All posts by alanwp

Skip the New Year’s bubbly. Head straight for the “Fresh Cream.”

A most musically way to begin the New Year: The deluxe edition UMe release of Fresh Cream, the debut album by the British, blues boom power trio, Cream.

The 3-CD + 1 Blu-Ray audio disc come housed in a gatefold sleeve within a rigid slipcase and includes a 64-page hardback book, featuring new sleeve notes by respected Rolling Stone writer David Fricke. The set comprises various alternate and new stereo mixes plus several, previously unreleased BBC sessions. A special six-album 180g vinyl edition of Fresh Cream will also be released in April.

Can you name who was who?

Originally released in 1966, at the height of the UK blues bloom, Fresh Cream showcased the not inconsiderable talents of three of the then music scene’s brightest lights: Eric Clapton, fresh from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers; drummer, Ginger Baker, straight from the Graham Bond Organisation; Jack Bruce who, at the time, had just left Manfred Mann. Collectively the three had decided to give up their roles as much sought after sidemen to form their own super group.

Coming together as Cream in the early summer of 1966, the trio moved at impressive speed to make the release of Fresh Cream in December of the same year. Highlights include the racing harmonica work-out and the call and response excitements on Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”; a spine-tingling vocal on the Willie Dixon classic, “Spoonful”; as well as the self-penned “Sleepy Time Time”, which gave Clapton a free hand to wake up all and sundry. Their rousing treatment of the traditional standard, “Cat’s Squirrel” alerted listeners to just how well Clapton, Baker and Bruce musically complemented each other.

 

Vestron Video Collector’s Series is a horror. That’s a bloody good compliment!

We must have been spending too much time cat-walking through catacombs since we just learned that  Lionsgate is exhuming classic horror films for the limited-edition Vestron Video Collector’s Series. Hours of materials have been assembled for the Vestron Video Collector’s Series Blu-ray releases, starting with six horror cult classics. Lionsgate vows fan will “taste the fear and the flesh, in shocking high definition for the first time, as teenagers meet their untimely demise at the hands of cannibals, killer robots, horror icons, sewer-dwelling monsters and an army of the undead!” Just the way we like it.

Starting with Chopping Mall and Blood Diner, and continuing with Waxwork and Waxwork II: Lost in Time Double Feature, Return of the Living Dead 3, and C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD, these rereleases are for the collector and horror fan alike and will be available for a limited amount of time.

Other releases of grave matters . . .

Return of the Living Dead 3
Watch all of the terror in high definition when Curt transforms his girlfriend into a flesh-eating monster after her accidental death, in order to fulfill their pact to love each other forever. 

The Lair of the White Worm (available  on January 31). We can’t wait to hear the audio commentary by director Ken Russell.

Parents (January 31)
In this black-comedy horror classic, a young boy in ’50s suburbia suspects his parents are cannibalistic murderers.

The Gate (February 28)
When two suburban kids accidentally open a portal filled with pint-sized demons hell-bent on taking over the planet, it’s up to them to seal the gateway and save mankind!

“American Violence.” Even the flick’s title should scare you.

Think of this as a no-holds-barred thriller that demands to be seen. American Violence follows one man’s path to execution and the strong-minded doctor brought in to take a deeper look at the violent circumstances that have doomed him.

Jackson Shea (portrayed by Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau) has lived a life of deceit, brutality and corruption. But when a series of chilling, violent events lands him on Death Row, psychologist Amanda Tyler (Denise Richards) must find whether his violent behavior is inherent in his soul, or if he will be rehabilitated.

As the interview commences, and Jack’s fate hangs in the balance, Amanda must decide whether a stay of execution will be granted.

“The goal was to create a film that was gripping and emotional, and that would leave an impact on the viewers while inviting them in for a closer look at the American justice system and the death penalty,” says Timothy Woodward Jr., the film’s director. “I wanted our audience to not only ask questions, but feel for the characters and the life altering circumstances they find themselves in.”

Save the date: American Violence premieres in theaters, and on Video on Demand and Digital HD on February 3.

Disney’s dazzler “Pinocchio” will thrill new generations with a stunning Blu-ray debut

We cannot tell a lie: Pinocchio is considered one of the greatest animated films ever made, with two Academy Awards (Best Original Score and Best Original Song “When You Wish Upon a Star”) and a rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Pinocchio (1940) was the second animated feature film produced by Walt Disney, made after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs three years earlier.

