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Friday, June 28, 2019

'Southern Pride' DVD: Mississippi Flaming

Uncork'd Entertainment takes a break from its always awesome dark and perverse fare to celebrate the true spirit of Pride. The Uncork'd June 14, 2019 DVD of the aptly titled 2018 documentary "Southern Pride" goes beyond rightfully asserting "we're here; we're queer; get used to it." This film shows that folks particularly in the Bible Belt sadly still have a long way to come, Baby.

"Pride" is the follow-up (and equally labor-of-love) of director Malcolm Ingram to his multi-award-winning documentary "Small Town Gay Bar." Both films awesomely expand the perspectives of East and West Coast metrosexuals and homosexuals.

The following YouTube clip of a "Pride" trailer aptly covers both the titular sense of self-worth and the opposing prejudice that can make things tough for folks who are part of the moral 10-percent. 

Much of the focus of "Pride" is on proud and partnered lesbian Lynn, who owns the Just Us bar in the small city of Biloxi, Mississippi. A surprising theme that gets virtually no mention is that the lesbians and the gay men get along very well. This interaction typically makes the average co-existence of dogs and cats harmonious in comparison. 

The titular festival itself takes a backseat to the story of Lynn and of those most near-and-dear to her. These intimates include her Trump-supporting sister, who simply knows when to keep her mouth shut, and trans-gender bartender Daniela. It may well be that the support of Lynn saved the life of her employee.

The inaugural organizing event for the first Pride celebration in Biloxi has the same element as any committee meeting. The practical folks for whom this is not their first gay rodeo strive to keep the expectations of the idealists in check.

Meanwhile, an ill-conceived effort to cash in on Spring break is the first of several setbacks that befall an amazingly resilient Lynn. It seems that the fates constantly conspire to literally or figuratively rain on her parade.

Meanwhile in Hattiesburg, a black gay bar is taking the lead organizing an explicitly black gay-pride event. This portion of "Pride" includes an explanation of the reasoning behind narrowing the focus in that manner. The related theme is the further division in the already small gay community.

As stated above, the impact of "Pride" includes the reminder that many communities are less enlightened than those that haters think of being inhabited by the culturally elite. In many respects, Team Lynn and the guys in Hattiesburg must deal with attitudes that are at least 20 years behind those of most of us. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

'Excess Baggage' Blu-ray: Alicia Silverstone is Clueless, Fast, and Furious

The summer fun that is the plethora of Mill Creek Entertainment retro "I Love 90s" June 4, 2019 Blu-ray releases continues with the surprisingly entertaining 1997 Alicia Silverstone action-adventure-comedy vehicle (pun intended) "Excess Baggage." This group, which includes the already reviewed Pauly Shore funfest "Jury Duty" and the (reviewed) charming Dana Carvey film "Opportunity Knocks," join the (reviewed) hilarious teencom "Can't Hardly Wait" in this portion of the MCE catalog.

"Clueless" star Alicia Silverstone plays to type in playing Emily, who is the spoiled 18 year-old spoiled daughter of a master of the universe. One difference this time is that her shady dad is the polar opposite of the loving and compassionate attorney who is her "Clueless" parent.

A very '90s-style dreamy Benicio Del Toor plays adorably clueless car thief Vincent, who fills the role of the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who reforms and gets the princess. All this occurs to a soundtrack that can be considered K-Tels Indie Hits of the '90s. This is not to mention this relationship evoking thoughts of the Melissa Joan Hart/Adrian Grenier 1999 teencom "Drive Me Crazy." 

Our story begins with Emily in the final stages of her self-imposed and executed kidnapping; she is locked in the trunk of her (of course) BMW awaiting "rescue" when Vincent steals the car without knowing of the titular luggage.

Moderate hilarity ensues when boy meets girl, girl beats boy, and boy handcuffs girl in dingy chop shop bathroom. 

The real fun begins with Emily separately purposefully getting "fixer" Ray (Christopher Walken) onthe trail of Vincent and carelessly getting her downtown man in Dutch with the mob. This results in a raucous road trip for our new couple.

Of course, ala "Opportunity," the noose begins to tighten from both directions as Ray and the dim-witted thugs of the mob boss narrow in on their prey. This leads to the typical Hollywood ending accompanied by a hit for Soul Asylum, The Lemonheads, or a comparable group.

Taking things back to the beginning, "Baggage" and the other releases are just what moviegoers need in this hot and humid summer that lacks any truly escapist teencoms at the multiplex. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

'The Believers' Blu-ray: 'Rosemary's Baby' Meets 'Kramer vs. Kramer'

An "Eureka" moment perfectly reflects the movie-going public service that Olive Films, which fully embraces its 'Cinema Lives Here' motto, provides. Frequent distress regarding the lack of any desirable options at the multiplex led to thoughts that well-produced thrillers were a dead art form.

