Category Archives: DVDs

“Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene” offers a look into the life and times of the original shock jock

He was a radio and TV personality like no other, a pioneering shock jock and talk-show host long before the Sterns and Springers sprung into action. Petey Greene took on racism like no one before and become an inspiring voice for understanding.  His true-story is told in Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene (Virgil Films), a riveting documentary featuring rare footage and classic interviews.
In the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s, Greene emerged as a one-of-a-kind voice speaking out against racism, crime and poverty. An ex-con, he used his years in prison as an education in people and society, and as a radio host and later a TV personality in Washington, D.C., spoke the people’s language to point out what needed to be changed to make life better for everyone.

Oscar-nominated actor Don Cheadle (who portrayed Greene in the 2007 award-winning feature Talk to Me) narrates this insightful documentary that explores the life and times of Greene, the bombastic radio DJ-activist who rose to prominence in the ’60s via his groundbreaking show, Rapping With Petey Greene. By the ’70s, he was hosting Petey Greene’s Washington, a similar show on TV,  whose wide range of guests included a young shock jock named Howard Stern, shown here in rare footage wearing blackface and an afro during an interview with Greene. (Stern has called Greene the greatest radio personality of all time.)

Fearless and provocative, Greene galvanized audiences with his frank and often humorous commentaries on topics like race, religion, poverty, sex and corruption. He was unafraid to state truths that others would rather avoid, such as, “People use drugs because drugs is good!” Numerous prominent figures appear in the film to pay tribute to Greene’s importance and influence, including sportscaster James Brown, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, former Washington Mayor Marion Barry and actor Robert Hooks, who calls Greene “the ghetto jester, the original rapper.”
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Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene is an invaluable reminder of the power of speaking the truth loud and clear.

 

Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker . . . sink your teeth (or dentures) into a masterful film

Some say Ethan Hawke was Born to Be Blue. Of sorts. Hawke portrays (quite wonderfully) jazz legend Chet Baker in Born to Be Blue (IFC Films). In the ’50s, Baker was one of the most famous trumpeters in the world, renowned as both a pioneer of the West Coast jazz scene and an icon of cool. By the ’60s, he was all but washed up, his life in shambles due to years of heroin addiction. In his innovative anti-biopic, director Robert Budreau zeroes in on Baker’s life at a key moment in the ’60s as the musician attempts a hard-fought comeback, spurred by a passionate romance with a new flame (portrayed by Carmen Ejogo).
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“I didn’t want some pretend jazz movie in a black turtleneck,” says Hawke. “To me, it’s about the music, the person, the period, the place. Look at the nineteen fifties–they have their own charisma and feel, from the cars to the music to the energy. I find it all tying together to create this special time.”

Time was not Baker’s friend.  Hooked on heroin in 1957, his career died after Baker was involved in a drug deal gone so wrong a brutal beating knocked his teeth out. He couldn’t play anymore,” adds Hawke, “until he learned to play with dentures.”

Sink your teeth into a great flick.

“Confirmation” revisits the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings with grit and power

It only takes one voice to change history. Let’s discuss Anita Hill and her powerful voice.
In July 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated Judge Clarence Thomas to fill Justice Thurgood Marshall’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. In October, during the final days of Thomas’ confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, both Newsday and NPR broke the story that one of Thomas’ former employees, law professor Anita Hill, had accused him of sexually harassing her 10 years earlier. These revelations triggered a maelstrom of events, with both Hill and Thomas testifying about the allegations before a stunned and riveted television audience.

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Kerry Washington as Anita Hill; Wendell Pierce as Clarence Thomas
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The real Thomas and Hill

History has been revisited in the HBO Home Entertainment TV movie Confirmation, now on DVD with Digital HD and Blu-ray with Digital HD. The film details the explosive Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings, which brought the country to a standstill and forever changed the way we think about sexual harassment, victims’ rights and modern-day race relations. It looks behind the curtain of Washington politics, depicting a pivotal moment in American culture that became a turning point in workplace equality and gender politics.

The HBO Film was nominated for two 2016 Emmy Awards including Outstanding Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Kerry Washington as Anita Hill).

The Blu-ray and DVD releases include brief discussions with Washington and Pierce on the historical impact of the hearings as well as “Character Spot” featuring cast members discussing the character they play.

Save the date! “All the Way” gets our vote as best TV movie of the year

“Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation, but not a fact.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
Yes, Hillary will win, but put aside that lovely thought . . . just for a moment. As race relations and presidential politics continue to be top-of-mind, hot-button issues, HBO will be bring the Emmy-nominated All the Way to Blu-ray and DVD on September 6. Recently nominated for eight Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (Bryan Cranston, who reprises his Tony-winning role), the powerful film underscores the fact that as much as things change, they remain the same.

