Friday, January 29, 2016
The nine short films in the tla releasing, which can be considered the most sophisticated relative in the TLA Video family, DVD release "Dishonored Bodies" offers a primer on the art-house films Juanna Carrillo. The apt releasing description of Carrillo as "Spain's most exciting queer filmmaker" is one reason that this division earns this distinction.
The primary appeal of "Bodies" is that it shows the world-at-large that gay-themed films have a place in every genre. The highly stylized erotic gay shorts are just as appropriate for any festival that shows movies of these types as ones that focus either on the female body or on heterosexual intimacy. This nicely comes on the heels of well-produced gaycoms and dramas making their way into multiplexes without any second thoughts.
The creative nature of several "Bodies" films extends beyond the artistic lighting that accompanies shifting images of male and female bodies intertwining in numerous configurations to often tying two shorts together. The most awesome example of this is following a very '80s style film that consists of propaganda images and seditious rhetoric with a beautifully shot film of a soldier from the same era as said propaganda desperately trying to rescue a woman trapped behind barbed wire.
"Scaffolding" easily is the most charming film in the set. It depicts the developing relationship between two attractive 20-something neighbors who ignore each other until the titular object partially blocks their homes. The next film opening with shots of that scaffolding provides a bridge (no pun intended) between those films.
"F**kbuddies" wins the dual awards for the most provocative and entertaining short in the group. This one entirely takes place in a car during a (not entirely satisfying) casual hookup. The interaction that follows the intercourse is both highly entertaining and hilarious. This film also has a tie to the memorable twist in the final film, which mostly consists of a POV shot of an unwelcome interloper in a gay cruising area in which most of the action is hard core. This one is either very funny or very sad because it is true depending on your perspective.
It is equally awesome that these films fall safely on the "art" side of the pornography line. Even the more stark images (such as highly explicit oral sex) are there to make a point. Sadly I am not ready for my close-up Mr. Carrillo.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Bodies" is welcome to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
As the recent review of the Olive Films Blu-ray release of the restored 1914 Hungarian silent film "The Undesirable" mentions, Olive is also the force behind the Blu-ray of the controversial John Huston WWII documentary "Let There Be Light." This brings that film into the sunshine after several decades of the Army suppressing this look at treating the veterans of that war for PTSD. (The juvenile impulse to state "Huston, we have a problem" regarding this censorship is too strong to resist.)
The Hollywood Royalty pedigree of Huston starts with "The Maltese Falcon" and goes on to include fellow Bogart classics "Key Largo" and "The African Queen." His latter work includes "Prizzi's Honor."
The following YouTube clip of footage from "Light" conveys the rawness and the power of the film.
The comprehensive 26-minute introduction that precedes "Light" and the other three WWII-era documentaries from the time that Huston spends in the Army uber-awesomely explores every film and how each of them reflect the impact of the war on the psyche of Huston. The coverage of the re-enactments in the latter two of the films, and the audio clips of Huston discussing the productions are highlights.
The first documentary, "Winning Your Wings," is a delightful 1942 short in which charming and earnest Army fly boy Lt. Jimmy Stewart puts his folksy manner to good use regarding selling high school and college boys on voluntarily enlisting in the Army Air Corps before their draft number comes up. Stewart emphasizing the monetary compensation, the possibility of starting in the middle, and the wide range of available jobs is upbeat and wholesome fun.
The less upbeat Academy Award winning 45-minute documentary "Report From the Aleutians" achieves the genre ideal of entertaining and informing. We learn of the harsh climate of the titular land masses off the Alaskan coast, their strategic importance, and the men who are stationed there. The scope of this coverage also includes the men who do not return from the daily attacks on the nearby Japanese stronghold. In other words, "Aleutians" depicts the daily lives of the folks whom "Wings" entices to join the military.
The roughly hour-long "Light," which is a National Film Registry selection, is a documentary in the purest sense. Huston merely turns on the camera and lets the traumatized newly returned soldiers and the psychiatrists who are treating them at the stateside Army hospital do their thing. We meet both groups on the arrival of soldiers and follow their stories until the end of their hospitalizations.
