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Saturday, October 31, 2015

'The Gift' DVD/BD/VOD: Jason Bateman Delivers in '80s Style Thriller

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Having '80s teen idol Jason Bateman star in the August 2015 '80s-style feature-film thriller "The Gift," which Universal Pictures Home Entertainment recently separately released on VOD/DVD/Blu-ray (BD),  is very apt. "Gift" being the best of the recent spate of reboots of '80s classics  and original fare in the style of said timeless films is the ribbon on this awesome present.

Although aptly most often compared to the "bunny boiling" film "Fatal Attraction," "The Gift" seems closer to the wonderfully creepy 1990 Michael Keaton/Matthew Modine/Melanie Griffith movie "Pacific Heights" about a yuppie couple unwittingly allowing a highly manipulative tenant who literally may be from Hell into their house. The 93-percent critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes further attests to the awesomeness of "Gift."

The following YouTube clip of the "Gift" trailer nicely showcases the suspense and tension in the film.

Initially happily married yuppie couple Simon (played by Bateman) and Robyn moving from Chicago into a gorgeous California home only to have a chance encounter with Gordon (a.k.a. Gordo the Weirdo) from the high school days of Simon make the lives of the couple an increasingly horrifying nightmare provides the vibe of the aforementioned '80s psychological thriller. Having all the action condensed to a series of rapid developments makes the film neo. Examples of the latter include Simon and Robyn touring the home with a realtor, moving in, and running into Gordon at a Crate and Barrel style store within the first five minutes of the film and having a few separate moderately paced montages depict passages of time.

Having "Gift" writer/director Joel Edgerton additionally play Gordon is another indication of this film being from the 2010s. It seems that not having the same person fill those roles in art-house and indie-style films is much more the exception than the rule these days. The good news is that Edgerton plays his part well in all three capacities.

It is worth noting as well that the deep and dark visual noir elements and sharp unexpected sounds that greatly enhance the suspense in gift are tailor-made for Blu-ray. The film looks very rich and the crisp and clear bangs and crashes will make you jump.

Frankly, both the picture and sound quality are superior to the experience watching the film at a dated theater.

The titular present is a supposedly goodwill gesture from Gordon to his former classmate; this leads to the subsequent interaction that leads to the ensuing torment. The nature of the relationship behind all this provides the mystery that Robyn seeks to unravel with a suspicious lack of co-operation from Simon. 

Part of the effectiveness of this plot is that fans of the Bateman '80s sitcom "The Hogan Family" (Nee "Valerie") can easily picture his high school stud character David Hogan being the teenage Simon (complete with the dark side) whom the audience gradually gets to know. In other words, the boy whom one thinks is Wally Cleaver is equally likely to be Eddie Haskell,

The more general themes include the long-term impact of traumatic incidents, achieving the proper balance between politeness and avoidance regarding annoying people from your past, and discovering that your life partner has a previously undiscovered dark side.

Another nice thing about the film is that Edgerton largely avoids false scares in the form of things such as stray cats jumping out. Each bump in the night is a genuine threat. Other creepy moments include a truly eerie mask and subtle threats that include an indirect homage to the mafia.

The best Blu-ray bonus feature is an alternate ending that Edgerton aptly points out is contrary to the spirit (no pun intended) of the film. We additionally get deleted scenes and other treats,

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Gift" is encouraged to either email me or to connect on Twitter via 

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Purge: Candyland; A Dystopian View of Trick-or-Treating

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This Halloween-themed venture into Blogland is being taken with tongue roughly 75-percent in cheek. The theme that modern-day trick-or-treating is a mild fascism is in line with posts on our dystopian society and points out the coercive nature of this child-friendly extortion. The very term states that not handing over a sweet justifies defacing your property with an egg or leaving a flaming bag of dog poop on your porch.

The days of children merely walking around their own neighborhoods and knocking on the doors of folks they know are long gone. Many people do not know the boy next door, and that youngster and his posse now have parents drive them to "rich" neighborhoods sometimes 15 miles away to get better loot.

Om top of that, easily every third child alleges to have a sick sibling at home for whom he or she requests candy. A more despicable practice involves parents dragging infants (who are dressed up like lapdogs in costumes) as young as one month old into the cold dark night to get candy for said newborn. Any fool knows that that kid ain't getting that candy.

These circumstances simply do not justify spending $100 or more on 1,000 pieces of candy for these strangers. I have already spent $50 (despite shopping sales, using coupons, and enjoying loyal program discounts) on roughly 300 pieces of candy in the event that trick-or-trreaters are unavoidable. Many of us would rather spend that not insignificant amount of money for the pleasure of strangers on something else. As an aside, calling a tiny piece of chocolate "fun size" is a travesty.

Elements of the "The Purge" film franchise in which the government allows anarchy (no pun intended) to exist for one night a year in exchange for a crime-free existence at all other times come into play regarding those of us who do not wish to participate in pumpkin games for the reasons described above. We either must abandon our homes or cower inside to varying degrees to avoid a horde of children trespassing on our property and demanding candy "or else." On top of this, children walking down the middle of the road and recklessly dashing across the street during trick-or-treat hours makes driving in that period ill advised.

Personal experience during the two decades in which trick-or-treating has become a mob scene begins with initially enjoying the sanctity of a secure primarily adults-only building. On moving away, a friend having an October 31 birthday involved going to the home of her sister to VOLUNTARILY help hand out candy and having a nice dinner.

The demise of the aforementioned friendship led to several years of closing the blinds and sitting in virtual darkness while the hordes roamed the streets. My partner and I returning home from dinner during trick-or-treating last year required sneaking in the back door and stumbling up the stairs in the dark.

This "holiday" is particularly bothersome this year. A neighbor who has lived in her home for more than 20 years stated that the sheer volume of trick-or-treaters and the fact that virtually all those kids come from outside the area has motivated her to leave every light in her house burning and then abandon her home every year.

My partner and I have already debated our plan of action; the course of keeping the porch lights out (and thus running the risk of being egged or having toilet paper strewn in the trees) and drawing the shades but leaving the inside lights on is a bone of contention. It is also hoped that having the mother of said significant other over for lasagna can be enjoyed.

Remembering that this commentary is mostly made with tongue in cheek, one should remember that all of us have the right to quiet use and enjoyment of out homes. This includes the right (rather than the privilege) of not having unwelcome intrusions into this domicile.

