MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

The DVD Wrapup: Take Me Home Tonight, Limitless, Potiche, The Music Room, Beauty and the Beast, Small Town Murder Songs …

Take Me Home Tonight
Nearly 40 years after the release of “American Graffiti” – as close to perfect a movie as one is going to download anytime soon – filmmakers are still attempting to extract pay dirt from George Lucas’ gold mine, even if the vein played out after “Dazed and Confused.” “Take Me Home Tonight” unspools over a 24-hour period: before, during and after a reunion of recent graduates from an affluent San Fernando Valley high school, circa 1984. Now four years older, the young men and women represent a cross-section of American youth hoping to exploit Reaganomics for fun and profit. Topher Grace plays Matt, an underachieving numbers genius vegging out as a clerk at a local video store. The morning of the party, Matt re-connects with the Class of ’84’s blond bombshell (Teresa Palmer), for whom he’s been carrying a torch since high school. Sensing an opportunity, the socially awkward young man adopts the demonstrably false identity of an up-and-coming star at Goldman-Sachs. The ruse begins to unravel when a fellow grad – a mean-spirited paraplegic and rising star at the investment firm, no less – threatens to out his old classmate.

Anna Faris plays Matt’s twin sister, another wiz kid with a suburban death wish. She’s been given an opportunity to seek an advanced degree at Cambridge, but appears to be headed for a life of mediocrity with the class hunk (Chris Pratt), who couldn’t find England on a map if you told him it was between Ireland and France. Earlier that day, too, Matt’s best friend (Dan Fogler) is fired from his job at a Mercedes dealership … another unlikely position for a 22-year-old slacker. To impress the girls at the party, the roly-poly little fellow returns to the dealership after hours to steal an M-B, which conveniently has a Baggie full of cocaine in the glove box. They’re ready to party, for sure.

Typically, the party doesn’t really get going until after midnight, when fake disguises begin falling to the floor of master bedrooms and high-school heroes forget where they left the keys to their pumpkins. After impressing the panties off his trophy blond, he makes the mistake of telling her the truth about his sad life. Being something of a gold digger, herself, she reacts to Matt’s revelation with self-righteous indignation. To make things right, the onetime class dork accepts the kind of ridiculous macho challenge only someone truly in need of forgiveness would undertake. (No, I won’t spoil the gag.) It is of that doesn’t sound like recipe for disaster – and unlikely redemption — then you haven’t spent the last 10 years watching reruns of “That ’70s Show,” which is where Grace and writers Jackie and Jeff Filgo previously plied their craft. “Take Me Home Tonight” feels like a very long episode of that sitcom, right down to the comedy beats. Because of the many script devices, I’m willing to give director a break here. The mockumentary chops he displayed in “FUBAR” and “It’s All Gone Pete Dong” were of no use to him in this dull effort, where even the soundtrack selections feel dated. (“Take Me Home Tonight” had been sitting on a shelf for four years – ostensibly for the druggy humor — before it was resuscitated by Imagine Entertainment. If none of the key actors were tainted by the experience, it’s because they’d already proven their talents in the interim.) – Gary Dretzka

I was so taken by the breakneck pacing of “Limitless” – a paranoid thriller to which I hadn’t paid much attention in its theatrical release – I decided to check out the name of the director well before the film’s climax. Discovering that it was made by Neil Burger surprised me only a little bit. His previous credits include “Interview With the Assassin,” “The Illusionist” and “The Lucky Ones,” all of which are first-rate entertainments and not at all similar to each other. The premise behind “Limitless” can be traced at least as far back as “Charly” and “The Nutty Professor”: a poor struggling writer is introduced to a drug, specifically designed to expand the ability of the brain to a work at full capacity, precipitating all sorts of unexpected consequences. Bradley Cooper is very good as the writer, Eddie, whose career blossoms in extraordinary ways as is dependency on NZT grows greater. When his source is murdered, Eddie becomes afraid of losing the crutch that’s allowed him to attain wealth, prestige and power. Moreover, withdrawal from NZT causes extreme pain and cruel death among partakers … not that those probabilities have stopped any desperate power junkies from pursuing the drug.

