By G. Michael Dobbsnews@thereminder.com
A fun new comedy and two great PBS shows are featured in this week’s film review column.
I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard of Brent Butt
– yes that is his real name. He is one of Canada’s top comics and the star and creator of the most successful sit-com in Canadian history.
Unlike so many other Canadians who’ve had success in show business, Butt doesn’t seem to be in too much of a hurry to make his mark in the United States. He is still a relatively unknown commodity here, although his show “Corner Gas,” did receive some airtime in syndication and is available on DVD through Netflix.
His character on “Corner Gas” was a small town guy who thinks he has his finger on the pulse of his community. In “No Clue
,” Butt plays a guy who freely admits he has little idea about what is happening around him, but he plunges ahead anyway.
Butt is Leo Falloon, who sells advertising novelties and whose life is turned upside down when a beautiful young woman named Kyra (Amy Smart) comes walking into his office. She wants to hire a detective and thinks she has one in front of her – she was walked into the wrong office – but Leo is so smitten he can’t make himself reveal that that he isn’t a private eye.
Progressively he becomes more determined to find her missing brother although his best pal Ernie played by David Koechner thinks he’s nuts.
Butt wrote the screenplay and not only is it funny, but it’s a legitimate mystery with clues tossed along the way that reveal the story and some nice twists and turns.
I liked this film a lot because it is so different especially in light of today’s crop of comedies. Butt’s smart and snappy dialogue delivers consistent laughs. His character really isn’t an idiot, especially by the end. Director Carl Bessai understands the demands of a film noir-like mystery and gives them to the audience.
If you’re looking for a different and genuinely funny comedy, be sure you see it.
The Lost Gardens of Babylon & Secrets of Underground London
I love history and I eagerly dug into these two PBS productions new to DVD.
As a kid, I remember teachers speaking about the seven wonders of the ancient world and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. All of the wonders have been confirmed by historians and archeologists, except for the Hanging Gardens.British researcher Dr. Stephanie Dally is an expert on Babylonian history
– she is one of the few people on the planet who can read cuneiforms, the writing of the ancient Assyrian people – and this production details her trip to Iraq to test her theories about the gardens.
What she finds confirms a location for the gardens and determines who built them. Much more work needs to be done, though, but can’t at this time due to the lack of stability in Iraq.
One thing I love about history is how it can hide in plain sight and “Secrets of Underground London
” shows how so much of the city’s history still exists under the surface.
London, being a city that has existed in one form or another for 2,000 years, is like an onion with one layer of development being built upon the ruins of a previous one. This documentary reveals ancient Roman ruins, buried rivers and several secret complexes from World War II.
Both shows are an hour-long and both left this history buff craving for more.