The terror and tragedy of Guernica from the cinematic mind of Koldo Serra

Film director Koldo Serra was surprised that, nearly 80 years after a bombardment by Hitler’s Condor Legion turned the small Basque town of Guernica into an enduring symbol of civilian suffering in war, no one had made a film about the tragedy.

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The shooting of the film. (Photo by David Herranz)
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The damage to Bilbao by the madman

“It was a big surprise for me when I found that out,” he says. “I thought there would be at least two or three others.”

Spanish Civil War films abound, but until now, Serra says, they have almost exclusively concentrated on the conflict as it happened in the south, and not the doomed Basque republican “northern front”. A TV miniseries, Bombs over Gernika, was released in 2012 and a film about the world-famous Pablo Picasso painting inspired by the bombardment, 33 Days, is reported to be in the offing, but no full-length feature about that April day has been made before.

“Being from Bilbao myself, making this film makes me feel like I have an immense responsibility to tell this story well and in a coherent fashion,” adds Serra, who filmed on location.

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“Guernica,” perhaps the most famous painting by Pablo Picasso, being hung in the Municipal Museum in Amsterdam for an exhibition.

Much of the film is based on testimonies of the events of April 26, 1937 that were collected by Serra since  2012. “One woman who saw the attack said the planes were flying so low as they machine-gunned fleeing citizens that she could see the pilots’ eyes. For me, accounts like that discredit the stories this bombardment in some way wasn’t deliberate, or that the planes had missed their original targets,” Serra recalls.

Making the film (originally to be titled Gernika, using the Basque spelling) “struck chords. Not everybody is in favor of seeing streets blocked and shops closed for a shoot, but when you mention Guernica, people tell you their cousins or relatives were in the bombardment. It’s still a very important, emotional, subject here.”

On August 2, this riveting war drama, starring James D’Arcy, María Valverde and Jack Davenport, comes to DVD with exclusive deleted and extended scenes. In fact, we share with you an exclusive look at one of the deleted scenes, below.

 

 

Shuffling along to spread news of a welcome war: “Card Wars”

When we stumbled upon Adventure Time, we knew Cartoon Network wasn’t the only people having magical (mis)adventures. Then, in the fourteenth episode of the series’ fourth season, we aced it when we stumbled up Card Wars.

Shades of Huck Finn . . . of sorts. The series follows the adventures of human boy Finn (voiced by Jeremy Shada), and his best friend and adoptive brother Jake (voiced by John DiMaggio), who happens to be a dog with magical powers. Yep, he can change shape, growing and shrinking at will. Oh, they live in the Land of Ooo.
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Jake begs Finn to play his favorite trading card game (thus Card Wars),  but things take a turn for the worse when Jake becomes overly competitive, insisting on playing for a “cool guy cup” and the “dweeb cup”. Trust us: This is some funny stuff.

Adventure Time: Card Wars (Cartoon Network) is a nifty DVD that will have you shuffling through 16 episodes, including the original Card Wars. The DVD also comes packaged with an exclusive Card Wars playing card, making this DVD a must have for fans, collectors and the huge following that Card Wars has accrued since the episode, app and physical game debuted.

Old maid anyone?

Trust in me: Disney’s second take on “The Jungle Book” hits Blu-ray and DVD

There have been a few big-screen adaptations of The Jungle Book, but audiences were mesmerized the most by Disney’s latest take of Rudyard Kipling’s classic stories with the live-action flick, which has earned (to date) more than $911 million at the global box office.  Missed it? Not to worry: Jon Favreau’s stunning reimagining of Walt Disney’s 1967 animated classic will be available early on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on August 23, and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On-Demand on August 30. The 3D version of The Jungle Book will be available later this year.

This is an adventurous tale of Mowgli, a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan, who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. We give a special nod to the film’s only on-screen actor,  charismatic newcomer Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli.TheJungleBookBluray (1)

Venture deep into the jungle with in-depth bonus features that reveal the innovative filmmaking technology used to create the richly immersive jungle world and characters; follow the journey of (Mowgli); delve into a candid and humorous scene-by-scene audio commentary with director Jon Favreau and meet the all-star voice cast who help bring the film’s colorful characters to life, as well as the musicians who accent the adventure with a majestic music score.

