Search This Blog

Friday, June 29, 2018

'The Colossus of Rhodes" Blu-ray: Sergio Leone Cult Classic Gladiator Film

The void that the Warner Archive June 26, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1961 Sergio Leone gladiator film "The Colossus of Rhodes" fills in this meh season of summer movies is for a big-budget action-adventure spectacular that is the guiltiest of pleasures. Fans of spaghetti westerns know that Leone goes on to make the Clint Eastwood "Dollars" trilogy and similar fare.

A technical note is that this epic with a cast of 1,000s of extras is crystal clear and has perfect sound in Blu-ray; the bigger picture is that Archive never fails to deliver regarding its remastering of films. 

The titular Rhodesian idol is a mammoth statue that the current (but not necessarily future) monarch has slave labor construct for the dual purposes of representing his great power and to express "don't fuck with me boys; this isn't my first rodeo" to any visitor who harbors (of course, pun intended) an ill intent. All of this occurs on the Mediterranean island of Rhodes (presumably Mypos adjacent) in 280 B.C.

One of best early scenes has a clumsy regicide attempt turn sour on the would-be assassin. This leads to the hero of the film learning words literally to live by. 

Greek soldier/Athenian war hero Dario (Rory Calhoun) gets the proverbial more than he bargains for while on the island initially as a guest of the state in a positive sense of that term. A faction that is attempting a coup d'isle make an initial snatch-and-grab effort that proves that you do not bring an ornamental pillar to a dagger fight.

Dario subsequently discovering that he is a guest of Hotel Rhodes in that he can check out but can never leave prompts him to rely on the kindness of a stranger who carries a torch for him. This leads to an ancient version of the Boat People of Cuba. The humor this time relates to our military genius belatedly learning that he is being shanghaied. He just wants to get home, and his hosts want him to deliver a strong message.

The aforementioned colossus soon serves one of its purposes in raining on the plans of the would-be fleers. This results in an incredibly sadistic torture scene that shows both for whom the bell tolls and that the powers-that-be have ways of making Dario talk. We also soon learn that the threat to the the current power structure is more serious and widespread than initially believed. 

The background of all this is that the local populace obtains an increasingly strong sense that the new gigantic addition in the harbor and other factors has made the gods crazy mad; the ultimate lesson is similar to the one that is imposed on Pompeii that you do not fuck with Zeus. 

A common element throughout all this is the wrestling and close-contact battling between muscular tanned (oft hairy chested) men wearing tunics with plunging necklines and short skirts that makes the line from "Airplane" "Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?" so amusing, 

Folks who wish to learn more about "Rhodes" can listen to the commentary by film historian Christopher Frayling that is a Blu-ray special feature, 

Jekyll and Hyde (1941) DVD: Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, and Lana Turner Do a Remake of a Classic Horror Tale Justice

Warner Archive follows its grand tradition of not making cinephiles (or couch potatoes) wait long for "the rest of the story" by releasing the 1941 Spencer Tracy/Ingrid Begrman/Lana Turner version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" roughly two months after the release of the (reviewed) 1932 version with Frederic March. The only thing better than these separate releases would have been a two-disc set in the equally grand tradition of Archive providing these collections.

The most cool thing about watching the Tracy version after the March one is comparing the overall tones of the movies in the nine years in which time marches (of course pun intended) on in the film industry. The much more melodramatic and grotesque tone of the earlier version reflects early talkies being one step above silents on the evolutionary ladder. For their part, those intertitle wonders have the same exaggerated gestures and enunciation as the stage plays that precede them. 

The best way to think about the contrast is that the Hyde of March largely is a combination of The Wolfman and The Phantom of the Opera; the evil persona that Tracy portrays is more of a Norman Bates style monster. 

The Tracy version, which  is 15 minutes longer than the March one, also is slower paced than the earlier film. Conversely, this later movie favors getting right to the action over exposition more than the 1932 film. This is in the form of the opening scene being in a (presumably Episcopalian) church service at which the priest is lauding Queen Victoria for elevating the British Empire to an enviable level of propriety following an apparent period of debauchery, This is in contrast to the March "Hyde" beginning with Jekyll preparing to attend a lecture of medical students at which he delivers his speech about the yin and yang of the nature of man that he presents at a dinner early in the remake.

The literal voice from the pulpit in the 1941 version increasingly agitates a clearly flocked up member of the congregation to the point that he erupts in a maniacal laugh that makes the audience believe that Jekyll has released his dark side. Jekyll quickly coming to the aid of his fellow child of Christ shows that that physician is not the only character who goes a little mad sometimes.

Jekyll getting the tortured soul comfortably settled in a padded cell leads to the aforementioned gathering at which he discusses his theory regarding the ability to separate the good and the evil sides in everyone. This event also introduces the audience to Jekyll fiancee Beatrix Emery (Turner) and her very proper father Sir Charles Emery (Donald Crisp). Other guests include Jekyll BFF Dr. John Lanyon (Ian Hunter).

Jekyll and Lanyon heading home sets the stage for the remainder of the film. Working-class barmaid Ivy Peterson having a date turn sour prompts Jekyll to rescue that damsel in distress. He then takes her home primarily to provide medical treatment.

It is believed that this version suggests things to come in a manner that the 1932 film does not. The subsequent scene in the remake has Jekyll confide to Lanyon that the presence of the latter is the only reason that the former turns down an offer by Ivy for payment-in-kind regarding the hovel call.

The encounters with the lunatic and with Ivy prompt Jekyll to take things to the next level by using himself as a lab rat to test his formula that is designed to separate the two extremes of our make up. This, of course, gives birth to Hyde.

Hyde soon reconnects with Ivy in a less violent and graphic nature than in the March version, This coincides with increasing alienation from Beatrix. 

All of this leads to the dark passenger of Jekyll coming out to play even uninvited. Once again, the Tracy version of the resulting pursuit and taming of the beast is more sophisticated literature than pulp fiction.

The mixed news regarding which version of "Hyde" is better is that they both have their merits and room for improvement. March plays a member of the gentry and his rural cousin better than Tracy; the overall production values of the 1941 version understandably are better than the 1932 one, and Bergman seems born to play Ivy. At the same time, the faster pace of the earlier film provides stronger entertainment; The best solution is to purchase both DVDs and watch the March one when your inner Hyde is asserting himself (or herself).

Mentioning the differences in the DVD bonus features is mandatory. The release of the 1932 version includes a classic "Jekyll" themed Bugs Bunny cartoon and the trailer for the 1941 film. The Tracy film lacks any extras.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

'Designing Woman' Blu-ray: Peck and Bacall Do Tracy and Hepburn

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

'In Syria' DVD: 'Diary of Anne Frank' Set in Middle East War

The Film Movement June 19, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 French drama "In Syria" provides another reason to look beyond Hollywood (or New York) for quality films. This production with an incredibly strong live-stage vibe literally brings the conflict in Syria into the living room of a typical Damascus family.

Writer/director Philippe Van Leeuw scoring 12 festivals wins in numerous countries reflects the good job by all in this film that has mother of three Oum Yazan converting her apartment into a "barricaded shelter" for her children, her father, a young couple, and a horny teen boy from the building. This siege mentality results from the constant sniper fire right outside the front door.

