CBS Home Entertainment chooses wisely regarding releasing the 2-disc DVD set of the 2018 Sacha Baron Cohen (a.k.a. Borat and Bruno) Showtime series "Who is America" on election day (a.k.a. November 6, 2018), This return of Cohen to a premium cable network series 15 years after HBO aired "Da Ali G Show" epically combines the best of in-your-face documentarian Michael Moore and character-driven comedian Tracey Ullman by having extreme alter-egos interview well-known politicians and activists and some relative and complete unknowns.
"America" is best known for prompting the resignation of Georgia State Representative Jason Spencer after his inadvertent appearance on the second episode of the series. Cohen transforms himself into unconventional Israeli anti-terrorism expert Erran Morad to trick Spencer into figuratively and literally transforming himself into an ass regarding both identifying and repelling terrorists. The highlight of this hilariously absurd segment is Spencer dropping trou. (and boxer briefs) in an exercise that is designed to show him how to send a terrorist running for the hills.
The initial outing of Morad is even better and arguably is the best bit in the entire series. His S1E1 debut has him interview a gun-rights advocate who supports training children as young as three to use guns. The ensuing hilarity includes a video that promotes guns encased in stuffed animals. These include the Gunny Rabbit and the Uzicorn.
Two other characters who represent the polar opposites of the political spectrum do "America" just as proud as Morad. Billy Wayne Ruddick, Jr. is an scooter-bound ultra-conservative. Watching both Senator Bernie Sanders and legendary newsman Ted Koppel shoot him down is beyond awesome. These segments additionally demonstrate the astonishing cool of Sanders and Koppel.
Another memorable segment has NPR t-shirt wearing Dr. Nira Cain-N'Degocella, whom press materials for "America" describe as "a Democratic activist and far-left lecturer on gender studies," conduct a public hearing in Kingman, Arizona. The meeting announcement includes that the topic is economic development; this notice also instructs attendees to leave their guns at home. The reason for essentially requiring checking your gun at the door is that group soon learns that the proposed project is a record-setting mosque. Suffice it to say that the residents do not support the project.
Flamboyant aggressively heterosexual ultra-rich Italian fashion photographer Gio Monaldo earns mention for two segments. The girlfriend of Monaldo blatantly granting him sexual satisfaction while he discusses purchasing a huge state-of-the-art yacht is only the tip of the iceberg. (Pun intended.) The real shock and awe is in the form of the broker going along when Monaldo makes it increasingly clear that he intends to use the yacht for a horrendous criminal purpose.
A later episode has Monaldo meeting with O.J. Simpson; Monaldo is representing himself as the liaison of a wealthy third-party who wants to meet Simpson. Monaldo lightly discussing killing a significant other while Simpson laughs along is highly effective, This definitely qualifies as one of the most disturbing bonding moments in television history.
The success of "America" relates to Cohen simply giving people enough rope with which to hang themselves. He does get them on camera under false pretenses and presents outlandish premises. However, he does NOTHING to coerce their responses. The lesser foils definitely all play along because the set up supports their views. Further, they seem to revel being in the spotlight just as much as any reality-show star. It is equally awesome that Sanders and Koppel distinguish themselves by not playing along.
The copious extras include deleted scenes and extended interviews. The latter include additional footage of a discussion between Morad and Dick Cheney. Highlights of the Cheney interview include Cheney autographing a waterboard and them discussing then Vice-President Cheney shooting a friend in the face during a hunting trip.
This latest in an ongoing series of reviews on vintage Warner Archive titles further illustrates the unparalleled diversity of the seemingly bottomless Archive vault. The DVD release of the 1981 dramedy "...All the Marbles" is a prime example of the gritty films of that period that are more heavy on the "dram" then the "edy." "Marbles" further is notable as the final film by director Robert Aldrich, who is better known for "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" and "The Dirty Dozen."
"Marbles" stars Peter Falk playing Peter Falk as rumpled and crude manager of female tag-team wrestling duo "The California Dolls" Harry Sears. We meet this group in Akron during a match for promoter Eddie Cisco (Burt Young). Sears playing hardball with Cisco both leaves the team and their manager wondering where their next meal is coming from and Harry spectacularly burning a bridge.
A subsequent bout with the "Really Rottens" in the form of "The Toledo Tigers" leaves the Dolls battered, bruised, and bitter. In comparison, having to resort to the lower form of female mud wrestling where they get their tops ripped off is not much of a downfall.
The match against the Tigers leads to the mother of all grudge matches in true sports film tradition, The victory of the Dolls in the rematch sets the stage for a championship fight at the MGM Grand in Reno. The stakes regarding this event gives the film its name.
The primary depth comes in the character studies of the trio, Sears is completely untrustworthy and seems to actually revel in living in cheap motels and driving a car that is beyond beater. Meanwhile, one of the dolls is addicted to drugs and the other has a clear willingness to take one (or more) for the team. The common element is that all of them are shameless.
Additional substance is in the form of "Marbles" playing the same role as other members of its genre; it shows "respectable people" the life of folks who live and work in the underbelly of society. Most of us give little if any thought to female wrestlers and pay even less attention to their lives.
Although this is not a "grace of God" situation, we still see the realistically sympathetic side of women (and their men) who understandably often are the subject of scorn when they even are thought about. Putting a human face on them and literally seeing their pain and deprivation make them more sympathetic,
The Dekkoo Films August 28, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 gay-themed thriller "The Year I Lost My Mind" (nee "Jahr des Tigers") from writer-director Tor Iben provides a good chance to add a mildly erotic Hitchcockian thriller to your Halloween season viewing schedule.
"Mind" is the first (but definitely will not be the last) feature film for Alexander Tsypilev, who plays a literal peeping Tom. We meet this excitable 20ish boy buying a mask for a presumably nefarious purpose and soon learn that his preliminary objective is freaking out his sister on returning to the home that they share with their mother. We almost as soon discover that Mom is indulgent of Tom largely based on her understanding that he is not like other boys.
The real fun (and Hitchcockian element) begins when Tom and his partner-in-crime commit a daytime break-in of the apartment of studly 20-something gay-studies professor Lars. The kicker is that Lars (who apparently is a comatose sleeper) is taking a cat nap during this homo invasion and never wakes up. This encounter immediately triggers an obsession for Tom.
The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Mind" provides a strong sense of the character study aspect, obsession, and overall suspense of the film.
The Hitchcockian vibe begins with the threat hitting close to home rather than the spooky isolated house. That setting and the related sense that someone has been in your home contribute to the familiar angst. We also get the element of fixation/obsession for which Hitch is famous. This is not to mention the building suspense that leads to the climax (no pun intended). One spoiler is that the outcome is not one that would ever enter the mind of notorious (pun intended) womanizer Hitchcock.
Another twist on Hitchcock is that Tom regularly returns to the scene of the crime both when sound-sleeper Lars is home and is away. Meanwhile, Lars gets direct and indirect evidence that a Goldilocks comes into his home while he is away. Those of us who have had a sniff-freak roommate can relate to Lars being perplexed regarding his underwear disappearing.
Ala Hitchcock and filmmmakers who emulate him, Iben has Lars almost catch Tom red handed. One twist is that it Tom likely fantasizes about being caught with his pants down but is unsure how Lars would react to finding him in that state.
One of a handful of inevitable outcomes commences with Lars literally and figuratively waking up and Tom being the one who gets away. This leads to Lars commencing a manhunt that concludes with deliverance. The lesson here is that boys will be boys.
An equally compelling portent revolves around Tom haunting a very busy wooded gay cruising area where he alternates between being the hunter and the prey; this setting also is one of two in which he acts on his deepest desire. The surreal elements of the trips into the woods are a highlight.
Much of the depth comes from the symbolic aspect of the masks, other psychological elements, and Lars providing gay-history tidbits. This is not to mention the depiction of male aggression being tied into sexual desire.
All of this amounts to a film that supports the theory that the erotic aspects of any movie typically have a converse relationship with the quality and depth of the film. "Mind" additionally successfully fuels paranoia related to losing intimate apparel and being sure that a personal item is someplace other than its prior location.
'To Auschwitz & Back: The Joe Engel Story' DVD: Holocaust Survivor Shows Importance of 'Never Forget'
Dreamscape Media and the Holocaust Education Film Foundation teaming up to release the documentary "To Auschwitz and Back: The Joe Engel Story" demonstrates an admirable commitment to record the stories of Holocaust survivors before even more of them pass away. Engel is a 90 year-old long-time resident of Charleston, South Carolina.
"Auschwitz” opens on the surprisingly upbeat note of photos of a ceremony marking the naming of a Charleston Street for Engel. The focus then shifts to Engel and his nephew/surrogate son beginning the narration of the story of Engel during the World War II era. This story begins with the early childhood of Engel, his life in the Warsw ghetto, and his subsequent time in a concentration camp. We also learn how he comes to live in Charleston.
An amazing aspect of this is the archival footage that it is difficult to believe that Hitler considers positive propaganda. These images from the camps and of Nazi soldiers enjoying their work are among the worst that have been released.
The stories that Engel shares from his time in the camps includes an incident in which the guards are cruel just to be mean; we also get stomach-turning stories regarding the overcrowding.
Engel further tells us of his contributions to the war effort in the period after leaving the camp. Learning of a sanctioned "Purge" style night of wilding is very surprising.
Seeing the dedication of the nephew to his uncle is very nice; this includes a highly symbolic act that is virtually irreversible,
The entire film goes beyond putting a personal face on the Holocaust. We get detailed insight that literally goes from the beginning of the genocide to the present.
The bonus material includes two separate films that solely consist of distressing archival footage of Auschwitz and of the Warsaw ghetto.
The Breaking Glass Pictures August 14, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 coming-of-age drama "Porcupine Lake" honors the spirit of equal time. This tale of big-city awkward tween Bea spending the summer near the titular body of water in rural Canada and entering an "its complicated" relationship with local girl Kate is a variation of the coming-of-age of a questioning boy bonding with a guy who is more sure about himself.
The following YouTube video of the Breaking trailer for "Lake" fully conveys the indie spirit and the new love vibe of the film.
Our story begins with Bea and her school-teacher mother arriving at the gas-station/diner that her father is running in the wake of inheriting it from his father. It seems that the family is reunited for the summer several months after Dad moves from Toronto to fulfill his family duty. Ambiguity regarding the level of estrangement between Mom and Dad is an intriguing element of the film.
