Due to being released when the prolonged quarantine is causing many of us to consider the others in our lives decreasingly significant, the central concept of the 2015 drama "Time Zone Inn," which is an DVD release from Indiepix Films, is considered more of a dream come true than a dreaded effort to adjust to a new normal. This relates to the titular BnB offering couples that are facing living in different time zones a trial run.
More specifically, one member of a couple stays in a room that simulates where he or she will be living in the near future; his or her mate stays in a room that does the same for him or her. The man in one such relationship staying in the Berlin room while his girlfriend occupies the Beijing accommodation is an example of this.
All of this relates to the nature of a matriarch society and the awful truth about love.
The following short but sweet Indiepix trailer for "Inn" concisely states the concept of the film and the rules that the guests are asked to obey; the latter amusingly does involve lighting and not eating after midnight in addition to learning the harsh consequences of violating the rules.
Our story begins with Mina and Enzo arriving. He is checking into the London room; she is checking into Paris. One spoiler is that we do not see either of them in their underpants. The aforementioned failure to do as they are told leads to this couple meeting fellow guests Marco and Catia. Resident free spirit/troublemaker Gaia soon joins the group,
This gathering triggers conflicts that trigger thoughts of a more dramatic version of the Neil Simon "Suite" comedies that essentially are "The Love Boat" episodes set at landmark hotels.
All of this results in our young lovers being a little wiser, but not necessarily more happy, at the end of the film. The first bigger picture regarding this are that we see what happens when people stop being polite and start being real. The related message is that most of us do not show out crazy until after we have put a ring on it.
Icarus Films and Distrib Films take a Spring Break rest from their typical joint releases of "ripped from the headlines" French crime dramas to release the fun-for-all-ages family comedy "10 Days With Dad." The only fault as to this charming and witty movie is that the title translates more closely to "10 Days Without Mom."
The following trailer accurately shows how this joy that all of us badly need during the never ending pandemic combines the stay-at-home Dad theme of "Mr. Mom" with the more specific concept of parents trying to manage a houseful of rambunctious and quirky kids around which the HILARIOUS 2007-14 Britcom "Outnumbered" is centered. This chaos is particularly relatable to Covid-era parents who have not gotten a break from their offspring for a year and counting.
Our story begins with the seemingly mandatory 21st century opening scenes of chaos followed by the beginning of the end that shows how the characters come to experience that series of unfortunate circumstances. In this case, we see temporarily single father Antoine walking away from a scene of mass destruction ala James Bond and just about every other action hero and parody thereof.
The fateful moment occurs roughly two weeks earlier. Stay-at-home mom Isabelle is at the end of a particularly tough day on which she feels especially stressed and old when HR manager Antoine adds the straw that breaks the back of that beast of burden. He soon learns that that is not the time for his pillow talk to include his opinion that Isabelle is living the good life.
The variation of the tried-and-true "trading places" sitcom trope is Mom is taking a solo vacation for the titular time period. The scene in which that warning goes unheeded is one of the best in this movie that literally does not have a dull moment.
Fairly literally turning a deaf ear to his wife results in Antoine having a comparable rude awakening on Isabelle having her bags packed, being ready to go, and the taxi outside blowing its horn. She does know when she is coming back and is very happy to go.
The hilarity commences with the kids making the first in a series of awesome changes to the i-Phone profile name of Dad. This is ahead of Dad leaving to drop the kids off at school only to realize that he and the youngsters do not know how to get to that educational institution.
This relates to the appeal of the everykids in the family. Fourteen year-old Arthur, who is responsible for Isabelle abandoning her career as an attorney, is a nice young man with a healthy interest in his peers of the opposite sex. Roughly 12 year-old Chloe plays soccer.
Rambunctious 10 year-old Maxime is the most entertaining child; his antics include snorkeling in the living-room aquarium and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by being caught playing a video game after convincing Mom that he is too sick to go to school.
The humor that baby-of-the-family Jojo contributes mostly is in the form of babbling that usually refers to the substance that currently is in his diaper. Jojo contributes to a hard truth in that the baby sitter tells Antoine that a good father knows what his two-year old is saying. For the record, your not-so-humble reviewer understands the message behind every utterance of his cat.
Of course, the house soon becomes a shambles and the work of Dad suffers at a time that he up for a promotion and finds himself in competition with a younger and more charming co-worker who also is the cousin of a Hollywood star. This makes the growing pains of our family very apt.
Concern as the extent to which Isabelle will go Greek while trying to get her groove back further drives the story.
The build-up to the aforementioned fireworks begin with the baby sitter dramatically quitting amping up the resentment of the kids at a time that Dad needs them to be good team players at a corporate event. Personal relatability this time is considering corporate spouse duty as channeling Samantha Stephens of "Bewitched" without the fun of being able to turn clients into monkeys.
All of this leads to a near-Hollywood ending in which the family does not fully live happily ever after but the kids are alright. The even bigger is that the audience is left desperately wanting more.
The CBS Home Entertainment February 23, 2021 complete-series DVD set of the 2013-16 Comedy Central series "Inside Amy Schumer" provides the second bite at the apple that makes physical media so awesome. This convert to the comedic stylings of the titular foul-mouthed darling of the Comedy Central roasts was not adequately grabbed by the Schumer pilot to grant it a season-pass on a near-capacity Tivo; watching the DVDs of this three Emmys winner showed the error as to that hasty judgment.
The tried-and-true formula of "Inside" is a series of sketches, stand-up that takes a page from the "Seinfeld" playbook, person-on-the-street interviews, and "Amy Goes Deep" segments. These episodes often loosely revolves around an amusingly "adult" theme, such as STDs and penis size.
Schumer additionally treats us to parodies of television commercials. The award for the best faux ad goes to a short about "Finger Blasters" which are chicken tenders that are designed for dipping.
Presenting a twisted version of the trope of "the nicest kids in town" descending on Mom's kitchen in search of an after-school treat is hilarious. A scene-stealing teen boy, whose stand-out moments including trying to persuade a girl to a triple-finger blast only then to sniff the finger, is a sketch highlight.
The following YouTube clip of the "Finger Blasters" sketch allows you to judge Amy for yourself.
"Deep" often provides insight into a world about which viewers have limited knowledge. These include a former telephone sex line operator, a well-endowed man, and a porn producer. A highlight of the talk with the filmmaker is the tale of the consequences of getting too close to the action. Schumer being Schumer even manages to make a chat with a young boy a little edgy,
The broad (pun intended) appeal of the Schumer humor is that it is funny because it true. On a related note, Comedy Central deserves praise for airing content that definitely offends people who cannot take a joke. There is NO doubt that Schumer tells such prudes to "pleasure" themselves.
The self-involved callous disregard persona of Schumer is one of her best sides. A highlight of this is a sketch in which she plays a woman obsessed with her sandwich order while having lunch with a man talking about being near the World Trade Center on 911. A similar bit has Schumer reliving the "trauma" of an objectively not-so-unpleasant flight in a segment on a television series about surviving great hardship.
A related look at whiners is a hilarious sketch in which Schumer faces an intervention for being addicted to buying a round for the house. Suffice it to say that this is not limited to nights of drinking.
We also get copious material as to Schumer essentially being a man with his reproductive organs on the inside. This includes a sketch in which a group of guys at the local bar get worked up seeing the Schumer character prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is one of the boys.
The best example of all the Schumor (and her many guest stars) is a sketch in which Zach Braff ("Scrubs") plays the husband of the Schumer character. A poker night with with the boys includes crude tales of sleazy hook-ups.. The Braff character getting shot down every time that he tries to share encounters with the Schumer character provides plenty of laughs. Schumer providing a wonderful raunchy climax ends this social commentary on a perfect note.
CBSHE supplements all this with unaired sketches and interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. We also get outtakes that supplement the bloopers that leave us wanting more at the end of each "Inside" episode.
