MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

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

Peppermint: Blu-ray
This isn’t Jennifer Garner’s first rodeo, playing an action heroine. Judging from the meager box-office returns for Peppermint, however, the 46-year-old mother of three might not be too anxious to play another one anytime soon. In Pierre Morel’s paint-by-numbers vigilante thriller, Garner plays Riley North, whose husband and young daughter are gunned down in front of her, on the orders of a drug-cartel boss, because he refused to participate in a transaction. After spending time in a drug-induced coma, Riley agrees to testify against the assailants, who she identified from a lineup. Before the case even reaches a jury, the gunmen are inexplicably cleared by the judge. After laying low for several years, preparing to exact her own justice on the people who killed her family, Riley returns to town a trained killer and martial-arts expert. At 5-foot-8, Garner is no less credible a vigilante than Liam Neeson, at 6-4. In no time at all, Riley mows her way through the underbrush of cartel, legal and judicial flunkies she blames for allowing the guilty punks to walk free. A bit more planning will be necessary to eliminate the gang’s top dogs and an unspecified police detective aligned with them. According to the people who keep track of such trivia, Riley kills 43 people in Peppermint, including five more off-screen. Although Morel (Taken) and writer Chad St. John (London Has Fallen) devised some entertaining assassinations for Riley to execute, such over-the-top violence no longer shocks action-genre audiences. The final confrontation is even less surprising. J.J. Abrams, creator of “Alias” (2001), made far better use of Garner’s physical gifts and dance background. Riley also is far less interesting than the neurotic character she plays in the offbeat HBO comedy, “Camping.” I would pay good money, however, to watch the former Mrs. Affleck channel her character in Peppermint and kick the crap out of the paparazzi who constantly dog her family. The Blu-ray adds the featurette, “Justice,” and commentary by Morel.

The Wild Boys
Bertrand Mandico’s debut feature, The Wild Boys, is the kind of movie that causes a sensation at film festivals – fantasy, underground, LGBTQ – but doesn’t have a prayer of finding distribution beyond the most adventurous of arthouse theaters. Maybe in the late-’60s and early-’70s, but not since then, really. As marketing budgets began to approach those of production costs, the risks required of exhibitors to find audiences for niche titles became prohibitive. Worse, in the ’00s, when newspapers and magazines began laying off serious critics, space once reserved for coverage of indie, foreign and documentary titles disappeared, as well. Today, the good news comes in knowing that the vacuum is being filled by independent distributors and streaming services that have figured out how to sate the appetite of arthouse audiences and not go broke trying … not that several haven’t. The Wild Boys found its way into my mailbox without any fanfare, whatsoever. I knew nothing of Mandico’s previous work and, in any case, I try not to read reviews before I slide a DVD into the slot. I thought I was ready for anything, but I wasn’t prepared for The Wild Boys.

It opens with a flash-forward, on a beach, where a group of debauched sailors attack the first person they see – an androgynous blond boy, who appears to have a single female breast and penis – ravishing him as if he were a piece of meat and they were a pack of feral dogs. The story then takes a step backward in time to an open-air classroom, where five adolescent boys are reciting lines from “Macbeth,” under the watchful eye of their teacher. Curiously, they’re wearing masks reminiscent of those worn by cannibals in Borneo, while attacking a rival tribe. When the boys tire of the exercise, they turn on the teacher (Nathalie Richard), ripping off her expensive clothes and raping her. Finally, they tie her naked body to the back of a white horse and let it wander away. As it turns out, these wild, unrepentant boys are all from good families and acting, they believed, as agents of the deity of chaos, TREVOR, who came to them in the form of a bejeweled skull. They told the court that their teacher had gotten them drunk and enticed them with her beauty, which, of course, is a lie. Nonetheless, they are turned over to the brutal Le Capitaine (Sam Louwyck), skipper of a 19th Century schooner, Cold World. He’s widely known for an ability to pacify disobedient youths and for setting them on the straight-and-narrow path. It’s better for their  parents not to ask too many questions about how he accomplishes it. Their destination is a tropical Arcadia – the coordinates are tattooed on his penis — that, normally, would fit most people’s concept of an island paradise. (It was filmed on Reunion Island.) As the captain leads the boys through the lush, overgrown jungle, past cascading waterfalls and steep cliffs created by volcanic eruptions, it only appears as if their ordeal is ending. The foliage is either distinctly phallic – discharging a milky ambrosia that nourishes and sedates – or it approximates the spread legs of a woman with engorged vulva. Le Capitaine encourages his captives to take advantage of the flora’s properties, while they can. The island’s sensory peculiarities and erotic pleasures disguise the fact that their ordeal is only just beginning.

While the other boys sleep and dream, Hubert (Diane Rouxel) follows Le Capitaine on one of his strolls to a small pond, where he’s greeted by a mysterious scientist, Séverine (Elina Löwensohn), to whom he delivers candidates for her research. When Hubert is caught spying on their violent coupling, he runs into the adhesive webbing of a large plant, not unlike a Venus flytrap, from which he can’t pry himself loose. Séverine explains to Hubert that the island is like a giant oyster, whose reproductive organs contain both eggs and sperm, and she’s the pearl. She will take him under her wing, while the other boys head for the boat for the transformative voyage home. Although they aren’t completely aware of the changes, the boys (all of whom are played by young actress with short hair) are developing breasts and losing their manhood … literally and figuratively. Shortly after leaving the island, a storm nearly causes the ship to capsize. In the turmoil, the boys expend what’s left of their virility to mutiny. Instead of home, however, the storm carries them back to the island, where the truth finally hits them. In the case of Tanguy (Anaël Snoek), the boy on the beach in the opening scene, the metamorphosis is only halfway successful. All along, Mandico and DP Pacale Granel’s palette alternates between black-and-white and color imagery, although I don’t exactly know why one is chosen over the other. The writer/director (“Prehistoric Cabaret”) admits to being an avid student of Polish surrealist Walerian Borowczyk (Goto, Island of Love), which makes sense, and thanks William Burroughs and Jules Verne in the end credits. Mandico’s in-camera effects in b&w will remind cinephiles of Jean Cocteau, while he probably also owes a debt to Alejandro Jodorowsky, Luis Buñuel, André Breton, Guy Maddin, Jean Genet and, of course, William Golding (“Lord of the Flies”). The Wild Boys is decidedly not for everyone, but what is, anymore? The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes, fold-out-poster insert and reversible artwork.

Un Traductor
It isn’t often that American audiences are exposed to the everyday lives of middle-class Cubans and issues affecting them, beyond the struggle to find enough decent food to buy in stores and find safe ways to exit the island. Much of what happens in Rodrigo and Sebastián Barriuso’s directorial debut, Un Traductor, from a script by Lindsay Gossling, takes place in a neighborhood that resembles a suburb in the U.S. or Europe. You know it’s Cuba by the ancient American automobiles, held together by duct tapes and dozens of coats of paint. In the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Malin (Rodrigo Santoro), a Russian literature professor at the University of Havana, is sent to a respected local hospital to translate between Cuban doctors and children sent from the USSR for medical treatment. Torn from the abstract world of academia and forced into the relentlessly real world of medicine, Malin becomes increasingly depressed. The hours don’t correspond to those when if wife and son are at home, and many of the children suffering from radiation poisoning will die, thousands of miles from home, some without their parents at their side. The hospital, we’re told, is one of the best facilities in the world for such patients to be treated, but the extent of the damage is obvious on their bodies and in their eyes. When Malin’s wife, Isona (Yoandra Suárez), becomes pregnant, against his wishes, a rift between them grows to the breaking point.

It is at about this point in the narrative when Malin discovers something redemptive in his work that benefits himself and the patients, if not Isona directly. By encouraging the kids to record their thoughts and observations in words and art, he’s able to utilize his skills and bring them a modicum of happiness. By this time, however, Isona and their son have moved out of the house. Coincidentally, in eastern Europe, the Iron Curtain is being demolished by proponents of freedom and democracy. This causes a panic in Cuba, whose economy was, for decades, propped up by the Soviet Union. With the Cold War over, it isn’t likely that Moscow will continue its expensive investment in the blockaded isle. Malin uses the lessons he learns at the hospital, working with the children and their parents, to attempt to repair the wounds suffered by his wife and son. It allows for a happy ending. The full story doesn’t end there, however. In the epilogue, viewers are informed of the Barriusos’ familial bonds to Malin and Isona and what happened to them in the years that followed. Also good here is Maricel Álvarez, who plays the Argentine nurse to whom Malin is assigned and sometimes finds it necessary to keep him from wallowing in self-pity. The short subject included on the DVD is Rodrigo Barriuso’s award-winning “For Dorian,” in which a father fearfully anticipates the sexual awakening of his son, a teenager living with Down syndrome, and struggles with the notion of letting him grow up on his own terms.

Await Further Instructions
For as long as television audiences have been required to install a set-top box to receive programming from cable, satellite and streaming services, conspiracy theorists have warned that someday they will be able to spy on us. This, in addition to collecting the usual data gathered for Nielsen ratings and viewer demographics. Theoretically, set-top boxes could just as easily control what channels and commercials we watch, and decide the shows recorded on our VCRs. As far as I know, this dire scenario has yet to materialize, at least to the extent that Facebook and other social-media networks have learned to exploit data-gathering technology. Johnny Kevorkian (The Disappeared), working from a script by freshman screenwriter Gavin Williams, expands the conspiracy theory to lengths explored previously by David Cronenberg in Videodrome. When the software installed in Big Brother’s delivery system decides to take over the lives of unsuspecting consumers, there will be nothing we can do about it. That’s the basic premise behind Await Further Instructions, but the truly scary stuff doesn’t begin until almost 75 minutes into its 91-minute length. Until then, the characters are required to endure a different, if no less disturbing kind of horror.

With Christmas and Boxing Day right around the corner, Nick Milgram (Sam Gittins) agrees to spend the two-day holiday with his family, for the first time in three years. His Anglo-Indian girlfriend, Annji (Neerja Naik), wants to meet his North Yorkshire family and, against his better judgment, he acquiesces. Nick’s father, grandfather, sister and brother are garden-variety British racists and blame immigrants for all the country’s recent ills. His mom’s just happy her son is home and welcomes Annji to their home. Grandpa (David Bradley) is disgustingly upfront with his prejudices. Sister Kate (Holly Weston), who’s pregnant, isn’t at all reluctant to diss foreign-born doctors and nurses, including those who might help deliver her baby in two weeks. Annji explains that she’s a doctor and as much a British citizen as Kate is, but logic never trumps bigotry. While playing Scrabble, Kate goes so far as to challenge Annji’s choice of words she doesn’t recognize. She considers them to be foreign and against the rules. In both instances, she’s wrong. When Nick asks Kate to stop badgering Annji, things go from bad to worse. Early the next morning, when they attempt to escape the madhouse, they’re blocked by an impenetrable barrier that, they’ll learn, covers every window and door. Before long, notices appear on the television advising viewers not to panic and follow subsequent instructions to the letter. This includes injecting themselves with a substance that arrives in previously used syringes and quarantining anyone who refuses to obey. Being a doctor, Annji advises against using the unsanitary needles to inject an unspecified “vaccine” into the arms.

Nick’s martinet father and doofus brother-in-law (Grant Masters, Kris Saddler) demand that everyone in the family obey the orders, no matter that Grandpa gets sick and dies after being injected. They also blame Annji for entering the house with a slight cold and possibly contaminating the family. She begrudgingly agrees to be quarantined, even though she’s the only one there with  medical training. There will be several more instructions to come. Because everything in Await Further Instructions takes place under one roof, it’s impossible for them to know if anyone else in the neighborhood is being affected in the same way or they’re the only ones. In no time, the tension caused by the claustrophobic surroundings becomes almost unbearable. It’s at this point, that Kevorkian unleashes his nightmare scenario and pulls viewers into  it. You’ll never look at your television in the same way, again. The DVD adds interviews and background material.

