Avoiding Getting Inn Trouble" post in the Inn Credible New England section of this site supports the philosophy of these articles on boutique lodging in this region of the United States. This tenet is that it often is better to enjoy the convenience of driving to a place within a few hours of home and to spend a little more for a spectacular experience at a B n B or small hotel than to endure the direct and indirect costs of flying to stay at a cookie-cutter hotel.
A tale at least as old as the time that most middle- and upper-middle-class households first had at least one car is that happily married (but professionally unfulfilled) couples went into the woods (or to the shore) for a weekend at a B n B and fell in love with the idea of owning such a place, The beginning of the almost inevitable end is that one spouse is much more excited about this potential life change than the other.
Another ingredient in this recipe for disaster is that, as much as a couple may be in love, there almost always is a point at which familiarity breeds massive contempt. Additionally, feelings of inequity as the division of household duties and expenses are almost inevitable even if you share a tiny house.
Dealing with the public always is stressful; having them in your home and having your spouse play host by being charming while you are struggling to clean the rooms and cook the food literally can invoke homicidal thoughts.
The message here is to read between the lines as to mentions of the almost-always needed additional staff; you also should look for online reviews that mention one or more innkeeper constantly being stressed. "Been there, done that" ala working at a place where the constantly shouting couple apparently did not know that the inn kitchen was not soundproof warrants asserting that I know of which I speak.
Although the wholesome CBS sitcom "Newhart" about a married couple running a Vermont B n B is amusing. a "Real Inn Keepers of [Insert Your Favorite Small Town]" would be funnier and more true to life.
Like the first "Trouble" article, "Inn Credible" travel for this site inspired this diversion into Blogland. Learning the lesson related to potential for severe wintry weather from November through March prompted scheduling "get while the getting is good" trips. These included a desire to visit Brattleboro, Vermont in mid-September ahead of the New Yorkers invading during foliage season and the perfect storms potentially starting a few weeks later. (Blizzards as early as mid-October are not unheard of.)
I reached out to the owners of what seemed to be a charming place that strongly presented itself as a relaxing retreat for stressed out urbanites and suburbanites. The intense stress in the voice of the husband at the outset triggered my Spidey sense to the point that I almost hung up. My mistake was letting my strong desire to stay at that place override heeding my "Inn Trouble" advice to follow the "Jeopardy" principle of going with my first instinct.
I repeatedly stated the dates of my desired stay only to have the husband ALWAYS respond with one date off; he ultimately stated that he could subsequently amend the reservation. I ultimately decided to hope for the best and make the reservation. Again, I really wanted to stay at that place.
This progressed to the husband asking for my address; I told him my city and asked if he wanted me to spell it. He barked that he just needed the zip code, but repeatedly kept transposing numbers. I again offered to spell my city, but he kept insisting on taking the zip code. We (presumably) got over that hurdle.
We fatally stumbled in the home stretch; he asked when I wanted to arrive and stated the 3:00 p.m. check-in time before I could respond. Both because of the length of the drive to Brattleboro and because I wanted to enjoy the highly touted serenity at the inn as much as possible, I asked if I could arrive at 10:00 a.m., leave my luggage in my car until my room was ready, and simply enjoy the guest common areas.
This really set off the husband; he yelled "we still will be serving breakfast and can not even think about assimilating a new guest that early." I could not imagine that this six-room place would be so busy with guests from a Friday night in mid-September on the following morning that the mere presence of an adult happy to "play in traffic" for a few hours was such a big deal.
I simply hung up. I then looked up Trip Advisor reviews and noted both that some of them noted that the couple was stressed and that the truly "better half" wrote polite and responses to negative reviews. I no longer did not, and do not, want to stay there. I did want to end things on a more friendly note and called back. I left a voicemail asking to speak to the "nice one" without phrasing it as such. I never got a call back.
The happier note on which this article will end is that, like the first "inn Trouble" article, the Rabbit Hill Inn (also in Vermont) provides a model. The real-life Loudens there consciously have their separate responsibilities. They also have a full staff, including an exceptionally gregarious inn manager, that allows them to keep the place running and to chat with guests without literally or figuratively having their hands around the throat of the person with whom he or she theoretically will not part until death.
