Cinema Libre provides an awesome twofer regarding the April 7, 2020 DVD of the wonderfully edgy 2019 Icelandic drama "From Iceland to Eden." This film shows that quality cinema still exists and that home-video more than compensates for arthouses and cineplexes facing the wrath of COVID-19.
The opening scenes strike the desired balance between exposition and starting the action. Nearly naked 20-something Oliver finds himself in a bathroom with equally compromised peer Loa. He is there on the run from the law, which is in the midst of raiding his supply of assorted illegal drugs; she is there sleeping off a wild night with her host, whom our near-future young lovers find dead from an overdose.
One of several film highlights courtesy of Oliver portaayor Hansel Eagle, whose credits include "Shirtless Dancer" on an episode of "Black Mirror," comes soon after this initial meeting. Oliver casually reciting the increasingly hardcore list of drugs in his inventory triggers Loa remembering him as a well-known drug dealer on the club circuit. An even better moment comes when Oliver expresses displeasure as to having imminently facing a hammer attack at one end and a "cock up my ass" at the other. The performance of the actor playing second-generation drug dealer/"Little Mermaid" fanatic Tumi adds great entertainment value as to that dual threat.
Oliver and Loa soon demonstrate the dual follies of youth and heavy drug use by scheming and dreaming of life in the titular paradise, which is Cuba in this case. This caper commences a development that is relatable to virtually anyone who has had a post-college roommate. Loa convinces her friend to harbor her and Mr. Not Right in the Head for one night despite the opposition of the other guy who shares the place. Of course, this turns into an extended stay.
The daring deeds of our dynamic duo, which including putting Loa at risk of losing what is left of her virtue, quickly escalate, This includes a not-so-bold grab of a stash and cash to a "one last job" plot to be armed and dangerous party crashers at Chez Tumi. Needless to say, things do not go as planned.
All of this culminates in a very surreal ending that both brings things back to the beginning of the film and offers proof that everyone has a soulmate.
The big picture this time is that all of us want a better life, and some of us must work a little harder toward enjoying that desired Utopia.
Being stuck at home virtually 24/7 for a month and knowing that this is going to last at least another three weeks is turning thoughts to good options for marathon (rather than binge) viewings of television series. There may be more of these postings as more sets come to mind.
The general criteria date back to the early days of building a home-video collection that now exceeds 10,000 sets; the overall standard is that the release is of a high-quality, not-widely syndicated series.
The links in the below discussions of each set are to the Unreal TV 2.0 reviews of each release.
The fact that many of these sets are from Mill Creek Entertainment reflects the oft-stated "you've come a long way, Baby" praise for that company in this site. The MCE roots as a producer of bare-bones sets of public domain series and films is a distant memory.
The top choice for Black Plague Friday is the award-winning desert-island worthy MCE complete series Blu-ray set of the gritty FX drama "The Shield." The extraordinary quality of the packaging itself makes this one an epic Father's Day gift.
"Shield," which is a perfect companion to (reviewed) overlapping FX hit "Rescue Me," tells the tales of the men and women who wok out of "The Barn" in the inner-city Farmington (a.k.a. Farm) District of Los Angeles. As indicated above, Vic Mackey and his team are more concerned with taking gaping and bleeding bites out of crime than following either police procedures or Constitutional requirements.
On a lighter note, the MCE complete series Blu-ray set of the "Must-See" sitcom "Community" provides a chance for Human Beings who already are fans to relive the glory of this clever and not afraid to go there series by Dan Harmon of "Rick and Morty" fame. "Virgins" are in for an even bigger treat,
"Community" creator/star Chevy Chase nemesis Harmon truly hits comedy gold with the concept and the execution of "Community." The program centers around misanthropic and conceited disbarred attorney Jeff Winger (Joel McHale of "Talk Soup"). Being caught lying about his undergraduate education results in McHale experiencing what may be the only reel or real case of being sentenced to complete his education. His doing hard time at Greendale Community College sets the stage for interacting with his fellow misfit students and the comically inept faculty and staff and to contend with absurd bureaucracy.
The trifecta of MCE releases concludes with a sitcom that can be almost be considered "'Friends' After Dark" "Happy Endings."
"Endings" begins on a high note for the audience that is a low point for one of the friends around whom the series centers. Future food truckeuter Dave Rose (Zachary Knighton of "Flashforwrd") is standing at the altar with childhood friend/fiancee/failing boutique owner Alex Kerkovich (past literal cougar bait Elisha Cuthbert). The first of an almost "Community" level amount of pop culture references begin with nods to "Xanadu" and "The Graduate," A 20-something guy with an open shirt rollerblades down the aisle and turns Alex into a runaway bride.
The action aptly fastforwards a month to Dave living in the bedroom in the apartment in which gay "chubby" and slovenly college buddy Max Bloom (Adam Pally of (reviewed) "The Mindy Project") is couch surfing in his own shabby loft that has rats in the main living area and a belatedly discovered human squatter in a previously unknown attic space.
Penny Hartz (Casey Wilson of "SNL") is a childhood friend of Dave and Alex. Her dating Max in college seeming to be the highlight of her romantic history states quite a bit about this current fag hag. She and Max being the Karen and the Jack of "Endings" makes having Megan Mullally play her mother apt.
The fifth member of the sextet is Eliza Coupe of "Scrubs" 2.0 playing Alex sibling/ruthless ice queen/successful executive with an initially undisclosed profession Jane Kerkovich-Williams; the obvious joke comes late in the run of the series.
Damon Wayans, Jr. proves the truth of like father like son in his portrayal of the object of the jungle fever of Jane. His Brad Williams is almost as successful as his wife but is much more silly. His many shining moments include his role in a "Get Out" plot years that has the third Kerkovich sister engaged to a black man years before "Out" is released.
Moving onto fellow stellar home-video producer CBS Home Entertainment, the focus shifts to two sets that massively exceed expectations as to "old school" series.
The first season of the tremendous successful Jordan Peele reboot of the classic sci-fi series "The Twilight Zone" properly honors the original and far outpaces prior attempts to emulate Rod Serling.
The press materials for "Zone" expertly convey the style and the substance of this series from producer/narrator Peele, whose Oscar and Emmy bring him halfway to being an EGOT. "Originally airing from 1959 to 1964, 'The Twilight Zone' became a worldwide phenomenon as it used socially conscious storytelling to explore the human condition and culture of the times. The godfather of sci-fi series, the show explored humanity's hopes, despairs, prides and prejudices in meatphoric ways that conventional dramas could not."
Not-so-fond memories of less-than-successful colorization attempts make the phenomenal CBSHE collection of colorized "I Love Lucy" episode a true wonder to behold. The classic outings in this one include ones from the Hollywood and Europe story arcs.
The CBSHE complete series DVD set of the '80s Lucy series "Life With Lucy" deserves an honorable mention because it nicely restores this rare show and allows Lucy fans to complete their home-video collection of her programs.
The only way to conclude this post is to remind fellow sofa spuds of the importance of keeping calm and carrying on.
Omnibus Entertainment (which is a division of foreign-movie god Film Movement) wonderfully goes old school with the DVD release of the highly stylized 2013 black-and-white drama "She Wolf." This work of art visually and thematically evokes thoughts of French New Wave Cinema. The copious extreme physical and sexual violence against our damsel (who may not have a name) in distress alone surely precludes any Hollywood version of this story
This film opens with Damsel being the sub. in a relatively intense S&M sex session. The real climax of this encounter involves her poisoning Mr. Right Now; it soon becomes clear that this is far from her first trip to the rodeo.
Subsequently watching this predator in action proves that man is his own worst enemy. She merely throws out the bait by looking flirtatious; the chum always approaches her completely unaware of their fate.
The plot thickens on a neighbor confronting this praying mantis; he essentially tells her that he knows who she does all summer and that he is going to ensure that she is held accountable for her sins. Young and small relatively innocent Leo becomes the unlikely savior/buddy of Damsel.
Scenes in which the relative heights of Leo and his new girl shift provide some of the heavy symbolism in the film. The manner in which we effectively see the three faces of Eve is even more telling, As indicated above, "Wolf" is a far cry (pun intended) from "Basic Instinct." This dynamic extends to Damsel becoming a protector of Leo.
Damsel fully becomes the prey when an undercover cop gets on her scent; his inept partner provides needed comic relief. A scene in which the cop stalks his prey in her hunting ground of the subway system provides some of the best moments of the film.
Of course, this leads to the noose tightening; the question remains whether the beast will break loose in this film that holds absolutely no allegiance to the Hays Code.
The bottom line this time is that writer/director Tamae Garateguy aptly puts a neo spin on one of the most artistic film styles ever. This modern approach awesomely includes the statement that women are equally whore and Madonna and that having their reproductive organs on the inside does not prevent them from being as brutal as men.
Film Movement fully demonstrates its art-house cred. regarding the DVD release of the documentary "Narcissister Organ Player." This documentary about the titular performance artist reflects the spirit of this genre by provoking a strong or negative reaction.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Narcissister" highlights every element of the film. You get both a glimpse of the freakish theme of the performances and of the psychological bases for those works.
Love her or hate her, one must give Narcissister her due for her creativity and performance ability. The opening scenes demonstrate how she uses her trademark plastic mannequin masks and phenomenal agility to put on what even her biggest fans must admit is a freakish show, These displays are sure to provoke nightmares in small children, who are too young to watch an often topless woman pull items out of her vagina.
The extensive narrative by Narcissister puts her art in perfect context. The starting point is that she is the mixed-race daughter of a Sephardic Jewish mother from Morocco and a black father from Los Angeles, who is a certified physics genius. Growing up brown-skinned among beautiful blonde-haired and blue-eyed people in Southern California also helps make our subject the woman she is today.
A particular manner in which Narcissister makes her use of plastic masks a statement is her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. An element of this is the artist adoring the movie star during the youth of the former and having her parents inform her of the falseness of the idolized beauty,
A rather vivid piece in which Narcissister relives her birth is one of the most symbolic scenes in the film; we also see her live out her fantasy of being a lady who lunches; the bizarre twist at the end is pure performance art. On top of this, we witness a freaky scene in which Narcissister portrays a grunge teen boy only to have things once again go in an even weirder direction,
The strongest behind-the-scenes theme of "Narcissister" is the relationship between the woman of the hour-and-31-minutes and her mother. We extensively see and hear from the elder woman, who shows that the apple does not fall far from the tree. It is clear that Narcissister owes her maternal parent as much thanks for her fame as Christina Crawford owes Mommie Dearest for hers.
Mom also is the center of a childhood memory that will gross out anyone who has ever had a mother. Suffice it to say that the scene that a young Narcissister inadvertently witnesses should be far more traumatic than walking in on parents having sex. This ties with a piece (no pun intended) that is an actual depiction of a piece of excrement as the most disgusting moment in this inarguably provocative documentary.
The bonus features provide the litmus test regarding this particular fandom. Folks whom Narcissister leaves wanting more will delight in the extended and deleted scenes of her performances. Viewers whom she does not enchant will decide that they have had enough.
The Indiepix Films DVD of the 2014 documentary "Is Anybody Listening" sadly has become highly relevant in our dystopian times that being under house arrest has greatly exasperated. The film discusses the non-profit Listen to a Veteran that "Anybody" writer/narrator Paula J. Caplan operates to give veterans a listening post in the form of open pair of ears and a shut mouth. The overall concept is that veterans know that even civilians with the best intentions in the world cannot understand serving in combat or even being a member of the armed forces.
The following Indiepix trailer for "Listening" expertly conveys the solid theme and tone of the film.
Listen is the result of Caplan realizing after several retellings over many years that she merely was hearing her father tell the story of his experience as the leader of an all-black group of soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Her valid reasoning is that picturing her father going through that is highly traumatic. One of those soldiers participating in "Anybody" adds a great deal to the film.
Caplan, who is a psychologist, also understands that veterans are unfairly stigmatized. She states that the conventional false wisdom is that anyone who wants to join the military does so out of a desire to kill. The rest of this inaccurate story is that having to kill and experience the other negative aspects of military life creates a mental illness. The stable and articulate veterans who participate in "Anybody" show that both perceptions are false.
One especially likable veteran discussing the impact of military life hits a highly personal note that is relatable to most of us. A friend has kindly stated as to my concerns regarding the perception of my behavior during a long period of torment that I was reasonably acting in response to an unreasonable situation, The epilogue to this is choosing my current home because it on a corner lot facing away from other houses; I drive into the attached garage and have nothing to do with the neighbors.
The bigger picture as to all this is that many of us avoiding "listening" to what we do not want to hear and that all of us need a caring judgmental person to take that hit.
The coronavirus pandemic has managed to do what Larry David, but not 911, could accomplish to an extent. Namely, a "Seinfeld" reunion.
Although David brought the band back together for a "Seinfeld" mini-reunion that drove much of the S7 action in the HBO David docucom "Curb Your Enthusiasm," the Four Horseman of New York have not had a full-fledged reunion since their iconic sitcom ended in 1998.
The proper context for reading about the reunion begins with taking things in the proper context and remembering that mocking evil reduces its power. Mel Brook and many other comedy writers making fun of Nazis perfectly reflects this concept.
Jerry Seinfeld and David announced today that they have begun work on a script for a 90-minute coronavirus-themed "Seinfeld" reunion. Production is scheduled to commence June 31, 2020. It is scheduled to premiere on the NBC streaming service Peacock on September 23, 2020, which is the 61st birthday of "Seinfeld" star Jason Alexander.
Seinfeld and David explained that they realized that America needed their brand of comedy now more than ever and that the role of New Yorkers in making a horrible situation even worse provided a perfect premise for a reunion.
According to Seinfeld and David, the underlying premise of the reunion is that Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) returning from Italy with an salami triggers an heavily enforced lockdown of the apartment building in which he and fictional Jerry live. The rest of the story is that Kramer renting his apartment on Air BnB before his trip and cutting it short because of the pandemic forces Jerry to take him in.
For his part, Jerry is facing reel wrath that is comparable to the real hatred that Richards faced when lashing out at black audience members at a stand-up gig. Jerry is under fire for a pre-pandemic joke in which he observes that a $2 bottle of hand sanitizer is no match for the toxic environment of the New York subway.
For her part, Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is trying to convince her one-night-stand who is binge watching "Full House" during their joint quarantine that he is immune from the coronavirus so that he will go home.
The fun continues with unemployed hypochondriac George Costanza mistakenly being convinced that he is infected. This prompts George to max out his credit cards on comically extravagant non-returnable items.
Comments by David and real Seinfeld that include stating the reunion pays homage to the epic "Seinfeld" series finale suggests that Peacock special concludes with the gang hitting the road for a rural New England town only to find themselves sharing a large quarantine bubble ala The Bubble Boy of the original series.
The biggest joke regarding all this is that this post is an April Fool's Day joke; not that there is anything wrong with that. One can only hope that David and real Seinfeld truly give the public what we really need these days.
The Film Movement Classics division of cinephile god Film Movement finds itself at the right place at the right time as to its March 31, 2020 release of "Their Finest Hour" coinciding with most of us entering at least a third week of house arrest; "The Shining" jokes stopped being funny several days ago.
"Hour" supplements a recent series of Classics Blu-ray releases of Ealing Studios comedies from the same era as the five WWII-related films that make up new releases. Posts on the comedies can be found in the Film Movement section of this site.
