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Friday, June 30, 2017

'On Dangerous Ground' Blu-ray: Disgraced Cop Experiences Country Justice

The recentish Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1951 Robert Ryan/Ida Lupino (who also co-directs) noir psychological drama "On Dangerous Ground" awesomely breathes new life into a film with dream teams in front of and behind the camera. Orson Welles peer John Houseman is the producer; co-director Nicholas Ray clearly use this film as a prototype for "Rebel Without A Cause," and the frantic score that accompanies a treacherous car chase has composer Bernard Herrmann (who provides the "Psycho" score) written all over it. The gaggle of actors (rather than merely movie stars) who join Ryan and Lupino in bringing the visions of Houseman, Ray, and Herrmann (oh my!) to life include Ed Begley Sr. and Ian Wolfe.

The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN theatrical trailer for "Dangerous" is a good example of such promos for 50s-era noir films.

Ryan plays hard-boiled city cop Jim Wilson, who already is burned out before a frustratingly prolonged search for a pair of cop killers further stresses him. As Wilson laments (and Archive points out on the back cover of the Blu-ray) while beating a subject, he does not want to beat that scumbag whom Wilson and that "upstanding citizen" know is going to talk anyway.

Other great insight into the life of a cop comes in the form of a (seemingly newlywed) married partner of Wilson going to pick up their family man colleague before collecting lone wolf Wilson at his sparse bachelor pad. This shows that the boys in blue simply are working stiffs and often have one or more mouth to feed.

The mouthpiece of the reluctant witness raising a stink requires that the police captain of Wilson chastise his underling essentially only for not demonstrating some restraint. This informal chat also includes warning Wilson to behave better in the future.

Wilson providing another beat down soon after being told to not pummel members of the general public too badly shows that maybe his momma did raise a fool; this leads to the popular punishment/life lesson in films of this nature of being sent to a rural community to participate in the investigation of the murder of young woman.

A rapid break in the case sends Wilson and the revenge-driven father of the victim in pursuit of the prime suspect; this chase ends at the home of spinsterish Mary Malden; despite circumstantial evidence to the contrary, Mary denies that the fugitive from an interrogation and/or shotgun blast to the pumper is en casa.

Wilson and Mary bond as Dad goes out hunting for the most dangerous prey of all; this ultimate puts Wilson in the middle of a confrontation that both is very reminiscent of "Rebel" and adds a layer of meaning to the title of "Dangerous."

"Dangerous" further is notable for the twists near the end of the film; the audience thinks that it knows the extent to which Wilson essentially learns the true meaning of Christmas after getting a sense of the wonderful aspects of life only to have one more rabbit emerge from the hat.

The BD extras consist of commentary by film historian Glenn Erickson and the theatrical trailer for "Dangerous."

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

'Clue Club' DVD: That '70s Saturday Morning Hanna-Barbera Cop Show

Warner Prime reissuing 60th anniversary DVD sets of classic Hanna-Barbera animated series, such as "The Flintsones" and "Scooby-Doo" to name two items in an enormous catalog, makes this a good time to share thoughts on the Warner Archive 16-episode 2-disc release of the 1976 HB Saturday morning series "Clue Club." The teen detectives and their talking dogs solving the crimes of costumed villains make the show a "Scooby clone," the funky theme and graphics of the opening credits and the regular use of a CB radio and other real-life tech. of the era make it an animated '70s cop show. The lack of bubble gum music accompanying the chase scenes is only a minor disappointment.

The members of the titular youth organization are studly leader Larry (Fred), pretty (oh so '70s) girl Pepper (Daphne), wimpy cowardly D.D, (Shaggy), 13 year-old tech whiz/researcher Dotty (Velma), foolishly stupid dog Woofer (brains of Scooby-Dumb with the arrogance of Scrappy-Doo) and loyal everydog Wimper (Scrappy-Doo minus the cocaine). Their cases come to them either through being at the right (or the wrong) place at the right (or the wrong) time, the nefarious deed involving a friend or family member, or the adults who typically handle this sort of thing being stumped to the extent of calling in these meddling kids.

The pilot "Club" episode is representative of the series. The gang testing new surveillance gear prompting an investigation into a printing press running should immediately clue (pun intended) anyone over the age of 10 that this plot revolves around a counterfeiting operation; villains dressed as a Viking and a pirate menace our heroes in an effort to thwart reaching that conclusion. Of course, each revealed clue points to a different suspect until the gang fingers the bad guy whom most viewers can deduce literally is standing around waiting to be caught. The fun in this (and every episode in this series and similar programs) is the journey.

Other early outings have an even easier to figure out heist and a kidnapping by a bad guy who gives himself away at the outset. A favorite equally deducible mystery revolves around a heavy safe essentially disappearing from under the noses of our crime-solvers. Fun moments in this one include a feisty lobster and an alien who resembles Big Foot.

An awesome moment comes in the form of Woofer and Wimper paying homage to the Steinbeck novel "Of Mice and Men." The dogs are lazing in the grass when Wimper asks his leader to tell him how things are going to be one day. Woofer responds with images of a dog Utopia.

Deduction related to the rationale behind dumbing down "Club" relates to the strategy revolving around Scooby. The best brains of the era at Hanna-Barbera come up with "The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, which includes an epic "Josie and the Pussycats" crossover, out of a realization that Scooby fans are a little older and can handle slightly more mature story lines. This seems to lead to develop "Club" to handle the Saturday morning needs of the younger siblings of the true Scooby generation. At the same time, the strong Hanna-Barbera elements makes "Club" fun for kids of all ages.

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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

'Joe Versus the Volcano' BD: Tom Hanks Shows Meg Ryan A Whole Lotta Lava

The Warner Archive June 20, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1990 Tom Hanks comedy "Joe Versus The Volcano" provides a good chance to see the charm of this film from a 2017 perspective. This is not to mention Blu-ray amping up the Coen Brothers caliber soundtrack that ranges from the dystopic 1946 folk song "Sixteen Tons" to the 1966 Rascals pop tune "Good Lovin'" and making the awesome cinematography that runs the gamut from the bleakest of the bleak to the so bright ya gotta wear shades pop.

The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Joe" provides a good synopsis of the film and a strong sense of its style.

The incredibly depressing opening credits and the scenes that immediately follow establish that the titular human combatant is the miserable advertising manager at a medical supply company that specializes in rectal probes. Anyone familiar with the surreal film "Brazil" and other movies of that era that include stylized images of a hellish drab existence get the picture.

A doctor telling Joe that he has a rare brain disease that will kill him in a few months provides Lava Boy proof that just because you are a hypochondriac does not mean that nothing is wrong with you. This news prompts Hanks to exercise his awesome brand of wacky humor in the form of quitting in spectacular style that includes giving his tyrannical boss (Dan Hedaya of the failedcom "The Tortellis" and numerous other roles) much more than one finger.

Future Hanks "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail" co-star Meg Ryan plays her first of three characters in these scenes; she is mousy downtrodden office worker DeDe.

Lloyd Bridges plays millionaire businessman Graynamore, who shows up at the ramshackle home of Joe the next day with the offer of a short lifetime. The incentive of this one-percenter for a good relationship with the hilariously unique natives of a small South Seas island prompts Graynamore to offer Joe a taste of the lifestyle of the rich and famous in exchange for going volcano diving. Some hilarity and a great deal of amusement ensues.

"Joe" goes on to play tribute to the 1989 hit "Driving Miss Daisy" by having our average guy hire an older black man (Ossie Davis) to chauffeur him during a Manhattan shopping spree and to share his wisdom. They almost are best friends at the end of the day.

Joe arriving in Los Angeles brings him in contact with the second of three characters that Ryan plays. Quirky Valley Girl/Graynamore daughter Angelica greets Joe at the airport and plays hostess until escorting him to the sailboat that is going to take him to his final destination in both senses of the word.

