All posts by alanwp

Jean-Claude Van Damme stars in the gritty crime thriller “We Die Young”

Action legend Jean-Claude Van Damme takes a powerful and dramatic turn in the action-packed crime thriller We Die Young, available on Blu-ray (plus Digital), DVD and Digital on April 9 from Lionsgate. (The film is currently available On Demand.)

When ruthless drug lord Rincon and his MS-13 gang recruit 10-year-old Miguel to work as a runner in a crime-ridden barrio in Washington, D.C., big brother Lucas is desperate to keep Miguel safe. Fleeing for their lives, the boys are rescued by an Afghanistan war veteran with PTSD named Daniel (played by Van Damme), who helps them find their revenge. Finally, on the wedding day of Rincon’s sister, the ghetto explodes with violence.

Based on the award-winning short film Roads (2008 Student Academy Award for Honorary Foreign Film Award – Foreign Short; 2008 London Film Festival – Short Film), which screened at more than 70 international film festivals and held the Guinness World Record for Most Awards Won by a Student Film, We Die Young focuses on the struggles of gang life in Washington, D.C.
We Die Young also stars Elijah Rodriguez, Joana Metrass and David Castañeda. The Blu-ray and DVD includes a commentary with writer-director Lior Gellar and members of the cast, a storyboard-to-screen comparison and the featurette “On the Set of We Die Young”. 

Lucy will have you laughing and on the ball . . . but not that Lucy

Charlie Brown knows the truth: “Happiness is anyone and anything that’s loved by you.”

And though the he thinks he’s not so well liked, people love him. Even Lucy. Even if he doesn’t have a nickel.

Lovable Lucy takes the spotlight in Lucy: Speak Out! Andrews McMeel, $9.99), the latest collection of Peanuts comics for kids.
In this de(lightful collection of classic Peanuts comics for younger readers, Lucy rallies her friends to speak out for equal rights for women.
Between social causes and dropping fly balls in the outfield, Lucy decides to write a biography of Beethoven, much to Schroeder’s dismay.
Meanwhile, life in the Peanuts gang is as hilarious as always: Woodstock takes up farming, Peppermint Patty struggles to make the grade, and Charlie Brown’s rotten luck lands him in the hospital. You won’t want to miss this latest edition of outstanding Peanuts fun.

Dane Cook is not only for laughs: Check out his powerful role in the crime thriller “American Exit”

We love it when actors cook up something that will make an impression. Take comedian Dane Cook. He’s quite the stunner in a new type of role in the intense crime-thriller based on a true story, American Exit, arriving on DVD, Digital and On Demand May 14 from Lionsgate.

Based on an incredible true story, this searing crime-thriller stars  Cook as Charlie, a desperate father who steals a million-dollar painting from Anton (played by Udo Kier), a shady art dealer. With time running out, he flees to the California desert with his rebellious teen son, Leo (Levi Miller).
But when Anton and his henchman come seeking revenge, the situation explodes into violence, and suddenly Charlie is not the only one whose days may be numbered.

Laurie B. Arnold’s Latest in Her Acclaimed “Hello, There” Series is a Main Bain Adventure!

I have a good friend (she was the editor-in-chief of Redbook of which I was the Entertainment Editor) who left Madhattan and moved with her hubby and kids to Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Washington State.

I don’t see her often. And sorely miss her.

