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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

'Smufs: The Lost Village' Blu-ray: Indigo Girls Power



The Sony Pictures Home Entertainment July 11, 2017 Blu-ray release of the fully-animated 2017 theatrical film "Smurfs: The Lost Village" provides a chance to see the latest addition to the current "Smurfs" franchise that includes the (Unreal TV reviewed) "Smurfs 2" and the (also covered) "Legend of Smurfy Hollow." "Village" greatly expands on the lore of these films and the Smurfs in general by initially revolving around sole girl in an otherwise all-male society Smurfette (Disney Channel star Demi Lovato).

The deep rich animation of the well-known Smurf home turf alone is enough reason to buy "Village" in Blu-ray; Sony going full "Avatar" and beyond when venturing into the wilds of the Smurfverse make folks who do not select Blu-ray total Smurfs. The "Avatar" vibe extends to our blue buddies taking flight courtesy of tamed winged creatures.

Although this one definitely is for the girls to the extent that it evokes very strong thoughts of a brownie meeting or the cool girls table in a middle school cafeteria, it has enough Smurfy humor and general entertainment to appeal to all.

As the following YouTube clip of a theatrical trailer for "Village" shows, the film does include another tween boy humor to entertain the little dudes out there.


"Village" starts with basic Smurf lore regarding the members of the Blue Man Group having names that reflect their personality and/or vocation. This soon turns to the existential crisis of Smurfette, whose name and role in the community reflect that she is not much more than the sole pretty face in the burg.

Intelligent and condescending Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi of "Community"), uncoordinated Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer of "30 Rock"), and macho macho Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello) are the primary Smurfs this time around.

The main action begins with Smurfette literally going off the reservation; this exploration equally literally provides an intriguing glimpse of what lies beyond her rather limited world. Essentially literal daddy of all Smurfs Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) hands Smurfette and the aforementioned boys their Smurfs on a platter on their return from the forbidden zone. He also literally sends them to their rooms without their suppers.

An undeterred Smurfette earns the name Rebel Smurf in soon sneaking back out to learn more about her cousins literally beyond the wall; the boys soon follow.

Our band of explorers soon finding themselves the guests of evil wizard/Smurf nemesis Gargamel (Rainn Wilson of "The Office") and his sidekick cat Azrael (voice-over god Frank Welker) puts this big bad on the hunt for the titular hidden valley.

Adventures along the way include white-water rafting and an encounter with Smurf-eating plants. We also get the requisite scene in which the Smurfs show their nobility in rescuing Gargamel from a probable demise.

A fun ongoing theme in this portion of the film revolves around the brain v. brawn conflict that Brainy and Hefty represent. A hilarious example of this is Hefty showing Brainy the best use for a scout manual regarding starting a campfire.

Smurfette and the boys eventually find the Edenlike "Lost Village" that is reminiscent of Paradise Island of "Wonder Woman" lore. It is an entirely male-free matriarchy that celebrates beautifully drawn nature and other good things and is free  of serious conflict.

The Nazi/snake that our core group inadvertently introduces to this previous Utopia is Gargamel; this intrusion leads to a mission that shows the value of peace, love, and understanding.

Needless to say, all live Smurfily ever after to Smurf another day.

The plethora of extras center around crafts projects. They will teach you how to "Smurfify Your Nails" and draw your favorite Smurf. You further can enjoy a dance Along and enjoy a "I'm A Lady" music video by Meghan Trainor. These are only the French tip of the iceberg.

Anyone who wants to Smurf more about "Village" can either Smurf me or Smurf on Twitter Smurf via @tvdvdguy.




Tuesday, August 15, 2017

'Kept Boy' DVD: Gay-themed Tale of Fighting for Your Man/Meal Ticket


Breaking Glass Pictures once more breaks new ground regarding the August 8, 2017 DVD release of the 2017 comedy "Kept Boy;" this one nicely shows that a traditional or alternative trophy spouse is not always in it just for (or even primarily) the money.

The titular himbo is 30 year-old former swimsuit model whose brief career posing in banana hammocks abruptly ends on meeting celebrity interior designer/realty show host Farleigh Knock. Knock quickly rescues Farleigh from the drudgery of prancing around almost naked on gorgeous beaches in front of drooling fans.

We meet this couple as Dennis reaches his expiration date of 30. He is having fun, fun, fun 'til his increasingly stressed sugar daddy takes his Porsche away. This portion of the film has the best line in "Boy." Farleigh states in response to Dennis asserting an ability to get a job that this tarnishing golden boy is only qualified to swill champagne and work out at the gym. Adding that Dennis lately is doing much more of the former and much less of the latter escalates the remark from amusing to hilarious.

This threat drives Dennis to seek Long Island iced tea and sympathy from straight-boy Lonnie, who is the May to December former A-List celebrity reporter Deidre, and partially kept straight-girl Paulette. The cliche of Paulette is that she is the "other woman" of a married Congressman. The gatherings of this trio can be considered meetings of The First Mistresses Club.

Farleigh experiencing serious threats to his fame and his related fortune are only two specifics challenges regarding the efforts of Dennis to step up his game before he ends up living on the street corner that he will be required to work. The latest pool boy (who enjoys swimming naked) Jasper may be the new model who replaces Dennis.

The campaign of Jasper to keep his man/meal ticket includes a hilarious variation of a gay and straight porn cliche. A pizza boy comes ready to deliver in an effort for Dennis to show Farleigh that he is worth keeping around.

The hilarity and the related drama escalate on Dennis whisking Farleigh off of an increasingly disastrous trip to Cartagena that involves more than Colombian pearl necklaces. Farleigh already is reacting badly to literally and figuratively being taken out of his comfort zone when he learns of a career-threatening incident back home. Jasper showing up at precisely the wrong time at exactly the wrong time further fouls the moods of man and boy alike.

The Colombia scenes add depth both regarding showing the extent to which Jasper is a hustler and the life traumas that make him this and as to Dennis discovering the extent to which he is hopelessly devoted to Farleigh.

This vacation drama culminates in a gaycom scheme that involves Dennis taking one for the team to demonstrate his love for Farleigh. The extent to which this is a sacrifice is slightly ambiguous.

The nice part of this effort is that Dennis and Farleigh obtain a better understanding of how they feel about each other; this coming too late is sad.

Greater understanding and acceptance wrap up this interesting tale with the related lessons that continuing to show love is important and that a relationship that largely is based on person being younger and cuter always runs the risk of someone even more youthful and attractive coming along.

The plethora of extras include an entertaining Q&A session at the MiFo LGBT Film Festival premiere of "Boy," cast-and-crew interviews, a "making-of" feature, and deleted scenes.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Boy" is encouraged to email me; you alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

'Fate' VOD: Love's Labour Lost in Time


Indie flick company Self-Destruct Films proves that intelligent life exists on the small screen regarding the August 15, 2017 VOD release of the scifi drama  "Fate." This movie is notable both for making time travel seem possible and for explaining the underlying science in a manner that a person of average intelligence can understand it.

Grad student Connor Hughes, who can be considered the 21st century version of physics whiz kid Quinn Mallory of the '90s scifi series "Sliders," seemingly has a good life at the beginning of "Fate." He is engaged to beautiful and caring elementary school teacher April, lives in a townhouse that is much nicer than the homes that most of us inhabit in our 20s, and is on the verge of inventing a safe means of time travel.

The only rift in Conril is that April is increasingly jealous regarding Connor having Lady Science as a mistress. April subsequently having cause to believe that she has a flesh-and-blood rival triggers tragic events just as Connor has a milestone Eureka moment.

The several quantum leaps that Connor makes to try to put right what once went wrong propel the subsequent action. One spoiler is that our hero not falling in the trap of not learning from history does not spare him from repeating it. This pattern provides the basis for the title of "Fate" in that it seems that it is the destiny of April to have her life take the same course regardless of any efforts to change it.

"Fate" further has the standard element of the menacing feds. In this case, it is a group whose oversight of the research includes determining whether to keep grant money flowing.