The ship provides the setting for the other two Ryan characters; Captain/owner/Grayanamore daughter/Shark Girl Patricia is the anti-Angelica in that she is a preppy outdoorsy type who seeks independence from her daddy. She and Joe bond during their journey.

An incident during the cruise evokes thoughts of another film that involves Hanks being on a mission with an element of absolutely positively needing to get there on time. This leads to the final scenes (which have their own entertaining twists).

The post-bout analysis of the film is that folks who did not love it in 1990 should enjoy it more this time around; it also provides younger viewers who only know Hanks from his modern dramatic roles (or as the dad of Colin Hanks) a chance to experience the wacky comedies from his early career.

The BD extras include a very artistic music video of "Sixteen Tons" and a "making-of" documentary about Joe.

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

'Money From Home' BD: Martin's and Lewis' Day at the Races

Olive Films chooses wisely in selecting the Blu-ray format for the June 27, 2017 release of the 1953 Martin and Lewis comedy "Money From Home." The clownish escapades of this legendary team look terrifically vibrant in the enhanced video of BD, and the silky smooth crooning of Martin sounds wonderful in the upgraded audio.

The screaming-loud "Guys and Dolls" vibe of this '50s film set in the Prohibition-era is attributable to both "Money" and "Guys" being based on short-stories by newspaperman/fiction writer Damon Runyon. One of the most obvious Runyonesque elements of "Money" is the colorful names of the gangsters and other nefarious types in the film.

Martin plays gambler Herman "Honey Talk" Nelson (no relation to your not-so-humble reviewer), who becomes indebted to mob boss Jumbo Schneider; Sheldon Leonard (who is best known for his behind-the-scenes roles in classic sitcoms such as "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and I Dream of Jeannie") awesomely channels Nathan Detroit of "Guys" in portraying Schneider. The entourage of Schneider includes The Seldom Seen Kid and No-Knees Nolan.

Honey Talk has that name because of his exceptional persuasive abilities; Schneider seeks to exploit that regarding making that gambler an offer that he better not refuse. The deal is that Honey Talk must travel from New York to Maryland to attend a horse race for the purpose of fixing that competition.

In typical Martin and Lewis fashion, Honey Talk deceptively coerces his geeky veterinary intern cousin Virgil Yokum (Lewis) to accompany him to help with the scheme. Their "road" adventure starts strong with mayhem on a train that results in Honey Talk using his singing voice to enchant a group of beautiful woman and Virgil coming very close to being a bride.

A subsequently hitchhiking Honey Talk and Virgil get dual big breaks in the form of heavy drinking jockey Bertie Searles ("the guy who was in that thing" actor Richard Haydn does a great job in the role), who is set to ride the horse that Schneider wants to literally or figuratively have an unfortunate accident. Aptly opting to not look a gift horse in the mouth, Honey Talk soon presents himself as the American agent of Searles and Virgil as Searles to blonde beauty horse owner Phyllis Leigh.

Virgil joins the dating game with his very Lewisque rescue of an injured dog from the middle of a busy street brings him in contact with pretty veterinarian Autumn Claypool, for whom Virgil soon falls.

A alternate version of Western drama comes in the form of Leigh needing the income from winning the race to preserve what is left of her rapidly diminishing horse farm. For her part, Autumn is seeking funds for a new animal hospital.

Our two couples are blissfully in the pre-honeymoon stage until the arrival of Schneider and other complications create chaos that includes Leigh learning that she is being played for a patsy in what effectively is a Honey trap. This additionally brings Searles more directly in the action.

Antics during this period include Lewis putting his unique combination of comic skills to good use in hilarious lip syncing, an oblivious Searles remaining constantly intoxicated, and an extended "Scooby-Doo" style chase in a stable environment.

The big scene is the race itself; the gags and related back-and-forth come as fast and furious as the action in real horse races. The Hollywood ending involving awesome poetic justice create a true trifecta regarding this outcome, the manner in which it comes about, and virtually every character getting into the action in one form of another.

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

'Deja Vu' BD: Jaclyn Smith Reincarnated

Olive Films radically brings back the '80s with the June 27, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1985 theatrical Jaclyn Smith supernatural drama "Deja Vu." This former angel plays a modern-day actress who seems to be the reincarnation of a ballerina who died in a 1935 house fire.

Having television star Smith as the lead and the eerie suspenseful nature of the moderate budget film evokes thoughts of the better event (kids today call it appointment television) made-for-TV films of the day. Other fun comes in the form of the film evoking strong memories of the Dionne Warwick (of Psychic Friends fame) song with the same title.

On a large level, "Deja Vu" provides grounds to once again thank Olive for its releases. This Chicago-based company has great skill regarding choosing lesser-known films like this that many of us who were around when they came out missed; Olive also regales us with amusing low-brow (such as the Unreal TV reviewed Scott Baio/Willie Aames '80scom "Zapped") and art films that include the oh so good (also reviewed) "blanche."

The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-DRIPPING promo. for "Deja Vu" provides an excellent synopsis of the plot in a style that shows the aforementioned '80sliciousness of the film.

The present-day role of Smith is Maggie, an American actress living in England with her British novelist fiance Greg. Nigel Terry of "Excalibur" and several other epic films plays Greg; both are very well cast as their individual characters and as a couple.

The entertainingly strong "Charlie's Angels" vibe starts right from the opening scene in which Maggie and Greg are attending a screening of a documentary about the aforementioned dancer, Brooke Ashley. The pair noticing the strong resemblance between Brooke and Maggie prompts Michael to do a little research on the former. This triggers disturbing visions and a real-life incident that provide the first clue that something strange is afoot.

A fascinated Greg then decides to write a screenplay about the life of Brooke; this fully sets the action in motion (and brings the film deeper into "Angel" territory) by having him discover the existence of retired ballerina Olga Nabokova (played with full Old Hollywood style by Shelley Winters) and going to see her. The similarities between Olga and celebrity channeler of that era Shirley MacLaine extend beyond the flamboyant style of the two to Olga soon convincing both herself and Greg that he is the reincarnation of '30s era choreographer/Maggie significant other Michael Richardson.

Greg realizing that his current life is at least his second one triggers flashbacks to 50 years previously when Michael meets and falls in love with Brooke. These scenes further show that the psychotic controlling and judgmental nature of Brooke's mother/fellow fire victim Eleanor Harvey is a serious obstacle to happily ever after for the apparent soulmates.

The present-day action revolves around the recent events triggering a menace that is seeing red regarding Greg effectively reawakening Michael. The creepy threatening answering machine message is only the tip of the iceberg.

One warning is that the gruesome fate of a pet is somewhat expected but still tough for those of us with special furry little friends. A related spoiler is that this scene seems to provide some inspiration for the fantastic similarly-themed 1991 Keneth Branagh film "Dead Again."

Olga is an MVP on Team Greg in all this and her realization roughly an hour into the film is an AHA moment that makes the rest of "Deja Vu" entertaining regarding how reaches that predicted reveal for folks who get it; viewers who do not pick up on this are in for an even greater treat.

The conclusion is a scene that aptly shows that history repeats itself; the touch of dark humor this time provides terrific entertainment.

All of the above shows that "Deja Vu" has something for the entire family and that the legacy of "Angels" remains strong in the immediate period after the end of the series.

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

'To Tell the Truth' DVD 2-Disc Set Documenting History of Documentaries

Distributor of "innovative and provocative documentary films" Icarus Films essentially turns the camera on itself regarding the recent 2-disc DVD release of two of the six episodes (plus scads o bonus features) of the PBS series "To Tell the Truth." The Alec Baldwin-narrated "Truth" takes a chronological approach with a period-apt theme.

Icarus kicks things off with E2, which is titled "Working for Change: Documenting Hard Times (1929 - 1941)" and goes on to provide E3. This episode is titled "The Strategy of Truth: Documentary Goes to War (1933 - 1945)."

