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Thursday, February 28, 2019

'The Drag Roast of Heklina' Streaming" Boys in Gowns Dress Down Their Queen

The recently released "The Drag Roast of Heklina" on the LGBTQ-themed streaming network Revry proves that boys who dress as girls just wanna have fun. It also saves people who wonder if '80s New Wave princess Julie Brown still is alive the trouble of looking her up on IMDb. 

The titular woman of the hour-and-42-minutes is a San Francisco legend, Her current claim to fame is owning the drag club The Oasis where that fucker performs a show titled "Mother." The emcee for the evening is fellow tucker Jackie Beats. 

Revry delivers on a promise to provide an evening that shows that breeders do not have a monopoly on making vicious and harmful comments about those who are most near and dear to you; We also see that Hell hath no hilarious fury like a drag queen scorned. Personal experience involves fallout from sincerely mistaking a Cher drag queen for Fran Drescher. 

The following likely will incur the wrath of Heklina, but the roast warrants constructive comments that reflect many of the remarks during the evening. The most obvious aspect of the event is that every participant with the exception of Brown and (personally disliked) last-minute-substitute drag queen Alaska Thunderfuck generally looks alike.

Personal perspective this time is having a Bette Davis drag queen hit my feet with a push broom for the offense of resting them on a stage before a performance. She did not take kindly to my jokingly telling her to go drink a Pepsi. 

Rather than paying homage to Golden and Silver Age actresses and movie stars, the roasters purposefully made themselves up grotesquely to the extent of "Drew Carey" era Kathy Kinney looking like a natural beauty in comparison. Several jokes about the lack of diversity among the group reflects that homogeneous quality. 

Similarly, the uniformity of jokes and targets of those barbs made it difficult to distinguish who said what about whom. One hilarious exception was a queen commenting that Alaska is hung like a horse and feeding her a carrot in a very suggestive manner The topper was Beats later expressing jealousy regarding not getting a snack and the other queen responding that Beats would not have wanted it because it was a vegetable., 

Many of the best jokes were directed at a queen who was not there to give as good as she got. The group ripped into Katya for a (possibly exaggerated) drug problem. A highlight was a pun on the word habit. Brown did just as well in commenting that the backstage area reeked of duct tape and balls. 

An unintentionally amusing moment was an assessment that a joke that involves "Citizen Kane" bombed because it was too cerebral, rather than because it was not very funny. Commenting that the target was even more obsessed than Kevin Spacey with pounding an American beauty would have been funnier, 

Aside from the obvious difference between this roast and most others, it is recalled that these events typically are for a charity; that does not seem to be the case here. Further, many traditional roasters end with nice comments and expressions of love. Those are few and far between here. 

The climax (no pun intended) of Heklina getting her chance to fight back is very odd. Her seeming to genuinely be tired and perhaps to only respect the first portion of the expression fuck 'em if they can't take a joke likely influenced her cursing out the audience for not laughing at her jokes. In fairness to the folks who attended, they already had sat through 90 minutes of repetitive jokes about being fat, sex, and aging, 

The act of rimming being a topic of the evening makes an analogy involving that act an apt way to end this post. Like the drag style of the party girls and their humor, eating ass is something that some people enjoy from the get-go and that is an acquired taste for others. A third group never finds anal secretions their cup of tea. Not that there is anything wrong with any of that. The bigger lesson is that you never know if you like something until you try it, 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

'Deadly Friend' DVD: '80stastic Wes Craven Homoerotic Thriller Horror Comedy

The Warner Archive January 28, 2019 DVD release of the 1986 Wes Craven film "Deadly Friend" literally has everything (and more) for which you could hope from a teen movie. The treats include a scene straight out of the Craven "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise. '80stastic campy gore, and strong intentional and unintentional humor. The homoerotic undertones are a bonus. 

Matthew Labyorteaux ("Little House on the Prairie") plays whiz kid Paul Conway, who uses weird science to transform very recently deceased girl next door Samantha "Sam" Pringle (a pre-"Mannequin" sequel  Kristy Swanson) into a not-so-small wonder (a.k.a. Bride of Frankenteen). One spoiler is that this dream sexbot turns into the worst nightmare of her creator. 

The "special relationship" between Paul and a friend with whom he seemingly would like to enjoy benefits adds an amusing but enlightened element to "Friend." (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)  

Paul meets fellow mid-teens dude Tom soon after the new boy in town begins his university studies on the working of the human brain. Tom quickly awkwardly asking Paul if he is in the 10th grade and seeming disappointed on being told no is that first sign that Tom likes other boys "in that way."

