The best news as to the WWE-produced 2015 Christmascom "Saanta's Little Helper" starring WWE legend Mike 'The Miz' Mizanin is that Mizanin does not literally or figuratively play a "lunkhead wrestler" beyond frequently showing that he is too sexy for his shirt. This oft-amusing and occasionally hilarious tale of "Greed is Good" businessman Dax the Ax (Mizanin) clearly is an effort of Mizanin to emulate Arnold Schwarzenegger in his roles in the kidcoms "Kindergarten Cop" and "Jingle All the Way."
Our story begins with Dax being gleefully callous in providing a community center notice of an impending eviction. A teen boy not backing down is one of the best scenes in the film. The subsequent scene outside the center shows that that this one is personal for Dax.
The real Santa witnessing this event (and personally experiencing the arrogance of Dax) does not deter Saint Nick from his scheme to make Dax his Ho (aka Ho Ho Ho). This highly coveted "Number One" position at the North Pole can be considered EVP of Operations.
One bump on the road to the job with Santa is an evaluation by personal trainer elf Billie (AnnaLynne McCord), who has no interest in being a hero. Undue preachiness enters the picture as to Billie having the genetic "deformity" of round ears providing the blessing of passing as a "normie" so that she can covertly evaluate Dax; the "curse" is that this feature precludes Billie from playing all the reindeer games.
Corporate ruthlessness enters the picture in the form of Eleanor (WWE "diva" Paige). Eleanor believes that being the daughter of the recently retired Ho Ho Ho entitles her to being a heartbeat away from ruling the North Pole.
The delight continues with always spot-on "one-take wonder" character actor Tom McLaren portraying mortgage company rep. Harvey, who is the bitch that delivers Dax karma regarding foreclosures. McLaren making the most of that scene and his two subsequent brief (but highly memorable) appearances verifies that he rocks. His enthusiasm for the foreclosure and smile on conquering his foe are highly reminiscent of greedy banker Milburn Drysdale of '60scom "The Beverly Hillbillies."
The action then shifts to Billie expressing her own mischievous delight as to putting Dax through a series of humiliating tests to show that he is worthy of a job that he only knows is highly prestigious.
These adventures begin with going into a biker bar wearing an elf hat and moving onto dressing in a mascot costume and waiting on a birthday party full of spoiled brats at a Chuck E. Cheese's clone restaurant. The delight this time includes "Santa" director/sitcom god Gil Junger playing the restaurant owner. The grand finale is Billie conceding that Dax is justified in dispatching the birthday boy with extreme prejudice.
In true Christmas film spirit, these trials (and a subsequent one at a clone of the Springfield Retirement Castle) gradually thaw the heart of Dax; he fully has drunk the egg nog by the time that he is invited to the home office.
The WWE element enters the picture most prominently when Eleanor exercises her right to challenge the appointment of Dax to the post. This leads to a hilarious competition among the two contenders, who seem to be working without a net.
This leads to closure back on earth, which leads to the inevitable happy ending.
The DVD extras include an AWESOME behind-the-scenes feature in which the principals in front of and behind the scenes share favorite childhood Christmas memories. Though this may result in a smackdown, I confess to not watching a short about Paige.
Friend to lovers of retro and neo-retro television series, CBS Home Entertainment provides more reason to rejoice by releasing the awesomely unique second season of the CBS All-Access reboot of 60s sci-fi classic "The Twilight Zone" on DVD on Jan. 12, 2021., The better news is that this 2-disc set reinforces the All-Access cred. as to updating classic '60s sci-fi. This streaming service also is home to the "Trek" series (reviewed) "Discovery" and the even-better (reviewed) "Picard."
The cred. of "Zone" begins with OS guiding light Rod Serling (now deceased) widow/"Zone" producer Carolyn Serling helping to keep the family franchise going strong ala "Trek" god Gene Roddenberry widow Majel Barrett doing so with "Trek" series. Carolyn chooses wisely in partnering with "Zone" '19 creator/host/Oscar winner Jordan Peele in bringing the series to life and paying the OS proper homage.
This aptly 10-episode season commences with "Meet in the Middle," which sets the S2 precedence of particularly honoring the OS tradition of a "left-field" twist in the final minutes. This one starts with an quasi (HILARIOUS Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin comedy) "All of Me" style seemingly random telepathic link between looking-for-love in too many faces Phil and looking-for-love in all the wrong places married Annie.
Shock-and-awe soon turns to friendship, which turns to love, and then to plans for far more than a booty call. The BRILLIANT manner in which Phil learns that femme fatales ain't nothin' but trouble shows that this is your grandfather's "Twilight Zone."
"Among the Downtrodden" is another stand-out episode in a season that verifies the UK theory that producing 10 exceptional offerings in a season is preferable to churning out 22 mediocre ones. This variation of "Heathers," "Mean Girls" and similar Queen "B" high-school girl movies and television fare begins with slightly awkward transfer student Irene immediately coming under fire by the cool kids at her new all-girls' boarding school.
Irene gradually has a positive reversal of fortune when she schools popular classmate Madison in the facts of life by telling the latter that she is the girl with something extra. The "Harry Potter" vibe continues with these unlikely friends experimenting with the powers of Madison in an abandoned bathroom.
The totally unpredictable twist this time proves that Irene is the salt of the earth and that mean girls are mean for a reason.
"A Human Face" earns the award for the most creepy offering. A not-so-happily married couple is in the final stages of closing up their home that is associated with one of the worst tragedies that can befall a bonded pair when they discover something far worse than a rat in their basement. This leads to a "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opening of old wounds and a related need to decide the acceptable level of a suspension of disbelief.
The underlying S2 moral is that it is never too late to return to old school.
The DVD special features include a gag reel and a plethora of deleted and extended scenes. The latter show that babies sometimes are thrown out with the bathwater.
Film Detective awesomely follows up its (reviewed) offering of the arthouse Manson Family fauxumentary "The Other Side of Madness" and the unearthing of the (reviewed) "Mystery Science Theater 3000" fan fave ep "Eegah" with the separate January 19, 2021 DVD and FLAWLESS BD of 1958 cult classic "Giant From the Unknown."
This Richard E. Cunha joint has EVERY element that makes "six-day wonder" kiddie matinee scifi fare a no-reason-to-feel=guilty pleasure. We get the low-tech make-up, the bad acting, and the tried-and-true formula of a menacing monster. The successful blending of "Frankenstein," Sasquatch/Golem, and Indian (my people call them Native Americans) lore set this one apart from the movies that make MST3K a cult classic.
Our story begins with the townfolks of a quiet mountain community learning that the predator of livestock has moved on to mutilating the most dangerous game. Sheriff Parker (Bob Steele of '60scom "F Troop"), who is a menacing hybrid of Andy Taylor and Barney Fife, is ready to pin the crime on local scientific researcher Wayne Brooks.
Archaeologist Dr. Frederick Cleveland and daughter Janet arrive on the tense scene and soon connect with fanboy Wayne, The father-and-daughter team are engaged in their routine expedition to find prove that a larger-than-life Spanish conquistador visited the area 500 years ago and left his mark on the locals. Discovering that Wayne has laid much of their groundwork elates the pair.
The Frankenstein element enters the picture on a combination of the research trio making a major find and a lightning strike ending the centuries-long coma of the title creature (Max "Jethro" Baer, Jr. uncle Buddy Baer).
Of course, the ensuing action commences with the creature gradually making his presence increasingly known and raising the stakes by capturing the "beauty" of the piece. This leads to several wonderfully cheesy confrontations complete with clearly fabricated boulders. The climax shows that all this ballyhoo is water under the bridge.
Ballyhoo Films once more demonstrates its special beautiful friendship with Detective as to the DVD and BD bonus features.
A present-day interview with Gary Crutcher, who portrays stock-character doofus teens boy Charlie Brown, provides amusing insight into both "Giant" and the career of Crutcher. We learn of the growing pains as to "Giant" being the film debut of Crutcher, Crutcher also shares behind-the-scenes stories of a snow storm that is a blessing and a curse and his being content with netting $10 for his six-days of work on the film.
A separate feature in which film historian C. Courtney Joyner shares his thoughts focuses on the bigger picture. We learn of the pedigree of several principals in front-of and behind-the-camera as well as other true Hollywood stories.
A written essay fills in more blanks that offer a great perspective on this timeless B-movie.
The first aptly Covid-related note as to "Wonder Woman 1984" (aka "WW84"), which hit theaters and HBO Max on Christmas Day 2020, is that NO movie is worth risking serious illness and/or death as to spending two-hours-and-31-minutes plus coming attractions and ads breathing the same air as fellow snack-munching audience members in a windowless room that likely has not been thoroughly cleaned since the opening of that business.
