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Saturday, April 30, 2016

'Holiday' DVD: Gay Coming-of-Age in Ecuador

Product Details
The recent tla releasing DVD release of the 2014 Ecuadorian drama "Holiday" illustrates how queer cinema has expanded to mainstream genres. Central character teen boy Juan Pablo develops his first (possibly unreciprocated) crush while on a  family vacation from Hell. In other word, it is a film of a Judy Blume novel for twinks.

The titular journey commences with Juan Pablo and his mother arriving at the hacienda in the Andes where his uncle, his aunt, and their children are living in exile in the wake of a nationwide scandal that is centering around the uncle. Many kids across the globe can relate to a girl cousin of Juan Pablo warmly greeting him only to have his taller and heavier male cousin commence visit-long verbal and physical abuse. Long-standing tension between the adults provides another reason for our hero to wish that he had stayed home alone.

The aforementioned scandal puts a very human picture on the financial scandals that define our generation. We see that the people behind them are not complete monsters but still see the devastation from their acts.

Emo Juan Pablo getting caught up in an adventure leads to meeting working-class bad boy Juano and subsequently getting wrapped up in the world of this metal-music loving grease monkey. Anyone who is familiar with tla releasing or gay-themed films generally can predict Juan Pablo falling in love with Juano. Whether Juano does (or can) share those feelings provides some of the "Holiday" drama.

It is equally likely that many gay teens can relate to Juan Pablo sneaking peeks at a shirtless Juano, aching to express his feelings. and then taking the monumental risk of going for it. On the other side, the object of that affection must decide how to respond. The gamut of choices runs from a literal gas bashing to a night of youthful exuberance. As daring real teens know, the reality often lies in between those extremes.

The two young leads playing their parts well greatly contributes to the success of "Holiday." Juan Pablo is not a complete doe-eyed innocent, and Juano is not a total metal-head hooligan. These lad are simply congenial boys from different backgrounds.

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

'Community' S6 DVD: Sitcom Review Studies

Product Details
This review of the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD release of the 2015 sixth (and final?) season of the Yahoo (nee Must-See NBC) sitcom coming roughly two months after the March 8 2016 release date of this set is very true to the gleefully incompetent and lazy spirit of this series. As former community college student and current quarter-assed professor Jeff Winger (whom Joel McHale of "The Soup" perfectly portrays) would stoically say, your not-so-humble reviewer sucks.

Fans of sitcoms/pop culture/wry humor are very aware of the long and tortured history (which includes former star Chevy Chase essentially stating that once and future show runner Dan Harmon is a fat f**k who is destined to die by 50) of this sitcom that could. The most recent significant developments are NBC popping the bubble regarding "Community" after five seasons and streaming service Yahoo adopting the show for a sixth one but subsequently shutting down the platform for that series

As an aside, the aforementioned course (no pun intended) of "Community" largely parallels that of the 2000s ABC (nee Must-See NBC)  sitcom "Scrubs." This quirky series about young doctors in love is known for surviving things such as low ratings and even having the former hospital in which it films being sold out from under it.

For the benefit of the unoriented, "Community" tells the tales of a group of misfits at the deplorable school even by community college standards Greendale who develop relationships of varying degrees of closeness. The underlying bonds consist of their varying degrees of quirkiness and suckiness.

The evolution of the series has Winger and his dysfunctional posse transitioning from a study group in the early seasons, to a "Save Greendale" committee that reflects both the absurdity of students spending several years at a two-year school and the aforementioned bubble, to the troubleshooting activities committee on which they serve in the sixth season.

Aforementioned fat f**k Harmon stays true to the spirit of "Community" in having the two new faces (at least partially) maintain the spirit of dearly (and not so dearly) departed friends. Newly hired organized and level-headed college administrator Francessca "Frankie" Dart (played by Paget Brewster) takes over the role of adult den mother vacated by the departed God-fearing Shirley (played by Yvette Nicole Brown, who leaves in Season Five to care for her real-life father only to quickly be cast in the CBS remake of "The Odd Couple."). A scene in which Dart makes the rest of the gang wear baby bonnets and bibs and say infantile phrases that she writes arguably is the best of the season.

The veterans speculating if black late-50s 90-era inventor/Winnebago dwelling/newly enrolled Greendale student Elroy Patashnk is the new Shirley, the new (Chase's character) Pierce, or the new (20-something black man) Troy illustrates that Patashnik literally and figuratively brings something new to the study-room table that is the series-long focal point of "Community." His best episode is one in which the original cast members actively try to get him to like them.

The still amusing S6 not packing the punch (and lacking the one-percenter jokes that distinguish prior seasons) reflects the age of the show more than the move to Yahoo. Harmon even states in a special feature on the making-of this season that Yahoo is a much more mellow taskmaster than NBC.

The Greendale Seven repeatedly commenting on the repetitive nature of their escapades evokes thoughts of the eighth season of the classic '60s "Bewitched" sitcom in which the characters largely go through the motions and mixed-marriage wife Samantha actually comments on the nearly decade-long pattern of mortal husband Darrin enraging witch mother-in-law Endora only to have Endora cast a relevant spell on that man. This also is true regarding numerous other classic shows.

Several episodes stay true to the spirit of "Community" by having one center around a campus-wide paintball game, another involve making a minimal budget scifi film, and other episodes involve beyond gut classes such as "Ladders" and one on grifting that is a con itself.

A personal S6 favorite has the committee engaging in preemptive damage control regarding an imminent attack ad that asserts that Greendale awarded a dog a diploma. The episode itself is classic "Community," and the counter-attack ad that Winger et al produce is fall-on-the-floor hilarious.

The extras extend beyond the aforementioned "making-of" feature to a gag reel and deleted scenes.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

'What We Have' DVD: A Gay French Connection with Northern Exposure

Product Details
tla releasing, which is the international art house division of LGBT film giant tla video, shows its sensitive side regarding the recent DVD release of the 2014 Canadian drama "What We Have." This combination coming-to-terms and coming-of-age film is relatable on both or either level to most gay men.

"Have" further follows the formula of indie gay films in that the depth of the film has an inverse relationship with the degree of sexual content. In this case, the aptly portrayed neurotic elements far outweigh the erotic ones.

Central character Maurice is an attractive 40-something Frenchman who moves to Northern Ontario to start a new life. The baggage that this actor/French tutor brings with him includes childhood trauma (which is portrayed in grainy home-movie style flashbacks) and an inability to desire a relationship that lasts longer than one night.