The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Syria" showcases the tension and other drama related to being on the front line of a war.

The film opens with a distressed Oum using water from a large container in the kitchen; the action then shifts to the young couple with a baby dreaming of their flight to Beirut. The husband having an appointment to meet their reputable coyote that afternoon provides reasonable hope of that great escape.

The young boy is the fly on the wall as he plays with his grandfather, watches the aforementioned teen horndog demonstrate a complete lack of game, and witnesses an argument regarding a teen girl taking a shower that is much more serious than this running up the water bill or leaving the next person with tepid bathing.

The drama amps up when the "storm troopers" invade what essentially is equivalent to an "Anne Frank" existence. One member of the group taking the brutal brunt of this invasion further frays already strained nerves.

Other drama comes on learning that an absent resident is a casualty of the fighting; this leads to a harrowing mission, which leads to a few out-of-the-blue twists.

Much of the impact of "Syria" comes from seeing these ordinary people cope in these extraordinarily difficult circumstances. It also makes audience members think about how they would handle being in the shoes of these folks under house arrest.

The Movement bonus short film this time is the French film "Le Pain." This one centers on family, love, and loss regarding the impact of the man of the house disappearing after going out for the titular carb.

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

'The New Adventures of Old Christine' DVD S1: Julia Louis Dreyfus Does 'Bad Moms'

The Warner Archive March 13, 2008 DVD relrelease of the 2006 first season of the Julia Louis Dreyfus sitcom "The New Adventures of Old Christine" provides those of use who missed out on the discontinued 2008 release of this season a second bite of the apple. History suggests that Archive will do the same regarding the other four seasons of this amusing show that soon learns the lesson that the adult characters have more long-term comedic potential then those who are not tall enough to ride every rollercoaster.

One of the more amusing aspects of "Christine" is watching Dreyfus play it relatively straight in this traditional sitcom between her stints as the gleefully manipulative Elaine on "Seinfeld" and the titular hilariously foul-mouthed and constantly angered loser who is "a heartbeat away" on her current series "Veep."

The titular mess is women's gym owner Christine Campbell, whose life changes in the pilot drive the series through its respectable five seasons. She is newly divorced from contractor Richard Sr. (Clark Gregg of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.") and is getting young son Richard Jr. (a.k.a. Richie) ready for his first day at the elite Westbridge (a.k.a. White Bread) School that a Google search awesomely reveals is an actual educational institution.

Adorably slacker/garage-dwelling late-in-life baby younger brother Matthew (Hamish Linklater) plays the Kramer role in that he is doofus loser of the group. The character of comedian Wanda Sykes fills the need for the cynical best friend.

The memorable first day at school involves meeting the WASPy moms who respectively are the queen of Westbridge and her lady-in-waiting. Lindsay rules the school and has dim-witted Marly to do her bidding. Christine suffers an additional hit on seeing her ex sucking face with current main squeeze "young" Christine. This provides further proof that many men desire romantic partners who are younger and prettier than him.

A standout episode revolves around the common sitcom and real-life issue of elaborate birthday parties for children. Old Christine tries to keep up with the Kasdashians but ends up throwing a more basic event. This predictably initially falls flat but turns around in an amusing unexpected manner.

Another one in which actual hilarity ensues relates to the hypocrisy of some liberal ideals. The set-up this time is that Christine is delighted to meet a woman at the school who shares her views regarding the elitist environment. The one-two punch is that learning the status of the new friend creates embarrassment and discovering the rest of the story is an example of something being mortifying when it happens to you and providing everyone else incredible amusement.

The appeal of the concept and the characters of "Christine" reflects the success of "Seinfeld." We see ourselves and the people in our lives in the characters and live vicariously through them in that they act how we would love to respond to the irritants in our lives.

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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

'Crime Time TV: Hot Streets & Cool Cops' DVD: 'Miami Vice,' Knight Rider,' and Greatest Crime Stoppers' Oh My

Mill Creek Entertainment fully embraces the spirit of summer reruns with the June 5, 2018 DVD collection "Crime Time TV: Hot Streets & Cool Cops." This set includes the full first seasons of the iconic '80s series "Knight Rider" and "Miami Vice" and a DVD set titled "TV's Greatest Crime Stoppers." The latter consists of episodes of vintage series that range from "treasures from the vault" such as "Man With a Camera" and "Mr. and Mrs. North" to more heavily syndicated fare that includes "Mannix" and "Burke's Law."

The popularity of the scruff look and the proliferation of linen suits with pastel t-shirts alone attest to the phenomenal pop culture impact of "Vice." Further, the copious montages set to the greatest hits of the '80s arguably make this series about two young Turks out to collar pushers and porn kings the first "Cop Rock" series.

An amusing aspect of the feature-length "Vice" pilot is the extent to which the pilot of the "fast and furious" action-adventure series "Fastlane" mirrors it 15 years later. We meet undercover cop Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) and his then partner actively working to take down a cocaine godfather when an incident occurs that indicates that the partner is due to retire that day.

New Yorker Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas) soon arrives and convinces Crockett and his superiors to let him in on the fun; of course, the extent to which the case is personal to Tubbs and to which he and Crockett are kindred spirits soon comes out. This leads to the unlikely partnership between a tough black survivor of the mean streets of New York and a good ole Southern boy who is a former football star.

The first regular season adventure pits our boys against a porn kingpin who preys on teen girls. Seeing "Modern Family" star Ed O'Neill play this video pioneer in his "Married With Children" era is fun. The "Fastlane" element is the team working with an undercover fed who may be on Team Darkside.

IMDb perfectly captures the spirit of the next episode with the following description. "Crockett and Tubbs must enlist the help of an unreliable petty thief to bust a drug operation run by a trio of bloodthirsty Jamaicans." The comic mayhem regarding the sting operation that leads to all that is an episode highlight.

"Vice" then moves onto a special two-parter that ties back to the pilot; it is business as usual from there.

"Knight Rider" is best known for making "The Hoff" a household name. The pilot finds undercover cop Michael Long (David Hasselhoff) investigating the '80slicioous crime of microchip theft. His case ending with very high prejudice leads to one-percenter Wilton Knight (Richard Basehart) giving Long the titular identity to go along with his new face and new crusade.

This new career involves Knight teaming up with K.I.T.T., which is a car that makes the Batmobile look like a Vega, to fight all of manner of injustice. Sadly, we do not get the evil twins this season.

Cliched early fun has Knight introducing K.I.T.T, to the concept of a vacation only to have the pair face off against a motorcycle gang that is terrorizing a small town; knowing how things will unfold doe not diminish the joy in watching the events.

The awesome nostalgia of "Crime Stoppers" fulfills the DVD purpose of getting to see classic series with limited syndication runs. The strong retro goodness of this collection makes it particular strong.

The first bit of fun of "Code 3" is that it reflects the successful formula of "Dragnet," which also makes the "Stoppers" cut, in that episodes are based on actual crimes. This one has a resentful redneck as the prime suspect regarding the murder of his wealthy father-in-law. The solving of the case provides equal amusement. More fun comes via seeing that the real-life sheriff of Los Angeles County of the day looks and acts like Floyd the barber from "The Andy Griffith Show."

