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Sunday, August 31, 2014

'For No Good Reason' BD & DVD: Fascinating in-Depp Doc. of Hunter S. Thompson Collaborator Ralph Steadman

Product Details

The Sony Pictures Classic Blu-ray and DVD releases, which hit real and virtual store shelves on September 2 2014, of the 2012 Johnny Depp hosted and narrated Ralph Steadman documentary "For No Good Reason" provide an excellent primer on one of the most creative artists of the '60s and '70s. The element that bonds Steadman and Depp is their regard and affection for gonzo journalist (and "Doonsebury" inspiration) Hunter S. Thompson.

It is particularly awesome as well that the title of "Reason" is an homage to Thompson. As Steadman explains, the Thompson philosophy includes that things sometimes simply are what they are.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Reason" further illustrates (of course, pun intended) both the artistic process and style of Steadman and the awesome compatibility between that work and that of Thompson.

Much of the film consists of Steadman reminiscing with Depp regarding the adventures and joint projects involving the former and Thompson. Other scenes, including a highly entertaining early one that shows the unique artistic process of Steadman, focus on the art itself.

The very surreal and figuratively and literally twisted images of the caricatures, animation, and other art of Steadman are both disturbing and brutally honest. These elements are among those behind Thompson recruiting Steadman to draw the illustrations for Thompson's book "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," which provides the basis for a Depp film.

Steadman shares that his bromance with Thompson begins when they are paired to cover the 1970 Kentucky Derby. Finding that they share the same warped outlook and similar counter-culture hobbies leads to a strong friendship and several future collaborations.

The art itself steals the show; watching this truly free-flowing technique create paintings and short films is fascinating, and the animation is extraordinarily stylized. This aspect of "Reason" makes it particularly apt for the Blu-ray format.

Further, Steadman is very nice and seems much more grounded than Thompson. The fact that a man who seems like the nice guy down the street makes such twisted images with exceptional elan will make you wonder what Good Ole Mr. Wilson in the split-level a few doors down gets up to.

All of this adds to a documentary that exceeds the twin goals of this genre of entertaining and informing.

The exceptional bonus features include a must-see animated fable by Steadman and an interview session during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at which "Reason" aired.

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

Friday, August 29, 2014

'Young Justice' S1 BD: Boy Wonder Meets World

Young Justice:S1 (26eps) (BD)
The recent 2-disc Blu-ray (BD) release of the 2011-2012 26-episode first season of the Cartoon Network series "Young Justice" is the latest 2014 Warner Archive release of a set from the modern super hero genre.

Unreal TV has already shared thoughts on the awesome BD release of the first season of  "Green Lantern: The Animated Series," posted a review of the equally good BD release of the first season of "Batman: The Bold and the Brave" and mused on the BD  release of the first half of the more recent and much darker "Beware the Batman."

September 2014 will be a good one for fanboys of all ages in bringing new BD sets of "Brave" and "Beware."

Before getting to the heart of "Justice," the modern origins of the series deserve a brief homage. The depressing decline of traditional Saturday morning cartoons in the '80s and '90s led to consolation in the form of new series that included the highly stylized "Superman: The Animated Series" and "Batman: The Animated Series." The caliber of both the animation and voice actors highlighted the wonderful shortcomings of both in the beloved less expensively produced fare of the '70s and '80s.

"Justice" awesomely starts with some of the central junior superheroes (do not even think of calling them sidekicks) battling aside their paired elders against ice-themed villains. These conflicts are occurring in the hours before the Robin the Boy Wonder and the teens are scheduled for the "honor" of being allowed inside the Hall of Justice, which is the seeming headquarters of the Justice League to which the "prime" superheroes belong.

In very realistic teen fashion, learning that their access to the big leagues is insultingly limited prompts the young offenders to go rogue. This involves taking on a dangerous mission without the knowledge or consent of Batman and the other big boys. Those of us denied permission for unchaperoned overnight trips and other "perks" during our senior year of high school despite being good boys and girls for four years can relate.

The most awesome part of this virgin (of course, pun unintended) outing for the group that includes Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad is having the first super-villain whom they face comment that they are not your "typical meddling kids." Giving the Scooby-Doo gang a chance to respond to that sentiment would be an uber-awesome follow-up to '70s Scooby and Batman animated adventures.

This momentous adventure also brings Superboy into the mix and leads to the Justice League handing over their former headquarters inside Mount Justice to the new kids on the block and establishing them as the titular crime-fighting group.

The oft-repeated guidelines are that Red Tornado supervises, Black Canary manages the training, and Batman makes the assignments. Other members of the Justice League show up to lend a hand, and members of the super-villian equivalent "The Legion of Doom" help keep things interesting.

The challenges that the young defenders face extend well beyond ensuring that truth, justice, and the American way prevail to juggling their superhero duties with high school-oriented obligations and resisting using their enhanced abilities to make their lives easier in the latter. Bringing these studies bring our gang into contact with great "Super Friends" characters is a wonderful bonus and clearly shows "old school" love.

The group that must somehow form a not your ordinary modern family faces choosing a leader and re-evaluating that selection when they and/or the current BHOC has doubts regarding that selection, contends with the embarrassing consequences while joined telepathically, find a way to remain a close-knit group despite the dating drama that often plagues any group of teens, and further deals with various manifestations of teen angst that plagues adolescents (and adults) of all abilities and origins.

Like most other 21st century Warner superhero series, "Justice" additionally has a handful of continuing story arcs that appear to varying degrees throughout the season. These include ongoing resentment by the superteen formerly known as Speedy, the inclusion of a team member who qualifies for the name Mole Man (or Woman), the mystery regarding the common element of the attacks at the beginning of the pilot, and the complicated nature of the relationship between Superman and the "Justice" version of Superboy.

All of this adds up to an entertaining and witty series in which even the obnoxious Robin and Kid Flash are largely likable. Robin calls attention to obvious flaws in the English language, and seeing Kid Flash show his complete lack of game will keep you smiling. Further, the shameless regular exposure of the abs of steel with which Superboy is blessed will appeal to a wide range of audience members.

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

'Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie' DVD & VOD: In Search of "E.T." The Video Game


On the surface (pun intended), the Cinemassacre production of "Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie" (which hits VOD platforms on September 2 2014 and comes out on DVD in November 2014) seems to be an overly long version of a hilarious web series of the same name. This initial reaction evokes painful memories of films, such as "It's Pat" and "A Night at the Roxbury," based on popular SNL characters.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the spoiler-laden "Nerd" trailer demonstrates all of the wonderful intentional cheesiness of the film and shows how it can seem that it all is a bit much.

Doing minimal homework reveals that "Nerd" is simply too cool for many of us to get; candor requires admitting giving up on this nearly two-hour movie after roughly an hour and finishing it the next day. Reading one short relevant news article in the interval brought everything into perspective in a manner that enhanced the enjoyment of the film.

Signs of love related to the project are that an online fundraising campaign by fans of the web series covered the production costs of the film and a small army of VFX artists volunteered their services to making the movie.

The awesome concept that the titular malcontent, expertly played by character creator (and film writer/director) James Rolfe, uploads hilarious 15-minute stream-of-consciousness thoughts regarding video games is easily comprehensible. Further, those of us who feel compelled to share our pop culture views can relate to the pleasure that Rolfe derives from ranting about games that particularly irk him.

This is akin to hatred associated with the rare despicable DVD release, such as the "Stargate Infinity: The Complete Series" set. "Infinity" is the only one of 1,000s of sets purchased over roughly eight years that has evoked a strong desire to return it because it is that unwatchable.

Further, Rolfe is a master at expressing himself in a fall-on-the-floor manner. This relates to the segments in the film that involve his profanity-laden rants often being along the lines of declaring that finding a gnat on Bigfoot's scrotum is easier than achieving an objective in a reviewed game.