The better related news is claiming victory as to being a Chex Mix Buddies scarfing audience of one at home. The lesser (but adequate) experience of watching the movie on my Sony 4K TV definitely made up for not risking my life to view what I correctly assumed to be a second-tier DCU movie. This is not to mention avoiding the hassle of the drive to the cineplex and enduring the chatter of theater patrons. Not having to wear shoes was the synthetic "butter" on the popcorn.
Before the gleeful ripping apart of the film commences, I must advise readers who still decide to suffer through this almost unwatchable dreck to stick it out through to a mid-closing-scenes stinger that pays the "Wonder Woman" 'verse proper homage.
The undue length of "WW84" is worth noting because it reflects the Goldilocks element of Hollywood fare. Action sequences mostly seemed "just right" through the '80s; they became a bit too short in the '90s., Considering climate change, it is somewhat apt that the 21st century can be considered a new Ice Age in that car chases, battle royales, etc are far too long. "WW84" has at least three such snoozefests.
A recent tweet by your not-so-humble reviewer states that most modern movies are roughly 30 minutes too long. "WW84" double downs on that by being AT LEAST 60 minutes longer than necessary.
The pain begins with an entirely unnecessary and aggravatingly extended sequence of a pre-teen Diana Prince competing against adult Amazonians in an extreme games version of a triathlon on her native island of Themyscira (nee Paradise Island). The purpose of this is too show our heroine getting schooled in what anyone 13-and-over knows is a foreshadowing technique.
The action then shifts to the titular present of the film. The (not-so-amusing) unnecessary scene this time is of Wonder Woman in her guise as mild-mannered Smithsonian employee Diana Prince (Gal Godot) quickly and effortlessly dispatching two (of course, male) joyriders. Anyone who chooses to endure this film already knows that our lead is the girl with something extra.
The concurrent "well, duh" action is Prince jogging by a store that has display-window televisions playing a broadcast of textbook "80s-style "Greed is Good" conman Maxwell Lord promoting his latest scheme. Anyone who has reached the age of reason knows that this Lex Luthor Lite is the villain of the film.
Meanwhile back at the museum. mild-mannered researcher Barbara Minerva (badly cast Kristen Wiig) is enduring the "humiliations" associated with being a mousy nerd. The lack-of-surprise this time is knowing that she soon will almost literally will be the "plain Jane" librarian who becomes a smokin' hot "catwoman" on removing her glasses, letting her hair down, and raising her hem line.
The portrayals of Prince, Minerva, and the men in their lives REQUIRE comment on the irksome feminist 'tude of writer/director Patty Jenkins. Asserting that all of us whose reproductive organs are on the outside are weak, evil, and/or foolish and that being a strong woman necessitates being a warrior princess is contrary to the kinder, gentler alternative.
An amusing (if not ironic) aspect of this is that Minerva only derives desired self-esteem on being a sex kitten who went to college and is the object of the affection of every man with whom she has intercourse. For that matter, Jenkins repeatedly (and not-so-subtly) has a behind-the-camera wind machinelowing on Gadot to make her seem more alluring; this is not to mention of dominatrix outfit of our titular "goddess."
Your not-so-humble reviewer believes that the "Mary Tyler Moore" style of feminism is the better model. Women are not superior to men and are entitled to be treated the same as us hairy beasts. I always have held doors open for people of any gender; at the same time, a person whose reproductive organs are on the inside and who looks to be as healthy as me has no more right to my bus or subway seat than I do. Yes, I will give up my seat to ANYONE who seems to need it more.
Returning to our primary topic, a series of unfortunate events lead to both Minerva and Lord getting ahold of a "monkey's paw" artifact that grants the holder one wish; in the case of Lord, he cracks the code as to his wish being to have one-million more wishes. This leads to several terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days for Prince and a comparable two hours for the audience.
A perfect example of magic having a price is the artifact also allowing Prince to necromance deceased lover Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), whose primary raisons d'etre seem to be to look foolish and to adore the "witch" who resurrected him. He is the one who endures the obligatory "trying on outfits" montage, which would have benefited from, accompaniment by the '83 hit "Sharp Dressed Man."
The ensuing "action" leads to very '80s style world-threatening events. Of course, Wonder Woman saves the day at the last minute. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the $15 (or more) that folks that shelled out for a month of HBO Max or that paid a comparable amount to risk Covid in the theater, Despite watching "WW84" during a free trial of HBO Max, I feel entitled to compensation for my pain and suffering,
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 drama "Martyr" has the live-stage vibe that separates the wheat from the chaff. This tale of an aimless failure-to-launch 20-something additionally can be considered a neo-modern fable,
The official accolades for "Martyr" include "Best Artistic Achievement" for writer/director Mazen Khaled at the 2018 Alexandria International Film Festival.
This wonderfully surreal film begins with titular post-adolescent Hassane dreaming about drowning and other things to come. His literal and figurative awakening from his slumber on a mattress in the dining area of his parents' apartment comes on his mother demanding that he get up and find gainful employment. This also involves a few of the most telling moments in the film. Suffice it to say that Hassane has virtually no shame and is very reluctant to engage in employment that is appropriate for his background.
Breaking the Fifth Commandment, Hassane heads out for an afternoon by the sea with his band of beach brothers. This turns out to be more fatal than being welcomed to the working week.
This leads to a procession that evokes Christ being taken down off the cross. The aforementioned friends bring Hassane home, and we witness both the rituals associated with preparing the body and the funeral itself,
All of this provides a glimpse of the global mind of a Millennial who lacks a bright future. We further learn more about the nature of the titular sacrifice.
Breaking supplements this with the Khaled short film "A Very Dangerous Man" about intrigue in 2012 Beirut.
The Mill Creek Entertainment "Retro VHS Style" Blu-ray of the 1988 Jeff Goldblum/Cyndi Lauper comedy "Vibes" provides a good reminder of the wonderfully quirky concepts of films, such as "Big Trouble in Little China" and "The Golden Child," of the era. This alone makes "Vibes' an excellent "Retro" choice; posts on similar "Retro" no-reason-to-feel-guilty pleasures can be found in the MCE section of this site.
Ala fellow (reviewed) "Retro" film "Hudson Hawk, "Vibes" opens with the highly odd events that set the stage for the rest of the film. In this case, ne'er do wells are high in the mountains of South America in search of a lost city of gold; what ensues can be considered Montezuma's revenge.
What occurs next in "Vibes" evokes thoughts of early scenes in classic '80s comedy "Ghostbusters." Sylvia Pickel (Lauper) is participating in research to measure the abilities that she enjoys courtesy of spirit guide Louise, who both whispers in the ear of her psychic friend and allows her to travel outside of her body,
Meanwhile, Nick Deezy (Goldblum) is demonstrating his ability to psychically connect with someone by touching an object with which that person has had contact.
Harry Buscafusco (Peter Falk) provides the (deceptive) final piece of the puzzle; he recruits Deezy and Pickel to accompany him to Ecuador by telling them that he needs their help to find his missing son.
Amusement ensues as forces collide and the truth comes out; all of this climaxes at the original scene of the crime in a scene that PERFECTLY illustrates the FX of the '80s.
The appeal this time relates to seeing '80s pop culture queen Lauper do what she does so well while Goldblum demonstrates his equally era-apt trademark deadpan style.
The Film Movements Classics division of Film Movement pristine Blu-ray release of the 1993 slice-of-of-life comedy "Caro Diario" is the latest example of introducing audiences to one of the greatest movies that many of us never knew existed. The awesome Classic (reviewed) release of the Salma Hayek film "Midaq Alley" also perfectly illustrates this aspect of Classic titles.
The 13 wins for "Diario" include writer/director/star Nanni Moretti scoring the 1994 Cannes Best Director award.
The following "Diario" trailer highlights the three-chapter format of the film and the quirky charm of Moretti.
"Diario" follows the apparent dual tradition of introspective Euro films of having much of the exposition come in the form of an ongoing inner-monologue of the central character in blocks. In this case, we get the wit and wisdom of real-life filmmaker Moretti in three distinct chapters of the titular journal. The manner in which this all ties together at the end of the movie validates the theory that Hollywood (and Portland) has a great deal to learn from the film capitals across the pond.
The first chapter finds Moretti having a "Roman Holiday" by cruising around his home turf on his scooter. His adventures include watching matinees at movie theaters, pontificating about film locations, and expressing his "oh what a feeling" exuberance as to the '80s mainstream hit "Flashdance." This relatively youthful exuberance includes an amusing encounter with a principal as to that no-reason-to-feel guilty pleasure.
The next chapter easily is the most amusing; Moretti goes island hopping in the context of meeting with a collaborator. The highlights include "Trip To" style teasing regarding a (presumably real) pan of a film.