A VERY SERIOUS suggestion regarding all this is a mash-up between a Tony Orlando and Dawn song and a reverse Passover. It is recommended that the United States establish a system in which folks who wish to participate in trick-or-treating tie an orange ribbon to their homes and that (as observed by Jessica in the hilarious sitcom "Fresh Off the Boat") the kids who want to wear disguises to had their shame regarding begging for candy limit their blackmail to those homes.

Anyone with CIVIL comments regarding this post is welcome to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,

Thursday, October 29, 2015

'Torah Codes End to Darkness' DVD: New Prophecies from Old Testament

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The 2015 documentary "Torah Codes End to Darkness," which is recently out on DVD, offers proof that the titular cipher in the roughly 3,3300 year-old titular first five books of the Bible describes 21st century events. The underlying premises that writer/director/host Richard Shaw presents is that Torah author God lives outside the progression of time in which we non-deities exist.

Shaw explains the history and the evolution of the code; he also interviews the plethora of Biblical scholars who currently utilize it. A highly amusing scene regarding this aspect of the film has one such scholar discussing an '80s-era computer lacking adequate capacity to upload the entire text of the Torah.

The basic idea of the code is that that the text of the Torah contains highly relevant words in close proximity to each other. A purely hypothetical example is finding the words "leader," "wealthy," and "arrogant" near each other after the fact if Trump wins the 2016 presidential election. The actual examples that Shaw provides include the September 11 attacks, and the the kidnapping of three teenage boys.

Shaw further shows that the code includes the reason for the world not ending in 2012 as predicted and additionally discussing the existence of aliens. A more individualized segment shows the results of a search of the name of a military officer who participates in the film into the code.

Shaw providing proof of the astronomical odds of the relevant words appearing in close proximity to each other as they do in the Torah in more secular texts addresses the "monkeys at a keyboard" argument regarding the code being random.

The primary appeal of "Codes" is the strong vibe of the '70s-style paranormal docudrama "In Search of" that it projects. The primary example of this is the movie including a mid-key sensational tone re: announcing upcoming topics. This is especially true regarding an announcement of an upcoming scene of a vanishing wheat field. The first spoiler regarding this is that a very logical and common reason exists for the field becoming sans wheat; the second spoiler is that the exposition regarding this is unduly long.

Like "Search," the underlying issue in "Codes" is the extent to which the viewer has faith regarding the presented facts. There is no reason to not believe that the aforementioned words do not exist as asserted. The question relates to the extent to which this is relevant in the same manner as whether an unexpected downpour on your wedding day is an omen or merely an unusual weather pattern.

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

'Adventures of the Wiener Dog Extraordinaire Crusoe: The Celebrity Dachshund' Book: Doggone Hilarious Blog Collection

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The "author" of  'Adventures of the Wiener Dog Extraordinaire Crusoe: The Celebrity Dachshund,' which St. Martin's Griffin Press is releasing on October 27 2015, would consider it only apt that this collection of his blogs regarding his titular escapades, his recipes, and his photos would prompt the first venture of Unreal TV from DVDs and Blu-rays to prose.  His oft-mentioned charm and good looks both warrant a comparison to Snoopy and provide good fodder for the book. Human author Ryan Beauchesne provides Crusoe the necessary help regarding this undertaking.

The numerous accolades for the blog by Crusoe include multiple "Best Pet Blog" awards and a "Best Blog of the Year Award."

The enormous appeal of this fun book is comparable to the attributes of the classic sitcoms and scifi shows that drive Unreal TV; they all provide wonderfully entertaining breaks from the reality of life.

"Adventures" begins with the tale (no pun intended) of the adoption of our hero by his human parents and their early lives together. These include a move and meeting his brother/sidekick Oakley. These introductory essays further discuss the highly distinguishing (and distinguished) anchor-shaped birthmark that adorns the nose of Crusoe.

Just like the aforementioned beagle, Crusoe has numerous alter-egos (and the photographed apt adorable outfits). Chef Crusoe shares his recipes for treats such as squirrel steak, apple-bacon pie, and carrot cupcakes, Batdog discusses his crime-fighting, and pilot Crusoe recounts his air-travel adventures. Jet-setter Crusoe discusses his vacations. It seems that only the daring fighter pilot who regular battles the Red Baron and the aptly named Joe Cool are missing from the United States of Crusoe.

The following excerpt from "Adventures" nicely conveys most of the themes in the book.

"Introducing Captain Crusoe - sailor of the seven seas, slayer of sea monsters, seducer of exotic senoritas, and all-in-all, the sexiest darn wiener dog captain you've ever seen."

The bottom line regarding all this is that it supports the theory that dogs make the best people. Crusoe has all the qualities for which one could ever hope in a friend and the talent for putting it down in fun prose that reflects a stated love for "Calvin and Hobbes."

Any dogs (or even cats) or their human parents who have any questions or comments regarding "Adventures" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Monday, October 26, 2015

'When Bette met Mae' VOD: A Sure Bette for '70s-style Insight Into Hollywood Golden Age

WBMM Film Poster 2 (1)

The innovative documentary "When Bette met Mae," which hits iTunes on October 27 2015 and other VOD platforms soon after that premiere, wonderfully combines the early days of Hollywood and the terrifically cheesy early '70s. This film centers around Bette Davis and Mae West meeting for the first time at a November 1973 dinner party that is solely held for that purpose.

"met" director Wes Wheadon explains at the beginning of the film that Davis befriended him while temporarily staying with his neighbor. Wheadon then states both that the neighbor invited West over for dinner during that period and that Davis asked Wheadon to tend bar at that event.

The following Youtube clip of the trailer for "met" nicely communicates the fun of the film while providing a glimpse of what becomes a legend most regarding the original "Bette."

The innovation comes in the form of all of the dialog of the dinner itself being in the form of a captioned cassette tape recording by Wheadon. Actors portraying Davis, West, the younger Wheadon, and the other guests silently act out the accompanying gestures.

The recreation aspect is very reminiscent of that technique that was big in the '70s and also used (and subjected to intense ridicule) in the '90s. Unintentional humor comes in the forms of the actor playing Wheadon having a porn style 'do and 'stache and the actor portraying West pushing up her hair and otherwise vamping despite the recorded real-life West stating that that behavior merely is her act.

The actress playing Davis does a better job; she simply plays the role as an elderly woman conversing with someone whom she finds fascinating and with whom she has many shared experiences.

Hearing Davis and West converse is s huge treat on its own. Learning that the career of West is far more extensive than playing a caricature of a loose woman is fascinating, We further obtain insight into her thoughts regarding so many people imitating said caricature. This includes the group encouraging Davis to offer her best portrayal of the West persona.

Additional too numerous to mention highlights include a discussion of a parody of a classic Davis film, the leading ladies reminiscing about a gala birthday party for Hollywood royalty (not that one), and concern regarding Davis requesting an "orange juice."

Hearing the other guests converse with Davis and Mae as if the legends are just the nice old ladies down the street is another great aspect of the film. One fully expects Davis to blow up and for West to express her own form of displeasure during some of these exchanges.

On a larger level, both fans of classic films and anyone who has had the privilege of a friendship with a celebrity can relate to Wheadon's experience. The folks who make it big always have fascinating stories; doing this when filmmaking still was an art greatly enhances the experience. Personal experience shows as well that Davis and West demonstrate the grace and the warmth of the other greats who recognize those of us who admire them as performers and like them as individuals.

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

Saturday, October 24, 2015

'Southpaw' DVD/Blu-ray/VOD: Gyllenhaal as Boxer for Whom All is not Jake

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"Southpaw," which Anchor Bay Entertainment is releasing on DVD/Blu-ray/VOD on October 27 2015, is a nice surprise in that this tale of the rise, fall, and resurrection of a boxer from the wrong side of the tracks has little to do with boxing or life on the streets. Instead, it is a good film about a man rebuilding his life after a tragedy that people from all walks of life experience.

One of the strongest endorsements of the film comes from the highly significant other of your (occasionally) humble reviewer. This unsolicited remark from that undue hater of the uber-awesome early Gyllenhaal film "Donnie Darko" is a strong disdain for said actor but high praise for his  portrayal of boxer Billy Hope in "Southpaw."

The film additionally deserves credit for using a speech by Bully at an awards ceremony as an exposition device. This provides the audience with a strong sense of the life story of Hope in the proverbial 30-words-or-less.

On a more general note, the boxing scenes in the large arena and other scenes in large brightly lit settings (as well as the images of a bloody and bruised Hope) look and sound spectacular in the crystal-clear and enhanced sound Blu-ray format. Despite this not being a special effects film, buying it in Blu-ray is well worth the money.

The following SPOILER-LADEN YouTube clip of the "Southpaw" trailer is a reader's digest version of the film. On a happier note, it highlights the aforementioned strong (future Oscar nominated?) performance by Gyllenhaal.

"Southpaw" immediately grabs your attention by opening in the middle of a championship fight; the back-and-forth is exciting, and the brutality is moderate. Like the end of the film, a happy ending is achieved regardless of whether Hope wins. He either emerges as the champ or subsequently starts a feel-good campaign for a second shot at the title.

Everyone who has ever seen a film that centers around a boxer can predict that the fighter who taunts Hope in the aftermath of the aforementioned bout ultimately will end up in the ring with our hero. The escalation and ensuing consequences of a second confrontation are far less predictable.

The aforementioned consequences catastrophically devastate Hope; he loses his home, his family (including his loving but gutsy wife played by Rachel McAdam), his entourage, and his career. Only his love of his daughter motivates Hope to have the audacity to start over.

The next portion of the film has a down but not entirely out Hope doing menial labor and training at the inner-city gym that former fighter/trainer Tick Willis (played by Forest Whitaker) operates. A few amusing "whatyoutalkinabout Willis" moments lead to Tick training Hope, who in turn trains the street kids at the gym. One spoiler is that the kid with whom Hope bonds suffers his own tragedy.

The most contrived plot development has Hope rapidly slated for another championship fight despite not fighting professionally since the aforementioned downfall. This full circle back to the beginning of the film shares the same guarantee of a happy ending as those opening scenes. Either Hope will regain his title and all the associated perks or will return to his currently humble (but more fulfilling) life. Either way, his former arrogance will be fully beaten out of him.

It is arguable that Hope returning to his former glory really is not a happy outcome. Such an ending sends a bad message both regarding success being much more easily attainable than it is in real life and that money does buy happiness. Another way of looking at this is that coming back from the consequences of self-destructive behavior following a devastating loss is possible.

The DVD extras include a feature titled "Southpaw: Inside the Ring." Additional exclusive Blu-ray special features, which enhance the argument for selecting that format, include eight deleted scenes.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

'Me' Theatrical: Ship of Faux in Neo-Modern 'Truman Show'

Me (2014) Poster

The indie comedy "Me," recently of the Marfa Film Festival, is an always amusing and frequently hilarious commentary on reality shows. The blurred lines between reality and "reality" include writer/producer/director/star Jefery Levy, who is also the creative force behind the recently reviewed sensual drama "The Key," playing retired pioneer reality show producer Levy. The fictional Levy hires long-time friend Susan, played by long-time Jefery friend Susan Traylor, to makes changes designed to enhance the fictional ratings of the show "Me" that only exists in his mind.

The fictional Susan, in turn, makes an unwitting Levy the center of an actual reality show that does air. In this respect, the latter becomes a modern version of Truman Burbank, who is the central character in the 1998 Jim Carrey film "The Truman Show." Confused? You won't be after watching the awesomely titled "Me."

Susan then goes about casting actors to play the "real" people in the life of Levy. Standouts include hiring quirky actor Steve Agee to play "alternate Levy" and hunky constantly shirtless scene-stealer Noah Mills playing wonderfully frenetic bodyguard Mills. His dancing alone makes "Me" the film and the reality show both worth watching.

Much of the humor relates to a clueless Levy not being in on the joke regarding not knowing that he is making a show other than the one that is airing. In this respect, he is like Chance the gardener in the classic Peter Sellers film "Being There."

The real humor and drama ensue when the lines between reality and "reality" truly blur for an oblivious Levy and a fully cognizant Susan. These include a real-life nefarious plot and the real reality show becoming a hit.

The overall vibe of this melange of elements in "Me" evokes especially strong thoughts of the (unreal TV reviewed) June 2015 indie comedy "L.A. Slasher." That one has a comparable cast of '90s stars and centers around the titular maniac preying on reality-show archetypes who are famous merely for being famous. The message in both that film and "Me" is that reality shows ain't real and those who star in them are not worthy of our time. Fortunately, these two films are worth watching.

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

'Jess and James' DVD: Gay Argentinian Butch and Sundance

Poster Art
tla releasing, which is the foreign art-house film DVD division of LGBT video giant tla video, continues its tradition of overall tasteful tales of 20-something boys coming to terms with their sexuality and lives with the 2015 Argentinian drama "Jess & James." The eroticism in this one is toned down in favor of plot.

The following YouTube clip of the "Jess" trailer provides a strong sense of the sensual with an almost complete lack of equally present story.