The plot in the film involves a video game company that plans to release a sequel to the real-life 1982 Atari "E.T." video game, which is considered a monumental flop, wanting to recruit Nerd to review the new product. The warped marketing thinking is that Nerd giving the sequel a negative review will actually boost sales because gamers will want to see if it is actually that bad.

Personal verification of that theory relates to purchasing the DVD of the film "Child Bride" in response to Kevin Murphy of the "Mystery Science 3000" (MST 3K) '90s cable series commenting in an interview that "Bride" was too tasteless to feature on MST 3K. Murphy also correctly indicates that his comment will prompt Misties to buy "Bride."

Learning of the new game triggers PTSD in Nerd, who has horrible memories of the original. This also relates to one of the best lines in this purposefully bare bones film; Nerd comments on waking up from a nightmare that even his dream sequences are low budget.

In typical film-based-on-a-television concept, the campaign to get Nerd to review the new game sends him, his sidekick, and a video game executive, on a search for a rumored New Mexico desert  in which a large quantity of the original "E.T." cartridges are buried.

This quest leads to a plethora of stereotypes. The video game rep. becomes a love interest for Nerd, a crazed military officer pursues our gang, and the group meets an eccentric recluse with information that is very relevant to their mission.

A real-life April 2014 news article covers the unearthing of a large quantity of cartridges of the original "E.T." game and confirms the lore in the film that Atari rushed production of the game to have it available for the 1982 Christmas shopping season. This article further verifies the other background information in the film regarding the game.

The 45 minutes watched after the extended intermission regarding watching the film essentially is the grand finale to a fireworks display. Rolfe and his team keep throwing mismatched stock footage, middle-school production killer robots, toy models, and every other z-movie cliche at the audience to awesome effect. This all ends with a closing credits segment that should satisfy every existing Nerd fan and make one out of the rest of us.

All of this makes "Nerd" akin to a comic adventure of a descendant of Jimmy Hoffa having wacky misadventures while on his way to dig up the body of that legendary figure in order to collect an inheritance or otherwise profit.

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

'Stage Struck' DVD: Noir Fable

Stage Struck (1948)
Warner Archive provides lovers of classic film a glance at yet another variation on the noir genre in releasing the 1948 drama "Stage Struck" on DVD; this purposefully obvious cautionary tale is designed to warn young women about the dangers of coming to New York to pursue stardom. One scene related to said quest in which a teacher advises one such ingenue to use her diaphragm more will appeal to the 12 year-old boy in all of us.

"Struck" opens with disreputable nightclub owner Benny Nordick murdering an innocent Ohio girl. Small-time thug Nick Mantee witnessing this event and dumping the body like a sack o' spuds results in Mantee forcing Nordick into taking him in as a partner in that business and a "talent agency" that provides the "club" a steady stream of young girls who come to New York with stars in their eyes and tap shoes on their feet.

A team with the Bureau of Missing Person Division of the NYPD identifying the victim as said Buckeye State native prompts veteran detective Lieutenant Williams and his personal ingenue Sargent Ramey to visit the family and friends of the aspiring actress now residing on a slab at the morgue. This portion of the investigation provides entertaining background regarding the covert move to the Big Apple that becomes rotten to the core.

An apparent lack of progress prompts loving little sister Nancy Howard to play Nancy Drew in the form of following in the footsteps of her big sister with the hope of tracking down the killer of said sibling on her own.

Nancy getting as far as becoming the fresh young face at the club that Nordick and Mantee own both provides an explicit look at exactly how dirty that business is and sets the stage for great suspense. Even though Nancy is a tough little sister, she quickly learns whom she better call Mister that night.

Aside from a wonderful vibe that "Struck" is a particularly serious and well-done "very special" episode of the '80s sitcom "The Facts of Life," which has an episode that places 13 year-old Tootie at risk of becoming a Times Square hooker, this film benefits from a very good cast. Notes on this subject on the back cover of the DVD provides additional insight regarding this.

As indicated above, the well-blended combination of an "Afterschool Special" and medium-boiled noir film make "Struck" an unique film that rates a place in your DVD collection.

Anyone with a question or comment regarding "Struck" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

'Almost Human' S1 DVD: 'Scrubs' Meets 'Cagney and Lacey'

Almost Human: The Complete First Season
One of many spectacular things regarding the recent Warner Archive three-disc 13-episdoe DVD release of the first season of the Fox scifi action-adventure show "Almost Human" is that it demonstrates the value of DVD sets regarding taking a second shot at shows. A history of newer "mega-capacity" Tivos breaking down if the capacity is maintained at 40 percent or higher resulted in a purge earlier this year that included the unwatched recordings of the first several episodes of this series.

The DVD release provided an opportunity to see what was missed, and it was spectacular! Further, considering the unwarranted cancellation of this series, it is nice the exec. producers J.J. Abrams and the lesser-known J.H. Wyman of the highly creative Fox series "Fringe" end with an episode that is equally apt as a season and a series finale.

The opening credits of "Human" nicely summarize the concept of the series, which is that the scope and nature of criminal activity by 2048 has necessitated augmenting human police forces with androids. The soon-to-be reviewed 1980 scifi series "Beyond Westworld" provides an alternative version of the effect of letting advanced androids loose among the general populace.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the scene-laden trailer for "Human" includes a good sense of the lore and style of the series.

"Human" focuses on Det. John Kennex, who returns to active duty in the pilot following a long period of leave after leading an catastrophically botched raid. The only disappointment regarding casting Karl Urban, who plays Bones in the Abrams "Star Trek" reboot is that we never hear him utter any phrases such as "Damn it! I'm a detective, not a chauffeur."

An "accident" involving the MX model "synthetic" that is assigned to John early in the pilot results in pairing him with an earlier DRN model known as Dorian. The "flaws" regarding DRNs are that, like Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" using his emotion chip, DRNs have artificial feelings and emotions that caused some of them to go off the rails.

The naming of this pair John and Dorian is a wonderfully sly Abrams style reference to former "Must See" NBC sitcom "Scrubs," which centers around the life of "newbie" medical intern John Dorian. The fact that the best friend of that Dorian is black and that black actor Michael Ealy plays Dorian on "Human" is another nice nod to the earlier series.

Having the likable and (mostly) innocently intrusive Dorian annoy the rather grumpy and private-minded Kennex provides great entertainment in the numerous scenes of them riding around in Kennex's car. Highlights include Dorian using his tech. to issue Kennex a ticket for running a red light and noting that a scan of Kennex indicated an urgent need for sexual release are two of many highlights of that type of humor.

One of the most entertaining scenes of this type satisfies any curiosity regarding the extent to which Dorian is anatomically correct.

The overall theme of the crime-of-the-week that the 21st century version of Holmes and Yoyo investigate is that good tech. is adapted and/or co-opted for evil purposes. These include disgustingly enhancing the realism of encounters with sexbots, illegal cloning, a black market ring that uses artificial hearts for blackmail purposes, and the most extreme plastic surgery procedures ever.

A less prevalent theme relates to John learning more about the raid that impacted him so strongly professionally and personally. Flashback scenes of this event further partially explain the animosity that John feels regarding Artificial American officers.

Season  highlights include Dorian teaming up with an exact duplicate of himself to solve a case and enjoy the bonus of driving John crazy, wonderfully quirky lab rat Rudy being over zealous regarding going in the field on an undercover assignment, and the occasional blasting of an MX model into a tiny pieces.

The extra-special bonus features include deleted scenes and a film of a 2013 Comic-Con panel on  "Human."

The overall analysis of this view of the world 30 plus years in the future is that the degree of advanced tech. seems feasible and the depictions of people not properly utilizing tech. is very realistic in an era in which people use the Internet to watch cute videos of photos and hackers run amok in databases of the credit card information of customers.

