Behind The Burly Q – The Story Of Burlesque (2010/First Run DVD) + Pretty Things by Liz Goldwyn (Regan Books/Hardcover) + Blue Valentine (2010/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)
+ Cougars Inc. (2010/Image Blu-ray)
+ Now & Later (2011/Cinema Libre
DVD) + Year Of The
Carnivore (2009/Maya DVD)
Picture: C+/B/B/C/C+ Sound: C+/B/B/C+/C+ Extras: C+/B-/C-/C/C- Main Programs: B/B-/C-/C+/C Book: B
society deals with sexuality in media is always an interesting situation to
look at. It has become an issue all over
again in several new, interesting releases we will now look at…
Zemeckis’ documentary Behind The Burly Q
(2010) deals with the earliest days of this in modern terms of the rise of
Burlesque entertainment in the U.S.
and is far more interesting than the Cher
film. Painstakingly researched and
compiled, everything from old footage, new interviews, stills and other items
have been put together to show this form of entertainment’s role in society and
how it was a counterpart to mainstream entertainment and closer to it than many
might have wanted to admit to at the time.
certainly plays a big role during The Great Depression and continued to
represent the most risqué in female sexuality until the 1950s and changing
times started to affect the business. We
meet the stars, hear amazing stories, hear about audience reaction and just how
big this was nationwide. I found it very
entertaining, smart and a long-overdue overview of a key part of the culture
and its history. Extras include a Photo
Gallery, Original Theatrical Trailer, Timeline, Bonus Interviews and three
featurettes: The Reunion, Memorabilia & Costumes and Behind The
Scenes. I wanted more and moiré than
that Cher film, so at the same time, we got a
solid hardcover coffee table book on the subject.
Pretty Things by Liz Goldwyn has some overlap
with the documentary as expected, but focuses on the final generation of these
often forgotten performers and is a well written, richly illustrated volume
that brings home further the era with its high quality paper and photo
reproduction. At 286 pages, it is the
kind of book you used to see all the time in the 1970s before home video,
giving the reader as much information as possible to appreciate and much more
than text. Well researched, it makes a
fine flipside piece to Behind The Burly
the supposed advancements over a half-century later, people (in part thanks to
certain cynical, opportunistic forces) still have issues with human
sexuality. When Derek Cianfrance’s film Blue Valentine (2010) was first rated,
it received an NC-17, shocking those few who had seen it. With little violence, but a good share of
nudity and sexual situations, it was tame as compared to so much garbage we see
today. That was appealed and the film
now has an R-rating, so what was the big deal?
Gosling and Michelle Williams play a married couple at a crossroads, but their
passion could save them, yet they need more.
They need to connect. He is
somewhat of a burnout at times, but does care, while she is not certain if they
have a future and the film deals with that and if there is any way they can
find a way to reconnect. Their
performances are daring, honest and the sexuality is just so casual and natural
that it was likely a shock to the raters, yet it is never dumb, silly, unreal
or sleazy. The script keeps all in
context to its narrative with interesting asides, but the film can be uneven by
playing it loose (no pun intended) at times.
Little noted is the interesting chemistry the actors achieve that is not
easy under these conditions. Extras
include Deleted Scenes, Home Movies, a Making Of featurette and feature length
audio commentary by Cianfrance and Co-Editor Jim Helton.
nearly as challenging, but sexual just the same is K. Asher Levin’s highly
unrealistic Cougars Inc. (2010), a
goofy tale of a young school guy (Kyle Gallner) becoming a de-facto pimp
matching up younger men his age (from his school too) with hot and sexy older
women (Denise Richards helps it in that respect) but a somewhat miscast Jim
Belushi as a teacher trying to help our poor pimp and laughable opening where
said pimp explains (as if he were an African American Urban Gangster type) what
is happening is laughable and weak.
script is all overt the place, so when they realize frontin’ will not carry 82
minutes of would-be narrative, it tries to be a comedy, then a drama, then have
various sex scenes. If only any of this
would cohere, but this is just a cynical exploitation piece that could have had
potential if they had focused on its more serious aspects and let the comedy
and sex just happen. Instead, it is a
dud and any love story aspects here also seem too forced. Extras include a Deleted Scene, dumb Cougars 101 piece, trailers and feature
length audio commentary by Levin, Gallner and co-star Kathryn Morris.
better is Philippe Diaz’s Now &
Later (2011) about a couple that comes together under odd
circumstances. Bill (James Wortham) is a
financial executive on the run and about to leave the country when he meets the
sexy Angela (Shari Solanis) who becomes instantly attracted to him and vice
versa, so they begin a hot sexual relationship, but this is mixed with serious
conversations about power, politics, money and how people are in a script that
shows how people really talk about these subjects and they resonate considering
he is now a criminal and she is a minority woman ignored too much by society. The actors are also bold here.
say this is nearly a love relationship, but he is not staying and they know it,
nor do they pretend anything. If
anything, the relationship is later challenged by one of her ideas of
experimenting, after which the film does not seem to be as realistic, but it
has honestly on the level of Blue
Valentine and if not as successful, it is certainly as ambitious and maybe
a little more graphic making it worth a look.
Extras include trailers, cast interviews and a deleted sex scene that
made me debate whether it should have stayed or not. It is certainly the most potent on the disc.
we have Trish Dolman’s Year Of The
Carnivore (2009), which also is about a potentially sexually honest,
explicit relationship and how Sammi (Cristin Milioti) buries it in strange sex
encounters and even breaking the law.
This is mostly a comedy, but has some good moments, though the ultimate
problem is that it cannot concentrate on what it wants to be by trying to do
too much. Though not as scattered as Cougars, it has the same problems with
trivializing the subjects addressed. The
only extra is a behind the scenes featurette.
digital High Definition image on Valentine
(1.66) and Cougars (2.35) both look
good, though Valentine is a little
more stylized and realistic, these are both solid HD presentations and Cougars looked better than I thought it
would. They also have DTS-HD MA (Master
Audio) lossless 5.1 mixes and both are rich, warm and have fine soundfields. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 DVDs all
are soft and originate on digital HD video, but Later is softer as the video format seems older and has more motion
blur. Those DVDs all have Dolby Digital
2.0 Stereo that vary in quality, with Burly
having its share of old monophonic sound and all have some volume drop flaws
and other location audio issues, but are all adequate for what they are.
- Nicholas Sheffo