The 1950-52 "Dick Tracy" TV series is notable for reflecting a media trend. This character and his universe begin life as a comic strip and evolve into a radio show before hitting the small screen. That series reflecting radio roots through extensive (but not annoying) exposition reflects a similar pattern regarding films. Early silents have the exaggerated gesturing as live-stage productions, and early "talkies" retain that technique.

"Mr. and Mrs. North" about amateur crime-solvers millionaire publisher Gerald and socialite wife Pam is the child of "The Thin Man" film series and the parent of the '80s "Hart to Hart" television series.

Other "lost" gems include "Sherlock Holmes," "Sea Hunt," and "I'm the Law."

Anyone with any questions about this sampler pack is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

'I'm Fine' S2 DVD: Gay Sex in the City

The Dekkoo Films March 13, 2018 DVD release of the second season of the Brandon Kirby gay-themed web-drama "I'm Fine" provides fans a chance to see "what happens" after the tears and recriminations regarding the relationship-oriented cliffhanger at the end of (reviewed) S1. The focus in S2 on showing that seemingly NSA sex is not as casual as believed (or hoped for) nicely builds on the solid S1 foundation.

The beginning of S2 finds central 30-ish WeHo Nate in quiet contemplation after the aforementioned S1 events leaves him alienated from former best friend Joey and considered the bad guy among mutual friends. This nice-looking guy who already has a cute S1 coffee shop connection under his belt soon finds himself the object of the affection of an adorable somewhat innocent. Almost literally fresh-off-the-plane relatively pure younger man Mick strikes up a conversation and is ecstatic regarding the response when he asks Nate if he is gay.

A politely persistent Mick shows up throughout S2 and often plays the role of "Mr. Right Now" in several senses of that word. Many of us can relate to both being the puppy pursuing the more worldly adult dog or being pursued. We also can relate to throwing the eager young thing a bone for motives all along the selfishness scale.

Another early S2 development finds members of the Nateverse Andy and Brian attending a party with medium-high sexual heat on the cusp of moving in together. A reluctant Andy is going along with the desire of Brian to adopt a policy of what happens at the party stays at party. This works out well until the couple learns the principle that the problem with a threesome is that someone inevitably gets left out and experiences jealousy.

Meanwhile, Jeff is dealing with a family crisis at the same time that he is contending with his falling out with Nate; this presents our lead with an almost classic damned if he does and damned if he does not situation.

The comic-laced drama of Nate continues with ambiguity regarding a a job offer, having his family drop by for a forgotten visit, and his roommate providing literally last-minute notice that he is moving. On top of this, this every Millennial gets excited regarding a second bite of the apple regarding a college infatuation only to learn a couple of harsh lessons. This includes the logistical problem related to both players being willing to take one for the team.

The season-finale ends things on a high note by tying in several S1 elements. Nate and those who remain on his team make the bad decision of attending a kickball game in search of closure only to have everything go comically awry. Bringing back the most shriekingly toxic member of this 'verse is a highlight.

The appeal of this series is that most groups of gay men see themselves in these characters. Drama and/or sex of varying degrees of intensity regularly occurs among the members, and the folks on the sidelines must contend with the consequences of which side that they choose. Another way of looking at this is the valid theory that all adults experience the same emotions as children but largely better cope with them.

The DVD bonus is a "making-of" feature.

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

Friday, June 22, 2018

'Hamlet' DVD: British Live-Stage Version Shows Something is Awesome in the State of England

Indie film god Film Movement proves that the play is the awesome thing regarding the June 12, 2018 DVD of the 2015 film version of "Hamlet." This version of that classic tale of a dysfunctional family with an emo boy is a perfectly filmed production of a live-stage performance at the Manchester (England) Royal Exchange Theater.

The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Hamlet" highlights the artful staging, the intense trauma and drama, and the best-known scenes from this play.

The stark modern staging is perfect for the tone of the story. Androgynous tall thin blonde-haired blue-eyed actress Maxine Peake ("The Theory of Everything") portraying the titular Prince of Denmark follows the practice of the alternative casting in many modern Shakespearean productions. Her appearance also evokes the thoughts that Portia (rather than Ophelia) is the love interest of Hamlet and that the original Yorick soliloquy includes rambling about guessing that Hamlet did not know him very well and concludes that he did not know him at all.

Other fun comes regarding hearing the numerous Shakespearean quotes that originate in this work. Not only do "Hamlet" virgins learn of the roots of these still popular expressions, their frequent use provides the basis for a drinking game.

The best news is that the poetic Elizabethan prose is very understandable; it is equally cool that Peake expertly delivers the numerous soliloquies that provide the primary narrative. The only disappointment is the lack of musical numbers ala the "Gilligan's Island" take on "Hamlet."

Stage director Sarah Framkcom starts thing out right with a sight of the ghost of the father of Hamlet appearing in a manner that is more "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" than "A Christmas Carol." The action soon shifts to a dinner party at which Hamlet is still moping about the death of his father a few weeks ago and his mother Gertrude is reveling with former brother-in-law/new husband Claudius. The urging of Hamlet to get over it hilariously evokes thoughts of the episode of the '80scom "The Facts of Life" in which well-meaning teen Tootie tries to get a grieving Natalie to attend a Pat Benatar concert.

Hamlet learning that Claudius is guilty of regicide and fratricide sets our already excitable boy further on edge. The related revenge scheme further evokes thoughts of sitcoms by including a plan to present a play that is intended to unnerve Claudius.

Meanwhile, the impact of these events on Ophelia and Polonius (who is the mother of Ophelia) affects brother/son/Hamlet bud Laertes  in a manner that strains his friendship with Hamlet. The pop culture analogy this time is to "The Princess Bride."

In true Shakespeare style, the final act consists of heavy emoting and bodies piling up like firewood. This leads to the curtain closing on the story.

The moral in this story that still rings true in the 21st century is to come for the culture and to stay for the relevance. Newly single parents often are are not very loyal regarding the former spouse and often quickly enter a second marriage with the wrong person; it is equally true that the kid is the one who suffers the most. It is equally relatable that the heir has mixed feelings regarding a leadership void in the family business.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Exceptional Experience at Exeter Inn in Exeter, NH

An incredible recent stay at the historic Exeter Inn in Exeter, NH was the highlight to 24 hours in that underrated small town near the New Hampshire coast that mega-watts outshines its higher profile "cousin" just across the Massachusetts border. A luxury hotel, a good walking downtown, and awesome restaurants. Who could ask for anything more?

The 1932 grand hotel has expanded well beyond its roots as a temporary home to visitors of the adjoining Philips Exeter Academy. One of many ways that the recent extensive renovation by the current owners melds the old and the new is keeping the original numbers on the doors while identifying each room with modern markers. Further, a key-card system keeps things current.

The warm welcome begins with Rich or one of his front-desk colleagues greeting you with a smile in a reception area that is much more inviting living room than check-in spot. You can count on beverages all day and tasty baked treats in the afternoon and evening. Arriving on a day that the inn was serving world-class chocolate chip cookies was a treat.

Rich and his peers prove the validity of the theory that good hotel workers either grow up in that demanding profession or are born to it. He demonstrated this in his response to a request to purchase an Exeter Inn t-shirt after discovering a failure to pack a t-shirt.

This front desk clerk extraordinaire cheerfully stated that the inn does not sell t-shirts but that the Exeter Academy bookstore stocks those garments. He then gave perfect directions to that establishment.

The good experience began with finding a $10 t-shirt. That shirt advertising "Philips Exeter 2018" provided the basis for a good fantasy regarding both intelligence and youth.

The biggest treat was staying in the Jacuzzi Suite, which is the best room in the joint. The initial benefit is the suite being at the end of a private hallway at the rear of the inn. It is difficult to image hearing any noise from any guest.

Walking into the suite elicits the desired wow. The living room is the epitome of comfortable chic that is PERFECT for the end of the active day that is part of the Exeter experience. The complimentary bottles of spring water are a particularly nice touch.

The following photos are self-explanatory.

The agenda of your not-so-humble reviewer commenced with a trip to the larger seaside city of Portsmouth NH, being granted the gift of an early check-in at the Inn, quickly walking into the retail district for a tasty lunch at The Green Bean (which has genuine Cali cred. and even better chocolate chip cookies than those at the Inn), playing with new French bulldog friends Ripley, Greta, and Harlow at a downtown toy store, exploring the other stores, browsing the farmers' market, and finishing with a self-guided tour of the perfectly-maintained beautiful college-level Philips campus. The hospitality there rivaled that of the folks at the inn.

The enjoyment (and removal of personal Yeti-class stench on this warm summer day) of the suite began with a long soak in the tub that gives the accommodation its name. Past experience with such places led to bringing well-utilized bath salts. This led to rinsing off in the large stall shower with the powerful shower head.

Donning the provided comfy spa robe and slippers while following the tradition of watching the Disney Channel on these trips completed the mellowing out. The logic behind Disney is that the tweencoms are amusing, and the ads and cute promos for Disney offerings are more entertaining than traditional commercials.

A leisurely stroll through the quiet residential streets that surround the inn, an evening soak, and then watching "Bewitched" episodes on a portable DVD player was a perfect end to a highly enjoyable day. Plenty of nightlife is readily available for more ambitious folks.

A good night's sleep was a final treat before heading out the next morning.

Anyone who is interested in hearing more about the Exeter Inn specifically or the general joys of staying at B&Bs and small hotels is strongly encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvvdguy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

'Hooked' DVD: My Own Private New York

The dark content in the 2017 teen rent-boy drama "Hooked" makes it easy to imagine the edgy-loving good folks at Breaking Glass Pictures expelling one or more bodily fluids on this film coming on their radar. The June 12, 2018 DVD release provides all a chance to see writer-director Max Emerson as "Meth Boy 2" in this great mash-up of "Midnight Cowboy," "My Own Private Idaho," and (the reviewed) Breaking release "Retake."

The "Cowboy"/"Idaho" vibe is strong from the opening images as very recently turned 18 devilish (and horny) street hustler Jack (a.k.a. Captain Jack Off) (uberhunky Conor Donnally) walks through Times Square and leaves 17 year-old boyfriend Tom a message that Jack must postpone his birthday celebration because booty calls; this work emergency is in the form of a repeat middle-aged German client asserting a desperate need for a session. Awesome (Unreal TV interviewed) gay producer/director/writer/star Casper Andreas plays this man who plays rough to the same degree that he refuses to EVER take no for an answer.

Jack returns from his literal pain-in-the-ass session with ill-gotten booty for aspiring photographer Tom. Although the boys are enviably deeply in love and have the exit strategy of Jack going from American Gigolo to American Dad as soon as Tom can support the couple, their home life has its own trauma and drama.

"Straight" roommate Matt is a stereotypically repressed meathead jock who delights in tormenting Tom. Many gay guys can relate to the bully who delights in calling you faggot, literally or figuratively shoving his dick in your face, and constantly telling you to blow him really hoping that he will take you up on that offer. This opens the door to the fun of promising to service him only to say "just joking" at the last minute and forcing him to admit that he is as well.

The rest of the story is that hot-tempered Jack is a drug addict with a diagnosed "personality disorder." This "dark passenger" asserts himself at what can be considered both the right and the wrong time at a few points.

The world that is about to collide with that of our boys in a matter that epicly jacks up their existence is that of wealthy middle-aged white guy Ken. His wife accepts his gay side occasionally flaring up but makes it know that such tolerance has a limit.

Ken initially encounters Tack during a merry prankster spree by the teens. Later seeing the profile of Jack on a rent boy site leads to Ken hiring this excitable lad to a fancy restaurant. Hilarity subsequently ensues in one of the best scenes in "Hooked." One lesson is to not trying to shame a guy who seemingly is immune to embarrassment.

The altruistic side of Ken asserts itself in paying Jack merely to discuss his life and to allow Ken to help improve his circumstances. The overall sense is that providing sugar interests Ken slightly more than being a daddy. A BLATANT reveal during this conversation allows anyone with the grey matter to figure out a "Scooby-Doo" mystery to determine that there is one less degree of separation between Ken and Jack than initially believed.

The next phase of the adventure involves Ken "taking the tiger out of the jungle" by paying Jack to accompany him to his luxury South Beach condo. This provides Jack hope that he and Tom can get a fresh start in the sun and fun capital of the world.

The honeymoon period abruptly ends when Jack acts like a sullen teen after a "Pretty Woman" style shopping spree. A rude awakening the next morning leads to Ken essentially sending Jack back to the street corner.

This being a gritty gay-themed film requires that Jack hits rock bottom following his break with Ken. This initially leads to the stud falling prey to the equivalent of the predator that prowls New York and Los Angeles bus stations looking for vulnerable teen runaways.

The climax (no pun intended) begins with Jack agreeing to a session with a client despite advance notice that the nickname of this man features the term "date rape." This leads to a violent confrontation that wildly spirals out of control. The better news is that the incident leads to wonderfully perverse demonstrations of deep and eternal love by Tack that essentially proves the willingness of each to take a bullet for the other. The more amusing aspect of this is the outcome leading to Jack taking several for the team.

The copious special features include an enthusiastic Emerson hosting am "inside look" at "Hooked." a music video featuring Emerson, a "Behind the Scenes" feature, and Maxisms.

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

'The Outsider' DVD: Compelling Docudrama of Societe Generale Epic Trading Scandal

Icarus Films  awesomely combines its tradition of releasing "innovative and provocative" documentaries with the recent expansion into "films from independent producers worldwide" (emphasizing Eurocinema) by releasing the 2016 French docudrama "The Outsider" (a.k.a. "Team Spirit") on June 5, 2018. This tale of titular wunderkind trader Jerome Kerviel (Arthur Dupont) comes six months after the Icarus release of (the reviewed) "In Her Name" (nee "Kalinka") based on the real-life decades-long quest of a father to get justice for the death of his daughter.

Compelling and informative "Outisder" follows the modern film trend of opening with out-of-context scenes of chaos only to soon travel back in time to the events that create that mayhem. In this case, the "boiler room" young Turk traders at leading French bank Societe Generale are equally nervous about being the one called in to get kicked to the curb and giddy regarding speculation as to which of their colleagues faces that fate during the 2008 financial crisis. Said newly terminated Master of the Universe soon takes the walk-of-shame.

The time shift this time is to eight years early when Kerviel and fellow new hire and equally recent friend "compliance guy" Mathieu Priestar are attending an orientation lecture by Societe General legend Jean-Pierre Kaplan. Our boys soon going in opposite directions is highly symbolic.

