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Thursday, July 19, 2018

'Boy Undone' DVD: Morning After Begins Effort to Make Sense of Night Before

The TLA Releasing May 29, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 gay-themed psychological thriller "Boy Undone" is adequately freaky to earn the "guerrilla" label with which it is associated.

The following YouTube clip of the official "Undone" trailer highlights the dreamlike tone of this highly stylized largely silent film.

The real action begins with the titular young man waking up dazed and confused naked in a strange bed in a strange home. His success in getting himself together is thwarted when his cunrecognized host feels free to strip and top this guy who simply goes along with the program.

The portion of the story that comes out fairly quickly is that "Host" found "Boy" unconscious on the bathroom floor of a wild gay club with entertainment that includes nearly naked go-go dancers. On a related note, the edge of "Undone" includes our stars frequently in every stage of arousal and explicitly engaged in the full range of homosexual activity.

The rest of the story is that "Boy" has complete amnesia regarding his name and every aspect of his life; this includes how he ends up naked in the home of "Host." The strong assumption among this newly formed couple is that a severe trauma is the root of the problem.

Despite the aforementioned regular nudity, there is no doubt that "Host" wears the pants in the relationship and that "Boy" remains a confused puppy even weeks after being picked up (presumably) in a puddle of urine, A blatant example of the metaphor is "Boy" curling up on the floor beside the bed of "Host."

Surreal images that are a mix of the known and unknown and that are accurate to an undetermined extent trigger some sparks of memory; sleuthing of "Host" further helps solve the mystery.

Ultimately finding the missing link triggers further drama and does not explain everything. Men who watch the interrogation scene that elicits that information are dared to not look away.

This copious psychological trauma and drama illustrates how our past shapes our future and that we sometimes must completely break down to become the person whom we want to be. It further shows the aspect regarding some of us being wolves and others lambs that lambs sometimes lead themselves to slaughter and cannot resist coming back for more.

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

'In Harmony' DVD: Quality Gallic Nicholas Sparks Tale of Horseman and Insurance Adjuster

The Icarus Films July 10, 2018 DVD release of the 2015 French romdram "In Harmony" once again shows how the viewing public benefits from that company filling its catalog with "films from independent producers worldwide." This tale of unmarried recently paraplegic horse trainer/equestrian Marc and married insurance company rep. Florence charged with having Marc accept a low-ball settlement shows that films about relationships in which loathe turns to love can be much more than an unwatchable chick flick.

A related big takeaway for straight dudes is that "Harmony" can score you twofer points in terms of it being a romdram and a French film. The best part is that you will like this movie that lacks any overblown angst and melodramatic declarations of love. 

The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Harmony" achieves its purpose of accurately conveying the tones of the film.

Florence literally and figuratively comes on the scene in the wake of her colleague failing to get Marc to accept what he considers an inadequate amount for the harm from falling off his symbolically named horse Othello while doing a stunt for a film. Writer-director Denis Dercourt uses clever exposition by having Florence view a DVD with relevant footage of the circumstances of the accident. 

Marc giving Florence the same "and the horse you rode in on" message that he gave her colleague sends her back empty-handed to her not-so-pleased employer, The gist of the matter is that the company is facing heavy liability regarding the accident, 

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Marc is contending with the dual challenges of his personally designed rehab. and the insurance company essentially trying to starve him out. 

The impact of the events on Florence include Mark doing what he loves best and being determined to return to it reminding her of abandoning her dreams in favor of a a steady paycheck. She further is reminded of the ruthless nature of the insurance industry.

This leads to the initial betrayal of the insurance company by Florence that is typical in this type of film. This leads to the also standard true test of loyalty regarding her having to make a strong stand on one side or the other.

All this occurs in the background of our couple developing a more stable relationship and Florence helping Marc get back in the saddle. The nice thing this time is that both people are nice and lack the extreme personalities that characterize the lesser fare of this type that Hollywood produces. 

Decourt also handles the inevitable meeting between Marc and the husband of Florence well. One spoiler is that no punches are thrown. This good track record continues to the end with Dercourt providing a somewhat unexpected but happy ending for all that makes the audience want to see the Chapter Three of the leads. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

'Hotel Salvation' DVD: 'Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' Meets 'Dad'

The summer movie season void that the Film Movement July 10, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 drama "Hotel Salvation" fills is for a beautifully shot foreign film with relatabale substance,  This film additionally is part of the always-awesome Movement Film of the Month Club. 

The following YouTube clip of a "Salvation" trailer focuses on the equal heart and humor of the film in this synopsis of the film. 

The primary theme in this film about middle-aged Indian businessman Rajiv (Adil Hussain of "Life of Pi") granting a dyingish wish of his elderly father Daya is of adult children and their parents belatedly coming to understand each other ala fare such as the 1989 Ted Danson and Jack Lemmon film "Dad." The bonus concept is senior citizens making the titular Asian lodging establishment their home ala "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

"Salvation" opens with Daya having a particularly surreal highly symbolic dream. His interpretation of that nocturnal event includes a message that it is his time to die. This prompts him to plan an exit strategy in the form of checking into Hotel Salvation in the holy city of Varansi. The applicable policy of this property near the Ganges river is that guests have 15 days in which to either fish or cut bait.

Daya asking Rajiv to accompany him coincides with the boss of the latter literally breathing down his neck regarding his productivity. Other stress relates to the wedding plans of the daughter of Rajiv.

A combination of guilt and familial obligations prompts Rajiv to agree to take Daya on the trip. The grumpy manager and the seedy accommodations provide the pair angst in equal measure to the audience being entertained. 

Daily life at the hotel is more akin to conditions at a low-quality nursing home than a resort, The highlight of the day seems to be watching a television program titled "Flying Saucer" in the common room. 

The 15-day deadline approaching creates additional stress, It seems unlikely that Daya is going to die anytime soon, and the increasing pressures on the homefront are making it very difficult for Rajiv to stay away.

Writer director Shubhashish Bhutiani stays true to the spirit of his subject by ending things with each character better understanding the generation before him or her and achieving the desired personal salvation. 

The always well-paired Club bonus short film this time is the adorable Swiss movie "May the Night Be Sweet." This charmer tells the tale of eight-year old Alice and her younger brother Lucas sneaking out to provide their ailing grandfather comfort and joy.

As mentioned above, both films are notable for depicting themes that are highly relevant to families all over the world. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

'You Were Never Really Here' DVD & Blu-Ray: Joaquin Phoenix As 'Bored to Death' Tortured Soul

The Lionsgate July 17, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray DVD releases of the 2017 drama "You Were Never Really Here" proves that sensitive character studies and blood-drenched vengeance flicks are not mutually exclusive. The film additionally makes good use of the talent of Joaquin Phoenix ("Walk the Line") for playing a sullen brooding tortured soul of little words in this work based on a novel by Jonathan Ames of "Bored to Death" fame. 

The accolades this time include Phoenix winning a Best Actor award and writer/director Lynne Ramsay bringing home a Best Screenplay honor from the 2017 Cannes festival.

The following YouTube clip of the "Here" trailer perfectly conveys the spirit of the film. 

This highly silent film that largely has Joe go about his dirty business without being seen by those around him opens in typical fashion for this sub-genre. This pitch-dark knight finishes up work before going on to his second job as the caretaker to senile and difficult "Joe's Mother" (Judith Roberts). 

It is equally typical that we see Joe collect payment for his most recent project and get word of a new job from the intermediary between our hero and his employer. An incident during this visit provides foreshadowing that Joe regrets ignoring.

The mission that Joe chooses to accept involves rescuing the mid-teen daughter of a state senator, who is the middle-aged son of a wealthy man. 

The real fun begins when Joe intercepts the poor pervert who is leaving the location of the icky business where the daughter is white slave labor. These leads to a violent rescue that does not phase the "seen it all before" Joe. 

More creepiness ensues when the desk clerk at a hot-sheets hotel does not seem to even literally blink when Joe checks in with a clearly shell-shocked tween girl, It is equally clear that the reason for that visit is of absolutely no concern to this guy who merely collects the money and hands out room keys. 

Our unlikely friends learning of shocking events starts the final roller coaster ride of "Here." Joe next opens the hotel room door to be greeted with here's blood in your eye. He then makes his established and new rounds only to find that someone always is one step ahead of him.

The final showdown occurs when the cylinders fully start clicking in the brain of Joe. This bloodshed seemingly leads to more normalcy only to find that Ramsay and Ames have one more dark-humor trick up their sleeves. Suffice it to say that the final minutes pay homage to "Death" fellow HBO series "The Sopranos."

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Exeter Inn Turns Exasperation Into Ecstasy

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a perfect inaugural post for the Inn Credible New England section of Unreal TV 2.0. The experience at the Exeter Inn reflects the benefits of unique hotels that these articles share. Vintage posts of this type from Unreal TV 1.0 will make their way here by the end of August 2018.] 

Returning to the Exeter Inn in Exeter, New Hampshire for a birthday celebration a month after a (reviewed)​ spectacular stay shows that you can go home again if the homies treat you like visiting dignitaries. A related takeaway is that the benefits of boutique hotels over cookie-cutter monstrosities greatly improves the odds that the staff will exceed expectations regarding putting right what once went wrong.

An amusing aspect of this is that it evokes thoughts of hotels beginning responses to negative Trip Advisor reviews with the phrase "This does not reflect our usual level of service" as frequently as letters published in a particular magazine start with "I never thought that this would happen to me."  In the case of the Exeter Inn,, this statement is very credible regarding the "hiccups" that occur even in the best of places. 

Readers are requested to please refer to the prior post on the Exeter Inn to learn more specifics regarding the awesome accommodations. 

The overall vibe of staying in this 1932 Georgian mansion on the edge of the campus of Philips Exeter Academy is of a weekend stay at Downton Abbey absent valet service and any drama or trauma. 

The emotional rescue that led to wonderful satisfaction commenced with the failure of an ill-advised last-minute effort to book a night in Bush country in coastal Maine prompting the wildly successful Plan B of staying at the Exeter Inn. Although the greatly loved Jacuzzi Suite from the prior stay was booked, the "downgrade" to the Queen Suite did not diminish the enjoyment of the visit beyond lacking a tub in which to remove Yeti-caliber stench. (The shower was a great substitute.) 

The tradition continued with watching Disney Channel fare despite checking in hours before Trump was scheduled to announce his choice to take over for Tony Kennedy. The benefits of Disney while travelling are that you can watch amusing tweencoms and only be subject to advertising in the form of promos for the fare on that network. The watched shows this time were "Jessie" and the "Jessie" spin-off "Bunk'd." 

The exasperation to which the title of this post refers begins with arriving at 1:30 despite a known 3:00 check-in time; arriving early always creates a possibility of not getting in the room. That alone being the case was not bothersome.

Learning that the guest from the night before had told (rather than asked) the front desk that they were leaving at 2:00 p.m. (despite 11:00 being the check-out time) was annoying mostly because it created the possibility that they would prolong their stay beyond that.

Director of Rooms extraordinaire Julie St. Pierre was staffing the front desk and had the good grace to smile when asked "is there some point that you tell them to get the Hell out of there?" Her response was "We won't phrase it that way, but yeah." She also offered us vouchers for drinks at the bar.

There was really neither harm nor foul because I and my highly significant other merely put our luggage in the back office and leisurely walked the 1/2 mile to the business district. Julie had my cell number and promised to text as soon as the room was ready.

Although the 11th hour had passed with the squatters still occupying the suite, we got to check in at the allotted time. The added insult to this injury was that the room hogs now COMPLETELY commandeered the lobby area by bringing over relatives staying at other properties.

The suite had been cleaned well but several details that otherwise would have been caught were overlooked. These included finding a clothes hanger on a curtain rod, only having one wash cloth in the bathroom, and not everything being replenished. The self-help portion of the solution included raiding the hotel linen closet. The rest consisted of asking very responsive evening desk clerk Cindy to please have the fabulous turndown service (including tasty evening treats) include the items that needed attention.

An amusing aspect of this was returning from a tasty dinner in nearby Portsmouth, New Hampshire to find a pile of towels and a comic amount of amenities. The funniest part of this was that a couple of items still were missing. Cindy was unduly apologetic and equally responsive on learning of this, 

Before moving on to the "ecstasy" portion of this article, it is CRUCIAL to remember that the inn has ABSOLUTELY no fault regarding the unfortunate aspects of an overall wonderful stay at a place that will be the destination of many future trips, Very few circumstances allow for booting paying guests from a room, Further, the housekeepers were being forced to stay late after several hours cleaning on a 90+ degree day. This was on top of knowing that guests were waiting for the suite. 

I further learned that the housekeeping supervisor (who had started her day early that morning) was the only person doing turndown service that night. The bigger picture is that not having drinking glasses in a hotel room falls well within the category of (insert your own adjective here) people problems. 

The ecstasy began with the aforementioned post-dinner return to a room well stocked with towels and small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel. This led to "Big City Greens" on the Disney Channel and a restful night that would not have occurred but for the grand hospitality. 

The real kicker came the next morning on stopping by the desk to share plans of checking out at 9:30. The response was an invitation to have breakfast courtesy of the hotel. The reply to that was a smile and a revised announcement of a 10:30 departure. 

Further ecstasy came on enjoying freshly squeezed orange juice and a very tasty $8 Belgian waffle with REAL maple syrup and a side of crispy bacon at the Epoch restaurant that otherwise would have been missed out on. Better amusement came on playing "I Love Lucy" while sitting in the banquette in the classic style dining room. Commenting that "I hear that William Holden always come here" was especially fun.

The bigger picture this time is the truth of two cliches that hold true for any business. Being nice before a challenging situation arises prevents tears and recriminations that include words that you never heard in the Bible. The related principle is that the trademark of a good company is not so much that nothing ever goes wrong but that they quickly go above-and-beyond in response to an unhappy customer. Experiences both with a large chain operated by a self-declared saint and with other small hotels in northern New England show that they could learn a great deal from the Exeter Inn. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

'The Untouchables: The Complete Collection' DVD: Fedtastic

The Visual Entertainment Inc. DVD release (under a contract with CBS Home Entertainment) of the complete series of the 1993-94 version of "The Untouchables" further establishes VEI as the go-to source for vintage cult-classic TV series. The historic context of these reel adventures about the battles between real-life gangster Al Capone and golden boy fed Eliot Ness goes beyond it being set in the Prohibition era; it is a strong example of remakes of classic series to meet the need for content in the era of expanding cable service.

