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Monday, November 30, 2015

'Everlasting Love' DVD: Taking Bite Out of Gay May-December Hookup Myths

Poster Art

tla releasing, which is the foreign/art house division of LGBT video giant tla video, wonderfully pushes the boundaries of mainstreamish gay cinema regarding the recent DVD release of the 2014 Spanish drama "Everlasting Love." At the most basic level, this film is one of the most primal movies to come from any country in quite a while. Recognition of this includes the Outfest award for Best International Feature and the Young Jury Award at the Sitges International Film Festival.

Said primal elements include the relatively explicit scenes of hetero and homo sexual encounters in the wooded area that middle-aged language school teacher Carlos frequently frequents. A scene in which a jockstrap-clad incredibly hirsute, tall, and obese middle-aged "bear" is getting a blow job is a prime example of this and will either excite you or make you say "eeewwww" depending on your personal preferences.

The following YouTube clip of the explicit "Love" trailer candidly reveals the sexual, violent, and wonderfully bizarre elements of this unique movie.

Carlos encountering his male student Toni during one of these trips into the woods provides the basis of another fairly explicit scene and sets the stage for the primary conflict of the film. The "seduction" scene is a great melange of gay porn and art-house queer cinema. The primary missing elements of the former are that Carlos does not find Toni standing out in the rain and does not invite him back to his house to shower and hang out in a towel while his clothes dry.

Carlos telling Toni that their coupling does not make them a couple does not really stick. Suffice it to say that Toni becomes a figurative pain in the ass in the aftermath of experiencing a literal one. 

One universal truth regarding this that applies all along the Kinsey Scale is that one participant in a sexual encounter often experiences a higher level of affection than the other party to the interaction. This presents the individual who is just not that into his or her Mr. or Ms. Right Now with the challenge of figuring out how to be cruel to be kind in the right measure.

Anyone who has seen a romcom or sexcom knows that Toni breaks down the defenses of Carlos; the extent to which the resistance of Carlos to a relationship is futile is part of what makes "Love" interesting.

A parallel plot has a group of fine young cannibals with their own thoughts regarding the nature of love engaging in their hobby in the park.  Said recreational activity contributes another aspect of primal elements to "Love."

The two worlds wonderfully collide in a scene in which said cannibals come to the aid of a stranded Toni and Carlos; this leads to the entire group ending up at the home of Carlos. The equal parts erotic and primal conversation first lead to an expected (but not so well staged) encounter and then to a ending that provides an adequate surprise to sate most of the characters and the audience alike.

The impact of the above-discussed elements of "Love" is that the film will make you laugh and think. You further will see at least a little part of yourself in every primary character. Many of us have been either the younger and more naive or the older and more cynical one in a relationship that involves mutual nudity; we further have either experienced what we thought might be everlasting love or have thought about the nature of it.

As an aside, drinking Chianti and eating farva beans while watching "Love" may enhance the experience.

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

Sunday, November 29, 2015

'Fear the Walking Dead' BD: Z Nation Homage to L.A. Riots, Family Dysfunction, and Martial Law

Product Details
The strong element of family drama makes the Anchor Bay Entertainment December 1 2015 Blu-ray and DVD releases of the  first season of the 2015 AMC series "Fear the Walking Dead" surprisingly apt holiday presents. The accolades for this spin-off of "The Walking Dead" include the August 2015 premiere of this L.A.-set series being the number 1 show in cable television history.

Buying this show in Blu-ray is a no-brainer (no pun intended). The enhanced picture quality of this format awesomely highlights the feature-film cinematography of the series. This particularly comes through regarding a vivid image of a blood-soaked body bag.

The tie for nicest things about the six-episode S1 of "Fear" is between the series-long story arcs prompting memories of the broadcast network mini-series of the '70s and '80s and this season reflecting the "less-is-more" lesson of British television series. It additionally has more of a vibe of modern family-oriented disaster films such as "The Day After Tomorrow" and "2012" in which a flawed father seeks redemption by saving his clan against impending doom than a blood-and-gore horror series.

"Fear" centers around caring high school guidance counselor/widow/single mom Madison Clark and her late adolescent children Nick and Alicia. Johnny Deppish Nick is a semi-recovering addict with a long history of causing his family anguish. Alicia fits the contrasting stereotype of a good girl high achiever who is becoming increasingly tired of being a poster child for the American ideal.

Additional family drama comes in the form of Madison living with high school teacher Travis Manawa. The resentments of the ex-wife and son of Travis add fuel to the fire.

The "outsiders" are barber Daniel Salazar, his wife Griselda, and their feisty daughter Ofelia. This family comes into the picture on providing shelter during the early stages of rioting that comes on the heels of an assertive law-enforcement response to the outbreak of zombieitis in the city.

The initial police shooting that triggers (no pun intended) the protests and looting that comprise said riot both particularly ties "Fear" to the Rodney King era in Los Angeles and reflects our own sad time in which indications that race places a role in the police response to a perceived threat triggers (again, no pun intended) the same  type of violent response as "Fear" depicts.

All of this reflects the theory of suspense master Alfred Hitchcock, who effectively created terror by moving the threat from the haunted house on the outskirts of town into the split-level next door.

The spreads of the outbreak and the public opposition to the police response leads to establishing martial law. In typical television and feature-film style, the initial sense that the soldiers who are imposing order are doing a good thing deteriorates and leads to questioning their authority. One spoiler is that it turns out that these boys in green are from the federal government but are not here to help us.

Everything nicely comes to a head in the season finale. Our heroes directly confront both the soldiers and the zombies. The outcome reflects the modern practice of providing both a satisfying end to the series and a good starting point for a second season if the show receives one. In this case, fans will get a chance to see what happens when the second season premieres in (most likely the summer of) 2016.

The special features include films on both the characters and the series itself.

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

Friday, November 27, 2015

'Stink!' Documentary on Product Fragrances Shows Something Rotten in the States of America

Stink! Movie Poster millionaire/director/producer/narrator Jon Whelan performs a genuine public service regarding his documentary "Stink!," which Net Return Entertainment is opening in New York on November 27 2015 and in Los Angeles on December 4 2015. This film shines a spotlight on deceitful (and potentially fatal) practices regarding using fragrances in clothing and household products. Whelan does his homework, presents his talking heads well, and is a charming host. He further confirms the belief of parents of teen boys everywhere that Axe body spray is toxic.

The following YouTube clip of the "Stink!" trailer nicely conveys every attribute discussed above.

The aforementioned homework begins with discovering that companies lack any legal duty to disclose the chemicals that produce the smells that many of us like in our products. The applicable laws relate both to the regulatory classifications of the chemicals and the legal conclusion that the formulations of those ingredients are proprietary trade secrets that companies can keep sealed in their vaults.

The stonewalling goes to the extent of children's clothing manufacturer Justice essentially daring Whelan to pay for an independent chemical analysis of a pair of their pajamas and Whalen doing exactly that.

The documented harm from exposure to the aforementioned substances include substantially increased risks of obesity and cancer. The science regarding this is presented at an awesomely understandable fifth grade level, complete with animation.