Paul soon asking Tom what he likes to do and if he has a girlfriend is an early indication that the interest is mutual. Tom replying that he does not have a girlfriend and that all the local girls are stuck up provides further evidence of interest in doing more than grabbing some Micky Dees with Paul.

Several scenes throughout "Friend" further show that Tom wants to be the "buddy" of Paul, The many references to keeping their mutual secret is one example. 

Non-Craven creepiness enters the picture in a couple of scenes with the single mother of Paul. The first one has our mad scientist Cosby Mom so that she will sleep through his sneaking to the hospital to steal the corpse of Sam in order to reanimate her. Paul and Tom exchanging broad grins as Paul spikes the coffee of his mother is very Menendez brothers. 

Another eeewww moment has Paul tightly hug his mother in the middle of the night in an effort to conceal that he has a dead girl in the house. Mom responding "that's worth waking up for" is cringe-worthy. 

On a lighter note, well-known '80s psychotically grumpy old woman Anne Ramsey ("Throw Momma From the Train")  plays a stereotypical nasty old bitch neighbor. Her confiscating the rock that the teens use to play hoops allows her to have three balls. 

The Craven terror begins with the BB  (sans 8) prototype robot that is the creation of Paul becoming an increasing threat as it develops a great degree of independent thought. 

History repeats itself with extreme prejudice when Sam 2.0 goes on a killing spree that is directed against those who dun her wrong during her life. Her scene with Ramsey is priceless. Of course, this prompts Paul to urge Tom to not reveal their secret, 

All of this climaxes when Sam goes completely off the rails in a manner that arguably includes a jealous rage. We learn that Hell hath no fury like a Cylon scorned.

The bigger picture is that Labytorteaux and Swanson both play their parts well and avoid camping it up with the possible exception of Swanson doing the robot. The Paul and Tom spark explains the limited on-screen chemistry between the leads.

Monday, February 25, 2019

H20 Bistro at Hotel Indigo Sarasota: Must Be Eaten to Be Believed

This format precludes granting master celebrity chef Sol Shenker his full due regarding helping make the H20 Bistro at the Hotel Indigo Sarasota (see companion article) a destination restaurant. You must see and taste his savory entrees and literally to-die-for cheesecake to fully appreciate those culinary delights. This is not to mention watching the steam coming off the food on its way to the table. 

Indigo Girl hotel General Manager Melody Odell deserves much of the credit for Shenker being at H20. She recruited him back after the restaurant faltered under his successor and after his Sol's NYC Delicatessen in Sarasota fell victim to the statistics regarding new restaurants. 


Shenker gushed about Odell to the extent that she has no worries if she ever needs a kidney donor. Our Man for All Seasons also described his job as "its like owning my own restaurant without the bills." 

This righteous dude extends his blend of humor and his mad kitchen skills to appearing on the Sarasota ABC affiliate; he notes that he cracks jokes and that he is "the culinary Rodney" in reference to not getting no respect. 

This man had me at cheesecake but sealed the deal on answering a question about his thoughts regarding people obsessing over things such as gluten-free. His hilarious response was "People want to eat healthy, great. But when you go out, what do you want from me?" He further endeared himself to "tvdvdguy" in adding "Keep the 'Pulp Fiction' pen in your pocket" when you come to his restaurant. That, of course, made me crave his versions of a milkshake and of a Royale with cheese. 


Shenker also entertained in sharing his experiences in New York before moving to Florida after his parents relocated to The Sunshine State. He confirmed that the depictions of gleeful illegal and immoral behavior in the Anthony Bourdain book and Fox failedcom "Kitchen Confidential" are accurate. We also heard about 22-hour work days that required some of the most popular 80s-era stimulants. It further seemed that 4:20 was the standard break time. 

The best of the other numerous stories from those days  related to how Shenker obtained the basis for his apple strudel recipe. He explained that he was outside the New York restaurant that served the best strudel in the city when a minion who just quit stormed out. That disgruntled ex-employee accepted the offer of Shenker for $100 to take a photo of the recipe.

The rest of the story was that Shenker improved the recipe in a manner that solved a problem related to that dessert. Austrian-born Indigo Girl hotel Assistant General Manager (whose hotel career dates back to working at the Munich Hilton in 1985)  Sandra Hyland stated regarding the strudel of Shenker that "Absolutely, as a Viennese, I approve of it." 

On a more serious note, Shenker discussed beginning his restaurant career washing dishes at the age of 14. Another piece of the puzzle was his high-school guidance counselor steering him toward Vo-Tech school in response to Shenker being far from the head of the class. Vo-Tech instructor John Wish hiring his apt pupil at his Sewawrd Dining restaurant in violation of child-labor laws led to our man with a license to cook beginning his CIA training. 