Although Maurice achieves relative serenity in the forms of a job with a local theater troop and work as a tutor for shy and sweet 15 year-old Allan, his past soon comes to haunt him regarding both ventures. Latest benefits without friendship connection Michael turns out to be the manager of the theater company, and virginal in every sense Allan is hot for teacher.

Repeatedly rebuffed Michael keeps returning to the well regarding wanting a relationship partially drives the story. The more heart-wrenching (of course, pun intended) Allan story is the primary focus. This somewhat confused likable kid must deal with his relatively new attraction to other boys and his even newer and more complicated feelings towards Maurice.

The aforementioned childhood trauma helps Maurice relate to Allan. Additional sympathy comes in the form of witnessing intense humiliating cruelty that Allan suffers at the hands of his peers. The unfortunate effect of this is the deepening of the feelings of the student for the teacher.

For his part, Maurice struggles to deal with these new men in his life and with his own demons. He does deserve credit for his effort to strike the proper balance between cruel and kind.

Everyone in front of and behind the camera plays his role well. You will care about the characters and hope that he one finds that happiness that he is seeking.

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

Indie Thriller 'Fare' Debuts Newport Beach Film Festival

The powers-that-be at the Newport Beach Film Festival choose wisely in premiering the psychological thriller "Fare" from Bad Theology Pictures at Island Cinemas on April 26. 2016. This minimal budget film in which writer/director Thomas Torrey also stars  (and likely uses his own SUV) reflects the true spirit at an event that is designed to give new talent a chance to show his or her stuff.

The intriguing concept of "Fare" is that struggling residential real estate agent Eric drives for an Uber-style livery service at night to earn extra money in a tough housing market. In the type of coincidence that is common in movies and not so rare in real life, a customer early in the film gets Eric thinking about the nature of love and the related state of his not so happy 10 year-old marriage. Subsequent titular passenger/antagonist Patrick, whom Eric quickly recognizes as the land developer who regularly seals the deal with the commercial real estate agent to whom Eric is married, pays the price for Eric starting to analyze his life.

On a larger level, "Fare" provides good reason for trepidation regarding using Uber. Unlike professional cab drivers, the folks who provide that service lack any effective supervision and likely are not subject to rigorous background checks.

Like any good film, the conversation between the two stars starts out very chummy and even slips into guy talk until Patrick gets an increased sense of uber-danger (of course, pun intended). This relates to Eric going all-out taxi driver (again, pun intended) by unlawfully confining Patrick and continuing to drive him around.

The subsequent conversation reveals a great deal about both men and has nice humor that includes Patrick thinking that stating that he treats Mrs. Eric like a lady will create good will. Said fare later getting figuratively slapped down after acting like a sissy also produces a smile.

The tension between the characters decently escalates to a reasonable climax regarding that aspect of the film. Torrey then takes a figurative left turn in transforming "Fare" into a somewhat different type of film. It is as if Marty McFly of "Back to the Future" returns to his own time only to have a villain from his past adventure (of course, pun intended) suddenly appear out of nowhere and menace him in a manner that is only partially true to the film.

Torrey shows good creativity in filming "Fare" entirely in the aforementioned vehicle. He deserves additional credit for writing a screenplay with a strong live-stage production vibe. The kindest thing that can be stated regarding the acting of Torrey is that (like his character) should not quit his day job. The portrayal of Eric is so flat that he does not elicit any response from the audience. We can relate to someone whose wife is carrying on a long-term affair but neither feel sorry for Eric nor care about his fate.

Co-star J.R. Adduci does much better playing Patrick. This character has decent charm and overall responds to events in the same manner as a typical individual. He further presents a decent case for his affair.

The final analysis regarding this festival entry is that the concept and the character studies justify checking it out. It will hold your interests, and the flaws (like the central femme) are not fatale.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

'Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods' DVD: The Gaul of a Tribe Opposing Roman Empire

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Region 4 DVD from Australia will not play in a standard U.S. player; watching it requires an international player that is worth buying if only to watch DVDs from Madman Entertainment.]

The deities element of the CGI-film "Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods" make Aussie DVD god Madman Entertainment the proper distributor for the DVD of this production. This company truly offers the best British and Australian DVDs of films and shows that you have heard of and that you do not yet know are awesome. It also has a good selection of American titles, such as the Unreal TV reviewed DVD sets of the 60s sitcom "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," that have not made it to DVD in the states.

"Mansions" is based on the "Asterix" French comic series that American children know through English-language books and via French-language comics in French class The titular diminutive Gallic warrior uses a magic potion by the village druid to temporarily obtain super-human speed and strength to keep the Romans at bay and for any other useful purpose. The Abbott to this Costello is the rotund and not-so-bright Obelix, who possesses permanent extraordinary strength.

The following YouTube clip of the "Mansions" trailer achieves its purpose of providing spoiler-free exposition of the concept of the film in an enticing manner. Showcasing the quality animation is an element of this.

The titular abode is an apartment complex that Roman emperor Julius Caesar is ordering built outside the Brittany village in which Asterix and his posse resides. The method behind this apparent madness is that moving a group of Roman civilians in the area will succeed where more aggressive tactics to conquer the village have failed.

The hilarity commences with  Asterix and Obelix (along with trusty canine companion Dogmatic) coming across the newly commenced construction site during a wild boar hunt that is anything but a wild bore. Early efforts by the natives to thwart the project lacking any lasting impact leads to creating an alliance with the literal slave labor. This, in turn, leads to things going hysterically awry.

A few of scad o' funny because its true moments are a sales pitch during gladiator battles, the "local yokels" gouging the "city slicker" Romans, and many of said locals embracing the spirit of the expression "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."

More general silliness involves comic bluffing, a melee seemingly for the sake of a melee, and typical small-town squabbling.

The puntastic humor regarding the Roman Empire provides the bonus of evoking thoughts of the mid-70s Hanna Barbera Saturday morning cartoon "The Roman Holidays." This largely forgotten gem directs the historic and futuristic concepts of "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons" respectively on the era of the Roman Empire.

The bonus materials consist  trailers and "making of" features.

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

'Sex Ed' DVD: Haley Joel Osment Teaches Horny People

Product Details
Monarch Home Entertainment continues its tradition of providing semi-precious stones, such as the Unreal TV reviewed "Cowboy v. Dinosaurs," with the April 19 2016 DVD release of the 2014 Haley Joel Osment male-oriented romcom "Sex Ed."

Much of the joy of "Sex" relates to copious opportunities for jokes regarding films from early in the career of Osment. Osment's Ed Cole referring to "seeing people" is a "The Sixth Sense" softball. Cole mentioning that he used to play in a band prompting shouting "yeah; The Country Bear Jamboree" is a more subtle example of this.

