Tara Miele’s “Wander Darkly” haunts the souls of the cast…and the film’s viewers

Any movie with Beth Grant in its cast demands to be watched. Savored.  And watched again.

I have known this treasure since the ’80s. personally and professionally. she never disappointed me. Never.

And so Lionsgate will be releasing her latest film, Wander Darkly, on DVD and Blu-ray February.

There is so much we can praise about the film (writer/director Tara Miele’s swift direction), flawless performances by Sienna Miller, Diego Luna, Aimee Carrero, Tory Kittles, Vanessa Bayer and, of course, Grant.

Yet there is too much we cannot share [read: reveal] and spoil the film’s taut core. What we will share is that the tragic auto accident experienced by Adrienne (portrayed by Miller) and Matteo (Luna) send their loves into a surrealistic downward spiral . . .  forcing them to relive loving memories while confronting overwhelming truths. The final discovery? We clam up here.

Some say the film reminds them of Ghost. We see that. sort of.

But Wander Darkly is Miele’s champion . She offers a profound new perspective on the delicate nature of relationships with this emotionally moving story.

Trust us.


New, Exceptional PBS DVDs that Demand to Be Watched and Owned

Now hear this: We missed the first season, but from now on, this Great Performances series will create sounds of music. With Now Hear This, Season 2, Scott Yoo, star violinist and conductor, is back for the second season of the celebrated music miniseries.

Join him for more unexpected stories of our greatest composers; more spectacular journeys through Europe, the US and Canada; more breathtaking photography, locations and sound; and more unforgettable performances from some of today’s leading musicians.

Human Nature, once again, proves that our DNA can determine attributes from eye color to medical predispositions. An extraordinary technology called CRISPR allows us to edit human DNA, possibly eliminating genetic diseases or choosing our children’s features. But how far should we go?

Keith Haring: Street Art Boy chronicles the life and career of international art sensation Keith Haring, who blazed a trail through the legendary art scene of ’80s New York and revolutionized the worlds of pop culture and fine art. Haring’s message targeted the underlying threat of violence, sexual exploitation and political oppression. His art was shown in over one hundred group and solo exhibitions during his lifetime and he continues to be celebrated today.
Haring moved to New York in late ’70s from Kutztown, Pennsylvania, and quickly immersed himself in New York City culture. Influenced by the sounds of punk rock and the emerging gay scene, he enrolled at the School of Visual Arts, where he became fascinated by semiotics. His serpents and monsters, sinister technology and fallen angels decorated New York City in the form of graffiti, and the people of New York took notice. With his newfound success, he was embraced by icons of 80s popular culture: Vivienne Westwood, Grace Jones and Malcom McLaren.

In 1986, Harding opened The Pop Shop in SoHo, a boutique that featured his artwork. Through his many collaborations and successes, Haring battled AIDS and died on February 16, 1990. His art was shown in more than 100 group and solo exhibitions during his lifetime and he continues to be celebrated as a major artist today, with works on display in exhibitions and museums around the world.

Who says you need brains to be smart? Extremely primitive life-forms called slime molds can navigate mazes, choose between foods, and create efficient networks—no brain required. New research on these organisms, which are neither plant nor animal, could help reveal the fundamental rules underlying all decision making.
Welcome NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime.

Slime molds look like something out of science fiction, but these primitive, forest-dwelling organisms are very real. Now, scientists from across the globe team up to put one particular species, the electric yellow Physarum polycephalum, to the test. Fueled by oatmeal, these brainless blobs spread out in weblike patterns to navigate mazes and create efficient networks. They can even learn to tolerate chemical obstacles to reach their next meal. Can these remarkable organisms, which are neither plant nor animal, redefine intelligence and decision-making?

The British Royal Family are the most well-travelled monarchy in history. The Queen alone has been around the world 42 times, clocking up over 1,000,000 air miles. (Think of her frequent miles!) Secrets of Royal Travel tells the inside story of the monarchy on the move, taking us inside some of the most famous and yet secretive transport in the world.

The conveyance of royalty, whether to Balmoral or Buffalo, by steam or by jet, has always had its own mysterious traditions and protocols. These two programs open the door to the private world of the Royal Train and the Royal Flight. With exclusive insight from the people responsible for looking after the Queen and her family as they travel Britain and the globe, this remarkable archive of unexpected stories offers a rare insight into the Royals. Join us as we climb on board the world’s most exclusive locomotive and take to the skies for the five-star luxury of the Queen’s Flight.

Peter Laurence is a political outsider who is very popular with the people. Fresh from a successful libel case against a journalist printing stories alleging corruption, he’s a man on the rise. But Peter has plenty of skeletons in his closet. And soon he discovers another . . . an illegitimate daughter serving a prison sentence. It’s a secret that could ruin him. And one, apparently, that his Prime Minister ) already knows.
A fascinating piece of television, with (Helen McCrory and Hugh Laurie starring.

Peter is a risktaker. With his career balanced on a knife edge, he pushes on fearlessly with his own, divisive brand of common-sense libertarianism. As he goes out on a political limb, his problems mount. His daughter uncovers his marital infidelity and his family threatens to implode. His charm and charisma can smooth over anything. But Peter may have ignored the consequences of his actions for too long. The journalist he humiliated in court is now on a mission, and this time Peter may not be able to talk his way out of it.

It’s February 1953, the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Little does she know she is about to be deployed in a secret plot to topple Iran’s democratic leader in favor of an all-powerful Shah. Planned by Britain’s MI6 and executed by America’s C.I.A., the Coup D’Etat follows will destroy Iran’s last democracy, the coup that follows destroys relations between Iran and the West.  The details are chronicled in The Queen and the Coup.

Most shocking of all, the truth about Her Majesty’s role will be hidden from the Queen herself, and even the all-powerful Shah who will be used by Britain and American to replace Iran’s last democratic Prime Minister. The coup will lead to political upheaval all over the Middle East for decades to come, eventually resulting in the Islamic Revolution of 1979 which will end the reign of the Shah, and British and American influence in Iran, inspiring countless other Islamist revolutions around the world.
Using newly declassified documents this film unravels this secret for the first time.

The First Alphabet
Where would we be without the world’s alphabets? Writing has played a vital role in the expansion and domination of cultures throughout history. But researchers are only now uncovering the origin story to our own alphabet, which may have gotten its beginnings in a turquoise mine thousands of years ago. From the shape of the letter A to the role of writing in trade and storytelling, discover how the written word shaped civilization itself.

How Writing Changed the World
Just as writing changed the course of human history, the evolution of paper and printing revolutionized the spread of information. The printing press kicked off the Industrial Revolution that fast-tracked us to the current digital age. But as the millennia-old tradition of penmanship falls out of favor, should we consider what might be lost in this pursuit of ever more efficient communication?


A most puzzling nail-biting film: The cyber-thriller “Dark Web: Cicada 3301”

The thin line between the digital and real world blurs with heart-stopping results in the cyber-thriller Dark Web: Cicada 3301, uploading onto Digital and On Demand March 12, and available on Blu-ray and DVD March 16 from Lionsgate. Inspired by Cicada 3301, one of the most famous on-line puzzles in internet history, this high-speed, action-packed thrill ride stars Jack Kesy, Conor Leslie and Alan Ritchson, along with Ron Funches and Andreas Apergis.

When disenfranchised hacker Connor (Kesy), his affable best friend Avi (Funches), and the cunning librarian Gwen (Leslie) discover a mysterious online treasure hunt, they must elude aggressive NSA agents, led by Agent Carver (Ritchson), as the trio race to find the clues and claim their prize.

Dark Web: Cicada 3301 marks the high-energy directorial debut of co-star Alan Ritchson, who co-wrote the screenplay with Joshua Montcalm Discover more about the making of this nail-biting thriller, and the elaborate on-line puzzle that inspired it, when Dark Web: Cicada 3301 arrives on Blu-ray and DVD with bonus features including a commentary and deleted scenes.

Great flick: Natasha Henstridge + Steve Byers + Chinook + a brave malamute = “Hero Dog: The Journey Home”

Doggone it! Leave it to Lionsgate to have such a fun flick coming out:  The thrilling family-friendly adventure where man’s best friend comes to the rescue, Hero Dog: The Journey Home, debuts on Digital, On Demand and DVD March 23. This inspiring story of a blind man finding the hope and strength to survive, the film was awarded the Dove Seal of Approval for All Ages.

