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Friday, February 22, 2019

'Doom Room' DVD: Debbie Rochon Shows There is Hell to Pay for Your Sins

The numerous indie horror films in the Wild Eye Releasing catalog nicely reflect a sentiment in the series finale of the Garry Shandling sitcom "The Larry Sanders Show." Shandling remarks during the final broadcast of the late-night talk show that he hosts in the Sanders persona that sometimes you get the '80s failedcom "The Ropers" and sometimes you get something much better. The Eye February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 Debbie Rochon film "Doom Room" is a case of getting the original "Tick" sitcom. "Doom" is unique and has a well-executed clever concept. Rochon rocks as always. 

The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Doom" highlights the supernatural eeriness that evokes thoughts of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the teen girls tormented while held captive film "Split."

Our story begins with Jane Doe having a Panic at the Disco nightmare; she then awakens in the mother of all morning after rooms. It is a a horrific dark chamber with a heavy metal door. Her orientation courtesy of her creepy roommate includes an order to not open the door in response to a loud banging. Doe further learns that "he" freely comes and goes as he pleases. 

The story that quickly emerges is that Doe is a slut who is being punished for her wanton ways; this largely comes in the form of "visitors," who inflict physical and emotional torture on our bad girl. Rochon joining in with her trademark evil grin is far more than half the fun.

The cleverness literally enters the picture as Doe begins to remember the events that bring her to this state; at the outset, this reflects that we are the makers of our own Hell.

Things make more sense in a manner that I know I know is serious as the details come into focus. We learn that this path to destruction begins with Doe defying her mother by wanting to be dirty. This fallen woman falling in with a bad crowd is only the tip of the iceberg. Another relevant truism is the "don't talk to strangers" principle.

Revealing every detail shows that the course of events make sense. This development also puts the Rochon character in perfect context and allows her to take her well-deserved prominent role. 

The bigger picture is that "Doom" proves that psychological alone can be thrilling and that a sinister countenance can be worth a thousand screams.

Wild Eye further delivers regarding the DD extras, Thee include cast and crew interviews and a making-of featurette. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Blu-ray Triple Feature of Joe 'Chekov of Soft Core' Sarno Films

The recent Film Movement Classics triple feature Blu-ray release of '60s and '70s films by Joe "Chekov of Soft Core" Sarno is the latest addition to Classic's "Joseph W. Sarno Retrospect Series." The Unreal TV post on the most recent double feature of "All the Sins of Sodom" and Vibrations" includes links to the separate posts on the first Classics Blu-ray double feature of Sarno films and on the documentary "My Life in Dirty Movies" about Sarno.

This latest collection of Sarno films begins with That '70s Skin Flick in the form of the early '70s movie "Confessions of a Young American Housewife," This one is notable both for being the only color one in "Retrospect" and for being highly amusing, The humor includes a middle-aged woman actually named Mrs. Robinson who seduces the grocery delivery boy. This enticement is pure porn from the first knock at the door to the final bang in the bed, 

The title refers to the aforementioned Jennifer Robinson winning a 1963 "Young American Housewife" award; this is one basis for daughter Carole believing that her now-single mother is living a chaste and celibate life. The audience soon learns that carpets and the drapes of this happy homemaker clash.

Carole also initially thinks that her visiting mother (who enjoys making tasty cream pies) is not cool enough to accept her and the girl-next-door swinging in every possible combination of coupling. Carole learning that her nymphomania is hereditary allows the game to fully get afoot. The modern variations of the Oedipal Complex contribute to the fun.

"Sin in the Suburbs" is an NC-17 version of wonderfully cheesy films about unfulfilled '60s and '70s housewives. The residents of this Peyton Place include the nymphomaniac wife of a young executive, the MILF of a teen daughter with a horny boyfriend, and the grass widow whose divorcee status makes her an outcast. Although her brother is the new man of the house, the fallen woman takes charge of persuading a creditor to not repossess the furniture.

The scandalous secrets extend beyond the aforementioned boyfriend trying to keep it in the family; the copious other action includes a workman who lays down on the job.

All this inspires "Bro" to start a special club for the neighbors. The first two rules of this organization with a strict dress code are that you do not talk about it. Suffice it to say that every member pays his or her dues. 

"Warm Nights, Hit Pleasures" can be considered "The Facts of Life After Dark." A freshman coed at an upstate New York college makes a connection that inspires her to persuade her friends to drop out and to move to Manhattan to find fame and fortune. Of course, they end learning the price of fame. 

The fun extends beyond nude dancing to showing an out-of-towner a good time. One of the girls also bonds with their landlady, who is a "calendar" model. 

Like the other Sarno joints, each of these three movies combine porn-movie acting with good production values and stories with reasonable depth. The set up go well beyond a UPS guy telling a housewife in a negligee that he has a big package for her. Additionally, the artistry of the films leaves a little bit to the imagination.

Several deleted scenes from "Housewife " are a highlight of the DVD extras. Classics saves the best for last by finishing the reel with an orgy scene that seems too hot for Sarno. That one clearly shows that cast loves their work. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

'The Odyssey' DVD: Trojan War Hero Pays Price for Offending Man From Atlantis

Mill Creek Entertainment shows good instincts regarding adding a DVD of the aptly epic 1997 mini-series "The Odyssey" to the MCE "Mini-Series Masterpieces" catalog on February 19, 2019. This month traditionally is a "sweeps period" in which networks broadcast their best productions in an effort to boost ratings. One very nice thing about this production is that it adapts the titular classic narrative in a manner that is not Greek to folks who are unfamiliar with the source material. 

The accolades for this adaptation of the epic poem by the other Homer include a 1997 Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Mini-Series or a Special.

Armand Assante stars as brave and noble Greek warrior Odysseus. The star power behind the camera includes executive-producer Francis Ford Coppola. 

We meet Odysseus on a day that is both one of the best and the worst in his life. He is racing to the side of wife Penelope (Greta Scacchi), who is in labor with their son Telemachus. The buzzkill is a development that requires that Odysseus travel to Troy to battle the Trojans over there so that he does not have to fight them "over here."

The Poseidion adventure begins with that god of the sea facilitating the ruse that gives birth to the expression to beware of men from the other Ithaca bearing gifts. The fabled Trojan horse meets its object of giving Odysseus and his men a huge strategic edge; the rub is that our hero also learns that Hades has no fury like a fellow god scorned.

Poseidion has such a massive hissy fit regarding Odysseus not thanking that deity for his assistance that The Man From Atlantis violates the principle of demonstrating great responsibility regarding great power. This man with a porpoise pulls the dick move of using his power to prevent the foolish mortal from returning to his wife and infant son. 

This leads to our fearless crew om their greatly extended three-hour tour encountering strange new worlds and new civilizations on their far more than five-year mission. Another way of considering this journey is to think of it in terms of what a long strange trip its been. A related theme is that encountered perils reinforce the idea that dames ain't nothin' but trouble.

The first adventure does not involve women; the crew is near death when they think that they have found salvation in the form of a land teeming with food; their glee is short-lived when they learn that they are in the land of the giants (a.k.a. a cyclops clan). A sibling in this family developing a fondness for Greek food and wine is another mixed blessing on the road to Ithaca.

Our boys next become the guests of the sirens; Odysseus (with a little help from the goddess Athena (Isabella Rossellini)) once again uses a combination of brain and brawn to turn things to his advantage. 

Odysseus subsequently feels the sting of being caught between the deep-sea threats of the Scylla and Charibdes. One spoiler is that his later adventure with the goddess Calypso (Vanessa Williams) has him hypnotized by her when he lingers. 

We also see the crew snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Penelope is fending off potential suitors who are desirous of the woman and the other treasures of the long-absent lord of the manor. The frustrations of a now-teen Telemachus include his inability to oust this band of guests who have long overstayed their welcome. This almost literally is a wolves at the bedchamber door situation.

All of this culminates in a gloriously gory battle that once again involves paying the price for disobeying the rules of etiquette. 

The appeal of this production extends beyond telling a tale that is as old time in a manner that caters to the American viewing public. Shooting on location, having a good cast, and including solid humor makes this release a good way to celebrate sweeps month.​

Monday, February 18, 2019


The recent TLA Releasing DVD of the highly erotic 2018 drama "M/M" proves both that gay-oriented films can successfully present the same themes as mainstream fare and that remakes can do a good job updating the source material, This tale of young Canadian (Matthew) in Berlin becoming obsessed with hot German stud (Matthias) is a highly stylized 21st-century version of the 1992 Bridget Fonda/Jennifer Jason Leigh thriller "Single White Female" ( a.k.a. "SWF"). 

"Female" center on the Fonda character fairly literally ending up with the roomie from Hell when she selects the Leigh character to share her digs. Like Matthew, the Leigh character transforms her new friend into the object of her obsession.

The accolades for "M/M" director/writer Drew Lint include the "Best First Narrative Feature" and "Outstanding Artistic Achievement" awards at the 2018 FilmOut San Diego.

The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "M/M" highlights the distinctly German surreal qualities of the film.

Our story begins in the Apple Store style apartment of Matthew. This tightie-whitie clad guy with the best bed head (no pun intended) ever is waking up when Mom calls from Canada, This establishes that our boy is a lonely lad with an active dream life.

The story fully develops as Matthew checks Grind'r while on his job as a pool boy at what either is a bathhouse or a very cruisy aquatics center. Good humor ensues as the app. explodes with photos of numerous Mr. Right Nows. However, Matthew makes eye contact with a clearly interested (and aroused) Matthias, 

The especially strong indications at the end of "M/M" that all of this is an (aptly wet) waking or sleeping dream are a large part of what make the film unique.

The courtship/stalking begins with Matthew following Matthias into the locker room; this leads to several other instances of trailing the prey.

Things get even weirder as Matthew cuts his stylish 'do and changes his wardrobe to more closely resemble the man of his dreams. Taking things to the next level in a very modern fashion further fuels the obsession.

A boyfriend in a coma development turn takes things in a new direction as Matthew gets a chance to more fully slip into the shoes (and the bed) of Matthias. A not-so-guilty confession is admitting to fully losing track of the action at this point; this is more the fault of your not-so-humble reviewer than of Lint. The old-school lesson is to not blink or you may miss something.

Things become more complicated and tense as Matthew more fully immerses himself in the life of Matthias; the awesome ambiguity regarding all this is not knowing the extent to which reality splits from fantasy when (if not before) The Man From Atlantis steps into the shower.

"M/M" definitely will satisfy viewers with an interest in the erotic adventure of hot twinks; it also has enough suspense and twists to hold your attention on a higher cognitive level, All of this amounts to the movie being a good choice for a solo or couples night in on a cold night. The extent to which it inspires a Midwinter's Dream depends on the viewer. 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

'Male Shorts: International V1' DVD: Artistic Erotic Views of Modern Gay Life

The cliche about films with heavy erotic content steaming up a Valentine's Day strongly applies regarding the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release "Male Shorts: International V1." This quintet of approximately 15-minute films provide equally artistic and erotic looks at the lives of 21st-century young gay men. This combination of elements makes "Shorts" a prime (but extreme) example of the edge that Breaking seeks in titles that it adds to its catalog. 

An enticement to fans of erotic gay cinema that also serves as a warning to the feint-of-heart is that these explicit films include many muy caliente scenes. 

Although all five films have strong merits, the two that (pardon the expression) play it the most straight succeed the best. "Just Past Noon on a Tuesday" and "The Storm" have the best narratives and get us to know and relate to the characters.

"Noon" has the most interesting premise of the films. The enlightened (but still-in-the-dark) sister of a gay man who dies of a drug overdose on a toilet in a bathhouse grants the guy who is a friend-with-benefits in polite circles and something else in less polite ones time alone in the penthouse of the deceased. Subsequent snooping results in finding the equivalent of the little black book of the deceased. This leads to a party complete with favors and bonding.

The equally aptly titled "The Storm" revolves around 20-something Leo being infatuated with a local weatherman to the extent of pleasuring himself during forecasts. A chance encounter with restaurateur Luca provides Leo with partial dream fulfillment. This night that is memorable both for the boys and the viewers leads to a not-unduly-surprise conclusion with good potential for a true happy ending.

"Neptune" provides the middle ground in that a gay man who becomes attracted to a fellow swimmer at a local pool does not allow that to slow down his copious individual and group sexual activity.

"La Tappette" is a largely silent depiction of the kinky sexual adventures of a young man; "PD" has a narrator recite Shakespearean sonnets to image of buff naked men in bucolic settings. 

As indicated above, the common element of the films is copious male nudity that mostly is intended as an artistic statement. It further shows relationships that range from lust to love for gay men. Depictions of this ranging from new love that involves an explicit (but sweet) public display of affection to a bathhouse sauna session that quickly turns from a threeway to a fourgy.

Friday, February 15, 2019

'Secret Stories of Hitler' DVD + Digital: Documentaries With New Perspectives on der Fuhrer

The Mill Creek Entertainment January 8, 2019 DVD release "Secret Stories of Hitler" boldly goes where few have gone before. This 2-disc set includes a documentary that presents the titular leader as someone other than the most despised man of the 20th century.

A message that viewers MUST take away from the three films in this set is that even propaganda that supports your side is propaganda. Depicting Hitler as a nice and rational man who is kind to animals and small children should convince everyone to not believe everything that they see without checking out the facts from a source without a horse in the race. A related aspect is the even the most evil human has some redeeming qualities. 

The highly controversial 1974 documentary "Swastika" is the highlight of "Hitler." This movie largely consists of footage from Nazi propaganda films and from home movies that First Frau of Nazi Germany Eva Braun shoots. A modern introduction by a former Harvard teaching assistant provides a good background on the film.

As MCE notes on the back cover of "Stories," the written prologue of "Swastika" clearly reflects the theme of this film. This prose partially states that "If Hitler is dehumanized and shown only as a devil, any future Hitler may not be recognized, simply because he is a human being."

"Swastika" opens with footage of shiny, happy urban newspaper delivery guys loading up their bicycles and pedaling their way through city streets; the images soon shift to arguably ironic footage of trains headed into the beautiful German countryside.

The rural folks include smiling milk maids and similar positive stereotypes.

One of the most surprising things about the subsequent footage by Braun that is interspersed throughout the film is that it is in color. It also is shocking to see Hitler always looking relaxed and mostly smiling; further, he almost always is in civilian garb.

This footage largely looks like any other home movie of that era and the decades that follow. Hitler is a jovial host at his country retreat. He is laughing and joking with the likes of Goering and Himmler. We also see Hitler seeming to enjoy talking with small children and playing with his dogs.

For her part, Braun looks and acts like any other woman of the era. She seemingly equally adores her dogs and Clark Gable and is very at ease among her notorious company. 

It is even more shocking to see Hitler calmly delivering a rational speech to an assembled masses. There is none of the shouting, frantic gestures, and frenzied responses that characterize all Hitler speeches that probably every viewer has seen in archival footage.

A telling scene has Hitler criticizing Goering to other guests. However, he is cool and collected and is not ordering punishment.

Two segments in "Swastika" are the most blatant propaganda in the film. An interview with an American radio commentator has that man assuring German officials that folks over here do not believe the fake news about Hitler; this man goes on to pledge to set the record straight by broadcasting to America from Germany. 

The scenes from "The Eternal Jew" are even more unsettling than the interview with the American. We first see heavily bearded men looking alien and menacing; we then see the same group seeming ill-at-ease after losing their beards and changing into mainstream clothes. The message is that Jews cannot be assimilated into the dominant culture. A similar scene issues a defiant challenge to prove that a single Jew has died during the rule of Hitler. 

Horrific footage that will cause anyone with a soul to turn away from the screen at the end of the film both is more objective and puts the prior 90 minutes of "Swastika" in proper perspective, That brings things full circle back to the opening message that genuinely bad hombres can be difficult to identify until it is too late. 

The bonus features also enhance understanding of "Swastika." One extra has the filmmakers discuss the nature of Nazi propaganda; this conversation includes noting the great extent of the censorship of that era. A highlight is footage that amazingly slips through a very narrow crack.

Another extra discusses Nazi propaganda expert Leni Riefenstahl. We first learn that this filmmaker gets more than a little uncredited help from her friends. We subsequently see that her claims of denial are far from plausible.

As other posts in the Mill Creek Entertainment section of this site does (and will) show, this month being a particularly busy one for MCE releases requires that a timely review of "Hitler" come at the expense of not watching the other documentaries in the set. 

"Hitler: The Untold Story" seems particularly fascinating. This six-part series pulls the curtain back on the fairly well known progression of the rise to power by der Fuhrer. Similar to "Swastika," we see how maintaining a deceiving public image is critical to Hitler maintaining his status.

"U-Boats: Hitler's Sharks" focuses on the importance of the ocean in WWII. The intriguing perspective this time is speculation regarding the impact of an alternate history in which Hitler grants requests for additional submarines. 

The importance of these documentaries and the materials that accompany them is a well-known adage that provides the best perspective of all; those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

'The Key to Rebecca' DVD: Compelling WWII Intrigue Courtesy of Ken Follett and Cliff Robertson

CBS Home Entertainment honors the spirit of "sweeps" with the February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 1985 mini-series "The Key to Rebecca." Another awesome aspect of this one is that CBS seamlessly edits it into a movie without deleting any story footage. 

A fascinating aspect of "Key" is the attitude of some Egyptians toward their British occupiers in WWII. The sense of the enemy of my enemy is my friend extends to choosing Nazis over the British Empire. 

"Key" is a well-produced adaptation of a novel by acclaimed mystery/thriller/historical author Ken Follett. It occurs in WWII-era Egypt and largely centers around widowed American-born British intelligence officer Vandam, William Vandam. Cliff Robertson plays Vandam in this era of "Falcon Cresr" fame for Robertson 

David Soul of the original "Starsky and Hutch" stars as Nazi spy Alex Wolff. He comes on the radar of Vandam after killing a soldier as part of his effort to maintain the covert nature of his activities. 

The titular novel enters the picture (pun intended) as the basis for the titular cipher that Wolff uses to send messages to Rommel (Robert Culp). The related missions of Vandam are to apprehend Wolff and to obtain the aforementioned code. 

Part of the intrigue relate to the central foes enlisting their own Mata Haris to further their goals; Vandam uses the desperate times of kept woman temporarily without a keeper Elene Fontana to coerce her into the desperate measure of befriending Wolff for the purpose of locating his lair.

Wolff is more insidious regarding his female partner. He enlists dancer Sonja El Aram to seduce a British officer; this provides Wolff a source of the material that he feeds Rommel, 

This well-plotted cat-and-mouse game leads to a proverbial thrilling conclusion. Vandam already is highly frustrated regarding Wolff having barely slipped the noose several times and causing collateral damage on each occasion. Wolff making it very personal when the stakes are especially high further fuels the fire. 

The "Key" appeal extends beyond a well-combined mix of elements; they simply do not make 'em like this anymore. As a starting point, WWII seems like irrelevant ancient history to many people. Second, it seems that the good story would not be enough to offset the minimal blood, gore, and sex to modern audiences. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

'Watch on the Rhine' DVD: Bette Davis Shines in Anti-Fascist Drama

The recent Warner Archive DVD of the Oscar-winning 1943 Bette Davis anti-fascist drama "Watch on the Rhine" provides a good chance to watch a film with a still highly relevant message, This story beginning life as a play helps explain the live-stage vibe. The thoroughly delightful "Warner Night at the Movies," which includes a newsreel and a HILARIOUS Daffy Duck cartoon, greatly enhances the WWII-era experience of watching "Rhine."

The screen cred. this time extends well beyond Davis; Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman collaborate on the screenplay, We also get Davis co-star Paul Lukas winning a well-deserved Best Actor  Oscar. The supporting cast including Geraldine Fitzgerald, Beulah Bondi, and Lucille Watcon reinforces that this is one to add to your home-video library.

Watson and Hammett only being nominated for Oscars shows that "Rhine" don't get nearly the deserved respect. The New York Film Critics awarding "Rhine" Best Picture honors in 1943 and the USA National Board of Review similarly lauding the movie and Lukas is solid compensation. 

The following YouTube clip of a "Rhine" trailer highlights all of the elements touched on above; it also shows why the peepers of Bette Davis warrant an '80s pop song.

Our story begins with expat heiress Sara Mueller (nee Farrelly), her German born-and-raised husband Kurt Mueller (Lukas), and their three children heading El Norte across a wall-free border from Mexico to the United States in 1940. They are going to the Virginia family estate of Sara. Widowed Fanny Farrelly (Wilson) still rules the roost with an white-glove-clad iron fist, 

One can easily imagine the reactions of the Von Trapp children on landing in Vermont being akin (pun intended) to that of the Mueller kinder on arriving at the home of their grandmother. This would be especially so if the Von Trapps had lived an impoverished nomadic existence for the prior several years. 

The action soon shifts to breakfast time at Chez Farrelly. Ala Southfork, the adult kids and extended houseguests call the showplace home. Son David has a respectable job befitting the offspring of a former U.S. Supreme Court justice. However, his personal life is not quite as above reproach, His misdeeds include borderline inappropriate behavior with long-time family friend/houseguest Marthe de Brancovis (Fitzgerald).

The loathsome Count Teck de Brancovis  is enjoying a life of luxurious leisure SOLELY courtesy of his marriage. His numerous sins include amassing debt that he has no prayer of repaying and gambling the cash that he acquires. His lenient attitude toward the Nazis displays another of his many characters flaws. 

Worlds collide when anti-fascist Kurt moves into the same house as Teck; the political views of the former and suspicions that he raises prompt the latter to develop thoughts of profiting from his poker-playing Aryan brothers at the German Embassy.

The aforementioned suspicions include Sara and Kurt being cagey regarding their life during  much of the '30s. They clearly have something to hide, particularly from Teck.

Much of the mastery of "Rhine" relates to the manner in which it depicts the rapidly increasing turmoil in Europe proportionately affecting American families. Our central household goes from daily life and Fanny excitedly preparing for the arrival of her daughter and her grandchildren to the tension that must be seen to be understood,

Things fully come to a head when overseas news equally emboldens Teck and causes Kurt justifiable angst. Anyone familiar with Golden and Silver Age Hollywood fare know that both men react in manners that are very true to their characters. At the same time, the resolution is shocking. 

Hammett and Hellman additionally deliver regarding penning a conclusion that is far from a "happily ever after" Hollywood ending. We fully see that war is Hell.

'Year of the Dragon' Blu-ray: Dino De Laurentis' 'Chinatown'

Warner Archive misses it by that much regarding releasing the beautifully remastered Blu-ray of the 1985 crime drama "Year of the Dragon' on February 19 2019, which is a few weeks after Chinese New Year. Although it is is unknown if traditional Chinese culture considers the number 21919 lucky, it is certain that that sequence of digits is lucky for fans of quality neo-noir. 

The street creed. of "Dragon" begins with Mickey Rourke doing his unhinged outsider bit very well as crusading police captain/Vietnam vet Stanley White, who changes his name to conceal his Polish ancestry. The pedigree continues with director Michael Cimino, whose credits include "The Deer Hunter;" we do not discuss "Heaven;s Gate." Cimino also provides audio commentary for this release. 

The man who needs no introduction Oliver Stone co-writes the sceenplayer. Super-producer Dino De Laurentis oversees the entire project.

The overall theme of "Dragon" is that there is big trouble in Little China (a.k.a. the Manhattan Chinatown). Gangs of young punks are moving in on the territory of the established crime bosses; this largely takes the form of muscling in on the protection rackets and enforcing the "or else" aspect of this with extreme prejudice, For their part, the caught-in-the-middle respectable Italian businessmen are upset with the old bosses for not keeping the kids in line.

Stereotypical son-in-law Joey Tai (John Lone of "The Last Emperor)) also is a man in the middle. His impatience regarding waiting for his father-in-law to retire prompts Joey to commit his own act of extreme prejudice. The consequences of this include the seemingly age-old pattern of a family business suffering each time that the next generation assumes leadership of the enterprise, 

The civilian with a horse in the race is Asian television reporter Tracy Tzu, who is investigating the increased violence in Chinatown. The good news is Tzu represents a positive image of a well-educated Asian woman with a success story that begins with a great-grandfather whose life in America consists of difficult menial work under very difficult circumstances.

The bad news is that many folks who are familiar with the long-running crude animated sitcom "Family Guy" will think of the character whose on-air reports always begin with "this is Asian reporter Tricia Takanawa" when they see Tzu on the job. The better news is that such a reprehensible connection prompts deep feelings of shame. 

Our oft-transferred White knight, who does not work or play well with others, enters the picture in the midst of all this, Irony appears in the form of the same police officials who look the other way in exchange for the Old Guard keeping the peace in Chinatown calling in White knowing that he does not play that way.

On the homefront, Mrs. Connie White is fully frustrated regarding the prices that she pays regarding the efforts of her husband to protect and serve the general population with doing either her. His teaming up with Tzu does not help matters. 

The rest of the story is that a hilarious noir version of divine intervention is helping White with his effort to disrupt a massive drug deal with which Tai is involved. Other humor enters the picture in the form of a rookie being the only reliable option regarding using an undercover cop.

Our team of experts in-front-of and behind-the-camera particularly deliver as events build to the inevitable showdown between White and Tai. The collateral damage is high and more violent than expected, and White learns that no good deed goes unpunished. The lack of a sequel is the real crime.

As the disclaimers (and the reference to Takanawa) regarding the depiction of Chinese culture reflect, "Dragon" sadly is a film that likely would not be made in 2019. The backlash against the stereotypes despite the sympathy expressed toward the treatment of Asian immigrants would be the tip of the iceberg. The violence against women and the lack of female police officials would seal the deal regarding "Dragon" not even seeing the light-of-day as a direct-to-video release in the Wal-Mart bargain bin.

The same right-thinking people who do not judge people based on stereotypes and who find abuse of anyone abhorrent should realize that fictional depictions of those ills are PURELY for entertainment purposes and do not necessarily reflect the views of those associated with the production. It does not seem that depicting a female who ultimately must obey her man and allow him to imprison her in a bottle for merely asserting her views stops anyone from loving "I Dream of Jeannie,"

Context, people. Context. ​

'Professional Sweetheart' DVD: Ginger Rogers Shows Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

The recent Warner Archive DVD release of the 1933 Ginger Rogers romcom "Professional Sweetheart" provides a good chance to see a film from the period between introducing the Hays Code and  enforcing it. The surprising candidness of this film includes actually using the term "virgin" in reference to the titular beau. 

The bigger picture thus time is the still-relevant issue of a celebrity whose career requires a squeaky-clean image feeling frustrated regarding an inability to express his or her true self. One need look no further than the numerous Disney Channel guys who go on to play bad-boy roles. 

Our story this time commences with the beginning of a radio broadcast starring new American darling Glory Eden (Ginger Rogers). The whole story is that the orphaned waif very recently turned sensation is demanding that a specific item of sexy lingerie be in the studio by the end of the show. If not, the four-letter word in the sign-off will be not be the scripted one of "love." 

The desire of sponsor Ipsie-Wippsie Wash Cloth and others with a horse in the race extends beyond avoiding having Glory utter one of the seven dirty little words that you cannot say on the radio. This group is eager to lock in Glory by having her sign a contract, 

Another immediate challenge is ensuring that visiting reporter Elmerada de Leon does not discover any inconvenient truths. The always great Zasu Pitts particularly shines in this role. 

The action shifts to the deluxe apartment in the sky where Glory lives, An awesomely enlightened aspect of this home life is young black maid Vera, played by under-appreciated actress Theresa Harris., It is very striking that Vera is much more out-spoken maid Florence of the '70scom "The Jeffersons" than the MUCH MORE TYPICAL Hattie McDaniels Mammy-style servant of the '30s.

Vera clearly is the equal of Glory and her only true friend in her entourage. The wonderful first scene with Vera has her gleefully gossiping with Vera and teaching her a new dance step. It is just as terrific to hear about Vera having a boyfriend and that couple having tremendous fun in the Harlem nightclubs that Glory aches to visit.

Reality setting in for Gloria at this time is a less positive aspect of her domestic life. She is forbidden from ordering food that is inconsistent with her oft-mentioned image. She also discovers that the extent of the morals clause in her unsigned contract prohibits male companionship. Glory making it very clear that she strongly wants to get her some is another reflection of "Sweetheart" coming in the period between the introduction and the enforcement of the Code.

The titular American quasi-gigolo enters the picture as a form of compromise; The "suits" will allow Glory to have a man in her life so long as he meets wholesomeness requirements that include being Anglo-Saxon. This early version of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" involves largely randomly selecting Kentuckian Jim Davey (Norman Foster) to be the future Mr. Glory Eden. Fun here includes the immediate effort to manage the public image of this pawn.

Hilarity full ensues as our country cousin visits the big city for the first time. He and Glory hit it off well enough to have what may be the fastest courtship, engagement, and wedding in reel and real history.

Jim naively taking his new highly significant other at her word leads to giving her what she says that she wants; this, of course, leads to more trouble. Meanwhile, a rival corporate suitor is hoping to add Glory to its stable. 

In the end, all involved take the path of greatest fulfillment, Discovering whether one can his or own wedding cake and eat it too requires watching the film. 

'American Vandal' S1: Hilariously Redickilous Satire of 'The Staircase'

CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution terrifically team up to bite the hand that feeds them regarding the February 12, 2019 DVD release of S1 of the Netflix series "American Vandal." This certified-fresh series satirizes fellow Netflix fare "The Staircase" and other true-crime series. A personal endorsement is staying up way past a personally imposed bedtime to find out "whodunit" in this amusingly compelling series. 

Unintentional satire in "Vandal" is following the tradition of casting clearly post-adolescents as high-school students. Jimmy Tatro ("22 Jump Street") does well as literal prime-suspect Dylan Maxwell, but the series does not address why this 25 year-old is a a high-school senior. This is not to mention 26 year-old Calum Worthy ("Austin and Ally") in his hilarious role as disliked honor-student Alex Trimboli. For that matter, Worthy checks the box for the former Disney Channel star showing that he is all grown-up. Dez would never lie about Ally providing a "helping hand." 

The following YouTube clip of a Netflix trailer for "Vandal" is almost guaranteed to make you laugh; an absolute guarantee is that the clips include more drawings of penises than any other promo. for any film or television series. 