Lamenting the loss of quality mysteries coincided with the arrival of the Olive Blu-ray of the 1987 John Schlesinger (MUST-SEE "Marathon Man") thriller "The Believers," which is being released on June 25.

Olive pairing this release with a (reviewed) Blu-ray of the cult-classic '60s beach movie "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" led to recognizing the Olive commitment to keeping discarded subgeenres alive. Those of us familiar with these perfect blends of art and commerce are infinitely grateful to Olive. "Virgins" literally do not know what they are missing, 

The exceptional Blu-ray masters of every Olive release are a special treat to "sluts" who have only seen these films in more grainy versions both on the not-so-silver screen and on even HDTVs.  You definitely will get immersed like you never have before. 

Olive reminds us that the behind-the-scenes cred. of this tale of wonderfully creepy tale of Santeria in the Big Apple extends beyond Schlesinger. Screenwriter Mark Frost is a co-creator of "Twin Peaks." Aptly, a damn-fine cup of coffee is a major plot point in "Believers."

In front of the camera, Martin Sheen delivers a perfect performance as newly widowed and relocated psychologist Cal Jamison. 

EVERYTHING about "Believers" screams Hitchcock. This begins with setting the eerie scares in everyday settings and centering the film around an everyman initially thrown into an somewhat unusual circumstance that develops into a terrifying new normal. 

Our story begins with a typical morning for Minneapolis residents Cal, his wife, and their young son Chris. A common (and typically minor) household accident leads to a horrific death for the wife that Cal and Chris witness.

The need for change prompts Cal to relocate Chris to New York. The common Hollywood magic as to this is that Cal finds a large, bright, and immaculate two-story apartment on a clean and quiet street. On top of this, pretty and nice landlord Jessica lives across the street. It is difficult to imagine such a place existing and any one that does not costing far more even a psychologist can afford, This is aside from having a landlord so close who also perfectly maintains the place, 

The opening scenes also include a very primitive Santeria ritual and a practitioner of that religion playing the Jedi mind-trick on a JFK customs agent. 

The worlds first collide when Chris runs off during a Central Park outing. He scurries behind some rocks and stumbles upon the remains of a ritual sacrifice. The subtext of this scene is amusing to viewers who are woke regarding the ritual in which some young men engage in that area of the park.

Cal fully joins the party on police Lieutenant McTaggert consulting him as to the detective investigating a series of murders of boys. That investigator is convinced that the cult committing the crimes has a supernatural hold on him and is out to get him. Stating that the theory that just because you are paranoid does not mean that no one is out to get you applies is not much of a spoiler. 

Meanwhile, Cal entering a (perhaps bewitching) relationship with Jessica greatly upsets Chris, who also may be under a spell of his own. Ambiguity regarding both the incident that brings Cal back to New York and as to the reaction of Chris to his father becoming closer to Jessica is part of what makes "Believers" so awesome. 

The final piece of the puzzle comes courtesy of the elderly academics who taught the dead wife of Cal; back in the day. ANYONE who has watched the MUST-SEE "Rosemary's Baby" or other similar films knows that any (particularly motherly) New Yorker who seems too good to be true probably is not so nice.

In true Hitchcock style, a perceived threat turns out to be a thwarted savior. We also get the common Hitchcockian element of the all-American boy in the film finding himself in peril and Dad rushing to the rescue. In this case. Chris becomes the chosen one in an unpredictable fashion.

The thrilling extended climax is pure Schlesinger. The unexpected twists galore are a treat in this era in which the conclusion of most movies is obvious in the first 15 minutes. Team Schlesinger goes above and beyond in upsetting the apple cart one more time in the final minutes.

The most important takeaway from "Believers" is that it is scary because it mostly could be true. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

'Cherry Grove Stories' DVD: 70 Years of Gay Pride and Prejudice

Breaking Glass Pictures and filmmaker Michael Fisher team up for the sugar daddy of films that embrace the Pride spirit regarding the 2018 Fire Island documentary "Cherry Grove Stories." Queer as folk cinephiles and other friends of Dorothy who missed this movie on the pink film-festival circuit can get it on DVD. 

The broadest relatable bit of this film is the recognition that Pride is about much more than hairless anorexic 18 year-olds only wearing Speedos and roller blades and hirsute far-from-anorexic middle-age men in drag that makes clownesque Mimi from "The Drew Carey Show" look like a natural beauty. Pride primarily is about community and showing that guys who connect with Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now are just as respectable as breeders. 

A similar note that is even more in tune with the theme of "Cherry" is it evoking memories of hearing stories of regulars at JRs Bar in Washington, DC fully toning it down to watch "The Golden Girls" on the bar TV every Saturday night. To those guys at that time, friends as flawed as you in their own way somehow forming a family presents an ideal that endures 30 years later. 

