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Monday, July 31, 2017

'amnesia' DVD: Must-See Film About Fascinating May-December Friendship

The August 1, 2017 Film Movement DVD release of the 2015 Barbet Schroeder film 'amnesia' provides lovers of beautifully filmed character studies with enough depth to be compelling but not so much pretension that you feel as if you are back in your college dorm discussing really deep thoughts at 2:00 a.m. Movement pairing this release with a DVD debut of the (soon-to-be-reviewed) 2016 Argentinian dramedy "Inseparables," which is based on the true story of a one-percenter quadriplegic bonding with his "slumdog" caretaker is awesome icing on the cake.

The only flaw regarding the "amnesia" release is that the good folks at Movement who have a sizable Blu-ray catalog do not offer a BD version of the film. The award-worthy on-location filming on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, the attractiveness and expressiveness of the ordinary person beauty of the two leads, and the terrific soundtrack all SCREAM for a BD version.

An additional aside regarding stars Marthe Keller and Max Riemelt is mandatory before discussing the film. Their performances evoke thoughts of a hilarious exchange in a festival Q&A that is a bonus feature on another movie. An audience member comments to the director that the leads in that production express a great deal through their expressions and gestures. The director deserves an acting Oscar for keeping a straight face while responding "it's called acting." It is equally amazing that the audience does not erupt in laughter.

The following YouTube clip of the Movement "amnesia" trailer provides a glimpse of the exceptional inner and outer beauty that Schroeder captures on film.

'amnesia' opens with what legendary film critic Leonard Maltin describes as the now almost-universal technique of beginning a movie in the future only to quickly shift the action back to the past to provide context. We see a forlorn 80 year-old Martha wandering around what we later learn is Ibiza in 2000; an intertitle then announces a shift to 10 years in the past soon after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

The first scene in the future is a relatively common one in the early days of German reunification. This element is Martha (Keller) arguing with her brother about selling the family home in former East Germany. It is clear that Martha has stereotypical German stubbornness regarding even letting the current government of her native land know that she still is alive.

In true movie (and sometimes real-life) fashion, new upstairs neighbor 25 year-old Jo is the right person who comes along at the right time with the right need. He is seeking ice for a burn from a careless injury; Martha effectively pulls the thorn from the paw of the lion cub by offering a successful alternative cure.

We also learn that Jo is a quasi-successful techno DJ with related dreams of stardom in that field and of playing his own compositions; these dreams include employment at the club that gives the film its name.

Martha has more traditional music tastes and believes that there always is room for cello.

The initial encounter clearly sets up the dynamic of Martha being a mother figure and generally dominant one in the ensuing friendship. An example of this that also provides an early clue that Martha lacks a positive opinion of her native land is that she declines an invitation for a ride in the VW bug of Jo and ends up driving him in his car. A more bizarre image of the power dynamic is of Martha rowing her boat while Max is a passenger. The old lady turning out to be a major dick in this scene is the first of several surprises regarding her.

A few Freudian elements that emerge during the "honeymoon" stage of the new relationship are that all males of every age needs a maternal figure and that many men have and Oedipal complex and a related habit of marrying a woman who reminds them of their mother.

The first must-share story regarding the Oedipal aspect of "amnesia" is your not-so-humble reviewer finding infinite humor regarding a college classmate who takes being a Momma's boy to the extent of driving home EVERY Friday to continue his tradition of escorting his mother to the beauty salon marrying an older woman who is a virtual twin of Mom. Another great perspective is the Seinfeld joke that Jewish men typically marry non-Jewish women because they want a wife who does not remind them of their mother.

As the non-traditional friendship in "amnesia" evolves, we learn that the family of Jo follows the philosophy that living in modern Germany requires not dwelling on the Nazi atrocities; in typical fashion, Martha takes a contrary approach. She feels that she must honor the victims of that carnage by remaining angry at her country always and forever and by excluding all aspects of 20th century German existence from her life.

More direct symbolism regarding degrees of collaboration exists as to the career of Jo; a more general parallel is the art v. commerce balance that is a regular topic in Unreal TV articles. Jo is a typical Millennial in that he thinks that he can have it all. He wants to be a star DJ at the hottest club in town but also wants the freedom to play his own compositions, rather than the techno version of the Top 40. As in all other things, Martha provides a voice of reasonable reasonableness.

Martha exhibits equal stubbornness regarding the tough love that she shows Jo that she demonstrates regarding her attitude toward her native land. It is as clear to her as to the audience that the love that Jo feels for her has a carnal element. However, she kindly but firmly refuses to go there or even to discuss the extent to which that love is requited.

The third act conflict that destroys the relative Utopia that Jo and Martha enjoy arrives with the biological mother and the grandfather of the boy. The grandfather is a veteran of the WWII-era German Army and has been conveying his wartime experiences as not being so bad. A challenge to Martha that leads to a challenge to the grandfather results in the dramatic truth coming out. These revelations profoundly impact every important aspect of the life of Jo.

Everyone who has seen a film that starts with a scene in the future knows that the end of the incidents from 1990 are not the end of the story. The final scenes from 2000 in "amnesia" provide more closure. One spoiler is that this includes a few surprises and one particularly unexpected element.

The bonus short film that Movement pairs with "amnesia" is the quirky 13-minute 2016 comedy "Your Mother and I." The adaptation of a Dave Eggers short story mostly occurs in a family kitchen and has a father go on and on to his teen daughter about how he and his (apparently absent) wife solve all the large and small problems of life.

These tall tales include converting all of America to renewable energy sources and stopping genocide; other reported projects revolve around "wants" such as more attractive roads and increasing the population of a particular exotic animal. This narration also includes frequent disconcerting references to the sex life of the miracle-working couple.

Every aspect of "Mother" is humorous; the uncertainty regarding the extent to which any of the stories are true makes it fantastic in both senses of the word.

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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

'Lake Alice' DVD: Christmas Stalkings

The Breaking Glass Pictures July 18, 2017 DVD release of the 2017 low-budget horror film "Lake Alice" follows up the Breaking main act of showing that gay-themed films reflect EVERYONE who has love and lost or had it unrequited with proof of intelligent life regarding a well-produced student-film grade slasher flicks. The primary distinctions are that the "rabbits" are an ordinary American family, and we get to know the potential "coyotes" before rabbit season commences.

The following YouTube clip of the "Alice" trailer provides a good sense of the horror invading everyday lives that the film expertly accomplishes.

"Alice" commences with affluentish couple Greg and Natlie driving to their isolatedish year-round vacation home in the titular rural community. Adult daughter Sarah is in the backseat with boyfriend Ryan Emerson, This sets the stage for what can be considered "Meat the Parents."

Mom and Dad going into town for provisions sets the stage for introducing the natives who consider the part-time "immigrants" a necessary  economic evil. The first up is the malicious sheriff who engages in his ritual of stopping their car just for the fun of it.

Next up is lonely middle-aged single man Carl, who is the kind of guy who buries you in unwanted zucchini from his garden and is vampire-like in that he takes a polite invitation to come in as a basis for putting his feet up and staying a while.

This leads to doting Mom Jane, who is nice and very down-to-earth but hopes that her 20-something son Tyler still has a chance with Sarah several years after what Sarah seems to consider The Summer of Slumming. We later meet Tyler when Mom and son arrive at the Thomas cabin in the wake of momentous news for that family.

A subsequent encounter introduces the bullying not-so-bright Deputy Reed.

Meanwhile back at the ranch house, the first signs of something being amiss are discovered footprints in the snow. In true horror-film style, the degree of menace increases as the seemingly di rigueur blizzard approaches.

Things culminate when a middle-of-the-night knock at the door wakes the family; they don't know who it is but know who its for. This leads to the entry of the monster of the film. Director Ben Milliken does an excellent job making a guy wearing a green parka with fur-lined hood and covering his face with a red-streaked Spider-Man style mask made out of what looks like a jockstrap pouch menacing.