Baldwin explains early in "Change" that the pioneer documentaries that this episode discusses are a direct response to Hollywood films with candy-coated depictions of Depression-era American life. In pure documentary style, "Truth" lets images do the "talking" in the form of contrasting a clip (that is believed to be from the film "Pennies From Heaven") in which pretty chorus girls sing and dance in perfect harmony with scenes from an early documentary that shows real people sleeping on park benches and living in the shanty towns known as Hoovervilles.

The star talking head in this episode is documentarian Leo Hurwitz, whose work is prominently featured in "Truth." He and the other talking heads, who include film historians, discuss the related importance of recording the reality of life and of showing both country mice and city mice that any grass that is not covered in dust bowl dirt is not greener on the other side.

Coverage of the efforts to suppress the efforts of Team Hurwitz and others to tell the truth is particularly fascinating and still relevant in our current era of "fake news." A primary target of this attempted censorship in the '30s is the coverage of worker protests.

Recognizing the propaganda aspect of documentaries, "Truth" further depicts the conflicts between Hurwitz and his colleagues regarding the focus of the some of the films. The aspects of this (which are especially relevant in 2017) include whether to rely on the intelligence of the American public to interpret what they see on the screen or to nudge them along by making the persuasive elements of the film more blatant.

"Change" additionally shares the sad fate of an early '40s film "The Native Land," which highlights a tragic story of a farmer who simply wants fair treatment. On a general level, a clip of "Native" shows a highly melodramatic scene with greatly exaggerated emoting that pays homage to silent films. On a more specific level, the audience learns how a valid shift in American priorities prevents "Native" from achieving the prominence that it otherwise is due.

"Strategy" begins with the early Nazi propaganda films that are not documentaries in that they falsely depict every German of that era as being on Team Hitler; it further illustrates one aspect of the ruthlessness of the fuhrer regarding attempting to eradicate the evidence of the prominence of a leading Nazi who falls out of favor with him.

The focus then shifts to the American effort to produce films that are designed to achieve the goals of selling the American public on the idea of going to war against Mr. Hitler and to get men who are graduating high school to enlist in the armed forces. A terrific aspect of this is showing how the Allies use a tried-and-trued tactic in using a Nazi method against the Axis.

As the title of "Strategy" suggests, much of the narrative addresses the issue of whether a film that depicts the truth should be considered propaganda. Regardless of the conclusion of the film. the answer is yes. The most relevant response is that even propaganda that supports your view is propaganda. A related reality is that there is your side, the side of the other guy, and the truth.

A highlight of "Strategy" is a segment on an Army film that "documents" the life of black enlisted men. A shared memo that reflects the deplorable racism of the Army at the time leaves no doubt regarding where that film falls on the propaganda scale.

A lighter portion of "Strategy" discusses the amusing film "The Autobiography (apparently no pun intended) of a 'Jeep.'" The bonus disc in the Icarus set includes this documentary.

"Strategy" further demonstrates its exceptional comprehensiveness in addressing the Army recruiting Hollywood royalty filmmakers to produce propaganda movies; the aforementioned bonus disc includes the previously suppressed John Huston film "Let There Be Light." (Unreal TV has reviewed a Blu-ray release of "Light.")

As Baldwin and other talking heads state both in "Truth" episodes and in interviews for the bonus disc, this series nicely highlights the importance of documentaries. These films often are the only way that viewers learn that "the truth is out there." Considering the scandals that have plagued Baldwin, it is especially amusing that he comments in his interview that he fears being the subject of a documentary.

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

'T2 Trainspotting' BD: The Heroin-Addicted Lads Are Back in Town

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment awesomely bucks the trend regarding overdue sequels regarding "T2 Trainspotting," which is coming out on Blu-ray and DVD on June 27, 2017. The bright colors, highly stylized images, and soundtrack that rivals that of the 1996 original makes buying this one on BD a no-brainer. Choose your format, choose your television, choose your entertainment, choose your bliss.

The other no-brainer is to spend a couple of bucks to buy the DVD of the Oscar-nominated "Trainspotting" as homework for "T2," to enjoy an exceptional film with wonderfully perverse humor, and to have the treat of a terrific double feature.

Following the plot of "T2" does not require familiarity with "Trainspotting," but that background enhances the experience of watching the new film. It also will make those of us who know "Trainspotting" from its theatrical run regret waiting so long to revisit the film on DVD.

The following YouTube clips of the theatrical trailers (in chronological order) of both films validate the opinions expressed above.

"T2" begins with violent psychopath Begbie (Robert Carlyle of "Once Upon a Time" and "The Full Monty") not responding well to be denied parole from his unfortunate incarceration. The action soon shifts to Mark Renton, whom Ewan "Obi-Wan" McGregor currently of the "Fargo" television series plays just as well as he does back in the day (and who displays his Danial Radcliffe style fondness for full-frontal nude scenes), returns to Edinburgh 20 years after the events of "Trainspotting."

Renton returns to his childhood home, which looks exactly as it does in 1996. This also is the first of a couple of occasions in which director Danny Boyle (of "Trainspotting" and "Slumdog Millionaire") makes the most creative use of shadows since "Peter Pan."

Describing the reunions that Renton has with former chums/fellow heroin addicts Simon nee Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller of "Elementary") and Spud (Ewen Bremner) as involving facing his demons is very apt in this case. Much of "Trainspotting" revolves around the heroin use and related nefarious dealings of this trio regarding whom friendship-related loyalty does not go very far. The final scenes of this film revolve around Renton massively demonstrating the franchise theme of betrayal following opportunity.

Getting decades-old resentments out of the way allows Renton and Simon to team up to start an Edinburgh-style brothel; this includes a hilarious scene in which this pair uses every buzz-word and related selling technique there is to get funding for their urban-renewal project.

Although "T2" has less humor than "Trainspotting." it has moments that pay homage to that spirit. One of the best involves a business competitor getting hilarious revenge against Renton and Simon.

The award for most humorous moment of the franchise goes to a perfect sadistic scene in "Trainspotting"  that involves Sean Connery impressions and shooting a previously docile pit bull with a pellet gun to provoke an attack on his owner. (Second place goes to Spud wrestling with the mother of his girlfriend for soiled sheets; the spoiler is that the fan is only thing that is not hit.) Other great "Trainspotting" moments include an American tourist begging for a beat-down and a sex tape getting hijacked.

Meanwhile "T2" era Spud is struggling to get his disastrous life back on track; this includes documenting the past and present exploits of him and his chums.

Begbie, who predictably is not in a forgiving mood, getting his shot at Renton drives much of the action in the final third of "T2." Their initial encounter and almost immediate pursuit is pure "Trainspotting" with a nice dash of classic Western. Their final showdown is a great payoff.

Boyle remains especially true to the "Trainspotting" spirit in the final "T2" scene, which pays wonderful homage to the opening scene of its "parent." One can only hope that Boyle does not keep us waiting another 20 years for a sequel. Choose a script, choose a shooting schedule, choose a release date, choose an award acceptance speech, choose a retirement island.

The Blu-ray special features include deleted scenes, Boyle and the lads discussing making "T2," and audio commentary by Boyle.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Trainspotting" or "T2" is strongly encouraged to email me; you additionally can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

'Bwoy' DVD: Boy Meets Wound

The Breaking Glass Pictures April 4, 2017 DVD release of the 2016 drama "bwoy" nicely expands on the gay-oriented theme of trying to rekindle the flame regarding "the one who got away" in breaking films such as the (Unreal TV reviewed) "Retake" and the (also reviewed) "Lazy Eye." In the case of  "bwoy," the underlying distress is more intense and the subsequent coping technique is more extreme.

The next common element of all three films is their live-stage vibe that every good drama possesses. An attribute that is more specific to gay-themed art house films is that an inverse relationship exists between the extent to which the depictions of intimate activity are graphic and the quality of the films. In other words, film makers who know what they are doing do not need to put fully erect (and inserted) penises on the screen to get butts in the seats.

The following YouTube clip of the "bwoy" trailer reflects all of the above. The moments of online profile distortions are an entertaining diversion.