A related tale of the capital city is even the '90s being a time that hearing your named called out in a gay bar can cause angst, especially when the performers provide entertainment that prompts recent crackdowns.  The rest of that story that involves a surprising impromptu high-school reunion is not fit for this family friendlish forum. 

The following YouTube clip of the "Cherry" trailer barely scratches the surface as to the copious vintage clips and titular boys-to-men tales by the guys who enjoyed the heyday of the scene.

The opening scenes consist of the scores of talking heads, who share the dates of their first trip to Cherry Grove. These begin in the post-war years and span to the recent past. 

Our panel of experts also speculate about the origins of the name of the island; one theory is that pirates would set fires to attract prey. Although there does not seem to be definite proof of buccaneers ever calling the island home, it is indisputable that a certain form of pirate favors that locale and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future.  

The titular lore closely reflects societal attitudes toward gay men. The early days especially were a period of liberation during which the guys could more easily socialize, dance together, and do everything else that gay men do together mostly free of legal repression and almost universal disapproval of friends, family, and employers. This is akin to the next generation who could enjoy the community and the celebration of the early days of Pride parades. The classic Lisa Simpson quote "we are used to it" shows that all of us have come a long way, Baby,

Speaking of repression, the folks who were there tell of the distressing ways in which the real world invaded one of the few places that men could openly express their friendship (with or without benefits), love. and lust for each other. Milder forms of this included quickly having to change to a dance partner of the opposite sex when the cops came by.

Worse tactics relate to an aspect of Cherry Grove that be considered the best of times and the worst of times. Men who wanted to hook up in the pre-Grindr era would cruise the Meat Rack just off the beach. (Tales of the lesbian equivalent the Doughnut Rack seem to merely be rural legends.) That cruising area dying off in the Internet Age is one of the many examples of Cherry Grove reflecting the times.

The cops would go beyond well-orchestrated raids. They would handcuff the arrested man (some of whom presumably still were in various states of undress) by the dock for early risers to see. The humiliation would continue with publishing the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of theses boy who just wanted to have fun in the newspaper in an effort to ruin their personal and professional lives. 

On a lighter note, an amusing story that involves the perspective of two persons with a role in a "blocking" incident at the Meat Rack is a "Cherry" highlight. This one comes very close to literally being a case of biting the hand that feeds you. 

The award for best story essentially involves the raconteur discussing essentially having a monkey whom he shocks on his back. The rest of the story involves a form of trauma and drama that is typical of most gay friendships. The pattern is offense provided, offense taken, and then adequately forgiving to maintain the relationship but never forgetting. 

The relate bigger picture is that this labor of love by Fisher helps ensure that this important aspect of gay history never will be forgotten.

A pink film-festival Q & A with Fisher is a highlight of the always special Breaking bonus features. This includes discussing the very apt genesis of the project. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

'How to Stuff A Wild Bikini' BD & DVD: Dwayne Hickman & Annette Funicello Wet Side Story

Olive Film once again simultaneously lives up to its guiding principle "cinema lives here" and proves that we're not worthy with the separate Blu-ray and DVDs releases of two cult classics on June 25, 2019. The 1965 beach-musical "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" is the topic du jour.

The equally good (and equally they don't make 'em like that anymore) occult thriller "The Believers" (1987) is a topic for early next week. Blu-ray does films justice, but the bright and sunny musical "Bikini" particularly looks and sounds spectacular in that format.

Doing "Bikini" any justice at all (pun intended) requires much more space than this forum can provide. Suffice it to so that it has every element (and more) of the beach movies of the '60s. You cannot help but feel good while watching it. This is not to mention the star-studded cast of A- and B-Listers that rivals the ensemble of the 1963 "Cannonball Run" style comedy "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

Comparing "Bikini" to an episode of the wonderfully, zany, madcap kidcom "The Monkees" of the same era provides additional context. Both shows feature the nicest kids in town enjoying the sun and surf of California as they rock out at the drop of a hat while contending with comical villains and square adults. Yes, they are too busy singing to put anybody down. 

The closest modern equivalent is the way-cool movie-within-a-movie "Wet Side Story" that is a major element in the Disney Channel "Teen Beach Movie" franchise starring "Austin and Ally" star/real-life rocker Ross Lynch. The inexcusable delay in releasing the long-promised "Teen Beach Movie 3" is disappointing., 

Veteran beach movie and "Bewitched" director (as well as real-life husband of "Bewitched" star Elizabeth Montgomery) William Asher provides "Stuffed" additional '60scom cred. Further, "Stuffed" centering around the work of Tahitian witch doctor Bwana (Buster Keaton) is only one way that Asher pays homage to his day job. The other connection is too awesome to spoil.