An important perspective as to "Hour" is comparable to an unfounded bias against westerns; just as tales of cowboys and indians typically are about much more than saloon fights and high noon showdowns, films that center around war-related events offer much more than battles.
The aforementioned cabin fever is a major (no pun intended) factor as to not reading the essay or watching most of the five-hours of special features in "Hour." There can be too much of a good thing when you spend at least eight hours a day watching movies everyday for a few weeks.
Similarly, a desire to not make this post a novella requires striking a happy medium between a 25-words-or-less synopsis of each of the five movies and writing a full review.
The collection begins with the 1958 version of "Dunkirk." Unlike the 2017 Christopher Nolan blockbuster, the Ealing version gives the events leading up to the civilian flotilla rescue of far more that seven stranded castaways on the titular shore roughly equal screen time as that exodus. We also get a much more in-depth look at the homefront aspects of those events than Nolan provides.
The Ealing short "The Young Veteran," which looks at WWII from the perspective of a post-adolescent literally and figuratively in the trenches, and a newsreel on Dunkirk are especially notable bonus features.
Classics tells us that the docudrama "The Dam Busters" (1955) inspires the central mission, aside from rescuing the princess, in the original "Star Wars." This compelling films portrays the efforts of a patriotic British engineer to develop a highly precise bomb to further the war effort; we also see the skilled RAF flyers who must meet very tough and equally specifics to allow the weapon of mass destruction to do its job.
"The Colditz Story" is a wonderful mash-up between "The Great Escape" and the '60s sitcom "Hogan's Heroes," both of which almost certainly take inspiration both from the film and the events that inspire it. The central plot this time is that the Germans convert the titular castle into a POW camp for prisoners who escaped from other places where they had unfortunate incarcerations. A series of intertitles that serve as an epilogue provide good context that an include documentary on the castle enhances.
"Ice Cold in Alex" (1958) follows a traditional action-adventure film format; the titular brew is a "carrot" in much the same way that almost all of us look forward to a meal at our favorite restaurant once our own unfortunate incarcerations end. The reel challenge is driving a run-down Army ambulance across the Nazi-infested scorching North African desert.
"Went the Day Well" (1942) arguably is the "Hour" film that is closest to the Ealing comedies. This film, which is based on Graham Greene story, is about a rural British village that is duped in literally welcoming a group of German soldiers into their homes.
In typical Ealing style. the story commences with the daily lives of the villagers, whose existence is somewhere between the central character (reviewed) "Passport to Pimlico" and (reviewed) "Whiskey Galore." The aforementioned fascists soon arrive disguised as British soldiers.
The web of lies soon unravels, and the real drama unfolds when the Nazis figuratively show their true nature. The clear message is to not f**k with the British.
Breaking Glass Pictures timely gave the viewing public a New Year's gift by releasing the 2017 Israeli drama "Scaffolding" on January 1, 2019. The delay in sharing thoughts about this coming-of-age film is attributable to Breaking Glass and other indie-film studios keeping this site very busy with the regular awesome additions to their catalogs.
The numerous accolades for "Scaffolding" include a well-deserved Israeli Film Academy Best Supporting Actor award for the man who portrays high-school literature teacher Rami. He represents the cultured side of the art versus commerce conflict with which excitable boy Asher is dealing. Tough and gruff dad Milo represents the other side.
The following YouTube clip of a "Scaffolding" trailer introduces the theme of the film and provides a strong sense of the characters.
Seventeen year-old Asher is the good son when "Scaffolding" opens; he is a strong and obedient offspring who happily is devoted to the titular company of his self-made man father, High school is a mutual nuisance regarding this highly disruptive presence and that educational institution.
The scales begin to tip in favor of book learning when Rami reaches Asher at a time that the boy also is facing his final finals. The conflict that is at the center of all films of this nature relates to Milo literally needing the help of his son more than ever. Milo directly stating that school is not very important creates more emotional turmoil.
The plot thickens on Asher experiencing the type of angst related to Rami that many of us feel when we view a high-school teacher as a parental figure. A blow to that relationship always hurts, and it is worse when we do not fully understand the cause.
The search for answers causes Asher to fully go out of bounds; of course, this merely worsens his situation.
The artistry of the "Scaffolding" relates to the understated manner in which this universal story unfolds. The actors who portray the three sides of the triangle all play their roles well. We are spared violently frenetic dancing in an empty warehouse and any other excessive demonstrations of teen angst.
We also do not get any extreme displays of adult frustration or other strong feelings. This makes the pivotal act of desperation by Rami especially surprising.
The international vibe of "Scaffolding" continues with the special features. A 20-minute making-of short is in Hebrew without subtitles; the five-minute version has subtitles.
The TLA Releasing March 10, 2020 DVD release of the cute and charming 2019 animated film "Top 3" is an amusing tale of the course of the first relationship of a young gay romantic. This amusing creatively drawn movie from Sweden with love tale clearly shows that love may not be enough to keep us together.
Anton, who is a student in his early 20s, has a habit of composing the titular short lists. These include things such as whom to tell the first time that you do not go home for Christmas, excuses for not going out on a Friday night during a low period, and the notable things to not do on your last night with your future ex-boyfriend.
Anton experiences love at first sight on meeting younger-man David at the library near the end of the undergraduate studies of our hopeless romantic. This leads to a sweet courtship despite the resentment of Anton's hag Miriam.
David turning Japanese when his mother moves to Tokyo is the first trauma that causes drama for our leading queen, This leads to a summer of love at the rural home of the grandmother of Anton. This honeymoon period ending is the second bump in the relationship of these nice young men.
Although these guys presumably have plenty of happy endings, the primary obstacle to them enjoying happily ever after is their different outlooks. Anton speaks for many of us all along the Kinsey Scale in stating that he does not want David to make a significant sacrifice today only to deeply resent his highly significant other a decade from now.
This being a Swedish film and (presumably) not being one that airs on Logo results in there not being a guarantee of a Hollywood ending. It is guaranteed that the boys (and many viewers) will be older and wiser.
The Mill Creek Entertainment February 11, 2020 "VHS Retro Style" Blu-ray of the 1986 Richard Gere/Kim Basinger neo-modern noir film "No Mercy" joins the MCE "Retro" catalog of these films that proves that they do not make 'em even like that anymore. The hardish-boiled "Mercy" is at one end of the spectrum as to the February 2020 "Retro" release; the (soon-to-be-reviewed) Cyndi Lauper/Jeff Goldblum comedy "Vibes" is at the other end; the (recently reviewed) Bruce Willis action-comedy "Hudson Hawk" falls in the middle.
"Mercy" is a blatant "homage" to the 1984 Eddie Murphy film "Beverly Hills Cop," that has Murphy playing a loose-cannon Detroit cop going to the titular city on a revenge mission. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
The similarities of "Those '80s Movies" begin with the opening scenes of "Mercy." Chicago detective EDDIE Jillette (Gere) is working undercover as a car wash attendant on his home turf; Ala "Beverly Hills," things soon go comically awry in a manner that (once more) incurs the wrath of the superior officer of Jillette.
An effort to salvage good from the botched operation leads to Gere and his partner meeting with mid-level criminal Losado, who is in the Windy City looking to hire someone to blow away a target. Losado moll Michel Duval (Basinger) is along for the ride.
Any Trekker knows that the partner of Jillette being a upstanding family guy screams for him to wear a red shirt to work every day. Sure enough, things quickly going sideways prompts Jillette to take an unauthorized trip to New Orleans to either put Losado in the pen (pun intended) or the ground.
It does not take Jillette long to run afoul of the local good ole boys or to reunite with Duval. Incurring the wrath of the NOPD takes a little longer. That involves the typical be on the next plane home or else moment that has equally predictable results.