The skill with which Abrams et al pull this off makes the lack of a second season disappointing. One can only hope both that "Gotham" is a worthy successor to "Human" in its former time slot and that the former gets a second season if it does its successor proud.

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

Sunday, August 24, 2014

'Wizards and Warriors' CS DVD: That '80s D & D Show

Wizards and Warriors: The Complete Series
Warner Archive once again demonstrates its related immense diversity and talent for digging up wonderfully obscure films and television shows in releasing the 1983 eight-episode hour-long dungeons and dragons (D&D) (or swords-and-sorcery) spoof "Wizards and Warriors" on DVD. One of the many great things about this lost treasure is that both the style and tone are very reminiscent of "The History of the World: Part I" and other Mel Brooks spoofs of the era.

Other great '80s vibes regarding "Wizards" include having "Blossom" executive producer Don Reo at the helm and the credits using a similar (if not identical) font as fellow serio-comic '80s series "The Greatest American Hero."

Cashing in on the D&D craze of the time, "Wizards" focuses on the efforts of valiant Prince Valiant type Prince Erik Greystone to thwart the evil scheme of the week that arch-nemesis Prince Dirk Blackpool concocts and uses his equally naughty wizard Vector to put into play.

The following YouTube video of the opening credits of "Wizards" offers a glimpse of the titular characters and of the fun spirit of the show. This includes the technique of shifting to graphic novel (we Gen Xers call them comic books) style animation that is also used just before each break for "an important commercial message."

The '80s fun continues via having "Taxi" alum Jeff Conaway play Greystone, which is exactly the type of role that one would have expected aspiring actor Bobby Wheeler to land. Fellow '80s sitcom actor Julia Duffy portrays Greystone's fiancee (and essentially his Lois Lane) Princess Ariel in the same manners as she plays spoiled rich girl Stephanie Vanderkellen on "Newhart" and later fallen from grace Allison Sugarbaker on "Designing Women." One difference is that our actual princess has an entertaining leather fetish.

Reo uses the common action-adventure show technique (which contributed to the unfortunate demise of the awesome scifi series "firefly") of getting things rolling right off in the pilot without providing much exposition. This one has Greystone and his uber-strong sidekick Marko literally riding all over the countryside battling traditional and supernatural foes alike to prevent the detonation of a WMD that Blackpool has inserted Trojan Unicorn style in a mountain of birthday gifts for Ariel.

Creatures that Greystone and Marko encounter during their quests throughout the series include invisible dragons, zombies, crazed doppelgangers, and a cave with a literal mouth. Ogres and other more traditional D&D monsters also show up for the ride, along with bottomless pits and similar obstacles.

The second episode is a two-parter that clearly begins life as a two-hour (and possible TV Movie of the Week) pilot. A child asking good wizard Traquil about the war that once raged between Blackpool and the neighboring kingdoms sets the stage to introduce the characters and the origins of their relationships. This episode, which is titled "The Kidnap," predictably ends with Blackpool abducting Ariel.

The third episode, which is titled "The Rescue," equally predictably has Greystone and Marko once again riding all over the countryside battling all manner of man and (supernatural) beast to return Ariel to her loving father King Baaldorf. An awesome element of this one is that, ala the classic '80s comedy film "Ruthless People," Blackpool pays a high price for confining a not-so-divine spoiled princess.

Things continue along similar (and equally entertaining) lines throughout the remaining episodes.

All of this amounts to an unique and clever show that is roughly 20 years ahead of its time. One can easily imagine "Wizards" as a webseries or Syfy original series, and fanboys can only hope that the right person discovers this program and creates a reboot.

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

Saturday, August 23, 2014

'The Love punch' DVD: Brosnan Pierce Brosnan in Comic European Caper Film

Product Details
Ketchup entertainment, which has a good track record regarding lesser-known films, makes a film with a wonderfully witty concept and actors with excellent credits available in releasing the 2013 Pierce Brosnan/Emma Thompson caper film "The Love punch." The DVD and VOD versions of this film are available starting August 26, 2014. Reporting that this movie with these appealing stars in such a fun genre is less than the sum of its parts is almost physically painful.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "punch" expertly summarizes the plot of the film and provides a sense of the performances and the humor.

A single "punch" line illustrates the depressingly careless manner in which the film is made. In referring to the central plan to steal a $10M diamond, Brosnan's Richard Jones comments that he feels like the Pink Panther.

Even casual fans of that classic Peter Sellers comedy film series knows that the Panther is the diamond, not the thief who steals it. It is difficult to imagine both that a screenwriter would make that error and that the entire production team and cast either would not catch that error or not care enough to correct it before it becoming part of the film.

Other blatant sloppiness relates to two brief scenes with good comic potential. These involve the roommate of Richard's son engaged in embarrassingly intimate behavior within seconds of said son leaving the room but leaving a webcam session with his parents open.

It is difficult to imagine said roommate leaving the bathroom door open when going in to do his business or that he would settle on the couch to meet another highly personal need on the heels of his roommate exiting the room but still clearly being around. Having this roommate make a frat boy style inappropriate comment or eat something in a highly disgusting manner would have made the same point and been much more believable.

The concept of Richard and ex-wife Kate, played by Emma Thompson, teaming up to steal the aforementioned gem to obtain highly justifiable restitution from a sleazy corporate raider evokes wonderful thoughts (and expectations) of the ORIGINAL 1977 George Segal/Jane Fonda caper film "Fun With Dick and Jane." That hilarious movie has an upper-middle-class couple resorting to heists to maintain the standard of living to which they have become accustomed.

"punch" commences decently with the recently divorced Kate and Richard entertainingly bickering at a party; at the same time, this scene illustrates that Brosnan lacks the same on-screen chemistry with Thompson that he enjoys with Stephanie Zimbalist in his star-making titular TV role in the uber-uber-awesome '80s action-adventure show "Remington Steele" and other leading ladies.

The "Steele" vibe continues with Brosnan and Thompson planning the theft of the diamond during the wedding of said corporate raider to his trophy wife.

Unfortunately, the story (and the action) falls apart as this couple (along with their neighbors/besties played by the equally talented British actors Celia Imrie and Timothy Spall) commence carrying out their plan. This is particularly sad regarding the highly talented Imrie, whose credits include starring roles in the hilarious Nicholas Lyndhurst Britcom "After You've Gone" and the even-better Unreal TV reviewed British dramedy "Kingdom."

Additionally, Thompson comes across much more like "Steele's" comic relief sidekick Mildred Krebbs then Zimbalist's Laura Holt.

The "punch" pace simply plods rather slowly in a plot that needlessly places this cast of distinguished (but aging) British actors in unduly humiliating circumstances. These include having them march across a beach in wetsuits while all others are wearing swimsuits and (worst of all) dressing in uber-tacky outfits regarding a plot point that requires having our quartet impersonate Texans.

All of this evokes sad thoughts of seeing Jerry "The Beaver" Mathers and a plethora of other (then aging) stars of beloved classic sitcoms flying through the air in harnesses during the TV Land Awards several years ago.

The following "behind the scenes" clip, courtesy of YouTube, provides a good sense of the aforementioned debacle that ultimately has numerous actors sailing above the crowd.

One can only hope that future efforts to allow Brosnan, Thompson, Imrie, and Spall to showcase their charm and wit go better. A well-written AARP generation version of the 1969 "free love" Paul Mazursky comedy "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" is an example.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "punch" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Friday, August 22, 2014

'The Last Match' DVD: Everything You Could Hope For In a Homoerotic Cuban Teen Boy Love Story

Product Details
Canteen Outlaws, which is the international/indie division of LGBT video leader TLA Releasing, scores a goal regarding the DVD release (no pun intended) of the 2013 gay-themed Cuban drama "The Last Match." This Caribbean version of "Brokeback Mountain" is much more apt for an art house than a video booth.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Match" includes plenty of glimpses of the erotic elements of the film and a sense of the underlying story. It further demonstrates that the depiction of the lives of ordinary Cubans is realistic.