These thoughts regarding the Warner Archive June 11, 2019 3-disc incredibly vibrant Blu-ray release of the 1964-65 "Jonny Quest" OS aptly evoke strong thoughts of a conversation with a Warner Bros employee several years ago. Our discussion turned to "Star Trek: TNG" star Wil Wheaton. As I always do under such circumstances, I remarked that I hated the Wheaton smug teen character Wesley Crusher. The Warner guys stated that his adult self agreed, but that his 12 year-old self fantasized about being Crusher while watching "TNG" during its initial broadcast run. He added that every tween boy of the era wanted to be Crusher.
It is apparent from the get-go that roughly 12 year-old brave, energetic, bright, and out-spoken blonde-haired. blue-eyed Jonny (Tim Matheson) is the ideal for his peers of the era of his prime-time days. A modern-day animator makes the same observation in "Jonny Quest Adventures in Animation," which is one of several special features in the Archive release. A related less-pure thought of your not-so-humble reviewer is that a direct-to-DVD film "Jonny Quest at Neverland Ranch" has tremendous comic potential.
The moderate homo-erotic elements of "Quest" provide additional dark humor regarding the series. This starts with the concept of our titular boy-next-door living on the Florida island of Palm Key with widowed scientific genius/do-gooder father Dr. Benton C. Quest, bodyguard/tutor/surrogate big-brother/long-time companion Roger "Race" Bannon, and 11 year-old India native Hadji. Cute pup Bandit rounds out this all-male community.
We first meet Jonny and Race wearing just their bathing trunks on the beach while studying before engaging in judo practice. That scene is completely innocent compared to one in an early episode in which Jonny and Hadji minimally are shirtless under the covers in bed together. This is not to mention oft-absent Race girlfriend Jade being as fierce as the toughest drag queen.
The bigger picture is that "Quest" is the fourth Hanna-Barbera ready-for-primetime animated series after the "Flintstones." "The Jetsons," and "Top Cat." This one that is set in our time even more than "Cat" further is a ground-breaking animated action-adventure sci-fi series that represents the beginning of the end regarding the Hanna-Barbera transition from talking animals to people. This relates to this legendary animation team reacting in kind when Spider-man and his amazing friends invade Saturday morning.
All of the above aptly makes this BD part of Archive making June a Pride Month for classic animation. An equally spectacular (reviewed) BD "Popeye the Sailor: The 1940s Volume 2" come out on June 11.We get "Wally Gator" on DVD a week later.
We learn in "Animation" that the awesomely titled "The Mystery of the Lizard Men," which is the first aired episode, is not the first one that is made. The exposition regarding how Race comes to live with the Quests likely is why it moves to the front of the line.
"Lizard" also is notable for following the "Quest" formula. A bright red light preceding the blowing up of a ship in the (wide) Saragossa Sea sets the stage for calling in Dr. Quest to figure out what is going on and to put a stop to the nefarious goings on. This prompts Team Quest (sans Hadji) to spring into action, only to soon have at least a couple of members get subdued. This leads to a thrilling climax in the form of each of our heroes using his special talents to save the day in the nick of time.
The aptly named "Treasure of the Temple" six episodes later starts with the gang (avec Hadji) watching home movies triggering a memory of the Quests and Race meeting Hadji on his home turf. Of course, the lads who soon become brothers from other mothers initially badly clash. The intrigue this time centers around a covert nerve gas laboratory that is negatively impacting the locals.
"The Robot Spy" is a classic that features the spider-like cyclops with very long legs that is prominent in the opening credits with the very catchy theme. This is one of the best outings that features arch-nemesis mad scientist Dr. Zin. Much of the fun this time literally relates to Zin getting away with it if not for the meddling kids (and their dog).
"Double Trouble, which is the ninth episode of "Quest" and the final in the total of 26 episodes watched for the review, is notable for being the first one made. It additionally provides the fun of having Jade play an important role. The voice of experience here is that it is better to watch the pop-up video version of "Double" that is titled "Jonny Quest Files Fun Facts and Trivia" that is a BD extra. You will learn everything about the show that you ever wanted to ask.