While "Beverly Hills" largely centers around the relationship between Murphy's Axel Foley and Judge Reinhold's junior detective Rosewood, Jillette and Duval are the "Mercy" power couple.
This pair that is certain to become friends with mutual benefits start out with Jillette engaging with Duval by literally shackling her to him and dragging her through the bayou when the heat is on. This leads to discovering a business that is sleazy even by New Orleans standards and that explains the recruiting trip of Losado.
Along the way, Duval reveals the true nature of her relationship with Losado. Of course, things become very personal in a way that reflects that Losado gets angry when someone plays with his toys.
The inevitable extended mano-a-mano showdown between Jillette and Losado puts Popeye and Bluto to shame.
The "retro" appeal of all this is that "Mercy" is a prime example of film noir evolution to a stage that the femme fatale can dish it out and take just as well as the damaged hero who initially is out for her blood before (typically) having a change of heart.
These Blogland musings as to how the impact of the coronavirus isolation is exacerbating the class gap in America is comparable to a similar recent post on this site. That article discusses the challenges as to a highly significant other going from being around for a few hours a day to constantly being home for an indefinite period.
The bigger picture this time is a pre-existing understanding of the class gap in America. I am for from being a one-percenter but am very fortunate that I do not live paycheck-to-paycheck.
I am aware that my good fortune extends to being able to have bottled water delivered to my home so that I can avoid the bad taste and adverse health effects of tap water. I am even more fortunate to have a back-up generator that powers 75-percent of my home during extended electrical outages. Not having to stress about when damage will be repaired provides immense peace-of-mind.
I am very aware that at least 50-percent of the population lacks either of these luxuries.
The direct inspiration for this post is a news report on hoarding that is leaving grocery store shelves unnecessarily empty. The message in that medium is that people who can afford to stock up should not both because doing so is not needed and because it makes it that much more difficult for people who cannot afford more than a few days of food at the best of times to avoid The Old Mother Hubbard Syndrome. Finding limited dairy products but absolutely no meat, toilet paper, or cleaning products on a trip to the store two days ago perfectly illustrates this.
It is very said that a national sense of "it can't happen here" has transformed into "but it can, Blanche; it can." I confess that I would bought a year's worth of toilet paper and a chest freezer that I would have stocked with meat had I seen this coming. As it is, I have a strong lack of buyer's remorse as to not stocking up more when grocery shopping a few days before the imposition of the lock down.
A related aspect of this is feeling very lucky to have found an online source for toilet paper and paper towels; I remain skeptical regarding if the promised delivery will occur. I confess to this order including 18 rolls of toilet paper.
The triggering thought regarding this is that I am fortunate that I can stock up a little despite paying a slight premium for these items. The same is true regarding an online grocery item that I hope is not a joke as to a scheduled April 1 delivery date.
The bottom line this time is that most of the "haves" will be able to weather the financial crisis and empty store shelves; many "have nots" likely will find themselves either barely treading water or going under. I do not claim to feel their pain and realize that my sympathy does not put food on the table.
I do hope that the "haves" that read this do leave some toilet paper and some hamburger on the shelves for their fellow home-arrest prisoners.
The Mill Creek Entertainment February 25, 2020 Blu-ray release of the 2016-17 12-part mini-series "Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga" is an exceptional addition to the incredible MCE catalog (including steelbooks) of Ultraverse titles. The basis for this praise extends well-beyond the obvious influence of "Star Wars," "Star Trek," and more fundamental lore. The MCE gift of "Ultra Fight Orb," which is the "Orb" sequel, is the proverbial icing on the cake.
The "you've come a long way, Baby" production values in this decades-long Japanese sci-fi franchise are as solid as the underlying story. The only "constructive criticism" is that editing the 23-minute episodes into a two-part feature-film format would have been a nice bonus.
"Saga" is the prequel to "Ultraman Orb" (2016), which this site describes as a Nipponese "Captain Planet"/"Scooby-Doo." "Saga" opens with the titular interstellar hero (aka Gai) and his running buddy Jugglus Juggler, who inarguably is the most complex "Ultra" character and arguably is the most interesting, at Crusader's Peak on Planet 0-50.
Our excitable boys are there to see who is deemed worthy of being transformed into the titular Crusader of Light. Juggler being passed over is the game-changer that makes him such a desirable character in a 'verse mostly populated by goody-goody teens and 20-somethings and buffonish adults.
Juggler setting Gai on his path, which involves a stargate, to being a hero despite the understandable resentment of the former is one-half of the story that leads to a climatic "away game" on Earth.
These events coincide with deranged Dr. Psychi (with some help from his robot friend) taking an ends justify the means approach to making a universe a kinder and gentler place. He already has Queen Bezelves and his evil minion army of Devil Bezelves under his control. Fulfilling his plan requires prompting Empress Amate to transform into the Ultra creature The War Deity, which is a part of her royal legacy. Psychi further requires control over the Tree of Life on Amate home world Planet Kanon.
A "B-story" regarding a dedicated military officer who is wrongfully accused of betraying his Empress-In-Command contributes a wonderful narrative to the series. An unrelated epic early battle royale is a saga highlight.
Meanwhile back on Earth, dedicated 20-something Shohei and his sidekick Yui, whose romantic interest in the boss goes comically unnoticed, discovering a seed of the Tree of Life soon prompts moving the action to our neck of the woods. Shohei and Amate developing a psychic bond while still literally being worlds away is a prominent element of fighting them over there not preventing the need to fight them here.
This being an "Ultra" series, there are battles galore with monsters straight out of camp classic "Lost in Space" and wonderfully cheesy Japanese sci-fi. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
An exceptional team effort during the predictable final battle adds as nice of a note as learning how the power of the Tree of Life extends beyond making existence possible.
The MCE synopsis of "Fight" does such a good job describing that special feature that the following summary of that battle-laden sequel is copied below.
"The vengeful spirits of deceased monsters provide power to Ghost Sorcerer Relbatos, a new enemy that rises the dead to fight Ultraman Zero and Ultraman Orb! Orb mounts an incredible defense using all kinds of Fusion Up forms."
A highly personal aspect of the coronavirus isolation alone warrants this rare detour into Blogland on this review site.
I literally was laughed off the stage while reading an essay that very closely predicted our current nationwide lockdown in a college class a "significant" number of years ago. Mixed feelings as to being proven right are akin to admitted guilty pleasure regarding an abusive college roommate who currently has his 100 or so fast-food franchises shut down; I unequivocally feel badly for his workers.
Equally predictive, a few real and reel incidents are relevant to the increased amount of time that those of us in committed relationships spend with our highly significant others. This began with asking a 70-something friend when he planned to retire from the shop that he owned. He replied that he still worked because his wife had retired, and he wanted to give her an adequate break from him each day,
This conversation roughly coincided with watching a DVD episode of the sitdoc "Curb Your Enthusiasm" about the daily life of "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David; David inspired George Costanza.
Freshly separated fictional wife Cheryl tells Larry that she likes "Seinfeld" Larry better than post "Seinfeld" Larry because he was not home nearly as much when he was working on his "must see" series. That leads to a discussion of a little Larry being the right dosage of that man.
This also relates to a newspaper article several years ago about married couples buying a B n B with high hopes of happily running it together only to massively crack under the combined pressure of keeping the business viable and being together 24/7. The college-era personal experience this time is offering ad hoc help at the Notchland Inn in the New Hampshire White Mountains when the owners offered dinner theater in the form of a combination of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and "The War of the Roses." Current guests still tell the tale of hearing shouting and airborne utensils from the kitchen.
A final perspective is a friend stating years ago that he stayed home from work one day only to have his cats stare at him the entire time as if to say that he was not supposed to there at that time.
Returning things literally and figuratively close to home, I have been fortunate enough to work from home for a "significant" number of years. My highly significant other is an executive, who traditionally has worked at an office but has operated out of our kitchen for the past few days. That may last six weeks.