 Related awesome things about "Match" are that our lads are not doe-eyed freshly scrubbed twinks and do not immediately get all girly or otherwise emo on meeting. Further, Yosvani is who ultimately takes one (two actually) for the team despite soccer teammate Reinier having the mad sports skills that provide him a chance to escape the poverty that plagues both boys.

Other gritty elements relate to Reinier working as a low-end rent boy to keep a roof over the heads of his family and diapers on the bottom of his baby. The limits that this sole proprietor places on a "date" are reminiscent of the willingness of some gay men to place their lips on ANY part of the anatomy of another male except the lips of that person.

Yosvani gets by living with his seemingly perpetual informal fiancee and her small-time operator father. One spoiler is that Daddy does not mind Yosvani sharing a bed with his little girl but gets very upset on learning of Yosvani drifting toward the homosexual end of the Kinsey scale.

The plot progresses from Reinier sending Yosvani very clear signals on the soccer field to the two sharing a drunken kiss and ultimately having a youthfully exuberant rooftop encounter. This of course leads to mixed feelings, an unrealistic desire for an ideal life, and a quasi predictable melodramatic ending.

All of this is told in a nicely artistic way that should appeal to anyone with an interest in art house film and an open-minded attitude toward sexuality. This story is much more about two late teen boys living in poverty and trying to come to terms with their sexuality in a very traditional society than hot young things dropping trou and getting it on. It is very nice that all this amounts to "Match" not being anything close to "Another Gay Movie."

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

'The Hunted' DVD: 'Ice Maiden' Plays Woman Convicted of Ice Heist

Hunted, The (1948)
Warner Archive releasing the 1948 drama "The Hunted" on DVD is further evidence that both the number of creative twists on the classic noir genre and the Archive supply of these films is endless. This evokes thoughts on the new Tom and Jerry cartoon series showing that there seems to be an infinite number of ways that a cat and a mouse can torment each other.

The primary twist in "The Hunted" is that recently paroled con Laura Mead comes out still insisting that she is innocent of the jewel heist that is the cause of her recent unfortunate incarceration. On top of this, this excitable girl is well known for making death threats against both her trial attorney (a.k.a. mouthpiece Simon Rand) and her ex-boyfriend/police detective Johnny Saxon who uncovered the evidence that convinced the court of her guilt.

The secondary twist relates to the casting of Laura. Making this character a skilled ice skater removes any doubt regarding whether "Hunted" is intended as a star vehicle for "ice maiden" turned actress Belita.

Belita and Saxon portrayer Preston Foster are no Bogie and Bacall (or even Wagner and Powers) but generate enough heat to make the screen warm to the touch. Their reunion and subsequent night together is one of the best scenes in the film.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, shows Belita's skating talent and  her on-screen chemistry with Foster.

Plans of Mead and Saxon to put their past (including that pesky assertion of a homicidal intent) behind them go awry when Rand ends up murdered. This prompts Mead to go on the run and Saxon to take up the chase.

Saxon additionally enjoys great scenes with the female parole officer who is charged with keeping Mead and other female ex-cons in line and assisting with their rehabilitation. Whether a woman who has served time can be a "good girl" is the primary disputed topic.

Although the related mysteries of the perpetrator of the heist and the humanitarian act of reducing the lawyer population are as easily solvable as a "Scooby-Doo" mystery, the concept and execution of "The Hunted" keep things interesting.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Hunted" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

'Medical Center' S5 DVD: Chad Everett's Dr. Joe Gannon Will Not Leave You Hanging

Medical Center: The Complete Fifth Season
The Warner Archive 6-disc 24-episode DVD release of the 1973-74 fifth season of the hospital-based drama "Medical Center" is a nice follow-up to the recent Archive release of the Unreal TV reviewed third season of the '60s medical drama "Dr. Kildare." Both series have a handsome and charming hospital doctor getting involved in personal aspects in the lives of their patients that affect the medical care that the former provides the latter.

In the case of "Medical Center," dreamy Chad Everett plays Dr. Joe Gannon. Gannon's job as the Chief of Surgery at the titular healthcare facility puts him in contact with the patient of the week, who typically is experiencing outside trauma that affects the ability of Gannon to treat said invalid. Gannon having a model of scales of justice on the credenza in his office speakings volumes about his integrity.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a scenes from an early fifth season episode of "Center" provides an especially strong sense of the charm of Everett and the great '70s vibe of the series. It also features one of the numerous notable guest stars of the season.

The fifth season kicks off with Gannon trying to solve the mystery regarding the very newly wed wife of a medical resident at the hospital experiencing paralysis that lacks any physical cause. It is clear that the woman is suffering from a trauma, but Gannon is unsure if the source of stress is the assumed one.

Psychology also plays a role regarding a 50-something colleague of Gannon endangering both the life of a patient and the marriage of the colleague regarding related efforts to prove that said scalpel jockey can still keep up with the young guys.

One of the more bizarre psychology-oriented episodes has a young woman experience fits that suggest that she is under a voodoo spell. This one is largely reminiscent of the wonderfully campy Unreal TV reviewed 1971 cult classic film "Let's Scare Jessica to Death." 

"Center" borders on camp regarding drama ensuing when a psychologist who is helping Gannon treat a patient who apparently unduly fixates on sexuality is outed as a lesbian. The facts that Gannon expresses a romantic interest in the headshrinker before learning of her orientation and that the general population in 1973 considers homosexuality a mental disorder makes this one especially entertaining.

Camp is also front and center in an episode in which a former juvenile delinquent turned soon-to-be college student first seeks refuge from members of a street gang in the hospital and later returns on said hooligans administering a serious beat down. The challenge that Gannon faces in this one is helping the incoming freshman avoid having his life unnecessarily ruined if an assertion that he raped the girl of the gang leader.

Stereotypical depictions of blue-collar life by very fresh faced young actors in this episode are very entertaining. The audience gets the bonus of seeing Gannon face a group of knife-wielding thugs.

Other social/political topics include sudden infant death syndrome, gambling, and issues related to determining what is in the best interest of a child in custody battles.

This melange of issues combines to make a terrific compound drug to treat a need for awesome '70s style drama.

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

The season ends on a truly awesome note by having Gannon and Chief of Staff/friend Paul Lochner effectively ride off into the sunset after Gannon once again saves the day. In this case, the two '70s era doctors enter an elevator on their way to feast on martinis and steak. It is unknown if they also plan to smoke cigars and eat desserts loaded with refined white sugar.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

'Grigris' DVD: Chad Oscar-submitted Cannes Film Drama About a Man's Need to Cut Footloose

Product Details
Superior purveyor of independent foreign films Film Movement demonstrates the terrific range of titles in its awesome Film of the Month Club in pairing the 2013 Chad Cannes selection and Oscar-submitted crime-drama "Grigris" with the Unreal TV reviewed Canadian family drama "The Auction" regarding the August 2014 club selection. Movement is releasing separate DVD sets of both films to the general public on August 19, 2014.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Grigris" includes glimpses of some pivotal scenes in the film. It also provides a good overall sense of the themes.

The title of "Grigris" refers to the nickname of central character Souleymane Deme. In true "Flashdance" style, Grigris spends his days working at the primitive photo studio that his step-father operates in a city in Chad and his nights being a genuine (fully clothed) very popular dancer for money at a local night club.

Said step-father developing a serious illness requires both that Grigris postpone his plans to become a professional dancer and that he quickly raise money for hospital bills. This results in our hero very reluctantly joining a criminal gang.