The most apt commentary on the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD of the 2018 drama "Sex Weather" relates to a "technical difficulties." This insight into the mating habits of a hipster Millennial is good enough to have held attention up to the DVD freezing roughly 15 minutes before the conclusion. Interest as to whether the "crazy kids" would make it was strong enough to try to get the disc to play in the current player; it was not adequately high to try to use an alternate machine.
In this case, the fault lies within the stars. Leading man Al'Jaleel McGhee has the looks and the charm to pull off the role of filmmaker Darrel; he simply lacks chemistry with strange bedfellow/former crew member Sydney (Amber Stonebreaker). Sydney (and presumably Stonebreaker) is a typical BORING hipster Millennial down to her t-shirt with a photo of the "Friends" cast.
The fact that Amber lives in a funky basement studio apartment in Portland, Oregon (aka Brooklyn West) says a great deal about both her character in both senses of that word. A scene in which Darrel and Sydney (who are channeling John and Yoko by spending the entire day in bed) make origami swans says a great deal about "Weather."
Filmmaker Jon Garcia sticks to a tried-and-true formula in telling the tale of his quasi star-crossed lovers. Our story begins with the couple waking up the "morning after" the premieres of the latest film of Darrel and of the carnal aspect of his relationship with his former employee. This sticking to what works continues with using scenes of Portland at different hours to communicate the passing of time.
A touch of irony enters this less-than-perfect film in a scene in which Sydney requires a less-than-enthusiastic Darrel to listen to her read less-than-glowing reviews of his latest work.
The Monday morning quarterbacking of the night-in-question begins with committee member Amber making it clear that it was not good for her. Darrel, who clearly has the right tool for the job, offering a do-over may play a role as to whether Amber ever goes back.
This unmet expectation relates to false advertising in the form of the desirable person on the movie set not being the same individual in bed. This is comparable to the well-known phenomenon of both persons in a marriage not revealing his or her "crazy" until the "man" puts a ring on it.
Related insight is in the context of love, Darrel speaks for many people in stating that he does not want to go on any more first dates. In other words, finding Ms. Good Enough would provide adequate bliss.
The aptly analogous second bite at the apple smooths the waters; this leads to an essential "kiss my grits" moment. A discussion of moving to LA reflects both the honeymoon stage of a relationship and vacation euphoria in the form of wanting to relocate to a place that you are thoroughly enjoying.
The inarguably best scene involves a delivery guy having awkward intercourse with the couple. The analogy this time is being the only sober person in the room.
The bigger "Weather" picture relates to a hazard of casual sex; not really knowing someone before making the beast with two backs enhances the risk of discovering the truth as to the Chinese proverb regarding being careful as to that for which you wish.
BGP supplements this with a "Behind the Scenes" special feature.
The latest in a long. ongoing series of joint DVD releases from Icarus Films and Distrib Films provides a twofer in the form of character studies with strong social commentary. The February 2, 2021 release of the French drama "Night Shift" provides insight into the hearts, minds, and souls of the titular cops who learn that a tough moral dilemma is the price for breaking the cardinal rule against volunteering for anything.
The following trailer perfectly conveys the tone and the style of this tale about the human side of boys (and girls) in blue whose jobs require following orders without question.
Roughly the first half of "Shift" depicts the trauma and the drama that leads to the more intense central angst of the film. Showing the same events from different perspectives helps sets the stage for the main event,
Virginie is a not-so-happily married cop, who has a not-so-pleasant "morning after" medical procedure scheduled for when her shift ends. The role of fellow law-enforcement officer Aristide as to that influences much of the action throughout the film.
Erik is the hardened veteran of the group; his backstory includes his own marital woes and his struggles with his "conceal, don't feel" approach to his job. He additionally clearly is the most by-the-book member of the group.
The nightly "be careful out there" meeting for our unlikely bedfellows includes an announcement that a fire at a prison requires requesting volunteers to escort illegal immigrant Asomidin to a flight back to his native land. As previously mentioned, the three aforementioned cops are the saps who offer to give this guy who may be a terrorist or a refugee a ride to the airport.
"Shift" takes on a particularly strong live-stage vibe when the cops begin their Uber duty. Virginie is the first one to get insight that makes her want to let their passenger take a powder. Of course, Erik is fully on the other side of that Kinsey Scale.
Further discussion wears down Erik, who seems to be more interested in getting Virginie to shut up then to do the right thing. It seems that Aristide is willing to abide by the decision of the group; the aforementioned character study shows that this "keep calm and carry on" 'tude is very consistent as to this man literally and figuratively in the middle on a few levels.
One of the best scenes also is the most insightful; Asomidin having excellent reason to not trust mankind jeopardizes taking advantage of a get-out-of-jail free card.
The true genius of the film comes near the end when it is shown that it ain't over until the blonde lady sings. This leads to "morning-after" events for all concerned; the most symbolic of these in a highly thoughtful films comes at the end.
The big picture this time is interesting but not especially insightful; we show how the range of experiences of cops is behind the roulette wheel as to (as personal experience has shown) whether a guy who does not do threatening at all will be cornered and aggressively grilled after proving beyond any doubt whatsoever that he merely was walking down the street or will be treated in a reasonable manner.
Film Movement Classics once more makes indie-god parent Film Movement particularly proud as to the meticulously pristine DVD of the 1976 Italian melodrama "L'Innocente." This wonderfully highly emotive film epitomizes the dilemma regarding whether to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
The following Movement trailer highlights the artistry in this grande finale for filmmaker Luchino Visconti; we also get a strong taste of the sordid lifestyles of the rich and famous theme that permeates the film.
Our story begins on what essentially is a night at the opera. Philandering husband Tullio (Giancarlo Giannini) is attending a form of pay-for-play event with his lady-who-lunches spouse Giuliana when mistress Countess Teressa Raffo (in a spot-on performance by Jennifer O'Neill) provides the ultimatum of either leaving early with her or forfeiting any future nights of illicit passion. The ensuing events clearly shows who wears the period-piece pants in these overlapping relationships.
A very true dat moment follows on Tullio and Giuliana having not quite pillow talk the morning after, Tullio saying that love transforms into things such as respect and affection over time especially hits home after many of us have had significant others around essentially 24/7 seven months and eternally counting.
The game changer comes on Tullio brother Federico bringing author Filippo d'Arborio along for a family visit. Meeting this new friend prompts Giuliana to take a gander at what is good for the goose. Borrowing a page from the tale of another tumultuous relationship, Tullio decides that the perceived act in question is only repulsive when it is done to him. The other woman also asserting herself does not help matters.
Giuliana subsequently finding herself with child creates drama of Biblical proportions; the clear lack of fatherly-to-be regard by Tullio provides some of the best moments in the film. This extends to a directive to take not even very drastic measures as to a hiccup in the pregnancy.
Visconti saves the best for last as to his depiction of the shock-and-awe that dominate roughly the final 30 minutes of the film. This begins with a particularly dastardly act followed by a highly dramatic act of contrition.
The morals this time are that everyone who marries for money dearly pays for that decision and that karma is not the only bitch that can ruin the life of a dirty rotten scoundrel.
The bonus feature "Reframing L'Innocente" has author Ivo Bloom sharing his expertise as to Visconti filming the movie in a manner that optimizes the symbolism and the related impact on the audience. The 16-page booklet by writer Dan Callahan provides additional perspective.
The Lionsgate separate February 9, 2021 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2020 drama "Wander Darkly" successfully tackles the issues of taking a relationship to the next level and the next stage of existence after we die. The icing on this 2020 Sundance existential cake is an award-worthy performance by Sienna Miller as woman in limbo Adrienne. Awesome character actress Beth Grant shines equally brightly in her role as Adrienne's maternal mother-in-law, who shows great restraint in straddling the line between supportive parent and monster-in-law.