Determined to find or create a reliable dealer before his stash disappears, Eddie, begins to freelance. His competition includes a thuggish Russian gangster and emissaries of a host of powerful corporate executives. Naturally, this requires the staging of several frantic chase scenes. Typically, chase scenes are inserted when a filmmaker’s imagination deserts him. Burger succeeds in making the chases interesting by demonstrating how someone with an IQ of say, 2,000, might escape the enemy, using his brains instead of brawn and Air Jordan sneakers. This, of course, requires the drug to kick in 30 seconds after being ingested, so some short cuts have been provided the characters.

No matter, “Limitless” is great fun to watch. You can turn off your brain, while the folks on screen are using their own at peak capacity. I suppose veteran screenwriter Leslie Dixon would like for viewers to ask themselves whether they’d ingest such a drug themselves, understanding the dangers, as well as the rewards. Given the continued popularity of cocaine, heroin and meth, however, we already know the answer to that question. Also turning in nice performances here are Abbie Cornish, Andrew Howard, Anna Friel, Tomas Arana and Robert De Niro, as the aptly named oil speculator, Carl Van Loon. The Blu-ray arrives with both the theatrical and unrated versions of “Limitless”; Burger’s audio commentary; an interesting alternate ending; and a couple of uninspired making-of featurettes. – Gary Dretzka

Park Benches

Even if Catherine Deneuve is approaching 68 and carrying a few more pounds than she did in her prime, she remains several times more desirable than the hot young things who appear in the poolside and nightclub scenes on “Entourage.” More importantly, Deneuve can still capture our attention, whether she’s in a high-profile drama like “A Christmas Tale” and “Après lui,” or such confections as “Potiche” and “Park Benches.” In the former, she plays the unliberated, bourgeois “trophy wife” of a pompous French industrialist whose umbrella factory is about to experience a potentially crushing strike. It being 1977, French workers still are living off the fumes of the near revolution of 1968, and strikes have become commonplace. The workers take the tyrannical factory owner hostage, hoping someone will care enough about him to buckle to their demands. In fact, though, the people closest to him – his wife, lover and kids — are relieved he’s gone. Deneuve’s Suzanne Pujol decides to assume control of the contact talks, during which she proves to be a flexible and efficient negotiator. It helps a bit that the town’s communist mayor (Gerard Depardieu, also carrying some extra weight) understands what’s at stake in the strike and would enjoy spending more time with the woman who lit his fire as a youth. After settling the strike, Suzanne is encouraged to run for political office, which presents other amusing challenges. Based on a popular French stage play, “Potiche” captures the mood, fashions and colors of the period, much in the same way as “Hairspray” echoed Baltimore in the early 1960s. Given that “Potiche” was directed and adapted by the versatile Francois Ozun, it not surprising that such a slight entertainment is as enjoyable as it is.

Alongside a couple of dozen other familiar French stars, Deneuve makes a short, if not terribly memorable appearance in the Bruno Podalydes’ comedy “Park Benches.” Why so many marquee attractions agreed to participate in such a gooey slice of Camembert will remain a mystery as deep as the reputed French obsession with Jerry Lewis films. From what I can tell, though, these kinds of mash-ups aren’t at all unusual, and some are quite delightful. The excuse for so many familiar faces turning up here is Podalydes’ story about the co-mingling of people living and/or working in the immediate vicinity of a small Versailles park, office building and adjacent hardware store. What starts out as yet another excruciatingly normal day, turns interesting when a banner is lowered from the window of an apartment, declaring “Man Alone.” This causes the hearts of three similarly lonely office workers to flutter and other neighbors to react with various degrees of disgust, boredom and giggles. For the next 20 minutes or so, most of the interaction takes place in the park, where an array of moms, kids, old-timers, horny young men, desperate lovers and a homeless perv go about their normal, everyday activities. That angle exhausted, the camera focuses on the activity inside the hardware store, where barely capable sales clerks attempt to help customers with their diverse needs. For her part, Deneuve is in the market for shelves – as if – but gets flustered by the variety. “Park Benches” boasts of having nearly 90 speaking parts for a cast that, besides Her Eminence, includes Mathieu Amalric, Chiara Mastroianni, Josiane Balasko, Michel Aumont, Emmanuelle Devos, Michael Lonsdale and Julie Depardieu. I can’t imagine “Park Benches” tickling most Americans’ funny bones, but French-film buffs could enjoy seeing so many familiar faces in one place. – Gary Dretzka

