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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Exceptional Experience at Exeter Inn in Exeter, NH

An incredible recent stay at the historic Exeter Inn in Exeter, NH was the highlight to 24 hours in that underrated small town near the New Hampshire coast that mega-watts outshines its higher profile "cousin" just across the Massachusetts border. A luxury hotel, a good walking downtown, and awesome restaurants. Who could ask for anything more?

The 1932 grand hotel has expanded well beyond its roots as a temporary home to visitors of the adjoining Philips Exeter Academy. One of many ways that the recent extensive renovation by the current owners melds the old and the new is keeping the original numbers on the doors while identifying each room with modern markers. Further, a key-card system keeps things current.

The warm welcome begins with Rich or one of his front-desk colleagues greeting you with a smile in a reception area that is much more inviting living room than check-in spot. You can count on beverages all day and tasty baked treats in the afternoon and evening. Arriving on a day that the inn was serving world-class chocolate chip cookies was a treat.

Rich and his peers prove the validity of the theory that good hotel workers either grow up in that demanding profession or are born to it. He demonstrated this in his response to a request to purchase an Exeter Inn t-shirt after discovering a failure to pack a t-shirt.

This front desk clerk extraordinaire cheerfully stated that the inn does not sell t-shirts but that the Exeter Academy bookstore stocks those garments. He then gave perfect directions to that establishment.

The good experience began with finding a $10 t-shirt. That shirt advertising "Philips Exeter 2018" provided the basis for a good fantasy regarding both intelligence and youth.

The biggest treat was staying in the Jacuzzi Suite, which is the best room in the joint. The initial benefit is the suite being at the end of a private hallway at the rear of the inn. It is difficult to image hearing any noise from any guest.

Walking into the suite elicits the desired wow. The living room is the epitome of comfortable chic that is PERFECT for the end of the active day that is part of the Exeter experience. The complimentary bottles of spring water are a particularly nice touch.

The following photos are self-explanatory.

The agenda of your not-so-humble reviewer commenced with a trip to the larger seaside city of Portsmouth NH, being granted the gift of an early check-in at the Inn, quickly walking into the retail district for a tasty lunch at The Green Bean (which has genuine Cali cred. and even better chocolate chip cookies than those at the Inn), playing with new French bulldog friends Ripley, Greta, and Harlow at a downtown toy store, exploring the other stores, browsing the farmers' market, and finishing with a self-guided tour of the perfectly-maintained beautiful college-level Philips campus. The hospitality there rivaled that of the folks at the inn.

The enjoyment (and removal of personal Yeti-class stench on this warm summer day) of the suite began with a long soak in the tub that gives the accommodation its name. Past experience with such places led to bringing well-utilized bath salts. This led to rinsing off in the large stall shower with the powerful shower head.

Donning the provided comfy spa robe and slippers while following the tradition of watching the Disney Channel on these trips completed the mellowing out. The logic behind Disney is that the tweencoms are amusing, and the ads and cute promos for Disney offerings are more entertaining than traditional commercials.

A leisurely stroll through the quiet residential streets that surround the inn, an evening soak, and then watching "Bewitched" episodes on a portable DVD player was a perfect end to a highly enjoyable day. Plenty of nightlife is readily available for more ambitious folks.

A good night's sleep was a final treat before heading out the next morning.

Anyone who is interested in hearing more about the Exeter Inn specifically or the general joys of staying at B&Bs and small hotels is strongly encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvvdguy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

'Hooked' DVD: My Own Private New York

The dark content in the 2017 teen rent-boy drama "Hooked" makes it easy to imagine the edgy-loving good folks at Breaking Glass Pictures expelling one or more bodily fluids on this film coming on their radar. The June 12, 2018 DVD release provides all a chance to see writer-director Max Emerson as "Meth Boy 2" in this great mash-up of "Midnight Cowboy," "My Own Private Idaho," and (the reviewed) Breaking release "Retake."

The "Cowboy"/"Idaho" vibe is strong from the opening images as very recently turned 18 devilish (and horny) street hustler Jack (a.k.a. Captain Jack Off) (uberhunky Conor Donnally) walks through Times Square and leaves 17 year-old boyfriend Tom a message that Jack must postpone his birthday celebration because booty calls; this work emergency is in the form of a repeat middle-aged German client asserting a desperate need for a session. Awesome (Unreal TV interviewed) gay producer/director/writer/star Casper Andreas plays this man who plays rough to the same degree that he refuses to EVER take no for an answer.

Jack returns from his literal pain-in-the-ass session with ill-gotten booty for aspiring photographer Tom. Although the boys are enviably deeply in love and have the exit strategy of Jack going from American Gigolo to American Dad as soon as Tom can support the couple, their home life has its own trauma and drama.

"Straight" roommate Matt is a stereotypically repressed meathead jock who delights in tormenting Tom. Many gay guys can relate to the bully who delights in calling you faggot, literally or figuratively shoving his dick in your face, and constantly telling you to blow him really hoping that he will take you up on that offer. This opens the door to the fun of promising to service him only to say "just joking" at the last minute and forcing him to admit that he is as well.

The rest of the story is that hot-tempered Jack is a drug addict with a diagnosed "personality disorder." This "dark passenger" asserts himself at what can be considered both the right and the wrong time at a few points.

The world that is about to collide with that of our boys in a matter that epicly jacks up their existence is that of wealthy middle-aged white guy Ken. His wife accepts his gay side occasionally flaring up but makes it know that such tolerance has a limit.

Ken initially encounters Tack during a merry prankster spree by the teens. Later seeing the profile of Jack on a rent boy site leads to Ken hiring this excitable lad to a fancy restaurant. Hilarity subsequently ensues in one of the best scenes in "Hooked." One lesson is to not trying to shame a guy who seemingly is immune to embarrassment.

The altruistic side of Ken asserts itself in paying Jack merely to discuss his life and to allow Ken to help improve his circumstances. The overall sense is that providing sugar interests Ken slightly more than being a daddy. A BLATANT reveal during this conversation allows anyone with the grey matter to figure out a "Scooby-Doo" mystery to determine that there is one less degree of separation between Ken and Jack than initially believed.

The next phase of the adventure involves Ken "taking the tiger out of the jungle" by paying Jack to accompany him to his luxury South Beach condo. This provides Jack hope that he and Tom can get a fresh start in the sun and fun capital of the world.

The honeymoon period abruptly ends when Jack acts like a sullen teen after a "Pretty Woman" style shopping spree. A rude awakening the next morning leads to Ken essentially sending Jack back to the street corner.

This being a gritty gay-themed film requires that Jack hits rock bottom following his break with Ken. This initially leads to the stud falling prey to the equivalent of the predator that prowls New York and Los Angeles bus stations looking for vulnerable teen runaways.

The climax (no pun intended) begins with Jack agreeing to a session with a client despite advance notice that the nickname of this man features the term "date rape." This leads to a violent confrontation that wildly spirals out of control. The better news is that the incident leads to wonderfully perverse demonstrations of deep and eternal love by Tack that essentially proves the willingness of each to take a bullet for the other. The more amusing aspect of this is the outcome leading to Jack taking several for the team.

The copious special features include an enthusiastic Emerson hosting am "inside look" at "Hooked." a music video featuring Emerson, a "Behind the Scenes" feature, and Maxisms.

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

'The Outsider' DVD: Compelling Docudrama of Societe Generale Epic Trading Scandal

Icarus Films  awesomely combines its tradition of releasing "innovative and provocative" documentaries with the recent expansion into "films from independent producers worldwide" (emphasizing Eurocinema) by releasing the 2016 French docudrama "The Outsider" (a.k.a. "Team Spirit") on June 5, 2018. This tale of titular wunderkind trader Jerome Kerviel (Arthur Dupont) comes six months after the Icarus release of (the reviewed) "In Her Name" (nee "Kalinka") based on the real-life decades-long quest of a father to get justice for the death of his daughter.

Compelling and informative "Outisder" follows the modern film trend of opening with out-of-context scenes of chaos only to soon travel back in time to the events that create that mayhem. In this case, the "boiler room" young Turk traders at leading French bank Societe Generale are equally nervous about being the one called in to get kicked to the curb and giddy regarding speculation as to which of their colleagues faces that fate during the 2008 financial crisis. Said newly terminated Master of the Universe soon takes the walk-of-shame.