The unflinching eye of the aforementioned camera does a good job capturing the twitching eyes and other nervous tics of the patients. We additionally hear their stories directly from their mouths. As the narration explains, much of the problem stems from these boys being taught while growing up that war and killing are bad but then being forced into the middle of both in their late teens.
Olive Films presenting these documentaries (as well as an unwatched film on the fighting in San Pietro, Italy) in chronological order helps the audience understand why Huston goes from gung-ho to gun shy during the war. A large portion of the American public experiencing comparable feelings creates the bonus of Huston expressing these validly unpatriotic views during an era of rampant propaganda presenting far less realistic images of the war.
The BD extras consist of the raw camera footage from "Pietro" and the entire "Grey" documentary.
Anyone with any thoughts regarding seeing the "Light" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
The third time is a charmer regarding the middle season for the Brett Butler '90s sitcom "Grace Under Fire" in the Visual Entertainment complete series DVD set of this program. The Unreal TV review of the first season set in this collection provides a primer on this early Chuck Lorre show; the post om the second season discusses the evolution of the program. The following thoughts regarding the third season demonstrate how "Grace" nicely matures.
Many of the enhancements to this already good show relate to Butler not allowing her ego to prevent her co-stars from shining. The prime example of this is episodes often including a story revolving around independent pharmacist/platonic friend Russell (awesomely played by "SCTV" veteran Dave Thomas) working with his wacky father Floyd (played by Tom Poston of "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Newhart"). This pairing does not achieve the same comic genius as bringing Jonathon Winters onto "Mork and Mindy," which also features Poston, to provide Robin Williams a true peer with whom to play but provides ample hilarity.
The general Russell/Floyd comedy revolves around the more straight-laced Russell becoming exasperated by the wackiness of his father. Terrific examples include Floyd treating the drug supply as a candy store and Russell getting Floyd to agree to a set of rules only to have the latter quickly nonchalantly violate all of them. One of the best bits has them wagering on anticipated outcomes regarding a hostage situation.
Another memorable plot that does not directly involve Grace has tween son Quentin aggressively hugging and kissing Grace's horrified best friend/neighbor Nadine. The awkward efforts of Nadine's spouse Wade to handle the situation creates some of the aforementioned hilarity.
The season premiere nicely ties in most of these elements by having Grace experiencing mixed emotions regarding Nadine and Wade asking her to be an egg donor. The light manner in which a then-reluctant Grace tries to placate Nadine provides the hilarity in this one.
Grace further experiences turmoil at work in the forms of an unfair change in position, a clandestine workplace romance, and a disgruntled co-worker with an apparent fondness for American sedans.
Additional humor comes in the form of behind-the-scenes closing-credit scenes that showcase the talents of Thomas. One has him attempting to make a guest star insecure and another has Butler hilariously set Thomas up in a hilarious take on workplace violence.
All of this works because it largely is true. Like "Seinfeld," the third season of "Grace" generally is about the trials and tribulations of life that are a little rougher for the Joe Plumbers among us and that our friends help us survive. Grace does not lose a winning lottery ticket, get stuck in an elevator with an enemy, or have a celebrity unexpectedly show up at her door.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Grace" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
Friday, January 22, 2016
The OliveFilms Blu-ray release of the recently discovered and restored 1914 Hungarian silent film "The Undesirable" makes a terrific topic for the inaugural Unreal TV review of an Olive release and an apt opportunity to touch on the Olive release of four recently released John Huston WWII-era propaganda films during his tenure in the Army. This (soon-to-be-reviewed) collection is under the title of the (until recently banned) documentary "Let There Be Light." The decades-long suppression of this documentary on treating WWII soldiers for PTSD relates to the film not being flattering toward the military.
General notable things that must be said regarding "Undesirable, " which "Casablanca" director Michael Curtiz helms. are that the dialog title cards are in English and that the picture quality is virtually flawless; there is nary a scratch or other defect, and there are absolutely no jerky edits. The toned backgrounds in a few spots contributes nice richness to the film.
Additionally, the newly commissioned orchestral score is perfect to the degree that the music is coordinated with the breathing of the actors. This makes the viewing experience light years beyond the piano playing that often accompanies silent films.
The story centers around 20-something Betty, who flees to the big city in the wake of a literal deathbed confession. The ensuing adventures of Betty include becoming a working girl, falling in love with a charming and good-looking young man whom the society of that day (and ours) considers out of her league, being accused of a crime, literally confronting her past, and obtaining justice regarding those developments. The commentary on the bourgeois lifestyle is tasty icing on the cake.
The talents of the actors and the behind-the-camera crew exceed all expectations regarding "Undesirable" being a run-of-the-mill silent film. The cast does adhere to the American model of over emoting due to their stage training and the lack of spoken dialog, but do so to a far less degree than their American cousins. The better sets and reduced melodrama are further enhancements regarding typical American fare from the same era.
All of the above results in a good chance to see a long-lost film that is still highly relevant and entertaining 102 years after its debut.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Undesirable" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
International art-film division of LGBT video company tla video tla releasing once again makes an artistically erotic film available to U.S. audiences in releasing the 2013 Brazilian film "Tattoo" on DVD. The roughly 25-words-or-less synopsis of this lively '70s-era movie is that a troupe of flamboyant performers preparing an outrageous satire-laden show that is subject to heavy censorship at the same time that a young soldier boy who is the baby daddy of the sister of the gay star comes calling. Said teen out of uniform falling in love with the regular bed partner of said star complicates things all around.
The accolades for "Brazil" include 20 major wins and an additional 11 nominations at film festivals.
Said star Paulette is more androgynous than drag and has more combined energy than a litter of month-old puppies, His relationship with the literally resident drug dealer strains a more healthy relationship with troupe administrator Clecio. Said soldier boy/closet case Fininiho bonding with Clecio, whose experiences largely mirror that of the younger man, further complicate things. It is nice that the sex scenes between Clecio and his protege are more sensual than erotic.
Fininiho also complicates the efforts of Paulette and Clecio to get their explicit cabaret show ready in a manner that does not run afoul of the applicable censorship. Both his enrollment in the Army and his presence at prior literal gay bashing creates mistrust among the boys (and the girls) in the band.
Like the other notable titles in the releasing catalog, the title of "Tattoo" has multiple symbolic meanings. The least subtle of which is the literal manner in which Fininiho is branded.
The combination of the above elements results in an equally fun and dramatic film that depicts the lives of free spirits who fully realize the potential price for not allowing society in general and the government specifically to repress them. This is a good reminder of the not-so-distant past in which boys who like other boys had to not tell and in which staging an absolutely fabulous revue could be equally devastating.
As an aside, the recently reviewed releasing DVD "Boys in Brazil" is an equally entertaining (but more sedate) depiction of the sad impact of repression of the gay lifestyle in the titular nation.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Tattoo" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
Monday, January 18, 2016
The Season Two, which is included in the Visual Entertainment complete series DVD set, season premiere of the Aaron Spelling primetime drama "Arthur Hailey's Hotel" showcases both the Spelling formula and the '80sliciousness of the show. Faded movie queen with a weight issue Elizabeth Taylor plays faded movie queen with a weight issue Katherine Cole in this 1984 outing. Cole is staying at the Saint Gregory Hotel, which serves the role of the cruise ship and the tropical island in two similar Spelling shows from that era, in San Francisco to perform in a stage play.
In the interest of avoiding being unduly repetitive, folks who are interested in a more in-depth discussion of the concept of "Hotel" are asked to please read the Unreal TV review of the Visual DVD set of the first season of this five-season program. (Reviews of the remaining three season will run during the first half of 2016.)
The '80s goodness rolls along with a wonderfully soapy plot that has '80s sitcom "Newhart" star Mary Frann playing a formerly traumatized woman who visits the titular lodging establishment to reunite with her long-lost sister played by (temporarily disgraced) "The Love Boat star Lauren Tewes. This one has the husband of Frann's character put the moves on Tewes' character largely in response to an extended dry spell in his marriage. Frann being willing to put out to save her marriage is hilarious from an enlightened 21st century perspective.
A "very special" episode has Larry Wilcox of the '70s police action-adventure show "CHiPs" play a Christian Scientist who finds his faith tested when his daughter develops a very serious medical condition. One can see the defiance of the mother of the child coming a mile away.
A personal favorite episode has formerly closeted "Brady Bunch" actor Robert Reed playing a married sportscaster whose wife catches his coming out of the shower with his male producer. Watching the spouse and the other man fight for their man is highly entertaining.
"Hotel" further reflects the '80s in having owner Victoria Cabot (played by faded movie star/"The Love Boat" veteran Anne Baxter) become an active modern senior ala Jessica Fletcher only with more comic overtones. The misadventures of Ms. Cabot include her efforts to better understand the daily workings of the business go amusingly awry and her amateur painting ending up in an art show.
Additional goofy goings on for the St. Gregory folks include assistant manager Christine Francis (played by Connie "Mrs. Hinkley" Selleca) becoming a local celebrity after filming a cereal commercial and Direct of Guest Relations Mark Danning dealing with the (not-so-much younger) teen son of the middle-aged woman with whom he has a serious relationship.
All of this adds up to a chance for great winter camp while snuggled inside for marathon viewings of this escapist classic.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Hotel" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,
Saturday, January 16, 2016
The inspiration for this diversion from reviews on DVD and Blu-ray releases of international movies and television series stemmed from a series of fortunate events. These began with your friendly neighborhood reviewer and his highly significant other watching a DVD episode of the modern sci fi series "Stargaate: Universe," which revolved around a small military group and a gaggle of untrained civilians trapped on an ancient in two senses of the word spaceship at the other end of the universe. This viewing immediately following watching a Tivoed episode of the '80s sitcom "Mama's Family" prompted said Honey Boo Boo to start acting out the Southern bickering working class Harper family of "Mama's" being on the "Universe" ship. This inspired said reviewer to comment "Mama's Universe."
A bad bout of insomnia the next night prompted 1:00 a.m. thoughts of "Gimme A Benson." The concept this time was that surrogate parent to motherless girls of the police chief Nell Harper of the '80s sitcom "Gimme A Break" was the surrogate parent to the motherless daughter of the governor in the '80s sitcom "Benson." This one had Harper clashing with the titular wise-cracking civil servant.
Further thoughts during this period of sleep deprivation were of the deplorable reincarnations of classic sitcoms in the early days of cable in which the need for content resulted in some of the worst programs in television history. Examples included new versions of "The Monkees," "WKRP in Cincinnati," and "The Munsters." (Memories of "She's the Sheriff" and "Out of this World" are mercifully vague.)
The product of all this are the following additional ideas for cross-over series of classic sitcoms. Advance apologies if TV Land or its ilk actually develop any of the them.
"Mama's Second Family." Cranky southern white senior citizen Thelma Harper learns that middle-aged southern black Nell Harper of "Break" is the daughter from the inter-racial secret family of Thelma's deceased husband Carl Harper. Nell falling on hard times requires that she join the wacky crowded Harper household.
"Leave it to Jeannie." Mischievous tyke Beaver Cleaver of "Leave it to Beaver" uses money he is given for new shoes for a genie bottle that a hobo is selling. the bottle contains the magical imp from "I Dream of Jeannie." The weekly adventures consist of said genie making things worse when using her powers to try to extricate Beaver from the messes in which he finds himself. B stories involve prim and proper June Cleaver trying to get Jeannie to exchange her harem outfit for a high-necked dress and pearls.
"Sanford and the Man." Irascible widowed black elderly junk dealer Fred Sanford (like deceased Sanford portrayor Redd Foxx) of "Sanford and Son" actually has a heart attack after years of faking it. This requires that he sell his "empire" and share a small inner-city apartment with his white counterpart (now) retired auto shop owner Ed Brown of fellow '70s urban sitcom "Chico and the Man." Both men delight in expressing their racist views while clashing with the younger and more liberal ethnically diverse members of their community.
Anyone with thoughts regarding any of the crossovers described above or with similar ideas is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Region-Four DVD from Australia will not play in a standard U.S. player; it requires a roughly $75 international player.]
Australia-based DVD distributor/producer Madman Entertainment continues demonstrating the awesomeness of the Britannia film collection, which is the Madman division that releases feature-film versions of classic Britcoms. Like the title for today, "Till Death us do Part," many of these Britcoms provide the basis for equally classic American shows. "Death" particularly is very similar to the homage series "All in the Family."
Like Archie Bunker of "Family," Alf Garnett is a politically conservative blue collar hero. Alf and Archie further share the characteristic of having multiple prejudices that are based on ignorance, rather than hatred. Alf and his American cousin in background and attitude further have loving and long-suffering wives. "Silly old moo" Else is the British counterpart of "dingbat" Edith Bunker.
Like other movies in the Britannia collection, the "Death" movie has a grander scale than the show on which it is based. In this case, the story starts literally at the days leading up to World War II (a.k..a the Big One) and continues to the '60s in which "Death" the series is set.
Alf is his usual hilariously ignorant loud mouthed self from the opening scene in which he is asserting during a newsreel that Hitler is not a threat; this sets the stage for some of the best WWII-themed humor outside "Hogan's Heroes." Highlights include slapstick revolving around bomb shelters and big-talking Alf receiving a draft notice.
The action subsequently shifts to the '60s and related political humor. These scenes in which Alf clashes with his liberal daughter Rita are straight out of "Family." Rita even marries a tall man named Mike, and this couple lives with Alf and Else.
Sitcom style segments from this portion of the "Death" film include Alf being highly offensive and otherwise acting up during the reception for the wedding of Rita and Mike, Mike and Alf attending a championship football (my people call it soccer) match between England and Germany, and Alf stubbornly opposing community redevelopment.
These plots (and the plethora of other hilarious moments) in "Death" show the universal nature of this type of humor (a.k.a. humour). It additionally provides a terrific look at an alternate universe version of the Bunkers of "Family."
The DVD extras include the original theatrical trailer and .pdf versions of the film pressbooks and scripts.
Rather than stifle, anyone with questions or comments regarding "Death" or "Family" is strongly encouraged to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
Monday, January 11, 2016
The similarities between the gay-themed 2015 drama "Like You Mean It," which breaking glass pictures recently released on DVD, and the recently reviewed webseries "Feral" nicely show that gay men have come a long way baby regarding portraying them on screens ranging from 40 feet to four inches (no innuendo intended).
Both Mark in "Like" and "Feral" Billy are gay 20-something aspiring actors who are like many real and fictional folks all along the Kinsey scale. The relationship problems of these boys prompt frequent fantasies but do not prevent them from going about their daily lives or compel to pour their hearts out to their best fag hag while sipping sissy drinks in a gay bar with deafening disco music. Another similarity is that writer/director/star Philipp Karner of "Like" and "Feral" auteur Morgan Jon Fox base their productions on their own experiences.
Like "Feral," "Like" opens with what turns out to be a dream of an idealized version of a less-than-ideal relationship between our hero and his highly significant other. A literal and figurative rude awakening depicts the true nature of the relationship. Mark and live-in boyfriend Jonah get along roughly as well as any other long-term couple, but Mark simply misses the more romantic and intimate nature of their early courtship. Scenes that explicitly show the extent to which the honeymoon is over are sad because they are true. One partner valuing physical and emotional intimacy more than the other is another condition with which many of us in a long-term relationship can identify.
The related issues that Mark (and anyone else who has built a life with someone else) must face are the extent to which his relationship can improve and whether he is happier with Jonah than he would be without him. The related issue is the effectiveness of therapy and less formal role play and other therapeutic efforts.
An unexplored element of this conflict is the concept of the hierarchy of needs that includes the component that part of human nature is to always want greater happiness than we enjoy. In the context of gay relationships, a side effect of the legal and nearly general societal recognition of the right of two men to live in the same manner as straight couples is that these removed obstacles to domestic bliss can create distress regarding not maintaining the level of love and fun that gay actor Robert Reed pulled off regarding playing opposite Florence Henderson in "The Brady Bunch."
Once again similarly to many real-life relationships, the "Like" boys simply slowly become estranged and consequently unhappy. This is not a result of any dramatic development, such as substance (or domestic) abuse or another man. As stated above, the merely no longer are the honeymooners.
The DVD extras include a fun interview with Karner; the insights include amusing ancedotes related to having a very small budget.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Like" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
Friday, January 8, 2016
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Region-Four DVD from Australia will not play in a standard U.S. player; watching it requires a well-worth buying international player.]
The Madman Entertainment DVD release of the 1973 feature film "Steptoe and Son Ride Again" is part of the awesome (and oft-reviewed) Britannia film collection series from Madman. This library consists of both theatrical versions of classic Britcoms (many of which inspire classic U.S. sitcoms) and pilots of shouldabeenaseries pilots. In this case, "Steptoe" provides the basis for the Norman Lear series "Sanford and Son." A review of the Britannia DVD of the first "Steptoe" film ran in November 2015.
A wonderful homage in "Ride" to the "Steptoe" series has "Are You Being Served" veteran Frank Thornton playing a supporting role. The pre "Served" career of Thornton includes playing bit parts in episodes of "Steptoe" the series.
Before tackling the topic of the day, it is worth noting that the current production of the "Absolutely Fabulous" movie indirectly reflects the good caliber of the Britannia movies. The proverbial sources note that the Ab Fab project is a result of the success of the two film versions of the HILARIOUS modern Britcom "The Inbetweeners," which depicts the lives of four golden lads. "The Inbetweeners" films in turn reflect the success of the movies that comprise the Britannia catalog.
The Fred and Lamont of "Steptoe" are senior citizen Albert and his adult son Harold, who are partners in the titular rag and bones (a.k.a. junk) business in England that they operate out of their shared home. The awesomeness of this bizarro "Sanford" includes the sniping and the overall situations being even more entertaining than in their tales of their American cousins.
The silent film style music that accompanies the opening scenes of "Ride" is very apt for the amusing slapstick that starts the action. This revolves around the wonderfully filthy and unethical Albert trying to steal chickens from the neighbor.
The first act of the film has a very amusing mishap hasten the need to put beloved cart horse Hercules out to pasture; a variation of "Jack and the Beanstalk" has Harold diverting the entire cash reserves of the family from purchasing a new horse. The alternate buy is a racing greyhound.
Anyone who has seen a sitcom from any country knows that the get-rich-quick scheme in the form of racing the dog goes awry; the portion of "Ride" devoted to this is involves great absurd humor.
The third scene finds our father-and-son heroes joining forces to perpetrate insurance fraud. Of course, hilarity ensues regarding this as well and results in even more wonderful slapstick than the antics that open the film.
The handful of DVD special features include the original trailer for "Ride" and .pdf versions of the script and the press materials for the film.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Ride" is strongly encouraged to email me. you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
The 2015 direct-to-DVD homicidal maniac torturing and killing hookers in a gorgeous mansion horror movie "The Last House," which Wild Eye Releasing made available on November 24 2015, crosses genre lines in having Jason Mewes, who plays Jay in the Kevin Smith Jersey films, star as the boyfriend of one of the escorts.
The timeline of "House" repeatedly shifts between the present and points in the past that range from earlier the same day to further back. This all starts with said working girl Love and Mewes' Ned joking and romping in bed while discussing their future. Love then going to her employer to quit only to be sent to one last party sets the ensuing mayhem in motion.
The aptly named Hate and his equally psychotic sidekick are the hosts of the party and engage in creepy fully-clothed foreplay before the action begins. Scenes of these preliminary activities are interspersed with shots of Love fleeing in terror, fatal injuries being inflicted, and a concerned Ned lookin' for Love in all the wrong places.
The quest of Ned is the most interesting part of this short-attention-span film that does not spend more than a few minutes at a time on any one scene. The best scene in the film has Love describing her real-world qualifications while interviewing for a job as a crisis counselor.
"House" further deserves credit for clever resolutions near the end of the film.
The DVD extras include a screening interview with director Sean Cain and writer Wes Laurie and footage from the U.K. premiere of "House." Cain making nasty remarks about box-office draw Mewes in the former seem a bit inappropriate.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "House" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
Monday, January 4, 2016
tla releasing, which is the international art house division of LGBT home entertainment leader tla video, nicely fulfills its mission of demonstrating the range of queer cinema regarding the recent DVD release of the gay scifi romdram "Velociraptor." This creative outing has confidently gay teen slut Alex spending an afternoon before an impending apocalypse walking around a virtually deserted city with his assertively straight buddy Diego.
The conflict arises in the form of Alex assertively trying to get Diego to help with his plan to go out with a big bang. In fact, this seems to generate more drama than the upcoming extinction of the human race.
The accolades for this tale of two boys in lust includes the Best Feature award at the 2015 Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. This reflects the nice chemistry between our leads and the analysis of the sexual mind of the teen male as well the limits of a friendship between a boy who identifies himself as gay and another who considers the label of straight very important.
Many people who has ever been on either side of such a relationship have inadvertently experienced varying consequences when this line is crossed even in a non-sexual manner. An extreme case of this is a hilarious scene in a classic gay film in which a member of the military who is on leave in the wild receives a literally and figuratively rude awakening while staying with two friends only to be informed of the true nature of their relationship.
The preliminaries in "Velociraptor" consist of Alex casually sharing the names of the numerous mutual friends on whom he has performed oral sex out a combination of wanting to be a good friend and to achieve his own pleasure. In turn, Diego adorably provides a cleverly staged re-enactment of a sexual encounter with a girl.
Tensions escalate when Alex lays (no pun intended) out his case for his reasons for wanting Diego to top him. The negative response is anticipated, but that disgust is not adequately extreme to cause Diego to walk away. The upshot is that the symbolic element of such an encounter, as opposed to the act itself, is the main obstacle to Alex taking one for the team during the bottom (pun intended) of the ninth inning of human existence.
The probability of Alex getting his way increases when he gets Diego to return home with him. Great scenes during this portion of the film include Diego purposefully drinking enough beer to reduce his inhibitions, gay porn both fascinating and disgusting Diego, and the initial preparations and foreplay (including hilarious attempts at self delusion) leading up to the literal male bonding.
All of this works because (aside from the imminent end of the world) the film largely is believable. A gay teen craving more intimacy with a good friend who is cool regarding that sexuality, said friend not being totally adverse to sex that arguably is not much different than prior experiences in that area, and concern regarding sexual labels are issues that many friends in these circumstances face. The nice humor, which includes Alex teasing Diego about the possibility of being on the receiving end of the encounter, is a good bonus.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Velociraptor" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
Sunday, January 3, 2016
Visual Entertainment releasing all five seasons of the Brett Butler '90s sitcom "Grace Under Fire" in a complete series DVD set provides a good chance to see the evolution of this series about the titular Southern divorced mom of three young children trying to make ends meet. The Grace of the second season is a kinder and gentler version of this character than the one in the recently reviewed first season of this early Chuck Lorre series.
The dual big events in the S2 season premiere are the unexpected (and unwelcome) arrival of oft-maligned deadbeat dad ex-husband Jimmy and a torrential rainstorm. The respective impacts of these potential disasters are rekindling the highly toxic romance of our leading lady and comically severe difficulties regarding Grace's sister Faith moving out of Grace's home. A particularly hilarious bit has mild-mannered pharmacist pal Russell (played by "SCTV" veteran Dave Thomas) discount the challenge of being out in flooding rains compared to trying to maintain a small business in an era of big box stores.
Another notable S2 episode is a Thanksgiving show in which Grace hilariously tries to celebrate in a very non-traditional manner only to wind up with a crowd of uninvited (and unwelcome) guests. Various strained relationships further complicate matters. The line regarding which hilarity ensues in this one is Grace discussing having a 22-pound Butterball Spam.
Large multi-episode story lines include the past of Grace returning to haunt her, best friend/neighbor Nadine having multiple related marital problems, and changes stemming from a new boss at the oil refinery where Grace works.
These episodes highlight numerous elements of prior glory days of sitcoms. "Grace" has a distinctive voice that (unlike modern Lorre series) does not rely on catchphrases and barely concealed innuendo for laughs. Not every "Grace" joke is a knee slapper but at least most of them are not especially predictable and are less mean-spirited than most of the humor in the television fare of today.
It is equally awesome that the same things that make "Grace" entertaining are true about the '70s sitcom "Angie," which Visual Entertainment is releasing on DVD in earlyish 2016.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Grace" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via
Friday, January 1, 2016
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Region Four DVD set from Australia will not play in a standard U.S. player. Watching it requires a (well-worth buying) international player.]
The second season of the modern Australian dramedy "Offspring" being less delightful than the previously reviewed first season of this program being disproportionately distressing speaks volumes regarding the overall quality of this show (and creates hope for a third season rally). On a more general note, these reviews are part of a series of reviews of the DVD sets of the five seasons of the show in the Madman Entertainment box set of these episodes. One good sign is that Madman can do no wrong.
The second season shifting much more from "edy" to (borderline "melo") "dram" provides a nice metaphor for real-life family dynamics. The second offspring often is less accomplished than the first one. This, in turn, reflects that parents and more general support systems alike are less motivated to fill their roles once the excitement related to the new experience of raising a child ebbs.
The first season of "Offspring" is full of quirky events in the life of skilled obstetrician Nina Proudman and her (largely functional) dysfunctional family that unduly relies on her for emotional and material support. Things overall take a subtly darker turn in the second season. This commences with the season premiere in which the family rallies around in response to a health crisis of family patriarch real estate firm owner Darcy Proudman.
The next several episodes involve a more dramatic estrangement in the family than the one in the first season in response to misconduct by Nina, Nina treating a battered woman who is nine months into her pregnancy, a newbie doctor freezing at a critical moment, and an especially tragic stillbirth. The seventh episode of the second season earns special scorn for using the uber-lazy screenwriting tactic of having TWO extended monologues with sappy music. Predictively shouting "montage" and "sappy music" while watching episodes that follow is great fun; this also can provide the basis for a drinking game.
On a happier note, a reference to a non-sexual effort of Nina earning a "six at best" is a hilarious nod to a highlight from the uber-awesome S1 season finale.
Even a plot regarding coerced manscaping that would have provided quirky entertainment in the first season triggers a moderate existential crisis in the second one. Nice shades of the first season come through when another character who is witnessing the procedure comments that the individual going under the wax commentsdefinitely is a man and the "victim" later comments that the hair that grows back is very fluffy. The same goes for the planning of a dinner party going awry and ending in literal tears and recriminations.
S2 rallies at the end with a large family gathering that is reminiscent of a party around which the S1 finale centers. This episode further has the most hilarious moment of the season in the form of an image of one of the worst possible wardrobe malfunctions that a bride can experience.
The most important message from the S2 episodes and their relationship with the superior S1 offerings is that family loves you regardless of your flaws and your not measuring up to your siblings. The scruffy 20-something slacker horn dog who prioritizes buying a street parrot a suit over paying rent is just as loved as his professionally well-regarded doctor sister.
The special feature consists of 13 episodes of the web series "The Nurses," which centers around co-workers of Nina.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Offspring" is encouraged to either email or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.