"bwoy" centers around 42 year-old white guy Brad O'Connor of Schenectady, New York. His current woes include a life that generally does not seem to provide much joy and a depressing job as a collections agent for a credit card company. He also has a slowly revealed drama regarding a young black boy Theatrically trained Anthony Rapp of "Rent" puts his stage experience to good use in portraying Brad.

Although married to a woman, Brad places an online ad in which he states that he is an older man looking for a younger one. This leads to his cyber-relationship with 23 year-old Jamaican man Yenny.

For his part, rookie actor Jimmy Brooks delivers a good Jamaican Gigolo performance. He is cute and charming and strikes a good balance between playing adoring twink and veteran hustler. He further demonstrates good seduction skills regarding giving Brad tantalizing glimpses of what comes between Yenny and his Calvins.

Yenny figuratively pushing all the right buttons with Brad as their courtship intensifies is no more surprising than his ultimately (and increasingly) asking Brad for money. Meanwhile, Brad (who is practicing plenty of deceit himself) is amassing an increasing mountain of debt and further straining an already not-so-ideal marriage to keep his boy happy.

Things come to a head when Yenny engages in what seems to be a tactic for when he gets as much as he feels that he can from a mark. The nature and the intensity of the response by Brad shows Yenny the dangers associated with toying with the emotions of another. As is the case in any modern film of any genre, a Hollywood ending is far from certain. It also includes the message of "Retake" and "Lazy" that going home again may not be impossible but requires a great deal of capital.

The special feature consists of a (sadly unwatched) Q & A with writer/director John Young and his cast.

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Amazon Buying Whole Foods Provides Jeff Bezos More Chances To Be a Dick

The context of the below is that (as shown below) the pending purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon provides spaceship owner/Amacrat Jeff Bezos another chance to effectively probe Uranus regarding both Prime and non-Prime members.

An insomnia-fueled 1:30 a.m. check of the status of an Amazon order prompted a sleepless night (not in Amazon home town of Seattle) on finding that this online retail giant once again delayed an order by waiting to combine it with another for shipping; this was despite the company never allowing adding items to a pending order that is not close to shipping. The method behind that non-madness by non-Prime Amabuyers is to avoid having to meet the free-shipping threshold twice by buying things that he or she really does not want.

The aforementioned policy was especially irksome in the not-too-distant past in which the free shipping minimum was $49. Placing three orders (each of which included items that were added to meet the free-shipping threshold) during Black Friday weekend only to have Amazon hold up two of them to send them with the third, which was delayed to the extent of having it sit in a truck until that vehicle filled up two days later, was extremely aggravating. This under-handed tactic is part of the evil scheme of the Lex Luthor clone (complete with aforementioned spaceship) Bezos to coerce people into buying Prime memberships at the cost of $99/year.

Amaprimes are not subject to free-shipping thresholds and have their orders timely sent out at the expense of the warehouses neglecting the orders (and delaying the promised delivery date if Prime orders overwhelm them) of Amasteerage.

The added insult to this injury, is that your not-so-humble reviewer often waits months beyond the release date for pre-ordered DVDs because Prime orders cut the line in terms of being fulfilled first; this often requires those who ordered very early to wait for a second shipment, which can be much more than a month after the release of the title.

This is not to mention Amazon refusing to act when any customer buys any item from any reseller; the twisted logic is that the item purchased on the Amazon site through an account with their company is not a purchase from them.

The aforementioned late-night musings soon turned to SPECULATION regarding how Amazon will operate Whole Foods assuming that the almost certain purchase of that company occurs. The first assumption that Amazon will offer online ordering of Whole Food products in the same manner that disadvantages folks who opt out of paying Bezos $99 in annual tribute.

One can easily imagine as well that an in-store experience includes special check-out lines for Prime members at least during periods of peak demand. It is also POSSIBLE that Amazon will offer Prime customers preferential pricing in the manner hat it currently does online and at its brick-and-mortar bookstores. One difference is that the high expenses of operating a physical grocery store and the low profit-margin associated with that industry likely will require making non-Prime members absorb the lost revenue associated with the Prime discount. Let them eat gluten-free, dairy-free (taste-free) cake indeed.

On a related note, industry experts predict that the new owner will require that Whole Foods be a ruthless negotiator with its suppliers, who will need to make up that lost revenue somehow. Recently purchasing a large container of Whole Foods macaroni-and-cheese that was at most 10-percent macaroni seems to be an omen of things to come.

The bottom line is that history indicates that the amount of power acquired is proportionate to the related corruption; granting more control over our daily lives to a company that is known to place profit well above people cannot be a good thing. The extreme result will be America being Jeff Bezos' world and its citizens merely the people who live there.

One can only hope that a Lfyt-style company arises to effectively challenge the current uber-retailer.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

'Static Shock' S2 DVD: Batman, and Robin, and Static Oh My!

Warner Archive does fanboys a solid regarding the May 25, 2017 S2 DVD release of the neo-modern superhero animated series "Static Shock" a few months after the Archive S1 DVD release. The Unreal TV review of "Static" S1 delves into the lore of the series; the general concept is that (ala fellow DCU superhero The Flash) a freak accident leaves Virgil Hawkins with electricity-based super powers that he primarily uses to battle the Bang Babys who use the powers that they acquire at the same time as our hero to create mayhem for fun and profit.

The creators of "Static" show equal awesomeness regarding borrowing elements from Marvel hero Spider-man for their dude who also realizes that great powers imposes great responsibility. Both Peter Parker and Hawkins are nerdy high-school boys whose lives literally change overnight. They also both have geeky best friends; the Harry Osborne stock character in the case of "Static"is tech-whiz Richie, who is more of a handler than a sidekick. The similarities continue with both of our champions of justice being middle-class urban kids and with the bright colors and overall visual style of "Static" being similar to that of the aptly titled "The Spectacular Spider-man" animated series of the same era.

The elephant in the room that requires attention before discussing the S2 episodes is that fans validly point out that the Archive release includes the S3 episodes "Consequences" and "Trouble Squared." It is inexplicable that getting these freebies is a cause for ill will. This is akin to being upset when any food product give you 20-percent more yummy goodness for the same price. 

The most likely explanation for Archive jumping the gun regarding releasing the S3 episodes is that the good folks there want to balance out the number of offerings in each release. S1 has 13 episodes, S2 has 11, S3 has a whopping 15, and S4 wraps things up with 13 episodes. Fans do have cause for annoyance if Archive excludes the released S3 episodes from the S3 DVD set.

It is fair to say that Archive should have presented the two S3 episodes in the S2 set as bonuses, rather than merely tacking them on after the S2 season finale.

The first five offerings in "Static" S2 terrifically include every element that builds on the strong base of S1. The aforementioned literal hero worshipers find the season premiere "The Big Leagues" in which Static teams up with Batman and Robin especially notable in the wake of the recent death of Batman '66 actor Adam West. Veteran Batman voice-over actor Kevin Conroy brings the Dark Knight to life in this one in which the dynamic duo follows The Joker (Mark Hamill of course) to Dakota, which is the home turf of Hawkins. 

The Joker (a.k.a. "Uncle J") is in town to recruit bang baby henchmen and to conduct his nefarious business without having Batman and his meddling kid trying to thwart him. A spoiler is that The Joker learns that he always must contend with a meddling kid.

"Leagues" follows the "Static" pattern of including a lesson; in this case, working with seasoned pros teaches Hawkins a little more about being a hero. This education continues when Virgil meets super friends of Batman in S3. 

The next S2 offering is a more typical one in that it depicts the evils of drug dealers in the context of a story in which Hawkins and Richie have one of their occasional tiffs regarding the manner in which the former operates Team Static. Including elements of DCU hero Green Lantern in this adventure makes it even more notable.

The third S2 episode is even more pure "Static" in that a bitter Bang Baby is coercing his reluctant meta-human little sister to participate in crimes that big brother considers justified. The ongoing element this time is that Hawkins' big sister Sharon again comes close to discovering the secret identity of her sibling. The resolution this time is highly predictable but still entertaining.

Basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal appearing in the fourth S2 episode is the second of three "New Scooby-Doo Movies" style episodes with special guest stars. (A.J. McLean of The Backstreet Boys" rounds out this trio.) Shaq finding himself at the wrong (or the right) place at the wrong (or the right) times drives much of this action in this tale in which Hawkins learns about handling fame.

The especially aptly titled "Frozen Out" wraps up our discussion of this quintet of S2 episodes This tale that predates the Disney film "Frozen" by roughly a decade centers around a justifiably distraught homeless Bang Baby who uses her icy powers for evil, rather than good. The related secondary lesson in this Christmas episode revolves around the importance of  respecting the many religions in the world. 

The most general lesson regarding S2 is that "Static" achieves a good balance between the three "Hs" that should guide its genre; hero, humor, and heart. You want the spandex-clad freak who saves you to be the kind of man (or woman) who entertains you with quips and with whom you would want to enjoy a post-drama cup of the hot beverage of your choice. 

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Static" is encouraged either to email me or to reach out on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,

'From Hell It Came' BD: Treemondously Ent-ertaining '50s B Horror Movie

The Warner Archive April 25, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1957 B horror movie "From Hell It Came" is another example of Archive demonstrating that they don't make 'em like that anymore and that the best brains at "Mystery Science Theater 3000" who delight in mocking so-bad-they-are-awesome films have at least one that got away. All of this shows that this is one time that "Hell" terrifically is for children of all ages. (Advance apologies for the so-bad-they-are-awesome tree puns in this review of a film that centers around a demon whose bark is worse than his bite.)

As an aside, one thing that makes "Hell" one such a delight is that is seems that the perfectly good cast is selected based on not being busy with another B-movie. The one exception is that the acting of the (presumably) man in the costume of the aforementioned Hell birch is wooden despite that character making progress in a quest to be a real-live boy.

A second aside is that "Hell" shows the potential for a "very special episode" had "Gilligan's Island" received a fourth season.

The following YouTube clip of the Archive promo. for "Hell" nicely illustrates that "Hell" IS your daddy's low-budget thriller.

"Hell" begins South Sea Islands prince Kimo (San Francisco native Gregg Palmer) staked to the ground while the local witch doctor presides over a kangaroo court in which Kimo is facing a charge of conspiring with the visiting American scientists whom the big bad voodoo daddy blames for recent regicide on the island. This brief proceeding concludes with executing Kimo and vertically planting him six-feet under in a wooden coffin.

The action then shifts to the surprisingly tricked-out base of the aforementioned male scientists. This segment provides exposition ala the scientists discussing being on the island for the dual purposes of evaluating Cold War-era fallout and trying to help with an independent epidemic to which natives are falling prey. One spoiler is that that illness is not Dutch Elm disease.

Comic relief soon literally and figuratively enters in the form of highly brash Cockney merchant the widow Kilgore; this broad in every sense of the word essentially recreates the purchase of Manhattan for $24 several times a day in her trading post. She also is seeking husband number 4 among the scientists but clearly is barking up the wrong tree.

The arrival of pretty and pure blonde medical researcher Dr. Terry (regarding whom one of our heroes pines) ensures fir sure that she will end up having tree demon Tabonga figuratively carry her to the top of a skyscraper only to have her big strong love interest rescue her at the last minute; the Hays Code requires sticking to that formula and does allow our hero to leaf her.

The researchers are stumped on discovering mysterious new flora at the grave site; observing both an odd sap and a heartbeat prompts the group to transport the item to their base so that they can get to the root of the matter. Mary injecting this lab rat with an experimental serum apparently accelerates its growth to a level that allows it to escape and to begin a campaign of vengeance against those that done Kimo wrong.

The ensuing mayhem leads to the aforementioned inevitable confrontation. A survivor branching out in the aftermath is very apt.

Surprising depth comes in the form of ambiguity regarding whether Tobango is a product of voodoo or of the aforementioned effects of modern warfare. The moral either way is that Mother Nature is a bitch.

The Blu-ray extra consists of the '50stastic theatrical trailer for "Hell."

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

'The Gumball Rally' BD: That '70s 'Great Race'

Warner Archive chooses wisely in releasing the star-studdish 1976 madcap comedy "The Gumball Rally" on June 17, 2017. This is the type of fast-paced summer fare to which 1976 audiences fled for quality entertainment in air-conditioned comfort. The notable aspects of "Gumball" include the differences between it and the similar (Unreal TV reviewed) '60slicious "The Great Race" highlighting the New v. Old Hollywood style of the film. "Race," which arguably is one of the last Old Hollywood films, was filmed on a much more fantastic scale and was largely populated by "Golden Age" studio system Hollywood royalty.

Conversely, the "young lions" in "Gumball" include Michael Sarrazin ("For Pete's Sake" and "The Reincarnation of Peter Proud") as business executive/race organizer Michael Bannon, Gary Busey as redneck racer Gibson, and future indie film luminary Raul Julia as professional racer/womanizer Franco. Other "central casting types" include the young college professor, the bored upper-middle-class housewife, and the eccentric upper-class old men.

As an aside, the Busey highlight involves him trying to pee into a bottle in a car that is going more than 100 m.p.h. on a windy road. Sarazzin steals the show right from the opening scenes in which he is dreaming of the race while presiding over a painfully boring business meeting. One can easily imagine even 2017-era executives relating to the suit-clad Bannon fantasizing about racing across America.

The heritage of "Rally" includes almost certainly inspiring the 1977 Burt Reynolds classic comedy "Smokey and the Bandit."

The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Gumball" highlights the aforementioned elements of the film.

One odd aspect of "Gumball" that reflects the New Hollywood style of the film is that the opening credits are very '70s style artsy but only list the behind-the-scenes folks; the actors must wait until the end to get credit where credit is due. The most probable explanations either are to keep the run-time to rough 1:45 minutes or to provide the audience the delightful surprise of seeing who is in the film as the characters appear.

The concept of "Gumball" is that invited participants gather in Manhattan to start a covert 2,900 mile race to Los Angeles. Unlike Fight Club, there are rules; they are "no catalytic converters and no 55 miles an hour speed limit." In other words, the racers cannot drive 55. A guideline is to keep collateral damage to a minimum.

An especially fun/very '70s "Easy Rider" style anti-authority element of "Gumball" comes in the form of veteran cop Roscoe, who is obsessed with thwarting the illegal activity. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of this type of film knows how that goes. The humiliation that writer/director Charles "Chuck" Bell, whose credits include a handful of "Knight Rider" and "Baywatch Nights" episodes, inflicts on that law enforcement officer revolve around the racers always easily being a proverbial step ahead of him. A "Knight" trick in the form of temporarily hiding a car in a big rig is one of the more clever ploys; ridding Roscoe of his trousers is the most amusing degradation.

The overall reckless driving contributes the strongest element of the must-see (and Archive released) '60s Hanna-Barbera cartoon "Wacky Races." The dirty tricks, which are too fun to spoil, that the drivers pull on each other also are right out of the cartoon. Any of these ploys would cause awesomely sadistic dog Muttley of "Races" to gleefully snicker.

Much of the fun of "Gumball" relates to rooting for your team, wondering who will win, and anticipating the next time that the group makes a total fool out of Roscoe. The one spoiler is that Ball does not disappoint regarding the payoffs.

The Blu-ray special feature consists of the theatrical trailer.

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

'Crazy All These Years' DVD: Melange of 'One Who Got Away' and Caring for Estranged Dying Parent Drama

Tla Video division dekkoo marks aptly marks Pride month with the DVD release of a movie that is one of countless examples of gay-themed films with messages that are equally apt regarding tales that center around straight characters. The recently released "Crazy All These Years" finds beefy Manhattan model Ben returning to his native small-town home to care for his dying mother regarding whom he has been estranged since fleeing that community for "bright lights, big city" life on graduating from high school 15 years earlier. Ben being gay is only one of numerous causes of the estrangement.