Starring Natasha Henstridge, this breathtaking family adventure shows how one animal’s courage can inspire us all. Crossing a lake by boat to return to his family, Royce (played by Steve Byers), who is blind, is stranded when the boat’s captain suddenly falls ill. To find help, Royce enlists Chinook, a brave malamute, to serve as his seeing-eye dog as they navigate the wilderness. Chinook must protect Royce from treacherous rapids, jagged rocks, and savage mountain lions on their long, heroic journey of survival.

The Russians are coming! At least they came, to praise “AK47: Kalashnikov”

The Russians are coming! At least they came, to praise AK47: Kalashnikov, the film that Capelight Pictures launches on
Digital and DVD  on February 16. Says critic Denis Korsakov of Komsomolskaya Pravda: “This film is not the history of a machine gun, but the history of a man. Kalashnikov is a drama focused on an inventor: stubborn and purposeful, his desire in it often prevails over circumstances, such a person can move progress forward. …  The character comes out alive and human in the whole sum of virtues and flaws.  Of course, without the great acting work of Yuri Borisov, nothing would have happened.  This year Borisov is one of the most notable (if not the most!) Russian actors of the last two years, and we should praise him for his diversity …”

What’s the fuss? The Eastern Front, 1941: Young tank commander Mikhail Kalashnikov is seriously wounded in battle. Unable to work and with no prospect of returning to the front, yet eager to continue to help his country, he begins developing designs for a more robust, effective and reliable assault rifle. With the help of a few train welders, Kalashnikov’s first prototype catches the interest of a high-ranking military official. This opens the first of many doors for Kalashnikov, allowing him to take part in country-wide weapons design competitions—pitting his designs and ideas against the most renowned inventors of the Soviet Union. And in his pursuit of perfection, Kalashnikov does everything he can to ensure that the world’s most advanced and reliable weapon—the AK-47—goes into production.

He and she met, fell madly in love and wrote decades of cherished love letters . . . proof that the heart still matters, on paper

Perhaps nothing is as sweet and heartfelt as a love letter. Writing them is a lost art . . . in this frenzied society, couples would rather email and text thoughts of affection and love, often punctuated with one of those ugly, rude heart-shaped icons.  Does anyone even know how to write in longhand?

And so we introduce you to Bob and Mariellen, a young man and woman who met at a USO dance in the summer of 1942. She was a college student at UCLA; he was a college student training as an aviation cadet. It was the onset of World War II, and fell madly in love before he was shipped to the South Pacific. They saw each other almost every weekend through the summer and fall, marrying that winter, before Bob was shipped overseas.

And so we introduce you to Letters Across the Pacific: A Love Story in the Time of War (BookLocker, $18.99). This is the story is about lovers and their lives, lives lived mostly through letters. It is a story written by the person who knew them well: Daughter April.

Their love letters are time capsules. We glimpse a marriage during the ’40s, during time in the South Pacific during WWII. We read slang and military jargon. We hear longing on both sides. We listen while they write of babies born and thunderstorms raging.

As time went on, Bob shares his feelings about phone calls, mail and the war. Mariellen continues to be supportive but also deals with the effects of staying home alone, pregnancy and her haunting concern for her husband’s safety.

Through WWII and the Korean War, they continue to navigate their lives through letters. Children arrive. Love endures.

The letters were saved and treasured by both of them. The letters traveled the world. And they survived. This story is the true account of their lives, told by them and related by their daughter.

We cannot think of a sweeter, more touching valentine.

What a cast! What a comedy! “The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee” hits stores for Valentine’s Day 

Golden Globe winner Paul Hogan plays himself in the boisterous comedy The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee, available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital on February 16 from Lionsgate. (This film is currently available On Demand.)

Retired in Los Angeles and overshadowed by his Crocodile Dundee character, Hogan is offered a knighthood by the Queen of England. But before he can accept it, Hogan gets caught up in a series of comical scandals that dominate gossip shows and social media feeds. Can he keep his reputation clean long enough to hang onto his prize—and his dignity?

Take a “Spacewalk” with a couple of Russians. This is a true story, unlike most “news” exported from the country

Who says all Russians are evil criminals who hack America?

Meet Oleg Pogodin, Irina Pivovarova, Sergey Korotkov, Dmitry Pinchukov and Dmitry Kiselev, the team who wrote (first 4) and directed Spacewalker, a nifty thrilling flick.