The aforementioned talking heads are the typical private sector and government types who state their cases. One difference is that the elected officials with a highly profitable horse in the race fail to justify not supporting comprehensive labeling laws that allow consumers to make informed decisions regarding risks associated with using specific products. A personal example is continuing to use the higher-end Irish Spring body wash with "mint extract," which does not seem to include that substance but does have "fragrance," despite "Stink!" providing reason to believe that doing so might have ill effects.

The valid reason that Whelan presents for our elected officials advocating a "place on the market first, (perhaps) apologize later" industry standard is the effective lobbying by "big chemical." His best "gotcha" moment regarding this is confronting such a lobbyist/New York state office candidate who has a Planned Parenthood endorsement despite that organization opposing practices by the companies who are clients of said candidate.

Whelan addtionally does a good job showing how America is becoming a dumping ground for potentially harmful substances that even less-developed nations will not allow to enter their marketplaces.

The rookie mistake that Whalen commits regarding this initial stab at documentary film making is allowing his very valid personal motive for the project to take it in a frustratingly different direction. Whalen stating early in the film that his wife Heather passing away from breast cancer and leaving him to raise two young girls led to his inadvertently buying one of his daughters the toxic-smelling pajamas that motivated his quest was legitimate. Further, any viewer with even a trace of a soul sympathizes with the Whelan clan.

The problem is that Whelan ad infinitum unduly focuses on his personal circumstances. A man prematurely losing his wife to cancer and being left to raise their young children is a tragic story that is worthy of a film. However, this event has little place in a documentary on companies not divulging the presence of harmful chemicals in our clothes and household products.

One of numerous examples of the excessive intrusion of the personal tragedy is a loooong exposition (complete with several photos from a cross-country family road trip) of the role of that loss in Whelan purchasing the pajamas from the clothing store Justice. Merely stating that he bought the pajamas on the first Christmas after his wife passed away would have conveyed the sentiment. Another unwarranted scene is footage of the daughters sending balloons with messages to their mother on the first anniversary of her death. This one does not pretend to have any connection with the issue of the potentially toxic chemicals.

The primary impetus of this borderline rant is the manner in which Whelan ends "Stink!" The final scene in which his daughter calls Justice customer service to ask about the chemicals on the pajamas is tolerably cute. Predicting that further footage of talking heads or news reports might accompany the closing credits only to see non-narrated footage of the girls jumping on the bed evoked an excited utterance that Whelan certainly does not want them to hear.

Stating that the divergent elements of "Stink!" make it the best of films and the worst of films is a gross overstatement. Stating that Whelan epically fails regarding not making the reporter part of the story is not.

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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

'Iraqi Odyssey' Theatrical Release: Modern Day Mideast 'Roots'

Iraqi Odyssey Abu Dhabi Film Festival

The new documentary "Iraqi Odyssey," which opens in New York and Los Angeles on November 27 2015, by the Iraqi film maker (and resident of Switzerland) currently known as Samir aptly compares the story of the family of this documentarian to the classic Greek tale of the similar name. Modern audiences of this well-paced nearly three-hour movie will get more of a vibe of the Alex Haley epic "Roots." One spoiler is that the film makes a great study aid for anyone taking a course in the history of Iraq.

The press release for "Odyssey" more eloquently describes the film by stating that it "pays moving homage to the frustrated democratic dreams of a people successively plagued by the horrors of dictatorship, war, and foreign occupation," The scope of this documentary spans from Iraqi being under the foreign rule of a sultan in the early 1900s to the current mess in which the country finds itself. This release additionally addresses the understandable challenge of getting family members to accept direction from Samir.

"Odyssey" opens with short clips of interviews with various relatives, who are scattered across the globe largely as a result of the aforementioned ongoing turmoil in their native country. Samir nicely has each interview lead to the other before introducing himself and presenting an overview of his extensive family tree, which includes a handful of second spouses and step-children. The root of the tree is the grandfather of Samir. This patriarch starts things off by having seven children.

Samir also artfully connects members of each generation of his family with a significant event (or series of events) in the national history of Iraq. All of this occurs in the context of the ancestry of the clan granting it a very special place in that country.

One of the more interesting historic tales in "Odyssey" relates to a family legend that features the aforementioned grandfather. The tale has this independent-minded man symbolically throwing his symbolic black turban in a body of water; the reality may be radically different.

One of the more modern interesting stories is that of a female cousin of Samir who is 30 years his junior. We learn of her early life in Iraq during the commencement of Gulf II, the bureaucratic rules that prevent her from seeking refuge with the rest of her immediate family, and her arrival in New York. The audience additionally sees the Buffalo-area life of this relative.

On a larger level, Samir nicely documents how the story of his family parallels that of their countrymen. All of these stories show the intense impact of the seemingly endless series of changes in the form of the Iraqi government since the end of the 19th century.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

'The dinner' DVD: Black Friday Giveaway of Awesome Family Drama

New York-based distributor of the best international films Film Movement makes holiday shopping a little easier with the best-ever Black Friday promotion. Friends and relatives of film lovers get both a free DVD copy of the 2014 Italian drama "The dinner," which Movement is releasing on DVD on November 25 2015, and 25-percent off a subscription to the Movement DVD Film of the Month Club. The numerous awards for this freebie live-stage seeming adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name include Best Actor awards for the two leads.

The club selections provide Unreal TV great source material. The limited-time offer ends on November 30, 2015 and requires using the code DINNER.

The most awesome aspect of "dinner" is one of the primary qualities that makes Movement films so user-friendly for American audiences. This tale of two very different brothers who regularly see each other apparently out of a sense of familial obligation only to have a crisis severely strain that bond is universal. Like most Movement films, "dinner" could be filmed shot-for-shot and line-for-line in America. Additionally, the balanced and believable manner in which each actor portrays his or her character is very apt for any film from any country.

The following YouTube clip of the "dinner" trailer  conveys the sense of the above points and shows the artistry of the film without spoiling the plot.

The universal aspects of "dinner" start from the opening scenes in which a man experiencing an escalating degree of road rage while driving with this son reaches a very dramatic conclusion. The need of the son for treatment in the aftermath of this event introduces kind and caring pediatrician Paolo.

We soon meet Massimo, who is a defense attorney, when he comes home after a typically tough day at the office and immediately seeks to close himself in his office to do more work. Many of us with siblings can relate to this sharp contrast regarding the personalities of the brothers.

These  early scenes additionally establish that Paolo and Massimo (along with their spouses) regularly meet for dinner on Massimo's Euro. Paolo and his wife Clara particularly dislike these meals but attend them out of a sense that they should do so. Paolo making critical remarks regarding the low character of the clients whom Massimo represents both provides good exposition and partially sets the stage for the central drama in the film.

The event that accelerates the family drama from first gear into turbo is a brutal attack on a homeless person. Surveillance footage of the incident and related evidence increasingly points to Massimo's daughter Benni and Michele, who is the son of Paolo, being the perpetrators. The tension that this creates between the brothers beginning with the initial suspicion and continuing onto differing opinions regarding how to handle the matter when the threat of incarceration seems imminent makes for excellent film drama. The ambiguity that closes the film makes "dinner" especially memorable.