We offer the bare necessities: The all-star cast includes Bill Murray as the voice of Baloo, Sir Ben Kingsley as Bagheera and Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of mother wolf Raksha. Scarlett Johansson gives life to Kaa, Giancarlo Esposito provides the voice of alpha-male wolf Akela, Idris Elba roars as the voice of Shere Khan and Christopher Walken lends his iconic voice to King Louie.

Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner fans will be stung big-time by Sting

The news is so great we simply gotta spread the buzz: On September 30, A&M/Interscope Records will release The Studio Collection, a career-spanning vinyl LP box set featuring all of Sting’s seminal solo studio albums brought together for the first time.unnamed

The Studio Collection includes eight essential A&M Records albums across 11 LPs–The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985); …Nothing Like The Sun (1987, double LP); The Soul Cages (1991); Ten Summoner’s Tales (1993); Mercury Falling (1996); Brand New Day (1999, double LP); Sacred Love (2003, double LP); and The Last Ship (2013)–with both Brand New Day and Sacred Love available on vinyl for the first time ever.

All of the included LPs appear in exact replicas of the original artwork presented in an exceptional slipcase package, with brand new vinyl masters cut at the legendary Abbey Road studios to ensure exceptional audio quality.

Contained within The Studio Collection are some of the most iconic albums and songs of all time, including numerous Grammy-winning tracks as well as a plethora of multi-platinum, platinum and gold worldwide awards. Beginning with Sting’s first solo album, the revelatory The Dream Of The Blue Turtles from 1985–featuring the cream of America’s young jazz musicians in a politically-charged set–through 2013’s The Last Ship, exploring the central themes of homecoming and self-discovery in the North East of England, The Studio Collection showcases Sting’s meticulous song writing, evocative storytelling, and continual innovation in a ground breaking mix of musical genres and styles that have continually evolved throughout his remarkable career to date.

To complete The Studio Collection, Sting’s new album 57th & 9th will be released November 11. Take a listen. Your beating heart no longer needs to be still.

 

“American Masters” celebrates its 30th anniversary with the launch of “In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive”

Everything old is new again. And in the case of THIRTEEN’s American Masters, the old is very new and very special. The series made in debut in 1986 on PBS with Private Conversations: On the Set of “Death of a Salesman, a cinéma vérité documentary about the making of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece for network television, and its stars Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich.

Today, American Masters celebrates its 30th anniversary with the launch of In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive and the American Masters Podcast, featuring previously unreleased interviews filmed for the documentary series: 2,156 tapes, approximately 1,388 digitized hours, 800-plus interviews and counting.

A selection of short-form videos showcasing interviews with David Bowie, Gloria Steinem, Herbie Hancock, Bernadette Peters, Mike Nichols and other luminaries discussing America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants are available now on the American Masters website (pbs.org/americanmasters). New videos will be released on an ongoing basis as the archive is digitized.

The American Masters Podcast, hosted by series executive producer Michael Kantor, will feature long-form interviews from In Their Own Words. The first season, “Women on Women,” presents interviews with influential women discussing women cultural icons. Episode one features Gloria Steinem in conversation with the late, multiple Emmy-winning filmmaker Gail Levin taking a critical look at the life and career of Marilyn Monroe from 2006’s American Masters Marilyn: Still Life. New episodes will be released biweekly on the American Masters website, iTunes, Soundcloud and Stitcher.

All full-length, digitized interviews will be archived by the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), a collaboration between WGBH and the Library of Congress to preserve and make accessible significant historical content created by public media.
“I’m thrilled that the National Endowment for the Arts has provided major funding to get this project off the ground so we can finally share gems from the cutting room floor with the public,” says Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters. “Series creator Susan Lacy built a rich library of more than 200 documentary films, which is a treasure trove of American arts, culture and intellect, and the amazing interviews that informed these films are largely unseen. While we are still seeking funds to create a comprehensive, interactive digital archive website, we are confident that In Their Own Words and the American Masters Podcast will inspire and entertain a broad audience both today and in the future.”
Here, A gem of Betty White chatting about her (and my) pal Carol Burnett.