In the heat of the Cold War, the USSR and USA compete for supremacy in outer space. Both superpowers race to be the first nation to have a man complete a spacewalk. No price is too high and no risk is too great.

To set off one of man kind’s most ambitious missions, the USSR pair the unlikely duo of a seasoned war veteran, Pavel Belyayev, and a fearless test-pilot, Alexei Leonov. Without proper testing, and inside a tiny spaceship, the two astronauts launch into the unknown to take on what no man has done before . . .
Catch the action when the DVD is released on January 17, courtesy of Capelight Pictures and MPI Media Group.

Transgender titillation: Warhol’s he/she chronicled in “Candy Darling”

Poor Candy. She got more than 15 minutes of fame, but died at age 29 . . . four years before he became as she. Her fame was fleeting. Chronicling the short but influential life of transgender pioneer Candy Darling, a major part of Andy Warhol’s entourage, Beautiful Darling delivers audiences to a bygone era, recapturing the excitement of a long lost New York City to recount the story of Darling, a star in the constellation of Warhol’s Factory.
Candy Darling on her death bed
By the mid-’60s Jimmy Slattery, born in the Long Island suburb of Massapequa in ’44, had become Candy, a gorgeous blond actress and throwback to Hollywood’s golden age. This persona won her starring roles in two Warhol movies, parts in mainstream films and a lead role in Tennessee Williams’ play. Her ethereal beauty attracted such taste-making photographers as Robert Mapplethorpe, Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon and Peter Beard. She was the inspiration behind two of Lou Reed’s best known songs, Candy Says and Walk on the Wild Side, and was one of the most unusual and charismatic fixtures in the explosive downtown, underground scene of late ’60s/early ’70s New York.

Candy’s journey of self-discovery and transformation becomes, for director James Rasin, a tragic allegory for our fame and media obsessed times. But it is also a gripping story with a simple, universal theme: One person’s pursuit of their own American Dream. The film interweaves rare archival footage and both historical and contemporary interviews (Tennessee Williams, Paul Morrissey,  Fran Lebowitz, Holly Woodlawn among many others) with excerpts from Candy’s own diaries and letters, which are voiced, to devastating effect, by Oscar nominee and Golden Globe Award-winning actress Chloë Sevigny.

Betty White and Allen Ludden return,. of sorts. The passwords are: ‘Pet Set’.

And the password is . . .
Every one knows that Betty White loves animals, especially dogs. Every one she still loves Allan Ludden, her husband of a mere 17 years, who died from complications of  stomach cancer on June 9, 1981, at age 63.
Fifty years ago, the Luddens came up with an idea that remains a a project still close to White’s heart:  The Pet Set, a TV series that she conceived, wrote and produced (and on which Ludden served as announcer).
The show, alas, lasted just one year, and 39 episodes.
According to her autobiography, White recalls that the show was cancelled when Carnation Company decided to put their advertising budget exclusively to commercials rather than having an amount aside for programming.
Finally, the show is back making its debut on digital platforms and DVD on February 23, 2021. Celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary and renamed for publicity push,  Betty White’s Pet Set will be released by MPI Media Group in partnership with Darren Wadyko Media and Albets Enterprises. The three entities have come together to make this series available to fans, marking the first time it will be seen in decades. “If I haven’t told you already, I will now. The Pet Set is one of my favorite shows. I’m thrilled it’s going to be seen again after all these years,” coos White.
The show featured Ludden and White welcoming their celebrity friends with their dogs, cats and horses, in addition to a wide range of wild animals including tigers, bears, elephants, lions, wolves, gorillas, chimps, cougars, cheetahs, seals, kangaroos, zebras, eagles, snakes and penguins––both in the studio and on location.
The 39 episodes of the series, unseen for decades, feature such guests as Carol Burnett, Doris Day, Eva Gabor, Paul Lynda, Agnes Moorehead, Jimmy Stewart, Mary Tyler Moore, Burt Reynolds, Shirley Jones, Michael Landon, Bob Crane, Amanda Blake, Vikki Carr, Barbara Eden, James Brolin, Della Reese, Vincent Price and Rod Serling.
Special features on the set includes a  look behind the scenes of the series, original promotional spots, the featurettes Betty White: Game Show Goddess and Daytime Hostess: The Betty White Show, Betty’s Photo Album and her public service ads.
Bet it becomes your pet set!

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