We further get "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" star Dwayne Hickman keeping the TV Land spirit alive. The occasions on which Hickman, as literal man in the gray flannel suit Ricky, breaks the fourth wall evokes wonderful memories of "Gillis."

Beach-movie goddess Annette Funicello rounds out our top three as virtuous beach bunny Dee Dee. This character supports the theory that dames ain't nothin' but trouble.

Our story begins with Dee Dee beau Frankie (Frankie Avalon) serving naval reserve duty in Tahiti; his getting restless with a native girl triggers thoughts that the girl back home may conclude that what is good for the goose may be worth a gander. 

The island girl then brings Frankie to Bwana; the two men strike a not-so-gentlemanly deal whereby Bwana will provide the titular bikini, babe Casandra with which to stuff it as a decoy for the Moondoggies back in Cali, and a deep undercover spy to both keep tabs on Dee Dee and to serve as a rooster blocker. The other side of the bargain is that Frankie makes a daily payment for the rendered services. 

Some of  the rest of the story is that Ricky and madman Peachy Keane (Mickey Rooney) make the scene in the quest to find the girl and the boy next door to be the wholesome image of a motorcycle company. This honor goes to the couple that wins a motorcycle race. Their competition includes reformed biker Eric Von Zipper (beach-movie veteran Harvey Lembeck), who zeros in on Casandra as the one whom he wants. 

Hilarity ensues as Ricky pursues Dee Dee, the beach boys (including Bonehead) woo Casandra, and Von Zipper and his gang enact their evil scheme. 

All of this culminates in the titular contest with strong elements of the cartoon of the era "The Wacky Races." Dirty tricks galore keep the fun going. This leads to the related bestowing of the modeling contract and the right boy getting the girl. One should keep in mind that Frankie getting Annette is not set in stone.

Monday, June 17, 2019

'Return of the Hero' DVD: Hilarious Period Piece of Manners and Lack Thereof

The Icarus Films May 14, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 period-piece comedy "Return of the Hero" fills the void left by Hollywood no longer producing amusing and clever (or at least adequately creative) summer movies. Subtitles aside, "Hero" is so good that you will not even want to look at your phone or other devices while watching it. 

Another awesome aspect of "Hero" is that it shows that writer/director Laurent Tirard is more than a un trick cheval regarding the even more delightful (reviewed) "Nicholas on Holiday" (nee "Petit Nicholas") about the family summer vacation of the titular French school boy. Other "Hero" cred. relates to Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin delivering another award-worthy performance as the titular soldier who is not at Waterloo when Napoleon did surrender. 

This presumably shot-on-location beautiful film begins in 1809 Burgundy. Captaine Charles-Gregoire Neuville seemingly employs his entire personal staff in preparation for froggy goin' a courtin'. The object of his affection is sweet and innocent girl next door Pauline. She lives on a lavish estate with her adoring parents and her less sweet and innocent older sister Elisabeth (Melanie Laurent).

Neuville seals a chaste deal with Pauline just ahead of being called on to defend emperor and country. Like many soldiers before and since, Neuville makes an empty promise to faithfully correspond with Pauline. 

A combination of motives prompt Elisabeth to forge letters from Neuville to Pauline; the responses to that correspondence shows Elisabeth that her little sister is all grown up.

In true farce/classic sitcom style, the scheme of Elisabeth gets out of hand. Circumstances and her creativity result in increasing elaborate and contrived fictional adventures of Neuville that enrapture both Pauline and the rest of the local elite. 

All goes well until the inevitable titular appearance of a filthy and disgraced Neuville in 1812; Elisabeth being the only one to initially know that that boy is back in town helps move the story forward; this plot thickens on Neuville returning after a brief absence and presenting himself as the man in the aforementioned letters. His objectives include wooing a now-married with children Pauline.

Dujardin and Laurent wonderfully play off each other as she must watch him make fools out of those nearest and dearest to her. Neuville further shows that he is no gentleman in using the vulnerability of Elisabeth for his own fun and profit, 

One of many notable moments involves Elisabeth seeming to get the upper-hand on her frienemy. The manner in which Neuville turns that tactic around to his advantage proves that you cannot con a con man. 

The aptly surprising climax that begins with a desperate act leads to a final scene that is very true to the spirit of the film and that is one of the best endings in any film ever. This lesson this time is that we all remain true to our nature. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

'Opportunity Knocks' Blu-ray: Missing Out on This Dana Carvey Comedy Wouldn't Be Prudent

The crystal-clear video and audio of the Mill Creek Entertainment June 4, 2019 B;u-ray release of thje 1990 Dana Carvey comedy "Opportunity Knocks" is a perfect addition to the MCE "I Heart 90s" series" that is a companion to the MCE "Retro VHS" DVD and Blu-ray releases. Other June 4 "90s" releases include the recently reviewed Paul Shore comedy "Jury Duty" and the soon-to-be-reviewed Alicia Silverstone action-adventure comedy "Excess Baggage." 

Just as "Duty" showcases the weasel persona of Shore, "Opportunity" highlights the impish charm of Carvey. The film providing a chance for Carvey to perform his well-known George HW Bush impression is highly predictable. 

The good news regarding both "Duty" and "Opportunity" is that they put entertaining spins on decent tried-and-trued comic concepts. The better news regarding "Opportunity" is that Carvey is extremely likable. 

The figurative 25-words-or-less premise of "Opportunity" is that Carvey plays small-time con-man Eddie Farrell, whose quasi-youthful exuberance earns him both the wrath of a mobster and a belief that Eddie owes that dangerous criminal a great deal of money. In true teencom tradition, this requires that Eddie lay low until the heat is off. His literal insider information that the owner of a luxurious house is on an extended trip. 

Eddie soon makes himself at home until the mother of the homeowner pays a surprise visit. This leads to a wacky misunderstanding in the form of Mom (a.k.a. Mona of Milt and Mona) assuming that Eddie is housesitter Jonathan Albertson. The rest of the story is that Albertson is a business whiz kid who is the former college roommate of the homeowner.

The first film homage is to the 1983 Eddie Murphy comedy "Trading Places." The opening scenes in "Opportunity" are of Eddie pulling off the same low level con as the Murphy character. The similarities continue with both characters soon living at least some semblance of the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

The other homage is more central to "Opportunity." Ala the Tom Hanks character in the 1988 classic "Big," Carvey is a man-child learning to play with the grown-ups. The similarities continue with Robert Loggia playing the big-hearted mentor to the quirky guy with the unique perspective, In this case, Loggia is bathroom hand-dryer king Milt, 

Milt brings potential son-in-law (no relation (pun intended) to the Shore film of the same name) in the company and his heart. Of course, a pivotal scene involves Eddie bringing the dryer company executives out of their comfort zone and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

It is equally predictable that nooses start to tighten in on Eddie on both sides. The mob boss tracks him down just as he starts to think that he can permanently enjoy his new life. This pressures Eddie to massively betray the trust of his new family just ahead of the exposure of his scam.

The fact that everyone is wiser and happier and order is restored to the universe in the end is especially appealing in our wildly unpredictably dystopian times. This is so awesome that it alone warrants buying the Blu-ray.

Friday, June 14, 2019

'Orange is the New Black to the Max' S6 DVD & BD: Prisoners of Cell Block C & D

The Lionsgate June 11, 2019 separate DVD & BD release of S6 (a.k.a. "To the Max") of the Netflix women behind bars dramedy "Orange is the New Black" provides a good chance to watch this reformatting of this multi-Emmy winning series from the beginning, It additionally is a good chance to see all the action ahead of the July 27, 2019 release of the S7 episodes. 

Also. aside from not having to worry about Netflix dropping episodes from its service, the enhanced BD images look and sound far better than the streaming versions. This is not to mention the awesome home-video special features that include "Litchfield to the Max" and a gag reel.

The following YouTube clip of the official S6 trailer introduces many of the copious primary themes of the never-a-dull-minute 13 episodes. It also shows why this series warrants comparison to the former Showtime boys behind bars dramedy "Oz."

Our (mostly) season-long story arcs begin one week after the quelling of the S5 riot. Our girls in orange aptly find that they are not in Oz anymore. This involves them facing the challenge of adapting or perishing in their new environments, 

Said different worlds from the ones from which they come are the C, D, and "Florida" cell blocks at their new home. The Jets versus the Sharks mentality as to C  & D begins with the C Block girls initially getting all the relatively good perks and privileges while the D girls are the low women on the totem pole.

The "Florida" residents mostly are the older inmates and include others whose mental states are adequately impaired to get them a spot in this coveted area. The rubs as to this include that some outsiders are willing to kill to create a vacancy in the Sunshine State. "Orange" fans should not be surprised to learn that popular character Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren ends up in Florida and constantly irks the Golden Girls.

A long-standing violent sibling rivalry between C and D block residents Carol and Barbara (Mackenzie Phillips) brings the aforementioned simmering bad blood to a boil. Flashback scenes of the joint crime that gets the sisters labelled "The Little Debbie Killers" and that lands them in the joint are season highlights.  They also shine in all their ruthlessly violent interaction and hilarious dispute regarding an incident at a restaurant where they both worked during high school.