Middle-class Bea literally soon catches the eye of upper-lower-middle-class Kate, who quickly makes a move on her future summer friend with possible benefits. Kate definitely is the aggressor in this relationship. It is equally clear that she is more developed on every level than Kate.
The primary focus is on this vacation romance in which Bea sells cheap trinkets outside the diner and Kate deals with her somewhat shameless family that includes aptly named teen stud Romeo. This playah does not let being a baby daddy affect his dating life.
Although the girls dream of a life together, Bea is more realistic than Kate. It is interesting that the fantasy of the local girl essentially includes a life of luxury in Westchester with her math teacher.
Writer/director Ingrid Venninger shows throughout "Lake" that she knows of which she writes; this is particularly true in separate scenes in which Bea expresses the extent to which she will go to be with Kate and Kate makes a heart-breaking breaking effort to escape her environment.
As indicated above, one of the nicest things about "Lake" is that is shows that both boys and girls do cry. One apparent difference is that boys who like other other dudes are much less comfortable acting on it and definitely are more reticent about activity that indicates that the opposite sex does not interest them.
The feature-length "making-of" documentary "The Other Side of Porcupine Lake" shows the love of Venniger for the project and the support of Breaking for the production. Getting to see every aspect of making this shot-on-location film that features locals with no acting experience is fascinating.
It is equally interesting to see multiple thespians audition for the primary roles. Although most hopefuls do a good job, one can easily understand the casting decisions. Seeing the actor who plays "Dad" with a significantly different look provides further entertainment.
One highlight is watching Veninger first find and then arrange to use one building for "Lake." The most fun comes on seeing a presumable prod. ass. literally strip down and take one for the team as Veninger puts him through his paces.
The other extras consist of additional audition footage and separate cast and crew interviews. The enthusiasm of the kids is fun.
The Monarch Home Entertainment October 9, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 horror film "3rd Night" provides a good chance to add diversity to your horror films collection. One notable element is aptly named writer/director Adam Gravely engaging in laudable nepotism regarding casting. This is not to mention Gravely putting his skill as a master of shadows to good use.
The underlying concept succeeds because it reflects relatable fears and stereotypes. This includes reflecting how anyone who has bought or sold a house feels about realtors. One hint is that this scum-of-the-earth makes used-car dealers seem like model citizens.
"Night" opens with (presumably) urban transplants Meagan and Jonathan Reid moving to an apple orchard in rural Australia. Their relationship already being strained meets one prerequisite for this type of film. Their beloved cat Nook quickly going missing checks another box.
Veterans of this type of horror film (and of "Scooby-Doo") can deduce that creepy local Cambo is not the one actively menacing the outwardly nice young couple. Abused young-teen Cambo son Rex adds an interesting element to the film.
As typically is the case, Meagan recognizes the danger that the couple is facing more quickly than Jonathan. This includes repeatedly believing that someone is watching them from their yard. The first creepy (and prophetic) note help make the man of the house a believer.
As the title suggests, all Hell breaks loose on the third night that the Reids are in their new home. Of course, this involves Cambo getting the worst of it in a few ways and at least one Reid being knocked unconscious. The surprises come with nice variations on the old psycho killer in the back seat trick. We also get good humor related to the tech. in the SUV of the couple.
As indicated above, the effectiveness of "Night" includes centering the movie around real fears. This starts with rarely knowing the history of your new home when you buy a house. An aspect of this is having little (if any) way of knowing the extent to which someone is obsessed with the property or (in rarer cases) is still living there,
Currently owning a house that the seller still drives by to check out things years later and repeatedly refers to a "time capsule" that he states that I will never find provides personal perspective regarding this. A spoiler is that needing to replace a drop-down ceiling in the basement revealed the family papers (now landfill) that comprise the capsule.
Graveley ups his game by including the element of the conflict associated with city slickers invading the territory of hicks; this concept is the stuff of which countless television and film comedies and dramas are made. Putting people from vastly different environments in the same space has plenty of potential minimally for tears and recriminations.
The third element of this concept is anyone living in an isolated environment. Once again, reel and real-life repeatedly prove that folks whom no one would hear scream are particularly easy prey who literally or figuratively kill people just to see them die.
Also as mentioned above, this blending of horror elements makes it a good choice for inclusion of an indie psychological thriller to your scary movie marathon.
The rarity regarding Breaking Glass Pictures breaking from an awesome tradition of releasing DVDs of (oft gay-themed and regularly explicit) edgy fare greatly adds to the enjoyment of these forays into Disney Channel Land. A prior example of this is the (reviewed) DVD release of "In the Doghouse" about two Disney Channel central-casting kids sabotaging a relationship of their divorced mother.
The latest addition to the virtual Family section of the Breaking catalog is the release of the 2017 scifi film "Watch the Sky." This literal day in the life story centers around a science experiment of tween aspiring astronomer Shawn. The parallels with the 1997 Jodie Foster/Matthew McConaughey scifi film "Contact" based on the Carl Sagan novel of the same name contribute additional enjoyment.
The day starts with Shawn dashing out of the (presumably) Midwest home of his father, who is the sheriff, to meet college-aged brother Michael out front. The first bit of inadvertent humor related to beyond Disney wholesome Michael is his comment that he is happily sacrificing a wild Spring Break to help Shawn. This leads to Michael indicating that a "welcome home" party in his honor will be a wild free-for-all. Hearing him then lament losing out on an opportunity to "get laid" is equally amusing.
The first sad truth is that not making the party almost certainly is no great loss. The second rude awakening is that Michael should not count on sexual release that differs from the solo activity in which he mostly likely engages when he (almost definitely mistakenly) thinks that his college roommate is asleep,
Meanwhile back at the ranch, a regularly bickering older couple arrives home to find a cow dead from what seems to be unnatural causes. The quickly revealed murder weapon pays homage to classic scifi horror; this leads to "The Tall Man" dragging the husband out into crop circle central and the wife experiencing tremendous physical and emotional distress.
Sheriff Dad, his "Barney Fife" caliber deputy, and Firefighter/EMT Uncle literally and figuratively enter the scene on the report of the incident. They soon learn that the cattle mutilation is not an isolated incident and that Tall Man most likely is not a local.
This roughly coincides with Shawn and his lab assistant/bitch Michael launching a weather balloon with an attached camera capable of broadcasting a signal. The goal is for the camera to reach the inner border of outer space and record what it sees. Post-launch the bros without hos are hanging out in and bonding in a manner that goes well beyond the interaction between Wally and Beaver Cleaver, They also literally are waiting for their balloon to land.
Initial excitement regarding the first images from the camera turns to fear as the boys well outside the 'hood discover that their tech. is in a high-use flight path. The lads referring to the threat of "butt probes" in the wake of that close encounter is further proof of the wholesome nature of "Sky."
Things rapidly escalate on all levels as the adults have a close encounter with the stereotypical military folks and the aliens step up their game, One spoiler is that the brothers are subject to a form of probing.
All of this ends on notes that leave us wanting more; the incredible promise for the next chapter in the story includes whether Shawn ends up with a seat at the table or on a plate on top of it.
The Dekkoo Films July 31, 2018 DVD release of their eponymous LGBTQ streaming service web series "Paper Boys" further proves that their boys fully understand the mind of the modern gay man (and boy). Copying reviews of past great Dekkoo reviews of their fare from Unreal TV 1.0 to this site is a current homework assignment.
The first sign that "Boys" and (Dekkoo) is a cut above the competition is an early scene in which a random boy coming across 20-something artist Cole stripped to his designer briefs in the course of changing clothes in an airport bathroom does not lead to a wham, bam, thanks dude encounter. Cole is newly arrived in San Francisco from New York and is freshening up for a job interview.
The impetus for the trip is a party celebrating the engagement of best friend Daren to Rebecca. This "happy" couple is putting Cole up on an air mattress in the living room.
The drama begins with Daren confessing to Cole that the engagement is a mistake and strongly indicating that he would like an out (mostly likely in more than one way). A more direct form of fantasy soon enters the picture (pun intended) on Cole discovering that his sketchbook is enchanted. This bewitching activity is in the form of everything that Cole draws coming true. The best scenes involve the artist and Daren testing that power.
Additional homolicious drama is in the form Cole confessing that he is a potentially long-term house guest as part of an arguably extreme effort to avoid his New York summer boyfriend Max. Subsequently running into Max in San Francisco teaches Cole that fleeing the scene of the crime is not always the most effective exit strategy.
This leads to Coren visiting the apartment of Max and his roommate Kalvin. Kalvin and Darren spending an entire party bonding in the bedroom of Kalvin provides an additional indication that Darren is realizing that he likes boys better the girls. Dekkoo further shows its quality in this regard by not having this outwardly straight guy engage in drunken or otherwise spontaneous sex with either Kalvin or Cole.
The drama amps up on the truth (if not Darren) coming out, This occurring in one of the worst possible ways is very true to a Millennial sensibility. The roughly final third of the series addresses the fall out, which includes the impact of the relationship between Cole and Darren. .
Aside from having a likable and attractive cast tell an interesting story with a fun touch of magic, "Boys" is notable for its 21st century morals. One aspect of the enhanced acceptance and legal rights that gay men have is that that opens the door for men who view themselves as straight to at least take the field with the other team every so often. This relates to seeing that the grass is pretty green on that side of the fence and having greater freedom to at least discuss exploring options.
An associated theme is the greater opportunity to take a relationship with a close male friend to a more intimate level; that guy being openly gay increases the chances of an actual bromance. The potential pitfall being that what is experimentation and fun and games to the rookie often means at least a little more to the veteran pitcher or catcher.
Dekkoo enhances the experience of the show with a special feature that likable and attractive producer/director/writer Curtis Casella hosts. Among other things, Casella shows us alternative scenes and explains why they end up on the cutting room floor.
The Film Movement October 2, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Elena Ferrante on Film" is notable for bringing North America film adaptations of two of the four novels of the Neapolitan Quartet by the titular author. We do not get a movie version of My Brilliant Friend but do see The Days of Abandonment (2005) and Troubling Love (1995). Love is the first book in the quartet. and Days is the second.
The beautiful Italian scenery and vibrant colors of the city life in both "Days," which aired at the Venice Film Festival, and Cannes selection "Love" look and sound spectacular in Blu-ray. The accolades for "Days" include the 2006 Golden Globe Italy awards for Best Screenplay and for recognition of the performance of Olga portrayor Margherita Buy. The astounding 17 awards for "Love" reflect the quality of that film.