Grigris developing a truly loving relationship with Mimi, who earns her living by engaging in the oldest profession in the world, takes center stage when Grigris betraying his new employers requires that Mimi help him avoid the full consequences of that action.

This all leads to a surprising showdown that demonstrates the value of the "village" approach to community.  It additionally sends a (somewhat warped) nice message about showing the people who show you their love on a daily basis the extreme to which you will go to reciprocate of that affection.

To avoid leaving readers hanging regarding the value of this Chad export, this review will conclude with a hearty endorsement of the film. It is a well-written intriguing story about a likable man who experiences desperate circumstances that require equally desperate measures. Further, it does not glorify crime but does show that breaking the law is sometimes the only means for achieving a noble purpose. (Do not try this at home kids.)

The always-included bonus short this time is the aptly titled beautifully drawn (and mostly silent) animated film "Feral" about the effort to "civilize" a wolf boy. The imagery in the last few minutes in this one particularly provide an awesome Native American vibe.

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

'Man at Bath' DVD: Gallic Porn Star Makes The French Casual Connection

Product Details
The adult-themed French drama "Man at Bath," a.k.a. "Homme au Bain," is one of the latest releases from Canteen Outlaws. This partnership is very apt, considering that Outlaws is the international film division of leading gay film distributor TLA Releasing. One nice aspect of "Bath" is that the emphasis is on drama, rather than "releasing."

"Bath" is notable as the first (relatively) mainstream film for French gay porn star Francois Sagat; early scenes clearly establish that every muscle that big and burly Sagat possesses makes him a good fit for the aptly named male prostitute Emanuel.

Sagat, whose acting talents do not measure up to the level of other attributes that he possesses, clearly will not be the next Bond or ever star in any other action-adventure film franchise; however, he may establish a career playing bit parts.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the quasi-erotic trailer for "Bath" provides a good sense of the dramatic, sensual, and humorous aspects of this film.

The incident that propels the action is Emanuel not taking no for an answer from live-in boyfriend Omar prompting the latter to inform the former that he wants him out of Omar's apartment by the time that Omar returns from a trip to New York.

The next hour largely consists of a despondent Emmanuel engaging in a series of (largely) meaningless sexual encounters for fun and/or profit. For his part, Omar makes a more meaningful connection with a New York film student in a relationship that is vaguely reminiscent of the indie classic film "Sex, Lives, and Videotape."

The limited nudity, less frequented simulated sex, and even more rare actual sex (as well as the complete absence of cheesy music and "hey Buddy" style dialog) clearly show that "Man" is simply an erotic art film. At the same time, there really is not much depth.

The primary theme of "Bath" is the struggle that Emmanuel experiences regarding how others regard him. It seems both that he (and Sagat) want to be genuinely loved and respected but seems incapable of achieving that. His lack of inhibitions regarding shedding his clothes and quickly getting down to business do not help matters much.

One of the more entertaining (and significant) scenes has an exasperated Emanuel administering an unduly harsh spanking to the submissive young man who has become infatuated with our hero. The messages here are that boys can play rough and that Emmanuel understands the importance of providing much need disillusionment.

All of this adds up to a decently produced film that provides a look at the human side of rent boys and keeps the erotic element to a level that will satisfy folks who enjoy that "bonus" in films of that type but will not satisfy the "raincoat crowd" with a history of frequenting adult theaters in Times Square.

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

'The Auction' DVD: Poignant Canadian Tale of Lear-like Father

Product Details
The uber-awesome purveyor of top-notch independent foreign movies Film Movement brings things a little closer to home regarding one of the two August 2014 selections in its exceptional Film of the Month Club.

The 2013 Canadian drama "The Auction" is a modern-day "King Lear" story about 63 year-old sheep farmer (and his fool) Gaby Gagnon, who makes a large sacrifice to help a daughter who is not adequately ungrateful to warrant a comparison to a serpent's tooth but who does not show appropriate appreciation.

The companion (and Unreal TV reviewed) August 2014 Film Club selection "Grigris" comes from Chad.

Gaby is largely happy living with his dog and his herd of sheep on his Quebec farm when "good" daughter Marie asks during a weekend visit if her father will give her money regarding which she asserts a strong need. The manner in which Marie makes that request is slightly unsettling regarding her blase attitude regarding the nature of such a significant favor. This manner suggests that cash is growing on the trees on the farm.

Gaby coming up with the money requires putting virtually everything on the farm that has been his lifelong home up for sale in the titular event. It further requires an incredibly depressing reduction in his standard of life.

In true "Lear" style, largely absent daughter Frederique turns out to be the better sibling; like her Shakespearean counterpart, Frederique is not bitter but simply lacks a desire for a close relationship with her father.

This equally heart-warming and heart-breaking film has incredible cinematography and tells harsh truths about both the state of 21st century farming and families.

Particularly poignant scenes in "Auction" include those that address how the developments affect Gaby's dog, a depressing reunion between Gaby and the ex-wife who divorced him 20 years earlier, and seeing the life that Gaby leads at the end of the film.

The final bid regarding this effort to communicate the merits of "Auction" is that it awesomely portrays both the timeless relevancy of Shakespeare and that we all have families.

The bonus short that comes with this one is a very stylistic silent Spanish animated fable that shows a sweet relationship between a little girl and a very gentle giant. The music and drawings make this one very special.

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

Sunday, August 17, 2014

'Arsene Lupin Double Feature' DVD: Noir Films With Awesome French Connection

Arsene Lupin Double Feature
The Warner Archive double-feature DVD release of the 1932 film "Arsene Lupin" and the 1938 sequel "Arsene Lupin Returns" is the second summer-time WAC release of a collection of screen adaptations of mystery novels. The films are based on the written works of French writer Maurice LeBlanc, who receives a writing credit on both films.

The recently reviewed WAC Blu-Ray release of the first and second seasons of the current A&E mystery series "Longmire" is based on detective novels by Craig Johnson.

Especially in the first "Lupin," the big-screen version of this titular character is a very sophisticated and witty individual who uses (primarily jewel) thefts both to maintain the lifestyle to which he is accustomed and derive amusement from outsmarting the best detectives that the police and private entities place on his trail. The code by which this gentleman in the true sense of the word lives also makes him an object of admiration among the general public and said law enforcement officials.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a promo. for the WAC double-feature offers an excellent sense of the premise and noir style of "Returns." However, it also includes spoilers regarding the original.

The first film is especially awesome because it is the first on-screen pairing of brothers John and Lionel Barrymore.  (Sorry, Ethel is no where to be seen.) John plays the Duke of Charmerace, a.k.a. Suspect Number One, with awesome witty and style; Lionel does equally well as the intrepid Detective Guerchard.

Watching les freres Barrymore verbally spar throughout "Lupin" and share a "must-see" scene in the final moments of the film provide some of the best film-related entertainment ever. They make the on-screen chemistry between '90s film "brothers" Matt Damon and Ben "I am Batman" Affleck greatly pale in comparison.

"Lupin" additionally stands out regarding an incredibly racy pre-Code scene that starts when Charmerace discovers the beautiful Sonia in his bedroom presumably wearing nothing but a sheet and a wry grin. Their banter is hilarious, and the scene ends with an extraordinarily suggestive exchange in pitch darkness.

As an aside, the fate that befalls the titular scoundrel at the end of the film also reflects the pre-Code treatment of some criminals. This is an era in which the adage "crime does not pay" does not always fully apply.

"Lupin" provides further entertainment in the form of watching the central gentleman thief  wonderfully manipulate Guerchard and others both to further his goals and show his superior intelligence. These include hilariously making Guerchard a suspect and taking advantage of predictable responses to pull off a (charitable) theft of the Mona Lisa.

These elements and the overall feel of a sophisticated noir comedy along the lines of the "Thin Man" film series from the same era make "Lupin" one of the best classic films to hit DVD this summer. You will be almost certain "whodunit" but will love seeing "howdunit."