Other drama relates to investigations and related proceedings as to holding prisoners culpable for their actions during the riot and for holding folks on the other side of the bars accountable for what they did and did not do during those events. This is not to mention a hilarious run for the border by one inmate who gets away with a little help from her friend,

One spoiler is that the search for closure regarding the riot is just as likely to involve being satisfied with a convenient truth as it is to strive to meet the ideal of truth, justice, and the American way.

This is not to mention central "Orange" character Piper Chapman contending with the absence of her fellow inmate/fiancee  Alex "Boss" Vause, addict convict Nikki facing renewed Daddy issues, and the guards creating a fantasy league that involves proportionately profiting from convict misbehavior of various degrees of seriousness. 

All of this occurs in the context of season-finale kickball tournament that sets the stage for an epic rumble between the C and the D block inmates. In true "Orange" style, this does not occur as expected.

All of this amounts to "Orange" further fulfilling the theatrical ideal by leaving the audience wanting more; fortunately, S7 provides the payoff regarding that. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

'All You Ever Wished For' DVD: Italian Fable by Oscar-Winning Author

Omnibus Entertainment does parent company Film Movement very proud regarding the June 4, 2019 DVD release of the literally simple and sweet fable "All You Ever Wished For." The cred of this tale of the Roman holiday of young Manhattanite Tyler Hutton includes Darren Criss portraying Tyler in this production by Barry Morrow, who is the Oscar winning writer of "Rain Man." One spoiler is that Tyler, who probably does not know who Wapner is but likely thinks that Wal-Mart sucks, does not fly Qantas to Italy.

Another spoiler is that the combination of a modern fairy tale and a pure-at-heart romantic reluctantly working in the New York-based fashion company of his domineering father makes "Wished" more like "Princess Ugly Betty Bride" than "Rain Man."

Although "Wished" is entertaining and charming, Criss no longer having his youthful exuberance and related appeal evokes thoughts that his "Glee" co-star Grant Gustin or another guy who still knows how to play the boy-next-door may have been a better casting choice. 

The very Grimm opening scenes set the stage for the main events of the film centuries later. Newly heart-broken Tyler is ordered to travel to Rome to represent the family business. His antics on arriving illustrate why the probability of such enterprises failing increases with each new generation that takes over. A variation of the "ugly American" stereotype also does not bode well for the future. 

The stereotypes continue with not-so-bright wiseguys snatching Tyler up off the street with an eye toward holding him for ransom on behalf of their mob boss. This surprisingly well-executed plan goes off the rails when the group gets lost after going into the woods. 

This not-so-biblical adventure fully kicks off when the crooks and their captive audience awaken in a barn the next morning. The underlying events that set things in motion result in Tyler cutting his not-so-great escape short when her literally experiences unrequited love at first sight with local woman Rosalia. His not-so-longtime companions also meet their soulmates; much of the comedy relates to one pairing being a case of each person both being the same but also different; not that there is anything wrong with that. Another infatuation is creepy and does involve giving away the milk for free but fortunately is (presumably) never consummated. 

The strong motive to stay prompt our boys to do their best to be productive members of the small community with very amusing results. We further see that Tyler has virtually no game. 

In true farce style, everything comes to a head during a festival. There is a game-changer just as the sins of the son are more fully bringing the father into the picture. This leads to good potential for our boys to get their happy endings. The rest of the story is that there is one heartbreak and a fable that shows that one ultimately is true to thine self. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

'Avoiding Getting Inn Trouble' II: B n B Owners Cannot Fire Their Spouse

The good news is that the root of the conflict that provides this follow-up to the August 2018 "Avoiding Getting Inn Trouble" post in the Inn Credible New England section of this site supports the philosophy of these articles on boutique lodging in this region of the United States. This tenet is that it often is better to enjoy the convenience of driving to a place within a few hours of home and to spend a little more for a spectacular experience at a B n B or small hotel than to endure the direct and indirect costs of flying to stay at a cookie-cutter hotel. 

A tale at least as old as the time that most middle- and upper-middle-class households first had at least one car is that happily married (but professionally unfulfilled) couples went into the woods (or to the shore) for a weekend at a B n B and fell in love with the idea of owning such a place, The beginning of the almost inevitable end is that one spouse is much more excited about this potential life change than the other. 

Another ingredient in this recipe for disaster is that, as much as a couple may be in love, there almost always is a point at which familiarity breeds massive contempt. Additionally, feelings of inequity as the division of household duties and expenses are almost inevitable even if you share a tiny house. 

Dealing with the public always is stressful; having them in your home and having your spouse play host by being charming while you are struggling to clean the rooms and cook the food literally can invoke homicidal thoughts. 

The message here is to read between the lines as to mentions of the almost-always needed additional staff; you also should look for online reviews that mention one or more innkeeper constantly being stressed. "Been there, done that" ala working at a place where the constantly shouting couple apparently did not know that the inn kitchen was not soundproof warrants asserting that I know of which I speak. 