The other twist is that an increasingly relevant limit on the ability to go back in time exerts additional pressure on Connor to succeed each time that he tries to save April. This leads to an awesome approach that creates drama and suspense to the final minutes of the movie. A related note is that the truly surprising conclusion is not revealed until the end of the closing credits.

The art of the film is combining the elements of time-travel movies in a new and entertaining manner. The butterfly effect plays a large role; we also get the effort to save a soulmate and the related angst regarding having to decide when to effectively pull the plug.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Fate" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvguy.



Friday, August 11, 2017

'The 100' S4 Blu-ray: Serious Fall-Out From Return to Earth

This analysis of the Warner Archive July 18, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 2017 fourth season of the CW teendram "The 100" follows up on a recent marathon of reviews on S1-3 of this series. The S1 review includes the lore of this show about former space-station young offenders returning to earth; the S3 review discusses the events that lead to S4.

S4 is stronger than S3 in that it seems to scale back on "Game of Thrones" style drama related to the former space inhabitants (who are known as Skaikru for his purpose) and the 12 tribes of "Grounders," who are humans who did not allow a little thing like an apocalypse make them abandon earth when the ancestors of Skaikru scampered off almost a century ago. The shifting alliances, betrayals of those agreements, ambushes, assassinations, and titular "civilized" teens going native is hard to follow at times.

This aspect of "100" epicly takes center stage in a "Hunger Games" style battle royale in which first prize is life and second prize is angonizing death. Grounder wannabe/lover of bad boys Octavia represents Skaikru.

S4 opens in the wake of many members of the core group returning to reality after abruptly being yanked from an idyllic state of consciousness. One of the most harsh truths that these folks and their peers face is that the impending fallout from already failed nuclear reactors makes fatal radiation exposure imminent.

The urgency of either finding a means of becoming impervious to the radiation or finding shelter that is both sturdy enough to shield people from that harmful substance and large enough to house everyone who requires that protection drives most of the S4 action. This further creates a regularly requiring need to decide more who must die so that others may have a chance of living, rather than making a tough choice related to avoiding any death at all.

On a fundamental level, having our re-pioneers face certain death from radiation poisoning gets to the core (pun intended) concept of "100." That threat is what drives humans to live in space in the first place. An early (and repeating) story arc regrading determining which 100 people to save further ties into the primary theme of this series.

Once more, teen group leader Clarke is at the center of the struggle to survive (without even any thoughts of thriving) as she attempts to keep her people sedate and to stop the grounders from attacking. One (not so abstract) aspect of this is a sense of "who died and made you queen." Facing selecting a lab rat for a possibly fatal experiment, having word of the aforementioned list leak, and having to adopt a literal bunker mentality are only a few of the challenges that are just another day at the office for this Katniss of the 100verse.

For his part, former government head Thelonious Jaha (Isiah Washington) goes from an S3 obsession with a virtual Utopia to indirectly seeking salvation via a doomsday cult. He, like his peers, further finds himself experiencing distressing deja vu.

Formerly adorkable Jasper continues his emo journey by becoming the leader of a group that chooses to party hearty for a few days and leave a not-so-pretty corpse than to merely survive. He further once more goes full Monty; this time in a hilarious shower scene that also features his repeatedly on-again-off-again pal who shares the name of this slang expression.

The multiple build-ups to the season finale further outshine the S3 (and S2) season-ending events. Knowing that not everyone can be saved brings out the best in some and the not-so-best in others; it further shows that the good deeds of a few do not go unpunished for the masses.

Meanwhile, a small group of far-out space nuts get ready to leave the world that they used to know without any plan of how to return; Raven is there to help them along.

The final scenes take a significant leap ahead in time in a manner that should have new and old fans alike counting down to the early 2018 S5 premiere. Both seeing how things in this new present (which allows the cast to literally act its age) play out and see the events that lead up to them.

The plethora of extras include a feature on the aforementioned Jasper that shows that actor Devon Bostick is just as goofily charming as his character. We further get the standard and always entertaining Comic-Con Panel for the season, equally enjoyable Gag Reel and Unaired Scenes, and a plethora of making-of documentaries.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "100" is strongly encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.








Thursday, August 10, 2017

'Demon Seed' Blu-ray Futuristic Tale of Artificial Intelligence Insemination


Warner Archive once again shows its love of far-out futuristic '70s scifi with the March 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1977 Julie Christie film "Demon Seed" based on the Dean Koontz novel of the same name. This tale of a '70s housewife being a scifi sexual assault victim makes a good companion to the (Unreal TV reviewed) Archive DVD release of the 1974 Barbara Eden film "The Stranger Within" in which the baby daddy is a brother from another planet.

The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Demon" shows the good marriage between '70s scifi and the creepiness of Koontz novels.


Christie plays Susan Harris, whose husband Alex Harris (Fritz Weaver) is a scientist. The claim-to-fame of Alex is Proteus 4.0, which is a highly advanced A.I. that Fritz uses as the basis for turning his home into a state-of-the-art smart house. The subsequent terror sets the standard for the automated homes running amok films and shows to follow.

The real action commences on Proteus trapping and fully isolating Susan in the house; he then explains that his need to evolve in ways that include better understanding humans requires fathering a child. This process included inserting the titular baby batter into Susan.

The "sticks' that Proteus employs to coerce Susan to cooperate include turning the house against her and putting innocents who come along at great peril. A scene that weaponizes the door bell creates vicarious pleasure regarding those of who who have Jehovah's Witnesses continue showing up several times after being politely asked to not do so.

The actual artificial intelligence insemination is one of the most entertaining scenes in "Demon;" it comes complete with a laser light show and surely would have included Susan smoking an E Cigarette if made in 2017. This encounter of the cyber kind further leaves no doubt that once you go binary, you never go back.

Discovering whether the weird science experiment succeeds and whether Proetan name their offspring Chip requires watching the film. One thing for sure is that viewers will look at their Amazon Echo in a different light after seeing the film.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Demon" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.







'The Hudsucker Proxy' Blu-ray: The Coen Brothers Take Stock of Manipulating Financial Markets


The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the deliciously dark and cynical Coen Brothers 1994 comedy "The Hudsucker Proxy" provides many great reminders of the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages of Hollywood that predate the current Talc Age. Les Freres Coen make this hilarious homage to the social-conscience comedies of the '30s and '40s that is set in the '50s in the '90s. The jaded guys, tough dames, snappy patter, and spinning newspapers show that the Coens respect their Golden Age elders.

The increasingly common aside for reviews of Archive titles this time is that the Coens also learn from Silver Age of Television god Garry Marshall; that "Happy Days" creator is spot-on in realizing that a television show made in the '70s but set in the '50s and '60s never looks dated.

"Hudsucker" opens with the related events of Hudsucker Industries Founder and CEO Waring Hudsucker abruptly and dramatically retiring and Indiana rube Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) arriving in the Big Apple with the ink still figuratively wet on his diploma from a Muncie business college.

The job search of Barnes on arriving in New York is more reminiscent of the Depression, rather than the more prosperous '50s. Barnes landing a job in the frantic and highly bureaucratic "Brazil" like mailroom at Hudsucker is a dream come true for cigar-chomping robber baron Hudsucker executive Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman).

The grand scheme of Mussburger relates to the departure of Waring inspiring a campaign to have the value of Hudsucker stock plummet in order for Mussburger and his fellow directors to buy low and sell (or hold) high. The noble but naive Barnes arriving facilitates executing the portion of the plan that calls for purposefully making an incompetent boob the company president.

Of course, the big idea of Barnes that the board thinks cannot succeed is a massive hit. This both shows how to succeed in business without really trying and answers the question of whether success spoils Norville Barnes.

The requisite dame is fast (and tough) talking lady reporter Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh). She (in pure '30s screwball comedy style) initially plays Barnes for a sap, has a few changes of heart, and ultimately gets a combination of her man and the real story.