"Returns" is a decent film that suffers both from the absence of the Barrymores and the more general fate regarding sequels. The truly talented and well-cast Melvyn Douglas simply lacks the level of sophistication and wit as his predecessor who portrays Lupin, and Warren William makes a perfectly fine accomplished American detective, but his Steve Emerson simply is no Guerchard.

"Returns" opens with then New York City police detective Emerson making a big bust that unexpectedly ends his government job; meanwhile, across town, an attempted robbery seems to be the work of the believed deceased Lupin.

This leads to Emerson landing a private gig traveling to France with the owners of the legendary emerald that is the subject of the thwarted theft. The audience soon learns that gentleman pig farmer Rene Farrand is Lupin. A series of unfortunate incidents throws this gentleman into the midst of the turmoil regarding the gem that apparently is making at least one person green with envy.

The sad truth is that the "Returns," which does not have LeBlanc as a credited writer, is not as clever as the original. Additionally, the introduction of peripheral murder dilutes the fun spirit that pervades "Lupin." It is also possible that implementing the Hays Code in the interim between the films unduly hampers the makers of the later one.

Common elements of the two films include casting suspicion on the investigating detective and making a blonde a central part of the action. Both are just more interesting in the first.

The final debriefing regarding this double feature is that "Lupin" easily earns top marks and  "Returns" merits a slightly lower grade but is still entertaining; together, they provide a nice evening of entertainment.

Anyone with questions regarding the "Lupin" series is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

'Only Lovers Left Alive' DVD: Taking a Bite Out of the Vampire Genre

Product Details
The 2013 vampire drama "Only Lovers Left Alive," which Sony Pictures Classics and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment are releasing on DVD and BD on August 19 2014, is not your father's (or your tween daughter's) vampire movie.

This film by writer/director Jim Jarmusch puts his typical highly stylized and quirky touch on this genre in the same way that he revisions Westerns in the 1995 art-house classic Johnny Depp film "Dead Man." It definitely is much more "My Dinner With Vladimir" than "Corey the Moody Teenage Vampire."

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Lovers" provides an excellent sense of the atmospheric vibe and truly alternative music in the film; it additionally offers a look at some of the humor and the most intriguing scenes in the movie.

The aptly named Adam and Eve are proverbially centuries-old vampires who less proverbially have been happily married for most if not all of their tenure in that state of existence. Though rock star Adam is living" in Detroit and Eve calls Tangier her home at the beginning of the film, they are still madly in love.

This pair has also evolved to the point that they contentedly satisfy their literal blood lust via purchases from underground brokers of that substance, rather than by drinking directly from the source. Scenes in which a fully alive and normal person, still known to Adam as a "zombie," provokes a response via minor bleeding shows that our heroes are still feral beneath the surface.

Adam more overtly expresses his true nature in repeatedly commenting on zombies polluting their blood and the world around them via their destructive nature.

Tilda Swinton of numerous artsy films, including "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and "Snowpiercer," does a terrific job as the refined but witty Eve. Deliciously evil and wry Loki himself Tom Hiddleston brings those wonderful characteristics to Adam. The new Chekov himself Anton Yelchin nicely rounds out the main threesome as Adam's Igor-like zombie lackey.

In true drama and sitcom style, Eve's sister arriving in Detroit from Los Angeles soon after Eve moves back in with her husband creates mayem. Mia Wasikowska of the recent "Alice in Wonderland" remake does a terrific job as wild 20-something Ava.

Things progress from Ava figuratively raiding the liquor cabinet and bouncing around like a five-year trying to get mom and dad out of bed to presenting a real threat to the cover identities that Adam and Eve have established and then clearly showing Ian that she likes his type.

This malfeasance by the wasteful woman-child throws the peaceful existences of Adam and Eve into understated turmoil that effectively drives them out of the Garden of Eden into the wilderness. 

All of this amounts to one of the more artistic films to come out in the past several years; you will not be humming a song from the soundtrack at the end but may check the shadows for lurking creatures.

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

Friday, August 15, 2014

'Coldwater' Theatrical and VOD Release: Brutal Love at Juvenile Reform Facilities

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Indie film company Breaking Glass Pictures continues its tradition of releasing intriguing art-house and festival fare regarding "Coldwater," which hits theaters and VOD platforms on August 15, 2014. This film, which is well geared for teen boys, about unregulated juvenile reform facilities is most notable for the message that it communicates.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube of the relatively spoiler-laden trailer for "Coldwater" provides a good sense of the brutal nature of the life of a young offender regardless of his offense.

The film dramatically opens with late teens Brad Lunders waking in his bed in the middle of the night to find men with handcuffs in his room. Rather than being a fantasy come true for some teen boys, this group quickly restraints Brad, forces him into the proverbial unmarked white van and transports him and a few fellow new "guests" to the titular juvenile reform facility. This army-life property is out in the middle of nowhere and is run by retired marine Colonel Frank Reichert.

The orientation largely consists of informing the group that they are there because they messed up their lives and that Reichert and his staff are there to correct the behavior behind their naughtiness. It is also made very clear that obedience is both rewarded and necessary if someone wants to get out.

Brad's parents shipped him off both because of his hostility toward his mother's long-term boyfriend and because his low-level drug dealing has lead to some very serious acts. A series of flashbacks expertly shows the escalation of these events.

Another boy is there because he skipped school, and a third committed what seems to be minor shoplifting.

The horrible hybrid of prison and military elements regarding the operation of the camp include a dangerously grueling exercise program, corporal and psychological punishment that would break the inmates of "Oz," and purposeful creation of dissension in the ranks.

The fact that the staff that works with the boys on a daily basis consists of graduates of this brutality does not help matter. It seems that they inflict the brutality in response to having endured it, rather than (unlike Reichert) out of a belief that it is an effective method for turning these alleged juvenile delinquents into fine upstanding citizens.

Events that contribute drama to this tale include endangering the health of an injured boy, escape attempts, and a panicked Reichert  aggressively responding to whistle blowing efforts.

The most dramatic/scary thing about the torment that the boys endure is that it based on experiences at real-life private juvenile reform facilities. As a note at the end of "Coldwater" states, there are a significant number of these camps around the United States. Further, they are not subject to regulation (or apparently much other oversight.)

This movie and similar ones, such as the recent documentary "Kidnapped for Christ," calling attention to what goes on at these facilities will most likely result in some legislative action. Until then, it seems that much of the information will come from this new sub-genre of film.

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

Thursday, August 14, 2014

'Longmire' S1 & S2 DVD: Modern Old West Sheriff Facing 21st Century Issues

Longmire S1 & S2 (BD)
The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the first and second season of the intriguing A&E police mystery series "Longmire" nicely coincided with the broadcast premiere of the third season of this series several weeks ago. The extenuating circumstances regarding the criminally negligent delay in posting this review include wanting to watch every 23 45-minute episodes in the set before sharing thoughts on the program.

Another nice bit of timing regarding this release  is that it comes a few weeks ahead of the Archive double-feature DVD release of the Unreal TV reviewed '30 Arsene Lupin noir comedies. "Longmire" is based on the Walt Longmire mysteries by Craig Johnson, and the older films are based on the Lupin novels by Maurice Leblanc.

The genuinely panoramic opening scene in the pilot episode of the series about rural Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire removes any doubt regarding whether buying the series in blu-ray is worth the money. Imaging any more beautiful scenery or clearer depiction of it is difficult.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of an A&E promo. provides a tasty sample of the "Longmire" themes discussed below. The overall idea is that even Andy Taylor would need to deal with organized crime families if he was sheriff of Mayberry these days.

