Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

'Homo Sapiens' DVD Life After Man

Icarus Films awesomely goes full-out art-house flick regarding the November 22, 2016 DVD release of the 2016 film "Homo Sapiens" by Austrian filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter. This beautifully shot silent film shows us the world of tomorrow when the titular bipeds are a things of the past. The only criticism is that the cinematography screams for a Blu-ray release.

The following YouTube clip of the "Sapiens" trailer offers a look at the style and the theme of the film.

The roughly 90 minutes of global (in both senses of the word) images are well-organized footage of the decay that will result aftrer all of us are rotting six feet under. A series of urban scenes include cracked asphalt with copious vegetation, McDonalds and offices that lack outer walls and have piles of debris and distressed furnishing, and apartment buildings that are not faring any better.

We also see rotting abandoned vehicles galore; the most striking example is large ships rusting away in shallow waters.

Icarus perfectly sums up the message of this work of art in describing it as "a film about the finiteness and fragility of human existence and the end of the industrial age." In other words, people will not always be here and are much more vulnerable than many folks realize.

Geyrhalter allowing the images to speak for themselves and not having a creature stirring (not even a mouse) gets his message across far more than a bleak soundtrack of scenes of feral dogs and cats ever could.

Icarus shows great respect for the message of "Sapiens" in not including any DVD extras.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

'Anonymous' Theatrical: Online Vigilantes Righteously Hack

The aptly named Canadian cyber-thriller "Anonymous," which hits theaters on December 2 2016, is a truly timely fable in an era in which hackers with an agenda have the power to impact the presidential elections and give bad guys their due. At the outset, it is hoped that nothing here offends the real "Darkweb" Justice League known as Anonymous.

Our "hero" is Alex Danyliuk, who has a very tough transition regarding his parents immigrating to Canada from Ukraine during his boyhood. This unhappiness leads to a life of (initially petty) cybercrime. 

Rising star/GQ Man of the Year Callan McAuiliffe, whose numerous credits include the recent "Gatsby" remake and Spielberg scfi flick "I Am Number Four," does a good job portraying the despair, the joy, and the fear that Alex experiences. 

A "too big to fail" Canadian bank dealing the Danyliuks a simultaneous double blow simultaneously triggers a need for big bucks and a thirst for vengeance in Alex. This high school senior graduating to serious credit fraud satisfies both aforementioned urges.

Alex soon moving to the big city is symbolic regarding leaving the nest and moving up to the big time as to his new mission in life. This soon leads to Alex meeting fellow young party animal Sye, who plays Fagin to Alex's Sye. This pair soon connecting with tough, pretty, and smart Kira, who has a Yoko impact on the band.

Some of the best scenes has these Millennials pulling their cons and squabbling among themselves. These elements are particularly strong regarding an effort to sell a literal truckload of ill-gotten gains. This all works both due to the talent of the young cast and the relatability of their characters.

A wonderful sense of justice comes in the form of an arrogant master of the universe getting his due when our gang gets hold of his credit card. The moral here is that even lap dancers deserve decent treatment.

The trio incrementally stepping up their game, which mostly is directed at men (such as the aforementioned jerk) whose own acts earn them the label of "rich asshole," extends beyond allowing Alex and his crew to increase their standard of living. They want the respect of the Darkweb and of Z, who is the mysterious leader of that group. 

As is typical in this type of film. Alex reaches an unsustainable height. He largely achieves his dreams only to discover his commission of the common mistake of trusting the wrong people.The drama related to this involves the extent to which he can extricate himself.

The "reveal" regarding this believable story is that it is true. A statement by director Akan Satayev in the press materials for "Anonymous" includes the tale of a hacker approaching him to pitch his history as the basis of the film. This shows that you sometimes can believe what you see on the silver screen.

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

Sunday, November 27, 2016

'Doomed!' BD/DVD/VOD Story of First 'Fantastic Four' Film a.k.a. The Day the (Roger) Corman Cried

Truly indie theatrical/home video company Uncork'd Entertainment commences a beautiful friendship with Unreal TV by releasing the 2015 documentary "Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four." The DVD and Blu-ray versions of this one hit real and virtual retail shelves on November 15, 2016.

The following YouTube clip of a "Doomed!" trailer provides a surprisingly thorough look at the participants and the theme in roughly two minutes.

The 1994 "Four" film which the documentary discusses can be considered 'The Day the (Roger) Corman Cried' because it (like the notoriously bad Jerry Lewis Holocaust drama "The Day the Clown Cried") is unlikely to ever officially see the light of day for the simple reason that "Doomed!" documents. This explanation is that a strict deadline and equally tight budget is behind the film being one that Stan Lee and fellow Marvel "suit" Avi Arad deem unworthy of their quartet of superheroes. Never has the catchphrase "its clobberin' time" been more apt than regarding that pair.

An awesome difference between "Clown" and "Four" is that watching a bootleg copy of the latter shows that it deserves the adjective fantastic. As "Doomed!" notes, most of the main cast consists of working actors with good credits to their name. Additionally, the script is well written and the production values are very respectable for the early '90s. This all begins with opening credits that are at least as professional as those of the blockbusters of the era.

Returning to "Doomed!," writer/director Marty Langford awesomely reunites C-movie god Corman and the band to discuss "Four" itself and the story regarding it either languishing in the Marvel vaults or becoming a melted pile of gunk. The comprehensiveness of this clear labor of love includes getting the "Four" casting agent and the on-set journalist to share their two cents along with virtually all the cast and the behind-the-camera crew.

In true superhero movie fashion, Dr. Doom portrayor Joseph Culp (son of the late Robert Culp) steals the show regarding sharing how he gets the part and subsequently plays his role. His clear love for his maniacal laugh proves that he is the right man for the job. One of his colleagues affirms this in stating that he cannot imagine anyone else playing Doom.

Langford supplements all this with entertaining clips of "Four" that make it look much more cheesy than it is. He further shares various quotes, which include a flat-out lie by Lee, regarding the film.

As an aside, Johnny Storm (played by '80s teen star Jay Underwood) gets the best line in "Four." Storm exclaims "Holy Freud Batman!" on hearing team leader Dr. Reed Richards explain the psychological element to the group getting their powers. Other inadvertent Cormanastic humor comes from Reed exclusively referring to Storm as "Danny" in one scene.

Some of the most humorous segments in "Doomed!" involve the cast discussing being approached by people who have seen "Four." despite it never being released. An aforementioned behind-the-camera guy provides a plausible reason for the movie seeing some daylight despite the effort of Marvel to suppress it. (On a similar note, your not-so-humble reviewer LOVES the similarly suppressed "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story." That one uses an entire Barbie dolls cast to tell the story of the tough family life and related anorexia of the titular '70s pop star.)

On a more general level, the "Doomed!" audience gets a brief history of the early days of superhero movies and is informed that this version of "Four" is the first one filmed built around that franchise. This discussion includes the marketing of such flicks absent having a matinee idol as the star.

This element of "Doomed!" is particularly interesting in the modern context of the Disney ownership of some Marvel characters. This includes the desire of Disney to cash in via the far inferior "Spider-man" films a few years after the Tobey Maguire versions and (MUCH more directly) the fact that "Deadpool" or any other Marvel film from any studio can include every Marvel character.

On an even larger level, Langford stays exceptionally true to the principles of documentaries. He lets his subjects fully speak for themselves regarding their stories, and he presents his topic in a manner that is equally entertaining and educational.