The reel and real-life tradition of years of mutual resentment that lead to varying degrees of estrangement that lead to having to come to terms with those tears and recriminations as Mom or Dad are facing fairly imminent deaths occur regardless of with whom the adult child exchanges bodily fluids. "Nothing in Common" (1986) and "Dad" (1990) are two of the better known examples of this sub-genre of film.

The following YouTube clip of the "Crazy" trailer highlights the low-key indie vibe of this leisurely paced (but not boring) film; all this makes is a good choice for a hot-and-humid summer day.

The gay element comes in via literally girl-next-door Lori. This good Samaritan steps in when desperate times in the form of no other option existing regarding the care of Martha prompts the desperate measure of Lori stepping in to care for this mother of childhood friend/high school "its complicated" Ben. For his part, Ben considers Lori's brother Joe, with whom Ben shares a somewhat murky romantic past, the one who got away. For his part, the response of Joe to Ben leaving him behind is to marry a woman. Every gay man (and every audience member) knows that Joe and his never-seen wife are not living happily ever after.

The numerous reasons that all this overwhelms early 30-something Ben include that he is unaccustomed to caring for anyone, let alone having someone depend on him for extensive care that includes help using the bathroom. Further, as indicated above, he must literally face several tough avoided issues. For her part, the very stubborn Martha is none to pleased to rely so heavily on a child whom she considers far from an ideal son.

Moving next door, a divorced Lori is living a not-so-happy life as a tenant in her childhood home. The return of Ben represents a means of escape from a lonely existence that includes a tedious middle-management job with the only large employer in the area.

Joe presents a more interesting dynamic in that the return of Ben stirs related feelings of lost love and of reconsidering his decision to suppress his homosexuality in order to get along in a community in which he otherwise is the only boy previously brave enough to be known to like other boys. The desire of Ben to have his true high-school love realize the importance of the principle of to thine own self be true is the least selfish of his reasons for wanting to convert this current closet case back to the "dark side."

As is the case in any good drama, our four tortured souls realize more about themselves and the people in their lives through the dialogues (and the very limited sets) that create a strong live-stage feel to "Crazy." The saddest part of this is that reel and real families and the important persons in their lives either wait for dire circumstances to obtain this inner peace or allow the root of the aforementioned discord to be planted six feet under before achieving peace, love, and understanding.

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

'The Originals' S1 DVD: Vampire Diaries Anne Rice Style

The following observations regarding the Warner Prime S1 CS DVD set of the "The Vampire Diaries" spin-off "The Originals" are the first entry in a trilogy of reviews on this series, which is the "summer reading list" for Unreal TV in preparation for the Warner Archive August 29 2017 S4 BD "Originals" release.

The following YouTube clip of the "Originals" S1 trailer provides a wonderful sense of the lore and the tone of the series and showcases the great use of the New Orleans locations.

As the title indicates, "Originals" centers around the former humans who became the first vampires roughly 1,000 years ago; this makes them the great, great, etc grandparents of the bloodsuckers of "Diaries."

The S1 quest of the three ancient Mikaelson siblings around whom "Originals" revolves is to regain their dominance of modern-day New Orleans, which any reader of horror novelist Anne Rice knows is heavily populated by vampires, werewolves, and witches all of whom are expected to maintain low profiles. One cool element of this is that it seems that every exterior shot is filmed on location; one spoiler is that none of the dreamy stars engage in the flashing that being granted Mardi Gras beads requires.

The relationships among these members of the Mikaelson clan show that family never changes. Following the theory that evil always is more interesting than good, outcast Klaus expresses his related (pun intended) resentment and frustration through a centuries-old pattern of ripping out the heart and or throat or simply shiving those who either annoy him or stand between him and his current objective. Rebecca is less evil but has a very healthy libido for one so old and typically does not hesitate to scheme or otherwise plot against her siblings or anyone else. Elijah is the Bobby of this version of the Ewings. He generally is the nice guy who values peace but goes to the dark side when he believes that the circumstances warrant doing so.

The primary "Diaries" tie in S1 of the "Originals" is that minor character of the former Hayley Marshall is the baby momma of the werewolf/vampire hybrid of Klaus. The symbolic and literal importance of "Eddie Munster" prompts the Mikaelsons to kiss and make up to the extent possible to protect both Hayley and her pregnancy.

The alternating foe/ally in this primetime drama is former slave/equally former Klaus protege Marcel. He and his vampire army are maintaining the peace among those creatures of the night, the witches, the werewolves, and even the muggles until the campaign of Klaus creates massive bloodshed and even more mayhem. The overall theme regarding this is that even the players who have been around for just a few centuries do not heed the lesson that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

A brief synopsis of the 22 S1 episodes is that it seems that every prominent vampire gets shivved at least once, control of the central city changes hands more frequently than the Italian government, "Diaries" fans get massive payoff in the form of revealed Mikaelson and general vampire lore, hexes, and the importance of playing nicely with others is emphasized.

A nice contrast between "Diaries" and "Originals" is that the cast acts their apparent age; we do not get high school students who minimally have not attended that institution for a decade.

Further, there seems to be a tighter focus on a smaller ensemble. It is equally cool that New Orleans plays more of a role than the generic small-town around which "Diaries" centers. The Big Easy is one of the more unique cities in America and deserves a series that reflects its actual history and its legends.

The award for best S1 DVD special feature goes to a 13-minute making-of documentary that creator/"Dawson's Creek" veteran Julie Plee hosts. She and the other talking heads discuss the origins (no pun intended) of the series on "Diaries," share fun casting stories, and tell how the CW network throws them for a loop early in the production process.

Other extras include the 2013 Comic-Con Panel and a 2014 PaleyFest Panel.

Anyone withe questions or comments regarding "Originals" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvguy.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

'From Hollywood to Rose' Theatrical: Runaway Bride Meets Imperfect Strangers on a Bus

The 2016 comedy "From Hollywood to Rose," which is following up a successful festival run (and presumably upcoming DVD/VOD release), with a June 16 premiere at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles, is a textbook quirky indie film. Virtually the entire film being shot on location in the seedier parts of Hollywood is the first clue that this ain't a Paul Feig joint.

The additional indie cred of "Hollywood" includes the award for Best Comedy Film at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival and the Best Comedic Screenplay honor at the Manhattan Film Festival.

The following YouTube clip of the "Hollywood" trailer seems to introduce every freak whom the filmmakers provide for your entertainment.These characters are scary because they are true.

The film centers around "woman in wedding dress," whom we first meet on her way to board  a bus. The next several hours of reel time mostly have her encountering the freaks and otherwise desperate souls that ride the buses of Hollywood at night. A personal favorite is bickering drag queens with neon hair, scruff, and hairy armpits having a lovers' quarrel.

The most prominent strangers in the night who meet this initial Silent Bride are a Kevin Smith clone and his equally passionate fanboy buddy who start their evening observing the bus-going public until car trouble requires that this pair join the unwashed masses who rely on that mode of mass transportation.

The two scifi fanatics (essentially billed as "guys in t shirts") slowly draw out the distressed middle-aged woman in white. This therapy turns out to be just what the herbal-remedy dispensing doctor orders.

The adventures of our group include a memorable visit to a second-choice froyo shop, an intense discussion regarding "Blade Runner," and the woes of peaking young in life.

The larger theme of "Hollywood" follows a tradition of film back to its origins. Outcasts and/or misfits find family in folks experiencing similar circumstances. Banding together eases the pain and can make you feel that you at least are better off than "that guy."

The bottom line is that the '80s new wave cinema style quirkiness and overall grit entertain; the relatable elements of family provides substance.

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

'The Finger: A Comprehensive Guide to Flipping Off' Give Dad 'The Finger' for Father's Day

Aside from the awesomely juvenile premise, the greatest thing about the book "The Finger: A Comprehensive Guide to Flipping Off" is that it is a reality after a presumably drunken evening during which the co-authors think to document the history and every other aspect of an act in which most of us engage to varying degrees. The best way to describe the appeal of the book is that 90 percent of us who have extended said digit in the face of an offensive individual say that we find it immensely satisfying; the other 10 percent are liars.

