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.
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.
You may not have heard of the award-winning film Dependent’s Day. Until now. The breakout indie film that received much acclaim during its festival circuit run earlier this year is (finally!) available on demand everywhere.
The breakout relationship comedy, which has been described as having “the feel of recent Judd Apatow films” was written, directed, produced and edited by Michael David Lynch. Whew!
After realizing that his girlfriend (played by Benita Robledo) is the breadwinner of their relationship, aspiring actor Cam (Joe Burke) subjects himself to a series of humiliating jobs and experiences to prove that he is not a dependent.. We found the film to be a hilarious and authentic comedy about the adventures and struggles of being in the midst of a relationship and making it work.
Dependent’s Day is now available on all major cable and satellite providers and to stream digitally on Amazon Instant Video US, Sling TV, iTunes, VUDU, Xbox, YouTube and other locations.
“I am elated that this film has resonated so well with audiences of all ages in the film festival circuit,” says Lynch. “You never know when you are making a movie how people are going to respond to it. It was incredible to have our limited theatrical release in October and I’m thrilled that now audiences across the North America will be able to enjoy this film because it is now available everywhere.”
The film is unlike most other Hollywood romantic comedies because it has a semblance of reality and strong female characters that are endearing throughout the movie. “I had lots of strong women in my life as I was growing up so I really couldn’t write this film without including that component,” adds Lynch. “I wanted to write something that reflected my experience and see if it resonated with the audiences. Apparently, the fans enjoy intelligent funny women in roles too.”
The new year is a a mere fast forward away, but PBS Distribution has already a list of upcoming DVDs they are releasing that demand you to write “Save the Date” on your new 2017 calendar . . . and spend the you found in your money found in stocking hanging from the mantle.
Secrets of the Dead: After Stonehenge (Available now) Three thousand years ago, the Egyptians were building the pyramids, but little is known about what was going on in Europe during this same time. Scholars have long believed that nothing nearly as advanced was happening in Britain. Could a new discovery prove historians wrong?
On the edge of Must Farm Quarry in an area southeast of Britain known as the Fens, archaeologists are uncovering the charred remains of a 3,000-year-old English settlement.
The program follows a team of archeologists, scientists, historians and specialists, as they shed new light on the ancient history of the western world. Perfectly preserved in mud, the prehistoric British Bronze Age Village–built at least one thousand years after Stonehenge–has been called the “British Pompeii.”
Because the site is so delicate, the experts have been working in secret inside the quarry. But now they are rushing to complete their work and map the site before the land is returned for its owner’s use. Have their findings forever changed what we know about life in Bronze Age Britain? What revelations about the villager’s lives can be gleaned from the cache of finds, unprecedented in number and quality, emerging from the marshy Fens?
NOVA: Treasures of the Earth (on sale January 3)
All around us is Earth’s bounty—spectacular mountains, Caribbean blue oceans and abundant, delicious food crops. But what we can see is only a part of the riches Earth provides. Its hidden assets are some of our most important natural resources and they have helped shape humankind.
The program is a three-part series that takes us on a journey deep inside the Earth to uncover the mysteries of how these treasures were created and explores how they have allowed humans to evolve and build great civilizations.
Projections of America (January 3) During the darkest hour of WWII, a team of idealistic filmmakers hoped the power of the movies could reshape the world. Led by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Robert Riskin, the filmmakers created 26 short documentaries about American life shown to millions of people around the world. The films told stories of cowboys and oilmen, farmers and window washers, immigrants and school children, capturing the optimism and messiness of American democracy.
The gorgeously crafted films were idealized versions of what America could be, created by politically engaged filmmakers who while fighting tyranny abroad, wanted also to fundamentally change America itself. But 70 years later, the films have disappeared. John Lithgow narrates this story of war, idealism and the power of cinema. This emotionally charged story is told through rare and evocative archival materials, including pristine new transfers of the propaganda films themselves, interwoven with interviews with filmmakers, audience members, and film critics.
FRONTLINE: Confronting Isis (January 3) One of the biggest foreign policy challenges America’s next president will face is the battle against ISIS. Where does the U.S.-led fight against the terror group stand today?
In the special, FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith travels to five countries with key roles in the anti-ISIS fight—Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Turkey—to report on successes, failures and challenges as ISIS loses ground in the region but strikes out with attacks abroad. Beginning with the fall of Mosul to ISIS in 2014, the program deeply examines two years of American-led efforts to defeat ISIS, taking viewers step-by-step through a number of initiatives involving different regional players. Smith gains rare access across the region and beyond. In the process, he finds a fundamental problem: At times, the White House’s narrow focus on defeating ISIS hasn’t always aligned with the top issues faced by America’s allies—om how to deal with Bashar al-Assad in Syria, to Saudi Arabia’s fears about Iran, to the war in Yemen, to the Kurdish-Turkish conflict.