Osment channels Cole from "Sense" in his portrayal of the "Sex" Cole.  The film opens with a mousy (and now chubby) Cole working an almost literal McJob when a literal QB and his hot and horny girlfriend come in with a request that Cole help them engage in an earth-bound variation of the Mile High Club that involves a variation of using a Burger King onion ring for a sexual purpose.

Cole attempting to assert his authority just leads to the same form of humiliation that his younger "cousin" suffers in "Sense." This scene also establishes that Cole is a trained teacher who is unable to obtain employment in his chosen field.

The following scenes further establish Cole as a mouse who is unable to roar, but who adequately asserts himself to get a job as a detention-room instructor for ninth graders.

The primary portion of the "Sex" begins with the understated 21st century version of the new teacher arriving at school in his not-so-nice car and having his students show a lack of respect. Almost as quickly discovering that his new charges possess alarming little accurate knowledge about their changing bodies prompts Cole to begin the titular (no pun intended) course of study.

Amusing moments from this School of Cock include Cole trying to get his class to only use the clinical terms for male and female naughty bits and a longer scene in which those students practice how to respectfully communicate with the objects of their affection.

Of course, there would not be much of a movie without conflict; in this case, it is in the form of the father of a son of a preacher man who apparently believes that sex should not be taught in the home or the school. Being the doormat that he is, Cole does not put a very valiant struggle to pay it forward until he has the epiphany that is mandatory in every film of this type.

The successfully presented stereotypes continue with Cole falling in love with the 20-something sister of a student. The lad announcing the arrival of that sibling creates the fulfilled expectation of that hottie with the hunky jealous boyfriend slowly strutting toward the nottie that is Cole. Of course, this pair dates only to fight and then come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement.

The generally separate "Jack and Karen" scene-stealers are Glen Powell (who seems to have negative body fat) of "Scream Queens" and the current Richard Linklater film "Everybody Wants Some" as dim jock/horn dog/best friend JT and Retta of "Parks and Recreation" as the landlord and bar owner who befriends Cole. Retta particularly shines in a scene in which her character vomiting on a penis barely slows her down. In other words, she adheres to the treat yo self philosophy of "Parks."

Neither Osment nor anyone else associated with the film has any delusion that this is another "Sense" (or even "Secondhand Lions.") "Sex" merely is an amusing film that provides Osment a chance to play an age-appropriate role that is consistent with his "type." In fact, one of the best scenes includes a brief moment in which Osment seems to stop acting and simply is the nice sweet 20-something guy that he seems to be. This is the Cole with whom one would want to have a Philly cheese steak and play the "This was my day" game.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

'Journey to Planet Earth: Dispatches From the Gulf' VOD: Matt Damon Narrated Doc on BP Deepwater Horizon Tragedy

Product Details
Screenscope Films is marking Earth Day with the April 20, 2016 VOD release of the Matt Damon narrated documentary "Journey to Planet Earth: Dispatches From the Gulf." This film from the PBS television series "Journey" explores the ongoing impact of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster on the marine life in the Gulf of Mexico.  The titular messages, which have clever titles such as "mud and blood cruise" and "ginger snap cookies," provide the context for the study of said impact.

The following YouTube clip of the "Dispatches" trailer nicely introduces the subject matter and provides a good sense of the quality of the production.

The release day also marks the sixth anniversary of the aforementioned spill. The importance of this includes showing how some of the oil is still present and is affecting fish and other sea creatures who are a few generations past the ones who were living in the Gulf at the time of the accident.

Damon and the talking heads who conduct the research of which he speaks provide the combination of education and entertain that are elements of every good documentary, The spectacular coastal and underwater photography are special bonuses.

The more notable segments include a fishing trip for mahi mahi fish and footage of a literal voyage to the bottom of the sea. The former shows us the lasting effect of the oil on the fish population, and the latter illustrates the damage to coral.

The scope of "Dispatches" also touches on the impact of the spill on tourism and other indirect costs of this tragedy. It does not revisit the allegations against BP regarding the event itself and the handling of it.

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

'Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street' BD: Classic Samuel Fuller Euro Noir

Product Details
Olive Films partnering with the UCLA Film and Television Archives program to restore the 1972 Samuel Fuller private eye noir film "Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street" for the April 19. 2016 Olive Blu-ray release of the film is a prime example of the Olive commitment to giving classic films a new life. On a less intellectual level, great anticipation exists regarding the May 2016 Olive release of the '80s Scott Baio/WIllie Aames teen comedy "Zapped."

"Pigeon" wonderfully starts by having the opening credits roll over a Mardi Gras style street festival in 1972 Germany and having the cast and several crew members appear as their names pop up on the screen. The film then gets right down to business with the gunning down of the titular deceased individual. This is turn leads to a wacky on-again-off-again hot pursuit that merits placing hard-boiled film auteur Fuller in a director's hall of fame.

These preliminaries in turn leads to American private detective in Berlin Sandy seeking vengeance for the killing and pursuing the related goal of solving the case associated with that incident. This effort leads to the proverbial making of strange bedfellows.

The underlying plot in both senses of the word is that Sandy is on the trail of a well-organized blackmailer who takes a revised page from the Bill Cosby playbook by drugging international power brokers and having these purely innocent individuals photographed in compromising positions. Getting his man requires that Sandy first ally himself with the woman who poses for the pictures and then adequately gain the confidence of both her and the proverbial Mr. Big to get a personal audience with the latter.

The intricate plotting, twist and turns, and hilarious capers all make for great entertainment. This culminates with one of the best ever climaxes and subsequent full-circle endings in any film.

The bonus feature in the set is a booklet with two short insightful essays on the film and its important role in film history.

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

Monday, April 18, 2016

'Antonia's Line' BD: Dutch Treat Portrays Feminist Ideal

Product Details
Film Movement, which already brings the best of modern international cinema to the United States through its main and "Film of the Month Club" catalogs, wonderfully expands its range via a relatively new "Classics" division. The April 19, 2106 Blu-ray release of the 1996 Oscar winning "Antonia's Line" is the latest addition to this catalog, which includes other classic titles such as the (Unreal TV reviewed) French farce "The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe."

"Antonia" takes a page from "Citizen Kane" in opening a few hours before the pending demise of the titular farm owner/leader of an informal Dutch Utopian society.  The action then goes back several decades to Antonia arriving at said agricultural enterprise with her teen daughter soon after WWII ends.  The free-spirited ways of these early Gilmore Girls soon earns the scorn of community leaders to the extent that a Sunday sermon is a barely disguised rebuke of them. (The awesome manner in which Antonia achieves justice perfectly represents the spirit of the film.)