Of course a family member going out to investigate quickly earns that person one in the back; a subsequent escape attempt nets a comparable result. The remaining two vacationers find themselves alternatively fleeing in terror, fighting off Jockface, or coming to the rescue of his or her fellow survivor.

Milliken and writer Stevie Jane Miller further provide awesome twists that include a variation on a cliche that is worth watching for. This rollercoaster ride begins roughly 20 minutes near the end of the film where many things are not as they seem.

Our dynamic directing/writing team save the best for last in terms of presenting a case of a New Norman; those who wait for the final solution with Bated breath will not be disappointed.

Breaking further outdoes itself regarding its typical truly special DVD features; this time it is a 51-minute version of "Alice" that goes beyond being a Cliff Notes version of the main feature to provide an altered narrative of the story. A prime example is a linear timeline in the main feature changing to one in which we join our story already in progress and go back to a sequence that follows a scene that Milliken and Miller entirely omit from the beginning of the film.

Any who figuratively wants to go ask "Alice" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Friday, July 28, 2017

'Hired Gun' DVD/BD/VOD: Documentary on Musicians 20 Feet From Stardom

The August 1, 2017 DVD/Blu-ray/VOD releases of the 2016 documentary "Hired Gun: Out of the Shadows, Into the Spotlight" rocks hard regarding supplementing the 2013 Oscar-winning film "20 Feet From Stardom" that gives a voice to the backup singers for legendary rock gods. "Guns" allow us to meet the (mostly) guys whose guitar riffs, drum solos, and similar performances help bring audience members to their feet during major concerts. One theme is that these roadie warriors have enough guts to not let a lack of glory bother them.

A related personal "I went to camp with" story is sharing a cabin with future Del Fuegoes member/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Vice President Warren Zanes one summer while (future DelFuegoes frontman/kiddie singer) teenage big brother/kitchen worker Dan Zanes was a member of the Doo Woping Kitchenettes. (Kinks fans can consider these boys the American cousins of the Battling Davies.) The deepest darkest portion of the Unreal TV archives have the first autographed photo of Dan and the first cassette recording of him singing.

The following YouTube clip of the "Gun" trailer communicates the blessings and the curses associated with being in the shadows that makes the film so intriguing.

Although "Gun" allows the aforementioned truly unsung heroes to share incredible stories from their usually not-so-glamorous lives, a segment early in the film perfectly communicates its subject. A talking head shares that the available pool of qualified musicians is very small. We further learn of the great importance of networking.

The flawless logic is that someone must have the necessary talent and knowledge of the music AND also must be someone with whom the headliner can tolerate effectively 24-hours-a-day seven-days-a-week for adventures that make three-hour tours look like pleasure cruises.

The biggest names in the film are Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie. Both men share their perspective as guys who are 20 feet in front of nameless and faceless musicians. One of the more entertaining aspects of this is Cooper discussing his gut instinct regarding potential boys in the band. This includes his finding a tattooed and otherwise hard-rocking guitarist while that guy was touring with Disney Channel star Hillary Duff. For his part, that guitarist hilariously discussing purposefully scaring the young fans of Duff.

Guys who have toured (and bonded) with Billy Joel also receive a great deal of the spotlight. The most exciting story from these rockers is a tale of one of them saving the Joel song "Only the Good Die Young;" The saddest reminiscence is the particular harsh impact on one musician when Joel decides to get fresh blood.

The guns have few tales of sex or drugs but do offer plenty involving the reality of the rock-and-roll business. We learn that the not-so-great salaries that the big-names shell out and the uncertainty regarding long-term employment can lead to rocking out for enormous crowds one week and literally painting a house the next. We further hear about how loyalty for a guy whose performance may now consist of asking people if they want fries with an order can earn the new guy in the band great wrath from fans.

The final note regarding all this is that playing in a rock-and-roll band is not different than any other job. The boss earns astronomically more more than you, gets all the glory, and often takes the credit for your hard work and creativity that helps the person in charge get there and stay on top. One exception seems to be if you are a cooper.

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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

'Glory' VOD: Bulgarian Bureaucracy Hilariously Proves No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Film Movement releasing the spectacular 2016 Bulgarian drama with awesome dark comedy "Glory" across a broad spectrum of VOD providers (including iTunes and major cable platforms) on July 18 is another example of Movement allowing the large percentage of the American movie-watching public to see what they are missing. One thing that makes "Glory" particularly awesome is that this tale of the national government humiliating and otherwise punishing a sweet stupid soul who does the right thing is very relatable in the United States.

Movement pairing "Glory" with the (Unreal TV reviewed) 2017 Japanese character study "After the Storm" facilitates a great home-based mini-foreign film festival that will impress your friends.

The well-deserved festival love for "Glory" extends well beyond the Best Narrative Feature Film honor at the Hamptons International Film Festival and the Best Film award at the Les Arcs European Film Festival. Several other festivals are the source of similar accolades.

The following YouTube clip of a festival promo. for "Glory" both reinforces why you should see it and validates the widely held belief that "I'm from the government; I'm here to help you" is one of the three largest lies in existence.

The press materials for "Glory" share that this tale of a railway lineman Tzanko Petrov paying the price for telling the police about a large amount of money that he finds on the tracks while on the job is based on a real-life story in which a comparably honest lineman comes to regret his good deed.

The central conflict of "Glory" revolves around Transportation Ministry PR executive Julia Staykova feeling intense pressure at work regarding a scandal related to investigative reporter Kiril Kolev alleging fraud at the ministry; this is coinciding with Staykova struggling to find enough time away from work to undergoing fertility procedures. A scene in which she conceals herself behind a flag at her office to receive an injection highly symbolizes this.

Staykova concluding that the story of  Petrov finding and returning the money can offset the aforementioned bad PR prompts inviting this "innocent" into the world of national politics. The indignities begin with Staykova forgetting to have someone meet the working man of the hour at the station and continue with Petrov and male members of the staff of Staykova being required to drop trou moments before the ceremony honoring Petrov.

The incident around which much of "Glory" revolves comes during the ceremony itself. A frantic Staykova demands that an overwhelmed Petrov give her his watch because the transportation minister is going to award him a new one at the podium. The first problem is that Staykova loses the first watch (which is a family heirloom); the second difficulty is that the new watch runs slow.

The frustration that Petrov experiences regarding trying to recover his watch leads to his meeting with Kolev; that conversation leads to Kolev breaking the story of another scandal at the ministry.

The breaking of the second scandal shows Petrov (who still lacks a properly functioning watch) the price of even inadvertently fighting city hall; he becomes besieged by the powers-that-be, and his none-too-pleased co-workers literally take him for a ride. Anyone who is familiar with the national politics of any nation can see their own leaders and the "little people" in these goings-on.

The wonderful Kafka-light vibe of the film continues to the very end of "Glory;" the cynicism continues with proving the old saying that no good deed goes unpunished.

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

'Do You Take This Man' DVD: Character Study of Gay Men on Eve of Wedding MUST SEE for All Engaged Couples

The Breaking Glass Pictures July 18, 2017 DVD release of the 2016 drama "Do You Take This Man" is the latest example of Breaking both showing that the experience of gay men is the same as straight folks and that boys who like other boys catching up in that regard is a modern phenomenon. The only bone of contention is that personal experience is contrary to the depiction in this film (and the ABC sitcom "Modern Family") that the redhead in a gay relationship with a dark-haired guy is the more uptight and sensitive one.

The following YouTube clip of the "Man" trailer validates the above analysis. Everyone will either see himself or herself or someone near and dear to them in our couple and their friends. The line why "why does absolutely everything need to be said" perfectly illustrates this.

"Man" is the second Breaking film for former "Rent" and current "Star Trek: Discovery" star Anthony Rapp. The Unreal TV reviewed "Bwoy" has Rapp playing a tortured middle-aged man in an online relationship with a guy 20 years his junior. The strong live-stage vibe of both films make good use of the talents of Broadway star Rapp.

