MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka Dretzka@moviecitynews.com

The DVD Wrap by Gary Dretzka: Greenberg, The Bounty Hunter, Chloe, Our Family Wedding, The Only Son/There was a Father, Diary of a Nymphomaniac and more …

Greenberg: Blu-ray

Movie critics may be endangered lot, but they do serve a purpose. Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg — a comedy so dark, it borders on tragedy – provides an excellent case in point. I wonder how many fans of Ben Stiller, whose movies typically don’t need the approval of newspaper pundits to be successful, braved the wilds of the local art house, only to be confronted with a character as disagreeable and unattractive as any since Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. Conversely, how many art snobs avoided Greenberg, thinking it might simply be a rehash of Along Came Polly, Starsky and Hutch or The Heartbreak Kid? A few, at least, I’m guessing. A little bit of research might have steered them in the right direction ahead of time.

Here, a noticeably thinner and more emotionally frazzled Stiller plays recent nuthouse graduate Roger Greenberg, who’s back in L.A. after a 15-year absence to house- and doggysit for his highly successful brother. Greenberg had left the city of his birth after turning down a recording contract and, in doing so, demolishing the hopes of his fellow band members. Rather than pursue a solo career, he moved to New York and life as an itinerant carpenter.

In his free time, Greenberg writes angry letters to companies, agencies and newspapers, complaining about everything from minor inconveniences to perceived affronts to humanity, at large. In his early 40s, Greenberg still considers himself to be valuable commodity among women and beloved by friends he wrongly assumes have forgiven his narcissism. And, sure enough, Greenberg is able to re-connect with old pals, while also convincing his brother’s attractive assistant — Greta Gerwig, in another terrific performance — to have sex with him. (If anything, she’s every bit as needy as he is … but in a nice way.)

They spend the rest of the movie attending to the brother’s pet German shepherd, who, we suspect, might have AIDS, while also disappointing each other and everyone around them. By the time Baumbach provides Greenberg with an opportunity to connect with the adventurous young man he once was, it’s a toss-up as to whether anyone will care. I didn’t. But, then, in such pictures as Kicking and Screaming, The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding, Baumbach has never made it easy for viewers to sympathize with his characters. Watching Stiller agonize his way through various interpersonal relationships, everyday situations and a generation gap Greenberg didn’t even know existed is what makes Greenberg worth the effort.

That, and the performances of Gerwig; former bandmates played by Rhys Ifans and Mark Duplass; and an ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Jason Leigh (who also co-wrote the story, from which the film was adapted). The Blu-ray bonus features offer surprisingly little insight into the movie, but trivia freaks will appreciate the casting of such once-removed actors as Stiller, son of comedians Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara; Leigh, daughter of screenwriter Barbara Turner and actor Vic Morrow; Jake Paltrow, son of producer Bruce Paltrow and Blythe Danner, and brother of Gwyneth; Juno Temple, daughter of director Julien Temple; Dave Franco, brother of actor James Franco; Max Hoffman, son of Dustin Hoffman; and Zosia Mamet, daughter of writer David Mamet and actor Lindsay Crouse.

Who says Hollywood isn’t a family-friendly town. – Gary Dretzka

The Bounty Hunter

As lackluster a rom-com as The Bounty Hunter might be, it fits perfectly well on the small screen, thanks to the star power of former-Friend Jennifer Aniston and tough-guy Gerald Butler (like Mel Gibson, a Soupy Sales look-alike). That’s not the kind of praise its producers anticipated, of course, but Andy Tennant’s by-the-numbers picture doesn’t have that much else going for it. And, first-run critics were even less forgiving. As the director of such would-be crowd-pleasers as Fool’s Gold, Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama, Fools Rush In and Anna and the King – Ever After being the rare commercial and critical success – Tennant has enjoyed the company of several of today’s most bankable stars.

Considering that most of these titles were unqualified bombs, Tennant also must accept some of the blame for the demise of the Hollywood romantic comedy. Here, Aniston plays a reporter, who, in pursuit of a story, manages to antagonize both the law and criminal elements. When she goes on the lam, a bounty hunter is assigned to bring her back for trial.

