All posts by alanwp

Don’t skip “Skiptrace”; Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville and a fluffy and funny flick

The critics may not have skipped their praise for Skiptrace, but we found it as funny as a bowling ball that serves another purpose: Possible murder weapon.  Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville team up in the hilarious action-packed buddy comedy, arriving on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital) and Digital HD on October 25 from Lionsgate. The film is currently available On Demand.

For years, by-the-book Hong Kong detective Benny Chan (Chan) has tried to avenge his partner’s murder at the hands of a drug lord. Chan’s Chan meets freewheeling American gambler Connor Watts (Knoxville), who has an important piece of evidence that will bring the man who murdered Chan’s partner to justice.

Those expecting a hard-boiled film noir should remember this fick comes from acclaimed director Renny Harlin; think Die Harder, Cliffhanger, Deep Blue Sea. Fluff and funny.

Julie Walters, again, proves why “Indian Summers” is “a terrific melodrama with brains.”

America is still reeling from a record-breaking hot summer and an Indian Summer is in the wings. We’d much rather savor Indian Summers . . . the continuing story of love, death and unbridled ambition, set in British India’s exotic summer capital in the ’30s that has been hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a terrific melodrama with brains.” PBS Distribution will be releasing “Masterpiece: Indian Summers Season” on DVD and Blu-ray on September 27. The program will also be available for digital download.

The series stars Julie Walters (below) plus “a constellation of strong performances” (Los Angeles Times)—among them Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Nikesh Patel and Jemima West. New this season are Art Malik, Rachel Griffiths, Blake Ritson and James Fleet.indian-summers-s1-julie-walters-6-things-1920x1080

Viewers will recall that last season ends with colonial official Ralph Whelan (Lloyd-Hughes) deftly playing his hand to be the next Viceroy of India and engaged to American socialite Madeline Mathers (Olivia Grant). Learning that Madeline is penniless, he decides to marry her anyway since she impresses all the right people. However, Madeline doesn’t know that Ralph has a mixed-race son, Adam, by his former lover Jaya, or that Ralph was complicit in hanging an innocent man for Jaya’s murder.

In other action, Ralph’s sister, Alice (West), is secretly having an affair with Ralph’s Indian head clerk, Aafrin Delal (Patel), while Aafrin is clandestinely aiding the Indian independence movement. All of these events revolve around the social scene in India’s summer capital, Simla, presided over by crafty military widow Cynthia Coffin (Walters).

As Season 2 opens, it is three years later, 1935. Ralph and Madeline are married. Aafrin has just returned from an official posting in Bengal, where he has fallen in love with freedom-fighter Kaira Das (played by Sugandha Garg) and also befriended firebrand nationalist Naresh Banerjee (Arjun Mathur), who is menacingly paranoid. Just as unbalanced is Alice’s estranged husband, Charlie Havistock (Ritson), who has shown up from England, determined to humiliate her for deserting him with their young son.

Adding to the intrigue is the Maharajah of Amritpur (Malik), the fabulously wealthy ruler of one of India’s princely states. A man of influence and strong appetites, he holds the key to Ralph’s future—in concert with his sensual English mistress, Sirene (Griffiths), whose face is strangely familiar to Simla’s expats.

And then there is Ralph’s rival, Lord Hawthorne (Fleet), who has the aristocratic lineage for the viceroy’s job but is having trouble adapting to the culture of the subcontinent. Still, he has no problem turning on the charm to Leena Prasad (Amber Rose Revah), the attractive former teacher at Simla’s mission school.

Enriching the new season is the dilemma faced by Aafrin’s sister Sooni (Aysha Kala), who wants to use her law degree to benefit the people but faces family pressure to submit to an arranged marriage. Fate intervenes to give her the choice of three very different suitors.

Of course, the big story is the inexorable push toward Indian independence, which is being promoted peacefully by Gandhi and less temperately by someone who promises “to blow them all up until it is raining hands and bloody feet!”

