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Monday, October 16, 2017

'B&B' DVD: Not Another Gay British Hitchcockian Thriller

The Breaking Glass Pictures October 17, 2017 DVD release of the 2017 gay-themed thriller "B&B" provides thrills and copious candy corn for thought ahead of the gay Christmas known as Halloween. It also is notable for being a film that truly warrants the subtitle "Ginger Snaps."

The accolades this time include a special mention Award of Excellence at the amusingly titled 2017 Accolade Competition. Other honors including a Best Actor and a Best Director win at the 2017 Horrible Imaginings Film Festival.

The following You Tube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "B&B" does a good job summarizing the plot; it also provides a good look at the related suspense.

The central story/catalyst in "B&B" is that recently wed couple Marc and Fred return to the scene of the crime a year after seeking lodging at the titular inn. Homophobic innkeeper Josh (Paul "The Doctor" McGann) refusing to give the then-unmarried couple a room with a double bed leads to a lawsuit that leads to a legal victory for the boys.

The underlying dispute seems to be a factor in the decision of Marc to make an honest man out of Fred; it definitely motivates that couple to return to the inn and to taunt Josh. Although the sentiment is putrid, one must give Josh his due for asserting his beliefs by placing only twin beds in every guestroom.

These early scenes provide strong indications that Marc is the top in the relationship; Fred being sympathetic regarding (allegedly pure) red-headed 16 year-old gay son Paul of Josh provides further proof of the nature of the Marc-Fred dynamic. This good heart apparently is an additional factor regarding the seeming sexual interest of Paul in Marc.

The arrival of large menacing Russian Alexie provides the newlyweds further fodder for debate. Cynical Marc is convinced that this newcomer is a neo-Nazi gay-basher, and Fred is equally sure that Alexie is focusing on taking any remaining innocence that Paul possesses. The discoveries that these amateur sleuths make on investigating their fellow guest remove any doubt that he is not there for the scenery.

The tone of "B&B" fully shifts from gay drama to Hitchcockian thriller on Marc and Fred seeing Paul and Alexie head to the local gay cruising area; this ultimately leads to Fred pursuing them to protect Paul.

The ensuing confrontation leads to a death that leads to twists galore that sadly reflect on society and slightly less so on the extent to which a father will go for the love of a child. The scarier part is the realistic risk that any of us face regarding running afoul of the legal system even if we are have not committed a crime.

Writer/director Joe Ahearne particularly shines as things fully spiral out-of-control as the surprise villain shows his true colors in a manner that makes anyone who challenges him at chess a fool. The bottom line is that our central couple pay a high price for the satisfaction of rubbing their legal victory in the face of Josh.

The epilogue provides (not necessarily) full-circle closure; the cynicism that Ahearne expresses regarding public perception is distressing because it is true.

The special features include highly entertaining cast-and-crew interviews that validate the excellent choices all around and that make viewers wish that they were on set for the filming.

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

'Vice Versa' Blu-ray: Judge Reinhold-Fred Savage 'Freaky Friday'-'Big' Mash-up

The Mill Creek Entertainment October 17, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1988 famcom film "Vice Versa" is apt for Halloween in that it illustrates the "Teach Your Children" well lesson that neither parents nor their offspring understand the Hell that is the daily experience of the other. This "Freaky Friday" tale also awesomely channels fellow 1988 film comedy "Big" more than the similarly themed 1987 "Like Father Like Son" with Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron or "18! Again" with George Burns.

A moderate John Hughes vibe enters "Vice" via Marshall Seymour (Judge Reinhold) being both an Executive Vice-President for a large upscale Chicago department store and the divorced father of Chicago-suburb dwelling tween Charlie (Fred Savage). "Vice" director Brian Gilbert further channels Hughes in casting Swoosie Kurtz (recently of "Mike and Molly") as cartoonish villain Tina.

An unhappy Charlie comes to spend time with his dad in the wake of a mix-up placing an enchanted ornamental Tibetan skull in the possession of an especially stressed-out Marshall; antiquities smuggler Tina is the intended recipient of that item, and she comes after it with the standard oafish henchman in tow.

True hilarity begins to ensue when Marshall and Charlie each are holding the skull when they assert that the other has a much easier life than him. This leads to a transformation in which a hulked out Marshall now has the mind of Charlie in him and Charlie is a meat suit for his dad.

The first taste of "Big" comes when Charlie delights in discovering that his adult male body comes complete with fully formed naughty bits. His subsequent adventures in the cut-throat world of big business including rocking out in the music department of the aforementioned retail emporium, experiencing physical aspects (similar to determining who gets on top) of adult romantic relationships, and generally bringing the wisdom of a child into a corporate bedroom are straight out of "Big." 

For his part, returning to the 7th grade reminds Marshall of bullies and other unpleasantness associated with the wonder years.

Following the very successful formula of these films, Marshall and Charlie are facing impending deadlines that include an important presentation for Marshall and the date for Charlie to return to the home of the ex-wife (Jane Kaczmarek of "Malcolm in the Middle") of Marshall. Tina losing patience regarding recovering the skull does not help things. 

Stating that the boys obtain a better understanding of each other and end up in their own bodies is not a spoiler; the manner in which that occurs provides a happy ending for audience and characters alike.

Two scenes deserve special notice. Savage (who does well portraying a young boy in the role of an exasperated and bossy executive) sipping a martini while Marshall is inside him is amusing but likely would not fly in 2017. Our leads completely stripping and sitting naked in front of each other to avoid a wardrobe malfunction regarding an attempted switch back is creepy even by 1988 standards and accounting for the characters being father-and-son and Charlie already seeing what his dad is packing. Even putting blankets around themselves would have been a much better choice.

The bigger picture regarding all this is that "Vice" is special nostalgic fun for Gen Xers and provides Millennials a perfect example of the themes and styles of goofy '80s comedies.

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

Saturday, October 14, 2017

'The Leftovers' S1 BD: October 14 Post on HBO Series About Alternative Rapture

October 14, 2011 being when 2-percent of the population vanishes in the literal blink of an eye in the HBO series "The Leftovers" makes the sixth anniversary of that event an apt date for this review of the Warner Prime Blu-ray release of S1 of that series. A review of the Prime S2 BD release is the next in this series leading to a post on the Warner Archive October 10, 2017 S3 BD release.

This show about those of us who are left behind is from Damon Lindelof of "Lost" fame and author Tom Perrotta (who is the Nick Hornby of American literature) based on the Perrotta novel of the same name. Folks who are familiar with the wonderfully cynically comic Perrotta novels that include "Election, "Joe College," and "The Abstinence Teacher" are in for an equally entertaining but darker ride this time.

The following YouTube clip of a trailer for S1 expertly summarizes the lore of "Leftovers" and illustrates the film-quality cinematography that looks great in BD.

The pilot opening roughly five minutes before the aforementioned dramatic rapid rapture and shifting three years ahead in the wake of that event is an early indication that this is a Lindelof joint. We meet Mapleton, New York police chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) come across a man killing a dog only to quickly leave the scene.

We then learn that mayor Lucy Warburton and civic leaders are planning a ceremony to mark the third anniversary of the culling. This also establishes that Kevin and Warbuton are at odds. The primary lore contribution of a planning sessions is that we learn of the strong and silent "GR" (later revealed to stand for "Guilty Remnant'), which is expected to be a disruptive influence.

A touch of "American Beauty" enters the picture in the form of delinquent teen daughter Jill having ubiquitous friend Aimee doing her best to equally taunt and tempt Kevin. We further learn that these girls and the bad boys with whom they hang are highly symbolic feral beings whose activities largely center around drinking and doing drugs in the woods. Their reckless acts include perverse sacrilege and a dangerous way of honoring the presumably ascended member of their group.

Meanwhile, son Tom Garvey spends much of the season on the run with a fellow cult member who allegedly is very important to the founder of that organization. This role of protector requires that Tom prove his faith in an extreme manner.

Kevin's wife Laurie (Amy Brenneman) is now a GR member and at odds with her spouse and her daughter. A particularly dramatic scene between Jill and her mother leave absolutely no doubt regarding the feelings of the former about the latter.

The other primary family in the "Leftovers" 'verse is minister with a mission Matt Jamison (Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston) and his sister Nora Durst; Nora, who works for the government agency that conducts interviews that seek common characteristics of the ascended) is one of the more fascinating characters in this group of interesting individuals. An episode that centers around Nora attending a professional conference is one of the best in the season.

The outstanding penultimate S1 episode (which has Lindelof written all over it) shows how Nora lost her husband and her two children in the purge. This episode-long flashback begins in the period leading up to the mass disappearance and continues through to the "leftovers" reacting to seeing their loved ones and others whom we meet in this outing vanish.