Living in a 2,100 SF single-family home provides good personal space even during this lockdown; my joke that one of us may end up burying the other in the basement before home arrest ends may be a reality for couples with far less living space.
When we first moved in together, I would have a few hours of alone quiet time before my highly significant other came home; a new job 90-minutes away resulted in me and our cat having the place to ourselves a few nights a week. I am considerate by nature, but not having to think about someone much of the time has become second nature. At the same time, I still am encouraged to call virtually all of the shots.
I still enjoy exceptional accommodations as to maintaining my normal routine; at the same time, I feel self conscious about things such as watching really bad On Demand fare because it provides both variety and a sense that I am not entirely throwing the payment (which would not go down if I cut the cord) for television service.
I additionally want to be a good "spouse;" Newly adopted Marlo and I were just vocally playing with the cat toy named Mr. Mousey (Mr. Elephant is way under the bed) when my highly significant other received a business call. Our literal cat-and-mouse game quickly ended without an iota of resentment.
On a related note, I would feel badly for a client calling only to hear "Gilligan's Island" in the background. I did offer to watch television in the bedroom and was told that it is not necessary.
The bottom line this time is that someone being one of the most important persons in your life does not mean that either of you want the other around all the time. Wanting "Seinfeld" Larry is understandable.
The striking images and related spectacular cinematography in the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2018 drama "Holiday" alone justify adding this film to your home-video collection. It also makes one wonder why Breaking does not spring for a Blu-ray release.
The festival love for this entertaining tale of the trophy girlfriend of an abusive drug lord includes numerous top honors. These accolades include Best Picture at the 2018 Austin Fantastic Fest and Best Director at the 2018 Nordic International Film Festival,
The following YouTube clip of a "Holiday" trailer does not do the style of the film justice but does provide a strong sense of the misogynistic elements and the counter-balancing theme of material girls with blonde ambition considering the boy with the cold hard cash to always be Mr. Right despite the cost of the relationship.
Early scenes have our heroine (pun intended) Sascha getting called out on a damsel-in-distress routine on the cusp of the extended titular vacation with aforementioned pusher Michael, This trip is to pimped-out villa in Bodrum on the Turkish Riviera, Their travel companions are the business associates of Michael and the significant others and children of those legitimate businessmen.
Although lounging in the sun, playing games at the arcade, and clubbing is fun, Sascha soon learns the same lesson as her "sisters" that anyone who "marries" for money pays a high price for enjoying the lifestyles of the rich and loathsome. This includes having to put out on demand and dealing with a man whose temper (and temperament) essentially precludes finding someone to stick around out of love.
One of the best and most telling "Holiday" scenes has a bored Michael sitting in the bitch husband chair at a jewelry store while Sascha shops. This kept woman selecting emerald earrings aptly provides her a sense that she is not in Kansas anymore. Another way of looking at this is that it shows the intersection of her grasping greed and the combination of the lust of Michael and his desire to have a status symbol other than a tattoo on his arm.
More drama enters the picture when Sascha strikes up an unsanctioned relationship with a yachting type. Handsome and kind sailor Thomas shares an intimate moment with Sascha, and both of them want more than a one evening stand. This prompts a jealous Michael to lure Thomas to the villa under false pretenses. The feral aspects of that evening show the true natures of both men.
The climax follows when Sascha plays a booty call gone wrong on Thomas; this leads to her becoming a girl interrupted who truly is dazed and confused. This adds to the morality tale aspect of this beautiful and compelling film.
The Cinema Libre Blu-ray release of the Unrated Director's Cut of the 2017 film "Trauma" both shows that grindhouse and art-house can be compatible and that buying physical media rules. Not only is this version likely more graphic than what shows up on a streaming service or premium channel, the enhanced video and audio of the award-winning cinematography helps make the film compelling.
Our story begins during the 1974 intense unrest in Chile. A man is brutally torturing his wife, who apparently has a communist lover. This horrific revenge ordeal includes an incredibly perverse rape that is an early indication that "Trauama" takes cues from the '70s cult classic "Deliverance." There additionally are some aspects, including a "hey, Mister. I've got your dog down here" element, that evoke thoughts of "Silence of the Lambs."
The action soon shifts to 2011; urbanite Julia and her lover Camila wake and quickly prepare for their trip to the country with Camila sister Andrea and cousin Magdelana. We next see these girls riding in a car without boys as they head toward their retreat. Meanwhile, a man with a connection to that '70s horror show is lurking about in his dilapidated lair that does not seem to have been cleaned since that event,
The worlds collide when the visitors quickly antagonize the local rural folks on arriving near their final destination.
The festivities really start when the women settle in and hit the wine hard; the half-naked dance is fun until someone loses much more than an eye, The prelude to this bloodbath is man-with-a-past Juan and the ill-conceived fruit of his loins crashing the party. This is akin to the locals catching up with the vacationers in "Deliverance,"
The "Trauma" team exceeds expectations by staging the morning after in the labyrinth of horrors that survivalist Juan calls home. The nearly dead woman chained to the wall is only the tip of the iceberg. Of course, not everyone walks out.
Aside from respectable production values and good acting by the central quartet, "Trauma" is notable for going above-and-beyond regarding a premise for a horror movie. Not many of this films even think about tying in carnage with world events; this is not to mention the quarter-life crises of the prey and the relatively level playing field.
The bigger picture is that "Trauma" shows that we all can get along; the art-house is large enough to provide every genre of film shelter so long as it is an appropriate guest.
The Film Movement Classics division of indie-film god Film Movement March 10, 2020 BD double-feature release of "Whiskey Galore" (1949) and "The Maggie" (1954) (aka "High and Dry") once again proves both that funny always is funny and that the Brits kick the arses of Yanks when it comes to comedy. This release also is the third Classics BD of Ealing Studios releases. This site has already covered the Blu-ray of "The Titfield Thunderbolt" (1953) and reviewed the Blu-ray of the 1949 farce "Passport to Pimlico."
These four never-a-dull-moment films make a wonderful home-based classic film festival. The copious in-depth special features that accompany these UK gems aptly give them the royal treatment and are well worth watching.
One of the many common elements of "Whiskey" and "Maggie" is that the are both from Ealing director Alexander Mackendrick, who is better known for "The Ladykillers" and "The Man in the White Suit."
The following SPOILER-LADEN Classics trailer for "Galore" highlights the award-worthy restoration. This promo also provides a strong sense of the so-near and yet-so-far aspect of a small Scottish island that has its supply of the titular libation go dry at the same time that a ship with a large supply of that nectar rounds aground just off shore. Hilarity galore ensues.
Classics does "Maggie" equally proud as to the trailer for that film. The primary "sit" that provides the "com" this time is that wily boat captain McTaggart responds to desperate times by undertaking the desperate measure of deceptively getting the job of transporting cargo that is very precious to American businessman Calvin B. Marshall. Once more, there is copious hilarity.
"Whiskey" is well-acted movie about eccentric antics of quirky residents of a small Scottish island that evokes strong thoughts of similar fare of days of yore such as "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down A Mountain" and "Waking Ned Devine." This is a nice contrast to the modern formula of placing the matinee or teen-boy idol of the week in a film that relies on crude and/or slapstick humor.
The quaint old world setting this time is the small community of Todday. Although the year is 1943, the only impact of the war is the local pub running out of whisky and not having any hope of replenishing its supply any time soon. The lack of a more serious threat is not stopping the "Dad's Army" style local Home Guard officer from maintaining road blocks and otherwise exercising undue diligence. This textbook self-righteous fool is easily frustrated by the "incompetence" of subordinates and the absurd manner in which the military operates.