The fact that everything that this post discusses about "Quest" 55 years after its premiere still is relevant shows that some thing never get old. The BD format that showcases the detailed and genuinely nuanced animation far better than DVD, streaming, and cable can ever hope to do prove that that option is the way to go.
The Icarus Films June 4, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 musical dramedy "Guy" provides so much wonderful fodder for a post that it truly is difficult to know where to begin. One spoiler is that this film is just as good as the copious Gallic films in the Icarus catalog but strays from the pattern of revolving around the emotional fallout from a hit-and-run. However, the audience is treated to the disco scene that another reviewer states is ubiquitous in French movies.
The central theme of the film is the comeback tour on which the titular French idol who enjoyed commercial success from the '60s through the '80s is engaged to promote a new greatest hits album. The handful of videos and concert footage provide great nostalgia for folks who "were there" and give Millennials a music-history lesson. An '80s video that evokes strong feelings of the "Sandcastles in the Sand" video (complete with appearances by Alan Thicke and James Van Der Beek) by faux '80s pop princess Robin Sparkles of the 2000s sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" is true fun for all ages.
Writer/director/star Alex Lutz EARNS a well-deserved 2019 Cesar Award for his portrayal of Guy Jamet. He receives the same recognition at the 2019 Lumiere Awards. Watching this 40 year-old play Guy at various stages of his life is incredible
The rest of the story is that Guy knowingly allows young filmmaker Gauthier to document his tour and other aspects of his current life. The pop star does not know that his constant companion has reason to believe that his subject also is his biological father. This element adds an extra-credit aspect to this A+ film.
Lutz stays very true to the mockumentary style both by having follow the camera follow Guy everywhere. We see him interviewed at a cafe, performing for an audience of adoring aging fans, at home with actress Sophie Ravel (who is promoting her hilarious spot-on procedural), jamming with his band and back-up singers on the tour bus, and (of course) pulling the plug on the film project only to come around. This, also of course, is not to mention the incident that threatens to derail the tour.
All of this culminates in the mother-of-all film finales. Documentarian and subject are still feeling the effects of a night of hard drinking when they emulate Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Their conversation and a documentary-staple reveal a few minutes earlier indicate that Guy finally is starting to get the picture.
The best news is that "Guy" shows that they still can make 'em like that. The story stands on its own without either being an ego project for the star or relying on pyrotechnics. Further, the characters are among the most real and relatable reel-life folks to come along in quite awhile. Any resemblance to persons living or dead clearly is not coincidental.
The Warner Archive June 18, 2018 SPECTACULARLY restored Blu-ray release of "Popeye the Sailor: The 1940s V2" is part of a trifecta of June 2019 Archive releases of classic animation that aptly show pride in that dead art in this era in which computers do all the drawing. The other two releases are the (soon-to-be-reviewed) equally bright-and-vibrant June 11, 2019 BD of "Jonny Quest" OS (including awesome special features and the (also-to-be-reviewed) June 25, 2019 DVD release of "Wally Gator."
The first part of the rest of the story is that Archive also has re-released the separate three DVD volumes of earlier "Popeye" cartoons from Warner Bros Home Entertainment. The rest of the rest of the story is that "Gator" brings Saturday morning (and after-school) cartoon fans one step closer to having all their favorites included in the already extensive "Hanna Barbera Classic Collection" DVD series.
The bigger picture regarding these releases (and SO many more) is that they reflect one of many ideals that Archive and this unintentionally non-profit site espouses. Online friend of Archive and your not-so-humble reviewer Lucas states this principle well by commenting that he is glad that he is not the only younger person working to keep classic animation alive.
A manifesto that led to a sacking that led to "Matt Nelson Reviews" criticized the sacker site for being so corporate that it banned reviews of DVD releases of "TV Land" shows because they did not generate large numbers of hits. The aforementioned response to that policy expressed concern that future generations would not know who Lucy Ricardo and Ralph Kramden are.
"V2" picks up where (the reviewed) BD "Popeye the Sailor: The 1940s V1" leaves off. This latest batch of 15 7-minute shorts are from 1946 and 1947. The note at the beginning of the self-explanatory "Popeye and the Pirates" that a figurative search of the seven seas for a print of the cartoon that lacks an obvious edit does not bear fruit further shows that Archive is in it for the love of the game.
"V2" starts with "House Tricks," which has every classic Popeye element. Our story begins with the titular sailor and fellow squid/enemy Bluto once again surprisingly strolling along together despite despising each other. They also once again come across object of their mutual affection Olive Oyl being a woman trying to do the job of a man.
In this case, the seemingly financially stable spinster is single-handedly trying to build a two-story house, rather than hire a contractor. The boys quickly take over the project and engage in their standard one upmanship in their individual efforts to get the girl.
Also as is standard, Popeye and Bluto escalate the conflict by either trying to sabotage the other or to get him to do the work of his friend regarding whom he obtains absolutely no benefit, A wonderfully hilarious dick move by Bluto in "House" has his tricking an oblivious Popeye to cut the wood that Bluto needs.
"House" remains true to form by having Bluto deliver Popeye a seemingly game-ending beatdown only to have that victim gulp down a can of spinach, turn the tables on his rival, and complete the primary objective of the cartoon, In this case, the task is completing the construction of the abode. The twist at the end provides a wonderful surprise.
"The Island Fling" is reminiscent of a similar "V1" offering. The earlier cartoon has Popeye and Bluto happily being the only humans on an uncharted desert isle when Olive Oyl comes along. A pact among the men to not romantically pursue the new arrival predictably comically falls apart.
"Island" has Bluto playing Robinson Crusoe, whose life changes when a shipwrecked Popeye and Olive come ashore. The efforts of Crusoe to woo Olive include the wonderfully period apt move of pulling out a book of etchings. Anyone who has ever seen even a handful of Popeye cartoons can predict both the nature of the hilarity that ensues and the outcome.
A few "V2" cartoons require social commentary. The highly offensive racial stereotypes (regarding which Archive provides its standard "chill out, Dude" disclaimer) are taken in stride ala the regular empty threats of spousal abuse in "I Love Lucy" and "The Honeymooners." However, another element of some Popeye cartoons is worth mentioning but does NOT provide a basis for boycotting them.
The source of criticism is the unduly rapey element of some "V2" cartoons; these involve outings in which Bluto drags off a literally kicking and screaming Olive while a pummeled Popeye minimally is dazed and confused until getting his hands on spinach. Seeing Olive just rescue herself just once by brutally kicking Bluto in his most vulnerable area would be epic.
"Amusement Park" starts out with Bluto using games to show his manliness only to have Popeye outdo him regarding every contest. This leads to our villain dragging our damsel in distress on a harrowing roller coaster ride until her hero in shining cotton saves her,
The even more bothersome "Klondike Casanova" involves a twist on "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." Olive is a dance-hall girl at an Alaska saloon where Popeye wears many hats. Mountain man Bluto strides in and drags Olive off to his secluded mountain cabin. One spoiler is that efforts of Bluto to prevent Popeye from spoiling his fun does not include triggering an avalanche. Once more, the outcome is predictable.
As these musings illustrate (pun intended) the incredible appeal of Popeye and other classic cartoons is that they WON'T make 'em like that anymore. The violence against women and the racial caricatures are not good, but the comic violence is entertaining. Even a young child who does not realize that literally getting hit with a ton of bricks or that getting wrapped in chains and being dumped in the ocean is not ultimately harmless in the real world frankly is too stupid to be allowed to be unsupervised even in his or her home.
The Warner Archive May 2019 DVD release of the 1941 screwball romcom "Unexpected Uncle" shows that social commentary can be entertaining and not preachy when presented in the proper form. In this case screenwriter Delmer Daves of many classics such as "An Affair to Remember" and "A Summer Place" once again demonstrates his scribe skills.