The combination of actual and Hollywood magic at the end of "Hudsucker" awesomely completes the experience of seeing and hearing this highly stylized and Coenesquely scored film in Blu-ray. Seeing that someone is looking out for the good-hearted saps out there and that justice of the poetic and other forms still exist will make you feel better than you have at the conclusion of any film for many years.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Hudsucker" is strongly encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.








Wednesday, August 9, 2017

NH Seacoast Green Bean Restaurants Bring California Vibe to East Coast


The groovy San Francisco area vibe regarding every aspect of the The Green Bean cafes (Bean) reflect the tenure of Exeter, New Hampshire native Lori Whitney in the Silicon Valley city of Mount View. She opened the first Bean there and (to the great benefit of NH seacoast residents) transplanted the Bean when she returned to Exeter in the ‘90s. In this case, Thomas Wolfe was incredibly wrong regarding being able to successfully come home again.
Whitney states that the origin of the Bean name is a genuine inspiration from above. She shared that “I said out loud ‘I need a name;’ it [The Green Bean] trickled out the sky into my head.”
The New Hampshire locations have the bonus of Whitney’s California transplant husband Jeff Turner, who is a prior tenant advocate regarding housing-based discrimination, joining the business. Turner jokes that “we went into business together and then went into therapy together.”
Turner seriously describes the roles of  him and Whitney as “she’s vision, I’m execution.” He adds that he handles contract negotiations and similar business-related aspects of their company.
The first NH location (which is getting a baby sibling in September 2017) is celebrating a china (i.e., 20th) anniversary in Exeter.  Opening a second location at the former Pease Air Force base took 8 years; a (Green Dean?) location at a Portsmouth community college a few years later is "cool, cool, cool, cool."
A highlight of an early August 2017 stay at the fantabulous (Unreal TV reveiwed) Wentworth by the Sea Hotel was taking the five-minute walk to the seasonal Bean location in its sixth season at the New Castle, NH marina. 
The dog-friendly nature of this restaurant deserves mention before discussing this great meal. Whitney states that dogs are very welcome at the Wentworth location and that many people bring their dogs when they eat in the courtyard of her current Exeter location. 
Every Bean serves breakfast and lunch; the Pease and Community Campus restaurants are open Monday through Friday, and the Exeter and the Wentworth locations are open seven days a week. The Wentworth location additionally serves the lunch menu, which includes what Whitney accurately described as “fabulous” burgers, in the evening on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
The Wentworth location is further distinguishable as the Turner and Hooch location because it sells Red Hook and Pete’s Organic beers. Whitney shares that she has Red Hook because that company “donates a lot to charity events.”
My only beef (pun intended) is that Whitney, ala Trader Joe’s, removed an absolutely favorite item from the menu. Her roast beef with Boursin is last-meal worthy tasty, but Whitney stated that there is not enough demand for roast beef to justify keeping it on the menu.
The August (pun intended) feast began with nachos with the "works" that include generous amounts of everything for which one could hope and barbecue pork sliders that a love of southern food puts slightly ahead of the nachos in terms of favorites. The lean meat, tasty sauce with just enough zest, and the whole thing being perfectly proportioned and staying together make it as good anything eaten in several states south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
The below "flashback" provides context for getting a bacon cheddar burger with barbecue sauce for my entree. The five-star restaurant quality ingredients, getting all three ingredients in every bite, and the perfect cooking transformed this chain-restaurant staple into an incredible treat. Not being able to finish it due to the aforementioned appetizers and wanting to save room for the chipwich (which I refused to share) with ginormous homemade chocolate chip cookies was distressing because no valid excuse exists for wasting food this good. 
The promised context for selecting a burger from the menu that required a choice much tougher than any decision that Sop[hie ever faced was that Whitney immediately picked up during the visit that featured the (now sadistically discontinued) roast beef sandwich that I would not accept her statement that her burgers were “fabulous” without trying one. 
The quality of the other food, Whitney sharing that getting ground chuck that a Kittery Maine meat shop ground fresh each day, and Whitney adding that the burgers contained a “secret ingredient” created optimism regarding her claim of awesomeness. Whitney just smiled when I referred to Sweeney Todd in response to her "secret ingredient" comment.
The "doggy bag" cheddar and (homemade) chipotle mayo burger was incredible. Despite being refrigerated for a few hours before being nuked for dinner, the burger lacked an iota of congealed fat. It also was one of the best burgers that I have ever had despite the punishment of being cooled and zapped.
The chipotle mayo was an ideal blend of those tastes, and I allowed the coincidence of John Belushi’s disgusting cafeteria scene in “Animal House” coming on while eating to justify using my hamburger bun to mop up the little bit of the mayo that dripped out. I had enough willpower to resist licking my plate clean.
The Bean’s desserts are just as good (but even more addictive) than the sandwiches and burgers. The chocolate chip cookies, which I believe also include a “secret ingredient,” are truly the best ever. Whitney was kind enough to send me home with a beyond generous stash of these cookies during the recent visit. 
Turner perfectly sums all of the above in describing the Bean’s philosophy as “we try to make everything fresh and wonderful.” In my humble opinion, they far exceed that goal.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding the Bean (or who want to join a campaign to reintroduce the roast beef sandwich) is strongly encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy. If you visit, tell them that Matt sent you.

'Americathon' DVD: That '70s Dystopia Comedy



Warner Archive showing that it is ahead of its time regarding the January 2011 DVD release of the 1978 satire film "Americathon" is amusing considering that Archive largely exists to celebrate the glorious past of Hollywood (and Burbank).

The broad concept of this film is that celebrity New Age California dude president Chet Roosevelt (John Ritter) is in over his head when one-percenter Sam Birdwater gives the United States 30 days to avoid a foreclosure on the ginormous national debt that our energy (and hope) depleted country owes him. The new deal that Roosevelt and his advisors concoct is to hold the titular month-long telethon to raise the necessary funds.

The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Americathon" highlights the '70slicious comedy of the film and includes the hilarious and rockin' Beach Boys theme.


Much of "Americathon" consists of openly subversive and edgy skits that are the latest rage of the late '70s thanks to television series such as "Saturday Night Live" and "SCTV" and films such as "Kentucky Fried Movie." These begin with the opening exposition that explains how a fictional energy crisis during the Carter years that is much worse than the actual one leads to current desperate times 20 years later. The White House being a California condo that is open to very inclusive tours is one of many examples of this.

Our narrator is anxious television producer Eric McMerkin (Peter Reigert currently of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"), who is charged with pulling off the miracle of having a private corporation literally owning the federal government. The obstacles that McMerkin faces include White House aide Vincent Vanderhoff (Fred Willard) actively sabotaging the event on behalf of a group that is based on arguably the most unlikely friendship of all.

Then "Carol Burnett Show" and Mel Brooks satires star Harvery Korman steals the show as drug-manic former Hollywood royalty and current sitcom star Monty Rushmore, who is chosen to emcee the show.

Korman particularly takes center stage in a scene from his television series "Both Father and Mother" in which he plays a single parent who is a transvestite. Aside from being a perfect send-up of trite '70s comedies (such as "Three's Company" starring Ritter), having Korman prance around in full makeup and just about to don his wig is an awesome reminder of the days that people had a sense of humor about such things and took them in context; Milton Berle made a fortune realizing the humor related to a man in a dress.

This notable aspect of "Americathon" requires a slight diversion to mention an Unreal TV review of the recent documentary "That's Not Funny." That article noting that American comedy has gone from f**k 'em if they can't take a joke to f**ked if you tell 'em a joke provides an excellent sense of that film.

Other '70s celeb skits have singer/actor Meatloaf as a daredevil and New Wave icon Elvis Costello as a London street performer.

The mayhem builds to a spectacularly chaotic crescendo that awesomely validates the philosophy of "it it bleeds, it leads" of American television news. This leads to the always popular "where are they now" segments of many films.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Americathon" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.