This time, Rapp plays happily engaged 40 year-old Daniel, whom the audience meets on the morning before the day that he and live-in fiance Christopher (Jonathon Bemnett) are scheduled to go to the chapel and get married. Most couples can relate to Daniel getting up before Christopher and being less exuberant than this 33 year-old at the final stages of his puppyhood.

As an aside, one must wonder if "Man" writer/director Joshua Tunick is a fan of '90s teen heartthrob Christopher Daniel Barnes.

The drama begins with Daniel citing a need to prepare the rehearsal dinner for 10 as the excuse not joining Christopher and his friends for brunch. This relatable moment becomes even more so when Christopher and company return to find Daniel who claims to be too busy to come out and play chatting with HIS friend Jacob. "Facts of Life" veteran/John Astin offspring Mackenzie Astin puts the same boyish charm of the "Cousin Oliver" role of Andy on "Facts" to his portrayal of Jacob.

The tension increases when Daniel springs surprise guest childhood friend Emma, whom Daniel repeatedly identifies as the Joey to his Dawson, on Christopher as a surprise guest at the upcoming meticulous planned rehearsal dinner. The aforementioned brunch buddies bitchy gay BFF (Thomas Dekker of the Fox "Terminator" television series) and party girl fag hag Summer quickly jumping through hoops to avoid Daniel throwing a hissy fit completes the picture.

The mere arrival of Emma is only the tip of the iceberg regarding that character; the parents of Daniel arriving five hours early provides more comic than relief; having Allyson Hannigan of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "How I Met Your Mother" play the divorced sister of Daniel provides context for the element of whether opposites make a better couple than people who seem made for each other. The last plotline additionally creates a sad sense that neither Willow nor Lily are happy.

Tunick injects more real life in this reel tale regarding his treatment of the extent to which parents support their gay children. As often is typical in gay couples, Christopher has minimal contact with his parents and Daniel constantly sees his. Christopher hits particularly close to home for many gay men in stating that his parents attending his nuptials only would make Mom and Dad and every other attendee uncomfortable.

The perspective of the parents of Daniel provide great context for parents all along the relevant Kinsey Scale of acceptance. Their overall compassion further makes them the type of in-laws that gay and straight couples alike would love as in-laws.

Another perspective is that your not-so-humble reviewer dubbed the highly critical mother of an ex Endora and delighted in pretending to be under a spell after each criticism; Endora commenting that yours truly having a cleaning lady was wasteful prompted several gleeful hours of frantic cleaning.

The reality continues with Christopher withholding devastating news regarding the wedding ceremony; his perfect logic is that Daniel knowing something that cannot be solved at the time does not help anyone. Predictably, the big revelation causes recriminations and near tears. It further prompts the type of conversation that most couples should have but leave in its original container. On a scarily related note, your not-so-humble reviewer can relate to the "I was right" aspect of this development but would have had a back-up in anticipation of the "what if" occurring.

Traditional romcom elements dominate regarding a last-minute scramble by those nearest and dearest to Christopher and Daniel  can put right what once went wrong so that the boys can have a shot at happily ever after.

The big wedding picture this time is that the relative newness of marriage equality (which Daniel correctly states differs from gay marriage) being both legal and widely accepted creates valid feelings of at least one person in a gay relationship wanting a grand declaration of love. The below analysis of any wedding rains on that particular parade.

On a large level, a wedding often involves bringing together relatives with inter-connected decades of conflict. (First wives insulting second wives is particularly entertaining.) Focusing in, "Man" depicts the challenges related to a "mixed" couple getting married.

A couple in which both people are uptight can result in the quest for perfection that Daniel outwardly seeks driving everyone crazy and the couple being disappointed when their ceremony falls far short of the Diana and Charles extravaganza. A couple that consists of either two slacker or "Chillax" dudes may end up exchanging vows on a municipal little league field and inviting guests home for take-out pizza and six packs.

The best solution seems to be hiring a trusted wedding planner to make every decision and be the sole point of contact for service providers, not worrying about excluding relatives who either are so angry at you or other relatives that they do not want to come, and merely showing up for the ceremony to be dazzled.

Tremendous personal turmoil that extends well beyond a neighbor wanting a pool resulting in flooding the comprehensive sitcom section of the Unreal TV DVD library prevented checking out the DVD extras. Large faith based on roughly 50 Breaking features inspires confidence regarding the cast interviews. deleted scenes, and "making-of" documentary. These provide something to which to look forward to when pulling "Man" off the shelf if and when your not-so-humble reviewer declares his love in front of his human and canine friends; nothing says that members of the wedding party cannot have four legs.

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

Sunday, July 23, 2017

'The Hippopotamus' VOD/BD/DVD: Adaptation of Witty Stephen Fry Mystery-Comedy Channeling Oscar Wilde

Sony Home Entertainment chooses wisely regarding releasing the 2017 Lightyear Entertainment British mystery-comedy "The Hippopotamus" on VOD/Blu-ray/DVD on this side of the pond on August 1, 2017. The gorgeous cinematography that extends beyond a hilariously bad "Julius Caesar" featuring  ripped gladiators in little more than gold lame Speedos to the spectacular interiors and exteriors of the massive country home where most of the action occurs makes purchasing this one in Blu-ray a no-brainer.

The "wait, there's more" aspect of the Blu-ray release is an exclusive question and answer session that features star Roger Allam. director John Jencks, and author/actor Stephen Fry who wrote the novel of the same name on which "Hippopotamus" is based. This event is from the Hay Festival in Wales.

The following YouTube clip of the "Hippopotamus" trailer provides an excellent sense of the wit and the wisdom of the film.

Fry being an accomplished comedian and having played legendary wry wit Oscar Wilde in the film "Wilde" makes the tone of "Hippo" no surprise. The voice-over narration and much of the external dialogue of central character has-been poet/former disgraced theater critic/current freelance investigative reporter Ted Wallace (Roger Allam of "Endeavour" and "The Book Thief") rivals the humor of Wilde and comes just as fast and furious.

Ted's excellent adventure begins with his spouting verbal diarrhea about his past glory as a famed poet leading to producing written excrement. He then consumes his standard massive quantity of liquid courage in preparation for attending the aforementioned absurd theater.

Ted making a more memorable scene from the audience than the cast produces on the stage leads to unemployment. That threat to the lifestyle to which Wallace has become accustomed makes him susceptible to accepting an offer that he cannot refuse. Jane Swann, who is the daughter of an "it ended badly" ex of Wallace, offers him what both agree is a ridiculously large amount of money to verify an apparent miracle.

The assignment revolves around Jane visiting the aforementioned country estate during a final stage of leukemia. Her walking out the front door, rather than being carried out the kitchen entrance as expected prompts her to hire Wallace to verify whether miracles are true and if they can happen to those who even are not young at heart. The particular expertise of Wallace is that is he is the adored godfather of 16 year-old aspiring poet David, who is the son of lord of the manor Michael Logan (dreamy Matthew Modine), who is the sister of the aforementioned ex of Wallace.

David's older brother Simon meeting Wallace on his arrival provides Wallace a good chance to show off his aforementioned wit by rhyming Simon with hymen in response to a request to create a limerick on the spot. A gleeful beaming David enthusiastically greeting the new arrival early establishes him as the cocker spaniel puppy-like persona of upper-class British boys whose emotional age never seems to exceed 8.

The arrival of other stereotypical upper-class weekend guests sets the stage for "Hippo" to become a hybrid between a traditional British farce and the 1989 indie American comedy "Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills."

Wallace particularly shines when disquieting the lady of the house by discussing the masturbatory habits of her younger son. For his part, David is the center of a separate shocking incident involving the penis for which he is not severely penalized.

David further entertains regarding stating his technique for "getting some." A related scene is reminiscent of a similar scene in the novel and the film "The World According to Garp" that involves the oh-so-critical  "no teeth" rule.

The climax of "Hippo" is a variation of the drawing room confession that is crucial to traditional British murder mysteries. Wallace divulges the true nature of the "miracles" to the assembled group in the dining room of the manor. Although Wallace provides a "smoking gun," it is nice that there is no villain. Adding a touch of "Equus" is aptly entertaining in this segment that effectively triggers a nightmare.

The film then proceeds to an unhappy ending before giving an awesome young couple potential for happily ever after. For his part, Wallace experiences a personal "miracle" regarding his weekend in the country.

The moral for Hollywood is that it still is possible to make a good commercially viable cleverly written film with "real" characters that has good sexual (but not crude) humor. It seems that American filmmakers whose efforts to do the same fail need a weekend in the English countryside.

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

'Where the Boys Are' DVD: The 1960 Breakfast Club

Now is the time for reviewing the Warner Archive DVD release of the 1960 Spring Break CinemaScope classic "Where the Boys Are" because Archive is re-releasing this film that showcases the pastels and the beach of 1960 Fort Lauderdale on Blu-ray on July 25, 2017. The place to go for either version is your favorite online retailer. The irony is that most of the boys who go to Fort Lauderdale in 2017 prefer other boys.

The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Boys" conveys all the fun, college-age drama, and music of the film.

This film that helps Spring Break become a huge part of American college life centers around four coeds who venture from the frigid snowy Midwest campus of Penmore University to the proverbial warm beaches of Fort Lauderdale. The reasons for their extended road trip include the film title.

This Breakfast Club of 1960 additionally wants to obtain a better sense of present self and what they want to be (in the limited context of a female college student of the era) when they grow up. Our leads have comparable era-specific star power as their '80s counterparts and represent the same archetypes with depth.

Future nun Dolores Hart stars as brash brainy coed Merritt Andrews; her classroom sins extend beyond challenging her professor regarding the necessity of waiting until she is bought before she gives up her milk and to expressing similar shocking thoughts. Her reasons for going to Fort Lauderdale include deciding whether to continue her studies.

Future tanning industry golden boy George Hamilton plays the preppie who tries to merit the affections of Andrews; aptly named TFB Ryder Smith is a Brown man who is staying at the luxurious house of his grandparents; he wants to put a ring on it, but Andrews is hesitant.

Paula Prentiss (who provides audio commentary on the DVD) of cult classics such as "The Stepford Wives" and "The World of Henry Orient" makes her acting premiere as tall female jock Tuggle Carpenter. Her deal is that her size and chasteness hinder her ability to keep a man.

Adorkable Jim Hutton plays adorkable Carpenter love interest TV Thompson; they meet cute, and his antics continue to amuse throughout the film. The romantic issue for this compatible couple is that Thompson is more eager for milk than to buy the cow. One aspect of this is that Carpenter not opening for business may drive Thompson to a girl who delivers.

Sex kitten who goes to college "The Time Machine" star Yvette Mimieux is party girl by 1960 standards Melanie Tolman; this love-em-and leave gal gets a lesson in reciprocity that prompts her to bring on the drama before going home to Momma.

Newcomer/theme song singer Connie Francis steals the show as wholesome girl-next-door Angie, She has a wonderfully kooky friendship with few apparent benefits with dialectic jazz musician Basil. Frank "The Riddler" Gorshin puts his quirky persona to good use in this role.

Fun moments include the hotel room of the central girls becoming increasingly crowded throughout the trip, Thompson instigating a near riot at a restaurant, and the local police trying to maintain some order while acknowledging that the rowdy invaders generally are good kids.

The message in all this is that little has changed in 60 years; community standards regarding sex and living arrangements are much looser, but the associated emotions and costs remain the same.

The DVD special feature that is newsreel footage related to the Fort Lauderdale theatrical premiere of "Boys" both is great fun and shows that future fantasycom "My Mother the Car" star Maggie Pierce has a small role in the film. As the Unreal TV review of "Car" shares, the fact that Pierce dies in a real-life car accident is funny from a perverse perspective.

A look-back at the film that includes an interview with Prentiss also is great fun.

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

'George: A Zombie Intervention' DVD: Post Mortem Therapy

The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2009 more comedy than horror "George: A Zombie Intervention" (nee "George's Intervention") through Breaking scary movie subsidiary Vicious Circle shows that the love of edge of this indie film god extends beyond the art-house gay-themed art-house movies oft featured on Unreal TV.  As the name indicates, "George" centers around the effort of the best friend of the titular member of Z Nation to cure his buddy of the bad habit of feasting on the living.

The very cute animated opening segment explains how zombies come to largely peacefully co-exist with the living in American society. This instructional video that is designed to teach grade schoolers to not fear the walking dead acknowledges that these pre-adolescents must be aware of the risk of becoming zombie chow.

A referred-to birthday party incident that likely involves George finding his fellow guests more savory than the intended fare prompts his aforementioned bestie Ben to hire "professional" interventionist Barbara to lead a session at which those near and dear to George are tasked with giving him the options of immediately entering rehab or having them break off all contact with him. The planning session for that confrontation hilariously spoofs the concept of that pop psychology method.

The mayhem kicks into full swing when the interventionist, the pal, and all the rest (including the current boyfriend of intervention participant/ex-girlfriend Sarah) arrive at Chez George. Getting the door repeatedly slammed in their smiling faces does not deter the group from persisting until George grants them entry.

Our anti-hero predictably does not respond well to the initiative. His lack of patience with the heartfelt sentiments of Ben, Sarah and George sibling Francine is beyond awesome.

In true slacker comedy style, things soon decompose to the point that the group breaks into smaller units. The theme then shifts from ridiculing an absurd approach to addiction to wonderfully gory killings that provide George with a smorgasbord. This buffet extends beyond at least one member of Team Intervention to the stock characters who arrive during that fateful afternoon. One spoiler is that it is hoped that "George" deters folks who go door-to-door promoting their religion. One such evangelist literally being caught with his pants down is the least of his problems.

A mystery throughout this portion of the film is whether George is doing the killing or has an ally among those allegedly there to encourage that he adopt socially acceptable eating habits.

The best segments involve the aforementioned current boyfriend Steve, Ben, and Sarah gathering in the bedroom of George. Memorable moments from these segments are that no longer having a heartbeat does not prevent blood from rushing to another area of the male anatomy and that special-needs zombies exist. A related hilarious scene has Steve regaling in Sarah strongly suggesting to the group that not every part of George is proportional.

All of this leads to a wonderfully comic twist on the traditional climatic encounter between the living and the newly turned zombies in the house. This scenes (and others) have an apt amount of gore.

The end credits are truly must-see. They start with a very amusing listing of the cast set to a memorable song and then go onto an even funnier infomercial that fills in the "what happened to" information regarding some characters. This, in turn, provides more perverse guilty pleasure regarding one of the most annoying subgroups in American society.

The success of this clear labor of love is attributable to writer/director J.T. Seaton staying true to the visual and acting style of traditional low-budget horror films while not letting the characters in on the joke. Everyone is a believable inhabitant of a world in which seeing dead people is not even worth mentioning.

The plethora of bonus features that are a breaking trademark include a hilarious "Zombie Therapy" short and an equally entertaining "Sunday on the Set with George" making-of documentary.

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

'Displacement' DVD: Updated Review on Film on Quantum Leaping to Put Right What Once Went Wrong

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following review on the July 14, 2017 DVD release of the thinking person's sci-fi thriller "Displacement" is an update of the review of the April 2017 theatrical release of the film.]

The DVD release of the time-travel thriller "Displacement" fills the void left by the absence of cerebral "what if" fare at the cineplex. 

The festival adoration for this clear labor of love by writer/director Kenneth Mader includes the Best SciFi Film awards at the 2016 Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles and the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. These awards (and the other hardware on the mantel at Chez Mader) reflect Mader making the list of "Top 100 Indie Filmmakers in the World."