The appeal of this feminist fable is divided between the story that receives further treatment below and the gorgeous rural scenery that looks beautiful in Blu-ray. The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Antonia" showcases both elements of the film.

Antonia equally opens her heart and her home to every abused misfit that crosses her path. These include the "slow" young man who is the subject of cruelty by rotten 10 year-old boys, the equally slow young woman who finds refuge following a traumatic ordeal, and the woman who enjoys having children far more than sharing her life with a man.

On a larger level. "Antonia" depicts a terrific form of feminism. Our leading lady has no problem with men per-se and merely feels a need to put right what once went wrong. She further considers each sex to be generally equal while recognizing basic differences. Great understated examples of this philosophy include a scene in which Antonia invites a man to come around to help with  the rare farm chore that she and her daughter cannot handle. A subsequent scene has Antonia acknowledging the biological need for sex.

Director Marleen Gorris, who is featured in an interview that is a BD special feature, does an excellent job making every character very human. The good guys are liked, the villains are disliked but not made out as complete psychotics, and each scene conveys the proper mood.  You will laugh, may cry (and possibly even cheer). In other words, the world of Antonia is like any other close-knit community over the past few hundred years.

In addition to the aforementioned interview, the BD release includes a lengthier and more insightful essay than this review on the film. The author of that more in-depth analysis is veteran film critic Thelma Adams. (Waiting to read this until after watching the film is advised.)

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

Sunday, April 17, 2016

'Shadows of Liberty' DVD: With Great Power of the Press Comes Great Irresponsibility

Product Details
The April 19, 2016  Icarus Films DVD relaease of the 2012 Bullfrog Films documentary "Shadows of Liberty" provides such a great primer on the corrupt and monopolistic lamestream media that it is used in classrooms. Having stated that, your not-so-humble reviewer looks cute in mouse ears should one of those conglomerates be in the market for as (so far) independent-minded DVD review website.

The most prominent names among the numerous participants are Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, veteran reporter/anchor Dan Rather, and comedian Dick Gregory.

The titular phrase is from a quote of founding father Thomas Paine. This author of "Common Sense" reminds us that "when men (and women) yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon." In other word, informed opinions goeth with the death of journalistic integrity.

The following YouTube clip of the "Shadows" trailer nicely showcases the important themes of the film.

Filmmaker Jean-Phillipe Tremblay travels to the literal birth of broadcasting in the form of the federal government making a gift of the use of the airwaves to comprehensively document the trifecta that prevents the real news from reaching the general population. This consists of government-sanctioned consolidated ownership of television and radio stations, censoring stories that reflect badly on advertisers, and good ole fashioned disinformation.

Tremblay uses talking heads and news footage to document the marriages made on K Street between Fortune 100 companies and government regulators by showing how former Federal Communications Commissioner (and Colin Powell offspring) Michael Powell and others in the corner office at the agency have allowed a group of less than 10 that includes Disney, Fox parent News Corporation, and GE (in this pre Comcast acquistion era) to own virtually every television network in the United States). This further explains why folks who simply want to watch "Austin and Ally" on the Disney Channel must purchase cable packages that seemingly include 100 ESPN channels.

An illustration of the widespread practice of making good relations with advertisers comes straight from the mouth of a a former CBS chief correspondent. This reporter tells of CBS news executives killing a follow-up story on a Nike sweatshop in Vietnam at a time that the network figuratively gets into bed with that athletic apparel manufacturer regarding coverage of the Winter Olympics. The insults on top of that injury include having the CBS correspondents who cover those games wear parkas that prominently display the Nike logo and that network terminating the employment of the correspondent.

The documented tales of disinformation are well-known ones, and one has a textbook tragic ending. The common elements are that the sources that should safely be considered reliable knowingly and blatantly provide false information to cover up a horrible blunder or otherwise serve their own purpose.

The message regarding this mismanaged media is that the small cabal of powers-that-be provide the public the news that they decide is fit to print.

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

Saturday, April 16, 2016

'The Fool' BD: Spot-On Portrayal of Modern Russian Corruption

Product Details
The April 19, 2016 Blu-Ray release of the 2014 (subtitled) Russian-language drama "The Fool"  (nee "Durak") adds another awesome dimension to the cult and independent film catalog of Olive Films. This film coming ahead of Olive releases of the 1994 Russell Crowe drama "The Sum of Us" and the delightful teencoms "Agent Cody Banks" and "Zapped" partially shows how Olive is a one stop shop for many of your movie-watching needs.

The scads o' festival awards (including some for best film and best actor) for "Fool" offers proof that this cynical tale of an effort to do the right thing gets it right. The saddest part is that this movie could have been set in any country.

"Fool" taking place over a roughly 16-hour period highlights the tension and need for urgent action that drives the film. The triggering event is a burst pipe in a beyond run-down apartment building in a Russian town. This leads to calling out sincere and caring 20-something plumber's assistant/engineering student Dima (who sure-to-be-an-international star Arytom Bystrov plays very well) from his own run-down apartment that he shares with his parents, his wife, and his young son.

On inspecting the damage, Dima quickly discovers an alarming amount of damage. His initial realization that he literally cannot fight city hall causes him to not make a federal case of the matter at that time. A late-night revelation causing him to conclude that the imminent collapse of the high-riseish is imminent leads to crashing a party at which the mayor is celebrating her birthday with the boss of Dima and the city department heads. Nowhere is the divide between the haveskis and the have-notskis so apparent than at the scenes at that venue.

To her credit, the mayor allows Dima his say in front of her and the other officials. Suffice it to say, Dima is very fortunate that looks cannot kill.

The facts that become very clear very quickly are that Dima must be taken seriously, that the massive misuse of municipal funds across the board is coming home to roost, and that saving the lives of the 820 residents in the building while avoiding a devastating scandal is a very tough problem.

Although the nature of the inevitable cover up is incredibly predictable, the manner in which it is staged and acted keeps it interesting. It further shows both the Russian mindset and the more human tendency to realize when the game is over.

Writer/director Yury Bykov additionally delivers wonderfully cynical twists at the end that reveal both human nature and the seemingly inevitable destination of folks who literally and figuratively demonstrate good intentions. (This is not to mention an earlier scene that merely helps establish the nature of the father of Dima but proves to be foreshadowing.)

The bigger picture is that this release comes at a time that cinephiles (including your not-so-humble reviewer) are bemoaning the current emphasis of commerce over art at the major studios. "Fool" is an engaging film that makes an aptly toned sociological statement without any costly CGI effects or big-names from the American perspective stars. A good way to identify these films is to evaluate whether they (like "Fool") would be feasible live-stage productions.