We also see our (presumably childless) lead endure a visit to an island on which toddlers and tweens call all the shots. A few segments in which adults must try to make their way past prepubescent gatekeepers in order to speak to a 'rent on the telephone ring very true. Many of us who are old enough to remember landlines being the only option have had to endure the "little angel" who answers then puts down the receiver before going about his or her overheard business without telling Mommy or Daddy about the call.
The apt final chapter finds Moretti very frustrated as to getting medical professionals to adequately focus on a health problem to actually do him some good; the analogy of giving a patient a Tylenol for a brain tumor sadly is not very far off.
As indicated above, this (presumably directly consecutive) several weeks in the life of Moretti comes down to his finding comfort in a variation of the talking cure. By that time, the audience likes him as much as the "professional friend" who directly has the being Nanni Moretti experience.
As usual, the Classics extras prove that that distributor more than holds its own as to a company that has self-proclaimed itself as setting the criterion for these types of releases. These bonus features include a making-of featurette, a deleted scene, and a written essay on the film.
The impact of extended COVID-19 lockdowns once more is prompting a diversion into Blogland; the topic this time is the merits of physical media over streaming.
A collection of more than 10,000 (and growing) DVD and Blu-ray sets in the Unreal TV Video Library shows that your not-so-humble reviewer puts his money where his mouth is as to extolling the virtues of physical media. Getting to watch virtually any desired content even more on-demand than streaming services that advertise that feature is a primary reason for going old school. Nine nights out of ten involve either pulling a specific craved title off the shelf or browsing the extensive selection in genre areas that mirror the categories on this site.
A recent example is an interest in watching the first "Star Trek" movie in the Kelvin timeframe trilogy leading to viewing all three films during the weekend. A desire last night led to browsing my Kids' section and selecting the SUPERB animated version of "Anastasia."
Much of this reflects my Gen X sensibility as to coming-of-age in an arguable era of theater renaissance just ahead of VHS proliferation causing a downturn in that brick-and-mortar industry. Cineplex Odeons brought a whiff of elegance back to the movies, and many older theaters received makeovers or full-blown facelifts. These upgrades made it fun to go to the movies, and the ticket prices did not compel you to go at 11:00 a.m. to save 50-percent or more on the inflated price of admission.
Further, not every release of the mid-80s was spectacular but at least offered decent entertainment. You typically could find a watchable film to fit your mood. It is highly likely that I watched the epic "Reds" within a few weeks of going to both a neo-noir film and literal or figurative John Hughes teencom.
My contrary experience as to the three streaming services to which I have access is that I rarely find a movie that excites me. Thanks to Covid-related lockdowns, I additionally have long exhausted what I consider viable options under the genres that parallel those of my 1,000 square-foot basement full of the best (including not-so-guilty pleasures) of Hollywood and beyond. The "annex" is the sci-fi series collection in my home office.
This leads to the economics of streaming over physical media. I find that many free titles are worth what I pay for them. Regarding the rest, it simply does not make sense to pay X amount to be able to rent a movie that you can watch once or to pay Y to own it for as long as you subscribe to that service or that service has the license to show it.
The typical price for a DVD (and often a Blu-ray) within a year of its release is $5. This is not to mention the bargains that are available at used DVD shops and public library sales in a non-Covid era.
The real-world example this time is "Rise of Skywalker." Plans to pay at least $30 for two tickets to watch it in a genuinely IMAX theater never worked out; as I recall, the price to rent "Skywalker" on demand was $25. That also was the cost to buy the 4K release, which I did purchase. I would have saved some money by waiting a few months.
Aside from spending less to own "Skywalker" than I would have for the privilege to watch a (likely inferior) rented version, adding that film to my collection allows watching the entire 11-movie "Star Wars" saga completely at my leisure.
Nicely anticipated end-of-year viewing includes "1917," "Ford vs. Ferrari," "Zombieland Double Tap," and "The Good Liar" I acquired all five films, two of which are Blu-rays, for roughly $40. This variety PERFECTLY reflects the options on any given Sunday at an Odeon in the '80s.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that the movies of the '80s and '90s provided a desired diversion at a time of relative national stability and unity; it was neither the best nor the worst of times.
Conversely, the 21st century got off to a lousy start with the Y2K scare, the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, and the 911 attacks. We did not get much of a break until 2016 brought unprecedented Hell that turned especially deadly and divisive in 2020.
Additionally, streaming increasingly offering studios and distributors a more profitable option than physical media calls for getting while the getting is good. I already have missed out on countless desired titles and have picked up some just ahead of them getting locked in the vault, The context this time includes the recent announcement by Disney that it no longer will release vaulted movies after a decade-or-so in captivity.
The final word on this is that a lack of buying remorse likely will lead to a sense of not acting in haste but repenting at leisure regarding opting to not buy physical media.
The facts that the taglines for the Christmas film "Saving Santa" are "Adventures of a Time Traveling Elf" and "Boldly Go Where No Christmas Has Gone Before" indicates that this truly delightful tale is not your father's Christmas fable. Blu-ray and DVD versions of "Santa" hit real and virtual store shelves on November 1, 2013.
This scifi yuletide story centers around aforementioned time-traveling elf Bernard, voiced by "The Hobbit's" Martin Freeman. Bernard scoops reindeer poop at Santa's stables but strives to be an inventor at Santech, which provides Mr. Claus with the gadgets and gizmos that he requires.
The primary obstacle to Bernard achieving his desired career change is that his inventions, which includes a reindeer translation device that does not transmits in English, does not quite work. As is typical in this type of story, the other scientist elves somewhat cruelly exclude Bernard from their games. Rather than laugh and call him names, they toss him out on the street.
The crisis that prompts Bernard to (repeatedly) engage in the aforementioned time travel comes in the form of an invasion by the wonderfully named rapid package delivery company executive Neville Baddington. Tim Curry does a wonderful G-rated version of Dr. Frank-N-Furter from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" in voicing Neville.
Neville's twin disclosed motivations are desires to acquire the technology that allows Santa, voiced by genuine comedy legend Tim Conway, to make worldwide deliveries overnight and to get Neville's oppressive mother and boss Vera off his back. Charlotte Rae arch-nemesis Joan Collins of "Dynasty" makes Joan Crawford seem like June Cleaver of the '50s sitcom "Leave it to Beaver."
Although Bernard must time travel to "put right what once went wrong," he has an advantage over "Quantum Leap's" Dr. Sam Beckett in that he gets the chance to keep returning to the past "time after time." Like the titular character in the Jean-Claude Van Damme film "Timecop," the time-traveling version of Bernard must avoid contacting any other version of himself.
No one with the literary skills that comprehending this review requires should be surprised that things work out in the end. The great fun relates to seeing how Bernard achieves his mission. Additionally, there a very nice twist at the end brings the story back to the opening scenes.
Even nicer aspects of "Santa" are that it is a holiday film that adults can truly enjoy. The CGI animation is very well-done and has awesome backgrounds and bright colors; the voice actors are well-known and perfectly cast; the story maintains a nice pace and has enough classic scifi (including a Scottish elf frantically stating a need for more power) and action-adventure references to entertain those of us whose current bedtimes do not require asking to stay up late to watch "Frosty" and "Rudolph," and the songs are genuinely catchy.
The final "naughty or nice" evaluation of this one is that it is a great option for stuffing a stocking and is worth popping in the Blu-ray or DVD. On a related note, being placed on Santa's naughty list for "encouraging" people who do not move at traffic lights or leave parking spaces because they are talking or texting on their phones to move should provide for an automatic appeal.
A recent NPR review of a television series provides a perfect perspective as to the Corinth Films DVD release of the 2012 indie film "Two Hundred Thousand Dirty." The NPR personality expresses confusion as to if the show is a comedy or a drama; the conclusion is that that uncertainty means that the program is like real life. The same is true as to "Dirty."
The following "Dirty" trailer illustrates how writer/director/cast member Timothy L, Anderson successfully combines the slacker working-class slob style of Kevin Smith with the wonderfully perverse dark humor of the Coen Brothers.
The opening scenes of mattress store "clerk" Rob wearing a dingy bunny suit while sitting on the toilet in a no-tell-motel perfectly sets the tone for the film. The Smithesque dialogue consists of Rob speaking with fellow employee/future-partner-in-crime Manny (Coolio) about that pair deviating from their practice of working kids' event by booking a plushie fetish session.
The rest of this story is that the suspicion of Rob that he knows the woman who is dominating the session turns out to be accurate; this commences the series of events that introduce the Coen Brothers element.