The copious DVD and Blu-ray extras include a panel discussion on the film, additional footage of Corman, and the theatrical trailer for Doomed!"

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

Friday, November 25, 2016

'Tales of Poe' DVD: Scream Queens Go Neo Old School

Art-house horror aficionados Wild Eye Releasing expertly merge old school and new school regarding the October 11, 2016 DVD release of the 2014 thriller "Tales of Poe." This trio of stories features scream queens in modern retellings of the classic works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Unreal TV favorite goddess of gore Debbie Rochon kicks things off as a psychotic nurse, who is the caretaker of an aged movie star/murder victim, in a new version of "The Telltale Heart." True to Poe, the guilty feelings of "Nightingale" prompt hearing the beating of the heart of the Crawford clone through the floor boards under which Rochon buried her. The breaking point of this angel of unmerciful death is Rochon at her best.

The best scenes in "Heart" revolve around the confinement of Rochon in a psychiatric hospital. Watching her outcrazy a fellow patient who threatens her in a manner that is equally hilarious and grotesque is must-see.

The second tale titled "The Cask" involves the classic element of sealing someone alive in a wall. In this case a count/vineyard owner is newly married to "The Bride of Dracula" when she taunts him with her lover and poisons him before shackling him to a ceiling and encasing him behind a brick wall. The semi-spoiler regarding this one is that the ending provides particularly Poe-tic justice.

This homage wraps up with "Dreams," which centers around highly stylized surreal images that range from the sublime to the horrific. In other words, the same type of nocturnal pictures that everyone experiences during our slumbers.

Aside from being great campy fun, the common element of these three shorts is that they illustrate the timeless nature of the titular stories. Feelings of guilt and manifestations from the darkest corners of our psyche are as prevalent today as they were in the 19th century.

The numerous bonus features include a hilarious and entertaining "behind-the-scenes" short, deleted scenes that include "Nightingale" reacting to the faded star reading a decades-old fan letter, and interview with director Bart Mastronardi.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

'A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale' DVD: Love and Holidays Are a Bitch

The recent Monarch Home Entertainment DVD release of  the 2015 comedy "A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale" is a bonus companion to the Monarch release of (the Unreal TV reviewed) "The Spirit of Christmas (nee Lifetime movie "Hollygrove.")  Despite an inability to verify this. "Dogwalker's" almost certainly is a former Hallmark Channel movie. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Dogwalker's" provides a good sense of the themes and nature of the film.

The successful variation on the formula of these movies this time is that college senior/spoiled Daddy's sorority girl/recently broken up girlfriend Luce finds herself without use of her credit cards the week before Christmas. Charmingly goofy and very warm-hearted veterinarian student/dogwalker Dean finds himself battling to save a dog park that means a great deal to him, his little furry friend, and the other dogs and their human companions who congregate there.

"Dogwalker's" further stays true to the spirit of these films in circumstances finding Luce working as the titular canine companion and meeting Dean and the gang during her first day on the job. Of course, they have a bad first meeting and immediately dislike each other. However, this Who ultimately brings that Grinch over to his way of thinking, and they live happily ever after.

The typical bumps along the way to true love include Luce working for the developer who plans to bulldoze the park for a luxury spa, Luce loving the idea of the spa, and the spa being a potential career opportunity for her. Of course, Dean falls for this material girl before discovering those ugly truths.

"Dogwalker's" distinguishes itself by actual surprises at the end. Stating that pooches and their peeps still have a place to romp is not much of a spoiler. The way that it comes about and the reveal regarding who's the boss are unexpected.

On a more general note, the film shares a good perspective on the value of dog parks. Rather than simple being a place for dogs to run and release their inner wolf, they are therapeutic for the people who bring them there.

As indicated above, "Dogwalker's" and "Spirit" make for a good double feature after playing the home version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" during a holiday meal. The G-rated nature of the films makes it apt for the little ones, and the combination of good storytelling and entertaining hokiness appeal to those of who grew up on the CBS Hallmark films. Nothing makes millennials happy.

Anyone with any questions or comments regarding "Dogwalker's" or "Spirit" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

'Macbeth' BD" Orson Welles Once Again Does the Bard Justice

The Olive Signature division of a cinephile's dream OliveFilms November 15, 2016 Blu-ray release of the 1948 Orson Welles production of the Shakespearean play "Macbeth" (a.k.a. The Scottish Play) exceeds every high expectation regarding this match made in Heaven. The Blu-ray video enhancements help highlight the filmmaking skill of Welles; however, the audio restoration steals the show.

Olive also shows good instincts regarding scheduling this release for a week after the 2016 presidential election. Melania Trump is no Lady Macbeth, but The Donald certainly has a ruthless drive for increasing power that seems destined to be his downfall.

This release also coming in the wake of the vote in Scotland on whether or not to break from the U.K. vote additionally is somewhat timely.

Welles predictably utilizes his expert use of shadows, fog, and other cinematic wizardry to bring this version of that classic tale to the silver screen. It is equally predictable that Welles rocks in his portrayal of the titular not-so-noble nobleman. The trifecta regarding this is that Welles introduces character/voice actress Jeannette Nolan (who provides the unforgettable voice of Norma Bates in the original version of "Psycho") as Lady MacBeth. (Olive aptly notes that having future "Psycho" cinematographer John L. Russell on hand does not hurt things.)

Other perfect casting comes in the form of Welles selecting 20 year-old Roddy McDowall to play true heir to the throne Malcolm. The drama regarding this prince of a guy is that he finds himself caught in the middle of all the turmoil.

It is worth noting as well that this "Macbeth" is a wonderful companion to the highly atmospheric 1953 made-for-TV Welles version of "King Lear," which is available on DVD. Both Shakespearean plays have common themes, and Welles uses many of the same techniques in each. Further, he rocks just as hard in portraying Lear as he does regarding Macbeth,

Producer/director/adapter Welles begins hitting the right notes at the start of the film. The opening scene has Macbeth and his (faithful?) companion come across the three witches of the lore of the play as they are reciting the famous cauldron speech that (partially) informs Macbeth of his destiny. This scene is aptly creepy and powerful.

The action then proceeds to the early events that all Shakespeare lovers know lead to Macbeth becoming King of Scotland. The expert staging includes feeling the full impact of an important beheading without actually seeing any heads roll.

The action begins to really roll after Macbeth seizes power. This not-so-bloodless coup both affects the psyches of the Macbeths and triggers a second prophecy. Plenty of mayhem and an epic battle ensure following that declaration.

Even those with little knowledge of the works of Shakespeare will recognize a few of the soliloquies in the film. These include the out damn spot (which Nolam delivers without the blue language) speech and the soon-to-follow "brief candle" performance by Macbeth. Of course, Welles nails it.

Welles additionally making Shakespeare accessible to a 1948 American movie-going audience while staying very true to the source material supports watching the full 107-minute version in the Olive set. Folks whom that version intimidates have the option of selecting an 85-minute 1950 version. The advice regarding that it you do not know what you will be missing.

The special features extend beyond several documentaries on Welles and/or Shakespeare to include a booklet with an essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum on the Welles "Macbeth." This comprehensive analysis is one to not miss.

