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Friday, March 31, 2017

Animated Talk with Artist/Collector David Nimitz on 'Architects of Saturday Morning' Exhibit

Fans of "The Flintstones," "The Jetsons," "Scooby-Doo" and the scads of other Hanna-Barbera classic animated shows can relate to the not-so-youthful exuberance of your not-so-humble reviewer on recently visiting (and writing about) "Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning," which is open through May 2 2017, at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Exhibit curator extraordinaire Jesse Kowalski inviting me to interview animator/vintage HB toy collector David Nimitz, who loaned 300 of the 4,000 items in his collection to "Architects," made me extraordinarily more ecstatic than the average bear.

Nimitz stating that his favorite HB shows included the "sweet ones" such as "Yogi's Gang" and "The Flintstones Kids" further illustrated his kind and gentle nature. Learning that he is the live-in caretaker for a 99 year-old friend (and delights in surprising her with HB toys that he finds at swap meets) fully makes the rest of us look like dirt.

Examples of the dedication of Nimitz to the exhibit included an offhand remark that he bought a "Speed Buggy" board game to supplement the small amount of merchandise from that (Unreal TV reviewed) series in his museum displays. He further spoke of the incredible effort that he devoted to those cases and expressed his disappointment that a Scooby-Doo bank could not be included because it was too tall for the available enclosure. 

One of countless highlights of the nearly two-hour telephone conversation with Nimitz a few days later was his stating regarding the 18 months that Kowalski devoted to creating "Architects" that "he really put his heart into it, and it shows." An even more apt way of stating this is that Kowalski and Nimitz are the true dynamic duo of the HB universe, which includes "The Superfriends." 

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Nimitz further demonstrated his deep love for HB in discussing his introduction to animation. He shared his excitement of being a 17 year-old intern on "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo" after years of riding his bicycle to the HB studio and rummaging through the trash for discarded animation drawings and cels during his younger days.

His numerous subsequent projects included the films "Space Jam" and the cult classic "The Iron Giant." 

Mother Knows Best

An advance apology to Nimitz for asking the same questions that he has answered 1,000s of time resulted in discovering the origin story of this righteous dude. The first trite inquiry related to asking when the collecting habit of Nimitz evolved from amassing cool stuff to becoming a vocation.

He initially and generally stated that "It just has always been there since I was about five." He added that "my mother was really into it because I was into it." Learning next that Mrs. Nimitz began packing away the toys to protect them from young David earns this mother of the century the gratitude of "Architects" visitors who get to see the museum-heist worthy contributions of her boy to the exhibit. 

Nimitz next discussed that he did not become the literally museum-quality collector that HB fans know and love today until his 30s. His stating that that was when he began going into the garage of his mother to get his toys was highly relatable to memories of the numerous times that the parents of your not-so-humble reviewer told him that he could keep a few items and must toss the rest. 

The awesomeness of this coolest mom in the neighborhood extended beyond her lovingly storing the aforementioned treasures for two decades; she had been adding to the collection by attending swap meets on her own.

Nimitz also shared a tale of an even more awesome milestone in his collection. He stated that the secretary of recently deceased Joe Barbera gave Nimitz a huge box of HB toys in 2008. He noted that that bonanza prompted him to inventory his collection.

Nimitz subsequently noting that "it took a life time to realize the destiny of these toys" demands an enthusiastic "Amen, Brother."

The Holy Grail of Collectibles

The next trite inquiry related to asking about the Holy Grail of collectibles. Nimitz stated he currently was into a line of Mexican vinyl figures, and that "nothing really gets me like old old Scooby stuff from the late '60s and '70s." On a more general note, he stated that many collectors looking for the same toys hindered efforts to acquire coveted items.

One that has eluded Nimitz for years and would drive lesser collectors stark raving mad was having every character in the Italian Mini Flexy "Jetsons" collection except Elroy. An odd note regarding this line (which "Architects" includes) is that the doll for the patriarch of this space-age nuclear family is identified as Chico, rather than George, Jetson.

Nimitz further shared regarding that series that "Astro is very hard to get [from any line] because everyone loves him so much." He stated on a related note that "without Astro, there would not have been Scooby-Doo."

Nimitz was unsure of the exact reason for the "Chico" error but noted regarding other anomalies that "the weirder the better," and "the cooler the toy." One of numerous examples was a doll of tow-headed Barney Rubble having green hair. Nimitz explained regarding errors of that nature that toy companies had to work off black-and-white versions of "The Flintstones" and other cartoons of that era and made their best guesses regarding colors.

To Box or not to Box, That is the Question

The rote questioning continued with asking Nimitz for his opinion regarding the age-old question of whether it is best to keep a toy in its box or take it out and use if for its original purpose. His reply was "I'm all for the boxes; boxes of older stuff often are worth more than toys."  He went on to describe a find that was in its packaging as "a double score." That logic included that that packaging typically had characters on it. 

This wisdom included that one never knew when one would need to sell a toy to pay the bills.

Animating Guy

The conversation turning to the Cartoon Network era of television animation included discussing Seth MacFarlane, who arguably is the Howard Stern of primetime cartoons. The discussion of the work of MacFarlane on CN series such as "Dexter's Laboratory" and "Johnny Bravo" included your not-so-humble reviewer opining that the proposed MacFarlane reboot of "The Flintstones" would have been deplorable. Fears included crude lesbian jokes regarding the Wilma/Betty relationship and Fred being a clone of the crass Peter Griffin of "Family Guy."

Nimitz politely but strongly defended MacFarlane. The most ringing endorsement was that "the core of Seth is that he is a Hanna-Barbera kid; I know that for a fact." Nimitz stated as well that MacFarlane realized that the Flintstones characters were so beloved that anyone who attempted a reboot would be incur tremendous scorn.

Stone-Age Future

Learning of Mariana Trench depth of love that Nimitz has for his collection and the shows with which that treasure is associated required asking about his plans for his legacy to continue. He responded that his ideal would be to purchase the "Flintstones" themed campground/RV park/diner/gift shop Bedrock City near the Grand Canyon and turn it into a museum that would display his 4,000 and growing items. He noted that a spontaneous road trip there several years after he last visited the park has led to making that journey an annual pilgrimage.

You Oughtta Write a Book

The conversation then shifted to Nimitz discussing a book on which he was working; it was a catalog of his collection that organized his toys by the company that made them and the year that they were produced.

Nimitz pointed out that his method made more sense than the approach of others who organized comparable books by character of series, rather than by product line. He expressed the opinion of HB fans everywhere in noting that we wanted to see everything that was in a collection on the same page.

Exit Stage Left

The exhaustive chat with Nimitz and the stab at sharing all of his insights in this post require wrapping things up with sincere thanks to Nimitz and his mother for preserving such an enormous portion of '60s and '70s pop culture. Nimitz deserves additional thoughts for being so kind and generous regarding discussing this labor of love.

Anyone with thoughts regarding this article is encouraged either to send an email or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

'The Quiet Hour' DVD: Post-Apocalyptic Tale with '60s SciFi Vibe

The Monarch Home Entertainment March 21, 2017 DVD release of the 2014 scifi thriller "The Quiet Hour" nicely proves that character-driven productions of that ilk from the '60s are not entirely dead. The live-stage vibe of "Hour" contributes another nice element.

The following YouTube clip of the "Hour" trailer concisely shares the lore of the film and offers a look at the atmospheric and tense elements of this good flick.

This tale set in rural England largely centers around the efforts of roughly 20 year-old Sarah (Dakota Blue Richards) and her blind brother Jude (Karl Davies of "Game of Thrones") to survive despite alien spaceships mining the minerals of the earth create collateral damage in the form of decimating most of the population of earth. Solar power and livestock make the farmhouse of our heroes an oasis in this post-apocalyptic wasteland.

The bleak opening scene sets the tone of the film; fellow survivor Tom Connelly entering the home uninvited as part of his effort to either not become alien chow or get shot by a fellow human nomad amps up the drama. He being a person of interest to a small group that knows where he is and will take extreme measures to get him back does not help matters.

