Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

'Pinsky' DVD: Brookline, Ma. Memoirs

The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 film "Pinsky" provides a chance to see the best movie about a hipster Boston 20-something lesbian with a domineering Russian immigrant grandmother having a quarter-life crisis that you will see this year. The accolades for this quirky indiecom include the Best Narrative Feature at the 2017 Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.

Much of the appeal of this dysfunctional Jewish family film relates (pun intended) to it evoking thoughts of the Neil Simon semi-autobiopic "Brighton Beach Memoirs." That one tells the tale of an adolescent Simon living in a full house with his parents, his brother, and the rest.

"Pinsky" opens on a terrible, horrible, no good day for titular Millennial Sophia Pinsky (producer/writer Rebecca Karpovsky). Her grandfather drops dead in the street within hours of the live-in girlfriend of Sophia leaving her a Dear Jane letter. All of this is on top of Sophia still working at the Jewish grocery store that is her college-era employer. 

These worlds initially collide due to the death prompting Sophia to attending Shiva at the apartment of her grandmother (a.k.a. Bubbie). This is the first interaction of these women in several years after Bubbie cuts Sophia out of her life for moving in with her girlfriend. 

The rest of the story in this regarding is that family rabbi Bob Stern (Alan Blumenfeld of the Marion Ross Jewcom "Brooklyn Bridge"). We subsequently learn that Bob has a very personal interest in the activities of the Pinskys.

Bubbie first exerts her Yenta side in coercing newly single Sophia to move back into Temple Beth Pinksy. The fellow members of the congregation are Sophia's father, who is obsessed with his ballroom-dance partner, and aimless sibling Victor, who has delusions of qualifying for the Boston police force. One can give Victor credit for realizing that he lacks the right stuff for the BFD. 

The unavailability of an eligible Jewish doctor prompts Bubbie to aggressively promote the next best thing. She coerces Sophia into dating long-time family friend/medical researcher Trevor. Trevor agrees to play along despite having no romantic interest in Sophia and knowing that she prefers her phallic items to be of the plastic variety.

The final piece of the puzzle comes in the form of Sophia beginning a friendship that she apparently hopes reaps benefits. This object of her affection is Jessica Elliott, whose black skin is one of a few characteristics that distinguish her from the other patrons at the aforementioned Jewish market.

Jessica being an open-mic night regular introduces Sophia to the world; that leads to her aspiring to become a hipster lesbian version of Jerry Seinfeld; not that there is anything wrong with that. 

Families of every religion and nationality can relate to the developments in the wake (pun intended) of the death of the grandfather leading to comically extreme trauma and drama at a Shabbat (a.k.a. Friday Night) dinner. The Mogen David freely flowing may be a factor regarding the gefilte fish hitting the fan. 

Part of the gist of the listing of grievances is Bubbie laying the mother of all Jewish maternal figure guilt trips regarding her heavy sacrifices for her ungrateful family; we also learn that Trevor has his limits. 

The biggest picture is that "Pinsky" illustrates the truth of the expression that you can pick your friends but not your relatives. It also brings to mind a foreign film from a few years ago in which a nice young Parisian Jewish man is planning to move to Israel; his sister reminds him that his planned destination is full of people who are like their parents. A third perspective is the Seinfeld joke that Jewish men marry shiksas because they want a wife who does not remind them of their mother.

The always excellent Breaking DVD extras this time are an interview with Blumenfeld and a short clip of Karpovsky doing stand-up. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

'The Practice' CS DVD: Danny Thomas as That Short-tempered Grumpy Doc

Warner Archive goes old summer school regarding the July 16, 2019 DVD release of the 1976-77 Danny Thomas NBC sitcom "The Practice." This textbook '70scom, complete with an urban setting, largely divides its focus between cantankerous older Dr. Jules Bedford (Thomas) of the West Side struggling to help patients and battling with 30-something son Dr. David Bedford (David Spielberg) of Park Avenue over their different approaches to life and to providing medical care. It is unknown if any glass tables are harmed in the filming of "Practice,"

The legacy of "Practice" arguably includes the Henry "Fonzie" Winkler 2005-06 sitcom "Out of Practice." Winkler plays the head of a family of doctors who live in the same building. Further, Thomas plays a very similar role to that of Jules in a 1984 episode of the ABC sitcom "Benson." The "Benson" connection continues with Didi Conn playing a ditzy naive assistant in both series. Further, Danny son Tony Thomas works on both series.

The "dram" and the "edy" start out strong in the pilot. Arthur Jarvis (J. Pat O'Malley of "Maude") is the first in a continuum of long-time patients/close friends of Jules experiencing serious medical problems. In this case, both Arthur and David are much more accepting the seemingly imminent death of the former than Jules. 