Now, the Disney dazzler will delight a whole new generation of dreamers with its masterful animation, unforgettable characters and award-winning music when the flick arrives for the first time on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on January 10, and on Blu-ray and DVD on January 31.

The Walt Disney Signature Collection release includes hours of classic bonus material and exclusive features including a reinvented rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star” created and performed by music mavens from Disney’s Maker Studios; never-before-seen artwork from the film’s Pleasure Island sequence; archival recordings of Walt himself during Pinocchio production; and a recently restored and scored 1927 short featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Who voiced Pinocchio? It was Dick Jones, then known as Dickie

Pinocchio tells the tale of wood-carver Geppetto’s beloved puppet who embarks on a thrilling quest–with faithful friend Jiminy Cricket–that tests his bravery, loyalty and honesty, all virtues he must learn to fulfill his heart’s desire: to become a real boy.

Savor the bonus features:
Walt’s Story Meetings: Pleasure Island The Pleasure Island scene in Pinocchio had much more development than what is seen in the film. Join Pixar’s Pete Docter and Disney historian and author J.B. Kaufman as they explore artwork recently discovered in Disney’s animation research library revealing some of the attractions, gags and games, which Disney animators created for this iconic location of the film, that never made it on screen.

In Walt’s Words Hear Walt Disney discuss the making of “Pinocchio” through archival recordings and interviews.

The Pinocchio Project: “When You Wish Upon a Star” Music influencers Alex G, Tanner Patrick and JR Aquino from Disney’s Maker Studios, a global leader in short-form videos, gather in a creative workspace to create their rendition of the film’s signature song, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and produce a fresh new music video.

Poor Papa This recently restored and scored 1927 short features Oswald the Lucky Rabbit who gets multiple visits from the stork and is forced to attempt various methods to help stop the onslaught of baby deliveries.

Classic Bonus Features  Offerings from prior home entertainment releases include hours of bonus material, such as the making of Pinocchio, deleted scenes, singalongs, storyboards and theatrical trailers.

A forgotten town. A mysterious drifter. Violence and vitriol. Welcome to life “In a Valley of Violence”

A lone, mysterious drifter (and his dog Abbie) enters into the forgotten town of Denton, Texas–dubbed by locals as the “valley of violence”. There, he picks a fight with a wrong man named Gilly, the troublemaking son of the town’s unforgiving Marshal.

As tensions arise between Paul and Gilly, an inevitable act of violence starts a disastrous chain reaction that quickly drags the whole town into the bloody crosshairs of revenge.  Only the world-weary Marshal struggles to stop the violent hysteria, but after a gruesome discovery about Paul’s past . . . there’s no stopping the escalation.

And you thought this was Mayberry R.F.D.

No, this is the edgy action film, In a Valley of Violence, on Digital HD and on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. From acclaimed director, Ti West and famed producer Jason Blum, the film stars Academy Award nominees; John Travolta and Ethan Hawke. The In a Valley of Violence Blu-ray and DVD include bonus content that takes viewers on a wild ride behind the scenes with an exciting inside look at the making of the film.

 

Prepare for a thrilling ride.

Have the Time of Your Life with “The Red Skelton Show in Color,” not seen for more than 50 years!

Leave it to Time Life to make the New Year the time of your life. And in color! And with such guests as Clem Kadiddlehopper and Freddie the Freeloader!

Welcome, with open arms, The Red Skelton Show in Color. Home audiences will be entertained by America’s Clown Prince with brilliant full-color episodes of The Red Skelton Hour, some of which have been unseen for more than 50 years.

After purchasing an old movie studio and converting it for TV productions, Skelton was the first CBS host to begin taping his weekly programs in color. And now Time Life brings viewers back to a simpler time, showcasing never-before-released shows as they were originally broadcast more than five decades ago.

One of the country’s most treasured comedians, Skelton kept TV audiences in stitches for 20 groundbreaking seasons on The Red Skelton Show. The son of a circus clown, Red always had a twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step (often accompanied by a cowbell sound effect); his heart was pure gold, his jokes were silly and his gifts for physical comedy remain priceless. And from his inimitable comic mind also came a memorable lineup of zany characters including the country bumpkin Clem Kadiddlehopper, the lovable hobo Freddie the Freeloader and Sheriff Deadeye.

