Search This Blog

Sunday, February 28, 2016

'The Danish Girl' BD: Portrait of the Young Male Artist as a Woman

Product Details
[EDITOR'S NOTE: A desire to timely publish this review combined with the Academy Awards occurring during a "hibernation" period for this site is the reason for this post preceding learning whether "The Danish Girl" wins any of the four Oscars that it richly deserves. A follow-up post will report on the results of those nominations.]

The 2015 Four-Oscar nominated (and BAFTA robbed) drama "The Danish Girl," which Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is releasing on Blu-ray and DVD on March 1 2016, is as uber-awesome as much for what it is not as for what it is. Strong distaste for transgender-oriented fare such as "I am Cait" and "Transendence" created dread that "Danish" would be more like the '80s Tom Hanks cross-dressing sitcom "Bosom Buddies" than the beautiful and sensitive (but not saccharine) period-piece biopic that it is.

The following YouTube clip of the "Girl" trailer nicely conveys the quality and style (as well as the overall fun) described above.

Eddie Redmayne, whose previous credits include his Oscar-winning performance as Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything" (and whose future credits should include the 14th (skipping over 13) Doctor on "Doctor Who"), delivers a Best Actor caliber perforamce as the titular 1920s European model Lili Elbe nee successful male painter Einar Wegener.

"Girl" opens with Wegener seemingly literally and figuratively comfortable in his clothes and happy enough in his marriage when wife/fellow artist Gerda (played by the very prolific Alicia Vikander) persuades him to pose in high heels and stockings. This opening of Pandora's Box leads to the previously controllable initial desire of Einar to dress as a woman to intensify. This, in turn, leads to Einar wanting to fully live as a woman. The related benefit to the career of Gerda provides additional motivation to trade in cotton boxers for silk panties.

The artistry in the script, the acting, the directing by Oscar winner Tom Hooper, and the period settings and costumes all relate to the perfect pacing of the film and (mostly) absence of melodrama. The audience sees the transition and the anguish related to Einar becoming Lili. A scene in which Einar relates a failed attempt to spend the entire day as that persona is one of numerous excellent depictions of his struggle to discover (and accept) his true identity. Redmayne puts his acting skills to good use in conveying that angst and his responses to the reactions of others.

The focus in the later scenes includes Einar deciding to undergo  a very dangerous experimental procedure. The ending is not necessarily one out of Hollywood but is as effective as any fictional conclusion to a story.

The special feature consists of a "Making of" documentary.

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

Thursday, February 25, 2016

'Hollywood Wives' DVD: Classic '80s Aaron Spelling Mini-Series

Product Details
The recently released Visual Entertainment DVD of the 1985 Aaron Spelling ABC mini-series "Jackie Collins' Hollywood Wives" is part of an '80slicious Spelling bee by Visual that includes the (reviewed) complete series DVD set of "Hotel." The most subtle nod to Spelling in "Wives" is a blink and you will miss it clip of the Spelling '70s classic "The Love Boat" just before a special news bulletin.

The spectacular '80s mini-series vibe of "Wives" nicely provides fodder for comments such as "'Three's Company' will not be seen tonight so that we might bring you this special presentation; it will return next week. Now, please stay tuned for 'Hollywood Wives' starring Candice Bergen." The terrific modern vibe includes evoking strong thoughts of the HILARIOUS (reviewed) 2015 theatrical comedy "L.A. Slasher" in which each character is merely "The Actress," "The Pop Star," "The Socialite," etc.

The catchy MTV style opening credits in "Wives" featuring a song by "Solid Gold" darling Laura Branigan of "Gloria" fame further reinforces both the '80s and "Slasher" vibes of the production. The arguably best image in the credits has a perfectly manicured hand stroking the upper portion of a champagne bottle until the enclosed liquid vigorously and copiously spews all over the place. The following YouTube clip of said credits validates said characterization.

"Wives" aptly opens with a gala Hollywood party (complete with a red carpet) for retiring screen legend George Lancaster (Robert Stack). This event provides a narrative technique for introducing the everyone who is anyone who comprise the rest of the characters in attendance. These include the titular spouses.

The series centers around socialite Elaine Conti (Candice Bergen), who is married to fading matinee idol/adulterer Ross Conti. This woman behind the man is planning a large party to generally help revive a career that is sagging as badly as his man boobs and to specifically get him the male lead in "The Final Reunion." This film is expected to be the next big thing. Those involved in the project include producer Oliver Easterne (Rod Steiger), husband/wife directing/screenwriting team Neil (Anthony Hopkins) and Montana Gray (Stefanie Powers). Powerful casting director Sadie LaSalle (Angie Dickinson) additionally has a say regarding who plays which "Reunion" roles.