Naturally, the bounty hunter is the reporter’s former husband (Butler), who enjoys the prospect of making her life miserable. Even more naturally, I suppose, her enemies eventually become his enemies and this bond serves to rekindle an old flame. Neither the pursuit, nor the love story is handled with much flair … and even less logic. Faring better are supporting actors Christine Baranski, Peter Greene, Jeff Garlin, Siobhan Fallon, Cathy Moriarty and Carol Kane. Fans of the genre, such as it is, probably won’t mind spending an evening with Aniston and Butler, especially at price of a rental. Most other viewers will be left unimpressed, however. The bonus material consists mostly of self-congratulatory making-of material and BDLive compatibility. – Gary Dretzka

Chloe: Blu-ray

It wasn’t until the release of Frenzy, in 1972, that any of Alfred Hitchcock’s films contained actual nudity. The Hollywood Production Code had prevented him from building explicit depictions of sex and violence into his thrillers. Atom Egoyan’s Chloe very much resembles a film Hitchcock might have directed, had he been able to make extensive use of nudity and psycho-sexual themes.

In it, Julianne Moore plays a doctor who suspects that her flirtatious husband, David (Liam Neeson), a professor, is cheating on her. Catherine’s search for answers becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophesy, when the prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) she hires to test her husband’s loyalty reports back with news of steamy trysts and public make-out sessions. Although Catherine believes Chloe’s testimony, Egoyan withholds visual evidence of the affair from viewers. It’s a neat trick that allows us to consider the motivations of everyone involved, including the older couple’s college-age son.

Happily, Egoyan is confident enough in the maturity of viewers to leave several mysteries dangling throughout the course of the film. Hitchcock would have loved Seyfried, who, as cool blonds go, fits alongside Tippi Hedren, Janet Leigh and Eva Marie Saint, if not yet Grace Kelly, Doris Day and Ingrid Bergman. And, when it comes to nudity, neither of the female leads leaves much to the imagination.

Egoyan, no novice to the erotic themes, was given a hand in this department by screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus). She adapted the story from Anne Fontaine’s similarly sexy French drama, “Natalie.” That film starred Fanny Ardant as Catherine, Emmanuelle Beart as the femme fatale, and Gerard Depardieu as the suspect husband. With all due respect to Seyfried, no one on Earth is sexier than Beart, and Ardant is a MILF’s MILF. Much of Fontaine’s version is set in a Parisian brothel and the couple’s secrets aren’t kept nearly as close to the vest. Both are worth watching, even back-to-back. The set includes an interesting commentary, with Seyfried, Egoyan and Wilson, a making-of featurette and some very decent deleted scenes. – Gary Dretzka

Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger
2:37

Over the past 10 years or so, programmers at the Disney Channel and ABC Family have advanced the portrayal of American teens and pre-teens on television immensely. Even so, the solutions to problems faced by most young girls apparently involve mimicking the skanky clothes worn by Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears, while also swooning over cookie-cutter boy bands. Seemingly, higher self-esteem will attract a better class of boyfriend and increase the chances of being noticed by a leading modeling agency or record label.

High School Musical and Glee demonstrate how talent will out, even in the face of ridicule by cheerleaders, jocks and other cool kids. From Australia, Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger is a bird of a completely different feather. In it, a wee mite of an Adelaide girl – old enough to celebrate her bat-mitzvah, but tiny enough to pass for 10 — is caught between parents who demand too much of her and private-school classmates who can’t resist picking on her. Her only dependable friend is a duckling, hatched in a school lab for the sole purpose of being dissected by students later.

One day, quite by accident, Esther (Danielle Catanzariti) is befriended by a cocky public-school student, Sunni (Keisha Castle- Hughes), who, while towering over her in height and popularity, agrees to play Henry Higgins to her Eliza Doolittle. To further her transformation, Esther conceives of a ruse that allows her to attend Sunni’s school, without raising suspicions at the private institution. Lo and behold, the plan works … only too well. Bolstered by the encouragement of Sunni’s friends and free-spirited mother (Toni Collette), Esther’s new-found self-confidence has resulted in her becoming a bit too big for her tiny britches. No reason to spoil any more of the fun, but, suffice it to say, lessons are learned by everyone involved.

What sets Hey Hey apart from the hundreds of other so-called coming-of-age stories we’ve seen since Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney reached puberty is the dialogue, which doesn’t sound as if it were written by adults for the express purpose of making kids sound and act like college seniors. There’s also a terrific soundtrack filled with wonderfully empathetic songs. I couldn’t recommend it more for kids looking ahead to high school and Glee-like experiences of their own.

On the other hand, kids who aren’t able to find a niche in high school often are scarred for life by ritual peer pressure, demands they conform to an absurd norm and traumas caused by drug and alcohol abuse, sexuality, pregnancy and fear of failure. In Murali K. Thalluri’s powerful teen drama, 2:37, we’re introduced to a half-dozen archetypal students, all harboring secrets that might have caused them to commit suicide at that precise time on an otherwise normal school day. Thalluri, who was 20 when he began writing the film, uses interviews, flashbacks and atmospheric music to help viewers make sense of the mysterious death of a classmate. Thalluri acknowledges a debt of gratitude to Gus Van Zant, whose Elephant considered similar themes. – Gary Dretzka

Our Family Wedding Blu-ray

Any movie made specifically to appeal to the broadest possible audience isn’t likely to win the hearts of critics. Some studios don’t even bother to hold advance screenings. Why bother? I don’t necessarily disagree with the strategy, which depends on TV commercials to spread the word and ensure a decent opening weekend, at least. Critics are free to pay their own way to an early matinee showing and slap a review on their Internet sites two hours after the final credits roll.

I can’t recall if Our Family Wedding bypassed that step in the traditional release pattern, but it might as well have. Even though the reviews dated March 12 were predictably dismal, opening-weekend box-office results were respectable and the movie enjoyed two more decent weekends. Any success can be credited to a marketing campaign that targeted two separate “urban” audiences – blacks and Hispanics, of all ages – instead of teenagers in one or the other demographic group, alone.

As directed by Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood), Our Family Wedding begins very much like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but quickly borrows conceits from such pictures as Father of the Bride, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Best Man, The In-Laws, Meet the Parents and Muriel’s Wedding, crowd-pleasers all.

Here, a Mexican-American woman and her African-American boyfriend (America Ferrera, Lance Gross) travel home to alert their families of their intention to wed. As was the case in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, it’s the dads who can’t get their heads around the concept of interracial marriage. So as not to make them seem as racist as they are, the movie gives them a negative, if brief history together and mutual concerns about the husband’s charitable instincts.

Otherwise, both men are financially successful and typically American. When seated at the same dinner table together, however, they hurl stereotypical insults at each other with all the bravado of a 10-year-old child in the KKK Youth. Once the dads settle down, the mothers and daughters get to squabble over which cultures traditions will be honored at the ceremony. Then, it’s time for petty jealousies to emerge among the women and for the men to raise doubt in the husband.

An over-the-top wedding is assured when a goat devours a bottle of Viagra and begins humping everyone in sight. If that kind of thing appeals to you, Our Family Wedding probably will provide a couple of hours of harmless entertainment. As the dads, Forrest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia do what can with the non-demanding dialogue and sight gags. The cast also includes Regina King, Diana-Maria Riva, Lupe Ontiveros, Anjelah N. Johnson, Charlie Murphy and Shannyn Sossamon.The bonus material includes deleted scenes. – Gary Dretzka

The Only Son/There Was a Father: Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu

Criterion Collection has released pristine editions of early films by Yasujiro Ozu, the undisputed master of Japanese family dramas … which isn’t to say he isn’t also highly regarded in the West. When critics convene to ascertain such things, for example, his 1953 masterpiece, Tokyo Story, continues to be rated among the top movies ever made. The Only Son and There Was a Father are most interesting for the period they represent.

Made in 1936, during a time of economic turmoil in pre-World War II Japan, The Only Son was the first film made by Ozu in synchronized sound. It chronicles the sacrifices made a working-class mother to finance the education of her son, and the disappointment that comes with learning he still hasn’t met established standards for success. She only learns about the reality of her son’s situation, which, in reality, isn’t all that bad or desperate, during a visit to Tokyo, where she’s also introduced the wife and son she didn’t know her son had.

By Western standards, almost nothing happens in The Only Son, but, on closer examination, an entire world is revealed. Besides a new high-def digital transfer, the disc includes interviews with Tadao Sato, David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson and essays by Tony Rayns, Chishu Ryu and Donald Richie.

There Was a Father was made in 1942, as the war in the Pacific raged and Japanese authorities demanded that films deliver patriotic messages and/or advance traditional values. Although they’re presented here in an unobtrusive manner, the story of a son’s love for his father speaks volumes about the respect owed elders and wisdom passed from one generation to another.

Here, Chishu Ryu returns as a teacher who leaves the profession after a fatal accident occurs during a school trip. Even though it isn’t his fault, the teacher simply couldn’t face the parents or accept similar responsibility in the future. Instead, he leaves his son in the care of an uncle and moves to Tokyo, where he works to afford an education for the boy. They hoped to reunite after the son’s graduation from college, but that plan is thwarted when he’s assigned to a position in a different city. They get together for occasional fishing trips, but, for the son, it’s never enough time.

All along, the father tells his soon that duty comes before pleasure and doing one’s best at work is the most important thing a man can do. Again, Ozu’s depiction of everyday life passes with barely a tick of excitement or emotional distress. Truth and beauty are found in the details and lessons taught to others. The bonus package includes a discussion on Japanese filmmaking during the war. – Gary Dretzka

Diary of a Nymphomaniac
How to Make Love to a Woman

Based on a best-selling novel by Valérie Tasso, Diary of a Nymphomaniac describes the epic personal journey of a pretty young Spanish woman with an insatiable appetite for sex. It begins in her teens, after an unsatisfying first roll in the sack with her boyfriend. Things get much more orgasmic after Valere demands a bit more work on his part, however, and she nearly wears out the poor lad’s equipment.

Fearing her desires might be unhealthy, she seeks the advice of her wise and wealthy grandmother (Geraldine Chaplin), whose basic advice is: if it feels good, do it. This works until Val falls for a handsome business executive and begins to play house with him. He’s a great guy and they are compatible sexually, until it comes time for her to accept a job to help pay expenses.

Suddenly, Val’s lover goes bi-polar, accusing her of sexual dalliances with her boss, calling her a whore and shoving her around. Recalling grandma’s advice, Val decides to swear off monogamy and take up residence in a high-end brothel, which brings joys and disappoints of their own. Diary of a Nymphomanic is handsomely mounted and reasonably well acted by Belén Fabra. Because Fabra is the only woman required to shed her clothes – she has plenty of male suitors, of course — the sex scenes grow monotonous after a while. She never seems to tire of it, though. The disc adds a decent making-of featurette and a piece on the source material.

How to Make Love to Woman is the latest in a long line of American sex comedies that are neither comedic nor sexy. Mostly, it’s stupid. In it, a young stud panics after realizing he’s having far more fun in bed than his companions, who can’t even be bothered to fake it anymore. He seeks the advice of all sorts of experts, including porn queen Jenna Jameson, but wouldn’t recognize the point of love making if he sat on it. It stars Josh Meyers, Krysten Ritter, Ian Somerhalder and Ken Jeong. – Gary Dretzka

Terribly Happy

No one in the soggy Danish town of Skarrild seems remotely happy, let alone terribly so. The town bully scares the crap out of its male residents and the women exist mostly to service the men as bartenders, prostitutes and punching bags. There’s seemingly nothing to do, except get drunk, feed the cows and cheat at poker. As such, the locals are giddy with anticipation when a big-city cop shows up in town to maintain law and order.

Somehow, they know Robert Hansen will soon be approached by the wife of the bully, asking him for help in the most flirtatious of ways. Sensing the woman actually is in desperate need of rescue, Hansen gets sucked in to a domestic squabble one senses already has cost at least one interloper his life. The cop hardly needs any more drama in his life. The only reason he’s in Skarrild is because he freaked out in a domestic dispute of his own and has put out to pasture for a while in the bottom lands of South Jutland.

Terribly Happy was Denmark’s entry in the Oscar derby this year and an American version apparently in the works. It’s a terrific noir, whose drama could just as easily have played out in central Wisconsin as Scandinavia. The making-of featurettes include entertaining discussions with director Henrik Ruben Genz and novelist Erling Jepsen. – Gary Dretzka

Middle of Nowhere
The Greatest

For a while there, it seemed as if every time Susan Sarandon appeared in a movie, she would receive an Oscar nomination. Even though she plays key characters in Middle of Nowhere and The Greatest, one sat on the shelves for three years before going straight to DVD and the other grossed a grand total of $116,000. If no one’s writing screenplays for actors of Sarandon’s stature, what hope is there for today’s pretty blond ingénues?

Or, daughter Eva Amurri for that matter, who made the same kind of impression on male viewers, at least, in Californication, as mom did in Atlantic City. In Middle of Nowhere, Sarandon plays the good-for-nothing mother of Amurri’s character, Grace, a small-town beauty who desperately wants to attend college. Sadly, mom sucks up every cent Grace makes to finance the modeling career of a younger sister.

Fed up, she teams up with a local wise-ass (Anton Yelchin) who convinces her she could make big money in the pot business. The modest dramedy was directed by John Stockwell, who also helmed Blue Crush and Turistas. Teens and young adults might find something to like in its DVD run. The Blu-ray disc adds deleted scenes, a making-of featurette and interviews.

In my opinion, any movie that carries the title, The Greatest, should be about Muhammad Ali. Here, it refers to the nickname given a young man whose life was taken prematurely in a car accident. His grieving parents are played by Sarandon and Pierce Brosnan. Their misery is compounded by the unexpected arrival of the teenage girl who not only survived the accident but also is several months pregnant.

The boy’s father and brother accept her arrival, but mom couldn’t be less accommodating. In fact, she acts friendlier toward the comatose man who ran into her son’s illegally parked vehicle and may have heard his last utterances. Although The Greatest borders on the maudlin throughout its 99-minute length, Brosnan and Carey Mulligan do provide needed relief in spurts. – Gary Dretzka

8: The Mormon Proposition
Pornography: A Thriller
Hit Parade

As the legality of California’s Proposition 8 slowly winds its way through the judicial system, the release of 8: The Mormon Proposition in DVD reminds us once again of how many people still think the Bill of Rights only exists to protect their right to bear AK-47s and just how much the wall separating church and state has crumbled, especially since the rise of right-wing Evangelist organizations in the ’80s.

Proposition 8 allowed voters the right to determine whether marriages between gays and lesbians could be married, according to state law. The campaign was launched after the California Supreme Court ruled that any law prohibiting such marriages was unconstitutional. All things being equal, the vote on Prop 8 might have made for an interesting referendum as to people’s feelings on the matter. Given the binding nature of the vote, however, the measure threatened to take away rights accorded to a significant number of California citizens.

The balance was thrown completely out of whack by a coalition of groups, financed largely by money provided by the Mormon Church, whose interest mostly was proprietary. Tens of millions of dollars were raised by out-of-state Mormons answering the call of their elders, who demanded they donate to the cause financially and at rallies. Roman Catholic authorities and several so-called pro-family groups also lent their support to the coalition, so as not to put the LDS in the spotlight as the instigators.

Investigative reporters quickly were able to discover exactly how much money was being poured into the state from Utah coffers and the kind propaganda that was being spread in the media and Internet. There are laws on the books barring tax-exempt groups from using their status to bankroll political agendas, but the government was loath to enforce them. This documentary makes its case non-hysterically based on financial records, the public and private rants of LDS leaders, and campaign material designed to keeps interests disguised.

Much of the opposition’s case is furthered by anecdotal evidence provided by couples who were married legally in the state; politicians who fought the measure; parents caught between religious beliefs of their own and the rights of their gay children; victims of tortuous “cures” for homosexuality; friends of gay Mormons who’ve committed suicide; and other activists. Among other things, the documentary demonstrates how these propositions can be used by zealots and greed-mongers to promote democratic tyranny. It is narrated by Dustin Lance Black, screenwriter of Milk. – Gary Dretzka

David Kittredge’s debut film Pornography: A Thriller is far more compelling in concept than in execution. Made in a style that immediately recalls David Lynch and David Cronenberg, the story involves the mysterious disappearance of a prominent actor, Mark Anton, marketed as the boy-next-door of gay porn.

It’s almost impossible to discern what’s happening in the narrative, however, even if we know that one storyline follows the actor as approaches his final role; another thread involves a purported snuff film found behind a wall in an apartment where the actor might have lived; and, finally, a reporter’s investigation into the case. The film’s visual texture and color scheme change constantly through the course of the movie, further complicating an already confusing scenario. Not a bad first effort, though.

Hit Parade is the story of retired hit man, Jerome Archer, and the search for a younger contract killer, Speed Razor. When asked for his help by a pair of agents for the Census Bureau, Archer is attempting to go straight as the manager of a book store. Actually, the store is the only thing straight in Hit Parade. Speed Razor dresses like a circus clown and leaves toys behind as a calling card.