An amusing aspect of "Days" involves a pre-viewing joke about an overwrought scene involving the dialogue "Marcello you dirty bastard and your filthy whore." It turns out that this film about Mario unexpectedly and rapidly leaving wife Olga and their two children has a moment that is very close to that prediction. Olga is on the street when she sees Mario and his trophy squeeze; this leads to confronting the couple and forcibly removing a family heirloom from the aforementioned skank.
"Days" begins with Olga believing that she and Mario have a happy marriage; they are enjoying a day out with the kids and the family dog Otto. Olga also dismisses the concern of a friend that Mario is the next target of the local slut. It turns out that both women are partially correct.
People in committed relationships all over the world can relate to Mario subsequently sitting Olga down and telling her that he is immediately leaving her to develop a better understanding of self. This leads to Olga becoming a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown,
The global relatability of "Days" continues with Olga treating every rain that we all experience in life as if it is a monsoon; she is equally predictable regarding acts such as searching for the new home of Mario. The real drama and trauma enters in the form of Olga going off the rails regarding acts that include reflecting her own psyche into the latest novel that she is translating.
Olga also begins hallucinating in ways that create ambiguity regarding whether it is live or it is insanity. An example is seeing a lizard who may not be real but provides an ideal opportunity to refer to the classic "Golden Girls" "Sicilian gecko" line.
Of course, this culminates in a traumatic night that equally predictably involves the cello player who lives downstairs with whom Olga has a very "its complicated" relationship. The better news is that there at least is closure.
"Love" has more depth and intrigue than "Days." This one revolves around Delia, who is happily living in Bologna until she begins receiving odd telephone calls from her mother Amalia in Naples, These conversations revolve a man presenting a variable degree of a threat.
The plot thickens on the Naples police calling Delia to inform her of discovering her mother floating in the sea; Mom only wearing a lacy red bra is part of the mystery.
Delia returns to her childhood home to attend the funeral and to try to better understand what had recently been occurring in the life of her mother. Sepia-toned flashbacks and the results of the investigation soon reveal that neighbort Caserta is once again stirring up trouble decades after an incident that causes the father of Delia to leave his family and that prompts a decades-long rage in Filipo, who is the uncle of Delia. All this makes "Love" a melodramatic version of "Girls."
"Days" draws in the audience even more as Delia falls further down the rabbit hole as mdirect proportion to her investigation netting results that she cannot interpret. A prime example of this includes a visit to a clothing store that literally and figuratively quickly goes south.
Delia connecting with a childhood ally allows her to better understand recent events; the larger significance of this reunion is that it triggers repressed memories that reveal the truth regarding the childhood events that deeply impact the family of Delia,
The similarities between "Love" and "Days" extend beyond centering around middle-aged women in crisis; there are elements of bodies floating in water and of relationships with men not being what thy seem. We further get the message of the importance of a woman "Manning up" and not relying on a white knight.
The bonus feature is "Elena and the Boosk" in which cast and crew members discussing the film adaptations. Amusingly, a time constraint is behind not watching that featurette but reading the essay in the enclosed booklet. That analysis by College of Staten Island professor Giancarlo Lombardi provides strong insight regarding the source material, the casting of the films, and numerous nuances that most American viewers otherwise would miss. The rest of the booklet consists of correspondence by Ferrante and others regarding the making of the two films.
The Icarus Films October 23, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 French drama "A Kid" reminds us both that toxic family relationships are not limited to the United States and that the benefits of family being Hell include engrossing movies such as this one. Throwing in the titular 30 year-old man being an illegitimate child whose personality does not reflect the label attached to such individuals further enhances this film with an awesome third-act twist.
The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Kid" outlines the premise of the film; this promo. including a reference to "hunting a corpse I do not know with two psychos" reflects the wonderful comic edge that reminds us that this is a French film.
33 year-old Parisian pet-food sales rep. Matthieu gets the shock of his life when a call at wok informs him of the identity of his father; the rest of the story is that he has a gift from his previously unidentified father Jean, who is residing in the fresh water equivalent of Davy Jones' locker. This prompts Matthieu to travel to Montreal to attend the funeral and to meet his two brothers and the other woman whom those siblings call Mom. Those three individuals having no idea of the bundle du joie that is a dividend of a business trip to France.
Long-time Jean friend Pierre is the one who tracked down the not-so-prodigal son. He also provides Uber service from the airport and lodging during the stay. Matthieu defying a request to not upset the descendants during the weekend before the funeral transforms Pierre into his shadow.
Pierre next accompanies a determined Matthiieu on his mission to accompany his unsuspecting brother Ben the motorcycle shop owner and Sam the successful corporate attorney on a trip to the aforementioned body of water. It soon becomes known that the reasons for wanting to find the drowned body extend beyond a desire for a proper burial.
The impact of this section of "Kid" extends beyond Sam and Ben being unaware that their guest is their baby brother. Their relative (no pun intended) status in life reflects that the oldest sibling typically gets the most attention growing up and consequently just as frequently achieves the most career success among his siblings. The "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"caliber drinking, sniping, and dredging up past resentments and sins validate the theory that death brings out the worst in families.
Things become particularly incestuous on Pierre and Matthieu returning to Montreal after an overnight corpse hunt. The latter increasingly bonds with Pierre's daughter Bettina to the extent of representing the other gender of fowl at her hen party at a rowdy bar with friends, A run-in with Sam prompts speculation regarding his past with Bettina and a prediction regarding future conflict between the newly connected brothers.
An innocent off-hand comment provides the aforementioned twist that results in the rest of the film changing course. Anyone who has ever attended a family gathering knows that these remarks inevitably occur and just as definitely ruin the already tense mood.
This leads to the unpacking of copious emotional baggage before the family brings Matthieu to the airport for his flight home. This resolution equally satisfies the characters and the viewers. The rest of the story is that what some people do not know does not hurt them.
Wrapping up the 2018 travel season for the Inn Credible New England section of this site with an article on The Exeter Inn in Exeter, New Hampshire is very apt. This boutique hotel has become the literal and figurative go-to place for the frequent north-of-Boston trips of your not-so-humble reviewer, This article on this third stay there since June 2018 additionally provides a good chance to update statements in the prior two posts on the Exeter Inn.
The appeal of the Exeter Inn begins with combining the uniqueness and charm of a B & B with the perks of a luxury hotel. The front desk is in the living-room style lobby, and you are assured both of a friendly greeting and of not having the clerk ignore you while he or she texts on an iPhone or chats with co-workers.
A chance to visit with fresh-off-the-fishing-boat hotel manager Derek Hunt was a nice treat. This very recent transplant from managing a hotel in Kennebunkport Maine clearly meets the Inn Credible New England ideal of being born to work in the hospitality industry, Including his cell number on his business card is one of many indications that he views his work as a profession, rather than merely as a job.
Native Virginian Hunt provided a perfect response when asked how he hoped to make the spectacular Inn even better. He stated "I'm A Southerner, and I plan to bring southern hospitality to New Hampshire. "
The well-furnished rooms are New Hampshire chic with a touch of metropolitan elegance. The couches, chairs, and tables are solid wood with simple earth-tone fabrics or are made of leather, The always comfy beds have luxury-hotel white bedding that smells crisp and clean.
Staying in a King Deluxe room requires the first update to the prior posts on the Inn. Those articles (and every other travel post) advocate spending the money saved by not subjecting yourself to the high expense (and TSA abuse) of flying on an upgraded accommodation at a place that offers the benefit of not looking the same as any hotel in any U.S. city.
The Fireplace Suite at the Inn remains the favorite room; the slightly less grand Queen Suite comes a close second. Neither being available for this trip meant staying in the Deluxe room. As the below photo illustrates, the roomy seating area in this class is ample for relaxing without feeling crowded. An element of this is the flat-screen television easily allowing you to hook up your personal DVD or Blu-ray player if you choose to have a long and active day in the area and enjoy the room.
The spa-style (including high-end amenities) bathroom in the Deluxe room deserves an architectural award. It is cozy but not at all cramped and has excessive shelf space for toiletries and sundry items. Part of the genius is putting the more than ample shower stall with a massaging head and excellent water pressure along the entire back wall of the bathroom. This limited space does support getting a suite with a larger full bath and a supplemental half-bath if two people require simultaneously freshening up.
The suites being at the end of halls at the back of the Inn prompted unwarranted concern regarding the location of the King Deluxe room. Room 221 is near the center of the building. Despite proximity to the elevator and to the main staircase just off the bar, very little sound permeates the hall. The thick walls and the layout of the room make it virtually soundproof inside, This design also prevents sound drifting from the adjacent room or from the one above it.
Nice touches in every class of room include two bottles of spring water being part of the morning maid service and Pepperidge Farm cookies being a highlight of evening turn-down service.
Unusual weather that includes a hot and humid September is one of the circumstances beyond the control of the Inn. That anomaly is making late October the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end, of foliage season. There is a decent chance that leaf peeping will be fairly good through early November. Folks for whom this is a big deal are advised to check conditions online before visiting the area.
The following photo was taken outside the Inn on October 23, 2018.
Although seeing vibrant foliage was a trip objective, not making a dent in the copious non-weather-dependent activities in the area showed that the Inn truly is a hotel for all seasons.
The trip started with a few hours in nearby Portsmouth NH, which has the historic Strawberry Banke with houses ranging from colonial days through the early 20th century. Their Christmas open house in early December is well worth a trip to this region.
This led to taking advantage of the lack of sales tax in New Hampshire to purchase needed items along the Miracle Mile in adjacent Newington, NH. This included seeing an unbearably venomous film at a theater with reserved recliner seating.
A full day that began with getting up earlyish for the drive to Exeter ended with opting for the tasty pizza with tangy sauce at Pizza Academy just up the street from the Inn. Folks who want more gourmet fare have the option of the prime rib special and other treats at the Epoch restaurant at the Inn.
The next morning was devoted to the outlet malls in Kittery, Maine. Having at least 15 shirts that have been in their original packaging for a decade is a good cautionary tale. The stores there having an exceptionally good track record regarding prices and customer service does make resistance almost futile.
The activity for that afternoon requires an additional update. The first article on the Inn mentions that the walk to the downtown area is a little long; that likely reflected summer heat and not being very familiar with the area. This stroll is roughly 10 minutes and very pleasant. Browsing the gift shops, small cafes, bookshops, wonderful chocolate shop, etc. is awesome even if you are just window shopping.