The time shift this time is to eight years early when Kerviel and fellow new hire and equally recent friend "compliance guy" Mathieu Priestar are attending an orientation lecture by Societe General legend Jean-Pierre Kaplan. Our boys soon going in opposite directions is highly symbolic.

Typical middle-class guy Kerviel is doing his tedious entry-level job when he lands on the radar of sadistic, rude, and crude trader boss Fabien Keller, who should have been named Fagin. Keller initially promotes Kerviel to the position of assistant/bitch to that rainmaker and his team. Kerviel then survives the hazing in an environment that makes a Dartmouth frat house seem like the Algonquin Round Table.

The trouble for Kerviel and the bank comes when Keller teaches this ambitious boy allowed (but illegal) tricks of the trade following a rookie mistake. The problem is that Keller (who comes across as a partial hero) does not realize that he is offering an addict a meth recipe.

The thrill of the high-risk nature of trading that includes the high of a devastating loss turning into an obscene profit in the blink of an eye in a world that irresponsibly condones such activity leads to Kerviel becoming pathologically reckless. It is equally reprehensible that he is a god to the bank so long as he fills the coffers and becomes street trash the INSTANT that the same daring feats that bring home the bacon turn sour.

All of this occurs in the background of an investigation that has Prieter, Keller, and other persons-of-interest facing a literally shadowy tribunal. The nature of those interrogations is what did you know, when did you know it, and why the Hell did it go on so long. Predictably, only Prieter came out looking at all good.

We further learn both the fate of the trader whose career ends in disgrace at the end of the film; this includes the reactions of his former colleagues/sadistic bastards.

Le fin consists of the standard docudrama epilogue regarding the end result of all this.

Anyone with any familiarity with the financial crisis knows that the tale of "Evel" Kerviel is similar to that of many of his colleagues. Personal amusement comes via a relative connection with a counterpart who is not so far from this risk-taker. The geographic, family background, and fate similarities are so incredible that they show a need to better manage guys with characteristics that make them prone to such behavior. The bigger picture is that the risk-takers in the corner office greedily exploit the ambition and ruthlessness of these guys until these pit bulls befoul their oriental rugs.

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

'The Swap' DVD: Disney Channel Thoroughly Modern 'Freaky Friday'

Monarch Home Entertainment aptly breaches the generation gap with the June 19, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 Disney Channel movie "The Swap." This Millennialastic version of the 1976 film "Freaky Friday" has teen girl Ellie (Peyton List of the Disney Channel tweencoms "Jessie" and "Bunk'd") and her classmate Jack (Jacob Bertrand) getting a strong lesson in seeing how the other half lives. (Yes, the Unreal TV video library includes "Friday" and every other parent-child body-swapping film.)

The following YouTube clip of the official "Swap" trailer nicely explains the concept of the film and provides seconds of gender-bending hilarity.

The experiences (down to having a close friend named Sassy) and general appearance of Ellie so closely resembles a particular real-life teen girl that "Swap" can be considered "The Life of Rachael." The primary stress in the life of Ellie relates to a cut in school funding threatening to downgrade her rhythmic gymnastics team to a club. The determining factor is the performance of the group at a competition that (of course) is on the Sunday after the titular body transfer. The impact of the gymnastics activity merely being an extra-curricular includes the already largely absentee father of Ellie not showing up for competitions.

The 'tude of recent (Buffalo) New York transplant Aspen creates Ellie additional problems. Aspen quickly is becoming the BFF of Sassy and is actively campaigning to make Ellie a social outcast.

For his part, aspiring varsity hockey player Jack is the low man on the totem pole at home and on the ice regarding his varsity-playing older twin brothers and their recently widowed coach/dad. This pressure includes both the drills and the inspirational quotes being fairly relentless in both venues. Of course, the big final hockey try-out is at roughly the same time as the important rhythmic gymnastics competition.

The bully in the life of Jack is of the more traditional variety. Jack making the varsity team would result in kept-back high school senior Porter Gibbs not being promoted from the junior-varsity squad. Seeing Disney Channel movies star James Godfrey play big menacing Porter a few years before his scene-stealing role as wacky brain-eater Bonzo in the (reviewed) 2018 Disney Channel movie "Z-O-M-B-I-E-S" is fun.

Equally literal angst and bloodshed simultaneously lands our troubled suburban teens in the nurse's office. Subsequent exchanges of "wishcraft" texts results in one of the most rapid gender-transformation procedures in television history.

Ellie finds herself living in all-male household in which farts are distributed with far more frequency (and glee) than soap. She also gets first-hand experience regarding the Great Santini routine to which Jack is subject almost every waking  hour.

The biggest challenge that Jack faces is being a gentleman in the face of the level of access to a naked teen girl body that is a fantasy for most of his peers. He also gets a first-hand look at the cruelty of high school girls and learns that rhythmic gymnastics is much more than twirling a ribbon. The added insult to the injury is learning the extent of the abandonment of the father of Ellie.

This all leads to a deadline that threatens Ellie with a lifetime of living in a smelly greasy body and Jack facing his straight buds hitting on him.

Of course, this comes down to the wire and leaves our teens three days older and several years wiser. Porter and Sassy also learning valuable life lessons is a bonus.

Parents and others who are well beyond the primary target age range for "Swap" will be glad to learn that this one plays it more straight than typical Disney Channel movies. There are no extreme "Bonzo" type best friends or parents that seem any weirder than typical teens consider anyone one over 40, and there are no musical numbers that involve high schoolers spontaneously breaking out into a song-and-dance number. A related endorsement is someone who only tolerated "Descendants" 1 and 2 and "Teen Beach Movie" 1 and 2 (and soon is being treated to a "High School Musical" double feature) being pulled from the Unreal TV video library liking "Swap."

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

Monday, June 18, 2018

'Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story' CD/Digital/Vinyl Soundtrack to Documentary on Man Who Moved 20 Feet Toward Stardom

The June 8, 2018 UMe vinyl (including a limited-edition version), CD, and digital releases of the soundtrack of "Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson [a.k.a. "Romo"] Story" does great justice to the man and the documentary. The soundtrack follows the Hulu, Amazon Prime, and DVD and Blu-ray releases of the movie.

The basic Ronson story is that he is working a depressing day job and dreaming of stardom in the early '70s when word of his mad guitar skills reaches the ears of David Bowie (a.k.a. Ziggy Stardust). The rest proverbially is history.

The CD combines the best of both worlds by allowing a chance to hear rock classics and lesser known songs from a fresh perspective while reading liner notes that provide great context. The bigger picture it that we once again see that those who truly achieve "idol" status earn that accolade.

The soundtrack follows the grand tradition of music releases by starting out strong with a hit. We get Bowie, Ronson, Ian Hunter (early band mate of Ronson in Mott the Hoople), Queen, and Joe Elliott and Phil Cullen of Def Leppard jamming on a live performance of "All the Young Dudes." The awesome result sounds like a mutual admiration society doing a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. A similar track of Bowie, Queen, and Ronson doing "Heroes" is more true to the original tune but equally thrilling.

The very Ziggylicous "Craccked Actor" by Bowie is a special treat for fans of that era of his career. The beat is the same, and the well-deserving target is aging egotistical Hollywood movie stars. The chorus line "Crack, baby, crack" is as memorable as the lyrics "I'm stiff on my legend; the films that I made; forget that I'm fifty; 'Cause you just got paid." Few could argue that "The Ballad of Tom Cruise" would not be a good title for a rerecording of this one.

Another rarity on which Romo does his thing is the Elton John track "Madman Across the Water." It is very clear that this melange of ballad and rockin' tune is from the "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" era.

A highlight of the tracks from the solo career of Ronson is his cover of the Bob Dylan tune "Like a Rolling Stone." The vocals and arrangement particulalry achieve the ideal of putting the stamp of the homager on the song while staying true to the spirit of the homaged. This includes a solid variation of the unique voice of the father-in-law of Paul Westerberg of "The Replacements."

