Category Archives: Movies

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.

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.

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?

The 13-part miniseries “Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands” heads to Blu-ray and DVD

And you think Shakespeare was tough. Beowulf  is an Old English epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative lines. It may be the oldest surviving long poem in Old English and is commonly cited as one of the most important works of Old English literature. Scholars argue the date of the poem’s origin; the only certain dating pertains to the manuscript, which was produced between 975 and 1025. The author? An anonymous Angle-Saxon poet, referred to by scholars as the “Beowulf poet”.

Now Beowulf comes to life. Of sorts. Public Media Distribution, LLC  is releasing (on October 11) Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands on DVD and Blu-ray.

Based on the complex protagonist of the classic English poem written between the eighth and tenth century, the series takes place in a mythological place, The Shieldlands, and challenges the notions of good and evil, heroes and villains, and the rule of law against one’s moral code. The drama, a 13-part epic miniseries that originally aired on the Esquire Network, stars Kieran Bew, in the lead role Beowulf; as well as William Hurt; Joanne Whalley; Ed Speleers and David Ajala.

Beowulf returns to his hometown after 20 years only to find the town attacked by a creature and himself accused of murder. This update to the centuries old tale introduces new characters and storylines to bring together an intriguing and epic fantasy action-adventure series.

Wanna read the poem?

“Power Rangers Dino Charge: Rise” is a spook-tacular Halloween treat

We love when we can share treats instead of tricks as Halloween creeps in. Now we offer two. First, a riddle. What do you call an empty hot dog? (Pause, while you think about it.) A hollow-weenie! (pause, while you laugh heartily.)

Secondly: A spook-tacular DVD from Lionsgate. Saban’s Powers Rangers embark on all-new adventures in Power Rangers Dino Charge: Rise, arriving on DVD (plus Digital HD) on September 27. powerrangersdinocharge_v4riseIn this Halloween edition, the Power Rangers must overcome their differences and work together to defend the Earth from evil using their dino-charged powers. Top-rated in its time period with kids 2-11, Power Rangers Dino Charge: Rise will surely keep its devoted fan base on the edge of their seats.

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 in these dynamic, thrill-filled adventures.

All together now: Boo!

Disney’s royal lion lair continues with “The Lion Guard: Unlease the Power”

They are lions, hear them roar. Join Kion and his friends as they unite to protect the Pride Lands and maintain the Circle of Life with the new Disney DVD The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power! Save the date: September 20. Packed with action, music and more than two hours of fun, the story proves that when heroes join forces, they are truly a force to be reckoned with.lionguard

The Lion Guard continues the high as it continues the epic storytelling of Disney’s The Lion King. The high works because of Lowe . . . Rob Lowe ‘s vocal talents work magic as Simba. The story follows the adventures of Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala, and his diverse group of friends-Bunga, a fearless honey badger; Fuli, a confident cheetah; Beshte, a friendly and good-spirited hippo; and Ono, an intellectual egret. Together, Kion and his friends make up the Pride Lands’ fiercest, bravest, fastest, strongest and keenest of sight.

Think you will recognize the other voices? Watch and wonder! We’ll give you one clue: Modern Family icon Sarah Hyland plays . . .

 

Tom Hiddleston is swift as he swears that “The Night Manager” was “one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences I’ve had as an actor”

Watching a film in its uncensored form is usually an important event. Witness Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie in The Night Manager.  Fans can bring home the original uncensored version now that the series has come to Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The intense spy thriller originally aired on the BBC, and has received four Emmy nominations–Limited Series, Best Actor (Hiddleston), Best Supporting Actor (Laurie) and Best Supporting Actress (Olivia Colman).20150610_amc_nightmanager_2709_press-kit-800x600

The Night Manager, directed by Oscar-winner Susanne Bier (Best Foreign Language Film, In A Better World; 2011) is the first television adaptation of a le Carré novel in more than 20 years and brings together love, loss and revenge in a complex story of modern criminality. The stunning six part series follows former British soldier Jonathan Pine (Hiddleston) who is recruited by intelligence operative Angela Burr (Colman) to infiltrate the inner circle of international businessman Richard Onslow Roper (Laurie). To get to the heart of Roper’s vast empire, Pine must withstand the suspicious interrogations of his venal chief of staff Major Corkoran (Tom Hollander) and the allure of his beautiful girlfriend Jed (Elizabeth Debicki). In his quest to do the right thing, he must first become a criminal himself.

We wondered how Hiddleston heard the news of his Emmy nomination. ” I didn’t have any expectations, and suddenly my phone started blowing up a couple hours ago,” he recalls. “This is the most wonderful surprise, and honestly the most thrilling thing about it is that it feels like an extraordinary and heartwarming affirmation for the whole team who made The Night Manager. Making The Night Manager was the most fulfilling team effort, and I’m so proud of everybody.”

Pause. “It’s very special because I so enjoyed playing Jonathan Pine,” he adds. “The Night Manager was one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences I’ve had as an actor. He’s such a complex character—a highly skilled, impeccably courteous, morally courageous, romantic character with a kind of broken heart. I loved playing him. The playing of him was complex in lots of ways in that over the course of the six episodes of the miniseries, the character is called by four different names with four different passports.”

Notice we didn’t ask about Taylor Swift.

 

 

Mike and Dave post a Craigslist ad . . . they need wedding dates and get much more

It really started with an ad on Craigslist. Really.  The ad went up at 9:13 a.m. on February 13, 2013. It read:

TWO MEN NEED WEDDING DATES
My brother and I are looking for wedding dates. We’ve been told by the bride that bringing dates is “mandatory” so we “won’t harass all of my friends all night” and “stay under control.” Rather than ask some fringe women in our lives to go and face the inevitable ‘does this mean he wants to take it to the next level!?’ questions, we’d rather bring complete strangers and just figure it out. Still reading? In anticipation of your questions we’ve developed an FAQ section below. Dave, Mike

What’s in it for me? • An excuse to get dressed up • Open bar & food all night • Eccentric/downright dangerous bro-2-bro dance moves (may need to sign a waiver) • Adventure • Mystery • Suspense • True Love • Royalties once our night’s story is developed into a romantic comedy* *if this happens (we estimate the chances at 85%) we refuse the right to let Ashton Kutcher play either of our characters, however, we will consider him for a supporting role.

_mike_and_dave_stangle_from_the_premiere_last_night_split_with_a_pic_of_zac_efron_and_adam_devine
The real Mike and Dave (left) and the big-screen impersonators

SO – What are you fellas like, anyway? Oh us? We’re both in our 20s, single, dashingly tall, Anglo-Saxon, respectfully athletic, love to party, completely house trained, relaxed, passionate, smell great, have cool hair, clean up nice, boast great tie collections, will promise to shave, love our mother, have seen Love Actually several times, controversial, provocative, short-sighted (with a big picture mentality), raw, emotional, sensitive but still bad boys. What should us ladies be like? You should respond in pairs as you’ll want to know at least 1 person at this wedding. Sisters (twins?!) are preferable, but we’ll take friends, or even enemies. You should be attractive or our aunts will judge you, but not TOO attractive or one of our uncles might grope you. You should be relaxed and easy going as we’ll probably make up flattering lies about you on the spot. You should own a dress, or be able to acquire one because we don’t have any. If (when) you respond you should send some pictures of yourself so we know you’ve met the above requirements. Feel free to include a resume; this is a classy wedding and we’re looking for well-rounded women. Interesting/unique pairings are encouraged; don’t be afraid to make yourself stand out! This feels kinda creepy, are you guys Craigslist killers? 3 No. Well, if you want to be techni.. nevermind. No, we aren’t. We just genuinely want to do something different and we don’t see any other way to approach it. What would verify our normalness? Facebook? Instagram? We can have a pre-date screening (interview) prior to the wedding and play 20 questions over a coupla cocktails if you’d like? We’re IN! What now? First off — smart thinking. Email us, send along some pictures, information, high school athletic stats, questions, etc. We’ll take it from there. THE REAL STANGLE BROTHERS

Mike and Dave were surprised by the response it received. As Dave points out: “We thought the only logical way to get dates that knew each other, that would hang out with the two of us, was to put this on Craigslist. We wrote it, kind of thinking it was a joke that we could send to each other.”

With literally thousands of responses, the brothers had soon attracted national attention, discussing their creative dating tactics with Matt Lauer on the Today show and with Anderson Cooper on CNN.

The Stangles were, after all, only doing what came naturally. “I mean, that was kind of the whole point,” Mike says. “We realized that people actually were paying attention to us and so we were cool for the first time in our lives. For a neat little month we went on as many dates as we possibly could.” Adds Dave: “We did a lot of double-dating.”

The ad worked. A movie was made. They also landed a book deal. The deals were thanks to a friend, who happened to be a trainee at CAA, who spotted their viral ad on Craigslist.

And so we cordially invite all to the comedy event of the year. Adam Devine plays Mike and Zac Efron plays Dave in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, coming to Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD on September 27 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. A true life comedy: In order to avoid embarrassing their family, hard-partying brothers Mike and Dave place an online ad to find “respectable” dates for their sister’s Hawaiian wedding. Instead, the boys find themselves out-hustled by an uncontrollable duo (played by Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza). Based on hilarious true events, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is the perfect marriage of over-the-top humor and outrageous fun. The home releases doesn’t divorce themselves from extras . . .  there are more than 90 minutes of wildly inappropriate content, including never-before-seen extended and deleted scenes

No gifts needed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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