Anyone with any questions or comments regarding any topic in this review is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Monday, November 21, 2016

'redvsblue' S14 BD SE: Enough Variation, Lore, and Fourth Wall Busting to Make Fanboys Expel Every Bodily Fluid

The gamers at wonderful weird animation studio Rooster Teeth go all out (and keep things fresh) for the Blu-ray/DVD combo Special Edition (complete with collectible cards and an awesomely juvenile activity book full of games) of Season 14 of redvsblue. Your favorite gamer and/or anime freak is figuratively  (hopefully not literally) sure to soil (and ooze other bodily fluids) himself or herself on finding this under the tree roughly a month from now.

It is equally awesome that our boys from the brooder make S14 understandably to even "rvb" universe virgins.

The first variation from the (Unreal TV reviewed) Chorus Trilogy that S11-13 comprise is that S14 episodes are stand-alone, rather than serialized except for a couple of notable trilogies. Further, the best brains who awesomely keep up with the (Michael and Lindsay) Joneses use a wide variety of animation styles to depict the adventures of the space Marines, who actually are Halo characters brought to life through the voices and gaming of the Teeth crew.

The awesomely cynical narration that introduces each offering sets the stage for an early episode that brings a few fan favorites back to boot camp days. This one seems true to the typical CGI-style video game look of the series. Awesome elements include foreshadowing of one relationship and the general dick moves of these boys in shades of red and blue.

Another favorite involves a commandeering of an AI spaceship that has the same comprehension difficulty of Siri. This one further mines good humor from the spectacular DCU "Green Lantern" series and has other awesome humor that is too special to spoil.

The awesomeness keeps rolling with our favorite "idiot" fighting men commenting on their alternative animation styles. Examples of this include several comments about things seeming low-res and boxy in an episode that looks like a Road Runner cartoon and terrific puns in a dark notable parody of "The Lego Movie." As an aside, one of the numerous special features focuses on the making of the Lego episode.

We further see the mercenaries in a fall-on-the-floor-funny vibrant sharp-angled noir-style adventure, an equally hilarious "shades of gray" offering, and a must-see season finale that literally bursts through the fourth wall.

The cocky boys at Teeth further outdo themselves regarding the fan favorite faux movie trailers, lore recap and reveals, and everything else (including a shout-out to the Unreal TV reviewed "Lazer Team" film) that makes rvb so awesomely unique. Not mentioning the other members of the roughly 20 shorts is not meant to slight them; you simply cannot expect your not-so-humble reviewer to do all the work for you "rvb" plugged energy drink swilling sloths.

The aforementioned special features begin with a nearly 40-minute documentary on the origin and the making-of S14. It aptly ends with a look at making the aforementioned truly gotta watch season-finale ep.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "rvb" S14 is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also reach out on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

'One of Our Aircraft is Missing' BD: Thrilling Tale of Downed RAF Crew Making Way Across Holland

The Olive Films November 15, 2015 Blu-ray release of the 1942 British drama "One of Our Aircraft is Missing" awesomely shows how things became more serious since the 1941 premiere of the (Unreal TV reviewed) companion release of the lighter WWII-centric  "Pimpernel Smith" The Olive liner notes provide a good synopsis of the propaganda aspects of "Aircraft." These comments include that "Aircraft" is an early film for the British production entity known as "The Archers."

Like "Smith," "Aircraft" begins with an apt scroll regarding its subject matter. In this case, it is a brief report on Dutch farmers who help a downed aircraft crew.

The story of the "B for Bertie" blokes begins at their base. We learn that the group includes professional football (my people call it soccer) player Bob Ashley and a well-known actor married to a famous entertainer. These men and three peers are under the command of  tough but fair commander Sir George Corbett.

Once the boys are in the air, the audience sees what surely is actual footage of anti-aircraft fire from the ground. This is only part of the thrilling depiction of an incident that requires that the crew abandon their plane over Holland.

On landing, the then-known survivors began their fascinating lesson on surviving behind enemy lines and making their way home. This includes early insight regarding the dual problems of wearing uniforms and lacking access to civilian clothes. Related issues regarding clothing arising later in the film provides further insight into deciding what to wear sometimes potentially involving life or death considerations.

The group soon encountering three small Dutch children is one of the most entertaining in the film. The mix of naivety and awareness regarding living under Nazi occupation makes our young heroes very endearing.

The initial mutual wariness regarding the crew and the local adults is less endearing but is more fascinating. The common-sense indications of trustworthiness and truthfulness offer good insight regarding the risky circumstances of a group of strangers asserting to be allies and the people on whom they hope to rely posing a threat of turning them into the enemy.

Like "Smith," stating much more about "Aircraft" would spoil the enjoyment of watching it. Suffice it to say that the cast, which includes several renowned British actors, all play their roles very well. This is on top of the adventures of their characters providing an excellent education on the topic of downed WWII-era pilots finding their way back to friendly territory.

Both the real-life subject matter of the film and the attributes described above, make "Aircraft" one that truly the whole family will want to watch.

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

Friday, November 18, 2016

'A Christmas Carol' Live Stage: Trinity Repertory Puts 'Princess Bride' Spin on Dickens Classic

The Trinity Repertory Company, which is the official state theater of Rhode Island, in Providence meets great expectations regarding its annual presentation of the Charles Dickens story "A Christmas Carol." The creative take by Trinity in the (Unreal TV reviewed) season-opener musical "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage" is the basis for the realized hope regarding the current production not being your father's staging of "Carol." The play runs through December 31, 2016.

As the "Beowulf" review mentions, the subject matter of "Carol" makes it a perfect choice for the "Ghosts of the Past, Dreams of the Future" theme of the 53rd Trinity season. "The Mountaintop," which is about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr," that opens in January 2017 is equally true to the spirit of this series.

The "Green" (as opposed to alternate "Red") trio of elementary-school age kids coming out and singing the usual disclaimers regarding silencing cell phones and not crinkling paper to the tune of "Silent Night" at the beginning of "Carol" is the first indication that director (and Brown University MFA) James Dean Palmer is staying very true to the Trinity spirit of Christmas present.

These two girls and a guy then settle into the living room set where their grandfather (played by awesome veteran Trinity Scrooge portrayor Brian McEleney) is just finishing up reading the kids "Carol."

The father of the family getting down to paperwork on Christmas Eve provides a false start by creating an impression that the play will revolve around his transformation. However "Child 3" confronting Dad about his lack of Christmas spirit starts father/wonderfully baritone voice narrator Kamili Okweni Feelings reading the Dickens classic from the beginning; this in turn moves the action to Victorian England, where McEleney begins playing the character that he knows and loves so well.

The clearly loving but irreverent slant on "Carol" and the technique of interspersing the reading of the story with depicting scenes from the source material evoke great thoughts of the hilarious 1987 film "The Princess Bride." That one has a grandfather whom Peter Falk plays reading a fairy tale to an initially cynical boy whom Fred Savage plays.The very Trinity-consistent "Bride" vibe is particularly strong regarding an interruption near the end of the play.

The Victorian portion of the evening opening with a modern musical number and portraying the two solicitors for the poor as even gayer versions of the Looney Toons chipmunk characters are other early indications of the Trinity twist on this oft-oft-oft-told tale.

The story then stays relatively close to the Dickens version with a few surprises that are too special to spoil. Of the three main ghosts, the fun-loving Ghost of Christmas Present is the most notable. This portion also particularly gives McEleney a chance to shine as he rocks out and live like he's just begun.