The action then shifts to Manny, Rob, their manager Preston, and fellow strip-mall rat Martin keeping up with the Smiths. Their day job consists of hanging out inside and in front of the comically failing Affordable Mattress store where Manny and Rob disparage everything that Preston says. The very few customers show that one man's pain is another man's fall-on-the-floor hilarity.
The illogical decision to add Isabelle to the already bloated staff allows for the introduction of the femme fatale. She seduces Rob into agreeing to kill her estranged husband from an arranged shotgun marriage of convenience. Although Rob agrees to go to the mattresses for love and money, Manny and Martin only have the latter motive.
The ensuing Coenesque twists include Rob essentially agreeing to being a double agent, a foul deed going bad, and a body dump becoming absolute rubbish.
The final scene is not surprising but still entertains in a take-the-money-and-run manner. It also proves that dames ain't nothin' but trouble.
The numerous special features include the original "Martin" audition video, a crowdfunding video featuring Anderson, and a music video.
A well-deserved cast-iron pan of the not-ready-for-basic-cable Netflix lesbian-themed film "A New York Christmas" included the statement that your not-so-humble reviewer could write a better LGBTQcentric holiday film. The below outline of such a production proves this. Producers remain welcome to put their money where my mouth is located. One spoiler is that, unlike "Wedding," there is no element of when a fetus dies an angel gets his wings.
Another spoiler is that this concept is the result of a recent 30-minutes sleepless period. In other words, writing an entertaining Christmascom is far from rocket science.
This ready for Logo and Lifetime alike no-reason-to-feel-guilty pleasure centers around 40 year-old Lucas Thomas and his 30 year-old "boy" Dimitri Pappas. (Yes, there will be plenty of Greek jokes.) The relationship of these longtime companions dates back to 21 year-old recent college graduate Dimitri being a production assistant (aka prod ass) on a reality show on which Lucas is an associate producer. Dimitri responds to the criticism of his friends by stating that Lucas is not that old, is not that fat and that he is rich and he adores me.
Nine years later, an out-but-not-so-proud Lucas is the creator/executive producer of a highly rated reality show called "Budz, Studz, and Sudz" that has a different group of (often only wearing Daisy Dukes and work boots) straight men build something while drinking and talking about babes, baseball, and brews.
Dimitri has a token associate producer job that merely facilitates Lucas having the company pay for the lifestyle to which the "boy" has become accustomed. Mornings lounging by the pool in a Speedo and afternoons shopping on Rodeo Drive are justified by a need to present a good image of the company.
Of course, our story begins in early December. Production is starting on a season titled "Deck the Hallz," which finds a group of FEDEX-style delivery drivers building a porch on their jointly-owned fishing cabin in the woods.
The inevitable surprise is Dimitri learning that former college classmate Richard Cabot with whom he had a textbook "its complicated" relationship is one of the guys with a big package. The nature of the relationship is that the college years found Dimitri transitioning from fratboy to fabulous. He and Richard already were good friends when a combination of a heart-to-heart and hormones brought things to a new level and both boys to their knees.
The friendship continued, and the booty calls always involved Richard needing to truly feel valued and share intimacy more than needing to get off. Dimitri accepted that his friend did not really love him. However, being low on the senior-year priority list of his "Brokeback" buddy caused a cessation of all intercourse a few months before graduation.
The post-college life of Richard has involved completely leaving his experimental period aside and initially dating a string of bimbos until meeting Ms. Good Enough who is happy to let him spend most of his free time with the boys,
Anyone who has ever seen one of these movies know that Dimitri and Richard start out as polite colleagues, grow closer, and then have a large fight. For his part, Lucas simultaneously becomes increasing jealous and reminds Dimitri that they never were soulmates.
All of this leads to a West Hollywood ending in which Dimitri chooses being a bro over being a ho.
This article on the Imagicomm Entertainment and Insp Films joint joint "Christmas on the Coast" wraps up a not-so-ghostly trio of posts on collaborative holiday fare from those Santa's helpers. "Coast" has the same strong humor as the (reviewed) "Christmas in the Smokies" and camp drama as the (reviewed) "Christmas on the Range."
This take on the Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner "Romancing the Stone" franchise has Julie Ann Emery playing New York-based lovelorn romance novelist Dru Casssadine, who is neither looking for love in all the wrong places nor in too many faces when she returns to the titular South Carolina small town from whence she immediately escaped after graduating high school 20 years earlier. Her motivation for this sort of a homecoming is a desperate measure in response to a desperate publish-or-perish time,
On arrival, Dru is meet by exuberant mother Ellie, whom Bonnie Bedelia plays with the same elan that she puts in performances in a similar role in the Del Shores "Sordid Lives" franchise.
Interacting with the locals inspires Dru to choose an unflattering perspective of them as the subject of her do-or-die book; this coincides with a budding romance with new boy in town Brysen Flynn. This one does win the award for the cutest meet; in this case, New Yorker Dru tries to bully Brysen into handing over the last bag of marshmallows that he just bought at the local grocery store.
Anyone who has seen any holiday fare of this ilk knows that animosity dissipates to the point of warm and fuzzy feelings all around until the inevitable December freeze. In this case, once (and future?) friends and family learn that you can take the girl out of New York but not the New York out of the girl until maybe you can. A related theme is that the "Daria" of the high school often is a jaded teen outcast because the nicest kids in town do not think that she wants to play their reindeer games,
A semi-spoiler is that the obligatory Christmas Eve miracle shows that you can go home so long as you are willing to be work and play well with others.
A Pacific Northwest streaming service that shall remain shameless helps fill the void as to a dearth of live theater by offering the Leslie Jordan ("Will and Grace") one-man show "My Trip Down the Pink Carpet." This recap of several decades in show business evokes good thoughts of the similar fare of Jordan BFF (and righteous son of a preacher man) Del Shores. Neither out-and-proud dude is afraid to tell it like it is.
The following trailer highlights the elfin effervescence of this member of the Screen Actors' Guild who would qualify for membership in the Lollipop Guild. His use of the oversized boxes on the minimalist stage may as well be the large rocking chair of Lily Tomlin's Edith Ann.
The hilariously candid Jordan quickly establishes that he clearly is the voice of gay men of a certain age who grow up (but do not come out) during a not-so-enlightened era. This includes the tale of his mother taking him to the movies for the first time when he is four.
The rest of this story is that the film is "Darby O'Gill and the Little People," which results in Sean Connery being the first crush of Jordan. The additional hilarity that ensues involves Jordan using the backseat of the family woodie as the stage for his first concert on the way home.
"Remington Steele" era Pierce Brosnan playing the same role for the next generation of gay men indicates that the "Bond" folks know their secondary audience.
Another story that is relatable to roughly 10-percent of the male population is how Jordan first comes to get his groove on at a gay bar, The manner in which he is literally and figurative embraced seems par for the course. This one evokes thoughts of the perfect performance of Jordan in the (reviewed) filmed performance of the Shores play "Southern Baptist Sissies." This time, Jordan is the veteran taking the gayby under his wing.
Jordan further regales the audience with his fresh-off-the-bus tale of (inexplicably) being cast as a tough G-man on an '80s-era Robert Urich series. Everyone on the set making a (presumably failed) effort to get Jordan to butch it up is a "Trip" highlight.
Jordan discussing this mission impossible while bouncing around the stage with the velocity of a pinball channels his tour-de-force performance as aging drag queen Brother Boy in the (reviewed) Shores tour-de-force film "Sordid Lives." A highlight of that film has a hilariously agitated Brother Boy telling Cruella De Vil caliber villain psychiatrist Dr. Eve (Rosemary Alexander) of his limited success with an exercise that involves forcing himself to think of women while pleasuring himself.
A surprising omission as to the reminiscing about this part of his life is Jordan not saying Jack about his two-season supporting role on the John Ritter/Markie Post/Billy Bob Thornton sitcom "Heart's Afire." Many of us would have loved to have been a fly on the wall of that set.
The arguably best story involves Jordan buying panties for high spirit Beverly D'Angelo during the filming of the Shores lost cult-classic "Daddy's Dyin' Who's Got the Will." Thanks to Jordan, many people know the intimate details as to what comes between D'Angelo and her Calvins.
Another highlight is a monologue about being an Emmy presenter with Cloris Leachman, This one involves Leachman, who stated in the '70s that she has a third nipple, keeping her cool after a wardrobe malfunction.
Jordan wraps all this up with grand self promotion by promoting the book version of "Carpet;" in this spirit, your not-so-humble reviewer will state just as shamelessly that having Jordan sign a copy would be an appreciated act of Southern hospitality.