"Vandal" Creator Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda demonstrate perfect instincts regarding setting a documentary series investigating a headline-grabbing crime at a high school.

The fun begins with the central offense being the hilarious prank of spray painting penises (a.k.a. dicks) on every car in the faculty parking lot on a day that there is no school because the teachers are at an all-day meeting, The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings illustrate that the type of antics that relate to the vandalism OFTEN are entertaining and ALWAYS provide fodder for gossip girls and boys.

One spoiler is that the season-ending "Breakfast Club" epilogue comments on high-school culture. All students are subject to quick and permanent labels. This reinforces the larger concept that something traumatic that happens to someone else is devastating to them and hilarious to us.

A strong element of this is the epic high-school party that is discussed for the rest of the year. The relevant issues this time include how the claim of breaking a school drinking record affects the credibility of eye-witness Trimboli. We also see analysis of cell-phone footage that show conspirators plotting the evil deed.

The hilarious concept for presenting all this is AV nerd Peter Maldonado producing the eponymous documentary series; his dual objectives are to clear the name of Maxwell and to discover the actual culprit. Much of this consists with interviews with textbook (pun intended) stoner meathead Maxwell, whom Tatro perfectly plays. The DVD bonuses included must-see extended interviews with Maxwell and other equally funny talking heads. 

Some of the best humor relates to Maxwell having tormented Spanish teacher Ms. Shapiro for years; this including the lad daily drawing a penis on the classroom whiteboard does not help his case. On a brighter note, this circumstantial (and circumcised) evidence also indicates that possibility of someone framing Dylan.

A related issue is Peter noting that the style of the penises on the whiteboards and on the cars have several differences. We further get a reconstruction that addresses the time required to spray paint a penis. 

"Vandal" does an excellent job both with the pacing of the series and in keeping things plausible.To paraphrase P.T. Banum, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American teenager. 

The extra-credit aspect of "Vandal" is that is shows that hope remains regarding the quality of "single-cam" "modern" mockumentary television series.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

'Rick and Morty' S1-3 DVD & BD: Emmy-Winning 'Back to Future' and 'Futurama' Mash-Up Is Fanboy Fantasy

The Adult Swim/Warner Brothers separate February 12, 2019 DVD and Blu-ray releases of S1-3 of the Swim series "Rick and Morty" provides a chance to ensure that you "get some" on Valentine's Day from the fanboy in your life. Discovering the full-sized collectible poster is even more exciting than finding a toy in a cereal box. 

This brainchild from Dan Harmon of "Community" fame and Justin Roiland of the kinder and gentler ready-for-primetime Cartoon Network series "Adventuretime" essentially transports Doc. Brown and Marty McFly from "Back to the Future" to the more subversive and surreal world of once Cartoon Network staple "Futurama." The strong "screw you, Leonard" vibe of "Rick" provides much of the fun. 

A weekly mission substitutes for the concept of a delivery on "Futurama." The concept of benign or hostile aliens threats bringing mankind on the brink of destruction remains the same, IMDb describes "Rick" in more general terms by stating that it is about "the exploits of a super scientist [Rick] and his not-so-bright grandson [Morty]." Roiland successfully pulls off  a MacFarlane by voicing both leads. 

The Ricktastic accolades begin with a 9.3 IMDb rating and a 97-percent Rotten Tomatoes result. IMDb also lists "Rick" as the Number 9 Top-Rated Show; "Seinfeld" and "The Twilight Zone" do not make the Top 10. The 14 official wins include the 2018 Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program.

The its funny because its true concept of "Rick" is that Rick Sanchez is a brilliant inventor but a barely functional alcoholic and lousy grandfather and father; this is not to mention a largely unrepentant scoundrel who would sell his mother just for the fun of it. His two creations that primarily facilitate the aforementioned escapades with emotional dim-bulb Morty are a flying car that is capable of space flight and a portal gun that creates wormholes to other dimensions.

The rest of the story is that S1 begins a year after Rick moves in with daughter/horse surgeon Beth Smith (Sarah Chalke of "Roseanne" and "Scrubs.") The abandonment issues of Beth are behind condoning her father repeatedly causing destructive chaos in their home and even more frequently putting her son and other family members (including herself) in harm's way. 

The dysfunction continues with wimpy unemployed advertising guy Jerry (Chris Parnell) showing that the mushy apple does not fall far from the worm-infested tree. Hilarity often ensues as Rick gleefully emasculates the purported man of the house. We also are regularly reminded that our not-so-happy-couple results from a portal-gun wedding after Jerry knocks up Beth with oldest sibling/typical big sister Summer (Kelsey Grammer daughter Spencer Grammer). 

The bigger picture is that "Future" fans will see elements of the McFlys from that franchise in the Smiths. A related cool note is that a comment by Roiland in a two-part "Origins" home-video special-feature notes that he gives Morty at least a semblance of testicles to avoid him entirely being the bitch of his grandfather.

This family dynamic provides the fodder for the best "Rick" episodes. A personal fave has Rick bringing Beth and Jerry to an alien marriage-counseling center. The therapy there includes outfitting each spouse with a device that physically manifests the image that that person has of his or her significant other. 

Hilarity ensues with Jerry conjuring a vicious heartless monster version of Beth, and she shows that she views her husband as a slug. Those creations breaking loose and wreaking havoc is not even the end of the story. The Smiths are left to fend for themselves against their own worst enemies. The outcome that reflects that love conquers all is not much kinder or gentler. 

A similar episode has Rick paying the price for extreme measures to avoid a family counseling session, Suffice it to say that he finds himself in a constant pickle while proving that he remains a bad ass regardless of what he faces. 

We also get Rick and Morty dropping off Dad at a very customized alien daycare center, the family surviving by discovering that any happy memory is false, and an especially hilarious Christmas episode in which Jerry learns that his parents have a new special friend; the fact that his dad primarily is a spectator further reflects the dynamic of our central family.

Another highlight takes the hackneyed concept of a love spell gone wrong to an awesomely extremely perverse level. Rick trying to help Morty "court" dream girl Jessica quickly gets out of bounds to the extent of creating an aforementioned world-threatening sitch. The manner in which Rick resolves this is one of the most dark and cynical in television history; it also reminds us that everyone is disposable. 

Roiland and Harmon also especially delver regarding the season-ending cliffhangers. This begins with an S1 season finale that has Rick and Summer gang up against Morty to throw initially separate wild parties while the 'rents are away. Suffice it to say that rowdy teens and quirky aliens have plenty in common.

This leads to Rick using his tech. to provide plenty of time to rebuild the house before Jerry and Beth walk in the door; the rub is that squabbling that skips a generation brings the entire universe on the brink of destruction. 

The S1 finale also sets the stage for the epic S2 season-ender. The family attending a wedding with a tie to the aforementioned festivities leads to one of many cases in which it seems that Rick will be held accountable for his crimes against humanity and seemingly every other species in parallel dimensions. This leads to a hilarious battle of wills in which Rick once again shows that lacking much of a conscience while also not hesitating to exploit the vulnerability of an enemy is effective. It also allows this madman with an evil mind to face off against his foes that comprise the Council of Ricks. 

The epic S2 season-finale has the president (who clearly is not Trump) call in Rick and Morty to exterminate an alien in the White House. Rick adopting an extreme "Screw you, Leonard" attitude of course makes a bad situation much worse. We simply will need to wait for the S4 premiere sometime in 2109 to see how things fully shake out.

The copious home-video extras extend well beyond the aforementioned "Origins" feature. We get commentary and animatics for every episode, deleted scenes, a look at Parnell rocking it during a recording session, and other treats.

Friday, February 8, 2019

'Playtime With Puppy Dog Pals' DVD: Doggone Good Emmy-Winning Disney Fun For Kids of All Ages

Speaking as someone who has not pooped his pants for at least a year allows assuring fellow grown-ups that the Disney Junior January 22, 2019 DVD release "Playtime With Puppy Dog Pals" will delight you as much as any toddler in your life. The warning this time is that the insidiously infectious theme song with the the lyrics "Pu pu pu puppy dog paaals; arf, arf, arf arf" is highly addictive. The tune that features "we're goin' on a mission; goin' on a mission" that virtually every episode features comes a close second.

This release follows the reviewed "Puppy Dog Pals: Going On A Mission" that includes the first several episodes of this current Disney Junior network series for kids 2 AND UP. 

The simple but brilliant concept of this cousin of "The Secret Life of Pets" is that the titular animated (in both senses of the word) canines are adorable grey pug Bingo and his equally cute tan pug brother Rolly, so named for his addiction to puddles of both the water and mud variety. They live with sweet-and-kind inventor Bob (creator Harland Williams), indulgent but not-so-sweet cat Hissy, and hyper-active robot dog A.R.F.

The two cartoons in each episode typically begin in the morning as Bob is heading off to work. Something minor usually goes awry; this prompts the boys to discuss how to put right what once went wrong and then execute their plan. An example from "Playtime" is Bob having a string of bad luck leads to Bingo and Rolly researching good luck charms. This results in the pups going to Ireland in search of a four-leaf clover. The fun of this outing and all others is that our heroes accomplish the mission that often brings them abroad and make it home before an oblivious Bob returns from toiling at the cubicle farm.

Our scuba doggies go down under in both senses of the word to dive around the Great Barrier Reef after a package for Bob gets lost in transit; an especially cute fresh-water mission has the boys trying to recover the favorite fishing pole of Bob from a scavenger/hoarder snapping turtle. The pugs take to the water one more time to rescue new family addition Olivia the fish after her bowl accidentally becomes air-borne.

The good folks at Disney Junior enhance the fun of the above escapades and a few more (including a visit from the fang fairy and an adventure puppysitting a large dopey mutt) with bonus episodes that feature the new girl-next-door Keia. The fun begins with Bingo and Rolly looking for their new gal pal after she goes off the leash and wanders off. This is not to mention helping Keia find a unicorn, and our new trio dealing with a party gone out-of-bounds that brings down the dog house, 

The fun continues with a series of "Playtime" shorts that revolve around the recreational activities of our pugnacious leads and their party animal friends. A raucous pool party is the best, closely followed by an effort to build a play set.

The appeal of all this relates to the joyful silly fun to which all dog lovers can relate. The elan of Bingo and Rolly is incredibly infectious.