Palmer does even better staging the final scenes in which Scrooge embraces life. The giddiness that everyone's favorite miser experiences is hilarious and extends to moderate audience interaction. This further includes an amusing modern twist on the scene in which an exuberant Scrooge hires two girls to but the ginormous turkey that is hanging in the butcher shop window.

A gaffe that one can only hope becomes part of the play involves one of the errand girls dropping a coin that Scrooge gives her. Not missing a beat, McEleney comments on this, gives an audience member the coin, and goes on to distribute other currency among the theater goers.

All of this amounts to a child-friendly show that is new enough to the younger members in the audience to thrill them and unique enough to make it endearing to those of us who have seen several traditional stagings and countless sitcom variations of the play.

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

Thursday, November 17, 2016

'Pimpernel Smith' BD (Leslie) Howard's Heroes Foil Nazis

The Olive Films November 15, 20176 Blu-ray release of the 1941 Leslie Howard (of "Gone With the Wind," "The Scarlet Pimpernel," and scads o' other classics) dramedy is one of two Olive BD releases of WWII-era propaganda films that day; the second is the (soon-to-be-reviewed) 1942 drama "One of Our Aircraft is Missing."

One of the first impressions of "Smith" is that is very true to an awesome philosophy of comedy god Mel Brooks. Brooks is well-known for explaining making light of the hNazis in films such as "The Producers" by stating that ridiculing that genuine basket of deplorables helps rob them of their power.

The heart of "Smith" also comes through in an opening statement that the story is fictitious but is based on (and dedicated) to all the people who risked so much to thwart the Nazis.

One of the most striking images of this openly admitted propaganda film comes in an early period. Audio of Adolph Hitler angrily ranting in German is played over a poster of a peaceful scene the invites people to visit romantic Germany.

Director Howard stars as titular absent-minded archaeology professor by night and (Scarlet Pimpernel-inspired) daring champion of justice by night Horatio Smith. His early exploits that IMDb describes as rescuing "victims of Nazi persecution" in Germany in the days leading up to WWII sets the stage for the primary caper of the film.

True to his habit of being the Bugs Bunny to the Nazis' Elmer Fudd, Smith recruits a group of his Cambridge students (including brash and impudent American David Maxwell) to outwardly spend their summer on a dig in Germany. Smith uses the assertion that the purpose of the excavation is to prove that Aryan civilization once existed in that country to obtain permission for the venture.

Meanwhile, the German military is actively seeking to discover who both is helping people flee their country in the dead of the night and making the Nazis look foolish in the process. This effort leads a German general to attend a party at the British embassy at which Smith and his students are also present.

The party scene is one of the most notable in the film in that it provides Smith several opportunities to cleverly (and hilariously) make fools of his enemy and brings this educator and his students in contact with pretty young New Yorker Ludmilla Koslowski. Well-known character actress Mary Morris plays this role well.

The unconventional triangle that forms consists of Maxwell courting Ludmilla, who is trying to enlist the aid of Smith to rescue her journalist father from a concentration camp, while she also is trying convince the aforementioned general that she is not breaking their agreement to work as his agent in exchange for the release of her father.

Stating much more about the plot would spoil the equally well-presented humor and drama in the film. It is worth noting that one comical scene that reflects Nazi propaganda regarding the conditions in concentration camps is a sad reminder of the ignorance of the world-at-large as to life behind the walls and fences of those genuine Hells on earth.

A less bothersome poke at Nazi propaganda has Smith having fun with the assertion that Shakespeare is of German descent.

Suffice it to say regarding "Smith as a whole" that this well-plotted story keeps the action and the laughs coming up to the end and creates unrealized hope that it will be the start of a beautiful franchise.

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

'Hannie Caulder' BD: Raquel Welch Rape-Revenge Western

The new best friend of lovers of quality cinema Olive Films November 15, 2016 Blu-ray release of the beautifully shot and scored 1971 Raquel Welch drama "Hannie Caulder" is the latest example of Olive proving that many Westerns have far more depth than cinephiles who do not watch them believe. The recent (Unreal TV reviewed) Olive BD release of the oft-imitated classic "High Noon" and the earlier BD release of the (also reviewed) "Gun the Man Down" are other examples of this.

'60s sex kitten (and current smokin' cougar) Raquel Welch delivers an exceptional performance as the titular Old West widow in this early rape-revenge film. The action starts with the amusingly bumbling and bickering outlaw Clemons brothers pulling a bank robbery gone horribly wrong. A shot from the POV of a rifle is the first of many clues that "Hannie" is not a kiddie matinee oater.

Les Freres Clemons set the primary action in motion on stopping at the home of Caulder and her husband in the wake of the siblings fleeing the scene of their most recent crime. Excitable boy/loose cannon younger brother Rufus (played by perfectly cast character actor Strother Martin) continues making trouble for his kin by enthusiastically raping Caulder on finding her in bed almost immediately after killing her spouse. Oldest brother Emmett (played by Oscar-winner Ernest Borgnine) and middle brother Frank (played by Westerns legend Jack Elam) take their turns with Caulder before burning the house and leaving Caulder for dead.

Caulder subsequently buries her husband and then soon encounters well-known bounty hunter Thomas Luther Price (played by tough guy Robert Culp, who is best known for his television light-drama series "I Spy" and "The Greatest American Hero.") Caulder convincing a reluctant Price to train her to shoot so that she can get revenge against the Clemmons boys leads to a (complete with montage) "Karate Kid" style training program.

Meanwhile, we see the Clemmons continue their entertaining crime spree while squabbling with each other. The best lines regarding this aspect of the film come at the expense of Luther. One of the best is a comment that he has even less between his legs than he has in his head.

All of this leads to the inevitable showdown in which Caulder and Price find themselves in the same frontier town as the nemeses of the former This segment also establishes the literal relative value of Emmett and his bros compared to other nefarious types.

Welch particularly shines in the predictable encounters with Rufus and Frank ahead of the inevitable climatic showdown with Emmett. Highlights of this include Caulder proving her integrity, a Clemmons sibling meeting a hilariously undignified end, and the gunfight between Caulder and Emmett being being so much more than a gunfight on a dusty deserted Western street. The '60s favorite sex symbol shows that she can kick ass as well as (if not better) than the boys.

All of the above demonstrates that "Hannie" is well-worth adding to you home-video collection. The fact that this review leaves plenty more to discover on watching it provides more incentive to check it out.

The special features include commentary by "Repo Man" director Alex Cox, a highly entertaining and informative documentary on rape-revenge films hosted by very engaging film scholar Ben Sher, and a "making-of" extra.

The set also includes a booklet with an aptly titled essay "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance." This comprehensive piece discusses the film itself, the rape scene, and the nature of the subject matter.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

'cents' VOD: Petty Crime and Punishment

The pure example of an indie film "cents," which premieres on VOD platforms on November 15 2016, is a charming fable that provides a candid look at the world of middle-school girls. A particularly disturbing scene from the perspective of one whose middle-school days are things of a distant past has the "Heathers" get revenge regarding a boy sexting a girl other than his significant other by posting a revealing photo of the object of the affection of the lad.

Tween math whiz Sammy (nee Samantha) simultaneously wanting to join the cool kids and discovering the potential for great profit from skimming from a charitable penny drive prompts her to join the latter. The ensuing incredible success prompts local news coverage praising the efforts of Sammy and former BFF/current frienemy Katie Schmidt.