Typical middle-class guy Kerviel is doing his tedious entry-level job when he lands on the radar of sadistic, rude, and crude trader boss Fabien Keller, who should have been named Fagin. Keller initially promotes Kerviel to the position of assistant/bitch to that rainmaker and his team. Kerviel then survives the hazing in an environment that makes a Dartmouth frat house seem like the Algonquin Round Table.

The trouble for Kerviel and the bank comes when Keller teaches this ambitious boy allowed (but illegal) tricks of the trade following a rookie mistake. The problem is that Keller (who comes across as a partial hero) does not realize that he is offering an addict a meth recipe.

The thrill of the high-risk nature of trading that includes the high of a devastating loss turning into an obscene profit in the blink of an eye in a world that irresponsibly condones such activity leads to Kerviel becoming pathologically reckless. It is equally reprehensible that he is a god to the bank so long as he fills the coffers and becomes street trash the INSTANT that the same daring feats that bring home the bacon turn sour.

All of this occurs in the background of an investigation that has Prieter, Keller, and other persons-of-interest facing a literally shadowy tribunal. The nature of those interrogations is what did you know, when did you know it, and why the Hell did it go on so long. Predictably, only Prieter came out looking at all good.

We further learn both the fate of the trader whose career ends in disgrace at the end of the film; this includes the reactions of his former colleagues/sadistic bastards.

Le fin consists of the standard docudrama epilogue regarding the end result of all this.

Anyone with any familiarity with the financial crisis knows that the tale of "Evel" Kerviel is similar to that of many of his colleagues. Personal amusement comes via a relative connection with a counterpart who is not so far from this risk-taker. The geographic, family background, and fate similarities are so incredible that they show a need to better manage guys with characteristics that make them prone to such behavior. The bigger picture is that the risk-takers in the corner office greedily exploit the ambition and ruthlessness of these guys until these pit bulls befoul their oriental rugs.

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

'The Swap' DVD: Disney Channel Thoroughly Modern 'Freaky Friday'

Monarch Home Entertainment aptly breaches the generation gap with the June 19, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 Disney Channel movie "The Swap." This Millennialastic version of the 1976 film "Freaky Friday" has teen girl Ellie (Peyton List of the Disney Channel tweencoms "Jessie" and "Bunk'd") and her classmate Jack (Jacob Bertrand) getting a strong lesson in seeing how the other half lives. (Yes, the Unreal TV video library includes "Friday" and every other parent-child body-swapping film.)

The following YouTube clip of the official "Swap" trailer nicely explains the concept of the film and provides seconds of gender-bending hilarity.

The experiences (down to having a close friend named Sassy) and general appearance of Ellie so closely resembles a particular real-life teen girl that "Swap" can be considered "The Life of Rachael." The primary stress in the life of Ellie relates to a cut in school funding threatening to downgrade her rhythmic gymnastics team to a club. The determining factor is the performance of the group at a competition that (of course) is on the Sunday after the titular body transfer. The impact of the gymnastics activity merely being an extra-curricular includes the already largely absentee father of Ellie not showing up for competitions.

The 'tude of recent (Buffalo) New York transplant Aspen creates Ellie additional problems. Aspen quickly is becoming the BFF of Sassy and is actively campaigning to make Ellie a social outcast.

For his part, aspiring varsity hockey player Jack is the low man on the totem pole at home and on the ice regarding his varsity-playing older twin brothers and their recently widowed coach/dad. This pressure includes both the drills and the inspirational quotes being fairly relentless in both venues. Of course, the big final hockey try-out is at roughly the same time as the important rhythmic gymnastics competition.

The bully in the life of Jack is of the more traditional variety. Jack making the varsity team would result in kept-back high school senior Porter Gibbs not being promoted from the junior-varsity squad. Seeing Disney Channel movies star James Godfrey play big menacing Porter a few years before his scene-stealing role as wacky brain-eater Bonzo in the (reviewed) 2018 Disney Channel movie "Z-O-M-B-I-E-S" is fun.

Equally literal angst and bloodshed simultaneously lands our troubled suburban teens in the nurse's office. Subsequent exchanges of "wishcraft" texts results in one of the most rapid gender-transformation procedures in television history.

Ellie finds herself living in all-male household in which farts are distributed with far more frequency (and glee) than soap. She also gets first-hand experience regarding the Great Santini routine to which Jack is subject almost every waking  hour.

The biggest challenge that Jack faces is being a gentleman in the face of the level of access to a naked teen girl body that is a fantasy for most of his peers. He also gets a first-hand look at the cruelty of high school girls and learns that rhythmic gymnastics is much more than twirling a ribbon. The added insult to the injury is learning the extent of the abandonment of the father of Ellie.

This all leads to a deadline that threatens Ellie with a lifetime of living in a smelly greasy body and Jack facing his straight buds hitting on him.

Of course, this comes down to the wire and leaves our teens three days older and several years wiser. Porter and Sassy also learning valuable life lessons is a bonus.

Parents and others who are well beyond the primary target age range for "Swap" will be glad to learn that this one plays it more straight than typical Disney Channel movies. There are no extreme "Bonzo" type best friends or parents that seem any weirder than typical teens consider anyone one over 40, and there are no musical numbers that involve high schoolers spontaneously breaking out into a song-and-dance number. A related endorsement is someone who only tolerated "Descendants" 1 and 2 and "Teen Beach Movie" 1 and 2 (and soon is being treated to a "High School Musical" double feature) being pulled from the Unreal TV video library liking "Swap."

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

Monday, June 18, 2018

'Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story' CD/Digital/Vinyl Soundtrack to Documentary on Man Who Moved 20 Feet Toward Stardom

The June 8, 2018 UMe vinyl (including a limited-edition version), CD, and digital releases of the soundtrack of "Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson [a.k.a. "Romo"] Story" does great justice to the man and the documentary. The soundtrack follows the Hulu, Amazon Prime, and DVD and Blu-ray releases of the movie.

The basic Ronson story is that he is working a depressing day job and dreaming of stardom in the early '70s when word of his mad guitar skills reaches the ears of David Bowie (a.k.a. Ziggy Stardust). The rest proverbially is history.

The CD combines the best of both worlds by allowing a chance to hear rock classics and lesser known songs from a fresh perspective while reading liner notes that provide great context. The bigger picture it that we once again see that those who truly achieve "idol" status earn that accolade.

The soundtrack follows the grand tradition of music releases by starting out strong with a hit. We get Bowie, Ronson, Ian Hunter (early band mate of Ronson in Mott the Hoople), Queen, and Joe Elliott and Phil Cullen of Def Leppard jamming on a live performance of "All the Young Dudes." The awesome result sounds like a mutual admiration society doing a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. A similar track of Bowie, Queen, and Ronson doing "Heroes" is more true to the original tune but equally thrilling.

The very Ziggylicous "Craccked Actor" by Bowie is a special treat for fans of that era of his career. The beat is the same, and the well-deserving target is aging egotistical Hollywood movie stars. The chorus line "Crack, baby, crack" is as memorable as the lyrics "I'm stiff on my legend; the films that I made; forget that I'm fifty; 'Cause you just got paid." Few could argue that "The Ballad of Tom Cruise" would not be a good title for a rerecording of this one.

Another rarity on which Romo does his thing is the Elton John track "Madman Across the Water." It is very clear that this melange of ballad and rockin' tune is from the "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" era.

A highlight of the tracks from the solo career of Ronson is his cover of the Bob Dylan tune "Like a Rolling Stone." The vocals and arrangement particulalry achieve the ideal of putting the stamp of the homager on the song while staying true to the spirit of the homaged. This includes a solid variation of the unique voice of the father-in-law of Paul Westerberg of "The Replacements."

The following YouTube clip of Ronson performing his solo recording "Hard Life," which is a track on "Beside," from the album of the same name provides a perfect sense of Romo. The extended guitar solo at the beginning provides a chance to hear him play without any background noise. His voice, lyrics, and tone highlight both his very user-friendly schizophrenia and how he became a spider from Mars.

The good folks at UMe provide an encore in the form of a bonus track in the form of a piano performance that honors Ronson.

The "Behind the Music" element of this recording makes "Beside" more than a collection of songs with a leitmotif. The seemingly unanimous opinion of Ronson by the rock gods who also were is his nearest and dearest is that he always was the same guy who used to be a groundskeeper. Listening to his music with the additional perspective that the source is a guy who literally works and plays well with others while presumably keeping stipeing to a minimum greatly enhances the enjoyment of the tunes.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

'Henry Miller Asleep and Awake' DVD: A Portrait of the Artist As a Bathroom Gallery Docent

The Indiepix Films April 24, 2018 DVD release of the 1973 documentary "Henry Miller Asleep & Awake" easily is one of the most artsy and unique titles of the year. The brilliantly simple concept of this film is that the titular author of the highly controversial semi-autobiographical books The Tropic of Cancer and The Tropic of Capricorn provides filmmaker Tom Schiller a tour of the numerous images hanging on his bathroom walls.

"Miller" further is notable as being almost pure cinema verite documentary. Although likely edited, Schiller merely points his camera at his subject and lets him have his say with virtually no prompting by the man behind that recording device.

This look at arguably the smallest and most intimate art gallery in the world can be considered "Being Henry Miller" in that it provides insight into the mind of this outspoken writer who clearly is not wired like many of us. Although he is 81 at the time of the filming, Miller delights in joking that the amount of time that visitors spend viewing his collection indicates that they are constipated.

The sublime includes Miller discussing the story of a grand European home and the philosophy of a great thinker that both have places of honor in this porcelain palace. The ridiculous involves some of the art coming to life in a manner that proves that the snow on the roof of Miller does not diminish the white-hot fire in the furnace of this man who makes Hugh Hefner seem like a eunuch.

Another example of Miller showing the former Playboy founder Hugh's boss relates to a publicity photo of the scribe and the cast of either Cancer or Capricorn. The look in the eye of this man as he discusses the women embracing the spirit of the film provides some insight regarding the history of both books previously being banned in the United States.

Schiller shows great instincts in beginning to wind up the film with Miller discussing a philosopher known for asking a series of questions that our guide states cannot be answered. This leads to Miller discussing existential issues and taking the audience along on his journey outside his comfort zone.

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

'Funeral Day' DVD/VOD/Digital: Woody Allen Meets the Coen Brothers

Random Media gives fans of dark indie comedy a treat with the June 12, 2018 DVD/VOD/Digital premieres of the 2016 film "Funeral Day." The festival praise for this character study of a hypochondriac starring Jon Weinberg includes director Jon Wienberg winning a Best Director award at the 2016 Austin Revolution Film Festival and producer Jon Weinberg scoring the Best Comedy Feature prize at the 2017 Twister Alley International Film Festival.

This literal day-in-the-life of film begins with Scott getting a literal rude awakening when a good friend comes pounding on the door to get Scott to get his "stuff" together and join him at the funeral of a mutual friend. The figurative rude awakening for the good friend comes via Scott asking him to feel his balls for a lump that Scott fears indicates testicular cancer.

This encounter ends with Scott making a to-do list as part of a pledge to be a better person and his friend heading off to the funeral stag. The ensuing hilarity essentially has Scott literally and figuratively running for his life. (Just because you imagine illness does not mean that you are not sick.)

The remainder of "Funeral" has Scott making the rounds in conjunction with his quest. An early stop is at his favorite diner where the waitress who is the object of his affection slings hash. He later circles back for the special of the day.

Scott also visits his ex-fiancee regarding whom he is a runaway groom. This leads to a hashing out of another nature.

One of the more hilarious stops during this big day out is at a hospice. The gatekeeper at the front desk does not respond well to the request of Scott to gain perspective from speaking with a dying person. Suffice it to say that moderate hilarity ensues.

The second most hilarious encounter in the film is with the creepy upstairs neighbor. This guy sharing his knowledge of the self-pleasuring habits of Scott is only the beginning. His agreeing to provide the requested medical exam seals the deal.

Weinberg saves the best for almost last in having Scott encounter a heterosexual couple in the park and agreeing to go home with them for a therapeutic prostate milking. This encounter ends up being a pain in the ass in a manner that extends beyond the obvious. It further involves a fall-on-the-floor funny debate about medical ethics.

In the end. Scott is a wiser and obtains at least one form of happy ending.

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

Friday, June 15, 2018

'Perfect Strangers' S4 DVD: On the Road to 'Family Matters'

The expression "don't be ridiculous, of course it does" is the apt response to whether the Warner Archive June 19, 2018 DVD release of the 1988-89 fourth season of the 8-season sitcom "Perfect Strangers" shows that this program (which admittedly jumps the shark in S7) stands the test of time. The applicable principle is the observation of Carol Burnett that funny always remains funny.

An additional perspective is that the DVD set serves the purpose of that format by providing another bite of the apple regarding a hit in its day with a limited syndicated run. The modern aspect is that owning the DVD does not leave one at the mercy of the whims of streaming services.

As the review (which illustrates a close link with a top novel of the 21st century) of the Archive DVD release of S3 states, the successful variation of the odd couple formula this time is that uptight cynical 20-something ambitious cub newspaper reporter Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) shares his apartment and his work space with always cheerful 20-something recent immigrant from the Mediterranean island of Mypos Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot). This adorkable innocent having the wisdom of the fool shows that natives of industrialized countries often are not superior to our kin from more primitive cultures.

The charm of the constant elan and naivety of Balki is the primary draw of "Strangers." The next most appealing factor is the incredible skill of Linn-Baker and Pinchot at physical humor; they achieve perfect symmetry and often toss each other and themselves around with such flexibility that it seems that their bones are rubber.

The bigger picture is the skill of the writers at keeping the "com" fresh regarding the wacky "sits" in which our Chicago-dwelling dudes find themselves. A highlight of this is skillfully combining the classic storylines of a character accidentally getting hypnotized without the knowledge of the people in his or her life, an alter-ego taking over, and a character facing a tax audit.

We also get a variation of the main men (or women) being forced to fly and land a commercial jet; a Christmas episode that does not center around "A Christmas Carol," "It's a Wonderful life," or "The Gift of the Magi;" and a flashback episode that does not involve a character facing imminent peril. Many of the other episodes are more of the same.

The "Strangers" crew provide sofa spuds who reside in TV Land an extra-special treat by having S4 further setting the stage for the 9-season sitcom "Family Matters" featuring Steve Urkel, who proves that one man's Top-10 sitcom creation is another man's Jar Jar Binks. The roots of "Matters" dates back to the "Strangers" S3 season premiere in which Balki joins Cousin Larry in the basement of The Chicago Chronicle. New friend sassy and loving elevator operator Harriette Winslow comes to the rescue.

S4 introduces Harriette spouse Carl Winslow, the jolly doughnut-loving cop. The involvement of this (seemingly childless) couple with Balarry extends to moving into their apartment building. More fun comes via Harriette telling the boys that something that she wants to discuss with Carl is a family matter. Another episode has an even better reference to the best-known sitcom set in the midwest.

In the spirit of the heart-felt epilogue that ends every "Strangers" episode, the modern lesson regarding this series is that it well-represents the Silver Age of television comedy in which the depicted world is not perfect, unmarried people having sex is not always shameful, and the show does not rely on extreme personalities or innuendo to get laughs. A prime example of this is having the mother-of-all-80s and beyond sitcom mothers Doris Roberts do her thing in an S4 outing.

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

'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' BD: Lucky Restoration for Classic Film Fans

The Warner Archive June 5, 2018 Blu-ray restoration of the Oscar-winning (Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture) 1954 MGM musical "Severn Brides for Seven Brothers" provides a reason to go back to the living room again. The sound and picture are so awesome played on a 4K player and watched on a 4K set that they warrant purchasing those devices.

An incredible surprise is getting a bonus disc with the rare Cinemascope (i.e., widescreen) version of "Brides." A special feature explains that MGM has two versions simultaneously filmed to accommodate theaters that lack Cinemascope capability.

"Brides" trivia includes that Leonard Maltin daughter/sidekick Jessie Maltin identifies this film as her all-time favorite. This adoration extends to begging her parents to constantly play the film throughout her childhood.

The most cool thing about this oft-watched movie is picking up something new each time; in this case, it is realizing the full extent of the humor related to the six younger brothers. Much of this hilarity relates to the great skill of the actors in expressing a great deal literally with a glance. The broad scope of this includes mugging without hamming, being lovestruck, using eyes to flip off a sibling, and giving a "dandy" a grin seconds before a sock in the jaw.

The next bit of fun comes courtesy of comparing the film with live-stage versions of the show. A (reviewed) September 2016 staging at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine does the film justice and actually outshines the film in some respects.

The Maine show has third youngest Pontipee brother Caleb surprise (presumably) virgin bride Milly (Jane Powell) by popping out of a tree, rather than appear on the porch as he does in the film. Further, the stage actor who plays Caleb outshines perfectly good film Caleb portrayor Matt Mattox in delivering the memorable "not close, here" line. The trifecta is complete when horseplay during the first breakfast that Milly cooks including much more beefcake than in the film.

The film balances the scales in having Russ Tamblyn of "West (rather than Wet) Side Story" and the sadly underappreciated (reviewed) "Son of a Gunfighter" outshine the stage actor playing adorable youngest brother Gideon in the most memorable scene for this character. Suffice it to say that Tamblyn shows great skill at being catty.

The following YouTube clip of the original theatrical trailer provides a good sense of the film. The '50slicious promotion style is amusing and illustrates the phenomenal difference between that version and the Archive offering.

All of this begins with perfectly cast Howard Keel of the '80s primetime soap "Dallas" riding into his 1850 Oregon Territory town to stock up on supplies for him and his six feral siblings who live in an isolated cabin in the woods. Understanding the Unreal TV joke that the Adam Pontipe with one "e" is the one with no sense of humor requires expert television knowledge.

Adam tests the limits of the scope of offerings at the general store in expressing his need for a titular spouse to do the women's work for him and his brothers. This leads to Keel perfectly nailing the classic song "Bless Your Beautiful Hide" from the film soundtrack. The benefit of multiple viewings this time is fully appreciating the responses of Adam to his candidates for Eve.

This leads to literally love at first sight for orphaned Milly when she spots Adam at the bar and swill where she works. This leads to a variation of her being a waitress at a cocktail bar when she first meets him.

Adam making a successful sales pitch for an incredibly abbreviated courtship leads to him buying the cow without trying to get the milk for free. This leads to the newlyweds heading for their honeymoon cottage literally before the sun sets on their first date.

The rude awakening for Milly comes on finding that she is more Snow White than Sleeping Beauty. The stage and film brothers do equally well in the memorable scene in which they have good reason to believe that Adam has gone where no man (presumably) has gone before.

Milly meeting basic needs in terms of getting the house and the frat boys in order leads to thoughts of finding the remaining six brides. Adam figuring that what is good for the goose is worth a gander leads to the hilarious and rousing "Sobbin' Women" number. This leads to the bros leaving the ho at home and going into town to collect their praying prey. This is another case of the play outshining the movie in ways that include having Looney Tunes music accompany the 19th century version of a booty call.

Milly is far from thoroughly modern on learning that her husband and her in-laws have brought home unexpected company. This leads to a long frigid winter in which Adam takes a powder unaware of having left something in the oven, and the younger boys are left out in the cold.

Spring increases the thawing on all fronts, and "Brides" ends on a hilarious happy note.

Archive does especially well with the copious extras this time. The highlight is the aforementioned 43-minute made-for-cable "making-of" documentary that Keel hosts. His opening narrative is very reminiscent of the (reviewed) "When the Lion Roars" documentary on the history of MGM. The talking heads include Powell, Tamblyn, and many other cast members. The biggest surprise is that Julie Newmar (who provides an interview) is one of the brides. Sadly, her character is not part of the "catty" scene.

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

Thursday, June 14, 2018

'Edward II' DVD & Blu-ray: Pride Month Celebration of Derek Jarman Stylistic Retelling of Tale of Elizabethan King and His Gay Lover

The Film Movement Classics division of indie film god Film Movement celebrates Pride Month with the June 12, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 1991 Derek Jarman production of the 1593 Christopher Marlowe drama "Edward II." A 25-words-or less synopsis of this still relevant tale is that prince meets boy, boys gets exiled, prince becomes king, boy returns, mayhem ensues.

The elaborate staging of this film that hits all the right notes regarding tone and style requires buying the Blu-ray version. This format greatly enhances the live-stage vibe.

The numerous accolades for this masterpiece do not do this film justice. These honors include a Best Feature Film award at the 1992 Berlin International Film Festival and an unanimous vote regarding Tilda Swinton getting the 1991 Venice Film Festival Best Actress award for her portrayal of scorned Queen Isabella.

The following YouTube clip of the Movement trailer for "Edward" highlights all the awesome imagery of this avant-garde gem.

"Edward" opens with exiled crazed "pauper" Piers Gaveston (Andrew Tiernan) engaged in debauchery when a short message with copious subtext summons him back to to Britain to help recently coronated Edward (Steven Waddington) rule his realm. The aforementioned chaos justifies the alternate title "My Boyfriend's Back and There's Gonna Be  Trouble."

Edward adding the insult of bestowing great power and corresponding wealth on his boo adds to the injury of arguably replacing one queen with another. The court officials who are not amused include intimate of the queen Mortimer (Nigel Terry). Sibling rivalry plays a role regarding the involvement of Edward's second-in-line brother.

Although Swinton does her usual excellent job of playing a reserved woman skilled at concealing her crazy when required, Tiernan steals the show. He is particularly adept regarding the period prose and seems born to play an excitable boy.

The well-staged action fully heats up at the end of the brief honeymoon period; this includes an initial effort to re-exile Gaveston, which ultimately triggers a period inaccurate battle between riot police and a group fighting for gay rights. Those familiar with the text knows that this ends with a highly symbolic act.

The video extra is an insightful 23-minute documentary "Derek's Edward" on the making of this compelling film with numerous still-relevant messages.

The delightfully titled essay "Queenie Queens on Top" by filmmaker Bruce LeBruce includes a prologue by Swinton. Swinton aptly focuses on the national events and the mindset of Jarman leading up to making the film. LeBruce focuses on the numerous in-your-face parallels between "Edward" itself and the energetic gay-rights movement of the modern day.

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

'Cas' DVD Trio of Gay-Themed Films About Menage-a-Trois

Dekkoo Films, which operates an awesome gay-themed streaming service, once more boldly goes where mainstream distributors fear to tread in recently releasing the aptly triple-feature DVD that centers around the 2016 film "Cas," This winner of the "Best International Feature" at the 2017 Film Out San Diego Festival with a strong live-stage vibe explores the consequences of a 30-ish gay couple in Amsterdam first allowing the titular cute student to couch surf and then join them in bed.

"Bed Buddies," which occurs almost entirely in real time in one setting, has an even stronger live-stage vibe. The theme this time is three good friends dealing with having drunken hot sex the night before.

The aptly-titled "Tri-Curious" follows the real-time and one setting theme even further. The concept this time is one member of a committed long-term relationship developing cold feet as a Grind'r hookup is on his way to their door.

One element that makes a story about a gay couple inviting a third man into their bed realistic and interesting is that gay men tending to advance a relationship to sex much faster than occurs regarding a straight couple can accelerate the seven-year itch that prompts desiring something new. A twin aspect is that many gay men eagerly engage in sex that involves desire and attraction but not love or a desire for a relationship.

The potential dangers that reel and real life reflect are that the adventure is not the predicted cure-all and/or that one person in the relationship is who ultimately gets pushed out in the cold to conduct the walk of shame. An equally true theme is that all three films show that boys will be boys.

"Cas" opens with freelance journalist Pepijn returning to the apartment that he shares with nine-to-five guy Sjors to find the titular smooth young twink sitting in the living room before Sjors even appears. Sjors then puts his man on the spot by stating that he has invited Cas to stay a few days and then asks if Pepijn is cool with that.

Pepijn spending most of his time writing at home and Cas not having a very full agenda provides these mice plenty of potential to play while the cat is at the office. Learning the extent to which they fall for the provided bait requires watching the film.

Cas being himself having the effect of working his way into hearts of his hosts largely is what leads to his joining them in bed. Although he physically comes between them, it is nice to see that he is not the primary cause of the subsequent threat to their relationship.

Tension already exists regarding the equally relatable aspect of sincere plans at the start of the Pepjin and Sjors relationship not achieving fruition is a large factor. The men coming into the relationship with different experiences and being at different points in their life in the present also ultimately leads to conflict that addresses different forms of love.

The appeal of "Buddies" extends beyond the three gorgeous and highly likable boys who will prompt impure thoughts in every man of every age with any gay tendencies. The roughly 10 minutes of this short has enough humor and relatable insights for a feature-length film.

The film opens with the guy who takes two for the team the night before learning that a good friend is one of the pitchers and that their friend is the relief pitcher. This leads to the lads piecing together the events leading to them waking up naked and highly satisfied.

The regrets relate to the great sex and the promise of equally satisfying future intercourse ruining valued friendships. One aspect of this is the central blessing and curse of being an attractive gay guy in your 20s is that you have ample opportunities for casual sex but lack many (if any) real friends. The group addresses this in stating that finding guys for hanging out is easy but that a man who is willing to go out to do something because you enjoy it is so rare that it never should be squandered.

Good humor comes regarding the associated truths that you do not really know a good friend until you have sex with him and that an aspect of male anatomy can provide a nice surprise regarding being disproportionate to the height of the man.

"Tri-Curious" is the most dramatic of the three offerings. It deals with many of the issues of the other two with the added element of a cooling-off period allowing time for second thoughts. Two takeaways this time are that many gay men are open to having sex to be polite and that lust can overcome reason.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

'Ancient Aliens:10th Anniversary Edition' DVD: Probing Docuseries Showing 'The Truth Is Out There'

Lionsgate provides Father's Day procrastinators a gift in releasing "Ancient Aliens: 10th Anniversary Edition" on June 12, 2018. This mega-set of that History Channel docuseries is PERFECT for aficionados of ancient history, aliens. all forms of scifi, and conspiracy theories. The best news for everyone is that "Aliens" is a well-produced show that lacks the repetition, cheesy effects, and sensationalism of lesser offerings.

This aptly massive set contains all 135 episodes from the first 10 seasons of the series of literally Biblical proportions that recently wrapped up Season 13. The scope of the "bunking" extends from the dawn of civilization to modern efforts to prevent the hoi polloi from learning the truth. Presenting talking heads who seem sane and knowledgeable is a good thing; the only criticism based on the first two episodes of the series is that "Aliens" seems to exclude opposing views.

"The Evidence" starts things off with a primary focus on ancient Egypt. This episode is very reminiscent of the "Stargate" franchise on Showtime and Syfy. The concept of that show is that the Egyptian gods are hostile aliens who enslave humans to further their evil plans.

The "Evidence" topics include artifacts that strongly indicate that brothers from another planet share their flying technology, discussion of masonry work that seemingly requires advanced stone-cutting methods, and a way-cool segment that suggests that E.T. is to whom the wandering Jews owe thanks for manna.

We further see evidence of an early public airport system and that flying carpets are more than a thing of  The Arabian Nights.

"The Visitors" is not a tale of hostile reptilian aliens in meat suits intent on conquering earth; it is a study of how genetic abnormalities and voluntary mutilation respectively reflect ancestors of ALF having terra fever and members of primitive culture worshiping aliens. This includes speculation that ancestors of King Tut are from much further away than either Arizona or Babylonia.

We further get a look at possible ancient forms of geothermal and microwave energy, as well what may be a wireless form of transmitting energy. The evidence this time includes possible explanations for structures that still are standing. We additionally see how language limitations may explain why the proof of inter-planetary interaction in that era is not better documented.

Of course, no discussion of visitors from other planets is complete without a segment on the Roswell crash; the main takeaway is that this may be the first use of an explanation that is comparable to "the dog ate my homework."

The strong parallels between religion and aliens is a highly interesting aspect of these episodes and the rest of the series. A belief in one or more god is the basis for explaining much of what seems to be beyond our capabilities at the time, and believing that a divine entity calls the shots requires as much faith as concluding the existence of advanced life on other planets. From that perspective, "Aliens" can be considered a video bible. This analogy extends to episodes being sure to convert non-believers.

The analogy extends to speculation regarding some Bible stories involving literal aliens.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Aliens" is encouraged either to try beaming me up, sending an email me or to connecting on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.