Aptly future cult film status will put "Displacement" in the ranks of the '80s time-travel cult classic "The Philadelphia Experiment," which earns a subtle nod in the film. The likability of physics scholar Cassie makes the audience root for the leap after the one that finally puts right what once went wrong to be the leap home for her.

The following YouTube clip of the "Displacement" trailer provides a good primer on the film and achieves its goal of making you want to see more.

Opening scenes with intrepid "bold and beautiful" physics whiz Cassie Sinclair (Courtney Hope) waking in a tub full of ice with her kidneys intact but not the same being so regarding the intestines of her boyfriend who no longer is living the life of Brian only to soon shift in time sets a pace that Mader maintains throughout the film. 

As is the case in good time-travel films that do not insult Asimov fans, understanding the science behind this fiction requires moderate concentration; keeping track of the altered events also necessitates focusing on the larger screen in front you, rather than the small one in your hand. The DVD release including an extended scene in which Cassie explains the governing principles as if the viewer is an 18 year-old is very helpful.

Making a movie that you actually must watch (and enjoy doing so) is a very good thing in this era in which most big-budget films consist of action sequences stapled together with short periods of discourse. 

The true genesis of the action is the mother of Cassie dying of cancer; this prompts our 21st century Nancy Drew to develop a means of time travel so that she can see Mom before she passes. The rub is that this effort creates numerous other problems that extend well beyond any butterfly effect of this effort. 

The new challenges that Cassie literally creates for herself include preventing the aforementioned death of her aforementioned boyfriend/possible research thief, dealing with personal/professional Daddy issues with her physicist father, evading others who either want to improperly profit from her work or altruistically prevent it from wreaking additional havoc, and avoiding a "Timecop" style meltdown from coming too close to alternate versions of herself. This demonstrates that taking quantum leaps to put right what once went wrong is more complex than it seems.

Sarah Douglas, who will always be known as Kryptonian villain Ursa from the Christopher Reeve "Superman" films, shines as "X Files" style Dr Miles. Miles shows great menace in her style of imprisoning and interrogating Cassie for either the aforementioned noble or nefarious purposes. Frustration related to dealing with multiple Cassies greatly enhances an already memorable performance. Another extended DVD scene of an interrogation is some of the best work of Douglas in the film.

One spoiler is that Cassie does not have sex with her grandfather, thus becoming her own grandmother. 

The final analysis is that "Displacement' ain't a a Zack Snyder attempt at a darker and edgier "Back to the Future." Mader clearly knows (and loves) his stuff. His making us think and showing that Father Time can be as much of a bitch as Mother Nature proves that intelligent life still exists in Hollywood. This alone makes buying the DVD worthwhile in order to hear the audio commentary by Mader.

Other DVD bonus scenes include time-traveling Cassie and a related perceived threat freaking out Brian at his literal day job and more footage of a hotel scene that is pivotal to the film. All the deleted and bonus scenes scream for telling Mader that we gladly would have sat in our theater seats another 15 minutes to watch them. How about a director's cut, Kenneth?

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

'Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch' DVD: Documenting High Ecological Cost of Low Prices

Everything about the July 18, 2017 Icarus Films DVD release of the 2013 Bullfrog Films documentary "Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch" makes me yearn to love the film. Icarus awesomely fulfills its mission of making "innovative and provocative" documentaries available, and the Bullfrog productions that Icarus releases have always achieved the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and educational. On top of that, the subject matter of the incredible ecological harm from the massive mishandling of plastic waste is important.

Two of numerous examples of Icarus and Bullfrog making a dynamic duo include the reviewed film "Utopia," the also reviewed "Just Eat It," and the equally good "Xmas Without China." "Paradise" simply shows that not everyone is perfect.

The sad truth is that actress Angela Sun makes several rookie mistakes in this first (and only) attempt at filmmaking that are too frustrating to let slide. Her heart is in the right place and makes countless excellent points; she simply unduly emphasizes propaganda over substance.

As an equally initial matter, the "Paradise" DVD coming in a standard plastic DVD jewel box sealed in equally typical plastic indicates that Sun follows the principle of do as I say, not as I do.

"Paradise" starts strong with a good mix of visuals and science via talking heads that explain how enormous masses of plastics end up in a region of the Pacific Island before washing ashore on Midway atoll of WWII fame. An analogy involving flushing a toilet aptly helps the audience understand how this comes to be.

Footage of Sun dodging albatrosses on Midway before obtaining a first-hand look at what seems to be accurate images of the aforementioned huddled and unwashed masses of household goods still are well within the "safety zone" of good documentary filmmaking.

It ironically is when Sun tries to present the historical context of the problem that she fails to learn the lesson of the past that Michael Moore and similar documentarians who emphasize sizzle over substance teach us. This slide into sensationalism begins with well-known footage of Hitler ranting at a huge rally even before the accompanying narration begins.

Sun shows the Nazi rally to illustrate the point that the production demands of WWII create a greater need for plastic that continues growing decades later. Aside from the absurdity of adding garbage island to the enormous list of valid horrendous crimes of the Nazis, the argument of Sun ignores the fact that the Nazis did not launch the Pearl Harbor attack that plays a significant role regarding the U.S. entering the conflict.

The dual aggravations of being made to feel like an environmental criminal when requesting plastic bags and living in a community that staged a successful campaign to ban those bags made a "Paradise" segment on that topic particularly irksome. (Your not-so-humble reviewer uses plastic bags for a purpose such as scooping kitty litter, lining a waste basket, or keeping garbage in the refrigerator until trash day and NEVER tosses them in the street.)

The campaign leaders in my former community not recognizing the absurdity of advocating getting paper bags at the check-out counter AND buying plastic ones for purposes such as collecting pet waste or lining waste baskets is one example of the flaw of such a system; the other defects include not recognizing the value of not revoking the freedom to choose paper or plastic and separately educating litter bugs about the harms associated with not properly disposing of plastic bags.

As a further aside, the bag ban only prompted shopping one town over and gathering more bags than needed in case that supply of cat poop and liner bags ran out. This resulted in throwing out a large quantity of plastic bags on moving when not living under a ban would have prevented that waste.

The portion of "Paradise" that deals with the links between cancer and the chemicals in plastic ventures much deeper into propaganda territory. A prime example of this is suggesting that these products are the sole cause of increased breast cancer. On a common sense level, both the greater percentage of women getting regular mammograms and the advances in that technology seem to be the primary reason for increases in diagnosing that condition.

The rest of the picture is that water quality and many other factors contribute to breast cancer; as is the case regarding most sub-topics in "Paradise," plastic is not the root of all evil.

The uber-element of propaganda regarding the discussion of plastic and cancer relates to a "Paradise" segment in which a university researcher shows a link between that disease and the plastic coating on receipt paper. He has Sun (who comments on this method) tightly grasp receipt paper until there is white coating on her hand. This fact and Sun including this incident in "Paradise" makes the results that show an elevated level of a substance tied to cancer much less surprising than if the test came back negative.

Anyone with enough interest in the subject of "Plastic" to still be reading this review has enough intelligence to know that requiring Sun to grasp the paper absurdly hard for a ridiculous period of time skews the results.

The icing on this sweet-and-sour cake revolves around Sun crashing a chemical industry conference after interview requests go unanswered; the inevitable footage of the "suits" ousting Sun after she aggressively confronts attendees on camera is an old manipulative trick on which Moore has relied at least as early as the "Roger and Me" documentary that he made when Sun was 9 years old.

A desire to conclude this review on an entertaining and educational note (and to avoid toxic hate email) requires stating awareness of the extent of the underlying issues in "Paradise" and to laud any effort to increase public awareness of them. The problem with the film is that the heavy use of propaganda makes many of the presented arguments far less durable than the plastic sailing the Pacific.

Anyone with CIVIL questions or comments regarding this take on "Paradise" is welcome to email me; you alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Monday, July 17, 2017

'The 100' S3 BD: Full Nuclear Post-Apocalyptic Civil War

These thoughts regarding the Warner Archive Blu-ray complete series S3 set for the current CW teendram "The 100" completes a series of reviews on S1-S3 of this program ahead of the pre-ComicCon July 18, 2017 Archive Blu-ray release of "100" S4. The basic lore of the show is that the descendants of survivors of a global nuclear holocaust experience intense trauma and turmoil on returning to earth after almost a century. Some of the young offenders who are the first of the group to return to earth literally save this drama for their momma.

The S1 review expands on that lore, and the S2 review discusses how our neo-pioneers cope with the fallout from the desperate measures that surviving the S1 threats requires.

Ala fellow CW teendrams, "100" continues its pattern of starting a season in the aftermath of the epic prior season. S3 begins with group leader Clarke wandering the countryside after earning the scorn of her fellow resettlers for "sins" that include genocide as a harsh means to free a group of captives and a separate incident in which she allows several friends and family to die horrific deaths. Meanwhile, former leader Jaha is learning more about the fabled paradise that he and broody bad boy Murphy crossed a desert and battled monsters to find. For his part, former goofball Jasper is deeply mourning a victim of the aforementioned annihilation of a population.

Early S3 events that set the stage for the season include Clarke (a.k.a. Wanheda) being brought before new community the Ice Nation to answer for S2 war crimes, Jaha is trying to convince his fellow former far out space nuts to discover the bliss that AI Allie provides, and the war hawk approach of newly elected government head/former earth skills teacher Pike creates all-out civil war among his fellow students and an actual bloodlust among their neighbors.

The war that pits bro against bro begins with the native American like grounders (who did not let a little thing like an all-out nuclear war drive them off earth) station what they label a peace-keeping force near Arkadia, which is the base of Clarke and her crew whom the natives consider "sky people."

Pike convinces an adequate number of people to carry out his abundance of caution policy that calls for wiping out the peacekeepers just in case that group decides to stop being peaceful; the Pike Plan to expand to territory that a grounder village occupies does not help relations either with that group or regarding those who do not share his philosophy.

Blatant religious symbolism comes in the form of Jaha doing his best to convince folks to take literal communion that equally literally takes away their pain (at a high psyche cost) and puts them in just as actual contact with their savior in the teentopia of The City of Lights (sans La Tour Eiffel.) This theme extends to literally crucifying a bearded figure who is is provided the chance to end that torment.

An awesome aspect of the civil war is introducing a 20-something gay couple consisting of a reluctant soldier (who is glad to tell anyone who asks) and his loyalist live-in boyfriend. The tension that the increasing internal strife imposes on these guys perfectly illustrates one price of the American Civil War.

Each new skirmish related to the above conflicts creates new battle lines that shift internal and external alliances. An overall lesson from these conflicts is that snuffing an individual or a group is an act that deprives one or more persons of one or more persons about whom they care and is not a good way to win friends and influence people.

A micro symbolic development is that formerly shaggy-haired geek Jasper now sports a close-cut 'do and is much more fierce. His equally all-grown up former BFF Monty also has become a form of warrior. These bros further get their own "North and South storyline.

A broader metaphor exists regarding an effort to make the newcomers the 13th grounder clan at the same time that the audience learns that the 12 space stations that united to save humanity once were 13 and that things did not work out well regarding the holdout. This reveal further provides new information regarding the war that required creating that space-based United Nations. Those folks lived in our reality but apparently did not heed the lesson of "The Terminator" beyond the whole "I'll be back" thing.

"The 100" continues the tradition of this series (and its sibling CW shows) of having the S3 events build to a massive season-ending showdown that provides a cliffhanger for the following one. The heretics confront the believers on their own turf, the power struggle (including the meddling of what passes for a super-power in the "100" world) in the Ice Nation creates all-out war, and a reluctant savoir is called upon to lead. In equally true "100" style, this ends in a manner that would have served as an fantabulous series finale had S4 merely been a virtual reality. Please stay tuned to these virtual pages for thoughts on those episodes in late July 2017.

Archive matches the S3 epicness with an especially fruitful crop of BD extras that expands well beyond the always included entertaining an informative Comic-Con panel for the season. These good folks provide fanboys docs on Arkadia, the Ice Nation, and the transformation of Clarke to Wanheda. We further get the Gag Reel and the unaired scenes that always amuse.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "100" is encouraged to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Friday, July 14, 2017

'The Originals' S3 BD: Friends, Foes, and Allies Oh My!

As the Unreal TV review of the Warner Prime S2 complete series DVD set of the CW series "The Originals" states, a series of reviews of Warner home-video releases of this "The Vampire Diaries" spin-off is leading up to the Warner Archive August 29, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 2016-17 S4 of this program. Aptly for this show and its ilk that take long mid-season breaks, this review of the Archive complete-season Blu-ray release of S3 is being broken into two halves. The review on the second-half of S3 is scheduled for mid-August 2017.

S3 picks up in the aftermath of the chaos of S2 of this series about the Mikaelson clan that literally is the mother of all vampires. This comes to being as a result of arguably the toughest love of all time.

The three primary Mikaelsons of Klaus (who has especially strong daddy issues), not-so-good anymore brother Elijah, and highly emotional sister Rebecca are trying to come to terms with the drama related to siblings Freya, Kol, and Finn (as well as Mom and Dad) asserting themselves in S2. The secondary characters who have not learned the lesson of the folks who get involved with the Ewings of the '80s prime time soap "Dallas" also are feeling the impact of largely being collateral damage in the War of the Mikaelsons.

In the typical fashion of the always compelling supernatural-based CW (and predecessor WB) series, S3 brings new related season-long threats. Early episodes reveal the original days of the newly turned Mikaelson siblings wandering the European countryside of 1,000 years ago both trying to adjust to their new reality and seeking to end their nomadic existence. Their meeting nobles and their servant Lucien, who volunteers to serve as beard for the trio in exchange for not becoming their dessert course, is a game changer.

Meanwhile back in 21st century New Orleans, grisly murders that violate the code regarding that feeding ground coincide with Lucien reuniting with his old friend Klaus after a long absence. This development brings NOPD detective Will Kinney into the action as both the investigator on the case and as a friend of longtime witch/temporary Mikaelson meat suit Vincent.

Zombie Will being manipulated into cooking, mutilating himself, and otherwise providing Lucien (and the audience) perverse pleasure is a highlight of the first part of the season.

Related newcomers Tristan and Aurora, who are the children of the nobles who unlive to regret hosting the Mikaelsons back in the day, stir up additional trouble. Tristan is out for literal and figurative blood regarding mischief of Klaus that extends beyond an especially callous dirty trick; this blue blood having the powerful vamp frat the Strix to back him up give the threats that he poses some muscle.

For her part,  mentally unstable Aurora is eager to rekindle her relationship with Klaus. Beyond Klaus being the baby daddy of married werewolf royalty/vampire hybrid Hayley, his having human Cami as the object of his affection does not amuse Aurora. For his part, the inappropriate feelings of Tristan toward Aurora increase the odds of Klaus suffering at the hands of his former host.

All of this centers around the aforementioned core Mikaelsons learning of a vague prophecy that an unspecified one of them will fall at the hands of a friend, the second at the hands of a foe, and the third at the hands of a family member. The above recap provides a partial sense of the numerous possibilities regarding how that may go down. The lack of specificity and the fact that just about every character is a prime suspect regarding any harm that Klaus and his sibs experience keep our originals on edge even more than usual.

A notable S1 P1 episode revolves around a Thanksgiving episode that has the Mikaelsons and those in their inner circle sit down for a tense dinner that becomes more intense as the evening goes on. Learning that a Mikaelson who is believed to be relatively safe literally is sleeping with the fish does not help matters.

The writers keep the perverse take on wholesome holiday specials with a mid-season ending Christmas special that concludes with a shocking cliffhanger that shows why the Mikaelsons cannot have nice things.

These events make one glad that having the BD (or DVD) set does not require waiting six months to see what happens next. One spoiler is that the second half of the season is even more exciting and compelling (pun intended) than the first.

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

'The Betsy' DVD: Harold Robbins' Auto-Erotic Classic of Cars and Carnality

The notable aspects of the recent Warner Archive DVD release of the 1978 drama 'Harold Robbins' The Betsy' extend well beyond Sir Laurence Olivier heading a truly all-star cast in this epic erotic tale of most varieties of lust. Olivier shares the screen with young lion Tommy Lee Jones, Katherine Ross of "The Graduate," Robert Duvall, Jane Alexander, Lesley-Anne Down, and several other Hollywood royals. Lovers of '70s sitcoms will enjoy seeing Inga Swenson of "Benson"as a snoopy servant.

"Betsy" opens in 1975 as Olivier's 86 year-old retied auto industry executive Loren Hardeman (a.k.a. Number 1) recruits auto racer Angelo Perino to design the titular car that Number 1 wants to meet every need of the car-buying public. Number 1 naming this car after his college-age great-granddaughter continues a tradition that flashbacks shows us dates to the early '30s wedding of Number 1's son Loren II.

The ensuing events teach Perino the same tough lessons that outsiders discover on entering the inner-circle of the Ewings on the prime time soap "Dallas" of the same era. The briefest of recaps is that Perino gets swept up in family drama that spans 40 years, finds his work thwarted, and has his life threatened.

The timeline of the suds fun begins with the married Number 1 coupling with a maid on the day of the wedding of Loren II. This act being witnessed leads to a scandalous coupling that is pure Robbins; the cross-dressing and related blackmail attempt associated with this greatly contribute to both the guilty pleasure of this aspect of the film and to the events of 1975.

For his part, Perino gets close to both the real-life Betsy and to the designing woman (Downs) who simultaneously is the mistress of Loren III (Duvall). Needless to say, Number III learns of his rival and reacts in a vengeful manner.

The awesome climax to all this again is pure Robbins and related prime time soap; a threat from out of left field changes everything in a manner that clearly shows that there is a new Number 1 in town.

The life imitating art aspect of "Betsy" is that family businesses tend either to fail or to be sold to outsiders by the third generation; this reflects the same principle as cloning in that each subsequent generation is an increasingly flawed version of the one that precedes it. One only need watch "Dallas" to confirm this.

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Top 10 in Nation Rabbit Hill Inn in Vermont Provides Perfect Sanctuary From 24-Hour Presence of Real World

The stars perfectly aligning for a visit to the beautifully restored Rabbit Hill Inn (RHI) outside St. Johnsbury, Vermont awesomely shows that some things are meant to be.

On the broadest level, innkeepers/soulmates Leslie and Brian Mulchay purposefully not putting telephones or televisions in the 19 guestrooms achieves the goal of providing a oh-so-rejuvenating break from the 24-hour-a-day seven-days-a-week barrage of news (fake) and otherwise about the horribly combative state of the world.

Your not-so-humble reviewer recommending putting your iPhone and your iPad in your suitcase on checking in until you check out is a textbook example of do as I say, not as I partially do.

Creating this luxurious environment that facilitates letting the toxic real world ooze along without you for a couple of days alone warrants the numerous accolades for this 1795 inn with strong WiFi and copious charging options; ranks RHI in the Top 10 B&Bs in America, and Travel + Leisure rates the inn as Number 6 hotel in the country and Number 30 in the world. It seems that Numbers 1 through 5 must actually tuck you in and serve breakfast in bed.

History Awesomely Repeating Itself

The genesis of a recent birthday visit to RHI goes back 12 years; a significant other of that time was planning a getaway to mark a milestone birthday. Your not-so-humble reviewer loving three years spent living in Vermont and exclaiming 'BUNNY!" on various occasions made this future ex finding RHI online an immediate (and enthusiastic) success. The next bit of fun related to choosing which individually themed rooms to book. We chose the Samuel Hodby Suite for the combination of the whirlpool bath, the sitting area, and the particular decor.

The stay made that visit the best-ever birthday to date even without the Mulchays knowing that it was an event celebration. The room was clean, playing the game of moving the bunny dolls into G-rated amusing positions with the housekeepers was fun, and the breakfast was filling and delicious.

The below photos from the trip last week show that the tradition of hide the bunny remains strong. The first one additionally shows the thoughtful bonus of evening gifts that the detailed turn-down service includes. Bugs and Babs are aptly enjoying a box of gourmet Bunn chocolate.

Memories of that wonderful time surfaced a week before the aforementioned recent (non-milestone) birth anniversary. This prompted emailing the inn with thanks for the spectacular prior birthday, mentioning the pending birthday, and inquiring about a visit later in the year. Leslie quickly replied that I and my currently highly significant long-time companion were welcome to come for the birthday itself. We rapidly accepted this kind invitation.

Before sharing the details of the recent trip that exceeded the perfection of the previous one, it is worth mentioning that the same "art v. commerce" issue that is central to Unreal TV applies to historic B&Bs.

The great potential to profit from providing this type of experience has prompted large and small corporations to purchase these properties and to operate them in the same manner as a Best Western by folks whose heart is not in the game. This is HIGHLY incompatible with the personal touches and hospitality that make staying at an inn special. Take it from a (TV DVD) guy who booked a quaint and charming room for a particularly milestone birthday two years ago only to get a room literally the dimensions of a mid-sized walk-in closet and to get threatened with intensely dire consequences if I did not remove a negative Trip Advisor review.

Warm Welcome

Georgia-born and New Hampshire raised assistant innkeeper Don displayed his southern hospitality and country boy manners in greeting us on our arrival. This quickly led to sitting down for the inn-made from scratch gourmet baked goods and the lemonade that the inn serves guests from 2-to-5 every afternoon.

The strong sense that I was not in Marriott anymore related to craving a third indescribably good bite-size chocolate and peanut butter cake; I justified taking the second one on my highly significant other passing on that treat. Hesitancy to eat a third mostly related to not wanting to take more than my fair share and depriving a future arrival of his or her treat.

Don broadly smiled and stated that he just kept replenishing the treats; this was in strong contrast to a prior stay at a corporate-owned five-star Vermont inn at which the afternoon tea is a feeding frenzy at a table of cookies that is not replenished.

Oh Jonathon

Having full faith in the Mulchays on booking the room, I did not know where they were putting us. Don told us that we would be staying in the spectacularly California chic Tavern's Secret room but that he would first provide a requested look at the Jonathon Cummings Suite that was the best room in this inn that does not have a bad one. He proceeded to show us around this Vermont-style penthouse complete with completely private screened-in porch.

A thrill that exceeded having three (perhaps four) of the chocolate-peanut butter treats came when I thanked Jonathon and headed for the door when he beamed his huge smile and stated that we were staying there.

The interest in checking out the Cummings suite related to a secondary purpose for the trip. General disdain regarding the expense and inconveniences of air travel and recently having a LAX TSA agent follow up a no-choice-in-the-matter intense groping (after a scan that was taken before having a chance to stand still in the machine) with a non-consensual strong and humiliating grabbing that could be felt an hour later has made spending money that otherwise would go to flying on luxury accommodations within driving distance an excellent choice. The highly significant other of your not-so-humble reviewer stated this more concisely regarding this trip in stating "everyone from all over the world comes to New England in the summer."

The Cummings Suite more than lives up to its status as the showcase of the inn. Guests enjoy a spacious bedroom with a beautiful and comfy canopy bed and a gas fireplace, a large sitting room with a desk and a comfy chair, an alcove with two great reading chairs, and the aforementioned porch that looks out over the Vermont greenery. Sleeping out there is very tempting but for the greater comfort inside.