This tome with a nifty lenticular image of the titular act presumably graces the shelves of some Spencer's Gifts; it definitely is available through a Seattle-based online retailer that both shall remain nameless and deserves to be the frequent recipient of the gesture around which the book is centered.

One can further speculate that real-life Greendale College (or Grant College for children of the '80s) Evergreen State College either has or will offer a course based on this book. If so, attending the final exam is worth flying to Washington state.

The heavily (and hilariously) illustrated book begins with an overview of the subject and goes on to discuss the centuries-old origin of the gesture that modern society knows and loves. This portion of the book also dispels a long-standing myth regarding the topic.

One of many notable elements of "The Finger" is  documentation of covert use of this form of communication; this includes a photo of a 19th century team photo and a propaganda image that demonstrates that POWs remain loyal to truth, justice, and the American way.

We further see photographic proof that puttin' on the Ritz is not the only activity of Rockefellers and other household names. The context of the latter often involves paparazzi or the heat of a sports competition.

Wonderful humor relates to an extensive section on foreign variations of hand gestures that express great disdain; beyond being informative and entertaining, this provides a chance to enhance travel experiences with plausible deniability in the form of being a stupid American who alleges that he (or she) knows not of which he (or she) expresses.

A related portion of "Finger" addresses variations of the American method for indicating that someone is "Number One." This extends well beyond the "I'll turn up the volume" technique that the book reminds us that the '80s film "The Breakfast Club" highlights. (A personal variation from high school days is the quilt-o-gram in which the gesturer is shrouded in a blanket and tells the offensive peer that he or she has a special message before turning to that individual and delivering the communication.)

The authors add genuine substance regarding covering legal proceedings surrounding the making of the gesture (almost always involving a driving incident and often having an element of interaction with a law-enforcement official.) The gist of this is that said gesture MOSTLY does not violate obscenity laws and OFTEN receives protection under freedom-of-expression principles. However the wisdom related to an abundance of caution suggests not doing the crime unless you are willing to do the time.

A desire to not further run the risk of a reader vigorously extending his or her offensive digit at his or her screen regarding spoilers as to this book is prompting concluding this review with a hearty endorsement of it.

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

'Wild Awakening' DVD: Gay Wyld Stallyns Rule!

Foreign art-house division of tla video tla releasing fully gets in the spirit of gay-themed summertime escapist fare with the recent DVD release of the 2016 Spanish drama "Wild Awakening." This muy caliente telenovella-style film is the perfect cure for the hot and humid day that ails you. The copious softcore footage of beefy men enjoying what truly is a dude ranch and the additional scene of a playful water fight alone will satisfy many viewers.

The following YouTube clip of the "Wild" trailer highlights the mix of erotic and dramatic elements in the film.

This awesomely campy melodrama opens with the fabulous suspects being hauled downtown as part of an apparent murder investigation. These overwrought individuals assert that they did not do it and then go on to finger someone else.

The object of all this affection is hunky horse farm laborer Aaron. This rural cowboy is the son of foreman Ramon and the prey of sibling farm owners gay party boy/slut Toni and his more responsible/respectable sister Emma. For his part, Ramon expresses a pathological hatred toward Toni and the shirtless musclemen whom he invites for rides.

This questioning ends with pre-op tran Gina recreating a famous movie scene that no audience will ever view the same way after seeing this variation.

The action then shifts back roughly a week; it is business as usual on the ranch. Toni is sleeping in with his beau du jour, Emma is bearing most of the burden of running the business, and the bulked-up friends of Toni are not riding bareback but are barechested.

Emma making a move on Aaron prompts Toni to strike while the ranch hand is hot; the seduction attempt by the eldest son includes encouraging Aaron to join the festivities that he and the boys are enjoying. This blatant effort to corrupt his son sends Ramon to the brink of insanity in a manner that plays a role in the subsequent police action.

Other telenovella drama enters in the form of Ramon having a dark secret, the "one who got away" returning, and childhood drama resurfacing.

The climax to all this is satisfying; the audience has a good idea of the outcome but get more of a happy ending than anticipated.

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

'Good Mourning Lucille' VOD: Millennial Style Agatha Christie

Breaking Glass Pictures aptly uses the millennialcentric VOD, including iTunes and Amazon Instant, format to recently release the quirky 2014 murder mystery "Good Mourning Lucille." The concept of this one is that the titular bereaved 20-something is gathering those nearest and dearest to her beloved (and departed?) twin on the six-month anniversary of the mysterious disappearance of that sibling.

As the Breaking press release points out, "Mourning" pays homage to the wacky '80s murder-mystery "Clue" based on the board game of the same name. Although not as B-list star studded as the '80s film, "Mourning" populates itself with the same type of quirky characters.

The following YouTube clip of the "Mourning" trailer highlights the quirky indie comedy with the 2000s twist style of the film.

Lucille is the flaky lesbian outcast sister to the straight and better loved Rachel. The unusual suspects begin with Rachel's close-friend-since-childhood Sonia, Sonia's emotionally unstable girlfriend Madeline, former college roommate Geneva, and couples' therapist Selma. Writer/director Vanessa Libertad Garcia rounds out this girl-power group with loutish pretty-boyfriend Jack.

Lucille lures the group to the family villa with a pretense only to soon make them surprisingly compliant prisoners with minimal complaint. The fraying of nerves leads to equal measures of bodies and secrets/resentment being revealed. An element of the modern version of 15-minutes of fame contributes further commentary on the generation that both is (arguably excessively) encouraged to express their emotions and feels entitled to get a trophy merely for showing up.

Much of the fun of the film relates to "Mourning" becoming increasingly electrified as the aforementioned tensions build. It is tremendously apt that a minor theme mirrors the concept behind the early MTV reality show "The Real World" of enticing viewers with the promise of seeing what happens when people stop being polite and start being themselves.

Highlights include humiliating Jack well beyond discussing that he still wets the bed, Geneva channeling Joan Crawford, and Lucille putting herself in several situations in which she got some 'splainin' to do.

The movie having a strong live-stage vibe is another good aspect of this; you will get a sense that you are watching an improv repertory group.

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

'Three Sisters' DVD: Fascinating Portrait of Life in Rural China

Icarus Films chooses wisely regarding selecting the 2012 Chinese film "Three Sisters" for the return to its roots of distributing "innovative and provocative" documentaries after releasing several equally stimulating fictional foreign films, such as the Unreal TV reviewed pitch black "Heathers" style "Alena." "Sisters" hits real and virtual store shelves on June 13, 2017. One of many terrific things about this movie is that it achieves the documentary ideal of equally entertaining and educating the audience.

The nine major film festival awards, including several "Best Film" wins, reflect the compelling nature of director Wang Bing turning his camera on the titular siblings and allowing the audience to watch them surprisingly happily go about their impoverished daily lives sans narration and talking heads. Additional praise comes in the form of "Sisters" being a New York Times Critics' Pick.

Ten year-old YingYing is the surrogate mother to 6 year-old Zhenzhen, and the baby in every sense 4 year-old Fenfen. The actual mother is completely out of the picture, and Dad is in the city trying to earn money. A nearby aunt provides some support.

Watching these girls living alone on an isolated farm in 19th century conditions as if doing so if normal is more fascinating than anything from Hollywood in the past several years. One scene in which uncomplaining children collect dung in baskets with their bare hands makes you want to rip the video game console out of the hands of every spoiled brat in the Western world who refuses to clean his or her room and drag that ungrateful cur out to live in the garden shed for a weekend.

The roughly 2:30 run time and the 2.5 years of filming in "Sisters" provide a great deal of ground to cover. It starts well with an opening scene that perfectly introduces the concept of the documentary in a relatable manner. YingYing is getting everyone ready in the morning; Zhenzhen is picking on Fenfen. That meanness prompts Fenfen to cry, which requires that YingYing scold one sister and comfort the other.