The two-part pilot provides exposition in a manner that gets right down to the action; the story of imposing Prohibition allowing Capone to greatly enhance his criminal empire and the proportional response of forming the titular task force to bring him down is interspersed with scenes from the parallel childhoods and early adult lives of Capone and Ness. The clear preachy message is that raising a boy (or girl) right makes a huge difference.

Another early two-parter with the wonderfully pulpy title "Murder Ink" has every great element of an "Untouchables" episode. Ness feeds an untrusted reporter false information regarding a raid to see that fake news reaches Ness. It does, and the subsequent killing of the news hound creates more drama that includes an innocent person willing to take the fall.

Even better pulp exists regarding an episode in which the pure and innocent in every sense sister of a member of Team Ness moves to the big city of Chicago to pursue a career and to be near her brother. Things quickly go wrong when allowing herself to be duped ends up with the out-of-towner being heavily and repeatedly drugged and raped until she comes to like the former so much that she willingly becomes a prostitute. The focus of her brother on rescuing her greatly works to the advantage of Capone.

Another "ripped from the '30s headlines" change-of-pace morality play has pathetic boxer "Pretty Boy Tommy Irish" buying the hype that that Capone organization feeds him and enjoy the lavish lifestyle that it provides. The scam is to make this pugilist believe that he can be a contender only to set him up to lose big in many senses so that Capone can make a fortune betting on the underdog opponent. The role of Ness this time mostly is to help the nice kid avoid what may be the final beating of his young life.

A strong contender for most creepy episode of this two-season series goes to another early two-parter that largely focuses on the separate campaigns of Capone and Ness to capture a (presumably) man who is preying on young children. This plot goes beyond the two nemeses cooperating toward a shared goal to a frantic rush by Ness to prevent Capone from delivering vigilante justice.

The cat-and-mouse game that is central to the series continues throughout the run of the program as Ness typically becomes aware of a scheme by Capone and typically foils to it at least to some degree; much of the drama relates to the collateral damage on both sides.

The audience and the artistic successes of "Untouchables" relate to the folks in front of and behind the camera taking the proper tone; there is no exaggerated humor regarding the historic elements of the series or overacting regarding the central casting characters of the ruthless gangster, the stoic fed, or the typical '30s era women and other stock types in their world. Everyone playing their roles as if they are real nicely draws the audience into the action.

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

Friday, July 13, 2018

'Alice' S7 DVD: Lucky Season for Classic Sitcom Fans

The summer blues cure that the Warner Archive July 10, 2018 DVD release of the 1982-83 third season of the CBS hitcom "Alice" provides is roughly 20-minute morsels of "unreal" entertainment until the fare that passes for 21st-century network sitcoms return in September. The integrity of Archive extends to including a few episodes produced for S7 that air in other seasons. 

This workplace comedy set in greasy spoon Mel's Diner aptly serves up tasty "junk food" that still satisfies after so many visits to the same joint. The quality is consistent and enjoyable to the extent that you look forward to returning for another meal the next week. 

The titular waitress is Jersey girl Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin) on an extend detour from her move to La La Land to seek fame and fortune as a singer. Alice being an actual (rather than a grass) widow is one nod of this '80scom to the sitcoms from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

One big S7 change for Alice is that teen son Tommy (Philip McKeaon) is making her a quasi-empty nester by being a freshman at nearby Arizona State University. The proximity of that school to Phoenix facilitates Tommy keeping up his "Hi Mom," "Hi Mel," etc. routine as he strolls into the diner with his most recent adolescent problem.

The owner of thew eponymous eatery is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable cheapskate Mel Sharples (Vic Tayback). Things do not change much for him in S7. He still faces losing the diner for one reason or another, He additionally continues snatching defeat from the jaws of victory regarding opportunities for an improved lifestyle. These include an executive position with a catering company and a treasure hunt in the diner. 

Fan favorite "dinghy" waitress Vera Louise Gorman ("Beth Howland") largely is in the background this season. Her big adventures include getting her own hope for a better life and having her "radical" past come back to haunt her. Of course, she gets through her difficulties with a little help from her friends. 

Sassy hillbilly Jolene Hunnicutt (Celia Weston) continues her efforts to fill the shoes of uberfan fave Texan Flo, who leaves earlier in the series for a spinoff. Jolene has her own variation of Flo catchphrase "when donkeys fly" and further channels Flo in directing unprovoked zingers at Mel.

The regular "A Listers" who appear as themselves and other household names who show up in character greatly distinguishes "Alice" from the competition. This begins with the S7 premiere in which Debbie Reynolds plays Golden Age film star Felicia Blake. The "sit" this time is that Mel believes that he is the man to whom Felicia refers in her recent memoir that includes the story of a highly memorable kiss. "Com" fully ensues when Felicia comes to the diner to reunite with the one who got away. 