Puppy Power (January 10) This fun-filled DVD includes four puppy-packed Super Why! adventures. Join Woofster and the Super Readers for exciting adventures where they save other troubled pets, explore a comic book that Whyatt created called “The Missing Princess of Pet City,” and learn to concentrate by overcoming distractions! This collection of stories features tons of new furry friends and will inspire kids to go on reading adventures. Super Why! helps kids learn the fundamentals of reading through interactive storybook adventures. The program features a team of superhero characters with reading powers who jump into books to find answers to everyday preschool challenges.
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Command and Control (January 10) A cautionary tale of freak accidents, near misses, human fallibility and extraordinary heroism, the program exposes the terrifying truth about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal and shows what can happen when the weapons built to protect us threaten to destroy us.
The film recounts, in chilling, minute-by-minute detail, the story of a deadly 1980 accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas. Through the first-person accounts of Air Force personnel, weapon designers and first responders who were on the scene, the film reveals the unlikely chain of events that caused the accident and the feverish efforts to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States—600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
On the evening of September 18, 1980, Airmen David F. Powell and Jeffrey L. Plumb were performing routine maintenance at the Titan II silo in Damascus, Arkansas. At the age of 21, Powell was considered a highly experienced missile technician; Plumb, who had just turned 19, was still in training. As the two stood on a platform near the top of the Titan II, a socket fell from Powell’s wrench, plummeted 70 feet and, shockingly, punctured the missile. A stream of highly explosive rocket fuel began pouring into the silo.
Nothing like this had ever happened to a Titan II before and the Air Force had no procedures in place to deal with the event. For the next eight hours, the leadership of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) frantically struggled to figure out how to prevent a massive explosion and retain control of the thermonuclear warhead—a weapon so powerful that it could destroy much of Arkansas and deposit lethal radioactive fallout across the East Coast.
A cautionary tale filmed in an abandoned Titan II missile silo in Arizona, Command and Control forces viewers to confront the great dilemma that the U.S. has faced since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do we manage weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them?
Odd Squad: The Movie(January 24) Odd indeed! This is the first-ever movie from the Emmy-winning live-action PBS KIDS series from The Fred Rogers Company. When a rival agency called Weird Team, led by Weird Tom, arrives on the scene with a gadget that fixes any odd problem, Odd Squad suddenly finds it doesn’t have any cases to solve and goes out of business.
The agents close shop and go back to their lives as regular kids. Using math and teamwork, they soon uncover that Weird Team’s gadget isn’t actually fixing the problems around town, but only covering them up. Olympia and Otis join forces with Olive and Otto to stop Weird Team–and save the world from destruction!
MASTERPIECE: Victoria (January 31) Jenna Coleman stars as the young Queen Victoria at the outset of her epic reign, which set the stage for an entire era that would be named in her honor. Scripted by bestselling novelist Daisy Goodwin, the series follows Victoria from her accession to the throne at age 18, through her education in politics, courtship and marriage, Victoria paints a portrait of a monarch who was raised to be the pawn of her powerful elders but who wasted no time in showing the empire who was in charge.
Goodwin imaginatively depicts what it was like for an ill-educated, emotionally deprived teenager to wake up one morning and find that she is the most powerful woman in the world. That it happened at all was practically a miracle. Victoria was queen only by virtue of ill luck and unfruitful marriages on the part of her uncles, who failed to produce legitimate heirs to the crown. Furthermore, her immediate predecessors were so disliked as kings that the institution of the monarchy seemed to be doomed.
Goodwin has been careful to stay faithful to the facts, while reading between the lines to fill in the gaps where the early Victorians were scrupulously silent. The result is a gripping historical pageant that reveals a side of Victoria that is at odds with her later reputation for prudery and a high moral tone.
FOR TV FANS Get an exclusive look behind the scenes of the first two seasons of Outlander with The Making of Outlander: The Series: The Official Guide to Seasons One & Two (Delacorte,$50), an official, fully illustrated companion to the hit TV series based on the bestselling novels. Millions of readers captivated by the epic romance of Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser have eagerly followed. Now the must-watch drama has inspired this must-have guide, which reveals that it takes a village (or perhaps a Scottish isle) to bring the breathtaking world of Outlander to life in front of our eyes. Spanning the first two seasons of the small-screen, The Making of Outlander leads readers behind the scenes and straight into the action as cast members, writers, producers, musicians, costume designers, set decorators, technicians, and more share the many adventures and challenges they face to make this sweeping saga come alive on the screen.
In the special treat Wild Kratts: A Creature Christmas (PBS Distribution), the Wild Kratts crew is resting and relaxing as they get ready for the Wild Kratts Christmas party after a busy year filled with amazing creature adventures. It’s too bad their arch villains Donita Donata, Gaston Gourmand, and Zach Varmitech are about to spoil the fun. The sound of jingle bells is replaced by alarm bells as the team discovers that Donita, Gaston, and Zach are capturing baby animals from around the globe. With Christmas fast approaching, can Martin and Chris rescue their baby animal friends and return them to their homes in time for the holidays?
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel’s Winter Wonderland(PBS Distribution)features four stories including “A Snowy Day,” “Daniel’s Winter Adventure,” “Neighborhood Nutcracker,” and “Baking Mistakes.” In the stories “Daniel’s Winter Adventure” and “Neighborhood Nutcracker,” Daniel discovers that when sledding, ice skating, or learning a dance for “The Nutcracker” ballet, “if something seems hard to do, try it a little bit at a time!” In addition to these grr-ific stories, kids can watch Daniel and Miss Elaina play snow astronauts in “A Snowy Day,” and Daniel and Prince Wednesday make cookies with Baker Aker in “Baking Mistakes.”
FOR NATURE LOVERS
In The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World(Greystone Books, $24.95), Peter Wohlleben shares his deep love of woods and forests and explains the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in the woodland and the amazing scientific processes behind the wonders of which we are blissfully unaware. Much like human families, tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, and support them as they grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling and creating an ecosystem that mitigates the impact of extremes of heat and cold for the whole group. Drawing on groundbreaking new discoveries, Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities; he describes how these discoveries have informed his own practices in the forest around him.
Countless books and blogs have extolled the virtues of the Cat Lady, now photographer David Williams celebrates cat-owning men and the precious kitties who have stolen their hearts. Men With Cats: Intimate Portraits of Feline Friendship (Quirk Books, $12.95) represent a cross-section of American society—musicians and artists, soldiers and CEOs, truck drivers and tattoo artists—with one very furry common denominator. These fun, fuzzy, and offbeat portraits are full of personality, and the accompanying stories share everything from “how we met” to how the cats earned their names. Men with Cats is a delightful gift book for anyone who appreciates the bond between pets and their people.
Small is size, big in tips and hints. Miniature Garden Grower(Mitchell Beazley, $14.99) from garden designer and writer Holly Farrell shows how to grow a variety of miniature gardens from scratch, using inexpensive, everyday equipment and materials. Projects include: one-pot gardens, terrariums, wildlife gardens, water gardens, herb gardens and vertical gardens. Heavily illustrated with diagrams and photographs, and packed with charts and tables, this book is a gardening book the whole family can enjoy.
FOR POP-UP PRAISERS: LEGO Pop-Up(Scholastic, $29.99) is the first-ever LEGO pop-up book Matthew Reinhart creates another spectacular pop-up book, this time telling the LEGO story with equal amounts facts, fun and adventure. Packed with a variety of features- pop-ups, pull tabs, turning wheels and more, this “fun-formative” book will be a delight for both LEGO and pop-up fans alike. Part book, part comic strip, all fun, this is the ultimate collector’s item for LEGO fans.
In this spectacular pop-up guide to the White House by bestselling paper engineer Robert Sabuda, readers can take a tour behind the scenes of the office of the executive branch and the residence of the president and his family. Enter The White House: A Pop-Up of Our Nation’s Home (Orchard Books, $29.99) and travel through time as you open each spread and discover the North Face of the White House, the East Room, the Lincoln Bedroom, the Rose Garden, the Oval Office, and the South Lawn of the White House. year. According to First Lady Michelle Obama, “It’s the ‘People’s House.’ It’s a place that is steeped in history, but it’s also a place where everyone should feel welcome.”
The iconic art of Japanese artist Hokusai, from great waves to waterfalls and mountains, are reimagined in dramatic 3-D pop-ups in Hokusai Pop-Ups (Thames & Hudson, $29.95). Realized in jewel-like colors, Hokusai’s simple views of everyday scenes in Japan, his sense of balance and harmony, and his highly stylized but ever-changing techniques seem to capture the spirit and traditions of his homeland. Hokusai Pop-Ups brings this stunning art to life.
FOR MUSIC MAVENS As the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love floods the media with debates and celebrations of music, political movements, flower power, acid rock and hippies, The Explosion of Deferred Dreams: Musical Renaissance and Social Revolution in San Francisco, 1965–1975 (PM Press, $22.95) offers a critical re-examination of the interwoven political and musical happenings in San Francisco in the Sixties. Musician and native San Franciscan Mat Callahan uses dozens of original interviews, primary sources and personal experiences to show how the intense interplay of artistic and political movements put San Francisco, briefly, in the forefront of a worldwide revolutionary upsurge.