The recent news reports of The Galactic Federation makes the Icarus Films Dec. 1, 2020 DVD release of the 2019 documentary "Space Dogs" especially apt. It make one Siriusly wonder both if those brothers from another planet are natives of the dog star and if they offer the astromutts treats and walkies. The only criticism of "Dogs" is that it is not titled "Far Out Space Mutts" as an homage to the Krofft '70s-era Saturday morning series "Far Out Space Nuts."
A warning as to the latter is that you never will be able to resist saying "I said lunch, not launch!" when referring to your midday meal after watching the show.
One also must wonder if the seven festival awards for the documentary equal 49 trophies from the perspective of a dog. These accolades include two wins at the 2019 Locarno International Film Festival and an especially well-deserved cinematography award at the 2020 Diagonale Austria event.
The following trailer easily achieves its objective of creating interest in the film while keeping spoilers to a minimum. The inclusion of the opening exposition of "Dogs" on the fate of the fate of pioneer astromutt a street dog named Laika provides a good sense of the bittersweet tone of this sad-but-true tale.
A primary context in this film that documents the activities of the stray canines that freely roam throughout Moscow is the legend that Laika, who makes the ultimate sacrifice in the name in science, haunts those streets and joins her peers in their adventures. Watching these semi-feral cuties engage in friendly and not-so-friendly activity alone would make a good film. A tragic spoiler is that at least one kitty is killed in the making of the film.
Filmmakers Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter use the story of Laika as the starting point for the history of the expanded use of street dogs in the Russian space program. The black-and-white archival footage of the tortures that these victims endure provides an intentional stark contrast to the color scenes of their peers on the outside. The inhumane experiments evoke thoughts of the Borg of "Trek" lore transforming formerly free-thinking pure organic beings into cyborg drones. This is not to mention the lab dogs involuntarily being strapped into centrifuges and other training equipment that their human counterparts willingly use to prepare for their space travel.
Kremser and Peter additionally document the story of the monkey, who comes to be only known as "Number 65," who is the first primate to go into space. The ensuing reasonable PTSD is just as heartbreaking as the experience of the titular captives.
It is imagined that the two turtles that also go into space do not fare much better than Number 65 and the dogs. Aside from those heroes on the half shell not being as well equipped as the others to communicate their pain and distress, the mythological aspect of choosing that species for that research is interesting.
Icarus augments this with a "behind-the-scenes" video.
The Olive Signature division of Olive Films once more shows a business rival who's your daddy as to the Nov. 17, 2020 Signature release of "Rio Grande" that features John Wayne reuniting with the teen son that the Wayne character has not seen for 15 years. The copious bonus features, including a 20-minute Leonard Maltin documentary, are must-see as the Signature pristine restoration of the film.
This one is a perfect gift for anyone who likes Wayne or appreciates classic cinema.
The only downside as to "Rio Grande" being such a classic that is far more than a Western is an inability to do this final installment in the director John Ford Cavalry Trilogy justice. The behind-the-scenes tidbits include Ford and Wayne only agreeing to make this film in exchange for a promise for the studio to make (reviewed) "The Quiet Man," which also has a Signature release. A more modern example of this is Bill Murray conditioning starring in "Ghostbusters" on being able to make "The Razor's Edge."
Our story begins with Army post commander Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke (Wayne) leading a "mission accomplished" parade home to the cheers of the women and the children at that facility near the titular body of water. His celebration is short-lived on learning that estranged son/West Point washout Jeff Yorke (Claude Jarman, Jr. of "The Yearling,") is among the new recruits. Although many film historians likely consider this heresy and The Duke probably is spinning in his grave, "Rio Grande" arguably is more Jarman's movie than Wayne's.
One of the best scenes in the film has Kirby calling Jeff into his tent to make it clear that their relationship is a hinderance, rather than a help. Jarman holding his own against Wayne and ultimately besting him is one of many ways that that young turk pioneer bests that member of the old guard.
A similar (even more amusing scene) has Jeff show that he is in one of the boys when he takes on the toughest "con" in the yard. An endearing "morning after" scene perfectly conveys that Jeff has passed an initiation that his peers are spared.
The plot thickens on Yorke's estranged wife Kathleen Yorke (Maureen O'Hara) showing up to bring her boy home. The masterful gradual reveal as to that conflict is very era apt.
The dignity and stoicism of Kathleen perfectly showcase the talents of O'Hara. This includes this former Southern belle becoming a laundress for the men in order to stay around long enough to convince her boy to come home.
An element of frontier justice enters the picture as to Trooper Travis Tyree (Ben Johnson) having the law catch up to him as to a crime with which he is charged. The manner in which Kirby resolves the conflict between upholding the law and supporting justice is a prime example of "Rio Grande" having much more substance than saloon fights and cattle stampedes. The end result of all this shows that the Hays Code also has a heart.
"Rio Grande" shows the other side of this coin as to the pursuit of marauders who successfully make a run for the border after killing a few good men. Kirby understandably would like to take off in lukewarm pursuit but knows that he is obliged to respect the sovereignty of our neighbor to the South.
All the elements of "Rio Grande" converge as to an event that shows Kirby that no good deed goes unpunished. He, ala Picard when The Enterprise faces a massive threat, orders the evacuation of the women and the children. This leads those innocents directly into an ambush in a scene that is pure Ford. A 2020 perspective must be expressed as to distress on seeing soldiers using a horse as a barrier; fortunately, that magnificent beast lives to trot another day.
This leads to a rescue mission that is equal parts heart and heroics; this also brings peace to the Kirby clan.
In addition to the aforementioned Maltin feature, Signature provides a bonus in which Jarman discusses the amazing story of how he is discovered. The icing on the cake this time is learning of the Jarman memoir "My Life and the Final Days of Hollywood."
Signature additionally has a feature in which Wayne real-life son Patrick discusses his late father; a documentary on the treatment of Native Americans in the film; the theatrical trailer; a written essay, and much more.
Olive Films further cements its place in the hearts of Unreal TV and other classic film lovers with the Olive Signature October 25, 2016 Blu-ray of the 1952 amusing change-of-pace John Wayne/Maureen O'Hara romantic dramedy "The Quiet Man." This story of retired boxer with a past Sean Thornton returning to the sod and experiencing love at first sight on laying eyes on feisty local lass Mary Kate Danaher is also a change-of-pace for Westerns director/frequent Wayne collaborator John Ford.
Olive expressing well-deserved favoritism for "Quiet" shows that that company awesomely is in the home-video business for the art, rather than the commerce. An upcoming releases of Orson Welles' "MacBeth" provide additional proof that Olive chooses wisely regarding adding films to its catalog.
The Best Director Oscar for Ford of the so much more than an oater Wayne/Jimmy Stewart classic "The Man Who Shoot Liberty Valance" further illustrates that his range extends miles beyond stampedes and shootouts. The Best Cinematography Oscar reflect the beauty of "Quiet," which looks and sounds spectacular in Blu-ray, shot in Ireland. It will make you want to hop the first flight to the Emerald Isle.
This boy-meets-girl fable begins with Wayne's Thornton arriving at the train station five miles from the village that at least two generations of his family called home and where he spent his early childhood. The locals who operate the railroad providing conflicting and misleading directions both gets the Irish charm of "Quiet" off to a good start and is reminiscent of the humor surrounding the Cannonball train in the '60s rural sitcom "Petticoat Junction." Comparable quaintness throughout the film comes in the form of a few Irish folk songs.
Thornton seeing O'Hara's Mary Kate in the field while riding in a horse-and-buggy to his destination accelerates the film to the nice leisurely first gear pace that continues through most of the story.
One underlying conflict develops when Thornton visits the wealthy widow who owns the former Thornton homestead. In romcom style, Mary Kate sibling /Thornton land neighbor Will has been trying to buy that property for years. Their bidding war is one of the best scenes in a film that lacks any bad ones.
Thornton gets with the program better regarding agreeing to respect the local courting rituals. An early step in the process has his hiring drink-loving matchmaker Michaleen Oge Flynn (perfectly played by Hollywood royalty character actor Barry Fitzgerald) to conduct the necessary negotiations and to otherwise do things "properly." Of course, the Danaher brother does his best to show that where there's a Will, there's no way every step of the way.
Irish charm and cunning get our hope to be happy couple to the altar, but the honeymoon is over before the pair hits the wedding night sheets. The Will-induced distress regarding his unhappy bride strains the resolve of retired pugilist with a tragic past Thornton to not break his vow to engage in fisticuffs again.
All of this leads to a very satisfying climax in which both tradition, pride, and personal standards are adequately honored in a manner that is very true to the setting of the film. One can only hope that they rolled out the green carpet for the theatrical premiere of "Quiet."
The extras include a booklet with the aforementioned essay by Olive and great stills and theatrical posters. The tons of special features include commentary by a Ford expert, a Leonard Maltin "making of" documentary a tribute to Maureen O'Hara, and much more.
