Category Archives: DVDs

Rising to meet a truly Happy Halloween? Meet “Power Rangers Dino Charge: Rise”

Forget the candy, bags o’ pretzels and popcorn and those awful waxed lips. When we trick or treat this year, we want Power Rangers Dino Charge: Rise, the new Lionsgate DVD on which Saban’s Powers Rangers embark on all-new adventures.3d-power-rangers-dino-charge-rise-dvd-ocard In this spooktacular Halloween edition, the Power Rangers rise and take action-adventure to the next level as Tyler and Ivan put their differences aside to defuse a bomb; Chase races to free his friends from an underground tomb; Prince Phillip learns that he can’t buy his way into the Power Rangers; and Riley and Koda restore the team’s broken bonds of friendship. Now if we can only get them to melt all those waxed lips . . .

 

 

Holy Halloween! Candy factory Films triples the terror

Getting candy (wrapped preferred) on Halloween by the clown who answers the door is a treat . . . or so we hope.

When it comes to Candy Factory Films, they offer treats that are full of tricks. And terror. Make that terror tripled. On October 18, three thrillers, all from first-time filmmakers, escape on  Digital HD and On Demand on All Leading Platforms Including iTunes, Amazon,  Google Play and Vudu.

Let us prepare you:

Honeybee
From first-time filmmaker Nicki Harris comes this genre festival favorite, an award-winner at the 2016 International Horror Hotel Film Festival. Sixteen-year-old Hilary (portrayed by Connie Saltzman) has her head down, working hard to get good grades and just hoping to escape the small town life her family has lived for generations.  Just weeks before school is done for the year, her quiet town is jump-started by the arrival of an enigmatic family.  Hilary’s father is instantly charmed by Louisa, the statuesque mother, while she finds a strong connection to the middle son, Kadin (Garrett Richmond), ignoring her instincts.

And as the town’s inhabitants fall under the hypnotic spell of the two brothers, no one but Hilary sees the peculiar loyalty that holds them together and the lengths they will go to give their mother what she needs until it’s far too late. Dig the co-stars: Go-Go(er) Jane Wiedlin and Lorin Partalis.

Lights
Aliens and a decades-old secret government conspiracy may be at the center of the disappearance of Kurt (Keith Roenke) and his five friends who mysteriously vanished in the California desert one year ago. Lisa (Sara Radle), Kurt’s girlfriend and the mother of his child, has been driven to obsession to learn the truth.

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After being contacted by a retired sheriff haunted by similar cases, she heads to the desert with her brother Karl (Caleb Neet), guided by video footage recovered from Kurt’s tent.  And together, they hack through the lies, evasions and threats to unlock the dark mystery of “Majestic 12” in this sci-fi thriller, director Nils Taylor’s feature-length debut.

Burst Theory
After a colleague unexpectedly contracts a bird flu vaccine under suspicious circumstances, a biologist (Joseph Scott Anthony) at a remote research facility seeks answers.  Soon, however, he discovers his worst nightmares are about to become a reality with his life, and perhaps the lives of millions, hanging in the balance.
Hunting desperately for the truth, he spirals into a from conspiracy and is forced to question everything he once took for granted.  Including his own sanity.

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Zac pageWritten and directed by Zac Page, who won the Gold Reel Award for First Time Directors at the 2015 Nevada Film Festival, this official selection at the Canada International Film Festival, Virginia Independent Horror Film Festival and The Big House Los Angeles Film Festival also captured the Screenwriting Award at the 2016 Amsterdam Film Festival.

Claire Danes continues to prove she is a work of art

We always knew Claire Danes was a work of art. Now she paints broader strokes by narrating ART 21: Art in the Twenty-First Century: Season 8, coming out on DVD on October 18. Get inspired by today’s most compelling artists and discover the stories, ideas and methods behind their work in the ART21 documentary series Art in the Twenty-First Century. This Peabody Award-winning series takes viewers behind the scenes into artists’ studios, homes, and communities to provide intimate access to their lives, creative processes and sources of inspiration.

Season 8 reveals how artists today simultaneously draw inspiration from and influence their immediate surroundings, while engaging far-flung communities from all over the world—Amsterdam, Aspen, Basel, Bloomfield Hills, Bregenz, Brussels, Chiapas, Cuernavaca, Denver, Detroit, Istanbul, La Porte, Lisbon, London, Milan, New York City, Okanagan, Pasadena, Philadelphia, Puebla, San Francisco, Sinaloa, and Toronto. Through their work, artists participate in global conversations about the pressing issues of our time: from terrorism to environmental crises to the struggle for civil rights.

Artists and cities featured on the DVD are listed below.