“Churchill’s Secret” is a riveting drama about Winston’s historic hidden truth

We all have secrets . . . but Winston Churchill, perhaps he greatest statesman of the twentieth century, kept one  in his most difficult hour: a debilitating stroke which he seeks to hide from the world. The fascinating story in told in PBS Distribution’s Masterpiece: Churchill’s Secret, arriving on DVD on September 13.

Based on a true incident in the life of Winston Churchill and directed by three-time Emmy nominee Charles Sturridge, Churchill’s Secret  is an adaptation of Jonathan Smith’s acclaimed 2015 novel, The Churchill Secret: KBO, which was hailed as “delightful, funny, heart-warming” by The Mail on Sunday (London) and praised for its “elegance and wit” by The New Statesman (London). “KBO” in the book’s title stands for Churchill’s favorite advice in the face of adversity: “keep buggering on.”

Sir Michael Gambon,74,smokes a cigarette whilst on set of ìSecret Churchillî in London. The ITV drama follows the story of a nurse guiding the ailing Churchill back to health during his final years in power at his Kent home. Set in the summer of 1953, it is based on book, The Churchill Secret: KBO, by Jonathan Smith, which tells the story of the PM's secret stroke. Credit Byline:Eagle Eyes_Exclusive. 28/6/2015
Sir Michael Gambon,74,smokes a cigarette whilst on set of “Churchill’s Secret”

Churchill stars Michael Gambon, in one of those performances that deserves awards. The action opens in the summer of 1953. Churchill, 78, is prime minister for the second time and as pugnacious as ever—until he is felled by a severe stroke while hosting a state dinner at 10 Downing Street. Lady Churchill (played by Lindsay Duncan) manages to conceal the seriousness of her husband’s sudden incapacity, while he is evaluated by his personal physician, Lord Moran (played Bill Paterson), and later transported in worsening condition to his country home, Chartwell.

Summoned to care for the apparently dying prime minister is a remarkable young nurse, Millie Appleyard (Romola Garai), who treats the world’s most famous man as she would any other difficult patient: with compassion, firmness, and occasional indulgence. In the weeks that follow, the two bond over the Victorian poet William Ernest Henley, whose celebrated poem, Invictus (Latin for “unconquered”), helps inspire Churchill to relearn to speak, stand and walk.

He is also determined to hold onto the reins of power, and the program tells the astonishing story of a bedridden, incapacitated leader who plots to outwit the high government officials who are maneuvering to replace him. Chief among these is Anthony Eden (Alex Jennings), Churchill’s right-hand man and designated successor.

Then there is Churchill’s family, of whom Lord Moran observes, “There’s a price to pay for greatness, but the great seldom pay it themselves.” Those who paid were Churchill’s children, who grew up in the permanent shadow of their exuberant and ambitious father. When Diana, Randolph, Sarah and Mary arrive at Chartwell to comfort their stricken parent, all except Mary fall to bickering and boozing—hardly an environment conducive to convalescence.

Through it all, Lady Churchill tries to keep the family peace and above all save some portion of her husband’s declining years for herself—far away from the demands of war and politics. As for Winston, a strange vision and a hit song haunt him from the early ’20s: “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” What could it mean?

Color away stress and cultivate inspiration with nifty Inkspirations coloring books

Color us happy. Ever since “adult” coloring books came into vogue, we have been using a palette of favorites to create beauty . . . while reliving imagination and soothing anxiety, usually in shades of mauvelous.

We have just discovered  a beautiful and inspiring line of coloring books and greeting cards from HCI that are the perfect antidote to a chaotic and troubled world.

Inkspirations coloring books offer a way to turn off negativity while healing the spirit. Art therapy has long proven its effects as an aid in emotional and mental restoration, and it is not news that coloring as active meditation reduces stress and quiets thoughts. From the original publishers of Chicken Soup for the Soul now comes a line of coloring books ready to encourage, inspire and help worries fade.

Whether coloring with friends, family or on your own, it doesn’t take much to color your day a little brighter. With moving quotes alongside unique and graceful images, Inkspirations coloring books include a wide array of themes to help express creativity and enjoy therapy through coloring.