Tuesday was devoted to visiting human and canine friends in Newburyport, Mass. The downtown of this waterfront destination city is roughly twice as large as Exerter and is nice despise increasingly being a boutique Miracle Mile with several upscale chains, These stores include Talbots, Fatface, and Life Is Good. An interesting aspect of this is the opening of a Starbucks roughly 20 years ago was a large local issue.
Later in the day involved strolling on the tree-lined streets of Exeter and exploring the college-caliber campus of Phillips Exeter Academy that abuts the Inn. The many friendly people and dogs whom I encountered showed that loyalty and love of that educational institution truly is life long.
The next morning was the time to leave. Activities such as visiting very charming Ogunquit Maine (complete with a top-notch summer-stock theater), getting farm-grown and raised vegetables and meats (and scratching Buddy the bull behind the ears) at Tendercrop Farm in Newbury Mass. hiking at the numerous state parks in the area, eating at loved restaurants with virtually every cuisine, etc will need to wait for an April 2019 visit, ,
'Nightwing' & 'Shadow of the Hawk' Blu-ray Double Feature: '70slicious Tales of Terror on Indian Reservations
Mill Creek Entertainment embraces the true Halloween spirit regarding the October 23, 2018 Blu-ray double-feature release "Nightwing" (1979) and "Shadow of the Hawk" (1976). The common theme of both is terror on American Indian reservations. The other shared element is both shoot-on-location films greatly benefiting from the crystal-clear BD images showcasing the beauty of the Southwest and the the Pacific Northwest respectively.
"Nightwing" awesomely melds old-school horror with social commentary that remains relevant nearly 40 years after its theatrical release. The surprisingly strong pedigree of this entertaining B-movie includes director Arthur Hiller ("Love Story"), prolific composer Henry Mancini (original "Pink Panther" films), and star NIck Mancuso. The A-list continues with the film being based on a story by well-known thriller noveilst Martin Cruz Smith, who additionally is a "Nightwing" screenwriter.
The IMDb description "killer bats plague an Indian reservation in New Mexico" reflects the traditional "animals gone wild" element of "Nightwing." Hiller and Smith stick to the script by having the horror begin with discovering mutilated horses with mysterious wounds. That brings reservation lawman Youngman Duran (Mancuso) literally and figuratively into the picture,
The tried-and-true continues with scientist Phillip Payne (David Warner) arriving on the trail of the aforementioned air-borne threat. He has been tracking the caravan of that threat to homeland security from south of the border and has dire news for the locals. The immediate potential for harm extends to two-legged animals; the bigger picture is that this swarm is using the area to fuel up before going to more populated feeding grounds.
Of course, even Duran does not initially believe Payne but changes his tune after a comically campy attack on a group of not-so-good Christians. It is equally predictable that the rest of the population remains skeptical,
The climax regarding this comes down to Duran going on a risky mission that runs the dual risks of his becoming a bride of Dracula and having his plan blow up in his face. The one certainty is that he is in deep guano.
The new-school elements revolve around issues related to tribal politics; relative traditionalist Duran already is at odds with the leader of a more prosperous neighboring tribe that our hero believes has sold out to the white man. Discovering a valuable natural resource on the land of the tribe of Duran at the same time that the bats show up further complicates matters.
The fun of "Nightwing" relates to the variation on man v. weaponized spiders, or bees, etc. These films provide plenty of thrills and chills while making us wonder if mosquitoes ever will become more of a threat than being a highly annoying insect.
"Hawk" has a more eerie feel. Jan-Michael Vincent stars as fully assimilated American Indian Mike who is enjoying an office job and good lifestyle when his grandfather Old Man Hawk (Chief Dan George) literally goes off the reservation to track down Mike and convince him to return to his roots. The rest of the story is that Hawk is tasked with keeping a legendary witch and her "monkeys" at bay; Hawk being convinced that he is about to die prompts a mission to get Mike to take his place regarding this effort.
This reunion leads to Mike abruptly leaving a swinging bash at his bachelor pad to escort his grandfather home. The aforementioned minions are in hot pursuit and drive the pair (as well as the love interest who largely is along for the ride) off the road and into the woods.
The eerie moments include Hawk and Mike each having several disturbing visions; we further get Mike engaging in a highly symbolic mission that culminates in an equally symbolic battle.
The fun of "Hawk" begins with the generation gap that the roughly 50-year age difference and greatly divergent world views exaggerates. The extra enjoyment relates to the American Indian beliefs/superstitions. This is not to mention the '70slicious fight scenes.
The bottom line is that they do not make 'em like these anymore. The cast and crew all know their stuff; the premises are entertaining, and the gore is minimally,
A telephone conversation with filmmaker Tommy Avallone the day before the October 26, 2018 VOD premiere of his (reviewed) Gravitas Ventures documentary "The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons From A Mythical Man" aptly was mythical. "Murray' and an earlier Avallone joint "I Am Santa Claus," which chronicles the off-season lives of men who play St. Nick, show that this guy has equally strong imagination and curiosity levels that he exercises in a manner that enriches audiences in the same manner that Murray popping up at a kickball game or a college party enhances the lives of those who are there.
The titular urban legends in "Murray" are seemingly purely random visits by the titular star of "Saturday Night Live" (a.k.a. "SNL") and cult-classic '80s film comedies such as "Stripes" and the original "Ghostbusters" films. Hearing about those encounters puts the idea of "Murray" in the head of Avallone; obtaining the coveted toll-free telephone number that Murray uses in lieu of an agent or a manager created hope that the man the legend would participate in the film.
Scenes throughout "Murray" depict Avallone either rehearsing a message for the voicemail of Murray or recording and deleting one. We also see his mother get into the act. This illustrated the challenge of summoning Murray; he is like a cat in that he ignores those who attempt to entice him but literally or figuratively jumps in the laps of people who ignore him.
Of course, speaking with someone who had the highly sought-after number required asking Avallone to share it, His denial of that request was less surprising than if he had divulged that information. Avallone added that "I can't tell you how I got it; it was a friend of a friend." Avallone emphasized that that friend was not a celebrity.
Avallone added that he regularly called the number for a year-and-a-half to no avail; these calls continue at less frequently.
Truth or Fiction
Avallone stated that a reported Murray sighting that he included in the cold open of "Murray" was the first one that he heard. He then speculated that it was partially true.
This tale involved Murray coming up behind a man who was using a urinal at a bar; the rest of the story was that Murray put his hands over the eyes of the man. Avalllone opined that Murray did walk up to someone at some time and put his hands over the eyes of his "victim."
This led to discussing people making up Murray stories in reliance of limited documentation of many true one. Avallone provided a perfect response in stating that "I know people who do that; I don't like that. I am a documentary filmmaker; I like the truth."
This final word on this topic was that "What's great about the Bill Murray stories is that 99-percent of them are true."
Murray on Murray
Avallone shared that he has no indication that Murray has seen the film; he added that Bill's brother Joel has seen it and likes it a great deal. The documentarian added that he likes to think that Murray would like "Murray."
Avallone expressing the fantasy that Murray would show in the back of a theater and give him a thumbs up during a post-screening discussion expresses the thoughts of Murray fans everywhere.
Another expressed desire regarding the impact of "Murray" was that viewers "start to think more like Bill Murray." he added that Murray reminded him of Santa in that "he comes in and leaves them smiling."
Waldo on Weed
Only knowing that the latest project of Avallone is titled "Waldo on Weed" prompted asking if the title character was either a cannabis expert or a stoner. It turns out that Waldo is the son of a friend of Avallone; the title refers to the boy using cannabis oil to treat cancer.
The statements that "Brian and Waldo are really fun characters," and that the film is about "what a father would do to save a son" provide to good reasons to discover where''s "Waldo" when it is released.
The similarities between Avallone and Murray extend beyond sharing a great offbeat sense of humor; they both passionately pursue their bliss and seek to provide the rest of us with the same. There is no doubt regarding the truth of the tale that they both awesomely succeed.
The long history of Shout! Factory rescuing TV Land favorites from oblivion by releasing then on DVD after their primary studios abandon that effort makes Shout! a good home for the October 30, 2018 Collector's Edition Blu-ray of the 1987 comedy film "Dragnet." The love that Shout! Select shows pop culture gems (such as the recently reviewed "City Slickers" and "Get Shorty") provides further proof that this is a match made in Heaven,
Watching the DVD version of "Dragnet" a few weeks before getting the Shout! Blu-ray allows verifying that the L.A. scenery, epic settings, and audio all are tremendously enhanced in this remastered version; it truly is like watching an entirely different film.
The bigger picture this time is that "Dragnet" reflects Hollywood bringing versions of (primarily '60s) television series to the silver screen in the mid-80s to mid-90s and to a lesser extent today. The first "Addams Family" and "Brady Bunch" films are among the greatest commercial and artistic successes. "The Beverly Hillbillies" and the live-action "The Flintstones" are at the other end of the spectrum.
The strong pedigree of "Dragnet" helps earn a slot near the top. "SNL"/"Blues Brothers"/"Ghostbusters" veteran Dan Aykroyd stars as straight-laced Los Angeles police detective Joe Friday, who is the nephew of equally rigid Friday (Jack Webb) of the series, Rising star (including "Splash") Tom Hanks plays laid-back goofball partner Streebek. Harry Morgan ("M*A*S*H) returns to his "Dragnet" role of (now) Captain Gannon.
Director Tom Mankiewicz is the son of famed director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. "SNL" and "Its Garry Shandling's Show" veteran Alan Zweibel and Aykroyd team up to write the script.
In addition to changing the tone of "Dragnet" from stoic drama to broad farce, the film plot that revolves around radical activists who identify themselves as P.A.G.A.N. diverts from the series basing episodes about real cases. All of this males the movie more "Naked Gun" than "Dirty Harry."
Friday gets new partner Streebek to literally and figuratively clean up before they are assigned to investigate the theft of the entire run of an issue of the fictional equivalent of Playboy magazine. However, this does not prevent the impish charm and immature side of Streebek from peeking out on visiting a fictional Playboy mansion where fictional version of Hugh Hefner Jerry Caesar ('80s star Dabney Coleman) resides.
The intrigue continues with a heist at a zoo and other bizarre thefts regarding which P.A.G.A.N openly admits; this coinciding with the '80s stereotype of an outrageous televangelist Rev. Whirley (Christopher Plummer) showing up helps put the pieces together.