Another relatable segment has YingYing have a schoolyard conflict and attend a typical Chinese-style class a short while later.

One of the more amusing moments relates to a baby goat misbehaving. Other memorable ones include Dad and his father discuss the former hiring a matchmaker to find him a new wife. Dad stating that he wants any potential mate to fully know what she is getting into contributes a fun "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" element.

A scene in which Dad and the younger children board a bus provides a good sense of the bureaucracy of China; suffice it to say that this event fully illustrates the regimented style of life in that country.

Politics only directly comes into play once. The agenda of a meeting that Dad attends includes discussing the expansion of electric service. The gist is that the government is pursuing what seems to be a standard policy of benefiting the haves at the literal and figurative expenses of the have-nots.

The special feature includes a comprehensive 16-page booklet on both "Sisters" and Bing. The insights in an essay provides a strong "You Are There" sense.

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

Saturday, June 10, 2017

'Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story' DVD: Model Version of 'What's Love Got to Do With It'

The Warner Archive DVD release of the sweeps month November 1981 Made-for-TV movie "Death of a Centerfold" is an apt second entry in this series of summer reviews of vintage Archive releases. This small-screen version of the 1983 film "Star 80" that depicts the story of murdered Playboy model/aspiring actress Dorothy Stratten (Jamie Lee Curtis) follows a look at the Archive DVD release of "Triple Cross," which is a Christopher Plummer theatrical release of a biopic of WWII spy Eddie Chapman.

The titular pinup gal essentially is a waitress in a cocktail bar when sleazy small-time crook Paul Snider (Bruce Weitz of "Hill Street Blues") first meets her and ultimately turns her into someone new. The full story is that naive recent high-school graduate Dorothy is working in a Vancouver ice cream shop when Snider discovers/quickly seduces/exploits her. The master manipulator knows which buttons to push and essentially shames her into posing for the nude photos that launch her career.

In true Ike and Tina Turner style, Dorothy becoming a star in her own right infuriates an insecure and jealous Paul. The menacing behavior of the latter to the kitten of the former is harrowing to anyone with any warm feelings toward pets.

A fun TV-movie style element of a subplot has "Brady Bunch" star Robert Reed play film executive/Playboy Mansion hanger-on David Palmer. The personal and professional interests of Palmer regarding Dorothy led to his taking her under both his wing and his roof. Needles to say husband of obligation in a marriage in which love has very little to do with Peter does not take kindly to the Dorothy/David relationship.

Folks who are familiar with the events on which "Centerfold" is based know how things work out but will enjoy the wonderfully campy presentation of the events that lead up to that outcome. Folks to whom all this is new will enjoy the suspense regarding whether Dorothy lives happily ever after or becomes the basis for a stop on a Hollywood death tour.

The lesson of this tale (as well as of most of the other real-life cases in which a discovery outshines her discoverer) is that any literally or figuratively small-town girl who meets a Prince Charming who promises her a fairy-tale life of fame, fortune, and true love must proceed with extreme caution and have an exit strategy.

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

'Handsome Devil' DVD: The Devil is in Details Regarding Price of Being Queer in a Highly Conformist Society

The many reason that the Breaking Glass Pictures June 6, 2017 DVD release of the 2016 Irish coming-of-age dramedy "Handsome Devil" is special is that it reinforces the theory of a highly insightful dude that a boarding school is a jail for kids who are sold the bill of goods that it is good for them. This is from the perspective of the beneficiary of a good education and some awesome friends at the costs of being abandoned by his parents and enduring two years of bullying by a hockey jock. (Hi Dan. I assume that you outgrew the literally nightly "midnight raids" that delighted you so much.)

Related boarding school insight from "Devil" comes in the form of the new kid at school joining that community several years after his peers. The closeness that comes after extended mutual confinement and shared adolescent experiences make it tough for the outsider.

This film further perfectly personifies the Gospel According to Unreal TV regarding Gay Pride. The spirit of that celebration is not provocative acts; it is showing that being yourself is proper and nothing to fear. Although not the "Devil," the hero/narrator to thine own self is true throughout despite the abuse that this prompts. The most blatant symbol of this is Ginger high-school boy/studious lad Ned in a sea of blond and brunette rugby jocks learning on his father and the trophy wife of said sire dumping him for another year his all-male boarding school that he is the only student without a roommate. 

Ned sees this as a means to avoid his tormentors; they view this as an opportunity to call him gay and assert that he is being deprived of a roommate to spare a fellow student a "midnight raid" in the form of anal rape. Another way that Ned is not like the other boys is that his appearance is slightly awkward, and virtually every other lad is a candidate for the cover of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog. 

An element of all this is that the popular lads quasi-aptly use the term gay (i.e., queer) as an insult of a misfit and only tangentially as a commentary on sexuality. The manifestation of this includes a rude in both tone and intent noise that the dumb jocks consider subtle.

The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Devil" showcases all of the above and everything else that makes the film a great treat for Pride or any other time that anyone needs help feeling good about himself or herself.

The accolades for writer/director John Butler handling his subject well include earning the Best Irish Feature awards at the 2017 Dublin Films Critics Awards and Jameson Dublin International Film Festivals. Including the film in mainstream festivals and bestowing those top honors awesomely shows that we've come a long way, Baby.

The aforementioned bliss of Ned is shattered on learning early in the new school year that transfer student with a secret/rugby star Conor is his new cellie. The response of Ned on returning to his sanctuary to see a barechested Conor doing push-ups in the middle of the room is precious; the subsequent reaction of Conor regarding his strange bedfellow is almost as good. Both reflect the oh-so-true fact that even adults typically are less mature than a situation requires.

The amusing solution that Ned devises (and that makes one feel sympathy for the devil) can be considered the Wall of Jericho by classic film fans. Conor portrayor Nick Galitzine (a.k.a. Little Nicky or Beelzebloke) puts his Satanic attractiveness to good use is peering through the barrier as the first step toward dismantling it. 

Andrew Scott (arguably best known as Moriarity in "Sherlock") steals the show as a subdued version of the prep school teacher that Robin Williams portrays in the film "Dead Poets Society." Dan Sherry is the youngish English teacher who takes over after the "retirement" of the fossil who is his predecessor. An early moment that establishes Great Scott has him validly embarrassing Ned in front of the class. This act clearly establishes that there is a new sheriff in town.

An intuitive Sherry coercing our lads to jointly prepare an act for an upcoming talent show follows the long reel and real traditions of making teens do what the grown ups know is good for them. This mutual effort predictably enhances the bond between the enemies turned chums. 

The conflict that occurs along the way includes Conor paying a proportionally high social cost for his increasing level of closeness with Ned, Conor and Sherry discovering that they each share a secret with potentially devastating consequences, and villainous (and abusive) rugby coach Pascal stirring up trouble by pushing false issues. 

As typical in coming-of-age films with a prominent sports theme, much of "Devil" revolves around an upcoming rugby tournament. The head of Conor is no longer so much in the game, and he is feeling increasingly repressed. Meanwhile, Ned is experiencing his own intense teen angst. 

Everything comes to a head when the tormenting of Ned brings him to a breaking point. His outburst forces virtually effort in the film and creates the type of turmoil that is the stuff of prep school legend for decades. 

It is predictable that the aforementioned rugby tournament is the climax. It is less predictable whether our boys find inner peace, their peers grow up, and the extent to which Sherry can make himself and his charges happier. One spoiler is that the film does not end up with the cast rushing the rugby pitch to groove and make out to a disco standard.

The positive elements of boarding school life require noting that Sherry represents the best aspect of that environment. The lost boys who are sentenced there almost always find a teacher who truly fills the role of in loco parentis while the ones who should be providing that support are literally and/or figuratively far far away. Someone who shows that love because they choose to is very special.

The special features include commentary by Butler and a highly entertaining and insightful Q&A session as Krakow film festival.

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