The voice of experience requires strongly suggesting watching "Wander" twice. Seeing the truly surprising climax makes a second viewing far different due to knowing what you did not know the first time.
The following trailer perfectly illustrates the BD-worthy cinematography in this film that proves that writer/director Tara Miele is a genuine double threat.
Our story commences with highly relatable scenes of Adrienne and long-time companion Matteo well beyond the honeymoon stage of their relationship, A minor spoiler is that buying a house and having a baby does not lead to a happily ever after American dream. An aspect of this is that laid-back woodworker Matteo does not seem to be as good of a catch now that Adrienne is heavily relied on to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. This working mom also must never let Matteo forget that he is a man.
The night in question commences with the couple arguing ahead of going to a party. That gathering stirs up the pot in a manner that leads to an argument on the way home. That leads to the central event that drives (no pun intended) the central drama and trauma.
A series of the most surreal scenes in this highly atmospheric film leads to Adrienne and Matteo back at home. The difference this time is that Adrienne is convinced that she is dead despite the evidence to the contrary; Matteo tries very hard to be compassionate and to provide the voice of reason.
This leads to Ghost of Christmas Past style visits to significant events in the relationship of the couple. The armchair quarterbacking as to these replays discuss what went right and what did not work out so well.
Additional angst relates to maternal concern as to who will raise the baby.
As mentioned above, the final reveal shows that Miele has saved the best for last. The events of the prior 90 minutes still make sense; the twist is that the two forms of enlightenment are not what the audience expects.
The big picture shows that the art of making movies that do not rely on matinee idols, huge CGI budgets, and/or shock-and-awe is not entirely dead, The audio commentary by Miele presumably reinforces that.
The Film Movement DVD of the 2019 drama "A Girl Missing" is a prime (no pun intended) example of an easily overlooked movie that fills the need for quality viewing at a time that Covid has badly impacted the film industry and that most of us have exhausted streaming services fare. The separate social commentary in the form of the impact of guilt by association and tabloid journalism add substance to the style of this intriguing story.
The artistry of "Girl" commences with the title referring to both an "innocent" and a woman who longs for a mutually meaningful connection.
Our story centers around private-home nurse Ichiko, who largely has become one of the family regarding an elderly female patient. The moral as to not mixing business with pleasure relates (no pun intended) to Ichiko striking up a friendship/mentorship with her employer's teen granddaughter Saki. This leads to a study session in a restaurant. Ichiko's nephew Tatsuo showing up leads to the central drama.
Saki not returning from the girls' night out leads to a search that ultimately leads to discovering that Tatsuo abducted and raped her. Initially, the family does not blame Ichiko for those events.
The apparent desire of clearly desperate for attention Ichiko for 15 minutes of fame leads to her granting a scandal sheet an interview that changes everything. This lesson as to being careful about what you wish for begins with the paparazzi hounding Ichiko at work and at home. Her bizarre confession that she clearly considers confidential making the television news is a prime example of adding fuel to the fire. The ambiguity as to the evilness of that admitted offense contributes additional substance to the story.
All of this leads to an overall expected conclusion that reflects the concepts of the sins of the father and the principle that the "help" truly never becomes a member of the family.
Movement supplements "Girl" with the short film "Loves Comes Later" that is described as an undocumented motel employee making a life-changing decision. That one slipping through the cracks requires relying on the perfect Movement track record by assuming that it is must-see.
The TLA Releasing DVD of the criminally under-rated 2018 gayromdram "Love Blooms" is the epitome of a film about a guy trying to figure out every aspect of his life. The anti-Logo elements include a lack of doe-eyed smooth-skinned twinks and an absence of over-emoting in response to the slight bump on the road to either Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now.
The story commences with adorkable main man Martin couch-surfing at the Parisian apartment of his cousin, the girlfriend of the cousin, and their bundle du joie. Aspiring film director Martin is on a break from his studies in a quest to rekindle the flame with former girlfriend Leah. Leah is putting her perky hip personality to good use as a tour guide.
The first speed bump that Martin encounters is not being welcome with especially open arms (or open legs) by Leah on showing up at her "office." It is very clear that the one who got away is enjoying her freedom.
One of the best scenes in this charming and entertaining film soon follows. Martin is ready to take one for the team by moving into a flophouse when he has a chance (fateful?) encounter with (presumably younger) high-school acquaintance Tristan. Tristan comes to the rescue by offering to let the clear object of his affection share his pied-a-terre.
Any viewer at any point along the Kinsey Scale who has a heart will immediately hope that these guys enjoy happy endings that last ever after.
Another memorable scene has Tristan convincing Martin to share his cozy bed. A way in which "Love" shows its quality is by not having this immediately leading to Tristan taking another one for the team. The relationship does more fully deepen (truly no pun intended) on Martin confessing to his new bedfellow that he has a history of sex with men. The endearing response of Tristan provides another reason to grant him fan-fave status.
Meanwhile, the new man in the life of Leah is old enough to be her father, The other recent addition is roomie Alicia, whom Leah is distressed to discover merely is a cash cow.
All of this, and other events, prompt Martin and Leah to ponder their pasts and to seek future happiness. Of course, this reflection prompts their paths to cross again in a manner that makes them and those in their orbits at least a little wiser if not happier.
The bigger picture this time is relevant both to those who recently graduated college and folks who have senior status at school reunions. The conflict between what the heart wants and what society expects can result in the wrong person sharing your bed and another bad fit (again, no pun intended) occupying the cubicle next to yours.
The Film Movement DVD of the 2018 Asian drama "Complicity" provides more proof that world cinema is global regarding its relativity. The theme this time is a post-adolescent man seeking a better life in a new country.
The following Movement trailer for "Complicity" offers a good primer on this story with shades of "The Karate Kid;" it also highlights the artistry in front of and behind the camera.
Our story begins with otherwise nice young Chinese man Chen Liang committing a criminal act to finance the purchase of a black-market cell-phone and a fake ID.
The ID is central to the effort of Chen to emigrate to Japan. His first obstacle to starting his new life is overcoming his inability to pay the premium associated with buying "a real fake ID" that is associated with an actual person. This resolution reflects the ass, gas, or grass philosophy that prevents anyone from riding for free.
On arriving in Japan, Chen essentially is a squatter among others living on the fringes of society. The next big development is his becoming Liu Wei the soba chef apprentice formerly known as Chen Liang. This job comes with both room and board.
The "Karate Kid" element enters in the form of the "sagely mentor," who owns the restaurant and operates it with the help of his adult daughter. It is clear early on that this master chef knows that his current employee and future mentee is not whom he claims to be.
The sweet love interest enters the picture in the form of student Hazuki, who gets more than she bargains for when ordering a delivery from the restaurant. She also innocently proves that dames ain't nothin' but trouble when she inadvertently blows the cover of the object of her affection.
A series of flashbacks and calls to Mom tell the rest of the story. Chen is escaping a repressive environment in which he is living with his not-so-well mother and his not-so-nice grandmother. These scenes additionally establish that the folks back home know that Chen is in Japan but otherwise are victims of a not-so-elaborate scheme.
Arguably the most cute scene in "Complicity" redeems Grandma. She first sneaks a wad of bills into the pocket of Chen on seeing him off and then insists that he take the money on his discovering that kind gesture,
Writer/director Kei Chikaura deserves great credit for not overdoing the climax; the highly predictable build-up to the house of cards that is Chez Chen tumbling down is done relatively gradually and without the frantic chase through the streets and/or the being dragged off in bracelets that one would expect in this type of tale. It further is nice to see that at least one person in the life of our likable lead realizes his true character.
As always is the case when Movement includes a bonus short film in a release, Movement chooses wisely. ""About Bintou" is a well-produced documentary about an African woman who is a stranger in a strange land in that she is studying in China.
These belated thoughts on the Pixar film "Soul" streaming on Disney+ commence with sharing the joy as to this film exceeding every expectation. The starting point is the film looking visually stunning viewed on a Sony 4K television; this is compared to the meh video quality of (reviewed) "Wonder Woman 1984" on HBO Max.