An Afghan Love Story
Throughout much of the first half of Barmak Akram’s gripping, anti-romantic drama, An Afghan Love Story (a.k.a., “Wajma”), viewers are given reason to hope that the movie’s central dilemma won’t end tragically or thwarted by morality police assigned to enforce Sharia-law dictates. We watch as 20-year-old student, Wajma, cautiously opens her heart to a gregarious waiter, Mustafa, knowing that even a shared kiss in public is forbidden by law. Wajma wears a headscarf or shayla, at all times, but not a burka, niqab or chador as the Taliban would have insisted during their time in power. She travels around the city by herself and attends social functions without  a male escort. Wajma and Mustafa are happy in each other’s company and, eventually, risk cuddling in the apartment he shares with his brothers and mother. They couldn’t have done this at Wajma’s modest home, where her mother and grandmother are mostly housebound, by choice, and fearful of her newfound freedom. It isn’t until later, when the hummus hits the fan, that we learn just how strict her father (Haji Gul Aser) can be when it comes to adhering to Islamic tenets, which include dominating women in his family. It comes as a surprise for us to learn that at some point, off-screen, Wajma gave in to Mustafa’s incessant pleading and had intercourse with him. We learn the truth after reading the look on her face when she submits to a blood test and learns that she’s pregnant. When the news reaches her father, who’s supervising mine-clearing operations outside Kabul, we’re also given a sliver of hope that he’ll adopt a modern position on the situation and spare Wajma the punishments Sharia law dictate for such infractions. Instead, for the crime of disgracing his good name, he whips her with his belt, threatens to kill her and locks her in a shed. He also berates his wife, for permitting their daughter the freedom to go out at night, alone, and their son, for not guarding her against such temptations.

After scanning her cellphone records, the father learns where to find Wajma’s lover. True to his weaselly nature, Mustafa defends himself by pointing out that she wasn’t a virgin when they met each other and, moreover, she can’t prove that he was the only man with whom she had sex during their time together. Typically, women are held responsible for tempting a man to stray, even when it comes to rape. In any case, Mustafa refuses to marry Wajma and that’s that. Instead of beating the wimp into agreeing to marriage, the father takes his complaint to a prosecutor. Although, under certain circumstance, the law would permit him to kill his daughter for committing adultery and dishonoring him, he could jailed and prosecuted for killing the guitar-playing waiter, without eye-witness evidence of them having sex. At this point in An Afghan Love Story, viewers don’t know whether it will end tragically, as we saw in The Stoning of Soraya M. (2008), or sadly, as in such films as A Separation (2011) and Persepolis (2007). We know that abortion is illegal in Afghanistan, but wonder if a compromise, however unsatisfying, might save Wajma from further harm. By this time, viewers will have taken her dilemma to heart and begun to pray that the movie’s absentee God will return in time to save her. Spoiler alert: the prayers and tears with share with Wajma, as the movies comes to a close, won’t necessarily be those triggered great sadness, except as it pertains to the state of the world in 2018.

Elizabeth Harvest: Blu-ray
It’s a conceit that’s stood the test of time, but never feels old: a wealthy gentleman returns to his mansion from somewhere faraway, with his much younger bride in tow. After she bathes and enjoys a lavish meal, he takes her on a tour of her new home. She marvels at the luxurious quarters and such unexpected pleasures as a swimming pool, spa and magnificent views. Approaching a locked door, the man cautions his precocious wife to mind one order: although she’s been given keys to every door, drawer and safe, the woman must never, ever use them to attempt to gain access to this particular room. She’s given no reason for the edict or hint of the room’s contents, but the husband couldn’t sound more adamant. Given that much information, viewers know exactly what’s going to happen as soon as he leaves town on business and the servants have been sent home. In Sebastian Gutierrez’ sumptuous thriller, Elizabeth Harvest, the title character is a tall, willowy redhead, Elizabeth (Abbey Lee), who look like a fashion model who’s just reached the age of consent. Her husband, Henry, a brilliant scientist husband played ominously by Ciarán Hinds – where could they possibly have met? — displays the practiced manners of Count Dracula. The house staff, portrayed by Carla Gugino and Matthew Beard, appear to reserve their opinions of the child bride, as if they’ve witnessed the exact same scenario unfold in the past … which, of course, they have. It should come as no surprise to learn that the forbidden room is where Henry conducts his scientific experiments and there’s a very good reason for wanting to keep them secret from the outside world.

Not only has a security system registered the unlocking of the door, but she’s also left behind evidence of the breach. The twist comes soon thereafter, with the revelation that another young bride, and, perhaps, more than one, opened the same door and paid a steep price for doing so. Why Henry hasn’t devised a better way to secure the room is a question that goes unanswered, except to suggest that the supremely aloof scientist is a sadist with unlimited access to beautiful young redheads. Bingo. Gutierrez and Gugino have collaborated previously on Hotel Noir (2012), Girl Walks into a Bar (2011), Elektra Luxx (2010), Women in Trouble (2009), Rise: Blood Hunter (2007), Judas Kiss (1998) and an episode of “Karen Sisco.” She’s the rare Hollywood actress who alternates between roles in which her characters are sexy, maternal, subservient, heroic, fully clothed throughout and occasionally naked. In Elizabeth Harvest, Gutierrez has reserved most of the scenes requiring graphic nudity and slinky lingerie to Lee, who’s demonstrated her ability to act naked and clothed in Welcome the Stranger (2018) and Neon Demon (2016), and as a road warrior in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). As a vehicle for sci-fi suspense and concrete-and-glass architecture, Elizabeth Harvest reminds me of Ex Machina (2015). Gutierrez has said that he was inspired by the French folktale, “Bluebeard.” The Blu-ray add a making-of featurette.

I Still See You: Blu-ray
Although she’s only recently reached the ripe old age of 21, Bella Thorne already has more than 80 credits listed on the website, dating back to 2003 and not counting the dozens of appearances she’s made as herself in various entertainments. Like so many other graduates of the Disney Channel factory —  she was CeCe Jones on “Shake It Up” – Thorne could hardly wait until she was 18 to cast off her G-rated personae and show off her boobs, piercings, tattoos and lingerie to anyone with an Internet browser. Thorne came out as bisexual in 2015 and, last year, revealed that she was in a relationship with Internet personality Tana Mongeau. Tres, tres naughty. Although she’s blessed with  long red hair, Thorne went Goth in Scott Speer’s supernatural thriller, I Still See You, sporting a spooky black wig, and clothes that are best described as fashionably drab. Adapted from Daniel Waters’ novel “Break My Heart One Thousand Times,” by screenwriter Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift), I Can Still See You is a ghost story for the YA audience, in which the spirits of people killed in an explosive chemical disaster, 10 years earlier, co-mingle with the living and don’t worry much about being seen by more than one human at a time. Some of the non-sentient “remnants” reappear at specific times each day, repeating patterns engrained in them before they died. Early on, high school student Veronica Calder (Thorne) asks her mother why they don’t acknowledge her dead father’s daily presence at their breakfast table reading the newspaper and minding his own business. Another remnant, Brian (Thomas Elms), takes the liberty of making himself known to Veronica while she’s taking a shower at home. After Thorne befriends local bad boy Kirk (Richard Harmon), they set out to solve a mystery involving the murder of Pastor Greer’s daughter, Mary, for which Brian has long been blamed. The evidence: he’s weird and was found dead, apparently of suicide, on the same day as the girl was killed. Case closed. The teen sleuths enlist Brian’s assistance in figuring out what really happened to Mary and other girls who’ve gone missing. It takes them into a netherworld, between heaven and earth, inhabited by ghosts who’ve yet to come to grips with their own demise. It’s a promising premise, but I think Speer wrestled with staying true to the novel and its many interrelated storylines and it impacted negatively on the sustainability of tension. Because I Still See You lasted little more than a heartbeat in theaters – doing better in foreign markets – it begs the question as to whether the less-than-than dynamic Thorne can open a picture, or she should stick to making music videos, such as “Bella Thorne: Pussy Mine” “Bella Thorne: GOAT” and “Bitch I’m Bella Thorne.” Co-stars also include Dermot Mulroney, Amy Price-Francis and Hugh Dillon. The Blu-ray adds commentary with Speer and Thorne; deleted scenes, with Speer’s optional commentary; and the featurettes, “Remnants: Manifesting I Still See You” and “Break My Heart 1,000 Times: Novel to Screen.”

The Sound and the Fury
Although his artistic ambitious aren’t always rewarded with critical praise, no one should criticize James Franco for going where most Hollywood filmmakers and studio executives fear to tread. No one throws great sums of money at him, or twists his arm, to faithfully adapt novels that most people agree are unfilmable or dramatize the trials and tribulations of poets, such as Hart Crane, Alan Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski. Made in 2014 and only now released on DVD here, Franco’s take on William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury followed directly in the wake of his As I Lay Dying, with 15 other films, TV shows and shorts falling in between them on his resume. Yet to come are performances in “A Rose for Emily” and “Mississippi Requiem,” a collection of four short films based on Faulkner stories. The Sound and the Fury is set in Jefferson, a town in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. It centers on the Compsons, former Southern aristocrats, struggling to deal with the dissolution of their wealth and family, their tarnished reputation and once-expansive property. The novel and movie reveal the secrets and betrayals that have diminished the family name and continue to haunt the Compson children. Franco plays Benjy, the mentally impaired brother of Jason IV (Scott Haze) and Quentin Compson (Jacob Loeb). No one in the family is particularly normal – unless one considers the family’s longtime servant, Dilsey (Loretta Devine) – and Benjy’s facial deformities and barely existent IQ have must him a pariah within his own family. He has no friends, except for Dilsey’s son, who enjoys taunting and scaring Benjy when he’s unable to follow directions. The story is loosely told from four different points of view, with occasional visits paid by characters played by Tim Blake Nelson, Ahna O’Reilly,  Joey King , Janet Jones, Dwight Henry, Danny McBride and Seth Rogen. The critics weren’t terribly impressed by either adaptation, but most gave Franco for trying, anyway.

Lizzie: Blu-ray
The events leading up to the ax murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, on August 4, 1892, inside the house at 92 Second Street, in Fall River, Massachusetts, have been dramatized and analyzed so often that it hardly seems possible to find anything new there. And, while Craig William Macneill’s historical drama, Lizzie, from a screenplay by Bryce Kass, doesn’t shed much new light on one of this country’s most notorious crimes, it offers plenty to recommend it. In the same way that “Masterpiece” uses superior staging and first-class acting to breathe new life into period dramas, Lizzie benefits most from the performances of Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart, as the presumed killer, Lizzie, and the family’s Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan, respectively. Jamey Sheridan plays the verbally and sexually abusive Andrew Borden, whose wealth can be attributed, in part, to his notoriously extreme thriftiness and greed. Lizzie’s dowdy stepmother, Abby, is played by the formidable Irish actress Fiona Shaw, and her largely absentee sister, Emma, is portrayed by Kim Dickens. Adding to the intrigue is her devious and possibly culpable Uncle John, played by Denis O’Hare. At the narrative’s core is the growing love between Lizzie and Bridget, whose only real connection is their loathing for Andrew. When they’re together, however, sparks fly. One would vouch for the other in court and, according to the epilogue, at least, remain lovers for a short time afterwards. It’s the most theoretical aspect to the story.

New Wave: Dare to Be Different
There was a time, not so long ago, when AM radio ruled the airwaves and FM radio was reserved for pay-for-play shows catering to  ethnic communities, who used it as a combination jukebox and community bulletin board. After the first British Invasion, handfuls of rock-’n’-roll obsessives took over the FM bandwidths to play the music they wanted to hear, without commercial interruptions or concern for the length of an individual cut. It flourished to the point where radio manufacturers found it necessary to add an FM band to the AM stations that once dominated air play. By the mid-1970s, however, corporate interests took control of free-form radio stations and turned them into imitations of the overly formatted AM stations young people rejected a decade earlier. Today, of course, streaming services and Internet stations answer the demands of radio listeners, who turned to tape decks and satellite radio to meet their demands. Ellen Goldfarb’s nostalgia-inducing New Wave: Dare to Be Different documents the rise and fall of one of the most groundbreaking stations of the FM era. In spring of 1970, a couple of aspiring rock deejays on Long Island decided to take a page from Radio Luxembourg and England’s offshore stations, which broke the BBC’s cultural blockade on pop music years earlier. At the time, WLIR-FM served a small audience of classical-music buffs and Broadway-musical lovers. Its range was miniscule by AM standards, but its audience was demographically correct. Throughout the decade, it found an audience playing album-oriented and progressive rock, with laid-back disc jockeys, and live concerts. As the station’s popularity grew, its focus shifted to punk rock and new-wave genres, but it lost talent to larger stations in the metro area.

In August 1982, program director Denis McNamara advanced another format shift, this one conforming to WLIR’s Dare to Be Different campaign. Its flexible playlist added new wave, synthpop, post-punk, early alternative rock acts and novelty records. Once again, the jocks would do an end run around the mega-stations in New York City, their inflexible programmers and label weasels, who released cuts from foreign and regional sensations on their own timetables. It out-hustled the biggies by having records from emerging acts in England flown into the U.S. and picked up at local airports, almost immediately after they broke across the pond. It put LI listeners on the same page as their counterparts in Europe. As WLIR’s profits grew, so did interest in a long-simmering battle with the FCC over its 15-year “temporary” license. In 1987, it became a victim of its own success. Although the story doesn’t end there, New Wave: Dare to Be Different does. Goldfarb rounded up program director Denis McNamara, the ’LIR crew and prominent artists of the period to tell the story of how they battled the FCC, record labels, corporate-radio and all the conventional rules to create a musical movement that brought New Music to Long Island. Among the artists represented in New Wave: Dare to Be Different are Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, U2, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, Blondie, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, The Clash and The Cure. The DVD adds extended interviews with musicians, deejays and executives. The problem is that Goldfarb pretty much ignores the station’s decade-earlier success and similar strategies employed by Los Angles’ KROQ and other alternative stations already promoting British groups. It’s not their story, however. In 2009, Richard Curtis’s Pirate Radio dramatized the offshore revolution by British deejays, who, in the 1960s, broadcast from derelict ships in the English Channel and North Sea and forced the BBC to recognize rock music and its fans.

Deadman Standing
If, Heaven forfend, CBS Entertainment ever decides to reboot its “Gunsmoke” franchise, it would have to do so without James Arness and Amanda Blake in tow. The producers of Deadman Standing, which arrived on DVD this week, inadvertently pose a solution to that dilemma.  Based on the actual Gunfight at Hyde Park, in 1871, in Newton, Kansas, the straight-to-DVD movie describes a massacre that produced one of the highest casualty counts of any gunfight in the Old West. Newton isn’t all that far from Dodge City, after all, and it’s conceivable that Viva Bianca’s red-haired brothel-owner, Rosie, could be the love child of Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty. Luke Arnold’s staunch lawman, Mike McCluskie (Luke Arnold)   and his tubercular deputy, James Riley (Quinn Lord), who reportedly registered the highest body count, wouldn’t be around to fill Marshall Dillon’s shoes, either. Perhaps, though, a stepchild or nephew could be invented to wear the star and be Rosie’s confidante and secret lover. As it is, however, Deadman Standing presents a reasonably entertaining re-construction of the events that led to the shootout. In it, the burnt-out McCluskie is forced to protect his town as the deepening divide between railroad workers and Texas cattlemen terrorizing the citizens of Hyde Park grows to crisis proportions. McCluskie calls on the support of Rosie and terminally ill Riley, to encourage citizens to rally against the gun-crazy Anderson family, who’ve used the railroad tracks to divide the city in half and can’t stand being told what to do. When one of the sons is humiliated in a standoff and incarcerated, the old man swears to take it out on anyone who stands in his way. Hence, the shootout. As has become the norm in contemporary Westerns, all the male characters look as if they haven’t visited their local barber since they reached puberty or, for that matter, only take baths and change clothes when Rosie’s unusually gorgeous prostitutes insist on it. While it adds an air of verisimilitude to the movie, the characters’ intensely shaggy visages make one feel sorry for the whores, one of whom (Aly Mang) is sliced up by one of the Andersons. One thing leads to another and the sickly deputy – who’s fallen in love with the defiled prostitute – is the last man standing.

A Moment in the Reeds
My Best Friend
Once again, this week, releases of interest to the LGBTQ community have arrived in DVD, thanks to the efforts of foreign-based filmmakers and niche distributors here. French-based Christian Sonderegger’s Coby chronicles his American half-brother’s transition from Suzanna Hunt to Coby Hunt. It combines excerpts from Coby’s ongoing Internet diary with candid, heartfelt interviews from his closest friends, co-workers and family members. Although Suzanna/Coby’s parents admit to resisting their child’s decision early, their attitudes had changed substantially by the time Sonderegger’s imported production team arrived in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. They still, at first glance, occasionally see the girl in Coby, before they recognize the man he’s become, but, then, so does he. The most surprising moments come when Coby’s girlfriend tells him that any thoughts of their bringing a child into the world would be fulfilled if he agreed to use his still-viable ovaries to carry it, a proposition that he explores. Apart from the divisive debate that our President has injected into the debate, Coby provides a refreshingly intimate and sensitive look at the timely subject. When Coby finally is recognized formally as male, and he’s required to register for the draft, it’s difficult not to see the irony in President Trump’s bigoted decision to reverse past gains in that area. While trans-men and trans-women seemingly are obligated to register for the draft, they could be forbidden from serving if it’s ever re-instituted. The Film Movement DVD includes deleted scenes.

In writer/director Mikko Makela’s feature debut, A Moment in the Reeds, Leevi (Janne Puustinen) takes a break from his Paris studies to help his estranged father renovate the family’s lake house in Savitaipale, Finland. The tension between them is palpable, if understated on Leevi’s part. The largely affectless old man, however, can’t resist taunting his son over his lack of skills, when it comes to carpentry and other manly pursuits. Jouko (Mika Melender) blames Leevi’s inadequacies for having to hire an immigrant Syrian handyman – trained as an architect – to expedite the work. Jouko immediately doubts that Tareq (Boodi Kabbani) is up for the task, simply because of the color of his skin. That opinion will change when Tareq readily agrees to Jouko’s demands for long hours – this far north in the hemisphere, the summer sun tends to linger in the sky —  and meets his specifications for precise measures and carpentry. It will come as no surprise to viewers, when, after Jouko leaves to attend to business in the city, the blond-haired, ivory-skinned Leevi becomes closer-than-close friends with the handsome young handyman. Their graduation into a sexual relationship comes after sharing a sauna, bathing in the lake and listen to Jouko’s old 78s. They discuss what it’s like to be gay in a country whose laws are dedicated by Islamic principles and having fundamentalist parents. No matter how cold it gets in Finland, Tareq is afforded the freedom to live on his terms. He wonders what it’s like to live in Paris, where racism is far less an issue than it is Scandinavia. Jouka’s appreciation of Tareq’s work supersedes his suspicions over their growing friendship and sleeping provisions. When, however, he returns from the city early and notices that some scheduled painting hadn’t been done, the racist and homophobic garbage rises to the surface. Some viewers might attribute Jouko’s slow burn to Finnish cultural norms, and Makela probably would agree that he fits certain stereotypes. That includes firing Tareq on the spot and refusing to pay him for work done and providing him with a reference. Leevi’s reaction to the rant also is predictably sad, as a growing friendship was nipped in the bud and his estrangement from Jouko probably will now be permanent. Whether Tareq will ever be accepted as a hard-working immigrant in his adopted country, or as a homosexual by his family, when and if they survive the refugees’ flight from Syria to Finland, is left open to question. The pastoral setting for romance and drama could hardly be lovelier in this Wild Beast DVD/Blu-ray.

In Martín Deus and Breaking Glass’ My Best Friend, Lorenzo (Angelo Mutti Spinetta) is a quiet teenager living with his family in Argentinian Patagonia, which, while incredibly beautiful, exists at the edge of the known world. One day, Lorenzo’s father announces that a friend’s son, Caíto (Lautaro Rodríguez), will be arriving soon from the north and move in with them while his parents sort out a tricky situation back home. It’s rocky going at first and the boys don’t have much in common, but Lorenzo makes excuses for Caito when his parents try and fail to maintain a curfew and other house rules. As the macho guest lowers his emotional barriers, Lorenzo learns the real reason Caito was forced to leave home and will have a difficult time returning to Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, Caito’s predicament forces Lorenzo’s parents to reopen a dark chapter of their past, which they would rather not remember.

Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days: Blu-ray
As fans of Pacific Rim fantasy epics might already know, Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days is Kim Yong-hwa’s sequel to his hugely popular holiday feature, Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017), which, itself, was adapted from the well-known Korean webtoon, “Along With the Gods.” Being shot back-to-back allowed a quick and profitable turnaround for the follow-up. In the original, firefighter Kim Ja-hong (Cha Tae-Hyun) died heroically while saving a child in a great blaze. After being taken to the afterlife by three guardians, Kim’s still required to pass seven trials necessary to prove he lived a noble life and will he be allowed to reincarnate. Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days picks up where “The Two Worlds” left off, with several trials still awaiting completion. In doing so, Kim and the guardians come face to face with the buried truth of their tragic time on Earth, a thousand years ago, culminating in a final battle with a rogue deity. We learn more about the past lives of the guardians, while being introduced the new gods, including Ma Dong-seok’s Kitchen God. For the record, the seven trials required of Kim take place in (in order):Hell of Murder, where judges determine if your past actions influenced someone’s death; Hell of Indolence, where judges determine if the noble life given to the subject was wasted; Hell of Deceit, where lies told in one’s life are measured; Hell of Injustice, which investigates a candidate’s refusal to help those in need, especially for selfish gains; Hell of Betrayal, for the cold-hearted souls, who betrayed another’s faith or trust; Hell of Violence, where physical attacks on others are judged; and Hell of Filial Impiety, which determines if the candidate  dishonored or disrespected parents, elders and ancestors. Both films feature extravagant special effects and CGI. Bother are available in DVD/Blu-ray from Well Go USA. The bonus material adds character introductions and a production documentary.

Call of the Undead
Brutal: Blu-ray
Freshman filmmaker Joe Chen’s Call of the Undead, from the always dependable Wild Eye Releasing (Jurassic Shark, Mrs. Claus), easily transcends the so-bad-it’s-good distinction, by being so bad, it’s hysterical … an instant classic. It’s good/bad in the same way that Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966) was good/bad. For those who only know him from allegations of child abuse and other reported indiscretions, Allen made his directorial debut by taking the Japanese action film, Key of Keys (1965), and re-dubbing it to make the plot revolve around a secret egg-salad recipe. I don’t know what Chen had in mind when he made Call of the Undead, but the translation into English provides only half the hilarity. The rest comes in a Zombie Apocalypse non-thriller whose plot required a bevy of hot topless ghouls, a drug-dealing fatso cut from the mold of Gary Oldman’s, Drexl Spivey, in True Romance (1993), and a gigantic SOS formation created from dead bodies. And, that’s only for starters. A virus breaks out in a cartel-controlled city, either in Japan or Taiwan (it’s hard to tell which one), turning its residents into violent, bloodthirsty maniacs. The military teams dispatched to evacuate residents quickly become trapped between the violent criminals and an army of undead. When the obese leader of the cartel, surrounded by cocaine-snorting, barely dressed women, realizes that he can’t stave off the zombies, alone, he offers to lend his soldiers to the army to fight their way through the city before the infected can stop them. If that weren’t enough, several of the heavily armed female soldiers are dressed in uniforms that could double for go-go outfits. The dubbed dialogue is every bit as ludicrous. It’s impossible to say with any certainty whether what’s being said in English mirrors that of what Chinese or Japanese audiences heard in its original state, but I doubt if a different script would have made things that much more coherent. In any case, it’s perfect the way it is.

Far less amusing, but every bit as outrageous is Takashi Hirose’s Brutal, which combines torture-porn aesthetics with grindhouse visuals to create a story that’s shocking, if not terribly disturbing, unless one cares about the future of the horror genre. Gallons of fake blood are spilled in a story about a seriously overweight and antisocial serial killer who toys with the women he captures before bludgeoning and stabbing them to death. Rape isn’t part of the punishment, for reasons that will become obvious later in the 83-minute bloodbath. On the other side of town, a beautiful young woman is doing the same things for disturbingly similar reasons. Naturally, the psychopaths find each other and attempt to work out their problems in the only way they know how. Alas, that’s all Brutal has to offer viewers. Some might think that the big reveal is worth the effort it takes to get there, but … well, I wouldn’t want to share the same Uber with them on the way home. The DVD adds a somewhat useful behind-the-scenes featurette and three music videos.

Silent Night, Deadly Night, Part 2: Collector’s Edition: Blu-ray
Maniac: 3-Disc Limited Edition: Blu-ray
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation: Collector’s Edition: Blu-ray
The Mangler: Blu-ray
Death House
Evil Dead 2: Blu-ray/4K UHD
Christmas may not be the season for movies that are soaked in blood, gore and horror, but that hasn’t stopped distributors of restored classics — I use the word advisedly – from running them up the flag pole and seeing who salutes them. Bored Internet bloggers have even begun sending out their lists of the 10, 17 or 25 Best Christmas Horror Movies, some stretching the premise to include Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, The Gingerdead Man, Die Hard and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Among the titles mentioned most often is Silent Night, Deadly Night, Part 2 (1987), which basically recaps the events of the original and adds hardly anything new of its own. Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) and Black Christmas (1974) are generally credited with inventing the seasonal horror/slasher subgenre, with Halloween (1978), following in their wake. It wasn’t until Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) inspired parents’ groups and feminists to picket theaters showing the film and spark boycotts that a new holiday tradition was born. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, who’d previously condemned I Spit on Your Grave, went as far as to read names of the film’s production team on their show. You can’t buy that kind of publicity, at least when it comes to a film’s afterlife in VHS, DVD, Laserdisc and, even today, in Blu-ray and 4K UHD (Halloween). Silent Night, Deadly Night, Part 2 arrived three years after the original caused such a clamor that all the film’s TV ads and trailers, showing Santa Claus carrying an ax, were pulled off the networks. “SN/DN” was yanked from theaters only after it turned a profit in its limited release. The fracas didn’t preclude the producers from turning “SN/DN” into a successful direct-to-video franchise, especially in VHS.

Lee Harry’s Silent Night, Deadly Night, Part 2 was produced for significantly less money than the original and wasn’t even able to recoup its meager nut. That’s probably because opening-night viewers warned friends that “SN/DN2” largely relied on recapping the events depicted in “SN/DN,” recycling entire scenes in the process. The sequel is told through the eyes of the first killer’s brother, Ricky (Eric Freeman), who, after being released from a mental hospital, vows to avenge Billy’s death by settling scores with Mother Superior. Even the sight of someone in a Santa Claus costume is enough to trigger Ricky’s murderous impulses. The new Scream Factory edition, which sports a 2K remaster from an archival theatrical print, adds new commentary with Harry, actors Freeman and James Newman; “Slay Bells Ring Again: The Story of Silent Night, Deadly Night 2,” featuring interviews with cast and crew members; “Garbage Days Are Here Again,” a look at the film’s locations and most quotable line; “Ricky Today,” a short film, featuring a 2018 interview with Freeman; “I Don’t Sleep,” an extended interview with makeup-effects-artist Christopher Biggs; as well as some vintage material.

William Lustig’s ultraviolent, Maniac (1980), caused an even greater disturbance than “SN/DN,” with women’s rights advocates, Siskel and Ebert joining the  protests and calls for boycotts, due to its mass slaughter and scalping of female characters. And, yes, it’s every bit that vile. None of it completely detracted from Joe Spinell’s bravura portrayal of Frank Zito, a deeply disturbed man, haunted by the traumas of unspeakable childhood abuse. When these horrific memories begin to scream inside his mind, Frank prowls the seedy streets of New York City to stalk and slaughter innocent young women. Things begin looking up for Zito, when he hooks up with a beautiful fashion photographer (Caroline Munro), but, as usual, he blows it. There’s no understating the gruesome nature of the atrocities here, even if the protests didn’t prevent Lustig from directing such splatter flicks as Vigilante and a trio of Maniac Cop movies. Blue Underground presents Maniac in a brand-new 4K Restoration, from its recently discovered 16mm original camera negative; an original musical soundtrack CD, with a score by Jay Chattaway; commentaries with Lustig and co-producer Andrew W. Garroni, and Lustig, with special makeup-effects artist Tom Savini, editor Lorenzo Marinelli, and Spinell’s assistant Luke Walter; outtakes; “Returning to the Scene of the Crime,” with Lustig; “Anna and the Killer” interview with Munro; a Maniac 2 promo reel; 49-minute featurette, “The Joe Spinell Story”; a collectable booklet, with a new essay by author Michael Gingold; vintage interviews for TV and radio; and 41-minute, “Maniac Controversay.”

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation: Collector’s Edition” returns in an 87-minute theatrical cut and 93-minute director’s cut. I missed it the first time around, in 1994, and wasn’t prepared for Matthew McConaughey’s wild portrayal of Vilmer, the crippled psychopath, and Renée Zellweger’s turn as the mousy victim of the demented family.  Like the 1974 original, a shortage of nudity is compensated for by a surfeit of gore and violence, which is rendered in nearly comedic fashion. It adds fresh commentary with writer/director Kim Henkel, on the director’s cut; “The Buzz Is Back,” an interview with DP Levie Isaacks; “Marked for Death,” an interview with actor Tyler Shea Cone; “If Looks Could Kill: The Return of a Chainsaw Massacre,” an interview with special makeup-effects artist J.M. Logan and production designer Deborah Pastor; and a stills gallery.

Tobe Hooper and Anant Singh’s adaptation of a yet-another Stephen King short story, The Mangler, may qualify as the horror genre’s first steampunk thriller, as it largely takes place in an ancient laundry facility, where linens are steamed, pressed and folded by a machine possessed by the devil. A dogged cop (Ted Levine) begins investigating the owner (Robert Englund) after the contraption begins to take hold and mangle the women working on it and everyone else who gets near its gears. The movie’s 106-minute length stretches the conceit way past its ability to maintain viewers’ willingness to sustain disbelief – it laid an egg at the box office – and was widely panned by critics. It definitely plays better on DVD/Blu-ray, but not by much. Scream Factory adds a 4K scan of the original camera negative of the uncut version; fresh commentary with co-writer Stephen David Brooks; “Hell’s Bells,” a comprehensive interview with Englund; and behind-the-scenes footage.

Harrison Smith’s one-trick-pony, Death House, features appearances by such genre stalwarts as Dee Wallace (Critters), Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator), Kane Hodder (Hatchet), Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects), Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing), Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave), Bill Moseley (“TTCM2”), Tony Todd (Candyman), Vernon Wells (100,000 Zombie Heads), Debbie Rochon (Slime City Massacre), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Tiffany Shepis (Victor Crowley), Troma poohbah Lloyd Kaufman and a dozen other lesser lights. Somewhere along the way to release, however, Smith must have run out of money to fully utilize such talent, because the story substitutes nudity and gore for anything resembling a coherent plot. Billed, early on, an “Expendables of horror,” Death House describes what happens when a power breakdown inside a top-secret, maximum security prison triggers chaos and mayhem throughout the facility. It forces a pair of federal agents (Cody Longo, Cortney Palm) to wend their way through a labyrinth of horrors, while being pursued by a ruthless army of roaming inmates. As they fight to escape, the agents push toward the lowest depths, where a group of supernatural  beings may be their only chance for survival. Smith took over the project from the late Gunnar Hansen (Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre), reportedly as possible extension of the Saw franchise.

Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 has been recycled so many times that it begs the question as to what’s new in the handsomely repackaged Blu-ray/4K UHD package from Lionsgate. Besides the much-appreciated audio/video format upgrade — Dolby Vision HDR and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix — not much, besides the French-made featurette, “Bloody and Groovy, Baby: A Tribute to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2,” which features such talking heads as Guillermo del Toro and Roger Corman. The Blu-ray and its bonus features harken back to 2011’s “25th Anniversary Edition,” which were plentiful, but left as is. Anyone who’s come to franchise based on their enjoyment of Starz’ “Ash vs. Evil” should find to “ED2: Dead by Dawn” to be a fitting sequel to the original, which was shot on 16mm and benefitted from the grain. “ED2” received excellent reviews in the mainstream reviews, primarily for its dark sense of humor and gonzo graphics.

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero
Sk8 Dawg
Pet Shop: Blu-ray
Precocious pups are featured in two of the three children’s pictures available this week. Fun Academy’s Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero is the rare computer-animated feature that is based on real historical material and a non-human protagonist that doesn’t necessarily qualify as anthropomorphic. It tells the story of a mixed-breed terrier, Sergeant Stubby, who became the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, assigned to the 26th Infantry Division (United_States), 26th (Yankee) Division, in World War I. He served for 18 months and participated in 17 battles on the Western Front. He saved his regiment from surprise mustard-gas attacks, found and comforted the wounded, and once caught a German soldier by the seat of his pants, holding him there until American soldiers found him. Stubby has been called the most decorated war dog of World War I, and the only dog to be nominated for rank and then promoted to sergeant through combat. As the movie opens, a U.S. Army doughboy, Robert Conroy (voiced by Logan Lerman), has his life forever changed when the little terrier wanders into camp, just as the men of the 102nd Infantry Regiment are training on the parade grounds of Yale University. Conroy gives his new friend a name, a family and a chance to embark on the adventure that would define a century. Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero also features the voices of Helena Bonham Carter and Gérard Depardieu and the featurettes, “The Making of a Hero,” “Real to Reel,” “Animating History” and “The Art of Sgt. Stubby,” with a historical-image gallery.

In Lionsgate and Ari Novak’s live-action feature, Sk8 Dawg, features a skate-boarding mutt that comes to the rescue of his adopted family, when a major investment firm threatens to pull the plug on their business, Modern Skate. Fourteen-year-old Tommy Schooner isn’t nearly as gifted – or competitive – as his sister, who’s become the public face of the company. While practicing skating with his dog, Buddy, Tommy accidentally runs into a 17-year-old skater and town bully, who accepts the boy’s ill-advised challenge to a competition, five days down the road. It gives them plenty of time to devise a plan to save Tommy’s butt and keep the company from going broke, at the same time. It helps, of course, that Buddy’s a world-class skater, with impeccable timing.

In the mid-1990s, father/son producers Albert and Charles Band created the Moonbeam Entertainment subsidiary to churn out low-budget horror and sci-fi features for undiscerning children. They reserved their Empire and Full Moon Productions labels for higher-profile series, including Ghoulies, Trancers and Puppetmaster. Typically undernourished, Pet Shop (1994) describes what happens when of a pair of alien creatures, disguised as a drugstore cowboy and cowgirl, who touch down in the Arizona desert town of Cactus Flats and buy a struggling pet store. In doing so, they lure local children to the shop with promises of cuddly companions that, likewise, are aliens in disguise. They’re hungry and have developed a taste for Earth kids. Their schemes are no match for 14-year-old Dena (Leigh Ann Orsi), whose family has moved to town as part of the government’s Witness Protection Program. It not only makes Cactus Flats a destination for famished aliens, but also hapless mob hitmen. Pet Shop is being presented for the first time on DVD and Bluray. Bonus features includes a Moon Beam Videozone behind-the-scenes featurette.

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2 Responses to “The DVD Wrapup: Peppermint, Wild Boys, Un Traductor, Await Instructions, Lizzie, Coby, Afghan Love Story, Elizabeth Harvest, Brutal, Holiday Horror, Sound & Fury … More”

  1. Daniella Isaacs says:

    “For those who only know [Woody Allen] from a single allegation of child abuse and one other other indiscretion–getting involved with his girlfriend’s adult daughter.” There. I fixed it.

  2. It’s your word against these links, but that’s OK. “Allegations” aren’t convictions and “indiscretions” — more than one or two, clearly — aren’t necessarily crimes. All I was saying is that his body of work began long before “his girlfriend’s adult daughter” was in the picture. His propensity to cast much-younger women opposite his lead characters and alter egos has been criticized by female critics and fans since “Manhattan,” but reached critical mass with “Mighty Aphrodite.” They haven’t prevented me from watching and enjoying his subsequent films.


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

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

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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