Reasonable distrust of Tom and discussions regarding the extent to which he is owed a duty drive much of the action. This person also being an interloper further impacts the arguably creepy extent to which Sarah and Jude are close.

Jude wandering off creates more drama and philosophical issues. This development further proves that there is your story, my story, and the truth. A related revelation is that most of us fall somewhere in between angel and demon on the Kinsey-style scale of human behavior.

"Hour" deserves even more praise for a realistic ending that does not rely on millions of dollars of pyrotechnics or a far-fetched heroic act. You simply having interesting characters in compelling circumstances taking extreme measures to see another sun rise.

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

'Hotel of the Damned' DVD: Ex Con v. Cannibalistic Nazis

Uncork'd Entertainment lives up to its name (and reputation) regarding the March 7, 2017 DVD release of the wonderful odd (and surprisingly substantive) 2016 Romanian horror film "Hotel of the Damned." One spoiler is that this tale of monstrous Nazi cannibals who chase our stranded travelers Scooby-style around the titular crumbling lodging establishment is not a much more horrifying experience than stays at a couple of Best Westerns.

"Hotel" further is notable for casting two householdish names as leads. Louis Mandylor of the "Greek Wedding" franchise and other well-known films and television series stars in "Hotel" as recently released convict Nicky. His first order of business on having best bud Jimmy (whom Peter Dobson of projects such as the unfairly maligned USA network dramedy "Cover Me" nicely plays) collect him at the big house is to see daughter Maria.

Learning that Maria and scumbag addict boyfriend Bogdan have run off puts Nicky and Jimmy in hot pursuit. Their search leads them to a crack colony where they learn of the plans of Bogdan to take Maria across national lines for immoral purposes then leads to a confrontation with the young lovers that is hilariously humiliating for our Romeo.

These elements further add good depth. They make the plot meatier than a group of friends whose history compels them to look out for each other when unexpectedly confronted with an seemingly inescapable evil.

These events lead to the scene that serves as the opening segment for "Hotel." We see the stereotypical damsel in distress fleeing from the equally common shadowy big bad in a foggy forest as we first see our group traveling in a car through that neck of the woods.

These worlds colliding result in Nicky and the gang taking refugee in the titular run-down hostelry. In true horror fashion, the initial overall creepiness leads to more shadowy figures and whispered voices, which leads to increasingly terrifying encounters with the not-so-fine young cannibals that are driving our group crazy. Filmmaker Bobby Barbacioru gores so far as to throw in an actual (rather than merely symbolic) sexual attack.

On a larger level, the technique of interspersing flashbacks with the literal life-or-death struggle nicely draws outside the lines regarding the typical linear timeline in such films. The best thing about this is that it provides a nice break from starting with roughly 30 uninterrupted minutes of exposition at the beginning of the film, followed by another 30 minutes of increasing tension, and ending with 15 minutes of members of Team Monster Chow and Team Evil Entities ending up with one or more foreign objects embedded in their persons.

On a more specific level, parsing out bits of the back story in roughly five-minute segments throughout "Hotel" hold our attention and gets us to connect with the characters more than if it is fed to us in one big serving at the start. Our disdain for Bogdan grows at an natural pace as we slowly learn just how deep his creepiness extends.

All of this shows that Barbaciouri makes a true effort and understands that a low-budget horror film can be much more than chasing and chomping.

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

'Just A Sigh' DVD: French Actress Experiences Ibsen on Stage and in Life

The March 28, 2017 DVD release of the 2013 French drama "Just a Sigh" shows once again that distributor of "provocative" documentaries Icarus Films does just as well regarding occasionally including fictional films in the Icarus catalog.

This compelling film by Jerome Bonnell is the compelling story of actress Alix (whom uber-talented Emmanuelle Devos portrays very well) taking an enormously hectic day trip to Paris. The numerous film festival for Devos and Bonnell (as well as designation as a New York Times Critics' Pick) reflect the Icarus seal of approval.

The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Sigh" highlights the performances, the story, and the cinematography that merit the praise from critics great and small.

We meet aforementioned thespian Alix backstage during a Calais production of the Henrik Ibsen play in which she is performing. The bizarre activity and all-around frantic environment initially makes the viewer feel as if he or she is watching a variation of the 2014 film "Birdman." Alix is navigating this craziness while arranging to attend an audition in Paris the next morning.

A frantic Alix boards the Paris-bound train roughly 12 hours later, where she meets charming U.K. professor Doug, whom charming Gabriel Byrne seems born to play. Devos and Byrne clearly communicate their immediate mutual spark.

The bad morning of Alix not improving on returning to her home turf prompts seeking out Doug. Her subsequently clarifying that she is not so pathetic as to have followed him from the train is one of the best moments of the film. This also increases the later verified vibe that Alix is both portraying and living the form of heavy drama for which Ibsen is known.

The second time that Alix tracks down Doug is a bit more needy and also somewhat true to life. A parallel experience of your not-so-humble reviewer is not thinking much of a chance encounter with tourists in his city just before being scheduled to meet someone at an reception at a hotel. Discretion requires limiting the rest of this story to stating that one of the visitors successfully searching the hotel function rooms leads to events that parallel the best parts of the day of Alix.

A lack of immediate funds plays a significant role in the events of the day of the actress. Two of the more traumatic encounters are with a restaurant worker who takes a harsh stance regarding paying the check, and these desperate times requiring that Alix take the desperate measure of asking her estranged sister for a loan. The one minor spoiler here is that an afternoon visit is insufficient to erase decades of sibling-related resentment.

The final element of this film that easily could be titled "Alix and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" is the titular actress having an infuriatingly difficult time reaching the man in her life. Alix telling Doug the extent of the need for speaking with this man both further complicates the relationship between our leads and enhances the already strong sympathy that the audience feels for our leading lady.

The end of the film symbolically is at the end of the day. There is enough closure for Alix to satisfy the audience and enough ambiguity to make this film much more than a mainstream drama that unnaturally puts everything right that once went wrong.

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

'Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning' Exhibit at Rockwell Museum is Yabba Dabba Doo Worthy

[EDITOR'S NOTE: An article on an interview with world-class animator/Hanna-Barbera toy collector David Nimitz, who provided the museum every toy for the exhibit, also is on Unreal TV.]

Children of the '60s and the '70s (and other lovers of Saturday morning cartoons) must raise a bowl of tasty sugar-laden cereal that comprises the delicious part of a delicious nutritious breakfast in tribute to Norman Rockwell Museum curator Jesse Kowalski.

This former exhibitionist at the Andy Warhol Museum bringing both his curatorial talent and his love for the Scooby gang and the 1,000s of other Hanna-Barbera creations to Stockbridge, Mass. is why your not-so-humble reviewer and 1,000s of others who have uttered "yabba dabba doo" at least once in their lives have had the privilege of seeing "Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning" at the Rockwell Museum. Having Kowalski guide me through the exhibit was like personally seeing Willy Wonka show off his chocolate factory.

The copious information that Kowalski shared included that the exhibit has been incredibly popular. He noted that it set a record for Fall shows and blew an exhibit of the work of comic book artist Alex Ross "out of the water."

One Scooby-worthy mystery that Kowalski cannot solve is why the late-'50s H-B cat-and dog series "Ruff and Ready" is a "lost" treasure. The historic significance of this first television effort by "Tom and Jerry" creators Hanna and Barbera includes it being the first Saturday morning show that is all cartoons, rather than a primarily live-action series in which a flesh-and-blood host incorporates cartoons that begin life as theatrical shorts in the program. Speculation regarding "Ruff" not achieving the same status as later H-B offerings is that our animation gods use this show to work out the kinks that their classics lack.

The images below from the exhibit provide a glimpse of what we are missing.

Alas, the exhibit tour did not end with owning the 100s of drawings, animation cels, video clips, and case-smashing worthy vintage merch. that comprises the exhibit. The exhibit catalog, which has reprints of much of the aforementioned art and photos of the aforementioned collectibles, is a nice consolation prize. Buying Funko-style toys of Daphne and Velma of "Scooby" fame when exiting through the gift shop is another highlight.

Folks who have not visited the exhibit have until May 29, 2017 to do so. Parents of K-12 kids particularly have the option of making this an April vacation week activity that the whole family truly can enjoy,

The exhibit fulfills the same ideal as a documentary film in that it equally entertains and informs. The scope extends from the early days of this 60-year partnership/friendship to the near present. Highlights are early rejected sketches of the Flintstones and other classic characters and concepts, such as "Josie and the Pussycats 1,000,000 BC," that never see the light of day.

Awesome verification that your not-so-humble reviewer is in sync with the exhibit is writing the caption for the below image of "The Flintstones" preceding Kowalski telling the tale of a female reporter who responds on seeing it in a pre-exhibit promotional campaign that it deplorably depicts whom your not-so-humble reviewer calls "sexy Wilma." Kowalski states that his respectful response to the real-life Lois Lane includes asking her to consider that this image is from the relative caveman period of the early '60s compared to the more enlightened "Jetsons" era in which we live.

The following samples of this artwork barely scratches the surface of the rare treasures that will delight visitors of the proverbial all ages.

A "Flintstones" toy telephone is one of 300 treasures on loan from the 4,000 items collectibles collection of "Iron Giant" animator David Nimitz.

Version of "The Flintstones" that likely would have increased adult male viewership of the first prime-time animated series.

Another highlight of the show (and a Herculean labor of love by Kowalski) is an interactive touch-screen exhibit with a homepage display of thumbnails of 96 HB characters. Touching a small image opens a page that allows you to read about that character, see video clips with him or her, and listen to related sound effects.

Light-hearted personal disappointment regarding not seeing Goober the disappearing dog of the Scooby clone "Goober and the Ghostchasers" prompted Kowalski to good-naturedly share that he was told to pick 96 characters. He and I both understood that that limitation precluded including the favorite HB creation of every visitor.

An underlying theme of the exhibit that is awesome for folks who suffer from the current big studio practice of producing films that blatantly sacrifice art for commerce is that Hanna and Barbera maintain both quality and the bottom line. The primary technique is the cost-saving practice of limited animation that the exhibit describes. An obvious element of this is the oft-repeating backgrounds on "Flintstones" and other Hanna-Barbera productions.

The audience additionally sees how Hanna-Barbera are true pioneers of television and how they successfully adapt to changing regulatory and cultural environments. This explains how "talking animal" Hanna-Barbera offerings lead to superhero and other action-adventure shows, which leads to animated versions of prime-time hits, which evolve into series such as "The Flintstones Kids" and "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo." (Nimitz began his animation career as a 17 year-old intern on "Pup.") You also will learn how the combination of governmental and consumer influence ultimately kill off Saturday morning cartoons.

Kowalski further proves his entitlement to induction in the Fanboy Hall of Fame in sharing at the end of our sadly less than three-hour tour that he will continue curating animation exhibits for the Rockwell museum. His reasoning that these shows further the objective of the institution to educate the general public about the legendary The Saturday Evening Post illustrator for whom the museum exists makes sense.

The statements of Kowalski that he wants to keep classic cartoons and other animation in pop culture (and that many young visitors do not know about Scooby-Doo) endears him to the heart of your not-so-humble reviewer. Readers of early manifestos know that Unreal TV owes its existence to larger sites rejecting coverage of "TV Land shows" that does not generate enough income to satisfy the suits. The specific founding principles of this boutique site include keeping Lucy Ricardo and Ralph Kramden in the public consciousness.

On a larger level, it is nice to learn that Hanna and Barbera are guys with whom you would want to share a mug of cocoa while watching their creations do the things that endear these men to all of us.

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

'Dig Two Graves' Theatrical: Revenge is Dish Best Served Horrifically Cold

Folks seeking a tale as old as time at theaters this weekend have an alternative to watching the latest Disney blockbuster. The wonderfully atmospheric Gothic horror revenge film "Dig Two Graves" opens on Friday, March 24 2017 courtesy of awesomely indie film distribution company Area 23a. The shades of "To Kill a Mockingbird" adds nice substance to this one.

The following YouTube trailer of the SPOILER-LADEN "Graves" trailer highlights the combination of elements that call for seeing it on the big screen.

The creepy small town vibe and well-presented symbolism begins with the opening scene, which is set in 1947. Two local cops dumping two bodies in a quarry in the dead (and the heat) of the night of the night rapidly literally leads to there being a new sheriff in town. Ted Levine of "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Shutter Island" puts his well-known quirky skills to good use as this dark version of Andy Taylor.

Writer/director Hunter Adams then provides striking contrasts by shifting the action to a sunny summer afternoon in 1977. Thirteen year-old Jacqueline "Jake" Mather and her big brother Sean are riding their bikes to said same quarry for a swim. Sean drowning during that routine expedition prompts more than survivor guilt in Jake.

The first of many connections between the body dump and the drowning is that now Sheriff Waterhouse is the devoted grandfather of Jake. He is the primary source of emotional support in the period following the death of Sean.

The rest of the film alternates between the '40s and the '70s. We learn the events that lead to the body dump and how Jake becomes a pawn in a scary freaking delayed effort to get revenge against the sheriff.

Three moonshiners who easily could be named Larry, Darryl, and Darryl ambush Jake after school and play mind games to convince her that they can resurrect Sean. The catch is that the price for that miracle is sacrificing the life of her outcast classmate Willie Proctor. A combination of sibling love, a sense that Willie is disposable to society, and the aforementioned guilt make the swap appealing to our 21st century Scout.

The Sheriff getting a small portion of the story after the fateful trip of Jake into the woods prompts him to action regarding the man whom he strongly suspects is behind that recent event. One spoiler is that this dynamic is highly meaningful regarding the title of the film.

Adams nicely builds the suspense in the multiple plot lines to terrific climaxes. The post-war events escalate to the still somewhat ambiguous swimming with the fishes at the beginning of the film, the sheriff tries to put those events fully to rest, and Jake desperately seeks inner peace. This final piece of the artful puzzle has the most creativity and symbolism. It further is closest to the overall theme of "Graves."

The combination of depth (no pun intended), character studies, and mid-scary atmospheric psychological horror make "Graves" a film that just about anyone can enjoy. It also is nice to see a film that understands the true meaning of "dawn of justice."

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wentworth by the Sea Hotel: You Will Never Want to Check Out or Leave

Feeling incredibly achy and tense in the wake of Super Storm Stella and of not getting an annual February thaw-out trip recently drove your not-so-humble reviewer to an overnight stay at the uber-fantabulous Wentworth by the Sea hotel just outside Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The true blessing and the curse of staying there is that one night never is enough.

This grand hotel, which dates back to 1874, is a prime example of expertly renovated resorts of the era that include the Mount Washington Hotel in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It evokes equally strong thoughts of the Stanley Hotel in Colorado that is the inspiration for the Stephen King horror novel, film, and mini-series "The Shining."

This vibe provided a sort-of-a-homecoming in the form of thoughts related to a college-era summer working at the Mount Washington and living in the staff housing on the top floor of the hotel. The Mount Washington currently uses that space for storage, and the Wentworth converted the comparable area into guest accommodations.

The Wentworth staff provided the proverbial friendly and courteous service that enhances stays such as this. Front Office Manager Kathleen deserves special praise for her mad hotel skills that rival those of ideal hospitality industry executive Christine Francis of the '80s Aaron Spelling anthology drama series "Hotel."

The facade of the Wentworth and the elegant classic-style hallways prompted copious "Shining" jokes. Favorites included reporting guilt regarding declining the offer of identically dressed twin girls to play and complaining about a young boy riding his Big Wheel up and down the corridor.

The following photo of the hall allows you to judge the accuracy of the above statement.

The aforementioned style of the Wentworth is one-half of the conclusion that it is a mullet hotel in that it has pristine vintage elegance in the public areas and is upscale spatastic in both the guest rooms and the actual spa that is a perfect example of the restorative centers that many luxury resorts offer as a means to keep their doors open.

Although a tight schedule prevented enjoying spa services, two swims in the pool pictured below were nice substitutes. The water being the perfect temperature and the chlorine level being equally wonderful made these extended exercise sessions (followed by a soak in the whirlpool) special.

The professionals to whom a former roommate referred to as interior desecrators did an awesome job extending the luxury spa facet of the hotel to the guest accommodations. Entering a Grand King Suite, which features fully separate living room and bedroom areas with identically spatabulous bathrooms off of each, impresses luxury-travel veterans and should floor folks who typically patronize mid-range lodging facilities.

The image below is of the living room with a working gas fireplace and a marble bar area with real highball glasses and a stainless-steel mini-fridge. Relaxing there with episodes of the Disney Channel teencom "Liv and Maddie"after a tasty brick-oven pizza dinner in Portsmouth was a perfect end of a memorable day.

The equally desirable bedroom pictured below had the same "just right" Goldilocks quality as the rest of the suite. The good folks at the Wentworth magically found a mattress that was neither too firm nor too soft. That, along with the spa decor of the room, provided my best sleep in a long time; the aforementioned aches and tension were gone the next morning.

The massage rainfall shower head in the marble shower was another treat that allowed feeling rejuvenated at the end of bathing. An amusing element of this was initially being unhappy with the mid-sized towels hanging by the shower. They were larger than a typical hand towel and quite a bit smaller than an average bath towel but did the job. Finding good-sized bath towels in the cabinet under the sink solved the mystery and enhanced a second shower later in the stay.

The only negative aspect of the visit was being so comfortable in the spa-quality robe that almost ended up in my suitcase that I did not want to leave. Missing my kitty and being concerned about reports of an impending snow storm were the primary motives were checking out of the first (but not the last) stay at the Wentworth.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding either the Wentworth or the Portsmouth area is strongly encouraged to email me. You alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

'Blast-Off' BD: Classic '60s Star-Studded Epic Comic Adventure

The Olive Films March 21, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1967 film "Blast-Off" (nee "Those Fantastic Flying Fools," nee "Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon") completes the BD releases of the trifecta of '60s star-studded epic comic adventure films. The other two are "The Great Race" and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." All three are staples of '70s-era Sunday afternoon UHF station lineups.

An especially awesome aspect of "Blast-off" and its kin is that the pace and humor are so perfect that you will want to give then your full attention. You further will see that a big-budget comedy does not require crude humor or elaborate effects.

Burl Ives, who will always be remembered for "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," stars as master Victorian-era showman P.T. Barnum in this (presumably) fictional adventure. The plethora of other stars include dreamy matinee idol Troy Donahue as dashing young Gaylord Sullivan, and British national treasure/"World" actor Terry-Thomas as the unscrupulous Captain Sir Harry Washington Smythe.

The opening scenes of "Blast-off" establish that the Queen is not amused regarding a series of epic failures regarding the endeavors of a group of British scientists. This roughly coinciding with Barnum fleeing to England due to a scandal in America puts this promoter in contact with those men of science just as the latter is combining forces to send a man to the moon and back. Sullivan drops in on all the chaos with his runaway bride in tow and his romantic rival in hot pursuit.

The mayhem escalates with a frantic race against time to complete the wonderfully elaborate rocket. The obstacles include funding difficulty, sabotage, and international politics. This is not to mention placing the aforementioned damsel in distress in a terrifically melodramatic manner.

Staying very true to the genre, the action builds up the climax of the launch. The integrity continues with nothing going right regarding that, the boy getting the girl, and the villains getting justice of the literal and poetic varieties.

The sad truth is that they cannot make 'em like this anymore. Very few stars have the talent and the spirit to fill all the roles, and it seems that the directors with the clout to get a multi-million dollar budget lack the ability to put a film together in the same manner as the comedic masters of the '60s. Fortunately, Olive is providing a chance to see what you are missing.

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

'The Delinquents' Blu-ray: Robert Altman Spot-On Social Commentary

The March 21, 2017 release of the nicely restored Olive Films Blu-ray version of the 1957 drama "The Delinquents" showcases the social commentary of Olive and of writer/director Robert Altman. This successful virgin effort at feature film-making by Altman leads to other classics that include "M*A*S*H" and "Gosford Park."

The following YouTube clip of the GROSSLY SENSATIONALIZED theatrical trailer for "Delinquents" wonderfully reflects the era of the film as much as the realism and sensitivity of Altman.

The awesomeness of "Delinquents" extends light years beyond depicting the escapades of rotten kids and how a good boy goes bad. Ala "Rock Around the Clock" and "Blackboard Jungle" of the same era, Altman shows an understanding of baby boomers as teens.

These pioneers of the modern middle-class typically have more affluence than their parents enjoyed at their age, definitely have more freedom and outlets to express it, enjoy the early days of permissive parenting, and have more free time than the members of the greatest generation. As the epilogue to "Delinquent" indirectly expresses, whether these adolescents channel their angst and excess energy into sports and student government or petty theft and rumbles depends on several complex factors.

The oft-mentioned subtly in this review demonstrates all of the above in a scene in which the parents of the good kids gone wrong collect them at the real-life Kansas City, Missouri police headquarters. The kids are not cocky but also are not especially contrite. For their part, the parents are plenty steamed but largely keep their cool.

This segment further has a scene that is almost straight out of "Rebel Without A A Cause." Altman, who will soon direct the "The James Dean Story" documentary, has one of the boys snatch a cigar out of the breast pocket of his father as they are walking out of the police station.

The proverbial larger level this time relates to Altman subtly showing how the same need for support and acceptance that turns a good egg into a bad seed also allows cults to recruit honor students. The fictional case study of likable and popular recent high school student Scotty falling for charismatic leader of the pack of middle-class punks Charlie shows how easily this can occur.

Scotty is 18 and a member of a textbook '50scom nuclear family. Dad has an undisclosed office job, Mom is a housewife, and 10 year-old sibling Sissy is Daddy's girl. "Billy Jack" writer/director/star Tom Laughlin superbly plays Scotty as a teen who is as sincere being respectful to his parents as he is in being a gentleman with steady girl Janice and having an occasional beer with his (presumably jock) buddies. This makes our hero more Richie Cunningham than Wally Cleaver.

Altman daughter Christine does a great job playing Sissy as the "Kitten" of this "Father Knows Best" family in which Mom overreacts regarding the delinquency problem and Dad does not take that concern seriously enough.

The audience meets Charlie and his punks before being introduced to Scotty and his clan. Altman expertly establishes in the opening scene that the titular bad seeds are trouble from the 1957 perspective. These under-aged party animals are at a bar where a "colored" band is performing. The aforementioned subtly of the film relates to the assertiveness of the group in this setting being limited to the verbal variety. Evan a failed clumsy attempt to use a fake ID does not result in any bloodshed or property damage.

A prime example of Altman-style social commentary soon follows when boredom motivates Charlie and his group to go to a drive-in theater. This is the setting of their fateful random encounter with Scotty, who is fresh off a rough break-up with Janice.

Charlie sets most of the action in motion via exploiting the clear angst of Scotty by persuading him to become an auxiliary member of the not-so wild bunch. This seduction and the impact of it on jealous group loose cannon Eddie provides strong homoerotic undertones by '50s standards. A modern audience must wonder how much heartache, bloodshed, and property damage that Charlie and Eddie kissing would have avoided.

A series of unfortunate circumstance that relate to the aforementioned charisma and jealous leads to Hays Codes developments in which Scotty and Janice horribly suffer as a result of getting caught up with the wrong crowd. However, any fears that Altman does more than dip his toes in the waters of melodrama are unfounded.

The best way to sum this up is that the sense and sensibility of Altman is behind creating a film that inspires the guilty pleasure cheesy Mamie Van Dorn teens run wild films.

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

'Death Passage' DVD: Urban Legend Tale from the Outback Darkside

The latest addition to the horror section of the breaking glass pictures DVD catalog awesomely melds subgenres of this art form. The aptly named "Death Passage" (nee "Lemon Tree Passage"), which hits real and virtual store shelves on March 21 2017, revolves around the real-life urban legend of the ghost of Lemon Tree Passage Road in Australia.

The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Passage" is very true to the film. It provides an accurate sense of the story and has a plethora of fleeting glimpses of the horror that awaits teens who venture where they should fear to tread.

Teen American backpackers are enjoying a day bickering on a beach in Australia when a chance encounter with two slightly older locals leads to a fast friendship that leads to "The Blair Witch Project" horror sans nauseatingly jerky handheld camera shots.

Our trio of Yanks sharing a hackneyed ghost story around a campfire prompts their hosts to ridicule the practice of telling tall tales in such a setting and brag that Aussies only tell true accounts. They then share the story of the the ghost of nearby Lemon Tree Passage Road.

The documented real-life story is that a group of teenagers joyriding in a car cause the death of a young motorcyclist/family guy who lacks blame for the incident. The rest of the story is that this incident leads to the equally real practice of teens driving down the same road at 111 m.p.h. to prompt the ghost to chase them to the end of that route. The manifestation of that pursuit is a motorcycle headlight suddenly appearing in the road behind the car and just as rapidly disappearing at the end of the road. The prevalence of this practice prompts local authorities to do what they can to deter these new drivers from this reckless behavior.

The skeptical Americans calling bullshit prompts an initial ride down the aforementioned road. This leads to these tourists experiencing the suddenly appearing headlight. Their short-lived satisfaction with this proof leads to a second trip into the woods, which is when the fun/terror really begins.

The first creepy moment occurs when the stereotypical oaf of the group is left by the side of the road while the rest of the Scooby gang tries to recreate their earlier experience. Suffice it to say that said lout being placed in the middle of the danger zone does not end well for him.

The ensuing terror is much more psychological than knife-wielding and incorporates past victims of the area. Some members of the group wandering off and/or becoming captives makes sense when all is said and done in a very satisfying conclusion. This result further arguably allows our restless spirit to find peace. One spoiler is that the demon motorcyclist is not a park ranger in a costume who wants to scare away visitors so he that can search for buried bank loot in peace.

The usual copious breaking DVD extras include an actual YouTube video that purports to show the real aforementioned spook, an alternative ending that is even more satisfying than the selected one, cast interviews, and footage of rehearsals.

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

'Eva Doesn't Sleep' DVD: Surreal Portrait Picking Up Where 'Evita' Leaves Off

New York-based foreign movie god Film Movement offers one of its best regarding the October 2016 DVD release of the highly stylized 2015 Argentinian docudrama "Eva Doesn't Sleep." Writer/director Pablo Aguero puts such an odd and compelling spin on the story of the travels of the corpse of Eva Peron (a.k.a. Evita) following the 1952 death of that genuine Argentinian idol that "The Hollywood Reporter" aptly describes the film as "kinky, creepy, and revolutionary."

The following YouTube clip of the Movement trailer for "Eva" perfectly showcases the kink, the creep factor, and the element of revolution in both subject and depiction of the film subject.

The opening voiceover narration quickly establishes that the military officer who introduces the connected short films that comprise "Eva" is not a fan of this woman. As is the case throughout, he then explains how she impacts the culture and the government of Argentina during both her life and her death. One spoiler is that it easily can be said that hers is a face that launches 100 battles,

The first story begins with the young daughter of a woman cleaning the area in which Eva lies in state believing that she sees this historic figure move. This leads to "The Embalmer," which is a very creepy tale of a mortician preparing the body of Eva in what one hopes is an unusual fashion.

We then move ahead a few years to a senior military officer and a young soldier transporting this highly symbolic corpse. This arguably is the best segment and easily the one with the strongest vibe of being a stage play. Both a snag during the mission and the soldier overstepping his bounds leads to a confrontation that includes literally comparing battle scars.

Rapidly jumping to the late '60s finds a general being held captive for the purpose of divulging the location of the body of Peron. This one has depth both regarding the seemingly constant political and military turmoil in Argentina and the extent to which Peron still influences that country more than 15 years after passing away. The primary creepiness this time comes in the form of a sense that Peron has a very active role in this interrogation.

This amazing story aptly wraps up with a tale of where Peron ultimately finds her final resting place. Suffice it to say that this seemingly impacts Argentina as much as her passing several years earlier.

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

' Claire in Motion' DVD: Betsy Brandt Breaks Brave

breaking glass pictures goes all-out indie film character study regarding the April 11, 2017 DVD release of the 2016 drama "Claire in Motion." This tale of Ohio ornithology professor Paul Hunger gone missing compelling portrays the aftermath of this event on the titular grieving (?) spouse/widow(?). Betsy Brandt formerly of "Breaking Bad" and "The Michael J. Fox Show" and currently of "Life in Pieces" shines as this fellow professor.

The following YouTube clip of the "Claire" trailer perfectly conveys the understated trauma and drama that Brandy communicated to a T.

"Claire" commences with Paul going into the woods to practice his relatively new hobby of solo survival trips in which he largely lives off the fat of the land. His failure to return when expected prompts a search. The most probable explanations for the disappearance are that Paul is lost or has fallen and cannot get up (and that that accident may have been fatal.) It is possible that Paul also figuratively went out for a package of cigarettes only to never return or is the victim of foul play. Discovering his car early in the film is a strong indication that something ain't right.

Claire and her tween everykid Connor predictably join the search for Dad and deal with the grief of having a "loved" one gone missing. A scene during this portion of the film is memorable on its own and because it is reminiscent of a scene in the 1999 thriller "The Sixth Sense."

The notable interchange occurs while Claire and Connor are sitting in their car fresh off Connor meeting with a therapist. He tells Mom that the therapist wants him to write a letter to his absent dad in which Connor expresses his feelings about the situation. Claire responds by jokingly reciting the letter as one in which Connor states that he is writing it because the therapist is a naive dolt who does not understand how a boy responds to having his father suddenly disappear and meet an unknown fate. The comparable "Sense" scene has outcast lad Cole spinning a tall tale about being a schoolyard hero while sitting in the car with his Mom. This highly stressed and little respected single parent responds with her own fable of receiving strong praise at work.

Local law enforcement abandoning the search before doing everything that arguably can be done to find Paul is somewhat understandable. The extent to which Claire is fine with this (and the overall situation) is an early indication that her marriage is not made in Heaven.

Claire soon returns to her normal routine only to increasingly learn that Paul is not the man to whom she thinks that she is married. Much of this relates to art graduate student Alison, who is working on a project with Paul and with whom he minimally shares a strong emotional bond. Writers/directors Annie Howell and Lisa Robinson do a good job keeping the audience guessing about the degree to which the Paul/Alison relationship is a cliche.

The overall theme of the reveals is that Paul is deeply unhappy and insecure. He additionally is in the state between love and good bye in which many people in long-term relationships find themselves. Brandt does an excellent job conveying the emotions associated with discovering the true nature of her husband at the same time that she is contending with her feelings of jealousy/resentment toward Alison and the uncertainty regarding the fate of the man to whom she pledged to spend the rest of her life.

The story works because Brandt tells it well and because many of us can relate to the impact of having the most significant person in our life suddenly vanish. Not knowing the fate of that person is very rough, and discovering that he or she has some form of secret life contributes to the angst. This further preys on the fears of us with friends who discover that a spouse finally cleaning out decades worth of junk is part of an exit strategy in which that person announces out of the blue that the relationship is over.

The DVD extras consist of deleted scenes.

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

Monday, March 13, 2017

'The Ardennes' DVD: Belgian Take on Coen Brothers Films

International art-house flick distributor Film Movement greatly furthers the cause of its Film of the Month Club with the (available to all) March 7, 2017 DVD release of the 2015 Belgian drama "The Ardennes." This tale of two brothers who are literal partners-in-crime becoming embroiled in a perverse series of unfortunate events that jealousy and resentment fuel elicits strong thoughts of the darker Coen Brothers films. This crime-oriented story of complicated family relationships also can be considered Euro "Prison Break."

The festival accolades for Movement titles this time primarily relate to essentially sweeping the 2016 Film Festival Oostende. The Movement "why we  selected statement regarding this one reflects that quality in declaring "THE ARDENNES is that transcendent genre picture that Film Movement always loves to find."

The following YouTube clip of the Movement trailer for "Ardennes" artistically emphasizes the Coenness of the film.

"Ardennes" begins with petty criminal Dave fleeing the scene of a minor felony gone bad and leaving his brother Kenny figuratively (if not literally) holding the bag.

The action soon moves ahead four years. Kenny is being sprung from his unfortunate incarceration, and Dave has traded a life of crime for a dead-end job at a car wash. The other big development is that Kenny ex/former drug addict and gun moll Sylvie now is a waitress in a cocktail bar and is living with baby daddy Dave, who is waiting for the right moment to tell his brother about that turn of events.

That omission of fact plays a large role in a wacky misunderstanding that turns deadly. That in turn sends our boys into the titular mountains, which have additionally symbolic value, to seek assistance from the former cellie of Kenny. That is when writer/director Robin Pront really channels les freres Coen.

This wild night additionally involves Dave facing peril at the hands of a woman scorned. The ensuing mayhem nicely illustrates the frustration that Dave feels regarding past and present feelings of guilt regarding his treatment of Kenny, not to mention how badly the reformed life of Dave has gone off the rails sine Kenny has stopped being a guest of the king.

Pront does save the best gory fun for last. He does not have a wood chipper but makes do with the tools at hand.

The short that accompanies the Club selection nicely pairs "Ardennes" with the 15-minute Pront film "Injury Time." This one revolves brutal retaliation for the savage beating of a football (my people call it soccer) fan. It has the same sense and sensibility as the main feature. However, the intensity is even stronger and the finale is more dramatic.

The DVD special features include a "making of" documentary and interviews with Pront and Kenny portrayor Kevin Janssens.)

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

Anatomy of a Perfect Sitcom

The current tense and divisive state of affairs in which a reality show star is president in the latest round of moving from one extreme of the Kinsey Scale of political ideology to the other and a department store discontinuing an underperforming product line triggers a battle royale screams for bringing back unreal escapist television fare. The following is a scheme for just such a sitcom. The bottom line is that this ain't rocket science folks.

Working Concept

Countless classic sitcoms revolve around a workplace because virtually everyone relates to the mostly frustration and limited joy associated with being a wage slave. The boss may not always be right but always is the boss. Similarly, many colleagues are not someone with whom we would socialize, but we still must work and play nicely with them roughly 40 hours a week.

The moldy "we are a family" concept of most workplace sitcoms is one thing that must go. Having a work spouse with whom you enjoy mutual support (and perhaps a regular lunch) is one thing. Taking extreme measures to solve the problem of your cubicle neighbor who has toxic BO and spends all day texting his former frat bros is not.

The other part of this equation is finding something new. This often involves having the action occur in a setting that both is interesting and is somewhere that no sitcom has gone before. This locale additionally should be someplace that naturally gets a stream of customers. This helps keep things fresh.

A post office seems to fit all the above criteria. There are many good postal employees, but this job also attracts a large number of people whose motivation is a pay scale and employment security that rivals that of the U.S. Supreme Court. They further benefit from being perhaps the only federal agency that is not subject to congressional control.

Like numerous classic sitcoms. setting a show in the post office allows the writers to use their personal experiences as fodder for characters and episodes. Your not-so-humble reviewer could get tremendous mileage from his uber-grumpy mailman in his late '70s who took full advantage of having a job that allowed him to be as nasty as he wanted to be and that provided for that veteran civil servant to spend at least two-thirds more days on vacation and sick leave than actually delivering the mail. A favorite story that aptly was the tip of the iceberg was this misanthrope always throwing packages in snowbanks despite dry ground being available. A related aspect of this was learning that postal carriers can keep their route for as long as they want with shockingly few restrictions.

Another its funny because its true postal story was the college boy delivering mail over the Christmas season leaving my mail in the box of my neighbor whose primary residence was in another state when that holiday hire was called on to do that route. Not discovering this for several weeks resulted in paying several bills late and losing a close friend over an argument that a check was in the mail. The response of the postmaster was that the student would still be eligible both to work for the post office and to deliver on my route.

A Sitcom By Any Other Name

The next step in creating a sitcom is choosing an apt title. The good ones cleverly reflect the concept without being trite. "Going Postal" is an obvious choice for the hypothetical series around which this post (no pun intended) revolves. However, it is too obvious and suffers from the same cuteness flaw as the names "Full House" and "Small Wonder."

"Snail Soldiers" has possibility but needs the proverbial work. "Postal Posse" also has potential.

A Star is Cast

Getting a star to headline a new series is tricky. A household name coming off a hot streak has the flaws of being associated with the role that makes him or her a star. Further, he or she properly likely wants more money than a risky venture like this can afford.

Former soap stud/current film director Michael Damian comes to mind as both someone with a good following and whom your not-so-humble reviewer knows to be a righteous dude. He further seems suited to play a straight man postal supervisor who gets caught between the carriers and the bad guy post master.

Other candidates would be '80s teen idol/current indie film star Jason Bateman, "Seinfeld" resident mailman Wayne Knight, or series retooling legend Ted McGinley.

Rounding Up a Postal Posse

Creating an ensemble cast of characters requires a delicate balance between interesting and not being totally unrelatable. You also should be aware that what is satirical today is merely very dated 50 years from now. In other words, none of the characters should have constantly twerking as a defining characteristic.

The aforementioned postal supervisor is a middle-aged middle manager with the stereotypical civil servant attitude of not caring about doing a good job but of caring about his team members. An example is this character letting a next-day package that is addressed to his next-door neighbor be delivered late rather than bringing it home with him but willing to take the hit for a postal carrier who scratches a mail truck.

The aforementioned nasty old cuss will be the main source of humor. This thoroughly unlikable character will work more days than his real-life inspiration only to keep him in the action. He will be rude, crude, and socially unacceptable but immune from consequences because of his tenure. He also frequently delivers mail at a glacial pace due to various physical injuries. One storyline will have him finish his route from the day before just as his co-workers show up for work and then have him start out on the route again only to have the pattern repeat itself. His mail truck having a handicapped plate will be an ongoing joke.

The legacy hire 20-something grandson of the aforementioned crank will be a nicer version of that old man but just as deplorable regarding his work ethics. This former high school jock will engage in antics such as making comical errors while doing his route drunk.

The mother of the group is the strongest stereotype. She is a 30-something mom who gets a job as a counter clerk after her downsized corporate attorney husband must teach at the local diploma mill law school. This postal worker is upper-middle class but not snobbish and has a good work ethic and superhuman tolerance for difficult customers. Her elitism will show up in gentle unintended ways such as driving 5 miles to go to Whole Foods for a bottle of water despite the post office being next to a respectable chain supermarket.

The post master is akin to a female police precinct captain who must contend with the old boys network regarding both the higher ups who got their jobs solely through seniority and the men on her staff who were never raised to respect women.

Any similarities between most of the above outlined characters and any postal workers or others either living or dead is coincidental. The character that is an exaggerated version of the real-life postal carrier (who most likely is deceased by now) from Hell merely is a loose variation of that individual.

To Be Continued?

One can only hope that broadcast and cable network suits will heed this message (and be reminded that comedy is less hard than touted) and get some quality relatable sitcoms in the pipeline for the 2017-18 season. Get to work guys!

Anyone with questions or comments regarding these thoughts as to creating a sitcom that you can (and want to) watch with your kids and your grandparents is welcome either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,

Thursday, March 9, 2017

'Slutty Summer' DVD: Andreas' Gay Boys Dish Truths and Meals Without Fault

Image result for slutty summer images

A series of reviews of earlier works by triple-threat producer/director/writer Casper Andreas of the (Unreal TV reviewed) pink noir film "Kiss Me, Kill Me" continues with a look at the tla releasing DVD of  the 2004 gaycom "Slutty Summer." This film, which stars producer/director Andreas, exposes the minds of the 20-something gay single man of the era. The arguably most important thing to know about this movie is that anyone who either is or knows an idealistic young man with hopes of meeting a Prince Charming with a desire to buy a bungalow and jointly raise two and/or four-legged offspring should watch the harsh truth that Andreas portrays.

The following YouTube clip of the moderately explicit "Slutty" trailer accurately showcases the good humor and themes of the film but provides a new-wave vibe that the highly entertaining film seems to lack. A shot in which a kiss intended for the lips is deflected to the cheek is a we have all been on both sides of that moment scene that shows that Andreas knows that of which he writes.

"Slutty" opens with published novelist/boy-next-door type Marcus (whom Andreas plays with great insight) coming home to find live-in boyfriend naked in what can be politely described as the yin and yang position with another young man. The expected stereotypical response of the boyfriend is every bit as amusing as similar scenes in movies in which a young man uses the excuse that he is not gay to avoid kissing a peer with whom he just engaged in am unrestrained sexual act.

The trauma prompts the abruptly single Marcus to join the wait staff at the New York restaurant where his fag hag straight friend Marilyn, who also is seeking true love, works. Their co-workers include well-portrayed central casting types.

Manager Kevin is high-strung and unduly neurotic about things such as strict punctuality and exactness regarding sugar and sugar-substitutes, but has a poorly concealed crush on restaurant stud/slut Tyler. Andreas awesomely pays homage to the 1999 Mike Judge film "Office Space" in creating Kevin, but sadly leaves out references to flair.

Andreas regular Jesse Archer plays gorgeous and friendly Luke, who uses the titular three months to try to gently teach Marcus the realities (which include the near impossibility of a committed relationship) of being an attractive 20-something gay man in New York. The final member of the group is quasi-outsider Peter, who is less friendly than his co-workers but likable enough to warrant sympathy when Luke plays a cruel practical joke on him.

"Slutty" can be considered a variation of the 2006 gaycom "Another Gay Movie" by "Edge of Seventeen" writer Todd Stephens in that our boys and their hag all embark on or seek summer romances or hookups. The central story has Tyler looking for Marcus to be another notch on his well-carved bedpost, and the latter feeling an attraction but wanting to avoid encounters with someone who is merely Mr. Right Now (or just the object of his erection).

Tyler and Marcus begin their "its complicated" relationship with an amusing seduction that is straight (pardon the expression) out of less respectable gay-themed films. This leads to physically and emotionally satisfying encounters that prompt Marcus to want more and Tyler to want to make his man happy. This aspect of the film leads to discussions, which include the circumstances under which having sex when you meet someone can blossom into a relationship, that gay men across the globe have verbatim.

A related scene that harkens back to the Clinton era has all the waiters hilariously discussing the definition of sex. The pointed-out contradictions alone make this segment must-see and nicely highlight the clever writing that Andreas contributes to all his films.

For his part, Luke is dating a college boy whose naivety clashes with the more experienced/jaded/realistic (?) outlook of this pink Archer. The amusement of Luke regarding this young man having to go home early because of schoolwork is charming.

Aspiring actor Peter contributes humor in the form of his delusional self-image and his hilarious personal ad. He further does not win friends or influential people regarding his predatory work habits.

Meanwhile, Marilyn provides a straight perspective regarding her search for a nice-looking and kind man. Much of this effort supports the theory that all the good ones either are married or gay.

All of this occurs under the not-so-watchful eye of Kevin, who is the Mr. Belding to this rambunctious group of kids.

The realistic cynicism peppered with equally plausible hope for happily ever after (as opposed to merely a happy ending) makes "Summer" a good film for every gay man. As openly gay actor Tuc Watkins states in a recent Unreal TV interview, gay men have different experiences than their heterosexual peers; Andreas entertainingly conveys that from the perspective of one who has been there and apparently has done him (not Watkins).

The DVD special features add a great deal to the experience of the film; the outtakes are a blessing and a curse in that they show Andreas and the cast (who truly do a good job in their roles) more relaxed with each other than they are on screen. A highlight of this is an embarrassed Andreas charmingly apologizing to Tyler portrayor Jamie Hatchett after slightly injuring him during a sex scene.

We also see charming Archer conducting man-on-the-street interviews in which he asks passers-by whether they are sluts. The responses often are just as delightful and fun.

The good folks at tla additionally provide deleted scenes, copious screen tests, and commentary by Andreas.

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

'absolutely fabulous the movie' DVD/Blu-ray: Absolutely Spectacular Adaptation of Cult Classic Britcom

Fox Searchlight Pictures earns an eternal place in the hearts of lovers of broad and bawdy British humor everywhere regarding the DVD/Blu-ray releases of "absolutely fabulous: The Movie." This spectacular big-budget incarnation of the terrifically oft-resurrected international BBC hit comedy series of the same name awesomely comes at the same time that fellow '90s British television comedy legend Tracey Ullman launches a new weekly show. The only downside of these awesome gifts is that the '90s qualifying as a nostalgic era makes many of us feel old.

Other general observations are mandatory before getting to the heart of the "AbFab" film. A memorable Jon Stewart bit during his "Daily Show" days revolves around making films based on television programs. Stewart comments that this does not work because a concept becomes a show, rather than a movie, because it does not warrant becoming a film. "AbFab" is an awesome exception to that rule.

The second observation that a rule regarding film adaptations of shows must be grander than the series does apply in this case. The colors being much brighter, the sets being larger, and the sound and every other element being more exciting scream for getting "AbFab" on Blu-ray.

The following YouTube clip of an "AbFab" trailer clearly shows that the girls are back in town and are as fabulous as ever.

The concept of both the series and the film is that comically self-absorbed legend-in-her-own mind PR agency owner Edina (Eddie) Monsoon spends most of her days and her nights drinking (and to a lesser extent drugging) with equally egocentric childhood best friend fashion editor Patsy Stone. Creative force/writer Jennifer Saunders still shines as Edina as does Joanna Lumley as Patsy.

As a fellow reviewer notes regarding "AbFab," a great aspect of the film is that it reunites the "five Js" of the series. Jennifer and Joanna once again work with third "J" Julia Sawalha, the now 30-something but still uptight long-suffering daughter (a.k.a bitch troll) Saffron of Edina.

Jane Horrocks also returns as hilariously (not necessarily) incompetent/childlike Edina personal assistant Bubble. The final "J" is the now-90 year-old June Whitfield, who plays the daffy mother of Edina.

Whitfield mistaking condoms for rubber gloves to use while washing dishes in an episode is one of the most fabulous of countless unforgettable moments in the series. This genuine trouper cramming herself in a suitcase in the film almost tops that moment and puts fellow nonagenarian Betty White to shame.

The next notable casting note is the plethora of (mostly British) celebrity cameos. These are too fabulous to spoil, but it worth mentioning that all of them make sense to the film. As a hypothetical example, Saunders does not resort to having Benedict Cumberbatch play a taxi driver just to get a cheap laugh.

The final bit of casting worthy of comment apparently has a less pure motive. Former "Glee" star Chris Colfer seemingly inexplicably plays faux-fierce hair stylist Christopher. The likely reason for this choice is to entice the millennial gay boys who love and admire Colfer to check out "AbFab."

The large-scale fun begins with Eddie and Patsy drunkenly arriving in the middle of a glitzy and glamorous show during London Fashion Week. The bright lights and pounding music of this scene alone justifies purchasing "AbFab" in Blu-ray.

Subsequent events that include the latest round in a decades-old feud with PR luminary Claudia Bing, played by Celia Imrie of personal fave Brit shows "Kingdom" and "After You've Gone," make Edina desperate to sign (apparently still) supermodel Kate Moss as a client.

The pursuit of Moss at a glitzy and glamorous reception leads to Edina accidentally knocking Moss into the Thames, where this 90s- era celebrity disappears. This makes Edina (and Patsy via presumed guilt by association) Public Enemy Number One in England. This notoriety in turn causes the gals to flee to Cannes.

Director Mandie Fletcher does a spectacular job contrasting the multi-aforementioned glitz and glamour of London with the calming pastels and clear-blue ocean of Cannes. Setting many scenes in the former in the evening and many scenes in the latter in the afternoon further emphasizes the night-and-day differences in the settings.

The contrast continues with things taking a decidely slapstick Lucy and Ethel visit the French Riviera turn as our heroines attempt to elude both familiar faces and the laws while taking extreme measures to reverse their reversals of fortune. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

The antics include an effort to hide in plain sight, a poolside police chase, and the old motor vehicle in the swimming pool routine.

The finale provides a payoff that is absolutely fabulous in both senses of the word. Patsy and Eddie do not necessarily avoid the consequences of their self-indulgent ways but are oblivious to any lessons that their experiences would have taught us lesser mortals.

The DVD/Blu-ray special features include film promos, deleted scenes (some of which should not have wound up on the editing-room floor), outtakes, and a fun making-of feature with the absolutely fabulous Dame Edna.

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

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

'' DVD: Tale of Dying to Meet Mr. Right

MuchoMuchoMucho Productions and Firefly Films show the benefits of playing well with others regarding the March 7, 2017 DVD release of the 2017 modern cautionary tale "" As the promotional materials for this future cult classic observe, writer/director Chip Gubera successfully combines the horrors of online dating with the tale as old of time regarding the terrors that young singles face when they go into the woods.

The accolades for this film include the Best Feature Film Award at the Bloody Horror International Film Festival in Ottawa and the Best Horror Feature Honor at the Hollywood Boulevard International Film Festival.

The following YouTube clip of the "Slasher" trailer highlights the creepy "Deliverance" vibe while tossing in an element of "Twin Peaks."

Gubera begins with a perversely wonderful scene in which ecstasy soon turns to agony. The next several scenes of media reports and police raids establish that a serial killer dubbed The Slasher is traveling across the country using online dating sites as his hunting grounds.

Personal experience supports the wisdom regarding the reel advice to not use dating sites while The Slasher is at-large. Your not-so-humble reviewer knows someone who ONLY can thank a busy schedule for not connecting with the real-life serial killer dubbed The Craigslist Killer.

We then meet nice young couple Jack and Kristy, who are about to take their online relationship to the next level. They are set to embark on a first date of a weekend getaway in a cabin in the Missouri woods. The asserted idea is to have a chance to get to know each other without the distractions of more traditional early dates.

Our young not-quite lovers first get the sense that they may be in Kansas on meeting Momma Myers, who is the matriarch of a Honey Boo Boo style clan that literally rents city folks cabins in the woods. Momma clearly expressing a creepy attraction to Jack is only the tip of iceberg.

The urbanites soon meet big scary father Jesse and teen the girl ain't right Kaitlin. This leads to our couple traveling to their once-and-future crime scene of a small abode in the forest.

Things literally and figuratively go swimmingly until Momma Myers and her clan literally and figuratively rear their ugly heads. This leads to old-school slasher flick horror in the forms of captivity in a dungeon, chases in the woods, big bads who just will not die, betrayed alliances, psychological torment that rivals the physical variety, etc.

Gubera really shines in roughly the final third of the film. This is when everyone hilorfying shows his or her true nature and the extent to which all of us have a dark passenger. This metaphor becomes completely apt in the final scenes.

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

Monday, March 6, 2017

'Underground Kings' DVD: Gritty Urban Crime Noir

The February 7, 2017 breaking glass pictures DVD release of the 2014 web series "Underground Kings" edited to play as a feature-film shows that the commitment of breaking extends beyond gay-themed films that tackle controversial issues and horror films with awesome dark humor. The titular royals are crime bosses in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The story of likable police detective/loving family man Noah Carter taking on that group seems tailor-made for the Sunday at 10:00 p.m. slot on a premium cable outlet.

Christopher Mann, who stars in the 2016 mainstream biopic "Loving" about interracial marriage. aptly steals the show as central "legitimate" club owner Walter "Smooth" Davis. Davis being kind to your face only to very soon order someone to put a cap in your dome right after you leave and also being sweet to his girlfriend just before brutally beating her for a minor offense provide a sense of how this man gets his name.

On the law side, Harrisburg's finest seem to be getting a long awaited chance to take down Smooth and his business associates only to have a high-ranking official feeding Smooth information. This leading to a drug deal in which the partner of Carter gets killed is the last straw for our hero.

Another piece of this puzzle is big city Agent Daniel House from Philadelphia. He knows the score but keeps running into a brick wall courtesy of the code of brothers in blue. He finds a more sympathetic ear regarding Noah and recruits him to his cause. The wake up call regarding this is that our rookieish cop soon learns that desperate times can call for desperate measures.

The universal elements of "Kings" extends beyond the stock character characters (and others that include a constantly bickering old couple) described above. Audience members with even the slightest savvy know that the partner of Noah excusing his buddy from participating in the drug bust so that he can attend the birthday party of his young son and that partner promising to join the party after that bust ensures that that partner is going to be a fatality of that bust.

The above is one of many examples of "been there done that" in "Kings." However, that merely shows that the director and the writers are staying true to a very successful form.

The even better news is that the breaking practice of including a short by the feature-film director and/or writer really pays off this time. The highly symbolic "The Journey of Herman Stone" outshines the perfectly good "Kings." This one centers around a man who currently is the favorite son returning home to visit family just as his older brother with serious issues is about to become a father. The younger Stone is sent to bring his brother home and get him ready to assume the great responsibilities that he soon will face. This is another one that seems primed for a 10:00 p.m. Sunday night slot on a premium cable channel.

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

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Live-Stage 'Sister's Easter Catechism: Will My Bunny Go to Heaven?': Sister Can Act

Image result for sister's easter catechism

The highly interactive amusing Entertainment Events, Inc.  live-stage production "Sister's Easter Catechism: Will My Bunny Go to Heaven?," which is playing at Trinity Rep. in Providence though March 19 2017, qualifying as a Catholic Spring Fling is very apt. Trinity, which is running "Sister" concurrently with a tubular (Unreal TV reviewed) '80s-themed production of "Midsummer Night's Dream, sets the Shakespearean comedy at a 1986 Spring Fling prom.

Good Chicago Irish-Catholic girl and Second City Theater veteran Nonie Newton-Riley continues rocking the role of Sister after 17 years of channeling this old-school nun in touring one-woman "Late Nite Catechism" shows across the county. The heart that she brings to her current Eastercentric production includes strongly advocating that animals be allowed in Heaven and expressing deep sympathy for an audience member who tells of his aunt being denied burial in a Catholic cemetery because she chose to be cremated.

One cool thing about the audience driving much of the action is that this makes it worth seeing the show several times. Audience members attending the show the same night as you not-so-humble reviewer got to see him face a ruler across the knuckles for replying to Sister accusing cats of stealing money that they put it in the kitty.

The overall theme is that the performance is an adult Catechism class about Easter. An early portion of this that explains how the Roman Catholic calendar is why Easter does not fall on the same day each year. This leads to Sister quizzing audience members and handing out coveted small Easter treats as rewards. Glow-in-the-dark rosary beads and an ascension toy that has a small Jesus rise into a Dixie cup are the coolest of these items.

The second act largely is a series of game show skits in the guise of a quiz. Notable bits include having blindfolded contestants try to guess the identity of famous Catholics in pictures that Sister displays to the rest of the audience. A hint regarding this is that one round screams for a Madonna joke. Another game is a "The Price Is Right" style contest to guess the cost of items in a catalog that sells Catholic-themed items.

The nicest surprise in this amusing improvised overview of Catholicism is that Newton-Riley avoids going Nunzilla. Pre-show fears of slouching earning the aforementioned smack on the knuckles with a ruler go unrealized. Fidgeting does earn the offender a hilarious verbal reprimand.

The humanity of Newton-Riley comes through regarding her encore beginning with telling your not-so-humble reviewer to sit down and then sharing the sad news that retired nuns not being eligible for social security and otherwise facing genuine poverty prompts this class sister act to stand in the lobby with a basket for a collection for a local order. This worthy cause warrants bringing small bills to the show.

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