Most of the inside joke fun relates to former "Three's Company" star Suzanne Somers as T&A bimbo Gina Germaine who wants to transition to being a serous actress. The references to television actresses and to the appeal of some performers being limited to their physical attributes are hilarious.

Additional insider fun comes in the form of former "Dallas" baddie Mary Crosby typecast as Karen Lancster, who is the daughter of George. The parallels between Karen and "Dallas'" Kristin Shepard are hilarious. One spoiler is that Karen does not end up floating face down in a swimming pool.

Not to be outdone, studly Andrew Stevens does double duty as hunky former gigolo/aspiring actor Buddy Hudson and a genuinely evil Hudson brother. The psychotic latter is conducting a cross-country killing spree in an effort to determine which of the above bitches is his mother. (Yes, the February 1984 ABC mini-series "Lace" is a personal favorite.)

This "unreal" classic simply is a great example of the "rich and famous" and abundantly awesome camp that make the '80s so bodacious. Most pleasures are guilty but we are not made to feel badly about enjoying them.

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

'Offspring' S3: Back to Quirky Fun

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Watching this Australian Region-Four DVD outside that DVD region require a (well-worth buying) international DVD player.]

Readers who have been following this series of reviews of the Madman Entertainment S1-5 DVD set of the (overall awesome) modern Australian dramedy "Offspring" know that S2 falls short of the expectations that the first season creates. The expressed hope in the review of the sophomore (but not sophomoric) episodes that S3 is better are nicely realized. The unduly intense drama, almost universal end-of-episode tragedy, and painfully long montages are all left behind.

The S1 review provides an extended primer on this series about professionally superb but regularly daydreaming Dr. Nina Proudman, whose personal life and extensive entanglement with the messes that are the lives of slacker 20-something brother Jimmy, neurotic 30-something sister Billie, nutty mother Geraldine, and horndog father Darcy make her neurotic. In other words, this show reflects universal truths about many families.

The S2 cliffhnager regarding a decades-old family secret sets the stage for much of the S3 action and leads to a hilarious reveal regarding a topic that is very near and dear to Jimmy. In true Proudman style, each member of the family gets very angry at one of more members of the clan for one or more episodes only to reconcile.

Introducing a very likable gay character leads to well-intentioned (but amusingly misguided) matchmaking efforts. One such attempt resulting in a prospect walking out within seconds of meeting said nice guy is sadly accurate. A related subsequent hilarious situation involving competing obligations is a season highlight.

Meanwhile, Nina being obsessed with something going wrong with one of the most appropriate and stable romantic relationships threatens that relationship in a manner that is another nod to true life. A funny development that impacts that relationship involves speculating that the psychotic demolitions expert who is the ex-husband of Nina is the cause of damage to her home.

Jimmy contributes humor primarily in his efforts to prove his ability to be a good father, Fans of the show can predict said deeds having the opposite effects. One of the best schemes has Jimmy participating solo in a Lamaze class. The overall story regarding the unplanned parenthood leads to some of the melodrama that detracts from the quirky appeal of the show. Having labor commence under circumstances in which Jimmy woefully fails to man up would have been much truer to the loved (and still largely present) spirit of "Offspring."

This season is also the one in which the death of one of the actors results in a story involving the sudden death of the beloved character of that actor. The writers and actors demonstrate perfect sympathy regarding this,

The S3 finale puts an awesome twist on the "Offspring" tradition of ending each season with a frantic Proudman family gathering full of amusing trauma and drama. The event this time is a fancy dress party that hilariously has the cast dress in costumes in a manner reminiscent of the awesomely quirky opening credits. It is equally nice that the season ends on a much more upbeat note that the first two season-ending cliffhangers.

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

Sunday, February 21, 2016

'The Girl in the Book' DVD: The Thinking Person's 'Girls'

Product Details
The accolades for the 2015 drama "The Girl in the Book," which Monarch Home Entertainment is releasing on DVD on February 23 2016, include a 91-percent critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This A- reflects the good performances by Emily Van Camp of the ABC series "Revenge" and Michael Nyquist of the Swedish version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" as rookie book editor/aspiring writer Alice and creepy best-selling novelist Milan respectively.

The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN "Book" trailer does a good job providing a taste of the film (and the reasons for the critical acclaim).

The stereotypical opening scenes are a montage of nearly 29 year-old Alice waking in the arms of her boyfriend, getting ready for her job with a New York publisher, and starting her workday. The event that sets the action in motion (and provides the setting for the multiple flashbacks) is Alice becoming involved in preparing a new edition of the great American novel of Milan for publication.