Zika? Deadly and scary . . . but not as deadly and scary as “Viral”

Zika? Spread the word that another epidemic is coming.

Teenage sisters Emma and Stacey live a normal life . . . until their small suburban neighborhood is stricken with a mysterious parasitic virus. As the disease rapidly spreads throughout the town, the two band together to barricade themselves from infection. But it may already be too late–when the virus enters their home, the sisters are faced with an impossible choice: protect each other or survive the virus.

The heart-pounding thriller Viral escapes onto DVD on August 2 from Anchor Bay Entertainment, Radius-TWC and Dimension Films. The shocker stars Sofia Black-D’Elia, Analeigh Tipton, Travis Tope and Michael Kelly.

 

Wanna watch more?

You’ve been warned.

How do you mend a broken heart? How about “The Perfect Match”?

Broken heart? Romantic ruckus? Learn to believe in love again with The Perfect Match, which has just been released on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital), Digital HD and On Demand from Lionsgate.

Director Bille Woodruff  has helmed a flick that will have audiences seeing their relationships in a whole new light. The delightfully entertaining film stars Terrence J, Cassie Ventura , Donald Faison , Dascha Polanco, Robert Christopher Riley, Lauren London, with Joe Pantoliano and Paula Patton.

Charlie (Terrence J) is a bachelor who’s convinced that relationships are dead despite attempts by his therapist sister (Paula Patton) and his friends to tell him otherwise. On a bet, he decides to stay with one woman for one month to prove that he is immune to love. Soon, he meets the beautiful and mysterious Eva (Cassie Ventura) and coaxes her into a casual affair. But as Charlie spends more time with Eva, he begins to question whether he may actually want more than just a one-night-stand.

The Perfect Match home entertainment release comes loaded with hilarious special features, including audio commentary with the cast and crew, two behind-the-scenes featurettes and a compilation of footage too fun to leave out.

 

Celebrate the 30th anniversary of “Highlander” with a special edition Blu-ray and DVD

Remember the sci-fi epic that launched a TV franchise and captivated millions of fans worldwide? Remember the hunky cast? (Think Christopher Lambert  and  Sean Connery.)

Remember the exciting plot? An immortal Scottish swordsman must confront the last of his immortal opponents, a murderously brutal barbarian who lusts for the fabled “Prize.”
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You remember!

Experience Highlander like you’ve never seen it before with the 30th anniversary edition arriving on Blu-ray and DVD September 27 from Lionsgate. This edition features never-before-seen interviews with director Russell Mulcahy and Lambert (as well as an archival interview with R.M.) , a brand-new “making of” documentary, deleted scenes and audio commentary with director Mulcahy.

Bah Humbug! Kenny Rogers calls touring quits after this holiday season

Everything comes to an end. Kenny Rogers, who has done an annual Christmas tour since 1981, is taking a gamble. No, we don’t mean more plastic surgery.  We’re still trying to figure out who’s had more: Dolly or Kenny?

After more than five decades of touring the world, Rogers’ farewell tour, “The Gambler’s Last Deal,” is underway and expected to run into 2017.
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“Christmas has always been a special time of year to me,” Rogers coos. “The feeling I get performing on the Christmas tour is one of the things I’ll really miss about not being on the road. We will be sure to take extra time to cherish some moments on this last go around, and I hope as many people as possible will be able to join us in creating a new set of holiday memories.”

For his upcoming Christmas & Hits tour dates, Rogers will perform holiday favorites, selections from his 2015 Christmas album Once Again It’s Christmas and (of course) his hits at concerts across the U.S. The tour currently includes 16 dates. Making this final Christmas tour experience even more special, a limited number of VIP ticket packages will be offered, allowing fans the opportunity to meet Rogers and receive one-of-a-kind memorabilia. Two types of VIP packages will be available for each show of the tour. We find such marketing pretty rude. Just as Dolly.

“The Gambler’s Last Deal” concerts feature an all-new show, including a reflective look back through Rogers’ storied 50-plus-year career. Enhanced with personal stories, vintage photos and video clips—including never-before-seen footage—the music-filled retrospective will touch on every part of Rogers’ career. Along with his long list of hits, Rogers is singing songs in concert that he hasn’t performed in years.

For the most up-to-date information on all of Roger’s final world tour dates (including on-sale dates and links to purchase tickets and VIP packages), please visit www.kennyrogers.com.

Kenny Rogers – “The Gambler’s Last Deal” Christmas & Hits Tour
Nov. 25 – Independence, Mo. – Silverstein Eye Centers Arena
Nov. 26 – Branson, Mo. – The Mansion Theatre
Nov. 27 – Cincinnati, Ohio – Taft Theatre
Dec. 2 – La Crosse, Wisc. – La Crosse Center
Dec. 3 – Green Bay, Wisc. – Resch Center
Dec. 7 – Norfolk, Va. – Ted Constant Convocation Center
Dec. 8 – Detroit, Mich. – Fox Theatre
Dec. 9 – French Lick, Ind. – French Lick Resort Casino
Dec. 10 – Mount Pleasant, Mich. – Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort
Dec. 14 – Greensburg, Pa. – The Palace Theatre
Dec. 15 – Englewood, N.J. – Bergen Performing Arts Center
Dec. 16 – Uncasville, Conn. – Mohegan Sun Arena
Dec. 18 – Reading, Pa. – Reading Eagle Theatre at the Santander Arena
Dec. 20 – Verona, N.Y. – Turning Stone Resort Casino
Dec. 21 – Red Bank, N.J. – Count Basie Theatre
Dec. 23 – Westbury, N.Y. – NYCB Theatre at Westbury

Corn pone humor, farmers’ daughters and all the great country crooners: “Hee Haw” returns on a 14-disc box set

Whoever knew? Hee Haw was inspired by Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In the major difference being that the countrified series was far less political and topical, focusing on country music and rural culture. And it was just as funny . . . as well as also being  known for its voluptuous, scantily-clad women in stereotypical farmer’s daughter outfits and revealing minidresses.

Pickin’ and grinnin’, singin’ and spinnin’ tall tales and corny jokes, the citizens of Kornfield Kounty landed on television in 1969 with the arrival of Hee Haw as a summer replacement series for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.  With a cast of down-to-earth characters including Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Jones and Archie Campbell, knee-slapping comedic zingers and jaw-dropping musical performances, the comedy-variety show, co-hosted by Buck Owens and Roy Clark, captivated the country.  In 1971, after two successful years, CBS dropped the show in an effort to “de-countrify” the network’s programming; however, it was quickly picked up and aired for the next 21 years, making Hee Haw the longest-running weekly syndicated original series in television history.

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In a new-to-retail set, Time Life is releasing Hee Haw: The Collector’s Edition offers 14 Hee-larious discs featuring some of the best sketches and brightest stars from the series’ impressive 23-year history, rarely seen since their original broadcasts.  Across 21 vintage hours, viewers can sit back and be entertained by korny klassics such as “PFFT! You Were Gone,” “Gordie’s General Store,” “Board Fence,” “Cornfield” and “Moonshiners”–as well as the all-time favorites “Rindercella” and “Trigonometry.”  And because Hee Haw was a favorite stop for country music’s biggest stars and legends, this must-have box set also features hundreds of classic performances from Hall of Famers at the peaks of their careers including Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings,  Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tanya Tucker and Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty and too many others to name.
Though the last “new” episode aired in 1992, this 14-disc collector’s edition perfectly captures the reasons why Hee Haw was one of the longest-running and best loved television variety shows of all time!
 
BONUS FEATURES
  • New interviews with show regulars including Roy Clark, Lulu Roman, George Lindsey, Charlie McCoy and Jim and John Hager
  • Additional bonus programming includes all-time favorite comedy from the early years in “Hee Haw Laffs,” featuring “Board Fence,” “Doctor Spot,” “Old Philosopher,” “Haystack,” “Schoolhouse” and other knee-slappers

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