Next up is Barbara Simms (Marge Redmond of "The Flying Nun"), who is equally distressed about her goiter and her husband recently leaving her for a younger woman. "Daddy" saying no regarding an operation prompts Barbara to ask "Son," who arranges for the procedure. We first see that Father knows best and that Barbara makes room for Daddy in the actual sense of that phrase.

Much of the "com" relates to Jules having to let Barbara down easily after purposefully giving her the wrong impression to ensure her recovery from her operation. 

Things get a little edgy when a terminally ill local drug lord (Vic Tayback of "Alice") demanbds treatment. The solution regarding whether letting this guy who does not know the meaning of "do no harm" die or honoring the Hippocratic Oath is creative and believable; one can argue that Jules should have taken things even further. 

One of the more amusing S1 episodes has David force Jules to go on a vacation only to have that dedicated physician treat hotel workers and guests in his room. Meanwhile, David gets comically overwhelmed as to taking over the practice of his father. 

Although a time constraint is behind not watching many more episodes for this review, the back-cover liner notes remind us of the star power during the rest of the "Practice" run. This begins with Mike Evans of "The Jeffersons" becoming a regular in the role of "Lenny ... a young, wisecracking medical intern."  

"Special" guest stars that surely contribute a great deal to their episodes include Lucille Ball and Edie Adams; Thomas daughter Marlo returns the favor as to her father appearing on an episode of "That Girl."

All of  the above illustrates the appeal of "Practice;" it is a relatable amusing mostly edge-free traditional sitcom that is akin to the scores of its peers that keep basic-cable networks, such as LAFF and Antenna TV in business. 

Friday, August 9, 2019

'Pan Am' CS DVD: 'Mad Men' Meets 'Love Boat'

The Mill Creek Entertainment August 2019 DVD release of the 2011-12 ABC period piece dramedy "Pan Am" provides another bite at the apple regarding this show that reminds us that flying was not always the horrendous nightmare that it is today. This series also is notable for launching the career of Margot Robbie.

"Pan Am" must be put in context that is apt for its "Love Boat" style format of each episode centering around a flight that has passengers whom guest stars of varying calibers play. It is fluffy fun with a relatively strong prime-time soap vibe. 

The following YouTube clip of an ABC promo. for "Pan Am" provides a good sense of the strong production values and the related style of this series set in the mid-60s. The network further reminds us that the cred. of the series includes "West Wing" and "ER" veterans. 

On the broadest level, "Pan Am" follows the "Marshall Plan" that reflects the wisdom of "Happy Days" creator Garry Marshall. Marshall notes that setting a '70s sitcom in the '50s prevents it from looking dated. 

The opening scenes of the pilot (no pun intended) demonstrate the good balance between exposition and getting down to action that indicates that a show has good potential; fanboys think of this as "The Firefly Lesson."

We see our four central "stews" in their morning routines ahead of their inaugural flight on the maiden voyage of the brand-new Clipper jet of their titular employer. This montage helps establish the personalities of this '60s version of the "Sex and the City" quartet. 

The Robbie character Laura "Charlotte" Cameron represents the mix of plausible and absurd that makes the 14-episode "Pan Am" the best of shows and the average of shows. It simply seems that the producers want to provide a little something for everyone in a show, with a strong girl-power vibe.

The closest to sublime element of Laura is that she is a bright, intelligent, and charming recent college graduate. The spring of her discontent relates (no pun intended) to seeing that rebellious black-sheep Pam Am flight attendant sister Kate "Miranda" Cameron (Kelli Garner) is enjoying the freedom and adventure that increasingly is available to their generation, 

The gradual descent toward ridiculous begins with Kate showing up at the last-minute for the wedding of Laura to a nice clean-cut young man and facilitating the "Thelma and Louise" style prison break of the runaway bride.

This lead to the more improbable developments of rookie flight attendant Laura being at the right place at the right time in that a Life  magazine photographer snaps an impromptu photo that ends up on the cover of that publication, This ultimately leads to an increasingly liberated Laura posing for "art photos" that end up getting very public exposure (pun intended) that catches the eye of a "pop" idol of the era. 

The pilot adventure of Kate revolves around the CIA recruiting her to be a Cold War courier. This leads to increasingly dangerous adventures that ultimately involve aiding assets from behind the Iron Curtain, engaging in gun play, and helping expose a double agent all while maintaining the on-the-job poise, grace, and femininity that her day job requires. 

French-born Collette "Carrie" Valois (Karine Vanasse) largely provides the perspective of someone who spent a childhood under Nazi occupation; this is especially prominent in which the flight crew attend the Kennedy "Ich nin ein Berliner" speech in Germany.

The entertaining absurdity of the Collettte story arc relates to a romance that becomes a royal disaster. A background check regarding her suitability for the relationship reveals both a surprise regarding her heritage and the existence of a relative about whom she lacks prior knowledge. 