Tuesday, August 8, 2017

'S.W.A.T. Under Siege' BD/DVD/VOD: '24' Meets '70s Cop Shows


The Sony Pictures Home Entertainment August 1, 2017 Blu-ray/DVD/VOD releases of the 2017 cop drama "S.W.A.T. Under Siege" fill the need for a non-stop thrill-a-minute summer film. Folks from the '70s will remember the adventures of the titular Special Weapons and Tactics team from the '70s cop show. their kids have the prior four 21st century feature-films as a primary point of reference.

The following YouTube clip of the Sony trailer for "Siege" verifies that the film provides plenty of action and adventure.




"Siege" awesomely borrows from the law-enforcement drama television series "24" in mostly presenting its suspenseful tale in condensed real time. This is after opening scenes in which hunky team commander Travis Hall (Sam Jaeger of "Parenthood") is pursuing an unseen bad guy, who remains off camera while ambushing our hero. As seems to be so in EVERY Hollywood movie these days, the action then shifts to the commencement of the events that lead to the action at the beginning of the film.

The relevant incidents begin with Hall being roused from his marital bed early on July 4th to go to work. He is called in because DEA agents require the help of his team related to a raid in response to a hot tip regarding a large drug shipment.

This next leads to effectively meeting the band as they gather, are briefed, suit up, and engage in pre-battle banter as they ride in their armored vehicle to the site of the imminent conflict.

The militaryesque video-game style battle begins soon on our team arriving on the scene; not everyone on both sides making it back further sets the stage for the action to come.

The spoils of the drug war that our hero bring back include a mysterious prisoner known only as Scorpion (Michael Jai White of "Spawn.") Another guest of the mayor cracking his head open to avoid spilling his guts is an early indication that Scorpion is an even bigger collar than the circumstances surrounding his capture indicate. This ultimate sacrifice additionally adds credibility to the claim of Scorpion that the folks who are responsible for his presence at the scene of the raid are coming for him.

These developments fully warrant a soundtrack of a very loud ominously ticking clock as Hall fully channels Jack Bauer of "24." This begins with Hall partially going rogue in terms of wanting to transport Scorpion away from the facility before the figurative deluge of a highly unpleasant substance commences. That failed effort leads to Hall and his prisoner returning to the relative safety of S.W.A.T. headquarters just ahead of the titular standoff that makes the Alamo look like a sit-in. 

Plan B going awry only worsens things and leads to more video game style action as gun battles erupt in hallways and other areas of the headquarters. Just as in "24," having an unknown mole greatly erodes the home field advantage of the good guys.

This all leads back to the opening scenes; the events that build from that action provides the type of 11th hour twists that make films like this exciting. Another nice surprise is that everything going south for the team does not "coincidentally" coincide with that day being the last on the job for a veteran team member. No one who works with Hall is too old for the "stuff" that goers down, and no audience member should be of such an advanced (or tender) age that he or she does not thoroughly enjoy the latest adventure in this 40-plus year old franchise.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "S.W.A.T." is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.



Monday, August 7, 2017

'Batman: Mask of the Phantasm' BD: Who Is Killing the Great Mob Bosses of Gotham


Giving the Warner Archive July 25, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1993 animated theatrical film "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" a portion of its due requires an extended review. The condensed version for the short-attention span readers who are used to 140-word news reports and six-second videos borrows a catchphrase from another unsung cult classic. Trust me, I know what I'm doing. Buy the fucking Blu-ray!

The numerous awesome aspects of "Mask" warrant starting from the general and narrowing in on specifics about this feature-film quality story that highlights the evolution, angst, and conflicting emotions that makes the highly damaged Bruce Wayne such a compelling and complex character.

"Mask" fulfills the pure purpose of a Blu-ray; to provide a (in this case spectacularly) enhanced version of a previously not widely available quality film or television series. The only criticism regarding this is that Archive deserves a tap (rather than a slap) on the wrist for not including any extras about this stylish and literally orchestrated film.

Warner Prime deserves credit for deciding that releasing "Mask" theatrically in an age that included direct-to-VHS movies was a chance its gotta take against all odds of the film breaking box-office records. The better news is that look at "Mask" nearly 24 years later verifies that the suits knew Jack back then.

The errors that contributed to "Mask" not having much of an opportunity to succeed back in the day included having incredibly limited marketing that neglected to spread the word that the wholly original "Mask" was not a re-release of episodes of the television series "Batman: The Animated Series" (by Batgod Bruce Timm) that spawned (pun intended) it. Further, releasing underdog (pun intended) "Mask" on Christmas Day 1993 pitted it against films that included "Schindler's List," "Philadelphia," and "The Pelican Brief."

"Mask" additionally suffered from coming out in a pre-widespread-web era in which that Al Gore invention was mostly being used for its intended purpose of sharing the fruits of scientific research. Word-of-mouth largely was limited to that means of spreading the news about the latest and the coolest out there.

Millennials must remember as well that it was not quite hip-to-be-square in the early '90s. San Diego Comic Con was much more limited in scope and popularity; further, having a "My Other Car is the Batmobile" bumper sticker was not entirely off the risky scale that plastering a pink triangle or a rainbow flag on the rear window of your car represented.

Society-at-large had not greatly embraced fanboy or gay culture at that point. That was one reason that many gay folks turned to fellow outcast fantasy aficionados for a sense of community. They too did not let being considered "queer" deter them from being themselves.

The following YouTube clip of the "Mask" theatrical trailer highlights both the above and the following aspects of this "must-own" release.


Readers who are still here now get the reward of learning specifics about "Mask." It is richly and vibrantly drawn with apt sharp angles. Further, the deep rich orchestration is appropriate for the operatic themes of the film (and evokes great thoughts of the quality music of the Looney Tunes theatrical shorts). As mentioned above, this production is ideal for a Blu-ray release.

The high concept of the film is that the titular grim reaper style specter with the literally chilling voice is hunting down and eliminating mob bosses on the Gotham home turf of our hero. The Rodney Dangerfield aspect of Batman (and Marvel counterpart Spider-Man) is that he is not getting any respect. The rank-and-file members of the Gotham Police Department believe that the Dark Knight is the murdering vigilante, and they are dead-set (pun intended) on shooting first and not bothering to ask questions later because dead men tell no tales.

The simultaneous big event in the life of Batman/Bruce Wayne is that the one who got away comes back. Former coed/heiress/main bat squeeze Andrea Beaumont literally jets into Gotham after the requisite decade-long absence. One of several flashbacks in "Mask" shows how this pair initially meets cute when Wayne comes across Beaumont speaking to the grave of her mother.

Related scenes have a pre-bat Wayne talking to the grave of his parents. A truly Messianic moment has a happyish Wayne begging his deceased mother and father for permission to end his suffering by abandoning his pledge to avenge their deaths.

Uber-veteran Batvoice god Kevin Conroy does his usual superb job bringing this character to life; having equally prolific (and talented) "China Beach" vet/Lois Lane voicer Dana Delany is a slightly odd but highly successful choice.

Also-still-going-strong Joker voice actor (and current Jokeresque Trump impersonator) Mark Hamill once again steals every scene in which he conveys the utter madness of his character. He joins the action out of a survival instinct related to knowing that he in on the animated version of The List of Adrian Messenger. This aspect of his origin story is one of numerous highlights of "Mask."

These current events converge to keep Wayne on the typical edge of sanity that his limited human contact keeps him from fully going over to the dark side. His To-Do List includes coming to terms with saving the bad guys, capturing his competition who does not follow his capture-and-release to the police philosophy, avoid having the GPD gun him down while he is out doing their job, and seeing if he and Andrea can make it work the second time around.

The aforementioned flashbacks chronicle both the course of the Brucea courtship and the evolution of Wayne from grieving son to Dark Knight. (Many other critics note that "Mask" is one of the few Batfilms to show the period leading up to Wayne becoming Batman.) These scenes further provide present-day Wayne with clues related to the mystery of who is killing the great mob bosses of Gotham.

The past and the present fully merge in the climatic scene between the primary ensemble. This further avoids the Hollywood ending that typically eludes Batman.

It is no mystery that this Blu-ray is highly recommended. The flashback of this review is imploring readers to buy the fucking Blu-ray!

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Mask" is strongly encouraged to email me; you alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.













Saturday, August 5, 2017

'The Country Doctor' DVD: Calls de Chez

The Icarus Films July 25, 2017 DVD release of the 2016 French dramedy "The Country Doctor" (nee "Irreplaceable") once again shows that that purveyor of the best documentaries out there always has a good reason for cases such as this in which it strays into fiction territory. The cred. of "Doctor" includes writer/director Thomas Lilti being a former physician.

The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Doctor" perfectly highlights the common themes of heart and humor regarding tales of medical professionals tending to rural folk.


The titular small community general physician Jean-Pierre is beloved among his rural patients because he treats them well in both senses of the word and prescribes his treatments accordingly. In this sense, he is a pure holistic medical provider. Circumstances beyond the control of Jean-Pierre prompt colleague Nores to send former nurse/newly graduated doctor Nathalie to Jean-Pierre for general training to eventually to assume full care of the practice of her mentor.

Literally neither person nor fowl take to the new girl doctor in town. For his part, Jean-Pierre demonstrates a mix of compassion and sadism in how he helps his new co-worker adjust to her new normal. An amusing example of this involves a snipe hunt that apparently is more clearly a ruse to the audience than to Nathalie.

Much of the "dram" relates to Jean-Pierre and Nathalie vigorously disagreeing regarding the best means for treating a chronically ill 92 year-old patient. Jean-Pierre strongly advocates allowing the man to remain at home for reasons that become clearer later in the film, and Nathalie argues just as aggressively that the man requires hospitalization.

Deeper insight comes regarding Jean-Pierre validating the theory that doctors make the worst patients. He is not especially co-operative with his physician and does not take full advantage of his resources.

The above elements make "Doctor" a good prescription for folks looking for entertainment that simultaneously does not insult their intelligence or require a medical degree.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Doctor" is prescribed to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.








Thursday, August 3, 2017

'The Originals' S3 P2 BD: Crucial Issues at Stake






This review of the second half of  S3 episodes in the Warner Archive complete series S3 BD set of the CW teendram "The Originals" follows up on the recent post on S3 Part 1 episodes. These musings further wrap up a series of summer 2017 reviews of S1-S3 of the series ahead of the Archive complete S4 series BD review on August 29, 2017.

A brief recap of S3 P1 developments is that the return of "its complicated" faces from the distant past Lucien, Tristan, and Aurora complicate the 21st century New Orleans lives of the titular first-in-time Mikaelson vampire clan. Related drama comes in the form of a prophecy predicting deaths at the hands of friend, foe, and family. Topping this off is centuries-old bloodlust and other yearning for revenge by 100s of creatures of the night.

Even more so than is typical for CW shows of its ilk, the "Originals" S3 episodes that begin in early 2016 after a roughly two-month break are much more of a separate season than a continuation of the  preceding S3 ones.

S3 P2 picks up right after the S3 P1 cliffhanger that resolves the series-long "will they or won't they" plot involving 1,000 year-old Mikaelson family head Klaus and roughly 30 year-old human Cami. The pair apparently "has" but an unconscious Cami now has a very nasty neck wound; this suggests that Klaus is not a gentle lover.

The reality is that Cami is the victim of a love triangle that involves psychotic vampire Aurora; the aforementioned wound leads to Cami facing the choice of allowing herself to die or becoming one of the undead. This turn-of-events leads to Klaus getting revenge against Aurora, but anyone with even a passing familiarity with "Originals" knows that that resolution is not necessarily permanent.

Meanwhile, Lucien is doing his best to work black magic that is designed to give him an edge of the Mikaelson siblings. A related effort is a scheme to facilitate removing this family from the top of the vampire food chain.

These episodes also are notable for the series returning to its origins in a couple of ways. The hands-down best humor of the series comes via the core group discussing the aforementioned prophecy when Klaus strolls in announcing the arrival of an old friend. This visitor is from "Originals" parent program "The Vampire Diaries" and evokes thoughts of Chrissie from "Three's Company" visiting "The Ropers" to give her former landlord a disco lesson.

A road trip to the birthplace of V Nation soon follows with all the angst and bloodshed that are "Originals" trademarks. It is equally typical that this project requires the right mix of blood "type" and witch mojo to succeed.

The final S3 episodes further provide an especially strong vibe that the season finale may be the last episode of the series. Two relatively innocent "cats" seem to have exhausted the nine lives awarded to most regulars, the arguably most loyal ally of the central clan considers a literal backstabbing to be the knife that breaks the spine of that particular camel, Klaus receives his strongest ever proof of the meaning of the "Lear" quote regarding disloyal children and sharp serpents' teeth, and the writers end the season on a note that easily could be the final nail in the coffin for this series.

Archive enhances the awesomeness that is "Originals" S3 with a plethora of BD extras that include the always entertaining Comic-Con panel on the season, a feature on star Charles Michael Davis, and the compelling unaired scenes and amusing gag reel.





Wednesday, August 2, 2017

'Apparition Hill' DVD: Fascinating Documentary on Ordinary Americans

Stella Mar Films goes beyond making an thought-provoking documentary available; it illustrates the unrealized potential for reality television regarding the July 2, 2017 DVD release of the 2016 movie "Apparition Hill." The concept of this festivals-winning film is that Stella Mar solicits video entries for a contest for a trip to the village of Medjugore in Bosnia-Herzegovina that is famous for the reported miracle of sightings of the Virgin Mary.

This is another case of the press materials for a film doing as well (or better) as your not-so-humble reviewer at describing the movie. Stella Mar shares that the winners of the aforementioned contest include "Alex, a college student and aspiring musician; Christopher, battling drug addiction; Ellie, brimming with faith; Robert, a Ugandan seminarian studying Rome." The proverbial "and the rest" come along.

The clips of the aforementioned entries evoke thoughts of the submissions for "American Idol" with the exception that these have genuine substance for a substantial purpose. Ones that stand out are the widower raising several kids by himself, the cop whose job prompts introspection, and the aforementioned drug user.

A very brief recap  history of the Medjugorje sightings begins with local children reporting seeing the Virgin Mary and having her speak to them in 1981. Since then, thousands of people report the same phenomenon, making the site a popular destination for people of faith, skeptics, and folks in between. The group in "Apparition" represent all factions of that population.

Much of the film focuses on the "boys," who hang out and joke together. They discuss their faith (or lack thereof) in an awesomely low-key manner of the non-zealot. A variation of a weeping statue particularly fascinates them.

Producer/director Sean Bloomfield and his crew do a good job conveying the beauty of the site, the faith of the pilgrims, and the bliss on the faces of those who obtain the vision that prompts their trip. The clips of poorly produced bible films add unintentional humor.

Aside from a "cast" of ordinary people who do not not force their views on others and who are receptive to opposing positions, the best thing about "Appparition" is that it gets viewers (such as your-not-so-humble agnostic reviewer) thinking about their own faith.

The exceptional special features begins with a disc full of bonus videos, "where are they now" features on the cast and crew, and a "behind-the-scenes" features.  The true star of the special features is a booklet that discusses the history of the site, behind-the-scenes tales of the "Apparition" group, and personal stories of the crew.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Apparition" is encouraged to email me; you also are welcome to connect on Twitter via@tvdvdguy.











Tuesday, August 1, 2017

'Inseparables' DVD: Based on True Story of Unlikely Friendship Between Quadriplegic and Brash Caregiver


The Omnibus Entertainment division of New York-based foreign film god Film Movement releasing the 2016 Argentinian dramedy "Inseparables" on DVD on August 1, 2017 shows exceptional timing. This "ripped-from-the-headlines" story about the strong bond that develops between wealthy quadriplegic Felipe and his brash working-class ex-con caregiver Tito comes out the same day that Movement prime is releasing (the Unreal TV reviewed) "amnesia," about a 25 year-old techno DJ bonding with his 70 year-old downstairs neighbor.

Another notable aspect of "Inseparables" is that it is based on the mega-successful 2011 French dramedy "The Intouchables." That one takes a slightly different take on the disabled rich guy deeply connecting with the "slumdog" who is hired to care for him. Of course, "Driving Miss Daisy" is the mother of both films.

The only criticism of "Inseparables" indirectly comes courtesy of film critic Leonard Maltin. Maltin is not shy about expressing his dislike of what is considered a mostly ubiquitous modern film technique of beginning a film in the future and quickly shifting the action to the prior period that leads up to the opening sequence. The observations of Maltin include that this once innovative narrative tool is now very mainstream.

The Maltin digression relates to the first several minutes of "Inseparables" in which Tito is recklessly driving a Mercedes roadster with a happy Felipe in the passenger seat. The action soon changes to an unhappy Felipe interviewing caregiver candidates while then-gardener Tito is outside arguing with the head gardener.

The following YouTube clip of the Movement trailer for "Inseparables" nicely highlights the feel-good humor of the film.


In believable fashion, the highly intuitive Felipe sees great potential in Tito; this leads the former hiring a reluctant hot-blooded excitable boy to provide all manner of disgusting (but necessary) services. Some of these duties require wearing rubber gloves.

Great humor relates to the proud and strong-willed Tito initially displaying strong (but futile) resistance regarding several aspects of his job. We also see him not be so great at carrying Felipe and hilariously mixing up personal care products. The look on the face of Felipe regarding misuse of foot cream is hilarious.

These early scenes also establish the challenging home life of Tito in a manner that shows the sensitive interior of this macho man.

Much of "Inseparables" focuses on the assertive efforts of Tito to get his employer fully back in the game after his paralyzing accident and the devastating end of his marriage. This includes an amusing take on the cliched montage involving one character trying on numerous outfits while another one offers non-verbal feedback.

A modern "Mary Poppins" element exists regarding the relationship between Tito and the teen daughter of Felipe; things start with her barging into his room without knocking because she effectively owns the place. The power dynamic shifts when he comes across her in a vulnerable moment. The manner is which Tito handles this teen trauma is priceless.

The "slob" v. "snob" aspect of the film fully comes through in a scene in which Tito shakes up a stuffy party.

The interaction with the filthy rich and somewhat famous also introduces Tito to the art world in a potentially lucrative manner. The awesomeness of this is is that it reinforces the common view of modern art.

The worlds of the two leads dramatically colliding near the end of the film requires that Felipe evaluate his mentor role. He shows his typically good instincts in making the right decision.

The audience then returns back to the future in the form of going to the opening scene of "Inseparables." This leads to an adventure that provides both characters terrific closure.

The twist on the always popular "where are they now" segments at the end has the audience leave with a sense of being happy about taking the time to get to know these two guys. It further enhances the sense of hope of finding the right person at the right time when we are in a period of crisis.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Inseparables" is strongly encouraged to email me; you alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.






Monday, July 31, 2017

'amnesia' DVD: Must-See Film About Fascinating May-December Friendship



The August 1, 2017 Film Movement DVD release of the 2015 Barbet Schroeder film 'amnesia' provides lovers of beautifully filmed character studies with enough depth to be compelling but not so much pretension that you feel as if you are back in your college dorm discussing really deep thoughts at 2:00 a.m. Movement pairing this release with a DVD debut of the (soon-to-be-reviewed) 2016 Argentinian dramedy "Inseparables," which is based on the true story of a one-percenter quadriplegic bonding with his "slumdog" caretaker is awesome icing on the cake.

The only flaw regarding the "amnesia" release is that the good folks at Movement who have a sizable Blu-ray catalog do not offer a BD version of the film. The award-worthy on-location filming on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, the attractiveness and expressiveness of the ordinary person beauty of the two leads, and the terrific soundtrack all SCREAM for a BD version.

An additional aside regarding stars Marthe Keller and Max Riemelt is mandatory before discussing the film. Their performances evoke thoughts of a hilarious exchange in a festival Q&A that is a bonus feature on another movie. An audience member comments to the director that the leads in that production express a great deal through their expressions and gestures. The director deserves an acting Oscar for keeping a straight face while responding "it's called acting." It is equally amazing that the audience does not erupt in laughter.

The following YouTube clip of the Movement "amnesia" trailer provides a glimpse of the exceptional inner and outer beauty that Schroeder captures on film.



'amnesia' opens with what legendary film critic Leonard Maltin describes as the now almost-universal technique of beginning a movie in the future only to quickly shift the action back to the past to provide context. We see a forlorn 80 year-old Martha wandering around what we later learn is Ibiza in 2000; an intertitle then announces a shift to 10 years in the past soon after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

The first scene in the future is a relatively common one in the early days of German reunification. This element is Martha (Keller) arguing with her brother about selling the family home in former East Germany. It is clear that Martha has stereotypical German stubbornness regarding even letting the current government of her native land know that she still is alive.

In true movie (and sometimes real-life) fashion, new upstairs neighbor 25 year-old Jo is the right person who comes along at the right time with the right need. He is seeking ice for a burn from a careless injury; Martha effectively pulls the thorn from the paw of the lion cub by offering a successful alternative cure.

We also learn that Jo is a quasi-successful techno DJ with related dreams of stardom in that field and of playing his own compositions; these dreams include employment at the club that gives the film its name.

Martha has more traditional music tastes and believes that there always is room for cello.

The initial encounter clearly sets up the dynamic of Martha being a mother figure and generally dominant one in the ensuing friendship. An example of this that also provides an early clue that Martha lacks a positive opinion of her native land is that she declines an invitation for a ride in the VW bug of Jo and ends up driving him in his car. A more bizarre image of the power dynamic is of Martha rowing her boat while Max is a passenger. The old lady turning out to be a major dick in this scene is the first of several surprises regarding her.

A few Freudian elements that emerge during the "honeymoon" stage of the new relationship are that all males of every age needs a maternal figure and that many men have and Oedipal complex and a related habit of marrying a woman who reminds them of their mother.

The first must-share story regarding the Oedipal aspect of "amnesia" is your not-so-humble reviewer finding infinite humor regarding a college classmate who takes being a Momma's boy to the extent of driving home EVERY Friday to continue his tradition of escorting his mother to the beauty salon marrying an older woman who is a virtual twin of Mom. Another great perspective is the Seinfeld joke that Jewish men typically marry non-Jewish women because they want a wife who does not remind them of their mother.

As the non-traditional friendship in "amnesia" evolves, we learn that the family of Jo follows the philosophy that living in modern Germany requires not dwelling on the Nazi atrocities; in typical fashion, Martha takes a contrary approach. She feels that she must honor the victims of that carnage by remaining angry at her country always and forever and by excluding all aspects of 20th century German existence from her life.

More direct symbolism regarding degrees of collaboration exists as to the career of Jo; a more general parallel is the art v. commerce balance that is a regular topic in Unreal TV articles. Jo is a typical Millennial in that he thinks that he can have it all. He wants to be a star DJ at the hottest club in town but also wants the freedom to play his own compositions, rather than the techno version of the Top 40. As in all other things, Martha provides a voice of reasonable reasonableness.

Martha exhibits equal stubbornness regarding the tough love that she shows Jo that she demonstrates regarding her attitude toward her native land. It is as clear to her as to the audience that the love that Jo feels for her has a carnal element. However, she kindly but firmly refuses to go there or even to discuss the extent to which that love is requited.

The third act conflict that destroys the relative Utopia that Jo and Martha enjoy arrives with the biological mother and the grandfather of the boy. The grandfather is a veteran of the WWII-era German Army and has been conveying his wartime experiences as not being so bad. A challenge to Martha that leads to a challenge to the grandfather results in the dramatic truth coming out. These revelations profoundly impact every important aspect of the life of Jo.

Everyone who has seen a film that starts with a scene in the future knows that the end of the incidents from 1990 are not the end of the story. The final scenes from 2000 in "amnesia" provide more closure. One spoiler is that this includes a few surprises and one particularly unexpected element.

The bonus short film that Movement pairs with "amnesia" is the quirky 13-minute 2016 comedy "Your Mother and I." The adaptation of a Dave Eggers short story mostly occurs in a family kitchen and has a father go on and on to his teen daughter about how he and his (apparently absent) wife solve all the large and small problems of life.

These tall tales include converting all of America to renewable energy sources and stopping genocide; other reported projects revolve around "wants" such as more attractive roads and increasing the population of a particular exotic animal. This narration also includes frequent disconcerting references to the sex life of the miracle-working couple.

Every aspect of "Mother" is humorous; the uncertainty regarding the extent to which any of the stories are true makes it fantastic in both senses of the word.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "amnesia" or "Mother" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.













Sunday, July 30, 2017

'Lake Alice' DVD: Christmas Stalkings


The Breaking Glass Pictures July 18, 2017 DVD release of the 2017 low-budget horror film "Lake Alice" follows up the Breaking main act of showing that gay-themed films reflect EVERYONE who has love and lost or had it unrequited with proof of intelligent life regarding a well-produced student-film grade slasher flicks. The primary distinctions are that the "rabbits" are an ordinary American family, and we get to know the potential "coyotes" before rabbit season commences.

The following YouTube clip of the "Alice" trailer provides a good sense of the horror invading everyday lives that the film expertly accomplishes.


"Alice" commences with affluentish couple Greg and Natlie driving to their isolatedish year-round vacation home in the titular rural community. Adult daughter Sarah is in the backseat with boyfriend Ryan Emerson, This sets the stage for what can be considered "Meat the Parents."

Mom and Dad going into town for provisions sets the stage for introducing the natives who consider the part-time "immigrants" a necessary  economic evil. The first up is the malicious sheriff who engages in his ritual of stopping their car just for the fun of it.

Next up is lonely middle-aged single man Carl, who is the kind of guy who buries you in unwanted zucchini from his garden and is vampire-like in that he takes a polite invitation to come in as a basis for putting his feet up and staying a while.

This leads to doting Mom Jane, who is nice and very down-to-earth but hopes that her 20-something son Tyler still has a chance with Sarah several years after what Sarah seems to consider The Summer of Slumming. We later meet Tyler when Mom and son arrive at the Thomas cabin in the wake of momentous news for that family.

A subsequent encounter introduces the bullying not-so-bright Deputy Reed.

Meanwhile back at the ranch house, the first signs of something being amiss are discovered footprints in the snow. In true horror-film style, the degree of menace increases as the seemingly di rigueur blizzard approaches.

Things culminate when a middle-of-the-night knock at the door wakes the family; they don't know who it is but know who its for. This leads to the entry of the monster of the film. Director Ben Milliken does an excellent job making a guy wearing a green parka with fur-lined hood and covering his face with a red-streaked Spider-Man style mask made out of what looks like a jockstrap pouch menacing.

Of course a family member going out to investigate quickly earns that person one in the back; a subsequent escape attempt nets a comparable result. The remaining two vacationers find themselves alternatively fleeing in terror, fighting off Jockface, or coming to the rescue of his or her fellow survivor.

Milliken and writer Stevie Jane Miller further provide awesome twists that include a variation on a cliche that is worth watching for. This rollercoaster ride begins roughly 20 minutes near the end of the film where many things are not as they seem.

Our dynamic directing/writing team save the best for last in terms of presenting a case of a New Norman; those who wait for the final solution with Bated breath will not be disappointed.

Breaking further outdoes itself regarding its typical truly special DVD features; this time it is a 51-minute version of "Alice" that goes beyond being a Cliff Notes version of the main feature to provide an altered narrative of the story. A prime example is a linear timeline in the main feature changing to one in which we join our story already in progress and go back to a sequence that follows a scene that Milliken and Miller entirely omit from the beginning of the film.

Any who figuratively wants to go ask "Alice" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.



Friday, July 28, 2017

'Hired Gun' DVD/BD/VOD: Documentary on Musicians 20 Feet From Stardom

The August 1, 2017 DVD/Blu-ray/VOD releases of the 2016 documentary "Hired Gun: Out of the Shadows, Into the Spotlight" rocks hard regarding supplementing the 2013 Oscar-winning film "20 Feet From Stardom" that gives a voice to the backup singers for legendary rock gods. "Guns" allow us to meet the (mostly) guys whose guitar riffs, drum solos, and similar performances help bring audience members to their feet during major concerts. One theme is that these roadie warriors have enough guts to not let a lack of glory bother them.

A related personal "I went to camp with" story is sharing a cabin with future Del Fuegoes member/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Vice President Warren Zanes one summer while (future DelFuegoes frontman/kiddie singer) teenage big brother/kitchen worker Dan Zanes was a member of the Doo Woping Kitchenettes. (Kinks fans can consider these boys the American cousins of the Battling Davies.) The deepest darkest portion of the Unreal TV archives have the first autographed photo of Dan and the first cassette recording of him singing.

The following YouTube clip of the "Gun" trailer communicates the blessings and the curses associated with being in the shadows that makes the film so intriguing.


Although "Gun" allows the aforementioned truly unsung heroes to share incredible stories from their usually not-so-glamorous lives, a segment early in the film perfectly communicates its subject. A talking head shares that the available pool of qualified musicians is very small. We further learn of the great importance of networking.

The flawless logic is that someone must have the necessary talent and knowledge of the music AND also must be someone with whom the headliner can tolerate effectively 24-hours-a-day seven-days-a-week for adventures that make three-hour tours look like pleasure cruises.

The biggest names in the film are Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie. Both men share their perspective as guys who are 20 feet in front of nameless and faceless musicians. One of the more entertaining aspects of this is Cooper discussing his gut instinct regarding potential boys in the band. This includes his finding a tattooed and otherwise hard-rocking guitarist while that guy was touring with Disney Channel star Hillary Duff. For his part, that guitarist hilariously discussing purposefully scaring the young fans of Duff.

Guys who have toured (and bonded) with Billy Joel also receive a great deal of the spotlight. The most exciting story from these rockers is a tale of one of them saving the Joel song "Only the Good Die Young;" The saddest reminiscence is the particular harsh impact on one musician when Joel decides to get fresh blood.

The guns have few tales of sex or drugs but do offer plenty involving the reality of the rock-and-roll business. We learn that the not-so-great salaries that the big-names shell out and the uncertainty regarding long-term employment can lead to rocking out for enormous crowds one week and literally painting a house the next. We further hear about how loyalty for a guy whose performance may now consist of asking people if they want fries with an order can earn the new guy in the band great wrath from fans.

The final note regarding all this is that playing in a rock-and-roll band is not different than any other job. The boss earns astronomically more more than you, gets all the glory, and often takes the credit for your hard work and creativity that helps the person in charge get there and stay on top. One exception seems to be if you are a cooper.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Gun" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.













Thursday, July 27, 2017

'Glory' VOD: Bulgarian Bureaucracy Hilariously Proves No Good Deed Goes Unpunished


Film Movement releasing the spectacular 2016 Bulgarian drama with awesome dark comedy "Glory" across a broad spectrum of VOD providers (including iTunes and major cable platforms) on July 18 is another example of Movement allowing the large percentage of the American movie-watching public to see what they are missing. One thing that makes "Glory" particularly awesome is that this tale of the national government humiliating and otherwise punishing a sweet stupid soul who does the right thing is very relatable in the United States.

Movement pairing "Glory" with the (Unreal TV reviewed) 2017 Japanese character study "After the Storm" facilitates a great home-based mini-foreign film festival that will impress your friends.

