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May 31, 2016

TV Review: Lady Dynamite (Netflix, 2016)

Many of us know Maria Bamford for her stand-up comedy. Others may know her from her short stint in the first Netflix season of Arrested Development. What many don't know, unless you've heard her in some recent podcast interviews, is that she has spent most of her life dealing with mental health issues. While many thought Lady Dynamite was an Arrested Development spinoff, likely due to the Mitchell Hurwitz connection, it serves as a touching and hilarious autobiography.

Maria plays herself in different time periods throughout her own life. We see the past, present and scenes from time spent getting care in Duluth. She is surrounded by odd family members and friends played by Mo Collins, Ana Gasteyer, Ed Begley, Jr., Bridget Everett, Dean Cain and more. One of the more interesting storytelling methods is having Comedians of Comedy partners Brian Posehn and Patton Oswalt break character to make sure Bamford doesn't replicate other shows led by comedians.

May 30, 2016

Movie Review: Dolemite (Vinegar Syndrome, 1975)

It's strange to think of a pimp as a hero, but in 1975, Rudy Ray Moore did that with a character he created in his stand-up act. He made Dolemite a man of the people. Not only was he popular with those in his neighborhood, but the head of the prison where he was locked up trusted him enough to set him free so that he could take down a vicious rival. It's funny, but if Dolemite was made today, it could be done as a serious action film. Instead, we get legendary Blaxploitation gold.

Dolemite was one of the classics on my must-see list. It's up there in cult status with films like Shaft or Cannibal Holocaust. It has a loose story line, and it serves as more of a showcase for Moore's style of comedy. The basic premise is that one of Dolemite's ladies, Queen Bee, convinces the warden that he was framed in order to get him out of jail. The warden lets him loose knowing that only Dolemite can prove his own innocence. A rival named Willie Green (played by D'Urville Martin, who also directs), with the help of some crooked cops, had planted drugs and stolen furs in Dolemite's car. This got Dolemite out of the way with a twenty year prison sentence. As soon as Willie finds out he's back in action, he's chased by the same cast of criminals that put him away. It's a good thing his ladies have all been trained in kung fu.

May 13, 2016

Movie Review: Hawaii (1966)

Directed by George Roy Hill

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

After taking lovely Jerusha Bromley (the always radiant Julie Andrews, fresh from her success in Walt Disney's Mary Poppins that very year) in wedlock, stern, despicable missionary Abner Hale (Max von Sydow) sails the sea from 18th Century New England with other like-minded zealots to convert the heathens in Hawaii. After a perilous journey across the sea, they reach the lovely coastal outpost of Lahaina and are introduced to bounteous Queen Malama (Jocelyn LaGarde, in a singular performance that won an Academy Award nomination). There is the expected cultural clashes – all those beautiful native lovelies walking around topless, shocking for 1966, and the fact that the queen is married to her brother in order to protect the royal lineage! Hale does his collective worst to cram Northern European morals down the native's throats to limited to success, and scenes of broad violence and tragedy ensue. Hale does learn his lesson, alas, a little bit too late.

May 4, 2016

Movie Review: Betrothed (2016)

Who wants to watch a movie with fresh ideas, great acting, superb execution, and that overall goosebumps inducing emotion that leaves you physically drained, but in a good way, after watching it?

Not this bitch. Originality is for suckers.

Betrothed is a useless slice of celluloid brought to us by Red Cardinal Films. It’s like a used mattress - functionally, it might still be useable but not really worth the risk of bed bugs, possible mold, and the touch of hidden stains that only show up in black light.

Mamma and her two boys, Nate and Adam, kidnap young pretty gals to be the brides of the sons. Because what doesn’t scream romance and marriage longevity like a chloroform soaked rag to the face? As they live out in the desert, about 100 miles from town, they can get away with this for as long as they want. Which works out because the ladies they choose end up dead sooner rather than later (for various reasons - don’t bear kids, are dirty whores, too flippant, etc.) 

May 1, 2016

Movie Review: Luther the Geek (1990)

Directed by Carlton J. Albright

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Following a parole hearing that resembles a bar fight, it is determined that Luther Watts (Edward Terry), in spite of his previous convictions of murdering three people by tearing out their throats with his metal dentures is now a proper fit for society. Goggle-eyed, clucking Luther is free for a couple hours in rural Illinois before he thoroughly annoys some people at a supermarket and tears out the throat of a little old lady at a bus stop. Luther then covertly follows housewife Hilary (Joan Roth) to her isolated rural farmhouse and after some cat-and-mouse games, ties her to the bed. Hilary's daughter Beth (Stacy Haiduk) and her loutish boyfriend Rob (Thomas Mills) arrive at the farmhouse, and despite her mother's absence and clear evidence forced entry, engage in some hanky-panky. Luther leaps out and engages the characters in numerous chases. A youthful sheriff's deputy (J. Joseph Clarke) appears on the scene, but he's of little help. Blood sprays here and there before a bleakly comic conclusion.