Although the wholesome CBS sitcom "Newhart" about a married couple running a Vermont B n B is amusing. a "Real Inn Keepers of [Insert Your Favorite Small Town]" would be funnier and more true to life. 

Like the first "Trouble" article, "Inn Credible" travel for this site inspired this diversion into Blogland. Learning the lesson related to potential for severe wintry weather from November through March prompted scheduling "get while the getting is good" trips. These included a desire to visit Brattleboro, Vermont in mid-September ahead of the New Yorkers invading during foliage season and the perfect storms potentially starting a few weeks later. (Blizzards as early as mid-October are not unheard of.)

I reached out to the owners of what seemed to be a charming place that strongly presented itself as a relaxing retreat for stressed out urbanites and suburbanites. The intense stress in the voice of the husband at the outset triggered my Spidey sense to the point that I almost hung up. My mistake was letting my strong desire to stay at that place override heeding my "Inn Trouble" advice to follow the "Jeopardy" principle of going with my first instinct. 

I repeatedly stated the dates of my desired stay only to have the husband ALWAYS respond with one date off; he ultimately stated that he could subsequently amend the reservation. I ultimately decided to hope for the best and make the reservation. Again, I really wanted to stay at that place. 

This progressed to the husband asking for my address; I told him my city and asked if he wanted me to spell it. He barked that he just needed the zip code, but repeatedly kept transposing numbers. I again offered to spell my city, but he kept insisting on taking the zip code. We (presumably) got over that hurdle. 

We fatally stumbled in the home stretch; he asked when I wanted to arrive and stated the 3:00 p.m. check-in time before I could respond. Both because of the length of the drive to Brattleboro and because I wanted to enjoy the highly touted serenity at the inn as much as possible, I asked if I could arrive at 10:00 a.m., leave my luggage in my car until my room was ready, and simply enjoy the guest common areas.

This really set off the husband; he yelled "we still will be serving breakfast and can not even think about assimilating a new guest that early." I could not imagine that this six-room place would be so busy with guests from a Friday night in mid-September on the following morning that the mere presence of an adult happy to "play in traffic" for a few hours was such a big deal.

I simply hung up. I then looked up Trip Advisor reviews and noted both that some of them noted that the couple was stressed and that the truly "better half" wrote polite and responses to negative reviews. I no longer did not, and do not, want to stay there. I did want to end things on a more friendly note and called back. I left a voicemail asking to speak to the "nice one" without phrasing it as such. I never got a call back.

The happier note on which this article will end is that, like the first "inn Trouble" article, the Rabbit Hill Inn (also in Vermont) provides a model. The real-life Loudens there consciously have their separate responsibilities. They also have a full staff, including an exceptionally gregarious inn manager, that allows them to keep the place running and to chat with guests without literally or figuratively having their hands around the throat of the person with whom he or she theoretically will not part until death. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

'Guy' DVD: Mockumentary on French Connection with Literal Pop Star

The Icarus Films June 4, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 musical dramedy "Guy" provides so much wonderful fodder for a post that it truly is difficult to know where to begin. One spoiler is that this film is just as good as the copious Gallic films in the Icarus catalog but strays from the pattern of revolving around the emotional fallout from a hit-and-run. However, the audience is treated to the disco scene that another reviewer states is ubiquitous in French movies. 

The central theme of the film is the comeback tour on which the titular French idol who enjoyed commercial success from the '60s through the '80s is engaged to promote a new greatest hits album. The handful of videos and concert footage provide great nostalgia for folks who "were there" and give Millennials a music-history lesson. An '80s video that evokes strong feelings of the "Sandcastles in the Sand" video (complete with appearances by Alan Thicke and James Van Der Beek) by faux '80s pop princess Robin Sparkles of the 2000s sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" is true fun for all ages. 

Writer/director/star Alex Lutz EARNS a well-deserved 2019 Cesar Award for his portrayal of Guy Jamet. He receives the same recognition at the 2019 Lumiere Awards. Watching this 40 year-old play Guy at various stages of his life is incredible 

The rest of the story is that Guy knowingly allows young filmmaker Gauthier to document his tour and other aspects of his current life. The pop star does not know that his constant companion has reason to believe that his subject also is his biological father. This element adds an extra-credit aspect to this A+ film.

Lutz stays very true to the mockumentary style both by having follow the camera follow Guy everywhere. We see him interviewed at a cafe, performing for an audience of adoring aging fans, at home with actress Sophie Ravel (who is promoting her hilarious spot-on procedural), jamming with his band and back-up singers on the tour bus, and (of course) pulling the plug on the film project only to come around. This, also of course, is not to mention the incident that threatens to derail the tour.

