Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Bloodlines: The Art and Life of Vincent Castiglia” tells the tale of an artist who “paints” only in blood!

Some consider him the “offspring of Fu Manchu.” Margaret Cho commissioned him to paint her portrait in her blood.
Welcome Bloodlines: The Art and Life of Vincent Castiglia, a film focusing on artist Vincent Castiglia’s painful life of abuse, addiction and recovery while also exploring the reasons why the world renowned artist paints exclusively in human blood.

Castiglia paints surreal images exclusively in human blood. He began doing so as form of self-healing following a troubled childhood and painful existence. From darkness, however, came light, and Castiglia’s story is one of inspiration and hope, providing proof that art can heal and serve to inspire others.
 Cho is interviewed in the film as well as celebrities Gregg Allman, Damien Echols, Kerry King and Gary Holt of the heavy metal band Slayer, record executive Michael Alago and numerous others including filming in the studio and museum of legendary artist H.R. Giger, who designed the iconic creature for the Alien movies.

“Streets of Vengeance” is prime, lurid ’80s expliotation . . .  which means it’s great!

I had forgotten that I saw this flick way back when, back when there was a bunch of films about women using s-e-x to kill men who violate them, in more ways than one. Except lots of oodles of gratuitous nudity, tits everywhere, and blood spurting by the gallons. The film made have been made in 1996, but it’s prime, lurid ’80s expliotation . . .  which means it’s great!

Actress Delawna McKinney stars as Mila, a porno star who decides to leave all that X-rated stuff behind. (No pun intented
. . . or is there?) Mila wants to leave the porn industry but gets kidnapped by a militant misogynist sect known as The Sword. These are dudes who believe are using their sexual powers to destroy men. The Sword’s plans are thwarted when Mila kills her captor, and with the help of Brian (the swell Anthony To’omata), a local journalist, escapes.

The cast is riddled with titillating real-life porn stars, a busty bevy including Ginger Lynn Allen, Joanna Angel, Sophie Dee and Alexis Amore.  Now really, do you think, even for a second, that The Sword will win? Not until we see more tits. And more blood. Thank God for directors as sharp and intuitive as Paul Ragsdale. Listen to the dialogue; there are even sexual assault stats  tossed in.

This flick comes from the wonderful Olive Films.

Don’t skip the Blu-ray special tracks:

♥ Audio commentary with writer/director Paul Ragsdale, producer Angelica De Alba and cinematographer Dan Zampa
♥ Making of Streets of Vengeance featurette
♥ Cast & crew interviews
♥ Outtakes
♥ Bloopers
♥ Photo galleries
♥ Music videos
♥ Trailers
Slashlorette Party trailer
 Tough Guys trailer

A Pittsburgh literary force: Zoje Stage, the creator of the frightful “Baby teeth”

Meet Hanna. Hanna is a mute seven-year-old who adores her father.
He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to
live happily ever after with him. But her mother, Suzette, stands in
her way. Since she was almost three, Hanna’s felt the need to test
Suzette, to find out what she was made of. So Hanna would act, and
give Suzette a chance to act in reply. And then she’d know. If Suzette passed or failed. But though Suzette tried, she couldn’t figure out Hanna’s game. So Hanna’s moved on from testing Suzette, to plotting to kill her.

Meet Suzette. She loved Hanna so effortlessly when she was a baby. Baby Hanna had simple, intuitive needs. Girl Hanna is a box within a box, manipulating, antagonizing, and now harming Suzette. Girl Hanna intentionally cut Suzette’s hair, fed a schoolmate paint, set a trashcan on fire, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Suzette is out of options. She needs to put Hanna away to save her marriage, and keep her sanity.

Image result for baby teeth cover

Baby Teeth (St. Martin’s Press; $26.99), by screenwriter-turned-novelist Zoje Stage, is more than a story about a bad seed. It is an
“unnerving and unputdownable” look at a mentally ill girl with a murky future, and a physically and emotionally vulnerable woman ambiguous about being a mother, “an unflinching portrait of
childhood psychopathy and maternal regret.”

In her book debut, Stage writes from both points of view beautifully, imagining the creative and precocious Hanna, bursting with imagery and emotions she can’t figure out how to express, and imposing her own anxieties and dealings with chronic disease on the emotionally and physically vulnerable Suzette.

New PBS series, “NOVA: Wonders”, hits high notes

NOVA: Wonders is a fresh, lively series that makes complicated concepts accessible while taking a deep dive into the scientific process. Each episode poses a big scientific question and takes viewers along on a journey to explore how far we’ve come in our quest for answers, and how we’ve managed to get here. Among the intriguing topics pondered are the secret language of animals, what’s hidden in the human body, the artificial intelligence technologies that could rival and surpass the abilities of the human mind, the controversial power to engineer life in a lab, and the mysteries of the universe.

The program travels to some unexpected places to look for answers—including deep underwater, where humpback whales are essentially playing a game of “telephone” across the world, with pods teaching each other new songs; deep beneath our skin, where trillions of microbes are living in our bodies; deep below the earth, in mines where researchers are trying to detect elusive dark matter particles; deep into space, where astrophysicists are hunting for signs of extra-terrestrial life, and more.

Three young scientists serve as enthusiastic guides and science communicators. Talithia Williams is a mathematician and statistician who also applies data models to the human body and the environment. She is joined by co-hosts Rana el Kaliouby, a computer scientist developing emotion recognition technology used in artificial intelligence, and André Fenton, a neuroscientist studying the biology of memory. All three set-up the inquiry, demonstrate key aspects of the challenges facing scientists, and ask provocative questions about research carried out on the winding paths of uncertainty and the unknown.

“What Would Dolly Do?” The 40DD-17-36 Barbie doll may follow this advice

We have been bosom buddies and breast friends with Miss Dolly since 1986. One of 12 children raised in a cabin in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Dolly  grew to become an international superstar as famous for her distinctive voice and enduring songs as her curvy figure (40DD-17-36), big hair and bubbly personality.
She is the epitome of the American Dream, a whip-smart woman who lives according to her own rules, a successful businessperson and philanthropist, and a role model for the ages.
How did she do it?

What Would Dolly Do?: How to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World

There is much to be learned from her big heart and spirit, grit and strong work ethic.
What Would Dolly Do? (Grand Central Publishing, $22)–part biography, part words of wisdom and life lessons–highlights the very best of the her highly quotable Dollyisms, unrelenting positivity and her belief in everyone’s ability to overcome adversity, with some beauty tips and recipes thrown in.

‘Robin’ offers an insider’s look into Williams’ extraordinary life and career

The laughs ended in August 2014 when Robin Williams killed himself at 63.  His death not only raised questions about how and why it had happened, but also prompted reassessments of his extraordinary life and career. F or anyone with the slightest acquaintance with popular culture over the past four decades, he seemed to be everywhere, from stand-up to TV, movies, and late-night talk shows, with an uncanny sense of the zeitgeist matched by few others.

Now, Dave Itzkoff presents a full and revealing portrait of one of the most beloved and original comedians and actors of our time in Robin (Henry Holt and Company, $30)Illuminating both the man and the performer, Itzkoff draws on more than one hundred interviews with Robin’s family, friends, and colleagues, as well his own encounters and interviews with Williams over the years.  Included are insights from fellow comedians, actors, and collaborators such as Billy Crystal, David Letterman, Pam Dawber, Dana Carvey, Barry Levinson, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Jeff Bridges and Bobcat Goldthwait.

Robin

Among the topics covered and the news-making revelations offered are:

  • The largely untold story of Robin’s family background and his privileged but lonely upbringing in the upscale suburbs of Detroit, where he entertained himself with make-believe and toy soldiers. As Itzkoff shows, Robin was indelibly shaped by both his father—a stern, self-made auto industry executive—and his glamorous, eccentric and funny Southern mother.
  • How Robin was first exposed to improvisational comedy and acting through a stray course at prestigious Claremont College, and later honed his talents at the humbler College of Marin. Sharp-eyed mentors there eased his way into the elite acting program at the Juilliard School in New York City, where his fellow students included Christopher Reeve, who became one of his closest friends.
  • How Robin burst into local prominence in San Francisco and Los Angeles during the stand-up comedy boom of the 1970s, and quickly became known as a rising star. Candid interviews with his first wife, Valerie Velardi, who has not spoken on the record in years, reveal how he began to indulge heavily in cocaine and alcohol, and how his hidden vulnerabilities, self-doubt, and deep loneliness helped to fuel his addictions.

  • The improbable circumstances that got Robin cast in a guest-starring role as Mork from Ork on the hit television series Happy Days after Henry Winkler’s Fonzie character literally “jumped the shark.” (Producer Garry Marshall’s young son loved Star Wars and said TV needed more aliens.) That one appearance was such a sensation that it soon resulted in Robin getting his own ABC sitcom, Mork & Mindy.
  • How Robin’s substance abuse led to a personal crisis, and to John Belushi’s hotel bungalow in Los Angeles on the night the Saturday Night Live star died of an overdose. Belushi’s death convinced Robin to swear off drugs and alcohol for the next 20 years, but his sobriety could not repair the damage he had caused to his first marriage.
  • How Robin’s failure to win an Oscar the first three times he was nominated weighed heavily on him, until he finally took home an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting.
  • Robin’s own unflinchingly honest assessment of how he relapsed into alcoholism, which ended his two-decade-long marriage to his second wife and close collaborator, Marsha Garces. He then had to struggle simultaneously with addiction, divorce, and open-heart surgery.
  • The most complete and balanced account of Robin’s decline and death. Drawing on official autopsy results, Itzkoff concludes that Robin’s suicide was not a result of depression or substance abuse, as had been widely assumed, or from Parkinson’s Disease, as his own family had originally believed, but from a little-known and often misdiagnosed condition called Lewy Body Dementia.

  • Previously unpublished tributes from Robin’s private memorial service, including remembrances from his three children; his close friends Billy Crystal, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Eric Idle.

 

  • Details of the bitter legal conflict over Robin’s estate. The courtroom battle exposed long-simmering tensions between Robin’s children and his third wife Susan Schneider, to whom he had been married for less than three years.

 

As Itzkoff notes, there is no actor or comedian today who can be considered Robin’s protégé or his heir, although he inspired many performers.  He had many admirers but no imitators—no one who tried to do what he did the way he did it.  When he died, his reputation for joyfulness and humor stood in stark contrast to the sad and solitary manner in which his life came to an end.  Inevitably, people asked, Who was he? What was behind all the accents and characters, the blurs of motion and flashes of energy?  How much did he truly reveal and how much did he keep hidden?

 

“Some part of him would be present in every set and stand-up role he played,” Itzkoff writes, “but in their totality these things did not add up to him.  The real Robin was a modest, almost inconspicuous man, who never fully believed he was worthy of the monumental fame, adulation, and accomplishments he would achieve.  He shared the authentic person at his core with considerable reluctance, but he also felt obliged to give a sliver of himself to anyone he encountered even fleetingly.  It wounded him deeply to think that he had denied a memorable Robin Williams experience to anyone who wanted it, yet the people who spent years by his side were left to feel that he had kept some fundamental part of himself concealed, even from them.” [p. 3]

 

With ROBIN, Dave Itzkoff gives us a comprehensive and revelatory portrait yet of a performer loved and admired by millions for his generosity of spirit, his quickness of mind, the laughter he sparked, and the hopefulness he inspired.  Nearly four years after the passing of Robin Williams, it will be eagerly read by anyone seeking to understand who he truly was.

Harper Design’s “The Secret Garden” is a stunner, another gem from MinaLima

There are gorgeous book. And then there is Harper Design’s new edition of The Secret Garden ($29.99).

Once again MinaLima has woven their most creative hands. The classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett, about a young orphan called Mary Lennox who is sent to live with Archibald Craven, an uncle she’s never met, is beautifully illustrated with interactive features from the visionary design studio behind the graphics for the Harry Potter film franchise.

Stunning indeed!

The Secret Garden by [Burnett, Frances Hodgson]

Part of Harper Design’s series of deluxe reimagined children’s classics, this captivating unabridged gift edition takes readers on a memorable journey that teaches them lessons about hardship, friendship, happiness, and restoration. Originally published in 1911,  Burnett’s beloved classic has captured reader’s hearts for more than a century. Die-hard fans should know that The Secret Garden will also be brought back to life on the big screen soon, in a new live-action film adaptation from Disney and Universal starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters. The book has been adapted for the big-screen film before, perhaps most famously in 1993.

While waiting to have your own copy of Harper Design’s new book, we’ll share some of The Secret Garden‘s 10 interactive features. They include

  • A layout of the Manor House and grounds
  • A map of the Secret Garden
  • A dial showing how plants grow throughout the season
  • A cut-out paper doll of Mary and her clothes
  • A removable letter to Dickon from his older sister, the maid who tells Mary the story of the garden

“Man in an Orange Shirt” is a critically-acclaimed film that portrays a pair of love stories, 60 years apart,

The plot opens on the Italian front near the end of World War II. British Captain Michael Berryman saves the life of a wounded fellow officer and recognizes him as Thomas March, an old schoolmate, now serving as an official war artist. Though engaged to his childhood sweetheart, Flora, Michael feels a powerful attraction to Thomas, who feels the same way. After the artist’s recuperation, the two share a brief, passionate encounter before parting.

With the war over, Michael looks up Thomas in London, and they spend a liberating, amorous weekend at Michael’s rundown country cottage. There, Thomas sketches Michael for a painting that will become “Man in an Orange Shirt.” In an era when homosexuality in England was punished by prison, there is no hope of living together. Furthermore, Michael feels honor-bound to marry Flora, and he asks Thomas to be his best man. This sets the stage for a turbulent marriage, not least because Flora suspects nothing about her fiancé’s sexual preference.

The second half of the drama skips two generations to the present day. Michael and Thomas have died, and Flora keeps house with her grandson, Adam, a young veterinarian active in London’s gay hookup scene—a subject Flora carefully avoids.

Into Adam’s restless life comes Steve, an architect eager for a stable relationship and intrigued by the challenge of fixing up the cottage that Adam has been given by Flora—the same place where Michael and Thomas spent their idyllic weekend six decades earlier. The times change, the laws change, the technology changes (as illustrated by Adam’s addiction to dating apps), but the problem of love, commitment, and acceptance is as persistent and formidable as ever.

It’s not just Adam and Steve who face this dilemma. Flora, too, has unfinished business with the past.

Such is the wonder of MASTERPIECE: Man in an Orange Shirt (PBS Distribution), a critically-acclaimed film that portrays a pair of love stories, 60 years apart, linked by family ties, sexual identity, and a mysterious painting. It will be available on DVD and Blu-ray June 19; The program will also be available for digital download.

Scripted by bestselling novelist Patrick Gale, the film was a two-part original drama which formed part of the BBC’s Gay Britannia season. Man in the Orange Shirt was broadcast to wide critical acclaim in the UK in 2017 for the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality.

Playing the star-crossed lovers are Oliver Jackson-Cohen, James McArdle, Julian Morris and David Gyasi. Joining Vanessa Redgrave are Joanna Vanderham, Laura Carmichael, Julian Sands, Frances de la Tour, Adrian Schiller and Joanna David.

June is busting’out all over, and PBS releases a slew of must-see, must-own DVDs

June will be bustin’ out all over, and when it does, get ready for some exciting new DVD releases from PBS Distribution. Let us share some of the news . . .

Nature: Natural Born Rebels (available June 5)
From a promiscuous prairie dog to a kleptomaniac crab and an alpha chimpanzee who reigns with an iron fist, this three-part series introduces the most rebellious animals in the natural world. But are these creatures really breaking bad?

Across the world, new studies are uncovering an astonishing variety of rebellious animal behaviors, and despite how it appears on the surface, researchers are discovering the complex and fascinating science behind why these animals behave the way they do. In fact, being a rebel could be the key to success in the wild.

Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps (available June 5)
Hannibal, one of history’s most famous generals, achieved what the Romans thought to be impossible. With a vast army of 30,000 troops, 15,000 horses and 37 war elephants, he crossed the mighty Alps in only 16 days to launch an attack on Rome from the north.

For more than 2,000 years, nobody has been able to prove which of the four possible routes Hannibal took across the Alps, and no physical evidence of Hannibal’s army has ever been found until now. In this program, viewers will follow a team of experts–explorers, archaeologists and scientists–combine state-of-the-art technology, ancient texts, and a recreation of the route itself to prove conclusively where Hannibal’s army made it across the Alps – and exactly how he did it.

Chinese Exclusion Act (available June 5)
On May 6th, 1882, on the eve of the greatest wave of immigration in American history, President Chester A. Arthur signed into law a unique piece of federal legislation.  Called the Chinese Exclusion Act, it singled out as never before a specific race and nationality for exclusion–making it illegal for Chinese workers to come to America–and for Chinese nationals already here to become citizens of the United States.

A deeply American story, this program examines the economic, cultural, social, legal, racial and political dimensions of the law; the forces and events that gave rise to it; and the effect it had, and continues to have, on American culture and identity.

The Jazz Ambassadors (available June 19)
The Cold War and Civil Rights movement collide in this remarkable story of music, diplomacy, and race. In 1955, as the Soviet Union’s pervasive propaganda about the U.S. and American racism spread globally, African-American Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., convinced President Eisenhower that jazz was the best way to intervene in the Cold War cultural conflict. For the next decade, America’s most influential jazz artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Dave Brubeck, along with their racially-integrated bands, traveled the globe to perform as cultural ambassadors.

But the unrest back home forced them to face a painful moral dilemma: how could they promote the image of a tolerant America abroad when the country still practiced Jim Crow segregation and racial equality remained an unrealized dream? Told through striking archival film footage, photos, and radio clips, with iconic performances throughout, this program reveals how the U.S. State Department unwittingly gave the burgeoning Civil Rights movement a major voice on the world stage just when it needed one most.

Nova: Decoding the Weather Machine (available June 26)
Disastrous hurricanes. Widespread droughts and wildfires. Pervasive heat. Extreme rainfall. It’s not hard to conclude that something’s up with the weather – and many scientists agree this trend in the weather is not just a coincidence. It’s the result of the weather machine itself–the earth’s climate changing, becoming hotter and more erratic.  Climate change is arguably the defining challenge of this century, yet widespread misunderstanding and misinformation has hampered the public’s ability to understand the science and address the issue. In this program, viewers will cut through the confusion and help define the way forward.

Why do scientists overwhelmingly agree that the climate is changing, and that human activity is causing it? How will it affect the world through the weather we experience, and when? And what will it take to bend the trajectory of planetary warming toward more benign outcomes? Join scientists around the globe on a quest to better understand the workings of the weather and climate machine we call Earth and discover how they are finding that we can be resilient – even thrive – in the face of enormous change.

Going to War
War is the ultimate paradox. Filled with terror, pain, and grief, it brings exhilaration, and a profound sense of purpose. This program provides an insight that helps viewers make sense of this paradox and get to the heart of what it’s like to be a soldier in times of war. The film illuminates the experiences of training, battle, and coming home for soldiers across conflicts, revealing the universals of the warrior’s journey.

Leading the exploration are Sebastian Junger, bestselling author and director of the Academy Award-nominated film Restrepo, and Karl Marlantes, decorated Marine officer and author of the bestselling novel Matterhorn and the fearless memoir What It is Like to Go to War. Both men bring firsthand experience, hard-won wisdom, and an abiding commitment to telling the warrior’s story with insight and unflinching candor.

Just how queer does cinema get? Film Movement releases, for the first time on Blu-ray, Derek Jarman’s stunning “Edward II”

There are so many ways to celebrate Gay Pride, but nothing deserves first place other than Edward II, the new Queer Cinema landmark film that Film Movement is making available for the first time on Blu-Ray in a stunning digitally restored version. This special edition includes the featurette “Derek’s Edward” and an essay by filmmaker Bruce LaBruce with a prologue by Tilda Swinton. Celebrate the flick on June 12, when it flies into stores.

In 1593, Christopher Marlowe penned Edward II, based on the life of Britain’s only openly gay monarch. In 1991, legendary artist and director, Derek Jarman radically adapted the Elizabethan drama in a highly-stylized feature starring Jarman and Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton and Steven Waddington.
Jarman’s postmodern adaptation delivers filmgoers to the court of Plantagenet King Edward II (portrayed by Waddington), a weak gay monarch with a tenuous grasp on the throne. The stage is set for palace revolt when the King rejects his wife, Queen Isabella (Swinton), and takes a male lover, the ambitious commoner Piers Gaveston (Andrew Tiernan) upon whom he bestows gifts and power. The spurned Queen and the sober court officials become enraged and the plotting begins in this festival favorite, a Golden Lion nominee at Venice, called “intelligent and striking” and a “phantasmagoric, outrageously stylized interpretation”. With anachronistic imagery, gay activists battling riot police and a rare film appearance by Annie Lennox singing Cole Porter’s 1944 classic “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” the story of Edward and the persecution he suffered is given contemporary resonance in one of Jarman’s most powerful and personal films. He died in 1994, at the age of 52.