Prince: Life & Times (Chartwell Books, $24.99) is a lavishly illustrated authoritative chronicle of his ground-breaking career, covering every album, every movie and every tour. Jason Draper includes profiles of key collaborators such as The Time, Sheila
E and Vanity 6, assesses his various business dealings, reviews of every album and details his many side-projects, on stage, on record, on screen, and beyond. This updated second edition includes detailed information on Prince’s activity from 2008 up to his death this year.
In the new book Fleetwood Mac: The Complete Illustrated History (Voyageur Press, $40) music historian Richie Unterberger digs deep into the band’s entire career, highlighting details that will surprise even the most loyal fans. The scope of the book is as large and varied as Fleetwood Mac’s career, starting with their formation as a blues band in the ’60s to the pop superstardom of the ’70s and ’80s to their 2015 reunion. Each chapter features separate reviews of each of Mac’s 17 studio albums, authored by noted rock critics such as Barney Hoskyns, Tom Moon Martin Popoff and Gary Graff. In addition, there’s a myriad of photographs and images and memorabilia, including rare and little-seen items.
He is, without a doubt, one of the most popular and controversial artists of all time. Now, for the first time ever, author Daryl Easlea explores the life and history of Michael Jackson, in reverse, in Michael Jackson: Rewind (Race Point Publishing, $40). Starting with his tragic death and rewinding to his early hits with the Jackson 5 and life in Gary, Indiana, this is a complete illustrated history of the King of Pop: his genius, his life and his demons.
Life Amplified World Tour: Live at WVU (City Drive Films) is the new live concert DVD and CD from multi-platinum country superstar Brad Paisley. The concert was shot with 20 cameras in front of a hometown crowd of more than 15,000 people. Paisley played an electrifying two-hour show that included many of his 23 number one singles, such as “Mud on the Tires,” “Then,” and a surprise rendition of “I’m Still A Guy,” featuring Chris Young. The show also includes a very special version of the John Denver song “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which has become an anthem for WVU.
The early ’50s was a heyday for vocal groups, riding the wave of middle-of-the-road popular music in the Tin Pan Alley-dominated years before rock ‘n’ roll changed pop music for ever. The Ames Brothers were one of the most popular of those groups, making their US chart debut in 1948, and racking up a lengthy string of hits over the next few years.
Their following was such that despite the upheaval that rock ‘n roll occasioned in the pop landscape, they continued having chart entries right through to the start of the new decade. This 54-track two-CD collection from Acrobat comprises all of the Billboard Top 100 entries they achieved during their career. It’s an evocative and definitive souvenir of one of the most popular and successful groups of their era.
FOR THOSE WHO LIKE DEAD THINGS The Driller Killer (Arrow Films) is the definitive look at NYC s underbelly a slasher that is as much at home in the arthouse as it is the grindhouse. None of Abel Ferrara’s films have quite managed to match the shock, extremity and downright notorious nature of the fright flick. Ferrara plays struggling artist Reno, a man pushed to the edge by the economic realities of New York living in the late seventies and the No Wave band practicing in the apartment below. His grip on reality soon begins to slip and he takes to stalking the streets with his power tool in search of prey . . . Remember, it’s only a movie. or is it?
The Walking Dead tells the story of Rick Grimes and his band of survivors living in the gruesome aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. This deluxe The Walking Dead Blood Globe (Running Press, $12.95) includes a one-of-a-kind blood globe, featuring a scene of walkers. When the globe is shaken, it fills with fake “blood.” The kit also includes a 32-page book with quotes and images from the show.
An Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Papyrus of Sobekmose(Thames & Hudson, $40)is the first-ever translation of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead of Sobekmose―fully illustrated and explained by a leading Egyptologist. The Book of the Dead of Sobekmose, in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, is one of the most important surviving examples of ancient Egyptian Books of the Dead. Such “books”―actually papyrus scrolls―were composed of traditional funerary texts, including magic spells, which were thought to assist the deceased on their journeys into the afterlife. The ancient Egyptians believed in an underworld fraught with dangers that needed to be carefully navigated, from the familiar, such as snakes and scorpions, to the extraordinary: lakes of fire to cross, animal-headed demons to pass, and the ritual Weighing of the Heart, whose outcome determined whether or not the deceased would be born again into the afterlife for eternity.
FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG-AT-HEART
In a quiet wood, a gray squirrel declares war on the machines that invade his wood, threatening his nest and tree. Taught words and how to use simple machines like the wheel by a young boy who names him Jack, the squirrel shares what he’s learned with the other animals. And so we enter the world ofEvolution Revolution: Simple Machines(CreateSpace Independent Publishing, $5.99.)