The large whirlpool tub with the jets that go from rippling to pounding is a wonderful bonus that many other rooms share. (Seymour the rubber duck makes a great tub companion but needs a racing partner.)

Providing two spa robes when many other fine properties limit them to one was another example of  the RHI rocking. The carefully chosen robes having a terry lining and silky dark maroon outside reflected the attention to detail at the inn and the perfect balance between spa and vintage elegance that sets top B&Bs apart from merely nice ones. A second case of doing as I say and not as I do relates to suggesting that you treat yo self by buying a robe.

Dine Without Dashing

The quality and the presentation of the dinner, which non-guests can make a reservation to enjoy, in the casually stylish dining room prompted asking Leslie how she got a world-class chef and equally good pastry chef to work in rural Vermont; she laughed and shared that she was very fortunate.

The policy that cell phones be turned off in the dining room enhanced the mood that the decor and the soft music created. The only negative aspect of this was that the perfect setting and phenomenal food quelled a desire to run out to play with the neighbor Great Pyrenees and Golden Retriever dogs who were romping on the lawn outside the dining room. (Nearby Dog Mountain provided substitute canine playtime.)

The meal commenced with a small square of fried gourmet cheese on a bed of an inn-made ranch dressing; choosing the potato leek soup over the very tasty local greens comparably made the choice of Sophie a non-brainer. The inn-made bread made me want to request a few loaves to bring home (and the Mulchacys likely would have provided it with a smile.)

My chosen entree was perfectly spiced and cooked short ribs with the smoothest grits ever. This dish on top of the other food required a break before requesting dessert. The chosen sweet was hard-to-describe sweet and flaky graham crackers with inn-made cracker jacks and equally local ice cream. Your not-so-humble reviewer who delights in burning Starbucks rewards on Venti Frappuccinos with everything but the kitchen sink could not finish the desert. (Every other day use of an elliptical machine helps burn the calories from these treats.)

The below photos are of the aforementioned feast. Please note the bunny-shaped butter with the bread and the Happy Birthday chocolate with the dessert.

Innsight of Leslie

This ideal stay ended with Leslie taking tine from her 12-hour-a-day 7-days-a-week schedule to discuss how she and Brian provide every guest a fantasy experience. 

This chat began with the story of Leslie and Brian working together for a Providence, Rhode Island corporation in 1994 when the stress of that life led to seeking a Vermont getaway; Leslie reminded me that the sales material of that pre-Internet era largely were limited to brochures and the personality of the innkeeper. When asked why she selected the RHI, Leslie replied that it was because of the warmth and the friendliness of the then-innkeeper on the telephone.

That visit led to a nontraditional form of love at first sight that a coincidental vacancy for a two assistant innkeepers facilitated. The Mulchays jumped on that opportunity and took the next logical step when the inn was for sale in 1997.

The pattern of urban couples gleefully buying a B and B to operate together only to have the intense stress related to such an undertaking transform them from the Bradys to the Bundys within five years prompted asking Leslie how she and Brian have avoided that trap in their near 25 years at the RHI.

This woman whose honeymoon period has lasted 34 years and counting replied that "we can't even imagine a day not working together." She added that Brian independently working in the areas for which he was responsible and her doing the same helped maintain their exceptional personal and professional relationships.

Another shared element of the secret of that enviable success was that "it's not that one likes it more than the other; we are equally passionate about what we do here."

The conversation soon turned to what brought me to the RHI in 2005 and to the experience with the corporate property that contributed to the recent return. The always gracious Leslie commented that corporate-owned properties created a different (but not worse) product that changes the personality of an inn. 

Leslie next discussed her parental feelings toward the RHI. Her response when asked if she would consider selling the inn to a corporation when she decided to retire was "it always has been in loving hands; it must stay in loving hands." She further praised her offspring by commenting that "it always has been premium for its day," which included a 50s-era life as a motor lodge. 

Checking Out

The subject of corporations literally and figuratively changing the landscape of Vermont makes this once-and-future RHI guest  (with equal loves of alliteration and classic television) strongly hope that either Brian or Leslie does not awaken one morning to discover that their ownership of the inn was a very long dream. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

'The Wheeler Dealers' BD: Maverick James Garner and Properish Blonde Lee Remick Play Rock and Doris

The recent Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1963 James Garner/Lee Remick romcom "The Wheeler Dealers' reminds everyone who is familiar with the roguish charm of Garner of his incomparable talent for playing a lovable scoundrel. A few scenes that include one in which Garner's Texas oilman Henry Tyroon puffs on a cigar especially make Garner look just like professional gambler Bret Maverick in the (Unreal TV reviewed) Archive sets of the '50s Western series "Maverick."

Two other comparisons are mandatory before discussing specific elements of "Wheeler." Pairing dark-haired player Garner with overall prime and proper blonde Lee Remick (who plays securities analyst Molly Thatcher) reflects the success of the similar Rock Hudson/Doris Day films of the era. This pairing of equals further evokes thoughts of the '70s Polaroid commercials with Garner and Mariette Hartley.

Behind the camera, movie and television director Arthur Hiller puts the same skills to use in "Wheeler" as he does in classic comedy films that include "The Out-of-Towners" and "Silver Streak."

The final bit of administration is that the glorious bright and bold colors of this '60s era movie and the increased rumbling of an oil well in the opening scenes show that Archive choose wisely in releasing this one in Blu-ray.

The following YouTube clip of the IMPORTANT SPOILER CONTAINING theatrical trailer courtesy of Archive highlights the riverboat-style theme song courtesy of the The New Christy Minstrels and the zany '60stastic antics of the film.

The desperate time regarding Tyroon quickly needing money to keep pumping for black gold (a.k.a. Texas tea), oil that is, prompts the desperate measure of going to New York in search of investors and other revenue sources. This effort coincides with the boss (aptly played by Jim Backus of "Gilligan's Island") of Thatcher setting her up to fail but assigning her to sell worthless stock in a widget company. The rationale behind this decision is that men making very bad business decisions requires firing the woman with the unblemished record.

This early part of the film also features a hilarious scene in which Backus' fellow TV Land legend Howard "Floyd the Barber" McNear plays a steel industry representative who is uber-condescending to an association of female securities analysts to which Thatcher belongs. John "Gomez Addams" Astin shows up later as a perversely enthusiastic securities industry regulator; other fun cameos are Bernie Koppell of "Get Smart" and "The Love Boat" as "fawning art fan," and Pat "Schneider" Harrington as an PR man who knows the score. Having '60s TV cameo god Charles Lane as a judge in the closing scenes awesomely rounds out this group.

Tyroon being a cowboy in a sea of city slickers and seemingly having deep pockets attracts Thatcher to him; Thatcher being pretty and smart gets the attention of Tyroon. Thatcher being proud of falling somewhere between Madonna and whore makes her refreshingly unusual for a 1963 comedy.

The dynamic duo of Thatcher and Tyroon soon hilariously combine their powers to create a misleading perception regarding the value of the widget stock. This coincides with this team moving closer from the boardroom to the bedroom.

Even casual fans of romcoms know that Thatcher will get a third act reveal regarding Tyroon that will revoke his status as the object of her affection; the "never would have guessed it" aspect of this one separates the Days from the Heigls. Another awesome aspect of this is that it makes Garner even more endearing to the audience.

The aforementioned final scenes in the courtroom pay great homage to the similar pattern in '30s screwball comedies; Tyroon seems destined for a country club prison for white collar criminals, and the only question remains the extent to which Thatcher will need to wait for him. Of course, disorder in the court accompanies this.

The final verdict regarding "Wheeler" is that the battle of the sexes between equals and the related manipulation of perception for the art of the deal are as relevant in 2017 and 1963. As Thatcher and her more party girl roommate observe regarding the former, that simply is how people are constructed.

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