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

Friday, April 15, 2016

'A Space Program' Theatrical: Earth-born Martians Boldly Going Where No Woman Has Gone Before

A Space Program

The Zeitgeist Films production "A Space Program, " which is making the rounds of theaters, is an awesomely entertaining performance piece in documentary clothing. Artist Tom Sachs and his team of imagineers do such a great job simulating a simulation of a womaned trip to Mars that many dopes (including your not-so-humble reviewer) will think that is a documentary of a genuine preliminary-stages simulation. One spoiler is that you won't believe your eyes at what those far out space nuts find; sadly, Honk is not there to help them along.

The following YouTube clip of the "Program" trailer nicely showcases the awesome creativity of the film.

"Program" opens with Team Sachs introducing both themselves and their materials. These household items include plywood and Tyvek. (Surprisingly, duct tape is not prominently featured.) This is in the context of the aforementioned simulation of two female astronauts traveling from earth to Mars and back again in far less time than Matt Damon.

The low-tech elements, which include using a globe to represent our home planet, seem attributable to a combination of a low budget and a good sense of humor. Other budget-conscious effects include a simulation from an '80s-era Atari video-game console.

On the human side, we see the astronauts suit up and enter their model capsule for their imaginary voyage to the red planet. A disgusting scene in this portion of the film both answers a question that many people (not including your not-so-humble reviewer) have regarding space travel and provides fodder for the classic scifi humor that relates to references to probing Uranus.

All of the above and numerous other scenes of simulated capsule and Mars-based activity make for the combination of entertainment and education that comprise memorable documentaries so good. A heated argument between the space travelers is a prime example of this concept.

The well-portrayed exuberance, tension, and other emotions of the astronauts and the ground crew add even more to the film. Their spirit is as infectious as a dangerous parasitic Mars substance.

All of this amounts to one the most positively unique film going experiences that you will likely ever have, especially in this era in which commerce trumps art at the large studios.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2016

'My Big Night' Theatrical & VOD: Madcap Spanish Comedy Frantic From Start to Finish

Breaking Glass Pictures awesomely breaks international barriers in bringing the 2015 Spanish comedy "My Big Night" by cult director Alex de la Iglesia to American theaters and VOD platforms on April 15, 2015 following a premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Although this wide release coincides with the deadline for paying Uncle Sam more than his due, there is nothing taxing about thus film that is entertainingly frantic from the opening credits to the closing scene.

As an initial matter, the numerous musical numbers and the large scale of the film (as well as the relatively nice April weather in the U.S.) favors seeing "Night" in a theater.

The fast pace and numerous bizarre elements of "Night" earn it apt comparison to the 2013 Pedro Almodovar Spanish comedy "I'm So Excited." This time, the constant chaos moves from a passenger jet to a television studio in which a star-studded New Year's Eve celebration is being filmed in October.

"Night" awesomely starts with opening credits that feature an epic song-and-dance number featuring a Sonny and Cher style married couple that has the same marital problems as that real-life duo. Scenes of that performance are interspersed with scenes of a director (who evokes images of legendary Belgian documentarian Chantal Akerman) literally calling the shots and of the cast of 1,000s extras being treated as the cattle whom they are that have been called to perform. 

One of the best of several black comedy moments soon follows in which a careless camera operator repeatedly harms one of the aforementioned extras. This opens the door for middle-aged middle-class extra Jose to literally and figuratively come on the scene.

"Night" additional features Spanish singer/actor Raphael as wonderfully brutal veteran singer Alphonso. This hilariously brutal sadist gleefully drives a pen through the hand of a flunky one minute and mentally and physically abuses his son/attorney/manager the next. 

The foils of Alphonso include current teen idol pop star Adanne, who has the tanned ripped body and long golden hair of '90s celebrity Fabio and the mentality of Justin Bieber.  Actor Mario Casas seems to derive as much pleasure from portraying Adanne as we do watching him. He particularly shines in performing the amusingly suggestive Adanne hit "Fireman." 

The drama surrounding Adanne includes the Congo dancer who is plotting to use the result from performing oral sex to impregnate herself with a blackmail baby, 

Other mayhem comes in the form of an increasingly violent mob outside the studio, a jinx attaching herself to Jose, an assassination plot, and a  decades-old secret.

de la Iglesia deserves great credit if only for keeping so may plates spinning at the same time. As stated above, the action never abates. He further keeps the multiple plots going while things are literally and figuratively falling down around the characters. The aforementioned director barely letting having her command center flip over phase her is a prime example of this, Not many Atlases could keep this mad, mad, mad world perched on his (or her) shoulders as well as this director/writer.

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

'Biophillic Design: The Architecture of Life' DVD: Doc on Living the Way Nature Intended

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The Icarus Films April 19, 2016 DVD release of the Bullfrog Films production "Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life" is an excellent addition to the "innovative and provocative documentary films" in the Icarus catalog. Director/talking head Stephen R. Kellert literally wrote the book on the subject.

Said topic is the lack of madness regarding the methods utilized to design and build commercial, institutional, and residential structures that use natural products and provide the occupants a sense of their actual environment.

The following YouTube clip of a "Biophilic" trailer utilizes Kellert and a few of his fellow experts to concisely communicate the concept of their style of building and of the importance of following that model. The pretty images and pleasant background music are bonuses.

The film explains that this innovative approach to providing space in which to work, learn, and live reflects the fundamental truth that depriving humans of their basic need to remain connected with nature is harmful. A more shallow way of thinking of this is that buildings made of wood that have large windows and numerous plants looks pretty and is much nicer than being surrounded by concrete and ceiling tiles and having humming fluorescent bulbs provide most of your light.

One of the coolest segments in "Design" focuses on a (of course) Vermont company that builds beautiful homes that nicely blend into their surroundings in a very shireesque manner. Another segment discusses the biophilic elements of the well-known Falling Waters house by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

"Designs" further shows how Yale University puts its money where its mouth is regarding using wood from the surrounding forest for the building that houses an environmental studies department. We additionally visit an entire community that takes the biophilic concept to heart.

A minor criticism of the film is the occasional use of statistics to support the case for biophilic design. We all know that numbers can lie, and stating that studies show that employees are more productive and that students learn better when surrounded by nature is akin to "finding" a correlation between levels of hunger and a desire for candy.

Very consistently with the biolphilic philosophy, this film provides wonderful images of bright airy buildings at a time that many of us are starting to appreciate being able to open our windows and enjoy the sun staying out longer.