The rest is history that brings us to the present. 


It is impossible that his Culinary Institute of America training is behind the perfect instinct that Shenker has for seasoning. The same is true regarding mixing tech. and cooking skills to develop an induction cooking system that he teaches to his inferiors all over the country. This is not to mention entrees that do not sacrifice quality in providing quantities that easily are enough for two meals. The only problem is that selecting just one is a true Sophie's Choice.

As much as I enjoyed my perfect 14-ounce steak and incredible seasoned roasted potatoes (the tasty  seasonal vegetables were left behind ONLY because of the amount of food), a taste of the homemade pasta with tomato cream sauce of my highly significant other made me covet that meal. If I had ordered that one, I likely would have not cared about embarrassment related to licking all the sauce out of the bowl. 

The insidious part of all this is that EVERY cheesecake, which can be shipped for $50 plus postage,  in the repertoire of Shenker makes dessert mandatory; it is heartbreaking that a photo of the artistically presented peanut-butter chocolate-chip cheesecake of that evening got accidentally deleted. You truly have never seen anything like it.

One piece easily is large enough to share. However, neither of you will be polite enough to even pretend to be cool with the other person having the final bite. This is especially true that regarding the superb espresso cheesecake that Shenker is graciously renaming The Matt Nelson. 


A Sunday Jazz Brunch with bottomless Bloody Marys and Mimosas as well as the musical stylings of The Vintage Jazz Band duo is one of the latest innovations of H20. Food highlights during the second run of this successful experiment included Shenker manning a carving station where he served tender and juicy prime rib with the best rub ever.

We also enjoyed a very tasty Monte Cristo, crisp bacon, and a fresh batch of roasted potatoes, We passed on the waffles, the pastries, etc. 

The power of the press netted us a big piece of plain (but far from ordinary) cheesecake. Other diners marveled at it but had absolutely no chance of getting a taste.

A wise man once said that strong pride is not arrogance if you skills justify your actions; although this guy does not know Shenker from Adam Richman, this statement applies to America's true top chef. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

'I Am Paul Walker' DVD: Adoring Tribute to Love Child of Steve McQueen and James Dean

The recent Virgil Films DVD release of the 2018 documentary "I Am Paul Walker" further solidifies the role of Virgil in the hearts and minds of pop culture fans. This love begins with the (recently reviewed) documentary "Outatime" about restoring the "Back to the Future" DeLorean and continues with Virgil titles that are subjects of upcoming posts. These include a modern indie film starring Ralph "Daniel San" Macchio and a documentary on "The Great Escape" featuring many people who participated in making that film.

The aptly titled "Walker" tells the tale of the personal and the professional lives of the titular star of the "The Fast and the Furious" franchise, The following YouTube clip of a trailer for this film shows how the folks who knew either or both incarnations of this guy who was equal parts stud and righteous dude always will mourn his death that occurred two months after he turned 40.

We first meet this All-American Midwest boy via home-movie footage of a childhood birthday party. This sets that stage for mother Cheryl Walker, father Paul Walker III, and siblings Cody and Ashlie to share stories of the man whom most of us only know through his television and film work. This guy always smiling for the camera, looking cute in his younger days, and being muy caliente even during puberty helps explain his decades of extraordinary success regarding auditions.

We also hear from two childhood friends who remained close to Walker until the end of his life. The talking heads who share memories from the professional side include a couple of directors, a manager, and "Fast" co-star Tyrese Gibson. A clip from a "Fast" movie showed that the stars were not acting regarding their on-screen relationship. 

Everything indicated that Walker had a good heart and would give you the shirt off his back or the expensive racing car off his driveway so long as you exhibited what once was common courtesy. Learning that this guy best known for a film franchise that catered to teen boys also had a strong intellect and desire to use his star power for good, rather than for evil, fully ensured his place in the top two choices in the "or kill" game. 

Hearing about the hair-trigger temper of Walker reflected his tough-guy heritage that included a paternal grandfather who boxed professionally and a father who was a Vietnam combat veteran. Arguably the most funny story in "Walker" began with our subject holding the door open for a man leaving a store with an armful of merchandise. That guy saying "Thanks, Bitch" earned him an epic beat-down. 

We also learn that the similarities between Walker and fellow macho-man Steve McQueen extended beyond their ruggedness. Both men remained very handsome as they aged and had addict-level needs for speed. These attributes and the particular affinity for race cars earned Walker a comparison to James Dean. 

The Dean parallel also extended to the death of both men while driving. The shared circumstances of the death of Walker within minutes of leaving a charity event was particularly shocking. One can only hope for the sake of St. Peter that that doorman of Heaven did not give Walker any grief on his arrival.