Last but not least is Maggie "Samanatha" Ryan, who is portrayed by Christina Ricci of "The Addams Family" movies. Maggie represents the liberated Bohemian woman of the era. She is a very feisty problem child who seems even more sexually liberated than European Collette. 

The absurdity of Maggie relates to her radical (as in subversive, rather than awesome) boyfriend Max essentially throwing her in the arms of a Congressman, who essentially is a poster-child for the Republican party. We also see Maggie not hesitating very much as to throwing a co-worker under the jet when her wanton ways seriously jeopardize her job.

As is the case in every series that centers around a fantastic four group of women, the men are all deeply flawed and mostly are window dressing. Largely hairless WASPy pale farm boy Dean Lowrey lacks much personality and emotes so much about runaway fiancee/flight attendant Bridget that even men who eat quiche everyday likely want him to man up at least a little.

Co-pilot who considers himself a god Ted Vanderway resents his privileged background not providing enough pull to have him sit in the "right seat" has more of a personality. He has the same Daddy issues as many sons of a wealthy "master of the universe" type father. Ted also is a former "Top Gun" Navy test pilot who has a past "incident" that is why he no longer in the service. 

All of this occurs in the context of the times that are a changin' in the mid-60s. We see prejudice against a black sailor who enters a friendship with potential benefits with one of the stews, get a lesbian woman who is looking to enter an open marriage of convenience, and even get a side trip to Haiti during great unrest on that island.

The broadest appeal of all this is showing they folks who think of the mid-60s as the beginning of the end regarding true style in America and others who consider that period as one in which the oppressed begin overthrowing the oppressors and the general population begins to get woke that the truth lies in the middle. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

'Knightfall' S2 DVD: Mark Hamill Goes From Jedi to Knight Templar

The first of many wonderful surprises regarding the Lionsgate August 6, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 second-season of the History Channel period-piece drama series "Knightfall" is that not having seen S1 is not a handicap. The S2 season premiere provides a nice S1 synopsis before picking up soon after those events.

It also is nice to see that having Mark Hamill play "drill sergeant" Talus, who molds recruits into full-fledged Knights Templar, is not merely a case of stunt casting. This hardened old soldier can be considered a much less kind and gentle version of Luke Skywalker. 

The following "Knightfall" S2 trailer does a good job conveying the depiction of the early 14th-century in the series; it also provides a good overview of the testosterone-fueled soap-opera elements in this variation of "The Tudors."

The misdeeds of disgraced knight Landry (Tom Cullen of "Downton Abbey") are the root cause of much of S2 trauma and drama; the "fruit" of his cuckolding former friend King Philip strongly intensifies the hatred of the latter toward the brotherhood of the former. This leads to papalcide, not- so-holy crusades, and a related campaign to turn the hearts and minds of the people of France against "God's Executioners."

Our man without a country also faces the challenge of obtaining the forgiveness of his former knights. His deviating from the program and incurring the aforementioned wrath of the monarch get him ousted from his fraternity; one spoiler is that the cost of regaining his former status requires that he repledge this boys' club.

Meanwhile back at the castle, excitable boy Prince Louis is finding the task of producing an heir with wife Margaret inconceivable. Margaret also must contend with the covert resentment of Princess Isabella, who understandably is upset about her upcoming  version of a crossbow marriage to Edward II.

Isabella and Margaret have INDISPUTABLY the best scene in the entire season. The two women delight in a feast of "cock" and even comment on the taste of that meat. This sets the stage for Isabella to Cosby her sister-in-law as the first step in having her disgraced. 

All of these events lead to heightened emotions that result in Philip getting his ally ensconced as pope, and the knights having a long series of very bad days.

​One of the most tense moments revolves around the holy soldiers already having their ranks depleted when it seems that their remaining numbers are destined to for horrific deaths. Whether a knight in not-so-shining armor rushes in to save them remains doubtful., 

Suffice to say, as is the case regarding the end of S1, the behind-the-scenes crew of "Knightfall" leave us wanting more.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

'Lippy the Lion' and 'Hardy Har Har' DVD: True Hanna-Barbera All-Stars

The Warner Archive July 9, 2019 2-disc DVD release of the complete series "Lippy the Lion and "Hardy Har Har" (1962) awesomely contributes to the ecstasy that is the Archive continuous and seemingly endless revival of its classic Animation Domination. This Renaissance arguably begins with the MUST-OWN (reviewed) June 2019 Blu-ray release of "Jonny Quest" OS and continues at least through an August 2019 BD release of "The Jetsons" OS.  

The temporary agony as to this domination relates to "Lippy," along with the recent (reviewed) Archive release of "Wally Gator" only bringing literal and figurative children of the '60s and '70s 2/3 of the way toward owning all three series that make up the syndicated "The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series."

Pure instinct and youthful exuberance indicate that Archive will release "Touche Turtle and Dum Dum" before the end of September 2019. Buying "Lippy" and "Gator" will help make that a reality sooner rather than later. The bigger picture regarding this is that two out of three ain't bad, but a trifecta is much better. 

The release of "Touche" also would allow Saturday-morning sofa spuds with three DVD players to recreate each episode of "Series." 

Folks who are interested in learning more about the era of "talking animal" shows in this Golden Age of Hanna-Barbera are asked to please read the "Gator" review.  That post provides some insight into the productions that begat the action-adventure fare that begat "Scooby" and his clones, and it all was good.

"Lippy" is notable for having two HB all-stars voice the titular king of the jungle and his ironically named hyena sidekick, Daws Butler voices Lippy, and Mel Blanc voices Hardy. The rest of the story is that Butler uses the same voice for Lippy as he does for time-travelling Peter Potamus, whose '60s series also is in the Archive DVD catalog. 

Lippy is an always annoyingly gleeful optimist who almost certainly wears rose-colored contacts. His primary challenge is to get his equally always incredibly glum chum, who literally thinks that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train and often is correct,  to be positive and to laugh. A semi-spoiler is that an episode in which Hardy laughs is the best moment in the series, 

The concept of "Lippy" is a little broader than most HB shows from any era and arguably is one that is closest to the spirit of "Looney Toons." Rather than rely on a single concept, such as the Scooby gang stumbling on an X-File or Gator escaping from the zoo only to find that there is no place like home, "Lippy" shows a bit more variety and is  even more rife with vaudeville-style slapstick. 

Each "Lippy" starts the same with our animated George and Lennie travelling the globe. The variety comes in the form of the reason for their wandering and the catalyst for their action. It often is survival, but may be part of get-rich scheme that Lippy is just as confident will succeed as Hardy is that it will fail. The latter always is expressed by the catchphrase "oh dear, oh my."  There also are times that the pair simply find adventure while on the road Kerouac style. 

The "Lippy" pilot "See Saw" sticks to the basics. Our pair is stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean. Hardy is lamenting their imminent demise when Lipppy uses spotting an island as a reason for Hardy to be optimistic. The combined bad news is that this arrival coincides with a pirate burying his booty and leads to Lippy and Hardy being Shanghaied.

An especially notable cluster of episode air early in the "Lippy" run. "Smile the Wild" finds the desperate time in the form of extreme hunger lead to the desperate measure of Lippy passing off Hardy as an escaped wildman from a circus in order to claim a reward. Of course, the real McCoy shows up and imperils the jungle boys.

"Film Flam" finds Lippy and Hardy vacationing in Hollywood. A cartoon-staple form of misunderstanding finds a film director mistaking Lippy for an actor in a lion suit. Hilarity truly ensues this time. 

"Gunflighter," which directly follows "Film," has Lippy passing Hardy off as the titular quick draw. The figuratively real McGraw showing up leads to an exceptional conclusion that highlights what Hardy brings to the table.

The "Hick Hikers," which is especially is especially looney toons in tone, finds Lippy climbing a previously unconquered mountain merely to accomplish that feat; Hardy is dead weight in tow and characteristically constantly bitching.

Our mountain-climbing lion achieves his objective only to find that a welcoming committee in the form of a ram is not at all sheepish about protecting his turf from interlopers. This leads to a hilarious game of king of the hill.

As virtually every post on animated and live-action Archive releases state, the fact that they do not (and will not) make 'em like that anymore provides reason enough to add "Lippy" to your DVD collection. This wonderful reminder of the era before killjoys take the highly entertaining violence out of cartoons is sorely needed in this era in which watching almost constant consequence-free knocks on the noggin is just what Dr. Patch Adams ordered. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Shire Woodstock: A Vermont State of Mind

Birthday trips to places such as The Shire Woodstock in Vermont are more than making for being a July baby precluding the large parties that the kids whose special days occurred during the school year enjoyed. An exceptional in every way dinner at the Red Rooster restaurant at the nearby Woodstock Inn provided the almost literal icing on the figurative birthday cake. An article on that meal is planned for next month.

A less positive role of the Woodstock Inn led both to the stay at Shire and added to the knowledge bank that continually enhances the Inn Credible New England section of this site.

I initially approached the Inn about a media stay. Suffice it to say that this luxury hotel, which has non-profit status despite charging what must be a highly profitable rate for its accommodations, predictably passed me off to its Manhattan PR firm. That firm equally predictably determined that my site was inadequately trendy to warrant any consideration. Being told no did not prompt resentment; the Inn itself not even looking at my site or considering my proposal did, 

On a related note, I was charged a resort fee on a prior trip to the Inn despite the Inn lacking resort facilities. (Guests can use the facilities at a not-so-close recreation center). I also was deprived use of the steam room in the spa because I did not book a spa treatment; the spa was empty at that time. 

A subsequent tip to contact Shire quickly led to the first of several greatly exceeded expectations. That interaction created a strongly validated sense that I was dealing with a place that embraced a Vermont, rather than a New York, state of mind.

Veteran Shire manager Barbara Sheehan was extremely friendly and said "we love travel writers." She booked us in the GINORMOUS Riverhouse Suite and fully comped us. All this was without accepting an invitation to check out this site. 

The below photos are of that deluxe two-bedroom accommodation, complete with a Jacuzzi that provides shoulder massages that will make you never want to get out of the tub.

Front-desk clerk Shannon provided a Vermont-quality welcome on our arrival at the main building, which is a motel that has been renovated into a upscale place to stay that combines the best elements of a B and B and a nice hotel without a 'tude. After checking us in, Shannon directed us to the adjacent Riverhouse. This two-story building is the home of the former owners that has been beautifully renovated to having the suite on the ground floor and guest-rooms upstairs. 

Entering the suite provides the desired "wow" factor. There is a spacious entry hall that leads to the rest of this palace. The enormous master bedroom, complete with gas fireplace and a door to the river-front wrap-around porch of the suite, has a walk-in closet that is almost as large as the "shabby broom closet" that Inn Credible articles often mention., 

This space, which easily qualifies as a mini-suite by itself, has a large en-suite bathroom with the aforementioned tub. Other highlights are the honey-based BeeKind amenities and a shower large enough for you and two of your closest friends.

Putting the shower gel in the Jacuzzi produced silky smooth skin; using two tubes of it evoked thoughts of Bobby Brady putting a box of detergent in the washing machine. Fortunately, the mountain of suds in the Jacuzzi did not overflow onto the floor.

The second bedroom is larger than most upgraded accommodations in cookie-cutter hotels. It, like the master bedroom, has a roomy seating area that is a treat for those of us who dislike having a bed being the only sitting option in a hotel room.

The bathroom for this bedroom is across the hall; however, doors at each end of that hall allow the person staying there complete privacy. 

An aside related to this is that even the happiest of couples can be even happier when having the option of separate bedrooms. Snoring, restlessness, nocturnal bathroom breaks, and late-night use of electronic devices all can disrupt the sleep of each better half. The suite bedrooms having their own highly effective climate-controlled systems is the bonus regarding this. 

The rest of the story is that this layout is PERFECTLY conducive to visits to the Woodstock area. Like most Inn Credible New England trips, the agenda involved heading out relatively early each day and spending much of the evening relaxing in the room.

Our days started with eating bakery muffins and having coffee (complete with real cream) and following the Inn Credible habit of watching a little "Kelly and Ryan" before heading to nearby Hanover, NH (home of Dartmouth College) on our first full day and not so nearby Brattleboro, Vermont on our second day. We also took advantage of Shire literally being on the edge of the quaint business district of Woodstock to tour the shops and the galleries there, 

We took moderate advantage of having a full kitchen (complete with a table that seats eight) and a large living room by having dinner in the night after feasting  at the Red Rooster. Grad school-era memories of the era elicited repeated chants of PIZZA CHEF PIZZA CHEF PIZZA CHEF throughout the trip that succeeded in getting our food there,

The good news is that Chef still puts only a moderate amount of its tangy sauce and an equally well-proportioned amount of its equally good toppings on its pizzas. The amusing news is that New York entered the picture in the form of being behind tourists relentlessly grilling the friendly 11-year veteran behind the counter about gluten-free crust, the type of cheese, and everything else. This prolonged absurd exchange almost prompted a Bronx cheer. 

A post-pizza chant of ROADHOUSE ROADHOUSE ROADHOUSE prompted watching that Patrick Swayze classic on Netflix on the 4K smart-TV over the gas fireplace in the living room. 

In other words, a good time was had by all, and Shire has well-earned most-favored nation status.

The bigger picture this time is this stay validating the invalidity of a bias against former motels that have been upgraded to good getaway hotels. A prior stay at a similar place (with a forgotten name) in the Berkshires of Massachusetts involved unwarranted trepidation. No such concerns existed regarding Shire, which has expertly renovated and improved the rooms in the main building. That place provides a solid option to the other options in town and greatly outshines every off-ramp palace anywhere in the US.

Final thoughts reflect simple Vermont wisdom in that Shire shows that you should not judge a book by its cover; passing up a place because it looks like a motel can cause you to miss out  on something good. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

'Miss Arizona' Theatrical/VOD/Digital: How a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Got Her Groove Back

  • Picture
  • Writer/director Autumn McAlpin fully embraces the modern-woman girl-power of the 2016 "Ghostbusters" reboot with the July 12, 2019 theatrical/VOD/digital release of "Miss Arizona." Also, like "Ghostbusters," McAlpin pays wonderful homage to the past in a very woke fashion.

    The first of a few asides is that the title of "Arizona" relates to a classic riddle. The question is "why was the Miss America pageant short a contestant?" The answer is "because no one wanted to be Miss Ida Ho."

    The "elevator speech" recap of the ""Arizona" concept is that a former beauty queen turned trophy wife forms a sisterhood of the travelling misfits and learns the value of hos before bros.

    The following YouTube clip of an "Arizona" trailer follows the same principle as the above synopsis. This promo. rapidly takes us through the entire movie and even briefly provides the life story of each major character.

    The second aside in this post is that the always-amusing and often hilarious "Arizona" coming attraction honors the humor of the HILARIOUS nine-minute indie film "Trailer: The Movie" (2001). IMDb PERFECTLY describes that one as "when two filmmakers discover their blockbuster is really just a bust, they cut together every half-decent shot into a misleading trailer to dupe audiences and save their careers."

  • The traditional aspects of "Arizona" begin with this almost literally "day in the life of" film commencing with titular American beauty Rose (Johanna Braddy) waking up in bed next to negligent power-agent husband Rick (Kyle Howard). She then wakes up growing boy 10 year-old Sawyer and serves her men a delicious nutritious breakfast because their maid has the day off.

    Rick heading off to New York to attend the Tonys, and Sawyer going to school ahead of a sleepover leaves Rose with  an empty nest.

    Our lady of leisure becomes a lady who lunches on Rick calling her to demand that she perform her corporate spouse duty. The aside this time is that your not-so-humble reviewer refers to this as Samantha Stephens duty without the fun of being able to turn the client into a monkey when asked to attend a corporate event.

    Rose gathering with her fellow real housewives of Beverly Hills leads to her volunteering to teach a life-skills class at a women's shelter that afternoon. The ensuing unfortunate circumstances lead to the hilarity with a touch of "Orange is the New Black" that ensues in the film.

    Rose arises to find male shelter manager Bigs largely indifferent to her presence. He offers this rich white lady (avec sash and tiara) who has always lead a privileged life minimal support in her effort to reach the down-and-out shelter residents. These folks on whom enlightenment is being forced are even less receptive.

    The imminent  arrival of an uninvited guest requires that the shelter residents run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. Car trouble leads to Rose becoming their chauffeur.

    A chance encounter drives (no pun intended) the rest of the action. Shelter resident Leslie (Robyn Lively of "Teen Witch") sees the car of her husband at the home of his cousin. This is of particular interest because the husband is guilty of parental kidnapping, and Leslie does not know where he is keeping their offspring.

    Subsequent subterfuge results in the group learning where the kids are stashed; the gig being up leads to a frantic car chase.

    The type of treat that makes indie films so special follows when the women go to a police station for assistance. A cop played by master of deadpan Tom McLaren ("Expelled" and "All American Bikini Car Wash") is surprised to find a former acquaintance in the station waiting room. He gets good mileage from merely saying "You again? Keep you nose clean." and walking out before the woman can respond.

    Rose discovering that she cannot rely on her friends and family leads to the closest homage of the entire film. She and her new friends find themselves in West Hollywood (aka WeHo) in desperate need of money.

    Discovering a drag-queen contest leads to the Lucy and Ethel caliber crazy scheme of having the former Miss America contestant compete. One character aptly refers to the classic Julie Andrews cross-dressing period-piece comedy film "Victor"/"Victoria."

    It seems that McAlpin has a "Must See" show in mind when taking the film in that direction. An episode of the '90scom "Wings," which revolves around two brothers operating a struggling commuter airline on Nantucket, finds one of the brothers and the "girl" to the "two guys" stranded in New York. Their solution is to have the woman compete in a drag contest so that they can get enough money to return to their island.

    Personal experience shows that McAlpin is well-tuned into the drag-queen mentality. They generally are a vicious lot that equally steal the clothes almost literally off the back of the others and get very upset when that occurs. At the same time, some of these boys who put so much into their art can be the nicest people in the world.

    Suffice it to say that a permed "Cher" out there does not take kindly to being mistaken for Fran Drescher, and that anyone should be cool with adoration that includes a kiss on the cheek from a nice queen.

    Worlds collide and revelations are achieved during the contest. Finding out about the secret life of an acquaintance is another true-life aspect of this portion of "Arizona."

    This long strange day and night ends with a neo-Hollywood ending that involves the standard unexpected angel as well as Rose getting her groove back.

    Although largely presented as a feminist fable, the message of this movie that should appeal to everyone from their teens to their 80s comes from another classic film. Everyone of every gender and sexual orientation should be excellent to each other. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

'Roadhouse Murder' DVD: Member of Fourth Estate Waives the Fifth

Warner Archive continues making the best movies of which you never heard available by releasing the 1932 thriller with social commentary "Roadhouse Murder" on DVD on June 11, 2019. Archive using the term "the deadly Dykes" in the back-cover synopsis enhances this joy. 

The following YouTube clip of an Archive promo., for "Roadhouse" is of a pivotal sequence that wonderfully illustrates the vintage early talkie feel of this highly theatrical film. The flawed picture quality of this clip also highlights the much better images and sounds of the Archive DVD.

Like a full gamut of '30s films, our story begins in the bullpen of a newspaper; in this case, a disgruntled veteran reporter is expressing his job dissatisfaction in strong language for films of that era, We soon see the basis for those sentiments. 

The toxic editor who inspires the ill will subsequently turns his wrath on cub reporter Charles "Chick" Brian. Chick does good by catching a loose woman red-handed with hot ice and by getting a photo of her in literal hot water. This dame having a friend in a high place kills both the story and the immediate potential for Chick to advance his career.

This blow prompts Chick to take secret girlfriend Mary Agnew, who is the daughter of homicide Inspector William Agnew, for a ride in the country, Things take a combined "It Happened One Night" and "Scooby-Doo" turn when a sudden deluge requires that this unmarried couple without any physical baggage take shelter at The Lame Dog Inn. The manner in which the innkeeper takes advantage of the assumed vulnerability of these guests is a "Roadhouse" highlight. 

Things going bump in the night lead to our nice young people discovering the titular crime and knowing whodunit.

Rather than immediately finger the perps, Chick decides to frame himself with the idea that his story literally will be front-page news. The rest of this career-advancement plan involves entrusting Mary, whose name literally is kept out of the papers, with a figurative smoking gun. The rest of her job is to produce this compelling evidence before Chick becomes a permanent guest of the state.

"Roadhouse" then uses a technically advanced method for the era in a variation of using shots of newspaper headlines as an exposition device. This clearly shows Chick is both the story and the author of his tale.

The honeymoon ends on Chick being caught in the worst place at the worst time. This leads to the climatic courtroom scene that seems mandatory for most Golden Age films of every genre. A nice twist ensues courtesy of a chain-of-custody issue requiring that Mary (with help from Dad) does more than just stand by her man. 

More fun comes via the cynicism that pervades "Roadhouse" creating the possibility that truth, justice, and the American way will not prevail. 

The scoop regarding all this is that "Roadhouse" reminds us of the era in which even B-movies have strong merits. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

'Bronco Billy' BD: Clint Eastwood Hopes For Few Dollars More From Wild West Show

Warner Archive once again shows its perfect instincts by releasing the crystal-clear (bordering on 4K quality) Blu-ray of the 1980 Clint Eastwood comedy "Bronco Billy" on July 9, 2019. Summertime is the season of tacky lowest-common-denominator attractions such as the failing Wild West Show that the titular urban cowboy (Eastwood) is hoping to keep afloat.

The bigger picture this time is that "Billy" perfectly reflects the films of Eastwood before he turns auteur by directing films such as "Bird" and "The Bridges of Madison County." "Billy" comes in the era in which Eastwood moves from the spaghetti westerns that solidify him as a household name to the time in which he makes the Dirty Harry films and the lowest of the low-brow comedies "Every Which Way You Can" franchise. All this is decades before he talks to the invisible man at the Republican Convention.

The final piece of this puzzle is that reel- and real-life Eastwood leading lady Sondra Locke plays "Billy" love interest heiress experiencing a reversal-of-fortune Antoinette Lily (a.k.a. Miss Ida Ho).

The following standard-def. '70slicious trailer of "Billy" highlights the almost literal night-and-day difference between the theatrical presentation of the film and the Blu-ray. The contrast between the washed-up red of the convertible of Billy and the bright and shiny showroom red of the one in the Archive version is incredible. This is not to mention the numerous era-specific elements that include this promo. featuring Scatman Crothers ("Chico and the Man" and "Hong Kong Phooey") as sidekick/sage Doc Lynch.

The melange of westerns and "Loose" relates to Billy struggling to keep his oh-so-cheesy wild west show going. The early scenes of acts such as Chief Big Eagle (Dan Vadis) doing a rattle-snake dance and a seemingly all-American boy doing rope trips while dressed as an insurance salesman on vacation at a dude ranch provide the picture. 

The rest of this part of the story is that we see Billy showing off his riding, shooting, and knife-throwing skills. He does this with the help of the latest in a long string of lovely assistants/bimbos. 

Meanwhile off the reservation, Antoinette crosses paths with Billy at an Idaho city hall. He is buying a permit so the show can go, and she is about to marry wimpy John Arlington (Geoffrey Lewis) so that she can inherit a fortune and he can be a kept (but sexually frustrated) man. John indisputable gets the best line in the film as to his being denied any semblance of marital bliss. 