The well-deserved festival love for "Glory" extends well beyond the Best Narrative Feature Film honor at the Hamptons International Film Festival and the Best Film award at the Les Arcs European Film Festival. Several other festivals are the source of similar accolades.

The following YouTube clip of a festival promo. for "Glory" both reinforces why you should see it and validates the widely held belief that "I'm from the government; I'm here to help you" is one of the three largest lies in existence.


The press materials for "Glory" share that this tale of a railway lineman Tzanko Petrov paying the price for telling the police about a large amount of money that he finds on the tracks while on the job is based on a real-life story in which a comparably honest lineman comes to regret his good deed.

The central conflict of "Glory" revolves around Transportation Ministry PR executive Julia Staykova feeling intense pressure at work regarding a scandal related to investigative reporter Kiril Kolev alleging fraud at the ministry; this is coinciding with Staykova struggling to find enough time away from work to undergoing fertility procedures. A scene in which she conceals herself behind a flag at her office to receive an injection highly symbolizes this.

Staykova concluding that the story of  Petrov finding and returning the money can offset the aforementioned bad PR prompts inviting this "innocent" into the world of national politics. The indignities begin with Staykova forgetting to have someone meet the working man of the hour at the station and continue with Petrov and male members of the staff of Staykova being required to drop trou moments before the ceremony honoring Petrov.

The incident around which much of "Glory" revolves comes during the ceremony itself. A frantic Staykova demands that an overwhelmed Petrov give her his watch because the transportation minister is going to award him a new one at the podium. The first problem is that Staykova loses the first watch (which is a family heirloom); the second difficulty is that the new watch runs slow.

The frustration that Petrov experiences regarding trying to recover his watch leads to his meeting with Kolev; that conversation leads to Kolev breaking the story of another scandal at the ministry.

The breaking of the second scandal shows Petrov (who still lacks a properly functioning watch) the price of even inadvertently fighting city hall; he becomes besieged by the powers-that-be, and his none-too-pleased co-workers literally take him for a ride. Anyone who is familiar with the national politics of any nation can see their own leaders and the "little people" in these goings-on.

The wonderful Kafka-light vibe of the film continues to the very end of "Glory;" the cynicism continues with proving the old saying that no good deed goes unpunished.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Glory" is strongly encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.





Tuesday, July 25, 2017

'Do You Take This Man' DVD: Character Study of Gay Men on Eve of Wedding MUST SEE for All Engaged Couples


The Breaking Glass Pictures July 18, 2017 DVD release of the 2016 drama "Do You Take This Man" is the latest example of Breaking both showing that the experience of gay men is the same as straight folks and that boys who like other boys catching up in that regard is a modern phenomenon. The only bone of contention is that personal experience is contrary to the depiction in this film (and the ABC sitcom "Modern Family") that the redhead in a gay relationship with a dark-haired guy is the more uptight and sensitive one.

The following YouTube clip of the "Man" trailer validates the above analysis. Everyone will either see himself or herself or someone near and dear to them in our couple and their friends. The line why "why does absolutely everything need to be said" perfectly illustrates this.


"Man" is the second Breaking film for former "Rent" and current "Star Trek: Discovery" star Anthony Rapp. The Unreal TV reviewed "Bwoy" has Rapp playing a tortured middle-aged man in an online relationship with a guy 20 years his junior. The strong live-stage vibe of both films make good use of the talents of Broadway star Rapp.

This time, Rapp plays happily engaged 40 year-old Daniel, whom the audience meets on the morning before the day that he and live-in fiance Christopher (Jonathon Bemnett) are scheduled to go to the chapel and get married. Most couples can relate to Daniel getting up before Christopher and being less exuberant than this 33 year-old at the final stages of his puppyhood.

As an aside, one must wonder if "Man" writer/director Joshua Tunick is a fan of '90s teen heartthrob Christopher Daniel Barnes.

The drama begins with Daniel citing a need to prepare the rehearsal dinner for 10 as the excuse not joining Christopher and his friends for brunch. This relatable moment becomes even more so when Christopher and company return to find Daniel who claims to be too busy to come out and play chatting with HIS friend Jacob. "Facts of Life" veteran/John Astin offspring Mackenzie Astin puts the same boyish charm of the "Cousin Oliver" role of Andy on "Facts" to his portrayal of Jacob.

The tension increases when Daniel springs surprise guest childhood friend Emma, whom Daniel repeatedly identifies as the Joey to his Dawson, on Christopher as a surprise guest at the upcoming meticulous planned rehearsal dinner. The aforementioned brunch buddies bitchy gay BFF (Thomas Dekker of the Fox "Terminator" television series) and party girl fag hag Summer quickly jumping through hoops to avoid Daniel throwing a hissy fit completes the picture.

The mere arrival of Emma is only the tip of the iceberg regarding that character; the parents of Daniel arriving five hours early provides more comic than relief; having Allyson Hannigan of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "How I Met Your Mother" play the divorced sister of Daniel provides context for the element of whether opposites make a better couple than people who seem made for each other. The last plotline additionally creates a sad sense that neither Willow nor Lily are happy.

Tunick injects more real life in this reel tale regarding his treatment of the extent to which parents support their gay children. As often is typical in gay couples, Christopher has minimal contact with his parents and Daniel constantly sees his. Christopher hits particularly close to home for many gay men in stating that his parents attending his nuptials only would make Mom and Dad and every other attendee uncomfortable.

The perspective of the parents of Daniel provide great context for parents all along the relevant Kinsey Scale of acceptance. Their overall compassion further makes them the type of in-laws that gay and straight couples alike would love as in-laws.

Another perspective is that your not-so-humble reviewer dubbed the highly critical mother of an ex Endora and delighted in pretending to be under a spell after each criticism; Endora commenting that yours truly having a cleaning lady was wasteful prompted several gleeful hours of frantic cleaning.

The reality continues with Christopher withholding devastating news regarding the wedding ceremony; his perfect logic is that Daniel knowing something that cannot be solved at the time does not help anyone. Predictably, the big revelation causes recriminations and near tears. It further prompts the type of conversation that most couples should have but leave in its original container. On a scarily related note, your not-so-humble reviewer can relate to the "I was right" aspect of this development but would have had a back-up in anticipation of the "what if" occurring.

Traditional romcom elements dominate regarding a last-minute scramble by those nearest and dearest to Christopher and Daniel  can put right what once went wrong so that the boys can have a shot at happily ever after.

The big wedding picture this time is that the relative newness of marriage equality (which Daniel correctly states differs from gay marriage) being both legal and widely accepted creates valid feelings of at least one person in a gay relationship wanting a grand declaration of love. The below analysis of any wedding rains on that particular parade.

On a large level, a wedding often involves bringing together relatives with inter-connected decades of conflict. (First wives insulting second wives is particularly entertaining.) Focusing in, "Man" depicts the challenges related to a "mixed" couple getting married.

A couple in which both people are uptight can result in the quest for perfection that Daniel outwardly seeks driving everyone crazy and the couple being disappointed when their ceremony falls far short of the Diana and Charles extravaganza. A couple that consists of either two slacker or "Chillax" dudes may end up exchanging vows on a municipal little league field and inviting guests home for take-out pizza and six packs.

The best solution seems to be hiring a trusted wedding planner to make every decision and be the sole point of contact for service providers, not worrying about excluding relatives who either are so angry at you or other relatives that they do not want to come, and merely showing up for the ceremony to be dazzled.

Tremendous personal turmoil that extends well beyond a neighbor wanting a pool resulting in flooding the comprehensive sitcom section of the Unreal TV DVD library prevented checking out the DVD extras. Large faith based on roughly 50 Breaking features inspires confidence regarding the cast interviews. deleted scenes, and "making-of" documentary. These provide something to which to look forward to when pulling "Man" off the shelf if and when your not-so-humble reviewer declares his love in front of his human and canine friends; nothing says that members of the wedding party cannot have four legs.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Man" is encouraged to email me; you alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.