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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

'Theresa Is a Mother' DVD/VOD: Boomerang Kid with Own Offspring

Product Details
The oft-used phrase "humor is relative" is never truer than it is in the multi-festival winning dramedy "Theresa Is a Mother," which Garden Thieves Pictures is releasing on DVD and VOD on September 29 2015. The titular parent is a hilariously failed "punkish" singer/songwriter who slowly drowns before hitting rock bottom.

The aforementioned wins include the Van Gogh Award at the Amsterdam Film Festival and the Best Feature Award at the Orlando Film Festival. The following YouTube clip of the "Theresa" trailer shows why.

The aforementioned desperation prompts Theresa to pack up her three daughters and move them into the childhood home that Theresa escaped more than a decade earlier. Her dread quickly turns to surprise on learning that her parents have become much more lively and progressive during her absence. In fact, they are far hipper than their morose offspring,

The focus then shifts to Theresa struggling to accept her new reality, to meet the requirement of her parents that she obtain a day job, and to keep her own children happy. Much of the humor relates to said job search and the concurrent search for at least fame, if not fortune. The feeling that the actress playing Theresa fully understands her character reflects that C. Fraser Press is the titular star, the writer, and the director. To her credit, Press does an excellent job with the distressed looks and multiple struggles of her character. She is equally believable as a painfully bad musician with more baggage than ten roadies could manage.

On the surface, this makes for a typical film about parents and a failed adult child learning to relate on the former returning home in disgrace. This one goes a bit deeper in making the story more than a tale of the aftermath of a failed marriage or the loss of prestigious employment. Theresa has never risen and must accept that life is not all laundromat and open-mike gigs.

Highlights include a tribute to Carmen Miranda, an illustration of the harsh reality of having young grandchildren living in the home, and Theresa negotiating for very menial work.

The proverbial scene stealer is teen actor Matthew Gumley as Bar Mitzah boy Seth Nerwitz. His extended song, which includes homages to "Luck Be a Lady Tonight" (rather than "Luke Be A Jedi Tonight") and many other show tunes, on his big day is must-see. The connection between this and Theresa becoming an "adult" nicely wraps up the film.

The overall visual style of "Theresa" is consistent with the aforementioned themes. It has the hand-held camera slightly grunge look of the '90s. The success regarding this shows that you can go home again when it comes to styles of film making,

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

Sunday, September 27, 2015

'Fulboy' DVD: Rel-Life Argentinian Soccer Players Bare Body and Soul

Product Details
tla releasing, which is the foreign art-house division of LGBT film company tla video, takes a break from artful tales of the challenges of young (and sometimes slightly less young) gay love to add Fulboy to the releasing catalog. The subject of this modern-style documentary by Martin Farina is his professional football (my people call it soccer) playing brother Tomas and the teammates of Tomas. (A bonus short focuses on Tomas.)

The following YouTube clip of the "Fulboy" trailer accurate portrays the fun spirit and highly featured masculine beauty in the film. Like many such promos, it also focuses more on the (figurative) fluff than the nicely presented substance in the movie.

The overlapping foci of the film are revealing the true natures and the private thoughts of the players and their exceptional physical attributes. Numerous scenes of group showers and locker room activity are the strongest examples of the latter. Two spoilers are that the universally well-equipped subjects seem to enjoy showering with their colleagues and most of them are not from families that follow a particular Jewish practice.

The goal (pun intended) of the less lascivious aspect of "Fulboy" is to dispel the positive and the negative myths regarding the team. The primary theme of this element is that the athletes are doing a job, rather than playing a game. Their handling of business affairs and managing (not always substantial) incomes are only the tip of the iceberg regarding the truth behind perceiving these guys as cavalier millionaire playboys.

Letting the team take the lead regarding merely pointing the camera at them and having them share their thoughts further makes the audience think a little more about these celebrities as human beings. We learn about physical and emotional hardships related to spending so much time away from home, the impact of scorn from fans, and other less glamorous elements of the profession.

Footage of nearly naked team members roughhousing, getting massages, and discussing the amount of money required to engage in sexual activity with each other supplement the aforementioned images that are designed to provide stimulation of a non-cerebral nature. All this shows that boys will be boys and that every man is aware of how he measures up to his colleagues.

This combination of insight and the softest possible soft porn makes an interesting "behind-the-scenes" look at a world that is rarely portrayed in such depth; the copious nudity is valid but largely is a (validly) blatant attempt to increase the demand for the film. At the same time, this makes asserting that you are buying the DVD "for the articles" reasonably believable.

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

45th Anniversary of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' Evokes Thoughts of Encounters with MTM Stars

MTM Ep Main

The press release for the October 13, 2015 PBS documentary "Mary Tyler Moore: A Celebration" evoked a textbook mix of emotions. Learning of this program, which will include interviews with a plethora of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (MTM) stars, was exciting. Learning that this prime time childhood favorite premiered 45 years ago last week evoked feelings of being old.

This release further prompted memories of amazing personal connections with MTM. The first dates to being drafted into escorting a gaggle of boy scouts on a trip to Maine in the early '90s. I noticed while in the Ralph Lauren outlet in Freeport, Maine that the young Republicans were huddled en masse and whispering loudly and pointing.

On investigating, I learned that the lads had spotted Gavin MacLeod, who played wonderfully cynical news writer Murray Slaughter on MTM. Both wanting to get the kids to settle down and to give MacLoed a break, I approached him and told him about our trip.

A few minutes into speaking with MacLoed, I heard the scouts chanting "Captain Stubing." Acting on pure instinct, I instantly replied "more importantly, 'Mary Tyler Moore.'"

Almost as instantly, I realized that I had inadvertently insulted MacLoed re: his "The Love Boat" role. I am certain that the devastation on my face was very clear to MacLoed as I stated "Mr. MacLoed; I am so sorry."

I will never forget MacLoed breaking into the biggest and brightest smile that I have ever seen as he said "I know EXACTLY what you mean."

This wonderful encounter ended with MacLoed writing the group an autograph on a shopping bag. That souvenir somehow ended up hanging in my home, rather than the scout building, and remains a valued treasure in my proudly displayed SWAG collection.

The second chance encounter with an MTM star occurred roughly 25 years after meeting MacLoed; coincidentally, this one was in northern New England as well.

I was taking a badly needed weekend in Woodstock, Vermont  and was planning on watching television in my room (which did have a view) when I saw a flyer announcing that Cloris Leachman, who was born to play social-conscious landlady Phyllis Lindstrom on MTM, was signing her autobiography at the local bookstore that evening. After profusely jay walking through traffic to get to the event, I was heartbroken to learn that sickness required postponing the signing.

I still purchased several copies of the book to have one for myself and to give others as gifts. (It truly was a good read.) Leachman not only provided the requested messages when she made it up there, but I have a photo of her using my copy as her reading copy.

The third encounter with greatness was from roughly the same period as the Leachman experience but is more indirect than that treat and the discussion with MacLoed.  This one related to interviewing "I Dream of Jeannie"/"The Bob Newhart Show" star Bill Daily, who is one of the top 10 nicest people whom I have ever met. The signed genie bottle that he gave me is the center of the aforementioned SWAG display.

Daily shared that he was strongly recruited to play arrogant but stupid anchorman Ted Baxter on MTM but turned down the role. He explained that he thought that the nature of that supporting role would have been a step down after his more prominent "Jeannie" role.

My response was joking that Daily at least had gotten out of doing "Too Close for Comfort," which was a horrible '80s sitcom starring Baxter portrayor Ted Knight. Daily graciously vigorously laughed at that remark.

The final story regarding a personal connection with MTM is a sad one. I was dealing with putting the shelter kitty whom I had adopted 11 years earlier to sleep. The cat is who decided on meeting me that I was the one the he wanted; manifestations of that included sleeping curled up next to me from his first night in his forever home until his kidney disease reached its final stages.

As a complete aside, the following image is of a book cover with a photo of my cat on it. (The story behind that has nothing to do with MTM.)

The Natural Cat: The Comprehensive Guide to Optimum Care

I was doing alright with the impending loss of my cat until calling the vet to schedule his final appointment. I immediately started strongly crying on hanging up but still looked up an online description of the DVD set of the fourth season of MTM for a review. Reading in the S4 recap that one scene had Phyllis remarking in the aftermath of learning that her husband had cheated on her that male bees mating once and then dying "all in all" was not a bad system prompted rapidly going from intensely crying to hysterically laughing. It is hard to image many scenes from many shows having such power.

The bottom line is that MTM pulled off the tough trick of mixing clever humor with an ideal cast that genuinely liked and respected each other. This, indeed, warrants a PBS tribute.

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

'Francesco' BD/DVD: Classic St. Francis Biopic Release Coincides with Pope Visit

FRANCESCO DVD & Online Streaming

Uber-awesome indie foreign film distributor Film Movement demonstrates the same excellent instincts regarding its extensive DVD and Blu-ray (BD) catalog in releasing the 1989 English-language Italian film "Francesco." The separate DVD and BD releases of this beautifully filmed biopic of St. Francis of Assisi (with Mickey Rourke doing a good job in the title role) via Film Movement Classics arrived a few weeks before the U.S. visit of Pope Francis.

As an aside, other recent notable Classics releases include BDs of the recently reviewed French farce "The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe" and the also discussed highly sensual Ewan MacGregor drama "The Pillow Book."

The nomination for the Palme d'Or at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival reflects the crisp cinematography that Blu-ray enhances and the quality of the narrative itself. The good elements of the latter relate to the action-adventure vibe of the film.

The time lime of the film shifts from the founding fathers (and mother) of the Franciscan order meeting in the aftermath of the death of Francesco to the events of his life that they are chronicling.

We first meet Francesco as a passionate son of a wealthy merchant; said passion at that time revolves around quests for absolutely fabulous glory. His early adventures include being a prisoner of war and carousing with his posse.

Life-changing encounters transform Francesco from a hybrid of a Kennedy and a younger member of the British royal family to the man who is so central to Catholicism. His good deeds include working with lepers, founding the aforementioned order, and being a strict constructionist who preaches the Gospel as the gospel. We also see that he is not afraid to take on daunting authority figures that include his biological father and the pope of the day.

The film further is a perfect example of nudity being central to the story. (One spoiler is that we do not actually see Mickey's mouse.) Francesco strongly believes in shedding every last stitch both to reject the material world in which we material girls and boys live and to demonstrate humility. One particular scene uses nudity to demonstrate the extreme devotion of one particular follower.

Another memorable scene has Francesco speaking with a large group of followers who have come to meet the man who has changed their lives. The well-presented intentional parallels evoke thoughts of Jesus having the same experience during his lifetime.

Rourke does his best work when furthering the objective of the film of showing Francesco as an ordinary man. This aspect of the personality of that character makes him someone with whom you would want to share a glass of wine; it also gives the film power in the same sense as learning of the humble acts of the current pope both in his current role and in the years before receiving that promotion.

The extras include footage from the Cannes Film Festival press conference for "Francesco" and a booklet with a fascinating essay by director Liliana Cavani,

Monday, September 21, 2015

'The Firechasers' DVD: London's Burning and Chad Everett is on the Case

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Region Four DVD from Australia will not play in a standard U.S. DVD player; you must use a well-worth purchasing) international player.]

The retrotastic fun of the Australia-based Madman Entertainment Britannia film collection continues with another DVD release of a  "shoulda been a series" British TV pilot that has never been released in the U.S. This time, it is the 1971 film "The Firechasers" starring a "Medical Center" era Chad Everett.

Like the previously reviewed Leonard Nimoy atmospheric thriller "Baffled!" and the also covered Patrick Macnee caper film "Mister Jerico" from the Britannia catalog, "Firechasers' is a wonderfully fun example of a late '60s/early '70s TV drama. Everett plays dashing and clever ladies' man/chief fire investigator for an insurance firm Quentin Barnaby. As Barnaby explains, his current profession utilizes skills from past careers that include being an engineer and a police officer.

The aforementioned elements will have fans of crime dramas from this era eagerly anticipating a baritone voice announcing that "Firechasers" is "A Quinn Martin Production." The skill of the behind-the-scenes "Firechaser" folks remove all disappointment regarding the lack of involvement by Martin

The catalyst for the action in "Firechasers" comes in the form of  late-night warehouse fires that seem to be the work of a serial arsonist. The love interest/talented career woman comes in the form of Lois Lane-style newspaper reporter Toby Collins. The efforts of Collins to interview Barnaby leads to professional collaboration, which presumably leads to pillow talk.

Both Barnaby and Collins recognizing that the frequency of blazes far exceeds the statistical norm set them on the path of the malfeasor behind those fires. Their clues include a psychedelic vehicle that makes the Partridge Family bus look like a family sedan and an equally bizarre confession of questionable credibility.

Wonderful humor comes in the form of Barnaby and Collins interacting with the suits who supervise them. Watching Barnaby strut into an officeful of fans only to have a boss whom he does not amuse is as entertaining as seeing Collins argue with her editor regarding her coverage of the fire. Barnaby almost surely would have been taken off of the force only be reinstated at the end of the film if he was a cop.

The even better news is that the story keeps the viewer engaged, and even the numerous highly predictable elements are well presented. The creepy stalker is not so obvious in his or her daily life, and the red herring is wonderfully colorful. The only downside to all this is that it creates a longing for Martin productions such as "The F.B.I." and "The Streets of San Francisco."

The truly special extras include theatrical trailers and a .pdf of the original script. The latter particularly facilitates holding a "Firechasers" themed party, ascots mandatory.

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

Friday, September 18, 2015

'Mister Jerico' DVD: Greatest UK/US Collaboration Since WWII

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Region 4 DVD from Australia will not play in a standard U.S. DVD player; it requires a (very affordable) international region-free player.]

The Madman Entertainment DVD release of the 1969 swinging caper film "Mister Jerico" is the second reviewed "shouldabeen a series" from the Madman Britannia film collection series. An August 2015 Unreal TV post discusses the uber-awesome 1973 Leonard Nimoy atmospheric thriller "Baffled."

Patrick Macnee of the classic swinging British series "The Avengers" stars as the titular sophisticated and charming con man. The Bond-style pre-opening credits has him scamming a millionaire out of a coerced finder's fee related to allegedly recovering an expensive bracelet. The discovery of the subterfuge and the subsequent pursuit are classic late '60s entertainment.

The fun continues with a very catchy (also Bond style) theme song by British pop royalty Lulu; you figuratively will leave the theater humming it.

The action then shifts to the primary plot, which has Jerico perpetuating a complex plot to steal the Gemini diamond from his friend Victor Russo. Frenchwoman Claudine soon arriving on the scene apparently with the same objective as Jerico both complicates matters and transforms what already is a real hoot into a true late-60s style caper free-for-all.

Highlights include Jerico displaying mad cat burglar skills, confusion regarding which of the three gems in play is fake, and the international feel of the film. The seductions and courtships add further value.

American actress Connie Stevens joining the fun as the hard to pin down secretary of Russo greatly enhances the film to an extent that is not fully known until roughly the final 15 minutes of "Jerico." Suffice it to say that the walls do start tumbling down.

Pure conic relief comes in the form of broad American comedian Marty "Hello Dere" Allen as Wally, who is the sidekick of Jerico. Allen particularly shines in the final scene of the film in a manner that solidifies that creates actual aching for a series.

These elements additionally combine to create a genuine time capsule. Anyone who is familiar with the late '60s/early '70s will immediately recognize the film as a relic of that era and consider it a genuine find.

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Monkey Realtor Tailor-Made for SNL Character

Product Details
These thoughts regarding frustration related to dealing with realtors during a recent move wraps up a series of posts, including commentary on the depiction of Boston on television, that touch on that relocation. The underlying factor is that the de minimis requirements for obtaining a license to sell real estate place everyone who buys and/or sells a residence in harm's way. The combination of not requiring any formal education, facilitating an extremely flexible schedule, and having potential for a large income can be figuratively deadly.

Said "professional" (intense coughing) always being motivated to both cater to potential buyers even if representing the seller and further acting in self-interest in the manner of benefiting more from getting a lower price for a home early in the process than devoting a few more months to the transaction and getting a slightly higher price that minimally increases his or her commission. A personal hit was getting a minimum of $20,000 below the fair-market value of my well-maintained home in a good neighborhood of a mid-level resort community largely to get my personal "monkey" off my back.

The funny because its true thing is that most lawyer jokes apply just as strongly to realtors. The good news regarding both members of either group is that they can swim in the ocean without fearing a shark attack.

The solution to all this is a course of action that a friend recommended early in the process and that I ended up doing. One must be resigned to figuring out the minimum that he or she can accept for a home and selling said abode for that amount.

Anyone who has undergone this Hell can easily picture a (as of yet undeveloped and randomly named) SNL character William the Monkey Realtor played by an actual blazer-clad simian whose vocalizations are subtitled. Picturing such a character responding to simple questions with a blank stare is very easy. The intelligence level of this character and his actually returning calls and emails may make folks currently trying to buy and/or sell a home want to hire him.

One can only hope for a William movie in which he teams up with an uber-arrogant billionaire orangutan real-estate developer (any resemblance to any current presidential candidate is purely coincidental) for the deal of the century. It is difficult to imagine this being any worse that 95-percent of the films based on SNL characters, A must-mention aside regarding this is Jon Stewart commenting on "The Daily Show" years ago that television characters do not make successful movie characters because they are not good enough to warrant such a project.

The "professional" who inspires the thought of adding a barely fictionalized colleague of his to the roster of SNL characters came highly recommended by several good friends. However, he committed such faux pas as not updating online listings after price reductions (and subsequently stating that said listings are not mandatory) or even updating his own site after my sale went through, immediately scaring off potential buyers with reports of "a potential lawsuit" affecting my home when no such threat existed, repeatedly referring to very basic applicable principles of law as "legal mumbo jumbo" that he could not comprehend, and saying "I can't remember all that" when asked to provide potential buyers three sentences of information regarding an issue.

An actual conversation consisted of this real-life William saying "so, I spoke to those guys." "Which guys?" "The buyers." "Which buyers?" "I don't remember." This led to my listing each of the few buyers who expressed interest in my home until the realtor remembered to whom he spoke.

A confession is that the above telephone discussion and most other conversations via that device with this idiot involved my alternatively making a highly predictable hand gesture and literally pressing tongue very firmly against cheek to express a related sentiment. This is from a generally well-mannered darling of educators and old ladies everywhere.

Asking "do you drink" while handing over a gin-and-tonic set (which also blatantly promoted his agency) as a thank you gift was a perfect final encounter with the realtor. Said bottle inevitably collecting dust on a shelf for the next several decades (I am never moving again after this Hell) will be an apt tribute to the real-life counterpart of William,

The icing on this very bitter cake related to the manager of the agency that employed my realtor. This manager disregarded every report of a violation of state law, including another realtor knowingly falsely listing the house next to mine under a virtually identical address as mine to make that older listing look more recent. A notable conversation caught the manager on a four-hour drive from our shared community to Montreal and having her state that she could not speak because she was out of the country.

For the sake of proving that this pair are not an isolated incident, the realtors with whom I worked in buying my current home were no better. My first realtor literally stood by mute while the realtor for the sellers forcibly presented modifications that were highly disadvantageous to me every two days both before and after signing a purchase-and-sale agreement.

The deal-breaker was the seller's agent cornering me at the post-purchase-and-sale home inspection to sign a paper that granted the sellers an open-ended right to condition the sale on their finding a place to buy. This document further provided for the closing to occur two weeks following the to-be-determined closing on that as of yet unidentified property. My alleged advocate merely stood by and watched this occur.

The seller's agent further asserted that I beat out two other buyers for that desirable property that produced a 227-page home-inspection report that noted things that included a very dangerous spaghetti-wire electrical system and cement sealing a leak near the chimney. That money pit remained on the market four months later.

The contribution of the realtor for my new home was essentially demanding a week before the closing that it occur at an earlier date that I had originally requested but was previously told was impossible. This changed on my realtor realizing that he had a closing scheduled for the date and time to which I agreed.

My hanging up on the realtor prompted him to call my partner, who was not a party to the transaction, and getting him to agree to the earlier date. The realtor did so immediately on my hanging up on him.

The bottom lines (pun intended) regarding all this are that William sketches would write themselves and that I would love to see any of the "professionals" with whom I dealt sit so that I could see whether they tried to put their elbow on the seat.

Anyone with questions or comments (realtors are welcome to get help from an adult) regarding these thoughts is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Monday, September 14, 2015

'Blood Cells' DVD: Shows You Do Not Want to Go Home Again

Product Details
Watching the recent Garden Thieves Pictures DVD release of the 2014 dystopian drama "Blood Cells" will equally evoke the "finding America" novels and films of the late '60s and early '70s and the misery of modern life. The dreary British landscape in which most of the action occurs enhances this sense.

The following YouTube clip of the "Cells" pilot includes images the aforementioned wasteland of out post-teenage lead. These brief scenes additionally provide looks of the themes and very apt music in the film.

This well-presented character study begins with dramatic scenes of the 2001 mad cow epidemic that is pivotal to the film. These events prompt our anti-hero Adam to hit the road with no plans of returning.

The catalyst for Adam returning to the scene of his childhood trauma long after his father has passed away but a third party has bought the farm is the impending birth of the child of older brother Aiden. The clear message is "you gotta see the baby" or else.

The less-than-fantastic journey that Adam takes to visit his brother reconnects him with others of his past and further places him in contact with a harsh evangelist. The most dramatic and fascinating encounter is with a former girlfriend, who fully drags Adam into her disreputable lime of work. Like all good cinema, things only go downhill from there.

The power of the film comes from witnessing the impact of the aforementioned epidemic and the subsequent events on Adam. Star Barry Ward does a nice job showing that Adam is drained, melancholy, and lacks surprise on learning of the escalating tragedies in the wake of his absence. In many respects, this makes "Cells" a neo-dystopian version of "It's A Wonderful Life" in which the lead makes his own existence and that of those around him worse.

In that respect, the gray weather and dismal/shabby condition of the places that Adam visits reflect the condition of his outer life and soul. The sad thing is that most of us can relate to such a reality,

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

Friday, September 11, 2015

'Hidden Away' DVD: Spanish and Moroccan Boy Find Love on the Fly

Product Details
tla releasing, which can be considered the art house division of LGBT home-video leader tla video, uses good judgment regarding making the Spanish drama "Hidden Away" its July 2015 DVD selection. The accolades for this tale of a teen infatuation with long-term potential include winning the Queer Award at the 2015 Torino Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

The following YouTube clip of the "Hidden" trailer nicely illustrates the teen boys in love aspect of the film.

The "ripped from the headlines" element of this film has 14 year-old Moroccan refuge Ibrahim (a.ka. Ibra) living in an institution with similarly situated lads when he has a chaste casual encounter with working-class Spanish teen Rafa. Although few words pass between the boys, their exchanged glances will make viewers who smoke want to light up,

Any male whose first love shares his gender can relate to Rafa subsequently adorably seeking out Ibrahim and Ibrahim having erotic dreams that star Rafa. Having the buddies of Rafa push him toward the arms of a girl who expresses interest in him is equally relatable to boys who like other boys; a scene in this regard in which Rafa and a clueless buddy discusses means for practicing kissing is "must see."

Watching our boys effectively sniff each other out before connecting in a meaningful manner is equally entertaining and relatable. This "courtship" includes Rafa following Ibra around like a puppy.

The racial prejudice that the friends of Rafa (and Rafa going along with this mistreatment) direct at Ibrahim further complicates the efforts of our heroes to connect in the manner in which anyone who has ever seen a film of this type knows that they will. The heart of anyone who possesses such an organ will break on watching Ibrahim overhear Rafa going along with the crowd.

Two related dramatic events roughly an hour into the film prompt the young lovers to flee. This compelling effort will have you alternatively cheering and feeling very badly for the highly likable characters.

On a larger level, "Hidden" shares the releasing characteristic of (mostly) avoiding stereotypes and keeping the presence of doe-eyed twinks to a minimum. Like most subjects of films in the releasing catalog, Ibrahim and Rafa are typical males for their particular environments. They simply find themselves facing challenges related to their desires for loving relationships pulling them in the direction of other boys or men.

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

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

'Automan' DVD: Tubular Neon-laden Desi Arnaz, Jr. '80s Crime Drama by 'Galactica' Creator

Image result for automan images

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Australian-produced Region 4 DVD will not play in a standard U.S. player. It requires a (well worth it) international player.]

Australia-based DVD producer Madman Entertainment once again awesomely fills a void left by U.S.-based companies in recently releasing a four-disc set of the very "Knight Rider"/"Street Hawk" esque 1983-84 crime drama "Automan." The "Tron" style neon that adorns the titular crime-fighting hologram (a.k.a. automatic man) and his very snazzy holographic sports car and helicopter is attributable to having common behind-the-scenes talent with the original "Tron" film.

Including a never-aired 13th episode is one of the most awesome aspects of the set; being unable to locate the listed pilot episode among the special features slightly diminishes the fun.

The primary lore, which the opening segment in the following YouTube clip explains, is that mild-mannered police department computer expert Walter Nebicher, who former dreamy teen idol Desi Arnaz, Jr. portrays well, creates the titular computer-generated image to be the perfect weapon against malfeasors. Programming "Auto" with all the knowledge needed to ensure that justice is served allows that AI dude to save the day, Adding in a "Matrix" style ability to do things such as dance like John Travolta (which an episode hilariously illustrates) furthers this effort.

Casting dreamy blond haired/blue eyed soap hunk Chuck Wagner as Automan further establishes that character as an ideal. Wagner does a nice job with both the innocence of the character and his evolution as a sentient being. One of the best segments has him confusing the antics in a prime-time soap with real life. Many ladies and roughly 10-percent of the male population will enjoy an episode in which our hero goes undercover as a male stripper.

Creator Glen A. Larson, who is also behind other wonderfully cheesy '70s and '80s crime dramas such as "Rider" and "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries" as well as both fracking spectacular "Battlestar Galactica" series, wisely adds in a vulnerability that prevents Automan from easily doing his thing.

The premiere episode nicely quickly establishes the lore of the series before having Walter and Automan investigate the disappearances of top engineers. The cool things that we learn in this one are that our heroes can merge in a manner that protects Walter from harm, that Automan can change his molecular density to suit his needs, and that aptly named companion droid Cursor can literally and figuratively outfit Automan with anything that he needs. Having Automan congenially converse with others of his ilk makes nice contributions to the great humor in the show,

We further get to witness the way cool method by which Walter summons his AI friend/partner in crimefighting.  Cursor preceding his "master" into our reality is only part of the fun.

Subsequent adventure have Walter and an increasingly center stage Auto investigating the veracity of a claim that a judge is corrupt, matching their mad computer skills against those of a master hacker who is messing with the power grid and other critical systems, and gleefully disrupting the activities of a crime syndicate. The award for most cliched episode goes to one in which the team tries to clear a cop friend of Walter who dies with a serious blemish on his record. Scenes of Auto literally performing magic in this one makes it particularly awesome.

Wonderful retro fun come in the form of the "cutting-edge" '80s technology. The  ginormous computers, DOS-style displays, and amazement of characters regarding telephone modems are only the tip of the iceberg.

The truly special extras include a modern interview with a very charming Chuck Wagner and other nice presentations on the background of the series (including images of "merch.")

As Walter would state regarding his show, they simply do not make them like this any more. Further, the fact that this 13-episode show has a minimal (if any) syndication history makes it a prime candidate to add to a DVD library.

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

'Rake' S3 DVD: Cleaver (Barely) Wards Off Total Disaster in Final Season

Rake Season 3 DVD

The third season of the modern Australian dramedy "Rake," which uber-awesome North American purveyor of British and Australian series and films BFS Entertainment makes available on DVD, achieves an apt trifecta for a third and final season of any television program from any nation. Please note that this series is not the American version starring Greg Kinnear.

Folks who either are unfamiliar with this best Australian export since Hugh Jackman or who need a refresher course on the lore of the program are invited to read the Unreal TV reviews of the first and second seasons of the show.

The aforementioned perfect combination of three elements consists of intertwining every element of the personal, professional, and sexual lives of recklessly hedonistic central character/shameless criminal attorney Cleaver Greene, making that textbook moral reprobate very appealing, and pulling off a series finale that wraps up most loose ends and stays very true to the spirit of the program. Formal recognition of that exceptional quality includes a couple of "Best Actor" awards for Greene portrayor Richard Roxburgh and comparable love for the ensemble in this series.

A woefully incomplete list of the aforementioned entanglements include Greene contending with his ex-wife selling their former home to move in with the ex-husband of the woman whose relationship with the teen son of Greene predates her divorce, Greene continually wrangling with the Member of Parliament (MP) who is the ex-fiance of the former prostitute with whom Greene has a simultaneous personal/professional relationship (and who is a former client regarding a murder charge), and Greene trying to maintain a professional and personal relationship with a boss with whom he has a prior sexual relationship that overlaps with her marriage to a professional colleague/best friend of Greene. Said boss having an adulterous affair with the aforementioned MP is only one of several additional overlaps that is beyond the scope of this summary.

The "its complicated" relationships described above further show that fiction in the right hands can be exponentially more spectacular than fact.

The third season picks up where the second season cliffhanger leaves off . This season premiere and the episodes that follow provide a strong vibe of the second season ending with a mid-season episode and the remaining episodes being the second half of that season. Mini third-season cliffhangers include a highly unexpected hostage situation and a "Perry Mason" style courtroom confession.

The first two episodes of this season resolve the aforementioned cliffhanger of the prior one and get the events that have been derailing the everyday life of Greene back on track. His replenished rogues gallery of clients include an especially reprehensible mother, a pair of elderly scamps who find themselves on the wrong end of a murder charge, and a newly out sports celebrity who simultaneously comes out regarding using illegal steroids. National politics involving folks in the orbit of Greene provides the background to all this.

Memorable courtroom scenes include Greene  shamelessly pandering to an elderly jury and frantically rushing between three simultaneous legal proceedings in a separate episode. The physical obstacles that he faces in that one and the related significant events that he inadvertently sets in motion greatly contribute to the humor in it.

The award for best humor related to the personal life of Greene goes to a story line that has him continuously being suspected of domestic abuse due to a series of incidents in which he hilariously (but entirely accidentally) causes his latest lady friend numerous serious injuries. Including one cliche regarding this abuse makes this plot particularly amusing.

All of this adds up to a show with broad appeal that one can only hope gets a Christmas special.

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

Saturday, September 5, 2015

'My Favorite Movie' DVD: 'Clerks'/'How I Met Your Mother' Mash Up

Product Details
The 2013 quirky indie comedy "My Favorite Movie," which is recently out on DVD, from Running Bear Media is a great example of the understated summer films that used to fill smaller theaters in multiplexes. The largely laid-back with an edge bizarre leads are nicely straight out of the granddaddy of all quirky indie flicks "Clerks;" the narrative technique and story regarding the underlying plot of McJob holder Dave falling for an employee of the hated McDucks fast food restaurant are straight out of the long running sitcom "How I Met Your Mother." The nature of the basis for the hatred of the restaurant is straight out of the news.

The aforementioned Dave is a stereotypical mild-mannered good guy who quietly does his job in an office with highly eccentric and annoying colleagues. An incident that pushes the limits of his high tolerance for aggravation provides the type of comedy that is funny when it happens to someone else and horrible when you are the victim.

The primary entourage of Dave consists of best friend Jerry, a highly unconventional stockbroker with excellent cause for despising the aforementioned junk food haven, and trailer-dwelling "The Steve." The video-game addicted and highly unmotivated assistant of Jerry rounds out the group. Jerry and said aide not having a good sense of the duties of the latter perfectly illustrates the dynamics of the group.

A love-at-first-stalk that Dave develops for a character known as the McDucks Girl establishes a one-sided "Romeo and Juliet." The impact of this clandestine romance includes evasive behavior regarding Jerry et al.

Additional "Clerks" mayhem enters in the forms of a slacker cop, a serial killer with an odd obsession, and a suburban ninja. This is on top of the home of Jerry being a refuge for his eccentric friends and associates.

A nice expansion of the fast-food theme comes in the form of a hilarious battle centered around McDucks competitor Blendy's, The evil entity at that establishment is pure Kevin Smith.

The "Mother" concept comes in the form of the teen son of Dave finding a videotape that explains the contempt for McDucks and that chronicles the relationship between his father and the aforementioned "Juliet." This tale becoming an obsession at the high school of said offspring adds a nice twist and provides some of the best humor in this always amusing and often hilarious future cult classic. The lore regarding the tape is purely awesome.

This variation on an oft-used narrative technique shows the same creativity as the manner in telling the story in the recently reviewed Bear Jekyll and Hyde film "Butterflies of Bill Baker."

The end result of all this is that honorary "Jersey" boy writer/director Martin Rogers shows that they can make 'em like they used to in the '80s and early '90s and that doing so does not need to break the bank.

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

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

'The Lesson' DVD: Awesome Bulgarian Neo-Dystopia Tale

THE LESSON DVD & Online Streaming

Like Indiana Jones, spectacular indie (no pun intended) foreign film distributor Film Movement chooses wisely in selecting the 2014 Bulgarian drama "The Lesson" as the September release for the uber-awesome Film-of-the-Month Club that Movement operates, This story of a teacher being schooled in the harsh realities of modern life is universal in its themes and makes a nice companion for the recently reviewed Movement release "The Chambermaid," which tells the tale of a hotel cleaner who learns her own lessons.

The well-deserved 12 film festival wins and 7 "they was robbed" nominations illustrate the high regard for this artistic "ripped from the headlines" tale of a relatively nice and well-educated woman pushed beyond her limits despite valiant efforts to hold things together for herself and her nuclear family. The information in the liner notes of the DVD regarding the commendable sacrifices of the cast and crew in making this film further validate that this one is particularly special.

The realism of the film extends to filming it on location and using locals from that small community for bit parts. An example of the latter is employing actual school children to portray tweens.

The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Lesson" exceptionally conveys the themes and style of the film will keeping spoilers to a minimum.

The film opens with our hero Nabe, who teaches children English as a foreign language, taking a hard line regarding one student stealing money from a classmate; her objective expands beyond wanting to ensure that justice is served to teaching the culprit the difference between right and wrong.

The story enters fable territory when Nabe learns that the diversion of mortgage payments by her alcoholic husband has reached the level of the family facing an imminent foreclosure of said debt. The futile attempts of the louse-like spouse to sell a beater of an RV is a wonderful narrative technique to illustrate the pathetic nature of this miscreant. However, like Tammy Wynette and Hillary Clinton, Nabe stands by her man.

As the aforementioned liner notes states, the power of "Lesson" includes piling on more drama and despair just when you think that things cannot get any worse. Hope in the form of payment for freelance work and subsequently money from Nabe's father fizzles and requires that she borrow from a textbook sleazy loan shark. Two spoilers in the form that Nabe subsequently must pan handle and scavenge coins from a park fountain barely scratch the surface.

Oscar-worthy star Margita Gosheva portrays this horrific downward spiral with an amazing stoicism. We see (and feel) her pain without her breaking down into tears, loudly lamenting her fate, or otherwise strongly emoting, She largely merely accepts verbal abuse and other humiliation with a neutral expression and does what her thoroughly unfair circumstances require. The two times in which she engages in very apt rebellion will make you want to cheer.

Along those lines, watching Nabe suit up in the final scenes and then commit the act that will resolve her situation deserves a special place in film history. This outcome is guaranteed to surprise you.

The bonus short film is a cute American documentary on the nefarious practice of smuggling the tasty and fun Kinder egg candy into the United States. The ban on this confection is based on the clever and cute toys that come inside the chocolate shell being a choking hazard. This amusing movie far exceeds the objective of being equally entertaining and educational that this genre should achieve.

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