The bigger picture is that many of us to whom the "Fast" movies did not appeal got the treat of learning about one of the good guys in Hollywood who remained comically laid-back and was a contender for Father of the Year even after becoming Hollywood royalty. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Hotel Indigo Sarasota: The Barbara Eden of Hotels

On the surface, a recent stay at the fantabulous Hotel Indigo in Sarasota, Florida is contrary to the oft-repeated philosophy of the Inn Credible New England section of this site. This tenet states that spending the money on a luxury trip close to home is preferable to incurring the cost and the aggravation of air travel to go further away. 

EVERYONE at the Indigo reflects a larger truth. People who live in nice climates are happier, and it shows. The all-star team begins with the Indigo Girls team of General Manager Melody Odell and Assistant Manager Sandra Hyland. They also have world-class Executive Chef Sol Shenker (much more about him later), very hip and equally friendly (he laughs at all my jokes) desk clerk Chevy, "and  the rest."

You will not want to check out or leave. Don the shuttle driver repeatedly offered to turn back on bringing us to the airport for our flight home. 

The Indigo-inspired revised credo is to leave yourself open to flying to a vacation destination that more than offsets the pain of getting there. Relevant experience includes the flight to Sarasota involving sitting next to a young mother with very bony elbows that kept poking me and inadvertently changing the channel on my in-flight entertainment system.

My beloved beats headphones (thanks again, Apple) drowned out her screaming infant but did not help with my being a regular victim of baby kicks. This inspired a tweet advocating allowing service dingoes on planes. 

The Indigo is worth enduring this and so much more; it is the Barbara Eden of hotels in that it provides a paradise, offers genie-level wish anticipation and granting, and honors the few requests that it reasonably cannot anticipate. This is not to mention the luxurious Aveda amenities. 

The experience begins with the aforementioned sparkling shuttle, which you must pre-arrange, waiting at the regional (and equally clean) Sarasota airport. The congenial driver keeps you entertained and provides helpful information on the 15-minute trip to the hotel. The shuttle also provides service to local attractions that include The Ringling museum (article soon), the upscale shopping and dining at St. Armand's Circle, and the beach. You also can borrow bicycles. 

Chevy or one of his peers also makes you feel like a welcome family member on arriving in the well-decorated but intimate lobby. This area offers over-sized chairs that will inspire you to sit in them and say "My name is Edith Ann, and I'm five-years old." 

The wow factor alone supports following the Inn Credible New England philosophy of splurging for upgraded accommodations. It is a relatively minor additional expense and indescribably enhances the stay.

The ecstasy without a trace of agony begins with walking into the moderate-sized entry with the granite-topped and well-appointed bathroom to the side. Having ample counter space and a large shower with soap dishes that are out of the line of fire of the shower head check off two more Matt Nelson desired items. 

This leads into the roomy living area complete with a large pull-out sleep-sofa and an armchair. It looks as if you can get clear passage even with the bed extended. 

This leads to the comfy king-sized bed. Again, there is plenty of room for clear passage, 

As shown below, the entire accommodation is decorated in Florida chic with painted white furniture and pastel blue and green decor. 

The wish anticipation extends beyond the aforementioned amenities including a bottle of mouthwash. I was set to run the white-noise app. on my iPad when I saw a card offering the loan of a white-noise machine and ear plugs as well as anything else that I need; the bathroom has a similar card regarding forgotten toiletries. 

The hotel staff would have happily brought up the white-noise machine, but I went to the front desk to save them the trouble. I also requested body lotion, which was the best in the Aveda line, but spared Chevy the "it rubs the lotion on the skin or it gets the hose again" joke. 

The white-noise machine worked well but was unnecessary. The room is astonishingly sound-proof, and provided a restful sleep every night. The feeling of wonderful isolation extends to being surprised on the Sunday morning of our stay that the hotel was fully booked the previous night. The "Quiet Zone" signs in the hall and housekeeping not starting until a reasonable hour likely help. Even then, the cleaners are amazingly quiet. 

Eating at the H20 restaurant is a must. The $15 breakfast buffet is far from the continental breakfast at the Comfort Inn and is very tasty. The range of savory-to-sweet includes a omelet station, frittatas, French toast, make-your-own-waffles, pastry, cereal (yeah, I ate the Froot Loops), bagels, bacon, sausage, and potatoes. 

The H20 dinner menu is a primary topic of an upcoming article on the restaurant. A spoiler is that celebrity chef Shenker has an incredible custom-made cooking system that he travels all over teaching hash-slingers that cannot compare to him. He additionally has a perfect instinct for seasoning and takes well-deserved pride in his work.