An oddly dazed-looking Joel Grey appears as himself in a special two-part episode about Alice appearing in a local music revue. The "com" this time relates to Mel outdoing "The Producers" in his sabotage of the production., Springtime for Sharples truly is winter for Hyatt and Grey. 

We also get former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon to give Tommy a pep talk.

The "B Listers" include Richard Deacon of "Leave it to Beaver" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" as the owner of aforementioned catering company and future "Star Trek: Voyager" doctor Robert Picardo in an increasingly regular role as a local cop. We further get a cameo  by "Night Court" star Richard Moll.

The nicest thing about this set is that it shows that "Alice" has not jumped the shark. No cute young Cousin Oliver joins the cast to offset McKeaon aging, we do not get a stunts wedding, and any upward mobility becomes a reversal of fortune before the final credits commence, 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

'Gun Crazy' Blu-ray: Bonnie and Clyde Jr.

Warner Archive once again provides an interesting film history lesson with the May 8, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1950 noir "Gun Crazy." This entertaining morality tale on gun violence is a prime example of pulp fiction sociology tales, such as "Blackboard Jungle," from early Baby Boomer days,

The central victim of society this time is problem child Bart Tare (John Dall). The awesome opening scenes have a crazed teen Tare (Russ Tamblyn of "West Side Story" and the reviewed "Son of a Gunfghter") being drenched in the rain when his eyes glaze over on seeing a revolver in a hardware store window. This leads to one of the clumsiest reel-life burglary attempts ever. 

The action then shifts to one of the most inadvertently amusing judicial proceedings in film history. A kindly judge is responding to the need to talk about Bart by conducting a trial in which there apparently is no prosecutor, no defense attorney, and no guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of this orphan who is living with roughly 18 year-old engaged sister Ruby.

It is equally amusing that the judge allows Ruby, buddies of Tare, and his kindly teacher to testify without any prior notice and without taking any form of oath. The gist of all their statements is that Bart is obsessed with guns but that a traumatic experience picking off a chick eliminates any possibility of his being a threat to himself or others. 

Bittersweet humor comes via the testimony of the teacher, She shares the story of entering the classroom to find the students surrounding Tare because of  the revolver that he brought for show-and-tell. Her confrontation of him is calm, and the incident concludes without any mayhem or bloodshed. This illustrates one way that things have deteriorated in the 68 years since the debut of "Crazy," which looks and sounds brand-new in Blu-ray. 

Particularly blatant sociology enters the picture on the judge carefully explaining to Bart that a reform school sentence is intend to be for his own good, rather than to punish him. The unspoken aspect of this is that the rationale for the decision is completely irrelevant regarding the wisdom of quiet and quirky Bart accepting the inevitable by showing up at juvie with a Catholic school skirt and a large supply of lipstick and other makeup. There is no doubt that he will end up in the bottom bunk.

The action quickly moves forward 10 years to a happy and well-adjusted Tare testing the theory that you cannot go home again. The aforementioned chums, who respectively are a respected newspaper journalist and the new sheriff in town, welcome him with open arms. 

The friends inviting Tare to a carnival turns out to be as ill-advised as unwittingly handing an alcoholic a Jager Bomb. This outing leads to attending a sharpshooting demonstration by modern-day Annie Oakley Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins). The primary problem is that this femme fatale is more of a natural-born killer than a Wrangler Jane. 

A series of seemingly fortunate incidents leads to Tare and Starr hitting the road and his quickly agreeing that he should make an honest woman of her. The problem is that (akin to the presumed hierarchy while Tare is a guest of the state) Starr clearly wears the pants in the family. 

This dominance extends to Starr coercing Tare into a Bonnie and Clyde style travelling crime spree. Although she keeps up that end of the bargain, Starr soon breaks the vow to not kill anyone in the line of booty. One such death involving Starr literally wearing pants has strong symbolic value.

The Bonnie and Clyde vibe extends to our couple hiding out with family; the symbolism here relates to clearly showing that Tare cannot be pulled back from the darkside and to the extent to which Starr is ruthless. 

Of course, this leads to a dramatic chase and subsequent shootout. The morality tale aspect continues with Tare and Starr facing the inevitable fate of all those who live by the gun,. They ether end up behind bars or six-feet under. 

The Blu-ray special features include the documentary "Film-Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light" and commentary by noir expert Glenn Erickson. 

'Baby Face Harrington' DVD: Depression-Era Everyman Comically Caught Up in System

The Warner Archive June 6, 2018 DVD release of the 1935 vaudeville-style comedy "Baby Face Harrington" provides another chance to discover a B-movie with main-feature caliber  social commentary. Like the recently reviewed  1932 comedy "The Fabulous Ferguson Case," the targets include yellow journalism. 