Another striking aspect of this is seeing Jill the delinquent as a happy geeky tween science nerd and dark sullen Tom freshly scrubbed and always broadly smiling and joking as he bounces around like a puppy on coke.

Again in true Lindelof style, S1 builds to a dramatic climax. A GR stunt pushes the already strained tolerance of the gen. pop. beyond any reasonable limit but does lead to both a family reunion and a clear dividing of lines for that clan. A cliffhanger that is unrelated to that interaction ensures big changes for S2.

The messages in this medium include the universal frustrating search for answers to the big questions and what occurs when fanatics with clashing beliefs must closely co-exist.

The copious BD special features include a "making of" film and a separate extra consisting of Lindelof and Perrootta discussing S1.

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

'Moka' DVD" Emmanuelle Devos as Mother Seeking Justice for Dead Son

The Film Movement October 17, 2017 DVD release of the 2016 French drama "Moka" provides further proof that the criteria of this New York based company for adding foreign films to its catalog includes that they can be made in America word-for-word and shot-for-shot. The only required variation regarding this one is that the United States and Canada be substituted for Switzerland and France.

"Moka" is particularly notable for introducing the Movement fan base to spectacular French actress Emmanuelle Devos; this is the fourth Devos film to make its way to the virtual pages of Unreal TV, and her performance is flawless in each.

The following YouTube clip of a festival trailer for "Moka" achieves the desired balance between providing an accurate sense of the film and containing minimal spoilers.

This New York Times Critic's Pick begins with grieving mother Diane Kramer (Devos) checking herself out of a psychiatric hospital and showing up unannounced at the home of her ex-husband. In pure drama/thriller style, we learn the full story of this couple and their teen son Luc in small reveals throughout the film.

Diane receiving a report from her private detective that he has narrowed down the probable car that fled a hit-and-run accident to four candidates sends Diane from her Swiss home to France in search of those vehicles.

Diane soon finding what she believes to be the car involved in the accident leads to the psychological portion of this thriller. The vehicle belongs to Michel, who is selling it. Michel is partnered with hair salon owner Marlene, whom Michel states no longer likes the car.

Diane becomes involved with Michel by negotiating for the purchase of the car. She becomes part of the life of Marlene by initially becoming a salon client and then assertively pursuing a friendship. Marlene reasonably does not understand why a client is making a strong effort to know her.

This relationship develops to the point that Diane inches close enough to being a stalker to concern Marlene. Diane befriending the daughter of Marlene is particularly creepy.

For his part, probable philanderer Michel interprets Diane assertively pushing him to sell her the car as her wanting a physically intimate relationship with him. This leads to a highly dramatic confrontation.

"Moka" particularly shines regarding how it handles the rapidly cascading reveals near the end of the film. Stating that Michel and Marlene discover that the other knows Diane and also sharing that having her cover partially blown prompts her confronting Marlene with her suspicions and receiving a somewhat surprising response is not much of a spoiler.

The general nature of the final reveal is predictable; the identity of the driver is more surprising and creepy. The outcome of this exposure also straddles the border between predictable and unexpected.

"Moka" holds true to the aforementioned spirit of handing out reveals as tasty morsels throughout the film and to rewarding the audience for waiting for those treats by leaving our full introduction to Luc to the end. We met him in a logical manner and see that he is such a sweet and shy guy with so much promise that we join Diane in grieving for him.

Like all good films, "Moka" adds depth to a compelling story. One scary truth is that the Cyber Age makes it very easy for anyone with a valid or erroneous gripe to track us down and drag our life into a circle of Hell.

A related note is the ease with which compelling but still circumstantial evidence can lead to a virtual (or actual) conviction. Most of us have minor experiences in which we have been on either side of a certain belief of guilt of wrongdoing despite knowing when we were the accused that we did not do it.

The always-apt Movement bonus short-film this time is  the 2007 French drama "Le Creneau." This one is by "Moka" director Frederic Mermoud and features Devos in what seems to be a standard role of an unhappily married woman.

Devos plays pediatrician Camille. This medical practitioner is coping with an unhappy latish in life marriage to businessman Henri when dreamy and charming former friend Mathias brings his adorable son to her office on the afternoon of Henri and Camille dining with the boss of Henri. All of the ensuing action occurs as Henri increasingly is his own worst enemy by amping up his neuroses and associated tormenting of Camille. This coming on the heels of a delightful visit with Mathias understandably prompts Camille to re-evaluate her choice of husband.

Couples all over the world can relate to the final scene in which a frantic Henri harangues Camille as she is trying to parallel park in a tight space on a narrow street. The audience truly feels the pain of both characters but are on Team Camille.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Moka" or "Croneau" are strongly encouraged to email me; you alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

'Cinema Novo' DVD: Doc. on Brazilian Answer to French New Wave

The Icarus Films September 19, 2017 DVD release of the 2016 Brazilian documentary "Cinema Novo" is a typically "innovative and provocative" Icarus release about an innovative and provocative subject.

Writer/director Eryk Rocha pays homage to his father Glauber Rocha and the other founders of the Brazilian Cinema Novo movement of the '6os and '70s. These oft-experimental and equally frequently black-and-white films that are stark in style and theme are homages to the earlier French New Wave cinema. On a less artistic level, looking at many of the seeming 100s of clips in "Cinema" evokes thoughts of the '80s black-and-white Calvin Klein ads.

The aside for today is that the stated purpose of Novo to depict what otherwise is not shown on film dates back roughly 30 years earlier to Robert Flaherty of "Nanook of the North" and other founders of the documentary film genre responding to America only seeing the Hollywood version of life at their local nickelodeon. The (Unreal TV reviewed) Icarus DVD release "A Boatload of Wild Irishmen" discusses those roots.

The numerous Best Documentary wins for "Cinema" include that honor at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the 2017 Cinema Brazil Grand Prize awards, and the 2017 Sao Paulo Association of Art Critics Awards.

The realistic style (and oft-urban settings) of these films also often involve someone being chased. Icarus notes that this literally taking filmmaking to the streets is designed to break down the traditional barriers associated with that art. Icarus specifically states that this genre is designed to tell "the stories of people and regions not typically depicted on screen."

Rocha Sr. and his peers echo those sentiments in archival interviews in which they discuss both otherwise generally censored societal issues and the close collaboration that reflects the spirit of Novo. They further note that any censorship by these filmmakers is hypocritical.

The commerce aspect of this art mostly comes through in discussing the film distribution company that dominates regarding the releases of these productions. The directors very candidly admit that a relationship with that company is highly desired.

The latter vivid color Novo films reflect both the aforementioned desire to put butts in the seats and a more altruistic aim of dispelling the myths regarding Brazil being a lush Utopia. One especially grotesque scene has a not so fine or young apparent cannibal finding himself in a pool full of his apparent victims. But for the subject matter, the style of this scene looks like something out of the 1971 musical comedy "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

The nature of the topic and the well-produced presentation to discuss the 12-year evolution of a complex film movement makes reading the 16-page booklet that accompanies the DVD worthwhile. This essay by film scholars Randal Johnson and Robert Stam expands on the points in this review and provides detail regarding the shifting political climates in Brazil that influence the Novo films.

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

'People of Earth' S1 DVD: Conan O'Brien-Greg Daniels Sitcom is 'Dear John' Meets 'The X Files' Meets 'The Office'

Warner Archive continues its foray into cult series with the September 12, 2017 DVD release of the 2016 first season of the TBS Conan O'Brien-Greg Daniels (of "The Office" fame) sitcom "People of Earth."

The general theme of a support group for a community of people in Beacon, New York who either have had a close encounter of the third kind or desperately desire one is reminiscent of the 1988-92 Judd Hirsch NBC sitcom about similar therapy for people with intense relationship issues. The element of alien abductions contributes an "X Files" vibe.

The ineptitude and constant squabbling among the aliens whose crisis management skills are increasingly tested puts the "Office" work of Daniels to good use. Finally, the lack of a laugh track supports the theory of '80s  ABC "Dirty Harry" parody "Sledge Hammer!" creator Alan Spencer that audiences do not need to be told what is funny.

The primary disappointment regarding this O'Brien-produced series is that it does not star his sidekick Andy Richter as a dumpy loser. The second letdown is a complete lack of "probe Uranus" jokes.

The following YouTube clip of a TBS promo. for "Earth" can be considered an entertaining couch potato's guide to this 'verse.

"Earth" begins with respected journalist Ozzie Graham (Wyatt Cenac of "The Daily Show"), who is the straight man "Jim" of this series,  attending meetings of the aforementioned Starcrossed group in the aforementioned small New York state community. His talking to frazzled group leader Gina (Ana Gasteyer of "SNL" and"Surburgatory") and the "experiencers" leads him to believe both that he is one of them and that the truth is out there.

In classic sitcom style, the first few episodes flesh out the premise of the series and introduce the characters. This begins with Ozzie interviewing each group member in his or her workplace and/or home.

Ozzie subsequently quits his prestigious Manhattan job at a media company run by dim-witted executive with a secret Jonathan Walsh, who is the Michael Scott of this office, to work for the local Beacon paper so that he can live there and join the group. An early episode has Ozzie base his decision on which member to choose for a sponsor on which of them is the least crazy.

The "Office" vibe continues with Jonathan having uptight Nancy, the "Angela" of the group, as his executive assistant.

The stand-out oddball is 30 year-old tollbooth operator Gerry, who is the Dwight of the group. He is an experiencer wannabe who keeps his 17 years of research in his booth and enters a hilariously unexpected "its complicated" relationship with a fellow group member.

The 10-episode season, which follows the British television model of providing better-quality fewer offerings each "series" than 20-or-so 21 minutes of trash, compellingly builds the lore of the program. Ozzie learns more about both his sense of a recent encounter and a related childhood incident, the group members experience their own self-realizations, and Father Doug (Oscar Nunez of "Office," who is the "Oscar" of "People") who operates the church where the group meets maintaining his faith does not prevent a mid-life crisis.

A particularly outstanding episode revolves around an open house session in which group members bring a family member or someone else close to them to come out of the closet regarding their encounter with a brother from another planet. Genuine hilarity ensues as these outsiders increasingly do not take the news well. One of the best lines has the brother of a group member demand that he choose either being an experiencer or being gay.

The season finale provides a few great cliffhangers; the group learns more about their universal importance and one of them begins a journey that may prove the adage about being careful about making wishes.

This good combination of elements leads to a good ensemble comedy for the 21st century. Many of us are alienated (no pun intended) and seek community from folks with like interests and/or experiences. We additionally are less close to those to whom we are close than the real and reel folks of the '70s. A post-coital conversation in which Gerry hesitates to accept a small favor from his new friend with benefits illustrates this well. The literal pillow talk ends with that person say "we just had sex; I can drive you across town."

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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

'Innocent Blood' BD: A French Vampire in Pittsburgh

The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1992 horror-comedy "Innocent Blood" continues a recent Archive trend of mining topsoil in the form of including moderate doses of newer movies with the DVD and Blu-ray releases of Golden Age films. The primary claim to fame of "Blood" is that it is the follow-up of director John Landis to his 1981 cult-classic horror-comedy "An American Werewolf in London."

"Blood" additionally has an exceptional supporting cast. Insult comedian Don Rickles shines as a mob lawyer, and before-she-was-a-star Angela Bassett plays a tough U.S. Attorney. Other supporting cast members include Chazz Palminteri and Luis Guzman.

The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN theatrical trailer for "Blood" shows that the film earns being called both a horror and a comedy film.

"Blood" provocatively opens with a scene in which full Monty vampire Marie (French actress Anne Parillaud) is engaged in an inner-monologue on her needs for sex and food. Her response to newspaper headlines about mob activity establishes both her plan to satisfy her hunger and her policy of not ingesting the titular plasma.

This leads to Marie meeting a made man, making him her dinner, and blowing off his head with a shotgun to ensure that dead man tell no tales. This killing catches the attention of police detective Joe Genaro (Anthony LaPaglia), who both is deep undercover with the mob and already is a modern-day Prince Charming to modern-day princess-of-the-night Marie.

Mob boss Sallie (The Shark) Macelli (Robert Loggia) subsequently brings Marie home for a bite n boff. The conflicting agenda of Marie taking a turn for the worse triggers the primary action of the film. Macelli (who ruins several tony outfits in the film) becomes even more vicious than is common for him and goes on a rampage. The primary objective of this carnage is to create an actual underworld mob.

The pursuit of Macelli leads to a very odd form of buddy cop pairing in having Marie and Genaro team up to bring him down; this leads to wonderfully violent carnage and ultimately trying to bring down an on-fire Macelli once and for all.

"Blood" additionally answers the question of whether a regular Joe (no pun intended) cop from Pittsburgh can find true love and happiness with a French vampire.

Landis presents all this with an entertaining mix of high style and pulp camp. There is plenty of noir-style darkness and neon but additional large doses of cheesy effects and clearly fake blood. Loggia spending much of the film under a heavy layer of pancake make-up is a perfect example of the latter.

Archive provides a provocative trailer of "Blood" as an special feature.

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

Saturday, October 7, 2017

'Brigadoon' BD: Scottish Loch Dance Tale of Truly Mistical Village

The Warner Archive September 26, 2017 Blu-ray release of the all-singing all-dancing 1954 CinemaScope Gene Kelly-Cyd Charisse musical extravaganza "Brigadoon" is so clear in picture and sound that it the next best thing to seeing the original live-stage Broadway production of this Lerner and Loewe classic (and also to being in love). Director Vincente Minnelli does the musical heritage of his wife and his daughter proud, and choreographer Kelly shows that he is a master of Loch Dance.

The best humor in this delightful romp relates to a hilarious similarity to the 1980 Kelly-Olivia Newton John musical fantasy "Xanadu." Both films have the Kelly character bond with a beautiful magical creature from a fantasy world. The hilarity relates to "Brigadoon" seamlessly fitting into the "Xanadu" theme song. An example is "Now we are here; in Brig-a-doon."

The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Brigadoon" offers a tease regarding the grand spectacle that awaits.

"Brigadoon" opens in traditional musical-theater style with the residents of the titular small Scottish town awakening to a orchestral score and then taking to the streets in a manner very reminiscent of the Disney version of "Beauty and the Beast" to sing and dance about their daily lives.

Kelly and Van Johnson do their best Hope and Crosby impression in the form of their respective Manhattanite characters Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas being on the road in Scotland when a hunting trip into the woods becomes a quest to return to civilization.

These hungry men are are so starving that the prospect of breakfast takes precedence over their astonishment at seeing a village that is not on their map appear out of the mist.

These early scenes further show the turmoil at the Campbell home regarding this being the wedding day of Jean Campbell to Charlie Chisholm Dalyrmple. Younger daughter Fiona Campbell (Cyd Charisee) lamenting in word and song about never falling in love at the same time that essentially runaway groom Tommy is discussing his waning interest in the fiancee whom he left behind removes any doubt that this pair soon will be singing and dancing in a field of heather.

An amusing aspect of this is that thoughts about the stereotypical frugality of Scots coincides with Campbell father Andrew stating that he wants to show the wedding guests hospitality but does not want to provide more food and drink than that requires.

Tommy and Jeff meet Fiona at the outskirts of town and soon find themselves enjoying the hospitality of Charlie. The townsfolk wearing 18th century garb is an early (but dismissed) indication that the pair is not in New York anymore.

Finding concrete evidence that something odd is afoot brings the visitors to village elder Mr. Lundie, who fills them in on the lore of the village regarding which the audience already has some sense. One kicker is that anyone who is in the village when an impending grace period begins is stuck there for an extended stay. The other rule is that any villager who strays beyond the borders of Brigadoon ends the party for everyone else.

A nice aspect of this is that the core of the lore revolves around literally protecting the community from the evils of the outside world; a realistic aspect of this Utopian fantasy is that one must sacrifice a great deal so that many may live in Paradise.

An important aspect of this is that Tommy must make the tough choice of whether to make an enormous commitment to Fiona after only knowing her for a few hours or going back to New York at the cost of relinquishing any hope of ever seeing her again.

This being a post-war Broadway play, viewers can be assured of an 11th hour miracle that provides the folks who deserve a happy ending that desired outcome.

The special features include deleted scenes and several musical numbers.

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

Friday, October 6, 2017

Trafficked' Theatrical: Putting Human Faces on Worldwide Sex Slavery Trade

The Epic Pictures drama "Trafficked," which opens in New York on October 6 2017 and Los Angeles a week later ahead of a wider rollout, is a movie about the illegal sex trade by the guy who literally wrote the book on the subject. Harvard professor Siddharth Kara bases his screenplay on characters from his book "Sex Trafficking."

The accolades this time come from outside film festivals. Organizations that endorse the film include the United Nations and the CNN Freedom Project.

The statement by Kara for the "Trafficked" press materials discusses both his extensive 16-year first-hand investigation and his goal of creating "the first truly authentic, global portrayal of the unconscionable business of sex trafficking." He adds that "the characters represent composites of the numerous victims I have spoken with, reflecting the main ways sex trafficking occurs in the world."

The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Trafficked" provides a good sense of the vision that Kara seeks to convey.

The opening scenes introduce us to the aforementioned composites, who represent the aforementioned variety. Sara is a typical blonde California girl who is abducted soon after being forced out of the foster care system based on turning 18. Her story largely begins with her ending up a ward of the state after her mother (Elizabeth Rohm of "Law & Order") is the victim of brutal domestic violence. Ashley Judd plays social worker Diane, who has the post-foster care future of Sara worked out.

Well-off Indian woman Mali also is 18; she is enjoying an evening out with a female classmate ahead of the pair traveling from India to study in the United States.

Amba is from Nigeria and is a more willing participant in this dirty business; she regularly repeats her cynical philosophy that spending a few minutes under a man is preferable to several hours in a hot field.

Each girl ends up in a Texas brothel that corrupt government official Christian (Patrick Duffy) owns and that Simon (Sean Patrick Flanery) operates with an iron fist. Ancillary activities include drug dealing and illegal trafficking in organs. One especially horrific scenes centers around the manner in which sex slaves who no longer are good for that purpose are harvested for spare parts.

A dispute with a supplier vividly illustrates the brutality of everyone involved in the business.

The false hope that every girl receives is being told that her involuntary servitude ends once she services 500 men. Sharing that creative accounting, a desire to maximize the return in the investment in the girls, and concern regarding reports to law enforcement officials prevents obtaining freedom even after reaching the stated milestone.

Anyone who has seen the exploitive depictions of the topic that Kara presents know that the girls get drugs forced on them, are subjected to humiliating line-up inspections by brothel clients, experience rape and unwanted pregnancies (that always end in abortions), and quickly realize that resistance is futile regarding all that.

Genuine hope comes in the form of Sara developing a proverbial daring escape plan; all three girls make a bid for freedom, but this not being a typical Hollywood movie creates the possibility of many variations of unhappy endings.

Seeing all this puts faces on the media reports regarding this activity; it further shows where it fits in the grander scheme of criminal activity. The literal final message puts the massive annual profits from this industry in perspective.

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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

'2307 Winter's Dream' Theatrical: Many Days After Tomorrow in Frozen Wasteland of Arizona

The October 6, 2017 theatrical release of the sci-fi thriller "2307: Winter's Dream" provides a good rare chance for a fanboy theatrical first-run double-feature consisting of this one and "Blade Runner 2049," which opens the same day.

The copious fest love for 2307 includes the Best Action Film award at the 2017 Boston Science Fiction Film Festival and the Best Sci-Fi Film award at the 2017 Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. Other fest bestowing comparable accolades include the 2016 Buffalo International Film Festival and the 2016 LA Indie Film Fest.

The following official trailer for "2307" clearly shows the reason for the festival love.

"2307" opens in the titular year with scenes of a winter wasteland; voice-over narration from "winter soldier" Bishop (not the same guy from the "Alien" franchise) provides good exposition. This earth of many days after the day after tomorrow is in the relatively early stages of a 1,000,000 year ice age. These "Snowpiercer" level conditions have driven surviving humans into a large habitat for humanity (a.k.a. "ark") miles below the surface of a frozen-solid Phoenix. We also learn that the powers-that-be largely have stopped trying to maintain law or order.

An homage to "Blade Runner," "Terminator," and the tons o' other similar sci-fi is in the form of the best brains of the remaining civilization creating Humanoids to do the grunt work that humans either cannot do or find unpleasant. Their design includes exceptional strength and high tolerance for low temperatures.  These anyone who has seen any of those films knows that that does not go well.

The events that set the film in motion are that Humanoid ASH-393 goes rogue in the titular year and is declared the cause of the death of the wife of Bishop. We soon learn that the present time is five years after those events; a burned-out drug-addicted Bishop agrees to lead a new Humanoidhunt for ASH-393 based on Bishop learning more information regarding the earlier events. The official interest in this is this villain leading an increasing aggressive rebellion.

Bishop and his extremely crude and tough team soon travel to the surface to get their Humanoid. Things figuratively go south fairly quickly and get worse form there. Bishop becoming separated from his group starts his adventure that provides him a first-hand view of the reality of the world on the surface.

The revelations include a group of surface-dwellers living an existence that is comparable to the Eskimos and an Army veteran (who is living with an "impossible girl") with an interesting relevant perspective.

This first big showdown is with ASH-393; the surprises extend beyond the twists in the physical confrontation. Bishop learns more about the events leading up to the death of his wife and gets a new perspective regarding the Humanoids. This leads to a second face-off that reflects many truisms of war for centuries.

In addition to presenting the compelling narrative summarized above, "2307" is like all good sci-fi in that it wraps tough-to-swallow truth pills in tasty cheese in the form of video-game style violence between mankind and the latest threat that that race creates. A member of Team Bishop praising Hitler, the obvious parallels between Humanoids and actual human slaves, and the course of evolution all receive due consideration.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "2307" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

'The Lost City of Cecil DeMille' VOD: I'm Ready for My Excavation Mr. DeMille

Lost City Productions literally unearths an important part of movie history with the 2016 documentary "The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille." This film by documentarian Peter Brosnan chronicles his epic-length quest to dig up the remnants of the set of the spectacular 1923 DeMille silent film "The Ten Commandments." Fans of Old Hollywood, archaeology, modern American history, and adventures stories can check out this film digitally and on VOD platforms beginning October 3, 2017.

EVERY element of "City" screams for a comparison to the (Unreal TV reviewed) 2014 film "Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie." That one has the titular vlogger searching the desert for the fabled literal dumping ground of the legendarily lame "E.T." video game.

Our equally entertaining and educational story begins with a 1982 conversation between Brosnan and a friend who also works in the film industry. The friend mentions the story of DeMille building and subsequently partially demolishing the ginormous set for "Commandments" in a desert area near Guadalope, California. Brosnan initially calls B.S. but changes his tune on his friend sharing a supporting quote from a DeMille autobiography.

"City" then fully delves into the early career of DeMille, the events leading to filming "Commandments," and the frustrating more than 20-year on-again-off-again, etc. effort to excavate the site. As shown below, the recount of all this warrants describing "City" as the greatest story never told.

The thoroughness of this documentation includes clips and stills from "Commandments" and the production thereof, interviews with actors and behind-the-scenes folks who worked on that film, an interview with DeMille granddaughter Cecilia DeMille Presley, footage of the excavation of the site, and documentation of the hindering bureaucracy by Santa Barbara County and other obstructionists that include a local tribe.

Brosnan tops all this off with examples of the national media coverage (including a Johnny Carson "Tonight Show" monologue) of the excavation.

The story alone of the massive number of people hired to build the set and the cast of 1,000s brought in for the actual filming is fascinating. The aforementioned stills include photos of an actual tent city and a large 24-hour kitchen.

The best story comes courtesy of Presley; she tells of extras balking at riding their horses down a sand dune only to have DeMille use his young daughter to show that it can be done.

Brosnan additionally discusses DeMille shooting the 1956 Charlton Heston version of "Commandments" in Egypt. This includes a good history lesson on the national politics of that country during that period. Tying in that production with the earlier one is a nice bonus that illustrates the circle of life.

"City" aptly wraps all this up with closure regarding the quest of Brosnan. It shows that being in de Nile regarding the futility of an effort can at least partially pay off.

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

'1944' DVD: 'Dunkirk' Style Tale of WWII Estonian Soldiers on Both Sides of Conflict

The diversity in subject and nationality regarding the movies in the catalog of New York-based Film Movement is very prominent regarding the October 3. 2017 DVD release of the 2015 drama "1944." This WWII epic evokes strong thoughts of the summer blockbuster film "Dunkirk." Purists can watch the film in the original Estonian with English subtitles; folks choosing to not do so can watch a version that is dubbed well in English.

The press materials for the DVD release share that "1944" is the highest grossing ever Estonian film in Estonia; this release adds that the film is Estonia's entry for the 2016 Best Foreign Film Oscar.

The exposition at the beginning of "1944" explains that Soviet control of Estonia in 1939 results in forcing young Estonian men to fight in the Soviet army against the Germans; the Nazis subsequently obtaining control of the country leads to young Estoinians joining their forces.

The action begins during the Battle of the Tannenberg Line; Estonian members of the SS literally are entrenched as they try to fend off the Soviets. The footage of life in the trenches and of the raging warfare is as good as that of any Hollywood film on the subject.

Other depicted harsh realities of war during the battle include reinforcements being twin brothers with great concern for each other, the Estonian soldiers openly having great disdain for Hitler, and sudden combat deaths.

The shift of focus to a Soviet platoon enhances the brother against brother civil war aspect of 1944. Most foot soldiers feel understandablly compassion toward their peers who involuntarily find themselves on the other side, but the command structure lacks any sympathy in that regard.

The most dramatic way in which the two worlds collide is Estonian soldier on the Soviet side Juri Jogi visiting the sister of a dead Estonian soldier on the German side. The two increasingly bond despite both Jogi and the audience knowing that the sister has plenty of reason to hate him. This fully comes together for the audience at the end of the film

The angst related to Estonians battling Estonians culminates in a scene that shows the horror of the situation and the overall atrocities of war.

The especially well-matched bonus short that Movement includes this time is the fantabulous animated French film "The Two Lives of Nate Hill." This oh-so-clever movie is completely done in split screen and shows the apparent impact of a Cesarean birth as opposed to a traditional delivery.

The Cesarean baby is a minor-league psycho who does not make much of life personally or professionally; each stage in the existence is depicted alongside the baby who comes into the world in the usual way. He is good kid who enjoys personal and professional success as an adult. The most amusing scenes depict a sequence of events that are hilarious to the audience and tragic to the affected characters.

The best part of these films individually and as a unit is that they show that Movement is an expert at presenting the sublime, the ridiculous, and the sublimely ridiculous.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "1944" or "Hill" is strongly encouraged to email me; you alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvddvguy.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

'Night of the Living Dead' Blu-ray: 50th Anniversary of Classic Commentary on Cold War and Race Paranoia

Mill Creek Entertainment awesomely gets into the Halloween spirit by following the (Unreal TV reviewed) September 26, 2017 Steelbook Blu-ray and DVD release of the (newly remade) 1990 Joel Schumacher thriller "Flatliners" with the October 3, 2017 50th anniversary Blu-ray release of the George A. Romero horror classic "Night of the Living Dead." The "Dead" release, which is the first U.S. Blu-ray version of this film, comes one day shy of the anniversary of the theatrical release of the film.

The outer layer regarding "Dead" is that it arguably is the best and most enduring zombie movie ever. The black-and-white cinematography (which looks great in Blu-ray) and solid pulp horror acting by the ensemble and the extras succeed in making these slow-moving respiratory-impaired monsters menacing. Further they seem to have more dexterity and individual physical strength than their walking dead descendants.

Seeing siblings John and Barbara arguing in their car while at the cemetery to visit the grave of their father evokes strong thoughts of a similar scene at the beginning of the musical-comedy horror spoof "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." A related creepy element is that John arrogantly complaining, Barbara trying to placate him, and the nature of their relationship being ambiguous for the first several minutes of "Dead" makes it just as likely that the couple is related by marriage as it is that they are blood kin.

This leads to the next horror cliche of a still-arrogant John trying to scare Barbara only to end up as the appetizer in what the zombies hope is a smorgasbord.

Barbara subsequently fleeing in terror sets the action discussed below in motion.

The next layer is an awesome vibe regarding the original "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast. That one esalates national terror as an initially unidentifiable threat in a rural community builds as it is discovered that space aliens have come to conquer us. Romero pays homage to this both in setting most of the action in an isolated farmhouse far from the city and in having radio and television broadcasts provide exposition. This nod to the past continues both with having scientists in on the action and in tying the zombie outbreak with an outer space threat.

Going a little deeper, "Dead" blatantly reflects the Cold War paranoia of the era. The small group of survivors under siege in the aforementioned home both effectively are trying to ward off fallout victims and fear what they view as an invasion from a Soviet-style enemy that literally could include friends and neighbors.

Pretty young blonde Barbara is suffering from PTSD and spends much of the film looking terrified and fearing that the enemy is going break in any moment.

Even more symbolically, white middle-aged family guy Harry insists on barricading his wife and young daughter in the basement until the threat subsides. Those of us in the know predict early on that that course of action adds a touch of the '60s youth movement to "Dead."

Thirty year-old black man Ben is an equally symbolic character. He knows that hiding in the basement does not work and advocates peaceful resistance. One of the most distressing scenes has Harry literally slam the door in his face just after Ben attempts a daring mission.

The fate of Ben is a sad commentary on the lack of progress in the half-century since the release of "Dead." Recent real-life events prompt what is hoped to be an early cynical guess regarding the fate of this character only to have that prediction tragically come true.

Romero further deserves credit for showing that making a good horror movie with a message only requires decent actors, a stable of extras who can shuffle and groan, and a disposable house.

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

Saturday, September 30, 2017

'The Best of the Carol Burnett Show' 50th Edition DVD: Demonstrates What Becomes a Legend Most

Time Life aptly honors the best of the best in releasing the extras-laden 50th anniversary DVD set "The Best of the Carol Burnett Show" roughly 50 years and one month after the September 11, 1967 debut of this variety series. The October 3, 2017 release of these 16 episodes (including the very first one and the series finale) consist of 12 new-to-retail episodes and 4 all-time classics. Walmart is getting into the act by selling special editions of this set.

It is worth mentioning that this "Burnett" release and the many others of this show from Time Life make a great companion to the awesome Time Life complete series set of the six-season "Burnett" sitcom spinoff "Mama's Family" based on "Burnett" sketches about a wacky lower middle-class Southern family. The pedigree of "Family" includes future "Golden Girls" Betty White and Rue McClanahan (not to mention Burnett) being S1 cast members.

Giving "Burnett" itself and the recurring characters in the sketches proper due is well beyond the capability of an online review of a compilation of episodes. The primary points to make are that "Burnett" is part of the legendary Saturday-night lineup during the "Tiffany Network" era of CBS.

The 1974-75 lineup that starts with "All in the Family," goes onto "The Jeffersons" (which replaces "M*A*S*H" in that time slot), has "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Bob Newhart Show" next, and finishes with Burnett is representative of a CBS '70s Saturday night. The facts that the age-range of the  "Burnett" studio audience essentially is from 8-to-80 and that each of these lucky folks love every minute also speaks volumes about the show. Burnett, her cast (including Harvey Korman and Tim Conway), and the behind-the-scenes folks have incredible comic instincts.

The September 11, 1967 episode immediately starts things strong. Burnett begins with her standard (and oft hilarious) Q&A session with the audience. A wonderful exchange about the age of Burnett ends with her showing her tremendous ab lib skills in stating that her bust size is 26. A reference to this exchange and other moments in a subsequent sketch in which Korman plays a reporter interviewing former child star Shirley Dimples (Burnett) further shows the improvisation and exceptional chemistry among the ensemble members that make "Burnett" (and its fellow Saturday night CBS series) so special.

The close real-life friendship between Burnett and Jim "Gomer" Nabors make him an ideal guest star for this inaugural outing. Both of them put their singing and comedic skills to good use but particularly shine in performing duets and bits in a tribute to Broadway musicals. This performance leaves no doubt that they both do their best when taken off their leashes to freely romp with each other. The many subsequent appearance of Nabors on "Burnett" validate that.

Nabors further is an ideal example of the observation by Burnett in  a new interview for this release that her best guests were triple threat ones who could sing, dance, and do comedy. Burnett particularly praises also frequent guest Steve Lawrence (who also conducts an interview for "Best") for this; an anecdote regarding "Burnett" fans approaching Lawrence is hilarious.

The premiere episode also introduces the "Carol and Sis" sketches that are based on the real life of Burnett. Burnett plays newlywed Carol, whose teen sister Kris ("Burnett" star Vicki Lawrence) lives with Carol and constantly annoys new husband Roger. One of the best "Sis" sketches in the current DVD set has Carol and Kris team up to thwart the efforts of Roger to sell their house. The comedy is especially strong, and the twist near the end provides clever poetic justice.

Burnett aptly lauds the evolution of the talent of Lawrence in noting that that actress goes from playing the sister of Burnett in sketches to playing her mother.

Burnett is even better known for the aforementioned Southern "Eunice" sketches and for playing dopey comically inept secretary Mrs. Wiggins to business man Mr. Tudball ("Burnett" "newcomer" Tim Conway). The aforementioned two-hour series finale, which aptly is titled "A Special Evening with Carol Burnett," finds Eunice in therapy and Wiggins and Tudball reminiscing about how she comes to work for him. Both end on perfect notes for these characters.

"Best" additionally includes copious amounts of film and television parodies for which "Burnett" is especially well known. These include the classic "Lovely Story," which has Burnett and Korman play the absurdly devoted homely working-class coed and ultra-wealthy and handsome preppie couple from "Love Story." Another especially memorable sketch has Burnett as a typical housewife whose items come to life to recite the slogans associated with them.

On a larger level, Burnett shows an awesomely progressive attitude right from the first episode in which Nabors repeatedly mines humor from playing the part of a love-struck woman; a later episode in the set has Burnett laud a drag queen and has that up-and-comer perform her Streisand impersonation. This is on top of numerous good-natured gay jokes throughout the series.

Burnett shows her typical grace in the S1 season finale, which she dedicates to her cast to the extent of having them answer questions in the cold open. A similar theme pervades the series finale, which highlights the contributions of all. One of several special finale moments for Lawrence is a 1973 clip of her singing her gold record song "The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia" on the show; Lawrence joking regarding the clip that Burnett was kind to let Lawrence (rather than Burnett) sing the song on the show illustrates the aforementioned chemistry among the cast.

Additional nostalgia in the final episode comes in the form of Burnett showing the many looks of her and Nabors during the 11-year run of the series.

The best way to wrap up these thoughts is to paraphrase the comments of Burnett, which reflect those of the fans. She admits that not every sketch succeeds but states that the ones that do are timeless; she further notes that she shows that good humor does not require using foul language or raunchy themes. It is almost certain that most episodes will prompt laughing out loud at least once.

The aforementioned extras include an (of course laugh-a-second) blooper reel.

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

Thursday, September 28, 2017

'Flatliners' ('90) BD: Designated Survivor Kiefer Sutherland Leads Rogue Med Students on Live-Die-Repeat Adventure

The Mill Creek Entertainment September 26, 2017 Steelbook Blu-ray/DVD release of the 1990 Joel Schumacher version of the horror film "Flatliners" looks and sounds amazing and proves that this film aces the test of time. It also makes a great Halloween season companion to the (Unreal TV reviewed) October 3, 2017 Mill Creek 50th Anniversary Blu-ray release of "The Night of the Living Dead."

Many factors contribute to the appeal of this film that has Kiefer Sutherland play a med student who leads his classmates in experiments to determine what happens when you die. On a general level, folks who just check out "Flatliners" to see Sutherland and co-stars Julia Roberts and Kevin Bacon probably will enjoy it more based on the film exceeding their expectations.

"Flatliners" additionally hits the "Baby Bear" sweet spot regarding the balance between art and commerce for which Hollywood studio films should strive. Hiring Schumacher of "The Lost Boys" and "St. Elmo's Fire" and the hot young actors (as well as William Baldwin and Oliver Platt) demonstrates a reasonable profit motive. Schumacher and his team doing well with a story that has depth provides a good dose of art.

"Flatliners" opens with ominous (perfect-for-Blu-ray) "Omen" style music as Sutherland's Nelson races across campus and peeks in the muraled abandoned room (spectacular in Blu-ray) where he is going to conduct his experiments.

These opening scenes also establish Roberts' Rachel as a compassionate practitioner obsessed with near-death experiences, Bacon's David as a rogue rebel who rappels from his apartment window down the side of his building and drives an Army surplus truck merely to show that he is a stud, Baldwin's Joe as a Lothario who secretly videotapes his do-'em-and-dump-'em conquests, and Platt's Randy as arguably the most egotistical medical student ever.

These introductions lead to Nelson approaching each of them to confirm their participation in the initial experiment that evening; the simple concept is that that team will perform a carefully orchestrated procedure that will very briefly kill Nelson and revive him. The objective is that he will recall what he experiences during his short dirt nap.

The essential dream sequence (which also makes perfect use of Blu-ray) during the death of Nelson opens with a gorgeous scene of young boys and a dog running through a field of yellow flowers. This soon turns to dark and scary woods (once more looking great in Blu-ray) in which the now-feral boys are pelting a terrified treed lad with rocks.

Nelson returns to the land of the living with total recall regarding the experience described above. The real terror begins when it seems that hitchhikers from the other side are haunting him on this side. The worst part of this is that the bullied boy is pummeling Nelson hard enough to inflict serious damage.

The experiences of the others similarly evoke thoughts from deep in their psyches and bring their own personal Hells literally and figuratively to life; these post-death terrors take the predictable tolls on the minds and the bodies of our heroes.

Cracking the code to putting the aforementioned demons to bed prompts Nelson to go to extreme measures to avoid all the impact of a beat-down by a super-powered nine-year-old boy; this prompts his team to take their own drastic actions. Suffice it to say, none of them come out unscathed.

The aforementioned depth extends beyond this vision of what happens when we die; ambiguity exists regarding the extent to which the experiences of the group are actual or simply reflect the greatest source of their guilt or other tremendous angst. That it turn raises the issue of whether our worst misdeeds/most severe traumas truly consume our thoughts in our last seconds of life. All of this would justify the tag line "Be A Freud, Be Very A Freud."

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

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

'All the Sins of 'Sodom' & 'Vibrations' BD: '60s Sexplotation Double Feature by 'Chekov of Soft-Core' Jospeh Sarno

Fans of Indie film god Film Movement (and of Unreal TV) already know of '60s and '70s artistic soft-core pornography god Joe Sarno through prior Movement releases. This relationship with the man dubbed "The Ingmar Bergman of 42nd Street" begins with the (Unreal TV reviewed) Movement September 2014 DVD release of the documentary "My Life in Dirty Movie" about "Sarno." Movement follows this up with the (also reviewed) Film Movement Classics October 2016 Blu-ray double feature of the Sarno films "Vampire Ecstasy" and "Sin You Sinners."

The double-feature is the first release in the Movement Joseph W. Sarno Retrospective Series; a Classics September 26, 2017 Blu-ray release of a double feature consisting of the shot back-to-back Sarno '68 films "All the Sins of Sodom" and "Vibrations" is the second in this series.

Watching the black-and-white "Sodom" and "Vibrations" reinforces the aforementioned comparison to Begrman and a reference to Woody Allen in the "Movies" review. "Sodom" centers around the studio of photographer Henning, who specializes in sensually erotic images of women; the very hirsute Dan Machuen who plays Henning also is aptly billed as "hairy man" in "Vibrations."

Henning happily spends his days photographing nude and nearly nude women and his nights having sex with them only to discard them in both regards the morning after; this pattern changes in both regards in the 24 hours following model Leslie showing up for a layout. Maria Lease plays both Leslie and trouble-making sister Julie in "Vibrations."

Newly homeless model Joyce showing up the morning after Henning and Leslie seal their deal contributes the Sodom element to the sins that occur in the studio/home of Henning. Joyce portrayor Sue Akers does not appear in "Vibrations."

Morris Kaplan, who is the real-life still photographer for both "Sodom" and "Vibrations," also deserves a shout out for his roles in "Sodom" and "Vibrations." The performance of Kaplan as "Carlton the Doorman" style "elevator operator" in "Sodom" proves the adage that there are no small parts. He does even better in in the larger part of dreamy aspiring novelist Dick Parrish in "Vibrations."

Joyce the nymph in "Sodom" evolves from being a wildly self-pleasuring voyeur as Henning and Leslie have sex on the other side of a thin divider to being much more bold. Her overt adventures begin with seducing a reluctant female model, move on to actively striving to create the bad kind of friction between Henning and Leslie, and ultimately showing that three's company.

"Vibrations" centers around mid-west girl Barbara (Marianne Prevost who plays "Actress" in "Sodom") in New York to make it big as a writer but types manuscripts to pay the rent on her run-down apartment. This time, Barbara is the voyeur who hears her rich party-girl neighbor use her vibrator to pleasure herself and her friends in the apartment that this heiress rents solely for this purpose.

The trouble-making interloper this time is Barbara sister Julie, who forces her sibling to shelter her in the wake of Julie ending the latest in a long string of failed heterosexual relationships. Julie looking to live a highly irresponsible life on the limited income of Barbara is only part of the problem.

These sisters having the same names as the mid-west Cooper siblings in the Norman Lear '70s sitcom "One Day at a Time," and that Julie being the wild child to good girl Barbara makes one wonder if Sarno inspires Lear.

Julie is very aggressive regarding her desire to relive old times with Barbara, to join in the fun next door with the heiress and "hairy man" (and to get Barbara to be more neighborly in that regard),  and to get a man of her own. That third desire particularly hinders Barbara and Parrish living happily ever after.

The incredibly erotic bondagastic final scene in "Vibrations" screams for making the obvious reference to it being climatic. It further should prompt every adult female viewer to shout "Alexa, order a vibrator" and every man to wish that he could experience the intense pleasure that such a device apparently provides.

The effective smoking a cigarette after watching "Vibrations" is in the form of a interview with Sarno. A time constraint that required a virtual walk of shame at the end of "Vibrations" required postponing that pleasure for another day. "Movies," "Sodom," and "Vibrations" strongly indicate that that discourse is highly satisfying.

The "parting gift" from Movement, which always calls the next day, is a booklet that features liner notes by film expert Tim Lucas. The clear expertise of Lucas regarding both Sarno makes one look forward to the upcoming book by that author about that auteur.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding this double feature or Sarno is strongly encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

'Stay Dog' DVD: Doc. on Vietnam Vet/Biker/Dog Lover

The Icarus Films September 26, 2017 DVD release of the 2014 Bullfrog Films documentary "Stay Dogs" is the latest proof that the the partnership of these companies is a match made in Heaven. This cinema verite portrait of the titular Missouri Vietnam vet/trailer park owner/biker/step father to twin Mexican teen boys shows that you cannot judge a scruffy tattooed book by its cover.

The accolades for writer/director Debra Granik of the similar themed Oscar-nominated fictional film "Winter's Bone" include a plethora of festival awards. Highlights are Best Documentary wins at the Los Angeles, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Memphis Film Festivals.

The following YouTube clip of a theatrical trailer for "Dog" does a good job creating a portrait of the subject in roughly two minutes.

Granik chooses wisely in selecting Ronnie "Stray Dog" Hall as a guide to the modern rural South. His beard, tattoos, big belly, and overall dirty appearance fit right in with his world of bikers and trailer park residents. The surprise comes when you learn that this lover of small dogs and children alike is very sensitive and caring.

This makes a good subject because the South is part of the country known as the "fly over" region for a good reason. Most of us on both coasts know little about the people who inhabit the real America where there is not a Starbucks on every corner and the sources of aggravation extend far beyond gridlock and not having a strong cell signal.

On the Vietnam side, we see Hall regularly attend ceremonies for POW and MIA soldiers from that war. He also shows understanding for those of us who do not understand what those guys experienced over there. His largest show of support involves participating in the annual motorcycle pilgrimage to the Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C.

We further see Hall as a good friend to folks who include a buddy undergoing extensive dental care after ignoring his teeth for years; this compassion extends to a teen granddaughter, who is experiencing the dual challenges of being a Millennial and lacking a good education.

These aspects of the life of Hall provide the aforementioned interesting perspective of lower-class rural America; however, Hall having Mexican wife Alicia after several years of living alone with his small dogs is the most fascinating aspect of the film. These worlds fully collide on Alicia gently but firmly urging Hall to shampoo his beard and he being just as adamant about going no further than rinsing it out with water.

The love of Hall for his wife comes through very strong in scenes of him learning Spanish online. Her twin sons Jesus and Angel later using the same technique to learn English provides a nice sense of reciprocity.

Speaking of the sons, the cutest and funniest scene of "Dog" involves these adorable boys using a Spanish-English dictionary to look up a word that Hall regularly uses only to have the translation confuses them. A spoiler is that Hall is not referring to a small domesticated feline.

The boys telling the folks back home that America is not nearly as nice as Mexico offers another interesting perspective.

Granik provides satisfying closure in ending the film with a scene that reflects every aspect of the life of Hall and that of the rural South generally.

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

Monday, September 25, 2017

'Porky Pig 101' DVD: Awesome Collection of Swinest From Looney Tunes Superstar

The incredible numbers associated with the Warner Archive September 19, 2017 DVD release "Porky Pig 101" make doing this literally historic set justice impossible in a digestible online review.

The 101 theatrical  cartoons (presented in chronological order) in the 5-disc set total roughly roughly 12.5 of piggy goodness. They also span the period from the 1935 premiere of the Porky in "I Haven't Got a Hat" to his history-making 1943 cartoon "Porky Pig's Feat" in which he and regular co-star Daffy Duck make their first joint appearance with Bugs Bunny.

Watching the first several cartoons on each disc and finishing with "Feat" provides a good overview of the evolution of Porky while leaving plenty for subsequent viewings.

The aforementioned premiere "Hat" further is notable for also marking the first appearance of Beans the cat, who receives top billing. The premise of this one is that everypig Porky, tough-guy problem cat Beans, and their equally stereotypical elementary school classmates stage a recital. Stuttering from the outset Porky starts things off with a hilariously dorky recitation of the poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" complete with pantomime. For his part, Beans is expressing his pre-adolescent frustration by tormenting and otherwise wrangling with nerdy Oliver the Owl and other classmates.

The distinctions of "Hat" additionally include the appearance of Pork being far different than the pig whom we know and love today. Even as a grade-schooler, he is much taller and stouter than his more common incarnation. Further, his facial features lean more heavily to the porcine side, and he is not nearly as jolly as the fellow who is prone to wearing blazers and bow ties. The differences conclude with Beans having the honor of uttering "That's All Folks" at the end of the cartoon.

Beans and Porky team up a few more times in "101." The best of this good lot is "Gold Diggers of [18]49," which has Beans striking it rich in a very amusing manner prompting Porky and the other town folks to conduct a mini gold rush. Porky offering Beans a controversial reward in exchange for a coveted treasure ends with one of the best ever twists in a cartoon.

Porky is the aforementioned new pig by the time that he is first paired with regular girlfriend Petunia Pig in 1937; "Porky's Romance" starts out with Petunia literally slamming the door in the face of Porky only to invite him in on seeing that he comes bearing gifts; this leads to a harshly rejected proposal, which leads an incredibly dark moment for animated and live-action films alike. This leads to Porky getting a look at a possible future that prompts a highly satisfying change of heart.

Both the introduction of Petunia and the plot in "Romance" indicate the influence of the "Popeye" theatrical shorts of the same era. The titular sailor man and his main squeeze Olive Oyl could have starred in "Romance" word-for-word and shot-for-shot. A vague memory is that that pair star in a very similar cartoon.

The Porky/Petunia cartoon "Porky's Picnic" enhances the Popeye vibe by including baby Pinky Pig, who either is a nephew of Petunia or is proof that she is a fallen pig. The mischievous Pinky puts Porky in precarious situations that ultimately would prompt his naval counterpart to down a can of spinach.

The Tex Avery cartoon "Porky's Duck Hunt" has an evolved Porky gunning for an early crude version of Daffy Duck; "Hunt" also is notable for being one of the few Warner cartoons in which Barnyard Dog appears outside the Foghorn Leghorn series. The real payoff in this one comes when Daffy and his clan flock around simply to harass Porky.

As mentioned above, Porky and a fully evolved Daffy round out the collection with "Feat." This one follows the fairly standard pattern of the pairings of these characters in every sense of the word. Daffy showing his usual lack of impulse control results in the duo being unable to pay their bill at aptly named Broken Arms Hotel; this leads to comic mayhem as the hotel manager goes after these deadbeats to pay up.

The audio commentary by film director Joe Dante points out the minimalist style of the cartoon and the fact that the very clever cameo of Bugs Bunny marks the first appearance of these three members of the Lonney Tunes royal family in the same short.

The bigger picture this time is that they simply cannot make 'em like this anymore. The classic artists (including Avery and Ub Iwerks) and the voice talent (including Mel Blanc) sadly are gone. Further, killjoys no longer allow hilarity in the forms of knocks on the head and shotgun blasts to the face that represent the all-time best cartoon violence.

One can only hope that Archive gives Bugs, Daffy, et al. the same royal treatment in future releases.

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

'The Hidden' BD: 'Freebie and the Bean' Meets 'Starman'

The Warner Archive September 12, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1987 sci-fi cop-buddy thriller "The Hidden" awesomely shows Millennials that presenting a quality story about evil aliens does not require an astronomical FX budget. 

The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Hidden" demonstrates an especially strong eye for highlighting most of the '80stastic best scenes in the film.

The opening credits cleverly showing grainy black-and-white bank surveillance camera footage of a robbery immediately establishes that "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2" director Jack Sholder knows his stuff; this scene leading to a destructive high-speed chase is the first of many indications that "Hidden" makes a good double feature with the (Unreal TV reviewed) Archive BD release of the '70s cop-buddy dramedy "Freebie and the Bean." Subsequent chase and other cliches of that genre throughout "Hidden" validate that pairing.

The bank robber absorbing a great deal of physical trauma before being subdued is the first hint that he is not from around here; another early scene confirms that suspicion.

Meanwhile back at the precinct, police detective Tom Beck (Michael Nouri of "Flashdance") coincidentally is a center of attention leading up to being assigned to assist Seattle-based FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher with investigating the robber. The numerous similarities between Gallagher and Dale Cooper of "Twin Peaks" make that "Hidden" role great training for Kyle MacLachlan to subsequently play Cooper. One difference is that Gallagher lacks an obsession with coffee. 

The powers-that-be planning the security for a speech by a U.S. senator who is preparing to run for president bellows foreshadowing; suffice it to say, the audience is not disappointed.

The asserted hook that brings the feds on the case is that the robber is a previously law-abiding citizen who recently suddenly goes on a crime spree that includes stealing expensive cars and showing no regard for human life.

Our detectives then engage in room temperature pursuit as the big bad remains one step (and meat suit) ahead of them. Scenes of mayhem at a Ferrari dealership during this portion of the film provide wonderful doses of both senseless violence and of the "me generation" aspect of the '80s. Additionally, recent real-life car buyers will realize that their dealer having free snacks is less generous than previously believed.

Another highlight is an "exotic dancer" who shows the boys that they better respect her; the best scene in the film has Gallagher demonstrate  a serious limitation regarding the tech. required to stop the carnage; we further learn that you sometimes must fight fire with fire.

MacLachlan does a good job providing an increasingly strong sense that he is hiding several secrets; this (of course) leads to his being taken off the case until escalating mayhem requires going rogue and putting him back in action. 

As indicated above, the climax of the film centers around the speech of the senator; our boys (of course) get their man. Additionally, Gallagher puts his special hidden talents to good use.

The always special Archive bonus features include audio commentary by Sholder and writer Tim Hunter; Sholder also separately narrates a compilation of special-effects production footage.

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

Friday, September 22, 2017

Dinomite Chat With Kathy "Holly" Coleman of 'Land of the Lost' is Fanboy Dream Come True

A telephone conversation with Kathy Coleman, who is best known for portraying spunky teen tomboy Holly Marshall in the classic '70s live-action Krofft Saturday morning Jurassic Camp series "Land of the Lost," fulfilled a decades old fantasy.

Loving (and reviewing) recent Coleman autobiography "Run, Holly, Run" (title courtesy of co-star/'70s teen idol/surrogate big brother Wesley Eure) prompted reaching out to her. She awesomely immediately responded, and we gabbed the next day.

As readers of both "Run" and the sadly unavailable first Coleman (who prefers going by Kathleen) autobiography "Lost Girl" know, this natural talent is a survivor of a psychotically abusive ex-husband and decades of other horrific traumas. This on top of the celebrity curse of constant approaches by fans who feel entitled to invade her personal and emotional space reasonably make her a little guarded. However, her love of people and desire to delight them counters this by both making her very open about her life and a charming conversationalist.

The aforementioned candidness included Coleman stating regarding "Run" that she wanted that book to "open the curtains to the windows of my soul."

The "righteous dudette" moment that most Unreal TV celebrity interviews contain came after Colemen once more discussed how her life literally was an open book. This prompted showing a little reciprocity in sharing that a "Lost" episode with a wholesome element of sexuality regarding both Coleman and Eure was a favorite for that reason. Eure was shirtless and wearing cutoffs, and Coleman was wearing a Daisy Duke outfit complete with her own cutoffs.

Coleman awesomely replied with a story of common occurrences at fan events. She shared that she and Eure sit side-by-side and that a man walked up and said "I had a crush on you." Coleman then started talking to the man only to have him reply that he was speaking to Eure.

The next part of the story was a variation in that Eure would bat his eyes in response to other fans confessing to a crush only to have them state that they were talking to Coleman. Both stars having such a nice attitude regarding every aspect of that reinforces that what you see on screen reflects real life.

Portrait of the Artist as a Child Star

The accounts in "Run" on the early career of Coleman prompted asking about those years specifically and the life of a child star in general.

Coleman politely asserted that her mom was a stereotypical stage mother but that she "never forced me into the business; never took advantage of me."

The provided perspective was a variation of "Goldilocks" in the form of three siblings sitting in front of a television. One sibling was eating and not paying much attention to the program; the other one was watching the program, and the third one was dancing. "I [Coleman] was the kid who was dancing when I was watching TV."

Coleman added that she wanted to entertain people and that friends of her mother who saw both her zeal to perform and her talent encouraged a variation of "The Beverly Hillbillies" in urging the family to move from Massachusetts to Hollywood to allow Coleman to let her star fully shine. Folks who are familiar with "Lost" know part of the story of how that worked out.

This portion of the discussion included Coleman repeating a few times that her circumstances would have been roughly the same if she had worked delivering papers. This youngest in a family of 10 kids noted that whichever of those offspring worked contributed to the family to the extent feasible considering the employment.

Discussing whether Coleman ever engaged in obnoxious behavior based on her celebrity status earned the reply that her mother saw to that her daughter never got star treatment.

Hilarity ensued when Coleman shared that watching other kids in the business trying to cope a 'tude prompted her to try doing the same. She then laughed and stated that she was not as good at it. She noted that "to be a bitch is not natural for me" and added that she enjoyed making people happy.

Minor Consideration

A section in "Run" in which Coleman diplomatically discusses outreach by an unnamed group provided a personally golden opportunity to get the perspective of a former child star regarding an organization with which this site has a brief history. Anyone with any familiarity with the non-profit child star advocacy and support group A Minor Consideration could have deduced that that was the entity to which Coleman referred in "Run."

Online research years ago created a personal sense that Consideration (founded and run by former child star Paul Petersen of the 'Donna Reed Show' sitcom) was a bit heavy-handed; a subsequent interview with Petersen enhanced that vibe but did not create any desire to grind any axes. The chance to ask a former child star who seemed to receive unsolicited attention from that organization was a golden opportunity to obtain insight into the workings of what Unreal TV considers (and that Petersen agrees) is "the anti-Scientology."

Coleman began by saying that "I [Coleman] had my own experience with him [Petersen]." She added that she was "all for" the group if a current or former child star needed it. Her personal perspective regarding the challenges that members of that group faced was "I don't want to sit around saying poor pitiful me, show business did this to me."

This led to Coleman making the apt comparison to Alcoholics Anonymous in stating that not everyone realized that every person with a drinking problem needed to attend meetings of that group. She added that addressing her personal challenges related to drinking did not require hearing the experiences of other people who were facing comparable challenges.

Eure the Best

Coleman stating that she and Eure are "more like a real brother and sister than people can even understand." My referring to a hilarious story in "Run" in which Coleman tells of a fully clothed Eure jumping into the sleeping bag of an equally dressed Coleman and saying "Dad's gone" during a filming of a "Lost" episode elicited the exciting news that "Wesley still loves to tease me."

An example of this love extending to co-star Phillip Paley, who played the ape-boy like Cha-ka on "Lost" was learning that this trio had no objections when they had to share a hotel room while appearing at a fan event. Coleman stated that they would have a great time that included epic slumber parties.

Fans v. Fanatics 

An early exchange in the conversation with Coleman illustrated her aforementioned valid caution regarding people who approach her. I told her that I interviewed Eure years ago after he replied when I sent him my review of the then-recent complete-series DVD release (complete with lunch box!) of "Lost." I also asked that she please tell Eure that he and I had spoken merely thinking that Eure might say "Hey, I remember that guy."

Coleman very nicely replied without a touch of anger that fans wrongly assumed both that they knew celebrities based on watching their shows but that that experience did not provide that intimacy. She added "it is an obligation to give back" and that she enjoyed doing so.

I did not take any offense and assured Coleman that I fully understood her persepcctive and appreciated the time that both she and Eure gave me and then tried to assure her that I was not a stray kitten who took being given a one-time saucer of milk as an invitation to move in. I emphasized that I never would have knowingly put Eure on the spot.

This led to discussing fans (such as your not-so-humble reviewer) as opposed to fanatics. The response of Coleman to being asked about her weirdest fan was "in the years that I have been involved in this whole thing most people only have good wishes."

Coleman added that fans have shared some of the most wonderful stories; the best of these involved kids whom the show inspired to be archaeologists and scientists.

One amusing bad experience was the tale of a man who aggressively requested an interview and squandered the minute allocated for that exchange to ask Coleman if his shirt made him look fat and then showed her his ginormous stomach.

Here and Now

The final section of "Run" discussing the making of a modern documentary on getting the band back together prompted asking Coleman about the complications associated with that project. She provided little reason to hope that that film would be released. The better news was that Eure had simultaneously filmed the group on his smart phone and MAY release that footage.

Coleman perfectly brought things full circle in sharing that her reasons for writing her autobiographies were fans approaching her with misperceptions regarding a movie star having an easy life. Coleman shared that (as her books showed) her life was far from that of the public image of Hollywood royalty and specifically that "my life has not been any easier because of my career."

She added that she had not appeared in any movie until recently filming one. This project is the 2017 indie production "Fault" on the underground world of betting on professional tennis. Coleman stated that she did not know whether that film would premiere theatrically or on television.

Thanks for the Memories

As mentioned above, the chance to converse with Coleman was a treat in itself; learning both that she is as caring as her public persona and is not a "I only want to discuss my current projects" type.