And then . . . faster than a dolphin can be seen frolicking in Puget Sound, I found that Hello, There I’m Coming Home!, the third (and final) kids’ book in Laurie B. Arnold’s highly acclaimed “Hello There” series, takes place on Bainbridge Island!
In this third and final book in the series, plucky Madison McGee, along with her magic fanny pack and the MegaPix6000, a TV she uses to teleport into whatever is playing on the screen, is on a fateful trip back to the Island, where she grew up, to spend the summer with her best friends, Noah and Violet.
It’s an emotional journey, shadowed with memories of her mother, and questions about her father’s disappearance. As Madison and her dog Leroy travel from New Mexico to the west coast, she opens her fanny pack and discovers a photo of a black-haired boy. Even though she’s sure he’s a stranger, she intuitively knows that he needs her help. Again, it’s the MegaPix6000 to the rescue, and the “Mighty Trio” enters a weird and frightening world of magicians, shape-shifters and evil doers.
The biggest mystery for Madison to solve is a personal one. Her search for answers leads her to discover that sometimes life changes in unimaginable ways, and that the unexpected can finally lead her home.
And me? Now I can join Madison. And participate in some armchair traveling. Next time I actually visit,  maybe I’ll bump into Laurie, her husband Steve and her “perfect fuzzy dog Scout.” Isn’t he cute? What about the other pooch? That dog, she explains, “is my friend’s golden retriever, Jake, who always likes to get in on the action. “
I think I’ll send a note to the author (below with two of her most charming pooches), asking her (nicely) to have Madison return for yet another adventure! You can write her as well by visiting her @ lauriearnoldbooks.com.
You can find the Madison’s adventure @ amzn.to/2TAYatv.

“Hot to Trot” celebrates the joyous world of same-sex competitive ballroom dance

Mad Hot Ballroom meets Paris is Burning? Or is it RuPaul’s Drag Race meets Dancing with the Stars? Whatever your reference, the award-winning and crowd-pleasing documentary Hot to Trot offers a deep-dive look inside the fascinating but little-known world of same-sex competitive ballroom dance.

Gail Freedman’s lively, poignant film follows an international cast of four magnetic men and women over several years, on and off the dance floor, as they journey to the quadrennial Gay Games. Along the way, dancing is revealed to be both a means of overcoming personal hardships—from drug addiction to familial rifts—and a joyous opportunity to merge passionate artistic expression with proud sexual identity.

Ready to enjoy something sweet? Order “Peppermint Soda”, new from Cohen Film Collection

Whenever Charles S. Cohen, Chairman and CEO of Cohen Media Group, has something to say, we listen. Closely. The newest film the Cohen Film Collection has released: director Diane Kurys’ acclaimed debut film, Peppermint Soda, now on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms.
In the vein of such coming-of-age classics as Francois Truffaut’s The 400 BlowsPeppermint Soda captures a particular moment in the tumultuous life and development of two young people. Anne (played by Eléonore Klarwein) and Frederique (Odile Michel) are teenage sisters in 1963 France, torn between divorced parents and struggling with the confines of their strict school. Along the way, they undergo an awakening both political and romantic.
Diane Kurys’ celebrated film, with cinematography by Oscar-winning Philippe Rousselot, revels in the comedy and tragedy of the seemingly mundane, weaving a complex tapestry of everyday existence that also touches on the universal. The world cinema classic received a 2K restoration for its 40th-anniversary theatrical re-release in 2018, and Cohen Film Collection is proud to present k this striking new restoration for home viewing.
The flicwas the first film by actress-turned-writer/director Kurys, and instantly established her as a highly personal filmmaker drawing on her own life for cinematic inspiration. It won France’s Prix Louis Delluc, while the U.S. National Board of Review’s 1979 awards honored it as Top Foreign Film.
The Cohen Film Collection’s deluxe Blu-ray and DVD of Peppermint Sodaboth include interviews with Diane Kurys and actress Eléonore Klarwein; the featurette “A Meeting with Yves Simon;” a scrapbook of the film; the French restoration trailer; and the 2018 re-release trailer.

“Before Stonewall”, back and better than its initial theatrical release

Everything old is new again. An important move by First Run Features, who are proud to announce the theatrical re-release of the legendary documentary Before Stonewall on June 21 in New York and June 28 in Los Angeles, with other cities to follow. Fifty years after the riots gave birth to the modern lesbian and gay liberation movement, and with substantial progress made, LGBTQ Americans still find themselves fighting on many fronts for full equality, in the U.S. and around the world. Before Stonewall offers a potent reminder of what life was like for LGBTQ people before that extraordinary event.

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, leading to three nights of rioting by the city’s gay community. With this outpouring of courage and unity the gay and lesbian liberation movement had begun.

Before Stonewall pries open the closet door, setting free the dramatic story of the sometimes horrifying public and private existences experienced by LGBT Americans since the early 1900’s. Revealing and often humorous, this widely acclaimed film relives the emotionally-charged sparking of today’s gay rights movement, from the events that led to the fevered 1969 riots to many other milestones in the brave fight for acceptance.

Experience the fascinating and unforgettable, decade-by-decade history of homosexuality in America through eye-opening historical footage and amazing interviews with those who lived through an often brutal closeted history. The theatrical re-release of Before Stonewall is a chance for audiences to experience this eye-opening film on the big screen, with an audience, the way it was meant to be seen.

Narrated by iconic author Rita Mae Brownthe film features stirring interviews with pioneering cultural figures and activists including Audre Lorde, Allen Ginsberg, Harry Hay, Richard Bruce Nugent, Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings.

Undercover at Walmart for three months: The stories that “Walmart: Diary of an Associate” tell!

Walmart. You either love the mega-chain. Or hate it.

In 2012, journalist Hugo Meunier spent three months undercover as a Walmart employee in St. Leonard, Quebec, just north of Montreal. And he survived to write about it.

In Walmart: Diary of an Associate (Fernwood Publishing , $22, March 1), Meunier charts the daily life of an impoverished Walmart worker, referring to his shifts at the box store giant as “somewhere between the army and Walt Disney.” Each shift began with a daily chant before bowing to customer demands and the constant pressure to sell.  And since Meunier and his fellow workers could not afford to shop anywhere else, they became further indentured to the multi-billion-dollar corporation.

Beyond his time on the shop floor, Meunier documents (in great detail) the extraordinary efforts that Walmart exerts to block unionization campaigns, including their 2005 decision to close their outlet in the city of Jonquiere, where the United Food and Commercial Workers union had successfully gained certification rights. A decade later he charts the Supreme Court of Canada ruling that exposed the dubious legal ground on which Walmart stood in invoking closure and throwing workers out on the street.

Walmart: Diary of an Associate will make you think twice before shopping there.

“The Sunday Sessions” offers a disturbing but riveting look into conversion therapy

The Sunday Sessions (First Run Features) offers an intimate portrait of a deeply conflicted young man named Nathan, who is struggling to reconcile his religious conviction and sexual identity.

In this observational documentary, the filmmakers are given unfettered access as Nathan willingly attends clandestine conversion therapy sessions, family sessions,and weekend camps with an alluring therapist. The result is a sensitively crafted emotional and psychological thriller, which chronicles two years of his journey from acceptance to skepticism, all leading to a profound epiphany.

Although it has been discredited by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations, some disturbing and unsettling quacks still offer conversion therapy for reasons almost exclusively rooted in a conservative religious belief system.

Let us share director Richard Yeagley’s statement about the documentary
“The filming and production of this documentary proved time and time again to be an emotionally taxing process. I knew from the outset that access was going to be the most important element to producing this story. I didn’t want to make a film that was a presentation of facts (something that relied on talking head interviews and an authoritative voice-over narration); I wanted to tell a personal story of an individual’s journey through this therapy.

Instead of an exposé or advocacy-based documentary, I preferred to tackle the story with an observational, fly-on-the-wall approach. I wanted access to the therapy sessions and to the personal life of the protagonist. In order to garner such access, I knew I had to strip myself, as best I could, of bias and approach the film as objectively and curiously as possible.

With all this said, biting my tongue was difficult at times. In many situations, and specifically when things started to get emotionally dark for Nathan, I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him that everything was going to be alright. I wanted to recommend that he move out of rural Virginia, and into a city like New York or Washington D.C., where there is more diversity and a bigger support system for the LGBTQ community. But as a documentary filmmaker employing the observational technique, this was not my role. So I remained observant, and strictly so, in hopes that it would result in the creation of a powerful, thought-provoking film.”

-Richard Yeagley

A teenager. A baby T. Rex named Albert. let the fun begin in “The Adventures of Jurassic Pet”

Save the date: On April 16, Lionsgate releases The Adventures of Jurassic Pet on DVD, Digital, and On Demand. This is a cute,  amusing film about an adventurous teenager adopts and hatches a baby T. Rex (that he names Albert), but then must rescue the creature from a mad scientist who wants to clone a whole new breed of dinosaurs.