The Red Skelton Show in Color is available in two configurations. The three-disc collector’s set features 12 never-before-released episodes, including best-loved sketches with Freddie the Freeloader joining a love-in with hippie Tim Conway; Sheriff Deadeye facing off with Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne); and Clem Kadiddlehopper being mistaken for a robot by mad scientists Boris Karloff and Vincent Price. Other fan favorite sketches include classics such as “Dial M for Moron” with Phyllis Diller, “Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Dumb” with George Gobel, and “Eenie Meenie Minee Schmo” with Mickey Rooney. The single disc release includes 4 complete episodes. Additionally, both releases include exclusive new interviews with Bobby Rydell and Vicki Lawrence.

Boris, Red and Vincent. Boo!

You thought it was easy being green? Think Red!

IFC celebrates the New Year with the release of three thrilling DVDs

IFC has a trio of must-see films coming to DVD in January. We provide the info and teaser clips; you provide the DVD player.

Dancer (available January 17)
Ukrainian-born Bad Boy of Ballet Sergei Polunin became the Royal Ballets youngest-ever principal dancer when he was just 19. But two years later, at the height of his success, he walked away from it all, resolving to give up dance entirely.

Steven Cantor’s Dancer tracks the life of this iconoclastic virtuoso, from his prodigal beginnings in the Ukraine to his awe-inspiring performances in the U.K., Russia and the U.S., where he went viral after David LaChapelle filmed him dancing to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”. Beyond celebrating the raw talent and wild ambition of Polunin, whose sights are now set on Hollywood, Dancer considers how wealth and success may not be enough when it comes to finding personal and professional identity.

The Free World (January 17)
How hard would you fight to be free? After spending two decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Mo (played by Boyd Holbrook) struggles to put his past behind him as he readjusts to a new life working in an animal shelter. Doris (Elisabeth Moss) is trapped in another sort of prison: an abusive marriage.

A dramatic encounter brings these two troubled souls together, and a possible murder connects them. Soon, Mo finds himself risking everything . . . including being locked up once again for someone else’s crime to protect the fragile Doris. Driven by explosive performances from Moss and Holbrook, the feature debut from director Jason Lew is a gripping, mood-drenched exploration of guilt, redemption, and what it means to be free. Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer and Sung Kang co-star.

Passage to Mars (January 24)
Before humans make it to Mars, they must conquer the Arctic. Passage to Mars is the incredible true story of six men who embark on a treacherous, 2,000-mile journey across the forbidding sea-ice of the Northwest Passagean alien voyage on planet Earth designed to prepare NASA astronauts for an eventual mission to Mars.

But as an expedition that was supposed to take weeks stretches into a two-year odyssey, the crew must overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and life-threatening conditions if they hope to realize their dream of someday reaching the Red Planet. This breathtaking adventure features narration by Zachary Quinto and special guest voice appearances by Buzz Aldrin and Charlotte Rampling.
Blast off!

A slice of humble pie? New book takes a trip through the history of Faces

Let’s face it: The Faces had quite a life. They were an English rock band formed in 1969 by members of Small Faces after lead singer/guitarist Steve Marriott left that group to form Humble Pie. The remaining Small Faces—Ian McLagan (keyboards), Ronnie Lane (bass guitar) and Kenney Jones (drums and percussion)—were joined by Ronnie Wood (guitar) and Rod Stewart (lead vocals), both from the Jeff Beck Group, and the new line-up was renamed Faces.

Whew!

Now, the definitive story of one of Britain’s best-loved bands has found a groove. Had Me a Real Good Time: Faces, Before, During and After (Overlook Omnibus, $29.95) by music journalist Andy Neill examines the Faces as never before, exploring their roots and contribution to 70’s rock and beyond.

Formed in 1969 from the remnants of the Small Faces and the Jeff Beck Group, Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan and Kenny Jones presented a uniquely authentic musical act at a time when aestheticized disco and glam rock were in vogue. With lead singer Stewart’s raspy voice and the band’s unpretentious, direct approach to music, the famously madcap Faces cultivated both their own brand of rock and a worldwide following.

Updated to include a chapter on the legacy of keyboard player MacLagan (who died in 2014) the book provides the most comprehensive account of the Faces from their working class upbringings in Britain, through hits such as “Stay with Me,” and into their illustrious solo careers, including collaborations with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Joe Cocker. Neill synthesizes original research and first-hand interviews to form this immersive account of the distinctive group.

Rod Stewart is a big fan of the book: “It’s amazing,” he says. “It’s got a huge amount of information.”

Want to achieve it BIG in the New Year? Katie Couric urges a trip with Jeremy Cage

Looking to begin the New Year with New Ideas, New Success, New Fulfilled Potential?

Katie Couric recommends (highly) Jeremy Cage’s book, All Dreams on Deck: Charting the Course for Your Life and Work (Greenleaf Book Group, $19.95).  The work, says she, is “a great book that everyone who thinks about how to better balance work–life issues would benefit from reading.  Everything starts with a dream– but Jeremy really shows us how to get started on making these dreams come to life.”

Writes he: “Most businesses and most people die full of potential. I strongly urge you to pluck up the courage and take the action required to realize your dreams, instead of sitting back and saying ‘I could have or should have’ for the rest of your life.”

An entrepreneur, executive coach and former Fortune 100 executive, Cage believes that “dreams are the most powerful force on our planet and yet they are simultaneously incredibly vulnerable.  If not prioritized, protected and nurtured, they wither and die.”

Cage is an expert in turning dreams into reality.  One of his more ambitious dreams was to sail around the world with his wife and their two children.  They spent four years preparing for their 16-month, life-changing voyage.  Since returning, Cage has become an advisor to thousands of people, showing them how to fulfill their dreams for their businesses and for themselves.

Basing his advice on his years of corporate success as well as his around-the-world sailing adventure, Cage uses a boat metaphor to articulate his process in All Dreams on Deck.  A person’s dreams are the hull of the boat.  Intentionality is the rigging and the sails.  Planning and preparation are the training necessary to sail and navigate the boat.  Courage is the wind that must be harnessed to propel the boat forward. He brings these concepts to life, illustrating them with true stories and anecdotes, in separate chapters that include:

Dream Like You Mean It Sailing around the world, starting a business or winning a competition are all amazing dreams. However, dreams need to be specific.  When dreams are vague, people tend to focus on obstacles, fears, and dreads.  Being specific about your dreams enables you to clearly define the steps you need to make them a reality.

Climb Your Ladder of Intentionality Having specific dreams is not enough.  You need to become intentional.  Commit.  Write them down.  Declare them out loud.  Get others talking about them.  This helps you climb your ladder of intentionality.

Ready Yourself, Your Crew and Your Ship The better you plan and prepare, the more likely it is that you will succeed. Understand what you need to know, do, and know how to do, to accomplish your business and personal dreams.

Summon Your Courage Venturing into the unknown is not easy. Whatever your dream, you will encounter obstacles and challenges.  Overcoming your fears will allow you to achieve your goals.  Trust yourself and your team.  Be optimistic.  Listen carefully.  Accept reality quickly.

The book includes a “Chart Plotter” workbook so people can easily articulate their dreams and start taking immediate action.   All aboard!

IndiePix Unlimited’s streaming service nets cinephiles lots of great flicks

Like to net lots of flixs?

IndiePix Unlimited, the signature streaming subscription service from world cinema label IndiePix Films, has opened its highly-curated catalog of cinematic classics to Prime members through Amazon Channels. With the IndiePix video subscription from Amazon Channels, cinephiles will have access to a dazzling and daring world of exclusive, award-winning films from both international auteurs and visionary new voices alike for $5.99 per month, with a seven-day free trial.From 2009 Cannes Camera D’Or winner, Samson & Delilah; Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s Golden Lion-nominated Women Without Men and the highly-acclaimed, Ryan Gosling-produced White Shadow, to Mouton, a Locarno Opera Prima Award-winner and the post-apocalyptic sci-fi fable, Crumbs, IndiePix Unlimited offers discriminating movie lovers some of the most acclaimed independent films of the past decade, as well as award-winners and festival favorites from Cannes, Tribeca, Venice, Sundance, SXSW and Rotterdam, popular indie classics and more.

And via Amazon Channels, these films will be available to Prime members anywhere and anytime through Amazon’s numerous streaming platforms including Playstation and Roku, the Amazon Video app, Amazon Fire TV, sticks and tablets and online at Amazon.com/channels.

“Since 2004, it’s been our mission to introduce cineastes to compelling independent cinema,” explains CEO Barnet Liberman. “Teaming with Amazon Channels opens up the IndiePix vaults to Prime members, and we’re excited to share some truly magnificent dramas, documentaries and shorts from around the world with them.”

Fiercely committed to sharing new cinematic voices and experiences from under-represented regions such as Africa, IndiePix will continue to add to its digital subscription service with gems from around the world each month. Being released shortly will be nearly 50 discarded classics of African cinema through a partnership with Retro Afrika Bioscope, an independent label of Gravel Road Entertainment dedicated to locating, acquiring, restoring and re-releasing retro South African films from the ’70s and ’80s.