All the Way is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at President Lyndon B. Johnson’s tumultuous first year in office in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination. Witness LBJ during his early administration, as he stakes his presidency on what would be an historic, unprecedented Civil Rights Act. Johnson finds himself caught between the moral imperative of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the expectations of the southern Democratic Party leaders who brought Johnson to power. As King battles to press Johnson while controlling more radical elements of the Civil Rights movement, Johnson navigates the bill through Congress, winning a landslide victory against Barry Goldwater, but causing the South to defect from the Democratic Party.
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Bryan Cranston is brilliant; joining him in pivotal roles are Anthony Mackie as Martin Luther King, Jr., Melissa Leo as Lady Bird Johnson, Bradley Whitford as Hubert Humphrey, Stephen Root as J. Edgar Hoover and Frank Langella as Sen. Richard Russell.
You may now return your thoughts to Hillary.

Liam Neeson narrates a fascinating documentary on the Irish Rebellion

It’s a great day for the Irish. Yet it wasn’t always so great. On Easter Monday 1916, a small group of Irish rebels including poets, teachers, actors and workers took on the might of the British Empire. Although defeated militarily, the men and women of the Easter Rising would soon win a moral victory with their actions leading to the creation of an independent Irish State and contributing to the eventual disintegration of the British Empire. They have inspired countless freedom struggles throughout the world from Ireland to India.

Welcome to PBS Distribution’s 1916: The Irish Rebellion on DVD. Narrated by acclaimed actor and Irish native Liam Neeson, and directed by award-winning Irish documentary directors, Ruán Magan and Pat Collins, the three-episode series commemorates this seminal event with a combination of rarely seen archival footage, new segments filmed on location worldwide, and interviews with leading international experts. The documentary also uncovers the untold story of the central role Irish Americans played in the lead-up to the rebellion that would change the course of Irish history.

Called a “thoroughly engaging history lesson” by The Irish Times, the film was produced to coincide with the international celebration of the centenary of the Easter rising. The program aired on American Public Television (APT) in the United States and Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) and the British Broadcasting Corp, and a shorter version will be screened globally at Irish embassies throughout the world.

Éirinn go Brách!

“Person of Interest” comes to an end . . . and what an ending says Michael Emerson

All things come to an end. Even great things. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released Person of Interest: The Complete Fifth and Final Season on Blu-ray and DVD.  This is the end of one of television’s most compelling, action-packed, crime dramas. 

For years, the Person of Interest team, consisting of tech genius Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), ex-agent John Reese (Jim Caviezel), NYPD Detective Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman), cyber-hacker Root (Amy Acker) and missing-in-action operative Sameen Shaw (Sarah Shahi), have been protected by The Machine. As worlds collided, however, and a rival AI known as Samaritan finally cornered The Machine inside the nation’s power grid, it was the POI team’s turn to protect Finch’s creation.

 In season five, the cold war is over. The world might appear to look the same, but something has drastically changed. Samaritan’s lethal “correction” has initiated its control. Finch’s Machine is essentially dead. Shaw is still missing. And the team is once again hiding in plain sight. But with Samaritan’s invisible grip tightening everywhere, will Finch be able to rebuild and resurrect The Machine? And if he does, will it be the same Machine when it comes back online?

We wonder what Michael Emerson (best-known for his theater work, including a great run as Oscar Wilde in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and a greater Willie Oban in The Iceman Cometh), feels about Person of Interest ending.

“I feel good. I think we were surprised when we first heard that it was coming to an end,” he says. “You always think that as long as your ratings are high, you’re good to go. But it doesn’t necessarily always play out that way. There were other kinds of concerns and such.  Once we got used to the idea, and when they said, ‘We’re just going to shoot 13,’ somewhere in my heart there was a leap of joy because I thought, ‘Praise God. I think I can get through 13.’ I wasn’t sure I could do another 22.”

As for the way the series ended? “Oh, that’s alright. That’s a human ending, not some contrivance or irony or device. I’m really pleased with it and at peace with it and so happy that I’m not still out there shooting,” he adds.

Stephen King, James Franco and a dead Kennedy make for riveting TV

It’s a question most people can readily answer: Where were you when JFK was shot? And almost everyone remembers Walter Cronkite wiping away tears while reporting the tragic news.

Imagine having the power to change history. Willing? Then journey back to 11.22.63.  The Hulu original series stars James Franco as Jake Epping, a high-school teacher at a loss with his life, who wants to make a difference and do something meaningful. Encouraged by his ailing friend (the wonderful, but aging Chris Cooper), Jake journeys back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The story transports audiences into the world of ’60s Texas as Jake explores the multiple mysteries surrounding the alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (Daniel Webber).

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Lee Harvey Oswald, recreated by the brilliant Daniel Webber

But Jake’s mission faces threats not only from Oswald, but from Sadie (Sarah Gadon), a beautiful librarian he falls in love with, and from the past itself . . . which doesn’t want to be changed. And if the Past doesn’t want to be changed, it will push back­ often violently. With something for everyone, this edge-of-your seat mystery offers an epic and emotional thrill ride as viewers hurtle deep into the unpredictable darkness of the American dream.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s release of 11.22.63 is on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.  Executive Produced by Emmy winner J.J. Abrams, Stephen King, Bridget Carpenter and Kevin Macdonald, the event series includes all 8 episodes as well as a brand new featurette. The series is based upon the New York Times best-selling 2011 novel written by King.