The hilarity that ensues throughout includes Friday and Streebek crashing a P.A.G.A.N. ritual that leads to them wrestling a giant snake in an effort to rescue sacrificial virgin Connie Swall (Alexandra Paul of "Baywatch"). We also get the boys in plainclothes dressing up as leather-clad punks and a raid that disproves the theory that there is no reason to cry over spilled milk. This is not to mention Hanks putting his comedic talent to good use in a twofer "Meet the Parents" sequence,
Surprises include Friday, rather than Streebek, being the one to go rogue (and of course being proven right) to the extent of having to turn in his badge and gun. The subsequent unexpected change in Streebek shows the extent to which he wants to vindicate his partner.
Aykroyd and Zweibel particularly shine in writing a climax that nicely ties in every element of the film; centering it around a large event is predictable. Creating somewhat elaborate events that show that there is a reason for every bit of madness goes above and beyond.
The equally inevitable final showdown that pits Friday against the bad guy who evades capture during the big raid likely is sublime to younger visitors and ridiculous from the perspective of everyone of voting age. The absurdity of this is true to the spirit of the television series regarding Friday doing everything necessary to capture criminals..
The special features that make Select releases worthy buying begins with an interview with Paul that is filmed for this release; she is particularly adorable when repeatedly mentioning watching "Dragnet" for the first time in 35 years to prepare for the discussion,
Children of the '70s and '80s can relate to the awe of 23 year-old Paul being cast to star with Hanks and Aykroyd. Learning that Paul first learns of one of the best scenes in "Dragnet" on watching the film at the premiere is another highlight of the interview.
"Just the Facts!" is pure Shout! in that it is a 1987 hour-long infomercial in which Hanks and Aykroyd first show how "Dragnet" comes to be a radio program, a 1950s TV show, and a reboot in 1967. Much of the this focus is on comparing and contrasting star Jack Webb with Friday.
The second-half of "Facts" is on the making-of the film; they save the best for last in showing the stars recording the rap that serves as the theme for the film.
The final fact regarding "Dragnet" is that it perfectly illustrates the value of both '80s film comedies and the reason to add collector's edition of these films to your video library. The movie was a huge hit back in the day and gets better with age. Releases that include insights from folks who were there enhances watching a movie that merely was a diversion (and perhaps a chance to sit in a cool space for a few hours) when it was released.
One reward of more than a decade of reviewing home-video releases of indie films is watching already loved studios and distributors expand their catalog beyond their original scope.
Philadelphia-based Breaking Glass Pictures is a prime example. The recent Breaking DVD release of the 2018 drama "Lost Child" reflects this and provides a good companion to the (reviewed) Breaking August 2018 DVD release of the day in the life of teenage redneck film "Moss." These edgy southern-fried films are a great expansion from the edgy more substance than skin gay-themed films that Breaking continues adding to its catalog.
A perfect example of the not-so-missing link in this evolution is the Breaking April 2017 release of "Fair Haven." This reviewed film has Tom Wopat of "The Dukes of Hazzard" playing the widowed father of a kind and gentle farmboy who returns from conversion therapy that does a great deal of harm and no good.
The following YouTube clip of the Breaking trailer for "Child" highlights the Blu-ray worthy cinematography that features the Ozarks. This promo. additionally conveys the Southern Gothic vibe of the film.
"Child" opens with a seemingly obligatory scene for "you can't go home again" films about a boomerang kid who is a native son or daughter returning after leaving in disgrace years ago. The first images either are a bus rolling through the bucolic landscape of the area or get right to that public transportation pulling up to the center of the arena of action. The main character disembarks and gets into the old pickup of the ride to the childhood farm or shabby house in the woods that has a key role in the underlying angst.
Our tortured soul this time is recently discharged soldier Fern. She is returning to Clampett country after teen trauma that results in her moving out of the family home and then enlisting in the army. She moves back into the family house in the wake (no pun intended) of the death of her father, This relocation ties into a mission to find and care for her brother Billy.
Life experiences taking their toll and general unease related to being a woman living alone in a cabin in the woods are enough to put Fern ill at ease. A neighbor with good intentions strongly urging her to get either a gun or a dog and the man down the street looking like he is straight out of "Deliverance" contribute to the tension.
Fern meeting the titular dirty but civilized 10ish boy Cecil in the nearby woods is the final element that puts all the pieces in place for "Child." The lad ain't talkin' but agrees to come home for vittles and to spend the night. A one-night stand returns to haunt Fern when she learns that the day job of bartender Mike is a social worker. Fern not wanting to subject Cecil to the evils of a foster home prompt her to agree to let him stay with her a bit longer.
Fern mysteriously getting sick and literally aging overnight prompts consulting a country doctor. This licensed professional attributing this condition to the presence of Cecil indicates this his method of providing healthcare does not significantly differ than that of Granny in "The Beverly Hillbillies."
The essential folklore is that a malevolent forest-dwelling spirit takes the form of a young boy and convinces a good Samaritan to take it in so it can do plenty of harm. Odd behavior by Cecil proves that he is own worst enemy.
Meanwhile, Fern reuniting with Billy involves the most surprising and disturbing twist in this extremely gothic film. Not only is he not glad to see his sister, he considers her a primary root of all past and present evil.
A familiar aspect of this is one sibling running off and not only failing to protect a brother or sister but leaving that person behind to contend with all the highly toxic family drama. In many respects, this is analogous to an alcoholic wanting to put things right with someone whom that drunk seriously hurt. The intent is noble and the need for redemption is strong, but related righteous resentment remains high.
The stress of Fern leads to drama with Cecil that supports the theory that he is not like other boys; this leads to the lad experiencing dreaded trauma. It additionally involves Fern playing Nancy Jo Drew by pursuing a lead regarding the identity of Cecil.
All of this culminates in conclusions that make sense for a story set in a rural area that has a large of population of poorly educated people raised on superstition and harsh discipline. Breaking deserves strong credit for bringing this tale that does not sensationalize this culture to us city folks.
The quartet of DVD extras is equally consistent with the art-house style of "Child." Each special feature examines an aspect of the making-of the film. These include the production "process," the "story & performance," the Ozarks, and writer/director Ramaa Mosley.
'Cinemability: The Art of Inclusion' DVD & VOD: Everything You Always Were Embarrassed to Ask About Disabled People in TV & Film
The fact that virtually no one knows that October is National Disability Employment Month makes the October 5, 2018 VOD & DVD releases of the Gold Pictures documentary "Cinemability: The Art of Inclusion" to celebrate that recognition that much more important. This film being full of movie and TV clips and A-List participants (such as narrator Jane Seymour) meeting the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and educational is the icing on the cake.
The following YouTube clip of the official trailer for this movie by wheelchair-user producer/director Jenni Gold provides a strong sense of the comprehensive scope of the film in terms of the aforementioned clips and celebrity participants. This promo. having clips from "Freaks" and "South Park" shows that Gold does not pull any punches regarding telling how it is and how is was.
The overall theme of "Cinemability" is that the portrayal of disabled people in films and television series greatly influences how the general movie-going public perceives people who are different. It is believed that Jamie Foxx, who is well-known for playing blind music-legend Ray Charles, is the talking head who notes that using the media to depict people with a particular disability in a certain way is the first step toward obtaining support for legislation to address an issue that affects that population. Foxx also is the center of a notable scene in which he discusses allowing himself to be temporarily blinded for his Oscar-winning portrayal of Charles; "Ray" director/writer Taylor Hackford provides further insights regarding that film.
Oscar-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin provides many of the most relatable and amusing ancedotres in "Cinemability." She discusses the positive impact of seeing a deaf character on the sitcom "Happy Days." Matlin further shares many other memories that include her hilarious portrayal of a deaf attorney on the sitcom "My Name is Earl."
A related aspect of this is watching Peter Farrelly and other filmmakers talk about simply not making a disability an aspect of a character. An even more controversial topic that Gold tackles is the practice of using an able-bodied actor to play a disabled character. Beloved producer/director/writer the late Garry Marshall perfectly addresses this by commenting that he solely bases his casting choices on the acting ability of the person auditioning for the role.
The tremendous time that Gold devotes to finding and incorporating the clips and getting the hardest-working people in show business demonstrates the love associated with this documentary; the degree to which it makes viewers think about disabled people in reel and real-life shows that it pays off.
Shout! Factory releasing "Saved by the Bell: The Complete Collection" on October 2, 2018 is the latest example of Shout! awesomely furthering the Unreal TV mission of saving classic and cult-classic sitcoms from obscurity. The scope of this set including EVERYTHING from "Bliss" to "Vegas" allows once-and-future fans and newbies to the halls of Bayside High to fully embrace the Zack Attack spirit of the series, Shout! releasing comparable complete series sets of virtually every program that this post mentions provides a sense that that distributor is the perfect home for "Bell."
Shout! notes that the presentation order of the episodes has the seal of approval of producer Peter Engel. Further, it seems that the episodes are the original broadcast versions.
The main thing that earns "Bell" its place in pop culture history is the perfect blending of elements that begin with arguably a happy accident, The majority of the cast first appear in the 1988-89 Disney Channel series "Good Morning, Miss Bliss." The intended focus of that series is the titular eighth-grade teacher (Hayley Mills of "The Parent Trap") in Indianapolis. In true Disney-style, John F. Kennedy Junior High is clean and lacks any of the ills that plague most junior highs and high schools,
The intended formula is an "A Story" that centers around the personal and/or professional life of Carrie Bliss; the "B Story" revolves around a tween problem of a student, who almost invariably finds equal parts solace and solution in the figurative arms of Bliss.
The pilot illustrates both the aforementioned formula and the reverse lesson of most sitcoms that the adults provide most of the appeal in the series. Bliss starts a romance at the same time that cute and charming scamp Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) faces his summer-camp girlfriend being a JFK student. The "sit" that provides the "com" this time is that eighth-grader Zack told the girl that he was in the ninth grade.
The classmates of Zack include nerdy Samuel "Screech" Powers (Dustin Diamond) and BAP Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies). Richard Belding (Dennis Haskins) is their principal.
The talent of Disney for finding cute young male actors with the exuberance of puppies on caffeine pills pays off large both for Gosselaar and for tweens, teens, and tweens and teens at heart all over the world., This demographic adores Goselaar, who can be considered the older brother of Ross Lynch of the Disneycom "Austin and Ally." Early clips of Lynch show that he has the same charm and enthusiasm as "Bliss" era Gosselaar. The parallels continue with both actors subsequently literally showing in mind and body that they are all grown up.
Disney not renewing "Bliss" sets the mental gears of Engel in motion; he sees perfect symmetry between the "Bliss" kids and the dearth of Saturday-morning fare that targets the aforementioned 12-and-up demographic, This leads to transferring all of the aforementioned characters except Bliss to Bayside High in southern California.
The copious insight in the numerous special features include the intended homage to classic sitcoms in "Bell." Casual observance indicates that this show is a modern-day "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis." The central everyteen embroils his oddball outcast best friend in schemes to make high school easier and/or best his rival for the hot girl. We learn that Engel actually has "The Phil Silvers Show" (a.k.a. "Sgt. Bilko) in mind with charming conman Zack lavishing praise on authority figure Belding while running circles around him.
The aforementioned appeal of Gosselaar results in Zack immediately establishing himself as the center of "Bell" and the BMOC at Bayside. Introducing jock/Army brat A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) brings in a Reggie to give "Archie" serious competition before those boys figuratively (if not literally) kiss and make up later in the series, The two other new kids on the block are girl next-door/object of the affection of both Zack and Slater Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) and literal girl next-door/feminist/scholar Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley).
Both the high school and "College Years" of the gang largely focus on comic variations of teen and post-adolescent angst. We have boys making fools out of themselves in elaborate efforts to get girls, boys seeking to take rivals out of the picture, trying to pass driver's ed., facing tough teachers, outlandish schemes to earn money to conceal "sins," rifts between friends, etc.
The broadest insight that Engel provides in special features in "Collection" is that "Bell" relatively accurately depicts the high school experience. A stated objective is to support viewers who either are in high school or are anxious about what they will face on achieving that milestone. The effectiveness of that effort including most of the cast portraying his or her actual age evokes thoughts of Gosselaar once dissing fellow teen series "Beverly Hills 90210" by commenting that he was not 30 when he was in high school.
The comments of Engel triggered the thought that kids often are included in a series to provide a relatable character for their real-life counterparts; this led to memories of being a prep. school boy whose academic career paralleled that of the older "Facts of Life" girls. That particularly enhanced the experience of watching the high-school years of Blar and Jo.
The parallel continues with "Life" undergoing significant S2 changes that set the tone for the rest of the nine-year run of that show.
Like "Life," the high-school years of "Bell" are the best. "Jessie's Song" that has the titular over-achiever develop a hilariously dramatic addiction to caffeine pills is cemented as a top-ever campy TV episode. We also get Zack using his powers (no pun intended) for good rather than evil when he learns that Kelly cannot afford to attend the prom. This arguably is when Kelack becomes destined for the "Wedding in Vegas" around which the 1994 TV movie that wraps up their story is centered, Zack having to become an American gigolo with Gilbert Gottfried playing his pimp is one of several ways that that film supports the policy that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
The comprehensiveness of "Collection" allows the enjoyment of "Bell" to extend beyond seeing Zack proportionately physically and emotionally mature; the detailed episode guide facilitates picking and choosing your favorite episodes and/or eras. The aforementioned bonus features, which include interviews with most cast members, provide additional perspective that evoke happy thoughts in current fans and will encourage new devotees to embrace the spirit of the series.
The Lionsgate October 16, 2018 complete-series Blu-ray release of the lush and lavish 2014-17 Starz series "Black Sails" is the perfect way to get in the mood for lush and lavish Oscar contenders that are sure to hit the big screen in December. A related note is that the beauty and the well-orchestrated complexity of the 38 episodes in this four-season series require savoring it as much as "binging" on a gourmet meal ruins the experience and makes you feel unwell after the experience.
The two Sound Editing and one Special and Visual Effects Emmys that "Sails" wins illustrates that executive producer Michael Bay puts his talents for grandeur and explosions to good use. Shooting the series on location further enhances the episodes.
The first bit of shameful commerce is that the incredible audio and video of the Blu-rays and the copious truly special features (more below) make choosing this set over watching it on Starz or streaming it a no-brainer. A related note is that these attributes make this roughly $50 set a perfect gift for anyone who likes period pieces, pirates, and/or the Caribbean. Although stealing it from a brick-and-mortar store honors the theme of "Sails," such behavior is completely unacceptable in 2018.
The first confession is admitting to never having read the source material of this prequel to the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel Treasure Island. The only recognized name in "Sails" is that of a pre-Long John Silver, whose fame extends to having a descendant with a successful film career. The second confession is that "Sails" not being conducive to binging limits the scope of this review to the first two seasons; the final two will be watched in the next several weeks.
Our tale of the courage of the fearless crew that pirate captain leads begins in 1715, which is roughly 20 years before the time period of Island. The "civilized" world allows pirates to rule New Providence Island and the capital of Nassau. There is prosperity and more peace than can be expected in a place that operates in this manner.
The pilot episode perfectly sets the tone and hooks the audience; Silver soon shows himself to be the Dr. Smith of the merchant ship on which he is a crew member. Rather than help his fellow seamen fend off an attack by dread pirate Captain Flint and his pirates of the Caribbean, Silver hides in a locked room. While there, Silver obtains paper with the information that Flint is seeking.
Silver subsequently further keeps up with the Smiths in falsely asserting to the pirates that he is the cook, which is a valued position on any ship. This leads to Silver literally jumping ship to join the crew of Flint. A later incident shows why Jewish people label pork as trayf.
The pilot also educates viewers about the rules of law that govern pirates; Flint soon learns the harsh reality of any pirate captain being like a prime minster in that he serves at the pleasure of the crew and can be voted out anytime. A related aspect of this is that pirates are compensated in the form of a percentage of the booty that they plunder. Raids such as the one in which Silver is the catch-of-the-day that do not net any treasure result in Flint facing a challenge to his leadership.
This law of the sea is fascinating because it illustrates both that not much has changed in 300 years and that the means by which formal governments operate is not much different than the rules that pirate ships follow. The response to the new candidate for captain include below-decks politics that are equivalent to back-room deals. The more entertaining part is the false accusations and a confrontation that many politicians clearly would relish.
After surviving the challenge to his leadership, Flint once again devotes most of his attention to pursuing his personal white whale. The object of his obsession is the Urca de Lima, which is a ship that Flint believes is heavily laden with gold. The contribution that Silver can make regarding that quest is the only thing that has him avoid walking the plank.
Meanwhile back in Nassau, 18th-century Ivanka Trump Eleanor Guthrie is operating the brokerage business of her absent father, The basic system is that Eleanor buys the cargoes that the pirates liberate from their former owners; Guthrie then sells the goods. The risks to her continued good fortune include the sins of her father and a push to terminate the rule of the pirates.
A whorehouse with relatively liberated employees is the third side of the commerce triangle in Nassau; the first season shows how all three elements inter-relate and make strange bedfellows.
Speaking of prostitution, one of the best S1 scenes involves a negotiation for a recreational facility during the 18th-century equivalent of dry dock. One spoiler is that this discussion prompts the fun of chanting "Fuck Tent! Fuck Tent! Fuck Tent!" This also involves a cute scene in which an invitation for a "quick fuck" clearly involves pup tents but does not necessarily include the filthy whore.
We additionally get flashbacks to the aforementioned civilized world; these provide context that include showing how becoming a pirate makes Flint an entirely new person in more ways than one; this insight includes other members of the "Sails" crew.
The pursuit of the Urca is central to much of the S1 action; we also see how the related issues of maintaining peace and conducting commerce in Nassau create strange and shifting bedfellows; a notable aspect of this is a pirate crew learning the true meaning of the expression "don't fuck with me, boys." Another scoundrel who cannot produce a strong and sturdy mast discovers that Hell hath no fury like a prostitute left unsatisfied.
S1 ends on a terrific note that demonstrates the true meaning of the expression "so close, yet so far away."
As other reviewers note, "Sails" fully finds its sea legs in S2; it seems like deja vu all over again when we see pirate captain Charles Vane raid a merchant ship. The defeated crew peacefully surrendering creates an expectation that Vane is going to do things the easy way. We soon learn that Homie the pirate don't play that. This leads to Vane even more aggressively seeking dominance over the pirate community.
S2 additionally provides the second chapter in the pursuit of the Urca treasure, which aptly becomes a bargaining chip in pursuits of happiness. The S2 finale aspect of that aptly is pure gold and heightens excitement regarding S3.
The new girl in town also becomes a bargaining chip on a few levels, She is being held hostage for ransom but also is a valuable peace offering in events that determine the future of Nassau. This prompts a sort of a homecoming in which more secrets are revealed and regarding which it seems that thieves are the only one with any honor. All of this (and several other developments) offer Bay a chance to stage the epic battles for which he is so well known. Other mayhem comes in the form of slit throats and orchestrated "accidents."
Students of history and folks who use a Google search as a half-assed form of cheating know the outcome of the power struggle for New Providence Island; "Sails" shows that getting there is all the fun.
The bigger picture this time is Bay putting a more realistic spin on "The Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise and "The Pirates of Penzance" operetta sparks interest in early 18th-century world history. Everything is even more connected in that era than it is now, and we see how things evolve. We further learn that there are at least 50 shades of gray between the titular canvases under which the pirates sail and the white sails of the "good" guys.
The Blu-ray for each season has copious spectacular special features that demonstrate the love of the cast and crew. The S1 bonuses focus on creating the series and the oft-mentioned historical context. This culminates in several S4 roundtable features on topics that include "The Legends of Treasure Island" and "Fearless Fans."
This incomplete discussion of "Sails" proves that there is more than enough reason to get on board regarding the series; it truly is a unique series with feature-film quality acting and cinematography.
'Secret Scouts and the Lost Leonardo': YA Novel for All Ages About Dutch Kids in King da Vinci's Court
Interest in the hot-off-the-presses YA novel Secret Scouts and the Lost Leonardo originates with a hope of being among the first to discover the next Harry Potter caliber book series, This inaugural outing for Dutch sisters Lisa and Sophie and the bros next door Jack and Tom does not seem to be quite that captivating. However authors/parents Dennis and Wendel Kind tell a fascinating tale that lacks any dull moments. They additional offer proof that European and North American tweens generally talk, think, and act alike.
The following YouTube clip of the trailer for Leonardo both demonstrates a clever marketing technique for a book and provides a strong sense of the fun and adventure that awaits readers of all ages. One disclaimer is that some depicted scenes get cut from the novel.
The adventure begins with a crazy ermine lady neighbor giving the girls an old sketch that this woman acquires from the former occupant of the house where the sisters live with their mother and their art historian father. The girls and their buds then enter the forbidden territory of the study of the father of the girls, Horseplay by the boys leads to discovering a secret room behind a study bookcase. The treasures within include an old notebook.
Our young detectives soon correctly suspect that both the sketch and the book are the work of the titular Renaissance man; they next determine how to combine the discovered fruits of his labor to pay him a visit. This leads to these meddling kids both literally and figuratively having a hand in real-life work of da Vinci. These incidents explaining some mysteries regarding that work keeps things interesting in the context of a art-history lesson.
The manner in which the quartet reasons out things and get adults to provide necessary information is amusing to readers with secondary sexual characteristics and should allow younger readers to fantasize about being in the shoes of these adventurers. This fun includes a serious discussion about the need to appropriately dress for their journey and how to make sure that they arrive at the right place at the right time.
Speaking of journeys, getting there is more than half the fun this time,. The girls coincidentally going to Paris and visit the Louvre soon after acquiring their treasure trove helps them put the pieces together. We also get a teacher being duped into believing that he merely is quenching a thirst for knowledge.
All of this ends on a cliffhanger that relates to a period that likely seems to be as ancient as fifteenth-century Italy to the Millennials but is the not-so-distant past to those of us who can legally drink.
A glimpse of the future reveals that the next adventure for the scouts involves events that some will consider an obamanation.
Warner Archive releasing the penultimate 1983-84 eighth season of the workplace sitcom "Alice" provides a nice Halloween treat; this DVD set almost guarantees that Archive will release the final season in time to give your favorite sofa spud the complete series on DVD for Christmas. The final holiday note is that Archive deserves thanks for keeping the packing style consistent for every release.
One spoiler regarding S9 is that it follows the modern sitcom trend of a grand finale. Every lead character has a big life change that makes him or her much happier than he or she was when the series began.
A review of the Archive S7 release provides a chance to read about prior adventures of the titular waitress/aspiring singer (Linda Lavin) and her wacky co-workers at Mel's Diner in Phoenix. It is hoped that the posts on the earlier seasons will be copied from Unreal TV 1.0 to this site by the end of 2018.
Archive beginning the S8 set with two S7 episodes that were intended to air in S8 demonstrates the typical Archive integrity. The third episode "Mel is Hogg-Tied" is the actual S8 season premiere; it also is an early cross-over episode. Additional fun comes in the form of this outing being a twofer regarding "Alice" themes.
The cross-over comes in the form of sleazy redneck good ole boy Boss Hogg of the fellow CBS series "The Dukes of Hazzard" visiting the diner. The first half of the twofer is that he is there for reasons that include visiting Southern-fried waitress Jolene Hunnicutt (Celia Weston of "Modern Family). Hogg is one of the long string of relatives who create comic mayhem on coming to visit a relative who works at Mel's. Aptly the mother of all such guests is Carrie Sharples (Martha Raye), who is the mom of diner owner Mel. Carrie makes 12 such visits throughout the run of the series.
The second half of the twofer is in the form of the Mel foolishly losing ownership of the diner; the rest of the story every time is that the gang must join forces to comically put right what once went wrong. The solution this time fully cements that formula.
The two S8 Carrie episodes have surprisingly dark notes. The first one has her apply for a job as a nightclub singer only to blatantly be told that she is too old for the job; one warning is that this one includes a scene with Raye and Lavin in "Flashdance" style aerobics outfits that you never will be able to unsee.
The second Carrie episode begins with that frequent flyer having a near-death experience that profoundly affects her. Her subsequent devotion to telling the truth leads to a revelation that greatly upsets her son. One spoiler is that there are fewer laughs than usual in this one,
We further get Lavin enjoying her occasional indulgence in playing another character. This time it is Debbie Walden, who is the Jewish mother landlady of Vera. The "sit" that leads to "com" is Mel stringing along this lonely lady in order to taste her goodies.
Although we are deprived of an S8 episode in which a celebrity who plays himself or herself paying a heavy price for coming into the diner, we do get Florence Henderson as singer Sarah James. James comes into the diner seeking directions and finding a fiance. One spoiler is that this does not involve Carol Brady getting busy with Reuben Kincaid.
The icing on the wedding cake is that S8 includes the biggest occasion in "Alice" lore since the S4 departure of fan fave. Flo. (A review of the Archive release of the spinoff "Flo" also is near the top of the list of posts to copy over from Unreal TV 1.0.) S8 E7 is a lucky one for ditzy waitress Vera (Beth Howlnd). She meets and soon marries cop/soulmate Elliot Novak. The "com" includes a wacky misunderstanding leading to Elliot being the second husband of Vera.
The two "issues" episodes provide another reason to watch; Mel learns a hard lesson about the importance of making his business handicapped accessible. The other outing is a twofer regarding cruelty to circus animals and the importance of not discriminating against people based on am unusual physical characteristic.
The appeal of all this is that "Alice" reminds us of a kinder and gentler sitcom era in which most characters were likable and the good heart of the "villain" earned that person a great deal of leeway. Further, the writers provided adequately amusing comedy to not have to rely on shock value. Not only can you watch "Alice" with your grandparents, all of you can equally enjoy it,
The Film Movement October 9, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 Austrian biopic "Egon Schiele: Death and The Maiden" is particularly special for many reasons. The first accolade relates to this DVD being released a couple of weeks before the centennial of a notable date in the life of early 20th-century Viennese artist/Bohemian Schiele.
Another basis for praise is that Film of the Month Club selection "Egon" represents two elements that make Movement spectacular. It is right at home with the other biopics of European figures in the Movement catalog; the bigger picture is that it is one of the compelling foreign films that makes Movement a leader in releasing such films in North America. The ongoing copying of reviews of Movement releases from Unreal TV 1.0 and new posts such as the one to the Movement section of this site illustrate this grand tradition.
The several 2017 Austrian Roma Gala awards generally speak to the quality of "Egon." The two Best Actress awards that Valerie Pachner wins for portraying Wally Neuzil, who is a muse/lover of Egon and is the model for the titular painting, reflects the quality of the performances by the entire cast.
The well-executed contrasting time shifts are another element that makes "Egon" effective. The narrative begins on a gray and dreary 1918 day in Vienna. Gerti finds her brother Egon and his wife Edith extraordinarily ill in his stereotypical run-down artist's garret. A doctor is sent for just ahead of the action moving back eight years.
The incredible contrast between the appearance and circumstances between Egon in 1910 and 1918 makes one want to find out what occurs in the intervening 8 years; writer/director Dieter Berner does an excellent job filling in that gap. We meet younger Egon shockingly painting a gleeful nude 16 year-old Gerti. The bad touching that this sibling revelry includes is completely playful.
The circumstances of the conversation introduce an odd element to Egon that she is too young to join him and his artist friends for an evening at a club at which naked performers stage tableaus. This outing introduces the audience to exotic (and erotic) Moa Mandu, who the first in the string of models that Eqon seduces into his studio and his bed.
The strongest sense of the Bohemian lifestyle soon follows as Egon, Gerti, Moa, and the artists with whom Egon has formed a cooperative go on an extended vacation at a rented home. Folks who have tried a comparable social experiment can relate to the jealousies and other resentments that ensue. This is not to mention the additional elements of siblings testing the limits of their modern relationship and Egon not realizing that being a kept man is a privilege, rather than a right.
The ongoing pattern of shifting between the 1918 present of the film and the past continues with the narrative returning to badly bed-ridden Egon. The audience learning the tragic news garners tremendous sympathy.
The story advances to Egon meeting the very independent and modern Wally, who truly is his match. This coincides with the rising fame of the latter, It also is the beginning of the end in many ways as The Great War becomes an increasing strong presence in the lives of our characters.
Seeing how the war affects Egon both provides fascinating insight into his character in both senses of that term and highlights the contrasts of the impact of the war among those with some form of elite status and ordinary boys who become cannon fodder. One aspect of this is the degree to which a man who can avoid many of the horrors of war decides to do his duty.
The war years also are among the most interesting in the personal life of Egon. By this time, the audience knows how the relationship between him and the sisters who obtain great entertainment from living across the street from his studio. This also puts a seemingly harsh attitude in 1918 in perspective,
The roughly final 15-minutes of "Schiele" occurs in 1918; the excellent instincts regarding this extend beyond allowing the audience to see how the principals get there and the bases for their principles. This alone makes the film particularly powerful; the epilogue really drive the point home.
The broadest perspective regarding all this that makes Egon a perfect subject for a film set in the 1910s is that those eight years of his life perfectly reflects the times. This includes seeing how a radical move by his father shapes his psyche for better and for worse.
Movement enhances the "Schiele" experience by choosing particularly wisely regarding the short film that accompanies every Club selection. The artistic sketches that comprise the animation in the 2017 "Nothing Happens" tell the tale of townfolks who gather for no apparent reason other than a desire to go along with the crowd.
The Shout Select division of Shout! Factory already makes lovers of mob movies and dark comedy an offer that they cannot refuse regarding the October 23, 2018 Collector's Edition of the 1995 film (not-to-be confused with the current Epix series) "Get Shorty." Folks who order "Shorty" directly from Shout! have a chance of becoming a made man by snagging a free "while they last" poster with new artwork.
Select further sweetens the deal by having this release coincide with Select making the (reviewed) fabulous Blu-ray of fellow '90s phenom comedy "City Slickers" available on real and virtual store shelves everywhere.
Like "Slickers," the scenery and the cinematography of "Shorty" look incredible on the 4K remaster of the Blu-ray. In this case, we start out with the bright hues of Miami and move on to all the many styles that are Los Angeles.
The aspects that make "Shorty" Select worthy include the dream team in front of and behind the camera. This starts with director Barry Sonnenfeld putting the same talent for dark humor that he displays in films that include the "Addams Family" and the "Men in Black" franchises to good use in this film about retired Miami loan shark turned aspiring film producer Chili Palmer (John Travolta). The good source material for Sonnenfeld this time is the comic crime-novel by the Stephen King caliber prolific author Elmore Leonard.
Travolta chooses wisely in making "Shorty" his follow-up to "Pulp Fiction" in this era in which he plays ticking time-bomb tough guys. His equally perfect cast mates include Gene Hackman as horror-film producer Harry Zimm, who has aspirations of making a film with substance, Rene Russo as B-movie actress with a history Karen Flores, and Danny DeVito essentially as Danny DeVito in the guise of actor Marin Weir. Actors who join the fun via cameos in which they play very true to type include Bette Mider, Alex Rocco, James Gandolfini, and Dennis Farina.
The following YouTube clip of the Shout trailer for "Shorty" provides another great endorsement for this must-see over-and-over film. Despite including roughly 15 vines of highlights, these images do not scratch the surface regarding the memorable moments.
The wonderful absurdity of "Shorty" commences with the opening Miami scenes in which antagonism between Palmer and fellow wise-guy Ray "Bones" Barboni (Farina) escalates on Bones hilariously making Palmer his bitch and our protagonist responding in kind. The subsequent events land Palmer in La La Land looking for Weir both to collect a debt and to pitch the story of the events that lead to his relocation.
Further complications arise in the form of the investors in a Weir film learning that their money is not being used in the agreed-to manner. Throwing in a psychotic drug-dealer with a world-class itchy trigger finger largely rounds out the fun.
The real fun (and hilarity) ensues when Palmer must keep several highly volatile spheres in the air while doing his best to avoid having any of them blow up in his face, Of course, the themes of this incredibly meta film include the similarities between how the mob conducts business and how supposedly legitimate Hollywood operates; this also proves the adage "its funny because its true."
The best truly is saved for last; we get both the mother of all cameos in the film and have a wonderful homage to the Mel Brooks comedy "Blazing Saddles," One spoiler is that there is no indication that the craft-services table at the movie-within-a-movie serves baked beans,
A highlight (and apparent Select standard) in the aforementioned bonus features is a roughly 30-minute documentary in which all the principals discuss their literal and figurative roles, DeVito steals the show regarding both his reminiscing about being recruited to play Palmer and the team getting "Fiction" auteur Quentin Tarantino to entice Travolta into playing Palmer. Another of the many features is a home-movie reel of filming scenes.
These bonuses emphasize the sad fact that Hollywood currently seems to lack folks with the talents that make a film like "Shorty" succeed. The simple-but-brilliant concept surpasses the theme of anything in the multiplex and the folks in front of the camera seem either to be stars rather than actors or are well past their prime.
The wrap regarding all this is that Shout! provides a chance to revisit the beginning of the end of art winning out over commerce regarding at least some studio fare.
The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1948 Blu-ray release of the 1948 noir classic "Key Largo" provides a chance to add it to your collection of perfectly remastered films (including the recently reviewed "Dark Passage") starring Mr., and Mrs. Humphrey Bogart. The magic of Blu-ray allowing custom-made marathon viewings validates that the sexual chemistry between Bogart and Bacall equals that of Affleck and Damon. One difference is that no pop songs celebrate the magic regarding Batt.
This John Huston film further is notable for having a particularly strong Orsonian quality is that it has the look and themes of a Welles films. This is on top of the live-stage feel that is attributable to "Largo" being based on a play of the same name.
The opening scenes prove that the reputation of Bogart precedes him. The audience believes that his character Frank McCloud is involved when the local po po stops the bus on which he is traveling to search for less than honest injuns who are fugitives from justice. We quickly learn that McCloud is as clean as a brothel on a Tuesday afternoon.
The real fun begins when a hostile motley crew provides McCloud an unfriendly welcome on his arrival at a tourist hotel on the titular Florida island. This shady lot includes drunken floozy Gaye Dawn (Claire Trevor in an Oscar-winning role). Dawn aptly steals the show in a later scene in which mob boss Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) literally makes her sing for her liquid supper.
The reception thaws on the group learning that WWII vet McCloud is there to visit the family of a man who served under him and who died in combat. Bacall plays Nora Temple, who is the widow of the dead soldier. Lionel Barrymore shows much of his broad range in playing the wheelchair-bound father of the man/hotel owner James Temple. The beloved James additionally is the unofficial mayor of Key L:argo.
McCloud shows bad timing for him and perfect timing for the audience in arriving hours before a highly symbolical hurricane is due to hit the island. Everyone in front of and behind the camera plays his or her part especially well regarding the increasing barometic and other pressures ahead of the weather event,
Things escalate to the point of Rocco holding McCloud and the Temples hostage as Rocco, his thugs, and his moll both wait out both the storm and the arrival of a business associate.
Huston PERFECTLY stages the confrontations between Rocco and McCloud and/or Temple. These typically include exchanging philosophies.
The foul weather ceasing does not coincide with the storm blowing over. McCloud and Rocco still have a score to settle and Nora needs to discover if she can connect with her "Nick" in time.
The above discussion of "Largo" provides many reasons why this Blu-ray is worthy of inclusion in your film library. The broader perspective is that the film is a perfect example of how great they used to make them and of they don't make 'em like that anymore.
It is difficult to imagine assembling a dream team that is comparable to a director like Huston working with such a talented cast that both can give nuanced performances and play off each other as well as this group,
The Warner Archive October 9, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1974 TV Movie "Bad Ronald" reminds us of the Golden Age of such guilty pleasure gems. This one has the bonus of the still-modern element of having a psycho covertly living in the walls of your home. This cult status also favors buying the Blu-ray, rather than relying on almost surely spotty inclusion on a streaming service,
This variation of "Psycho" begins with the titular excitable high-school senior (Scott Jacoby) enjoying a birthday party with his domineering mother Elaine (Kim Hunter). She is sharing her high aspirations for her boy when he cuts things short to visit the object of his affection over the objection of his mother.
The reception that dorky Ronald receives on showing up when the girl of his dreams and the other cool kids are swimming is either hilarious or heartbreaking depending on your perspective, It does prove that kids say the cruelest things.
Ronald is fresh off this experience when a subsequent encounter is the straw that broke the camel's sanity in that push comes to fatal shove. This sends Ronald into the arms of the one woman who loves him; Elaine responds in a manner that leads to Ronald simultaneously breaking the records for the amount of time that a teen boy spends locked in the bathroom and goes without changing his tightie-whities.
The plot thickens when Ronald ventures out one day to find Elaine gone and the house empty of all furniture. This changes when Mr. and Mrs. Wood move in with their three teen daughters. Fun casting related to this includes having ubiquitous '80s actor Dabney Coleman play Mr. Wood. We also get Ted Eccles of kidcom "Dr. Shrinker" fame as Duane Matthews, who is the object of the affection of one of the Wood girls and the brother of the homicide victim,
A combination of Duane telling the Wood family the history of the house and of Ronald increasingly haunting the abode particularly puts the younger members of the family ill at ease. A relatable aspect of this is the many times throughout our lives when we are certain that we had now missing food or that an object seemingly has been tampered with.
The aforementioned modern aspect enters the picture in this regard. One sign of our Dystopian Days is the regular urban myths and facts about a former owner of a house restricting his residence to a concealed area out of economic necessity and/or a disturbed mind. The really scary part is that this often can continue for extended periods before being discovered.
The tension nicely builds as Ronald increasingly loses his grasp on reality in proportion to becoming obsessed with the girls next door. Things proverbially hit the fan when the mice going away prompts the cat to prey. A highlight of this is Duane ending up in a position that will delight folks who fall within the overlap between people who enjoy S&M and "Shrinker" fans.
Things rapidly wrap up in an inevitable manner the removes any doubt regarding the erroneous belief of Elaine that Ronald is destined to be a brain surgeon.
'Lifetime Double Feature' DVD: Two More Yuletide Yarns About Christmas Business Making Strange Bedfellows
Lionsgate separately releasing two double-feature DVDs of 2017 Lifetime Network Christmas movies on October 23, 2018 provides both a chance to be alternative on Halloween and to start getting in holiday spirit. Watching all four on one day provides a chance to relive memories of marathon viewings during family reunions at which these movies are the only thing that everyone likes.
This post "Wrapped Up in Christmas" and "Snowed Inn Christmas" follows the recent review of the "A Very Merry Toy Store" and "Four Christmases and A Wedding" release.
One spoiler for folks who lack time to read these articles because they already are frantically decking the halls and searching online (R.I.P. Toys R Us) for the hot new toy is that the general theme of all four films is the same; the distinguishing characteristics are the actors of the '80s and '90s who star in them and the nature of the conflict of the couple that we know will end up together in the end,
The pattern begins with the movie being set in roughly mid-December. Our central character is a 30-something woman who is experiencing work-related stress that brings her in conflict with the 30-something man of her dreams and/or bane of her existence.
This Sam and Diane directly or indirectly clash until the woman finds a solution that makes both of them happy. This leads to a Christmas period kiss at or near the end of the film. The lesson for unattached folks who are looking for love in all the wrong places and in too many faces is to just wait for Christmas and find a bone of contention with spouse material,
Starring Kim "Tootie" Fields of the '80scom "The Facts of Life alone earns "Wrapped" most-favored nation status. Fields plays Courtney, who is the busy executive/mother who is the sister of shopping mall executive Heather (Tatyani Ali of the 80scom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.") The '80s fun continues with having Jasmine Guy of "A Different World" play their mother. Joseph Marcell of "Prince" plays their father,.
The conflict this time is that the loud and flashy boss ('80s personality Jackee Harry) is conditioning Heather getting a long-coveted promotion on Heather implementing a Christmastime plan to cancel the leases of low-performing mall tenants to clear the way for more profitable stores.
Brendan Fehr of "Roswell" playing disillusioned former attorney/current aspiring artist Ryan who is helping his surrogate mother Aunt Patty at her toy store in the mall predictably puts that shop in the crosshairs of Heather. The clever resolution is notable and should inspire real-life malls in this era in which even Nordstroms are closing their doors.
The very romcomcentric companion movie "Snowed-Inn Christmas" has Bethany Joy Lenz of "One Tree Hill" play online journalist Jenna Hudson. Andrew Walker of "Radio Active" plays her polar-opposite co-worker Kevin Jenner. The conflict this time is a "Glengarry Glen Ross" competition in which it is heavily implied that first prize is continued employment and second prize is a chance to try writing for another webzine.
As the title implies, an element of "Snowed" is the couple getting stranded at a boutique hotel in Santa Claus, Indiana en route to their assignment a week before Christmas. Indications that Mr. and Mrs. Clause are their hosts both adds a particularly strong Christmas note and ensures that a Christmas miracle will occur.
The focus on thawing relations is especially strong in this one; Jenna learns a great deal about why Kevin lacks sentiment and seeks thrills. He sees the uptight "witch" from the office let down her hair and show her human side. This culminates in a grand gesture that helps seal the inevitable deal.
As the above musings demonstrate, the appeal of both films (and of the two in the other set) show the broad appeal of this fare, provides good escapism, and makes one think that a Christmas miracle is not entirely impossible.
Unreal TV 2.0 evolves from http://classictvdvdreviews.blogspot.com/ (which still is up.) Both sites are labors of love dedicated to preserving the golden and silver ages of television and film and celebrating new content that values art over commerce. The same principle applies regarding boutique hotels.