The daily life of the Sam Druckeresque postmaster/shop keeper is being complicated by his youngest daughter and earnest school teacher George Campbell wanting to get married despite the strong opposition of Mrs. Campbell, who is the mother of all mothers. The engagement of the older daughter to a soldier on leave is free of similar drama.
The conflict between the cold warring factions heats up when a ship that is transporting 50,000 cases of whisky runs aground off the shore of Todday. The locals want to salvage the titular beverage for their own use, and the Home Guard wet blanket wants to obey the letter of the law. This results in highly entertaining mad dashes on the land and on the sea, as well as hilarious scenes of concealing whisky bottles.
The humor and the action in "Whisky" is so well presented throughout that the film does not climax so much as it winds down. Some characters are a little wiser, others emboldened, and most quite a bit drunker.
An especially awesome of "Whiskey" is that it is funny because it is (somewhat) true.
"The Maggie" follows a similar figurative path; McTaggart encounters numerous obstacles in trying to deliver the goods, which is needed to literally keep his business afloat. This involves literal and figurative rocky moments; the real fun commences with Marshall literally (but not figuratively) comes on board after McTaggart evades earlier attempts to get things on the right course. The ending this time literally and figuratively is far from Hollywood.
The Mill Creek Entertainment February 11, 2020 Retro VHS-Style Blu-ray of the 1991 Bruce Willis action-comedy "Hudson Hawk" awesomely once more provides a second bite at the apple regarding unfairly scorned films of the '80s and '90s. The proper perspective regarding these no-reason-to feel-guilty pleasures is that they fill their purpose of providing roughly 90-minutes of escapist fun. The MCE section of this site includes copious posts on these vintage gems.
Other February 11, 2020 Retro releases include the Cyndi Lauper/Jeff Goldblum comedy "Vibes" and the Richard Gere/Kim Basinger noir film "No Mercy." Posts on each film are scheduled for the next few weeks.
Our story begins a long time ago in a country relatively far away. It is the Italian Renaissance, and Leonardo Da Vinci is simultaneously working on commissioned statue of a horse and a personal side project that he considers a golden opportunity. This sets the stage for the amusement that ensues in our era.
The primary story commences with the titular cat burglar (Willis) ending an unfortunate incarceration for which he is a fall guy. His parole officer derails the rehabilitation of Hawk by giving him the choice of resuming his profession or finding himself once more becoming a guest of the State. A New Jersey mobster, who has the obligatory dimwitted minion, soon makes Hawk the same offer that he cannot refuse.
This prompts Hawk and partner-in-crime (and comedy) Tommy Five Tone (Danny Aiello) to steal the Da Vinci horse. This equine soon proves to be of the Trojan variety in that it contains the true objective of the heist. The fact that it resembles the odjet d'art in the "Brady" living room is a bonus.
The rest of the cast of characters join the caper at the typical upper-crust auction where a horse of the same color is put on the block. These include the highly quirky (and seemingly majorly inbred) Darwin (Richard E. Grant) and Minerva (Sandra Bernhard) Mayflower and Vatican representative Anna Baragli (Andie McDowell), who getting into the act reflects her habit.
Hawk subsequently finds himself an a form of accidental tourist on a Roman Holiday as the aforementioned "patrons" and others with a horse (no pun intended) in the race coerce him into a obtaining everything that a golden opportunity requires. Much of the ensuing fun relates to just about every character discovering that he or she has put his or her trust in the wrong person or persons.
This portion of the film fully takes off as Willis gleefully goes over the top ala Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1993 action-comedy "The Last Action Hero" that is a fellow (reviewed) MCE Retro-style BD release. Highlights include a wonderfully dark decapitation, a bad guy being the victim of textbook poetic justice, and Willis going overboard as to his use of weapon of mass destruction.
All of this concludes with a climax that admittedly is a bit over extended. It is equally predictable that the bad guys seems certain to prevail and that there is a last-minute miracle.
As this post states at the beginning, the appeal of "Hawk" is the escapist thrill ride that it provides at a time that a global plague has descended on us, a large percentage of the population is experiencing a major reversal of fortune, and our overall future does not close to needing shades. This film (and its fellow Retro releases) are excellent medicine for our increasingly (and seemingly endless) dystopian times. All we can do is keep calm and view on.
Film Movement fully celebrates the independent spirit of art-house films with the DVD release of the 2017 drama "I Am Not a Witch." Folks who prefer to download this tale of nine year-old Shula being sent to witch camp can do so through the Movement streaming service.
The sweet 16 accolades for "Witch" begin with the 2018 BAFTA award for "Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer." Many of the other 15 wins similarly honor the film itself and writer/director Rungano Nyoni.
The following YouTube clip of the Movement trailer for "Witch" casts a spell that compels you to want to see more of the guilty-pleasure absurdity and themes that earn the film so much critical love.
The fun begins with wonderful dual commentary on the nature of tourism and the treatment of the disenfranchised in any society. We see tourons (a.ka. tourists + morons) in Zambia traveling to a witch camp. Of course, a group member balks at the price of the experience.
On arriving at their destination, the visitors treat the not-so-beloved sorceresses like zoo animals. For their part, the women who endure that humiliation do so with supernatural stoicism. The education of the day trippers includes the explanation that tethering the women to white ribbons is intended to prevent them from flying away to go on a killing spree. One spoiler is that at least one witch reaches the end of her rope.
The primary commentary then commences in the village where unaccompanied minor Shula resides; our introduction to her shows the incident that leads to her being accused of witchcraft. That judicial proceeding provides a strong sense of the comparable Salem witch trials.
This leads to government official Mr. Banda bringing the girl to the aforementioned camp. A form of tiger repellent logic is used in convincing Shula that she either can consent to be tethered to a white ribbon or be turned into a goat.
Banda subsequently exploits the perception of an unenthusiastic Shula for fun and profit. This includes making her use her alleged power to catch a thief. We also see her sit quietly by as Banta and his partner-in-crime try to get her to play along with a scheme to show that she can literally be a rainmaker.
Meanwhile, the witches also profit from the perception of Shula. They additionally amusingly go about their lives as the bicker and do what is required of them. We additionally get further proof that people from "civilized" nations are clueless.
All of this shows both that every society has the same basic flaws and that all of us should be ashamed, very ashamed.
Movement supplements "Witch" with the Nyoni short-film "Mwansa the Great." We further get an interview in which Nyoni discusses visiting an actual witch camp.
Virgil Films awesomely breaks out of its comfort zone by deviating from its pattern of mostly releasing family-friendly fare on home-video to bring a DVD of "Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street" (2020) to small screen everywhere on March 3, 2020. This aptly camptastic documentary on the 1985 horror film "Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" can be considered Mark's revenge.
This film chronicles the campaign of (still studly) then-closeted "2" star Mark Patton to get screenwriter David Chaskin to acknowledge that the material, rather than the leading man, is the basis for identifying "2" as the "gayest horror movie ever made." The comma between "Scream" and "Queen" in the documentary title reinforces the related observation that Patton is a member of the same sorority as Jamie Lee Curtis.
A "Queen" scene in which Chaskin states that he directed Patton to scream but never instructed him to do it like a girl provides a good sense of the dynamic between the two. "Queen" filmmakers Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen repeatedly inserting "distracting" "2" clips of an S&M shower scene that "aptly" likely is a favorite of Bryan Singer and footage of Patton separately in his well-packed tightie-whities and doing an awesome bump and jerk dance proves that those documentarians know their target audience very well.
Sadly, "Queen" omits a "Revenge" scene in which Patton get pantsed while wearing a jock strap. This memorable moment proves that he works his ass off to take one for the team.
The following trailer for "Queen" goes beyond highlighting the aforementioned style of both "Revenge" and "Queen" to address the accompanying substantial substance of the latter. Namely, the price that Patton pays for playing such a gay character in the not-so-enlightened '80s. This is on top of his having to sacrifice being fully true to himself by taking walks of shame in WeHo in pursuit of a star on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.