The enssuing celebrity creates enhanced middle-school drama in the form of the ousted head of the drive contributing her two cents by accusing Sammy and Katie of wrongdoing. The ensuing scandal hits our girls hard to the extent that Sammy endures a highly symbolic modern equivalent of being stoned.

Home-based drama comes in the form of the nurse-practitioner single mother of Sammy continuing a long struggle for admission to medical school. Having a typical tween daughter (not to mention one with a history of behavioral problems) does not help matters. However, increasingly grand gestures by Sammy regarding her mother shows that she is starting to understand the challenges of raising a kid under less than ideal circumstances.

Other relatable elements include the tough-but-caring teacher who volunteers her time to tutor Sammy in Calculus and the more stern "bad-guy" principal who metes out arguable severe discipline.

The fact that the young actresses truly seem to be 12 year-old girls either reflects their acting ability or their skill at being themselves. Either way, they effectively play their parts.

The adults show equal (if not better) understanding of their roles. Those of us of their generation can relate to Mrs. Schmidt closing (but not slamming) the door in the face of Sammy and Angela Bacca losing patience with Sammy, who is making things unduly difficult.

Anyone with questions or comments regrading "cents" is encouraged to email me; yo can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Monday, November 14, 2016

'Smoke-Filled Lungs' VOD Vets in Distress

The recent Indican Pictures theatrical and VOD releases of the 2016 drama "Smoke-Filled Lungs" is a gritty urban drama that puts a face on both the plight of combat veterans and the life of lower-class black teens.

This winner of the Award for Best Film at the 2015 International Film Festival of World Cinema tells the tale of the road trip of disabled Gulf War veteran Edward and his teen nephew Michael to visit the grandfather of the former and great-grandfather of the latter. Writer/director Jason Cabell stars as Edward.

Michael's widowed mother/Edward's sister coerces the boys into hitting the road in response to the reaction of Michael to bullying getting him suspended. Momma feels that Michael needs a strong male influence and that getting out of the house will benefit Edward.

The trek predictably prompts our boys to bond in a manner that helps them understand the perspective of the other. Edward largely shows Micheal that he must toughen up, and Michael challenges the heavy use of prescription painkillers by Edward. One of the well-written and presented monologues of Edward further reveals the significance of the title of the film.

The drama that the pair encounter include a conflict with a very aggressive homeless man; humor relates to Edward not understanding the nature of using GPS to find roadside services.

Visiting their elder in the nursing home allows our leads to learn from his experience. Edward realizes that combat veterans have a long history of problems dealing with their physical and emotional injuries. Michael acquires the desired positive role model and learns about the civil rights movement. A reading of a poem over a montage of images from that era nicely illustrates this element of the film.

The boys from the the 'hood nicely act on their lessons from the road on returning home. The facts that this is neither drama-free nor Disneyfied ends the movie on an apt note.

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

Saturday, November 12, 2016

'The Spirit of Christmas' DVD: The Ghost & Ms. McBeal

Monarch Home Entertainment releasing "The Spirit of Christmas" (nee Lifetime Movie "Hollygrove") on DVD on November 15 follows the 2016 trend toward extending holiday promotions into mid-November. "Spirit" also is very reminiscent of the (Unreal TV reviewed) Monarch 2014 DVD release of the film "Oh Christmas Tree" (nee Hallmark Channel film "Fir Crazy"), which has a driven career gal fall in love with a mellow Christmas tree operator with whom fate has placed her at odds.

A review of the Monarch companion release "The Dogwalker's Christmas." which almost certainly is Lifetime or Hallmark movie, is scheduled for Thanksgiving week.

The following YouTube clip of the "Spirit" trailer nicely conveys the Lifetimeiness of the film while providing a largely spoiler-free synopsis of the movie.

The more general theme of "Spirit" makes it particularly awesome due to similarities with the classic film and (Unreal TV reviewed) '60s fantasycom "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir." The lore of this one is that the titular spirit is a 19th century sea captain who continues occupying his coastal Maine house decades after his untimely demise, and the titular widow clashes with him on moving into that abode initially unaware of the current resident. In both the film and the series, the pair fall in love.

The supernatural entity in "Spirit" is 1920s New England B and B owner Daniel Forsythe. His untimely demise on Christmas Eve triggers his reverting to his full corporeal form from midnight December 13 to midnight December 24 each year. This, in turn, traditionally prompts the mere mortals who occupy the property the rest of the year to skeedaddle to give the former owner his privacy.

Career-driven yuppie Ally McBeal style attorney Kate Jordan comes on the scene as the legal representative of the trust that owns the inn. She is sent to move things along after appraisers who are hired to determine the value of the property flee in fear.

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Lifetime or "Muir" knows that Daniel initially startles Kate, that he tries to oust her from the building, that they subsequently fall in love, and that they both "live" happily ever after.

Intrigue comes in the form of the mystery surrounding the death of Daniel; allowing him eternal peace requires determining the circumstances behind his body being discovered in the woods near his home.

Daniel portrayor Thomas Beaudoin steals the show; he perfectly plays the gallant reserved '20s era gentleman. His tall solid frame allows him to rock the period costumes, and he has a strong grasp of the understated humor of the show. The one flaw is that he is not so dreamy that he would inspire any of us to even approach engaging in necrophilia.

Like the aforementioned Monarch releases, "Spirit" is an entertaining family film with something for everyone. It is a good choice for soothing frayed nerves after playing the home game of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" during Thanksgiving dinner.

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

'Lazy Eye' Star Lucas Near-Verbrugghe Discusses Playing Role Full of Sex. Exes, and Videotpe

The relatable intimate nature of (the Unreal TV reviewed) "Lazy Eye," which is available on VOD and playing in Los Angeles and New York ahead of a wider rollout, made a chance for a telephone interview with "Eye" star Lucas Near-Verbrugghe a special treat. The aforementioned intimacy relates to the reunion between 30-something graphic designer Dean (whom Near-Verbrugghe portrays well) and the proverbial "one who got away" 15 years earlier. This "lost love" is in the form of MBA Alex, whom Aaron Costa Ganis portrays well.

The initial bit of trivia from the interview with Broadway star Lucas is that he and Aaron are fellow graduates (but not classmates) of the New York University Graduate Acting Program.

Art v. Commerce

The combination of the reel-life debate regarding art vs. commerce in an era in which most studio films either are horrible superhero "epics" or other fare that values profit over quality and the "Eye" element of Alex confronting Dean about abandoning art in favorite of the more lucrative world of graphic design provided a good chance to ask stage actor Lucas about his thoughts on art vs. commerce. His initial response that that was an interesting conversation that he was constantly having with himself indicated that he was in the profession primarily for the art.

Lucas subsequently shared that "I got my start in theater and have always been driven to it as my first love." He added that he "always believed in having a career that is balanced." A related comment was that "I think that there is something you get in theater and films; I love both."

This thespian in the truest sense of the word adding that producer/writer/director Tim Kirkman providing the cast a longer-than-average rehearsal period before beginning filming reinforced the sense that this movie with a strong live-stage vibe values art over commerce.

Sex Scenes

The remark regarding the extended rehearsal time opened the door to ask if Lucas and Aaron had extra time to rehearse sex scenes, which included a highly erotic and passionate encounter almost immediately on their coming face-to-face for the the first time in 15 years. Lucas aptly replied that "shooting a sex scene is a tricky beast; I think of it as choreography more than anything else."