The Music Room: The Criterion Collection: Blu-ray
Beauty and the Beast: The Criterion Collection

From the porch of his decaying mansion on the banks of the Ganges River, a once powerful feudal zamindar, Biswambhar Roy, literally is able to watch the rest of the world pass him by. It explains why the landlord doesn’t go outside much, anymore. The river has been steadily eroding his holdings and diminishing the revenues his ancestors once used to lavish treasures on their own wives, children and living quarters. Now that he’s sold off the family jewels (his words),the only thing of importance remaining from his glory days is the mansion’s lavishly appointed music room, a few aged servants, an elephant and a white stallion, all of which have seen their better days. There’s no question, Roy is a pitiable character, especially after a quirk of fate claims his wife and son. His un-pedigreed neighbor, “the son of money lender,” has even had the audacity to build a plush new home next-door. Far worse, though, the sounds emanating from the man’s panel truck and electric generator can be heard over the music played for the zamindar by masters of the sitar, tabla, harmonium, dilruba and other traditional Indian instruments. Music is the only vice he affords himself and, now, that pleasure is being stolen from him.

This is the set-up for Satyajit Ray’s 1959 operatic tragedy, “The Music Room,” adapted from a novel by Tarashankar Banerjee. The story is familiar enough to transcend the borders of language, age, cultures, musical genres and performance mediums. What truly distinguishes “The Music Room” from other operas – classical, rock, soap or horse – are the performances Ray’s captured of India’s top professional musicians and dancers. They are the same artists who would have directly inspired Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Alla Rakha and, by extension, George Harrison, the Beatle who introduced the sitar to western ears. To watch them perform, at length, is nothing short of a gift. As Roy withers from age, poverty and envy, the zamindar stages one more glorious concert, to which he invites old friends, peers and his noisy and presumptuous neighbor. In addition to music, Ray affords the landlord an opportunity to hire a dancer, whose performance is electrifying. The Criterion Collection’s Blu-ray edition includes a new digital restoration, with Bengali with English subtitles; a feature-length documentary on Ray, by Shyam Benegal; new interviews with filmmaker Mira Nair and biographer Andrew Robinson; a 1981 French roundtable discussion with Ray, critic Michel Ciment and director Claude Sautet; and a booklet with an essay by critic Philip Kemp and 1963 essay by Ray.

I wonder how many admirers of Disney’s immensely popular animated feature and stage musical, “Beauty and the Beast,” have been inspired to check out Jean Cocteau’s even more magical 1946 adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont’s classic fairy tale. The release of this splendid new Criterion Collection Blu-ray version of the romantic fantasy – itself, to be followed on October 4, 2011, by a DVD/BD/3D/digital Diamond Edition of Disney’s animated musical — provides the perfect excuse for fans to do just that. After all, the 1991 version of “B&B” might never have been made in the same way, if at all, if it weren’t for the ideas put forth by Cocteau, whose take reportedly caused Walt Disney to re-think his own plans for a much-earlier adaptation. On its own, however, the French “Beauty and the Beast” stands as one of the most magical, poetic and romantic films of all time. What the makers of the 1991 “B&B” were able to do using animation techniques, Cocteau accomplished using characters who were costumed, made up and lit to remind audiences of the illusionists’ art. He also went to great lengths to find a house that looked as if it were build in the early 1770s – no small trick, considering the devastation of World War II – and an create an environment similar to the ones rendered by the Flemish masters in their paintings and illustrations that accompanied De Beumont’s tale in books from the period. Criterion’s hi-def digital transfer can be enjoyed on accompanied by the original soundtrack and score, or Philip Glass’ splendid operatic interpretation, presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The set also includes commentaries by film historians Arthur Knight and Sir Christopher Frayling; “Screening at the Majestic,” a 1995 documentary featuring on-location interviews with cast and crew members; an interview with cinematographer Henri Alekan; rare behind-the-scenes photos and publicity stills; a pair of informative making-of pieces; a film restoration demonstration; the original trailer, directed and narrated by director Jean Cocteau; the restoration trailer from 1995; and a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Geoffrey O’Brien. – Gary Dretzka