This depth is the tasty not-so-subtly hidden pill in the peanut butter in the form of the main screwball romcom that is reminiscent of the 1942 Claudette Colbert screwball romcom "The Palm Beach Story," which share its titular setting with "Uncle." In this case Anne Shirley of "Anne of Green Gables" plays shop girl Kathleen Brown, who gets involved with part-time playboy/full-time hard-working business executive Johnny Kerrigan. Charles Colburn plays titular Dutch uncle Seton Mansley.
Seton is walking along minding his own business when he literally runs into Kathleen fresh off of getting fired for not responding as desired to an aggressive come-on by Johnny. Seton not only quickly makes things right but gets his new friend the afternoon off.
Johnny returning to the scene of the crime and still not taking no for an answer leads to our central trio enjoying the good life. Like all good uncles of every variety, Seton soon knows that his "niece" loves her new suitor despite the many outward contrary indications.
The pre-honeymoon is cut short when Johnny must rush back to literal Kerrigan City to keep his shoe empire from falling apart. Seton and Kathleen come along for the ride and end up respectably living at Chez Kerrigan.
The social commentary begins with Johnny representing the stereotype of the poor little rich boy for whom money cannot buy happiness. This extends to Johnny quickly ignoring his fiancee in favor of his business and getting upset when she does not live up to the image of the perfect corporate spouse.
This opens the door to learning the not-so-surprising back story of Seton. Suffice it to say that this adds a "Christmas Carol" element as to Seton wanting Johnny to avoid the same fate as the older man.
This leads to the seemingly mandatory dramatic fleeing of Kathleen; the resulting climax is highly entertaining and includes a couple of good twists. This is not to mention throwing in a little more social commentary.
The TLA Releasing April 23, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 drama "Sunburn" allows cinephiles to get a sense of the type of movie that Woody Allen would have made if he was born in the '70s and was Portuguese. The twist in this tale of yuppies with a long mutual history enjoying a weekend retreat at a vacation home is that an unwelcome guest has made the rounds of the group.
Filmmaker Vasco is hosting current significant other Joana and gay couple Francisco and Simaio for a few days of dancing, drinking, and lounging by the pool at his gorgeous home in the country. An opening scene in which the group comfortably and frequently trades off dance partners shows that all currently is well.
The trouble in paradise begins with a dramatically ignored call by "the one who got away" David. The persistence of this interloper leads to his wrangling an invitation to join the festivities. The rest of the film revolves around trauma and drama associated with the expected arrival of this man who has neither been seen nor heard from in a decade.
The raw nerves spoil the party as the folks who were in the arms of each other now are at the throats of each other. Much of this relates to the current relationships being rebounds from the post-David era of the one from whom he got away.
David represents one of an apparently few occasions on which Vasco plays for the other team; the subsequent events this time lead to Vasco and Francisco actually exchanging blows. This relates to Francisco playing the role of the younger and the cuter trophy member of the gang, who never fully achieves inner-circle status.
The history between David and Joana also indicates that he is a switch-hitter. The drama there extends beyond David leaving an unwanted parting gift on hitting and quitting it. This experience apparently is behind a failure of Joana and Vasco to take their relationship to the next level.
For his part, Francisco receives confirmation that he is not the soulmate of Simaio; it seems as well that Simaio has the role of younger and cuter in his relationship with David.
The angst of Francisco coming out in the one soft-core scene in "Sunburn" provides a film highlight. One hint is that this encounter both gives him a chance to be the older and less cute member of the couple and shows that giving some guys what they want essentially requires making them shut up and take it like a man despite assertions that they are not into that kind of stuff.
This "day in the life" film bring us to 24-hours after the opening scene. All are a little older, much wiser, but not necessarily more happy. The same is true of the audience, which learns the lessons of the characters and discovers the full meaning of the title of the film.
The Icarus Films March 27, 2018 DVD release of the charming 2014 French family comedy "Nicholas on Holiday" provides equally strong (and entertaining) reminders that spring is on the way and that the blessings and the curses of family summer vacations are universal. The bigger picture is that "Nicholas" joins the ranks of films such as "Dirty Dancing" that provide a look at resorts that cater to long-term stays by families. One difference is that nobody tries to put Nicky in a corner.
"Nicholas" opens with the titular pre-adolescent narrator about to be sprung from his Parisian elementary school for the summer. He learns early in this vacation that his family is going to break with their tradition of going to the mountains and are headed to the sea for a few weeks. Part of the cuteness relates to this trip requiring a separation from the figurative girl-next-door.
Copious amounts of the kid-friendly humor relates to "Granny" being an Endora-level thorn in the side of her son-in-law. One of the best scenes regarding this comes early in the film. "Mere" makes the argument regarding taking her mother on the trip that making an elderly person spend the summer in Paris is cruel; "Pere" responds that he is glad to take an old person with them, just not Granny. Mere winning by having Granny come along is predictable to anyone familiar with the relevant dynamics in the reel and real worlds.
More hilarity ensues when great frustration regarding a traffic jam en route to the resort prompts Pere to take an ultimately ill-advised shortcut. Incurring the wrath of the masses regarding his detour is only part of his problem.
On arriving, Nicholas joins a group of stock character young boys. These include the annoying know-it-all, the almost albino nerd, the kid who will eat anything, and the younger kid who is a cry baby.
The primary complication comes in the form of weird girl Isabelle. The threat of a pre-teen romance prompts Nicholas and his posse to implement several plans to deter her. The most amusing of these include a comically botched effort to present a bad boy image and a separate act of sabotage that is designed to send the girl and her clan packing.
For her part, Mere gets a taste of stardom that causes Pere great distress. This also requires balancing pursuing literal fame and fortune with being a housewife.
For his part, Pere hysterically obsesses about his relationship with his boss. This leads to sitcom staple of writing a letter in haste and repenting at leisure. The manner in which Pere resolves this is another highlight of "Nicholas."
One common element of all this is that Nicholas is an everykid whose efforts to influence anything that effects him epically fail. This, in turn, leads to a textbook example of something being tragic when it happens to us and hilarious when it befalls someone else.
In the end, our family returns to their everyday life. Like all real and reel tales such as theirs, the titular vacation influences some aspects of this but mostly is a fond memory.
Breaking Glass Pictures takes a short respite from releasing provocative in every sense edgy fare to offer the charming 2018 German family film "The Little Witch" on DVD. This joins the (reviewed) Disney Channel-like film "In the Doghouse" and the (also reviewed) tween-friendly scifi movie "Watch the Sky" as kinder-and-gentler items in the Breaking catalog.
The titular sorceress is the tender age of 127 in witch years and looks like a roughly 20 year-old muggle. Her Rudolph syndrome at the beginning of the film is that the adult witches are not allowing her to play their reindeer games. The issue is the determination that the witch is too young to join in annual festivities that include dancing.
Ignoring the advice of her talking raven friend Abraxas, the witch straddles her broom and flies off to crash the party. Everyone has fun until the powers-that-be discover the interloper, This leads to old-school punishment in the forms of giving the girl with something extra one year to learn the thousands of spells in a massive book "or else" and by essentially confiscating her wheels.
The comeuppances immediately lead to the ultimate walk-of-shame and more long-term transform our heroine into a more studious individual. Mild hilarity ensues regarding some of her efforts to cast spells going awry.
The literal rest of the story is that the rhymes-with-witch villainous Rumpumpel pops in several times intent on finding cause to cast out the little witch. This includes an equally amusing and child-friendly tense scene in which this unwelcome visitor shows up during the commission of the dual sins of entertaining children and casting spells in their presence. The general idea is that children should be scared (if not eaten) and not delighted.
Our rogue spellwoman further digs her figurative grave on using her powers for good, rather than evil, on another occasion on which Rumpumpel is lurking about.
This leads to the climax that is a year in the making; the little witch proves during her final exam that every little thing she does is magic. This leads to awesome in that she shows her tormentors to not fuck with her. Stating that this a game-changer is a massive understatement.
The first moral of this story are that being cruel to children and dictating your values to them is not the way to win their hearts and to keep the old ways alive. The second moral is that no one ever is to old to enjoy a cute movie.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2018 micro-budget horror film "Epidemic" contributes to the proof both that Breaking has good instincts for edgy art-house fare and that there are seemingly endless variations of the deadly plague sub-genre of fright flicks. The additional fun of dysfunctional relationships in this on-location movie filmed in Allentown, Pa. provide the best entertainment.
The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Epidemic" highlights the aforementioned aspects of the film.
The upcoming 30th birthday party of everymillennial Dana provides the main arena for the carnage in which far few who enter leave. Concluding that inviting remarried alcoholic father Rufus regarding whom Dana has a long-term estrangement makes sense is the most puzzling and unbelievable aspects of the film.
An amusingly unlikely coincidence that sets the primary action in motion involves the preparation of gal pal Mandi for celebrating Dana reaching an age that she no longer can be trusted leading to discovering a not-so-concealed secret room. The exploration of Mandi leads to a mishap that equally can be considered letting the genie out of the bottle and opening Pandora's box.
The secret room also requires a brief detour into Blogland. Videos of people discovering a door in a floor, a secret passage, etc. in their homes are catching up with footage of frolicking felines on YouTube. A personal experience somewhat validates the authenticity of such assertions and includes the bonus of potential creepiness regarding buying a house.
The seller of my current house being tremendously supportive regarding a move to unfamiliar territory had the side effect of learning that he was obsessed with this dwelling to the extent of going out of his way to drive past it after the sale; he likely continues doing so more than three years later. This validates the decision independent of this to change the locks and the alarm code within a few days of moving.
The seller repeatedly referred to leaving a time capsule and bragging that I never would find it. Concluding that it merely was buried in the yard, I was inadequately intrigued to undergo a treasure hunt.
A leaky pipe a year after moving led to opening up a drop-down basement ceiling; that led to discovering a creepy cache of report cards, old newspaper articles, photos, and other family treasures but nothing of monetary value. The spoiler this time is that one man's treasured mementos are another man;s trash. A related amusing part of this is that the layout of the cellar and finding several niches down there had already earned it the title of "serial killer basement."
Returning to our main topic, Mandi having an immediate and severe reaction to exposure to a substance in the previously sealed room does not deter her from attending the party. This leads to predictably infecting the people who are most near and dear to her by spewing all over them. This, in turn, leads to spreading the love.
Rufus indulging in liquid courage before arriving at Ground Zero makes him literally late to the party. This, in turn, proves that stupid is as stupid does. Rather than try to help the party goers or report the incident, this concerned father grabs the ailing birthday girl and brings her to the sterile environment of a no-tell motel. The feverish Dana makes it a literal hot-sheets lodging establishment.
Although everything largely plays out predictably, ambiguity regarding whether horrific visions and a semblance of a happy ending are real or Memorex keeps things interesting. The bigger picture is that justified paranoia regarding the spread of a literal or figurative plague adds an iota of credibility that keeps things interesting.
Breaking excels just as well regarding the extras that most of its releases include. These include a lively and amusingly self-deprecating interviewer with Rufus portrayor/Breaking insider Andrew Hunsicker. We also get outtakes from this film about an outbreak.
The Virgil Films May 21, 2019 DVD release of the documentary "billion dollar Bully" is equally entertaining and educational regarding ALLEGED malfeasance by Yelp regarding sales tactics. Writer/director Kaylie Milliken hits the nail on the head in commenting on the opposing objectives regarding Yelp presenting a public image as site for objective reviews but being driven by sales revenue from having businesses advertise to have their companies more prominently displayed.
The most important context regarding "Bully" is that there is your side, the side of the other guy, and the truth. The numerous people whom Yelp is believed to have done wrong whom Milliken interviews seem sincere and mostly admit to lacking a smoking gun regarding their assertions.
At the same time, we do not hear from anyone who considers Yelp CEO/co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman a god. Personal bias enters in the form of assuming that Stoppelman being among the arrogant Millennial tech. guys who are too young to have the life experience required to properly run a country makes him a guy with whom you would like to have a cup of coffee so that you can throw it in his smug (actually) smirking face.
The above comment leads to the disclaimer that this post strays far more into Blogland than roughly 99-percent of reviews. As is the case regarding the other exceptions, this time it is personal.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Bully" illustrates the heavy propaganda element of the film. The reminder here is that even propaganda that supports your side is propaganda. This promo. supports this through a few shots of the outdated ambush technique in which the filmmaker sets up a camera in front of a corporate headquarters and either seeks a meeting with an executive or merely confronts employees as they enter and leave the building. One cannot blame a highly compensated person not wanting to interrupt his or her day to sucumb to an ambush or Yelp for not wanting someone who may be an assistant or an IT person speaking for the firm.
Milliken chooses wisely in opening her film with interview footage of an Italian man who owns a pizzeria and is to "Bully" what the quirky little boy who makes Young Sheldon look like Zac Morris is to the 2002 spelling bee documentary "Spellbound."
The restauranteur discusses the old country pattern of a "legitimate businessman" calling attention to the potential for "accidents," the business subsequently experiencing relatively small incidents such as thrown rock through the window, the "insurance" agent showing up again to offer protection against future harm, and the harm either escalating or stopping depending on the answer of the entrepreneur.
The asserted Yelp variation is the company making repeated solicitations and the Yelp ratings of the targeted business either rising or falling depending on the response to that unsolicited pitch.
Man (and woman) on the street interviews reflect the thoughts of many of us. Most comments relate to being sincere when writing online reviews and having faith that everyone else is doing the same. A personal filter is the consistency of both negative and positive reviews and if they jibe with personal experience at places that I have frequented.
Milliken does not address the other side of the coin. There have been numerous times that a business has gone on the attack in responding to a sincere negative Trip Advisor or Yelp review. That has risen to the level of one business threatening severe legal action if I did not remove a Trip Advisor review and the hotel that put me in the "shabby broom closet" that posts in the "Inn Credible New England" section of this site often mention not being far behind.
The true life personal perspective this time is a now-former friend commenting one night that he has not been charged for cable for years; the news the very next day is that his cable is turned off. I had not given the comment any thought and did not call the cable company. I fully suspect that the guy whose free ride abruptly ended will go to his grave thinking that I ratted him out.
Returning to our main story, the alleged manipulation of Yelp reviews begins with having Yelp employees barrage a listing with many negative reviews. That company also is charged with putting positive reviews in a hard-to-find filtered section of a listing. A personal search for a link to filtered reviews for several businesses failed. One advertised site has several posts that comment that the writer cannot understand the basis for the negative reviews.
Perhaps more importantly, we learn that any business cannot opt out of being listed on Yelp. An even more egregious claim is that Yelp must give an advertising company permission to alter the hours of operation or other basic information on a listing on that site.
Milliken adds highly relevant good humor via numerous clips from an episode of the social-commentary-laden animated series "South Park." This outing has citizens of the titular small Colorado town constantly shakedown local businesses for absurd preferential treatment. The direct threat is that a bad Yelp review is the price for non-compliance with an unreasonable request.
The big picture personal perspective regarding all this begins with my reaction on learning about Trip Advisor many years ago. I asked a techie friend what stopped someone from maliciously posting an unfairly negative review; his response of "nothing" said all that needed to be stated,
On another note, I accurately predict regarding my negative business reviews on any site triggers someone who has never written a review posting a glowing review that directly contradicts my post. A prime example of this is my fair review of a pricey B n B that states among other things that the only hanging space is two cloakroom style hooks and that the only hangers are two beat-up wire ones. A review that went up the day after mine was posted was from a virgin reviewer who praised the copious hanging space and commented about the nice hangers. The tone was EXACTLY the same as that of the inn keeper.
The dump which got those two reviews subsequently closing supports the thesis of Milliken that negative reviews (regardless of their sincerity) can break a place, The lesson for these Main Street moguls is to treat your customers right.
I am never malicious in a review (or in a post on this site), but often refrain from dipping my pen in any poison regarding a bad experience if there is a reasonable effort to make an experience pleasant. Trying to put right what once went wrong often earns a positive review,