This is a smart and charming book for younger readers that will have them wondering just what the animals in the yard are up to! Watch for the next book in this series coming
WithJumbo Stickers for Little Hands: Jungle Animals(MoonDance Press, $5.99), sticker fans of all ages can play with large vinyl, resusable stickers of colorful, jungle animals. From Siamese fighting fish to lions,
tigers, monkeys, zebras, butterflies and panda bears-what’s your favorite animal? With 24 pages of jungle scenes, monkeys can hang from trees. And so can elephants and lions!
The battle between cats and dogs goes galactic! Star Paws(MVD Entertainment Group) stars Adventure Cat and his evil kitty army, who hope to snatch a magical galactic bone that will give them the power to take over the entire galaxy. It’s up to an elite group of space dogs, headed by the intrepid General Ruff to beat Adventure Cat to the bone. Four paws up!
Rock ‘n roll! Pin-up girls! Hot rods and hotter fashion! Welcome to the documentary It’s a Rockabilly World (Virgil Films). Directed by the award winning Brent Huff, the film focuses on the vibrant scene known as “rockabilly” and the people who follow this subculture religiously. The term dates back the mid-’50s, where it was coined to describe the rock ‘n roll played by hillbillies, by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. The flick details its humble beginnings to the global sensation it is today, not only in the United States but in Europe, South Africa and Japan. The colorful cast brings you right onto the rockabilly scene-describing how and why they fall in love with this cultural phenomenon.
The action of Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures: Complete Season One (Disney) begins after the events of The Empire Strikes Back and before Return of the Jedi and follows a family of scavengers who build and sell starships from battle debris strewn throughout the galaxy. Recycling runts! When their youngest discovers a natural connection with the Force through an ancient artifact—the Kyber Saber—his world is turned upside down, and he and his family are thrown into an epic struggle against the Empire to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. The Freemakers explore new worlds, meet new and familiar characters and learn the meaning of family. Relive all 13 action-packed episodes in one nifty set. And no, you;re not hearing things: The voice of Lando Calrissian is that of Billy Dee Williams, reprising his role from the original film series.
RuPaul has his queens. And the Kingdom of Avalor has theirs. After saving her enchanted kingdom from an evil sorceress, Princess Elena must now reign as Crown Princess until she’s old enough to become Queen. She has help: With her sister Isabel, magical flying jaquins, and her friends Naomi, Royal Wizard Mateo and Royal Guard Gabe by her side, this empowered Princess will do her best to rule Avalor with bravery and compassion. Disney’s most inspiring new leader embarks on a heroic journey to restore her kingdom to greatness and prove she’s ready to rule. Such is the wonder of Elena of Avalor (Disney).
We know the story well: Ben-Hur is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala, an officer in the Roman army. The story’s highlight still remains the chariot race: Both the 1925 silent film version, starring gay icon Ramon Navarro as Ben-Hur, and the 1959 blockbuster remain memorable with Biblical proportions. (Three were two other adaptations of the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace: The 1907 silent film starring Herman Rottger and the 2003 animated film with Ben-Hur voiced by Heston.) A new version hit theaters earlier this year, starring Jack Huston in the title role. The breathtaking action-adventure,from Paramount Home Media Distribution, is a great adventures, especially on Blu-ray!
If you missed the critical acclaim (think applause, then more applause) director Andrew Neel’s gripping drama Goat received at its world premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, ask Santa for the Paramount Home Media Distribution DVD. Based on Brad Land’s memoir, the film follows a 19-year-old Brad (played by Ben Schnetzer), newly arrived to college and desperate to belong. Taking a cue from his older brother Brett (Nick Jonas), Brad decides to pledge a fraternity. At first, it’s all parties and girls, but as Brad enters into the final stretch of the pledging ritual—known as “hell week”—things take a violent, humiliating turn. What occurs in the name of ‘brotherhood’ tests both boys and their relationship in brutal ways.
True cinephiles crave everything Cohen Film Collection releases. Trust us and check out the wide array of flicks at cohenmedia.net. Santa will get a long list. One must-have: Merchant Ivory’s undisputed masterpieces Howards End, in a gorgeous new 4k restoration on Blu-ray and DVD. This adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel won multiple prizes including three Academy Awards, with Emma Thompson picking up Best Actress. A saga of class relations and changing times in an Edwardian England on the brink of modernity, the film centers on the interwoven fates and misfortunes of these three families and the diverging trajectories of the two sisters’ lives are connected to the ownership of Howards End, the beloved country home. A compelling, brilliantly acted study of one woman’s struggle to maintain her ideals and integrity in the face of Edwardian society’s moribund conformist values.
Only producer Lorne Michaels could make our Saturday nights live with laughter. Witness: Brother Nature(Paramount Home Media Distribution), the outrageous new comedy about family, friendship and fish. Roger, a straight-laced politician, has big plans to propose to his dream girl at her family’s lake house. But everything goes awry when he meets his potential brother-in-law Todd: A full-time camp counselor with a heart of gold and a wild sense of fun, pining to be Roger’s best friend, and ultimately catapulting him into a series of unfortunate events.
As Roger tries to take a stand amidst outrageous fishing excursions, propulsive water jetpacks and American history-themed musicals, he realizes that being a part of a new family may be more difficult than he’d thought.
Perhaps the most touching and important film of the year: When two pregnant cows were trapped in an over-turned rig on the 210 Freeway in March, the City of Los Angeles’ SMART, a specialized mobile animal rescue team, was called in to save them. The team, the first of its kind in the United States, is a uniquely trained unit within the Animal Services division that risks life and limb to rescue domestic and wild animals in the most precarious situations. An award-winning documentary film, SMART: Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team (Cinema Libre Studio), captures the heart and soul of this team as they battle to save LA’s animals.
Since SMART’s formation in 2009, the self-trained team has saved nearly 1,000 animals . . . domestic, wild, and abused animals of all kinds. The team of 12 Animal Control Officers, represent the cultural melting pot that is this city, and has a 100% save rate. Due to SMART’s distinctive training, it can respond to calls that other emergency responders and Animal Control Officers are not equipped to handle, as seen in the film when they are called in to help Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) after a buck gets trapped in his backyard.
In the last seven years, team members have spent almost $80,000 dollars of their own money to assist with expenses not covered by the department’s budget. Says Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette, SMART’s role is “to show people that the impossible is possible.”
A truly remarkable team and their story.
Based on the phenomenal bestselling book series by acclaimed author James Patterson, Maximum Ride has landed on DVD
from Paramount Home Media Distribution. Patterson’s book series spent 144 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, has sold more than 20 million books worldwide and has spawned 11 Manga comics. The film brings to life the extraordinary journey of six DNA-enhanced young orphans with the ability to fly who are on a mission to rescue the youngest of their flock while discovering the diabolical, scientific secrets of how they came to exist. Their leader is Max, wise beyond her years, who must summon all her courage and acumen to outmaneuver the brutal half-human/half-wolf creations known as “Erasers”, confront her own inner demons and ultimately face a stunning betrayal.
Time Life is releasing several new-to-retail collections of episodes from the first five years of her show with The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes–Classic Carol. This must-have series, unveiled by Time Life in 2015, features original, uncut broadcast episodes from Seasons 1-5 (1967-1972), unseen by the public in more than 40 years–no reruns, streaming video, DVDs or any other format. Until now. Fans will have the opportunity to restore their CB connections and tune in to rediscover what made the program tick and stick around as one of the best hours on TV.
The 6-disc set features 14 episodes, as they originally aired on television, and showcases some of the most acclaimed and beloved moments from “The Carol Burnett Show” including classic sketches “The Old Folks,” “Carol and Sis,” “The Ham Actors,” and “As the Stomach Turns;” TV spoofs including the ever-popular commercials; movie parody presentations from Tearjerker Theatre, Insomnia Theatre, and The Early Early Show; and guest stars including Lucille Ball, Ken Berry, George Carlin, Ray Charles, Cass Elliot, Robert Goulet, Bernadette Peters, Debbie Reynolds and Lana Turner. There’s also a 3-disc set (features seven episodes) and the single disc that includes three episodes.
Specially-created bonus features are also available on both the 6-disc and 3-disc sets and include “A Writers’ Roundtable: A Conversation with The Carol Burnett Show‘s Writers” and interviews with show dancer and choreographer Randy Doney and ballet dancer Edward Villella. The 6-disc collection also features several bonus shows, including “The Garry Moore Show” episodes featuring the original “Accidents” and “Princess of Morovia” sketches.
Your favorite pizza-loving heroes return in an epic new adventure loaded with wall-to-wall laughs. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Paramount Home Media Distribution), the Heroes in a Half-Shell also will be available in a limited edition two-movie Blu-ray giftset with collectible metal lunchbox. Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo are back to battle bigger, badder villains, alongside April O’Neil and a newcomer: the hockey-masked vigilante Casey Jones. After supervillain Shredder escapes custody, he joins forces with two dimwitted henchmen, Bebop and Rocksteady, to unleash a diabolical plan to take over the world. As the Turtles prepare to take on Shredder and his new crew, they find themselves facing an even greater threat with similar intentions: the notorious Krang.
We cannot stand hip-hop or rap or any other such noise. But we did find the miniseries Streets of Compton(Lionsgate) fascinating as we witnessed the rise of West Coast hip-hop. Produced and narrated by rapper The Game, this miniseries brings unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to hip-hop’s origins, exploring the rise of music legends like NWA and Dr. Dre told through the eyes of its current and former residents. Compton is a place most people have never seen and the truth isn’t always pretty. Streets of Compton tells the story of how a city overrun by gangs and violence became a cultural powerhouse. Hip-hop superstar The Game takes us on a dark yet redemptive journey into the heart of his city.
We got out kicks from Kicks(Universal Studios Home Entertainment). In Justin Tipping’s feature debut, nothing is as simple as it seems. Fifteen-year-old Brandon longs for a pair of the freshest sneakers that money can buy; assuming that merely having them on his feet will help him escape the reality of being poor, neglected by the opposite sex and picked on by everyone — even his best friends. Working hard to get them, he soon finds that the titular shoes have instead made him a target after they are promptly snatched by local hood, Flaco. Seemingly the embodiment of menace, Flaco harbors complexities of his own that will be revealed when Brandon goes on a mission to retrieve his stolen sneakers with his two best friends in tow.
He’s been dubbed the “patron saint of geeks” and has had electric cars, rock bands, a unit of measurement, a minor planet and a lunar crater named after him. Yet visionary scientist Nikola Tesla is still relatively unknown, eclipsed by contemporaries such as Edison and Marconi. And he died impoverished and largely forgotten.
During his lifetime, he gained international fame for his invention of a system of alternating current that made possible the distribution of electricity over vast distances and is the basis for the electrical grid that powers 21st century life. But the visionary Tesla imagined much more—robots, radio, radar, remote control, the wireless transmission of messages and pictures, and harnessing the wind and sun to provide free energy to all.
A showman, he dazzled his scientific peers who flocked to see him demonstrate his inventions and send thousands of volts of electricity pulsing through his body. His fertile but undisciplined imagination was the source of his genius but also his downfall, as the image of Tesla as a “mad scientist” came to overshadow his reputation as a brilliant innovator. But it is his exhilarating sense of the future that has inspired renewed interest in the man, as his once scoffed-at vision of a world connected by wireless technology has become a reality.
PBS introduces him to audiences in the DVD American Experience: Tesla. The program is also available for digital download.
Born in 1856 to a Serbian family in Croatia, the tall, gangly, 28-year-old inventor arrived in New York in 1884, almost penniless but with a letter of introduction to his hero, Thomas Edison. Tesla was convinced that he had solved the problem that had plagued Edison’s plans to electrify the world, not just the tip of lower Manhattan. Edison relied on direct current (DC) to transmit electricity, which was severely limiting. Tesla had found a way to do what had so far stumped everyone: invent a motor that could run on alternating current (AC), making the distribution of electricity across long distances possible.
“Before Tesla, you would have to have thousands of little power plants at every mile,” explains biographer Marc Seifer. “After Tesla, from one power source—Niagara Falls—you could light up and power the entire northeast.”
Edison immediately hired Tesla, who abruptly quit just six months later, frustrated by Edison’s refusal to adopt his idea. After a grim winter of digging ditches, his luck turned. The wealthy inventor and entrepreneur George Westinghouse knew that the future—and immense profits—would be found in electricity and he quickly bought the young inventor’s patents, making Tesla a rich man. But when Westinghouse became overextended, he revised Tesla’s deal, stripping him of a royalty that would have made him one of the wealthiest men in the world. Nevertheless, Westinghouse’s gamble on Tesla’s ideas paid off; the company beat Edison for the contracts to wire the Columbian Exposition in Chicago and to harness Niagara Falls to generate AC current, ending once and for all Edison’s hopes for his now antiquated DC technology.
Tesla was now a celebrity, the new Edison. He moved into the luxurious Astor House, dined at Delmonico’s, and became a friend to the rich and famous, including Mark Twain, John Jacob Astor and J.P. Morgan. But he was plagued with a plethora of odd phobias that had followed him since childhood, when he often suffered from inexplicable visions and a difficulty in separating reality from his imagination. Everything he did had to be divisible by three, he had a manic fear of germs, and couldn’t bear the sight of earrings or the touch of human hair.
In 1899, Tesla headed west to Colorado Springs where he set up a laboratory and began to build massive coils that produced a million volts of electricity; he soon announced that he could transmit electricity over vast distances by sending currents though the earth. But he never produced the evidence and his credibility slipped, tarnished even further by his claims that he had received signals from Mars. His imagination, so critical to his inventive powers, began to betray him.
Returning to New York, Tesla managed to convince Morgan to invest in his next idea, the transmission of wireless messages, although Tesla dreamed of transmitting electric power without wires as well. With Morgan’s money, Tesla bought 200 acres on Long Island’s North Shore and began building a transmission tower. But an Italian electrical engineer, Guglielmo Marconi, doomed his dream by sending the first wireless transmission across the Atlantic in 1901—based on Tesla’s patents. The invention of wireless telegraphy—radio—would win Marconi a Nobel Prize and send Tesla into a downward spiral.
By 1916, he had relinquished the Long Island mortgage to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where he had lived on credit for almost 20 years. He would spend the rest of his life imagining new inventions and searching for investors while his ideas became increasingly bizarre and fantastical, more science fiction than science. His mind drifting, his money gone, he died alone in 1943 in the New Yorker Hotel. Six months later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the patents to Marconi’s wireless device belonged to Tesla, and that he, not Marconi, had launched the wireless world with the invention of radio.
James Patterson is pretty prolific. And pretty rich.
Based on the phenomenal bestselling young adult fantasy novels by their author, Maximum Ride takes flight on DVD on December 6 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. Patterson’s book series spent 144 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, has sold more than 20 million books worldwide and has spawned 11 Manga comics.
The film brings to life the extraordinary journey of six DNA-enhanced young orphans with the ability to fly who are on a mission to rescue the youngest of their flock while discovering the diabolical, scientific secrets of how they came to exist. Their leader is Max, wise beyond her years, who must summon all her courage and acumen to outmaneuver the brutal half-human/half-wolf creations known as “Erasers”, confront her own inner demons and ultimately face a stunning betrayal.
Maximum Ride boasts a sensational cast of up-and-coming talent including digital influencers such as Allie Marie Evans, Patrick Johnson, Lyliana Wray, Luke Gregory Crosby, Gavin Lewis, Tetona Jackson, Zayne Emory, Carrie Wampler and Peter O’Brien.
The film ran into trouble in early 2012, when Catherine Hardwicke quit as the film director. When asked about the odds of a movie still being made, Patterson claimed he was “very hopeful as opposed to mildly depressed”. Trouble continued with the death of screenplay writer Don Payne on March 26, 2013. Two years later, the plans geared into a maximum ride and the flick was made.
Christmas may bring good cheer, but sometimes it brings a completely boorish relative to spoil the family gathering. My Aunt Thelma was one such creature.
Yet she wasn’t as bad as Uncle Nick, a drunken horndog who sets his sights on his brother’s stepdaughter . . . the endearing antihero of the raunchy comedy. Brian Posehn, a familiar and beloved comic character actor, gets the starring role of his career in this riotously anti-feel-good comedy arriving just in time for the Big Day.
Indeed. Lewd, drunken Uncle Nick stumbles his way through his brother’s cookie cutter family’s annual Christmas gathering in the hopes of scoring with a super-hot party guest . . . who just happens to be Nick’s brother’s stepdaughter!
The arrival of Uncle Nick’s equally crass sister coupled with Nick’s liquor-fueled faux pas cause family secrets to bubble to the surface . . . secrets that just might spell disaster for the whole clan before the night is over. Oh, and that super-hot guest(Melia Renee, Transparent)!
Presented by executive producer Errol Morris, Uncle Nick is a raucously funny comedy of inappropriate behavior, uncomfortably interrupted trysts and a monumental over-serving of 10-cent beers.
Maybe I will stay home, alone, with Uncle Nick (except on DVD) and Aunt Thelma.
It’s home to over a billion people. Yet India is a place where you can see animals that exist nowhere else on Earth, where the natural world has been woven into people’s lives and where wilderness still holds strong. Wildlife expert Liz Bonnin, actress Freida Pinto and mountaineer Jon Gupta reveal the wonders of India’s natural world in India: Nature’s Wonderland (PBS Distribution) on DVD. From the Valley of the Flowers in West Himalaya and turtles hatching on the beaches of the east coast to the lions of the Gir forest, the film reveals a land packed full of unrivaled wildlife experiences.
Here, descriptions for each of the two parts included on the DVD.
Part 1 Liz Bonnin visits the Gir Forest, home to the world’s last Asiatic lions, where she witness two females hunting, before watching elephants walking through a tea plantation. Freida meets a man who has dedicated his life to the Hoolock gibbon, India’s only ape, which starts the morning by singing. Jon climbs into the Himalayas and stops off at Debprayag to bathe in the sacred waters at a holy place where the River Ganges begins.
Part 2 Every winter morning the desert town of Khichan is invaded by thousands of Demoiselle Cranes. Liz can hardly believe the number of birds. Freida needs to ride on an elephant to get close to one of India’s rarest sights–the One Horned Rhino. Not only does she get to see one in the tall grass, she also sees its baby. Jon comes down from the mountains to a beach on the Bay of Bengal to witness the mass hatching of Olive Ridley Turtles, more than a million baby turtles will erupt from nests buried in the sand.
No passport needed!
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