The following YouTube clip of Ronson performing his solo recording "Hard Life," which is a track on "Beside," from the album of the same name provides a perfect sense of Romo. The extended guitar solo at the beginning provides a chance to hear him play without any background noise. His voice, lyrics, and tone highlight both his very user-friendly schizophrenia and how he became a spider from Mars.

The good folks at UMe provide an encore in the form of a bonus track in the form of a piano performance that honors Ronson.

The "Behind the Music" element of this recording makes "Beside" more than a collection of songs with a leitmotif. The seemingly unanimous opinion of Ronson by the rock gods who also were is his nearest and dearest is that he always was the same guy who used to be a groundskeeper. Listening to his music with the additional perspective that the source is a guy who literally works and plays well with others while presumably keeping stipeing to a minimum greatly enhances the enjoyment of the tunes.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

'Henry Miller Asleep and Awake' DVD: A Portrait of the Artist As a Bathroom Gallery Docent

The Indiepix Films April 24, 2018 DVD release of the 1973 documentary "Henry Miller Asleep & Awake" easily is one of the most artsy and unique titles of the year. The brilliantly simple concept of this film is that the titular author of the highly controversial semi-autobiographical books The Tropic of Cancer and The Tropic of Capricorn provides filmmaker Tom Schiller a tour of the numerous images hanging on his bathroom walls.

"Miller" further is notable as being almost pure cinema verite documentary. Although likely edited, Schiller merely points his camera at his subject and lets him have his say with virtually no prompting by the man behind that recording device.

This look at arguably the smallest and most intimate art gallery in the world can be considered "Being Henry Miller" in that it provides insight into the mind of this outspoken writer who clearly is not wired like many of us. Although he is 81 at the time of the filming, Miller delights in joking that the amount of time that visitors spend viewing his collection indicates that they are constipated.

The sublime includes Miller discussing the story of a grand European home and the philosophy of a great thinker that both have places of honor in this porcelain palace. The ridiculous involves some of the art coming to life in a manner that proves that the snow on the roof of Miller does not diminish the white-hot fire in the furnace of this man who makes Hugh Hefner seem like a eunuch.

Another example of Miller showing the former Playboy founder Hugh's boss relates to a publicity photo of the scribe and the cast of either Cancer or Capricorn. The look in the eye of this man as he discusses the women embracing the spirit of the film provides some insight regarding the history of both books previously being banned in the United States.

Schiller shows great instincts in beginning to wind up the film with Miller discussing a philosopher known for asking a series of questions that our guide states cannot be answered. This leads to Miller discussing existential issues and taking the audience along on his journey outside his comfort zone.

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

'Funeral Day' DVD/VOD/Digital: Woody Allen Meets the Coen Brothers

Random Media gives fans of dark indie comedy a treat with the June 12, 2018 DVD/VOD/Digital premieres of the 2016 film "Funeral Day." The festival praise for this character study of a hypochondriac starring Jon Weinberg includes director Jon Wienberg winning a Best Director award at the 2016 Austin Revolution Film Festival and producer Jon Weinberg scoring the Best Comedy Feature prize at the 2017 Twister Alley International Film Festival.

This literal day-in-the-life of film begins with Scott getting a literal rude awakening when a good friend comes pounding on the door to get Scott to get his "stuff" together and join him at the funeral of a mutual friend. The figurative rude awakening for the good friend comes via Scott asking him to feel his balls for a lump that Scott fears indicates testicular cancer.

This encounter ends with Scott making a to-do list as part of a pledge to be a better person and his friend heading off to the funeral stag. The ensuing hilarity essentially has Scott literally and figuratively running for his life. (Just because you imagine illness does not mean that you are not sick.)

The remainder of "Funeral" has Scott making the rounds in conjunction with his quest. An early stop is at his favorite diner where the waitress who is the object of his affection slings hash. He later circles back for the special of the day.

Scott also visits his ex-fiancee regarding whom he is a runaway groom. This leads to a hashing out of another nature.

One of the more hilarious stops during this big day out is at a hospice. The gatekeeper at the front desk does not respond well to the request of Scott to gain perspective from speaking with a dying person. Suffice it to say that moderate hilarity ensues.

The second most hilarious encounter in the film is with the creepy upstairs neighbor. This guy sharing his knowledge of the self-pleasuring habits of Scott is only the beginning. His agreeing to provide the requested medical exam seals the deal.

Weinberg saves the best for almost last in having Scott encounter a heterosexual couple in the park and agreeing to go home with them for a therapeutic prostate milking. This encounter ends up being a pain in the ass in a manner that extends beyond the obvious. It further involves a fall-on-the-floor funny debate about medical ethics.

In the end. Scott is a wiser and obtains at least one form of happy ending.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding funeral is welcome either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Friday, June 15, 2018

'Perfect Strangers' S4 DVD: On the Road to 'Family Matters'

The expression "don't be ridiculous, of course it does" is the apt response to whether the Warner Archive June 19, 2018 DVD release of the 1988-89 fourth season of the 8-season sitcom "Perfect Strangers" shows that this program (which admittedly jumps the shark in S7) stands the test of time. The applicable principle is the observation of Carol Burnett that funny always remains funny.

An additional perspective is that the DVD set serves the purpose of that format by providing another bite of the apple regarding a hit in its day with a limited syndicated run. The modern aspect is that owning the DVD does not leave one at the mercy of the whims of streaming services.

As the review (which illustrates a close link with a top novel of the 21st century) of the Archive DVD release of S3 states, the successful variation of the odd couple formula this time is that uptight cynical 20-something ambitious cub newspaper reporter Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) shares his apartment and his work space with always cheerful 20-something recent immigrant from the Mediterranean island of Mypos Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot). This adorkable innocent having the wisdom of the fool shows that natives of industrialized countries often are not superior to our kin from more primitive cultures.

The charm of the constant elan and naivety of Balki is the primary draw of "Strangers." The next most appealing factor is the incredible skill of Linn-Baker and Pinchot at physical humor; they achieve perfect symmetry and often toss each other and themselves around with such flexibility that it seems that their bones are rubber.

The bigger picture is the skill of the writers at keeping the "com" fresh regarding the wacky "sits" in which our Chicago-dwelling dudes find themselves. A highlight of this is skillfully combining the classic storylines of a character accidentally getting hypnotized without the knowledge of the people in his or her life, an alter-ego taking over, and a character facing a tax audit.

We also get a variation of the main men (or women) being forced to fly and land a commercial jet; a Christmas episode that does not center around "A Christmas Carol," "It's a Wonderful life," or "The Gift of the Magi;" and a flashback episode that does not involve a character facing imminent peril. Many of the other episodes are more of the same.

The "Strangers" crew provide sofa spuds who reside in TV Land an extra-special treat by having S4 further setting the stage for the 9-season sitcom "Family Matters" featuring Steve Urkel, who proves that one man's Top-10 sitcom creation is another man's Jar Jar Binks. The roots of "Matters" dates back to the "Strangers" S3 season premiere in which Balki joins Cousin Larry in the basement of The Chicago Chronicle. New friend sassy and loving elevator operator Harriette Winslow comes to the rescue.

S4 introduces Harriette spouse Carl Winslow, the jolly doughnut-loving cop. The involvement of this (seemingly childless) couple with Balarry extends to moving into their apartment building. More fun comes via Harriette telling the boys that something that she wants to discuss with Carl is a family matter. Another episode has an even better reference to the best-known sitcom set in the midwest.

In the spirit of the heart-felt epilogue that ends every "Strangers" episode, the modern lesson regarding this series is that it well-represents the Silver Age of television comedy in which the depicted world is not perfect, unmarried people having sex is not always shameful, and the show does not rely on extreme personalities or innuendo to get laughs. A prime example of this is having the mother-of-all-80s and beyond sitcom mothers Doris Roberts do her thing in an S4 outing.

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

'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' BD: Lucky Restoration for Classic Film Fans

The Warner Archive June 5, 2018 Blu-ray restoration of the Oscar-winning (Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture) 1954 MGM musical "Severn Brides for Seven Brothers" provides a reason to go back to the living room again. The sound and picture are so awesome played on a 4K player and watched on a 4K set that they warrant purchasing those devices.

An incredible surprise is getting a bonus disc with the rare Cinemascope (i.e., widescreen) version of "Brides." A special feature explains that MGM has two versions simultaneously filmed to accommodate theaters that lack Cinemascope capability.

"Brides" trivia includes that Leonard Maltin daughter/sidekick Jessie Maltin identifies this film as her all-time favorite. This adoration extends to begging her parents to constantly play the film throughout her childhood.

The most cool thing about this oft-watched movie is picking up something new each time; in this case, it is realizing the full extent of the humor related to the six younger brothers. Much of this hilarity relates to the great skill of the actors in expressing a great deal literally with a glance. The broad scope of this includes mugging without hamming, being lovestruck, using eyes to flip off a sibling, and giving a "dandy" a grin seconds before a sock in the jaw.

The next bit of fun comes courtesy of comparing the film with live-stage versions of the show. A (reviewed) September 2016 staging at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine does the film justice and actually outshines the film in some respects.

The Maine show has third youngest Pontipee brother Caleb surprise (presumably) virgin bride Milly (Jane Powell) by popping out of a tree, rather than appear on the porch as he does in the film. Further, the stage actor who plays Caleb outshines perfectly good film Caleb portrayor Matt Mattox in delivering the memorable "not close, here" line. The trifecta is complete when horseplay during the first breakfast that Milly cooks including much more beefcake than in the film.

The film balances the scales in having Russ Tamblyn of "West (rather than Wet) Side Story" and the sadly underappreciated (reviewed) "Son of a Gunfighter" outshine the stage actor playing adorable youngest brother Gideon in the most memorable scene for this character. Suffice it to say that Tamblyn shows great skill at being catty.

The following YouTube clip of the original theatrical trailer provides a good sense of the film. The '50slicious promotion style is amusing and illustrates the phenomenal difference between that version and the Archive offering.

All of this begins with perfectly cast Howard Keel of the '80s primetime soap "Dallas" riding into his 1850 Oregon Territory town to stock up on supplies for him and his six feral siblings who live in an isolated cabin in the woods. Understanding the Unreal TV joke that the Adam Pontipe with one "e" is the one with no sense of humor requires expert television knowledge.

Adam tests the limits of the scope of offerings at the general store in expressing his need for a titular spouse to do the women's work for him and his brothers. This leads to Keel perfectly nailing the classic song "Bless Your Beautiful Hide" from the film soundtrack. The benefit of multiple viewings this time is fully appreciating the responses of Adam to his candidates for Eve.

This leads to literally love at first sight for orphaned Milly when she spots Adam at the bar and swill where she works. This leads to a variation of her being a waitress at a cocktail bar when she first meets him.

Adam making a successful sales pitch for an incredibly abbreviated courtship leads to him buying the cow without trying to get the milk for free. This leads to the newlyweds heading for their honeymoon cottage literally before the sun sets on their first date.

The rude awakening for Milly comes on finding that she is more Snow White than Sleeping Beauty. The stage and film brothers do equally well in the memorable scene in which they have good reason to believe that Adam has gone where no man (presumably) has gone before.

Milly meeting basic needs in terms of getting the house and the frat boys in order leads to thoughts of finding the remaining six brides. Adam figuring that what is good for the goose is worth a gander leads to the hilarious and rousing "Sobbin' Women" number. This leads to the bros leaving the ho at home and going into town to collect their praying prey. This is another case of the play outshining the movie in ways that include having Looney Tunes music accompany the 19th century version of a booty call.

Milly is far from thoroughly modern on learning that her husband and her in-laws have brought home unexpected company. This leads to a long frigid winter in which Adam takes a powder unaware of having left something in the oven, and the younger boys are left out in the cold.

Spring increases the thawing on all fronts, and "Brides" ends on a hilarious happy note.

Archive does especially well with the copious extras this time. The highlight is the aforementioned 43-minute made-for-cable "making-of" documentary that Keel hosts. His opening narrative is very reminiscent of the (reviewed) "When the Lion Roars" documentary on the history of MGM. The talking heads include Powell, Tamblyn, and many other cast members. The biggest surprise is that Julie Newmar (who provides an interview) is one of the brides. Sadly, her character is not part of the "catty" scene.

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

Thursday, June 14, 2018

'Edward II' DVD & Blu-ray: Pride Month Celebration of Derek Jarman Stylistic Retelling of Tale of Elizabethan King and His Gay Lover

The Film Movement Classics division of indie film god Film Movement celebrates Pride Month with the June 12, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 1991 Derek Jarman production of the 1593 Christopher Marlowe drama "Edward II." A 25-words-or less synopsis of this still relevant tale is that prince meets boy, boys gets exiled, prince becomes king, boy returns, mayhem ensues.

The elaborate staging of this film that hits all the right notes regarding tone and style requires buying the Blu-ray version. This format greatly enhances the live-stage vibe.

The numerous accolades for this masterpiece do not do this film justice. These honors include a Best Feature Film award at the 1992 Berlin International Film Festival and an unanimous vote regarding Tilda Swinton getting the 1991 Venice Film Festival Best Actress award for her portrayal of scorned Queen Isabella.

The following YouTube clip of the Movement trailer for "Edward" highlights all the awesome imagery of this avant-garde gem.

"Edward" opens with exiled crazed "pauper" Piers Gaveston (Andrew Tiernan) engaged in debauchery when a short message with copious subtext summons him back to to Britain to help recently coronated Edward (Steven Waddington) rule his realm. The aforementioned chaos justifies the alternate title "My Boyfriend's Back and There's Gonna Be  Trouble."

Edward adding the insult of bestowing great power and corresponding wealth on his boo adds to the injury of arguably replacing one queen with another. The court officials who are not amused include intimate of the queen Mortimer (Nigel Terry). Sibling rivalry plays a role regarding the involvement of Edward's second-in-line brother.

Although Swinton does her usual excellent job of playing a reserved woman skilled at concealing her crazy when required, Tiernan steals the show. He is particularly adept regarding the period prose and seems born to play an excitable boy.

The well-staged action fully heats up at the end of the brief honeymoon period; this includes an initial effort to re-exile Gaveston, which ultimately triggers a period inaccurate battle between riot police and a group fighting for gay rights. Those familiar with the text knows that this ends with a highly symbolic act.

The video extra is an insightful 23-minute documentary "Derek's Edward" on the making of this compelling film with numerous still-relevant messages.

The delightfully titled essay "Queenie Queens on Top" by filmmaker Bruce LeBruce includes a prologue by Swinton. Swinton aptly focuses on the national events and the mindset of Jarman leading up to making the film. LeBruce focuses on the numerous in-your-face parallels between "Edward" itself and the energetic gay-rights movement of the modern day.

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

'Cas' DVD Trio of Gay-Themed Films About Menage-a-Trois

Dekkoo Films, which operates an awesome gay-themed streaming service, once more boldly goes where mainstream distributors fear to tread in recently releasing the aptly triple-feature DVD that centers around the 2016 film "Cas," This winner of the "Best International Feature" at the 2017 Film Out San Diego Festival with a strong live-stage vibe explores the consequences of a 30-ish gay couple in Amsterdam first allowing the titular cute student to couch surf and then join them in bed.

"Bed Buddies," which occurs almost entirely in real time in one setting, has an even stronger live-stage vibe. The theme this time is three good friends dealing with having drunken hot sex the night before.

The aptly-titled "Tri-Curious" follows the real-time and one setting theme even further. The concept this time is one member of a committed long-term relationship developing cold feet as a Grind'r hookup is on his way to their door.

One element that makes a story about a gay couple inviting a third man into their bed realistic and interesting is that gay men tending to advance a relationship to sex much faster than occurs regarding a straight couple can accelerate the seven-year itch that prompts desiring something new. A twin aspect is that many gay men eagerly engage in sex that involves desire and attraction but not love or a desire for a relationship.

The potential dangers that reel and real life reflect are that the adventure is not the predicted cure-all and/or that one person in the relationship is who ultimately gets pushed out in the cold to conduct the walk of shame. An equally true theme is that all three films show that boys will be boys.

"Cas" opens with freelance journalist Pepijn returning to the apartment that he shares with nine-to-five guy Sjors to find the titular smooth young twink sitting in the living room before Sjors even appears. Sjors then puts his man on the spot by stating that he has invited Cas to stay a few days and then asks if Pepijn is cool with that.

Pepijn spending most of his time writing at home and Cas not having a very full agenda provides these mice plenty of potential to play while the cat is at the office. Learning the extent to which they fall for the provided bait requires watching the film.

Cas being himself having the effect of working his way into hearts of his hosts largely is what leads to his joining them in bed. Although he physically comes between them, it is nice to see that he is not the primary cause of the subsequent threat to their relationship.

Tension already exists regarding the equally relatable aspect of sincere plans at the start of the Pepjin and Sjors relationship not achieving fruition is a large factor. The men coming into the relationship with different experiences and being at different points in their life in the present also ultimately leads to conflict that addresses different forms of love.

The appeal of "Buddies" extends beyond the three gorgeous and highly likable boys who will prompt impure thoughts in every man of every age with any gay tendencies. The roughly 10 minutes of this short has enough humor and relatable insights for a feature-length film.

The film opens with the guy who takes two for the team the night before learning that a good friend is one of the pitchers and that their friend is the relief pitcher. This leads to the lads piecing together the events leading to them waking up naked and highly satisfied.

The regrets relate to the great sex and the promise of equally satisfying future intercourse ruining valued friendships. One aspect of this is the central blessing and curse of being an attractive gay guy in your 20s is that you have ample opportunities for casual sex but lack many (if any) real friends. The group addresses this in stating that finding guys for hanging out is easy but that a man who is willing to go out to do something because you enjoy it is so rare that it never should be squandered.

Good humor comes regarding the associated truths that you do not really know a good friend until you have sex with him and that an aspect of male anatomy can provide a nice surprise regarding being disproportionate to the height of the man.

"Tri-Curious" is the most dramatic of the three offerings. It deals with many of the issues of the other two with the added element of a cooling-off period allowing time for second thoughts. Two takeaways this time are that many gay men are open to having sex to be polite and that lust can overcome reason.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

'Ancient Aliens:10th Anniversary Edition' DVD: Probing Docuseries Showing 'The Truth Is Out There'

Lionsgate provides Father's Day procrastinators a gift in releasing "Ancient Aliens: 10th Anniversary Edition" on June 12, 2018. This mega-set of that History Channel docuseries is PERFECT for aficionados of ancient history, aliens. all forms of scifi, and conspiracy theories. The best news for everyone is that "Aliens" is a well-produced show that lacks the repetition, cheesy effects, and sensationalism of lesser offerings.

This aptly massive set contains all 135 episodes from the first 10 seasons of the series of literally Biblical proportions that recently wrapped up Season 13. The scope of the "bunking" extends from the dawn of civilization to modern efforts to prevent the hoi polloi from learning the truth. Presenting talking heads who seem sane and knowledgeable is a good thing; the only criticism based on the first two episodes of the series is that "Aliens" seems to exclude opposing views.

"The Evidence" starts things off with a primary focus on ancient Egypt. This episode is very reminiscent of the "Stargate" franchise on Showtime and Syfy. The concept of that show is that the Egyptian gods are hostile aliens who enslave humans to further their evil plans.

The "Evidence" topics include artifacts that strongly indicate that brothers from another planet share their flying technology, discussion of masonry work that seemingly requires advanced stone-cutting methods, and a way-cool segment that suggests that E.T. is to whom the wandering Jews owe thanks for manna.

We further see evidence of an early public airport system and that flying carpets are more than a thing of  The Arabian Nights.

"The Visitors" is not a tale of hostile reptilian aliens in meat suits intent on conquering earth; it is a study of how genetic abnormalities and voluntary mutilation respectively reflect ancestors of ALF having terra fever and members of primitive culture worshiping aliens. This includes speculation that ancestors of King Tut are from much further away than either Arizona or Babylonia.

We further get a look at possible ancient forms of geothermal and microwave energy, as well what may be a wireless form of transmitting energy. The evidence this time includes possible explanations for structures that still are standing. We additionally see how language limitations may explain why the proof of inter-planetary interaction in that era is not better documented.

Of course, no discussion of visitors from other planets is complete without a segment on the Roswell crash; the main takeaway is that this may be the first use of an explanation that is comparable to "the dog ate my homework."

The strong parallels between religion and aliens is a highly interesting aspect of these episodes and the rest of the series. A belief in one or more god is the basis for explaining much of what seems to be beyond our capabilities at the time, and believing that a divine entity calls the shots requires as much faith as concluding the existence of advanced life on other planets. From that perspective, "Aliens" can be considered a video bible. This analogy extends to episodes being sure to convert non-believers.

The analogy extends to speculation regarding some Bible stories involving literal aliens.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Aliens" is encouraged either to try beaming me up, sending an email me or to connecting on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Internet Killed the School Reunion Star

Recently attending the alumni reunion at The Governor's Academy (formerly Governor Dummer Academy (GDA)), which is the oldest continuously operating boarding school in the U.S., aptly is prompting advocating ending high school and college reunions in the Internet Age. This does not reflect on the quality of the student experience and is not intended to influence any thoughts regarding financially supporting the school.

Any school reunion is obsolete in the Internet Age that allows easily connecting with classmates and meeting under circumstances completely of your own choosing. ANYONE from ANY GDA class is most welcome to reach out and touch me via; we'll do lunch.

An analogy is a personal dislike of most company holiday parties. You must disrupt your weekend to talk to folks with whom you are in daily contact, and you do not talk to the people with whom you never interact.

Connecting online with good friends from GDA and staying in touch to varying extents over the past 10 years has been great. This includes valued communication with a friend with mutual support.

An offshoot of this is organizing local alumni meetup groups in which folks gather for fun activities at times and places of their choosing.

The broader analogy is video in the form of MTV killing the radio star in the '80s.

A sub-topic is the more longstanding issue of whether you can go home again. The sad response that is elaborated on below is that you often cannot return to your roots.

A prime example of a modern reunion is a mini-gathering in New York City regarding which I was the "spouse." I enjoyed meeting everyone, and especially liked a friendly NPR guy with a good sense of humor. Having outsider status was easier than if I had been on a somewhat isolated campus. I happily roamed the streets of Manhattan playing with dogs and getting a slice much of the time that the group reminisced.

Proposed Middle Road ground is my offer to organize an unofficial All-Classes weekend gathering at a luxury historic hotel near the GDA campus in mid-April 2019. The level of response to this thought will determine whether it is executed.

The initial benefit is that an April date does not conflict with other obligations during the "event" season of June. There are no graduations or official school reunions. Also, there are far fewer anniversary parties, weddings, and family reunions.

The primary advantage is that the heavy lifting falls on the hotel staff, which deals with events everyday. They will handle room reservations and other logistics. The simple model is that strict deadlines exist regarding committing to meals, and anyone missing out on the block of rooms must solely work with the hotel. Any member of the GDA community is welcome to help plan the event. The only rule is that you MUST check your hostility at the door.

Activities would include movie screenings (of course),  dinner at which members of various classes would openly mingle among themselves and with past and current faculty and staff, a talk and book signing on the history of the hotel, and faculty members discussing notable pursuits.

Of course, informal discussion of scandals (including the teacher and the hunky senior doing it in the closet during the faculty Christmas party) will provide additional entertainment.

The bigger picture supports either limiting communication with most classmates to the wireless variety or only physically connecting with kindred spirits. The answer to a classic question is that we cannot all get along in this era in which one half of the country hates the other half and vice versa. The added insult to this injury is that a few groups are the privileged elite with a true "safe space" in that they can lash out as violently as desired and ANY response makes that person the bad guy.

A gathering of high school or college classmates should be a safe space to the extent that it does not involve the hostility that can be a part of outside world interactions. This sadly is not always the case.

An amusing example of the ease of squabbling dates at least to the prior reunion. The class ubernerd posted a photo of faculty members; the class asshole responded "so what?" The rest of us did not care one way or the other, and at least one of us considered the entire incident hilarious.

An incident this past weekend is less amusing and better illustrates the national conflict. I was saying my goodbyes at a lunch when a classmate who arguably is an overly passionate activist got very angry and violently yelled at me because I was not attending an event centered around a classmate. This person did not apologize when politely told why there was no cause to even think ill of me. (The hilarious and unkind responses have been limited to my mind.)

The rest of the story is that I had already done my due diligence regarding the classmate hosting the event to the degree of paying homage and explaining why I was unavailable that afternoon. Even this is irrelevant in that my attacker ain't my 'rent, and I ain't five.

It is even more amusing that the Governor's Academy administration is keeping the tradition of varsity letters alive. A maroon "G" on a name tag is the opposite of a scarlet "A" in that it communicates that the wearer is a regular donor. A silver "G" indicates higher status. Folks without any letter are the hoi polloi.

The fairy tale ending with the moral is that the "bastards" :-) in my class deserting me by not staying for the class dinners opened the door for a subgroup from another class to adopt me and make that meal a reunion highlight. I also found out about the fabled "Gramby" wrestling move. The moral is that finding people who choose to provide love and laughter when your actual family does not is awesome.

As always, questions and comments are always welcome in this post, as email to, or a Twitter connection via @tvdvdguy.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

'The Steam Engines of Oz' DVD/Blu-ray/VOD: Battle Against Heartless Totalitarian Dictator Tin Man is Real Coup

The Cinedigm June 5, 2018 Blu-ray + DVD (and VOD) release of the 2018 animated film "The Steam Engines of Oz" shows that it is not safe to go back to the Emerald City a century after Dorothy puts right what once went wrong. This adaptation of a Arcana Studios graphic novel adds a  family-friendly Soviet twist to the classic film that inspires "Engines."

The concept of "Engines" is way cool and expertly executed. It stays true to the spirit of the books of Lyman Frank Baum and  "The Wizard of Oz." Highly stylized flashbacks (including the awesomely perverse actual origin story of the Tin Man) with the strong contrasts and sharp angles of the black-and-white work of Frank Miller is as thrilling as watching Dorothy walk out of her sepia-toned world into the technicolor reality of her version of Oz.

The following YouTube clip of the official "Engines" trailer nicely shows the tone of the story and the animation style of the production while keeping spoilers on the low end.

An ironically heartless Tin Man (Matthew Kevin Anderson) unironically rules Emerald City with an iron fist; his sincere belief that constant expansion of his heavily industrialized realm with no regard for the displaced lions, munchkins, and witches (oh my!) is the best course of action. His delusions extend to considering the inmates in his prison to be guests who reside there for their own good and for that of society.

"My Little Pony" voice actress Ashleigh Bell gives modern-day Dorothy Victoria Wright voice. Victoria is a young engineer, who is a radicalized guest of the state who becomes its enemy. Air-borne primates play a significant role in this transformation.

Victoria recruits fellow guests Diggs (William Shatner), who is the brother of Oscar "Oz" Diggs, and munchkin Gromit for her rebellion. This begins with a variation of "Shawshank" style escape that leads to a daring run for the border.

Once outside the gates of Emerald City, Victoria runs afoul of not-so-cowardly lions who have great pride. They invite her to dinner in a manner that threatens to make the feature-length "Engines" a short. A little help from her friends sets out heroine back on the yellow brick road.

The group then has an amusing debate regarding the nature of munchkins that does not deter them from locating the Smurf Village style community of The Lollipop Guild. Learning the warrior nature of those little guys and their very clever defense system is a highlight of the film.

The ultimate strategy becomes reuniting Tin Man with an old friend who has a notable brain so that the latter can help the former see the error of his ways. This requires further adventures that lead to a procedure that aptly strongly relates to Walt Disney himself.

Of course, this leads to a climatic showdown. The awesomeness this time is that the solution is a genesis one that involves Tin Man being reborn.

The big picture is that "Engines" has exceptionally broad appeal. The toned-down steampunk style animation keeps things cool, and the oft-mentioned dystopian tone keeps things interesting for cynical kids and their jaded 'rents.

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

Friday, June 8, 2018

'The Sweet Escape' DVD:Gallic Man Experienceing Midlife Crisis Makes French Connection

Icarus Films shows even better instincts than usual in releasing the DVD of the 2015 French comedy "The Sweet Escape" on May 15, 2018. This tale of newly turned 50 year-old graphic artist Michel acting on his midlife crisis fantasy hits home at this time of year when the weather is FINALLY improving after a seemingly endless winter, many of us attend high school and college reunions, and adolescent and post-adolescent offspring are graduating and getting married.

Writer/director Bruno Podalydes stars as Michel, who outwardly leads a sweet life. He has a good job in a decent work environment. His home life revolves around pretty, loving, and supportive wife Rachelle (Sandrine Kiberlain).

Rachelle throwing a surprise 50th birthday party for Michel supports the theory that no good deed goes unpunished. He does not respond well at the outset, and things go downhill from there. This includes his annoyance regarding a thoughtful and generous gift.

Parallel action at work randomly triggers a thought that propels much of the action as such things tend to do in reel and real-life. A game with colleagues pops the word "kayak" into the head of Michel. This leads to online research regarding that watercraft. He then takes the next logical step of purchasing one and associated gear despite a complete lack of experience.

Rachelle is figuratively (but not literally) on board when she learns of the plan of Michel to emulate Lewis and Clark by making an ambitious journey down a river to the ocean; he literally ignores her when she points out that trip requires far more time than the length of his vacation.

The universality that begins with acting on a mid-life crisis continues with Michel not making it very far before stopping at a riverside restaurant. The lure (pun intended) of a savory meal, two friendly women, and a nice spot to pitch his tent (no pun intended) causes him to prolong his stay. A hilariously aborted attempt to leave only proves that absinthe makes the heart grow fonder (pun intended).

This being a French comedy (and mostly occurring in a Midsummer Night's Dream setting) almost ensures how things develop between Michel and his widowed hostess and her employee who is not over a broken heart. These interactions involving "The Wall of Jericho" from the classic film "It Happened One Night" is almost as entertaining as one seduction involving creative use of Post-It Notes.

The second effort to leave the essential Garden of Eden initially goes better than the first until Michel takes a symbolic wrong turn that leads to more blatant symbolism. This adventure further illustrates the extent to which we are developing wetlands.

The awesome "B story" throughout all this is a hilarious battle between Michel and a cranky old fisherman. Watching the hostilities escalate is HILARIOUS and climaxes in one of the best chases in any movie.

All of this concludes with an ending that has ample ambiguity to prompt hours of discussion. At one extreme is the possibility that Michel falls at the higher end of the Walter Mitty scale.

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

'Duck Tales Destination: Adventure!' DVD David Tennant Lends Voice and Spirit to Greatest Recent Reboot

Being able to state that the Disney June 5, 2018 DVD release "DuckTales Destination: Adventure!" is all that it is quacked up to be is awesome. These six episodes of the Disney XD reboot (and two bonus episodes of the 1987-90 syndicated OS) follows the December 2017 DVD release of episodes from the XD series in "DuckTales: Woo-oo."

The following YouTube clip of the XD "First Look" promo. for "DuckTales" includes a perfect "25 words or less" summary of the show and highlights the strong animation and humor of the series.

The underlying premise of the OS and the reboot is the effective Disney strategy of getting the most bang for its buck regarding licensed characters, The format this time is that Donald Duck nephews Huey (Red), Dewey (Blue), and Louie (Green)  go to live with their great-uncle Scrooge McDuck in search of adventures that often have a profit motive.

The lively and hilarious voice-over performance of Tenth Doctor David Tennant as Scrooge alone makes the XD series well worth watching. Other household names in the cast include Danny Pudi of "Community" as Huey and Bobby Moynihan of  "SNL" as Louie.

The very special guest star is "Hamilton" man Lin-Manuel Miranda as fan favorite GizmoDuck in "Beware the B.U.D.D.Y. System." That one is an exceptional cautionary tale on the hazards of self-driving cars and the related issue of not having machines replace humans.

The aptly titled "The Beagle Birthday Massacre!" kicks things off with an escapade that mostly focuses on tag-a-long chick (pun intended) Webbigail "Webby" Vanderquack, who is the granddaughter of the cook/housekeeper for Scrooge. Webby literally missing the boat regarding the latest outing of the boys leads her to meeting bad influence Lena.

This new friend manipulates Webby into crashing the birthday party for Ma Beagle, who is the matriarch of The Beagle Boys trio of criminals who are the nemeses of the McDuck clan. A particularly amusing aspect of this is seeing the multiple variations of Boys bands.

This one is a very special episode in that Webby develops a bond that compensates for not being a full-fledged member of the band of brothers with whom she hangs. Other fun comes regarding Huey and Dewey mercilessly teasing their chill sibling about a past failure.

Disney saves the best for second in having "The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra!" follow "Boys." This one has Scrooge and the gang discover an obliviously exploited lost civilization while exploring an Egyptian tomb. A reference to a pyramid scheme is the best line of any of the six episodes in "Adventure." Additional fun comes in the form of a "Wizard of Oz" element that one of the boys exploits to his own end.

"The Spear of Selene!" is another especially funny outing. Much of the humor in this one relates to mythology and Indiana Jones-style quests. The substance in the journey comes in the form of providing the boys a chance to learn more about their absent mother Della Duck. The special guest star this time is Uncle Donald. Veteran Donald Duck voice actor Tony Anselmo does his thing in this one.

The aforementioned vintage "Ducktales" (which have never been previously released on DVD) provide great fun in allowing comparison of the two series, including the very catchy theme. These episodes also are great nostalgic fun for OS fans.

The very '80s titled "New Gizmo-Kids on the Block" finds our fowl heroes donning the garb of the titular superhero. "Ducky Mountain High" centers around Scrooge competing with a fellow Master of the Universe for ownership of property where money essentially does grow on trees.

The awesomeness of the new "Ducktales" includes staying true to the OS spirit but providing the necessary updates to avoid the youth of today from declaring the reboot lame. This includes giving Huey and his bros modern 'tude.

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

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

'Genetically Modified Children' DVD & VOD: Documentary On High Price for Philip Morris Corporate Greed

Cinema Libre Studios awesomely takes on Big Tobacco and Big Ag with the June 5, 2018 DVD & VOD releases of the documentary "Genetically Modified Children." This film by Juliette Igier and Stephanie LeBrun pulls the curtain back on Philip Morris essentially requiring tobacco farmers in Argentina to spray crops with Roundup from Monsanto and the Bayer insecticide Confidor despite the proverbial overwhelming evidence of the devastatingly harmful effects of doing so.

A brief synopsis of the underlying dilemma is that the quality standards that Philip Morris imposes on the farmers requires using the aforementioned toxic substances despite full knowledge of their nature. This coercion extends to tobacco growing being the only viable option for most of these men and Philip Morris being the only viable buyer for their product.

Igier and LeBrun introduce us to the horrifically malformed children and their families. These tough-to-watch tales include a boy whose lack of pores prevent him from sweating, which causes such discomfort that he scratches himself raw. Another child is virtually literally skins and bones.

Watching a young farmer bring his annual crop to market for the only payment that he will receive all year perfectly illustrates the coercion behind knowingly risking the health of relatives and unborn children. We see the man who assesses the crop state how the product falls short of the standard but agree to pay a reduced amount for it.

The story continues with the restrained farmer commenting on the unfair price while resigning himself to his lack of recourse.

Another story of how the chemicals contaminate the water supply to an extent that greatly adversely affects people who keep their distance from the fields further illustrates the scope of the problem. The pervasive television advertising by Monsanto adds tremendous insult to this injury.

It is equally predictable to see Philip Morris deny the harmful impact from the required weed and insect killers. The comparably anticipated insult this time is the strong-arm tactics of that corporate giant (which is 8 notches shy of making the Fortune 100) that prevent the injured from pursuing legal remedies.

A larger truth is that all documentaries are propaganda, and even propaganda that supports your view is propaganda. It is equally true that Igier and LeBrun most likely highlight the most severe cases in order to bolster their arguments.

The better news for our documentarians and the affected people is that there is no denying that the conditions of the children are almost certainly due to the relevant exposure to chemicals. The same can be said regarding the studied cancer clusters. Further, all this is completely consistent with general public knowledge regarding both the use of chemicals in farming and the behavior of corporate giants. A sad aspect of this is that the HUGE tobacco settlements in the U.S. seem to have lacked any punitive impact on Philip Morris.

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

'Oh Lucy!' BD & DVD: Quirky Tale of Japaneses Spinster Heeding the Advice to Go West

The separate June 5, 2018 Film Movement DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2017 quirky dramedy "Oh Lucy!" comes on the heels of a successful theatrical run. Personal good news regarding this film (which has a 100-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes) is that it does nor reflect the typical juvenile humor of executive-producer Will Ferrell.

The following YouTube clip of a festival trailer for "Lucy" shows this excellence in a manner that is very true to the style of the film.

The titular English-speaking Madonna-wig wearing alter-ego of repressed Japanese office worker Setsuko Kawashima comes into being early in an English class in which Kawashima reluctantly enrolls at the urging of her free-spirited niece Mika. Hunky American in Japan John (Josh Hartnett) plays a big role regarding both the emergence of Lucy and the regard that Kawashima has for the instruction.

This portion of "Lucy" provides a terrific look at modern-day Japan complete with dark commentary that shows the effects of the underlying repression in that country. Writer/director Atsuko Hirayanagi artfully expands on that in a scene in which he builds anticipation of the fallout from a truth bomb that Kawashima drops during an otherwise festive outing. In other words, Hello Kitty and bright anime barely covers the deep despair that seems prevalent in Japan.

True hilarity ensues when John quickly and unexpectedly moving back to Cali prompts Kawashima to pursue him accompanied by actual and emotional baggage. This is turn leads to one of the most wonderfully bizarre road trips ever. The completely unexpected sex (which shows that the quickest way to a man's heart is just below his stomach) and drugs more than compensate for the lack of rock-and-roll. Seeing Kawashima fully assert herself is even more fun.

At the same time, Kawashima experiences shocking trauma during this trip that very few viewers will see coming.

As is the case in all good movies, writer/director Atsuko Hirayanagi saves the absolute best for last. Kawashima fully learns about the nature of kaarma but also gets a sense that the right person for us often is not the most obvious choice.

The bigger picture is the universal element that makes a film Movement worthy. People all over the world lead lives of quiet desperation, have family issues, and and are quick to criticize others for flaws that our delusion prevents us from seeing in ourselves.

Not all of us respond by donning a wig and traveling 1,000s of miles in pursuit of a dream. However, fancons overflow with cosplay participants. This is not to mention the Internet being flooded with gamers who adopt Avatars of their ideals selves.

The bonus features include deleted scenes and a festival chat with Hirayangi.

Monday, June 4, 2018

'M-G-M's The Big Parade of Comedy' DVD: Hilarious 'That's Entertainment' Style Companion to 'When the Lion Roars'

The Warner Archive April 20, 2018 DVD of the 1964 hilarious user-friendly documentary "M-G-M's The Big Parade of Comedy" is another example of Archive demonstrating one of its many exceptional strengths. In this case, this release illustrates the grand continuum of  the Archive caatalog by following up on the Archive DVD of the (reviewed) Patrick Stewart hosted epic mini-series "When the Lion Roars." That one is a comprehensive history of M-G-M.

The back-cover liner notes for "Parade" perfectly convey the expertise of this film by producer/director/writer Robert Youngson. Archive reminds us that Youngson is "most famous for reacquainting the moviegoing public with the titans of the silent era in The Golden Age of Comedy (1957) and When Comedy Was King (1960)."

The focus this time is on classic M-G-M comedies from the '20s to 1948. This pedigree includes Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy," and the "Thin Man" films.

The fun of "Parade" is apparent from the amusing variation on the aforementioned roaring lion that appears before M-G-M productions. This leads  to clever opening credits that consists of a "Who's Who" of early comedy greats. The most notable of this impressive lineup includes Clark Gable and Joan Crawford.

The opening scenes provide an equally entertaining and educational look at the early days of watching movies. This includes information (with accompanying footage of films of the day) about the common elements that early cinephiles demand from these productions.

The action then shifts to the early days of the titular studio. Overlap with "Roars" occurs in the form of mentioning the mandate to produce one film a week. A scene that is hilarious to fans of the Joan Crawford biopic "Mommie Dearest" essentially asserts during footage from the beginning of the career of Crawford that she still is Hollywood royalty (rather than box-office poison) in 1964. A latter scene that depicts an early role of real-life hard-drinker Crawford as a Prohibition agent who infiltrates a speak easy is equally amusing to "Mommie" boys (and girls).

Another memorable segment has Gable and Jean Harlow in a scene that has Gable playing a philanderer who is caught in the act. We get similar footage of Carole Lombard in the (recently reviewed) comedy "The Gay Bride," which has her married to mob for fun and profit.

We further get glimpses of "The Philadelphia Story," an especially hilarious Three Stooges film "Hollywood Party" that also has Laurel and Hardy tangling with Mexican spitfire Lupe Velez, the PERFECT performance of W.C. Fields in "David Copperfield," some of the best physical comedy of Keaton, and far too many other hilarious clips to discuss.

The second biggest picture (no pun intended) this time is that "Parade" illustrates the genius of the studio system. The tried-and-true method is that a future American Idol, such as Crawford, gets on the radar of the "suits." This leads to said thespian being cast in increasingly large parts until he or she gets his or her name above the title of the film on the marquee and the poster.

The biggest picture relates to a statement by legendary comic actress Carol Burnett. In speaking about her eponymous variety show, Burnett notes that she and her cast kept the laughs coming by simply being funny. largely staying away from topical subjects, and never resorting to blue material. She states that funny stands up to the test of time because it always is funny.

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

'Danger Signal' DVD: Male Black Widow Feels Sting of Woman Scorned

Warner Archive keeps the classic noir coming with the recent DVD release of the 1945 thriller "Danger Signal." This one is notable for being especially Hitchcockian regarding the threat being under the same roof as the increasingly suspicious prey.

"Danger" does Hitchcock one better by opening with runaway wife Alice Turner as dead (and limp) as a mackerel on a bed while scoundrel Reggie Mason (Zachary Scott of "Mildred Pierce") takes the money (and the wedding ring) and runs literally a few steps from being caught.

The action then shifts to the lively office of Jane Hathawayesque efficient and well-liked skilled stenographer Hilda Fenchurch (Faye Emerson of the recently reviewed "Hotel Berlin.")  Her clients/friends/potential suitors include psychiatrist Dr. Jill Silla ('60s sitcoms legend Rosemary DeCamp) and biologist Dr. Andrew Lang.

The Hitchcock vibe intensifies when the worlds of Reggie and Hilda collide in a manner in which one can validly blame the mother. Widowed Mrs. Fenchurch is advertising a room for rent in the family house at the same time that the net is tightening around Reggie. The same charm that facilitates Reggie romancing vulnerable woman only to take their lives and their loot results in his becoming the artful lodger in Chez Fenchurch.

"Signal" further follows the model of peerless Hitchcock and his fellow noir filmmakers by showing from the beginning how Reggie plies his trade. The subtle seduction of Hilda includes a tried-and-true technique that solves one mystery regarding the fate of Alice who does not live here anymore.

The highlight of this wooing is a a heavily manipulated weekend away in which Reggie takes the old running out of gas gag to the next level. This leads to a shameful form of regifting that shows the extent of the depravity of our male black widow.

Younger, prettier (and more vulnerable) sister Anne Fernchurch returning home further thickens the plot. It is obvious to all that Reggie is starting to treat Hilda like hamburger compared to her cash cow of a sibling.

Coming out from under the spell of Reggie prompts Hilda to turn from prey to hunter with a little help from her friends; this leads to suspense in the form of whether these allies can execute a timely intervention as the clock essentially winds down.

Some of the best surprises are kept for the last as the true natures of principal players are asserted in manners that achieve as much justice as possible.

The bigger picture this time is that (especially in the Internet Age) everyone is vulnerable to some form of seduction by folks with impure motives. A related aspect of this is the sad fact (especially in this age of abbreviated courtships) that we do not know the "crazy" of the highly significant person in our lives and they do not know ours until after you are living under the same roof. This supports the theory that dogs (and cats) are man's (and woman's) best friend.

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

'The Famous Ferguson Case' DVD: Compelling Morality Tale of Yellow Journalism and Loose Women

Warner Archive once again proves the timelessness of Golden Age films with the May 1, 2018 DVD of the 1932 dramedy "The Famous Ferguson Case." The only difference regarding the yellow journalism and the scum who practice it between then and now is that modern "news" gets reported much more quickly and has a correspondingly rapid impact.

The written crawl that opens "Ferguson" gives folks who pay attention a good sense of the conclusion of this feature-film quality B-movie. The gist of this text is the opening statement of an introductory lecture in a Journalism 101 class.

The message starts out by defining "news" and goes onto describe what disreputable members of the fourth estate label as that commodity. The amazing thing is that this statement is even more true in this era in which CNN, Fox News. and other 24-hour news channel must fill the air with programming that must have a large audience even when nothing news-worthy that is of interest to average Americans is occurring.

Orson Welles provides a variation of this sentiment in arguably the second most famous line in "Citizen Kane." The titular William Randolph Hearst character tells an underling "you supply the pictures, I'll supply the war."

A more amusing perspective on "Ferguson" is that it plays out like the darkest ever episode of "The Andy Griffith Show." The sophisticated city folks come to the hick town believing that the locals are morons only to have the local sheriff reveal the urbanites to be the actual fools.

The primary action in "Ferguson" begins on a typical morning in the small upstate New York community of Cornwall. Bruce Foster (Tom Brown) of the Cornwall Courier newspaper is coincidentally on hand when part-time resident New York banker George Ferguson unexpectedly arrives in town. This also coincides with wife Marcia Ferguson being at the station with friend with presumed benefits local banker Judd Brooks. Meanwhile, Mrs. Brooks is at home pregnant with her little dividend.

Everything seemingly being jake leads to Brown returning to the office to flirt with colleague/girlfriend Antoinette "Toni" Martin. Toni particularly dreams of the couple moving on up to live in a deluxe apartment in in the sky in Manhattan.

Everything changes when hot lead cuts both the life and the vacation of George short, This occurs in his bedroom, and Marcia is found bound and gagged nearby. Her story (and she is sticking to it) is that armed intruders are the culprits. However, the clear response of folks who would know is that the lady of the house is lying.

This shooting propels Tom into action; he uses the wire service of the day to send his story to the big guys. This leads to Manhattan-based newsmen (and one woman) arriving en masse. The most notable of the group are smoothing-talking admitted alcoholic Bob Parks, honorable news veteran Martin Collins, and loose Lois Lane Maizie Dickson. Star Joan Blondell gives an award-worthy performance as this woman who has experienced a lifetime of sins in a few years of adulthood.

The new kids on the block waste no time making themselves at home and shamelessly manipulating developments to further their objectives; this extends to blatantly pulling the strings regarding the development of the criminal case.

Additional fun comes regarding Bob seducing Toni on both a professional and personal level. The stars that he puts in her eyes include both making a name for herself among Manhattan reporters and becoming at least his common-law wife. The aforementioned strong performance of Blondell includes her reactions to witnessing what she has seen (and personally experienced) before and futilely tries to convince Toni to not make the same mistakes. One particularly strong scene reveals the extent to which her life has affected Maizie.

For his part, newshound Tom increasingly becomes aware that Toni is just not that into him anymore and no longer is a girl whom he can bring home to mother. He later learns the extent to which you can keep 'em down on the farm after they have given the city slicker the milk for free. The astounding thing is that these used goods seemingly still interest him.

A surprising game changer occurs roughly 15 minutes before the end of "Ferguson." The "pros" awesomely are caught with their pants down and are repeatedly forced to confront the consequences of their actions. All of this ends on a cynical note that shows that everyone is both disposable and replaceable. We further wonder if Tom will ever have the same good instincts regarding women that he has regarding the news game.

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