Personal irony as to Netflix train wreck "A New York Christmas Wedding," which owes a high viewership to hipsters watching it because it is so bad, is that my desire as to the time-travel element of the film is to go back to 5:30 last night and not suffer through this disaster. I long ago abandoned the practice of trashing movies for the joy of it and only write negative posts about projects that horrendous enough to actually enrage.
The rest of my reasoning is that filmmakers who clearly put their hearts and souls into a film deserve props in both sense of that word.
Part of this anger is not the fault of writer/director/star Otoja Abit. My highly significant other suggested watching "Wedding" knowing that its lack of quality was its appeal. I agreed to watch it based on the IMDb synopsis that the main character was magically given a chance to see what life would have been like if she had not "denied her true feelings for her childhood best friend."
I was expecting a so bad it's good Lifetime/Hallmark style film about a women reuniting with the boy who got away in the days before that potential runaway bride is set to walk down the aisle. I could have accepted the story of a repressed lesbian discovering the importance of to thine own self be true if it has been told with more heart and humor.
The first societal note as to "Wedding" is that the evil Netflix empire likely only cares that Abit is generating impressive hits; one can only dread what Obit has planned next for a more suspecting public. I truly can do better with a queer-themed holiday film and invite a producer to put his or her money where my mouth is.
Regular readers know that the appeal of this site includes providing a good sense of a film without providing spoilers. This post is the rare exception to that golden rule. Spoilers both will show why this movie prompts such strong emotions and will help readers avoid the same MilleniHell as your not-so-humble reviewer.
Our story begins with a old-looking teen Jennifer (Nia Fairweather plays the adult role) on the verge of getting busy with horndog boyfriend Vinnie when BFF Gabrielle (Adriana DeMeo is adult Gabrielle) "blocks" her by begging her to come over (and perhaps euphemistically) trim the tree. Jennifer refusing is the turning point that drives the film right off a cliff.
We fast forward 20 years to the portion of the film in which Fairweather actually gives a good performance in contrast to barley showing emotion the rest of the time. She is a Bridezilla contending with a monster-in-law months before the titular ceremony with David; Abit deserves credit for his good portrayal of this man engaged to a girl who knows that she would like kissing a girl.
The stress prompts Jennifer to pull a neo-modern George Bailey by taking an after-dark jog in Central Park. She meets her Clarence in the form of angel Azrael; part of the pain of "Wedding" is Azrael portrayor Cooper Koch alternating between playing the role as fabulous or hipster. His uneven speaking style is worse than nails on a chalkboard.
Jennifer wakes up the next morning in an alternate world in which she is living with fiancee Gabrielle. The grossly understated response to that shock event (and to all that follows) PERFECTLY illustrates the aforementioned bad performance by Fairweather and the lack of holiday spirit in "Wedding." It is clear that beyond having slept there, Jennifer lived there and loved there; she never really died there,
This also relates to a big problem with "Wedding," Gabrifer cites the October 2020 papal pronouncement on same-sex marriage in trying to convince the local priest to marry them in the church, This clearly establishes that this shot-on-location movie is filmed in the middle of the pandemic. Yet, there is no mention of postponing either wedding due to Covid or to that event at all. Further, NO ONE is wearing a mask or social distancing at all!
This leads to the wedding of Gabrifer at which Azrael is a buzzkill in the form of telling Jennifer that she must return to the real world and marry David. Spoiling the climax that Jennifer convincing Azrael to transport her back to the critical Christmas season in which she chooses her bro over her ho is important. The HUGE Millenihell issue as to this is the message that every member of that generation is so special that actions have no consequences; the "kids" can do as they please, and the "adults" will put right what once went wrong.
In contrast, the traditional basic-cable fare of this ilk has the "innocent" either run off with his or her soulmate or tell that special someone to "get on the plane" in modern times. In other words, the lead endures hardship either for the reward of happily ever after or for the warm fuzzy feeling of allowing the needs of the many to take precedence over the needs of the few. The "do-over" does not erase the past.
As if this is not enough, probable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez devotee Abit shows the same intolerance that rightfully warrants scorn by LGBTQ activists. Exposition near the end of the film reveals that Gabrielle going straight after the rejection gets her knocked up with an unwanted baby, losing that little bastard, and then becoming roadkill. This is as bad as the rightfully condemned negative portrayals of gays and lesbians for decades.
Abit does not stop there; we learn late in the film that Azrael is the unborn child of Gabrielle. Nothing says desperately needed holiday cheer than the concept that every time a fetus dies, an angel gets his wings.
The final note is that watching "Wedding" REQUIRED immediately "Disney's Magical Holiday Celebrations" on DisneyPlus to cleanse the stench of the former. A "Silkwood" shower also may be needed.
The closest that the wonderfully perverse 2019 horror flick "S'ids Lake," which is available on a Pacific Northwest VOD service that shall remain shameless, comes to holiday fare is reflecting the family dysfunction around which the sublimely ridiculous MUST-SEE 1994 Denis Leary dark comedy "The Ref" is centered.
The substance in this indie film full of style is the concept of perception that pervades from the opening voice-over narration to the insightful amusing quote in the end credits. The legendary Robin Williams expressed this as "reality, what a concept." This focuses on the titular excitable teen (Kristian Pierce) being the boy with something extra. The icing on the cake is that this may be as much of an illusion as many other aspects of the film. This element REQUIRES watching the stinger after the end credits.
A specific highlight of "S'ids" is the performance of veteran character actor Tom McLaren, whose portrayal of despised biology teacher Mr. Gabriel (who lacks any chemistry with Sid) expertly shows the dark side of the hilarious deadpan style for which McLaren is known. We tease McLaren a lot because we've got him on the spot.
It seems that the only thing that can be taken at face value is that the hard-knock life of Sid dates back to his birth. Mama don't want him; Daddy don't want him. A significant aspect of this is a prominent physical scar that facially represents these internal injuries.
The relationship between Sid and "left behind" classmate Kurt perfectly demonstrates the ambiguity of "S'ids." The audience initially is certain that Kurt is a real live (for now) boy who delights in tormenting our dude who seems to have the sixth sense. That certainty lessens on Sid referring to having a 25 year-old constantly whisper in his ear. Subsequent events indicate that Kurt is not an imaginary frienemy,
There also is a high level of ambiguity as to the death of Sid's little Margie and her subsequent demise. It seems clear that our lead is responsible for this is until the figurative waters become murky. The presence of a woman, her husband, and her other husband create more doubt as to the extent to which the events of the film are the product of the mind of Sid.
The fast pace and overall style of the film firmly places the viewer in the shoes of the oft-befuddled Sid. We lack confidence in our perception of events that may not ever have occurred. This roller-coaster ride continues to the point at which our car abruptly comes to a complete and full stop.
The most relevant real-world analogy to "S'ids" is the almost inevitable disappointment on trying to recreate cherished childhood and post-adolescent memories. The house of our wonder years almost always is smaller and less nice than remembered. Further, meals at our favorite hometown or college-era restaurants are never as good as recalled.
To a lesser extent, clothes and furniture that seem ideal at the store often fall short when we get them home. The same concept applies to beloved movies of even a few years ago almost certainly disappointing when we introduce them to friends and family.
The apt final thought regarding all this is that our minds often create happy memories to help us cope with harsh realities.
Icarus Films and Distrib Films once more joining forces by releasing the French film "My Dog Stupid" (2019) on DVD on December 8, 2020 is the latest example of those cinephiles' gods showing North American what they are missing. Stating that "Stupid" hits EVERY right note as to a film is not an understatement. The strongest endorsement is eliciting chuckles and "aws" from a not-so-humble reviewer who almost always remains totally silent during a movie.
On a broader level, "Stupid" achieves the film ideal of being highly entertaining while provoking thoughts. It additionally has the live-stage vibe that is a hallmark of a film worth savoring and pulling off the shelf every few years. This one also meets the Icarus/Distrib standard of being a foreign film that easily could be remade shot-for-short and line-for-line in the U.S.
This mid-brow version of "Marley and Me" further evokes thought of a review by another site about another film. The writer of that piece notes that an inability to determine if that movie is a comedy or a drama makes it like real life. That quality evokes thoughts of the novels (and awesome film adaptations of those works) of literary god John Irving, who is a lighter version of his peer John Updike. The element of once (and future?) literary giant Henri Mohen ("Stupid" director Yvan Attal) experiencing a parallel midlife crisis and chronic writer's block brings "Wonder Boys" by demigod novelist Michael Chabon to mind.
The following Distrib "Stupid" trailer validates all of the above.
The aptly novel approach, which divides the film into chapters, of "Stupid" begins with voice-over exposition of Henri as he drives home through a deluge after one in a long series of distressing meetings about a new writing projects. This narration tells the viewer more about our lead, who aches for a Roman holiday, in a few minutes than he or she learns about a real or reel person in a year.
The plot thickens on Henri dreading entering Chez Mohen only to find the titular soaking wet bullmastiff lurking in the bushes. This not-so-gentle giant making himself at home allows the hilarity (and trauma-and-drama) to ensue. The overall big picture as to this is that all four adult (or soon-to-be-adult) offspring live at home with Henri and unhappy spouse Cecile (Charlotte Gainsbourg), whose marital history includes an affair to remember.
The not-so-fantastic four siblings consist of stoner/horndog Raph, Pauline who is dating "quirky" combat vet/scene stealer Hugues, surfer/below-c level student Gaspard, and rebel with a chip on his shoulder Noe. One of best chuckle-inducing exchanges has an ungrateful child remind Henri that he has not written anything of quality for 25 years and Dad commenting that that coincides with his having his first kid.
An equally symbolic scene during this portion of the film has Stupid clearly show Hugues both who is the boss and who is his daddy. This common theme includes an incident with potential to test the limits of the right of an employee to be free from unwanted sexual activity in the workplace. The apt message here is that the literature major/lackey is the office bitch in a few senses of that term.
The morning after involves the rude awakening that one of the boys harbored the fugitive canine the night before. This leads to Henri adopting Stupid to assert the place of Henri in the home in which he is the sole means of support of every inhabitant.
The subsequent events are highly relatable both to the "kids" that experience them and the parents that endure them. The only difference is the perfect storm in the form of all four dependents (not to mention Mom) having concurrent extreme turmoil in their lives.
The strongest societal message is the sad-because-it-is-true undue sense of entitlement of the parasitic Millennials. They demand, rather than request, money from their personal ATM while not giving him the respect that he would receive from a stranger on the street.
"Stupid" further stays true to life by having some of the kids turn out alright, some not so much, and every member of the Mohen family live a life of quiet desperation to one degree or another. Sharing that all this provides Henri the material for his second great French novel is not much of a spoiler.
Breaking Glass Pictures detours from its typically more edgy fare to release the 2019 horror film "Exit O' on DVD. This teen-friendly indie horror flick sticks to the basics,
The 17 festival wins, which include two top honors at the 2019 Los Angeles Film Awards, for "Exit" supports the principle of not fixing what is not broken. It also shows that you cannot go wrong stranding a young (or youngish) couple literally and figuratively outside their comfort zone.
The following Breaking trailer for "Exit" highlights the indie and the horror aspects that provide solid art-house style entertainment.
Our textbook (not that there is anything wrong with that) story opens with stereotypical Brooklyn hipsters Billy and Lisa (Angie Duke) driving toward the titular off ramp. Their (perhaps final) destination is a 150 year-old inn that was a regular vacation spot for Billy and his family during his childhood, It is clear from the outset that Billy, who neither is a hero nor a fool with his life, already is on edge.
The figurative trip back in time goes relatively well until Billy starts experiencing creepy occurrences that likely are a mix of actual events and figments of his imagination.
The proverbial back-breaking straw is Billy discovering a textbook videotape in his hotel room. This home movie begins with a pair of good ole boys menacing a couple on the road; the horror hits closer to home when the video rednecks resume the party in the same room where Billy and Lisa are staying.
The factors that prevent the odds from forever being in the favor of Billy include the tape going missing before he can show it to the police, a perception that the "natives" stick together, and a profit motive to hush up any tormenting of tourists. It is equally predictable that recovering the tape does not help the cause of Billy.
One of the best scenes in "Exit" has captive audience Billy and Lisa spending the night waiting for history to repeat itself.
All of this leads to the inevitable escalation of tension that minimally puts Billy on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
The broadest appeal of "Exit" is that it is relatable to folks who enjoy staying at historic inns; these places that remain true to their past always have a least a minor creepy vibe in that they are dated (if not faded) and typically keep the lighting relatively low. This is not to mention any place that is at least 75 years old, has been home to inn keepers and employees, and has hosted guests for decades almost definitely has one or more tales of thing doing bump in the night in its halls.
Breaking supplements this with a cast and crew Q&A session that almost certainly follows a happy hour. We also get a bonus short film title "Harsh Light,"
"Christmas in the Smokies" (2015) puts a strong down-home twist on the holiday miracle theme of the not-so-ghostly trio of yuletide DVDs from Imagicomm Entertainment and Insp Films. This series begins with the (reviewed) "Christmas on the Range" and will wrap up with "Christmas on the Coast."
The following "Smokies" trailer highlights the well-balanced humor and drama (as well of the obligatory scruff of the male frienemy) that are hallmarks of these classics that provide increasingly required holiday cheer.
The sit that provides the romcomdram this time is that Shelby Haygood (Sarah Lancaster of the reviewed Imagicomm joint "Blue Ridge") is battling the local evil developer for ownership of the well-preserved 40 year-old Haygood Farm. The rest of the story is that country-music star/high school sweetheart Mason Wyatt returns to his hometown in disgrace after a highly embarrassing performance on a Southern-fried version of "Dancing With the Stars."
A series of unfortunate circumstances result in Mason living in the Haygood barn for the month of December. Of course, relations between this good ole boy and the girl that he callously left behind thaw as the thermometer drops.
It is equally predictable that all of this climaxes with a Christmas Eve last-minute effort by Shelby to not lose her manger and the rest of her property. The uncertainty includes whether history will repeat itself as to Mason.
This one is distinguishable from the copious amount of basic-cable quality holiday fare (not that there is anything wrong with that) in that it overall is less over-the-top than many otherwise comparable movies and puts a nice twist on the end. Seeing Barry Corbin of "Northern Exposure" fame play a kinder-and-gentler version of Maurice from that cult classic is another nice treat.
Imagicomm also provides its usual gift in the form of separate "Behind-the-Scenes" and "Cast Interviews" features.
The dynamic duo of Icarus Films and Distrib Films take a detour in terms of both location and theme as to their October 20, 2020 joint DVD release of the "based on actual events" 2019 drama "Papicha." This movie set in 1997 Algeria during the civil war in that nation is a departure from the equally good typical Icarus/Distrib release of a film set in modern-day France. Another variation is our lead Nedjma dealing with present-day strife, rather than a struggle to come to terms with past trauma-and-drama that is a regular theme of these foreign gems.
The nine awards and seven additional nominations for "Papicha" validate the quality of this story that could be an overblown melodrama in hands other than those of writer/director Mounia Meddour. The wins include 2020 Cesar Awards for Most Promising Actress for Nedjma portrayor Lyna Khourdi and Best Firm Film for Team Meddour.
Our story begins with Nedjma and two classmates at her all-girls school sneaking out to go clubbing; the party temporarily ends on the girls having to scramble into traditional Muslim garb on being pulled over by the authorities. This encounter does not prevent the single ladies from getting their groove back at the club. That dance scene is comparable to the seemingly obligatory one in Icarus films.
Getting stranded when closing time does not require going home but necessitates leaving the club finds Nedjma and a friend accepting the kindness of two studly strangers. This contributes to the theme of the male/female dynamic in Algeria that is not unique to that repressed nation. This also is relevant to the theme of women who reject the old ways seeking escape from Algeria by almost any possible means. An unplanned (and exceptionally troublesome even for Algeria) pregnancy further reflects the pitfalls of willing to do anything to emigrate.
The aching of Nedjma for personal and professional fulfillment leads to her planning a fashion show of her largely covert business that has subjected her to both hostility and exploitation. A confrontation with a herd of uber-Karens derails those plans, A school official whose understanding of the repression of her students involves only partial willful blindness does not help matters.
Every element of "Papicha" being very far from California makes it far from certain that we will get a Hollywood ending in which the girl gets it all in the form of the man of her dreams and a high-profile career. It is assured that all of our leads are disproportionately older and wiser if not more happy. Sadly, the same is true for most of use during this global pandemic.
CBS Home Entertainment awesomely follows up its (reviewed) recent epic CS DVD set of "Gunsmoke" with the Dec. 1, 2020 CS Blu-ray release of "Mission Impossible" OS (1966-73). This 46 disc set with all 117 never-a-dull minute episodes is just what Dr. Fauci ordered for the latest round of Covid lockdowns. Additionally, you no longer need to think about what to give the Unreal TV fans in your life for Christmas.
The IMDb profile of "MI" perfectly describes it as "an elite covert operations unit carries out highly sensitive missions subject to official denial in the event of failure, death or capture." One spoiler is that the aforementioned disclaimer is abandoned on the famous self-destructing tape that sets the game afoot by the final season.
Another perspective is that you might see the team in Persia, maybe France. They could be in India or perchance you could be with them in Bangkok. They are involved in this or that, everywhere the action's at. You can come on and watch the good guys win,
The doctor's warning is that you will find yourself singing the classic "MI" theme; complete with the riff early in that composition. The good news is that watching a combination of "MI" DVD sets and this BD release for this post shows that the video is greatly enhanced. The better news is that the theme and the other audio is phenomenal!
The 19 awards for this series that launched 5 blockbusters and an '80s reboot series include several Emmys and three Golden Globes. MI is equally notable for being progressive as to casting black actor Greg Morris, who is the ONLY cast member to appear in EVERY episode as team member Barney Collier. Genius-level member of the IT Crowd Collier is the undisputed brains of the operations and otherwise is the equal of his colleagues.
The pilot has S1 team leader Daniel Briggs (Steven Hill) and his team go south of the border to retrieve nuclear warheads from a dictator. "Underdog" voice actor Wally Cox is the first of numerous consultants whom the team recruits for his or expertise. In this case, safecracker Terry Targo is brought in to help liberate the weapons of mass destruction from a hotel vault.
This also is the first of many times that we see spy-in-disguise Rollin Hand (Martin Landau) and others don a "Scooby-Doo" caliber mask and make-up to help pull off the con that is on. This also is the first time that real-life Landau spouse Barbara Bain shows that she is more than a pretty face in her role as femme fatale/it girl Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain).
Although strongman Willy Armitage (Peter Lupus) is only around to do the literal heavy lifting this time; MI wonderfully gives him a chance to show that he is equal parts brain and brawn over the 161 episodes in which he appears. This extends to often either supplementing or filling in for Collier as the tech, wizard of the week. There is at least one occasion that the mission requires freeing Willie.
Briggs disappears without exposition at the end of S1 to be replaced by Jim Phelps (Peter Graves). Landau and Bain depart at the end of S3 due to a contract dispute.
Not having watched all 171 episodes prevents declaring that the team never decides to accept a mission, Having watched every S7 episode allows asserting that there is at least one time that the personal nature of a crime that is more than a misdemeanor prompts the team to spring into action without being told to do so. The aptly titled "Kidnap" revolves around made men who recognize Phelps and Collier from their undercover roles in the S6 episode "Casino" kidnapping the former to coerce the latter into doing their bidding.
The S7 episode "Two Thousand" is a personal series fave. It is one of many "outings in which the team pulls of an elaborate hoax to trick a bad-guy du jour into divulging critically needed information. This "War of the Worlds" level trickery has a rogue scientist believe that it is the end of the world as we know it and that we do not feel fine. The finale is a wonderful homage to fellow '60s cult classic series "The Twilight Zone" that only would have been better if the malfeasor has broken his glasses.
Team "MI" also stays true to it roots in S7 by having a "Gaslight" episode that involves haunting a very masculine Ma Barker style crime boss who ices her traitorous son at the beginning of the episode. Our heroes haunt this mother of all hardened criminals by tricking her into believing that her son is visiting her from beyond the grave. An equally entertaining episode from an earlier season has a "family" guy seeing his dead wife, who triggers infighting.
There also are many times that Team Briggs or Team Phelps must stage the prison break of either an innocent or not-so-innocent, thwart a deal that will finance a nefarious scheme, bring an elusive fugitive to justice. A VERY timely early season outing has Collier taking the lead in a mission to thwart using a rigged voting machine to fix an election.
The series finale hits fills every square in "MI" Bingo. The accepted mission is to recover stolen crown jewels. The typically elaborate con has Collier prove his chops as a safe cracker and the independent contractor of the week use latex to pull off impersonating a fence. A twist this time it that Collier develops a Batman/Catwoman style relationship with his personal femme fatale.
The debriefing this time is that it is doubtful that anyone in 2020 could assemble the team of writers, true prop masters, and dream cast that emulating "MI" requires. As such, the only buyer's remorse as to this set is if you decide to not do so.
The recent Film Movement DVD release of the 2018 Czech film "Winter Flies" proves that the theme of "Tom Sawyer" is both timeless and international. In this case, the coming-of-age occurs during a road trip in a stolen Audi.
The accolades for "Flies" include 4 major wins at the 2019 Czech Lions awards.
Fourteen year-old stud Miara is commencing his odyssey when "quirky" armed and not-so-dangerous peer Hedus pops out and comes along for the ride. It does not take long for the Lennie and George dynamic to become apparent.
An early adventure has the lads rescue a dog from a highly abusive owner; Things get more interesting when "Becky" in the form of Bara, who lacks any physical baggage but has plenty of the emotional variety, joins the group, This leads to the predictable development of Hedus making an awkward play and Mara being the one to get some action.
The inarguably best dynamic in the film is between Mara and Officer Freiwaldova, who serves as a cool mother figure. The narrative in "Flies" regularly shifts between Freiwaldova trying to piece together the relevant events and those actual incidents. She greatly succeeds in getting that kid to understand.
All of this culminates in a climax that proves that there really is no getting through to teenage boys. Mara and Hedus remove any doubt regarding these guys being young, dumb, and full of "spunk."
The well-matched bonus short film "Jackie" deals with the same theme of strained parental relations as "Winter Flies."
Savior of cult classic cinema The Film Detective chooses wisely in opting for separate 50th Anniversary DVD and BD versions of "The Other Side of Madness" (nee "The Helter Skelter Murders") to kick off a series of releases on Wade Williams films.
"Madness" is available for pre-order ahead of the November 24, 2020 releases. The incredible video and audio quality of the BD release (complete with a CD of the Charlie Manson album also titled "The Other Side of Madness") make that one worth buying the upgrade. The Manson opus "Mechanical Boy" may not have a good beat and you may not be able to dance to it, but the lyrics of this essential beat poem will stick with you.
Speaking as one who has seen all of Tate murders films (and LOATHES "Once Upon A Time in America"), it should be undisputed that Williams puts the others to shame. This film that does not seem to deviate from its court documents and interviews provides a solid "you are there" sense. A Ballyhoo Motion Pictures MUST-SEE bonus feature that consists of an audio interview with Williams over "Madness" footage provides an awesome perspective regarding both the demand for authenticity and the emphasis of art over commerce.
Detective goes directly to the source by using the original theatrical trailer for "Madness" to promote the releases. This promo. PERFECTLY highlights the black-and-white photography that successfully conveys the mixed styles of newsreel and low-budget horror film that makes "Madness" so compelling.
The aforementioned interview validates the authenticity of the opening scenes of the Manson family at work and play at the movie ranch that operates under a Charles in charge system. This leads to the first of many courtroom scenes of the murder trial for the killing of Sharon Tate and of her friends who can be considering collateral damage. The testimony in that proceeding provides the exposition method for the re-enactment of that massacre and for explaining the philosophy of Manson. One of the most visually striking scenes transitions to color in a manner that aptly shows the audience that we no longer are in Kansas.
Very timely modern relevance relates to the underlying message of the impact of a cult figure that the general public considers deluded but followers see as charismatic and literally or figurative the word of God.
One of the more powerful non-Tate scenes shows two family members who clearly want to project a militant image burst into the home of a middle-class middle-aged woman and hold a gun on her as they carry off her not-so-valuable possessions. The mastery of Williams is very apparent in one segment in which it is clear that a pet bird either is going to get killed or carted off. The manner in which this is filmed will elicit sympathy in all of us who have not partaken of the Kool-Aid.
The black-and-white photography is especially effective in the oft-depicted scene in which a female family member ghostlike strides back-and-forth in front of a bedroom door at Chez Polanski/Tate. The Williams take on this outshines that of the other productions. Blatant departures from other films about that night show that many of us have been fooled for years.
"Madness" ending with intertitles on the evils of illicit substances provides a bad end to an otherwise excellent film. Drug use is not to be celebrated and can have a high cost, but it seems that (even in the late '60s) very few folks who inhale end up in a cult and even fewer go on a killing spree.
The personal perspective this time is having "Father Knows Best" star Billy Gray, who pays a high professional cost for a "seeds and stems" arrest, once laugh and tell your not-so-humble reviewer "you don't do drugs do you."
For the record, a handful of personal college-era experiences include incidents such as once finding the kitchen witch at the home a friend hilarious and another time cleaning the kitchen at the home of my mother at 11:00 p.m. to provide an excuse to not go upstairs to talk to her after an evening out.
Returning from our Blogland detour, Detective supplements "Madness" and the aforementioned Williams interview with another Williams interview that includes how he gets to visit Manson in jail. We also get the theatrical trailers for "Madness" and "Helter Skelter Murders."
ALL of this shows that ANYONE who does not buy "Madness" genuinely does not know what he or she is missing.