Billy Zane, Chad Michael Collins and Dennis Haysbert hit the “Sniper: Ghost Shooter” target

We are die-hard members of the Billy Zane Fan Club. We love the hunky actor, even if he makes films that are pretty bad. One film that is not bad: Sniper: Ghost Shooter, the latest in the popular Sniper franchise. This latest action-packed direct-to-video chapter has arrived on DVD and Digital from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and we’re watching it (again) as soon as we finish typing.

Sniper savors know that Chad Michael Collins and Dennis Haysbert also return for this explosively entertaining installment in which Corporal Brandon Beckett (Collins) and his Marine sniper unit must face off against an infamous extremist sniper who has seemingly perfect accuracy. Directed by returning series’ director Don Michael Paul and co-starring Nick Gomez, Stephanie Vogt and Enoch Frost, Sniper: Ghost Shooter is loaded with the non-stop military action series’ fans (and BZ fans) and newcomers won’t want to miss.

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Elite snipers Brandon Beckett (Chad Michael Collins) and Richard Miller (Billy Zane) are fighting extremists in the Middle East when Colonel (Dennis Haysbert) gives them a new mission: to protect a gas pipeline stretching from the Republic of Georgia to Western Europe from terrorists eager to make a political statement. But when skirmishes with the enemy lead to U.S. snipers being killed by a ghost shooter who locks into their exact location, a security breach is suspected. Fingers are pointed and battle lines are drawn, all leading up to an explosive climax.

Warning! Andy Samberg will have you pissing in your pants in “Popstar”

There’s something funny about Justin Bieber. We’ll star with this bon mot: He has no talent. On the other hand, Andy Samberg is funny. In Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping , a mockumentary  about a former boy-band member trying desperately to salvage his failing solo career (think Bieber), he is fucking funny. If you miss the flick in your local theatre, the film comes to Digital HD on August 16, On Demand on August 30, and Blu-ray and DVD on September 13. You can thank Universal Pictures Home Entertainment for this side-splitting comedy.

We won’t give away too much, but Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping goes behind the scenes as music sensation Conner4Real (Samberg), the breakout star of a popular but disbanded hip-hop group, finds his popularity plummeting after a disastrous album release, leaving his fans, sycophants and rivals all wondering what to do when he’s no longer the dopest star of all . . just as he launches a highly publicized solo tour.

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It’s funny because SNL alums Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone (the comedy collective known as The Lonely Island) wrote the screenplay, a razor-sharp, music-filled send-up of pop celebrity chronicles the exploits of the lovably egotistical singer-rapper (and his 32-person entourage) as he attempts to win back the hearts of his once-adoring fans. The trio also produced the film, along with comedy mastermind Judd Apatow.

And oh! Popstar co-stars a who’s who of comedy superstars, including Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Joan Cusack, Imogen Poots, Chris Redd, Bill Hader, Kevin Nealon and Will Arnett. And there are laugh-out-loud cameos from such music-world VIPs as Justin Timberlake, Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, Carrie Underwood, DJ Khaleed, Seal, P!nk, Nas, , Usher, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Ringo Starr, , Simon Cowell, Questlove, Mariah Carey, RZA, T.I., and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Could this be the life story of Bieber? Never say never.

 

 

We have never had shame: “Shameless” is an outrageous, irreverent Showtime series

We have no shame promoting all the great DVDs and Blu-ray releases Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings to fans. On August 30, one of the top-rated Showtime comedy series will get in your hands with the release of Shameless: The Complete Sixth Season.  Get set for the Gallagher clan, one of television’s most outrageous families as they entertain viewers with another highly addictive season featuring 12 irreverent episodes, plus bonus content, including two new featurettes and deleted scenes.

Shameless, based on the long-running, award-winning British series, was adapted for American television by John Wells and original UK series creator Paul Abbott. The show stars Oscar-nominated actor William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher, the outspoken, alcoholic, single father of six clever and resourceful kids from Chicago’s South Side. Scrappy, stubborn and strong, the Gallaghers are tested by changing times but season six finds them older, wiser and better at playing the system.

Accustomed to their natural state of chaos, the Gallaghers are as surprised as anyone at how life is turning out for them. But as they come into their own and find out who they really are, is it really possible that they might grow apart for good?

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During season six of Shameless, Frank continues to grieve the loss of Bianca, while his newfound appreciation for life is freaking everyone out.  Debbie (Emma Kenney) has decisions to make about her pregnancy while Fiona (Emmy Rossum) learns that she too, is expecting. Lip (Jeremy Allen White) is still in a dangerous relationship with one of his college professors. Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is adjusting to taking his meds and finding a new purpose in life. Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) is released early after serving time in juvenile detention. And just when they think it couldn’t get any worse, the Gallagher clan faces the possibility of losing their home when they are served with an eviction notice.

Stay tuned.