Lucas added that he and Aaron "wanted to create compassion that feels real" and that they "sort of did not rehearse." He added that the fulfilled trust regarding the sex scenes included realized confidence that the camera would capture the good angles.

A predictable lighter aspect of this discussion centered around Lucas commenting that the outtakes from this portion of the filming must be hilarious. This related to limbs and other appendages almost certainly accidentally poking and prodding in unintended (but hopefully not painful) manners.

Not Another Gay Movie

Discussing the sex scenes and other intimate aspects of "Lazy" led to conversing about the prominent theme that the fact that the reunited lovers are men does not make the film a gay movie. He stated that "I didn't see the script as a gay movie. I really read it as a human film that was relatable even to a heterosexual relationship." He then emphasized that the film "focuses on the reconnection of relationships," that "sexuality is not the main focus," and that "you can have a gay character in a role without it being about being gay."

Lucas also noted that the lead characters had "a very strong intimate connection" and noted in the context of their past that "memory distorts things."

Lucas additionally shared that nothing in the movie was autobiographical regarding him. Lucas added that Tim "had a situation that was somewhat similar" to the events that "Eye" depicted.

The removal of the stigma associated with straight men playing homosexual roles and noting that Lucas (who validly does not openly discuss his sexual orientation) has played gay and straight characters prompted asking him about that aspect of acting. He responded that "the sexual orientation of an actor or a role has never been an issue" for him. He added that "one thing I love as an actor is to emphasize and step into the shoes of someone else."

The Ex Factor

The universal nature of the "Eye" story prompted asking Lucas if the project inspired him to track down any of his former significant others. He wittily replied that he did not "think I had any exes I was chomping at the bit to reconnect with. He did share the story of seeing the person to whom he lost his virginity at the age of 17 several years after that encounter.

Lucas noted as well technology played a role in societal changes over the past 15 years, noting that he did not have access to the Internet until he was in college.

Treading the Boards

Discussing the current project of Lucas brought our talk back to the original topic of art vs commerce. He is starring in the play "Iceberg," which opens at the Geffen Theater in Los Angeles on November 16, 2016. He plays the husband in a straight professional couple that is concerned about having a baby in this era of climate change and other tough situations.

Asking in this pre-election day interview if the play would reflect the result, Lucas stated that the production was not about the election. He did share that "the whole election cycle make me not want to have children ever." 

Seeing Eye to Eye

The 30 minutes spent talking with Lucas reinforced that he was the perfect choice for Dean. Both men have pondered the fact that their lives did not take them where they expected in their youth that they would have but that they overall are happy where they ended up.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Fairfield Inn Amesbury Massachusetts: Recently Renovated & Can Check in Any Time You Want (after 4:00)

Not actually making it home during the recent documented "you can go home again" trip prompted a second and shorter trip to the seacoast portion of the north shore of Massachusetts. The warmth of the front desk clerk on calling the  hotel and learning of a recent renovation made choosing the Fairfield Inn in Amesbury, Massachusetts for this one-night getaway a no-brainer. A spoiler is that the hotel exceeded many expectations.

Initial reservations regarding the hotel related to always thinking of it as the place behind the Friendly's family restaurant. Actually going there provided the nice surprises that it is set back further than believed, is off a pleasant road, and is landscaped in a manner that makes you forget that it is near a burger and milk shakes joint.

Further, the once dull beige facade is now an appealing blue-and-white front.

The impression on entering the stylish and somewhat minimalist lobby is that this property is to the upscale W hotel chain (if that chain had budget-conscious properties) what the Chaps line is to the Polo line for Ralph Lauren.

The hotel keeps tasty freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies and (presumably tasty) fruit in the lobby throughout the day for guests. They also have free coffee available to go with these snacks. Folks who want a cold drink, candy, a more substantial snack, or a frozen entree can buy something from the well-stocked alcove market next to the front desk.

The gratuitous grub extends to a complimentary self-serve full breakfast buffet that includes scrambled eggs and a choice of  sausage or ham. Tastes running to the vanilla on the morning of that stay prompted choosing that flavor over the more exotic pumpkin spice option regarding the batter for the make-your-own waffle station.

Other general amenities include health-club quality Stairmasters in a clean health club in which you can work off those eggs and waffles. This facility is near an equally clean guest laundry room. The hotel also offers laundry service for folks who would rather spend their time exploring the terrific things that are available a short drive from this property a few blocks from Routes 95 and 495.

Despite the renovations, the same anxiety related to the erroneous impressions based on the perceptions related to the location of the hotel existed regarding the room. Having expectations regarding the room being surpassed was beyond awesome.

The upscale on a budget vibe began with seeing a sink area with a black-marble counter in an short hallway leading to a fairly spacious bathroom that features a nice large two-person shower. (The hotel does not provide solo travelers that second person.)

One also immediately notices the generosity regarding the amenities. There are ample towels, plastic cups, Paul Mitchell personal care items, etc. Having a refrigerator and a microwave is also handy; as is the new climate control system for your home away from home.

The easily accessible and reliable free WiFi and plenty of convenient plugs for charging your devices are other nice features; it is also nice to have a comfortable and adequately large workspace and an armchair. Having an itemized bill with a statement that your credit card has been charged on the day of your departure avoids all the hassles associated with checking out.

The best way to wrap up all this is to say that if you have not stayed at this Fairfield Inn lately, you have not stayed at this Fairfield Inn.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding either the Fairfield Inn or the seacoast area of the North Shore of Massachusetts is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

'Monday at 11:01 a.m." DVD/Blu-ray The Lyin', The Witch, and The Wardrobe (and Lance Henriksen)

The 2016 textbook psychological thriller/inide film/Stephen King homage "Monday at 11:01 a.m.," which is a recent K Street Pictures DVD and Blu-ray release, is notable for having one of the most surprising twist endings of all time. The only spoiler is that this one does not involve a sled.

Producer/writer/star Charles Agron portrays arrogant vacationer Michael, who is is visiting a quaint but creepy isolated mountain town with his girlfriend Jenny.  The combination of the surprising hostile reception and sense that the townsfolk know this first-time visitor to their community start the suspense. This really amps on the couple arriving at the local hotel to find the manager very deferential and Michael getting a sense of deja vu,

The King vibe is especially strong regarding Michael experiencing vivid hallucinations during his stay. These largely center around perceptions of mayhem in a vacant hotel room.

Frank Black himself Lance Henirksen shines (no pun intended) as a mysterious and knowing bartender. The bar is also the center of the interaction between Michael and sultry but creepy bar fly Olivia, who insists that she and our hero share a history. This textbook femme fatale provides further menace in the form of adopting a threatening posture towards Jenny. This stems from Olivia being convinced that she has the number of the woman whom she considers her romantic rival.

As if this is not enough, Agron throws in a coven of black robed individuals with antlers who conduct nighttime rituals in the dark and increasingly focus their attention on the new kid on the block.

The titular day and time come into play regarding Jenny always providing that response when Michael asks her for the time.

The maddening genius of "Monday" is that it seems to be a mediocre Sci-Fi Movie of the Week about a man slowly losing his grip on reality; as mentioned above, the film is so much more. Everything makes great sense and has a few layers in the end. This includes showing the unexpected significance of the central time.

The extras include a 20-minute behind-the-scenes feature with Agron and his cast and crew.

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

'Living in the Age of Airplanes' BD/DVD Harrison Ford Flies Solo Documenting History of Air Travel

The October 25, 2016 Blu-ray and DVD releases of the 2015 National Geographic IMAX film "Living in the Age of Airplanes" is a perfect Christmas fable a few weeks before the Hell that is holiday travel. The clearly stated message of this Harrison Ford-narrated documentary is that we should be so grateful to have jet travel that we should shaddup regarding the aggravations associated with flying. Speaking from the perspective of suffering the humiliation/intense stress of random (malicious?) confinement in a Jack Bauer plexiglass cube at security an having a polite request to be given unattended X RAYED wallet and shoes at the end of the security, I ain't buying that part of the story.

The following YouTube clip of the "Airplanes' trailer aptly promotes the film through sharing its message and providing a glimpse of the incredible cinematography.

Despite the flawed message, the medium is spectacular. The opening scenes in this must-own in BD film are of the airliner graveyard in the Mojave desert. Seeing partially demolished and gutted planes out in the middle of nowhere is very reminiscent of the pilot of the ABC drama series "Lost."

Ford goes onto to remind the audience that walking was the sole mode of transportation for most of the history of human civilization and that inventing the wheel and the related domestication of animals did not significantly help matters. His history lesson goes onto cite the roles of sea, rail, and motor vehicle transportation in allowing us to venture from our places of birth but notes that air travel, which requires neither roads nor rails, is the real game changer regarding both allowing us to travel great distances and in making remote locales accessible.

The Bill Gates quote "the airplane became the first World Wide Web, bringing people, languages, ideas, and values together" aptly illustrates both the above point and the theme of "Airplanes" itself. "Airplanes" director Brian J. Terwilliger adds his wise two cents in by stating in the press materials for the documentary that the fact that "our perception of crossing continents and oceans at 500 mph has turned from fascination to frustration" prompted him to "want to reignite people's wonder for one of the most extraordinary aspects of the modern world." One can only imagine that Terwilliger has never had his pants sagging while people stare for 15 minutes.

The must-be-seen to be believed beautifully filmed journey takes us from the amazing clear waters of an island that is accessible only by boat and seaplane to the South Pole. The shared benefit of this extends beyond personal enrichment through visiting other cultures to the value of the scientific endeavors that air travel makes possible.

The final scenes are too special to spoil; suffice it to say that they are an apt end to this global through time and space; they also are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

The plethora of special features includes a recreation of the bi-plane sequence from the 1985 film "Out of Africa," a behind-the-scenes look at shooting the spectacular footage (including a space view of earth) of "Airplanes," and a deleted scene on Hawaii.

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

Monday, November 7, 2016

'into the Badlands' S1 DVD/BD: Epic AMC Post-Apocalyptic Drama

The November 8, 2016 Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2015 first season of the AMC post-apocalyptic drama into the Badlands" both is very apt for Election Day and provides folks whom the martial-arts theme of the series turns off to discover a beautifully filmed compelling series that easily passes the "one-more" test. Buying this lush series with exceptional sound effects in the enhanced video and crystal-clear audio Blu-ray format is a no-brainer; S1 consisting of six episodes facilities a very satisfying marathon viewing session.

Having "Smallville" creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar on board definitely benefits this tale of a "special" teen boy learning to control his powers and overcome personal drama.

The lore (and lure) of "Badlands" is that the (presumably) earth of centuries beyond our time ends a long and bloody war by going old school in creating a feudal system that divides the titular region into seven territories presided over by barons. These leaders derive their wealth and much of their power from controlling a valued resource. They preserve that power through having private armies known as clippers. Firearms being outlawed requires that these soldiers of little fortune battle with swords and the aforementioned martial-arts skills.

S1 central baron Quinn has poppy fields that are the source of the opium on which his empire is based. Much of the drama revolves around his perceived and actual weaknesses making him a target for takeover by the other barons. These vulnerabilities include the millennials old elements of failing health and a son who is not up to the challenge of ruling the kingdom.

Central character/martial-arts expert Sunny heads up the Clipper army of Quinn. Tension between the two relates to the aforementioned offspring, Quinn not adequately heeding the advice of Sunny, and Quinn committing an act of arguably senseless violence that particularly does not sit well with the head of his armed forces.

Neighboring landowner/oil tycoon The Widow having a tenuous claim on the title of Baron ignores that vulnerability in how she conducts herself, including plotting against Quinn. A major setback early in the season does not deter this woman with a plan.

Teen boy M.K. is the third main element of "Badlands." The pilot episodes begins with Sunny kicking ass but not taking down names on encountering a group of marauders known as nomads; our hero also frees M.K. from that group and subsequently learns that The Widow is behind that capture.

The reason for The Widow wanting to add M.K. to her force becomes clear later in the pilot. However, the plans of Sunny for the boy with something extra is to adopt him as his "colt" and train him to be an expert fighter. The hidden agenda of this version of Batman and Robin is to escape across the Badlands to an Oz that holds the promise of fulfilling their wildest individual dreams.

Additional drama that develops roughly halfway in S1 presents our hero with a dilemma that can be considered "Sunny's Choice." He is offered a deal of a lifetime in exchange for betraying his protege.

In true modern serial drama, the tension and drama build to a climatic season finale. This one has Quinn face an ambush, things come to a head for Sunny, and events arguably returning to the pilot episode.

The copious special features include a cool digital "Badlands" comic book, films devoted to the various classes in this regimented caste society, and several behind-the-scenes extras.

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

Saturday, November 5, 2016

'Lazy Eye' Theatrical: Gay Men Rekindling Flame Ignites Inferno

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Unreal TV has run an interview with "Lazy Eye" star Lucas Near-Verbbugghe.]

The new gay-themed film, which opens in Los Angeles and New York City on November 11 2016, "Lazy Eye" from Breaking Glass Pictures offers good commentary on both modern gay culture and cinema.  The metaphorical title refers to the worsening eyesight of late-30s successful graphic designer Dean coinciding with his reflecting on his coasting through life.

Other than now needing trifocals, Dean is relatively at peace when we meet him. He is living the good life in Los Angeles and happily working with his former college classmate/current gal pal (or fag hag depending on your perspective) Mel; well-known indie actress Michaela Watkins plays that role.

Dean's orderly life gets turned upside down on receiving an out-of-the-blue email from former flame (love of his life?) Alex. The back story of these lovers is that they meet in a New York bar in the wake of Alex attending the graduation ceremony for his MBA program. The love (or lust) at first sight that they experience leads to a summer of love (or lust). This ends when Alex literally disappears without a trace.

Viewers who sit through the cliched exchange of electronic messages are rewarded with the satisfying in visuals and story in the scenes that follow. This occurs when the action shifts to the shot-on-location scenes that are set in and around the Joshua Tree weekend home of Dean. An awesome aspect of this is that it gives "Lazy" the live-stage vibe that always enhances a film. (The extensive Broadway experience of Dean portrayor Lucas Near-Verbbugghe comes through regarding this.)

A surprisingly explicit (but not X-rated) early scene in this portion of the film has Dean edging to take the edge off the night before the arrival of Alex. The first of several fun and endearing flashbacks of  New York days fuels that session. One spoiler is that the attempt to have restraint on seeing Alex fails.

The sex and lies (but no videotape) that comprise a great deal of the interaction during this reunion help make "Lazy" particularly good and relatable to everyone approaching, experiencing, or beyond middle age. It is rare that the career (or lack thereof) that we have is the one we envision when we enter adulthood; "Lazy" also shows that the same can be true regarding our romantic relationships.

The largest fulfilled fantasy regarding all this is that our boys get the rare experience of getting to bed "the one who got away," to express their feelings regarding the break-up and get a comprehensive reason for the break-up, get a second chance at true love, and work through all this feelings without requiring either a trip to the emergency room or finding yourself a sobbing ball curled in the corner of a room.

Suffice it to say that the weekend ends on a good note for our heroes.

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

Thursday, November 3, 2016

'The Id' BD: Psychological Thriller About Mother of All Daddy Issues

Hutson Ranch Media and Panic Ventures proves regarding the October 25, 2016 Blu-ray of the 2015 psychological thriller that horror does not require blood, gore or intense mayhem. It just needs a terrorized character or two. The recognition for this more evolved approach includes "Id" winning the Best Thriller Award at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival.

The damsel in distress this time is middle-aged spinster Meredith (nicely played by Amanda Wyss, best know as Tina in "Nightmare on Elem Street"). She has spent roughly 20 years pathetically lonely years as the sole caretaker of her alcoholic abusive father who rounds out a trifecta by having Alzheimer's disease.

Anyone who has cared for a "difficult" elderly parent can relate to Meredith stoically listening to the vile rants of her father as she bathes his disgusting body only to have this abuse continue as he complains about the meals that she prepares for him.

A catalyst in the form of a telephone call from a former boyfriend/high school stud pushes Meredith over the edge both in terms of considering what might have been and fully realizing how despicable her father is and that she is forever trapped.

Meredith snapping leads her to enter voluntary orphanhood only to have her guilt bring her even closer to full-blown insanity before Prince Charming comes calling with a large surprise of his own. This leads to a reunion that is equal parts pathetic, awkward, and amusing.

The tension mounts as both the cops and a nosey "do-gooder" come snooping, The ensuing search has a tenuous connection to the climatic scene in "Psycho." This is on top of the larger common element of a domineering parent both breaking an excitable boy (or girl) and continuing to haunt him (or her) from the movable grave. These scenes further prove the extent to which Meredith has become delusional.

The final analysis regarding this study of a not-so-atypical father-daughter relationship is that it entertains in a relatable (pun intended) manner.

The BD extras included behind-the-scene features, deleted and alternative scenes, and footage of auditions.

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits'

One week before inarguably the most contentious presidential campaign in American history is an apt time to share thoughts regarding the recent Cinema Libre DVD and VOD releases of the 2016 documentary "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." The nature of both this film by Rolling Stone investigative reporter Greg Palast and the election require the first of a few diversions into blogland in this review; your not-so-humble reviewer dreads the prospect of a Clinton or a Trump presidency; he is not voting in this election. Consequently, personal politic views are not behind the criticism of this movie.

The spoiler regarding the following review also relates to the nature of the campaign. People who support Clinton will like "Democracy" and want to see it regardless of the views of your not-so-humble reviewer. Folks who back The Donald almost certainly already consider all the assertions in the film false and only will want to see it to challenge these claims or to ridicule Palast. Those of us who comprise the silent middle majority regarding these extremes approach the film with open minds.

The most important things to consider regarding "Democracy" are that even propaganda that supports your position is still propaganda and that there is your side, the other side, and the truth. One further should be aware that Palast is the writer and the director of this report on his efforts to expose the Republicans manipulating the democratic process. The saddest part of all this is that the conspiracy aspects of the story and the timeliness of it coming out a few weeks ahead of the aforementioned election make one hope that it would be better than it is.

The following YouTube clip of the "Democracy" trailer comprehensively outlines the theme of the film and provides a strong sense of how Palast presents it.

Palast begins with highly stylized live-action and animated images that establish the film noir/pulp fiction vibe the permeates "Democracy." These early scenes discuss his prior investigation into Jeb Bush and Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris manipulating the voter rolls in that state to enable Jeb sibling George to be declared the winner of the 2000 presidential election.

Palast then discusses his desire to hang up his cape and not get involved with assertions of similar wrongdoing this time but being coaxed into springing into action; in other words, he is a crusading legend in his own mind who is the only one up to that task.

Much of "Democracy" revolves around around numerous states subscribing to the Crosscheck system that has the stated purpose of riding purging duplicate names and people who otherwise ineligible to vote from voter rolls. One aspect of this is that most of the affected individuals either are black or a member of another minority group, The very strong implication is that these alleged malfeasors are much more apt to vote for a Democrat than for a Republican.

Palast meets several of these individuals and asks them if they have voted more than once. This is designed to prove that Crosschesk is designed to improperly deprive these people from participating in the democratic process.

Although an interview with county music legend Willie Nelson is intended to add star power to "Democracy," the role of this singer is relegated to disputing claims that he voted in several states under variations of his name. Limiting his role in this manner is very surprising considering the well-known reputation of Nelson to speak out regarding political issues.

Similarly, Palast only has uber-outspoken actor Richard Belzer and hip-hop artist Ice-T appear in cheesy cameos in which they interrogate Palast in the guises of their "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" characters.

Palast also follows the paper trail to high-ranking Republicans and their supporters. This rogue's galley includes the perennial favorites the Koch Brothers, whose influence on American politics is quite strong. One problem regarding this portion of "Democracy" (and several similar segments) is that Palast goes off topic. In this case, the exposed sins of the Kochs include an improper contribution to Bob Dole that seems to relate to Dole using his influence to curtail a criminal investigation of the brothers. This seems extraneous to the benefits that the Kochs derive from a Republican occupying the Oval Office.

Another topically and geographic diversion has Palast traveling to the Arctic Circle to speak with a whale hunter about a plan to ruin the island of that predator in a quest for the oil in the area. As heinous as such a plan is and despite Republican support for it, it is not the same story as the assertions of invalidly removing people from voter rolls in an effort to "steal" the election. This segment also suffers from the aforementioned flaw of Palast depicting himself as both a savior and the only person who is qualified for that job.

The biggest sin of "Democracy" is the highly frustrating repetitiveness of it. Palast communicates his point the first time that provides evidence that individuals and groups of people are improperly being prevented from voting. He does not need to keep doing it ad nauseam. He even has a segment with actress Rosario Dawson that is very similar to the earlier interview with Nelson.

Returning to the earlier statement regarding the truth (and once again diverting into Blogland), Palast seems to disregard that some voter fraud exists and the boys in red equally disregard that said wrongdoing is not nearly as rampant as Fox News and Crosscheck would have us believe,

The past of your not-so-humble reviewer includes being a long-term independent contractor for a leading international private investigations firm. One assignment involved investigating the voting records of the members of the council of a large city that amusingly is built on a swamp. A review of those records revealed that the husband of a council member voted several times after the highly public death of that man.

More recently, the voting rolls in the community of yours truly continued to include the seller of my home several years after that couple moved out of the city and I told the election officials that these former residents moved one city over. It is possible that no one voted in the names of those persons, but the fact that voters were not required to provide identifications would have facilitated someone voting in their names.

The only thing that remains to be stated is that "Democracy" is miles away from being fair-and-balanced, and that veteran reporter Palast may benefit from a primer in journalistic principles.

Anyone with CIVIL questions or comments regarding "Democracy" is welcome to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy. Those whose thoughts are not civil are reminded of the adages "I know that you are, but what am I, and "I'm rubber and you're glue; what you say bounces off me and sticks to you."