The recent Virgil Films DVD release of the 2018 documentary "I Am Paul Walker" further solidifies the role of Virgil in the hearts and minds of pop culture fans. This love begins with the (recently reviewed) documentary "Outatime" about restoring the "Back to the Future" DeLorean and continues with Virgil titles that are subjects of upcoming posts. These include a modern indie film starring Ralph "Daniel San" Macchio and a documentary on "The Great Escape" featuring many people who participated in making that film.
The aptly titled "Walker" tells the tale of the personal and the professional lives of the titular star of the "The Fast and the Furious" franchise, The following YouTube clip of a trailer for this film shows how the folks who knew either or both incarnations of this guy who was equal parts stud and righteous dude always will mourn his death that occurred two months after he turned 40.
We first meet this All-American Midwest boy via home-movie footage of a childhood birthday party. This sets that stage for mother Cheryl Walker, father Paul Walker III, and siblings Cody and Ashlie to share stories of the man whom most of us only know through his television and film work. This guy always smiling for the camera, looking cute in his younger days, and being muy caliente even during puberty helps explain his decades of extraordinary success regarding auditions.
We also hear from two childhood friends who remained close to Walker until the end of his life. The talking heads who share memories from the professional side include a couple of directors, a manager, and "Fast" co-star Tyrese Gibson. A clip from a "Fast" movie showed that the stars were not acting regarding their on-screen relationship.
Everything indicated that Walker had a good heart and would give you the shirt off his back or the expensive racing car off his driveway so long as you exhibited what once was common courtesy. Learning that this guy best known for a film franchise that catered to teen boys also had a strong intellect and desire to use his star power for good, rather than for evil, fully ensured his place in the top two choices in the "or kill" game.
Hearing about the hair-trigger temper of Walker reflected his tough-guy heritage that included a paternal grandfather who boxed professionally and a father who was a Vietnam combat veteran. Arguably the most funny story in "Walker" began with our subject holding the door open for a man leaving a store with an armful of merchandise. That guy saying "Thanks, Bitch" earned him an epic beat-down.
We also learn that the similarities between Walker and fellow macho-man Steve McQueen extended beyond their ruggedness. Both men remained very handsome as they aged and had addict-level needs for speed. These attributes and the particular affinity for race cars earned Walker a comparison to James Dean.
The Dean parallel also extended to the death of both men while driving. The shared circumstances of the death of Walker within minutes of leaving a charity event was particularly shocking. One can only hope for the sake of St. Peter that that doorman of Heaven did not give Walker any grief on his arrival.
The bigger picture is that many of us to whom the "Fast" movies did not appeal got the treat of learning about one of the good guys in Hollywood who remained comically laid-back and was a contender for Father of the Year even after becoming Hollywood royalty.
On the surface, a recent stay at the fantabulous Hotel Indigo in Sarasota, Florida is contrary to the oft-repeated philosophy of the Inn Credible New England section of this site. This tenet states that spending the money on a luxury trip close to home is preferable to incurring the cost and the aggravation of air travel to go further away.
EVERYONE at the Indigo reflects a larger truth. People who live in nice climates are happier, and it shows. The all-star team begins with the Indigo Girls team of General Manager Melody Odell and Assistant Manager Sandra Hyland. They also have world-class Executive Chef Sol Shenker (much more about him later), very hip and equally friendly (he laughs at all my jokes) desk clerk Chevy, "and the rest."
You will not want to check out or leave. Don the shuttle driver repeatedly offered to turn back on bringing us to the airport for our flight home.
The Indigo-inspired revised credo is to leave yourself open to flying to a vacation destination that more than offsets the pain of getting there. Relevant experience includes the flight to Sarasota involving sitting next to a young mother with very bony elbows that kept poking me and inadvertently changing the channel on my in-flight entertainment system.
My beloved beats headphones (thanks again, Apple) drowned out her screaming infant but did not help with my being a regular victim of baby kicks. This inspired a tweet advocating allowing service dingoes on planes.
The Indigo is worth enduring this and so much more; it is the Barbara Eden of hotels in that it provides a paradise, offers genie-level wish anticipation and granting, and honors the few requests that it reasonably cannot anticipate. This is not to mention the luxurious Aveda amenities.
The experience begins with the aforementioned sparkling shuttle, which you must pre-arrange, waiting at the regional (and equally clean) Sarasota airport. The congenial driver keeps you entertained and provides helpful information on the 15-minute trip to the hotel. The shuttle also provides service to local attractions that include The Ringling museum (article soon), the upscale shopping and dining at St. Armand's Circle, and the beach. You also can borrow bicycles.
Chevy or one of his peers also makes you feel like a welcome family member on arriving in the well-decorated but intimate lobby. This area offers over-sized chairs that will inspire you to sit in them and say "My name is Edith Ann, and I'm five-years old."
The wow factor alone supports following the Inn Credible New England philosophy of splurging for upgraded accommodations. It is a relatively minor additional expense and indescribably enhances the stay.
The ecstasy without a trace of agony begins with walking into the moderate-sized entry with the granite-topped and well-appointed bathroom to the side. Having ample counter space and a large shower with soap dishes that are out of the line of fire of the shower head check off two more Matt Nelson desired items.
This leads into the roomy living area complete with a large pull-out sleep-sofa and an armchair. It looks as if you can get clear passage even with the bed extended.
This leads to the comfy king-sized bed. Again, there is plenty of room for clear passage,
As shown below, the entire accommodation is decorated in Florida chic with painted white furniture and pastel blue and green decor.
The wish anticipation extends beyond the aforementioned amenities including a bottle of mouthwash. I was set to run the white-noise app. on my iPad when I saw a card offering the loan of a white-noise machine and ear plugs as well as anything else that I need; the bathroom has a similar card regarding forgotten toiletries.
The hotel staff would have happily brought up the white-noise machine, but I went to the front desk to save them the trouble. I also requested body lotion, which was the best in the Aveda line, but spared Chevy the "it rubs the lotion on the skin or it gets the hose again" joke.
The white-noise machine worked well but was unnecessary. The room is astonishingly sound-proof, and provided a restful sleep every night. The feeling of wonderful isolation extends to being surprised on the Sunday morning of our stay that the hotel was fully booked the previous night. The "Quiet Zone" signs in the hall and housekeeping not starting until a reasonable hour likely help. Even then, the cleaners are amazingly quiet.
Eating at the H20 restaurant is a must. The $15 breakfast buffet is far from the continental breakfast at the Comfort Inn and is very tasty. The range of savory-to-sweet includes a omelet station, frittatas, French toast, make-your-own-waffles, pastry, cereal (yeah, I ate the Froot Loops), bagels, bacon, sausage, and potatoes.
The H20 dinner menu is a primary topic of an upcoming article on the restaurant. A spoiler is that celebrity chef Shenker has an incredible custom-made cooking system that he travels all over teaching hash-slingers that cannot compare to him. He additionally has a perfect instinct for seasoning and takes well-deserved pride in his work.
These sincere accolades are independent of Shenker naming the espresso cheesecake the Matt Nelson. A related note is that all of his cheesecakes are phenomenal; eating his will make you not want to eat any others. I know that I will break down and pay the $75 or so to have a Matt Nelson or other cake shipped to me at some point.
The more general level is that the Indigo also follows the rule of location, location, location. This Arts District property is in such a tranquil setting that one would never guess that the airport is 15 minutes away. One regret is that is that poor planning prevented getting tickets for a performance at the nearby Opera House, cabaret, stage theaters, or art-house movie theaters. This is not to mention Carol Burnett appearing at the venue down the road.
It is hoped that a trip to the 2020 Sarasota Film Festival will work out; if so, your not-so-humble reviewer will be most glad to talk all things film during breakfast and dinner; any move on my cheesecake will be cause for banishment. :-)
The immediate area also has an above-average Starbucks, terrific Whole Foods, and a few local shops and restaurants. The more developed "Five Corners" is a leisurely 15-minute stroll (not allowing for stopping to pet the herds of friendly small dogs). That neighborhood has a larger concentration of restaurants and stores.
The bottom line is that there is no cause for having reservations about making them at the Indigo, Things could not have been better, a discouraging word was never heard, and the skies were not cloudy all day.
The numerous indie horror films in the Wild Eye Releasing catalog nicely reflect a sentiment in the series finale of the Garry Shandling sitcom "The Larry Sanders Show." Shandling remarks during the final broadcast of the late-night talk show that he hosts in the Sanders persona that sometimes you get the '80s failedcom "The Ropers" and sometimes you get something much better. The Eye February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 Debbie Rochon film "Doom Room" is a case of getting the original "Tick" sitcom. "Doom" is unique and has a well-executed clever concept. Rochon rocks as always.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Doom" highlights the supernatural eeriness that evokes thoughts of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the teen girls tormented while held captive film "Split."
Our story begins with Jane Doe having a Panic at the Disco nightmare; she then awakens in the mother of all morning after rooms. It is a a horrific dark chamber with a heavy metal door. Her orientation courtesy of her creepy roommate includes an order to not open the door in response to a loud banging. Doe further learns that "he" freely comes and goes as he pleases.
The story that quickly emerges is that Doe is a slut who is being punished for her wanton ways; this largely comes in the form of "visitors," who inflict physical and emotional torture on our bad girl. Rochon joining in with her trademark evil grin is far more than half the fun.
The cleverness literally enters the picture as Doe begins to remember the events that bring her to this state; at the outset, this reflects that we are the makers of our own Hell.
Things make more sense in a manner that I know I know is serious as the details come into focus. We learn that this path to destruction begins with Doe defying her mother by wanting to be dirty. This fallen woman falling in with a bad crowd is only the tip of the iceberg. Another relevant truism is the "don't talk to strangers" principle.
Revealing every detail shows that the course of events make sense. This development also puts the Rochon character in perfect context and allows her to take her well-deserved prominent role.
The bigger picture is that "Doom" proves that psychological alone can be thrilling and that a sinister countenance can be worth a thousand screams.
Wild Eye further delivers regarding the DD extras, Thee include cast and crew interviews and a making-of featurette.
The recent Warner Archive DVD of the Oscar-winning 1943 Bette Davis anti-fascist drama "Watch on the Rhine" provides a good chance to watch a film with a still highly relevant message, This story beginning life as a play helps explain the live-stage vibe. The thoroughly delightful "Warner Night at the Movies," which includes a newsreel and a HILARIOUS Daffy Duck cartoon, greatly enhances the WWII-era experience of watching "Rhine."
The screen cred. this time extends well beyond Davis; Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman collaborate on the screenplay, We also get Davis co-star Paul Lukas winning a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar. The supporting cast including Geraldine Fitzgerald, Beulah Bondi, and Lucille Watcon reinforces that this is one to add to your home-video library.
Watson and Hammett only being nominated for Oscars shows that "Rhine" don't get nearly the deserved respect. The New York Film Critics awarding "Rhine" Best Picture honors in 1943 and the USA National Board of Review similarly lauding the movie and Lukas is solid compensation.
The following YouTube clip of a "Rhine" trailer highlights all of the elements touched on above; it also shows why the peepers of Bette Davis warrant an '80s pop song.
Our story begins with expat heiress Sara Mueller (nee Farrelly), her German born-and-raised husband Kurt Mueller (Lukas), and their three children heading El Norte across a wall-free border from Mexico to the United States in 1940. They are going to the Virginia family estate of Sara. Widowed Fanny Farrelly (Wilson) still rules the roost with an white-glove-clad iron fist,
One can easily imagine the reactions of the Von Trapp children on landing in Vermont being akin (pun intended) to that of the Mueller kinder on arriving at the home of their grandmother. This would be especially so if the Von Trapps had lived an impoverished nomadic existence for the prior several years.
The action soon shifts to breakfast time at Chez Farrelly. Ala Southfork, the adult kids and extended houseguests call the showplace home. Son David has a respectable job befitting the offspring of a former U.S. Supreme Court justice. However, his personal life is not quite as above reproach, His misdeeds include borderline inappropriate behavior with long-time family friend/houseguest Marthe de Brancovis (Fitzgerald).
The loathsome Count Teck de Brancovis is enjoying a life of luxurious leisure SOLELY courtesy of his marriage. His numerous sins include amassing debt that he has no prayer of repaying and gambling the cash that he acquires. His lenient attitude toward the Nazis displays another of his many characters flaws.
Worlds collide when anti-fascist Kurt moves into the same house as Teck; the political views of the former and suspicions that he raises prompt the latter to develop thoughts of profiting from his poker-playing Aryan brothers at the German Embassy.
The aforementioned suspicions include Sara and Kurt being cagey regarding their life during much of the '30s. They clearly have something to hide, particularly from Teck.
Much of the mastery of "Rhine" relates to the manner in which it depicts the rapidly increasing turmoil in Europe proportionately affecting American families. Our central household goes from daily life and Fanny excitedly preparing for the arrival of her daughter and her grandchildren to the tension that must be seen to be understood,
Things fully come to a head when overseas news equally emboldens Teck and causes Kurt justifiable angst. Anyone familiar with Golden and Silver Age Hollywood fare know that both men react in manners that are very true to their characters. At the same time, the resolution is shocking.
Hammett and Hellman additionally deliver regarding penning a conclusion that is far from a "happily ever after" Hollywood ending. We fully see that war is Hell.
Warner Archive misses it by that much regarding releasing the beautifully remastered Blu-ray of the 1985 crime drama "Year of the Dragon' on February 19 2019, which is a few weeks after Chinese New Year. Although it is is unknown if traditional Chinese culture considers the number 21919 lucky, it is certain that that sequence of digits is lucky for fans of quality neo-noir.
The street creed. of "Dragon" begins with Mickey Rourke doing his unhinged outsider bit very well as crusading police captain/Vietnam vet Stanley White, who changes his name to conceal his Polish ancestry. The pedigree continues with director Michael Cimino, whose credits include "The Deer Hunter;" we do not discuss "Heaven;s Gate." Cimino also provides audio commentary for this release.
The man who needs no introduction Oliver Stone co-writes the sceenplayer. Super-producer Dino De Laurentis oversees the entire project.
The overall theme of "Dragon" is that there is big trouble in Little China (a.k.a. the Manhattan Chinatown). Gangs of young punks are moving in on the territory of the established crime bosses; this largely takes the form of muscling in on the protection rackets and enforcing the "or else" aspect of this with extreme prejudice, For their part, the caught-in-the-middle respectable Italian businessmen are upset with the old bosses for not keeping the kids in line.
Stereotypical son-in-law Joey Tai (John Lone of "The Last Emperor)) also is a man in the middle. His impatience regarding waiting for his father-in-law to retire prompts Joey to commit his own act of extreme prejudice. The consequences of this include the seemingly age-old pattern of a family business suffering each time that the next generation assumes leadership of the enterprise,
The civilian with a horse in the race is Asian television reporter Tracy Tzu, who is investigating the increased violence in Chinatown. The good news is Tzu represents a positive image of a well-educated Asian woman with a success story that begins with a great-grandfather whose life in America consists of difficult menial work under very difficult circumstances.
The bad news is that many folks who are familiar with the long-running crude animated sitcom "Family Guy" will think of the character whose on-air reports always begin with "this is Asian reporter Tricia Takanawa" when they see Tzu on the job. The better news is that such a reprehensible connection prompts deep feelings of shame.
Our oft-transferred White knight, who does not work or play well with others, enters the picture in the midst of all this, Irony appears in the form of the same police officials who look the other way in exchange for the Old Guard keeping the peace in Chinatown calling in White knowing that he does not play that way.
On the homefront, Mrs. Connie White is fully frustrated regarding the prices that she pays regarding the efforts of her husband to protect and serve the general population with doing either her. His teaming up with Tzu does not help matters.
The rest of the story is that a hilarious noir version of divine intervention is helping White with his effort to disrupt a massive drug deal with which Tai is involved. Other humor enters the picture in the form of a rookie being the only reliable option regarding using an undercover cop.
Our team of experts in-front-of and behind-the-camera particularly deliver as events build to the inevitable showdown between White and Tai. The collateral damage is high and more violent than expected, and White learns that no good deed goes unpunished. The lack of a sequel is the real crime.
As the disclaimers (and the reference to Takanawa) regarding the depiction of Chinese culture reflect, "Dragon" sadly is a film that likely would not be made in 2019. The backlash against the stereotypes despite the sympathy expressed toward the treatment of Asian immigrants would be the tip of the iceberg. The violence against women and the lack of female police officials would seal the deal regarding "Dragon" not even seeing the light-of-day as a direct-to-video release in the Wal-Mart bargain bin.
The same right-thinking people who do not judge people based on stereotypes and who find abuse of anyone abhorrent should realize that fictional depictions of those ills are PURELY for entertainment purposes and do not necessarily reflect the views of those associated with the production. It does not seem that depicting a female who ultimately must obey her man and allow him to imprison her in a bottle for merely asserting her views stops anyone from loving "I Dream of Jeannie,"
Context, people. Context.
The recent Film Movement Classics triple feature Blu-ray release of '60s and '70s films by Joe "Chekov of Soft Core" Sarno is the latest addition to Classic's "Joseph W. Sarno Retrospect Series." The Unreal TV post on the most recent double feature of "All the Sins of Sodom" and Vibrations" includes links to the separate posts on the first Classics Blu-ray double feature of Sarno films and on the documentary "My Life in Dirty Movies" about Sarno.
This latest collection of Sarno films begins with That '70s Skin Flick in the form of the early '70s movie "Confessions of a Young American Housewife," This one is notable both for being the only color one in "Retrospect" and for being highly amusing, The humor includes a middle-aged woman actually named Mrs. Robinson who seduces the grocery delivery boy. This enticement is pure porn from the first knock at the door to the final bang in the bed,
The title refers to the aforementioned Jennifer Robinson winning a 1963 "Young American Housewife" award; this is one basis for daughter Carole believing that her now-single mother is living a chaste and celibate life. The audience soon learns that carpets and the drapes of this happy homemaker clash.
Carole also initially thinks that her visiting mother (who enjoys making tasty cream pies) is not cool enough to accept her and the girl-next-door swinging in every possible combination of coupling. Carole learning that her nymphomania is hereditary allows the game to fully get afoot. The modern variations of the Oedipal Complex contribute to the fun.
"Sin in the Suburbs" is an NC-17 version of wonderfully cheesy films about unfulfilled '60s and '70s housewives. The residents of this Peyton Place include the nymphomaniac wife of a young executive, the MILF of a teen daughter with a horny boyfriend, and the grass widow whose divorcee status makes her an outcast. Although her brother is the new man of the house, the fallen woman takes charge of persuading a creditor to not repossess the furniture.
The scandalous secrets extend beyond the aforementioned boyfriend trying to keep it in the family; the copious other action includes a workman who lays down on the job.
All this inspires "Bro" to start a special club for the neighbors. The first two rules of this organization with a strict dress code are that you do not talk about it. Suffice it to say that every member pays his or her dues.
"Warm Nights, Hit Pleasures" can be considered "The Facts of Life After Dark." A freshman coed at an upstate New York college makes a connection that inspires her to persuade her friends to drop out and to move to Manhattan to find fame and fortune. Of course, they end learning the price of fame.
The fun extends beyond nude dancing to showing an out-of-towner a good time. One of the girls also bonds with their landlady, who is a "calendar" model.
Like the other Sarno joints, each of these three movies combine porn-movie acting with good production values and stories with reasonable depth. The set up go well beyond a UPS guy telling a housewife in a negligee that he has a big package for her. Additionally, the artistry of the films leaves a little bit to the imagination.
Several deleted scenes from "Housewife " are a highlight of the DVD extras. Classics saves the best for last by finishing the reel with an orgy scene that seems too hot for Sarno. That one clearly shows that cast loves their work.
The recent TLA Releasing DVD of the highly erotic 2018 drama "M/M" proves both that gay-oriented films can successfully present the same themes as mainstream fare and that remakes can do a good job updating the source material, This tale of young Canadian (Matthew) in Berlin becoming obsessed with hot German stud (Matthias) is a highly stylized 21st-century version of the 1992 Bridget Fonda/Jennifer Jason Leigh thriller "Single White Female" ( a.k.a. "SWF").
"Female" center on the Fonda character fairly literally ending up with the roomie from Hell when she selects the Leigh character to share her digs. Like Matthew, the Leigh character transforms her new friend into the object of her obsession.
The accolades for "M/M" director/writer Drew Lint include the "Best First Narrative Feature" and "Outstanding Artistic Achievement" awards at the 2018 FilmOut San Diego.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "M/M" highlights the distinctly German surreal qualities of the film.
Our story begins in the Apple Store style apartment of Matthew. This tightie-whitie clad guy with the best bed head (no pun intended) ever is waking up when Mom calls from Canada, This establishes that our boy is a lonely lad with an active dream life.
The story fully develops as Matthew checks Grind'r while on his job as a pool boy at what either is a bathhouse or a very cruisy aquatics center. Good humor ensues as the app. explodes with photos of numerous Mr. Right Nows. However, Matthew makes eye contact with a clearly interested (and aroused) Matthias,
The especially strong indications at the end of "M/M" that all of this is an (aptly wet) waking or sleeping dream are a large part of what make the film unique.
The courtship/stalking begins with Matthew following Matthias into the locker room; this leads to several other instances of trailing the prey.
Things get even weirder as Matthew cuts his stylish 'do and changes his wardrobe to more closely resemble the man of his dreams. Taking things to the next level in a very modern fashion further fuels the obsession.
A boyfriend in a coma development turn takes things in a new direction as Matthew gets a chance to more fully slip into the shoes (and the bed) of Matthias. A not-so-guilty confession is admitting to fully losing track of the action at this point; this is more the fault of your not-so-humble reviewer than of Lint. The old-school lesson is to not blink or you may miss something.
Things become more complicated and tense as Matthew more fully immerses himself in the life of Matthias; the awesome ambiguity regarding all this is not knowing the extent to which reality splits from fantasy when (if not before) The Man From Atlantis steps into the shower.
"M/M" definitely will satisfy viewers with an interest in the erotic adventure of hot twinks; it also has enough suspense and twists to hold your attention on a higher cognitive level, All of this amounts to the movie being a good choice for a solo or couples night in on a cold night. The extent to which it inspires a Midwinter's Dream depends on the viewer.
Mill Creek Entertainment shows good instincts regarding adding a DVD of the aptly epic 1997 mini-series "The Odyssey" to the MCE "Mini-Series Masterpieces" catalog on February 19, 2019. This month traditionally is a "sweeps period" in which networks broadcast their best productions in an effort to boost ratings. One very nice thing about this production is that it adapts the titular classic narrative in a manner that is not Greek to folks who are unfamiliar with the source material.
The accolades for this adaptation of the epic poem by the other Homer include a 1997 Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Mini-Series or a Special.
Armand Assante stars as brave and noble Greek warrior Odysseus. The star power behind the camera includes executive-producer Francis Ford Coppola.
We meet Odysseus on a day that is both one of the best and the worst in his life. He is racing to the side of wife Penelope (Greta Scacchi), who is in labor with their son Telemachus. The buzzkill is a development that requires that Odysseus travel to Troy to battle the Trojans over there so that he does not have to fight them "over here."
The Poseidion adventure begins with that god of the sea facilitating the ruse that gives birth to the expression to beware of men from the other Ithaca bearing gifts. The fabled Trojan horse meets its object of giving Odysseus and his men a huge strategic edge; the rub is that our hero also learns that Hades has no fury like a fellow god scorned.
Poseidion has such a massive hissy fit regarding Odysseus not thanking that deity for his assistance that The Man From Atlantis violates the principle of demonstrating great responsibility regarding great power. This man with a porpoise pulls the dick move of using his power to prevent the foolish mortal from returning to his wife and infant son.
This leads to our fearless crew om their greatly extended three-hour tour encountering strange new worlds and new civilizations on their far more than five-year mission. Another way of considering this journey is to think of it in terms of what a long strange trip its been. A related theme is that encountered perils reinforce the idea that dames ain't nothin' but trouble.
The first adventure does not involve women; the crew is near death when they think that they have found salvation in the form of a land teeming with food; their glee is short-lived when they learn that they are in the land of the giants (a.k.a. a cyclops clan). A sibling in this family developing a fondness for Greek food and wine is another mixed blessing on the road to Ithaca.
Our boys next become the guests of the sirens; Odysseus (with a little help from the goddess Athena (Isabella Rossellini)) once again uses a combination of brain and brawn to turn things to his advantage.
Odysseus subsequently feels the sting of being caught between the deep-sea threats of the Scylla and Charibdes. One spoiler is that his later adventure with the goddess Calypso (Vanessa Williams) has him hypnotized by her when he lingers.
We also see the crew snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Penelope is fending off potential suitors who are desirous of the woman and the other treasures of the long-absent lord of the manor. The frustrations of a now-teen Telemachus include his inability to oust this band of guests who have long overstayed their welcome. This almost literally is a wolves at the bedchamber door situation.
All of this culminates in a gloriously gory battle that once again involves paying the price for disobeying the rules of etiquette.
The appeal of this production extends beyond telling a tale that is as old time in a manner that caters to the American viewing public. Shooting on location, having a good cast, and including solid humor makes this release a good way to celebrate sweeps month.
The recent Warner Archive DVD release of the 1933 Ginger Rogers romcom "Professional Sweetheart" provides a good chance to see a film from the period between introducing the Hays Code and enforcing it. The surprising candidness of this film includes actually using the term "virgin" in reference to the titular beau.
The bigger picture thus time is the still-relevant issue of a celebrity whose career requires a squeaky-clean image feeling frustrated regarding an inability to express his or her true self. One need look no further than the numerous Disney Channel guys who go on to play bad-boy roles.
Our story this time commences with the beginning of a radio broadcast starring new American darling Glory Eden (Ginger Rogers). The whole story is that the orphaned waif very recently turned sensation is demanding that a specific item of sexy lingerie be in the studio by the end of the show. If not, the four-letter word in the sign-off will be not be the scripted one of "love."
The desire of sponsor Ipsie-Wippsie Wash Cloth and others with a horse in the race extends beyond avoiding having Glory utter one of the seven dirty little words that you cannot say on the radio. This group is eager to lock in Glory by having her sign a contract,
Another immediate challenge is ensuring that visiting reporter Elmerada de Leon does not discover any inconvenient truths. The always great Zasu Pitts particularly shines in this role.
The action shifts to the deluxe apartment in the sky where Glory lives, An awesomely enlightened aspect of this home life is young black maid Vera, played by under-appreciated actress Theresa Harris., It is very striking that Vera is much more out-spoken maid Florence of the '70scom "The Jeffersons" than the MUCH MORE TYPICAL Hattie McDaniels Mammy-style servant of the '30s.
Vera clearly is the equal of Glory and her only true friend in her entourage. The wonderful first scene with Vera has her gleefully gossiping with Vera and teaching her a new dance step. It is just as terrific to hear about Vera having a boyfriend and that couple having tremendous fun in the Harlem nightclubs that Glory aches to visit.
Reality setting in for Gloria at this time is a less positive aspect of her domestic life. She is forbidden from ordering food that is inconsistent with her oft-mentioned image. She also discovers that the extent of the morals clause in her unsigned contract prohibits male companionship. Glory making it very clear that she strongly wants to get her some is another reflection of "Sweetheart" coming in the period between the introduction and the enforcement of the Code.
The titular American quasi-gigolo enters the picture as a form of compromise; The "suits" will allow Glory to have a man in her life so long as he meets wholesomeness requirements that include being Anglo-Saxon. This early version of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" involves largely randomly selecting Kentuckian Jim Davey (Norman Foster) to be the future Mr. Glory Eden. Fun here includes the immediate effort to manage the public image of this pawn.
Hilarity full ensues as our country cousin visits the big city for the first time. He and Glory hit it off well enough to have what may be the fastest courtship, engagement, and wedding in reel and real history.
Jim naively taking his new highly significant other at her word leads to giving her what she says that she wants; this, of course, leads to more trouble. Meanwhile, a rival corporate suitor is hoping to add Glory to its stable.
In the end, all involved take the path of greatest fulfillment, Discovering whether one can his or own wedding cake and eat it too requires watching the film.
The cliche about films with heavy erotic content steaming up a Valentine's Day strongly applies regarding the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release "Male Shorts: International V1." This quintet of approximately 15-minute films provide equally artistic and erotic looks at the lives of 21st-century young gay men. This combination of elements makes "Shorts" a prime (but extreme) example of the edge that Breaking seeks in titles that it adds to its catalog.
An enticement to fans of erotic gay cinema that also serves as a warning to the feint-of-heart is that these explicit films include many muy caliente scenes.
Although all five films have strong merits, the two that (pardon the expression) play it the most straight succeed the best. "Just Past Noon on a Tuesday" and "The Storm" have the best narratives and get us to know and relate to the characters.
"Noon" has the most interesting premise of the films. The enlightened (but still-in-the-dark) sister of a gay man who dies of a drug overdose on a toilet in a bathhouse grants the guy who is a friend-with-benefits in polite circles and something else in less polite ones time alone in the penthouse of the deceased. Subsequent snooping results in finding the equivalent of the little black book of the deceased. This leads to a party complete with favors and bonding.
The equally aptly titled "The Storm" revolves around 20-something Leo being infatuated with a local weatherman to the extent of pleasuring himself during forecasts. A chance encounter with restaurateur Luca provides Leo with partial dream fulfillment. This night that is memorable both for the boys and the viewers leads to a not-unduly-surprise conclusion with good potential for a true happy ending.
"Neptune" provides the middle ground in that a gay man who becomes attracted to a fellow swimmer at a local pool does not allow that to slow down his copious individual and group sexual activity.
"La Tappette" is a largely silent depiction of the kinky sexual adventures of a young man; "PD" has a narrator recite Shakespearean sonnets to image of buff naked men in bucolic settings.
As indicated above, the common element of the films is copious male nudity that mostly is intended as an artistic statement. It further shows relationships that range from lust to love for gay men. Depictions of this ranging from new love that involves an explicit (but sweet) public display of affection to a bathhouse sauna session that quickly turns from a threeway to a fourgy.
The Mill Creek Entertainment January 8, 2019 DVD release "Secret Stories of Hitler" boldly goes where few have gone before. This 2-disc set includes a documentary that presents the titular leader as someone other than the most despised man of the 20th century.
A message that viewers MUST take away from the three films in this set is that even propaganda that supports your side is propaganda. Depicting Hitler as a nice and rational man who is kind to animals and small children should convince everyone to not believe everything that they see without checking out the facts from a source without a horse in the race. A related aspect is the even the most evil human has some redeeming qualities.
The highly controversial 1974 documentary "Swastika" is the highlight of "Hitler." This movie largely consists of footage from Nazi propaganda films and from home movies that First Frau of Nazi Germany Eva Braun shoots. A modern introduction by a former Harvard teaching assistant provides a good background on the film.
As MCE notes on the back cover of "Stories," the written prologue of "Swastika" clearly reflects the theme of this film. This prose partially states that "If Hitler is dehumanized and shown only as a devil, any future Hitler may not be recognized, simply because he is a human being."
"Swastika" opens with footage of shiny, happy urban newspaper delivery guys loading up their bicycles and pedaling their way through city streets; the images soon shift to arguably ironic footage of trains headed into the beautiful German countryside.
The rural folks include smiling milk maids and similar positive stereotypes.
One of the most surprising things about the subsequent footage by Braun that is interspersed throughout the film is that it is in color. It also is shocking to see Hitler always looking relaxed and mostly smiling; further, he almost always is in civilian garb.
This footage largely looks like any other home movie of that era and the decades that follow. Hitler is a jovial host at his country retreat. He is laughing and joking with the likes of Goering and Himmler. We also see Hitler seeming to enjoy talking with small children and playing with his dogs.
For her part, Braun looks and acts like any other woman of the era. She seemingly equally adores her dogs and Clark Gable and is very at ease among her notorious company.
It is even more shocking to see Hitler calmly delivering a rational speech to an assembled masses. There is none of the shouting, frantic gestures, and frenzied responses that characterize all Hitler speeches that probably every viewer has seen in archival footage.
A telling scene has Hitler criticizing Goering to other guests. However, he is cool and collected and is not ordering punishment.
Two segments in "Swastika" are the most blatant propaganda in the film. An interview with an American radio commentator has that man assuring German officials that folks over here do not believe the fake news about Hitler; this man goes on to pledge to set the record straight by broadcasting to America from Germany.
The scenes from "The Eternal Jew" are even more unsettling than the interview with the American. We first see heavily bearded men looking alien and menacing; we then see the same group seeming ill-at-ease after losing their beards and changing into mainstream clothes. The message is that Jews cannot be assimilated into the dominant culture. A similar scene issues a defiant challenge to prove that a single Jew has died during the rule of Hitler.
Horrific footage that will cause anyone with a soul to turn away from the screen at the end of the film both is more objective and puts the prior 90 minutes of "Swastika" in proper perspective, That brings things full circle back to the opening message that genuinely bad hombres can be difficult to identify until it is too late.
The bonus features also enhance understanding of "Swastika." One extra has the filmmakers discuss the nature of Nazi propaganda; this conversation includes noting the great extent of the censorship of that era. A highlight is footage that amazingly slips through a very narrow crack.
Another extra discusses Nazi propaganda expert Leni Riefenstahl. We first learn that this filmmaker gets more than a little uncredited help from her friends. We subsequently see that her claims of denial are far from plausible.
As other posts in the Mill Creek Entertainment section of this site does (and will) show, this month being a particularly busy one for MCE releases requires that a timely review of "Hitler" come at the expense of not watching the other documentaries in the set.
"Hitler: The Untold Story" seems particularly fascinating. This six-part series pulls the curtain back on the fairly well known progression of the rise to power by der Fuhrer. Similar to "Swastika," we see how maintaining a deceiving public image is critical to Hitler maintaining his status.
"U-Boats: Hitler's Sharks" focuses on the importance of the ocean in WWII. The intriguing perspective this time is speculation regarding the impact of an alternate history in which Hitler grants requests for additional submarines.
The importance of these documentaries and the materials that accompany them is a well-known adage that provides the best perspective of all; those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
CBS Home Entertainment honors the spirit of "sweeps" with the February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 1985 mini-series "The Key to Rebecca." Another awesome aspect of this one is that CBS seamlessly edits it into a movie without deleting any story footage.
A fascinating aspect of "Key" is the attitude of some Egyptians toward their British occupiers in WWII. The sense of the enemy of my enemy is my friend extends to choosing Nazis over the British Empire.
"Key" is a well-produced adaptation of a novel by acclaimed mystery/thriller/historical author Ken Follett. It occurs in WWII-era Egypt and largely centers around widowed American-born British intelligence officer Vandam, William Vandam. Cliff Robertson plays Vandam in this era of "Falcon Cresr" fame for Robertson
David Soul of the original "Starsky and Hutch" stars as Nazi spy Alex Wolff. He comes on the radar of Vandam after killing a soldier as part of his effort to maintain the covert nature of his activities.
The titular novel enters the picture (pun intended) as the basis for the titular cipher that Wolff uses to send messages to Rommel (Robert Culp). The related missions of Vandam are to apprehend Wolff and to obtain the aforementioned code.
Part of the intrigue relate to the central foes enlisting their own Mata Haris to further their goals; Vandam uses the desperate times of kept woman temporarily without a keeper Elene Fontana to coerce her into the desperate measure of befriending Wolff for the purpose of locating his lair.
Wolff is more insidious regarding his female partner. He enlists dancer Sonja El Aram to seduce a British officer; this provides Wolff a source of the material that he feeds Rommel,
This well-plotted cat-and-mouse game leads to a proverbial thrilling conclusion. Vandam already is highly frustrated regarding Wolff having barely slipped the noose several times and causing collateral damage on each occasion. Wolff making it very personal when the stakes are especially high further fuels the fire.
The "Key" appeal extends beyond a well-combined mix of elements; they simply do not make 'em like this anymore. As a starting point, WWII seems like irrelevant ancient history to many people. Second, it seems that the good story would not be enough to offset the minimal blood, gore, and sex to modern audiences.
CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution terrifically team up to bite the hand that feeds them regarding the February 12, 2019 DVD release of S1 of the Netflix series "American Vandal." This certified-fresh series satirizes fellow Netflix fare "The Staircase" and other true-crime series. A personal endorsement is staying up way past a personally imposed bedtime to find out "whodunit" in this amusingly compelling series.
Unintentional satire in "Vandal" is following the tradition of casting clearly post-adolescents as high-school students. Jimmy Tatro ("22 Jump Street") does well as literal prime-suspect Dylan Maxwell, but the series does not address why this 25 year-old is a a high-school senior. This is not to mention 26 year-old Calum Worthy ("Austin and Ally") in his hilarious role as disliked honor-student Alex Trimboli. For that matter, Worthy checks the box for the former Disney Channel star showing that he is all grown-up. Dez would never lie about Ally providing a "helping hand."
The following YouTube clip of a Netflix trailer for "Vandal" is almost guaranteed to make you laugh; an absolute guarantee is that the clips include more drawings of penises than any other promo. for any film or television series.
"Vandal" Creator Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda demonstrate perfect instincts regarding setting a documentary series investigating a headline-grabbing crime at a high school.
The fun begins with the central offense being the hilarious prank of spray painting penises (a.k.a. dicks) on every car in the faculty parking lot on a day that there is no school because the teachers are at an all-day meeting, The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings illustrate that the type of antics that relate to the vandalism OFTEN are entertaining and ALWAYS provide fodder for gossip girls and boys.
One spoiler is that the season-ending "Breakfast Club" epilogue comments on high-school culture. All students are subject to quick and permanent labels. This reinforces the larger concept that something traumatic that happens to someone else is devastating to them and hilarious to us.
A strong element of this is the epic high-school party that is discussed for the rest of the year. The relevant issues this time include how the claim of breaking a school drinking record affects the credibility of eye-witness Trimboli. We also see analysis of cell-phone footage that show conspirators plotting the evil deed.
The hilarious concept for presenting all this is AV nerd Peter Maldonado producing the eponymous documentary series; his dual objectives are to clear the name of Maxwell and to discover the actual culprit. Much of this consists with interviews with textbook (pun intended) stoner meathead Maxwell, whom Tatro perfectly plays. The DVD bonuses included must-see extended interviews with Maxwell and other equally funny talking heads.
Some of the best humor relates to Maxwell having tormented Spanish teacher Ms. Shapiro for years; this including the lad daily drawing a penis on the classroom whiteboard does not help his case. On a brighter note, this circumstantial (and circumcised) evidence also indicates that possibility of someone framing Dylan.
A related issue is Peter noting that the style of the penises on the whiteboards and on the cars have several differences. We further get a reconstruction that addresses the time required to spray paint a penis.
"Vandal" does an excellent job both with the pacing of the series and in keeping things plausible.To paraphrase P.T. Banum, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American teenager.
The extra-credit aspect of "Vandal" is that is shows that hope remains regarding the quality of "single-cam" "modern" mockumentary television series.
Breaking Glass Pictures fills the need for a John Hughes style distressed teen in love with quirky outcast film in releasing the 2016 film "Honeyglue" on DVD and VOD on February 19, 2019. The scads o' festival love for this "The Fault In Our Stars" with a transvestite leading boy includes a Best Feature award at Cannes, an award at the Newport Film Festival, and the "Best Director Award" at the Orlando Film Festival.
The following SPOILER-LADEN YouTube clip of the "Honeyglue" trailer does a good job presenting the story and those who tell it.
Though Hughes films are the granddaddy of "Honeyglue," more recent (and edgier) "teens with cancer" dramedies such as "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" and "The Fault in Our Stars" are the older siblings of this story of girl develops fatal brain tumor, girl meets girl/boy, girl and girl/boy live happily ever daily.
The hook this time is that the girl is a conservative suburbanite presumably with grades that are as good as her manners. The bad boy is a drifter with an incredibly troubled past and a desire to express himself that is as strong as the forces that seek to repress it.
Our modern-day Frankie and Annette Morgan and Jordan meet at a not-so-wholesome night club where they strike up a conversation. On Morgan asking a made-up-in-drag Jordan about his sexuality, he grabs a seemingly random guy to kiss full on the lips only to turn around and do the same to Morgan. Other symbolism
This quickly leads to Morgan unexpectedly meeting the parents sans wig and with minimal makeup but clad in a kilt. One spoiler is that Jordan portrayor Zach Villa, who aptly is starring in the stage production "For the Record: Dear John Hughes," is more appealing as a very pretty boy than a not-so-pretty girl. He can be considered a feminine and darker cousin to "Austin and Ally" star Ross Lynch.
On the same subject, Adrianna Mather plays Morgan. She does a good job playing a quirky "All Grown Up" Ally to Villa's Austin. Mather is also a Zombot co-owner and a producer on "Honeyglue."
The courtship of Morgan begins with a "winner-take-all" bet; this in turn leads to a wonderfully awkward 'za feast with the 'rents and hilariously hyper and goof bro Bailey. "Twilight" veteran BooBoo Stewart excels at stealing scenes in this role.
Discovering the advanced stage of the brain tumor in the noggin of Morgan prompts our lovers to accelerate said courtship despite the opposition to said plans. This leads to the cliched road trip (very much ala "Earl") that has enough twists and humor to make it interesting. Suffice it to say that Morgan is a particularly bonnie lass during this leg of her adventure with the kilt-wearing Jordan.
Like all films of this nature, reality crashes down on our pair near the end. The nice twist this time is that it reflects the truly fantastical nature of the soul of Jordan.
This being a film largely geared to teen girls, the symbolism of the title is blatant but effective. It relates to a wonderfully illustrated children's book that Jordan is writing. This tale tells of a very cute dragonfly boy who literally and figuratively goes to great lengths to woo the bee princess whom he loves. Both the tale and the drawings create a strong desire for a copy of this book.
Bird injects more subtle symbolism in manners that include other cliches in modern "cancer" films. One example of this is Jordan shaving his head in solidarity meaning more than support for Morgan losing hers.
On a more personal note, the quality of the film overcomes pre-viewing negative feelings regarding the transgender element in it. This aspect of society seems done to death and does not appeal to your not-so-humble reviewer. Instincts that "Honeyglue" is far more than a boy in a dress or a desire to fully become a girl enormously pay off.
'Rick and Morty' S1-3 DVD & BD: Emmy-Winning 'Back to Future' and 'Futurama' Mash-Up Is Fanboy Fantasy
The Adult Swim/Warner Brothers separate February 12, 2019 DVD and Blu-ray releases of S1-3 of the Swim series "Rick and Morty" provides a chance to ensure that you "get some" on Valentine's Day from the fanboy in your life. Discovering the full-sized collectible poster is even more exciting than finding a toy in a cereal box.
This brainchild from Dan Harmon of "Community" fame and Justin Roiland of the kinder and gentler ready-for-primetime Cartoon Network series "Adventuretime" essentially transports Doc. Brown and Marty McFly from "Back to the Future" to the more subversive and surreal world of once Cartoon Network staple "Futurama." The strong "screw you, Leonard" vibe of "Rick" provides much of the fun.
A weekly mission substitutes for the concept of a delivery on "Futurama." The concept of benign or hostile aliens threats bringing mankind on the brink of destruction remains the same, IMDb describes "Rick" in more general terms by stating that it is about "the exploits of a super scientist [Rick] and his not-so-bright grandson [Morty]." Roiland successfully pulls off a MacFarlane by voicing both leads.
The Ricktastic accolades begin with a 9.3 IMDb rating and a 97-percent Rotten Tomatoes result. IMDb also lists "Rick" as the Number 9 Top-Rated Show; "Seinfeld" and "The Twilight Zone" do not make the Top 10. The 14 official wins include the 2018 Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program.
The its funny because its true concept of "Rick" is that Rick Sanchez is a brilliant inventor but a barely functional alcoholic and lousy grandfather and father; this is not to mention a largely unrepentant scoundrel who would sell his mother just for the fun of it. His two creations that primarily facilitate the aforementioned escapades with emotional dim-bulb Morty are a flying car that is capable of space flight and a portal gun that creates wormholes to other dimensions.
The rest of the story is that S1 begins a year after Rick moves in with daughter/horse surgeon Beth Smith (Sarah Chalke of "Roseanne" and "Scrubs.") The abandonment issues of Beth are behind condoning her father repeatedly causing destructive chaos in their home and even more frequently putting her son and other family members (including herself) in harm's way.
The dysfunction continues with wimpy unemployed advertising guy Jerry (Chris Parnell) showing that the mushy apple does not fall far from the worm-infested tree. Hilarity often ensues as Rick gleefully emasculates the purported man of the house. We also are regularly reminded that our not-so-happy-couple results from a portal-gun wedding after Jerry knocks up Beth with oldest sibling/typical big sister Summer (Kelsey Grammer daughter Spencer Grammer).
The bigger picture is that "Future" fans will see elements of the McFlys from that franchise in the Smiths. A related cool note is that a comment by Roiland in a two-part "Origins" home-video special-feature notes that he gives Morty at least a semblance of testicles to avoid him entirely being the bitch of his grandfather.
This family dynamic provides the fodder for the best "Rick" episodes. A personal fave has Rick bringing Beth and Jerry to an alien marriage-counseling center. The therapy there includes outfitting each spouse with a device that physically manifests the image that that person has of his or her significant other.
Hilarity ensues with Jerry conjuring a vicious heartless monster version of Beth, and she shows that she views her husband as a slug. Those creations breaking loose and wreaking havoc is not even the end of the story. The Smiths are left to fend for themselves against their own worst enemies. The outcome that reflects that love conquers all is not much kinder or gentler.
A similar episode has Rick paying the price for extreme measures to avoid a family counseling session, Suffice it to say that he finds himself in a constant pickle while proving that he remains a bad ass regardless of what he faces.
We also get Rick and Morty dropping off Dad at a very customized alien daycare center, the family surviving by discovering that any happy memory is false, and an especially hilarious Christmas episode in which Jerry learns that his parents have a new special friend; the fact that his dad primarily is a spectator further reflects the dynamic of our central family.
Another highlight takes the hackneyed concept of a love spell gone wrong to an awesomely extremely perverse level. Rick trying to help Morty "court" dream girl Jessica quickly gets out of bounds to the extent of creating an aforementioned world-threatening sitch. The manner in which Rick resolves this is one of the most dark and cynical in television history; it also reminds us that everyone is disposable.
Roiland and Harmon also especially delver regarding the season-ending cliffhangers. This begins with an S1 season finale that has Rick and Summer gang up against Morty to throw initially separate wild parties while the 'rents are away. Suffice it to say that rowdy teens and quirky aliens have plenty in common.
This leads to Rick using his tech. to provide plenty of time to rebuild the house before Jerry and Beth walk in the door; the rub is that squabbling that skips a generation brings the entire universe on the brink of destruction.
The S1 finale also sets the stage for the epic S2 season-ender. The family attending a wedding with a tie to the aforementioned festivities leads to one of many cases in which it seems that Rick will be held accountable for his crimes against humanity and seemingly every other species in parallel dimensions. This leads to a hilarious battle of wills in which Rick once again shows that lacking much of a conscience while also not hesitating to exploit the vulnerability of an enemy is effective. It also allows this madman with an evil mind to face off against his foes that comprise the Council of Ricks.
The epic S2 season-finale has the president (who clearly is not Trump) call in Rick and Morty to exterminate an alien in the White House. Rick adopting an extreme "Screw you, Leonard" attitude of course makes a bad situation much worse. We simply will need to wait for the S4 premiere sometime in 2109 to see how things fully shake out.
The copious home-video extras extend well beyond the aforementioned "Origins" feature. We get commentary and animatics for every episode, deleted scenes, a look at Parnell rocking it during a recording session, and other treats.
Speaking as someone who has not pooped his pants for at least a year allows assuring fellow grown-ups that the Disney Junior January 22, 2019 DVD release "Playtime With Puppy Dog Pals" will delight you as much as any toddler in your life. The warning this time is that the insidiously infectious theme song with the the lyrics "Pu pu pu puppy dog paaals; arf, arf, arf arf" is highly addictive. The tune that features "we're goin' on a mission; goin' on a mission" that virtually every episode features comes a close second.
This release follows the reviewed "Puppy Dog Pals: Going On A Mission" that includes the first several episodes of this current Disney Junior network series for kids 2 AND UP.
The simple but brilliant concept of this cousin of "The Secret Life of Pets" is that the titular animated (in both senses of the word) canines are adorable grey pug Bingo and his equally cute tan pug brother Rolly, so named for his addiction to puddles of both the water and mud variety. They live with sweet-and-kind inventor Bob (creator Harland Williams), indulgent but not-so-sweet cat Hissy, and hyper-active robot dog A.R.F.
The two cartoons in each episode typically begin in the morning as Bob is heading off to work. Something minor usually goes awry; this prompts the boys to discuss how to put right what once went wrong and then execute their plan. An example from "Playtime" is Bob having a string of bad luck leads to Bingo and Rolly researching good luck charms. This results in the pups going to Ireland in search of a four-leaf clover. The fun of this outing and all others is that our heroes accomplish the mission that often brings them abroad and make it home before an oblivious Bob returns from toiling at the cubicle farm.
Our scuba doggies go down under in both senses of the word to dive around the Great Barrier Reef after a package for Bob gets lost in transit; an especially cute fresh-water mission has the boys trying to recover the favorite fishing pole of Bob from a scavenger/hoarder snapping turtle. The pugs take to the water one more time to rescue new family addition Olivia the fish after her bowl accidentally becomes air-borne.
The good folks at Disney Junior enhance the fun of the above escapades and a few more (including a visit from the fang fairy and an adventure puppysitting a large dopey mutt) with bonus episodes that feature the new girl-next-door Keia. The fun begins with Bingo and Rolly looking for their new gal pal after she goes off the leash and wanders off. This is not to mention helping Keia find a unicorn, and our new trio dealing with a party gone out-of-bounds that brings down the dog house,
The fun continues with a series of "Playtime" shorts that revolve around the recreational activities of our pugnacious leads and their party animal friends. A raucous pool party is the best, closely followed by an effort to build a play set.
The appeal of all this relates to the joyful silly fun to which all dog lovers can relate. The elan of Bingo and Rolly is incredibly infectious.
'Antonio Lopez 1970 Sex Fashion & Disco' DVD: Documentary on Clothing Artist Drawn to Models & Designers
The Film Movement February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 documentary "Antonio Lopez 1970 Sex Fashion & Disco' gives the general populace a chance to catch this groovy flick that is the January 2019 selection of the exceptional Movement Film of the Month Club. Learning about the lives, loves, and lusts of the fashion world elites of the '70s is only the beginning of the fun.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for this 2017 Doc NYC Grand Jury Prize winner clearly conveys the love by the numerous talking heads for Lopez. You also will see his bright and vibrant art that is sure to warm the hearts of those of us trapped in the polar vortex.
Filmmaker James Crump goes well above-and-beyond assembling the team of some that you recognize and some that you hardly even heard of to share their stories of Lopez. A sad aspect of this is that many notables in that group do not participate for reasons that include falling victim to what is known as the plague of the '80s. This film reminds us of the heavy toll that the early days of AIDS takes on the creative community.
Much of the film centers around recently deceased photographer Bill Cunningham, whose love for Lopez is especially strong. His narration provides a great deal of context that includes reminding us that artists such as Lopez transform the clothing industry from merely providing a means to hide our shame to haute couture.
At the heart of it, young Puerto Rican immigrant Lopez taking New York by storm is proof of the American dream. Current make-up artist Corey Tippin telling the tale of a being a student in a college course of Lopez and quickly being singled out to come to the front of the room to model is one of the more interesting stories in the movie that is bursting with fascinating accounts.
Tippin immediately becoming an intimate of his professor in every sense of both terms illustrates a prime theme of "Antonio." This era of free love allows everyone to express physical desire for anyone else regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or consenting student/teacher relationship. A talking head aptly notes that this period is more liberated than our currently enlightened society.
Lopez himself is worthy of a Hollywood biopic; his individual exploits include finding a cross-dressing male street-corner prostitute to step in when a dress does not fit a model. We also learn that his charm and drive allow him to literally simultaneously "make love to" men and women and leave all emotionally and physically satisfied. This includes boyfriends who can be considered life partners by multiplying the length of the relationship by the magic number of seven that applies to both forms of dogs.
The discussion of the group actually known as "Antonio's Girls" further reflects the broad (no pun intended) taste of Lopez. These women include then-models and subsequent actresses Grace Jones and Warhol discovery Patti D'Arbanville. We also hear from Jessica Lange, who immediately captivated Lopez and can thank him for setting her on the path to fame.
One of the more interesting stories is that of 17 year-old Texan Jerry Hall bursting on the scene, Hearing her peers discuss her exuberance and her embracing her new-found wealth and celebrity is very interesting. All of this occurs before Hall marries Mick Jagger and then moves on to her current status as the trophy wife of Silver Fox Rupert Murdoch.
Speaking of Warhol, we learn about his relationship with Lopez; hearing about these men dividing up the counter-culture elites of New York is hilarious,
The subsequent pairing of Karl Lagerfeld when Lopez et al move to France is equally interesting, Learning about the phallic manner in which Lagerfeld subsequently treats Lopez is not surprising but is distressing, The principle here is that particular intimate acts especially entitle you to reasonable consideration regardless of the degree of love associated with said activity.
The biggest lesson in all this is that some people truly lead extraordinary lives that warrant documentaries and biopics. This is a good perspective for folks who think that starting a fast-food chain or inventing a mop warrants a movie.
This is not to mention all the people who think that starting a recycling program at their high school qualifies them for a Nobel Prize. Those with exceptional talent, a strong work ethic, and genuinely noteworthy experiences are our true American Idols.
Having stated that, Crump is invited to reach out to me if he wants to make a documentary about a guy who has not made a penny writing about vintage movies and TV shows, indie films, and boutique hotels for 13 years. :-)
A happy coincidence regarding writing this review of the Icarus Films February 5, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 Bullfrog Films documentary "Free Lunch Society" the day after Martin Luther King Day is finding a quote from King on the DVD back cover, This statement is that "the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income."
Filmmaker Christian Tod clearly is on Team MLK; Tod entertains and educates as he shows how a few communities have taken the concept of money for nothing (but not chicks for free) to heart to varying degrees.
The blanket tax refunds during the George W. Bush years provide the proverbial bigger picture here. it is difficult to imagine someone not liking getting a check in the mail, and having a little money either to help with the bills or simply to "treat yo self" always is a good thing. On the other hand, these handouts are a factor regarding the current huge federal deficit.
Going back further in time, advocating teaching someone to fish rather than giving him or her a trout has merit, Aptly going deeper, this works best when all have equal access to the fishing hole.
The first general caveat that must be considered before learning more about this social experiment is that even propaganda that supports your view still is propaganda. A related truism is that there is your side, my side, and the truth.
Much of the focus of the film is on the efforts in Germany to literally share the wealth. A very high-profile advocate of this is drugstore king Gotz Werner. We also meet Michael Bohmeyer, who uses a combination of crowdfunding and Oprah to distribute 1,000 Euros each month for a year to folks who literally get it for being at exactly the right place at the right time.
Moving closer to home, Tod discusses the Alaska state government distributing pipeline profits to the people, The rationale here extends beyond spreading the wealth to compensating the victims of the collateral damage from the project.
The scope of the "Society" also encompasses the history of consideration of widespread handouts by the U.S. federal government.
The numerous talking heads provide copious data regarding the extent to which these programs trigger sloth by recipients of the oft-mentioned bounty. A look at how hitting a jackpot affects lottery workers provides a good indication of the impact of streets paved with bronze.
Although Tod does not address this point in-depth, a classic sitcom once again provides particularly apt insight. A scene in an episode of the '60s fantasycom "I Dream of Jeannie" has master Tony Nelson finishing what he thinks is the latest in an eternal string of free lunches. This astronaut crashes back to earth on learning that the titular genie does not conjure up all of his delicacies out of thin air; she buys some of the gourmet goodies from the local grocery store, and the bill has just come due.
Fans of companion show "Bewitched" likely recall many occasions on which Madman Darrin Stephens must take money from the household budget to remedy harm from witch wife Samantha irresponsibly twitching her nose, Having to buy an electric garage door is only the tip of that iceberg.
A much latter episode of "Jeannie" makes another relevant point. The newly wed sprite is very proud to present her husband with a roomful of items purchased on credit, The lesson here is that you do not pay for such luxuries today but do pay tomorrow.
The DVD bonuses include "Free Lunch Society" hosted by Christian Tod and promo. videos.
The strongest endorsement of the Lionsgate February 5, 2019 DVD & VOD releases of the 2018 season of "Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel" is that these 22 episodes will delight current fans and bring all other viewers into the fold. Two of thees outings being the Halloween and Christmas specials is a bonus. The non-parental warning is that you will feel compelled to shout the catch phrases "Its morphin' time!" and “Ninja Rangers fear no danger!”
Depending on your perspective, "Super" either is a spin-off of the (reviewed) reboot "Power Rangers Ninja Steel" or the second episode of that series. This continuation of the titular superheroes battling monsters from outer space has our team facing a franchise quarter-life crisis that revolves around preventing villain du season Madam Odious from obtaining their power-granting stars that are made from the titular substance.
The above heavy praise for "Super" relates to this series expanding beyond the "Ninja' concept of a new big bad being sent to earth ultimately to have the rangers hand his or her butt to him. An adventure that one ranger aptly describes as "epic" has the nicest kids in town join forces with their predecessors from other "Rangers" incarnations. This group essentially must battle itself (and then some) to prevent worlds literally colliding.
All this fun begins with this somewhat diverse group of shiny happy teens learning what seems to be an increased number of "Saved By the Bell" morals. Additionally, these life lessons seem to be more fully integrated in the nemesis of the week.
A prime example is borderline farmboy Calvin (Yellow Ranger) lying to girlfriend Hayley (White Ranger) about not forgetting their anniversary helping fuel the power of the latest creature bent on the destruction of the team. This experience convinces Calvin that honesty is the best policy. He later learns the wisdom of "be cool, stay in school."
A similar episode has a monster getting the rangers and their fellow Summer Cove High students addicted to a video game that fuels his mojo. We also get the amusing cliche of the group being zapped onto the home turf of this evil entity.
The change-of-pace episodes include the rangers teaming up with a literal space ranger. The mission that they choose to accept is to capture an alien fugitive, An "I fought the law, and the law won" joke is one of the most cool references in "Super."
Some of the above-expressed enthusiasm relates to the escapist joy of "Super" during a period in which it seems that Odious controls the weather. A massive snow/sleet storm immediately followed by a flash freeze, a winter hurricane, several days of heavy winds, a polar vortex, and blinding snow squalls just does not seem right.
The prominent aspect of time travel in the Virgil Films documentary "Outatime: Saving the DeLorean Time Machine" excuses writing about the July 2016 DVD release of this film in February 2019. The starting point (no pun intended) is the Unreal TV post on the FANTABULOUS limited-edition Flux Capacitor Blu-ray set of the "Back to the Future" Trilogy.
The below YouTube clip of a trailer for "Outatime" wonderfully expresses the infectious and/or highly relatable elan of the restoration team. This is especially true regarding those of us adequately ancient to get hooked on the "Future" franchise during the initial releases of the films.
The relevant detour into Blogland begins with being relatively bored when a friend invites me to see "Future" at a second-run theater. The exceeded expectations are indescribable.
The noteworthy memory regarding "II" relates to needing roads where I am going to see it on the premiere date. Said driving surfaces being very snowy and icy to the point of still going despite repeatedly skidding out and getting stuck in snowbanks greatly speaks to the love of the franchise. The strong reaction (complete with a hand gesture) to the cliffhanger at the end also reflects the extent of the obsession with the adventures of the original "Rick and Morty."
This equally entertaining and educational documentary begins with a behind-the-scenes look at the role of the car/time machine in the films; this goes on to the tragic tale of Universal Studios initially leaving the flagship "A" car completely exposed to the elements for years and then not doing much better by merely putting it under a carport. This mistreatment exposes the car to weather-related harm and pilfering by fans. Literally leaving the key in the ignition is a Biff move.
The most interesting talking head from this portion of "Outatime" is the '90s-era studio portrayor of time-machine inventor Doc Brown. This eye witness provides an awesome "you are there" perspective; this is not to mention his perfect impression of the unique voice of that character.
This background information sets the stage for the central story of the film; Project head/compulsive taskmaster Joe Walser and his volunteers have one year to restore what is beyond a s**tbox to perfect working condition. Walser DEMANDING even that screws that no one will see and that aluminum tubing that hugs the car be 100-percent authentic illustrates his virtually impossible standards and the incredible tolerance of his crew. One can be certain that no strawberries are pilfered in the course of this project.
Much of the humor of the film relates to a strong sense that Walser should surrender regarding some battles. This includes having the team strip black paint off a once-silver piece of the car. Using the original paint to restore the "factory" appearance of the part is within the realm of reasonableness; having the unpaid workers with a challenging deadline remove the black paint is one of many instances in which one wonders if Walser constantly washes his hands and regularly worries if he has turned off the lights and unplugged the iron before leaving home.
Fanboys also will rejoice regarding the active involvement of "Future" co-writer and producer Bob Gale; his important contributions include using his star power to persuade fans with "borrowed" parts to donate them to the cause. Though the "owner" of a critically important component of the DeLorean pulls the phallic move of making Team Walser literally bid on that part, a not-so-guilty confession is that the group would have been SOL if your not-so-humble reviewer had anything from the car.
One of the more insightful segments relates to the fan favorite "Mr. Fusion" component. We learn about the legacy of Universal sloppily improvising after the original prop goes missing. The rest of the story is the amusing manner in which the team improvises after the fan who has this piece of film history does not return it.
The suspense throughout "Outatime" extends well beyond whether our band of brothers can recover the original components or perfectly replicate them; we get caught up in them meeting their deadline just as much as we root for Marty McFly to get the DeLorean up to the magic 88 m.p.h. in time, The modern quest being a real story creates a possibility of a lack of a Hollywood ending.
The copious DVD bonuses include filmmaker Steve Concotelli hosting the world premiere of "Outatime" at a place with a strong connection to the "Future" franchise. We also get deleted scenes and an epilogue to the restoration story.
The readily-available vintage Warner Archive DVD of the 1955 action-adventure period-piece "Moonfleet" (1955) is a wonderful Band-aid for what ails most of us during our winter of extreme discontent. The bright and wide CinemaScope format greatly enhances this atmospheric piece set in the titular community on the moors of Dorsetshire.
Fritz Lang ("Metropolis") utilizes his off-beat style very well in this Dickens/Stevenson tale of orphaned boy John Mohune going to Moonfleet to start a beautiful friendship with Jeremy Fox (Stewart Granger), who has a history with the mother of the boy. Although not explicitly stated in this '50s film, there is little doubt that the fox made his way into the hen house and that John is the product of that welcome incursion.
The opening scenes have John walking the moors in search of his new life; a fright for both him and the audience leads to his waking up in a tavern surrounded by a motley crew. The dashing upper-class Fox soon arrives on the scene and takes control.
We soon see that the road that is Hell on which to ride on is paved with good intentions as Fox has the lad shoved into a carriage and shipped back to civilization, The manner in which Fox describes the intended schooling of John is hilarious. Our excitable boy will have none of that and escapes.
The journey continues as John arrives at his ancestral house that Fox now owns. The debauchery that the once heir to the manor witnesses furthers his education. Suffice it to say, Fox is not pleased to see this minor inconvenience.
The Robert Louis Stevenson vibe is particularly strong as an eerie night-time wandering by John leads to his literally stumbling into the lair of a group of smugglers. Learning the extent to which this activity hits home is the first shock for our boy; finding himself without an immediate exit strategy is the next.
Additional harrowing events lead to a father-figure and son treasure hunt that they hope will go well. This involves bonding that extends beyond the divorced dad staple of a round of mini-golf. Nothing strengthens family ties more than fleeing from Redcoats.
Fox subsequently taking a powder is slightly surprising; his return is not, but does lead to another surprise. The two lessons are that a leopard cannot change his spots and that you sometimes must be cruel to be kind in the right measure.
The recent Warner Archive Blu-ray of 1941 Hitchcock film "Suspicion" reinforces that The Home Video King of Classic Movies and The Master of Suspense is a match made in cinephile heaven. This tale of the rushed courtship of sheltered heiress Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) and shillingless playboy Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) joins the growing listing of Blu-ray Hitchcock titles in the Archive catalog. The loving restorations alone justify adding these releases to your collection.
A personal cool aspect of this release is noting the same points that Robert Osborne and other film historians state in the documentary "Before the Fact" Suspicious Hitchcock" that is a Blu-ray extra. This feature also tells about the member of the Hitchcock family who plays a supporting role in "Suspicion."
"Suspicion" comes on the heels of the reviewed Archive release of the aptly titled Jane Wyman film "Stage Fright" in which Hitch has director's remorse regarding a Moby-Dick sized red herring. Other notable Hitchcock films that Archive has adopted include the (reviewed) "ripped-from-the-headlines" Henry Fonda film "The Wrong Man," and the (also-reviewed) "I Confess" that has Montgomery Clift playing a priest who is facing the prospect of letting a murderer escape the earthly consequences of his act. Whether God will get either man for that remains unknown.
Our leads are strangers on a train when they meet; steerage passenger Johnnie sneaks into the first-class carriage in which Lina is riding. Learning that he lacks the funds for the upgrade is the first of several red flags in their relationship.
The paths of Johnnie and Lina cross again during a hunt; the latter soon getting a wake-up call regarding her spinsterhood causes her to latch onto the first gigolo that crosses her path.
The honeymoon period ends on the couple moving into their showplace on returning from their post-wedding trip, Lina learns that Johnnie plans to live large on her nickel. One challenge is that the family fisc is smaller than assumed.
Johnnie continues to show his true colors in ways that include digging his debt hole deeper, continuing to gamble, and getting caught with his hand in the company til. Lina discovering all this on her own does not help matters.
Mounting evidence that includes a friendship between Johnnie and murder-mystery writer Isobel Sedbusk is pure Hitchccok in that it increases the titular response in Lina regarding her belief that Johnnie intends to get a divorce by poison. This element of the film puts an amusing spin on the adage about not buying the cow when you can get the milk for free.
Another fun aspect of "Suspicion" involves having Nigel Bruce of the "Sherlock Holmes" films of the era play long-time Johnnie friend Gordon "Binky" Cochran Thwaite. Bruce does his usual good job playing the good-natured sidekick; he also holds himself very well regarding Grant.
All of the action climaxes with Lina reasonably believing that she is facing imminent mortal danger; This scene with Johnnie shows why he and Fontaine get the big bucks. In true Hitchcock style, the plausible conclusion will surprise you.
The combination of quality source material, a skilled director behind the camera, and a talented ensemble easily earn allay any suspicions that this movie is an outdated production that is not worthy your time in 2019.
Mill Creek Entertainment goes fully old school regarding the January 8, 2018 2-disc DVD release "The Laurel & Hardy Comedy Collection." This extensive set of team and solo shorts and feature films illustrates how these film pioneers influence many duos who follow on the large and small screen.
A recent post on the fantabulous theatrical film "Stan & Ollie" expands on this theme of the legacy of the duo.
The scope of these 24 classic performances include the first pairing that has a sinister-looking Hardy appear in the 1921 Laurel short "The Lucky Dog." This early silent has Laurel starring as a recently evicted tenant who soon becomes the companion of the best friend of man; pure vaudeville ensues in the form of the character whom Laurel portrays inadvertently thwarting the hold-up by the Hardy character. Further hilarity ensues as the Hardy character attempts to recover his ill-gotten gain.
The 1943 color short "The Tree in a Test Tube" is an amusing pulp non-fiction PSA in which Laurel and Hardy discover that a surprising number of household goods are made of wood. We get another alternative format in home movies that show the pair clowning around with the children of Laurel.
A highlight is the classic feature-length film "The Flying Deuces." This one has a lovelorn Hardy get his buddy Laurel to join the French Foreign Legion to help the rotund Romeo forget a broken heart. The boys soon realize the reality of their situation and that walking away is less easy than expected. Of course, hilarity ensues in manners that include making authority figures look foolish.
The lesser-known feature "Utopia" from 1951 is darker and more cynical than "Deuces." This arguably reflects a belief that the fans of the team are a little older and interested in a story line that reflects that maturity.
"Utopia" commences with Laurel and Hardy travelling to London to collect an inheritance of Laurel; the pile of cash quickly diminishing because of taxes and fees is the first bit of "adult content" and recurs during the film.
Hilarity fully ensues as the team and two disenfranchised men hit the high seas en route to the tropical island that is part of the aforementioned legacy. A series of unfortunate circumstances lead to a shipwreck that reminds us that the legacy of the team includes Gilligan and the Skipper.
As oft is the case, a dame who is seeking her own escape from the civilized world coming on the scene creates mayhem. The quartet of men vie for her affections in oft desperate manners. Subsequent arrivals create more complications and hilarity.
The best part of all this is that this MCE release reflects the original mission of Unreal TV; this objective is keeping classic films and television programs in the public consciousness. It sadly is likely that this review is the first that those of the generation that reserve actually making a telephone call to dire emergencies have ever heard of the guys who set the standard for team comedy.
The numerous delights associated with the 2018 BBC Films biopic "Stan & Ollie" that is enjoying a current limited run in North America makes it tough to select an apt starting point. The strongest endorsement for this film is that this tough audience who likely never laughs at a movie and only occasionally smiles laughed out loud at least three times during this one.
An early detour is calling attention to a post on the very funny Mill Creek Entertainment DVD set "The Laurel and Hardy Collection."
One "Point A" is that this tale of the desperate times of the titular comedy team leading to the desperate measure of a 1950s stage-tour of the U.K. evokes strong memories of the "Trip" films of Laurel portayor Steve Coogan with fellow funny guy/actor Rob Brydon. That comic documentary series has Coogan and Brydon entertaining each other and the audience as they take restaurantcentric extended road trips through places such as Italy and Spain. Their dueling Connerys in what is recalled to be during the "Italy" film is hilarious.
Coogan trades in Brydon for Hardy portrayor John C. Reilly this time around. The strong performance of Reilly and his mastery of the comedy style of Hardy makes up for his recent film pairings with Will Ferrell.
The starting point for "Stan" is a dressing-room conversation during the filming of the 1937 Laurel and Hardy film comic western "Way Out West," This figurative form of pillow talk immediately verifies that a comedy team is like a married couple. Stan is expressing concern regarding both the romantic life and the heavy gambling of Ollie. This exchange includes the very Cooganesque line in which Stan advocates not bothering to marry and simply giving someone whom he hates a house.
A more serious topic sets the stage (no pun intended) for the rest of the film. Stan expresses a centuries' old criticism of capitalism in complaining that producer Hal Roach is horribly exploiting the team by making a fortune off of their films and not paying them very much. This leads to learning about the personal politics of Roach.
A confrontation with Roach prompts the first of many "TV Land" thoughts. Stan walks out on Roach and expects that Ollie will follow suit. However, Ollie stays behind and works with an ersatz Stan.
This development evokes thoughts of an episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Head writer Rob Petrie (Van Dyke) walks out over a conflict regarding his work. Although Rob expects that his team/close friends Buddy and Sally will join him, they stay behind. Comic anger ensues.
A related note regarding Van Dyke is that he befriends Laurel in the early '60s and studies under him.
The action in "Stan" then shifts to the aforementioned tour around which most of the film revolves. The objectives of this venture include giving Ollie much needed money and helping the team revive its popularity in order to make a planned "Robin Hood" parody film a reality for these men in tight spots.
This portion of the film strongly relates to the "Happy Days" empire of super-producer Garry Marshall. On the broader level, the genius of Marshall includes his reasoning that a show that is made in the '70s but set in the '50s never looks dated. This is one way that "Stan," like its subject, is eternal.
A narrower perspective relates to the failed "Days" spin-off "Joanie Loves Chachi." Referring to the well-publicized romance and subsequent break-up of stars Erin Moran and Scott Baio, Marshall notes that making the show is tough when Joanie no longer loves Chachi. The same principle clearly applies regarding the comeback tour of Laurel and Hardy.
The first laugh-out-loud moment comes when our boys do a bit with the bell on the front desk of a hotel. This reinforces the principle that something unexpected is funny and the recent comment by comedy legend Carol Burnett (who currently is touring) that funny always be funny. The more narrow focus this time is the HILARIOUS YouTube video of the two cats sitting side-by-side and using their paws to ring a bell so that they will get a treat,
The pure genius of both the source material and Coogan really comes out in a scene in which the unexpected truly is not anticipated. We see our Balki and Cousin Larry dragging a heavy trunk up a long stairway at a rail station. We instantly know that the trunk is going to fall back down the stairs; Ollie asking Stan for the time at the top of the stairs tells us how the trunk will fall.
Stan sadly looking down at the trunk on the platform below and essentially saying fuck it in a much kinder and gentler manner is where the genius enters the picture.
We additionally see the boys onstage doing a bit in which Stan accidentally puts on the hat of Ollie; a moment in which Ollie shows great exasperation but switches the hats himself makes you feel as if you are watching the '60s versions of Laurel and Hardy Gilligan and the Skipper doing their thing.
A moment in which a dejected Stan is reminded that Abbott and Costello have absconded with his career is not worth more mention than that. A scene in which Stan comments to Ollie outside a hotel that "the girls" are due to arrive is noteworthy for evoking thoughts of Art Carney and Jackie Gleason in "The Honeymooners." A bit of wife swapping occurs in the form of lanky funnyman Stan having a tough and flinty Russian wife and rotund straight man Ollie having the more ditzy and mousy spouse.
All of this climaxes as Stan picks the wrong time and place to vent long-restrained resentment. This threatens the previously successful detente between the men. One could fully expect that to be the end of Laurel and Hardy.
The nature of the subject requires that the show goes on. The enhanced manner in which the guys take more than one for the team further enhances the sense that a comedy team is analogous to a married couple. You may not always like your strange bedfellow, but you always love him or her.
The nature of the 2018 first season of the Showtime dramedy "Kidding" makes this multi-level post on the CBS Home Entertainment January 29, 2019 S1 DVD release apt. On the surface, Jim Carrey stars as Jeff Piccirillo, who has spent 30 years playing beloved PBS children's show host Mr. Pickles. Also on the surface, Pickles of "Mr. Pickles Puppet Time" is a manic-depressive version of Mister Rogers.
Digging a little deeper, "Kidding" can be considered an unofficial sequel to the 1998 Carrey film "The Truman Show." That film centers around Carrey character Truman Burbank, who has an existential crisis on obtaining increasingly convincing evidence that he literally is living in a controlled environment. The smoking gun that proves that just because you are paranoid does not mean that no one is watching comes in the form of Truman unknowingly having spent virtually all of his life on a huge sound stage where his literal life story is filmed and used to entertain the viewing public.
A deeper level is Jeff and Truman both being modern versions of the Peter Sellers character Chauncey Gardener in the MUST-SEE 1979 comedy "Being There." Like the post-show Truman, Gardener (nee Chance the gardener) gets thrust in the real world. The rest of the story is that the cultured and educated members of society unwittingly embrace the wisdom of a fool.
One can easily imagine the naive and naturally cheerful and upbeat Jeff being the man whom Truman becomes on joining society. It is equally plausible that the tragedy around which "Kidding" S1 centers would affect Truman in the same manner that it impacts Jeff.
Another deeper layer relates to the issues of preserving a valuable image and the need for all concerned to realize that a celebrity has a public self and a separate private self. The analogy this time comes courtesy of a wonderfully cheesy television movie about the making of the '70scom "The Partridge Family." The suits get upset when a cover of Rolling Stone magazine shows a little skin below the waist of series star David Cassidy. The execs comment that Keith Partridge does not have pubic hair, and the actor playing Cassidy responds that Cassidy does.
The following YouTube clip of a "Kidding" trailer reinforces the above impressions. It also highlights the wonderful trademark quirkiness of this latest addition to premium channel dramedies.
The Showtime/quirky cred. of "Kidding" begins with it being from the mind of Dave Holstein of "Weeds" and "Raising Hope." The indie cred. includes executive-producer Michael Gondry once again teaming with "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" star Carrey. In front of the camera, Judy Greer plays separated spouse Jill and Catherine Keener plays beard/ Jeff sister/puppet creator Deidre. Justin Kirk of "Weeds" plays Jill love interest Peter.
Although the narrative begins with Jeff and beloved puppet Uke Larry appearing on "Conan" to discuss "Puppet Time," our story commences with events that occur exactly one year earlier. A distracted Jill is driving squabbling 11 year-old twins Will and Phil when a truck broadsides their mini-van. Phil dies in this accident.
Jeff separating from Jill is the primary outward collateral damage from the death. The plot thickens in the present as the increasing angst of Jeff prompts him to proportionately advocate for a "Puppet Time" episode on death. Father/producer Seb Piccirillo (Frank Langella) strongly opposes that idea. His motives extend beyond freaking out kids to having concern about the ongoing financial viability of the series.
The rest of the story is that Seb is recruiting Deidre to work with him on plans both to further profit from the current incarnation of "Pickle Time" and to phase Jeff out from the production. A hilarious sub-plot has skater Tara Lipinski playing Mr. Pickles in an ice show. Suffice it to say that someone goes for her jugular regarding that venture.
We also get Will becoming part of a bad crowd and Diedre daughter Maddy regressing, The latter largely is due to the deterioration of the marriage of Diedre after she learns that her husband has been tickling the ivories with the male neighborhood piano teacher. A clarinet v. piano conversation regarding this story line is a hilarious version of the oysters and snails exchange in "Spartacus."
All of this comes to a head when Jeff uses a live-TV opportunity to state just about everything that has been restrained since the accident. The manner in which the tension is immediately broken arguably is the best moment in any of the 10 S1 episodes.
Suffice it to say that everyone is wiser and understands the people in his or her life better at the end of S1. The problems are that no one seems much happier and at least one character bounces before the S2 premiere later this year.
The DVD bonuses begin with separate segments on Jeff and his family. CBS saves the best for last in presenting the hysterical "How "Kidding" Came to Be" in the stop-motion animation style of the opening credits and a few scenes.