Our titular young offenders first meet for a somewhat violent (and somewhat consensual) wham-bam-thank-you-dude session that clearly defines their relationship at that stage of its development. The boys then return to their unhappy lives; Jess is feeling intense pressure to marry the daughter of a wealthy man, and James lives with an extremely bitter mother who takes her unhappiness out on him.

James subsequently intruding on Jess during an intimate moment with said girlfriend greatly compounds what is already an incredibly awkward form of outing; the general rule in the gay world is that a casual encounter is an anonymous one-afternoon stand.

This reunion leads to our heroes effectively stealing a car and heading out for a road trip across rural Argentina. A stop along a country road early in this journey does a good job teasing the audience in expecting some cornholing in a field.

The proverbial meaningful encounter/turning point comes roughly halfway in the trip. An impoverished Jess and James enter a cafe with thoughts of committing a dine-and-dash when adorable waiter Tomas (who is unaware of that intent) offers them free meals. This leads to Tomas showing the boys around town and putting them up in the home that he shares with his father. Frankly, the interloper is cuter and more charming than either perfectly attractive and appealing lead.

A scene from this portion of the film is one of the cutest in the movie and establishes the father of Tomas as a very cool dad. Our three young men are lounging around the bedroom of Tomas looking through magazines and discussing which male celebrities they find attractive. One can easily imagine high school girls doing the same.

An afternoon at the beach finds the three boys clad in European-style swimwear dancing, lounging, and flirting, This leads to a more intimate moment that is a relatively long time coming (no pun intended).

The next memorable encounter is in the form of a middle-aged woman who very quickly invites the young offenders to stay with her on their showing up at their door. This odd behavior makes a subsequent confrontation only partially surprising. The cause of that conflict also creates a rift between our titular 20-somethings.

The final leg of the journey before requiring that Jess and James make important life decisions has the former reuniting with his estranged brother. A family scandal years ago is the cause of that rift, and the siblings have quite a bit to discuss. At the same time, a common experience with their parents helps them understand what the other is experiencing. A really cute scene between the brother and James makes every gay boy wish for a older brother like him.

All of this adds up to a perfectly enjoyable film to which many people all along the Kinsey scale can relate. Two people who couple do not always feel the same level of affection toward each other at the same time; many of us feel pressure to enter relationships for reasons other than love, and we all have mothers. Fortunately, most of our female parents do not shout nasty things at us through the door as we are engaged in achieving self-pleasure.

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

Saturday, October 17, 2015

'Back in Time' DVD/VOD: 'Back to the Future' Doc. Earns Grade of 88

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The documentary "Back in Time"  is awesomely coming out on DVD and Blu-ray one day after the October 20, 2015 releases of the uber-awesome (and soon-to-be-reviewed) 30th Anniversary DVD and Blu-Ray sets of the "Back to the Future" trilogy.

The facts that your sometimes humble (and almost universally frugal) reviewer is getting the $90 limited-edition Flux capacitor Blu-ray edition (rather than other less expensive 30 anniversary sets) of the  "Future: trilogy and is eagerly awaiting watching the 26 episodes from the '90s animated "Future" series  in that collection provides some clue regarding his personal regard for the subject of "Time." The participation of Michael J. Fox and EVERY other principal actor and behind-the-scenes person of "Future" is icing on the cake.

The aforementioned interviews are the highlight of "Time." Producer Steven Spielberg discussing his prior affiliation with writer/director Robert Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale (both of whom also offer insights in "Time") and the extended process of making "Future" a reality is particularly interesting. Gale describing his inspiration for the film provides another fanboy delight.

The following YouTube clip of the "Time" trailer aptly features the aforementioned interviews; it further provides a sense of the exceptional awesomeness of "Future."

Other behind-the-scenes segments discuss the well-known development of having Eric Stoltz film a great deal of "Future" before replacing him with Fox. Although the interviewees in "Time" attribute the switch to the humor of Stoltz not being consistent with the film, it is also widely reported that Stoltz being very difficult is the reason for his termination. One of the more amusing elements of this is a report of method-actor Stoltz insisting that everyone call him "Marty" while on the set.

For his part, Fox shows his usual charm in the segment of his "Time" interview in which he describes working on his "Family Ties" sitcom during the day and shooting "Future" all night. His story of having teamsters roust him out of bed and assertively wake him up is especially amusing.

As an aside, the footage of Stoltz as Marty appearing as an extra in the 25th anniversary sets of "Future" creates a reasonable expectation that the 30th anniversary sets will do the same.

"Time" producer (and obvious "Future" fanatic) Jason Aron additionally devotes substantial screen time to the Delorean car that is so prominent in "Future." We learn the story of Universal Studios restoring one of the original cars from the films, of fans doing the same with other Deloreans, and how Fox is putting one to good use to fund research into a cure for Parkinson's Disease.

Proudly displaying the genie bottle that is a gift from "I Dream of Jeannie" star Bill Daily on his mantle helps your reviewer understand the pride of owning a "Future" Delorean.

Seeing "Community" and "Rick and Morty" creator Dan Harmon discuss his love of "Future" is both awesome and lends itself to hilarious riffs on his feud with Chevy Chase. (Harmon's nasty comment about the "Future" sequels does not have me (ala Chase) wishing a heart attack on Harmon but does diminish him in my eyes.)

We further get a wonderful "The Goldbergs" "1980-something"  style story about ""Future" straight from the mouth of the real Adam Goldberg. His contribution to "Time" also extends to having the Leah Thompson interview filmed on the "Goldbergs" set.

Despite the above-described awesome elements in"Time,"  absence of footage of common folks who are fans is a notable omission. At least a few minutes of discussion of the aforementioned really fun animated series, which had Christopher Lloyd and several prominent voice actors, also would have been apt.

Personal stories of "Future" are not being so interested in it during its initial run and going to see it at a second-run theater with a friend whom the film immediately grabbed. (Candor requires admitting to only going to be a friend and because of intense boredom.) Obviously, seeing the film changed everything.

Moving ahead four years, I remember begging friends to drive in a blizzard to see "Future" II on a old-style big screen on its opening night. Getting stuck in snowbanks at least three times and skidding just as frequently did not deter us. (They did get sick of my regularly stating "Roads? Where we were going, we do not need roads.") Seeing the last-minute cliffhanger and the teaser footage of "Future" III was equally frustrating and exciting.

Moving ahead a few decades, thoughts that it really needs to be October 20 (which is the release date of the 30th anniversary set) are increasingly common and verbally expressed.

It is highly likely that scads o' fans have similar experiences.

Perhaps Aron can go back a few years and add in footage of everyday fans as well as include more coverage of the animated series than a passing remark.

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

Friday, October 16, 2015

'The Key' Theatrical: Erotic Diary of a Mad Horny Housewife

The Key | Jefery Levy

The 2014 erotic drama "The Key" can be considered the thinking man's (and woman's) "50 Shades of Grey" in that the narrative exclusively in the form of journal entries of an unhappily married present-day Los Angeles couple is based on the 1955 novel of the same name by Japanese Nobel Prize Laureate Junichiro Tanizaki. The film is notable as well for evoking thoughts of the similarly themed classic film "The Pillow Book," which is recently out on Blu-ray, that chronicles the sexual development of a highly independent Asian woman.

"Key" is enjoying a wider theatrical release following a September 2015 premiere at the Hollywood Film Festival.

The pedigree of "Key" producer/director/writer Jefery Levy includes the Heath Ledger television series "Roar," and the films "Ghoulies," "Drive," and "SFW."

The following YouTube clip of the "Key" trailer provides exceptional spoiler-free  exposition regarding the plot while awesomely showing the artistic cinematography.

Indie film veteran David Arquette stars as photographer Jack, who is married to the initially frigid Ida. He begins writing traditional journal entries about the then-unsatisfactory state of their love life out of a hope that Ida will read said prose and respond (pun intended) accordingly. One early development is that Jack (seemingly belatedly) realizes that drunk chicks are easy.

For her part, Ida begins expressing her thoughts in a laptop-based journal. These entries offer her perspective regarding the events about which Jack also writes. The gist of said thoughts is that Jack is a clueless oaf. The Asian actress who plays Ida in this highly sensual movie being named Bai Ling simply is a hilarious coincidence.

Adding hunky friend/colleague Kim into the mix stirs up the pot in numerous ways. His interaction with both Ida and the couple's daughter Mia particularly turns this production into a NC-17 Woody Allen film without the awkwardness and wonderfully wry humor. This is especially true regarding everyone being surprisingly sophisticated about the whole matter.

Levy artfully uses stills and slow-motion photography as apt visuals for the journal entries. The tasteful nature of said images are sensual and erotic, rather than even remotely pornographic. The copious nudity is central to the story.

The nicest surprise regarding all this is that the roughly 90 minutes of Arquette and Ling reading never gets dull and actively wraps you up in their stories; this narrative is as compelling as the aforementioned images that illustrate it.

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

'Sweeney 2' DVD: The Brit. Boys in Blue Are Back in Town

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

The recent Madman Entertainment DVD release of the 1978 theatrical release "Sweeney 2" exceeds the usual Madman practice of showing that never-released in the U.S. fare is far better than most American films and television series. "2" is a rare example of the sequel being better than the original. Like the perfectly good (and recently reviewed) "Sweeney," "2" is a continuation of the raucous exploits of the Flying Squad of the London Metropolitan Police in the classic '70s gritty British police drama "The Sweeney."

On a larger level, "Sweeney" and "2" are part of the Madman Britannia film collection. This catalog largely consists of films based on classic British comedies and dramas and also includes "shoouldabeen a series" made-for-TV films. Examples of the latter include the reviewed Leonard Nimoy atmospheric thriller "Baffled!" and the also covered late '60slicious caper show "Mister Jerico."

The following YouTube clip of the "2" trailer does an exceptional job conveying the grit, humor, and overall late '70s look of the film. Watching it provides a good sense of what the film offers.

The central story of squad leader Detective Inspector Jack Regan, impeccably played by John "Inspector Morse" Thaw taking on a gang of bank robbers in honor of the last official request of his commanding officer before said official leaves his job in disgrace simply is lighter and has more humor than the central case in "Sweeney." That earlier investigation revolves around the murder of a "professional" woman as part of a blackmail scheme.

Great humor in "2" includes Regan speaking in a manner that clearly seems metaphorically but turns out to be literal, a new member of the squad quickly becoming (and remaining) the odd man out, and the squad breaking in on a very intimate (and equally kinky) moment. We further witness an awesome "courtship" between Regan and a woman who may be his equal (and possible soulmate.) One "key" scene between the two is one of the more memorable moments in the film.

There additional is a highly auto-erotic moment and plenty of quirky individuals on both sides of the law to highly entertain the audience.

Things become personal for the squad when one of their own is harmed while trying to apprehend the aforementioned gang. This not being the only collateral damage during that escape attempt further motivates the squad to bring the gang to justice.

"2" adds other regular "Sweeney" themes into mix by adding in a dash of police corruption and a cops v. robbers rumble, These hard boiled elements are part of what makes "Sweeeney" a classic from an era of generally kinder and gentler fare.

As oft-stated regarding Britannia titles, they do not make 'em like this anymore but certainly should. These DVDs provide great nostalgia for those of us who remember rotary phones and a fun history lesson for the keyboard kids out there.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "2" is encouraged to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,

Monday, October 12, 2015

'Dope' DVD/BD Malcolm In the Middle of the 'Hood and Harvard

Product Details
The very aptly titled 2015 summer comedy "Dope," which Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is releasing on DVD and Blu-ray on October 13 2015, is one of the nicest surprises to show up on the Unreal TV doorstep in a while. The accolades for this joint (no puns intended) project of Grammy-winning musician Pharrell Williams and Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker include a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

The following YouTube clip of the "Dope" (and dope) trailer includes awesome exposition that tells you everything that you need to know with minimal spoilers. It also does a good job highlighting the humor and the charm of the film.

This amusing coming-of-age story about inner-city soon-to-graduate high school straight A student/self-proclaimed geek Malcolm getting mixed up in the drug trade while trying to get into Harvard has a much stronger vibe of '80s teen comedies then anyone growing up in that era could ever hope. Watching the adventures of this modern-day '90s hip-hop obsessed lad while also loving the new season of the set-in-the-90s sitcom "Fresh Off the Boat" is a wonderful bonus.

The Spike Lee/John Hughes vibes of "Dope" relate to Malcolm and his equally dorky friends Diggy and Jib trying to get through high school without incurring bullying or worse and Malcolm trying to get into Harvard. A still entertaining highly cliched scene has thugs chasing Malcolm through the corridors.

The scene that gets the action rolling has Malcolm catching the attention of local drug dealer Dom after taking a detour intended to avoid a making of a rap video. Hilarity ensues when Dom gets his new friend to act as a messenger between the former and the reluctant objection of his affection; said object not being impressed but feeling affection for our hero requires that Malcolm convey some hilarious but not-so-sweet words to said narcotics entrepreneur.