A very light "Harry" element enters the picture when Antoinette discovers on awakening the morning after her nuptials that the honeymoon is over. John and all of her money are gone. This ultimately leads to the evil stepmother and the family attorney conspiring to convince John to confess to murdering Antoinette. The compensation for this unfortunate incarceration is $500,000.

Worlds collide when the desperate but not serious status of Antoinette leads to this New York socialite joining the motley crew of Billy. Her rude awakening this time involves quickly learning the variation of the ass, gas, or grass principle that Billy enforces as to the caravan that brings his group from town to town. It does take awhile for the kisses of Billy to drive Antoinette delirious. 

"Harry" also enters the picture when a night out at a redneck bar goes Big Dan's with respect to Antoinette and leads to Billy also having to rescue the aforementioned boy-next-door on learning that he is on the run from the law. This leads s to a "Smokey and the Bandit" style showdown that it is a  "Billy" highlight. 

A subsequent surprise family reunion leads to more trauma and drama; this leads to a celebration of truth, justice, and the American way.

The strong appeal of all this begins with Eastwood obviously fully embracing this role that perfectly reflects his career. We also see how this spirit (and the associated '70s "free to be you and me" philosophy) permeates the film that we badly need in our hostile dystopian present. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

'Married Before Breakfast' DVD: Comedy of Errors Leads to Pre-Marital Bliss

Warner Archive aptly celebrates its 10th anniversary with the Perfect 10 June 11, 2019 DVD release of the 1937 Robert Young ("Father Knows Best") screwball romcom "Married Before Breakfast." This nicely remastered film goes beyond the typical Archive standard of showing that they ought still make 'em like that to being a movie that can be made word-for-word and shot-for-shot today and still provide roughly 90-minutes of quality escapist fun. 

The following YouTube clip of this overlooked gem wonderfully highlights many of the copious Depression-era elements of the film. 

Young plays inventive everyman Tom Wakefield, whom we meet on the brink of selling what he thinks is his perfected cream that removes facial hair without having to use a razor. As is the case in many of these films, his dreams are dashed just as he believes that he literally can make an honest buck and enjoy the lifestyle to which he would like to become accustomed while he is young (no pun intended) enough to enjoy it.

The rest of the beginning of the story is that Tom is engaged to practical June Baylin, who never has had to worry about from where her next gourmet meal was coming. She is standing by her man but strongly prompts an attitude adjustment. 

The first of several nice twists comes when an outfield-adjacent angel tracks down Tom to offer him $250,000 in 1937 dollars for his invention. The faith of that investor in the ability of Tom to work out a figuratively fatal flaw is one of many feel-good aspects of "Marriage."

Our excitable boy then literally puts his fresh-off-the-presses nouveau riches to good use. He takes a large step toward making June an honest woman and bestows exceptional personalized largese on his landlady and his neighbors at his immaculate and well-run boarding house. He goes one step further in hiring Tweed the valet, whom Tom renames Senior for a reason that makes perfect sense in the context of the film. 

The chance encounter that changes everything in every romcom occurs when Tom goes to a travel agency to book a honeymoon cruise. Agent Kitty (perhaps literally) going the extra mile to deliver the tickets leads to an overnight adventure that evokes thoughts of the 1985 Martin Scorsese dark-comedy "After Hours." 

The genesis of this is Tom taking his he can't do a little because he can't do enough attitude to heart in trying to help Kitty overcome an obstacle that is delaying her marriage to insurance-agent Kenneth. The "sit" that drives much of the rest of the "com" in "Marriage" is that a promotion for Tom is conditioned on selling a policy to a very reluctant milkman named Mr. Baglipp.

Tom responds  by pledging to get the milkman to deliver by getting him to buy a policy for which Tom will pay the premiums. The related promise is that Kitty will get the titular nuptials. 

The adventure begins with a visit to Chez Baglipp; not sealing that deal despite a criminally diligent effort leads to an obsessed Tom dragging Kitty along on a crusade to convince Baglipp to purchase some "protection."

The too numerous to mention (and too amusing to spoil) misadventures begin with Tom renting a taxi for use in his plan. Before the sun comes up, Tom and Kitty will tangle with both cops and robbers as well as start a fire. This is not to mention taking a bus passenger for a ride.

Of course, Tom keeps putting off his increasingly angry fiancee throughout all this. As time goes by, it becomes clear that his odds for a June wedding are slim to none. 

"Marriage" follows a wonderfully circuitous route to the courtroom scene that provides the setting for many a Golden Age comedy and drama. The icing on the wedding cake comes in the form of more action, adventure. and laughs that ensue after the judicial proceedings conclude. 

All of these moving parts provide fun as to which boy (if any) will end up with which girl and if the good intentions of Tom will literally lead to his writing a check that he cannot cash.

It is equally valid to say that "Married" has a dull moment and will leave you wanting more,