A related note is that "Soul" is the COVID-19 era equivalent of appointment TV from the era before widespread VCR ownership. A personal coping mechanism as to a virtual lockdown is to anticipate a special movie and watch it while eating a favored theater-style snack. Not having to smuggle such treats in a cineplex is a bonus.
The bigger picture (no pun intended) is that the tale of frustrated middle-aged jazz pianist Joe (Jamie Foxx) facing enormous obstacles as to fulfilling his life's ambition truly appeals to kids of all ages. If anything, the existential issues are a little over the heads of toddlers and tweens.
The too-numerous to individually mention accolades for "Soul" include 45 awards.
The following "Soul" trailer provides a good sense of the concept of the film while highlighting the superb animation that shames the other exceptional Pixar titles.
The "fun-for-all-ages" concept commences with the opening scenes of middle-school band teacher Joe, who is an exception to the rule that those who can't do teach, trying to get his untalented, and/or/lazy, and/or unmotivated students to develop a "you're in the band" proficiency. The insult that is added to this injury is that Joe has never made it as a working musician.
The game-changer comes in the form of a former student getting Joe an audition as the fill-in pianist for the renowned Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett) Quartet. Although this is music to the ears of Joe, his running to tell Mama is a letdown in that she feels that never having made it as a musician supports sticking with the security of the stability of the teaching gig.
Joy on being selected to join the Fantastic Four leads to a distracted Joe emulating '20s silent classics in the form of obliviously narrowly avoiding fatal accidents until dropping in on the workplace of Ed Norton of "The Honeymooners." This leads to an out-of-body experience on a moving stairway to Heaven.
Believing that Heaven can wait, Joe attempts a great escape. This results in his ending up in the Great Before.
This limbo has elements of the MUST-SEE 1991 Meryl Streep comedy "Defending Your Life" in which the recently departed face a hearing that determines that whether the place from which they can check out any time but can never leave will be Heaven or Hell, Pixar borrows from its literal emotion-laden tween angst film "Inside Out" by having Before be the place that adorable blob-like souls are prepared for entering the bodies of newborns.
The process begins with a blob seemingly randomly assigned to a hive that establishes a general personality. Folks who recall the pre-VCR era will find particular humor in an observation that an undue number of these future essences end up in the self-absorbed community. The final stage before sending a soul to inhabit an infant is a deceased person serving as a mentor to a soul to provide the spark that drives that future meat suit.
Fugitive Joe is assigned problem-child 22 (Tina Fey), who has defeated Mother Teresa and many other historic figures in her quest to avoid going to earth. Not-quite hilarity ensues in a manner that leads to emulating the MUST-SEE Carl Reiner 1984 comedy "All of Me" in which the soul of the character whom Lily Tomlin plays possesses the body of the character whom Steve Martin portrays.
In typical Disney fashion, both Joe and 22 receive enlightenment and figuratively if not literally live happily ever after. The "Kobayashi Maru" style cheating to thwart an anal bureaucrat greatly adds to the joy of the conclusion. The final film homage is a stinger that directly pays homage to the end-of-credits clips in "The Muppet Movie" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
The appeal of "Soul" extends beyond candy-coating deep thoughts in an entertaining story. This film, like "Inside Out" and the Pixar film "Coco," aptly shows that its audience is maturing to a point that it can handle (and savor) more vegetable with its fluffy confections.
The Corinth Films DVD release of the 2016 Latvian drama "Mellow Mud" presents a highly artistic reminder both that adolescence is referred to as growing pains for a good reason and that things are tough all over. The titular muck provides an apt metaphor for both.
The numerous accolades for this coming-of-age movie include a trio of top honors at the 2016 Latvian National Film Festival and a Best Feature Film win at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival .
The following trailer highlights the perfect portrayal of central 17 year-old girl Raya by Elina Vaska; the sense of the trauma and the drama that Raya must endure is the icing on the cake.
The element that sets "Mud" aside from facially similar fare is the manner in which writer/director Renars Vimba presents the same old story in a fresh new light. The series of unfortunate circumstances that have led to Raya and younger brother Robis living with not-so-loving grandmother Olga are that their father is dead and their mother abandoned them to facilitate her new life in England.
Things further unravel when Olga buys the farm while in the course of trying to sell it out from under the kids. This further contributes to the angst of Raya as to the only options of the siblings being enduring their current lives of quiet desperation and the alternative especially being a hard-knock life as to Robis. The personal interest of a social worker greatly contributes to this strife that requires a "Weekend at Olga's" form of subterfuge.
A school competition provides Raya hope in two forms. The finals being in London make a mother and child reunion only a prize-winning essay away. Additionally, this contest sets the stage for Raya and her young teacher, who is the subject of school-girl fantasy, to emulate the main characters in that book by Nabokov.
These aspects of the life of Raya require juggling in the form of being a mother to Robis and trying to avoid having him taken away, being the good girl that school authorities always wanted her to be, and maintaining an "its complicated" relationship. Of course, all of this increasing collides as the film progresses.
The absence of a Hollywood ending provides another strong argument for adding "Mud" to your physical-media library. All concerned being wiser but not necessarily happier just ahead of the end credits verifies that this is tale of real-life.
An upcoming DVD release from aptly named Indican Pictures shows that two films that are awesome in their own right can form a righteous unlikely friendship. "Zombie Bro," which is available on streaming platforms and that has a January 26, 2021 DVD release, successfully unites two very different worlds.
Non-musical "Bro" combines the best of the all-singing all-dancing Disney "Zombies" franchise that reflects "ARGH v. Board of Education" and (personal fave) 1995 dark-comedy "Welcome to the Dollhouse."
"Dollhouse" centers on the trials and tribulations of hysterically awkward (aptly named) seventh-grader Dawn Wiener. Dawn having to contend with a "little princess" younger sister is one of several common elements as to "Bro."
The fantastic four festival wins for "Bro" include a Best Feature Film award at the 2019 Indie Gathering International Film Festival and "Best Young Actors" honors at the 2019 Shart International Comedy Film Festival.
The following "Bro" trailer PERFECTLY conveys the dark humor as to the dysfunctional nuclear family dynamics that are at the center of arthouse Blumhouse film.
The opening scenes show that writer/director May Grehan strikes the ideal balance between exposition and getting down to business. Tween Francine (aka Frankenstein) provides voice-over narration to accompany crayon drawings of her family that clearly is not the Cleavers.
The action shifting to a family dinner at which Francine is considered the problem child despite comically gory evidence that titular sibling Teddie is not like other boys. The blissful ignorance that is characteristic regarding the golden child in a family includes that Teddie merely has a form of virus. This pretense extends to having to throw a dog chew toy to lure him into the garage where he must be locked when he is home alone. An apt aside is that dogs love chew toys because the squeak sounds like the crushing of the bones of prey.
Another piece of this puzzle is that Francine is a loner/loser at school, where she is the regular victim of scene-stealing bullies. These boys being blatantly selective as to their offensive remarks is a film highlight.
A series of seemingly fortunate events lead to Francine and a fellow outcast attending a school dance; The 'rents granting the wish of Teddie to tag along fully sets things in motion. The "dancing" of Teddy is another memorable scene in this never-a-dull-minute movie.
The inevitable climax as to Teddie fully showing that he is an excitable boy further proves that the low kid on the family totem pole don't get no respect. Learning whether this extends to Teddie hating Francine's guts requires watching the film.
The appeal of this well-told tale extends beyond the aforementioned blending of genres. Most of us with siblings either are the Teddie or the Francine in the family. Grehan, who presumably is the Francine of her clan, shows that this directly reflects how the 'rents treat each kid. The "King Lear" element at the end of "Bro" is the icing on the cake.