Small Town Murder Songs
Peter Stormare, one of the medium’s most gifted character actors, gets an opportunity to star as a rural lawman in Ed Gass-Donnelly’s gothic thriller, “Small Town Murder Songs.” Walter’s town is so quiet that the sexually motivated murder of a pretty young woman is the first such crime anyone there can remember. As such, provincial crime experts are brought in to make sure nothing goes wrong. Apparently, too, Walt’s reputation as a hard-ass and troublemaker hasn’t endeared him to longtime residents. Even after being instructed to limit his investigation to canvassing homeowners, the sheriff turns to old acquaintances for information only someone who’s grown up in the area could extract. This includes a surprisingly valuable visit to a strip club, where folks who wouldn’t waste their time on outsiders not only identify the woman from a crime-scene photo, but also trash the alibis of the two most likely suspects. The same thing happens when Walt escorts agents to the family farm, where his brother and dad pretend not to understand English.

“Small Town Murder Songs” was shot along the shores of Conestoga Lake, Ontario, in autumn or early spring, when a low-hanging blanket of thick gray clouds generally covers the sky from morning to night. It is the off-season for tourists and all the residents are pre-occupied with each other’s shortcomings and outsiders aren’t particularly welcome and sinners can’t be trusted. The wrath of God is an omnipresent concern, never any further from the narrative than the chapter intros, which refer to scripture, and a soul-rattling soundtrack. Indeed, our introduction to Walter occurs when he is about to be baptized as a practicing Christian. His new turn-the-other-cheek attitude will be sorely tested by the primary suspect in the murder, a sleazy former biker and drug dealer who’s living with his ex-lover (Jill Hennessy).

Adding greatly to the film’s overwhelmingly foreboding tone are songs by Bruce Peninsula that are equal parts hard-core gospel, death metal and Aboriginal chants. Martha Plimpton also is good as Walter’s wife, who, we suspect, brought him to Jesus. The deleted scenes fill some holes in the narrative and there’s a download function for some of Peninsula’s songs. – Gary Dretzka

Tekken: Blu-ray
If it weren’t for video games, toys and comic books, the world’s megaplexes would have to close their doors during the summer movie season. While it’s true that “Jaws” was, itself, adapted from a best-selling novel, it was required to compete against other, less derivative fare. For better or worse, the creators of popcorn epics tend to put their own stamps on the source material. If not, the results would look pretty much like an unvarnished video game, toy or comic book. Such is the case with the straight-to-DVD “Tekken” (a.k.a., “Iron Fist”), which is based on one of the most popular arcade and PlayStation titles of all time, as well as several iterations of the fighting game, anime movies, manga comic books, soundtrack albums and other activities. The new, live-action adaptation sticks as close to the game’s basic conceit as any adaptation I’ve seen. Basically, it’s a round-by-round re-creation of a “King of the Iron Fist” tournament, with a mere thread of a storyline added to provide inspiration for the underdog hero.

For the uninitiated, Tekken is the most powerful of the corporate nation states that survived a nearly apocalyptic world war. John Foo plays a commoner whose mother was assassinated after teaching him the facts of life in hand-to-hand combat. Determined to avenge her death, Jin Kazama (John Foo) infuriates the big Tekken boss (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and his despicable son, Kazuya (Ian Anthony Dale), by eliminating his top fighters in ways that appear to be divinely inspired. Finally, Jin is pitted in Texas Death Matches with Kazuya’s hand-picked gladiators. Along the way, Jin befriends other competitors willing to risk their lives for the sake of freedom and revenge. Beyond that, the characters are as generic as the fighters in the Namco games. Love it or leave it, that’s all there is to “Tekken.” The can’t-miss bonus featurette introduces French martial-arts master, Cyril Raffaelli (District B13), a remarkably gifted fighter and acrobat who choreographed the action scenes. – Gary Dretzka

In 2006, John Carney stunned the indie world with the low-budget romance “Once,” a truly magical movie about a pair of buskers working the streets of Dublin. Their charming, unassuming songs chronicled the stages of their relationship, which, though it lasted a week, still lingers in the minds of those who experienced it on screen. “Once” practically defines the concept, “a tough act to follow.” Although “Zonad” won’t make anyone forget “Once,” the offbeat sci-fi parody has quirky charms of its own.

Set in picturesque County Winslow, Ireland, where the BBC series “Ballykissangel” also was shot, “Zonad” describes what happens to the residents of a small country town when an extraterrestrial being arrives in their midst. More precisely, he’s discovered curled up on the living-room floor of Cassidy abode, for all appearances drunk as a skunk. Zonad, as he calls himself, may look more like a vine-ripened tomato than E.T. but the villagers are primed and ready for a little magic in their lives and, well, why not? As viewers already know, Zonad is an escapee from alcoholic-rehabilitation center, wearing a red Spandex jumpsuit and bicycle-racer’s helmet. The local ladies fall for his golden singing voice and devilish silver tongue. Among the women Zonad charms is Jenny Cassidy, a pretty blond teenager in full bloom. When Jenny’s prim boyfriend fails to pick up on her broad sexual advances, she turns her lusty attentions to the presumed spaceman, who leads her on with such questions as, “What’s a kiss?”

In fact, watching Zonad (Simon Delany) making out with Jenny is the closest the movie comes to true sci-fi horror. Verbally, at least, little is left to the imagination. (The surprisingly risqué language seems very much out of place in a movie otherwise tame enough for teens and easily offended adults.) The villagers also suspend their disbelief long enough to welcome a second alcoholic “alien,” Bonad, who challenges Zonad to an intergalactic boxing match. Written and directed by Carney and his brother, Kieran, “Zonad” is adapted from their short film of the same name, which co-starred Cillian Murphy. – Gary Dretzka

The Kids Grow Up
In Doug Block’s fascinating documentary, “51 Birch Street” viewers were encouraged to tag along as the filmmaker discovers just how well his parents had concealed from their children the emotional chaos that haunted them throughout their marriage. After the death of Block’s mother, his father stunned his family by almost immediately re-connecting with a former secretary for whom he had been carrying a torch for several decades. Moreover, his mother’s letters and journals revealed a woman far more troubled and unhappy than the one who raised them. The deeply personal film demanded of viewers that they consider, at least, looking into the true nature of their own parents’ relationships and let the chips fall where they may. “The Kids Grow Up” isn’t nearly as harrowing, but it does reveal certain truths about Baby Boomers and how they’ve elected to raise children of their own. It isn’t always a pretty picture.

Here, Block chronicles the senior year in high school and preparations for college of Lucy, the only child produced by he and his wife, Majorie. (He helped raise Marjorie’s son from a previous marriage, but, as if made clear, their relationship was different.) Knowing Lucy will soon reside 3,000 miles from the New York home has traumatized Block far more than the realization has bothered his wife and daughter, who have accepted it as a stepping stone in life. Ever since Lucy was a baby, she’s known Block both as father as that guy behind the camera … the one who incessantly demands to know how she feels about events past, present and yet to come. His collection of films and cassettes are to home movies, what advanced mathematics is to ringing up a sale at the Gap. Within weeks of her graduation, Lucy demands of her dad that he stop filming and stop asking inane questions about boyfriends, possible career paths, how to sit down in tight dresses, passing the driver’s exam and leaving home. Instead, it probably would help family dynamics if he spent more quality time with Marjorie, who probably didn’t appreciate having her most recent nervous breakdown memorialized on film, either.

Deep down, Block isn’t all that much different than other Boomer dads. It’s his addiction to the recording what he considers to be key moments in his life that sets him apart from other parents who only occasionally picked up their Super 8s, camcorders, digital recorders and cell-phone cameras to torment their children. Like them, he would prefer to be his child’s friend, instead of the kind of rigidly autocratic figure he and contemporaries had known their fathers to be. Thus, he treats Lucy’s pending departure as if a close pal had died and neglected to leave him a goodbye letter. His neuroses wear us down as much as they do Lucy and Marjorie. Several critics have said they admire “The Kids Grow Up” for its honest depiction of a filmmaker at loose ends with himself. It’s especially nice to see Block come to grips the choices and limitations of his own father, who’s alive and living in Florida with his former secretary, and Lucy’s ability to bond with the man Block didn’t want to become. – Gary Dretzka

Boyz N the Hood: Blu-ray
The popular and critical success of John Singleton’s coming-of-age drama, “Boyz N the Hood,” opened the floodgates to a second wave of blaxploitation films, this time under the banner of “gangsta” and “hip-hop.” That the movie remains, after 20 years, one of the best of the bunch is tribute to the first-time writer/director’s refreshingly frank and unusually compelling take on life in his own former ’hood. In the mid-1980s, well before the so-called Rodney King riots of 1992, South Central was just another section of Los Angeles ignored by the media and terrorized both by gangs and the LAPD. When viewed from the outside-in, South Central looked very much like any normal blue-collar neighborhood, the majority of whose residents had aspirations similar to people whose day-to-day reality didn’t include drive-by shootings, police harassment and traveling more than 10 miles for such conveniences as supermarkets, movie theaters, parks and social services. The riots proved to outsiders how deceiving looks can be.

“Boyz N the Hood” follows three friends – played by Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube and Morris Chestnut in their feature debuts – as they navigate the mean streets and make decisions that could have extremely serious consequences. To this end, divorced parents played by Laurence Fishburne and Angela Basset are among the very few grown-ups whose advice makes any sense. The new Blu-ray edition looks and sounds pretty good, considering “Boyz” was made on a budget of $6 million, in 1991. (It returned nearly 10 times that amount at the domestic box office.) It includes commentary by Singleton, as well as deleted scenes, audition videos, a making-of featurette, a music video, BD Live compatibility and an assessment of the movie’s historical and cultural significance. It has since been listed in the National Film Registry, which recognizes and protects significant American films. – Gary Dretzka

Peep World: Blu-ray
With an ensemble cast that includes Ron Rifkin, Rainn Wilson, Judy Greer, Michael C, Hall, Kate Mara, Sarah Silverman, Taraji P. Henson, Stephen Tobolowsky, Lesley Ann Warren and Alicia Witt on board, “Peep World” shouldn’t have had to rely on an extended Viagra gag to carry the comic load. Nor should a predictably timed heart attack have been the film’s most dramatic moment. But, there you have it. Rifkin plays a mean-spirited real-estate mogul and patriarch of a family so dysfunctional that the youngest son was able to write a best-selling novel, based primarily on the idiosyncrasies and neuroses of his parents and siblings. Their unhappiness with the portrayals in the book consumes the first half of an annual gathering to celebrate the tardy old man’s birthday. When Daddy Dearest finally arrives, he does so with his lips locked on the face of a stunning redhead (Witt), younger than any of his children. The cast tries its best to keep the movie from collapsing under the weight of Barry W. Blaustein’s clumsy direction and Peter Himmelstein’s self-satisfied script, but it proves to be a Sisyphean task. – Gary Dretzka

Mayor Cupcake
In this innocuous female-entitlement comedy, Lea Thompson plays the finest cupcake baker in a quiet little town called Bridgeville. In a plot contrivance perfectly suited for family-friendly cable networks, Mary Maroni is nominated to run for mayor of the corruption-plagued burg by her daughters, who admire mom’s spunk above anything else. Although she doesn’t win the election, a freak cupcake-related accident allows her to ascend to Bridgeville’s loftiest position. Things begin to unravel, though, when her constituents begin descending on the local coffee shop, demanding she give their problem the highest priority. Most involve a bizarre set of unwritten rules and guidelines imposed by the late mayor and his slick counsel to extract fees from residents and limit their business plans. When she discovers, as well, that the once-thriving town is about to go bankrupt, she imposes cost-saving measures only a tea-bagger could endorse. And, so it goes. “Mayor Cupcake” is a walk in the park for old pro Thompson, who, at the ripe old age of 50, still looks too young to have teenage daughters, two of whom portray her kids in the movie. Judd Nelson, cursed with a mustache most motorcycle cops would consider hideous, plays the dad who apparently is holding back some secrets from his days as a rock ’n’ roller. As these things go, “Mayor Cupcake” is very competently made and should prove reasonably entertaining for parents and kids. – Gary Dretzka

The Girls Next Door: Season Six
Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Big Party Pack
Yo Gabba Gabba!: Party in a Box!
Go Diego Go!: Fiercest Animal Rescues
The I <3 iCarly Collection

The sixth season of “The Girls Next Door” opens with the departure of the previous trio of concubines and introduction of Hef’s replacement girlfriends, Crystal Harris and twins Karissa and Kristina Shannon. All stand about 5-foot-10, without heels, and are as blond as Kendra, Bridgette, Holly and every other “girl next door” since the departure from Hef’s life since Barbi Benton. Crystal takes her role as Girlfriend No. 1 very seriously, knowing she’ll be measured by Hef and viewers against the standards set by Holly, who departed when the geezer admitted he wanted nothing more to do with fatherhood. The Twins, as they’re referred to by everyone except each other, are so ditzy and ignorant of anything that happened before 1995, they make Kendra look like Hillary Clinton. On the other hand, they’re clearly having the time of their then-18-year-old lives and don’t pretend to be any more mature than any other blonds their age. They’re so deceivingly innocent, in fact, it borders on pedophilia for viewers even to imagine them in the sack with them then-83-year-old Playboy founder.

The season ended long before Crystal could break Hef’s heart, five days before their scheduled rendezvous at the altar. That would have been interesting to watch from a vantage point inside the mansion. She seems like a nice kid here, anyway, but not anywhere near as grown-up and attentive to the needs of a much, much older man as Holly. One of the sixth-season’s most entertaining scenarios involve the twins learning how to pole dance for their roles as Stephen Dorff’s eye candy in Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere.” Hef not only has to explain to the girls who Sophia is, but that her father (“Francis Ford who?”) made “The Godfather,” which both agree is one of their favorite movies. For my money, after several arduous weeks of training and rehearsal, their synchronized pole dances were the most impressive thing in “Somewhere.”

Fortunately, the new blonds aren’t required to carry the enter season on their lithe little shoulders, though. They get an assist from Holly on a visit to Las Vegas; Bridget, who asks them to model in a fashion show; Kendra, for whom they throw a baby shower; and Barbi Benton, who recalls the days of roller-disco at the mansion. If No. 6 is the show’s weakest season, it’s only because the girls had yet to make the transition from high school to being the First Ladies of Holmby Hills. This helps explain why the previous girlfriends are nearly as prominent on the cover as the new ones. The DVD adds commentary by the girls, deleted scenes and a bonus pre-quel episode, “Transitions.”

The folks at Nickelodeon have been extremely busy, packaging and repackaging episodes of their most popular kids’ series. This month’s theme at “Yo Gabba Gabba!” and “Dora the Explorer” is the art of hardy partying. Fans are invited to a Gabba Land Dance Party with DJ Lance Rock and the gang in a three-disc, 288-minute DVD package. It contains 12 episodes collected from years’ worth of programming. Besides parties Muno, Foofa, Toodee, Brobee and Plex encourage young’uns to explore ways to prepare for special events and learn from other species how to join in the fun. A bonus, “Meet the Dancey Dance Bunch,” also is included.

Dora’s parties tend to have a Latin flavor, with quinceanera celebrations holding a special place in the lives of any family. Here, Dora’s cousin Daisy is the lucky girl. Besides Dora’s double-length birthday adventure, the episodes include “Super Silly Fiesta!,” “The Big Pinata,” “Surprise,” “The Birthday Wizzle” and “Surprise!” Among the special features are “Dora’s Big Birthday DVD Game,” “Dora’s Super Silly Search Game,” “Dora’s Present Search” game, a “Baby Nick Jr.” music video and “Nicktrition Tips.”

The intended message of “Go Diego Go!: Fiercest Animal Rescues” is that dangerous animals need love, too. Among the critters rescued here are gorillas, bears, hippos, lions, a jaguar, octopus and Pampas cat. The 92-minute set adds an unseen episode.

The new “i <3Carly Collection” is comprised of three previously released compilations, “iFight Shelby Marx,” “iSaved Your Life” and “iSpace Out” and their bonus features. Miranda Cosgrove plays Carly, who hosts her own home-grown web show, “iCarly,” with contributions from her friend Sam (Jennette McCurdy). They include comedy sketches, talent contests, interviews, recipes tips and advice on problem-solving. – Gary Dretzka

Be Sociable, Share!

6 Responses to “The DVD Wrapup: Take Me Home Tonight, Limitless, Potiche, The Music Room, Beauty and the Beast, Small Town Murder Songs …”

  1. Ceola says:

    seems interesting! I bookmarked it, I will read it later. keep up the good work fellas!

  2. kladionica says:

    Its such as you learn my mind! You seem to grasp so much about this, such as you wrote the e book in it or something. I believe that you could do with some p.c. to pressure the message house a bit, but instead of that, that is fantastic blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.

  3. Nice weblog right here! Also your web site a lot up fast! What host are you the use of? Can I am getting your affiliate link for your host? I want my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

  4. euromillions says:

    Nice weblog right here! Additionally your website loads up very fast! What web host are you the usage of? Can I get your affiliate hyperlink on your host? I want my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  5. Great post. I was checking continuously this weblog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful info particularly the ultimate part 🙂 I deal with such information a lot. I was seeking this particular info for a very lengthy time. Thank you and good luck.

  6. It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the long run and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this publish and if I may just I wish to suggest you some fascinating things or tips. Perhaps you could write next articles regarding this article. I wish to read even more things approximately it!


Gary Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Ophelia, Ambition, Werewolf in Girls' Dorm, Byleth, Humble Pie, Good Omens, Yellowstone …More

rohit aggarwal on: The DVD Wrapup: Ophelia, Ambition, Werewolf in Girls' Dorm, Byleth, Humble Pie, Good Omens, Yellowstone …More on: The DVD Wrapup: Diamonds of the Night, School of Life, Red Room, Witch/Hagazussa, Tito & the Birds, Keoma, Andre’s Gospel, Noir

Gary Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Sleep With Anger, Ralph Wrecks Internet, Liz & Blue Bird, Hannah Grace, Unseen, Jupiter's Moon, Legally Blonde, Willard, Bang … More

Gary Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Bumblebee, Ginsburg, Buster, Silent Voice, Nazi Junkies, Prisoner, Golden Vampires, Highway Rat, Terra Formars, No Alternative … More

GDA on: The DVD Wrapup: Bumblebee, Ginsburg, Buster, Silent Voice, Nazi Junkies, Prisoner, Golden Vampires, Highway Rat, Terra Formars, No Alternative … More

Larry K on: The DVD Wrapup: Sleep With Anger, Ralph Wrecks Internet, Liz & Blue Bird, Hannah Grace, Unseen, Jupiter's Moon, Legally Blonde, Willard, Bang … More

Gary Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Shoplifters, Front Runner, Nobody’s Fool, Peppermint Soda, Haunted Hospital, Valentine, Possum, Mermaid, Guilty, Antonio Lopez, 4 Weddings … More

gwehan on: The DVD Wrapup: Shoplifters, Front Runner, Nobody’s Fool, Peppermint Soda, Haunted Hospital, Valentine, Possum, Mermaid, Guilty, Antonio Lopez, 4 Weddings … More

Gary J Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Peppermint, Wild Boys, Un Traductor, Await Instructions, Lizzie, Coby, Afghan Love Story, Elizabeth Harvest, Brutal, Holiday Horror, Sound & Fury … More

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon