LIZARD LICK - Once more it’s time for a weekend of cinematic truth with the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina from April 12 - 15. This remains the friendliest film festival in America with an Award ceremony that’s more about sharing a meal than a lust for hardware.
The big opening night film is Jesse Owens. The biography explores the legacy of hero that won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He made Adolph Hitler an unhappy host. How was it for Owens when he returned home to a country that had its own rules about who was the Master Race in the South? The film was directed by Lauren Grant and produced by Stanley Nelson. This also launches a tribute to Nelson’s work that will be shown through out the festival including Jonestown: The Life and Death of the People’s Temple and The Black Press.
With so many films shown over the weekend, it’s natural there will be two films at the same time screaming for your attention. Thursday night has Samsara against Marley. How can I choose? Samsara is Ron Fricke’s follow up to Baraka. He takes his 70mm camera on another amazing tour around the world that goes from the wreckage of New Orleans to a chicken processing plant. Marley is Kevin Macdonald’s inspirational documentary about Bob Marley. How can I pass on the man who my two year old daughter now quotes “Stir It Up” while mixing cake batter? Plus Marley was produced by my Eskimo Brother Steve Bing. The tie breaker will probably be how many drinks I can down at the opening night party. That might not work since both films would be perfect with a buzz. Might just have to close my eyes and wander into a random theater door.
Friday starts off with Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare which does it best to show what’s been happening in healthcare. One of the stories involves the injured Sgt. Robert Yates. He gets hooked on pharmaceuticals from everything prescribed to him. Aranda gives a view of life on a Finnish research ship that monitors icebergs. Mr. Cao Goes to Washington follows the GOP Congressman from Louisiana that dared to be bipartisan. Beauty Is Embarrassing introduces us to William White, the man behind the puppets on PeeWee’s Playhouse among his creations. Party Favors is going to do our best to chat with him during the festival.
Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet is an inspirational tale of an ’80s Heavy Metal guitar genius who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease. As he loses muscle control, people come up with solutions for him to maintain his creative output.
Herman’s Home follows how artist Jackie Sumell recreated the solitary confinement cell that Herman Wallace has inhabited for nearly 40 years. She wants to give him a sense of space by creating his dream house in various ways including computer graphics and models. Radio Unnamable shines a light on Bob Fass, a New York radio legend. His show on WBAI was often visited by Bob Dylan during his early years. Bones Brigade is part two of Stacey Peralta’s autobiography after Dogtown and Z Boys. The skateboard legend went big with his own squad that went to the next level thanks to a scrawny kid with amazing tricks named Tony Hawk. Stacey doesn’t appear to be coming with the film. I was hoping we’d be doing tricks all over the water fountain outside the Carolina Theater.
What’s nice about Full Frame is that all the theaters are near each other so you’re not having to hop buses or drive all over town and fight for parking spaces. There’s a hotel attached to the theater complex so you can see movies in your pajamas. It’s the perfect film festival for people who don’t want to travel overseas, slog through the snow or deal with traffic jams. Did I mention they have BBQ? For more information visit their site at www..fullframefest.org.
If all this talk of documentaries at Full Frame has excited your desires, but you can’t leave your computer. Turns out Hulu is now providing documentaries. Visit www.hulu.com/documentaries. They’re currently presenting “Re:generation Music Project” which features The Crystal Method, Mark Ronson and Skrillex. Sadly they did not invite the Eskimo Sisters to the party down. Soon they’ll have Morgan Spurlock’s “Comic-Con Episode For: A Fan’s Hope.” Kevin Smith is interviewed while wearing a hockey sweater. How rare is that?
Here’s a bit of “A Day In the Life.”
As predicted Jack and Jill dominated this year’s Razzies for the Worst film that Adam Sandler might get the award named after him. He got more Razzie love than Oscar gave Edith Head. Jack and Jill won all of the 10 awards including one for Al Pacino. The sad part of the night is knowing that the badness of Bucky Larson: Born the Be a Star went home empty handed. Any other year, Bucky would have needed a wheel barrel to carry home the hardware. But Nick Swardson was denied like an elderly minority voting in a primary. Time to get prepared for the 2013 Razzies which ought to feature American Pie: Class Reunion.
I’m really missing Showtime’s Shameless. How can they only make so few episode at a time? They’re my favorite messed up family on TV if I don’t count my own family’s Christmas videos. Now that I have to wait for the next season, the urge to drink Old Style beer is overwhelming. Would be so nice for the folks at Old Style to sponsor my video interview embeds. Can they ship Old Style in the mail?
Roger Corman’s Cult Classics All-Night Marathon The Nurses Collection will not be overturned by the Supreme Court! When Corman started out his New World studio, he understood the need to establish movie genres so that drive-ins across America would eagerly book the next installment without much care. They scored quick with outlaw bikers and women in sweaty Asian prisons. But they needed a more wholesome subject matter so that kids could tell their parents what they were seeing at the Starlite without causing alarm. What could be more wholesome than a movie about the struggles of nurses? For many young ladies, they might have just told their parents they were attending career day when The Student Nurses came to town. The good news for viewers is that the Nurses films weren’t interested in being documentaries, but wonderful exploitation flicks. These are young women who are enjoying sexual freedom while maintaining their professional attitude. What does that mean? Plenty of reasons for the various nurses to sponge bath the patients and lose their uniforms in the process. The Nurses Collections has the four films that came after the release of The Student Nurses. The formula was simple. Put four nurses on the movie poster and three of them in the film. Each has a problem to solve and none of them have an issue with nude scenes.
Private Duty Nurses (1971) got its name when the Private Duty Nurse association wrote to complain about The Student Nurses. Corman never wastes a catchy title. This time the three nurses get involved in drugs, racism and homicide during their shifts. The tagline sets up the action with “The mouth to mouth they give is not CPR!” Director George Armitage would eventually make Gross Pointe Blank with John Cusack. Night Call Nurses (1972) presents a fresh trio of nurses working at a hospital’s psych ward. The movie opens with a topless suicide. This isn’t an easy gig for the girls since there’s a plenty of unbalanced people aiming to take them out of their sensible shoes. The big find in the film is classic California blond Alana Stewart. She’d find fame as the ex-wife of Rod Stewart and George Hamilton. Dennis Dugan has an acting role. Eventually he’d become the worst director in the world for making Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill. It’s a Razzie tie-in. Director Jonathan Kaplan would go on to make the legendary Truck Turner with Isaac Hayes and The Accused with Jodie Foster. Plus he served as a producer on ER. He’s an honor school graduate of Corman University.
The Young Nurses (1973) is about nurses that are young. They’ve got plenty of things to learn during their shifts. There’s a revenge plot when the nurse wants to track down the drug pusher that gave the fatal dose to one of her patients. There’s a touching moment when in the middle of a crisis, a nurse strips down and races into the ocean. It stars none other than the greatest Meatball Psychiatrist of the Korean War, Allan Arbus. He was the shrink on M*A*S*H This was director Clint Kimbrough’s only major directing gig. Candy Stripe Nurses (1974) wraps up the series with even younger nurses. Three high school girls volunteer at the local hospital for various reasons. One needs to do to build up her resume for college, another wears the striped apron for school punishment and the last just wants to bang a doctor. Things gets nasty when a basketball scandal drags in a doctor who knows how to pep up the squad. The series didn’t run out of steam. There are two documentaries about the Nurses movies including Julie Corman discussing how they empowered her to become a producer. Where’s The Student Nurses in this DVD set? It’s slated to be released in set with The Student Teachers and Summer School Teachers. Don’t fret about starting off with the second film since there’s no relationship between the films except they’re about youthful nurses who don’t mind stripping down to revive the audience.
There are those worrisome times when a DVD boxset goes out of print and the used price soars like a gallon of gas. This has been happening to a lot of the early Mystery Science Theater 3000 collections. Thankfully the titles in the boxsets that are still under license are getting reissued. Two more titles have been put out on the Shout Select line.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Girl in Gold Boots exposes the seedy world of go-go dancing in the ’60s. A cashier working at a high desert dive gets propositioned by a guest to come on down to Los Angeles for a shot at stardom as a go-go dancer. This is the same thing that happened to Helen Mirren. Except for this dreamer of a life in gold boots comes a harsh truth. Turns out that what really makes money in the go-go dancing world is dealing drugs. Filmmaker Ted V. Mikels is best known for having 10 women living with him for the longest of times. They would help him make his movies. Mike and the Bots have fun with the scenes including pouring beer on things you love. Crow embraces the joy of go-go dancing. Wait till you see him strutting his metal legs. Pearl Forrester has to renew her mad scientist license and things aren’t looking good for her.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Wild World of Bat Woman is a pure cash grab during the era of Batmania. They even work “Batmania” into the movie poster. But rest assured that Adam West had nothing to do with this film. This is the definition of exploitation cheapie. They have a woman in an odd superhero outfit that includes a bat drawn above her bosom. What she does have is lot of female cohorts that love to go-go dance when there’s a major plot hole needing a distraction. The film is so bad that Mike and the Bots fixate on the educational film that ran before hand called “Cheating.” Mike has the Bots do an essay about cheating and Crow takes the topic seriously enough to cheat on it. There’s no shortcuts on the Satellite of Love. Crow must be punished. Although you won’t have to be punished paying nearly $100 for the old version of the DVD. Shout! Select currently has it for $14.99.
While these DVDs are being issued as Shout Select titles from Shout! Factory’s website (and a reseller on Amazon), they are not DVD-Rs. These are real silver dvds. Don’t think you’re being asked to sacrifice quality. The only quality being sacrificed is cinematic quality of these two stinkers that are the perfect bait for barbs from Mike and the Bots.
Jake and the Neverland Pirates: Peter Pan Returns was the Disney Jr sensational special. The double length episode united the trio of little pirates with Peter Pan. Are the lost boys upset that Jake, Izzy and Cubby have completely stolen their heat? Does anyone care about the Lost Boys outside of the vampire variation? Peter once more loses his shadow. Now it is up to Jake and his pals to help bring the magical Peter back to his shadow. Trouble is that Captain Hook has it. Oh no. Toddlers may scream at some of the action. There’s also five normal episodes of the show included on the DVD. While some kids might get excited about Peter Pan, the massive guest star is the Pirate Princess and her rainbow wand. If you have a small girl, the Pirate Princess is all you’re going to hear about for the next five months. I can testify to that fact. You will hear everything you never knew about the Legend of the Pirate Princess. It’s a marketing heaven of combining the girlish princess concept with the swashbuckling pirate figure. This will be hot toddler costume for Halloween 2012. There’s a Pirate-oke to let the kiddies sing along with the music from the show. A second disc contains a digital version that can be put on your computer, iPhone or iPad.
Angels Crest goes straight for a parent’s worst fear. On a snowy drive, a dad (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles‘ Thomas Dekker) pulls over to go check something out. He leaves his three year old son sleeping in the truck. While the dad is gone, the kid wakes up and wanders away from the truck. The small town joins together to search for the child. Even with all the help and prayers, the worst fear is realized. Things get worse when the town debates what really happened on the road. Was this merely an unfortunate lapse of judgement or deliberate? There’s a fine cast on Angels Crest including Mira Sorvino, Elizabeth McGovern and Kate Walsh. You’ll think twice before leaving a slumbering preschooler in the car after watching this film.
Adam-12: The Final Season wraps up seven seasons of Officer Pete Malloy (Route 66’s Martin Milner) and Officer Jim Reed (Ken McCord) cruising the streets of Los Angeles in their black and white patrol car. They made people around the world think the LAPD were a noble bunch which is why the world feels betrayed when reports of LAPD cops going bad suffer. This final season starts off with a two-parter that sends them to camp to help at risk kids. June Lockhart (Lost in Space) and Ronnie Schell (Gomer Pyle) don’t let the scene get too youthful. The show made sure that stories weren’t too over the top during their time on patrol. They capture enough felons, but it doesn’t turn into the greatest cop story ever! They don’t save the world. They merely save people in needs and stop those who will destroy the world of an individual. It’s like an episode of Cops without the mosaic over the guilty’s face. They answer calls for the mundane as well as major crimes. They bust Dick Van Patten. “Gus Corbin” has Malloy stuck at a desk. Reed has to break in a rookie played by Mark Harmon (NCIS). Harmon is a bit of a wild card. He’d tone down over the decades to become a major network star. The series ends with “Something Worth Dying For.” Reed joins up with the narcotics squad, but the change isn’t good for him as he roams LA’s druggie underground. The city was never safer when Adam-12 kept the streets calm.
Laverne & Shirley: The Fifth Season revives the releases of America’s favorite two basement apartment dwelling roomies. After two seasons as the top rated show on TV, the morons at ABC moved it from Tuesday nights to Thursdays. The immediate effect was the show fell out of the Top 30. It was toxic. All the executives in this decision were executed. The season wasn’t that bad. The season starts with a crossover Happy Days episode called “Shotgun Wedding.” The girls have to rescue Potsie, but at what price? “You’re in the Army, Now” should have sent the girls to Vietnam with Gomer Pyle. Oddly enough this became the basis for the animated Laverne and Shirley in the Army that aired on Saturday mornings in 1981. The highlight of the season is “Murder on the Moosejaw Express” when Scatman Crothers (The Shining) brightens up the trip. This was the last season where they lived in Milwaukee. Season Six has them moving to Burbank, California for fun in the sun and their Beatles poster.
Ernie Kovacs: ABC Specials is the tenderloin of Shout! Factory’s The Ernie Kovacs Collection that came out last year. The five TV specials on the DVD were his last major pieces of television. Ernie was a pioneer of TV and these specials are a refinement of the sketches he’d been doing over the years. He’s black out sketches with “Mack the Knife” are rarely matched in TV. His ability to put “normal actions” to music is only matched by Friz Freleng’s animated cartoons. If you have any curiosity about Ernie Kovacs, this single disc testifies to his genius. The last episode aired after his death at 42. A bonus feature is his hilarious Dutch Masters commercials.
Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous brings to motion the six comic book arc written by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and illustrated by John Cassaday. The X-Men are in major trouble when something turns the Danger Room against them. It’s a fight for their lives within the simulated world that prepares them for major battles. Who could have possibly been the mole to set up such a betrayal? No need to spoil the action although everyone has their favorite suspects. The Marvel Knights Animation team gets better at manipulating the original comic book panels. This is much more fun than merely reading the comic books and less of a chance of your pal screaming that your bending the spine.
Conan The Adventurer: Season Two - Part Two has the next 13 episodes of when the show went to a M-F strip format in 1993. Conan is still out looking for a way to free his parents from the curse of Wrath-Amon. He needs a crew to handle all the Serpentmen that are out for his musclebound body. Unlike the movies, Conan: The Adventurer is a much more sensible talking kind a guy. “Final Hours of Conan” has him bitten by an evil imp. While that doesn’t sound too bad, the bite turns him into a Serpentman. Can there be a cure of will Warth-Amon get the last lizard laugh? “Bool of My Blood” exposes the unspoken shame of Conan. He can’t read. Even when this is exposed, Conan still gets a scholarship offer from John Calipari. Conan does learn to read so that he can’t be duped in the near future. “The Queen of Stygia” turns Conan against his friends with an evil spell. He needs to be flipped before he slices and dices his companions.
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