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

Monday, April 11, 2016

'Theory of Obscurity' BD: SXSW Entry on The John Waters of the Rock World "The Residents"

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Spectacular purveyor of art-house international movies Film Movement pulls off the tough trick of topping itself regarding the April 19, 2016 release of the Blu-ray version of the 2015 documentary "Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents." "Obscurity takes the documentary goal of entertaining and educating in equal degrees regarding sharing the alleged story of the highly secretive music group "The Residents." The disclaimer near the beginning of the film that the provided information cannot be verified states it all.

The name of the film awesomely explains the titular philosophy of The Residents. The simple concept is that the performance, rather than the performers, should be the focus of public attention. This is similar to the credo of truly professional journalists who feel that the reporter should never be the story. The funny thing is that the film that extols that virtue is contrary to it.

"Obscurity" premiering at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival provides an additional sense of the film and reminds us of the original intent of such festivals before commerce began overtaking art.

The following YouTube clip of the SXSW promo. for "Obscurity" clearly shows the surreal and bizarre nature of this group.

Writer/director Don Hardy, Jr. comprehensively documents the history of this group that is always masked and costumed when appearing in public and that aptly is managed by The Cryptic Corporation. This history of these unique individuals goes back to their beginnings in Shreveport, Louisiana during the height of psychedelic late '60s before they even were The Residents. The story behind that name is as amusing and odd as the quirky young men who adopt it.

Much of the copious humor in the film comes from insiders, fans, and well-known rockers discussing certainty that the latter and some of their idolized peers literally are the men behind the masks. The veracity of this remains as hidden as the true quality of the 1972 Jerry Lewis attempt at a serious Holocaust film "The Day the Clown Cried," (Hopefully, Movement will be the company that ultimately brings the latter into the light of day.)

Hardy additionally interviews several current and past Corporation executives, who share fascinating tales from the cryptic. A personal theory is that at least two of these literal front men are members of the group that they manage. The audience additionally meets singers (including one who truly performs under a secret identity) who perform with the red eye group.

"Obscurity" is equally generous regarding vintage and modern concert footage, clips of bizarre and grotesque videos and other film projects, and "behind-the-music" treatment of all of it. A Residents reference in the comparable creative and odd '90s television series "Mystery Science Theater 3000" illustrates the comprehensive nature of "Obscurity."

Film Movement honors the theory of generosity regarding the plethora of special features in the Blu-Ray release. These include the first live performance of The Residents, a whopping 11 extended interviews, and several short films by your new favorite renegade rockers.

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

Saturday, April 9, 2016

U.S.-Born Wicked Witch of the West End as Britcom

Image result for pretentious american in london images

As an initial matter, the image above is not of the sister (aka The Wicked Witch of the West End) of your not-so-often humble reviewer who is the subject du jour. This web photo is from the results of the search "pretentious Americans London" that surprisingly generates scads of hits. This absolutely fabulous ennui-afflicted woman in her elegant home merely well illustrates the following points.

The second preliminary note before getting down to business is that readers on both sides of the pond who conclude "I know who she is" after reading this post may very well be wrong but still prove that American women (and men) who move to London and present themselves as if they are blood members of a titled family are both absurd and a pound a dozen.

The genesis of this post dates back roughly 20 years to an episode of "Friends" in which the Central Perk posse ridicules a woman in their outer circle who acquires a fake British accent while living in London. Michigan native Material Girl Madonna adopting that affectation during that period may be the inspiration for that episode.

More recently, watching the opening segment of the new Netflix sitcom "Fuller House" out of the same morbid curiosity as drivers slowing down on seeing an actual train wreck is behind renewed thoughts of the absurdity of the pretensions of some American women who seek to reinvent themselves in London. An early scene has middle daughter Stephanie displaying the aforementioned faux manner of speaking on returning from living in London. This prompts the other "Full House" charcters to validly ridicule her.

All of this amounts to an idea for a Britcom centered around a London-dwelling American woman whose pedigree cannot cash the checks that her (likely collagen-injected) mouth writes. The initial thought is "The Dame from Des Moines" is an apt title.

Such a show has the virtue of good potential for American and British audiences, both of which can easily relate to the characters. The concept additionally has some of the same elements that make the classic Britcoms "Absolutely Fabulous" and "Keeping Up Appearances" so smashing (of course, irony intended).

One "its funny because its true" aspect of this concept relates to American-born Maggie Pierce, who is best known for playing the lead in the '60s (unfairly) failedcom "My Mother the Car." A friend of the highly significant other of your reviewer is a relative of the (now-late) Pierce. Said friend called on (then-retired) Pierce at her London home while in that city. The response of Pierce was that she could not see him but that she would grant him an audience the next time that he was in London if he called before leaving the states.

An effort by yours truly to improve relations with Pierce's spiritual American Cousin who is the subject du jour prompted contacting her several years ago about visiting her in London. The response in her oh-so-posh voice was that I was welcome but would not be happy because I would need to sleep in the play room outside the children's rooms and that they would greatly disturb me. Needless to say, I declined that oh-so-welcoming Pierce-style invitation.

The rare occasions on which the lady in green face and I have visited since her majesty has made America a slightly nicer place to live always involved her discussing her "mobile," her Mercedes, and often that her husband and she were "independently wealthy." Only additionally mentioning having a sauna and room for a pony (both of which she well may own) prevented these encounters for being straight out of "Appearances."

For the record, your loyal scribe does not enjoy a lifestyle of the rich and famous but has little cause to complain about his standard of living.

Another real-life witch story with a tie to a classic Britcom involves a reputed personal relationship (ala "The Vicar of Dibley") with Sir Elton John.  A secondhand report of that singer performing at a function hosted by that Real Housewife of London prompted her brother from an actual universe to repeatedly hope and pray for a rendition of "The Bitch Is Back" during that concert.

The numerous "funny because it is true (and is not happening to you)" elements of (possibly) "A Shrew in Burberry Clothing" creates great hope for a series (in both the American and British senses of the word.)

Anyone with questions or comments regarding this post (or with thoughts regarding the identity of the witch) is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,

Thursday, April 7, 2016

'High Strung' Theatrical Release: High-Energy 'Fame'/Mismatched 20-something Lovers Film

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Filmmakers/husband wife/dancer and former rocker/soap star respectively Janeen and Michael Damian know of what they speak in "High Strung," which hits theaters on April 8, 2016.  This variation of their early performing lives focuses on Ruby, who is a Midwestern girl on her own who comes out to New York on a dance scholarship because she thinks that the change will do her good. He (a.k.a. Johnnie Blackwell) is an ordinary bloke who is in the United States illegally and pays his bills by playing his violin in subway (a.k.a Underground or Tube) stations. Their Manhattan nights adventures make for good storytelling.