"Queen" does an excellent job making Patton both the poster boy for closeted actors in the '80s and the comeback kid beginning with a 2010 "Never Sleep Again" event celebrating the "Nightmare" franchise.
Anyone with a heart will have it break on hearing Patton discuss literally and figuratively being kept out of the picture regarding a profile of his live-in partner "Dallas" stud Timothy Patrick Murphy. The "your little dog too" element of this shows that Mark is a good friend of Dorothy. "Distracting" clips of Murphy remind viewers of the extent to which Lucy Ewing love interest Mickey was so fine and blew our minds. Oh, Mickey.
The better news is that we also see Little Markie, happy at last in the present. His loving relationship is only the tip of the iceberg as to his happy life south of the border. He also is an icon among gay horror fans and is gracious as to returning their love.
The bottom (no pun intended) line as to all this is that "Queen" shows both that gay boys can deliver as well as breeders of both genders and that irrational fears and prejudices ruin careers and deprive folks all along the art versus commerce scale regarding entertainment. That is the real nightmare in this case.
The Icarus Films March 10, 2020 DVD of the 2018 documentary "Time Thieves" (not to be confused with the 1981 Terry Gilliam film "Time Bandits") aptly is a good investment of 85 minutes and will leave you wanting more.
Writer/director Cosima Dannoritzer shows a mastery of her subject in the manner in which she presents her theme on the role of time in the context of business. Each segment is the perfect length, and the overall pace is brick but far from overwhelming.
An early topic in "Thieves" inarguably is the most entertaining in a film full of highlights and lacking a single dull moment. The viewers are introduced to a Amsterdam restaurant in which the diners do all the work to put the food on their tables. The true payoff is the statement of the method behind that madness.
Another highly amusing segment centers around a married couple that were efficiency expert pioneers. Those parents manipulating their unwitting offspring into doing their literal and figurative dirty work is hilarious.
We also learn early on that rail fatalities play a big role in America fully going on the clock in the 1880s; Dannoritzer deserves minute (pun intended) criticism for not addressing how the proliferation of digital clocks and watches in the 1970s escalates the general American obsession with time.
A large focus is on the well-known Japanese work ethic. Learning about the negative economic impact of Japanese people not using all of their vacation time is amusing; the tale of employees at a Japanese electronics firm playing cat-and-mouse with their employer in order to double-down on overtime is bittersweet; learning about the karoshi, which describes overworking being a primary factor in a death is tragic.
Dannoritzer introduces us to the highly sympathetic widow of a chef/karoshi victim. We also learn of the extensive support system for folks who are in imminent danger of the same fate as the chef.
The timely lesson of all this is that the per-unit labor cost often is the most controllable expense in producing a good or service; naming the department that oversees this human RESOURCES fully reflects that.
The secondary lesson is that the general public being agreeable to (and even enjoying) self-check-out at the grocery store or checking themselves in for a flight or a hotel stay proves that there is a sucker born every minute. Anyone in the Boston area who would like a free aerobic workout is invited to do the seasonal clean-up and preparation of a 6,000 square-foot yard.
The genesis of a President's Day Weekend getaway at the Boston Marriott Copley Place was wanting a Minneapolis-style vacation closer to home. Ala the Twin City having skywalks connecting many downtown buildings, the Marriott Copley has climate-controlled access to the upscale Copley Square Mall of which it is a part.
Guests additionally can access the adjacent Prudential Center mall and Hynes Convention Center without going outside. This is not to mention a tunnel that connects to a station of the Boston subway system, which is part of the MBTA (aka "The T").
The weather averaging cloudy 40-degree days confirmed that the hotel was a good choice for a winter visit to Boston. The place teeming with families with young children at the start of a school vacation week showed that that weekend was not optimal for adults seeking a quiet break. The good news was that the hallways and the rooms provided a nice peaceful surrounding. The better news was that this weekend was an anomaly that going almost any other weekend would have corrected.
Getting to stay in the luxurious top-floor Presidential Suite was an incredible treat. Briefly camping out in a standard King room while the suite was being cleaned showed that even that accommodation, which was surprisingly roomy and had a comfy settee, was an option for folks not very "suite" on upgrades.
Having stated that, splurging for the Presidential Suite or even one of the lower-tier suites FULLY supports the Inn Credible New England philosophy that money that otherwise would be spent on increasingly exasperating air travel and staying in a cookie-cutter hotel (which the Copley Marriott is not despite its corporate ownership) is MUCH BETTER "invested" in a upscale experience closer to home.
Having stated that, a special upgrade always enhances a trip when circumstances lead to air travel. This is especially so when celebrating the graduation of a child who either excelled during his or her entire academic career or showed every sign of being a dullard as an infant. The same is true regarding a destination wedding of a beloved friend or family member. Having a spectacular place to escape the maddening crowd as to both types of events further is priceless.
Each of the below photos of the suite being worth far more than 1,000 words is a bonanza to this rejuvenated but still somewhat winter-weary dude, Fully appreciating the physical and mental comfort of the accommodation requires experiencing it.
The bed, complete with a sleep-inducing pillow mist, is the tip of the iceberg. A related hint is bringing spa-quality muscle-relaxing bath salts to use for soaking in the sunken tub in the suite master bathroom; the glass-enclosed shower in the 3/4 bath in the entrance hall is large enough for you and two of your closest (or newest) friends. Personal enjoyment of the suite did not include that.
A related note is that the bidet-quality shower head that "Inn Credible" articles often mention is supplemented by an actual bidet in this suite. That was another missed experience this trip.
This being an urban adventure required leaving behind the "perpetually packed duffel" that is a mainstay of "Inn Credible" trips. The good news is that the suite is so well appointed that not having the power strip and other "what if" items that typically make the duffel helpful did not diminish the stay.
Twenty years of regular solo travel are behind a universal preference for a suite. These trips often involve evenings alone at the B and B or hotel after an active day out and about; it is VERY depressing to have to eat take-out food sitting on a bed and then use that "table" to watch a couple of hours of television.
Suites have equal value when traveling as a couple, a pair, or a family. Three such trips involving having to either literally jump on the bed or press against the wall to allow other person free passage demonstrate the wisdom of an upgrade. Although the standard room at the Copley Marriott is neither shabby nor a "broom closet," each person being able to get a little extra space is nice.
In both cases, ample closet space is handy as to keeping things neat and avoiding tripping over luggage.
The below-depicted den area with the yellow leather sectional sofa was the spot of choice for unwinding while watching "Flintstones" DVDs with the Blu-ray player that I easily connected to the one of the three large-screen sets in the suite.
The more formal living room, complete with a sofa bed, was the choice for separately entertaining a friend and my highly significant other who came in for the afternoon.
The kitchen, complete with a wet bar and a mini-fridge facilitated having snacks and beverages handy.
There also a board-room style conference for literally getting down to business if that is an element of a stay.
The following photo of the 38th-floor panoramic view of The Athens of America and its sister city across the muddy water is the icing on the cake as to this "bucket list" worthy experience. Nor seeing it snow-covered or in the middle of a blizzard is equal parts blessing and curse as to this "Minneapolis" trip.
The figurative big picture as to this hot-laden post is that Boston is a city for all seasons, and the Copley Marriot either is within easy walking distance of it or is a short subway or Uber trip away.
Breaking Glass Pictures fully lives up to its reputation for edgy dark fare as to its its February 18, 2020 DVD release of the 2019 grindhouse-light film "Feedbacck."
This tale of a night of terror for an aging Chav who can be considered the UK answer to Howard Stern, can be thought of as a Blumhouse remake of the '70s com "WKRP in Cincinnati" about the zany staff at a struggling AM radio station. On a related note, one can only hope that Blumhouse does recreate the "WKRP" episode that revolves around a belief that turkeys can fly.