The initial offering is typical of the remaining ones from the first and second seasons in that it has someone who discovers a body calling in Longmire and his team to investigate. This extraordinary incidence of killings makes one wonder about how the murder rate can be so high in such an isolated  area.

The murder this time may relate to a mobile prostitution organization that features young native American girls from the local reservation; this aspect of the story provides a means to introduce the element of the regular theme of the adversarial nature of the relationship between  Longmire and the head of the police force for the reservation.

Numerous other episodes that depict that animosity specifically and also often include the mutual general prejudice between folks whose ancestors were born in this country and those whose recorded roots begin in Europe address topics that range from white families adopting supposedly mistreated native American children, to race possibly playing a role in both the trial of white teens charged with raping a native American girl and a subsequent private campaign for justice, to manipulations by a tribal council regarding the distribution of casino profits.

More general rural-themed crimes include ones in which an illegal rodeo, fracking, and a medicinal supplement that has Elk innards as an active ingredient are factors.

Plots that relate to big city problems invading rural Wyoming include a murder of an exotic dancer, an investigation that uncovers the existence of a cult, and a gang that is illegally selling prescription painkillers.

All of this shows that the titular sheriff must contend with the worst of all worlds in performing his law-enforcement duties. On top of this, the fall-out from the death of his wife makes things difficult.

Deputy Branch Connally is focusing on the impact of that loss (and the general reluctance of Longmire to embrace cell phones and other 21st century technology) in his bid to oust his boss as sheriff. On top of that, the circumstances regarding the death of Mrs. Longmire come back to haunt Walt throughout both seasons.

Truly international actor Robert Taylor does a nice job portraying the quiet and private nature of the titular hero; he truly seems like a 19th century lawman who is slowly but surely adapting to life in the 2010s.

The supporting cast is a fanboy dream come true. Katee Sackhoff of "Battlestar Galactica" plays favored (transported from the big city) deputy Victoria "Vic" Moretti as a less intense and aggressive (but just as vulnerable near the surface) version of Starbuck.

The scifi cred of Lou Diamond "La Bomba" Phillips relates to his starring role in "SGU Stargate Universe." His Henry Standing Bear in "Longmire" has him being a very stoic best friend/adviser/tracker to childhood friend Longmire.

Seeing Henry get embarrassed when a girlfriend calls a tapped line at his bar is one of the best scenes in the first two "Longmire" seasons. A related joke "at least we know that the equipment works" is indisputably the funniest line in these episodes.

The scifi theme continues with casting Cassidy Freeman of "Smallville" as Walt's daughter Cady; like the hard-nosed Tess, Cady getting a sense that her father is withholding information regarding the death of her mother prompts an investigation that costs her a great deal and contributes to the second-season cliffhanger.

The conclusion regarding all this crime and general drama is that the twist of throwing a troubled old school Wyoming sheriff into the filthy world that we all inhabit makes for highly entertaining television that should have everyone rushing to buy the S1 and S2 BD set and counting down the days until Archive releases S3.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding Longmire is encouraged to use 21st century technology to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

'The Counterfeit Plan' DVD: Just When You Think That You Are Out, They Pull You Back In

Counterfeit Plan, The
The 1957 noir film "The Counterfeit Plan" is notable as one of the more sinister titles of this type in the uber-awesome Warner Archive catalog.
The simple but compelling premise of this tale would also make a great episode of the long-running true-crime series "The F.B.I." that Archive offers on DVD.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a scene in "Plan" lays out the story nicely and demonstrates the talent of the cast.

"Plan" opens with hard-core criminal Max Brant, played by Zachary Scott of "Mildred Pierce," making a successful daring prison break and then forcing his way into the beautiful English manor of his (now reformed) former partner-in-crime Louie Bernard with an aim to implement the titular scheme. The very prolific Mervyn Jones does an excellent job as the polished and kind Bernard, who expertly left his criminal life behind until the unexpected (and unwelcome) arrival of Brant.

The idea that Brant develops calls for having expert forger Bernard create engraving plates and using the basement of his domicile to print low denomination English and U.S. currency that a team of conspirators would distribute in small amounts throughout England. The discussion of the net profit from all this makes it seem that the effort is almost not worth the work.

The drama veers into "melo" territory when the unexpected arrival of Brant's daughter Carole, who has no knowledge regarding the source of the family fortune, ultimately requires forcing her to further the objectives of this newly formed enterprise. Throwing the "nice young man" on whom Carole is sweet and who starts nosing around in response to concern for her further stirs the pot.

Much of the appeal of this film relates to the seemingly realistic "behind-the-scenes" look that it provides regarding printing and distributing counterfeit money. It almost makes audience members want to set up a printing press in their own basements.

Additionally, there are enough shoot-outs and fist fights to entertain the eight-year-old boy in all of us. The even better news is that each confrontation makes sense.

On a larger level, Scott and the rest of the cast do excellent jobs in their respective roles. They convey the viciousness, nobility, fear, etc of their characters well and rarely feast on the scenery.

Other nice notes relate to good plot twists and the last-minute resolution that is typical of earlier noir productions. In these regards, "Plan" can be considered a gem from a period at the end of an era of great crime-centric black-and-white dramas.

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Personal Memories of Robin Williams

Product Details

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The impact of reviewing this venture into Blogland two years after first posting it the day after the suicide of Williams embarrassingly still makes the eyes of your not-so-humble reviewer leak. (This is from a guy who loves making "it's too soon" jokes SECONDS after just about every tragedy.)

This anniversary coming a few weeks after the death of "Mork" creator/producer Garry Marshall makes this post even sadder. Marshall did not evoke the same level of emotion but had an awesome talent for discovering folks who did."

Most celebrity deaths are a source of personal amusement to the extent that Natalie Wood jokes, the Jessica Savitch "The Date of Her Death, The Death of Her Date" t-shirt, and similar humor related to bizarre celebrity deaths from the '80s (and even Diana and much more recent bon mots along those lines) still evokes smiles. The fact that the very recent death of Robin Williams is quickly receiving so much press and that online comments seem universally respectful shows that this one is different.

Williams simply is the comedian of the earliest Gen Xers. I will never forget "Mork and Mindy" premiering on a Thursday in October 1978 in the dark days before even VCRs.

This was the day to which I refer to as the date of my shotgun bar mitzah, which involved conducting the bare minimum of a service and only doing that to appease my grandmother.

My parents wanted to take me to dinner that night, but I wanted to postpone that meal one night to watch "Mork." They prevailed, and I scanned the TV listings each week to ensure catching the pilot when it reran.

Writing these thoughts also evokes memories of getting chucked out of Hebrew School and having to get a private tutor for being unduly disruptive and irreverent in the former.

Responding that it was when all our detested relatives come over to mooch off us was not the desired response when asked what made Passover night different than every other night. Further, relentlessly challenging the logic of setting a place for a ghost at the table did not go over well. (This also involved several "there he is" and pointing to blank space moments.)

It is nice to think that these incidents would have made Williams proud. He once commented during "Mork" that Chinese people eat Jewish food on Christmas (or perhaps New Year's) day. He additionally remarked during a more recent interview for German television that the reason that there is no comedy in Germany is that they killed all the funny people.

Additionally, "Mork" fans will never forget Williams regularly calling co-star Pam Dawber a "shika goddess."

Another memory of the hipness of "Mork" relates to my mother coming in the room just as Williams comes bounding down the attic stairs wearing nothing but a shower cap and a towel in anticipation of attending a baby shower with Mindy in an early episode. The puzzled reaction of my mother must be similar to parents coming across their kids watching early SNL episodes a few years earlier. The fact that the "old folks" do not get the humor is part of what makes it cool.

A few years later, Jonathon Winters joining the "Mork" cast adds wonderful humor to otherwise dismal episodes. This development relates to Williams earlier stating that he did not feel guilty about stealing Winters' career because Winters was not using it.

Another Williams memory from that era relates to a prep. school classmate having the "Reality, What a Concept" album. Current thoughts regarding repeatedly listening to that recording in my friend's dorm room now creates thoughts that prior Perkins Hall residents sat around listening to George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, and Bob Newhart albums.

The next Williams memory relates to "The World According to Garp" being the first selection in the film club series to which I subscribed as a college freshman.

I felt very sophisticated sitting in a plastic folding chair in a room that reeked of beer and discovering that genuine classic film. Learning in 2013 that Warner Archive was re-releasing the previously discontinued DVD of "Garp" was even more exciting than learning a month ago that Warner Home Video is releasing the '66 "Batman" this November. The even better news is that, as the Unreal TV review shows, "Garp" holds up very well.

The final memory relates to an event during my first year in the real world. My roommate was fanatical about "Good Morning Vietnam" and very excited about seeing it for his fourth (and my first) time at the Bethesda (Maryland) Cinema and Drafthouse. This film seemed tailor-made for Williams, and this was the first of many trips to theaters that borrow the "pizza bowl" model for films.

Part of the genius behind all this is that Williams was brilliantly clever and truly understood the world. It is tragic in the truest sense of the world that this insight often makes accepting the world as it so difficult. The world, and not those who see it the way that is and care enough that it really bothers them, is what needs to change.

Following the example of an online comment that states "Mork signing off; nanu nanu" is apt but very sad. It is better to leave things at "Calling Orson; come in your blackholeness."

Anyone who would like to share memories of Williams is urged to email me or tweet to @tvdvdguy.

'Dangerously They Live' DVD: John Garfield Takes on a Reichous Cause

Dangerously They Live
The Warner Archive DVD release of the 1941 John Garfield drama "Dangerously They Live" is part of a batch of awesome Garfield films that Archive first made available several weeks ago. These include the previously reviewed "East of the River."

The interesting factoids that Archive shares regarding this film that pits Garfield's Dr. Michael Lewis against a New York nest of Nazis include that "Dangerously" is timely in that its release date is roughly three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor and that it reflects the warnings for which Garfield is known as a pre-WWII member of an Anti-Nazi League.

The Hitchcockian tale has medical intern Lewis meeting British agent Jane when she is brought to the hospital where he works. Her arrival relates to a car crash that occurs in the course of an abduction by fascists.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of an early scene from "Dangerously" nicely demonstrates the aforementioned Hitchcock vibe.
Although Jane is uninjured in the crash, she feigns amnesia to gain entrance to the mansion from which the Nazis are operating. Complications arise in the forms of Jane possessing time-sensitive information that she must pass on and ala Nazi agent Dr. Ingersoll being a mentor of Lewis. Confused? You won't be after watching this DVD of "Dangerously."

In an awesome bit of casting, Raymond Massey plays the doctor who is a madman with an evil mind in "Dangerously." This is amusing in the context of Massey going on to play the highly principled and revered/feared Dr. Leonard Gillespie in the '60s medical drama "Dr. Kildare." 

Lewis gets involved when Jane recruits him as her confederate under the guise of assisting Ingersoll. The theory is that Lewis will be more free than her to roam about Chez Nazi.

An initially skeptical Lewis ultimately believes Jane and gets fully caught up in the intrigue. This leads to tense cat-and-mouse moments and exciting confrontations.

Some of the best scenes center around a German-American man whose declarations of support for pro-fascist picnics and other peaceful activity but opposition to kidnapping and other serious offenses falls on deaf ears. It is difficult to imagine that any American film would portray a fascist character in a sympathetic manner.

A more disturbing (but understandable) aspect of "Dangerously" relates to Jane repeatedly referring to the gorgeous home in which she and Lewis are captives only in the sense that they are not allowed on the grounds or the surrounding area unescorted as a concentration camp. This is despicable to those of us in 2014 who have detailed knowledge of the camps but is excusable from the perspective of people in 1940 who are somewhat blissfully ignorant.

This wonderful melange of elements from the dawn of WWII add a great sociological aspect to a good film.

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

Monday, August 11, 2014

'Love or Whatever' DVD: Amusing Anatomy of Committed Gay Relationships

Product Details
The best thing that can be said about the charming 2012 gay-themed romcom "Love or Whatever," which TLA Releasing division Canteen Outlaws released on DVD in late July 2014, is that it is funny because it is (largely) true. The next best thing to say about it is that the post-closing credits scene is both hilarious and provides an awesome sense of justice.

On a larger level, the film is a nice surprise in that is not an over-the-top campy movie, a melodramatic tear jerker, or an unduly salacious soft-core porn offering. The limited nudity and tasteful sex scenes genuinely propel the story.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Love" presents a deceptively campy image of the film but also conveys the heart and humor that makes it enjoyable.

"Love" centers around nice (and reasonably attractive) boy-next-door type Corey, who is enjoying an enviable life at the beginning of the film. His therapy practice is doing well, his hunky boyfriend Jon is not entirely kept and genuinely loves him, and his wacky sister Kelsey provides a sense of family while pushing him to loosen up some.

The catalyst for the ensuing amusing incidents (but only sporadic hilarity) that largely drive the plot is Jon discovering the engagement rings that Corey has bought. This causes our mid-20s personal trainer to panic regarding whether he is ready for the commitment that marriage represents. This panic in turn drives Jon into the arms of another after a funnily awkward meeting at a bar.

Jon's casual encounter in turn is a significant factor in the breakup with Corey that soon follows. A somewhat simultaneous visit from a hot pizza boy who comes bearing a sausage-laden pie and may deliver does not help matters.

Corey falling into a severe tailspin fairly quickly followed by a strong desire to establish a new meaningful relationship is very realistic. The population of gay men is relatively small to begin with and the subset of that group with whom a fella-loving fella feels a mutual attraction and who indicates an interest in a long-term relationship is very rare. Losing it is devastating and creates a strong desire to fill the void.

The associated desires of Corey both to have his romantic life in order by his upcoming milestone birthday and to spend that day with someone special are also very realistic. These relate to the aforementioned challenges that gay men face in achieving the dream of an Ozzie and Harriet style relationship.

Additionally, gay relationships tend to progress at a faster pace than straight ones. Having genuinely good-intentioned sex before really knowing your partner and subsequently building a life together within a few months of meeting can hinder things working out in the long run.

The man who shamelessly misrepresents himself in his dating profile whom Corey meets in his quest to find a new Mr. Right (as opposed to Mr. Rightnow) is predictable. The next two candidates for the position of Corey's husband are hilariously unpredictable. "Another Gay Movie" veteran Michael Carbonaro offers a scene-stealing performance as a man who makes those of us who consider our pets our children to feel pretty good about ourselves.

Another quasi-truism regarding the quest of Corey for true love is that he finds it largely by happenstance while not actively ooking for it. This leads to the best-ever first date and the predictable romance that equally predictably hits a serious snag roughly 15 minutes before the end of the film.

The snag relates to the (again realistic) anxiety of Corey that the dreamy, bright, and witty object of his affection cannot genuinely love the less attractive and non-hunky Corey. This also reflects the truism that such a difference in attractiveness often is not a problem until the less dreamy person makes it one.

Specific highlights from "Love" include a scene in which Corey is caught with his pants down under the most embarrassing circumstances ever, Kate Flannery from "The Office" playing a character who is very true to the nature of Meredith from that series, and a wonderfully horrible open-mic poetry session.

The final analysis of this tale of a therapist who can be his own worst enemy is that it is an amusing film that is a good choice for a gay-themed movie night or a date night for a loving gay couple. It also provides a nice primer on gay relationships for folks with an interest in better understanding this aspect of love. The same type of real man who is not afraid to order quiche at a restaurant should not hesitate to order this film online or to watch it with anyone who is significant  to him.

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