“The Return” and a few others

Do not confuse this “The Return” (Kanopy) with a number of very bad horror movies and one wonderful documentary by Kelly Duane De La Vega (not yet released) by the same name. This is a 2007 Russian film described by one critic as a “metaphysical drama”. The surface plot involves the return of a father after a twelve year disappearance. In what may or may not be an attempt to bond with his two teen sons–one 15 and one 13, he takes them on a fishing trip. Given the tiny bit we know about him, this is predictably a bad idea. I would describe the real plot as a psychic journey into the tortured relationship many men have with their fathers. The father’s motivations are suspicious, his attempts at fathering, toxic and punitive. Even before the father’s unexpected appearance on the scene, we are introduced to the issue of masculinity and its terrors in the behavior of the protagonists’ young group of friends. The cinematography is gorgeous and the acting superb. I highly recommend “The Return” for post-screening discussion.

“The OIyer House: Richard Neutra’s Desert Retreat” (Kanopy) Lone Pine, California is the setting for many a John Wayne shoot ’em ups and other Westerns. But this delightful 48 minute documentary is about the house Richard Neutra designed for a young working class couple and their six children. Considered a modernist master, Neutra built homes for many, mostly California- based wealthy families. However, in this case he was intrigued by the parcel of property purchased by the Oylers. Not only did he design the home at greatly reduced cost, but he and his wife maintained a lifelong friendship with the Oylers, visiting every year for a prolonged stay. Neutra studied with Frank Lloyd Wright (but he comes across as a much nicer, more humble person). Actress Kelly Lynch bought the house from the Oylers who both died in their late eighties around the time the film was released.

“Road House” (Amazon) Kelly Lynch was so impressive–intelligent, sensitive, lovely– in her interviews about her Lone Pine Neutra that I was compelled to watch one of her films. I had already seen “Drugstore Cowboy” so her 1989 “Road house” co-starring the mulleted Patrick Swayze was the choice. Swayze is a “cooler”, head bouncer hired to clean up a club riddled with people who like to start fights and women who take off their clothes and gyrate–unpaid, no less. Oy vey. Lots of blood, huge number of gory fight scenes, boob shots, ankle shots, sashaying butt shots, very bad sexy girls, you know the scene. (Kelly plays a good girl doctor who inexplicably was married years before to total evil cigar smoking Ben Gazzara but is now Swayze’s love interest.) Ah Hollywood! Sam Elliot plays a samurai-like Cooler with an almost mythical reputation who roams the West and supports protege Swayze. Apparently there is a Roadhouse 2. I won’t be watching it, but if my review has you interested, let me know how it is.

“Better Things” (Hulu, You Tube, Apple T.V.) I love it! Pamela Adlon produces, writes, and stars in an FX six season series about a single mother, “working actor” (not major famous, but working enough to make a living), her friends, her ex, her mother and her three daughters. Watch it. I am not alone in my accolades–i

“This Fool” (Hulu) A comedy set in South Central L.A. with recovering gang members as most, but not all of the main characters, “This Fool” made me laugh in spite of my reservations. Michael Imperioli (Christopher in The Sopranos), one of the few whites in the series, plays a minister in the “Hugs, not Thugs” rehab center. I’ve only watched two episodes, so I’m not sure how the remaining episodes hold up. The idea of “thugs” as aging arthritics is not a new concept, but the comic team is so talented that they manage to pull it off pretty well.

A Final Note: Please send in recommendations. My movie well seems to be running a bit dry. And not much out there has me putting on a mask and risking a movie theatre infection.

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