Icarus Films and Distrib Films once again team up to bring compelling French courtroom drama into North American living rooms. The recent "ripped-from-the-headlines" DVD release of the 2019 film "Conviction" nicely follows on the heels of the Icarus/Distrib (reviewed) DVD of "The Girl With a Bracelet."
The alleged crime du century this time is law professor Jacques Viguier committing femmecide. It is known that Mme, Viguier still is missing after vanishing on the night in question; there also is no doubt as to the essential estrangement of the not-so-happily married couple,
The circumstantial smoking guns are Jacques admitting to tossing the mattress of his wife soon after her unexplained absence and his allegedly telling his future ambulance chasers before that event that he could commit the perfect murder, An element of this is your not-so-humble reviewer being one of millions of Americans whose fondness for Hitchcock films potentially earning him a seat on Old Sparky.
Our story commences a short period ahead of Jacques facing a second trial after being acquitted in the first judicial proceeding in which he faces a lifetime as a guest of the state,
The primary twist this time is that the film revolves around single mother/chef/crusader Nora, whose persistence results in convincing celebrity defense attorney Eric Dupond-Moretti to defend Jacques. The stated intertest of Nora is the daughter of Jacques and his absent wife being the tutor of the son of Nora. The price of the representation includes Nora agreeing to listen to and summarize hundreds of hours of recorded evidence, The synopsis on the DVD back cover reveals another big twist.
Much of "Conviction" centers around the retrial; the behind-the-scenes drama being as intriguing as what occurs in court is a large part of what makes this story worthy of a feature film.
Much of the social commentary revolves around elements that contribute to a reasonable mistrust of general justice-system principles, In this case, the prosecution is trying to hold Jacque liable for the death of a woman whos is just as likely to be enjoying a new life as she is to be anchored on the bottom of the Seine. We also are reminded of the extent to which trials are personal to everyone with a cheval in the race,
Other social commentary relates to the prevalence of people in France simply disappearing without a trace. This reflects law school students learning early in the education that the answer to what are the consequences of a certain event always is "it depends." "Conviction" shows the potential for that to lead to what some consider a proper result and that others view as a miscarriage of justice,
Film Movement offers "haves" a look at the world of inner-city "have-nots" by releasing the "Precious" style 2019 drama "Goldie" on DVD. The more relatable message is showing how things can quickly fall apart for anyone,
The following Movement trailer for "Goldie" provides a good sense of the urban sense and sensibility of the film.
The day of our titular teen begins on a high note at a community center talent show. Her downward spiral commences on her mother being arrested soon after Goldie returns home. This triggers the flight of Goldie and her much younger sisters Sherrie and Supreme that is a central theme of the film. Another underlying story is the quest of Goldie for a full-length bright-yellow furry coat that proves that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
An early adventure is the only low point in this film that minimally will make viewers sympathize with the leading lady. Goldie arriving at the department store where she works only to quickly get fired and then lead security guards on an absurd chase through the aisles of the store that likely will provokes such as "is this Scooby (very bad word) Doo?"
Goldie then does her best both to find a temporary home for his sisters and to keep the family together; This effort is a major source of the aforementioned good feelings towards Goldie. This campaign leads her through the typical interconnected worlds of drugs and men sexually exploiting vulnerable women.
A related quest is starring in a hip hop video that Goldie figuratively sees as a ticket to living the good life in Westchester with her teacher.
The bigger picture this time is that even "have-nots" that have it better than Goldie will appreciate that they could have it worse.
Movement supplements this with the similar themed "We Love Moses." This coming-of-age movie tells the tale of the relationship between a young outsider teen and the friend of her older brother.
Olive Films continues establishing itself as a spectacular source of the best cult films out there with the Blu-ray release of the 1984 comedy "The Ratings Game" 30 years after this directorial debut of Danny DeVito has seen the light of day. This film is notable as well as the first made-for-pay-TV movie to air on Showtime.
The essay that is part of the awesome booklet on "Game" that the BD includes explains that Showtime effectively takes an "its not TV" approach in selecting its first original movie. The primary criteria is that this be one that the broadcast networks would not air. This is two years before Showtime brings us the hysterically creative "It's Garry Shandling Show."
"Ratings" further reflects the expansion in quantity (and proportional decrease in quality) as the fledgling cable industry scrambles for content; "Ratings" gives rise to theatrical films, such as the John Ritter/Pam Dawber movie "Stay Tuned" and the Weird Al project "UHF," that center around parodies of television genres.
The subversive premise of "Game" is that New Jersey trucking magnate turned aspiring Hollywood television producer Vic DeSalvo (deVito) is hysterically peddling horrendous ideas for television shows, such as the "Three's Company" rip-off "Sittin' Pretty," around the established networks only to universally be escorted out by security.
Not accepting that resistance is futile regarding all this rejection, DeSalvo cons his way into the office of an executive at the blackpoltation UPN-caliber (a.k.a. Underpaid N) MBC network. (MBC even has a 'Diff'rent Strokes"/"Webster" clone series.) The perfect timing of that meeting results in the MBC executive buying "Pretty" for a hysterical reason.
In typical DeVito fashion, DeSalvo finds a way to counter the tactic of the network president to limit the airing of "Pretty" to a pilot. MBC scheduling said pilot to air opposite a World Series game prompts DeSalvo to successfully rig the television ratings so that his show beats the baseball game.
The cynicism behind that successful ploy and the resulting "success" of "Pretty" and orders for several other DeSalvo shows reflects the desire of Showtime for a "not TV" movie. Two of the "best" DeSalvo shows are "Nunzio's Girls" about a pimp and his three hos and the even more offensive "Goombas" cartoon series about a stereotypical working-class Italian family.
Long-time DeVito spouse (and "Cheers" star) Rhea Perlman costars as Francine, the abused ratings company employee who facilitates the scam. As she points out, the reality in the pre-streaming and DVR '80s is that a relatively miniscule number of ratings families essentially dictates what the networks air. Actual quality is completely irrelevant.
The audience additionally gets the treat of seeing a plethora of current and future (mostly NBC) television stars in cameo roles. The earliest notable one is Jerry Seinfeld as a network executive who hilariously tells DeSalvo which concepts are selling that season. One spoiler is that this list does not include shows about "nothing."
We also get "Seinfeld" costar Michael Richards as DeSalvo's chauffeur/henchman, "Cheers" costar George Wendt as the father of a ratings family. "Night Court" star Selma Diamond as the mother of Francine, etc.
The award for most special cameo goes to "Bowery Boys" veteran Huntz Hall as an elderly legendary comedy film star.
Aside from "Ratings" very belatedly escaping from the vault, one of the most awesome aspects of the film is that it reflects the period before a change in national attitude from "f**k 'em if they can't take a joke" to "f**ked if you tell 'em a joke. (The reviewed documentary "That's Not Funny" wonderfully documents this.) The satirical portrayals of Italians alone may well have kept Showtime away in 2016.
Olive further shines regarding the plethora of special features on the "Ratings" BD. The highlight of these are the four "Ratings" era comedy shorts that DeVito directs. The standout of these is "The Selling of Vince D'Angelo."
"D'Angelo," which provides the basis for "Ratings" is a mockumentary on a sleazy New Jersey mayoral candidate who is a clone of DeSalvo. The "funny because its true" aspect of this one is that that campaign has a great deal in common with the 2016 presidential race.
Olive Films helps fill the COVID-19 sized void as to live theater by releasing the clear-and-crisp Blu-ray of "Nelson Algren Live" (2106) on December 15, 2021., "Algren" is a re-enactment of an interview with the titular author and readings of his works at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the tough guy best known for "The Man With the Golden Arm." The commentary in the words of Algren as to director Otto Preminger grossly distorting that novel for the big screen is a perfect example of the gritty blunt wit and wisdom of Algren.
Although "Algren" seemingly is robbed as to any festival love, it EARNS an exceptional 9.0 IMDb rating.
The opening voice-over narration by writer/actor Russell Banks provides a solid summary of how the working-class background of Algren influences his candid but respectful tone when writing about the underbelly of American society. The apt comparison to better known social commentator Studs Turkel fails to mention that Turkel is a kinder gentler version of Algren.
One of the better tales in "Algren" PERFETLY captures the life and the style of Algren. This story revolves around hooker with a heart of gold/junkie Rose, who probably would owe you change if you paid her two bits to drop to her scabby knees in a puddle of rotted vegetables in a dark alley. Hearing the effort to make Rose the kind of girl that you could bring home to Mother if Mom had paid her own dues in the meat-packing district is fascinating,
The initial search for the dealer of Rose, this man not meeting expectations, and the subsequent "home remedy" rehab effort fully round out this tale of The Windy City.
Willem DaFoe contributes the brightest star power in "Live," in which he figuratively wears several fedoras. He shines brightest in stepping in the boxing boots of pugilist Blackie Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh is in the center ring of the unpublished Algren short-story "The Lightless Room," which first sees the light of day during "Algren." This one evokes more thoughts of Hemingway, rather than Terkel. Not that there remotely is anything wrong with that.
Olive maintains its high standards as to physical-media extras by including a booklet with a photo essay on Algren and an article on this forgotten urban historian. An essay about the performance of "Algren" is an apt end to this fitting tribute.
The best news as to the WWE-produced 2015 Christmascom "Saanta's Little Helper" starring WWE legend Mike 'The Miz' Mizanin is that Mizanin does not literally or figuratively play a "lunkhead wrestler" beyond frequently showing that he is too sexy for his shirt. This oft-amusing and occasionally hilarious tale of "Greed is Good" businessman Dax the Ax (Mizanin) clearly is an effort of Mizanin to emulate Arnold Schwarzenegger in his roles in the kidcoms "Kindergarten Cop" and "Jingle All the Way."
Our story begins with Dax being gleefully callous in providing a community center notice of an impending eviction. A teen boy not backing down is one of the best scenes in the film. The subsequent scene outside the center shows that that this one is personal for Dax.
The real Santa witnessing this event (and personally experiencing the arrogance of Dax) does not deter Saint Nick from his scheme to make Dax his Ho (aka Ho Ho Ho). This highly coveted "Number One" position at the North Pole can be considered EVP of Operations.
One bump on the road to the job with Santa is an evaluation by personal trainer elf Billie (AnnaLynne McCord), who has no interest in being a hero. Undue preachiness enters the picture as to Billie having the genetic "deformity" of round ears providing the blessing of passing as a "normie" so that she can covertly evaluate Dax; the "curse" is that this feature precludes Billie from playing all the reindeer games.
Corporate ruthlessness enters the picture in the form of Eleanor (WWE "diva" Paige). Eleanor believes that being the daughter of the recently retired Ho Ho Ho entitles her to being a heartbeat away from ruling the North Pole.
The delight continues with always spot-on "one-take wonder" character actor Tom McLaren portraying mortgage company rep. Harvey, who is the bitch that delivers Dax karma regarding foreclosures. McLaren making the most of that scene and his two subsequent brief (but highly memorable) appearances verifies that he rocks. His enthusiasm for the foreclosure and smile on conquering his foe are highly reminiscent of greedy banker Milburn Drysdale of '60scom "The Beverly Hillbillies."
The action then shifts to Billie expressing her own mischievous delight as to putting Dax through a series of humiliating tests to show that he is worthy of a job that he only knows is highly prestigious.
These adventures begin with going into a biker bar wearing an elf hat and moving onto dressing in a mascot costume and waiting on a birthday party full of spoiled brats at a Chuck E. Cheese's clone restaurant. The delight this time includes "Santa" director/sitcom god Gil Junger playing the restaurant owner. The grand finale is Billie conceding that Dax is justified in dispatching the birthday boy with extreme prejudice.
In true Christmas film spirit, these trials (and a subsequent one at a clone of the Springfield Retirement Castle) gradually thaw the heart of Dax; he fully has drunk the egg nog by the time that he is invited to the home office.
The WWE element enters the picture most prominently when Eleanor exercises her right to challenge the appointment of Dax to the post. This leads to a hilarious competition among the two contenders, who seem to be working without a net.
This leads to closure back on earth, which leads to the inevitable happy ending.
The DVD extras include an AWESOME behind-the-scenes feature in which the principals in front of and behind the scenes share favorite childhood Christmas memories. Though this may result in a smackdown, I confess to not watching a short about Paige.
Friend to lovers of retro and neo-retro television series, CBS Home Entertainment provides more reason to rejoice by releasing the awesomely unique second season of the CBS All-Access reboot of 60s sci-fi classic "The Twilight Zone" on DVD on Jan. 12, 2021., The better news is that this 2-disc set reinforces the All-Access cred. as to updating classic '60s sci-fi. This streaming service also is home to the "Trek" series (reviewed) "Discovery" and the even-better (reviewed) "Picard."
The cred. of "Zone" begins with OS guiding light Rod Serling (now deceased) widow/"Zone" producer Carolyn Serling helping to keep the family franchise going strong ala "Trek" god Gene Roddenberry widow Majel Barrett doing so with "Trek" series. Carolyn chooses wisely in partnering with "Zone" '19 creator/host/Oscar winner Jordan Peele in bringing the series to life and paying the OS proper homage.
This aptly 10-episode season commences with "Meet in the Middle," which sets the S2 precedence of particularly honoring the OS tradition of a "left-field" twist in the final minutes. This one starts with an quasi (HILARIOUS Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin comedy) "All of Me" style seemingly random telepathic link between looking-for-love in too many faces Phil and looking-for-love in all the wrong places married Annie.
Shock-and-awe soon turns to friendship, which turns to love, and then to plans for far more than a booty call. The BRILLIANT manner in which Phil learns that femme fatales ain't nothin' but trouble shows that this is your grandfather's "Twilight Zone."
"Among the Downtrodden" is another stand-out episode in a season that verifies the UK theory that producing 10 exceptional offerings in a season is preferable to churning out 22 mediocre ones. This variation of "Heathers," "Mean Girls" and similar Queen "B" high-school girl movies and television fare begins with slightly awkward transfer student Irene immediately coming under fire by the cool kids at her new all-girls' boarding school.
Irene gradually has a positive reversal of fortune when she schools popular classmate Madison in the facts of life by telling the latter that she is the girl with something extra. The "Harry Potter" vibe continues with these unlikely friends experimenting with the powers of Madison in an abandoned bathroom.
The totally unpredictable twist this time proves that Irene is the salt of the earth and that mean girls are mean for a reason.
"A Human Face" earns the award for the most creepy offering. A not-so-happily married couple is in the final stages of closing up their home that is associated with one of the worst tragedies that can befall a bonded pair when they discover something far worse than a rat in their basement. This leads to a "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opening of old wounds and a related need to decide the acceptable level of a suspension of disbelief.
The underlying S2 moral is that it is never too late to return to old school.
The DVD special features include a gag reel and a plethora of deleted and extended scenes. The latter show that babies sometimes are thrown out with the bathwater.
Film Detective awesomely follows up its (reviewed) offering of the arthouse Manson Family fauxumentary "The Other Side of Madness" and the unearthing of the (reviewed) "Mystery Science Theater 3000" fan fave ep "Eegah" with the separate January 19, 2021 DVD and FLAWLESS BD of 1958 cult classic "Giant From the Unknown."
This Richard E. Cunha joint has EVERY element that makes "six-day wonder" kiddie matinee scifi fare a no-reason-to-feel=guilty pleasure. We get the low-tech make-up, the bad acting, and the tried-and-true formula of a menacing monster. The successful blending of "Frankenstein," Sasquatch/Golem, and Indian (my people call them Native Americans) lore set this one apart from the movies that make MST3K a cult classic.
Our story begins with the townfolks of a quiet mountain community learning that the predator of livestock has moved on to mutilating the most dangerous game. Sheriff Parker (Bob Steele of '60scom "F Troop"), who is a menacing hybrid of Andy Taylor and Barney Fife, is ready to pin the crime on local scientific researcher Wayne Brooks.
Archaeologist Dr. Frederick Cleveland and daughter Janet arrive on the tense scene and soon connect with fanboy Wayne, The father-and-daughter team are engaged in their routine expedition to find prove that a larger-than-life Spanish conquistador visited the area 500 years ago and left his mark on the locals. Discovering that Wayne has laid much of their groundwork elates the pair.
The Frankenstein element enters the picture on a combination of the research trio making a major find and a lightning strike ending the centuries-long coma of the title creature (Max "Jethro" Baer, Jr. uncle Buddy Baer).
Of course, the ensuing action commences with the creature gradually making his presence increasingly known and raising the stakes by capturing the "beauty" of the piece. This leads to several wonderfully cheesy confrontations complete with clearly fabricated boulders. The climax shows that all this ballyhoo is water under the bridge.
Ballyhoo Films once more demonstrates its special beautiful friendship with Detective as to the DVD and BD bonus features.
A present-day interview with Gary Crutcher, who portrays stock-character doofus teens boy Charlie Brown, provides amusing insight into both "Giant" and the career of Crutcher. We learn of the growing pains as to "Giant" being the film debut of Crutcher, Crutcher also shares behind-the-scenes stories of a snow storm that is a blessing and a curse and his being content with netting $10 for his six-days of work on the film.
A separate feature in which film historian C. Courtney Joyner shares his thoughts focuses on the bigger picture. We learn of the pedigree of several principals in front-of and behind-the-camera as well as other true Hollywood stories.
A written essay fills in more blanks that offer a great perspective on this timeless B-movie.
The first aptly Covid-related note as to "Wonder Woman 1984" (aka "WW84"), which hit theaters and HBO Max on Christmas Day 2020, is that NO movie is worth risking serious illness and/or death as to spending two-hours-and-31-minutes plus coming attractions and ads breathing the same air as fellow snack-munching audience members in a windowless room that likely has not been thoroughly cleaned since the opening of that business.
The better related news is claiming victory as to being a Chex Mix Buddies scarfing audience of one at home. The lesser (but adequate) experience of watching the movie on my Sony 4K TV definitely made up for not risking my life to view what I correctly assumed to be a second-tier DCU movie. This is not to mention avoiding the hassle of the drive to the cineplex and enduring the chatter of theater patrons. Not having to wear shoes was the synthetic "butter" on the popcorn.
Before the gleeful ripping apart of the film commences, I must advise readers who still decide to suffer through this almost unwatchable dreck to stick it out through to a mid-closing-scenes stinger that pays the "Wonder Woman" 'verse proper homage.
The undue length of "WW84" is worth noting because it reflects the Goldilocks element of Hollywood fare. Action sequences mostly seemed "just right" through the '80s; they became a bit too short in the '90s., Considering climate change, it is somewhat apt that the 21st century can be considered a new Ice Age in that car chases, battle royales, etc are far too long. "WW84" has at least three such snoozefests.
A recent tweet by your not-so-humble reviewer states that most modern movies are roughly 30 minutes too long. "WW84" double downs on that by being AT LEAST 60 minutes longer than necessary.
The pain begins with an entirely unnecessary and aggravatingly extended sequence of a pre-teen Diana Prince competing against adult Amazonians in an extreme games version of a triathlon on her native island of Themyscira (nee Paradise Island). The purpose of this is too show our heroine getting schooled in what anyone 13-and-over knows is a foreshadowing technique.
The action then shifts to the titular present of the film. The (not-so-amusing) unnecessary scene this time is of Wonder Woman in her guise as mild-mannered Smithsonian employee Diana Prince (Gal Godot) quickly and effortlessly dispatching two (of course, male) joyriders. Anyone who chooses to endure this film already knows that our lead is the girl with something extra.
The concurrent "well, duh" action is Prince jogging by a store that has display-window televisions playing a broadcast of textbook "80s-style "Greed is Good" conman Maxwell Lord promoting his latest scheme. Anyone who has reached the age of reason knows that this Lex Luthor Lite is the villain of the film.
Meanwhile back at the museum. mild-mannered researcher Barbara Minerva (badly cast Kristen Wiig) is enduring the "humiliations" associated with being a mousy nerd. The lack-of-surprise this time is knowing that she soon will almost literally will be the "plain Jane" librarian who becomes a smokin' hot "catwoman" on removing her glasses, letting her hair down, and raising her hem line.
The portrayals of Prince, Minerva, and the men in their lives REQUIRE comment on the irksome feminist 'tude of writer/director Patty Jenkins. Asserting that all of us whose reproductive organs are on the outside are weak, evil, and/or foolish and that being a strong woman necessitates being a warrior princess is contrary to the kinder, gentler alternative.
An amusing (if not ironic) aspect of this is that Minerva only derives desired self-esteem on being a sex kitten who went to college and is the object of the affection of every man with whom she has intercourse. For that matter, Jenkins repeatedly (and not-so-subtly) has a behind-the-camera wind machinelowing on Gadot to make her seem more alluring; this is not to mention of dominatrix outfit of our titular "goddess."
Your not-so-humble reviewer believes that the "Mary Tyler Moore" style of feminism is the better model. Women are not superior to men and are entitled to be treated the same as us hairy beasts. I always have held doors open for people of any gender; at the same time, a person whose reproductive organs are on the inside and who looks to be as healthy as me has no more right to my bus or subway seat than I do. Yes, I will give up my seat to ANYONE who seems to need it more.
Returning to our primary topic, a series of unfortunate events lead to both Minerva and Lord getting ahold of a "monkey's paw" artifact that grants the holder one wish; in the case of Lord, he cracks the code as to his wish being to have one-million more wishes. This leads to several terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days for Prince and a comparable two hours for the audience.
A perfect example of magic having a price is the artifact also allowing Prince to necromance deceased lover Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), whose primary raisons d'etre seem to be to look foolish and to adore the "witch" who resurrected him. He is the one who endures the obligatory "trying on outfits" montage, which would have benefited from, accompaniment by the '83 hit "Sharp Dressed Man."
The ensuing "action" leads to very '80s style world-threatening events. Of course, Wonder Woman saves the day at the last minute. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the $15 (or more) that folks that shelled out for a month of HBO Max or that paid a comparable amount to risk Covid in the theater, Despite watching "WW84" during a free trial of HBO Max, I feel entitled to compensation for my pain and suffering,
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 drama "Martyr" has the live-stage vibe that separates the wheat from the chaff. This tale of an aimless failure-to-launch 20-something additionally can be considered a neo-modern fable,
The official accolades for "Martyr" include "Best Artistic Achievement" for writer/director Mazen Khaled at the 2018 Alexandria International Film Festival.
This wonderfully surreal film begins with titular post-adolescent Hassane dreaming about drowning and other things to come. His literal and figurative awakening from his slumber on a mattress in the dining area of his parents' apartment comes on his mother demanding that he get up and find gainful employment. This also involves a few of the most telling moments in the film. Suffice it to say that Hassane has virtually no shame and is very reluctant to engage in employment that is appropriate for his background.
Breaking the Fifth Commandment, Hassane heads out for an afternoon by the sea with his band of beach brothers. This turns out to be more fatal than being welcomed to the working week.
This leads to a procession that evokes Christ being taken down off the cross. The aforementioned friends bring Hassane home, and we witness both the rituals associated with preparing the body and the funeral itself,
All of this provides a glimpse of the global mind of a Millennial who lacks a bright future. We further learn more about the nature of the titular sacrifice.
Breaking supplements this with the Khaled short film "A Very Dangerous Man" about intrigue in 2012 Beirut.
The Mill Creek Entertainment "Retro VHS Style" Blu-ray of the 1988 Jeff Goldblum/Cyndi Lauper comedy "Vibes" provides a good reminder of the wonderfully quirky concepts of films, such as "Big Trouble in Little China" and "The Golden Child," of the era. This alone makes "Vibes' an excellent "Retro" choice; posts on similar "Retro" no-reason-to-feel-guilty pleasures can be found in the MCE section of this site.
Ala fellow (reviewed) "Retro" film "Hudson Hawk, "Vibes" opens with the highly odd events that set the stage for the rest of the film. In this case, ne'er do wells are high in the mountains of South America in search of a lost city of gold; what ensues can be considered Montezuma's revenge.
What occurs next in "Vibes" evokes thoughts of early scenes in classic '80s comedy "Ghostbusters." Sylvia Pickel (Lauper) is participating in research to measure the abilities that she enjoys courtesy of spirit guide Louise, who both whispers in the ear of her psychic friend and allows her to travel outside of her body,
Meanwhile, Nick Deezy (Goldblum) is demonstrating his ability to psychically connect with someone by touching an object with which that person has had contact.
Harry Buscafusco (Peter Falk) provides the (deceptive) final piece of the puzzle; he recruits Deezy and Pickel to accompany him to Ecuador by telling them that he needs their help to find his missing son.
Amusement ensues as forces collide and the truth comes out; all of this climaxes at the original scene of the crime in a scene that PERFECTLY illustrates the FX of the '80s.
The appeal this time relates to seeing '80s pop culture queen Lauper do what she does so well while Goldblum demonstrates his equally era-apt trademark deadpan style.
The Film Movements Classics division of Film Movement pristine Blu-ray release of the 1993 slice-of-of-life comedy "Caro Diario" is the latest example of introducing audiences to one of the greatest movies that many of us never knew existed. The awesome Classic (reviewed) release of the Salma Hayek film "Midaq Alley" also perfectly illustrates this aspect of Classic titles.
The 13 wins for "Diario" include writer/director/star Nanni Moretti scoring the 1994 Cannes Best Director award.
The following "Diario" trailer highlights the three-chapter format of the film and the quirky charm of Moretti.
"Diario" follows the apparent dual tradition of introspective Euro films of having much of the exposition come in the form of an ongoing inner-monologue of the central character in blocks. In this case, we get the wit and wisdom of real-life filmmaker Moretti in three distinct chapters of the titular journal. The manner in which this all ties together at the end of the movie validates the theory that Hollywood (and Portland) has a great deal to learn from the film capitals across the pond.
The first chapter finds Moretti having a "Roman Holiday" by cruising around his home turf on his scooter. His adventures include watching matinees at movie theaters, pontificating about film locations, and expressing his "oh what a feeling" exuberance as to the '80s mainstream hit "Flashdance." This relatively youthful exuberance includes an amusing encounter with a principal as to that no-reason-to-feel guilty pleasure.
The next chapter easily is the most amusing; Moretti goes island hopping in the context of meeting with a collaborator. The highlights include "Trip To" style teasing regarding a (presumably real) pan of a film.
We also see our (presumably childless) lead endure a visit to an island on which toddlers and tweens call all the shots. A few segments in which adults must try to make their way past prepubescent gatekeepers in order to speak to a 'rent on the telephone ring very true. Many of us who are old enough to remember landlines being the only option have had to endure the "little angel" who answers then puts down the receiver before going about his or her overheard business without telling Mommy or Daddy about the call.
The apt final chapter finds Moretti very frustrated as to getting medical professionals to adequately focus on a health problem to actually do him some good; the analogy of giving a patient a Tylenol for a brain tumor sadly is not very far off.
As indicated above, this (presumably directly consecutive) several weeks in the life of Moretti comes down to his finding comfort in a variation of the talking cure. By that time, the audience likes him as much as the "professional friend" who directly has the being Nanni Moretti experience.
As usual, the Classics extras prove that that distributor more than holds its own as to a company that has self-proclaimed itself as setting the criterion for these types of releases. These bonus features include a making-of featurette, a deleted scene, and a written essay on the film.
The impact of extended COVID-19 lockdowns once more is prompting a diversion into Blogland; the topic this time is the merits of physical media over streaming.
A collection of more than 10,000 (and growing) DVD and Blu-ray sets in the Unreal TV Video Library shows that your not-so-humble reviewer puts his money where his mouth is as to extolling the virtues of physical media. Getting to watch virtually any desired content even more on-demand than streaming services that advertise that feature is a primary reason for going old school. Nine nights out of ten involve either pulling a specific craved title off the shelf or browsing the extensive selection in genre areas that mirror the categories on this site.
A recent example is an interest in watching the first "Star Trek" movie in the Kelvin timeframe trilogy leading to viewing all three films during the weekend. A desire last night led to browsing my Kids' section and selecting the SUPERB animated version of "Anastasia."
Much of this reflects my Gen X sensibility as to coming-of-age in an arguable era of theater renaissance just ahead of VHS proliferation causing a downturn in that brick-and-mortar industry. Cineplex Odeons brought a whiff of elegance back to the movies, and many older theaters received makeovers or full-blown facelifts. These upgrades made it fun to go to the movies, and the ticket prices did not compel you to go at 11:00 a.m. to save 50-percent or more on the inflated price of admission.
Further, not every release of the mid-80s was spectacular but at least offered decent entertainment. You typically could find a watchable film to fit your mood. It is highly likely that I watched the epic "Reds" within a few weeks of going to both a neo-noir film and literal or figurative John Hughes teencom.
My contrary experience as to the three streaming services to which I have access is that I rarely find a movie that excites me. Thanks to Covid-related lockdowns, I additionally have long exhausted what I consider viable options under the genres that parallel those of my 1,000 square-foot basement full of the best (including not-so-guilty pleasures) of Hollywood and beyond. The "annex" is the sci-fi series collection in my home office.
This leads to the economics of streaming over physical media. I find that many free titles are worth what I pay for them. Regarding the rest, it simply does not make sense to pay X amount to be able to rent a movie that you can watch once or to pay Y to own it for as long as you subscribe to that service or that service has the license to show it.
The typical price for a DVD (and often a Blu-ray) within a year of its release is $5. This is not to mention the bargains that are available at used DVD shops and public library sales in a non-Covid era.
The real-world example this time is "Rise of Skywalker." Plans to pay at least $30 for two tickets to watch it in a genuinely IMAX theater never worked out; as I recall, the price to rent "Skywalker" on demand was $25. That also was the cost to buy the 4K release, which I did purchase. I would have saved some money by waiting a few months.
Aside from spending less to own "Skywalker" than I would have for the privilege to watch a (likely inferior) rented version, adding that film to my collection allows watching the entire 11-movie "Star Wars" saga completely at my leisure.
Nicely anticipated end-of-year viewing includes "1917," "Ford vs. Ferrari," "Zombieland Double Tap," and "The Good Liar" I acquired all five films, two of which are Blu-rays, for roughly $40. This variety PERFECTLY reflects the options on any given Sunday at an Odeon in the '80s.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that the movies of the '80s and '90s provided a desired diversion at a time of relative national stability and unity; it was neither the best nor the worst of times.
Conversely, the 21st century got off to a lousy start with the Y2K scare, the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, and the 911 attacks. We did not get much of a break until 2016 brought unprecedented Hell that turned especially deadly and divisive in 2020.
Additionally, streaming increasingly offering studios and distributors a more profitable option than physical media calls for getting while the getting is good. I already have missed out on countless desired titles and have picked up some just ahead of them getting locked in the vault, The context this time includes the recent announcement by Disney that it no longer will release vaulted movies after a decade-or-so in captivity.
The final word on this is that a lack of buying remorse likely will lead to a sense of not acting in haste but repenting at leisure regarding opting to not buy physical media.