These sincere accolades are independent of Shenker naming the espresso cheesecake the Matt Nelson. A related note is that all of his cheesecakes are phenomenal; eating his will make you not want to eat any others. I know that I will break down and pay the $75 or so to have a Matt Nelson or other cake shipped to me at some point. 

The more general level is that the Indigo also follows the rule of location, location, location. This Arts District property is in such a tranquil setting that one would never guess that the airport is 15 minutes away. One regret is that is that poor planning prevented getting tickets for a performance at the nearby Opera House, cabaret, stage theaters, or art-house movie theaters. This is not to mention Carol Burnett appearing at the venue down the road. 

It is hoped that a trip to the 2020 Sarasota Film Festival will work out; if so, your not-so-humble reviewer will be most glad to talk all things film during breakfast and dinner; any move on my cheesecake will be cause for banishment. :-) 

The immediate area also has an above-average Starbucks, terrific Whole Foods, and a few local shops and restaurants. The more developed "Five Corners" is a leisurely 15-minute stroll (not allowing for stopping to pet the herds of friendly small dogs). That neighborhood has a larger concentration of restaurants and stores.

The bottom line is that there is no cause for having reservations about making them at the Indigo, Things could not have been better, a discouraging word was never heard, and the skies were not cloudy all day.

Friday, February 22, 2019

'Doom Room' DVD: Debbie Rochon Shows There is Hell to Pay for Your Sins

The numerous indie horror films in the Wild Eye Releasing catalog nicely reflect a sentiment in the series finale of the Garry Shandling sitcom "The Larry Sanders Show." Shandling remarks during the final broadcast of the late-night talk show that he hosts in the Sanders persona that sometimes you get the '80s failedcom "The Ropers" and sometimes you get something much better. The Eye February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 Debbie Rochon film "Doom Room" is a case of getting the original "Tick" sitcom. "Doom" is unique and has a well-executed clever concept. Rochon rocks as always. 

The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Doom" highlights the supernatural eeriness that evokes thoughts of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the teen girls tormented while held captive film "Split."

Our story begins with Jane Doe having a Panic at the Disco nightmare; she then awakens in the mother of all morning after rooms. It is a a horrific dark chamber with a heavy metal door. Her orientation courtesy of her creepy roommate includes an order to not open the door in response to a loud banging. Doe further learns that "he" freely comes and goes as he pleases. 

The story that quickly emerges is that Doe is a slut who is being punished for her wanton ways; this largely comes in the form of "visitors," who inflict physical and emotional torture on our bad girl. Rochon joining in with her trademark evil grin is far more than half the fun.

The cleverness literally enters the picture as Doe begins to remember the events that bring her to this state; at the outset, this reflects that we are the makers of our own Hell.

Things make more sense in a manner that I know I know is serious as the details come into focus. We learn that this path to destruction begins with Doe defying her mother by wanting to be dirty. This fallen woman falling in with a bad crowd is only the tip of the iceberg. Another relevant truism is the "don't talk to strangers" principle.

Revealing every detail shows that the course of events make sense. This development also puts the Rochon character in perfect context and allows her to take her well-deserved prominent role. 

The bigger picture is that "Doom" proves that psychological alone can be thrilling and that a sinister countenance can be worth a thousand screams.

Wild Eye further delivers regarding the DD extras, Thee include cast and crew interviews and a making-of featurette. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Blu-ray Triple Feature of Joe 'Chekov of Soft Core' Sarno Films

The recent Film Movement Classics triple feature Blu-ray release of '60s and '70s films by Joe "Chekov of Soft Core" Sarno is the latest addition to Classic's "Joseph W. Sarno Retrospect Series." The Unreal TV post on the most recent double feature of "All the Sins of Sodom" and Vibrations" includes links to the separate posts on the first Classics Blu-ray double feature of Sarno films and on the documentary "My Life in Dirty Movies" about Sarno.

This latest collection of Sarno films begins with That '70s Skin Flick in the form of the early '70s movie "Confessions of a Young American Housewife," This one is notable both for being the only color one in "Retrospect" and for being highly amusing, The humor includes a middle-aged woman actually named Mrs. Robinson who seduces the grocery delivery boy. This enticement is pure porn from the first knock at the door to the final bang in the bed, 

The title refers to the aforementioned Jennifer Robinson winning a 1963 "Young American Housewife" award; this is one basis for daughter Carole believing that her now-single mother is living a chaste and celibate life. The audience soon learns that carpets and the drapes of this happy homemaker clash.

Carole also initially thinks that her visiting mother (who enjoys making tasty cream pies) is not cool enough to accept her and the girl-next-door swinging in every possible combination of coupling. Carole learning that her nymphomania is hereditary allows the game to fully get afoot. The modern variations of the Oedipal Complex contribute to the fun.