All of this culminates in the mother-of-all film finales. Documentarian and subject are still feeling the effects of a night of hard drinking when they emulate Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Their conversation and a documentary-staple reveal a few minutes earlier indicate that Guy finally is starting to get the picture. 

The best news is that "Guy" shows that they still can make 'em like that. The story stands on its own without either being an ego project for the star or relying on pyrotechnics. Further, the characters are among the most real and relatable reel-life folks to come along in quite awhile. Any resemblance to persons living or dead clearly is not coincidental. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

'Unexpected Uncle' DVD: Another Screwball Palm Beach Story

The Warner Archive May 2019 DVD release of the 1941 screwball romcom "Unexpected Uncle" shows that social commentary can be entertaining and not preachy when presented in the proper form. In this case screenwriter Delmer Daves of many classics such as "An Affair to Remember" and "A Summer Place" once again demonstrates his scribe skills.

This depth is the tasty not-so-subtly hidden pill in the peanut butter in the form of the main screwball romcom that is reminiscent of the 1942 Claudette Colbert screwball romcom "The Palm Beach Story," which share its titular setting with "Uncle." In this case Anne Shirley of "Anne of Green Gables" plays shop girl Kathleen Brown, who gets involved with part-time playboy/full-time hard-working business executive Johnny Kerrigan.  Charles Colburn plays titular Dutch uncle Seton Mansley.

Seton is walking along minding his own business when he literally runs into Kathleen fresh off of getting fired for not responding as desired to an aggressive come-on by Johnny. Seton not only quickly makes things right but gets his new friend the afternoon off. 

Johnny returning to the scene of the crime and still not taking no for an answer leads to our central trio enjoying the good life. Like all good uncles of every variety, Seton soon knows that his "niece" loves her new suitor despite the many outward contrary indications. 

The pre-honeymoon is cut short when Johnny must rush back to literal Kerrigan City to keep his shoe empire from falling apart. Seton and Kathleen come along for the ride and end up respectably living at Chez Kerrigan. 

The social commentary begins with Johnny representing the stereotype of the poor little rich boy for whom money cannot buy happiness. This extends to Johnny quickly ignoring his fiancee in favor of his business and getting upset when she does not live up to the image of the perfect corporate spouse. 

This opens the door to learning the not-so-surprising back story of Seton. Suffice it to say that this adds a "Christmas Carol" element as to Seton wanting Johnny to avoid the same fate as the older man. 

This leads to the seemingly mandatory dramatic fleeing of Kathleen; the resulting climax is highly entertaining and includes a couple of good twists. This is not to mention throwing in a little more social commentary.​

Monday, June 3, 2019

'Sunburn' DVD: Portuguese-Style Woody Allen

The TLA Releasing April 23, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 drama "Sunburn" allows cinephiles to get a sense of the type of movie that Woody Allen would have made if he was born in the '70s and was Portuguese. The twist in this tale of yuppies with a long mutual history enjoying a weekend retreat at a vacation home  is that an unwelcome guest has made the rounds of the group. 

Filmmaker Vasco is hosting current significant other Joana and gay couple Francisco and Simaio for a few days of dancing, drinking, and lounging by the pool at his gorgeous home in the country. An opening scene in which the group comfortably and frequently trades off dance partners shows that all currently is well.

The trouble in paradise begins with a dramatically ignored call by "the one who got away" David. The persistence of this interloper leads to his wrangling an invitation to join the festivities. The rest of the film revolves around trauma and drama associated with the expected arrival of this man who has neither been seen nor heard from in a decade.

The raw nerves spoil the party as the folks who were in the arms of each other now are at the throats of each other. Much of this relates to the current relationships being rebounds from the post-David era of the one from whom he got away. 

David represents one of an apparently few occasions on which Vasco plays for the other team; the subsequent events this time lead to Vasco and Francisco actually exchanging blows. This relates to Francisco playing the role of the younger and the cuter trophy member of the gang, who never fully achieves inner-circle status.

The history between David and Joana also indicates that he is a switch-hitter. The drama there extends beyond David leaving an unwanted parting gift on hitting and quitting it. This experience apparently is behind a failure of Joana and Vasco to take their relationship to the next level.

For his part, Francisco receives confirmation that he is not the soulmate of Simaio; it seems as well that Simaio has the role of younger and cuter in his relationship with David.

The angst of Francisco coming out in the one soft-core scene in "Sunburn" provides a film highlight. One hint is that this encounter both gives him a chance to be the older and less cute member of the couple and shows that giving some guys what they want essentially requires making them shut up and take it like a man despite assertions that they are not into that kind of stuff.

This "day in the life" film bring us to 24-hours after the opening scene. All are a little older, much wiser, but not necessarily more happy. The same is true of the audience, which learns the lessons of the characters and discovers the full meaning of the title of the film.