The aforementioned flashbacks depict the history between our leads. Alice meets Milan through the father of Alice being the book agent for Milan back in the day. This coincides with Alice being an aspiring young writing who looks to Milan for professional guidance.

Milan and Alice entering an inappropriate relationship in their past is only the tip of the iceberg regarding the drama that is causing Alice angst in the present. Milan also takes professional advantage of Alice in the period following their initial meeting.

Other present-day drama relates to Alice making a mess out of her personal life. An ill-advised dangerous liaison due to a quarter-life crisis jeopardizes two valued relationships, and an innocent effort to help a fellow young writer leads to further internal and external turmoil.

Said destructive acts and thoughts compel Alice to frantically attempt to get her personal and professional lives back on track. This results in a final scene that nicely ties everything together.

All of this works well because each element of the film falls at least somewhere within the realm of probability.

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

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Iron Ministry: Doc on Real-Life Chinese Snowpiercer

Product Details
The recently released DVD of the 2014 Chinese documentary "The Iron Ministry" perfectly fits the definition of Icarus Films as a distributor of "innovative and provocative documentary films from independent producers around the world." This film, which is edited down from three years of footage shot on passenger trains in the Chinese rail system, provides a very candid look at that system.

The clear contrasts that span from the disgustingly primitive conditions in which rural folk dismember slaughtered livestock to the first-class compartment in which the cameras are banned evoke images of the uber-awesome 2013 drama "Snowpiercer." The underlying premise of life aboard that fictional train is that last surviving people of earth live on a highly segregated train that constantly rides along an enormous circular track.

The most memorable moment in "Ministry" comes early in the film. An adorable, brightly smiling, and enthusiastic tyke in what seems to be the middle-class compartment makes gleeful satirical announcements. These very crude proclamations include directing passengers to empty their bowels and their bladders in public areas and to set off their weapons of mass destruction. Kids do say the darnedest things.

The most "ripped from the headlines" topic in the film involves a conversation with young Muslim immigrants. These 20-somethings discuss the low Muslim population in China, the attitudes that they face, and what it considered the inappropriate practice of some Muslims of identifying the Chinese community in which they live as the place that they are from.

Another "character" is the food vendor, whose limited wares are in great demand, and the folks who run afoul of the conductors. We additionally see very crowded conditions in several classes on the train and the tremendous amounts of trash that passengers simply throw on the floor.

The sad part about all this is that the Chinese rail system seem much more reliable and modern than the heavily beleagured commuter rail system in the Boston metropolitan area. Further,  all but the lowest levels of service on the Chinese system are cleaner and more pleasant than the Boston system. Those characteristics earn the trains that service the Athens of America the nickname the TSR, which stands for Trans-Siberian Railway.

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

'Aya Arcos' DVD: Rent Boy and Middle-Aged Gay Author in Love

Product Details
The recent indie foreign art-house gay-themed DVD from tla releasing "Aya Arcos" has the live-stage vibe of the better films in the always good titles from this division of LGBT home-video leader tla video. The star-crossed lovers this time are 21 year-old Fabio, who practices the oldest profession in the world on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, and middle-aged author Eduardo. The trick (pun intended) to making their relationship work is getting Fabio to take life more seriously while simultaneously getting Eduardo to loosen up. The health hazards related to having sex with a man who engages in that activity for a living is another obstacle on the road to romantic bliss.

The charm and youthful exuberance of Fabio is as apparent and appealing as is the uptight and grumpy nature of his unlikely soulmate. A memorable scene in which the former looks over to the clearly disapproving latter while engaged in a playful spontaneous threeway which Eduardo is welcome to make a fourgy is one of the more memorable scenes that illustrates the differences in their personalities and the desire of each to change the other.

The desire of Eduardo to have a couples AIDS test adds further conflict that the results compound. The predictably laissez-faire response of Fabio reflects the millennial attitude behind a recent increase in the infection rate.

Another memorable collision of worlds has a co-worker of Fabio connect with Eduardo to the detriment of the older man. A less dramatic aspect of this encounter is the intended reality check that the rent boy provides. 

In addition to the well-performed live-stage sense of "Aya," the decently simulated (rather than highly explicit) sex scenes place the film firmly in the art (rather than the porn) end of the scale regarding gay films with erotic elements. In this case, said intertwinings are even more symbolic than the comparable interactions in releasing films.

All of the above are very true to the spirit of the releasing mission to introduce North American audiences to noteworthy gay-themed films about which they otherwise would be unaware. 

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

'Of Mice and Men' BD: Beautifully Restored Film of Steinbeck Classic

Product Details
Olive Films lives up to its slogan "cinema lives here" regarding the recent Blu-ray release of the 1992 Gary "Lt. Dan" Sinise remake of "Of Mice and Men." The 25-words-or-more synopsis of this film adaptation of the titular John Steinbeck novel is that Depression-era drifter George (whom Sinise plays) hops the rails and otherwise travels from menial job to menial job with the twin goals of keeping his mentally challenged companion Lenny (whom John Malkovich portrays) from not causing more trouble and finding a place where this pair can establish roots.

An initial warning regarding the film is that even thinking about watching it can prompt spells of "tell me about the rabbits, George" and related monologues about carrying for said small furry creatures to the extent of greatly annoying anyone with whom you cohabitate. The same goes regarding references to puppy love.

The incredible Blu-ray enhancements to the gorgeous cinematography of the wide-open rural settings and to the perfect score makes one wonder why this was not one of the first films to come out in this format.

Even folks who are unfamiliar with the "Mice" story and/or the cliches of the movies of the '30s and '40s can predict the ensuing trouble on the first appearances of small but scrappy ranch foreman/heir Curley and bored/lonely/horny "Curley's Wife," whom David Lynch darling Sherilyn Fenn portrays).

On a deeper level, "Mice" is full of the symbolism with a long history of plaguing high school students. The aforementioned bunnies and baby dogs only scratch the surface. This results in "Mice" being both entertaining and thought provoking. However, not having read the book for decades prevents advising slackers who are assigned to read the novel whether they can get away with just watching the film.

Sinise does a good job playing stoic and noble everyman George and does a decent job with Steinbeck passages that include the "other guys" soliloquy and the monologue regarding the dream home that he wants to provide Lenny. His ability to convey those traits comes through particularly strongly in the penultimate scene.

Unfortunately, Malkovich shows that he is more adept at playing evil and/or quirky than mentally challenged. His speech, energy level, and mannerism are not quite right for his character.

Enormous regard for the Ray Walston '60s fantasycom "My Favorite Martian" possibly influences the opinion that Walston shines in his "Mice" role of disabled old-time hanger-on Candy. The stage training of Walston strongly comes through in his portrayal of a man well past his prime who tragically loses his best friend and receives realistic hope for a brighter future within 30 minutes of screen time. Candy additionally plays a pivotal role.

The plethora of special features include a commentary by director Sinise, a "making of" documentary, and the screen test of Fenn.

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

Sunday, February 14, 2016

'Pressure Point' BD: Lost Poitier Classic on Racism Marks Black History Month

Product Details
Awesomely recently discovered DVD and Blu-ray company Olive Films further earns its cred. as a purveyor of some of the best films that you remember from your youth and proverbial new classic favorites with the February 16, 2016 Blu-ray release of the 1962 drama "Pressure Point." This film stars Sidney Poitier, who is the first black man to win a Best Actor Oscar, as a psychiatrist who counsels a fellow present-day psychiatrist whom Peter Falk of "Columbo" fame portrays. Identifying the Poitier character as "Doctor" and the Falk character as "young psychiatrist" symbolizes the universal nature of the race-related message in the film.

"Hollywood royalty" producer/director Stanley Kramer, whose numerous actual and "shouldabeena" classics includes the 1967 Poitier film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," wisely films "Pressure" in black-and-white to highlight the contrasts and the drama that contribute a great deal to the power (and moderate "Twilight Zone" vibe) of the film. This cinematography looks terrific in Blu-ray.

The opening scene has a highly frustrated young psychiatrist coming to the office of Doctor related to a black patient who is uncooperative because psychiatrist is white. Psychiatrist being on the verge of quitting prompts Doctor to tell (via flashbacks) of his own frustration as a rookie prison therapist with a similar problem with Patient.

Much of the film consists of sessions in which Doctor tries to get to the root (no pun intended) of the problems of Patient, who is fighting him at every step. The artistically surreal flashbacks of the childhood of Patient reveal the true nature of his challenges. Having future "Barney Miller" spin-off "Fish" and "All in the Family" spin-off "Archie Bunker's Place" star Barry Gordon playing Patient as a child is great fun.

The subplot involving Patient additionally includes good social commentary on the natures of psychoanalysis and the prison system. This relates to determine the extent to which someone is functional and rational justifies determining that he or she is "cured."

The final scene between Doctor and young psychiatrist provides a great conclusion that has shades of "Columbo."

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

Friday, February 12, 2016

Hotel' S4 DVD: "Hotel 2.0'

Product Details
The numerous (plausible) gamechangers in the 1986-87 fourth season premiere of the '80s Aaron Spelling drama "Hotel" make up-and-coming home video company Visual Entertainment particularly apt as the force behind the complete series DVD set of the program.

The 1985 death of veteran actress Anne Baxter, who plays the owner of the titular luxurious lodging establishment during the (previously reviewed) first three seasons of the series, prompts an ongoing power struggle regarding the ownership of the business in which household names from yesterday, today, and tomorrow play guests whose fantasies and nightmares become reality. The direct impact of the death of Baxter's Victoria Cabot, and the resulting domino effect, makes considering this season "Hotel 2.O" apt.

The connection between the numerous "Hotel" changes and Visual relates to this company releasing the complete series DVD  set of the 2003-04 Christopher Gorham scifi show "Jake 2.0" sometime in 2016. The latter centers around the titular 20-something computer geek, ala "Chuck," rapidly and unexpectedly obtaining greatly enhanced abilities.

The departure of Baxter and Victoria opens the door for the arrival of  regular "special guest star) "The F.B.I." star Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as Cabot family patriarch Charles. The baggage (pun intended) that Charles brings and his bottom-line approach to business clashing with with the white-glove approach to service that hotel executive Peter McDermott, played by James "Mr. Streisand" Brolin, advocates provides very entertaining fodder for plots.

The "2.0" vibe continues with '80s primetime soap "Knots Landing" star Michelle Phillips playing new concierge Elizabeth Bradshaw. Elizabeth following up being discovered in bed with a married guest with being caught leaking confidential information establishes that "Hotel" is diverting from the theme of the entire staff being a big happy family. Additional work-related strife comes in the form of one-time BFF reservations agents Julie and Megan having a virtual cat fight.

A stand-alone plot ins the S4 premiere episode prompts numerous "Pretty Woman" jokes in that it has a hunky successful architect fall in love with the prostitute whom he hires. Said working girl being a single mother and dramatically summarizing her childhood traumas contributes awesome cheesy goodness.

Another early storyline in which McDermott trying to help the agoraphobic daughter of a family friend continues the trend of social issues-oriented "very special" episodes that are common in the second season.  "Eight is Enough" actor Grant Goodeve playing the hunky and compassionate jilted fiance of the daughter provides numerous opportunities for "take it for granted" jokes.

Another memorable plot has game show host/veteran (including numerous "The Love Boat" episodes) character actor Bert Convy playing a bigamist. His two wives discovering the true states of their unions offers a perfect mix of comedy and melodrama.

The most awesome part of this season of "Hotel" is that all of the above occurs in the first 4 of the 22 S4 episodes. The remaining 18 have plenty of fun and includes guest stars that range from Shirley Jones to Johnny Depp.

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

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

'Partners' BD: Classic '80s Odd Couple Gaycom

Product Details
The recent Olive Films Blu-ray release of the  gay-themed dramedy "Partners" is a great example of the '80slicious titles that comprise a significant percentage of the Olive DVD and Blu-ray catalogs. The brat pack classics "Class" and "Making the Grade" are two of scads of bodacious examples of these films.

The following YouTube clip of the "Partners" theatrical trailer nicely showcases the early '80s style of the film, the good performances, and the era-appropriate humor.

"Partners" takes a nice twist on the odd couple theme by pairing hunky homophobe cop Benson pair with closeted desk jockey officer Kerwin for an undercover mission in West Hollywood to investigate the murders of young gay men. Dreamy funny Ryan O'Neal and very talented John Hurt play Benson and Kerwin respectively.

Veteran gruff character actor character actor Kenneth McMillian, who perhaps is best known as rough but kind costume shop owner Jack Doyle on the '70s sitcom "Rhoda," shines as the stereotypical commanding officer of the pair. His threatening to put police detective Benson back in uniform and on the beat in the worst part of the city and his aggressively pushing a very insecure Kerwin out of the closet to get the men to work together are highlights.

The comedy cred. of "Partners" relates to James Burrows, who is behind "Rhoda" and too many other to mention classic sophisticated '70s and '80s sitcoms, directing the film. The street cred. comes from having Francis Veber, whose gaycom credits extend well beyond "La Cage Aux Folles" and the "Folles" American cousin "The Birdcage," scribe the film.

The early scenes in "Partners" have Benson and Kerwin set up housekeeping in a West Hollywood apartment building. Benson stereotypically hurls slurs at Kerwin and is otherwise brutal. The submissive manner in which Kerwin reacts both reflects the less accepting '80s regarding alternate sexual orientations and is a perfect analogy for the verbal abuse that many black people passively accepted for years before expressing their own well-deserved pride.

Other outdated prejudice comes in the form of both Benson and the commanding officer of the team discount theories of Kerwin simply because he is gay, Anyone who has been in the position of knowing that he or she is right but cannot get people to listen can relate to this.

Benson getting his eyes opened on finding himself on the other end of sadistic gay bashing by the police is another positive message in an era in which even seeming to be gay can have serious negative consequences.

An unduly brief cameo by Jay Robinson as the old queen landlord of the boys is a real treat for fans of the Sid and Marty Krofft '70s Saturday morning show "Dr. Shrinker" in which Robinson plays the titular madman with an evil mind who is as crazy as you'll ever find. Being able to joke "so that's what happened to Igor" in response to the landlord sharing the tale of the end of a 20-year relationship is some compensation for his very limited screen time.

Much of the humor predictably comes from the assignment requiring that a devastatingly humiliated Benson wears revealing and/or fetish clothes and subjects himself to equally unwelcome groping by gay men. A particularly embarrassing bow-and-arrow "outfit" of an oiled-up Benson is a personal favorite.

Seeing Kerwin and Benson grow as a professional and a personal team is very sweet; one especially endearing scene has Benson express great delight in having Kerwin surprise him with a homemade gourmet feast to celebrate their one-week anniversary.

The supporting actors and the extras who play the members of the West Hollywood community representing a wide spectrum of the population is another awesome aspect of "Partners." A blond haired blued eye preppy who is attracted to Kerwin is one of the more likable secondary characters; others in the group are disco queens, leathermen, and just ordinary blokes.

On a larger level, "Partners" is very far from being a documentary on the Stonewall riots or other significant moments in gay history but does provide an entertaining history lesson on the attitudes toward gay people in the early days of the pride movement. The strong probability that many gay men did not see the film in the theater out of fear of being labelled as homosexual is an aspect of this. Olive allowing the men to buy the Blu-ray and throw a fabulous fondue party to watch it is a good thing.

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

Monday, February 8, 2016

'Second Coming' DVD: Idris Elba Immaculate Performance as Husband of "Miracle Conception" Woman

Product Details
Film Movement showcases the indie film cred. of probable future Bond (and past "Luther" and "Promethesus" star) Idris Elba in the 2014 British drama "Second Coming."This film, which is being released to the general public on February 9 2016, is a selection in the infinitely awesome Film of the Month Club that Movement operates. As an aside, the Club page on the Movement site often includes a promo.for new members.

The following YouTube clip of the brief trailer for "Coming" provides a good sense of the artistry of the film.

This understated psychological drama about the impact of the apparently highly unusual pregnancy of London civil servant Jackie has the same live-stage vibe as many Movement films. The drama relates to the pregnancy occurring despite Jackie not engaging in any intimate relations with stressed (but loving) husband Mark, whom Elba perfectly portrays. The story to which Jackie sticks is that she has not done anything to warrant having the letter A sewn on her clothes and cannot explain how she has become with child. The live-stage sense is attributable to "Coming" being the first film effort of playwright Debbie Tucker Green.

Like all good dramas, "Coming" starts out relatively understated in the earlyish days of the pregnancy. Mark is enjoying blissful ignorance, and Jackie is contemplating an abortion without directly referring to that procedure. Tensions (and tempers) slowly escalate as the pregnancy progresses.

The final act clearly is the most dramatic. The relationship between Mark and Jackie is horribly strained, the mental state of the latter is beyond fragile, and their son is suffering from all of it. The final scene is both very surprising and as highly symbolic as the film title.

Movement does equally well in choosing the bonus short film, which is a standard feature regarding Club releases, that accompanies "Coming." The 10-minute American movie "Wait 'Til the Wolves Make Nice" tells the tale of lower-income Detroit children who are easily persuaded to commit an especially despicable hostile act against the Church. The common inter-related themes of forgiveness and religious belief make the two films a good pair,

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

Saturday, February 6, 2016

'Black Mountain Side' DVD: Ancient Threat in Forest Primeval

Product Details
The recent Monarch Home Entertainment DVD release of the 2014 horror film "Black Mountain Side" shows that the terror (rather than slasher or grindhouse) films of the '70s and '80s are not entirely a thing of the past. Elements that keep this one fresh include defying a horror film cliche that is comparable to the almost universal (pun intended) fate of the "Star Trek" crew members who wear red shirts. Another quasi-spoiler is that watching the film will evoke thoughts of "Oh. Deer." and "the buck stops here."

An apt comparison to the John Carpenter classic horror film "The Thing" refers to "Mountain" telling the tale of a small group of scientists in the Canadian wilderness experiencing increasing terror after discovering a mysterious stone structure and finding several inexplicable artifacts. Staying true to the spirit of "Thing" and holding the attention of the audience throughout the film are factors regarding "Mountain" receiving the award for "Best Horror Flick" at the Fanasia International Film Festival.

The tension in "Mountain" nicely builds as the weirdness escalates from discovering an apparently purely psychotic act and odd behavior by the native workers to increasingly severe illness and psychosis among the small stranded crew. The lack of radio communication and the delayed supply plane are standard (but well-utilized) elements.

Keeping things somewhat realistic and not resorting to over-the-top acting or effects help all of this work. Weird stuff does happen in real life and being isolated in a frigid area that is only getting five hours of sun each day can compound the impact of anomalies and creepy folklore. As mentioned above. defying even one well-established horror film cliche sets members of this genre apart from those that closely follow the formula for them.

The extras include a director's commentary and a "behind-the-scenes" documentary.

Anyone with questions or comment regarding "Mountain" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvvdvdguy.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

'Serial' BD- The Hilarious Satirical Real Housewives of '70s Era Mill Valley

Product Details
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The particularly special nature of the topic of this post results in the following being more "bloggy" than usual. Regularly scheduled programming will resume with the next post.]

Purveyor of wonderfully quirky and/or thought-provoking domestic and foreign classics Olive Films provides a great reminder of the joy of good satire regarding the recent Blu-ray release of the 1980 Martin Mull comedy "Serial." These films having a special place in the memories of those of us ancient enough to remember their releases is a bonus. The personal memory of "Serial" is a Colby College (a.k.a. ColbyCo) film society screening of it providing the first sense that college is cool.

The following YouTube clip of a "Serial" promo. nicely illustrates the aforementioned coolness.

On a very general level, the awesome (but truly unoffensive) un-pc nature of "Serial" is a great example of the theme of the Unreal TV reviewed modern documentary "That's Not Funny," which analyzes the loss of a sense of humor in America. As an aside, Robin Williams responding "because you killed all the funny people" when a German television interviewer asked why there was no comedy in Germany remains a personal favorite Williams joke.

Bill Persky of the '80s CBS Monday night comedy "Kate and Allie" centers "Serial" around middle-level bank executive Harvey Holroyd (played by Mull) and his spirituality/self-awareness obsessed wife Kate (played by '60s sex kitten Tuesday Weld.) A relatively unknown fact about Weld is that her first major role is as gleefully admitted gold digging high school student Thalia Menninger (opposite Warren Beatty) in the early '60s sitcom "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis;" the oft-repeated rationale of Menninger is hilarious,

Sally Kellerman (who plays Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the film version of "M*A*SH") plays the oft-married Martha, who begins the film days away from a very non-traditional (and hysterical) commitment ceremony. Mull making jokes during the ceremony and the current life partner of Martha discovering an ex-husband while reviewing her marital history are some of the best scenes in "Serial."

Neither last nor least regarding either the quirky characters or the B-level stars who portray them is Bill Macy of  the '70s Bea Arthur sitcom "Maude." The executive whom Macy portrays has a '70s California mid-life crisis that evokes thoughts of the leisure suits that still fill a closet of the (then recently divorced) father of  your (occasionally) humble reviewer.

Another "funny because its true" element revolves around Harvey and his fellow commuters riding their bikes to the ferry. A '70s era story in a large metropolitan newspaper includes a photo of a rear view of the very portly uncle of your (at times) humble reviewer riding his bicycle to his law firm. The ginormous headphones-style radio (almost certainly tuned to NPR) with the long antennas makes the photo.

Secondary characters who steal scenes include a brutal gay biker gang that listens to Judy Garland songs while on the open road. A blink and you will miss it moment in which the group begins a raid from  a YMCA is a great sight gag, gets the The Village People song of the same name stuck in your head, and makes you want to rewatch the "People" film "Can't Stop the Music."

The humor in "Serial" does not get nearly as edgy as that of Williams but includes a hilarious line in which a 10-year old boy tells his  cocaine-snorting and pill factory operating psychiatrist (played by Peter Bonerz of "The Bob Newhart Show") that he does not spend time with the "Gay Bruce" doll that is designed to increase his cultural sensitivity because he killed him. The shocked shrink asking the boy the reason for the Kenocide prompts the response "because he's a fag" and an assurance that his motive is no deeper. Bruce coming in a box designed to look like a closet contributes to the humor regarding this topic.

The most awesome part of "Serial" is that those of us who remember the swinging '70s can relate to the humor and folks who still have all their hair will get a fun look at the goofiness of it all.

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

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

'Up Pompeii' DVD: Hilarious Forum/Roman Holidays Mash-Up

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Watching this import from Australia requires a (well-worth buying) international DVD player.}

These inexcusably delayed thoughts regarding the Madman Entertainment DVD release of the 1971 British theatrical film "Up Pompeii," which is based on the Frankie Howerd Britcom of the same name, shows that awesome things come to those who procrastinate. The good performances and clever puns exceeded Benny Hill expectations by creating a Monty Python level experience.

"Up" is a bawdy R-rated combination of the smash play and film musical farce "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and the tamer vintage Hanna-Barbera cartoon series "The Roman Holidays" (think "The Flintstones or The Jetsons" set in Ancient Rome.") It is further assumed that "Up" is in this same spirit as the (as yet unwatched) modern Britcom "Plebs."

The underlying premise of both the show and the film is that Howerd plays scheming and cowardly slave Roman Empire-era slave Ludicrus, (This role is very similar to the one that Howerd plays in the reviewed Madman release "Up the Front.") The primary story in "Up" revolves around a brutal Roman soldier pursuing small and wimpy Ludicrus after the latter unwittingly acquires proof of a coup against Emperor Nero. Other characters having names such as Sextus, Boobia, and (the relatively fey) Nausius provides a further sense of the fun and satirical style of "Up."

Ludicrus both serving as a one-man Greek chorus breaking down the fourth wall between the characters and the audience highlights the humor of Howerd and contributes to the "Forum" vibe. One of his best asides is commenting on seeing the lively daughter of his master with a man is that the daughter is with one of her ex-lovers. Howerd then explains that he means "X," as in 10.

The political shenanigans occur in the midst of a fairly explicit orgy with an apparent cast of 1,000s, a trip to the baths, and a one-sided wrestling match. Ludicrus additionally finds himself unfortunately incarcerated with a particularly Pythonesque pair of cellies.

The result of all this is that the vast majority of Americans who are unaware that productions such as "Up" even exist and do not think to look across the seas to get miss out on some of the best entertainment that our past masters produce.

The special features in "Up" include the trailer and .pdf versions of the original script and pressbook.

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

Monday, February 1, 2016

'Hotel' S3 DVD: A Season of Very Special Episodes

Product Details
The 1985-86 third season of the Aaron Spelling anthology drama "Hotel" brings this series of reviews on the Visual Entertainment complete series DVD set of the show to a mid-point. The theme for the third season seems to be "very special episodes" that address a social issue of that day (and ours). The typical TV-movie style approach to this adds to the already great fun of having faded, hot, and upcoming stars play characters visiting the luxurious St. Gregory Hotel where the program is set.

The season premiere gets the guest-star fun to a good start with having "Newhart" star Mary Frann play the other side of an unhappy couple than she does in the (reviewed) second season. The second-season episode has Frann playing a woman with a husband who pursues the sister, played by Lauren Tewes of the similar Spelling series "The Love Boat," of Frann's character. The S3 episode has Frann playing a married physician in town for a medical convention who plays doctor with a married architect whom Ken Howard of the '70s drama "The White Shadow" portrays. One truism that this (and many other similar "Hotel" plots) support is that engaging in adultery at the St. Gregory is almost certain to ensure your spouse walking in on you and your special friend during an intimate moment.

The season premiere additionally has "Dallas" good-guy Patrick Duffy play against type as a psychotic man with three personalities, one of which is involved with St. Gregory executive assistant Christine Francis. A fun aside regarding Francis portrayor Connie "Mrs. Hinkley" Selleca is that she rumor has it that she has a habit of taking more than her share of hotel amenities while traveling.

A "Hotel" episode a couple of weeks later in the season hits a classic sitcom trifecta by having Audrey Meadows of "The Honeymooners" play a wealthy widow who takes up with an ex-con played by "Green Acres" star "Eddie Albert" after hitting him with her car. Frann's "Newhart" co-star Tom Poston plays the buddy of the unfortunately incarcerated accident victim.

The aforementioned "very special" episodes are almost to numerous to mention. They start out with one in which Marion Ross of "Happy Days" plays a woman who is fighting the efforts of a stable and loving gay couple to adopt the young orphaned niece of Ross' character.

Other special episodes have the St. Gregory staff deal with one of their own being raped in her home, another St. Gregory employee being diagnosed with AIDS, Dick Van Patten of "Eight is Enough" playing a bellman who may be past his prime, Timothy Busfield of "Thirtysomething" and Melissa Sue Anderson of "Little House on the Prairie" as a mentally challenged couple asserting their independence, etc.

This is also the season in which the simmering romance between Francis and hotel manager/boss Peter McDermott, played by James "Mr. Streisand" Brolin, heats up. In typical Spelling fashion, a dramatic accident provides the catalyst for the workplace romance to move forward.

The most special elements of this season and the four others in the Visual set is that it fulfills the noble DVD purpose of providing a chance to watch a good (but not widely syndicated) show from the past. More specifically, "Hotel" represents a good middle ground between the lighter tone of the Spelling '70s Saturday night staples "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" and his '80s primetime soap "Dynasty."

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