"Sin in the Suburbs" is an NC-17 version of wonderfully cheesy films about unfulfilled '60s and '70s housewives. The residents of this Peyton Place include the nymphomaniac wife of a young executive, the MILF of a teen daughter with a horny boyfriend, and the grass widow whose divorcee status makes her an outcast. Although her brother is the new man of the house, the fallen woman takes charge of persuading a creditor to not repossess the furniture.

The scandalous secrets extend beyond the aforementioned boyfriend trying to keep it in the family; the copious other action includes a workman who lays down on the job.

All this inspires "Bro" to start a special club for the neighbors. The first two rules of this organization with a strict dress code are that you do not talk about it. Suffice it to say that every member pays his or her dues. 

"Warm Nights, Hit Pleasures" can be considered "The Facts of Life After Dark." A freshman coed at an upstate New York college makes a connection that inspires her to persuade her friends to drop out and to move to Manhattan to find fame and fortune. Of course, they end learning the price of fame. 

The fun extends beyond nude dancing to showing an out-of-towner a good time. One of the girls also bonds with their landlady, who is a "calendar" model. 

Like the other Sarno joints, each of these three movies combine porn-movie acting with good production values and stories with reasonable depth. The set up go well beyond a UPS guy telling a housewife in a negligee that he has a big package for her. Additionally, the artistry of the films leaves a little bit to the imagination.

Several deleted scenes from "Housewife " are a highlight of the DVD extras. Classics saves the best for last by finishing the reel with an orgy scene that seems too hot for Sarno. That one clearly shows that cast loves their work. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

'The Odyssey' DVD: Trojan War Hero Pays Price for Offending Man From Atlantis

Mill Creek Entertainment shows good instincts regarding adding a DVD of the aptly epic 1997 mini-series "The Odyssey" to the MCE "Mini-Series Masterpieces" catalog on February 19, 2019. This month traditionally is a "sweeps period" in which networks broadcast their best productions in an effort to boost ratings. One very nice thing about this production is that it adapts the titular classic narrative in a manner that is not Greek to folks who are unfamiliar with the source material. 

The accolades for this adaptation of the epic poem by the other Homer include a 1997 Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Mini-Series or a Special.

Armand Assante stars as brave and noble Greek warrior Odysseus. The star power behind the camera includes executive-producer Francis Ford Coppola. 

We meet Odysseus on a day that is both one of the best and the worst in his life. He is racing to the side of wife Penelope (Greta Scacchi), who is in labor with their son Telemachus. The buzzkill is a development that requires that Odysseus travel to Troy to battle the Trojans over there so that he does not have to fight them "over here."

The Poseidion adventure begins with that god of the sea facilitating the ruse that gives birth to the expression to beware of men from the other Ithaca bearing gifts. The fabled Trojan horse meets its object of giving Odysseus and his men a huge strategic edge; the rub is that our hero also learns that Hades has no fury like a fellow god scorned.

Poseidion has such a massive hissy fit regarding Odysseus not thanking that deity for his assistance that The Man From Atlantis violates the principle of demonstrating great responsibility regarding great power. This man with a porpoise pulls the dick move of using his power to prevent the foolish mortal from returning to his wife and infant son. 

This leads to our fearless crew om their greatly extended three-hour tour encountering strange new worlds and new civilizations on their far more than five-year mission. Another way of considering this journey is to think of it in terms of what a long strange trip its been. A related theme is that encountered perils reinforce the idea that dames ain't nothin' but trouble.

The first adventure does not involve women; the crew is near death when they think that they have found salvation in the form of a land teeming with food; their glee is short-lived when they learn that they are in the land of the giants (a.k.a. a cyclops clan). A sibling in this family developing a fondness for Greek food and wine is another mixed blessing on the road to Ithaca.

Our boys next become the guests of the sirens; Odysseus (with a little help from the goddess Athena (Isabella Rossellini)) once again uses a combination of brain and brawn to turn things to his advantage. 

Odysseus subsequently feels the sting of being caught between the deep-sea threats of the Scylla and Charibdes. One spoiler is that his later adventure with the goddess Calypso (Vanessa Williams) has him hypnotized by her when he lingers. 

We also see the crew snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Penelope is fending off potential suitors who are desirous of the woman and the other treasures of the long-absent lord of the manor. The frustrations of a now-teen Telemachus include his inability to oust this band of guests who have long overstayed their welcome. This almost literally is a wolves at the bedchamber door situation.

All of this culminates in a gloriously gory battle that once again involves paying the price for disobeying the rules of etiquette. 

The appeal of this production extends beyond telling a tale that is as old time in a manner that caters to the American viewing public. Shooting on location, having a good cast, and including solid humor makes this release a good way to celebrate sweeps month.​

Monday, February 18, 2019


The recent TLA Releasing DVD of the highly erotic 2018 drama "M/M" proves both that gay-oriented films can successfully present the same themes as mainstream fare and that remakes can do a good job updating the source material, This tale of young Canadian (Matthew) in Berlin becoming obsessed with hot German stud (Matthias) is a highly stylized 21st-century version of the 1992 Bridget Fonda/Jennifer Jason Leigh thriller "Single White Female" ( a.k.a. "SWF"). 

"Female" center on the Fonda character fairly literally ending up with the roomie from Hell when she selects the Leigh character to share her digs. Like Matthew, the Leigh character transforms her new friend into the object of her obsession.

The accolades for "M/M" director/writer Drew Lint include the "Best First Narrative Feature" and "Outstanding Artistic Achievement" awards at the 2018 FilmOut San Diego.

The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "M/M" highlights the distinctly German surreal qualities of the film.

Our story begins in the Apple Store style apartment of Matthew. This tightie-whitie clad guy with the best bed head (no pun intended) ever is waking up when Mom calls from Canada, This establishes that our boy is a lonely lad with an active dream life.

The story fully develops as Matthew checks Grind'r while on his job as a pool boy at what either is a bathhouse or a very cruisy aquatics center. Good humor ensues as the app. explodes with photos of numerous Mr. Right Nows. However, Matthew makes eye contact with a clearly interested (and aroused) Matthias, 

The especially strong indications at the end of "M/M" that all of this is an (aptly wet) waking or sleeping dream are a large part of what make the film unique.

The courtship/stalking begins with Matthew following Matthias into the locker room; this leads to several other instances of trailing the prey.

Things get even weirder as Matthew cuts his stylish 'do and changes his wardrobe to more closely resemble the man of his dreams. Taking things to the next level in a very modern fashion further fuels the obsession.

A boyfriend in a coma development turn takes things in a new direction as Matthew gets a chance to more fully slip into the shoes (and the bed) of Matthias. A not-so-guilty confession is admitting to fully losing track of the action at this point; this is more the fault of your not-so-humble reviewer than of Lint. The old-school lesson is to not blink or you may miss something.

Things become more complicated and tense as Matthew more fully immerses himself in the life of Matthias; the awesome ambiguity regarding all this is not knowing the extent to which reality splits from fantasy when (if not before) The Man From Atlantis steps into the shower.

"M/M" definitely will satisfy viewers with an interest in the erotic adventure of hot twinks; it also has enough suspense and twists to hold your attention on a higher cognitive level, All of this amounts to the movie being a good choice for a solo or couples night in on a cold night. The extent to which it inspires a Midwinter's Dream depends on the viewer. 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

'Male Shorts: International V1' DVD: Artistic Erotic Views of Modern Gay Life

The cliche about films with heavy erotic content steaming up a Valentine's Day strongly applies regarding the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release "Male Shorts: International V1." This quintet of approximately 15-minute films provide equally artistic and erotic looks at the lives of 21st-century young gay men. This combination of elements makes "Shorts" a prime (but extreme) example of the edge that Breaking seeks in titles that it adds to its catalog. 

An enticement to fans of erotic gay cinema that also serves as a warning to the feint-of-heart is that these explicit films include many muy caliente scenes. 

Although all five films have strong merits, the two that (pardon the expression) play it the most straight succeed the best. "Just Past Noon on a Tuesday" and "The Storm" have the best narratives and get us to know and relate to the characters.

"Noon" has the most interesting premise of the films. The enlightened (but still-in-the-dark) sister of a gay man who dies of a drug overdose on a toilet in a bathhouse grants the guy who is a friend-with-benefits in polite circles and something else in less polite ones time alone in the penthouse of the deceased. Subsequent snooping results in finding the equivalent of the little black book of the deceased. This leads to a party complete with favors and bonding.

The equally aptly titled "The Storm" revolves around 20-something Leo being infatuated with a local weatherman to the extent of pleasuring himself during forecasts. A chance encounter with restaurateur Luca provides Leo with partial dream fulfillment. This night that is memorable both for the boys and the viewers leads to a not-unduly-surprise conclusion with good potential for a true happy ending.

"Neptune" provides the middle ground in that a gay man who becomes attracted to a fellow swimmer at a local pool does not allow that to slow down his copious individual and group sexual activity.

"La Tappette" is a largely silent depiction of the kinky sexual adventures of a young man; "PD" has a narrator recite Shakespearean sonnets to image of buff naked men in bucolic settings. 

As indicated above, the common element of the films is copious male nudity that mostly is intended as an artistic statement. It further shows relationships that range from lust to love for gay men. Depictions of this ranging from new love that involves an explicit (but sweet) public display of affection to a bathhouse sauna session that quickly turns from a threeway to a fourgy.

Friday, February 15, 2019

'Secret Stories of Hitler' DVD + Digital: Documentaries With New Perspectives on der Fuhrer

The Mill Creek Entertainment January 8, 2019 DVD release "Secret Stories of Hitler" boldly goes where few have gone before. This 2-disc set includes a documentary that presents the titular leader as someone other than the most despised man of the 20th century.

A message that viewers MUST take away from the three films in this set is that even propaganda that supports your side is propaganda. Depicting Hitler as a nice and rational man who is kind to animals and small children should convince everyone to not believe everything that they see without checking out the facts from a source without a horse in the race. A related aspect is the even the most evil human has some redeeming qualities. 

The highly controversial 1974 documentary "Swastika" is the highlight of "Hitler." This movie largely consists of footage from Nazi propaganda films and from home movies that First Frau of Nazi Germany Eva Braun shoots. A modern introduction by a former Harvard teaching assistant provides a good background on the film.

As MCE notes on the back cover of "Stories," the written prologue of "Swastika" clearly reflects the theme of this film. This prose partially states that "If Hitler is dehumanized and shown only as a devil, any future Hitler may not be recognized, simply because he is a human being."

"Swastika" opens with footage of shiny, happy urban newspaper delivery guys loading up their bicycles and pedaling their way through city streets; the images soon shift to arguably ironic footage of trains headed into the beautiful German countryside.

The rural folks include smiling milk maids and similar positive stereotypes.

One of the most surprising things about the subsequent footage by Braun that is interspersed throughout the film is that it is in color. It also is shocking to see Hitler always looking relaxed and mostly smiling; further, he almost always is in civilian garb.

This footage largely looks like any other home movie of that era and the decades that follow. Hitler is a jovial host at his country retreat. He is laughing and joking with the likes of Goering and Himmler. We also see Hitler seeming to enjoy talking with small children and playing with his dogs.

For her part, Braun looks and acts like any other woman of the era. She seemingly equally adores her dogs and Clark Gable and is very at ease among her notorious company. 

It is even more shocking to see Hitler calmly delivering a rational speech to an assembled masses. There is none of the shouting, frantic gestures, and frenzied responses that characterize all Hitler speeches that probably every viewer has seen in archival footage.

A telling scene has Hitler criticizing Goering to other guests. However, he is cool and collected and is not ordering punishment.

Two segments in "Swastika" are the most blatant propaganda in the film. An interview with an American radio commentator has that man assuring German officials that folks over here do not believe the fake news about Hitler; this man goes on to pledge to set the record straight by broadcasting to America from Germany. 

The scenes from "The Eternal Jew" are even more unsettling than the interview with the American. We first see heavily bearded men looking alien and menacing; we then see the same group seeming ill-at-ease after losing their beards and changing into mainstream clothes. The message is that Jews cannot be assimilated into the dominant culture. A similar scene issues a defiant challenge to prove that a single Jew has died during the rule of Hitler. 

Horrific footage that will cause anyone with a soul to turn away from the screen at the end of the film both is more objective and puts the prior 90 minutes of "Swastika" in proper perspective, That brings things full circle back to the opening message that genuinely bad hombres can be difficult to identify until it is too late. 

The bonus features also enhance understanding of "Swastika." One extra has the filmmakers discuss the nature of Nazi propaganda; this conversation includes noting the great extent of the censorship of that era. A highlight is footage that amazingly slips through a very narrow crack.

Another extra discusses Nazi propaganda expert Leni Riefenstahl. We first learn that this filmmaker gets more than a little uncredited help from her friends. We subsequently see that her claims of denial are far from plausible.

As other posts in the Mill Creek Entertainment section of this site does (and will) show, this month being a particularly busy one for MCE releases requires that a timely review of "Hitler" come at the expense of not watching the other documentaries in the set. 

"Hitler: The Untold Story" seems particularly fascinating. This six-part series pulls the curtain back on the fairly well known progression of the rise to power by der Fuhrer. Similar to "Swastika," we see how maintaining a deceiving public image is critical to Hitler maintaining his status.

"U-Boats: Hitler's Sharks" focuses on the importance of the ocean in WWII. The intriguing perspective this time is speculation regarding the impact of an alternate history in which Hitler grants requests for additional submarines. 

The importance of these documentaries and the materials that accompany them is a well-known adage that provides the best perspective of all; those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.