Chicago: Nick Cave, Theaster Gates, Barbara Kasten, Chris Ware

Los Angeles: Edgar Arceneaux, Liz Larner, Tala Madani, Diana Thater

Mexico City: Natalia Almada, Minerva Cuevas, Damián Ortega, Pedro Reyes

Vancouver: Stan Douglas, Brian Jungen, Liz Magor, Jeff Wall

 

A new TV special guaranteed to build the cult: “Building Star Trek”

When Star Trek debuted on September 8, 1966, the world was introduced to a number of alien concepts: Think hand-held communication devices, desktop computers, space shuttles, touch screens. Star Trek’s visionary creator Gene Roddenberry conceived of a world so unique that the series would go on to have a profound legacy in television history.screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-7-22-21-pm-580x460

Smithsonian Channel offers a behind-the-scenes look with Building Star Trek, an original special coming to DVD by PBS Distribution on November 1. The show follows the conservation team from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, led by Dr. Margaret Weitekamp, as they attempt to restore and conserve the original 11-foot, 250-pound model of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the original series. The program also tracks the progress of Brooks Peck, the charismatic curator of Seattle’s EMP Museum, as he attempts to rebuild a model of the original U.S.S. Enterprise’s bridge by using authentic set pieces and props.

The program also profiles a new generation of engineers and scientists who are making Star Trek’s visionary technology real, pushing the boundaries of physics with inventions first conceived on the iconic series: Warp drives, medical tricorders, cloaking devices and tractor beams. Proving that one TV show has truly gone where no man has gone before, the program showcases clips from the original series that highlight each scientific innovation as well as recent technologies inspired by the series, such as flip phones and touch screens.

Hmmm, as Kirk once wondered: “Is there anyone on this ship, who even remotely, looks like Satan?”

Seventy years later, more proof why, still, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

James Stewart always thought it was a wonderful life. So did Donna Reed. And movie mavens worldwide. But the classic Yuletide film It’s a Wonderful Life almost didn’t make it onto the big screen and into our hearts.

The film is based on The Greatest Gift, a 1939 short story written by Philip Van Doren Stern.  He spent years trying to sell his story to publishers. No success, so in 1943, Stern self-published his work and sent it to 200 friends as a 21-page Christmas card. RKO Pictures wound up getting a hold of the “card” and bought the rights to the story. They had Cary Grant in mind to play suicidal do-gooder George Bailey.9511755_1

Time passed, and in 1945 Frank Capra was came on board and cast James Stewart as the star. Actresses such as Jean Arthur, Ann Dvorak , Olivia de Havilland and Ginger Rogers (who called the character “too bland” ) refused the co-starring role as George’s wife Mary. Donna Reed nabbed the role, and from here to eternity, is noted for her terrific performance.

When It’s a Wonderful Life opened in theaters in December 1946, the film received generally mixed reviews; it did, however, earn five Oscar nominations but won none. Gulp! it was somewhat of a box-office flop, failing to recoup its $3.7 million cost (it made $3.3 million during its initial run).its-a-wonderful-life-foto

No wonder George was suicidal! In the years following its release, It’s a Wonderful Life fell  into obscurity only to re-emerge during the ’70s and ’80s when it began appearing on television during the holiday season. In 1990, the nearly 45-year-old film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress.

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Lionel Barrymore in a Sydney Greenstreet mode?

And who ever thought the baileys might think of a red Christ,as? In It’s a Wonderful Life received an official mark of disapproval from the FBI, which pegged the poignant film as Communist propaganda thanks to its populist themes and, more specifically, unflattering portrayal of big-city bankers.

Reads a section of a 1947 FBI memo titled “Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry”:

With regard to the picture “It’s a Wonderful Life”, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a “scrooge-type” so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists. In addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters. [redacted] related that if he made this picture portraying the banker, he would have shown this individual to have been following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiner in connection with making loans. Further, [redacted] stated that the scene wouldn’t have “suffered at all” in portraying the banker as a man who was protecting funds put in his care by private individuals and adhering to the rules governing the loan of that money rather than portraying the part as it was shown. In summary, [redacted] stated that it was not necessary to make the banker such a mean character and “I would never have done it that way.”

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Why do we present such background? On October 11, Paramount Home Entertainment is releasing the 70th anniversary of one of the most beloved films of all time on Blu-ray and DVD. This 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition includes a beautifully colorized version of the film and the original black-and-white movie, as well as The Making of It’s A Wonderful Life, a documentary featurette hosted by Tom Bosley and the original trailer.  Plus, both the Blu-ray and DVD set include collectible, limited-edition art cards featuring images of original ads and lobby cards.

A Thanksgiving treat: Stuff yourself on the new take of “Anne of Green Gables”

Too many TV stations air too many turkeys on Thanksgiving. Never PBS. After your day of thanks, give your local public television thanks for airing L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.

This is the classic Lucy Maud Montgomery story that tells the tale of Anne Shirley, a precocious young girl taken from an orphanage and placed in the care of the uptight Marilla Cuthbert and her brother, Matthew. The conservative Marilla has a profound effect on the adventurous Anne and creates a journey of learning and personal engagement that has resonated with generations since L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables was first published in 1908. The book remains an iconic work of Canadian literature and has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide and been translated into 20 languages.

Directed by John Kent Harrison and based on the original script by Susan Coyne, this adaptation, filmed in Canada, stars critically acclaimed Martin Sheen, who portrays Matthew Cuthbert, one half of the brother-sister couple who care for Anne Shirley.

Some people Anne, and not Annie, is the most famous in the world. Whatever. Ella Ballentine stars as Anne in the two-hour, made-for-TV movie. “My mom read Anne of Green Gables to me when I was younger,” Ella recalls. “And every now and then the cartoon came on TV, so I saw little bits of that. Then I did an episode of Reign on the CW, and Megan Follows is on that. I didn’t have a scene with her, but my mom was telling me, ‘Oh, you know, she played Anne of Green Gables before.’ And I thought, ‘How cool is it to be Anne of Green Gables?’ So then when there was the audition for this, I got really excited.1297803878688_original

Is there anything specific in today’s world that she would miss if she could go back in time to the late 1800s, when Anne of Green Gables is set?

Without an eye on an iPhone: “Modern hospitals,” she says.

Maybe she knows that we will remind you the PBS film is just that the doctor ordered? Can’t wait? PBS Distribution offers it on DVD on November 8.

 

Travis Gutiérrez Senger’s “Desert Cathedral” is so powerful you can feel the power of the film from beginning to end

Once in a while a film comes along that blows your head off. Witness Desert Cathedral. Ostensibly, the film concerns a dubiously successful realtor who, in searching for something better for his family, runs straight into the kind of midlife crisis that’s unimaginably painful.  And it is less of his financial failure and more of his tragic imagination and sense of responsibility that sends him spinning off to the climax.

Imagine Dostoyevsky’s Notes for the Underground updated to the ’90s. Peter Collins is backed to a wall from which he sees no escape.  He has a loving wife, Anna and a beautiful daughter, but has seemingly made a series of perfectly legal, but possibly financially ruinous, actions. Such is basically the action of the film, illustrated by Peter and Anna, and Duran Palouse, the private investigator she hires to find her husband who mysteriously disappears into the Southwest.desertcathedral_comingsoon2

As the film progresses, the audience learn more and more about each character and our sympathy grows for them.  The incredibly exciting aspect of this film is the narrative structure. Cheating only slightly here and there, the story is told through the found footage of the hero’s VHS camera, sort of a visual suicide note.  However, this footage is interspersed with home movies Peter and his family have taken throughout the years, so the audience is able to see the sort of life, the failure of an American Dream. that the hero is leaving for the romanticism of the West.

The impact is pretty extraordinary. Understanding and sympathy develops for Peter and Anna, while the remaining information is obtained by the observation of Duran, a bit sleazy at first, yet who grows in the audience’s appreciation as the film progresses.

This is the first major release of Travis Gutiérrez Senger, an author, director and artist to watch.  Handling original narrative in a film has got to be difficult, but Senger’s direction has a style and such a unique manner of handling the now near clichéd “found footage” technique is quite wonderful.  The three major performers, Lee Tergesen, Chaske Spencer and Petra Wright are all spot on in their performances, and you can feel the power of the film from beginning to end. Based on true events, Desert Cathedral won the Golden Bee, the festival’s top prize, at the Manchester International Film Festival; the festival awarded the film for its bold and unique storytelling. No surprise. Isn’t it great to have a film to which you have to bring your brain?

Sink your teeth into the seventh season of “The Vampire Diaries”

Once again, it’s time to give a fangs a lot to Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, who has released  The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Seventh Season on Blu-ray and DVD. Fans will devour all 22 one-hour episodes from season seven and feast on an hour of bloody good extras—including a brand-new featurette, the 2015 Comic-Con panel, deleted scenes and a gag reel.

For those too faint-hearted to recall every detail of season seven: An emotional goodbye is from Elena Gilbert; as Damon and Stefan’s mother, Lily (the gifted guest star Annie Wersching), tries to drive a wedge (stake?) between the Salvatore brothers; hope remains that Stefan and Caroline’s love story is tough enough to survive. Need more to quench your thirst for daring, demonic  drama? Damon does whatever it takes to take down his mother and her band of Heretics; when Bonnie and Enzo both try to decide where their loyalties lie, a surprising relationship will evolve. Plus, with Mystic Falls in disarray and the arrival of the Heretics—who are set on retaliation and mayhem—the suspense will be stronger than ever. Guest stars also include Todd Lasance, Elizabeth Blackmore, Scarlett Byrne, Teressa Liane and Leslie-Ann Huff.landscape-1469459749-the-vampire-diaries-desktop-wallpapers

It has long been rumored that the show was nearing its end after its lead star, Nina Dobrev, left the show after season six and its other stars, Ian Somerhalder and Kat Graham, hinted it is bye-byt time. But the cast and producers made the official announcement Saturday during their annual appearance at Comic-Con in San Diego.

 “We all have discussed it and we’ve made the decision that this is it,” TVD‘s producer, Julie Plec, told fans Saturday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “This is going to be the final season ofThe Vampire Diaries. It’s bittersweet and emotional and we’re all going to be crying in a minute. It’s been a beautiful run. Get ready, because it’s going to be an epic ride.”

A morsel of trivia only die-hard fans may know: Paul Wesley, who plays Stefan, directed “Woke Up with a Monster”, an episode last season. Did he have any favorite scenes that were really fun to do?

Says Wesley: “I loved directing the episode. It was interesting. I shot all interiors, and when you’re doing a TV series, you’re prone to weather changes, and you’re losing daylight, you’re losing nighttime. I just literally shot on stages, so I had all this play room, and it was so fun. I’m doing a couple more this year, and I can’t wait. It reinvigorated this sense of pleasure. Obviously I’m excited to be on the show, but I’d been doing it for so long that it can be a little bit like you sort of know what you’re getting yourself into, but with the directing you just discover something new every time. You’re always trying to get better, and it’s been great.”

“The Nazi Games: Berlin 1936” offers a riveting look at the Nazis and the International Olympic Committee

How did the Nazis and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) turn a small sports event into the modern Olympics? The answers can be found in the riveting PBS Distribution DVD The Nazi Games: Berlin 1936. (The program will also be available for digital download.) The grand themes and controversial issues from the 1936 Berlin Games have continued to this day: Monumentality, budget overruns, collusion with authoritarian regimes, corruption and sometimes even bribery.

Through archival footage and new research, The Nazi Games: Berlin 1936 reveals how the Olympics, as we have come to know them, were shaped by the collaboration of interests between Hitler and ambitious Olympic planners. After initial distrust, both the IOC and the Nazis found common ground in turning the 1936 Games into the biggest Olympic show the world had ever seen.

A good trip: The Blu-ray and DVD release of the first season of “Into the Badlands”

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Daniel Wu, Stephen Fung and Aramis Knight promoting “Into the Badlands”

Going Into the Badlands is a good thing. AMC’s goal for the series was simple: They wanted to produce a compelling character drama, and introduce the highest caliber of martial arts filmmaking to a weekly series. Success was struck, thanks to the creative minds of creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, whose six-part series stars Daniel Wu as ruthless, prodigiously skilled warrior Sunny. He mentors teen boy M.K. during a spiritual journey across a feudal civilization known as the Badlands.

Violence? Of course. With the help of trained assassins like Sunny, the area is ruled by rival barons, and for decades Quinn has consistently outflanked and outmaneuvered his fellow barons to keep the upper hand. His invincibility, however, begins to fade in light of brazen attacks by the newest baron, The Widow, who believes M.K. is the key to her success. As the battle for control of the Badlands heats up, the destinies of the stoic assassin and the impetuous teenager become intertwined.

Those who missed any of the compelling action or want a revisit should save the date of November 8, when Anchor Bay Entertainment releases Into the Badlands: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray and Digital HD and DVD. For those who wonder: The second season of Into the Badlands returns to AMC in 2017.

Set in a world centuries from now, Into the Badlands: The Complete First Season focused on the spiritual journey of Sunny (Wu) and M.K. (Aramis Knight), a teenage boy who harbors a unique ability, and their growing relationship as teacher and student. Both discover their true purpose and decide to explore what lies beyond the borders of the Badlands, but as their Baron Quinn continues to battle against his own family as well as his rival Baron the Widow, Sunny and M.K.’s journey to a more peaceful existence seems further out of reach.

Those who now wonder about bonus features on the Blu-ray and DVD release of season one:

 

  • Inside Into the Badlands
  • Anatomy of a Fight
  • Building the World of Into the Badlands
  • The Characters of Into the Badlands: The Barons
  • The Characters of Into the Badlands: The Clippers
  • The Master: Into the Badlands Fight Camp Episode 1
  • Creating Real Kung Fu: Into the Badlands Fight Camp Episode 2
  • Bringing It All Together: Into the Badlands Fight Camp Episode 3
  • Into the Badlands Digital Comic