We love ’em all, but were happy to see Inkspirations in the Garden.
bk-4370-garden-1-231x300Anyone blessed with a green thumb knows that a garden is nature’s haven, and when properly tended can transform a patch of ground into a place of splendor that abounds with intoxicating colors, scents and wildlife. Inkspirations in the Garden celebrates gardens in all their glory, from images of delightful cottage gardens to well-manicured rose gardens, from lush tropical gardens to relaxing Zen gardens. The original designs feature exquisite floral patterns to color and customize, plus heartwarming scenes of lovable backyard critters, like ladybugs and bumblebees, and even the squirrels and rabbits who sometimes become our garden nemeses. Inkspirations in the Garden pays homage to those who make weeds into wonders and have been enriched by gardening’s lessons about a life well-tended and nurtured.

Inkspirations for a Happy Heart shares more than 30 original designs to make your own, plus motivating mantras to help you relax, unwind, and greet each day with renewed optimism and creative energy. Whether you’re new to coloring or a gel-pen aficionado, you may have already admired the artistic creations of Diane Yi, whose stunning artwork has been shared, pinned or colored around the world. bk-4371-heart-231x300With Diane’s style of intricate details with exquisite flourishes, Inkspirations for a Happy Heart provides a perfect canvas that will inspire you to color your world a little brighter.

The cat’s meow? Inkspirations for Cat Lovers. Cats are curious, regal, intelligent, and playful. They oblige us humans by allowing us to share our lives and hearts with them. Inkspirations for Cat Lovers celebrates the magic, mystery and merriment of cats throughout the seasons, from Siamese to the Sphinx, Abyssinians to Persians, Maine Coons to calicos, and more. From long-haired to short-haired and everything in between, you will find more than 30 original designs that celebrate the many ways in which cats bring joy (and fur!) into our lives.bk-4373-cat-233x300 Inkspirations for Cat Lovers is a fitting tribute to our whiskered companions who color our world brighter every day.

Visit Inkspirations.com or amazon.com for more details or to order.

Frank Zappa Family Trust and UMe team for a frankly incredible genre-leaping Zappa canon

In his trailblazing and incredibly prolific career, artist, composer and all-around musical pioneer Frank Zappa released more than 60 albums in his lifetime, as a solo artist and with his bands the Mothers of Invention and the Mothers. Coupled with more than 40 posthumous releases since his death in 1993 at 52, figuring out where to start in Zappa’s vast, genre-leaping catalog can be daunting. ZAPPAtite–Frank Zappa’s Tastiest Tracks, due September 23 on Zappa Records/UMe and available for pre-order now, collects some of Zappa’s best known and beloved compositions, from his early psychedelic rock beginnings to his avant-garde experimentation, jazz-rock explorations, symphonic suites and satirical send-ups, compiling them into one easily digestible collection and offering key entryways into the many musical worlds of the visionary musician.
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Available on CD and digitally, with vinyl to come at a later date, the album is divided into three courses–Appetizers, Entrees and Desserts–and the food-centric theme oozes throughout the album art, which features Zappa in a diner on the cover, a track list that resembles a menu and some of Zappa’s favorite eats.

The 18 compositions that make up ZAPPAtite were compiled by Zappa’s son Ahmet Zappa and encyclopedic Zappa archivist, VaultmeisterJoe Travers.

“This isn’t a greatest hits album as Frank didn’t really have ‘hits,’ per se, nor is it a ‘best of’ since that would be an impossibility to fit so much awesome onto one disc,” says Ahmet. “It’s a veritable smorgasbord of musicality for the curious and a buffet of favorites for the fans, ZAPPAtite collects a cross section of my favorite songs composed by my dad, that lean more towards the rock side of his expansive repertoire. I hope you’re hungry because this meal for your ears rocks!”

Kicking off with the one-two punch of “I’m The Slime” and “Dirty Love” from Zappa’s 1973 watershed Gold album, Over-Nite Sensation, the collection quickly introduces Zappa’s eclecticism and salacious tongue as the songs meld polyrhythmic psychedelic rock and heavy funk with his trademark innuendo-filled lyrics. From there, the album travels through Zappa’s sprawling musical universe, highlighting vital songs and important eras of his career.frank-zappa-mona-lisa-poster

The Appetizers portion also includes the Grammy-nominated disco satire “Dancin’ Fool” and the controversial European smash “Bobby Brown Goes Down” from Zappa’s popular 1979 album, Sheik Yerbouti; and “Trouble Every Day” from Zappa’s embryonic rock band the Mothers of Invention’s groundbreaking 1966 debut, Freak Out!.

Entrees includes one of Zappa’s best known works, the universally loved instrumental “Peaches En Regalia from his classic 1969 solo sophomore record, Hot Rats; ubiquitous Top 40 hit Valley Girl, featuring his then 14-year-old daughter Moon Unit affecting a valley girl “gag-me-with-a-spoon” patois, from 1982’s Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch; to the possible autobiographical track from a parallel dimension “Joe’s Garage” of 1979’s LP of the same name; and the waggish blues rocker Cosmik Debris and the humorous Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, two standouts from one of Zappa’s most commercial and accessible albums, 1974’s Apostrophe (‘).

Desserts explores Zappa’s musical virtuosity and singular live performances and includes the comedic“Titties & Beer” from the 1978 live album, Zappa In New York; the frenetic Synclavier-fueled “G-Spot Tornado” from 1986’s Jazz From Hell; the anti-drug screed, “Cocaine Decisions” from 1983’s The Man From Utopia; and “Zoot Allures,” the heady instrumental featuring some of Zappa’s electrifying guitar playing, from 1976’s Zoot Allures. The album culminates with a performance of “Strictly Genteel” with the London Symphony Orchestra. The epic, orchestral-rock piece originally served as the grand finale to Zappa’s surrealist 1971 film, “200 Motels.”

As this year marks 50 years since the release of the Mothers of Invention’s seminal debut album, Freak Out!, hailed as one of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time by Rolling Stone, Zappa’s music and enduring legacy has been experiencing a renaissance as younger generations discover his music. A pair of documentaries has also brought about a renewed interest and focus on the forward-thinking iconoclast’s lasting impact. In June, Sony Pictures Classics released the feature documentary, “Eat That Question – Frank Zappa In His Own Words” to widespread acclaim. Comprised of TV interviews, performances and rare archival footage, the film reveals a provocative 20th century musical genius, rock legend and intellectual firebrand whose worldview reverberates into the present day and beyond. In April, filmmaker Alex Winter announced his plans for a documentary entitled, Who The F*@% Is Frank Zappa, and it quickly pushed past its goal of $500,000 to became the highest-funded documentary film in Kickstarter’s history by collecting just over $1.1 million by offering t-shirts, posters, inclusion in the film’s credits, access to never-released audio recordings, video footage, visual materials from the vault, and even the chance to purchase Zappa’s 8,000 sq. ft. Hollywood home.

Since the Zappa Family Trust and UMe entered into a global partnership for a long-term, licensing agreement encompassing Zappa’s entire recorded catalog, as well as rights management participation across the rest of the cultural icon’s creative canon, together they have been steadily reissuing the catalog on CD, LP and digitally. They have also been digging deep into Zappa’s famed vault to make available a bevy of unreleased material, live concerts and other assorted rarities.

Continuing the reissues, Zappa’s classic Hot Rats was just released on 180-gram vinyl on August 26. Recorded in 1969, his second solo album is widely known for its pioneering fusion of jazz and rock and contains one of his best known songs, “Peaches En Regalia.” Mostly an instrumental album, sans “Willie The Pimp” which features Captain Beefheart’s craggy vocals, the six-song LP is filled with complex musical passages, breathtaking playing and some beautifully melodic moments.

Enjoy a listen here UMe.lnk.to/ZappaHotRatsStream.

Turner Classic Movies offers a free online course in slapstick movies, seriously

Groucho, Harpo, Chico, sometimes Zeppo. Buster, Charlie, Harold, W.C., Bud and Lou. Film fans, especially those who savor slapstick know the names and their films.

Turner Classic Movies is inviting movie lovers, comedy fans and online learners from around the world to a free, flexible online course, TCM Presents Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick in the Movies. Enjoy multimedia course materials, daily emails with movie clips and conversation starters and ongoing interactions with fellow film fans on the TCM message boards or at #SlapstickFall.

In this Ball State University course, you will explore the greatest slapstick gags in movie history by showcasing 56 classic films released between 1914 and 2004. Spanning almost a century of filmmaking, we will watch, discuss, and analyze the best comedy gags ever filmed involving physical comedy, broad humor and outrageous situations.unnamed

The course will run concurrently with Turner Classic Movies’ Ouch! A Salute to Slapstick programming event, airing every Tuesday and Wednesday in September 2016.

Both the course and the associated films will enrich your understanding of comedy, Hollywood filmmaking, and popular culture. You will be able to share your thoughts online and test your movie knowledge with a worldwide community of students, fans, and film lovers.

Meet your professor, Dr. Richard L. Edwards , and sign up for free at canvas.net/browse/bsu/tcm2/courses/slapstick/

 

Amazon’s new kiddie show, “The Stinky & Dirty Show”, teaches wee ones to never give up

Kids love things dirty and stinky and yucky and mucky. Think of mudpies, puddle jumping, food fights. (Now that I think of it, many adults like such messy moments.) We are sure that the new Amazon Original Kids Series, The Stinky & Dirty Show, premiering on September 2, is going to be a five-star winner, even if mudpies, puddle jumping and food fights are reserved for the older folks.
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Based on the popular  I Stink! books by Kate & Jim McMullan, garbage truck Stinky (voiced by Jaden Betts) and backhoe loader Dirty (voiced by Jacob Guenther) are a dynamic and hilarious duo who use critical thinking, creativity and resourcefulness to help their other best friends and the town of Go City. There’s no problem too big for the best friends; when things don’t go as expected, they know asking “what if” can lead to success.  Stinky & Dirty teach our kids values that they should be learning at an early age. They will learn to never give up, and this is reinforced by negotiation and social problem solving.

The series features original music from Dan Bern and celebrity voice talent, including Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Lynch, Andy Richter, Joan Cusack and Wallace Shawn.

The pilot episode, rated 4.8 stars by customers with 86% 5-star reviews, is available to stream and download now, with nine additional episodes to debut next month, exclusively for Prime members via the Amazon Video app for TVs, connected devices including Fire TV, mobile devices and online—Prime members can also download the series to mobile devices for offline viewing.

“The popular books have laid the groundwork for a beautifully inspiring television series for preschoolers that instills one of the most important life skills—resourcefulness,”  coos Tara Sorensen, Head of Kids Programming at Amazon Studios. “We are thrilled to bring to our customers, who embraced the pilot, a full season of The Stinky & Dirty Show and are proud be collaborating with Kate, Jim, Guy and Jessica as well as Dan Bern and a very recognizable celebrity voice cast on this upbeat and empowering show.”

The first season of The Stinky & Dirty Show will be available for Prime members to stream and enjoy using the Amazon Video app for TVs, connected devices including Amazon Fire TV, and mobile devices, or online at Amazon.com/originals, at no additional cost to their membership. Customers who are not already a Prime member can sign up for a free trial at www.amazon.com/prime. For a list of all Amazon Video compatible devices, visit www.amazon.com/howtostream. The Stinky & Dirty Show will also be available as part of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, the all-you-can-eat subscription service designed from the ground up for kids. FreeTime Unlimited is available exclusively on Amazon devices including Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets, and a year-long subscription is included with every Fire Kids Edition.

 

“The American Side” pays homage to Hitchcock, film noir and forgotten genius Nikola Tesla

My mother used to say that there are three sides to every story: His, hers and the truth. The power that behind the riveting film The American Side (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) insist that “there are three sides to every story…the truth, the lie and the American Side.”

American side, as opposed to the Canadian side. This gem was filmed at the falls. And then some.

When Charlie Paczynski’s raven-haired partner is caught in the crossfire of a blackmail scheme gone bad, he trails the prime suspect to the brink of Niagara, only to receive a cryptic warning: “what’s happening here you can’t begin to comprehend”… Thrust into a world populated by a whiskey-swilling raconteur (Robert Forster), strangely bonded siblings (Matthew Broderick and Camilla Belle), and a dubious government agent (Janeane Garofalo), Paczynski joins the quest for a long-lost design by enigmatic genius, Nikola Tesla. From the eccentric eavesdropper who gives him his first clue (yes! that’s Robert Vaughn, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) every door Paczynski forces open raises the stakes.

Reminiscent of the conspiracy thrillers of the ’70s, complete with a score by David Shire and packed with nods to Hitchcock and classic film noir, The American Side is a jigsaw puzzle mystery, climaxing under the roar of the Falls as the final piece snaps into place.The acclaimed neo-noir thriller stars Greg Stuhr as private detective Paczynski, whose investigation into a mysterious suicide leads him to unravel a conspiracy involving a long-lost design by forgotten scientist Nikola Tesla.  (Hint: In 1893, Edward Dean Adams headed up the Niagara Falls Cataract Construction Company, and he sought Tesla’s opinion on what system would be best to transmit power generated at the falls.)unnamed

At the heart of the story is the mysterious nature of science and the scientific mind. The plot revolves around a lost design by the man many consider the greatest inventor of any age–the tragically overlooked Serbian-American scientist, Nikola Tesla.Nikola_Tesla_on_Time_Magazine_1931

At the heart of the story is the mysterious nature of science and the scientific mind. The plot revolves around a lost design by the man many consider the greatest inventor of any age–the tragically overlooked Serbian-American scientist, Nikola Tesla.
Released by The Orchard digitally and on demand earlier this year, this entertaining homage to the detective stories of yesteryear is the perfect film for suspense fans of today.

 

Do we dare suggest you will take a fall?

The answer is revealed: Why are those birds so damned pissed off? What why are those green piggies such, well, pigs?

It’s a question most people want answered: Why are those damned birds so pissed?

We are here to entertain and educate. In December 2009, people around the world downloaded a game to their phones and started a phenomenon.  Little green piggies had invaded, intent on stealing the eggs of some flightless birds–and these birds were … well, there’s only one word for it: Angry.  How would you feel if someone came to your home and took your kids?

The most downloaded mobile game of all time–Angry Birds and their various editions have been downloaded more than three billion times–comes to the big screen and moviegoers will finally learn how the Angry Birds got their name.

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The first conversations about turning Angry Birds into The Angry Birds Movie began back in 2011 with Mikael Hed and David Maisel.  “I had purchased my 80-year-old mother an iPad, and one day, I heard her swearing at some pigs,” Maisel recalls.  “I got very intrigued–this game is played by kids, by their parents, by their grandparents.  It’s one of the few things in culture today that people of all different generations share.”

According to the film’s producer John Cohen, the classic game was a great starting point for the movie the filmmakers wanted to make.  “Inside the game’s core concept were the seeds of what we believed could grow into a fantastic animated comedy,” he says.  “We had the chance to expand on the game characters, developing the birds into fully fleshed out characters with distinct personalities and fun, unique powers.  But there’s also a strong, emotional idea at the center of the movie: at the heart of the games is a story of angry birds who have had their eggs–their children–taken by these green piggies.  And the birds must launch a search-and-rescue operation to get their kids back.”

Working with the Rovio Entertainment team, the filmmakers developed and expanded the basic ideas from the game.  “This movie is the origin story of how that conflict came to exist between flightless birds and green piggies,” Cohen adds. “It was an incredibly fun opportunity to create a mythology for the Angry Birds universe.  Billions of people have a close personal connection to the games, but the games didn’t really have a backstory that was set in stone. Our playing field was wide open–as if we were starting from scratch with an original idea.  Of course, there were certain important elements that fans know and love from the games–angry flightless birds, with special powers that people will recognize, fighting green piggies, who have stolen their eggs, using a slingshot–but beyond those ideas, we were able to create an original story.”

In fact, Clay Kaytis, who directed the film with Fergal Reilly, says that the built-in audience of the game allowed them to subtly subvert audiences’ expectations.  “People assume they know what the movie is going to be because they’ve played the game,” he says, “but the truth is, we’re creating something that is going to surprise people when they see it.  As filmmakers, we’re making a movie that we would want to go see.”

So, out of the basic premise of the game, the filmmakers created a new story–a character-based comedy.  “Red is certainly an angry bird, and Chuck and Bomb have their problems, but actually, they’re just a bunch of misfits,” says Reilly.  “You really care about these guys–because not only do they have their own problems to deal with, but then they’re dealt the larger problem of the pigs.  They have to save their civilization, even though they’re the most unlikely guys you could ever pick.”

Cohen adds that Red’s mission to manage his anger is a theme that everyone in the audience can relate to.  “Every parent and every kid learns to find a way to work through those tough moments in their lives,” says Cohen.  “I think a lot of kids will identify with Red as he finds a way to channel that energy in a positive direction.”

As the characters took shape on the page, it came time for the filmmakers to cast the actors who would bring them to life.  “When an actor comes into a recording booth to perform, they are stripped of all of the tools in their repertoire–they no longer have their physicality, facial expressions, any movements or gestures, other actors to play against–they are left with only their voice,” says Cohen.  “Great improvisational comedic actors, like Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph, Danny McBride, Keegan-Michael Key and Kate McKinnon, are able to not only come up with terrific observational comedy ideas, but by doing that, they give their performance a very naturalistic feel, which really helps to bring these characters to life in animation.”

Adds executive producer Mikael Hed.: It’s a magical moment when you hear these actors for the first time in their characters. That’s when the characters start to properly come to life.  The actors inject part of their personality into the characters, and they become so much more real than they’ve ever been before that.”

Now you know. Now you can watch The Angry Birds Movie, now flying around on Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Home Entertainment.

 

 

Olive Films continues to release must-see, must-own films on DVD and Blu-ray

Olive Films’ history of releasing forgotten and controversial films continues with The Outsider, a film about the Irish Troubles. The story of a disillusioned American Vietnam veteran who goes to fight for the I.R.A. only to discover he’s their pawn, the film received praise for its depiction of the moral murkiness of the Troubles. By all accounts, it is a war film with no heroism, glory, or ideals. Moreover, residents of Belfast frequently identify the movie’s portrayal of 1973 working class Belfast as one of cinema’s most realistic.
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The Outsider became the subject of controversy at its release due to its depiction of a British officer torturing an Irish prisoner. The film proved so controversial, in fact, that it was actually dropped from the 1979 London Film Festival.unnamed (1) Having never been on disc before in the United States, Olive Films has given it a much-anticipated Blu-ray and DVD debut.

Gun the Man Down is a relatively obscure but entertaining Western. It is also a film of firsts. It was Angie Dickinson’s first starring role and the first Western directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, who went on to direct McLintock!, 116 episodes of Have Gun–Will Travel and 96 episodes of Gunsmoke. McLaglen’s direction isn’t the only thing Gunsmoke fans will recognize, because James Arness, known for playing Marshal Matt Dillon on the show for 20 years, stars in the film.unnamed (2)

The script was by Burt Kennedy, who would become a director himself after a series of classic westerns working with Randolph Scott and Budd Boetticher. A Hollywood veteran, William Clothier, also deserves kudos for the film’s handsome black and white cinematography.

It was John Wayne (producer of Gun the Man Down through his Batjac Productions), who recommended Arness for the Gunsmoke part. Besides being an intriguing installment in the Western genre, it should also be of interest to fans because of how many future icons contributed to it.

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James Arness and Michael Emmet

More important elements of the film: Reportedly shot in just nine days, parts of the movie is told without dialogue. At one point, seven minutes pass without a word as the camera follows and crosscuts among several of the characters at the center of the story. Emmet is stalking Arness, searching the streets and buildings for him, while Dickinson and the two other members of the gang wait in the saloon for the sound of gunshots.