The New York worlds of classical music and dance and their street counterparts collectively comprise the main supporting character in the film. The Damians casting both well-known performers and choreographers from those worlds results in dynamic performances that range from dance battles, to ballroom scenes, to classical ballet.

The following YouTube clip of the "Strung" trailer achieves its purpose of drawing the audience into the film while showcasing Jane Seymour, whose favorite author allegedly is Anna Karenina, in her cameo role as a stereotypical demanding dance instructor.

The bonus YouTube clip below showcase (still hunky) Michael Damian doing a great job with his cover of the classic song "Rock On." 

The film opens with Ruby meeting many performing arts school stereotypes during her first days in the big city. Her roommate/fellow scholarship student is a young woman whose interest in partying is jeopardizing her future at the school, the power couple of the institute for higher jete are a male violinist with arrogance that is comparable to his talent and a top ballerina who would be right at home in "Black Swan."

For his part, "downtown man" Johnnie develops friendships with the dance crew "The SwitchSteps" that use the apartment below his as a studio/crib. 

All of these worlds collide when Ruby is present at a subway station during a dance crew battle that results in an already down-on-his-luck Johnnie facing a major obstacle to his abilities to keep a roof over his head and avoid being shipped back across the pond . The role of Ruby regarding this additional reversal of fortune sets the stage for a typical meeting poorly but falling in love story. You will want it to work for these crazy kids.

The film then proceeds through adequately plausible ups and downs that create the conflict that make every film interesting, All this leads to a film-ending climax in which the only suspense is whether Ruby and Johnnie will succeed the easy way, will initially fail but quickly find an "angel" who facilities them following their dreams, or they simply will keep pursuing their dreams on their own either as solo acts or a couple.

As mentioned above, the Damians make all this work because they know of which they speak. They also put their extensive show biz experience to good work in casting the film. 

Real-life ballerina Keenan Kampa does a good job portraying wholesome farm girl next door Ruby. Nicholas Galitizine adds wonderful leather to the lace of Kampa regarding his performance as Johnnie. This harmless bad boy also stars in the aptly titled 2016 drama "Handsome Devil," which chronicles the bonding of odd-couple roommates at a British boarding school.

If all of this seems like "Strung" is a movie for 13-year-old girls, it is because it is, Not that there is anything wrong with that. Everyone who is man (or woman) enough to not care about what the other people at the theater (whom they will never see again anyway) think is in for a well-paced and entertaining film with likable leads and some great musical numbers and what the press materials accurately describe as a fantasy New York in which it is always sunny, students and other folks near the poverty line live in large clean apartments, and pawn shop owners have a heart.

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

'The Forest' Blu-Ray: Into the Disenchanted Woods

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The April 12, 2016 Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray release of the 2016 horror film "The Forest" nicely presents the lore of the dark and scary woodland with tried-and-true horror elements. The crisp clear images and enhanced sound of the Blu-ray format are good bonuses.

"Game of Thrones" and "Elementary" actress Natalie Dormer, who is in every scene, does a good job carrying the film. The wonder twins power of her young American Sara Price alert her that her turning Japanesa twin sister Jess is in distress but not dead as the Tokyo police are reporting. Whether the Price is right remains a mystery until the final moments of the film.

The sibling concern prompts Sara to fly to Tokyo; on arriving at the school where Jess teaches, Sara learns that Jess is presumed dead following her disappearance during a field trip into what is known as the "suicide forest." This exposition includes the real-life history regarding this area that underlies the legend that hikers straying off the path invites the herd of malevolent spirits who inhabit it to kill you.

The early portion of the film additionally reveals the shared childhood trauma of Les Souers Price that is a factor.

Neither the history of the titular outdoor recreation area nor the increasingly horrific nightmares that Sara is experiencing deter her from going into the woods in search of Jess. Finding Jess' tent kicks things into high gear in ways that includes menacing figures in the shadows and spooky hidden spaces.

All of this follows the dual formulas of modern understated horror films and the related genre of scary American films set in Japan. Just because the audience largely knows what is coming next does not prevent the manner in which the story is told and the twists that the filmmaker throws in from being entertaining.

The special features include a director's commentary and the behind-the-scene film "Exploring the Forest."

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

Sunday, April 3, 2016

'Xanadu' BD: A Museingly Awesome '80s ELO-Fueled Musical Fantasy

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The recent Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray (BD) release of the 1980 Olivia Newton-John/Gene Kelly musical fantasy "Xanadu" excitingly exceeds high expectations regarding this feel-good scifi musical fantasy comedy of the '80s. It is almost guaranteed that you will not check the time or see how much longer the movie has to go and will shake your self out of a near trance and say "it's over?" at the end of the movie.

A funny aspect of this review considering the magical element of the film is that your sometimes humble reviewer got the BD essentially for free when factoring in the value of a movie money promotion while shopping at a normally avoided big box store. Thinking that Kira the muse of the film is behind this provides pleasure.

The following YouTube clip of video for the titular song provides a perfect sense of the spirit and themes of "Xanadu." You simply cannot help but feel really good while watching it and the film itself.

One of the more prominent attributes about this highly infectious film from future Hollywood royalty Joel Silver, Brian Grazer, and "High School Musical" choreographer Kenny Ortega is that it (largely) adheres to an awesome philosophy that 80s comedy darling Tracey Ullman stated before the premiere of her '80s sketch comedy show that brought "The Simpsons" to life. Ullman declard that the musical numbers in her show would makes sense and not merely be people bursting into song in the middle of the street. "Xanadu" stays true to that with the exception of an elaborate song-and-dance number during a stereotypical "shopping for a new look" number at an '80s style boutique.

Other overall totally tubular (pun intended) aspects of "Xanadu" include "Tron" style neon special effects and an extended musical number with New Wave gods "The Tubes." These keyboard kids totally rock out in their orange neon jumpsuits.

The film opens with frustrated painter Sonny Malone, whom Michael Beck of the terrifically uber-violent literally banned in Boston film "The Warriors" portrays, throwing the pieces of his latest sketch out the window. This inadvertently summons the nine Greek goddess sisters who are the muses who inspire artists. This coming-to-life sets the scene for the first of several musical numbers featuring songs by ELO and/or Olivia Newton-John.

Sonny coming out to plaaay by roller skating a short while later has muse Kara, whom Newton-John plays with great spirit, literally bump into him for a quick kiss only to dash off. This (along with another magical encounter with Kira) inspires an ultimately successful pursuit of his dream girl. A later rollerskating scene features an amusing nip slip,

Sonny also befriending '40s-era clarinetist Danny McGuire (played by Kelly) puts the rest of the puzzle together. The need of Danny for help fulfilling his dream of opening a night club and the desire of Sonny for a feasible creative outlet provide a basis for their beautiful friendship. Kira covertly guiding the enterprise greatly contributes to the fun.

Classic movie fans further will enjoy the homages to the Kelly classic "Singin' In the Rain." On bringing Danny home with him, Kelly remarks that a a silent film star once owned the house. A later scene has Sonny and Kira putting an '80s slant on a classic "Singin'" number.

Seeing Danny and Sonny work well together and mutually enjoy the music from their generations is both charming and a nice reminder of friendlier times. Millennials typically see even Gen Xers as fossils, and those of that demographic often consider the "kids" of today as ADHD morons who lack a work ethic and spend their whole lives looking at their phones. As in all things, the truth lies somewhere between those extremes.

One scene in which Sonny tries a little magic of his own perfectly illustrates how "Xanadu" grabs you and is oh so different than the movies of today. Anyone with a heart wants him to succeed and thinks that he will do so. A modern film would have him literally fall flat on his back and obtain a positive audience response.

The arguably cutest scene is also one of the most memorable. A music video that animation legend Don Bluth (whose work includes "The Secret of N.I.M.H." and "Anastasia") draws has our young lovers start as human and morph into fish and fowl while retaining a great deal of their human characteristics. Birdie Sonny stumbling and falling is hilarious.

All of this amounts to a fun film that looks very dated but allows escaping into a bright sunny world full of music that looks and sounds wonderful in BD format.

The "making of" feature meets the definition of the best of features and the worst of features. Director Robert Greenwald, Bluth, Ortega, and many behind-the-camera folks offer interesting insight into the humble beginnings of "Xanadu" and share how the interest of Newton-John and initially less enthusiastic involvement of Kelly helped the film develop.

We also learn of the impact of limited distribution by the studio affecting the preliminary response to the film. It soon making the art-house circuit and later becoming a Broadway musical shows the American public ultimately knows a good thing when it sees it.

The "worst of " aspects involves the lack of participation by Newton-John and Beck. Even if Universal offered little or no money, it seems that our former young lovers could show fan love by taking a couple of hours to discuss the film. We  always root for your characters and bought the BD (if not the Newton-John soundtrack), a little reciprocation would have been nice.

The typical review-ending invitation to email or connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy regarding "Xanadu" is supplemented this time but inviting any muse who comes across this post to feel free to show up and do her thing. Some of us do still believe in fairies.

Friday, April 1, 2016

'Netflix Announces 'Fuller House' Anchored TGIF Lineup

The success that streaming service Netflix is experiencing regarding the "Full House" reboot "Fuller House" and the excitement surrounding the plans for new Netflix "Gilmore Girls" and "Lost in Space" series is prompting three similar new shows that will emulate the ABC "TGIF" Friday night lineup of the '80s and '90s. Like its predecessor, "Fuller House" will anchor this lineup.

Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings announced today that the company is developing the following shows and that he is going "old school" regarding releasing a new episode of each (along with a new episode of "Fuller" S2) each Friday night starting in mid-September 2016.

1. "Gimme Another Break"

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Former child star Joey Lawrence will reprise his role as abandoned child Joey Donovan, whom Nell Harper (played by the late Nell Carter) cared for in the original series about Harper becoming the surrogate mother to the three daughters of her deceased friend.

In the new series, Donovan is a cop pursuing a law-enforcement career to honor the "Chief" in the original series. The premise this time is that Donovan is raising the three orphaned boys of his black partner, who was killed in the line of duty. Real-life Lawrence brother Matthew is on hand as slacker little-brother Matthew who does his best to help with the boys but always makes things worse and learns the same lesson as them in the end.

2. "Adam in Charge"

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Former child star/current animated series voice-actor Alex Polinsky stars in this remake of the Scott Baio '80s sitcom "Charles in Charge." Similar to Lawrence, Polinsky's Adam Powell from "Charles" is at the center of this show.

Adam is now a 40-something never-married manchild with a career as a voice-over actor for radio commercials for the local businesses in the New Jersey college town where he grew up under the care of Baio's caring college student/manny. The pilot episode has Adam set to sell his childhood home to a single mother household with three children and move to Los Angeles to star in a "The Simpsons" style animated series,

Learning that the aforementioned parent without a partner will need to back out of the deal because she cannot afford childcare for the kids prompts Adam to pay it forward by moving into Charles' basement bachelor pad and volunteering his services in between his wacky commercial gigs.

Hastings shares that "Charles" co-star Willie Aames is on hand to reprise his role as dim-witted Buddy Lembeck, now Adam's agent.

3. "Labor Pains"

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Fellow '80s ABC kidcom "Growing Pains" joins "Fuller" in the line-up in another series set around the former boy in the series. In this case, Jeremy Miller once again takes on the role of youngest Seaver son Ben.

This former excitable boy turned teenage schemer has his act together as a union organizer who, true to the form of these reboots, lives in his childhood home despite the Seaver clan selling this abode at the end of the original "Pains." The "history repeats itself" twist this time is that the now-gay Ben is married to childhood friend "Stinky."

The pilot finds Ben responding to his organizing activities making him miss out on watching his two adopted Asian boys Mike and Luke (now aged 8 and 10 respectively) growing up by accepting a supervisory job with the union that allows him to work out of his father's former home office. Former home-based telemarketer Stinky then ventures out into the wide world in his new role as a high school cafeteria worker.

Many of the "sits" that provide the "com" this time relate to Ben being on the other side of the juvenile squabbles, get-rich-quick-schemes, and general mischief in which he participated in "Growing,"

An element of fellow '80s sitcom "Family Ties" enters the picture regarding the boys being more liberal than their pro-labor dad. The pilot episode introduces this by having the boys try to convince Ben to raise their allowance to $15/hour.

Folks who are salivating in anticipation of the three sitcoms described above will be less happy than folks who justifiably are cringing regarding them to learn that the announcement of the new TGIF shows is the annual April Fool's Day prank from Unreal TV. (Netflix truly is developing new "Gilmore" and "Space" episodes.)

Folks who merely find this post amusing may want to check out the 2015 April Fool's Day post, which reports the development of a Boston-based Matt Damon/Ben Affleck sitcom. The subsequent release of "Batman v. Superman" makes the participation of Affleck in such a comedy more likely now than it was a year ago.

The bonus 2105 April Fool's Day post announces a "Hot in Cleveland" movie.