In universal terms, "dinner" simply is a well-written written and acted film that ENTIRELY relies on the dialog and the performances to entertain the audiences. The complete absence of elaborate special effects and over-the-top acting makes this film being available to U.S. audiences the second best gift from Movement this year.

The DVD bonus feature is a making-of short film.

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

Monday, November 23, 2015

'Bang Bang Baby' DVD/VOD: That '60s SciFi Musical Comedy

Product Details

Random Media awesomely brings us back to the '80s with the recent DVD and VOD releases of the tubulalry titled '60s-style scifi horror musical "Bang Bang Baby." This film has wonderful elements of the 1988 comedy "Earth Girls are Easy" and similar fare from that era, which takes separate inspiration from the beach party style musicals and low-budget horror films of the early '60s.

The colors not being so bright as in the films from the '60s and '80s, the light-hearted element being largely subdued, and the story line being edgier add a modern vibe to "Baby." This update continues with an "American Ingenue" having a central role and with lead character Stepphy fairly quickly losing her innocence on multiple levels. The most memorable line in the movie is this young woman, who is a mechanic, stating that she is the local service station.

The following YouTube clip of the "Baby" trailer nicely shows the style and plot of the film.

Jane Levy of the ABC sitcom "Suburgatory" stars as the aforementioned small-town Canadian girl Stepphy, who is poised to achieve her dream of musical stardom when the chaos that is set to ensue commences. The unexpected arrival of dreamy teen idol Bobby Shore, played by Justin Chatwin, sets that stage (pun intended) to get the personal and professional lives of Stepphy back on track. The pair performing the titular song in an all-singing/all-dancing segment is a highlight of this relationship (and the film). The numerous other musical numbers seem equally straight out of the early '60s.

The sci-fi horror style wrinkle is a mysterious purple fog from the local chemical factory causing spontaneous human mutations. On top of that creepy factory manager is becoming increasingly aggressive in pursuing Stepphy. The equally creepy old farmer contributes a nice element of "Scooby-Doo" to the mix.

Relative ingenue writer/director Jeffrey St. Jules decently pulls off all of this but possibly bites off more than he can masticate. As mentioned above, the energy level (and the suspense) are at a lower than expected level. Further, camp casting would have been nice.

The acting, the humor, and the story itself earn the B- grade that seems to be the mark for most films these days. This is not bad for what arguably is intended as a D movie.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Baby" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

'Gringo Trails' DVD: The Eco Impact of Ugly Americans

Product Details
The November 17, 2015 Icarus Films DVD release of the 2013 documentary "Gringo Trails" nicely comes as millions of Americans plan their annual "thaw out" trips. This entertaining comprehensive analysis of the ironic result of visits to special and unspoiled parts of the world both spoiling them and making them less special nicely makes the case for showing proper respect and regard when traveling there.

The following YouTube clip of the "Trails" trailer discusses most of the topics that make up the body of this review. The images of the impact of people visiting places that nature arguably does not intend their presence contributes a great deal to the power of the film.

A fictional and delightfully non-cerebral way of thinking of the themes of "Trails" is the lore of the classic '60s sitcom "Gilligan's Island." Children of the '70s and hardcore sofa spuds know that a series of wacky events result in that the once "uncharted desert isle" becoming a resort for guests whom B-List celebrities portray in late '70s made-for-TV-movies. In other words, Mr. Howell effectively paves paradise and puts up a parking lot.

"Trails" traces much of the trend of destructive eco-tourism to two events. The first one relates to the rescue of 20-something hiker Yossi Ghinsberg, who contributes hilarious stories to "Trails" and is the author of a book about that ordeal, after he spends several weeks stranded in the Amazon jungle. The publicity surrounding the story of Yossi results in more tourists visiting the area. This leads to forming the titular path, which refers to the route that many of these visitors travel.

The second story from the '80s relates to a similar adventure by 20-something traveler (and current National Geographic Traveler editor) Costas Christ. A very engaging Christ tells the "Trails" camera of discovering an almost Eden-like Thai beach and staying there for several weeks. He goes on to talk about sharing knowledge of that beach on reconnecting with fellow travelers on his return to civilization. Despite Christ asking said tourists to not divulge the location of the island, they apparently do so.

We next see footage of the island being relatively densely developed, an enormous crowd of men (and women) behaving badly, and the resulting trash and other refuse that pollutes the sand and the water.

Another travel writer sums up the dilemma of eco-tourism well in discussing her conflicting emotions between wanting to write about beautiful places that she finds and not wanting that writing to result in the devastation that almost inevitably results from crowds traveling to a place.

Less dramatic stories of travel to exotic locations include an American travel writer discussing taking advantage of being able to pass as a non-American and another adventurer discussing both having small children mug him and his horniness prompting him to pursue a potentially dangerous liaison. The person with whom he ends up in bed that evening provides an amusing end to the story.

The awesomeness of  "Trails" extends to advocating a simple and reasonable solution that allows people to see the natural wonders of the world without stressing, destroying, or otherwise harming said wonders.

The especially entertaining and helpful DVD special features include tourism advice and additional travel stories.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2015

'Marie's Story' DVD: French Period Piece Version of 'The Miracle Worker'

MARIE'S STORY DVD & Online Streaming

Purveyor of top-notch international films Film Movement shows good instincts in making the 2014 family French docudrama "Marie's Story" a November 2015 selection for the top-notch DVD Film of the Month Club that Movement operates. The parallels between the Helen Keller story "The Miracle Worker" and this well-produced telling of the tale of 19th century nun Sister Marguerite trying to teach the initially feral titular tween make it very apt for popping into the DVD following Thanksgiving dinner, a.k.a. the home version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."

The following SPOILER-LADEN YouTube clip of the "Marie" trailer nicely showcases the beauty of the film while including virtually every important scene in it.

Marie, whose deafness and blindness date back to her infancy, arrives at a (still-existing) Catholic-run school for the deaf only to quickly scurry up a tree. In one of the more humorous moments in the film, the mother superior almost as quickly sends Marguerite up after her. Other great humor comes in a scene in which Marguerite and her superior struggle to use the proper words while describing how to solve a problem like Marie.

The clever but plausible approach that Marguerite takes predictably initially fails, and the turning point is nicely understated. The gradual transformation (with hints of remaining savagery) make for good storytelling and awesomely highlight the "before and after" contrasts in Marie. This is most clear in two scenes in the dining hall of the school.

A scene in which the other students immediately take advantage of an opportunity to torment Marie provides the wonderfully cynical message that children are cruel despite the era in which they live and regardless of any handicaps that they possess. These "little rascals" will always pick on the weakest members of the pack.

The aforementioned elements of realism and cynicism make "Marie" a modern story that will captivate younger children, provide background news for teens using their phones to remain constantly connected to the outside world, and entertain adults.

The always-included (and always well-paired) bonus short film this time is "Motherly" from Iran. This one has a middle-aged blind woman using innocent passersby in a park to spy on her adult son and his girlfriend. This maternal concern relates to wanting to know if the girlfriend is attractive. The initial surprise in this 13-minute movie is unexpected, but the subsequent turn-of-events is more predictable. The latter does not diminish the quality of this entertaining film, which illustrates one international characteristic of mothers.

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

'Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery" DVD: A Documentary Portrait of The Artist As A Con Man

Product Details
Icarus Films particularly earns its reputation as a purveyor of "provocative and innovative" documentaries regarding the November 17, 2015 DVD release of the 2014 German film "Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery."  This portrait (pun intended) of talented artist Wolfgang Beltracchi comprehensively tracks his almost 40-year career, reveals his tricks of that illicit trade, and also profiles his literal partner-in-crime/spouse Helene Beltracchi. We further learn the reasons for his using his talents for evil, rather than for good.

The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN "Beltracchi" trailer tells you a great deal about the man and his art as well as the skillful manner in which his story is told.

Scenes in which the son and the daughter of the Beltracchis are interviewed while sitting side-by-side on a couch hilariously looks like something out of the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother." In this case, the kids discuss thinking that their father was a not-so-prolific artist. Footage from home movies further show that these offspring had a typical childhood with a funny and loving father.

Similar scenes show a wonderful dinner party in which adult friends of Wolfgang and Helene joke about their various misperceptions regarding the careers of that couple. An especially amusing scene has one friend offer to let Wolfgang sleep in a basement room of the home of that friend following an impending unfortunate incarceration only to have Wolfgang decline that offer for the reason that those accommodations are too much like a jail cell.

Like any good con artist (again, pun intended), the titular Beltracchi is a witty and charming rogue who skillfully produces a believable product and creates a plausible accompanying story. His niche in the art forgery world is using his own work to fill documented gaps in the works of recognized great artists.

An entirely false hypothetical example of this modus operandi is starting with an actual story of 19th century artist Paul Gaugin painting a "lost" portrait of the daughter of a Tahitian friend while visiting that family. Using that story as a starting point, Beltracchi would masterfully paint his vision of that painting in the style of Gaugin, use the aforementioned tricks to make the 21st century painting seem much older, and take the necessary steps to have is sold as a Gaugin, A fascinating actual scene from the documentary has Wolfgang posing Helene in a photograph that is intended to look as if was taken in the relatively distant past.

One of the most amusing aspects of the venture (and in the movie itself) that film maker Arne Birkenstock documents, is the habit of Beltracchi to paint in a manner that he believes enhances the work of the artist who "inspires" that work. In other words, everyone is a critic.

As Beltracchi communicates, a large part of the game relates to people wanting to believe that they are buying something special. The economics lesson in "Beltracchi" continues with the silly aspect of perception in the art world. The success of the scheme relates to the exact same painting having infinitely more value when presented as the work of famous artist, rather than as an original Beltracchi. At the same time, the subsequent notoriety of Beltracchi makes these originals very valuable in the current art market when presented as his work.

The elements that both make the tale of Beltracchi worthy of a film and that make that effort to tell that story succeed relate to the aforementioned charm of the latter and the related respect for him by Birkenstock. Although the victims of a crime, the buyers of the paintings received the physical bargained-for items. It further seems that none of them exhausted their life savings or even invested a significant portion of their liquid assets on their expenditures. Additionally, these pigeons received at least partial restitution and obtained a good story for their own dinner parties.

The DVD special features include an interview with Wolfgang and Helene and a documentary on art authenticators at the studio of Wolfgang.

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

'The Third One' DVD: Two Guys, A Twink, and Two Encounters of the Close Kind

Product Details
The highly erotic Argentinian gay-themed film "The Third One," which is a recent addition to the tla releasing DVD catalog, is a nice surprise in that it throws substance in with the copious extremely visual smut. The former largely comes in the form of an entertaining dinner table discussion between the titular 20-something gay man and his older hosts; a prime example of the latter is explicit brief scenes, which include double penetration, of hardcore gay pornography.

The following (PG-13) YouTube clip of the "Third" trailer predictably focuses more on the smut than the substance of the film. However, it shows that the latter is present.

The strong indications that "Third" is porn masquerading as an art house film begin with the opening shots (no pun intended) of 22 year-old Fede pleasuring himself during a webcam chat with roughly 40 year-old Franco. Predictably, their conversation is very racy and alternates between being flirty and borderline dominating. Franco's partner Hernan popping in and out sets the stage for what is to come (no pun intended).

Introducing Hernan into the online mix additionally provides the initial sense of the roles that he and Franco play in their relationships. Gay couples can relate to Hernan being the woman outside of the bedroom but more of a traditional man when hitting the sheets. The related element of the impending comeuppance (pun intended) for Fede regarding his teasing about Hernan being a "housewife" contributes a playful erotic vibe to this scene.

The promise of both a dinner and a "choo choo train" entice Fede to subsequently visit Franco and Hernan. The slight nervousness of the boy regarding no longer having a webcam behind which to hide, the overt friendliness of a very eager Franco, and the cool attitude of a less eager Hernan are all very predictable. Further, couples everywhere along the Kinsey scale can relate to Fede witnessing an manifestation of a long-term "issue" between the couple soon after arriving in their home.

The meat (no pun intended) of the film comes during the scene of the trio eating dinner. This segment further is the best one in the film. We see the group relax, learn more about their lives, and simply have a nice time. In every aspect, this is exactly the conversation that our cast would have if their planned after-dinner activity involved playing Trivial Pursuit or watching a mainstream film.

Another nice scene occurs during a playful one-on-one PG post-dinner conversation on the balcony. This discourse both further highlights the contrasts in the lifestyles between Fede and his more affluent hosts and discusses somewhat insightful life truths.

The next portion of the film arguably is the climax (pun intended) in that it involves the threesome that is the stated purpose of the visit of Fede. These scenes are predictably erotic and fall within the expect realm regarding the portrayal of the explicit nature of the interaction. The suspense relates to the extent to whether one of the three participants will physically and/or emotionally be left out of the fun and whether any of them will have morning after regrets. Fede referring to one of his hosts as a great father during this portion of the film is equally sweet and erotic.

On a related note, the scene in which Fede (who wears the clothes in which he arrives for his visit) takes what traditionally is the walk of shame fuels other great scenes in the film.

The fact that the filmmakers take the time to tell an internationally realistic story and keep their cast clothed throughout much of the movie makes "Third" a non-guilty pleasure. The overall live-stage feel (especially during the dinner scene) makes the movie one that you can enjoy watching with an appropriate group of friends. One warning is that the aforementioned salacious elements may result in engaging in conduct with said friends that you may or may not regret the next morning.

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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

'Martha Davis + The Motels Live At The Whisky A Go Go DVD/BD: Concert Film at No Vacancy Gig

Product Details
The concert film "The Motels Live At The Whisky A Go Go," which Vesuvio Entertainment released on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 6 2015, is a terrific celebration of the '80s; both the band and the venue are genuine icons of that era. The fact that the January 17, 2014 date of that concert is both the 50th anniversary of the Los Angeles club and the 63rd anniversary of the birth of Motels lead singer/driving force Martha Davis is further proof of the kismet regarding that group playing that night.

The following YouTube clip of the promo. for "Motels" nicely conveys the fun and excitement of the event.

The retro fun begins with actress Rosanna Arquette recapping the history, which includes go go girls in cages and the unfettered The Doors being the house band,  of the club. Musician Linda Perry then takes over by discussing Davis being a female pioneer breaking into the male-dominated rock world.

It is equally nice to see a simple stage with multi-colored lights as the only enhancements. This is a good reminder of days when the music, rather than elaborate video displays and blinding pyrotechnics, was the main attraction at a concert.

Davis stays true to the music being the thing in not flying in, descending a massive staircase flanked by shirtless male dancers , or otherwise making a grand entrance. She simply calmly walks to the microphone accompanied by the band.

Seeing Davis clad in a fedora-style hat, long scarf, and black duster coat both enhances the '80s vibe and evokes thoughts of the Tom Baker portrayal of The Doctor in "Doctor Who."

The below photos allow you to be the judge.

 Image result for martha davis motels images whiskey a go go

Davis opens the show with the not-so-well-known tune "Party Professionals" and then moves onto the hit "Where Do We Go From Here." We further get treated to the mega-hit "Suddenly Last Summer" and the literal show stopper "Only the Lonely" mixed in with a handful of other tunes. The ballad "Mr. Grey" is one of the more subdued numbers.

Davis sounding the same to these untrained ears as she did 30 years ago is a nice surprise. She further shows an awesome sense of humor in responding to a request to take off her blouse with "Do you know what birthday this is?"

The awesome special features include a roughly two-minute video of surprising a 30-year fan with a meeting with Davis and a round table discussion with the original Motels. The latter kicks off with a fun discussion, including reminiscing about a rickety staircase, of playing The Whisky A Go Go back in the day.

The best context in which to understand the special nature of the concert and this record of that memorable night is to try to image if seeing a boy band or other pop sensation of today returning to play "where it all started" for that group or performer 30 years from now would be exciting.

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

Friday, November 13, 2015

'Offspring' S1: DVD: Modern Family (and Secret Life) of Australian Ally McBeal, M.D.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Region-Four DVD set from Australia will not play in a standard U.S. player; watching it requires an international DVD player.]

The Madman Entertainment box set of the complete series (to date) of the Australian dramedy "Offspring" once again shows that Americans are lucky to have a good source for DVD collections of films and television shows that are not released here. This chance to check out foreign fare additionally allows for testing the validity of the Unreal TV theory that Australian and British fare kicks the arse of what is produced over here. The scads o' nominations and wins for "Offspring" during the run (once again, to date) of the series further shows that this is one to watch.

Properly describing the wit and charm of "Offspring," which revolves around highly skilled but neurotic and frequently day dreaming obstetrician Dr. Nina Proudman, would require much more space and time than is feasible. Breaking the reviews into separate posts on each season alleviates this difficulty.

The following YouTube clip of the promo. for the first season of "Offspring" starts things off with a nice recap of the concept of the show.

Unreal TV readers know "Offspring" star Asher Keddie, who is the 21st Century Australian Jennifer Anniston, through the reviewed complete series set of the 2014 Australian political camp drama "Party Tricks." Keddie does just as well (if not better) playing Nina as a successful career woman with a dysfunctional personal life as she does regarding her similar portrayal of national politician Kate Ballard. Both Nina and Kate are people whom you would want in your corner if you needed someone with their skills but have "more baggage than a Qantas flight."

The primary manifestation of the angst that Nina feels regarding her love life and her relationships with her "its complicated" parents, her sister, and her brother comes in the form of frequent day dreams that cause brief but noticeable blackouts. The range of these imaginings range from romantic fantasies, to manifestations of fears, to thoughts of dire harm befalling those who done her wrong. The "Offspring" producers enhance this narrative technique via increasingly creating temporary doubt regarding whether a development is live or is it Ninarex.

The Season One (S1) DVD set includes the feature-length pilot of "Offspring." The event in that offering around which much of the S1 action revolves is the arrival of Dr. McHunky pediatrician Chris Havel, who has his own extensive set of luggage. We further get to meet the Proudmans.

Realtor Darcy Proudman is the head of the family; he still loves ex-wife Geraldine but has a long and extensive history of an inability to not stray from the martial bed. For her part, Geraldine is trying to have a fulfilling personal life while still being a good mother. Big sister Billie is an even more neurotic mess than Nina and works as an assistant to her father.

Twenty-something "baby" brother slacker Jimmy is the youngest (and sexiest) Proudman. He supplements his bar tending income with gigs as a lab rat while he tries to find himself. He additionally engages in ill-conceived romances with flighty girls and spends a great deal of time riding his bicycle around Melbourne.

Jimmy portrayor Richard Davies having the scruff look down, possesses such a nice smile, and displays so much humor and all around likability that he almost certainly inspires impure thoughts in virtually every woman viewer and roughly 20-percent of the male audience. (Davies provides this demographic in a racy scene involving a strategically placed straw hat in the 11th S1 episode of "Offpsring.")

The "outsiders" include Nina pal Cherie, who learns of a strong connection to the Proudman family in the pilot, and Billie's on-again-off-again boyfriend aspiring songwriter/musician Mick Holland. The following SPOILER-LADEN but hilarious YouTube clip of real-life composer/musician Eddie Perfect in his role as Mick nicely showcases the charm and the wit of this lovably oafish character.

A few of the numerous other S1 complications include Nina being separated from psychotic demolitions expert Brendan, a toxic high school acquaintance of Billie creating havoc, and Chris and Nina facing serious roadblocks on the road to truish love. Nina additionally must contend with challenges such as a couple that wants everyone who participates in the birth of their child to be nude and with Geraldine going to a dangerous extreme to protect Jimmy. The copious jokes and related confrontation following that show of maternal love are fall-on-the-floor funny (and showcase the charm of Davies).

The "magic" that makes "Offspring" so appealing is that the perfectly cast ensemble seem to really their roles and working with the other actors. One can believe that the Proudmans are a real family. Their lives evoke thoughts of the parental wisdom "small people, small problems; big people, big problems."

The extras include the aforementioned pilot film and an equally well-produced webisode series "The Nurses." The latter includes a hilarious discussion of sperm donation.

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

Thursday, November 12, 2015

'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' DVD/Blu-Ray/'Super Deluxe' Literal Cradle to Grave Story of Grunge God

Product Details

The November 13, 2015 Blu-Ray, DVD, and "Super Deluxe" home video releases of the uber-awesome (and equally comprehensive) multi-Emmy nominated HBO documentary "Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck" from Universal Music Enterprises (UME) is part of a November trifecta of a tribute to this textbook troubled young genius. UME is releasing the soundtrack for the documentary on the same day, and the new 7-inch single that features "And I Love Her" and "Sappy" which is an early demo. are coming out on November 20, 2015. Any of these make great gifts for a Cobain and/or Nirvana fan.

The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Montage" nicely showcases the raw and probing nature of the film. It is guaranteed that it will tell you more about Cobain in a few minutes than you know about most people in your life.

"Montage" beginning with the mother of Cobain discussing her courtship with his father and the subsequent birth of the future Nirvana front man is the first of many indications of the aforementioned comprehensive nature of the film. Soon seeing the actual birth certificate of Cobain, his early drawings, and extensive home-movie footage (including shots of a toddler Cobain rocking out with a toy guitar) is one of the first indications of the truly multi-media nature of this documentary. Later seeing skillfully drawn animation and images of writings that express the truly innermost thoughts of Cobain shows that the theme of comprehensiveness extends to the media that film maker Brett Morgen, who is a also the director of the 2002 Robert Evans documentary "The Kid Stays in the Picture," utilizes in this tribute to his fascinating subject.

This character study aptly takes its time documenting how Cobain goes from being a highly creative and hyperactive child to a heroin-addicted 27 year-old who kills himself in his garage. Like many of us, a traumatic event during the childhood of Cobain and the domino effects of that development set him on his path to literal self-destruction. The audience further learns of the origins of the titular term during this portion of the film.

Said tragic path becomes very clear in candid home-video footage of Cobain in the period spanning from the period immediately before his becoming big and the era of said fame. He is almost skeletal thin and seems incapable of sitting still for more than a few minutes. Concert footage and written song lyrics and other musings further show that Cobain is deeply troubled.

Professional footage in which Cobain and his Nirvana band mates tell interviewers how much they hate being interviewed evokes thoughts both of the same expressed disdain by the members of The Monkees, a.k.a. The Prefab Four. The parallels are particularly strong in an interview that a second-season episode of "The Monkees" sitcom partially airs. Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz of the band essentially tell the interviewer to f**k off, but said interviewer acts as if the boys are joking. A personally horribly toxic 2009 interview with Monkee Davy Jones is additional proof of the ill will of those boys toward the nature of their fame. Jones angrily stating "you must be living in a cave if you don't know what I'm doing now" ended that conversation.

The fast-and-furious fame that Cobain achieves at the tale end of his adolescence additionally seems comparable to the challenges that child stars face. No one prepares them for the reality of being the "it" boy or girl, and they face the additional problem of the world not seeing their true self.

The home movies, which including partial frontal nudity, of Cobain's wife Courtney Love and other coverage of her add an entertaining element of sensationalism to "Montage." This relates to the (possibly unwarranted) negative public perception of Love, Love using heroin while pregnant with daughter Frances, and custody battles in which the drug use of Love and Cobain are considerations.

One of the most charming moments comes during what seems to be Nirvana acoustically playing on "MTV Unplugged." An offhand comment prompts Cobain to charmingly refer to an episode on the religious propaganda kids' show "Davey and Goliath" in which the boy around whom that series centers expresses a disturbingly violent sentiment that Cobain refers to as not being very Christian.

As hokey as it sounds, this highly intimate actual cradle-to-grave portrait of Cobain achieves what he failed to do in life. We learn all that there seems to know about the man, rather than the grunge god.

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

'Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart' DVD: Pre-OJ National Trial Obsession

Product Details
Icarus Films remains true to its philosophy of "be part of the conversation" regarding the November 10, 2015 DVD release of the 2014 HBO Documentary
"Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart" from this distributor of the best documentaries from just about every country. The post-Halloween treat this time is that the tabloid subject matter adds a dusting of confectioner's sugar to the typically provocative subject of a DVD in the Icarus catalog.

The following YouTube clip of the HBO promo. for "Captivated" awesomely showcases both the sensationalistic elements of the case and the expert portrayal of the related elements.

The underlying incident that triggers (pun intended) the events that "Captivated" artfully documents is the 1990 murder of Derry, New Hampshire resident Greg Smart. A subsequent "would you believe" turn-of-events provides the more direct fodder for the documentary. Discovering that charming psycho teen boy Billy Flynn and his equally dirt bag buddies are the perpetrators is only the beginning of the story. The evidence soon shows that Greg's Van Halen-loving wife Pamela, who works at the media center of the high school that Flynn attends, seduced hot-for-teacher Flynn and paid him and his aforementioned buddies to kill Greg.

The primary noteworthy element of the titular trials are that the pre-OJ and pre-reality show glut judicial proceedings to determine the degree of guilt that Pamela possesses regarding the death of Greg is that it is the first televised trial in U.S. history. "Captivated" shows that, ala the subsequent Simpson trial, Americans become obsessed with watching the proceedings here and that the judicial system may be out to get Smart.

The possible alleged bias begins with the strong potential that knowledge of pre-trial media coverage of the Smart case likely taints the objectivity of candidates for the jury. Aside from learning about the case through news reports, a provided example of the media not accurately portraying the known circumstances of the case include widespread reports of Pamela being a teacher despite her being the director of media services at the school.

A related (and arguably more valid) issue in "Captivated" is the difference regarding the penalties that the boys and Pamela face. It is undisputed that a guilty verdict for the crime with which Smart is charged requires a much longer sentence than the possible liability of the boys from the 'hood straight outta Seabrook.

"Captivated" further documents the then-ground breaking nature of the impact of the Smart trial on the national psyche. Film maker Jeremiah Zagar treats us to wonderfully lurid footage from the Gus Vant Sant feature film "To Die For," which stars Nicole Kidman and the cheesier CBS television movie "Murder in New Hampshire." The latter stars Helen Hunt and then-teen-idol Chad Allen.

Zagar demonstrates the media savvy of Smart even before being becoming a suspect in the case; one of several compelling scenes has Smart directing a reporter who is covering the story to include a "poignant" shot of her sadly looking at the frozen top tier of her wedding cake. A later scene shows that Smart still plays to the cameras 25 years later.

"Captivated" presents all of the above in the comprehensive and equal parts entertaining and educational manner for which HBO documentaries are famous. Smart, the reporter who first covered the story, the father of Greg, the attorney for Smart, and a cast of seemingly 1,000s with a role in the proceedings all tell their stories. Cleverly formatted copious video clips of said news coverage and legal proceedings supplement said talking heads.

The best way to think of all of the above is that the Smart trials are the second biggest media circus that the 20th Century had seen, Whether the judicial system missed it by that much regarding dispensing justice to Pamela amidst all the chaos and if anyone involved should be 86ed remains subject to debate.

The bonus features include a Toronto International Film Festival Q&A session with Zagar and the theatrical trailer for "Captivated."

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

Monday, November 9, 2015

'Queen Crab' DVD/VOD: Rednecks v. Shellfish

Product Details
The recent Wild Eye Releasing DVD and VOD premieres of the minimal-budget 2015 horror flick "Queen Crab" achieves a new high regarding the low-brow blood-and-guts offerings from this company behind the DVD release of the awesome recently reviewed zombie flick "A Plague So Pleasant." The petrified wooden acting of every cast member and junior-high boy level special effects in "Crab" are so bad that they are good. On a larger level, these elements evoke great memories of the bargain-basement quality of the USA Original Movies of the '90s.

"Crab" additionally prompts thoughts of the mid-budget "Tremors" franchise; the lore of that series centers around ginormous (and highly carnivorous) earth worms.

The following YouTube clip of the "Crab" trailer" accurately portrays the cheesy elements described above.

"Crab" further pays homage to the low-budget horror and scifi films of the '50s in starting the story 20 years in the past. Rather than a nuclear blast, the younger version of lead character Melissa feeding the titular crustacean a growth formula causes it to reach a monstrous size.

The action then moves to the general present when a local dirt bag attacking "Timmy" awakens violent tendencies in "Lassie" that start a rampage, which includes livestock mutilation. Local lawman/uncle Ray, who quickly establishes that he is not like a television sheriff who enjoy solving mysteries, reluctantly assists the stereotypical outsider who comes on the scene to investigate.

The monster is a laughably horrible CGI creation that clearly is superimposed into the action; one scene in which there is no doubt that a character is standing in front of a projected image of that creature is another indication that the special effects budget does not even reach four digits. An awesome tongue-in-cheek extra in which cast members discuss using a real monster crab is both hilarious and shows that they can act when they choose to do so.

"Crab" typically mostly consists of hunter and prey pursuing each other and the latter exacting very shellfish justice on those who commit wrongful acts against it or Melissa. Those attacks are so comically fake that they are far more hilarious than fear-inducing.

Using incredibly cheap CGI versions of fighter jets, rather than even buying what must be inexpensive stock footage, deserve an honorable mention regarding the lousy effects this time out.

An additional threat comes in the form of "Pee Wee" laying an enormous quantity of eggs with the potential to create an army of killer crabs; One spoiler regarding this is that low-tech. tactics are very effective against members of the younger generation.

The bottom line regarding "Crab" is that it is a good choice when you feel like a supremely guilty pleasure that appeals to the subterranean lowest common element. The good news is that that clearly is the intent of the film makers.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Crab" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

'Stations of the Cross' DVD: Modern Religious Fanaticism Fable

The subtitled 2014 German film "Stations of the Cross" is even more more thought-provoking than the typical user-friendly cerebral offerings in the fantubulous DVD foreign film of the month club that equally wonderful home video distributor Film Movement operates. The character study of young teen/devout Catholic/Confirmation candidate Maria provides good insight into both early adolescence and the intense cult-like aspects of even well-established religions such as Roman Catholicism.

One artistic element that likely is a large part of the reason for Film Movement adding "Stations" to its catalog are framing the narrative in the form of the titular journey by Christ that is so central to the Catholic faith. The other aspect of "Stations" that sets it apart is filming each scene in a single shot ala the Hitchcock classic "Rope."

The nine festival awards, including some for Best Film, further validates the quality "Stations." One can tell that director Dietrich Bruggemann is in it for the art, rather than the commerce.

The following YouTube clip of the "Stations" trailer cleverly uses a scene in which Maria confesses her sins to introduce glimpses of other powerful or otherwise noteworthy scenes in the film.

"Stations" opens with Maria and her fellow Catechism students being told of the importance of the old pre-Vatican II ways and of the need to be warriors for Christ in every aspect of their lives. This lesson includes describing the enemy as anyone who does not share their intense devotion to the faith of said Christian soldiers whom the instructing priest sends marching onward as to war.

A related theme of the lecture is the importance of sacrifice in general and more specifically secular pleasures; the latter includes allegedly satanically influenced popular music.

The theme of sacrifice is especially relevant to Maria, who believes that an exceptional (possibly ultimate) sacrifice by her will cure the condition that prevents her four-year-old brother Johannes from speaking.

Much of the attitude of Maria is attributable to the rigid beliefs and equally stern personality of her maternal parent, who is only known as "Mutter" in the film. The emotional child abuse associated with this relationship creates a few cringe-worthy scenes; the worst of these occurs in the exam room of a doctor whom Mutter will not allow to treat Maria.

Secular issues center around Maria developing a friendship with her incredibly clean-cut classmate Christian. In addition to the sinful aspects of associating with an individual who is a perverted deviant merely based on his gender, Maria further endangers her soul by desiring to attend a choir rehearsal at the Protestant Church in which Christian is actively involved. Said choir singing soul and gospel songs creates additional concern.

The physical and emotional toll of the internal and external pressure on Maria is tough (but important) to watch. One can argue that she earns sainthood merely by agonizing over every small element of her life and having her priest and Mutter come down hard in response to the slightest provocation.

One especially powerful scene has bullies in the gym class of Maria mercilessly mock her for her beliefs. Two boys asserting false religious beliefs in the presence of our highly impressionable true believer is the least of the torment in this segment. Christian coming to her defense only makes him a target for the ridicule.

The final scenes truly drive the message home while including ambiguity that is worthy of post-viewing discussion. One spoiler is that better minds than that of the one writing these thoughts and of at least most of the folks reading them have been unable to answer the big question that "Stations" leaves unanswered.

The bonus short film that Film Movement selects for the "feature presentation" this time is (as always) a good match with the longer film. The German surprise festival hit "One Shot" uses the same single-shot technique as "Stations" and shares an equally creative narrative. It opens with a scene that seems to be of a typical film and concurrently becomes increasingly bizarre while smashing the fourth wall into rubble. This progression occurring in 11 minutes makes the success of the film that much more amazing.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Stations" or "Shot" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

'Steptoe & Son' DVD: Feature Film Version of 'Sanford and Son' Father

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This DVD from Australia will not play in a standard U.S. player. It requires a (well worth buying) international player.]

Australia-based DVD producer/distributor Madman Entertainment, which makes scads o' affordable DVDs of Australian and U.K. films and television series available to U.S. viewers, deserves special thanks regarding the (oft-reviewed) Britannia film collection that it operates. This division releases both feature-film versions of classic British programs and movie-length pilots of "shouldabeen a series" concepts.

The latest batch of Britannia releases includes the 1972 comedy "Steptoe & Son," which is the first of two films based on the long-running series that is the basis for the classic U.S. sitcom "Sanford and Son." The British version has hilariously crude widowed rag-and-bone man Albert Steptoe making life miserable for his single son/co-worker Harold Steptoe. (A review of "Steptoe and Son Ride Again" is scheduled for November 2015.)

The following rough YouTube clip of a scene from "Steptoe" nicely illustrates the theme and the style of the film.

"Steptoe" immediately starts with scenes that seem very consistent with the humor (or humour) of the series. The opening scene has the horse-drawn wagon of our heroes getting a parking ticket outside the divorce court where the marriage of Harold is formally ending. We then see Albert engaged in behavior that would make even gross-out comedy legend John Waters cringe.

The action next shifts back several months to the events that lead to the courtship that leads to the aforementioned divorce. This sequence commences with father and son cleaning up ahead of a night on the town. Once again, Albert engages in thoroughly disgusting behavior and continues being a man behaving badly while attending the strip show that is the entertainment for that evening.

The scenes that lead up to the wedding offer further gross-out humor and plain ole hilarious mayhem. One spoiler is that a crystal clear omen is far stronger than rain on the wedding day.

True to both "Steptoe" and "Sanford," the comically intense interference of Albert with the relationship between Harold and his fiancee (and subsequently wife) places enormous strain on that relationship. A prime example of this is Albert tagging along on the honeymoon and being incredibly disruptive during that trip. One scene in this portion of the film is far too perverted to even be funny. One difference between this show and "Sanford" is that Albert never feigns a heart attack.

The third segment of the film can be considered two men and a baby; the extent to which the finding of an infant in the stable soon followed by a hilarious variation on the tale of another babe in a manger ties into the rest of the film remains unknown throughout most of the remainder of the movie. The reveal regarding this is at least as hilarious as anything on "Sanford."

Two  of the nicest things about "Steptoe" are that it facilitates a comparison between the show that spawns it and "Sanford" and offers further proof that U.K. fare kicks the arse of what airs in the U.S. The chemistry and comic interplay between "Steptoe" stars Wilford Brambell and Harry H. Corbett far exceeds the still very good interplay between their respective counterparts Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson. Further, the greater degree of comic conflict in "Steptoe" among the working-class father-and-son team in which the elder of the pair constantly sabotages the efforts of the younger of the pair to escape that life is much more realistic than a comparable "Sanford" story line in which Lamont finally moves out, enters a serious romantic relationship, etc.

The sad news is that no one on either side of the pond make 'em like "Steptoe" or "Sanford" any more.

Anyone with questions or comments about "Steptoe" or "Sanford" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

'The Forgotten Space' DVD: Shipping Practices 'Essay Film' Shows High Costs of Low Prices

Product Details
The documentary (or "essay film") "The Forgotten Space," which is a recent DVD release from uber-awesome distributor of "innovative and provocative" documentaries Icarus Films, comprehensively shows the route (and related negative impacts therof) that products travel from their point of origin to our homes. Needless to say, the film shows that the profit margin always takes precedence over humanitarian concerns.

Filmmakers Allan Sekula and Noel Burch explain that the titular environment is the oceans and go on to state that 90-percent of the cargo in the world travels that route on the way to our homes. The exploration of that topic includes numerous interviews with poorly compensated members of crews of freighters and footage of their living and communal spaces. We further get to see a quite nice facility in Hong Kong that offers them (and their counterparts on leisure ships) desirable accommodations at affordable prices when they are not in the forgotten space.

The following YouTube clip of the "Space" trailer provides good exposition regarding the subject matter in a style that reflects the movie being an essay film.

An opening segment in "Space" examines an earlier stage in the transportation process. Sekula and Burch tell us about a new railway line in the Netherlands that benefits moving freight at the cost of the farmland and homes in the rural area through which it runs. This impact includes the line running through the middle of one such farm.

We also get information regarding the impact of the well-known shift of manufacturing to China from other parts of Asia. This analysis extends beyond the oft-told tales of the trade imbalance between that country and the United States and the increasing demand for consumer goods in China. We further see how other economies that are losing out to China are adapting and how China is facing a similar threat to its recent prosperity.

Closer to home, we learn of manipulations that disadvantage truckers and see a tent city for which questionable business practices are responsible.

The effectively presented message of all this is that keeping prices low has a much higher human cost than even many enlightened and caring people realize. On top of this, we learn that manufacturers also have it out for the consuming public.

The DVD bonus is the booklet with additional insight that most Icarus titles include. In this case, Burch discusses both the concept of the essay film and the evolution of shipping practices.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Space" is encourage to either email me or to connect on Twitter via

Monday, November 2, 2015

'Back to the Future' 30th Anniversary Limited-Edition Flux Capacitor Blu-ray Set Well-worth $88

Product Details

[July 4, 2018 Update: Revisiting this post showed that the planned trilogy of posts ended with the one below.]

Not getting my pre-ordered copy of "Back to the Future: The Complete Adventures" 30th Anniversary Flux Capacitor Blu-Ray (BD) set on the October 20, 2015 release date after a painful two-month wait was agony. Ripping the box open Wolverine style a week ago made the wait worthwhile and eliminated any doubt regarding whether the roughly $88 price is valid.

As an aside, folks with concern regarding unwarranted reports that physical elements of the "Capacitor" set will not pass the test of time (no pun intended) should remember that this (and any other deluxe) DVD or BD set is not intended for children. Adults who use reasonable care will not scratch the discs taking them out of their sleeves or rip pages out of the well-bound 64-page collectible book. You merely need to restrict any Wolverine tactics to opening the box in which the set is delivered.

In the spirit of "Future," this review is separated into three parts that will be spread out over several months. This series starts with discussing the importance of "Future" and the features of the Capacitor set. Part Two focuses on the animated series, and Part Three addresses the BD versions of the film trilogy.

At the heart of the matter. "Future" is the "Wizard of Oz" (complete with a quest by the young hero to return home from a strange land) to the children and the children at heart of the '80s It is the one on which this generation grew up and thoroughly enjoys each time that it is watched. As a recent review on the "Future" documentary "Back in Time" shares, your reviewer first saw "Future" at a second-run theater primarily out of boredom and friendship but immediately was hooked. The other notable "Future" story involves driving through a blizzard to see "Back to the Future III" on its opening night.

The personal legacy of home-video ownership begins with the DVD set of the "Future" trilogy being one of the first additions to a now-library of almost literally countless film and television sets. The "Future" purchase being from a Circuit City provides a sense of the "ancient" nature of that acquisition.

The Capacitor packing itself nicely distinguishes this set from other 30th Anniversary versions. The aforementioned device allows the altered DeLorean that the franchise features to time travel. The image of said capacitor adorns the front of sturdy packaging and wonderfully lights up at the push of a button. One technological enhancement regarding this bonus is that, unlike "talking" DVD sets of roughly a decade ago, the batteries that allow the lights to go on are replaceable.

The all-new bonus disc in the set alone almost warrants the cost. It is the ONLY such disc regarding which yours truly has watched (and LOVED) every feature.

The bonus disc begins with a short inspirational message from trilogy star Christopher Lloyd in his Doc Brown character. Brown also host the roughly 10-minute 2015 bonus film "Doc Brown Saves the World," which explains why our version of 2015 lacks self-lacing sneakers and other 2015 tech. from "Future II."

The "Looking Back to the Future" documentary on the bonus disc greatly improves on "Back," which earns a grade of 88. Lloyd, Michael J. Fox and most of the other heavy hitters who participate in "Back" also provide interviews for "Looking." The pace is simply a bit faster and includes far more cool footage of the filming of the movie. Scenes of Fox rocking out and enthusiastically joking around while filming are particularly special.

The separate bonus disc documentary on restoring the aforementioned luxury automobile compensates for the scope of"Back," but not "Looking," including that topic.

The bonus disc moves on to offer the pilot episode of the aforementioned animated series and the premiere episode of the second season of that show. The four-disc set of the complete animated series also includes these episodes.

This gem of a special features disc wraps up with an all-new fall-on-the-floor faux trailer for the "Jaws 19" film that plays a role in "Future" 2 and a separate highly amusing commercial for the skateboard-like hoverboard that is an integral part of "Future" lore.The "Jaws" trailer wonderfully mocks every film franchise cliche, include the element of "this time its personal."

The aptly titled aforementioned 64-page booklet "Back to the Future: A Visual History" includes a great introduction by "Future" writer Bob Gale. Gales pounds the nail on the head in writing that "that love (for "Future") is the reason that you have this booklet in your hands." The plethora of essays, alternative posters, photos, and diagrams that make up the remainder of the booklet simply are too numerous to adequately discuss in this post. Suffice it to say, veteran and new fans will not be disappointed.

Anyone with any questions or comments regarding the "Future" franchise or the 30th Anniversary sets is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.