Outspoken Jarvis Dolan arrives at work bloodied but undeterred in the wake of a beatdown inspired by his strong opinions; his glee on throwing around his star status is short-lived when it soon becomes apparent that tonight is not like every other night. For on this night, some people die and others wish for that fate.
The terror for Jarvis and delight for the warped viewers who enjoy his torture begins with learning that his show has been hijacked and that the culprits are at least one step ahead of him. Things follow the standard course of Jarvis being warned against trying to get any help. He also discovers that he is his own captive audience.
Learning that the current "night in question" involves an earlier "night in question" with heavy shades of "WKRP" is far from the end of the story. Virgin feature-film writer/director Pedro C. Alonso does an excellent job keeping the twists coming in a manner that validates the theory that all memories are subjective.
Jarvis and his sidekick being forced to graphically confess their sins under incredible duress and in a highly public manner greatly contributes to the perverse fun of this one.
Alonso further shows his chops in the obligatory escape attempt scene. This one truly demonstrates sound and fury.
Of course, all this ends with the last men (if any) on both sides of the sadistic antics at the end of their ropes and thoroughly exhausted. The awesome thing this time is that all involved get exactly what they deserve,
Purveyor of awesome guilty-pleasure films Wild Eye Releasing continues stepping up its game with the recent DVD release of the smells like teen angst film "A Million Hits."
This B-movie aptly populated with characters to whom that letter can apply in a related context shines a light on the role of social media on coveted teen popularity. Even those of us whose high-school days predate the Web (dark and otherwise ) can relate to wanting to be one of the cool kids and to a literal or figurative party going out of bounds.
A broader perspective regarding all this is that any individual who hopes to profit from an online presence can relate to the less scrupulous among us using deceitful and/or lascivious means to increase hits. A personal point of pride is never "paying for it" and never sharing my naughty bits or behind-closed-door activities to attract readers. I will state that following @tvdvdguy on Twitter will give you a chance to find a chocolate bunny on your lawn on April 12, 2020.
Our story begins with Queen B Ashley administering a massive beat-down to frienemy Amy while sidekick Jess films the action. This escapade lands all three excitable girls in the office of the principal.
The first bit of humor relates to the school administrator invoking the over-blown terrorist threat policy of many K-12 institutions regarding the punishment for the incident. Watching Ashley play innocent and not-so-subtly bully Amy into verifying a claim that they were merely fooling around is hilarious.
The fallout from all this includes the '90s-era camcorder of Jess getting confiscated, and her abusive mother giving her hell for that allegedly valuable item being taken away. Jess manipulating an AV geek in an effort to recover the device also prompts smiles.
Much of the teen drama relates to Ashley responding true to character in both senses of that term on Jess having leverage over that YouTube star. For her part, Jess fairly simultaneously finds her true calling and her dream boy.
For her part, Amy represents the stereotype of a childhood best friend who is callously thrown aside for not thriving during puberty. The fallout from her sharing a video from the good-old-days is another highlight of "Hits."
All of this climaxes in a manner that solidifies that "Hits" is a neo-modern morality tale. One way of stating this it to paraphrase the Mark Twain quote that it is better to not film your misdeeds and be assumed to be a fool, rather than to post them and remove all doubt.
The Breaking Glass Pictures January 21, 2020 DVD of the 2018 documentary "Church & State" provides a look at an early days of the campaign for marriage equality. It also reminds us that the religion of the Osmonds and Katherine Heigel is evil.
The below trailer for "State" reveals the flaws that prevent loving it. Two of the biggest issues are that it does not break (pun intended) new ground and does address a (for now) moot point. A related observation is that the fight for marriage equality is so recent that the 10-percent have not forgotten the prelude to going to the chapel where they're gonna get married.
Further, as the film points out, marriage advocate Mark Lawrence is not a very appealing spokesperson. He acknowledges this in the context of the literal poster boys whom he chooses as the face of the campaign.
Additionally, directors Holly Tuckett and Kendall Wilcox provide PLENTY of talking heads and archival footage but no entertaining graphics or amusing clips from films and television shows. This does keep things dry.
On a broad level, "State" focuses almost exclusively on the passage of an anti-marriage-equality law in Utah and the subsequent legal battles to overturn it. Some mention is made of Hawaii legalizing same-sex marriage, but nothing is said of the lawsuits in Massachusetts and other states. Further, Team Tuckett does not touch on the numerous valid reasons that civil unions are not an acceptable option to marriage.
"State" deserves more props for addressing the need for a rush to the altar (or city hall) on the Utah court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. A related issue is legitimate concern as to having those marriages declared illegal either pending the outcome of an appeal of the decision or a reversal of it.
Personal experience is being on alert in Massachusetts to attend a wedding within minutes of a favorable judgment in the state in that case.
Discussing the principle of states' rights is another positive aspect of "State."
On a more narrow level, it is difficult to imagine anyone being surprised to hear either that the Mormon church is ant-gay or that it is controls the Utah legislature. This is reprehensible but is no different than any other "largest employer" in a state dictating the policy in that jurisdiction.
A clip of the Mormon pope does nicely illustrate a main point of "Church," This latter day saint has a huge smile on his face and is laughing while telling the tale of a Mormon elder who is physically beaten for propositioning his partner during their missionary position.
The mouth of the Mormon says no no regarding this punishment for the guy attempting to get into the magic underwear of his friend; conversely, the eyes of that chosen one say yes yes. A very sad aspect of this is that the Mormon faith holds that that guy will go to Heaven. For the record, your not-so-humble reviewer wants his next existence either to be in Dog Heaven or to be a vengeful spirit.
The bottom line is "so far, so good" regarding the Trump Administration not trying to undo marriage equality; as such, "State" is not so timely in any regard.
'The Miracle of the Little Prince' DVD: Classic Children's Book Gives Dying Cultures Royal Treatment
The Film Movement December 3, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 documentary "The Miracle of the Littlel Prince" serves the noble purpose of reminding us that so many world cultures have been lost as more dominate entities have moved in and taken over, The bonus is a multi-lingual reading of a WWII-era classic.
A benign relatable example in the United States is the massive numbers of children, especially from Asia, who come here with their families and speak their native tongues at home only to struggle with having to speak English at school even in this age of ESL and overall greater cultural sensitivity. Of course, a big difference is that the US powers that be are not trying to kill off any other cultures.
The following Movement trailer for "Miracle" expertly conveys the theme and the tone of the film. We see that the translations are as much of a labor of love as the movie itself.
Movement does just as well describing "Miracle" in writing as it does in the trailer. A passage from the text on DVD back cover states: "There are now versions of the beloved children' story in over 300 different languages. In this emotionally rich, globetrotting documentary director Marjoleine Boonstra travels to Morocco, Scandinavia, El Salvador, and Tibet to find people from diverse backgrounds and linguistic regions who have all chosen this cherished book to help keep their endangered languages and cultures alive."
The above also reflects the meta element of "Miracle." Making a film that highlights all but dead languages and their cultures helps prevent those things from entirely dying out.
Although every segment in "Miracle" is strong and unique, the El Salvador story is the most interesting in that it centers around a ground of older woman helping keep the translation in in their traditional language as accurate as possible. An example of that it that language being able to describe a red flower but lacking a word for rose. The horticulture history lesson as to that is that the Spanish explorers introduce roses to the Americas.
The engaging man who is heading up the effort to translate "Prince" in Tibet also achieves the documentary ideal of being equally entertaining and educational. We also get a strong sense of the level of oppression in that country.
The true legacy of these efforts go back to when man first adequately evolved to communicate in a manner that helps keep early culture alive, We may have come a long way, Baby, but the folks featured in "Miracle" show the value of going old school.