The titular dangerous criminal is pathologically mild-mannered henpecked husband Willie Harrington. The pecker is socially ambitious wife Millicent Harrington, who desire to keep up appearances extend well beyond essentially a demand for a Mercedes. She also is very frustrated that Willie can not provide her a swimming pool and a house with a yard that is large enough for a pony.

Charatcer actor Charles Butterworth does a great job playing Willie as cross between Pa Kettle and Jerry Lewis on massive doses of Valium. Fellow trouper Una Merkel does just as well portraying Millicent as a cross between Gracie Allen and Joan Crawford. Together, they prove themselves very capable portrayers of a film or radio middle-class married couple, 

The hilarity begins from the start when Millicent literally and figuratively takes Willie outside his comfort zone. She literally drags him to a party and adds insult to that injury by pressuring him to perform in front of the group. He essentially ends up with egg on his face despite bringing home the bacon. 

This taste of the good life (including a still-interested former suitor) prompts a passive-aggressive attempt to persuade Willie to request a raise. This leads to the sits of cashing in his life insurance and having his boss seize an opportunity that sets the stage for the rest of the com in the film.

A wacky misunderstanding that comically escalates ultimately leads to an unfortunate incarceration; This occurring during a slow news period is responsible for out poor dope literally becoming front-page news. This, of course, leads to events that culminate in a wild chase that ends with liberty for some and justice for all. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

'A Violent Life' DVD: Putting Personal Face on Nationalist Struggles in '90s Corsica

The Icarus Films April 24, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 French drama "A Violent Life" provides a history lesson in the form of a "Munich" style drama. The world event this time is the '90s-era nationalist movement in Corsica that protests the French rule of that nation; the human face is of 20-something radicalized activist Stephane.

The scroll with which writer/director Thierry de Perretti opens "Violent" briefly explains that the 19th century French purchase of his native island triggers a 1990s conflict regarding which students and other young folks are at the center. Stephane is one such angry young man who becomes involved in the struggle.

The oddest part of all this is that Stephane and his group never seem terribly worked up. The overall tone (including an overall mentality of killing two of theirs in response to them killing one of ours) is more of a mob turf war than an effort to throw off the shackles of tyranny.

"Violent" opens in the early 2000s with Stephane learning of the death of a brother-in-arms that is the focus of a grisly scene. The combination of that loss and survivor's guilt triggers flashbacks to how it all began.

The theme throughout is that Stephane gets in with a bad crowd.  The drama from this includes an arrest, interrogation, and stint as a guest of the state.

Much of the rest of the film centers around the group of freedom fighters alternately running from the mercenaries assigned to kill them and hunting dowqn those hired guns. This includes our heroes capturing a prisoner-of-war.

The overlying (and universal) message of "Violent" is that Team Stephane consists of everyday guys who do their best to live ordinary lives while fighting what they consider the good fight. Work infringing on even sacred occasions shows that dedication to a struggle such as this requires a full-time commitment.

The bigger picture is that "Violent" introduces people to a conflict about which many of us do not know in a place regarding which most of us do not give much thought. This is further evidence of the limited perspective of the average American.

Anyone with questions or comments regrading "Violent" can either email me or connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

'Santa & Andres' DVD: Unlikely Friendship Between Gay Cuban Dissident and Loyal Party Babysitter

The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2016 drama "Santa & Andres" perfectly illustrates the Breaking edge and the wave of period-piece films that depict outsiders in the context of recent historic events. The outsiders this time are the titular Cuban dissident gay writer and the loyal party member who is assigned to babysit him at a time that some of the eyes of the world are on their island nation. That event is a 1983 forum, and the assignment of Andres includes ensuring that Santa does not disrupt the proceedings.

The larger context that the written narrative prologue provides is that the immediate "reforms" include establishing camps for gay people, artists and others whose lifestyles are determined to be inconsistent with the principles of the new ruling class.. The rest of the story is the impact of the camps lingers after the release of their residents. 

This awesomely quirky film begins with (presumably) farmer's daughter Andres carrying a wooden kitchen chair up a mountain to the shack that Santa inhabits. She brusquely introduces herself, equally hostilely announces that she is going to sit guard during the aforementioned  forum, and makes it clear that neither of them ain't goin' nowhere until the event ends. All this apparently is despite Santa not expressing any desire to crash the party (pun intended), 

Of course, Stockholm Syndrome sets in on both sides as Santa makes overtures that are designed to alleviate physical discomfort of Andres, and she begins to believe that he does not pose any threat of rocking the boat.

A true turning point comes when Andres figuratively pulls a thorn from the paw of the lion. This rapidly speeds up the thawing out process and more fully shows the pair that neither is the enemy.

This leads to an evening of drinking at which Santa and Andres provide the other support when they experience separate traumatic moments. This empathy includes each person truly feeling the pain of the other.

That evening is even more fateful in that it sets the stage for the proverbial moment at which Andres must prove where her loyalties lie. The spoiler is that the outcome ensures that one of leads will end up with egg on his or her face. The better news is that "Santa" concludes with our newly enlightened where each of them seems destined to continue their lives.

The bonus feature this time is an insightful "Making of" documentary., 

Monday, July 9, 2018

'Laugh-In' S5 DVD: 100+ Eps & Still Going Strong

Time Life awesomely socks it to us one more time regarding the July 10, 2018 (POSSIBLY delayed a couple of weeks) DVD release of the 1971-72  S5 of genuine pop culture phenom, "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In." The legacy of this music-variety show includes recruiting the biggest stars of past, present, and future and launching the careers of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin. This is not to mention topical humor that makes the Smother Brothers ask "did they just say that?" 

The myriad S5 changes begin with a cast member other than hilariously flamboyant Alan Sues showing up with a beard. We also see the sad departure of Arte Johnson and the fun arrival of Richard Dawson and Larry Hovis of the '60scom "Hogan's Heroes." We additionally get the debut of a  new bit in which double-coyote-ugly spinster Gladys  Ormphby (Ruth Buzzi) dreams that she is married to historical and fictional men. Tarzan is first up. 

The very special guest star is '60s sex kitten Raquel Werlch, who fully embraces the spirit of the series as enthusiastically as other A-Listers who appear. A highlight is Welch teaching Gladys how to sexy only to have things take a rip-roaring twist. 

The season premiere further is notable for having Martha "the Mouth" Mitchell make numerous outrageous comments of the variety that keep husband Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell awake at night. Vice-President Spiro Agnew is the her primary target. 

This premiere also begins a "must-see" ongoing bit in which "Adam-12" stars Martin Milner and Kent McCord appear in character. These leads of that early "CHiPs" series showing their comedy chops is wonderful fun.

The highly sports-oriented second S5 episode features numerous top (and past) athletes. Football player Roman Gabriel is the headliner. ("Broadway" Joe Namath shows up later in the season.) The rooster includes jockey Willie Shoemaker and boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. 

The epic 100th episode brings back former "Laugh-In" stars Judy Carne, Henry Gibson, Arte Johnson, and Jo Anne Worley. John Wayne and Tiny Tim also join in on the fun. A highlight includes precious five-year-old Edith Ann meeting her elders in a two senses of that word. 

A snarktastic episode has Paul Lynde join fellow Friend of Dorothy Alan Sues; pairing Lynde with macho man John Wayne makes things even better. Sadly, Charles Nelson Reilly appearing in another episode prevent the one with Lynde achieving a trifecta. 

Giving all the other guest stars his or her due is an almost impossible task. The best way to provide a sense of this is to share that dropping the names Liza Minnelli, Carl Reiner. Rita Hayworth, and Debbie Reynolds barely scratches the surface. 

The bigger picture this time is that "Laugh-in" perfectly captures the spirit of Unreal TV. It achieves its objective of providing a break from the harsh realities of the late '60s and early '70s just as well as it does regarding out own challenging times. It further avoids the toxic lethalness of the 21st century by following the equally insult everyone philosophy of Don Rickles; the show seems to give Richard Nixon and LBJ equal time. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

'Any Wednesday' DVD: Jane Fonda-Jason Robards Take on 'The Apartment'

This ongoing series of reviews of vintage Warner Archive DVD releases continues with the 2009 release of the 1966 Jane Fonda/Jason Robards romcom "Any Wednesday." This tale of a kept woman who sees her married man on the titular day of the week is based on the play of the same name by Julius J. Epstein of "Casablanca" and "Arsenic and Old Lace" fame.

The basic premise of "Wednesday" is enough to draw comparisons to the 1960 Billy Wilder film "The Apartment," which stars Hollywood royalty Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Robards playing ruthless in the boardroom and the bedroom middle-aged business tycoon John Cleves (who has nothing in common with the Python member of the same name), Fonda playing quirky 30 year-old art gallery worker Ellen Gordon, and Dean Jones of Disney live-action films fame playing kind and loving visiting "out-of-towner" businessman Cass Henderson proverbially seals the deal.

The aforementioned free love set-up, star power, mix of com and dram, and the '60slicious decor of the apartment additionally provide a sense of watching the late '60s - early '70s "Love Boat" style ABC anthology sitcom "Love American Style."

The manner in which Ellen leads John on only to toss him out on their first meeting is the stuff of which classic farce is made. A gradual erosion of hostility coinciding with Ellen facing the loss of her groovy eclectic apartment due to an impending co-op conversion transforms that abode into the "executive suite" of the company of John and Ellen into the "Wednesday" girl of John, who always takes a "business trip" on that day of the week.

The twigs begin unraveling in the love nest of John and Ellen when the ditzy secretary of John offers Cass use of what the secretary believes to actually be an executive suite. This causes Cass to be an invader in the home of a surprised and angered Ellen.

The secretary also sending John spouse Dorothy Cleves to the apartment raises both the stakes and the hilarity. This prompts Ellen and Cass to pose as a married couple and increases the leverage of Cass in his adversarial business dealings with John.

Of course, an initially figuratively and later literally in the dark Dorothy invites "the Hendersons" to join her and John for dinner. This, also of course, leads to ensuing hilarity.

The final act of this film that retains a live-stage feel throughout largely consists of a series of awakenings (rude and otherwise) for Ellen; like many of us, she realizes the reality of her situation at a stage (pun intended) at which changing things is very difficult.

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

Friday, July 6, 2018

'RWBY' Vol 5 BD: Infinity War of Haven

Thursday, July 5, 2018

'Al Berto' DVD: 'Rent' in the Time of Political Transition in Portugal

The TLA Releasing June 12, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 drama "Al Berto" is among the new generation of Millennial-centric period pieces that center tales set in game-changing eras around groups of 20-somethings. In this case, the titular writer/trust fund baby converts his family mansion in Sines, Portugal to a Bohemian-style commune where he and his friends create their art and practice freeish love in an era in which the nation is transitioning from a dictatorship.

The numerous accolades for this film include the Best International Award at the 2018 FilmOut San Diego festival.

The numerous relatable international and timeless themes in "Al Berto" greatly contribute to its appeal. The titular character represents a trifecta of ill will regarding providing the locals a focal point for their general frustration and adjustment to the new normal. He is an outwardly lazy rich kid, spends his days in idle pursuits that include writing poetry, and is gay. The object of his affection being fellow trust fund baby Joao does not help matters.

A member of the group coming from a modest background and having a mother who regularly reminds her of her roots provides an interesting perspective. The issue here is whether the poor girl down the hall is a member of the inner circle or merely either a mascot or a charity case. 

Writer/director Vicente Alves de O does equally great jobs with the two related  primary themes of "Al Berto." Our sensitive soul is simultaneously contending with coming to terms with the world actively fighting his effort to create a Utopia while also trying to have a first real relationship with a guy. Having limited people skills does not help matters. 

The drama predictably amps up in unpredictably ways. This includes attacks on two fronts after some hope of lives of peace, love, and understanding. A great aspect of that hope for the future is the arrival of an adorable group that really help get the party started. 

"Al Berto" further speaks to teens and 20-somethings from 2018 by showing that having passion and a large group of like-minded folks has a long tradition. It also reminds those of us with a few more years on us that we both used to have those ideals and act on them in a manner that illustrated that we did not care about the narrow-minded views of the adults who were the same age as our current one. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

'A Cinderella Christmas' DVD: Prince Charming v. Wicked Cousin

This special Christmas in July review shares thoughts on the Monarch Home Entertainment November 2017 DVD release of the 2016 comedy "A Cinderella Christmas." The Hallmark Channel style goodness this time relates to a pretty and sweet orphan being the servant of her wicked cousin, who is out to snare Prince Charming.

30-ish Angie Wells goes to live with her kindly uncle Otto and not-so-nice cousin Candice after the parents of Angie pass away during her childhood. Entrepreneur Otto employs the girls at his event-planning business and is on the verge of divesting himself of that asset at the beginning of the film.

The bargain that hard-working Angie and comically lazy Candice, who has the guts to claim the glory that her cousin earns, strike is that the women will purchase the business as partners. The rest of this pact with the Prada-clad devil is that Angie will continue doing all the work for the business and become the essential slave of Candice until that party girl snags a rich husband. The payoff of the not-so-blessed event is that Candice then will allow Angie to buy her out of the business.

Prince Charming enters the picture in the form of handsome millionaire trust fund baby Nikolaus Karmichael, This Saint Nick hires the girls to plan and cater a Christmas-querade Ball in early December.

The twist on the ball element of  "Cinderella" this time is that Angie wears the dress and the mask intended for Candice and falls in love with Nick; rather than leaving behind footwear made of any material, Angie departs sans a special Christmas stocking.

Nick utilizes the 21st-century technology of the Internet to post a wedding proposal to the mystery woman who got away. This leads to Candice asserting to be that bachelorette and coercing Angie both to go along with the ruse and to plan and cater the marriage made south of Heaven.

The role of Nick goes beyond the highly predictable attraction to Angie during the wedding preparations. Candice increasingly showing her crazy and also not acting like the dream girl from the ball provides Nick a strong sense that he is being played for a sap. His not-so-subtle efforts to prove that Candice is not the woman she claims to be provides some of the best humor in the film.

Things predictably come down to the 11th hour in an unpredictable manner. The lesson this time is that you should always assume that Big Brother is watching.

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

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

“Six Films by Nicholas Geyrhalter” DVD: Highly Stylized Euro Docs on Everyday Life and Beyond