The events of that afternoon lead to Malcolm and his posse attending a club party that Dom is hosting. The frantic events that are a staple of the aforementioned '80s comedies that occur during that celebration result in Malcolm later discovering a gun and a large quantity of drugs in his backpack. The discovery of contraband leads to hilarity regarding the operation of metal detectors at the high  school that Malcom attends and the general cluelessness of school administrators and faculty members.

Other "dope" humor related to our trio of dopes finding themselves at odds with dope peddlers within a third meaning of that word has them do their best to act tough when threatened, learning the dangers of brandishing a gun without knowing how to use one, and turning to highly eccentric individuals for shelter and other aid.

Blake Anderson of the Comedy Central stonercom "Workaholics" commits grand theft scene as one of the aforementioned oddballs. He plays a drug dealer who is also a former band camp counselor of our group. His shining moments include a hilarious discourse on the definitions of virgin and gay and ongoing frustration regarding apparent consistencies regarding allowable use of the "N word." The most funny part of the latter is that he makes very valid points and makes one want to exclaim "N word please."

The remaining '80s style "how I got into college" aspects of "Dope" are too good to even partially spoil. It is guaranteed that they amuse; it is equally guaranteed that the film will entertain you throughout the entire 1:45 run time. Further, fans of '90s hip-hop will greatly enjoy the soundtrack, which also appeals to the aforementioned '80s kids whose taste runs more to new wave.

The Blu-ray and DVD extras include "Dope is Different," which has the cast and crew sharing their views on being "unique and authentic," and a separate exam of the music in the film.

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

Saturday, October 10, 2015

'Mary Tyler Moore: A Celebration:' PBS' Pioneers of Television Pays Homage to 'National Treasure'

Product Details

As a recent post on personal connections with stars of the uber-classic sitcom "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" states, PBS is marking the equally recent 45th anniversary of the premier of that series with a "Pioneers of Television" special "Mary Tyler Moore: A Celebration." This well-deserved tribute to that legend and her equally timeless series premieres on October 13, 2015.

"Celebration" begins with a nice recap of the "before they were stars" days of Moore and soon moves onto the tale of how she inadvertently performs a tremendous public service regarding transitioning from a dancer to a comedy actress. "Dick Van Dyke Show" creator/producer/writer Carl Reiner discussing the initial bravery of Moore in taking the role of Laura Petrie and the awesome mentoring that he provides during that period greatly increases what already should be astronomically high regard for that leading lady.

Another great moment has Moore sharing the tale of Lucille Ball being discovered watching the "Van Dyke" cast at work; the subsequent meeting of Moore and Ball is one of the best-ever true Hollywood stories.

Coverage of the transition period between "Van Dyke" and "Moore" includes clips of Moore returning to her dancing roots and shares the role that Van Dyke plays in his former co-star getting her own series.

The fun then truly commences with the apt star treatment, which includes clips galore, of "Moore." One notable omission is not discussing the well-known story of an original intent to have Mary Richards be a divorced woman. The story goes that the powers-that-be feared that going that route would have resulted in many people thinking that Laura Petrie had left Rob.

The following YouTube clip promoting "Celebration" offer a glimpse of the aforementioned impact of "Moore" and the star power/love regarding this documentary.

Most of the highlights of the titular celebration are in the form of Moore and her "Moore" cast mates discussing the show. Shared tidbits include the sacrifice that Moore makes toward maintaining the well-known strong chemistry among the cast and that on-screen frienemies Valerie "Rhoda" Harper and Cloris "Phyllis" Leachman are very good friends in real life. (A clip featuring Rhoda and Phyllis is one of the best in the special.)

Another nice aspect of the coverage of Phyllis is the "Celebration" producers picking a scene with her that has a strong personal connection to feature her. As the aforementioned post of these connections state, this segment in which Phyllis comments on bees mating provided a strong laugh at a perfect time.

The validation of the sentiments expressed in the earlier "Moore" post continues regarding the snippets of the interviews with "Celebration" scene stealer Gavin MacLoed. He expresses the same warmth, sincerity, and depth of emotion as in a wonderful chance encounter with your occasionally humble reviewer several years ago.

The contributions of Betty White include sharing the story behind her joining the cast and expressing genuine glee regarding some of the funnier moments featuring her character Sue Ann Nivens. This look at that character further provides a glimpse at the unexpected wild side of MacLoed.

Additional glee comes in the form of several clips highlighting the wonderful humor regarding Richards interacting with gruff Lou Grant, played by Ed Asner. The "I hate spunk" scene is not included, but the audience does get to see Grant share his thoughts on the threshold for considering a woman to be loose.

Awesome moments from an "outsider" involve Oprah Winfrey introducing clips that show her tremendous love for "Moore" and Moore. These include footage of a fantasy come true for any fan of either.

It is equally fitting that the discussion of the "Moore" finale evokes thoughts of another comic great from the '70s. Watching the final scene and having MacLoed reminisce about the sadness of that time may prompt what Robin Williams, who is the subject of another heart-felt Unreal TV love letter, refers to as eyes leaking.

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

Friday, October 9, 2015

'Surviving Me: The 9 Circles of Sophie' Theatrical Release: A Divine Comedy

The highly "Girls" like film "Surviving Me: The 9 Circles of Sophie," which enjoyed a recent world premiere at the Hollywood Film Festival, cleverly combines the harsh realities of being a young modern woman with Dante's "Inferno." Our titular heroine does descend through all nine circles of Hell and is suitably "wiser" for the experience. Suffice it to say that Sophie often does not make the best choice regarding her life.

The following YouTube clip of the "Sophie" trailer is notable for accurately conveying the spirit and themes of the film. The sensuality, college vibe, humor, and increasing drama aptly receive equal prominence.

The filmed-on-location tale of titular Washington, D.C. poetry major begins with commencing her friendship with the bolder Kiera, whose very active sexuality is primarily hetero but flirts with homo. This character, whom "Sophie" writer/director Leah Yananton plays with terrific enthusiasm and equally wonderful humor, makes a very symbolic entrance in taking an uninvited bite of Sophie's apple within seconds of their first encounter. Whether Kiera later takes the cherry of Sophie partially propels the plot.

The more overt sexual aspects of "Sophie" begin with tame intercourse with hilariously inept friend/classmate Jimmy. The coupling between that boy and our heroine is more out of kindness than love. Unfortunately, the poor dope has difficulty accepting the limits regarding the underlying relationship.

These two worlds awesomely collide in a scene in which Kiera brings her latest (very adorable) boy toy into the dorm room of Jimmy while Sophie is visiting; having another young man with a history with Kiera come on the scene (no pun intended) makes things even more exciting. All this is especially so in the context of the eagerness of Kiera to figuratively (if not literally) show Jimmy the ropes regarding how to be a good lover.

Other conflict comes in the form of Sophie being a virtually starving scholar who is estranged from her mother. A particularly effective scene has Sophie learning that her meal plan account is depleted. Having Kiera offer a tossed salad is almost as symbolic as the aforementioned scene with the apple.

The well-presented cliches continue with Sophie developing a close relationship with her poetry professor and his wife. These are among the best scenes in the film, and anyone with a history of a rough college housing situation can relate to Sophie commenting that a starving college student would love to rent an empty bedroom at the home of the professor.

The film aptly reaches a climax (no pun intended) near the end; Sophie finds herself in an isolated setting with the wife of the professor. This requires that the younger woman face the harsh realities that most of us learn during the same period in our lives.

Each actor relating to his or her character and the folks who find themselves in the life (if not the bed) of Sophie generally not finding their interaction with her especially life-changing make the film a realistic story with a clever concept.

The more overall success of "Sophie" is comparable to well-done productions that set Shakespearean productions in the modern world. Both that author and Dante address issues that are as relevant today as they are in the period in which they are written.

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

'Tibetan Warrior' Theatrical/DVD/VOD: Setting a Figurative Fire to Combat Self-Immolation

Product Details
Garden Thieves Pictures provides a good primer on the "troubles" in Tibet in the form of the documentary "Tibetan Warrior," which Thieves is releasing on DVD and VOD on October 9 2015. The international theatrical review is a day earlier at the Sunshine Cinema in New York City.

This equally entertaining and educational film documents the exceptional efforts of middle-aged Tibetan musician Loten Namling to call the attention of the world to the practice of Tibetans lighting themselves on fire (also known as self-immolation) to protest the Chinese oppression that (among other things) is responsible for the Dalai Lama living in exile. A secondary but deeper element of "Warrior" is the internal struggle of Namling regarding whether the decades-long bad situation requires an exception to the course of peaceful resistance that the Dalai Lama practices and preaches. Such a shift in tactics would almost actually involve fighting fire with fire.

The following YouTube clip of the "Warrior" trailer aptly recaps both the "Tibetan" and the "Warrior" aspects of the film.

We first meet our soft-spoken hero at his Swiss home where he is making a meal for his children and boring them by once again telling them the tale of the atrocities behind his fleeing Tibet several decades earlier. He further explains his reasons for soon walking to Geneva with a coffin literally in tow as his means to get the world to properly address the conditions that are behind numerous self-immolations in Tibet.

The visit to Geneva coincides with the Swiss parliament considering entering a free trade agreement with China; the opposition of Namling relates to the proposed pact benefiting the country that treats his homeland so badly. The official ears to which he makes his plea are plenty polite but still largely deaf.

A more joyful event while in Geneva is a "Free Tibet" concert featuring the Swiss musical group The Young Gods.  Lead singer Franz Treichler explains in new s footage that that involvement stems from what seems to be an off-hand offer by him to do what he can to support Namling,

Our wandering minstrel additionally travels to India, which is where he spent his youth. While there, he visits his elderly aunt. This woman recounts her own rough experiences with the Chinese army before fleeing her native land.

The climax of the film is a meeting in India between Namling and the Dalai Lama. This very civil discussion includes the spiritual leader gently asserting the importance of patience and of his passive approach to the conflict and Namling just as calmly stating that the ineffectiveness of non-violence called for taking up arms for their very worthy cause.

Talking heads and clips of news coverage round out this presentation regarding an indisputably serious situation that Namling feels does not receive adequate worldwide attention. At the least, the film will increase awareness regarding the situation in Tibet and the form of martyrdom regarding it.

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

Monday, October 5, 2015

My Favorite Martin: Interview With "My Favorite Movie" Writer/Director/Star Martin Rogers

Watching the wonderfully quirky indie comedy "My Favorite Movie" for a September 2015 review prompted a strong desire to interview writer/director/star/current third-year law student (in other words, he litigates but what he really wants to do is direct) Martin Rogers. Speaking with Rogers over the telephone prompted a desire to fly out to Montana to try to win his baked-potato eating champion title.

A Portrait of the Young Man as a Filmmaker

The way cool exposure of Rogers to film making came when he was in elementary school. His father having a small role in the 1992 Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman drama "Far and Away" allowed Rogers to visit the Billings, Montana set of that film. That experience showed Rogers that film making was his calling.

Rogers added that growing up in a town of 400 people provided him an opportunity to do theater that he likely would have been denied in a larger community. 

Rogers additionally shared that the transition of "Favorite" from an inspiration during his freshman year of college to a screenplay occurred while taking a break from his college studies. He explained that his poverty while living in frigid Fargo, North Dakota prevented returning home to Montana for Christmas that year and also prompted being a lab rat for a study of a proposed anti-fungal cream. (Rogers joked that he considered his role in the cream never reaching store shelves a public service.)

The proverbial rest of the story was that the study required that Rogers stay awake for 18 hours; he explained that he used that time to write the "Favorite" screenplay. (Lovers of art-house films should consider that accomplishment the second public service that Rogers performed during that period.) 

The next step was Rogers and future "Favorite" co-star/prior high school buddy Bryan Ferriter convincing their bud Isaac Marble to discontinue his business studies at a top-ranked university to help make the film a reality. The additional job of Ferriter was to "rally the troops" that making the movie required.

First-time director Rogers also told the amusing story of spending the two weeks before the grueling 18-day shooting schedule reading books on directing films only to freeze at the literal outset of the filming. A veteran actor in the cast unobtrusively pulling Rogers aside and getting him started provided a happy ending to this promising beginning of Dream Team Cinema.

Rogers shared that his next lesson came in the form of the importance of keeping the number of shooting locations feasible; In a true it is funny when it happens to the other guy, Rogers discussed scrambling to the different locations. 

The next lessons occurred during the five-year post-production period. Studies and limited funds prolonged this period, and Roger stated that he felt tremendous relief on getting a DVD of the film in the mail.

"Montana" v. "Jersey" Films

The well-produced independent film quality, friendly anti-establishment theme, and population of slackers, suburban ninjas, and assorted freaks, oddballs, and psychos in "Favorite" screamed for asking Rogers the extent to which the '90s Kevin Smith cult classic "Clerks" influenced his film. Rogers responded that "'Clerks' was inspirational in my life" and that he was "sure I channeled 'Clerks'" in making his movie but that he did not base the former on the latter.

The element of "Favorite" regarding the son of central character/McJob holder Dave making the videotape of how Dave (wonderfully played by an adorkable Ferriter) met the mother of said son a hit among his friends did its own screaming regarding the proverbial long-running sitcom "How I Met Your Mother." Rogers replied that he loved the show but that his coming up with the idea for the film while a high school freshman predated the premiere of that series.

As an aside, Rogers pulled off the narrative technique better than the "Mother" filmers. Watching the tale of the courtship of Dave and the McDucks girl becoming a school-wide obsession was much more dynamic than watching two sullen teens on a couch listening to their father endlessly drone on about his search for "the one."

Mr. Rogers New Neighborhood

Rogers also shared that he had outlines of three or four screenplays that were ready for development as soon as he paid the "Favorite" bills. His resume in the form of that film showed that he was not bragging regarding confidence that that former high school and college athlete could "knock it out of the park" regarding those undeveloped comedies.

A bit of prying got Rogers to divulge that one potential film was a mockumentary roughly based on the experience that he and literal/figurative crew had driving a purple van from Montana to Los Angeles to market "Favorite" at the American Film Market. The second idea revolved around a group that had visions of stardom when starting a film company in the '70s but currently were struggling to get by.

The third shared idea was a departure from the equally promising ideas described above. That one was a darker comedy that had Ferriter starring as a man whose downfall required taking a job at a not-so-great carnival. The themes of that one included wanting to portray the lives of carnies.

Favorite Hopes

The quality of his work and his exceptional likability makes one hope that Rogers hits it so big that he no longer will grant Unreal TV an interview. Good luck, Dude.

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

Saturday, October 3, 2015

'A Plague So Pleasant' DVD: Neo-Modern PC Zombie Flick

Product Details
The recently unleashed Wild Eye Releasing DVD of the 2013 zombie flick "A Plague So Pleasant" oddly evokes thoughts of "Tom and Jerry" (or "Itchy and Scratchy") cartoons. Both "Tom" and "Plague" show the possibility of interesting variations on themes that are roughly 80 years old and do so in a very modern manner while remaining true to the relevant roots.

The primary twist in "Plague" is that the federal government grants zombies protected status that includes making rekilling them a crime. The limited control measures include having them "live" in a big field behind a fence that is more designed to keep the still-living out rather than to prevent the inhabitants from venturing beyond the confines of their home.

This, of course, is analogous to past and current treatment of other ethnic groups in the United States. It is unknown if a zombie cannot run for president, but it seems certain that they do not own casinos.

The following YouTube clip of the "Plague" trailer does not do it justice in that it makes it seem like a typical member of the genre to which it belongs. The movie is much more than extras in gore make-up running around.

One consequence of the aforementioned unlive and and do not let die again policy is that Mia Marshall is not moving on from the sort of death of her boyfriend Jerry. This particularly bothers Clay, who is the brother of Mia, when best bud Todd expresses interest in dating that "widow."

Zombietastic mayhem ensues when Clay guns down Jerry; said act of putting a cap in the dome of Jerry triggers a zombie rampage/vigilante campaign to bring the murderer to justice. One spoiler is that this revolution is televised.

The filmmakers nicely keep things fresh during this oft-repeated variation of (gore included) running of the bulls. One especially good scene has Jerry unwitting a pursuer who literally eats brain food; Jerry has another memorable scene with a young child.

The figurative commitment to not just making a f**k film continues with a post-killing surprising style change that clearly shows the audience that it is not in Kansas anymore. The artistry continues with an ending that is unambiguous regarding the conclusion but has ambiguity regarding whether it is a happy one and if justice is served.

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

Thursday, October 1, 2015

'Sweeney!' DVD: Big-Screen Version of Gritty '70s British Cop Show

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

This post on the Madman Entertainment DVD release of the theatrical film "Sweeney!" from the Madaman Britannia film collection catalog represents a shift to writing about these big-screen productions based on hit British television programs. Regular readers know that recent posts on Britannia titles have covered "shouldabeen a series" DVD releases, such as the Leonard Nimoy pilot "Baffled!". This series of reviews will continue with coverage of "Sweeney2!" in early October 2015.

The following YouTube clip of the "Sweeney!" trailer nicely showcases the '70slicious feel of the series. You will almost feel that you are watching a promo. for a "Dirty Harry" film.

"Sweeney!" is based on the four series (my people call them seasons) mid-70s British police drama "The Sweeney." The manner in which the titular team of detectives (more formally known as the Flying Squad in the London Metropolitan Police) misconduct themselves will provide modern-day scifi and drama fans a strong sense of the squad in the British version of the series "Life om Mars." The latter has a 21st century detective mysteriously transported back to the less enlightened '70s.

The parallels between "Sweeney" and "Mars" continue with "Sweeney" squad leader D.I.Jack Regan (played by John "Inspector Morse" Thaw) being very similar to rough and gruff commanding officer Gene Hunt in "Mars." The physical and behavioral similarities between Tyler portrayor John "The Master" Simm and second-in-command George Carter on "Sweeney!" further indicated that the "Mars" producers are "Sweeney" fans.

The action in "Sweeney!" begins with parallel stories of a murder of a party girl being made to look like a suicide and a British government official publicly advocating raising oil prices as an economic stimulus. The reveal that the girl and the official have a history ties the events together and sets the stage for the primary tale of corruption and blackmail.

In true '70s hard-boiled police drama style, another "friend" of said working girl informing Regan of his suspicions regarding the nature of the death of that woman opens the door for involving the detective. The informant soon meeting a violent end leads to Regan pushing the matter to an extent that makes him a target of a relatively less extreme effort to derail his investigation.

The events described above lead to more intricate and extreme activities regarding the matter in which the initial murder victim and the public servant are ensnared. Although the element of the nefarious activity going much deeper and higher than initially indicated is standard, the nature of the broader purpose and cavalier audacity of the effort to further that scheme are above average. Casually discussing the whacking of an obstacle in the presence of said impediment is one example of that blatant attitude.

Any fan of the genre of which "The Sweeney" is a member knows that the campaign against Regan does not deter him and Carter from pursuing justice, The ensuing pursuit with copious hot lead is equally predictable. The extended nature of that chase and the fact that that prolonged segment never gets boring are nice surprises.

The net result of the well-presented back-room politics, cops on the take, and crusaders who realize that the rules often do not apply is that it supports the oft-repeated Unreal TV theory that British television and films kick the arse of the similar American fare.

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