One of the agents is a butch lesbian with rage issues and everyone else is gay in one way or another. I’m pretty sure that Joe Casey’s film is intended to be a spoof of hetero action-thrillers – since when have there been black-ops census takers — if only because its characters appear to have emerged from the comic-book arena and the violence is cartoonish. I could be wrong, however. – Gary Dretzka

Caught in the Crossfire: Blu-ray

Cop dramas don’t come much louder or more pointless than Caught in the Crossfire, which avoided theatrical release despite the presence of Adam Rodriguez, Chris Klein, Richard T. Jones and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. The Michigan setting is the only thing that feels fresh in it. In writer/director Brian A. Miller’s freshman feature, a pair of hard-core detectives is hot on the trail of a cop killer. After the prime suspect is cornered, a standoff results in a shooting that feels wrong, even if it would pass muster with IAD. This results in a series of flashbacks, during which Klein and Rodriguez reconstruct the events that followed after the discovery of the slain cop. Eventually, everyone in and out of uniform is a suspect. – Gary Dretzka

Selling Hitler
White Collar: Season One
Saving Grace: The Final Season
Street Hawk: The Complete Series
The Lucy Show: The Official Second Season

Anyone who enjoyed The Hoax or Orson Welles’ F for Fake will find something to like in the British mini-series, Selling Hitler, which is based on the events that led to a bidding war for the phony diaries of Adolph Hitler. Jonathan Pryce plays Gerd “The Bloodhound” Heidemann, a German reporter who wants to open a Nazi museum and is obsessed with rumors about the mythic diary. He’s contacted by a dealer in wartime artifacts, who demands a stiff price for access to the documents.

In fact, though, the dealer is an expert forger, who fools some of the leading experts in the field and media titans, including Rupert Murdoch, hoping to make a fortune from their publication. The sterling cast includes Barry “Dame Edna” Humphries, Alison Doody, Tom Baker and Alan Bennett.

The USA cable network series White Collar also involves artful forgeries and crimes involving big-money scams. Matthew Bomer plays the charming conman, who, after being caught in an escape from a maximum-security prison, is recruited by a trusting FBI agent to assist in the capture of people just like him. If the title weren’t already taken, it could just as accurately been called, It Takes a Thief. It’s a lot of fun.

The final-season package of another terrific cable series, this one with a spiritual angle, arrives by way of the TNT network. Holly Hunter plays an Oklahoma police detective, who, after an automobile accident, is given a final chance to redeem herself by her guardian angel. It’s an interesting concept and Hunter adds enough slutty charm to her character to be credible as someone who needs serious redemption.

The complete run of ABC’s Street Hawk has been collected for easy viewing by fans and newcomers, alike. As was common in the 1980s, when TV super-cops often were given super-vehicles with which to fight super-crimes, an ex-motorcycle officer is outfitted with a special all-terrain bike. It can hit speeds of 300 mph and destroy evil-doers with amazing weapons.

The best thing about the second-season package of The Lucy Show is the addition of Gale Gordon’s wonderfully grumpy banker, Mr. Moody, to the cast. He became the perfect counterweight for the antics of Lucy Carmichael (Lucille Ball) and Vivian Bagley (Vivian Vance), a pair of suddenly-single women who moved into a house together with their children. – Gary Dretzka

Mystery Science Theater 3000: XVIII
Inbred Redneck Vampires

The 18th edition of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is comprised of such immortal turkeys as Lost Continent, Crash of the Moons, The Beast of Yucca Flats and Jack Frost. All would be funny enough to be enjoyed individually, but with the addition of commentary are hilarious. This time around, the bonus features include special Introductions by Frank Conniff and Kevin Murphy; original Mystery Science Theater Hour wraps; A Look Back at The Beast of Yucca Flats, original trailers and promos, four MST3K mini-posters by artist Steve Vance; and rare footage enhanced by new technology.

Sometimes, a title is clever enough to attract viewers to a particularly bad movie. Inbred Redneck Vampires qualifies as a candidate for consideration by the producers of MST3K, if only for its setting: a white-trash town called Backwash, in the days before its annual Tripe Days Festival. Vampires seek refuge among these demented souls and nourishment from their obese bodies. Of course, they’re idiots. Rumor has it that several of the actors were local volunteers who sought free beer in lieu of money.

– Gary Dretzka

One Response to “The DVD Wrap by Gary Dretzka: Greenberg, The Bounty Hunter, Chloe, Our Family Wedding, The Only Son/There was a Father, Diary of a Nymphomaniac and more …”

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Dretzka

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch